Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

Dog movies, Puppy Bowl and dog shows!

It’s a great weekend for dog entertainment!



Pedigree dog food is helping to promote the movie Hotel For Dogs, a movie about kids finding homes for homeless dogs.  According to the Pedigree web site, for every ticket purchased Pedigree will make a donation to help shelter dogs.


Hotel For Dogs is described as “a smart, funny comedy adventure about a sister and brother who turn an abandoned hotel into a dog’s paradise.”


Pedigree has been holding their annual adoption drive for several years.  They say,


We share their belief that all dogs deserve a loving home. That’s why we created The PEDIGREE Foundation— a newly-established 501(c)(3) private foundation dedicated to helping dogs in need find loving homes by supporting the good work of shelters and breed rescue organizations throughout the country.


That’s certainly a very laudable goal.


ladytramp5-300x224For fans of dog movies, here’s one blogger’s list of Top Ten Dog Movies of all time:


10. Cujo (1983)

9. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

8. The Incredible Journey (1963)

7. Turner and Hooch (1989)

6. 101 Dalmatians

5. White Fang (1991 )

4. Benji (1974)

3. Best in Show (2000)

2. Old Yeller (1957)

1. Lady and The Tramp (1966)

I take serious exception, however, to any list that leaves out the classic Lassie, Come Home.  And, really — Cujo?  That’s on a list of great dog movies?  Anyway, if you have thoughts on great dog movies you can leave a comment.



A great English Setter in the Sporting Group.

A great English Setter in the Sporting Group.

There’s more great entertainment for dog lovers this weekend with the airing of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (finally!!!) this weekend on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.  This show was filmed in December but it’s only being shown for the first time now.  The country’s top dogs compete for $225,000 in prize money and the title of  National Champion.  It will be televised on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel from 8-11 pm on Saturday, January 31.



Yes, I know who won but it will still be great to see all of the group judging and the great dogs.  (If you want to cheat and see the results you can look on the AKC web site.)



Some games are too exciting to watch.

Some games are too exciting to watch.

Finally, I know it’s Super Bowl weekend, but my teams are long gone.  If you’re looking for, shall we say “alternative” dog programming, there’s not much more fun than the Puppy Bowl.  This is Puppy Bowl V.  This year 20 puppy players, and kitty half-time entertainers, will delight fans with their antics.  The action kicks off (tumbles off?) at 3 pm EST Sunday on Animal Planet.  For all the details, visit’s Puppy Bowl page, where you can vote for your favorite pup, check out the players’ stats and size up the competition, get the inside scoop from the refs and lots more.  They may not play as rough as the Super Bowl guys, but it looks like more fun.  And you can adopt one of these players!

January 29, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Safety warnings and cloning

We send out warm thoughts to everyone affected by ice and snow today!  I know there are power outages all over the northeast.  We hope that your power will be back on soon and that you have some back-up ways to keep warm for both you and your animals.



Here where I live it’s, yes, raining again.  There’s a new lake in the field across the street from my house.  The dogs don’t even think about going out much anymore.  They just run and wrestle and play in the house now.


There are a couple of things in the news besides the weather that you should know about.  Just forget about giving your dog products with peanuts for a while.  Many peanut butter treats for dogs are being recalled due to concerns about salmonella.  The FDA and the CDC have narrowed the problem to a plant in Blakely, Georgia.  The Peanut Corporation of America apparently shipped peanut products even after finding salmonella in internal testing at the plant last year.  Many people have become sick from products containing peanuts since then and eight people have died in the U.S. and Canada.


Three companies are recalling peanut butter dog treats at this time:


The recalled products include only the following types of Carolina Prime Pet treats in single unit packages with lot date codes between 081508 and 010909:

  • 6″ Beef Shank Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542007
  • 2pk Hooves Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542000
  • 4″ Rawhide Bone Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542003
  • 6″ Rawhide Bone Peanut Butter, UPC 063725542005
  • 6” Healthy Hide Beef Shank Peanut Butter, UPC 09109333479

Salix, a manufacturer of rawhide dog chew products, is voluntarily recalling its Healthy-hide Deli-wrap 3-Pack 5” Peanut Butter-Filled Rawhide dog treats that contain peanut butter.  The voluntarily recalled peanut butter-filled rawhide treats are sold at PetSmart, Target and Wegmans Food Stores throughout the U.S. and Canada.


And PetSmart is recalling Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits sold between Aug. 21, 2008 and Jan. 19, 2009:

  • Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
  • Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
  • Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
  • Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
  • Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
  • Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
  • Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766


There is no way to know if other dog treats containing peanut butter will also be recalled but I would play it safe and avoid giving peanut butter treats to your dogs for now.


