General Interest

The Endearing History of Reindeer and Christmas

posted December 5th, 2015 by
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By Anna Holton-Dean

 

Christmastime is near, and we bet our mistletoe many of you will soon be singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” watching the iconic cartoon of the same name or even putting antlers on Fido for a holiday snapshot.

But have you ever stopped to ponder how reindeer came to be synonymous with Christmas? Or do reindeer even exist? While Rudolph alone might be a beloved, fictional character, reindeer are 100-percent real.

Spotting one might sound exciting, but reindeer are a common sight in  many regions where they are nowhere near endangered. They can be found in Europe, Asia, Greenland and even North America, particularly in Maine where they are known as Caribou; there’s even a town in Maine named Caribou.

Sometimes hunted for meat and  hides, reindeer are domesticated for milking and pulling things during Arctic or Subarctic winters, according to allpetsnews.com. “Caribou have large hooves that are useful tools for life in the harsh northlands,” according to National Geographic. “They are big enough to support the animal’s bulk on snow and to paddle it efficiently through the water. The hoof’s underside is hollowed out like a scoop and used for digging through the snow in search of food. Its sharp edges give the animal good purchase on rocks or ice.”

With that knowledge, it’s easy to see how a storyteller would choose reindeer for pulling Santa’s sleigh through snow. Throw in a little “willing suspension of disbelief” by giving them flight, now you’ve got a story!

“In terms of stories, Santa is much older than his trusted reindeer,” allpetnews.com says. As early as the 4th century, stories were told of a jolly old man dropping off presents during the Christmas holidays.

“But it wasn’t until the 1800s that reindeer joined the party. Previously, South Americans believed Santa rode a donkey, while Europeans thought he owned a white horse. Reindeer made their first appearance, it’s believed, in  the poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ (which we now know as ‘The Night Before Christmas’), written by Clement C. Moore.” The poem made them a permanent fixture in American culture.

So what about Rudolph? He was made for marketing purposes. In 1939, Robert Lewis May created a rhyming book for promotional purposes for Montgomery Ward department store. His book, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” sold more than 6 million copies over the next 10 years, allpetsnews.com says.

In 1947, Gene Autry recorded the Rudolph song and, just as the lyrics proclaim, he will surely “go down in history.”

And the red nose? “Reindeer have 25 percent more blood vessels in their nasal region than humans, meaning more blood flows there. At higher elevations, their blood flow increases    in order to keep warm, turning their noses a shade of red,” allpetnews.com says. Spying a red-nosed reindeer is scientifically possible after all.

Perhaps there is more truth to the reindeer lore than we ever knew.

A Time for Reflection

posted November 21st, 2015 by
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By Pat Becker

 

Every once in a while someone asks me how and why I became an animal enthusiast, a pet advocate, a dog lover. After all, I  have hosted a national PBS TV series, “The World of Dogs Biography Series,” a local radio show on KTOK, “Speak,” and a local TV show on KSBI, “Dog Talk.” So when I’m interviewed, it’s often the first question asked of me.

I’ve given it some thought. It occurred to me I was exposed to the charms of animals at an early age. I can only assume it was through my parents’ compassion for—and access to—puppies and kittens raised by my grandmother. Both my sisters and I learned the value of having furry, loving companions with whom we shared our secrets, our joys and our sorrows. To hold a tiny kitten, to be aware of its vulnerability and feel the obligation for its care taught us dependability.

We also took pride in having trained our dogs by gaining their trust. My family and I have long been involved in obedience trials. As a result, the tradition has been passed down to my daughters. I began showing my Cocker Spaniel in conformation classes at a young age. I trained my Beagle in agility and freestyle and my Canaan dog in barn hunting. Likewise, my daughter Lorri achieved a CDX title on her Old English Sheepdog and had the first Rat Terrier in the U.S. to win a Master award in Fly Ball. And we’ve hunted quail with seven fabulous Pointers for years.

