Greyt Inspirations Life

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

Pet health care

I found several interesting items about pets in the news this weeks. I know the economy is hurting a lot of people right now. Have you wondered what the effect will be on how we care for our pets?

Well, there was a story in the Washington Post this week (Home Economics of Anxious Times: Dyeing Your Hair in the Kitchen Sink) that had the following quote:

Spending on pet services, for example, is expected to grow 6 percent this year after jumping as much as 40 percent earlier in the decade, according to an industry trade group.

So, it sounds like that’s a big cutback for pet services, even if there is still some growth.

The same article also has this segment:

Brenda Waller, 42, of Herndon said her consulting firm has frozen salaries, and she’s worried about the future. She has called off the lawn care service for the coming summer and asked the woman who does her nails to cut them extra short — so the manicure will last longer. And no more pedicures. But she is holding on to DoodyCalls, a company that cleans up after her pets in the yard. Founder Jacob D’Aniello said his Charlottesville-based company grew by 21 percent last year.

“The only time I really felt we’d be in trouble,” he said, “is if everybody woke up one morning and decided they liked picking up dog poop.”

Hmmm. Well, maybe nobody likes to pick up dog poop but I wonder if everybody is going to continue to be able to afford to pay somebody else to do it for them?

2299629418_4710803a9f_mThere’s also this item from

Sick pets paying price for recession
January 31, 2009
Americans who must euthanize their sick dogs and cats because they can no longer afford veterinary care are feeling guilt pangs, pet experts say.
With average annual costs of $356 for dogs and $190 for cats, veterinary care is becoming a luxury for some cash-strapped pet owners, and their animals are paying the ultimate price for the financial downtown, USA Today reported Saturday.
“People just don’t have the money to do extensive treatments for their pets, so they may euthanize them sooner,” said Linda Lawrence, an instructor at Michigan State University’s School of Social Work and the founder of a support group for people whose pets have died. “And people who are giving them up are feeling so guilty. So the recession has also hit our animal kingdom.”
“Because of the financial downturn, we’re hearing from people who can’t afford to provide care for their animals,” added Elizabeth Strand of the University of Tennessee’s Veterinary Social Work program.
She told USA Today said she recently spoke with a couple having to choose between getting treatment for their small dog, who was suffering from a treatable autoimmune disease, or paying the mortgage.

(I wonder if that’s the same Elizabeth Strain I went to school with?)

That’s a horribly sad story but I think it is a sign of our times. I don’t think it’s only about the economic downturn though. Even before the economy started going sour people were beginning to have to make some tough decisions about treatment for pets. I think we’ve reached the stage now where many treatments for our pets are very similar to human treatments — cancer surgeries, chemo, etc. We’re talking about veterinary care that can cost many thousands of dollars. Even if you have pet insurance it may not cover a fraction of these costs. I literally know people who have mortgaged their homes and taken out loans to pay for cancer treatment for their pets. It’s more than a little scary. How many of us could afford to do that? Or, should we?

Here’s another one from my hometown:

Pet Owners Struggle with Medical Care Costs

Abena Williams
February 6, 2009
Six the dog recently had surgery and just finished up his physical therapy. While many people dread paying their own medical bills, Deane Peterson says paying for his pets treatment is worth it.
Peterson, “We put our animals first so we’ll take the sacrifices we need to.”
In this faltering economy, many people simply can’t afford medical care for their pets. It’s something Dr. Billy Pullen of River Vet Emergency Clinic has noticed.
Dr. Pullen, “Sometimes they have to make difficult decisions for their pet, life and death decisions. And you hate that finances have to factor into that but sometimes they do.”
Dr. Pullen says the economy has forced many people to skip costly MRI’s and other treatments when their pet is sick or suffers an injury. Pullen, “On the emergency side they are seeing more people that aren’t able to pursue a full diagnostic workup and things like that.” Riley is a lucky dog, he was hit by a car but his owners were able to save him.
Deane Peterson, “I really feel for a lot of people out there with the economy these days that can’t afford, it’s a choice between paying the heating bill or getting their own medication.”
Dr. Pullen says preventative care can help pet owners save money in the long run.
Pullen, “The routine things really are very important, a balanced diet, exercise, weight management. Just like in us it plays a major role in general health.”
Many people opt for credit when an emergency strikes. Pet insurance is also an option, but Dr. Pullen reminds people to read the fine print. Dr. Pullen, “In most situations the owner has to pay up front and they’re reimbursed, you have to be careful because most of them don’t cover pre-existing conditions.”
Riley and Six will both bounce back, something their owners are grateful for.

