Traveling Dog Lady: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Z is for Zoomies #atozchallenge

Ever since Charlie Brown came home with us, he's had the zoomies each day.  I think it's pretty hilarious, Gil isn't very amused (at least not outwardly).  Our house is small, small, small.  And this dog is big, big, big.  When he was a puppy, Charlie would get the zoomies and he would zoom up onto the furniture and push off like a swimmer pushing off the side of a swimming pool.  He would zoom along the ground really low, but at high speed and then bounce onto the couch and chair.  It was hysterical.  I never was able to get a video of it, I would just be laughing too hard.

Today, the zoomies have taken on a more "adult" configuration.  Funny enough, Charlie and his brother Cooper do the zoomies exactly the same way that Hobie and Hector did.  But the second pair never ever saw the first pair partake in the zoomies!!  I think it's just the configuration of the house.  We have a long hallway, dining room and living room that are configured in a square.  Very 1950s "Cape Cod" style.  It's a small area, but they really get going and they chase each other around and around and around the square.  There's a lot of barking and growling, but it is all in fun.  They are boys, after all.  The funniest part is when Charlie waits on one of the corners for Cooper to appear either in front of him, or behind him.  It reminds me of a cartoon or a Three Stooges skit -- Cooper will often sneak up behind Charlie, and then Charlie will do the "Oh no!!!!" thing like a cartoon character and start running with Cooper in hot pursuit.

It is nearly impossible to get video of these guys "zooming".  I don't know if they get intimidated by the camera, or if I'm just laughing too much, but either way as soon as I take out the camera, they calm down. But anyway, here are a couple of attempts:

Don't worry, they beat the tar out of each other all the time.  
Boys will be boys.

See how they slowed down as soon as I picked up the camera?!

I've been taking part in the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  I got sick in the middle of it, and still managed to sort of cheat my way through and complete every letter!  I'll get my little badge and display it on the site shortly.  Thanks for reading, everyone.  Much appreciated!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Y is for Ol' Yeller

I haven't ever read the book "Old Yeller" by Fred Gipson. Nor have I seen the movie.
I'm afraid to, especially now that Hobie is getting so old.  I know what happens in the end.  Doesn't everybody?

Gil calls Hobie "Ol' Yeller" sometimes.  It's funny, I crack up every time!

Old Yeller, of the book & movie, was a "cur".  That's what they called them.  We know that Hobie (and most of the other mutts in the northeast with black mouths) are part Black Mouth Cur.  That is a breed, not recognized by the AKC, but recognized by other dog clubs.

In the book, and movie, Old Yeller sires some puppies, and the boy (now older) raises one of the puppies.  The puppy is called Savage Sam, and a sequel was written and a movie made -- both were called Savage Sam.

Here are some pictures of Black Mouth Curs.  Don't they look at lot like Hobie?!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A to Z Challenge: W is for Watching over me #atozchallenge

Twenty-seven years ago today, my father died suddenly of a heart attack.  He was 69 years old.

I was 27 years old.

Today, I am exactly twice that age.

Dad was the first of the angels to watch over me, but he wouldn't be the last.  Joining him (many years later, thank goodness) were my brother, my mom, our dogs, Timba and Hector, and our close friend and co-worker, Mike.

I like to think they're my angels, all watching over us as we make it through the next 27 years!

Friday, April 25, 2014

A to Z Challenge: V is for Volvulus #atozchallenge

If you read the book (or saw the movie -- groan) "Marley & Me", then you may know what volvulus is.  Also known as "bloat" or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) in dogs, volvulus occurs mainly in large or giant breed, narrow-deep-chested canines.  It means that a portion of the gastrointestinal tract in the animal has twisted, flipped, or rotated -- also known as gastric torsion.  As a result, the contents of the stomach also rotate.  This not only is uncomfortable and painful for the pup, but can be fatal.  It causes retching, usually without vomiting, a hunched-over stance and very anxious behavior, before leading to possible shock and collapse.

The causes of GDV are not fully understood.  Some experts maintain that a larger dog eating too fast, drinking a lot of water after eating and/or exercising hard after eating can cause bloat.  Other experts say there is no evidence that any of these things produce bloat!  Still others believe certain kinds of food will cause GDV in dogs.

Whatever the cause, this is thankfully something I've never head to deal with, with any of my hounds.  GDV is usually chronic, as was the case with poor Marley who developed the condition a couple of times in his lifetime.

So, without knowing the exact cause, should you be worried about bloat, and if so what can you do to prevent the affliction?

Infographic courtesy of

My friends over at Great Dane Rescue of New England, where I used to volunteer, know all too well that Danes are somewhat susceptible to GDV.  (Good heavens, you could almost call it Great Dane Volvulus!).  Some giant breeds, such as Danes, are given gastropexy surgery as puppies to actually prevent bloat -- it is that common in those breeds.  Other Dane breeders and owners don't pursue that option.  It really is totally up to the dog owner to do their own research and decide for themselves.

Either way, if your dog ever develops volvulus get him or her to a vet immediately.  A lifesaving procedure can be done to reverse the torsion, as was done with the famous Marley.

For more information on volvulus, bloat and GDV, here are some links:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A to Z Challenge: U is for (we move as a) Unit #atozchallenge

There are a lot of times when I believe I'm not a good pack leader, or even the pack leader at all.  Then, I remember that we move as a unit.  Wherever I go, the dogs go (and usually one or two cats!).

Hobie and Hector always accompanied me wherever I went.  I mean room-to-room, not just to outside places like the back yard, the car, work... I mean we went everywhere together, the three of us, moving as one.  If I went into the kitchen, so did they.  If I went into the bedroom, they did, too.  If I went upstairs to my office, they joined me and fell asleep under the desk.  Gil could get up and move to another room, and sometimes they followed him, but most of the time, they didn't.  They wanted to be with me.  I wondered if they saw me as their leader, or were they just protecting me, or a combination of both.