7277180_2c131970e0_mBack to cold weather for a moment, if you live in an area that has frozen water, please take care with your dog, especially when you let them off leash.  Frozen water that covers lakes, creeks, rivers and ponds is not a good place for dogs to play.  Dogs cannot tell whether ice may crack or not.


One person reports that a training client was killed last week.  The owner was walking along a deep creek and her dog went under the ice.  In this case the dog went through the ice, the owner went through and then a friend managed to get them both out by breaking a path in the ice out to them.  When they were running back to the car, the dog unfortunately went out on the ice yet again.  That time the dog couldn’t be saved.  So please be very careful if you live in areas with frozen water.  Don’t let your dog loose where he or she could go under ice.  Even if you are nearby you may not be able to pull your dog out.



Sir Lancelot Encore, the world's first commercially cloned dog.

Sir Lancelot Encore, the world's first commercially cloned dog.

Finally, for a little cheerful news, want to clone your pet?  A south Florida couple has just gotten the world’s first commercially-cloned dog.



The Otto family in Boca Raton, Florida, froze their dog Lancelot’s DNA six years ago.  Now cloning technology has advanced enough that a company in South Korea was able to recreate their beloved pet.


“The only sad thing about dogs is that they have such a short life, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could live your life with the same dog,” said Nina Otto, Lancy’s owner…


“It truthfully is amazing to me that this process has come to be and that I am getting, if not my dog, certainly the essence of Lancelot and it looks so much like him that, well… He’s a clone, so he should look like him,” said Otto. “Lancy was the first dog, commercially that they did clone because his DNA was frozen and very viable.”


According to Bioarts International CEO Lou Hawthorne, head of the firm that cloned Lancelot, cloning dogs is even harder than cloning humans.


The original Lancelot was a Labrador who died last year on New Year’s Eve.  He was 11 years old.


“Lancelot was very human and he… He just… We used to call him our prince charming, ” said Otto.


You can have your dog cloned, too, but it will cost you.  The price for cloning Lancelot was over $150,000.


“It cost over 150-thousand dollars, so it was a lot of money. So, as I said before I did sell something that was precious to me to get something that was even more precious to me,” said Otto.


Nina Otto sold some big time jewelry to finance what she describes as the future.


“Yes, it’s expensive now, but as we know with everything, once it becomes college knowledge, it loses its value and it will become less expensive, ” said Otto…


[I]n a dim economic climate why would someone spend six figures on a dog.


“It was last May. I probably, at this point and time I would’ve said, you know, we really shouldn’t do it, it’s just economically not a good idea, but it was done, so thank god and thank god… The money is gone and he’s here and that’s what’s more important to me,” said Otto.


So, the Otto family have their Lancelot, or at least a dog with Lancelot’s genes.  He won’t be exactly the same.  He’ll sort of be like an identical twin to their original Lancelot, genetically speaking.


Cloning of all kinds is still very controversial, including cloning pets.  Most people I know don’t like the idea.  Personally, dog cloning doesn’t bother me.  It’s a very difficult process and I don’t think it’s ever going to be commonplace.  But there have been some good uses for dog cloning so far.  This same company in South Korea has cloned a world class sniffer dog used to detect bombs and explosives in airports.  The puppies from that litter had a far greater chance of becoming sniffer dogs themselves — which are very much in demand for security work.  Cloning dogs who do very specialized work can save a lot of time, work and money in trying to test and train young dogs to see if they have the same abilities.


However, many people have ethical concerns about cloning dogs.  Still, if I’d had a chance to clone my most beloved dog ever, I think I would have done it without hesitation just to have a dog like her back in my life again.  If I had $150,000, of course. 🙂


What do you think?  Cloning — good idea or bad idea?

January 28, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Dog bites

I was looking online today for news about dogs.  It’s amazing what you can find just by googling (I love that verb) “dogs news.”  You come up with everything dog-related.  But a couple of things that always sadden me are the number of stories I see that involve dog bites/attacks and the stories I see about breed specific legislation (BSL).  And the two things are often connected.



According to one story I found today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, some 12-16 people per year are involved in fatal dog attack cases.  That figure comes from the Centers for Disease Control which tracks dog bite statistics.

The CDC has been tracking dog bites since the 1970s, and officials say the numbers have not been increasing. Each year, about 800,000 people seek medical attention for dog bites, and 386,000 of them require treatment in a hospital emergency department, the CDC notes.



Supervise kids with pets!

Supervise kids with pets!

Nearly half of all dog-bite victims are children under the age of 12, with children ages 5 to 9 at greatest risk, the CDC reports. 