I don’t know. Something about all of this makes me a little angry. There are people in the world who can’t afford to get their prescriptions. There are Americans without health care. And the cost of veterinary care for our pets keeps getting higher and higher. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I just feel like the rest of us can’t keep up. But something about all of it makes me mad.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Obamas narrow their dog choice

From MSNBC and The Today Show:

Michelle Obama: Dog coming soon!
The family will be getting a new addition next month, first lady says

The whole world, it seems, wants to know: What kind of dog are the Obamas getting and, for goodness sake, when?

Speaking to PEOPLE at the White House recently, Michelle Obama leaned in and confided: “You’re getting some scoops here.”

So, when? In April, Mrs. Obama says – after she and the President take daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, on a vacation for spring break.

Here’s a sample of a typical family conversation on the matter: “So Sasha says, ‘April 1st.’ I said, ‘April.’ She says, ‘April 1st.’ It’s, like, April!,” Mrs. Obama recalls. “Got to do it after spring break. You can’t get a new dog and then go away for a week.”

The Portie is an active, intelligent dog.

The Portie is an active, intelligent dog.

And what kind of dog will soon be frolicking on the South Lawn? Mrs. Obama says the family is looking for a rescue Portuguese water dog who is “old enough” and a “match” for the family dynamic.

“Temperamentally they’re supposed to be pretty good,” she says of the breed that Sen. Ted Kennedy has also lobbied for (he has two Water dogs of his own). “From the size perspective, they’re sort of middle of the road – it’s not small, but it’s not a huge dog. And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them. So that’s where we’re leaning.”

The name game
The only thing still up in the air is the name. And Mom’s not feeling it with some of the names her girls have come up with.

“Oh, the names are really bad. I don’t even want to mention it, because there are names floating around and they’re bad,” Mrs. Obama says with a laugh. “You listen and you go – like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn’t a moose? Moose. I’m like, no, come on, let’s work with the names a little bit.”

Asked if she can believe the public interest in her family dog search, Mrs. Obama shakes her head. “Okay, that’s surprising,” she says. “One of the things I didn’t anticipate is the level of the excitement about the dog. I knew my kids were excited. They’ve been excited for years. They’ve even calmed down, because they feel like, ‘They said we’re going to get one, so let’s just shut up about it.’ ”

Diplomatically, and careful not to insult enthusiastic dog-lovers, she adds: “It’s all great and gracious attention. People are just being as helpful as you can imagine. So I know that we will find the perfect breed. And we’ll find people who are caring folks who will help us find the dog of our dreams.”

So, there you have it. The family is looking for a rescued Portuguese Water Dog. That’s a good choice for a family where allergies are a concern.

I know a lot of people were hoping that the Obamas would choose a mixed breed dog but when you are trying to fill a special need — like finding a dog that is considered hypoallergenic — then it’s usually a good idea to look at dogs from breeds that are known to be good for those traits. It’s not impossible to find a mixed breed dog that an allergy-sufferer could live with, but you would have to search the dog out on a one-on-one basis. I imagine that the Obama girls might not even be able to visit shelters since allergies are an issue.