Out of my love of animals I have developed close relationships with the best and brightest professionals in the country, having had the opportunity of highlighting their skills with dogs on my radio and television shows. I never tire of learning new information about dog training, medical updates for animals and the all-important psychology of evolution among our animals. Passing on exciting, educational data is my mission.

My experience as an actress with 20th Century Fox in the 60s, and as a singer with The William Morris Agency, gave me the confidence to feel comfortable in the area of communication as a media professional, allowing me to further the cause of loving and caring for our animal friends.

Through the years, most of my dogs have been adoptees. God blessed me with 46 furry companions in my lifetime. Some were purebreds; some were crossbreeds. Frankly, I saw more in them than their DNA and defined them by their good character, not a breed.

After all, I’ve never met a dog who could not be trained. However, I’ve met countless numbers of people who had a great deal of trouble communicating with their dogs and other people, a fact which might account for their lack of training skills.

When any of us in the business of dog advocacy are asked the question, “What in your opinion is the most important advice you can give to someone who has recently adopted a dog?” our answer is unanimous: learn to “speak dog!” You can’t understand a dog if you don’t have the ability to communicate with him.

We can truly learn to “talk” with our dogs. Dogs study our physical movement and the energy level of our vocal activity. Then they interpret and respond to our interactions with them. Trying to understand us and how to please us are necessary efforts which ensure our dogs’ survival. Sadly, many people are often inconsistent in their physical and emotional behavior, and it makes the dogs’ job harder.

Also, we can learn to read our dogs’ body language. From the tip of their ears to the tip of their tails, their bodies speak to us. Make it a point to study your dog’s active and reactive movements. It will make your lives together so much easier! Remember every time you interact with your dog you’re teaching him something about you, himself and the world around him. Make it something good!

 

Many hugs!

Pat Becker

Dog Talk

TANNER and BLAIR

posted October 24th, 2015 by
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The IncrediblePair

By Sherri Goodall

 

Remember Tanner and Blair?

One (Tanner) born blind with a seizure disorder, and one (Blair) found with a gunshot wound to her pelvis and, in turn, extremely distrustful of people. It seemed like a God thing that the two would not only meet, but turn into a pair assisting each other, both physically and emotionally.

Their story not only went viral throughout the U.S., it was translated into 12 languages and touched people all over the world. Their story was reported in 2012 by Burt Mummolo with Channel 8, and picked up by 29 countries. Reported on by Diane Sawyer, Katy Couric and Jeanne Moos, ABC, CNN and Huffington Post were just a few of the news organizations that picked up the story.

Blair, a Labrador mix, was found with her sister by a Good Samaritan and taken to Woodland West. Her sister was quickly adopted but Blair was very shy, scared, and unfriendly to people.

In January 2010, Tanner came to Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue after his owner died. He was just a few months old, blind since birth with seizures. He was fostered out twice, but neither owner was able to care for him with his multiple issues. Unable to care for him herself, Pam Denny of SGRR took him to Woodland West Animal   Hospital where he spent weeks in their care supervised by Dr. Mike Jones.

There were many mornings when Dr. Jones would come in and find evidence that Tanner had seized during the night. This occurred almost every night regardless of the medications Dr. Jones gave him. So frequent and severe, Dr. Jones called  Pam Denny to talk about putting Tanner down as the most merciful solution to his many problems.

One fateful February day, Blair ambled into the yard where Tanner was. As if she was on a specific mission, she trotted up to Tanner and took his leash in her mouth and their bond was sealed. They were inseparable from that moment on. They ate together and were crated together, which is a no-no—especially overnight—but each morning Dr. Jones found the two happy and no evidence of Tanner seizing.

Tanner, who used to seize nightly, had a total of three seizures in the few months since being with Blair. His anxiety issues dramatically decreased, resulting in fewer seizures, and his medications were greatly reduced.

Dr.  Jones said, “We recognize the human-animal bond. We know that this bond helps decrease blood pressure in humans.  Simply petting a dog lowers a human’s blood pressure. We should also recognize the animal-animal bond, and the good it can do as well.”