Now, I don’t mean to make light of those figures at all.  But, I am surprised by them.  If I had to guess the number of people killed by dogs every year based on what I read in the papers I would think the number was in the hundreds.  In case you haven’t noticed, our media believes that we are in some kind of dog attack epidemic.  There are shows on TV all the time about animals attacking people.  Newspapers trumpet stories about dog maulings every chance they get.  As a matter of fact, as the numbers indicate, the figures are holding steady and the CDC reports that many of the incidents involving dogs are no more than scratches.


“There are very few public health crises that can truly be cured by public awareness and education, but dog bites are one of them,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association Web site. The “suffering, injury, disability and mortality is completely unnecessary. It’s up to people, not dogs, to stop dog bites.”


Dr. Beaver, immediate past president of the AVMA, emphasized that education is the key.


“Dog owners need to learn how to make their dogs good citizens,” and that means training pets and teaching them to behave properly around people and other animals, Dr. Beaver said.


“The victims that are bitten most often are children. Children need to learn how to behave around dogs. And if parents would learn to never leave children unattended around dogs,” the number of dog bites would decrease dramatically, she said…


Tips from the CDC and American Veterinary Medical Association include: ask permission from the dog owner before petting any dog; let a strange dog sniff you before touching it, and then pet gently, avoiding the dog’s face, head and tail.


If confronted by a hostile dog, remain calm and avoid eye contact. Stand still or back away slowly until the dog leaves. If knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your arms.


Other organizations that provide campaigns and programs aimed at reducing dog bites include the U.S. Postal Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2007, about 3,000 postal employees, nationwide, were bitten by dogs, according to the Postal Service.


Amen to all that.  When my brothers and I were kids our parents taught us how to act around animals.  You don’t go up to strange dogs.  You ask permission before petting.  You put out your hand, carefully, and let a dog sniff you.  You don’t make sudden moves with an unknown dog.  In those days (and it wasn’t so long ago), we were taught that unknown animals could carry diseases and we should be careful of them.  We had to evaluate how an animal (any animal — not just a dog) behaved before we tried to pet it.  Did it act like a normal pet dog or cat?  If not, we were supposed to leave it alone or we could be hurt.  That meant that we had to know how a “normal” animal behaved.  And we did know how normal animals behaved.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids who don’t have that kind of background knowledge to draw on now.  Their parents haven’t provided them with real animal information.  For many small children they may think real animals behave like cartoon animals.  So, whenever they see any kind of animal they may lunge at it and try to pet it or pick it up.  The result can be a bite.


Supervision is so important when children are around any animals.  Supervision and pet education — education about the way that animals really behave, not how they would behave if they had human feelings.  The more real education kids have about how animals actually act, the less likely they are to be bitten or injured when they meet a new dog or cat.  We all know that our dogs can be very sweet and loving, but dogs can also bark at strangers, defend their territory, growl over food, get into a fight with another dog, and become possessive about toys.  If a child tries to interfere with any of these behaviors — normal dog behaviors — she could be hurt.  Teach kids about real dog behavior, not just how cute dogs are.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Higher beds can lead to injuries

I found a very important article in the Dayton Daily News this week that may be of interest to a lot of dog owners.  Bed makers are making beds much higher than they used to and it’s resulting in injuries to pets.  I can speak from personal experience on this issue.




Billie looking for birds.

Billie looking for birds.

The last time I bought a new bed a few years ago I was excited because it was very high off the ground.  I loved that about it.  I even remember thinking how great it would be because the dogs wouldn’t be able to get up on it — at least not unless I wanted them to.  With my old bed they were all on the bed all the time and there was never any room for me.  I thought with the new bed that I’d at least be able to determine who got up and when.  My plan worked great.  Nobody could get up on the bed unless I helped them get up.  I have big dogs but even they couldn’t jump up on this bed because it was so high.  Except.  Except for Billie.  Billie comes from a family that does agility, rally, obedience and every dog sport known to man.  She is very athletic.  From the time she was a small puppy she could jump up on the bed.  There was nothing I could do to stop her unless I shut the door to the bedroom and even then she would paw at the door until she got it open so she could get on the bed.



Flash forward a couple of years and we took Billie to the vet to have her hips x-rayed (because we’re good people and good breeders, yada yada, and that’s what we do when our dogs are two years old and we are trying to see if we should breed them later).  You should know that Billie has four generations of Good and Excellent hips behind her.  Nothing but great hips.  So we thought this was just a formality.  Imagine my shock when I get back her results and the x-rays show that she has evidence of some kind of old injury on one of her hips!  I was completely stunned.  She had never been injured that I knew of.  Never limped.  But she had been up and down on my high bed ten thousand times, even rolling off the bed sometimes.  I’m convinced that’s how she hurt her hip.  I thought it was a freak accident until I saw this story yesterday:


Vets seeing rise in dog injuries due to higher beds 

By Laurie Denger

Staff Writer

Sunday, January 11, 2009


The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story about a new problem affecting dogs across the country and the blame lies squarely on the bedding industry. You see, it seems that bedmakers are quietly and dangerously increasing the height of beds. And dogs are taking it squarely in the hips, elbows and shoulders.