The same is true when it comes to choosing a purebred dog for many other purposes. Sometimes there’s a reason why they were bred in the first place and a reason why they continue to exist as a breed. I know sometimes I like to watch the Incredible Dog Challenge events on TV and I can’t help noticing that most of the dogs that do so well in the water events are Labs and other breeds bred for water retrieving. You think that’s a coincidence?

There are many great purebred dogs in rescues. I’m sure the Obamas will be able to find a wonderful dog for their family. But, come on, Michelle! Let the kids have fun naming the dog! What’s wrong with Moose or Frank???

February 25, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Dog grooming tips

I make my living by freelance writing. The last few days I’ve been writing articles about grooming dogs. Oh, my! I’ve been learning a lot. I thought I already knew how to groom a basic dog but it turns out there really isn’t any such thing as a basic dog. I may know how to groom my Setters and most of us can groom a shorthaired dog but there’s a lot more to grooming a lot of dogs.

For instance, some dogs have single coats and some have double coats. That means that some dogs have an undercoat plus the guard hair that you see on the outside. But whether a dog has a single coat or a double coat doesn’t seem to make any difference when it comes to whether the dog will be easy to groom or not. Some single coat breeds require lots of grooming, such as Toy breeds like the Yorkie and the Maltese. Many double-coated breeds can be easy to care for, such as the Beagle and the Chihuahua. And some breeds can be a mix — Pugs are single-coated if they are black but double-coated if they are fawn-colored. Poodles are single-coated and can be very grooming-intensive if you keep them in show condition but their coats are somewhat easier to manage if you keep them in a pet clip. Bichon Frises are double-coated and can also be grooming-intensive if you try to keep them looking like show dogs but are easier to groom if you choose a pet look. Don’t even get me started on Terriers!

I never realized there was so much divergence between how you cared for each kind of dog’s coat. Each breed almost seems to require different grooming tools. It takes a considerable time commitment from an owner to groom some of these dogs each week. No wonder some people choose to use pet groomers instead. I feel lucky now that I can handle my dogs’ grooming myself.

For my dogs, which are a longhaired breed, I suppose I do have some special grooming tools, but I’ve been using them for so long that I don’t pay much attention to them any more. When I groom my dogs I typically put them up on my grooming table (since I have five dogs and I go to shows I do consider a grooming table a necessity and not a luxury) and begin by spritzing them with a spray bottle containing water or a little conditioner mixed with water. Experts say that dampening the coat with water before brushing it keeps the hair from breaking when you groom. Then I begin by brushing through my dog’s feathering with my pinbrush. I use the pinbrush on my dog’s ear feathers, chest hair, leg feathers, stomach feathers, and tail feathers. I don’t use the pinbrush on my dog’s body because the pins aren’t meant to be used against a dog’s skin. They are supposed to be used to lift and separate long hair or to fluff thick body hair.

Next I take my brush (which has boar bristles and a wooden back — you can find good ones at a Sally’s Beauty supply store) and brush my dog’s body thoroughly. This loosens any dirt, debris and dead hair. With both the brush and the pinbrush on the feathering it’s important to clean out the brush frequently to remove the hair you pick up.

Once I’ve gone over my dog’s body with the brush I’ll do any special grooming I need to do. This could be using thinning scissors on my dog’s head and neck to keep them looking trim and neat; tidying up his paws with scissors; using the nail clippers on his nails; or using the clippers on his neck. I don’t do these things as often as I brush my dog so the routine varies.

Ideally I should clean my dog’s ears and brush his teeth at least weekly.

And, of course, I am giving my dog treats for everything we do while he’s on the table so he will enjoy his grooming time. All of my dogs like to be groomed. They aren’t crazy about getting their nails trimmed but I don’t have anyone who really dreads it.

That’s it. That’s our routine. It works well for a longhaired dog like a Setter and something similar would probably work well for a lot of dogs.

Some of these grooming supplies aren’t usually carried in pet stores, not even in pet superstores. If you look online, however, at sites that carry grooming supplies, you can easily find them.

