Holiday festivities often include foods and treats that can have your dog begging at the table. It’s important to know which foods dogs can safely enjoy, and which foods can be hazardous to their health. Writing for the American Kennel Club (AKC), dog expert and author Mary Kearl offers detailed information here to help you keep your pup healthy and happy at holiday gatherings.
Another helpful guide is the image below, courtesy of the Dog Food Advisor. This guide organizes food commonly enjoyed at Thanksgiving and other holidays into three easy-to-see categories.
Please note: I’ve added an important warning from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) about the danger of products containing Xylitol. Find that just below the Dog Food Advisor’s list.
*Warning: Xylitol is being marketed as wood sugar, birch sugar, and birch bark extract. This product is deadly for dogs. Call your veterinarian, emergency animal clinic, or animal poison control center if you think your dog may have ingested something containing Xylitol.
The FDA provides detailed information about the dangers of Xylitol for dogs. Find that here.
Whatever and wherever you celebrate, may the days to come be filled with peace and joy for you and your loved ones!
I come from a long line of patriots. Among them is American Naval Commander John Paul Jones, born in Scotland, who helped establish the United States Navy during the Revolutionary War. (He was my third cousin seven times removed on my father’s side.) World War I saw my paternal grandfather James Mackenzie Holmes in action with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. His son, my father, served in the Army Air Corps during the next World War, as did my maternal uncle Douglas Hilgerson who was part of the legendary Merrill’s Marauders during that war. My own time in uniform came a year after the fall of Saigon, with service through the Cold War years and the first Gulf War.
Over the centuries, those in uniform were often supported by dogs. There are countless stories of canines who, throughout history, saw action in the military lines. Of these, perhaps the most famous is Stubby, a stray dog of uncertain origin who is thought to be the most decorated canine in American history. Digital publisher We Are The Mightyrelates this story:
In 1917, Stubby joined a group of American soldiers training for the trenches of World War I. He deployed with the men overseas and proved himself in battle multiple times, waking soldiers as he sensed incoming artillery attacks and infantry assaults that human sentries hadn’t yet detected.
Despite being caught in multiple gas attacks, Sgt. Stubby survived the war and the supreme commander of American Forces in World War I, Gen. John Pershing, personally awarded him a gold medal in 1921 for his efforts.
Longtime followers of this blog know I like to share information about dogs, cats, and the beautiful Ozark Mountains where I live. Also on this site, you’ll find works by selected artists, photographers, and authors writing in myriad genres. As a reviewer for Partners in Crime Tours, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to feature new-to-me authors whose work you might like, too.
Here’s something else you might enjoy: a list of blogs and other websites that focus on a specific topic. In today’s post, I’ll share a “starter list” of ten sites (primarily) relating to dogs. Some are personal narratives, some focus on behavior and/or training, and still others present a variety of views.
Yes Biscuit!: A mix of personal narrative, pet/people issues, and vintage tales.
Want to tell us about a site that would be a good addition to this starter list? You’re welcome to share the link in the comments! Blogs, newsletters, breed-specific websites–if it’s dog related, share it here!
P.S. Did you know that many breed-specific organizations have websites? The American Shetland Sheepdog Association is just one example; the site includes historical information, health research, legislative issues, and information about obedience, agility, tracking, herding, and other activities in which Shelties excel.
Dogs have been used in law enforcement for at least a century, and there is some evidence to suggest dogs worked in support of the police as far back as the Middle Ages. Melven Peña, writing for dogster.com in 2015, notes some of the earliest “police dogs” were Bloodhounds, utilized since the 12th century specifically for their tracking abilities. The editorial staff of the Private Security Professionals of America provide more detail:
Dogs have been used for law enforcement since at least the middle ages. Money was then set aside in the villages for the upkeep of the parish constable’s bloodhounds that were used for hunting down outlaws. During King Henry I of England’s reign, the constable in charge of the Royal Palaces would ‘maintain the stables, kennels and mews, and be responsible for protecting and policing the whole court’. In France, dogs were used in the 14th century in St. Malo. Bloodhounds used in Scotland were known as “Slough dogs” – the word “Sleuth,” (meaning detective) was derived from this.