The Journal says vets are reporting they are seeing a rise in the injuries to dogs — elbow and shoulder arthritis, hip dysplasia and degenerative disk disease — because older dogs are having to leap higher and higher to jump onto the bed.


OK, dogs don’t HAVE to jump on the bed, but try to keep them off.


Anyway, it seems the bedding industry may be in cahoots with the pet furniture industry because guess who also is doing booming business? Yes, the makers of steps that help dogs climb onto beds.


The Journal article details all kinds of pet stair products, from a $40 model to a $535 job that has decorator fabrics.


deco-3I guess the moral of this story is that if you have a very high bed you really do need to think about getting some pet stairs for your pet, especially if he/she is one of those dogs that tries to jump on the bed.  Otherwise they can injure themselves jumping up and down from the bed.  I’ve been looking for some nice steps (but I am not paying $535!!!) but I haven’t found what I want yet.  I have a feeling that Billie still won’t use the steps.  She shows no signs of any problems from her old injury, whenever it occurred.  She still hops up and down on the bed multiple times everyday, but she’s a young dog right now.  I don’t know if she’ll have any arthritic problems when she’s older or not.  Right now our concern is whether we should breed her later.  I know, with 99 percent certainty, that her hip x-ray reflects an injury, but I have never had a dog with a hip problem before so this is something of a moral dilemma for me.  On the other hand, she is a wonderful dog in every other way, certainly worthy of being a mother.  But I may be criticized for breeding her with the hip problem, even though it comes from an injury and it’s not genetic.  It’s a hard decision to make.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

PetSmart dog biscuit recall

Here’s another press release you should know about.  If you have been following the news recently you know that many peanut butter products have been taken off store shelves due to concerns about salmonella.  Those are human peanut butter products.  Now PetSmart is also conducting a voluntary recall of some of its dog biscuits that contain peanut butter.  Here’s part of the press release:


Effective January 20, 2009, PetSmart® is conducting a voluntary recall of seven of our Grreat Choice dog biscuits (peanut butter and assorted flavors). We initiated the recall after determining these products sold between August 21, 2008 and January 19, 2009 contain peanut butter product linked to the salmonella recall announced by the FDA.

While some of these products have been tested and no traces of salmonella were found, we have recalled these products as a precautionary measure.

Because of the potential risk, we’re immediately removing these products from our shelves and website.

What Has Been Recalled?

  • Here’s the complete list of products included in the recall with their UPC code, also known as a bar code.

    Check the description and UPC of any food you may have against this list. The UPC can be found on the product label under a series of bars. If you need help, ask any PetSmart store associate.

    Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits
    UPC Description

    Sample of a UPC Code
    73725702900 Small Assorted 32 oz.
    73725700601 Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb..
    73725700605 Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb..
    73725702755 Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb..
    73725700638 Large Assorted 8 lb..
    73725700779 Extra Large Assorted 8 lb..
    73725700766 Peanut Butter 4 lb..
  • At this time, only these UPCs are affected.

    Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called salmonella. Most persons infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.


    What Should You Do?

    • If you purchased any recalled treat products, you should discontinue use immediately and return the pet food to any PetSmart for a complete refund or exchange.
    • If you have any concerns that your or your pet’s health has been affected by any of these recalled treat products, we recommend you contact your medical professional.
    • Keep informed. At PetSmart, we’re committed to keeping you informed of any developments regarding the recall. We’ll continue to post any updated information on this website, as well as in our stores.You can also follow our updates via Twitter at @PetSmartTLC.

      If you have any additional questions about this recall, please call our Customer Service line at 1-888-839-9638.


    January 21, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

    AKC announces most popular dogs in U.S.

    I just got this press release from the AKC and thought you might enjoy seeing the latest results for the most popular dog breeds in the country.



    sm_labrador_retriever5AKC Celebrates 125th Anniversary with a Look Back at First AKC Registered Breeds in History — New York, NY – For the 18th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America, according to 2008 registration statistics released today by the American Kennel Club® (AKC) But, while more than twice as many Labs were registered last year than any other breed making it a likely leader for many years to come, the Bulldog continues to amble its way up the list. The breed made news last year by returning to the AKC’s Top 10 for the first time in more than 70 years and now has jumped 6%, advancing two spots to land in 8th place.