Believe it or not, grooming your dog can be very relaxing for both of you. Most dogs enjoy being groomed once they get used to it. Every time I walk past my grooming table Pearl and Blue jump up and put their paws on it, wanting to get up. If I say, “Table!” all of my dogs come running to the grooming table.

Maybe you and your dog can spend some quality time together while you groom.

February 23, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Why We Love Cats and Dogs

I watched a wonderful show on PBS’s Nature series last night called “Why We Love Cats and Dogs.”  (I would have posted the information if I had realized it was going to be on.  You can check your local listings and you may still be able to catch it.)  The program was great.  All kinds of dog and cat owners were interviewed about their pets and what they have meant to them.



The program featured an interview with a woman with six cats.  She said some interesting things about how cats have “timesharing” arrangements, which makes them a little different from dogs.  For instance, a cat may have a favorite place to sleep in the mornings but another cat will sleep in the same spot at night.  Both cats are fine with that arrangement.  Dogs, on the other hand, seem to tend to see things a little more in terms of territory.  If a dog has a favorite spot then that place is his all the time.  There are probably exceptions.  With my dogs I know the most coveted spot is up on the pillows on the bed opposite me. This is Billie’s place 90 percent of the time.  She will miss meals to keep her favorite spot.  But all of the dogs seem to think this spot confers some favored status.  (I don’t care where they sleep.  It makes no difference to me.  I like for them all to be in the bedroom so I can make sure they’re okay at night, and I like to cuddle but I can cuddle with whichever dog is next to me.  The dogs have come up with this theory about the pillow spot being special on their own.)  Therefore, whenever Billie gets off the bed, immediately some other dog, usually Blue or Pearl, demands to get up right away to get the pillow spot.  Five minutes later, when Billie comes back, she definitely looks put out to find one of these brats in her spot.  So, I don’t think dogs are into “timesharing” spaces the way that cats are.  Billie will get up on the bed in another spot and stare at the dog who has her place just waiting for them to move.  When she finally gets her place back she will settle down and stay there another 10 hours.  LOL


If the dogs knew the truth they would know that I really prefer the dog that sleeps next to my knees or against my back.  Those are the easiest places to reach when I want to pet somebody.  For me, that’s much more important than the pillow spot that creates discord.  Billie is on the bed in her spot so much that I forget she’s there half the time.  But the dogs think it’s important, probably because it seems to elevate them to the same status I have.


The program had other good segments including how a shelter in Colorado evaluates cat and dog personality and tries to match them with people to reduce returns.  There’s also a great segment where a professional dog trainer/behaviorist visits a park and talks to owners about their dogs.  She is able to identify exactly what kind of relationships owners have with their dogs simply by talking to them and observing their dogs.  According to this trainer there are people who are “Angels” — they go around wanting to rescue dogs, even when they don’t need rescuing.  This can lead to spoiled dogs.  There are “Soulmates” — people who look to their dogs to fill all of their relationship needs.  There are “Buddies” — people who have an easygoing relationship with their dogs and look for low maintenance.  And there are “Masters” and “Observers.”  Masters are people who set a lot of rules and ask for obedience.  Observers are people who let dogs be dogs — and the dogs may get away with a lot.  It was very interesting to hear this dog trainer talk about these dogs, owners and their relationships.  I have no idea which one I would be.


But I thought the best part of the show was an emotional story about a German Shepherd named Jerry.  Jerry’s owners lived their whole lives around the dog.  So, when he had to have one of his front legs removed because of cancer they decided to sell their house and business, buy an RV and spend all of Jerry’s remaining life traveling with him around the country.  Jerry loved life and he loved to play and he certainly enriched his owners’ lives.  You can’t watch Jerry’s story without a few tears.