Blair had become a better dog—more friendly, trusting, and outgoing with people. She seemed happy with her new life as Tanner’s assistance dog.

When their story made national and international news, calls came in from all across the globe. SGRR received over 100 applications from L.A. to New York from people wanting to adopt the pair.  There would be much to consider in choosing the right home for these two with their special needs.

Finally, after many reviews, the Sibley family of Jenks, Okla., was chosen to become the “forever” family of Tanner and Blair. Prior to her adoption, Blair was made an “honorary member” of SGRR. To add to the mix, they would have a new brother, a chocolate Lab named Louie, who also had a seizure disorder. The Sibleys were no strangers to dogs with issues. It didn’t take long for  the three dogs to bond. Blair remained ever protective of Tanner, still leading him around with his leash.

Shortly after the adoption, Tanner had cataract surgery and a lens inserted. The hope was to improve his vision, no matter how minimal. His owner said he still bumped into things, but possibly saw shadows. Not to worry, with Blair ever  ready at his side, Tanner now had a constant in his life.

I wish this story had a happy, ever-after ending, but four months after Tanner’s adoption, he had a severe series of seizures over a weekend and had to be euthanized. The outpouring of sadness and affection on Tanner and Blair’s Facebook page was astounding.

Blair, however, is doing quite well. The Sibley family moved to Washington with Blair and Louie. The latest update from Tiffany Sibley says Blair is doing fabulous. She thinks she is a lap dog and loves to be cradled in her family’s arms like a baby and will just fall asleep. Her buddy, Louie, is also doing well. They hate to be apart. If one goes to the vet, the other is quite anxious until the other returns. The bond between them seems permanently forged as was Tanner and Blair’s.

Blair’s favorite toys are stuffed hedgehogs. Louie tears the stuffing out, and Blair carries what’s left in her mouth.

Sweet Blair turned 4 in July.

Tanner’s spirit hangs lovingly over Blair, the Sibleys, and Louie.

Pet Travel Guide

posted October 23rd, 2015 by
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Pet Travel

PET TRAVEL GUIDE

Pet Travel is becoming more and more popular. Bringing your pet on holidays with you adds to the fun of your trip and alleviates the worry of not knowing what’s happening with them while you’re away. Before travelling, you need to do your homework. Planes and cars aren’t designed with animals in mind. You also need to know what to expect when you do reach your final destination. There are a lot of rules and restrictions in place from country to country. By planning your pet travel ahead of time, you can make your hard earned holiday a truly relaxing time for everyone involved. To help you and your jet-setting animal companions, Greyhounds As Pets have produced an infographic that shows you the most important things you need to know about taking them on holidays with you. The Website URL is http://www.gapnsw.com.au/dogs-for-apartments/

Tom Clarke
Marketing Manager

greyhounds as pets
Building B| 1 Homebush Bay Drive Rhodes NSW 2138
t : 02 87 67 0535 | f : 02 97 64 6244
Website: www.gapnsw.com.au

Pet Travel

The Nitty Gritty on Nail Trims

posted October 17th, 2015 by
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The Nitty Gritty on Nail Trims

Pups and Pedicures

By Nancy Gallimore, CPDT-KA

 

Get a pedicure?

You don’t have to ask me twice. Why, yes, I would love to have someone pamper me for an hour or so. Count me in.

Ask the same question to just about any dog? You might as well ask him if he’d like to be abandoned in a desert filled with wild animals and broken glass. The mere hint of a nail trim will generally result in a mixed look of pained shock and brimming terror clouding a dog’s normally trusting eyes.

And yet, keeping nails properly trimmed is important to the overall health and welfare of your dog. According to Dr. Patrick Grogan, medical director at VCA Woodland East Animal Hospital, nails allowed to grow too long can actually alter the way a dog plants his foot, causing discomfort, and potentially even a lack of desire to exercise properly.