After Hector died, Hobie and I once again bonded, just like we had after Timba died.  Months later, when we got Charlie Brown, he and Hobie accompanied me everywhere.  The three of us, moving as a unit.  Even after Charlie stopped liking Hobie, they'd still move with me, as a pack.

Then, we adopted Cooper, and again, we all move as a unit, from room to room.  A lot of the time now, Hobie can't join us in various places because of his inability to climb stairs.  But Cooper and Charlie move with me, the three of us, like a pack.

We move as a unit.

Hector, Hobie and me -- not a great picture, but it means a lot to me to have this. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A to Z Challenge: S is for Senior Dog

Life with a senior dog sure has its ups 'n' downs.  Yesterday, Hobie wouldn't use the stairs, and I had to carry him outside, down the front steps.  He weighs less nowadays, but not THAT much less!  We walked up the street and he even got his feet wet in the lake (brrrr!).  Last night, he seemed worse, and this morning he seemed much, much, much worse.  Not only would he not use the stairs (I let him poop and pee on the deck), he could not stand up.  His legs gave out while he was eating -- but, he kept eating.  Someone once said to me that you'll know when it's "time" when the dog's quality of life deteriorates to the point where he has poor or no quality of life.  Well, there he was EATING, but unable to stand up.  Feisty little devil!

I started to prepare myself for what would come next.  I'd have to call Gil, since he's out of town at the moment.  Oh, what if I have to make that decision (the big one) now, with Gil away?  I called the vet and explained I couldn't come in today anyway, but any suggestions on what to do.  Basically, we came up with the ol' "wait and see" approach.

After my own doctor's appointment this afternoon, I zipped home (it helps to live in a 5-mile world!) to check on Hobie.  He seemed "ok" but not great.  He went outside on the deck, and did his business, and then I went back to work.  I got home tonight at 7:30 and he's so much better!  The only thing I can figure out is that he does not do well in the warm weather.  Yesterday and today, temps were near 70 already.  Funny, he navigated the stairs all winter long, ice and snow and all, but as soon as the weather warms up, nope, he's done.  The rain came tonight, and he is better.

I'm grateful for every moment with this dog.  I've made so many mistakes with his predecessors when they reached a similar point in their lives.  I suppose that is what gives us experience.  I want to do right by him. He is the canine love of my life.  I don't want to feel guilty about this one, like I do about all the others before him.  But I know that's unrealistic.  Unfortunately, I know enough about grief to know that guilt is just part of the package.

So, for tonight, he snoozes peacefully and is apparently not in pain.  He didn't use the stairs, but he was walking and standing normally -- or as near normally as he can at this point.

For that, I am grateful.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A to Z Challenge: R is for Running #atozchallenge #BostonStrong

I come from a family of runners.  And I'm not one of them!

Today is my birthday.

It's also Patriots Day.

It's also "marathon Monday".

Unless you're from Massachusetts, all of this may not necessarily mean as much to you as it does to me.

I grew up in a Boston suburb.  Marathon Mondays each year were a huge event in our town.  Patriots Day, the third Monday in April, is a Massachusetts-only holiday, and it's the day the marathon is always held.  The marathon begins in Hopkinton, the next town over from where I lived.  We'd go downtown and get a spot on the route and cheer the runners as they went past, mid-morning, on their way to Heartbreak Hill and the finish line.

Even though we were always on school vacation on Marathon Monday (another event anomalous to Massachusetts), I can't recall a time when my birthday actually landed on Marathon Monday, until now.  I'm sure it did before, but I don't remember it... and I usually remember stuff like that.

This year is extra special, because the marathon isn't just being observed by us, in the usual manner, but all eyes are on Boston since it's been a year since that terrible day when the bombs went off and killed all those people, and injured so many more.  I've followed the survivors' stories closely.  These people are remarkable.  I sit here and whine about fibromyalgia -- but they've got REAL problems, and look at them!  In a funny sort of way, I smile, too.... because, just like our 3-legged dog, Cooper, they have learned to accept the finality of the loss of limbs, and have persevered in spite of it, most of them doing things today they never would have dreamed they would be doing a year ago.

I have at least one family member running in the marathon this year.  In a weird twist of fate, none of my family or friends ran last year, for probably the first time ever.  I like to think my late brother was watching over them, and pulled those strings that gave each of them a different reason for not running.

I am grateful.

I wish my family and friends running this year luck and grace as they compete, and have fun, in the 118th Boston Marathon.

Boston Strong.

P.S.  I was born on my father's birthday. His nickname was Butch.  My great-aunt, Annie (my father's aunt) also had the same birthday.  Sadly, they've each been dead for many years.  This weekend, I was out running errands, and I drove by a store I've driven by hundreds, perhaps thousands of times.  For some reason, I looked up at the sign in front of the store.  It's one of those plazas that has a half-dozen stores inside.  I never noticed the name of the plaza before:  "Butch and Annie's Plaza."  There are no coincidences.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quarantine #atozchallenge

Back before the A to Z Challenge began, I thought I'd have trouble with the letter Q, so I asked readers to submit questions (Q for Questions).  My clever friend, Kathi, not only asked a Question... she included another Q-word:  Quarantine!

Here is Kathi's Question:

How do you quarantine a pet for an extended (2 weeks to a month) period of time when you have other pets in the house?

What's funny about Kathi's question is that she has actually had to do this, more than once, with her foster-fail kitty, Linus, so she knows the answer better than I do!  LOL!