If you get a chance to watch “Why We Love Cats and Dogs” I definitely recommend it.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Thunderstorm fears

I hope you’re having a wonderful February day!  I know that spring is on the way because we’ve been having all kinds of mixed weather.  Earlier this week we had a winter weather advisory.  Yesterday we had spring-like weather.  And, today, just to make things interesting, we’ve had some rousing thunder boomers off and on all day!  A couple of my poor dogs have been shaking and running for cover.  To be honest, one of the crashes was so loud it sounded like we were under attack.  I was looking for a place to hide myself.


2425150005_5b79f2f56e_mBeau and I, being Pisces, seem to be particularly affected by these storms.  (I’m just kidding.  I have no idea if astrological signs have anything to do with it.)  I think we can both feel the storms coming because of the drop in pressure.  I get a sinking feeling in my head and that’s when Beau usually comes to find me.  If I don’t do anything for him he’ll be shaking and shivering — whether from fear or with physical symptoms, I don’t know.  I can get migraines from the pressure drops before bad storms.  So, to save us both these problems I have learned to take preemptive action.  I give Beau a couple of valerian capsules and take a couple for myself.  Valerian is an herb that’s often taken to help people sleep or relax.  I’m not a vet so I’m not going to give dosages.  This is simply what has worked for us.  Please talk to your vet before giving your dog any herbal supplement.  You can find valerian in any Walmart or drugstore in the aisle with herbal supplements.  The valerian does help Beau relax enough so that he can usually sleep through a storm.  I also spend time petting him and I’ll put him up on the bed with me if things get very bad.  (That’s not easy to do because he’s around 90 pounds and he doesn’t do any of the jumping himself.)


Other people use one of the Bach Flower Essences to deal with problems brought on by storms and loud noises.  Some dogs may be reacting to the noise of thunder while others may react to the drop in barometric pressure, so you may have to try different flower essences to see what works for your dog.  Many dogs respond positively to peppermint oil placed on their paw pads and other pressure points.  With other dogs Rescue Remedy is preferred.  If you are buying a flower essence in a store rather than online the herbalist in the store may be able to help you choose the best product for your dog.


Please remember that although herbs and other supplements may be “natural” that does not mean that they are necessarily safe.  Many things found in nature may be poisonous.  Even beneficial plants may become toxic when not taken as directed.  So, please be careful with any herb or supplement for yourself or your pet.


For dogs who are reacting to the drop in barometric pressure there is a product that is designed like a tube top for dogs.  It’s called the StormDefender Cape.  The theory behind this item is that the wrap prevents static electricity from building up next to the dog’s skin and coat, so the dog feels better during the storm.  Believe it or not, people who have tried this product say that it works.  You can make something similar for your dog at home using an actual human tube top or a T-shirt and securing it tightly around your dog’s body.  It needs to be tightly secured to get the feel of the tube top and prevent the build up of static electricity.


Some dogs have actual thunderstorm phobias.  If your dog becomes violent during storms or reacts so badly that he may hurt himself or others, you may need to consult your vet about the problem.  He or she may talk to you about prescribing a mild sedative to help your dog get through storms.  This would be a last resort but it would be better than having your dog harm himself or being wild with fear.


Hopefully we can move smoothly into a lovely spring without too many bad thunderstorms or problems with tornadoes.  Remember to plan ahead for your dog so you will have some of these preventives on hand.  Most of them can be found in your local drugstore or herb shop.

February 18, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australian wildfire tragedy

Over the last several days we’ve been hearing from many people in Australia about the devastating wildfires in that country.  The wildfires currently racing throughout Australia have killed more than 180 people, burned 1,500 square miles of land, destroyed more than 1800 homes and left 5,000 people homeless.  Many more people are feared dead.  These firestorms, spurred on by record heat and drought and 60 mph winds are the deadliest-ever in Australian history.



dataMany dog fanciers and pet owners have lost everything in the blazes and are now left without their homes, kennels or the basic essentials needed for daily life.  Hundreds more people and pets throughout the country have been displaced.