Another risk of neglecting trims is that longer nails are more likely to snag on things, potentially causing the nail to break off into the quick, the fleshy cuticle inside the dog’s nail. Not only is this painful for your dog and potentially quite messy for you, there is a healthy blood supply in the quick. Dr. Grogan says that if a portion of the nail is still attached or the cuticle is exposed, the dog may have to be anesthetized so your veterinarian can treat the injury.

“Most dogs should have their nails trimmed about every six to eight weeks,” advises Dr. Grogan. “This can vary depending on the size and activity level of your dog. The nails of smaller dogs or less active dogs may grow out faster than larger, active dogs that get a lot of normal abrasion and wear on their nails.”

Dr. Grogan also says that regular trimming is required to not only keep a dog’s nails a good length but to also keep the quick from growing out too long. If nails are neglected and the quick is allowed to grow out, it can be very difficult to return the nail to a  proper length.

If you want to learn how to trim your dog’s nails yourself, Dr. Grogan suggests taking some time to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of a dog’s nail.  The fleshy, tender quick is wedge-shaped and follows the contour of the nail itself, almost like a smaller nail inside the nail.

“The part of the nail that can be safely trimmed generally hooks down a bit and is thinner at the point where it clears the tip of the quick,” Dr. Grogan says. “Ideally, you want to trim the nail two to three millimeters from the tip of the quick.”

If you are lucky and your dog has light colored nails, you can actually see the pink quick inside the nail. If your dog has black nails, it’s a bit trickier. Dr. Grogan suggests snipping just a little at a time.

If your dog will accept it, you can also use a grinder to smooth the tip and edges of the nails. If your dog’s nails are very long, trim them back first and then use the grinder to smooth the edges. Be sure to keep the grinder moving, just lightly tapping the dog’s nail. The sandpaper and friction get very hot if held to the nail surface too long and can cause discomfort.

OK, it’s one thing to know how to trim your dog’s nails, but it’s another issue to convince your dog it’s a good idea. Well, my certified-professional-dog-trainer take on  the situation is that with nail trimming, and many other important grooming tasks, we tend to take an ill-advised all-or-nothing, grab-‘em-and-force-‘em-to-accept-it approach with our puppies and dogs. Obviously, this is not the best of plans for the long haul.

Dr. Grogan and I agree that while most dogs do not naturally like to have their feet handled, you can teach them to accept nail maintenance with graceful resignation (don’t go so far as to expect tail-wagging joy). The key word here is “teach.”

It’s a great idea to spend some time prepping your dog for the idea of a nail trim. If you grab the dog and start issuing commands, pinning your dog to the floor, and grabbing his feet and trimming away, my guess is that you’re going to be met with some serious resistance that will get worse with every attempt.

But if you teach your dog to accept a nail trim in a positive fashion, it doesn’t have to be a battle. Think about it: if you go in for a pedicure, the technician doesn’t just grab you, pin you to a chair and start trimming your toenails. I know my pedicures start with a relaxing foot bath… a little massage… the offer of a cool beverage.

While your dog doesn’t necessarily need that level of spa pampering (or does he?), it’s a good idea to have your dog relax on the floor beside you while you give belly rubs and lightly touch each paw, rewarding with treats as you do so. The idea is to give your dog a very calm, positive experience in conjunction with having his feet handled.

The next step would be to touch the nail clippers to each toenail with plenty of calm praise and rewards sprinkled throughout  the process. When you feel ready to start trimming nails, Dr. Grogan offers some   great tips:

Purchase good nail clippers. You may want to ask your local pet supply store for recommendations.

With your dog in a calm environment, trim just one foot per day over the course of four days. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t rush the process.

Offer lots of treats and praise after each snip.

Enlist the aid of an assistant. One person distracts the dog and gives treats while the other person trims the nails.