Linus was born with a deformed jaw and had to have several surgeries, couldn't eat normally, and a whole slew of other abnormalities.  (Isn't it funny that I have a dog named Charlie Brown, and my friend Kathi has a cat named Linus?!  LOL)  Linus was a motherless kitten so Kathi initially fed him with a bottle until he was old enough to be adopted out by the animal rescue league she volunteers for.  But, not so fast!  Instead of being ready for adoption, Linus was ready for... surgery.  Several of them.  Each surgery required not only recovery like any animal, but he had to be kept away from the other two cats in the house for an extended period of time.  The way it was done was to keep him confined in a room with a securely-closable door, keep a separate litter box, feed him there, and keep enough water there.  Not an easy task for a young kitten who wants to run, jump and play -- and who shares a home with two other feline friends who also want to play!

Quarantining a pet in a multi-pet household is not easy.  I've had to do it many times, but thankfully only for a few days, perhaps a week at the very, very most.   There's something to be said for living in an older home with many rooms and doors that shut, rather than the preferred "open floor plan" they talk about on TV!  You can shut the animal in a room with all of his or her belongings.

Visit and interact with the quarantined pet often.  Dogs and cats both like human companionship and they may need a cuddle or two if they're not feeling well.  Be sure you have a room that you don't mind getting a little "icky" as surgery recovery generally includes oozing messes, sometimes vomiting or diarrhea if the animal reacts to anesthesia and stuff like that.  On the other hand, don't use a bathroom unless it's an extra bathroom you can afford to be without for a couple of weeks.  While it's convenient because the water is there, and you can pick up messes easier, keep the litter box there, etc., you don't want people having to go in and out all day long to use the facilities.

Above all, remember to re-introduce the quarantined pet to the household slowly after the vet gives the thumbs' up.  He or she will probably smell different to the other pets, and he/she may be unsure about territories that could have changed during the quarantine period.  Play time should be returned to slowly as well, since kitty or puppy could have been sitting still a lot and needs to rejuvenate the unused muscles slowly to avoid injury.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A to Z Challenge: P is for Puppy Photos #atozchallenge

I figure it this way, it's permitted to pre-compose and schedule posts in advance for the A to Z Challenge, so it must be ok to backtrack and compose them after they were "due" and schedule them backwards.  It works!  This is the last "cheat" of my missing posts that I missed due to the flu.  Here are some of my favorite puppy photos of my dogs when they were.... puppies!

Charlie Brown around 11 weeks old, when he still liked Hobie :(

Hobie and Charlie Brown snoozing together, when Charlie still liked Hobie :(

Cooper, around 7 months old, before he lost his leg.  

Charlie Brown far left and Cooper right on top of him to the right... and the rest of their litter!  So cute!!

Hobie, 4 months old.  This picture became our logo!

Hector, 6 weeks old, at the farm where he was born.

Another one of Hobie at 4 months old LOL!  Sleepy?

Cooper when he was a little puppy!!  This is his Petfinder picture.

Hobie again, at 4 months.  I can't get enough of him!  This is his "mug shot" ha ha

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A to Z Challenge: O is for Osteoarthritis #atozchallenge

Ok, I'm kinda cheating on this.  I wrote this post about arthritis in senior dogs a while back for the DoggyWoof blog at  I've re-posted it here before, too.  Hey, I was sick in bed for a week!  I heard other people talking about cheating on the challenge, so what's good enough for the goose is good enough for the gander.  Or whatever.  Here is my post about osteoarthritis in senior dogs:


by K.S. Mueller
Dog lovers share a lot with their dogs, including arthritis pain and discomfort. The affliction is just as prevalent in dogs as it is in humans, and vice-versa. Here are some tips for helping your arthritic dog (usually elderly) cope with the challenges this chronic condition can bring.
First and foremost, give your dog supplements. I’ve tried many. Back in the early 1980s, my beloved black Lab, Timba (who lived to be 18!) was afflicted with terrible arthritis. She accompanied me to work every day of her life, and when it became clear that maneuvering the stairs at our spacious office complex, and getting in and out of the car, became major obstacles, it was devastating. A horse-loving friend brought me a big bucket of powdered glucosamine and chondroitin (for horses). She instructed me to lower the dosage and sprinkle the powder on Timba’s food. (I might add, this was before these type of supplements were available for humans and small animals — remember it was the ’80s!) Within weeks, Timba was not only climbing the stairs and hopping in and out of the car effortlessly, she was also running again (well, ok, trotting), and she was also peeing, a lot! Now we know why someone invented the phrase “peeing like a race horse”.
Decades later, I’ve tried many, many different supplements for Hobie, who turns 13 this week. The best one I’ve found, after much searching, is called Phycox. They are soft chews that smell like sausage. He reminds me of his twice-a-day dosage like clockwork. We never miss a dose thanks to his barky insistence. These supplements were originally prescribed by our vet, but I ended up finding them online and can buy larger quantities that way. I also sneak one to three-legged Cooper once in a while, as he puts a lot of strain on that one front leg. It certainly can’t hurt, right?
The next thing is assistance devices. Unfortunately, we have three full flights of stairs at our house, and Hobie must maneuver these several times a day. He’s a trooper! Just when I think we’re going to have to start bringing him out the front door (only three steps), he surprises me by joining me upstairs in my office while I work. We have a ramp for getting in and out of the car, but he often just looks at me and expects me to lift all 80 pounds of him (which I can do one section at a time: front legs first, then the back). There will come a time when we will have to baby-gate the longer stairways, and help him in and out of the front door. He won’t be able to go on car rides at some point. We’re not looking forward to that. Some dogs have wheelchair-type devices — they are expensive, but if the dog’s quality of life is otherwise good, it’s probably a great investment. We are lucky, the most well-known manufacturer of these custom-made devices is right here in Massachusetts, less than an hour away from where we live. Doggie slings and harnesses are also a good thing to have handy for your arthritic hound.
Massage or acupuncture: unless you know what you’re doing, you might want to have a professional deliver a doggie massage to your pup. I tried to massage Hobie once and his leg ended up locking up on him and he couldn’t even stand up. So much for my dream of becoming a doggie massage therapist! Although we’ve never tried it, acupuncture for dogs seems to bring great relief.
Trim those nails! This is so important. A canine with arthritis has a hard enough time getting around without having clicking talons added to the commotion. Most older dogs will let you trim their nails even if they balked in their younger days. I take Hobie to the groomer, he still tries to take a bite out of me when I approach with the clippers! A 10-minute visit to the groomer (no appointment necessary) and 15 bucks will do the trick. Don’t hesitate to do this regularly and often, it helps an arthritic dog more than just about anything. The results are very dramatic.
A few more things should be mentioned: gentle exercise, short but frequent walks, fresh air, sunshine, a soft, warm place to snooze, a doggie aspirin on particularly bad days and lots of love and attention are crucial for your painful hound. Hobie likes it when I help him up onto the couch so he can snuggle with us.
As I clear the tableau of middle age, I, too, suffer from painful inflamed joints. There were many things I imagined I would share with Hobie when we adopted him 13 years ago. Arthritis wasn’t one of them!
Share your questions or tips for canine arthritis care in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
K.S. Mueller is a travel executive living in Massachusetts who writes essays about dogs, cats and other topics in her spare time. Check out her web sites:; and Follow K.S.Mueller on Facebook and Twitter.