An Irish Setter owner on a Setter e-mail list with me has been keeping us updated about the tragedy.  Her messages have told heartbreaking stories of people who have lost dogs, their homes, horses and other animals.  Some people she knows have even lost their lives.  Truly the worst part of the ordeal for Australians is the fact that many of the fires have been set by arsonists.


The American Kennel Club has made a donation to the Australian National Kennel Council to assist in their efforts to provide supplies and assistance to the Australian dog fanciers affected by the wildfires.


The Australian National Kennel Council has planned an International Virtual Dog Show to raise money for the wildfire victims.  Supporters can enter their dogs in a variety of categories, with all proceeds going to support the wildfire victims.


dogsvicTo enter the virtual show and for more information on the current situation and how you can help, click here.  The virtual show is open to everyone, especially to people who would like to enter dogs who have passed over the Rainbow Bridge.  Dogs from “mixed marriages” are welcome, as well as purebreds.  Entries close March 6 and are Aus$10 per dog.


You can contact DOGS Victoria to offer assistance at the DOGS Victoria Bushfire Appeal web site.  


According to one UK source, animal shelters are busy searching for the owners of hundreds of dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and other pets displaced by the fires.


Shelter workers fear many owners may have assumed their animals died or they could be looking for them in the wrong places. They are urging anyone who has lost a pet to register with their council. 


Bureau of Animal Welfare director Stephen Tate said being separated from pets was adding to the distress of bushfire victims. 


“These animals may have been found by bushfire response crews or members of the public,” Dr Tate said. “We urge people who have either lost or found an animal to contact their local council immediately.´´ 


Dr Tate said that with many fences burnt, livestock and horses might also be wandering the roads and on to neighbouring properties, and he urged anyone in affected areas to drive carefully.


They’re expecting a lot more animals, especially cats, to turn up in the next few days as the fires are put out and people are able to begin searching for their pets.


We hope they will all be reunited.

February 16, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | Leave a comment

Keep Chocolate and Flowers Away From Your Dog

Happy Valentine’s Day! I know it’s a great day for chocolate and flowers but please keep them away from your dog.



Here’s a special message from Pet Sitters International:



Pet Sitters International Offers Valentine’s Day Tips for Pet Owners

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and love is definitely in the air, but so is potential danger for your pets. Pet Sitters International (PSI) offers pet owners a few hints to keep pets safe this Valentine’s Day.
Two of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts, chocolate and flowers, can be extremely hazardous to pets.
Last year, The American Society for the Protection Against Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) saw a 74 percent increase in cases of chocolate ingestion in the week before Valentine’s Day.
Animals are particularly sensitive to theobromine and caffeine, two ingredients in chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your pets. Be sure to paw-proof all Valentine’s chocolate.
Many pet owners don’t realize that all members of the Lily family are extremely poisonous to cats. This is not a clever ploy by florists to sell more roses. Be sure any Valentine’s bouquets are lily-less.
These measures should keep your furry valentine feeling just fine. If your pet does ingest anything harmful, call your vet or a local emergency animal hospital immediately.


February 14, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

Doggy finds


d91165bI got a nice catalog from a place called In The Company of Dogs this week.  They are a little expensive but they have some very cool things.  They have all kinds of beautiful gates designed to help you keep dogs out of certain areas in your home.  Gates are great.  Usually catalogs and pet stores have a limited selection and they aren’t very pretty but In The Company of Dogs has a beautiful selection.  Some of them even look like art deco panels — the kind of things people used to use for changing clothes.


They also have some lovely crates that don’t look like crates — wicker crates, a round crate, a crate that’s built into an end table.  If you don’t like to crate your dog but you still need to do so from time to time when you’re in the room, too, you should look at these options.


d91098You could spend a fortune on all of the great t-shirts, sweatshirts and wall hangings they offer.  I usually see specialized dog things available for specific breeds but In The Company of Dogs has a lot of stuff for mixed breed owners, too.  Check it out.