    “The playful Lab may still reign supreme, but the docile and adaptive nature of the Bulldog is gaining ground as a family favorite,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “It’s no surprise to learn that this devoted family companion is still growing in popularity.”


    2008 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S. 1. Labrador Retriever 2. Yorkshire Terrier 3. German Shepherd Dog 4. Golden Retriever 5. Beagle 6. Boxer 7. Dachshund 8. Bulldog 9. Poodle 10. Shih Tzu


    125 YEARS OF HISTORY Like the Bulldog, the popularity of breeds ebbs and flows over time. The AKC is proud to be celebrating its 125th Anniversary during 2009. In 1884 at the time of the organization’s founding, AKC registered only nine breeds versus the 161 it recognizes today:


    AKC Registered Breeds in 1884 Rank in 2008 Pointer 111 Chesapeake Bay Retriever 48 English Setter 86 Gordon Setter 92 Irish Setter 69 Clumber Spaniel 117 Cocker Spaniel* 21 Irish Water Spaniel 144 Sussex Spaniel 147 *In 1884 the English Cocker Spaniel and the Cocker Spaniel were registered as the same breed. They were separated in 1946. Today the English Cocker Spaniel is ranked 70th.


    These original breeds are all current members of the Sporting Group — dogs bred to help man find and retrieve game. They all have innate instincts in the water, field and woods. While none of the original nine is anywhere near the AKC Top 10, the qualities that made them effective hunters — trainability and desire to please — make them ideal family dogs today.


    “I think the comparison of our original nine to the current top 10 illustrates the different needs that dogs fill today,” said Peterson. “In the 1880’s most breeds served a specific purpose or function. Today dogs still serve man and in even more diverse roles — from guide dog to bomb detection K-9 – but most of all, dogs are now companions that ground us to nature in a busy and increasingly technological world.”


    There’s much more to the press release.  They have also have information on the top ten breeds in the 50 largest cities in the U.S.  If you like statistics or knowing what breeds are popular, there’s lots of information for you, along with some bizarre little tidbits.

    January 21, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

    Happy Inauguration Day

    It’s Inauguration Day in the United States.  We wish Barack Obama all the best.  Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or an Independent I think we all want our country to have a great four years.


    And, to make this dog-related, we are still waiting for President Obama to announce his family’s choice for White House pooch.  We’re told that his daughters have narrowed down their choice to the Labradoodle and the Portuguese Water Dog.



    A cream Labradoodle with hair type coat.  Wikipedia

    A cream Labradoodle with hair type coat. Wikipedia

    The Labradoodle is a cross between a Poodle and a Labrador.  They can come in different sizes depending on whether the Poodle in the cross is a Toy Poodle, a Miniature Poodle or a Standard Poodle — so that’s quite a large difference in size.  The reason breeders breed this cross is because they are hoping to produce dogs that are as close to being hypoallergenic as possible.  There are no completely hypoallergenic dogs, but Poodles, with their curly coats, often seem to shed less than other breeds.  By breeding Poodles to Labradors it’s hoped that they will pass on their coat characteristics to their puppies.  However, Labradoodles can have several different types of coat — curly, wavy, and more straight like the Lab’s coat.  People with allergies (like President Obama’s daughters) can have differing reactions to a Labradoodle’s coat depending on the type and the individual dog.



    Labradoodles were originally bred in Australia in the 1980s because it was believed the cross would make excellent dogs for working as guide dogs for the blind.  Labs and Poodles are two of the smartest dogs around and they are both very trainable which seemed to make the idea of using the cross for guide dogs very appealing.  It was also thought that by crossing two purebred breeds that the cross would have “hybrid vigor” and be healthier than either purebred breed.  Unfortunately, this has not proven to be true.  Both Poodles and Labs can be subject to hip dysplasia and they can pass this problem on to Labradoodle puppies.  Labradoodles can also inherit Progressive Retinal Atrophy from their Poodle parent.  If you are interested in a Labradoodle you should ask the same kind of questions that you would ask the breeder of any purebred dog — ask about the status of the parents’ hips and eyes; and ask about other health screening the puppies and parents have received.



    A Portuguese Water Dog doing agility.

    A Portuguese Water Dog doing agility.

    The other candidate for First Dog is the Portuguese Water Dog.  These dogs have a long history of helping fishermen on boats and they are natural swimmers.  They’re an outgoing, active breed that needs lots of exercise.  They are considered affectionate and adventurous dogs.  They are great family dogs and they love kids.  They are considered a very good dog for people with allergies and they do not usually shed very much.  They are typically about 21-23 inches tall and can weigh up to 60 lbs.  They may live as long as 14 years.  Health issues in the breed can be hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Storage Disease and Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy.