  • K.S. Mueller
    I wanted to share a humorous footnote: the beds in our house are older, antique style beds and therefore very high up off the floor. Hobie has never been up on the beds. The younger two dogs hop up all the time. This morning, I was napping in the guest room with the two puppies. We have a child's bed beside the guest bed so that three-legged Cooper can more easily get up and down off the bed. Hobie valiantly climbed up onto the child bed for the first time, ever; and then proceeded to put his front paws (which is NOT easy for him to do!) up onto the guest bed. He looked at me with excitement in his eyes, ears forward. I got up, picked up his hind end, and pushed him up onto the bed. All four of us then took a little snooze! I couldn't believe Hobie managed to do all that. It's incredible, given his limitations. I put a couple extra pillows on the child's bed for him to land on, on the way down. He did great getting down as well. Who knew?!
    (Posted on 1/11/2013)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A to Z Challenge: M is for Meow #atozchallenge

This is the description of Meow from Wikipedia's piece on Cat Communication:


The meow is one of the most widely known vocalizations of domestic kittens. It is a call apparently used to solicit attention from the mother.[4]
Adult cats commonly vocalise with a "meow" (or "miaow") sound, which is onomatopoeic. The meow can be assertive, plaintive, friendly, bold, welcoming, attention soliciting, demanding, or complaining. It can even be silent, where the cat opens its mouth but does not vocalize. Humans tend to find this silent mew particularly plaintive and appealing. Adult cats do not usually meow to each other and so meowing to human beings is likely to be an extension of the use by kittens.[12]
            Thank you Wikipedia:

Wish I had more pictures of the little dude

I was laughing when reading that, because, well,  it's funny the things you forget.  Our favorite cat, Mr. Kitty was one of those "silent" meowers.  He would open his mouth and out would come one quick "ehk".  We would burst out laughing every time, and then we'd imitate him.  "Ehk!" we'd both say, "Ehk!"  Boy, did he have us wrapped around his little paw!

As evidenced by the calendar on the fridge, this was during my Crazy Cat Lady phase

Have a wonderful day, thanks for reading!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A to Z Challenge: L is for Leptospirosis #atozchallenge

Please excuse errors or typos today.  I'm down with the flu for the past three days -- ruined my weekend.  I had planned to pre-write a bunch of blog posts, and finish my taxes.  Well, THAT didn't happen!  I had promised to write about Leptospirosis on day one of the challenge, because I had mentioned it in my post about Anaplasmosis.  Similar-sounding names, right.  Like Toxoplasmosis, too!  I'm not sure I'll write about that one, though.  Stay tuned.

Oh, before I start about Leptospirosis... I wanted to thank everyone for their comments on my various blog posts A to Z so far.  I was writing back to everyone, but then this illness slammed me and I have not been able to even use the computer, much less keep up with comments.  Every one has been encouraging, helpful and informative, and I thank you all.

Thankfully, we've never had to deal with leptospirosis here in our household, that we know of.  After learning more about it, I think it may be what afflicted poor Hobie last summer, although I have to question why they didn't test him for it (I think they DID -- so that means he didn't have it).  But even though we haven't dealt with it, we have begun getting our dogs vaccinated for this.  As you know, I'm not a huge fan of vaccines, but as with ticks, we have a high risk of "lepto" where we live.

Leptospirosis, sometimes called "lepto", is a bacterial disease, and it's zoonotic, which means it can be passed from your dog to you!!  Cats sometimes get it, too, but it's more common for dogs to get lepto.  It's caused by the bacterium leptospira and they like to live in warm and humid areas, such as stagnant pools of water, ponds, etc.

What's Hobie's favorite thing to do?
Swim in Thompson Pond, of course!