They don’t have many of the more basic dog items, like everyday grooming tools and shampoos, or collars and leashes, but if you’re looking for something special for you and your dog, like artwork, it’s a good place to look.




DannyQuest sculpture.

DannyQuest sculpture.

One of my favorite places for dog art is DannyQuest Designs.  DannyQuest has been in business for years and they specialize in realistic purebred dog sculptures in bronze.  Many of their pieces are very affordable.  They have a wonderful artist who captures the personality of the breeds.  The dogs are shown in sculptures as pets and as they might be seen doing their original work.  I have a couple of their English Setter sculptures as well as a set of windchimes.  My keychain also has an English Setter head.  I love their work.




If you do like to collect dog items, especially if you are looking for things for a certain breed, you can find lots of great things on eBay.  If you do a search for breed items you can usually find anywhere from a couple of hundred items to several thousand things, depending on the popularity of the breed.  Whether you’re looking for cute t-shirts or searching for original artwork, eBay can be a great source for you.  You can often find things for good prices but be careful that you don’t get caught up in bidding wars.  Many things that are posted are not one-of-a-kind items and can be found elsewhere.  If you think something is overpriced or if it’s not selling, chances are that it will be re-posted and offered for sale again.  If you lose out to another bidder an item may be offered for sale again.  If it’s something that you have to have, you can try contacting the winning bidder to see if they will sell, or contact the original seller to see if they have something similar they are willing to sell.


I’ve been collecting English Setter items for years.  The problem with collecting little statues and other breakable things if you own dogs is that they break!  I’m afraid to put my things out because it just takes one swipe from a dog’s tail to send them hurtling to the floor.  I used to keep some things on my fireplace mantle but even there the dogs could reach them.  So, I have all of these lovely Royal Doulton statues and other things and I don’t display them.  I guess I need a curio cabinet or something.  That would be better than keeping my pretty dog things packed away in boxes.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

Westminster and therapy dogs


Who says dog shows are boring?  If you watched the Westminster Kennel Club show on TV last night you were probably surprised by the result.  The new king of Westminster is none other than a ten-year-old rare breed dog named, of all things, “Stump.”  He’s even been retired for the last five years and just came out of retirement last week to give Westminster one more shot.  If he wasn’t a longshot winner then I don’t know who would be!



Stump enjoying his victory.

Stump enjoying his victory.

Stump is a real cutie but he’s not the kind of dog you will see on the street very often.  He’s a Sussex Spaniel.  They were ranked 145th out of 154 breeds registered in 2008.  Very few litters are bred and registered in the United States each year.  And, they are not a dog for everyone.  They are long and low to the ground.  They are not as fast as many dogs, though they are very sprightly as you could see in watching Stump motor around the ring.  But people should keep in mind that dogs with flews like his (that’s what dog people call the long lips and jowls on the face) are also prone to producing a lot of drool!  As cute as he is you could still see Stump doing a little drooling while they were taking his picture.  The Sussex Spaniel is also a longhaired breed and sheds a lot, so the breed is not for people who don’t like to deal with dog hair.



Of interest, the Sussex Spaniel was one of the first ten breeds accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1884 but this is the first time the breed has ever won Best In Show at Westminster.


Stump’s win was a triumph for old-timer dogs everywhere.  At ten-years-old common wisdom says that Stump is the equivalent of a 70-year-old man.  So the little guy just came out of retirement and whipped all the young kids in the ring with him.


Stump will be off making the talk show rounds today so you can see him on TV in many interviews.  He’ll spend the next year doing many of the things that the previous winner Uno did — visiting Ronald McDonald Houses in various cities to meet kids and their families who are going through medical treatments; being an ambassador for dogs; and doing some therapy dog work with children.