It was in Continental Europe that dogs were first used on a large scale. Police in Paris began using dogs against roaming criminal gangs at night, but it was the police department in Ghent, Belgium that introduced the first organized police dog service program in 1899. These methods soon spread to Austria-Hungary and Germany … The dogs were systematically trained in obedience to their officers and tracking and attacking criminals.
Today, canines in law enforcement complete specialized training before being deployed to working in the public arena, and at airports in particular. Around the world, canines have been a vital asset when screening cargo, baggage, and people for everything from prohibited foods to explosives to illegal drugs and other contraband. And, in recent years, dogs have been trained to catch antiquities traffickers, detect electronic storage devices, and even sniff out excess currency.
To learn more about these hard-working canines, check out the links I’ve included.
When writing about people and places and dogs, my imagination supplies a vivid image of each that seems to magically transform them from bare words on a page to something akin to a living, breathing character. Some writers–and readers, too–have suggested it’s a bit like having a movie play in your mind while you’re immersed in a book. And when you come across something that reminds you of stories and characters you’ve enjoyed, the pleasure continues.
That happened to me when I saw the dog portraits created by the artist J.R. Cotner featured in his online store. Having worked as a publicist for several artists in the past, I can appreciate the time, talent, and skill involved to create original designs of any kind, and even more skill required to transform that art into a digital format.
Of the dozen-plus the artist has created so far, I’ve already purchased several, including the three included in this post!
This was the first mug I saw in The Canine Collection. I immediately thought of Sam, the young yellow Lab owned by my protagonist Maggie Porter in the Waterside Kennels mystery series. Sam is intelligent, alert, and a loyal companion–all hallmarks of the Labrador Retriever breed.
In the series, Sam is officially registered with the American Kennel Club as Samson’s Blue Delight. He’s adventurous and a fast learner who likes to be challenged, and has the potential to excel in tracking, search and rescue, and other service-related scenarios. You’ll see Sam in multiple roles as the series progresses.
The Cocker Spaniel featured on this mug looks like a younger version of Sweet Pea. She’s known officially in the AKC world as Champion Penelope’s Yorkshire Windsong and has an impressive collection of awards and certification to her credit. Long retired from competition, Sweet Pea has reached the age where she prefers napping and slow-paced interactions to energetic rambles.
As her eyesight and hearing slowly decline, she’s content to amble through the days, greeting customers and helping Maggie demonstrate obedience commands or work with young pups in training. And despite her age, Sweet Pea still has the ability to suprise us all, as we’ll see in the next book in the series.
The artwork on this mug reminded of Mr. B, the Beagle Maggie had adopted shortly before moving to Eagle Cove and launching the new Waterside Kennels. As the first book in the series opens, Mr. B is is still recuperating from a serious injury that ended his K-9 career. Despite Maggie’s best efforts, he shows no interest in his new surroundings, leading Maggie to wonder if she’d done the right thing adopting the Beagle.
As her veterinarian says: “Look at it from the dog’s point of view—he’s lost everything he’s ever known. That can haunt you for a long time.” As the story evolves, though, Mr. B’s intelligence and natural resilience proves surprising to all involved.
Whether the dogs in your own life are real or fictional, I hope these dog portraits in The Canine Collection bring you pleasure and happy memories. If, like me, you enjoy collecting artwork that celebrates dogs, I encourage you to visit cotner-artworks.com and add something to your own collection, or find the just-right gift for family or friend.
By the way, J.R. is more than an artist; he’s also a published author and has written poetry, short stories, and a Celtic mystery novel. Check out his blog jackronaldcotner.com for more information.
And thanks for revisiting the dogs of Waterside Kennels with me!
Want to see more of Beckett? You can find him on Instagram (@beckettdemonfloof).
I’ll be posting more stories in the coming weeks about the joys (and challenges) of fostering and adopting dogs. If you have a story or info you’d like to share, I invite you to contact me by email (dogmysteries [at] gmail [dot] com). Photos welcome with attribution. If sharing content that was previously posted on another blog or website, please provide links to that source. All reblogged content remains protected by the original author’s copyright.