Leptospira are shed in wild animals' urine and then (for example) a dog might drink contaminated water, or may wade in water that gets into a wound on the dog's skin.  Since we live on a pond, and when we visit Cape Cod, we visit another pond, the dogs are exposed to the places behind the pond, like swamps and puddles of water that stand for long periods of time, and we have the gamut of wild animals around here from rodents, fisher cats, bobcats, coyotes, coywolves, bears, foxes, skunks, you name it.

Signs of "lepto" can include fever, joint or muscle pain, decrease in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, discharge from eyes or nose, frequent urination, yellowing (jaundice) of the gums, eyes or skin.

As with most bacterial infections, lepto is treated with antibiotics.

For more info on leptospirosis, please see these great articles:  <<<<  Best one!!

I am not a veterinarian, medical professional, canine or feline professional or specialist.  I have owned and parented nine dogs and more than 40 cats in my lifetime. I write this blog based on my own experiences as a pet owner/pet parent.  Please consult a professional if you need help with a canine or feline medical or behavior problem.  Thank you.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A to Z Challenge: K is for K2's K9s and Kitties #atozchallenge

On April 12th, we were very honored to be featured on meyouandzu's A to Z Challenge post.

Ruby, the brains behind meyouandzu, interviewed us a few days before that.

The post went live when I was sick in bed, so it was a great perk-me-up!

Many thanks to Ruby and the meyounandzu pack!!

This was Ruby's favorite picture of the ones I submitted to her for her article.
Can you believe Charlie was ever that little?!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A to Z Challenge: J is for Jumping #atozchallenge

A question I get asked a lot is how do I stop my dog from jumping on people when he/she greets people?  Especially at the front door of the house?

I have one tried-and-true method that works quite well for family members (but it would be difficult to ask a guest to do this!):  grab the dog's paws as he/she is starting to jump on you.  Take one front paw in each hand, and gently place the dog's paws back on the ground while saying "off" (or another command you're comfortable with).  The word doesn't matter, it's your tone of voice that matters.  Say it like you mean it, but stay calm and gentle.

At the same time, ignore the dog and "claim your space".  This is a trick I learned from watching Cesar Millan.  I know a lot of people don't like him, but some of his stuff is just normal and not controversial, so let's just stay there and not get into any of that b.s.  Cesar demonstrates "claiming your space" on many episodes of his former TV show, "Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan".

We "claim our space" all the time when we interact with humans, we just don't know it because we do it naturally.  Do you like your specific seat in the classroom, at the bar, restaurant, or in the living room?  You just gravitate towards that seat with inborn intention.  You don't think about it, you don't say anything about it, you just do it.  The same is true with dogs, take some time to observe dogs claiming their space with each other (or with humans LOL!).  If you have more than one dog, or dogs and cats, watch how they interact and claim their space with each other when they go into and out of rooms, through doorways, and (if allowed) up on furniture.  Notice how one animal is usually the "leader" and he or she goes through the doorway first, goes into or out of a room first, goes down or up a stairway first, etc.  The others defer to the leader.  Well, you should be the leader!

Let's focus again on jumping on people at the front door, and forget about "at the dog park" or other places for the time being.  The first thing the humans in the family should do is claim the door and its surrounding space as their very own.  Barge into the house like you own the place, because... well, you DO!  Don't do it with anger, but do it with intention.  What this means is you have to mean what you say with your body language and your energy.  If you are all wimpy with your hands held up in a no-no-no fashion, and you're saying "off!  Off!  OFF!" and you try to barge into the house, the dogs are only going to pick up on your wimpy energy and you trying to protect your body with your no-no-no hands (and your voice).  Don't say anything, just walk confidently into the house and put your purse down, take your coat and shoes off, whatever it is that you do when you enter your home.  At first, you may have to grab the dog's paws as I mentioned before, and place them firmly on the ground (but with good energy inside yourself, just be calm).  After you've done this for a few days, you should start to see results.  Remember, patience and calmness is key in training a dog, or breaking a bad habit such as jumping.  It is not going to change overnight.  Be patient, dogs are smart, they will get it.

Once you've successfully "claimed" the door, most dogs will learn stay back in the room when guests come over.  But not all dogs!

Just remember, it's your door, it's your kitchen or living room or mud room, it's your house.  Just walk right in and ignore the dog.

Here is a great video by Cheri Lucas, who works with Cesar Millan, is a friend of mine on Facebook, and is president of Second Chance at Love Humane Society in California.  In this video, Cheri demonstrates how to claim your space.

This is just another video I found online demonstrating how to claim your space at the front door with three dogs.  Notice how the gentleman walks in like he owns the place, and the dogs respectfully give him enough room to enter the building.  Then, he demonstrates how to stop them from jumping by just putting his hand out.  This is the type of technique you want to master, if possible.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A to Z Challenge: I is for Itchy Pets

All dogs and cats have an occasional itch, just like people.  But when you have a pet whose itchiness becomes chronic, habitual, or nearly constant that is something to worry about.

There are a multitude of reasons for itching in dogs and cats.  The first one that comes to most people's mind immediately is:  bugs!  Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes.  YUCK!  For this conundrum, you need both preventative measures and post-bite treatment measures (in case the preventative doesn't work).  We use veterinarian-prescribed drops that we put between the shoulder blades of all the pets.  I do not like using this stuff, at all.  However, we live in an area that is overrun with fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.  We have tried non-prescription drops (I don't trust them and refuse to use them on my beloved critters); we've tried all-natural things from herbals to things like sprays made from cloves and other non-prescription/non-chemical products.  In our particular case, the only thing that works to practically "guarantee" fleas, ticks and mosquitoes will stay away are the Rx drops from the vet.  I'm not happy about that, but that's the way it is around here.

Thanks Mom, we're not itchy anymore!