If you do accidentally trim a nail too far back and see blood, don’t panic. While nails can bleed impressively, Dr. Grogan says it is not cause for huge concern. You can apply pressure for a few minutes, or you can apply a clotting powder like Quick Stop if you have it on hand.             Dr. Grogan says you can even just let your dog go relax outside or in an area where a little blood won’t be a problem. The nail should clot within 10 to 15 minutes.

In the event that you do cut into the quick, the trainer’s note here is to also try not to make it a big issue with your dog. Don’t panic and apologize like a crazy person. Talk calmly, reassure your dog and offer a good jackpot of treats to make amends for your mistake. Then take a break and try again in a day or so.

If you still feel a bit squeamish about diving in, ask your veterinarian to show you how to trim your dog’s nails. “We are always happy to show owners proper nail trimming techniques,” says Dr. Grogan.

If you aren’t willing and/or able to trim your dog’s nails yourself, there is no shame in leaving the procedure to the professionals. Your veterinarian will always be happy to give your dog a nail trim, or you can use the services of an experienced, professional groomer who will work with your dog to help him accept a little pedicure. When the pros are on the job, the trim is generally over before your dog even realizes what is happening.

If you have a dog who has had a previous bad experience during a nail trim, or one who is overly sensitive about having his feet handled, you may want to enlist the aid of a qualified dog trainer to work with your dog. A good trainer can help condition your dog to accept different types of handling and grooming procedures in a positive manner.

The overriding lesson is this: you teach your dog where to potty; you teach your dog what to chew and what not to chew; you teach your dog basic cues like sit, down, and to come when called. The teaching must continue when it comes to basic maintenance routines such as nail trims.

With a little work, a little patience, and perhaps a good number of hotdogs, you (or your veterinarian/groomer—it’s OK to bail) can give your dog a perfect pedicure. Keep calm and trim on.

Pet Life Hacks

posted October 10th, 2015 by
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Pet Life Hacks

Making Life Easier

 

Who couldn’t use some shortcuts to make life easier? Simple, everyday tips right under your nose that you just haven’t thought of are also now at your fingertips if you know how to use a computer keyboard.

Enter the “life hack .” Thanks to websites like BuzzFeed, Pinterest and tens of thousands of blogs, you can read life hack lists for hours—mind blown. Oxforddictionaries.com defines a life hack as “a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.”

We’ve sifted through a few hundred or thousand (who’s counting?) and compiled a list of pet owner life hacks sure to have you patting yourself on the back.

Keep It Clean

Wrap duct tape around a paint roller to clean up pet hair, creating a giant “hair roller” if you will. It’s faster than vacuuming and really works (The Family Handyman website).

No duct tape on hand, but need an immediate fix? Run a rubber-gloved hand across upholstery, and it will remove pet hair (realsimple.com).

Remove pet hair from carpets by running a squeegee over them (BuzzFeed).

Use a squeeze ketchup bottle top as a vacuum attachment to suck up cat litter or other bits that fall into crevices of your floor or baseboards (lilluna.com).

Put double-sided tape on any surface where you don’t want your cat to lie. Cats avoid sticky things (BuzzFeed).

To clean up unsightly (and smelly) pet carpet stains, pour a generous amount of white vinegar on the stain. Then cover with baking soda. Cover with a bowl so the baking soda does not get kicked around. Leave on for a day or two until completely dried. Then vacuum up the baking soda. The stain will be removed naturally without harsh cleaners (onegoodthingbyjillee).

Down the Hatch

If Fido won’t take his meds, make your own pill pockets, via muttnut.blogspot.com. Simply mix one tablespoon of milk, one tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter and two tablespoons of flour. Form into 12 pockets, then store in the fridge or freezer.

Could your dog use a tick tack? While that’s probably not a safe idea, opt for a sprinkle of parsley over your pooch’s food for fresher breath naturally (leopolds-crate.blogspot.ca).

If your pet is dehydrated or unable to keep foods down, add some low-sodium chicken broth to his drinking water (lifecheating.com).