Note: I cannot guarantee that content submitted for consideration will be accepted.
Question: What’s the best training method for you and your dog?
Answer: The one that works!
I’ve lost track of the number of training books, videos, and how-to seminars I studied while writing the Waterside Kennels mystery series and this blog. In addition to ensuring authentic details are added to the plots, I found many of those resources personally helpful when Sasha joined our household after having been rescued from a bad situation. I relied on those resources to find a “just right” training program that would build her confidence and help overcome her fear of men and extreme aversion to noise.
It didn’t take long to realize that typical training methods were not always the best choice for her. While Sasha quickly mastered the commands taught in beginner and intermediate obedience classes, the clicker training method was an ordeal for her. Since our local training facility uses clickers as the foundation for all their classes, I chose not to pursue additional training there. Instead, I adopted a DIY approach that focuses on improving everyday behavior through positive reinforcement and situational awareness. Along the way, I discovered a few simple commands that work for us: “take it,” “leave it,” “drop it,” and “watch me.”
Those commands make an appearance in Dangerous Deeds (currently in the editing pipeline) where my protagonist Maggie Porter includes them as part of her “Good Dog” training sessions. They’re also used elsewhere in the book–including one memorable scene where Maggie’s dog Sweet Pea finds an injured kitten beneath the dock. Unlike training classes with a structured curriculum, Maggie’s “Good Dog” sessions are customized to address specific behaviors. (As both a writer and a dog owner, I personally like the flexibility this sort of training format offers.)
If you’d like to learn more about these commands to use with your own dog, here’s a list of helpful articles to get you started:
Prefer watching videos? Drop by YouTube and search for any or all of these commands. And remember: learning new commands can be hard work for both you and your dog. Be patient, and include some fun activities along the way. The results will be worth it!
In celebration of National Dog Day, I’m sharing an article that highlights two of my passions: dogs and writing. The American Kennel Club (AKC) staff has compiled an inspiring list of quotes and images focused on dogs. Enjoy!
You ever wonder what your dog is thinking? What he or she wants to say? We’d all love it if our dogs could talk — some of the time, at least. (If nothing else we’d be guaranteed some good dog quotes!) In lieu of that, we have some quotes about dogs, by the humans who love them. They’re like family to us, and why not celebrate it? Here are great quotes about man’s best friend.
“Everything I know I learned from dogs.” – Nora Roberts (author, The Search)
“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”–Orhan Pamuk (author, My Name Is Red)
“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” – Agnes Sligh Turnbull (author, The Wedding Bargain)
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras (photographer and writer)
Working dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds, and provide essential support for individuals and agencies alike. One particular type of working dog is the explosive detection dog. These dogs are often referred to as bomb sniffing dogs or more simply as bomb dogs, and are trained to detect a variety of explosive materials. As the threat of terrorism and other violent crimes continues to increase around the world, there’s an ongoing need for these specially trained dogs and their handlers. As a 2013 article in The Smithsonian notes, these dogs are are trained “to sniff out danger” in varied environments. Conflict zones, airports, buildings, and vehicles are among the locations where you’ll find these dogs and their handlers searching for explosive materials.
According to the AKC’s Dection Dog Task Force FAQ page, some breeds are particularly well suited to the work:
Sporting breeds are the most popular breeds used in explosive detection work. Breeds that excel at this work include Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, German Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas and Golden Retrievers. Sporting breeds have been found to be less intimidating to the public, and their keen noses and hunting ability are easily transferred to the search for explosives. German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds are still the preferred breeds for patrol work and dual-purpose patrol/detection dogs.
You might be surprised to learn that here in the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has more than a thousand trained canine teams and their handlers. That number reflects the scope of TSA’s mission and the agency’s work in the United States and with other nations around the world. Within the United States, TSA’s scope includes commercial and general aviation, mass transit systems, freight and passenger rail, highways, pipelines and ports. Around the world, TSA-trained dogs and their handlers work with international partners to strengthen global aviation security. Here’s more from TSA regarding the long and intensive training of “TSA airport dogs” and their handlers:
The dogs work in a variety of environments, including mock aircraft and airport terminals. Trainers use classical conditioning to teach the dogs to search for odors from explosive materials. After six to eight weeks of training, the dogs are paired with a handler, whom they’ll finish the course and graduate with. Roughly 90% of all canine teams graduate from the course.