Another reason for itching could be contact dermatitis such as from a dog or cat lying on the floor after it has been washed, or on a carpet that was cleaned with carpet cleaning products that are not hypo-allergenic, washing bedding with a harsh detergent, or lying on a lawn, sand, or dirt that carries treatment chemicals or just sand or dirt itself.  The best treatment for this is to eliminate the offending material that the animal is coming in contact with, or the product that is being used.  Bathe the pet, and start all over.  Human OTC Benadryl or similar can be given to dogs, with the human dosage adjusted for the dogs weight.  I am not sure if Benadryl can be used for cats.  Ask your veterinarian.  There are canine and feline versions of Benadryl/allergy medications available as well.

The "biggie" (for me) was one that took me by surprise about five years ago, when Hobie's skin turned red and all his hair on his back and tailbone area fell out, he licked his legs until they were raw and red, and he licked off fur in other areas of his body that he could reach.  He spent hours and hours chewing and scratching and licking... he was miserable, and so were we!!  We couldn't figure out what was causing this, and we took him to the vet right away.  Our vet took one look at him and asked what we feed Hobie.  At the time, I fed high-quality food, as I always have.  The vet said Hobie was exhibiting classic grain allergy symptoms and suggested we try grain-free dog food.  We did, and within days Hobie's skin cleared up, his fur started to grow back, he stopped licking, chewing and scratching himself, and he even had more energy and seemed happier.  He was sick with a food allergy!  I had absolutely no idea, until then, that a food allergy would cause all that itching and scratching.

If your pet is itching and scratching, don't delay.  Get help from your vet, and take care of the problem right away.  No pet should suffer with itching and scratching in the 21st century, with all the various remedies available.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A to Z Challenge: H is for Humping (dogs!)

Years ago, our dog Hector insisted on "humping" a friend's male dog every time he saw the dog.  Just that one dog.  None other.  The friend would say that Hector was "gay".  Hector was not neutered.  I am sure that probably had something to do with the behavior, but again, this was the ONLY dog he ever did that to.  Perhaps Hector was incidentally gay, but I really don't think there is such a thing as a specific sexual preference in canines -- they'll hump anything!  But more importantly, "humping" in dogs is a sign of dominance, not sexuality.

Most of the time, with dogs, the action that takes place is "mounting".  This is when one dog (doesn't have to be male, females do it, too) places its body atop the other dog while greeting or playing.  This is a clear sign of dominance.  And then what most dogs do is jump around and vie for position and play.  They'll often keep switching "dominant" position with one another.  All in fun.  An occasional bully will be aggressive and do all the mounting, not letting the other dog get the upper hand, but this is pretty rare in well-socialized canines.

Humping is taking mounting to the next level.  My two dogs, Charlie Brown and Cooper, are litter mates, twins, brothers.  Cooper only has three legs, but he can "take down" Charlie, right down to the ground, and often does.  And Charlie is HUGE.  They take turns mounting, slamming each other to the ground, and then, yes, humping.  They do this every day at play time. They both do it.  Are they gay?  Maybe.  Who knows?!  Who cares? The point is they are playing and roughhousing, and it is normal dog behavior.

Cooper and Charlie Brown "fighting" on the bed.  I don't have any pictures of them mounting or humping LOL!  I'll have to work on that!  Since they do it every day, shouldn't be too difficult!

So, the next time someone sees your dog, or another dog, humping or mounting, just remember that it is part of their play behavior, and it doesn't mean anything sexual -- they are not a "bad dog", and they could be gay, but maybe not.  Dogs are dogs, they aren't humans.  Their behavior has different origins (think wolves in a pack).

Hobie and Cooper (both males) "making out".  Yes, they are in love!

Too bad we already did the letter A, because we could focus on anthropomorphizing!  Now there's a topic we can all say we're guilty of!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A to Z Challenge: G is for my admiration of Grumpy Cat #atozchallenge

Imagine being the pet parent of Grumpy Cat, and realizing you have just adopted a rock star?!

How did they know, when they brought this creature into their lives, that she would "go viral" in the internet world?

Unlike the cartoon character of Garfield, or the fictitious, groomed-for-Hollywood TV star, "Morris", Grumpy Cat was born this way.

Her real name is Tardar Sauce.  That's not a mis-spelling.  They spell it with a "d".

I bet she isn't really grumpy.  I bet she's a big love bug who cuddles with her family and rubs against their legs while they're trying to walk, and kneads their chests when they'd rather be sleeping at four in the morning.  I bet she gets the zoomies after she uses the litter box, just like every other cat.

And look!  It says right here, she's a normal cat!

My mother used to say to me, as I was leaving the house to go to school (I hated school), "Wear a smile."  Sometimes co-workers will walk by my office and stop in their tracks and say, "Oh, my God! What's WRONG?!"  I'll look up from whatever I'm doing and say, "Nothing, everything's fine."  It's just the natural look on my face -- I can't help it!  I don't always "wear a smile"!

I can relate to Grumpy Cat.

You can follow Grumpy Cat's blog, "The Daily Grump", here.

Or on Facebook, here.

I didn't get asked to blog about Grumpy Cat, and I'm not getting paid or anything.  I just like Grumpy Cat, and I had to write about something starting with the letter "G" today, so I picked Grumpy Cat.  Besides, last week it was her birthday!

Photo of Grumpy Cat, courtesy of's press release
announcing Grumpy Cat's endorsement deal with Friskies.

In a not-really-related story, stuffed animal toys made in the image of Grumpy Cat by the company, Ganz, have recently been recalled due to a choking hazard on some of the parts.  I'm sure this has made Grumpy Cat... well.... grumpy.   C'mon, Ganz!  Get it together will ya?!