If you watched the show on Monday night then you also saw some other good things that dogs do.  Angel on a Leash is Westminster’s therapy dog program.  The show honored two of the people that Uno met during the past year, a little girl named Jessica Kuebler from the Ronald McDonald House, and Lance Corporal Joshua Bleill who suffered devastating injuries in Iraq.  The salute was so touching it brought tears to my eyes.  Dogs do so many wonderful things for us and they can bring life back to us when everything seems lost and hopeless.



Angel on a Leash

Angel on a Leash

Therapy dog programs, like Angel on a Leash, are one of the very best things people can do with their dog.  You don’t have to have a purebred dog or be a show dog like Uno.  Any dog with the right temperament can become a therapy dog.  It just takes a dog with a good personality who likes people and a little training.  And it takes a commitment from the dog’s owner to make the visits to places that welcome therapy dogs.



If a dog can pass the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test that is usually a good sign that the dog has what it takes to become a therapy dog.  The CGC is open to all dogs, including mixed breeds, and is often given at dog shows.


You can find some good information about testing to becoming a therapy dog at this site.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dogs and spirits

Are any of you Sylvia Browne fans?  She has a new book out called All Pets Go To Heaven: The Spiritual Lives of the Animals We Love.  It sounds very interesting.



Here’s a blurb about it:


For the first time, the renowned author explores the unique spiritual bond between animals and the humans who love them. She explains how pets “live” in the afterlife, from how living animals see spirits and pets’ purposes in our lives to how we will see our deceased pets on the Other Side and how animals fit into creation. Her 40 years of research and stories culled from her 50-year-plus career giving readings, provided her with keen insight and unprecedented knowledge into the true being of the cats, dogs, horses, snakes, hamsters, mice and other creatures that inhabit our homes and lives.


Sylvia Browne is the author of 46 books, including 22 New York Times bestsellers. As a highly acclaimed psychic, having consulted with police and FBI on several high-profile cases, she has appeared regularly on the Montel Williams Show and Larry King Live while continuing her practice in California.


I don’t want to sound skeptical, but do you believe all of that is true?  Maybe it is.  I don’t know.  I certainly hope there are animals in the afterlife.  As Will Rogers said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”


I do wonder if dogs can see spirits.  I sort of believe I have a ghost in my house.  No, I’m not crazy.  But ever since I moved here 2-3 years ago little things have been happening.  The TV comes on by itself sometimes.  The radio station changes on its own.  A chair will get moved to a different position.  Things like that.  Nothing sinister or frightening.  I think it’s just “George’s” way of saying hello.  (I call him George.  For some reason I think that’s his name.)  Anyway, lately my dog Blue has been looking at the wall sometimes or into another room and he will start barking at nothing.  I wonder if he’s seeing something, or someone, that I can’t see?  None of the other dogs do anything.  None of them acts scared.  It’s only Blue who ever pays attention.  (Of course, Blue is a Scorpio dog so maybe he’s psychically-attuned.:) )


If you have dogs chances are that you may have a story about dog ESP.  Many people believe that our dogs communicate with us without the use of words.  I know I can simply think of something sometimes — like food — and I immediately have five dogs heading for the refrigerator.  If you’ve ever lost a dog you may have a story about some kind of communication from your dog after death.  Believe it or not, it’s not at all uncommon.  Many people believe that they receive some kind of sign from their dogs after death — a sign of love, something to let them know that they are still with them or that they are all right.  My dear Sami was debarked and had a very distinctive, husky bark.  I swear I occasionally hear a bark from her once in a while even though she passed away several years ago.  I have a friend whose Afghan Hound died.  He was infamous for getting in the trash can.  After he died she found the trash can in her house turned over and knew it was a sign from him.  He couldn’t resist getting into it just once more.


I know non-believers will scoff.  There are other explanations.  We’re interpreting things the way we want them to be.  But when something like this happens to you, you will believe it’s true, too.

February 9, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | 2 Comments