If you’re wondering about the connection between the AKC and government agencies, consider this comment from AKC Board Member Dr. Carmen Battaglia, a longtime German Shepherd Dog fancier:
“AKC has always been a leader in purpose-bred, purebred dogs. And these purpose-bred, purebred dogs have the skills, ability, and breeding to produce the traits needed for detection dogs to successfully do their important jobs,” Battaglia said. “It is a natural role for AKC to assist in meeting this national need to protect our country.“
With temps hovering stubbornly in the triple digits, it’s a good time for safety reminders and “stay cool” tips. Whether you live in an urban environment or the quiet countryside, there are some simple strategies that can help you and your dog enjoy your summer adventures.
Exercise early in the day. Getting Sasha out for a long walk means starting just after daybreak, before the sun climbs above the trees. Even then, days with high humidity tend to leave both of us guzzling water and taking multiple breaks along the way. The lure of dew-soaked grass usually proves irresistible, with Down-Stay her default comfort position every time we take a break.
Carry water with you. You don’t need anything fancy–just something you can easily carry. I keep two squeeze bottles on hand for Sasha that clip on my belt. When she wants a drink, she’ll plop down on the grass and wait for me to flip the bottle and squeeze water into the drinking tray.
Use the 7-second rule. Asphalt, concrete, and brick–all commonly found in sidewalks, streets, and patios–quickly absorb and retain heat, making it dangerous for your pet’s paws. Test the heat by pressing your palm (or bare foot) against the pavement. If you can’t hold it for more than 7 seconds without discomfort, it’s too hot for paws! You could invest in booties or special paw wax, or just walk in the coolest part of the day. Whenever possible, stay off pavement by walking on the grass. And once you’re home again, check each paw carefully for raw spots and signs of swelling or burning. If you have questions or concerns, contact your vet for advice.
Never leave your pet in the car. Even if your vehicle has an efficient air conditioning system, remember that it’s almost always warmer toward the back of the vehicle. I drive a small SUV and even with the rear seats down and tinted rear windows, Sasha could easily overheat. If we absolutely have to travel during the heat of the day, I use the travel crate with mesh on three sides and position it so Sasha enjoys the cool air streaming from the vents. Fresh water and a battery-operated fan help keep her comfortable, too.
Here’s a quick list of suggestions from PetFinders.com:
Watch out for health hazards. Ticks, fleas, bee stings, snake bites, poisons, stagnant water (full of bacteria and parasites) and heat stress–any and all of these can turn a carefree summer outing into a bad situation without warning. You can lower some of the risk by keeping your dog on regular flea and tick prevention, removing potentially poisonous materials from your yard, keeping fresh water readily available, providing cool shelter, and maintaining a basic first-aid kit for dogs. You can buy a pre-packaged kit or put one together yourself. The website Irresistible Pets has a great article complete with a list of all the essentials you should consider when compiling a kit for your own pets. Your vet might have kits available, too, so be sure to ask!
Recognize the danger of heat-related stress. Heat may be the most significant of all summertime hazards. Whether your pet is at home, in the car, or vacationing with you, know the signs of heatstroke and have a plan in place to deal with heat-related stress. Here’s a terrific infographic from Murdoch University’s Pets in Summer Series that’s definitely worth bookmarking or downloading for future reference. (Click to enlarge image.)
Take care of yourself, too. Wear lightweight protective clothing–and that includes a hat. Drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, take frequent breaks if you must work outside, and whenever possible limit outdoor activities to the coolest part of the day.
According to the Red Cross, extreme heat kills more people than any other weather event. You can download their Extreme Heat Preparedness Checklist here. (That’s available in multiple languages, by the way; see the language options here.) Scroll down that page and you’ll see a section on planning for emergencies and disasters “Preparation Tips for the Whole Family” including your pets.
With careful planning and attention to detail, you and your dog can enjoy the best of summer!
Have a favorite keep-cool strategy? Post a comment and let us know!