Clean out an empty syrup bottle and fill with clean water for trips to the dog park or long walks. Simple attach by the handle to a carabiner and hook on your belt loop (fieldandstream.com).

Does Rover scarf his food down too quickly? There’s a hack for that. Place a ball in his food bowl. He will be forced to move the ball around to get to all the food, slowing him down (baggybulldogs blog).

Make your own organic chicken jerky for a gourmet treat. Cut organic chicken breasts or tenders into one-half centimeters in thickness. Then place cling wrap over it and beat with a tenderizing hammer until thin to your liking.

Next, cut into 3-centimeter strips (approximately). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees for two hours or until brown and crispy. Now let Fido enjoy a non-toxic, healthy treat. These can be stored for up to two weeks in the fridge. (For the photo guided step-by-step recipe, visit http://imgur.com/a/IkUj7.)

For a homemade summertime snack, cut up apples in chicken broth and freeze in ice cube trays (dogfooddude.blogspot.com).

For the Home

Hang a shower caddy on the inside of a closet door to store all your pet items—

brush, meds, treats, leashes, etc. (BuzzFeed).

Hide a litter box under a side table by securing kitty-sized, cute fabric curtains via baileytann.com. Then tie back one side for your cat to enter (BuzzFeed).

Make a DIY cat scratch by gluing a square carpet sample to a square wooden frame and hang low enough for your cat to reach. Voila, instant wall decor (squarecathabitat.com)!

If your feline friend loves to sit on, or in front of, your computer, place a shallow box lid, such as a board game box lid, upside down to the side of your computer. The natural cat instinct is to sit in the box. You’ll be more productive in no time (BuzzFeed).

‘Tis the Season to Hack

Looking for the perfect gift? Submit a photo of your pet to http://shelterpups.com, and they will create an adorable custom stuffed version of your pooch or anyone else’s—unique indeed.

Store your smaller ornaments in egg cartons. Your pet can’t destroy what he can’t reach if it’s safely tucked inside (toostinkincute.blogspot.com).

Hang wrapping paper on curtain rod hooks to safely keep them away from toddlers and pets who might enjoy unrolling and tearing them to pieces (the soulfulhouse.com).

FYI

While we hope you’ll never need this one, it is worth a try in a desperate situation. LifeHackable.com says one frantic owner ran into two hunters while searching for her dog. They told the owner they had successfully found dogs in the past by taking a worn article of clothing (the longer worn, the better to increase the human’s scent) and leaving it at the location the dog was last seen. If the dog has a familiar toy or two, take those items along also. Attach a note instructing passersby not to move the objects.

Also, leave a bowl of water as the pet may not have had access to water since being lost. Do not leave food that may attract other animals that the dog will avoid. The owner tried it and reported the dog waiting among the items the next day. While not 100-percent guaranteed to work, it’s worth a try to find a loved, lost pet.

In hot temps, cool your pooch down by freezing water, chicken broth, bones, toys, etc., in a cake mold and let him lick away until his heart’s content (Pinterest.com).

If your dog fights having his teeth brushed, squeeze enzymatic pet toothpaste on a Nylabone or rope toy and let him gnaw away on it, getting teeth clean in the process (BuzzFeed).

If you have a teething puppy that enjoys chewing on cords, spritz bitter apple spray onto a paper towel and wipe it along the cord. It will cover the surface area and not waste as much product as spraying directly onto the cord (BuzzFeed).

Run a dryer sheet along your dog’s fur during a thunder-storm. Chances are your pet is more distraught by the static electricity built up in his fur than the thunderstorm. According to marthastewart.com, this should work at least 50 percent of the time (BuzzFeed).

For easy tick removal, soak a cotton ball in liquid soap and swab the tick for a few seconds. The tick should come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you remove it (sdcount.ca.gov).

These are only a few of the life hacks available. Have some tried-and-true hacks that work? Let us know on our Facebook page at OKCPets Magazine or tweet us @okcpetsmag.