    The Portuguese Water Dog once existed all along Portugal’s coast, where it was taught to herd fish into the nets, to retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and to act as a courier from ship to ship, or ship to shore.  Portuguese Water Dogs rode in bobbing trawlers as they worked their way from the warm Atlantic waters of Portugal to the frigid fishing waters off the coast of Iceland where the fleets caught saltwater codfish to bring home.


    In Portugal, the breed is called Cao de Agua (pronounced Kown-d’Ahgwa). Cao means dog, de Agua means of water.  In his native land, the dog is also known as the Portuguese Fishing Dog.  Cao de Agua de Pelo Ondulado is the name given the longhaired variety, and Cao de Ague de Pelo Encaradolado is the name for the curly-coat variety.


    As with any dog, people with allergies can have different reactions to different dogs, so if you’re considering a Portuguese Water Dog as a pet you should meet the individual dog to see if you have a reaction.


    Either of these dogs would make great pets for the First Family if they are careful to choose a dog that their daughters are not allergic to.  The Obamas have said that they want to get a dog from a shelter so that may be a problem.  You don’t usually find genuine Labradoodles and Portuguese Water Dogs in shelters, just waiting around for people to adopt them.  Both dogs usually come from breeders, especially if you’re looking for a puppy.  If the Obamas are willing to work with rescue they may have some luck finding a Labradoodle or an adult Portuguese Water Dog but so far they have only mentioned getting a puppy.  If you’ve visited any shelters recently then you probably know that it’s rare to find puppies there.  Most dogs in shelters are young adults or oldsters.  And the largest number of dogs are Lab mixes (not Labradoodles) and the so-called “Pit Bulls” which aren’t a breed at all but a misnomer for anything that looks like a Bully breed of dog (such as Bull Terrier mixes).  It’s a great idea to adopt a shelter dog but it’s much harder if you go there with a particular breed in mind because it can be very difficult to find a dog of a particular breed, age or sex.  If you’re going to adopt from a shelter you should try to stay open to the dogs you will see.  You may find a great dog but it may be entirely different from what you thought you were going to adopt.


    So, we’ll see what kind of dog the Obama family ends up getting.  Will they get a Labradoodle or a Portuguese Water Dog?  Will it be a puppy?  Will it come from a shelter or rescue?  Or, will they visit a shelter and fall in love with a totally different dog than they came to see?  Maybe the new president will let us know soon.

    January 20, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

    Winter coat care for your dog

    It is 4 degrees where I live!  This is definitely not normal.  I don’t like it and the dogs definitely don’t like it.  I have the back door closed, like a sensible person, and the dogs are rarely asking to go outside.  They normally run in and out of the house all the time but with the temps we’ve been having they start snuggling on the bed in the afternoon and stay there all night.


    347740712_fd554dc266_mI have the heat cranked up and that’s made me aware that indoor heat can be very drying to skin — not just my skin but also for the dogs.  For myself I can put some lotion on my hands and make sure that I drink lots of water.  For the dogs, dry indoor heat with low humidity can lead to some skin problems in winter.  Many people have dogs that develop flaky skin and dander in the winter time.


    If your dog does have dry skin in the winter you can cut down on baths.  Bathing removes the natural oils that lubricate your dog’s skin so frequent baths in cold, dry weather aren’t a good idea.  When you do bathe your dog in the winter you should use a good shampoo and conditioner such as one with an oatmeal-base to protect the skin.  Oatmeal shampoos and conditioners are soothing to skin (that’s why we use them with humans, too) and help flaky and irritated skin.


    Brushing your dog frequently in the winter is a good idea.  This helps distribute those natural skin oils.  It also removes dander and loose hair.  Massaging your dog — with lots of petting — also helps.


    If you have a dog that sheds a lot you may want to try a really cool tool like a Furminator or a Coat King.  These are shedding tools with multiple fine blades.  They grab your dog’s dead undercoat and drag it out.  I have a Coat King and I absolutely love it.  It’s the first tool I use on all of my dogs when I groom them.  It works better on some of my dogs than others because some of my dogs have more undercoat than others, but it’s actually fun to use.  It is fun to see all of that dead hair come out!  That’s hair that is NOT going to accumulate on my floors and furniture.  If you have a breed or dog that sheds a lot you may want to consider one of these tools.


    Of course, you want to feed your dog a high quality dog food.  Some people like to supplement their dog’s diet with fish oil tablets or salmon oil.  It’s a good idea to give vitamin E tablets if you are giving fish oil to help your dog metabolize the fish oil.  Fish oil is an Omega 3 essential fatty acid.  Omega 3s helps many functions in your pet’s body, including maintaining healthy skin.  Be careful giving other kinds of oil.  Dogs cannot metabolize all kinds of oils well.  Some will merely make their coats greasy or give them diarrhea.