Monday, April 7, 2014

A to Z Challenge: F is for Feline Body Language #atozchallenge

I'm laughing my crazy cat lady head off looking for graphics to share for this one!

Unlike dogs, whose body language is pretty easy to read in comparison, cat body language is almost stereotypical.  Think of the cartoons, or The Official Grumpy Cat -- don't they always show cats with the same expression on their face, whether they be happy, sad, angry, upset?  It's true!

Well, I was looking for serious graphics or infographics to show cat body language, and some of them actually show nearly the same picture for every stance!!

Seriously, look at their ears first (just like dogs!), then tail, then whiskers (of all things!).

Ears:  Ears forward and up means a happy or alert but relaxed kitty. Ears twisted backwards, but still up, means he is ready to pounce (aggression). Ears flattened against head and all the way back -- not good!  That means she's afraid and ready to kick your....____

Tails:  Tail held high and not poofed out means kitty is happy to see you and friendly.  Tail curved over the cat's back and poofed out means she is afraid.  Tail straight down can me a couple of different things and they're either aggressive or ready to defend themselves.

Whiskers:  Good luck!  See infographic below!!  Ok, whiskers pointed down at 5 and 7 (on a clock) means your feline friend is angry!  Think of a frown.

Here are a some of my favorite kitty body language infographics I found today.  Many thanks to the various websites who displayed these infographics.  If you are the owner of the infographic and wish for me to remove it from this post, please contact me and I will do so at once.

Many thanks and

Merci beaucoup

Thank you

Muchas gracias to

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Fun day with the grandsons

The thing we didn't get a photo or video of today was me walking with Charlie and my grandson/godson, Roark.  The lake has finally melted, so we took a walk down to the lake.  Charlie doesn't do great with kids; let's just say I don't trust him (yet), so I thought what a great idea it would be to do a variation on what Cesar Millan does with dogs who don't get along with other dogs:  take them on a pack walk!!

My other grandson, Ben, joined us, and their mom joined us, too after we were down at the lake for a few minutes.  It was so cool walking Charlie with Roark, just the three of us.  I was very impressed with both of them.  Roark is almost 6 years old, and he and Charlie both have that little mischievous side to them, so it was good to do something with them, together, that required activity and following some rules -- outside of Charlie's "territory" (the kitchen!).

Afterwards, we let Cooper and Hobie out of the bedrooms where they had been relegated during the children's visit.  None of my dogs do well with small kids, so we're always diligently working on it.  I separate the dogs into three separate areas, and the kids get the run of the house.  After the kids have been here about 2 or 3 hours, then I'll let the dogs interact with them, one at a time.  At the very end of their visit, I will let all three dogs be with the kids (at that point, food is not being carried around by small children, so I'm a lot more comfortable!).

Hobie, who, in his younger days, was way more rebellious and naughty than Charlie, was the best of the three.  He has turned out to be SUCH a great dog.  I am proud.  It took years and years for him to become "the perfect dog".

Hobie with the grandsons and their mom.

He turns his head every time I take a photo! haha

Cooper came running out of the gate (bedroom) like a race-horse with three legs!  He's so awkward that the boys were not ready for it, and he moves very fast, but he's clumsy so he is like a bull in a china shop!  He eventually calmed down and hung out with them in the living room while they watched TV.

We didn't get any pictures of Charlie today, but I'm going to take him down to the lake each day from now on.  He is getting better and better on leash.  If only he wasn't insane about passing automobiles.  We need to work on that (he lunges at cars and wants to chase them).  Anyone have any tips?  (That's funny, the dog lady who gives tips, asking for tips!!)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A to Z Challenge, Day 5: E is for Excitement vs. Aggression

How can you tell the difference between a dog exhibiting excitement vs. a dog exhibiting aggression?

Learn how to read canine body language.  If you're a "dog person", like me, you know the difference.
I can tell when a dog, even a strange one I've never seen before, is excited, or aggressive.  While aggressive dogs do exist, I'm not saying that they don't... aggression is rare.  A dog would rather not be mean.  It's in canine's general nature to be accommodating and friendly.  What the average non-dog-person person views as possible aggression is usually really excitement.

Things to consider:

Dogs bark.  A barking dog does NOT mean the dog is aggressive.  Excited and friendly dogs bark, a lot.  Aggressive dogs bark, too.  Barking is not the only, nor is it a good, indicator of whether or not a dog is aggressive or just excited.

A quiet dog.  This is not always a good thing.  In fact, I'd be more wary of an unfamiliar quiet dog, especially if it's exhibiting any of the other body languages I'm about to describe.  A quiet dog lying down in the corner is probably just well trained... that's different.  I'm talking about a quiet dog at the front door of the house or in the driveway when an unfamiliar human approaches.  Quietness can be guarding behavior -- the dog could be assessing the situation.  If you're not a dog person, you'd most likely be happy to be greeted by a not-barking dog... not so fast!  I'd much rather be greeted by a barker, myself.  Barking = normal behavior = excitement.

Wagging tail.  Conversely, a wagging tail does not always mean a dog is "happy".  Happiness is a human description.  Dogs aren't really "happy".  I mean, they are, but they aren't.  What a human sees as "happiness" is really "excitement".  A wagging tail means many, many things.  Just because a dog is wagging its tail does NOT mean everything is ok.  A lot of people get this wrong.  Look at the rest of the body to get a better read.

Other tail signals.  An upright, but not wagging, tail is a sign that the dog is on alert, and may or may not be happy to see you.  You might see him/her ease up after a moment, and start wagging.  This is probably good, as long as the "easing up" behavior is definitely observed.  If the dog is tense, barking repeatedly, with a tail wagging, beware.   A tucked tail is not good.  It means the dog is really scared. This doesn't mean it will bite you... although it could!  But it also might pee on the floor, or on your feet!