    Don’t forget to have clean water available to your pets at all times.  I have one dog (naughty Pearl) who thinks it’s fun to splash the water out of the bucket in the kitchen, but I still keep the big bucket filled all the time.  Pearl has actually improved a lot.  She used to dump the bucket, sometimes several times a day, when she was a puppy.  I was mopping the kitchen all the time.  I finally had to bolt the bucket to a post outside for a while to make her stop.  I only started bringing the bucket back inside a few months ago.


    345957966_0106445401_mAs I mentioned the other day, you should take care of your dog’s paws in winter weather, too.  Wash them off if your dog is out walking in salted and de-iced areas.  Salt and de-icing chemicals can be very bad for your dog if he licks them off his paws.  Salt and chemicals can also make your dog’s paws dry and cause them to crack.


    You should also keep the hair on your pet’s paws trimmed in winter.  This hair tends to pick up ice and snow.  Not only is this uncomfortable for your dog but you wouldn’t believe how much mud and snow this hair can bring into your house!


    To help keep your dog’s pads from cracking you can use some Vaseline on his paws.  There are also some products made specifically for a dog’s paws to help keep them soft and supple in the winter time.


    You can also help your dog by getting him some dog boots to wear in the winter if you live in an area with very hard winters.  Most dogs don’t need boots but if you live in a place with lots of snow and ice dog boots can be very helpful to your dog.

    January 17, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

    It’s cold and the RSPCA wants to prosecute you

    I have one word for you:  BRRRRRR!!!!  It’s COLD!  If you live just about anywhere in the eastern part of the country I think you’re probably suffering the same way we are where I live.  I live in the supposedly “sunny South” and it’s 15 degrees outside right now.  It’s supposed to get down to zero or a little below tonight.  I was not born for this kind of weather!  Nowhere in my genetic make-up does it prepare me to cope with these temps.



    2183153047_c32f877b1e_mAs you might guess, the dogs are curled up inside.  Three of them are lying on a comforter in the floor next to my chair right now.  (I have some old comforters scattered around the house in places where they like to sleep.)  Billie’s on the bed and I’m not sure where Beau is, but I know it’s someplace warm.  The back door is firmly closed and will remain that way.  The dogs are not going in and out tonight.  I will be supervising their trips outside because a) I don’t want all the heat to escape from the house; and b) they simply don’t need to be outside very much in this kind of cold weather.


    Just to repeat what you already know, if you do have outdoor dogs, please make sure that they have a warm, dry place to sleep or bring them in when the weather is this cold.  These extremely low temps can be life-threatening.  If there is snow or ice on the ground check your dog’s paws to remove the little snowballs that form on the pads.  Don’t let your dog lick his paws if he’s been walking in places that have been salted.  You can wash his paws with warm water and dry them.  Some people put dog boots on their dog’s paws when there is snow or ice to avoid salt and de-icing chemicals that are bad for pets to ingest.  You can go ahead and give your dog some extra food when the weather is this cold, too.  Their metabolism has to work a littler harder, kind of like a furnace, to keep them warm in this kind of weather.


    Some of you with shorthaired dogs or with toy dogs may put sweaters on your pets.  Many dogs appreciate a little extra warmth.  However, don’t tell the RSPCA in Great Britain.  There was a story  in a British newspaper a couple of days ago where the RSPCA said that peole who dressed their pets could be prosecuted.  Can you imagine that?


    RSPCA says people who dress up their dogs could be prosecuted

    The RSPCA is threatening legal action against people who dress up their dogs.


    Last Updated: 8:36PM GMT 14 Jan 2009


    The animal welfare charity claims that forcing pets to wear clothing could be harmful, and in some cases there may even be grounds to prosecute…


    Jo Barr, RSPCA spokeswoman, said: “Dog owners should be aware that under the Animal Welfare Act that came into force in April 2007 they have a duty of care to ensure that all of their pets’ needs are met.

    “One of those needs is to express normal behaviour and it could mean that with restrictive clothing they are not able to do that properly.

    “We’re concerned that any pet should be viewed as a fashion accessory. Taking on an animal is a long-term commitment. It’s quite humiliating and sends out the wrong message about pet care.

    “We’ve seen trends in recent years brought about by the rise in celebrities with ‘handbag dogs’.

    “This usually leads to people taking on pets because they are ‘fashionable’ and sadly that means many are neglected.

    “We’ve had similar problems with popular films like Harry Potter, with parents wanting to buy owls as pets for their children.

    “Going back further to the 1990s, we saw people unable to cope with turtles and terrapins that they’d bought due to the popularity of the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.”


    couple_weddingOh, lighten up!  I really can’t see any harm in people who like to dress up their pets.  Granted, I have 70 lb dogs and they don’t much lend themselves to wearing little outfits — though I have, on occasion, put a sweater on a dog and string of pearls, just to see if my dog resembled me.  (Remarkably, we wear the same size clothing.)  But where is the harm in people who enjoy buying outfits for their dogs and pampering them?  You certainly can’t say the dogs are neglected.  Quite the contrary.  Yet the RSPCA sees it as humiliating the dog.  Hogwash.  Dogs do goofy things all the time.  They love to entertain and to be entertaining and I can’t see very many dogs balking at putting on a little sweater or some boots, especially once they have had a chance to get used to them.  Dogs love to be fussed over and pampered.  They love human attention.  And if their human “moms” and “dads” want to go to the trouble of getting them cute little outfits I don’t see why a group like the RSPCA would want to prosecute someone for something so innocent.  Harmful indeed!  How silly.

    January 15, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

    Pet food warning

    If you feed your dogs Optima dog food, made by the Doane’ Pet Care Company for Mars Incorporated, then you should pay attention to this story.



    One of the Optima foods from the U.S.

    One of the Optima foods from the U.S.

    There is an Optima dog food sold in China which has been causing dogs to become sick and die from what appears to be aflatoxin poisoning.  Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring chemical that comes from a fungus sometimes found on corn and other crops. It can cause severe liver damage.  Right now it’s not clear if the Optima dog food sold in China is the same Optima that’s sold in the U.S.  Apparently the people feeding the food in China believed the food to be imported but the Doane and Mars companies have not confirmed any involvement with the food.  Some dog foods in China appear to be knock-off versions of dog foods, so it makes identifying the manufacturer of the food difficult.



    However, if you are feeding Optima in the U.S. (or elsewhere) you may want to exercise some caution right now.


    Here’s the Associated Press story:


    Shanghai seller stops sales of suspect dog food


    SHANGHAI, China (AP) — A local distributor of a popular brand of dog food said Monday it had suspended sales of the product following reports that dogs who ate it had died from aflatoxin poisoning.

    A customer service manager at Shanghai Yidi Pet Co. said the company stopped selling Optima brand dog food last week and notified its customers not to feed it to their pets after receiving complaints that dogs became sick after eating it.

    “It’s upsetting to see so many dogs getting sick from the food. There must be some serious problems,” said Gu, who gave only his last name as is common with many media-shy Chinese. (more


    I don’t want to be alarmist about this issue but I do take dog food problems very seriously now after the dog food recalls in 2007.  The FDA confirmed that a couple of thousand cats and dogs died, and the real number was probably even higher.  In that case the culprit was melamine — a cheap protein filler that is toxic to animals and people.


    There have been recalls and pet deaths due to aflatoxin poisoning in the past.  One well-known pet food company in the U.S. settled a large court case a few months ago based on aflatoxin poisoning.


    It’s cases like these which have led many people to begin cooking for their dogs themselves or to using a raw diet.  Of course, those diets are not totally free of possible contamination problems either since they still rely on food (especially meat) from outside sources.


    To be honest, it’s just not easy to always feel confident about the food we feed our pets, despite regulations and inspections in this country.  I won’t go into great detail here, but there are a couple of books out that do detail some of the horrors of the pet food industry.


    I think, on the whole, if you are careful you can usually find good foods for your dog, but you have to be continually vigilant about ingredient changes, changes in where foods are manufactured, when companies are bought out, and other things that can affect the quality of the food you feed your dog.  How many times have you been happily feeding a food to your dogs for months or years only to see a drastic change in their weight or coat?  When you investigate you may discover that the dog food you’ve been feeding has been bought up by a larger company and they’ve changed the formula without warning.  It’s very frustrating.  That’s why you have to be alert for changes in your dog’s coat and condition all the time, even when you’re feeding the same food.  Even each batch of dog food can be different.


    As you feed your dog it’s a good idea to keep old bags after you finish them, or at least keep labels for a while.  That way if your dog experiences any health problems later you will have something that could be tested, or a lot number and manufacturing date.  Sometimes people are not reimbursed for veterinary expenses due to dog food problems because they do not have any proof that their dog ate the food.  So, keep bags or labels until you’re sure your dog is not going to have any ill-effects from a food.


    Again, we should note that it is unconfirmed whether the Optima in China is the same Optima here in the U.S.  But until the companies make some comment, you should use caution if you feed this food.

    January 13, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , | Leave a comment