Eyes.  If the eyes are big and "happy-looking" things are a.o.k.  If the eyes are slitted, things may NOT be ok.  However, I remember my dog Timba always slitted her eyes, and she was the most mild-mannered dog on the planet.  I think she just liked to have slitty eyes!  If you see the WHITES of a dog's eyes, that means the dog is nervous, frightened, wary, unsure or scared.  Sometimes this is called "Whale Eye".  Here's a picture of Whale Eye.  If a dog has whale eye, give it some space.  A little footnote here:  I see a lot of pictures on social media of dogs with babies -- "aw, how cute", right?  No! A lot of times, I notice that the dog in such a photo has "whale eye".  Not good.

Ears.  This is my "go to" in terms of doggie body language -- I look at the ears first every time I meet a new dog.  Example:  A friend just brought his new dog over to my house yesterday, so I could meet the dog and my boys could play with the dog.  The first thing I looked at were Red's ears, then I looked at his tail, then mouth, then his eyes.  If ears are up/forward and the dog's mouth is relaxed (but not panting heavily) this is great.  If ears are up or forward and teeth are bared, mouth is closed, or dog is panting heavily -- this isn't as good.  If ears are pinned back against the head, this is a scared, nervous, unsure or wary animal.  Give it some space.

Here are my two dogs, Cooper (left) and Charlie Brown (right) meeting Red (middle) for the first time.  Notice everyone's ears are "forward" and mouths are closed but relaxed.  You can't get a good read on tails because this is a still photo.  Red's ears are a little bit "back" because he's being checked out by two large dogs.  Within moments, the three were running around and playing like old friends.

Mouth.  A relaxed "smiling" mouth with soft panting is actually a good thing.  It means the dog is relaxed.  Down in the Caribbean there are what we call "smiling" dogs.  They expose their teeth repeatedly while approaching humans, giving the appearance that they are smiling or talking.  But their mouths are relaxed, head is low and their tails wag. There is aggressive teeth baring -- like a dog will flip up its upper lip and even growl; and there's also non-aggressive teeth exposing which just looks like a "smile".  If the teeth-exposing activity is aggressive, the tail would possibly be wagging, but it may be still or tucked; head may or may not be low.  A closed mouth is ok, as long as it's relaxed (see above photo).

Head.  "Head low" is what to look for in an approachable dog, but make sure the lowered head is accompanied by happily-wagging tail, relaxed mouth, ears normal (forward and relaxed, I mean), happy-looking eyes.  If head is low, ears are back, teeth are bared and tail is tucked... well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist, right?!

Some tips:

Never approach an unfamiliar dog.  If you encounter an unknown, loose dog, turn your body to the side and do NOT make eye contact.  Do not speak.  "No touch, no talk, no eye contact."  is the rule when you see an unfamiliar dog!  This is an especially good rule to teach children (or adults who are afraid of, or do not like or understand dogs).  This is also a good rule if you're helping look for a lost dog, and you find it!

My personal favorite is "Let him smell you first".  If someone asks if they can pet my dog, I say "No, let him smell you first."  Dogs communicate by smell first, then sound, then sight.  Always let them smell you first.  Observe how they interact with other dogs -- it's all nose, nose, nose.  Once he's satisfied with all the messages he can pick up from smelling you, then he can be petted, but not on top of the head, please!

Here is an infographic I found online that displays some typical dog body language.  Special thanks to for publishing this infographic.

 Notice how "dominant", "excited" and "aggressive" graphics differ.  A dog can be friendly, but "dominant" (like our Charlie Brown who thinks he is the pack leader, until he gets with non-family members and then he completely backs down and becomes lower on the totem pole).

What's different about the two pictures?  In the "dominant" drawing, the dog's ears are forward, tail is up, mouth is relaxed, head is slightly tilted down almost, but not quite, into a "head low" position, legs are firmly planted on the ground.  In the "aggressive" graphic, the ears are pinned back against the head, tail is up (and maybe even wagging!), legs are in a crouched position and head is aimed up, nose first, which looks like a warning, mouth is open and NOT relaxed.  Let's look at the "excited" depiction:  the ears are forward, mouth is open but relaxed, tail happens to be down (but that's not always the case) and the legs are not firmly planted, but dog is in a crouched position, one paw is lifted and dog may actually be clawing at a person in order to get attention (not to hurt them, although this is almost always misunderstood), head is mid-level not tilted back ready for the bite, but not forward in a totally confident, relaxed stance either.

You can very easily see by these drawings that "excited" and "dominant" (which are not aggressive behaviors, by the way) can be misconstrued as just that.  The ones you want to be worried about are:  aggressive, anxious & nervous, and frightened.

I am not a veterinarian, medical professional, canine or feline professional or specialist.  I have owned and parented nine dogs and more than 40 cats in my lifetime. I write this blog based on my own experiences as a pet owner/pet parent.  Please consult a professional if you need help with a canine or feline medical or behavior problem.  Thank you.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

A to Z Challenge, Day 4: D is for Diabetes in Cats #atozchallenge

Our cat, Pointy, was diabetic.  Pointy was only with us for a short while.  Someone had "dumped" him at our house.  Back in those days, shelters were few and far between, and we were known (worldwide ha ha) as "the cat people".  One day, he showed up on our doorstep, and he never left.  My guess is that he was already a senior when he got dumped.  He was a very large Tomcat.  He adored me and Gil, and he bossed around the other pets.  They all respected Pointy.  I think he was only with us for two, maybe three years.  Here is the only picture I have of him.  This was back in the day when digital cameras were new, so I think I got accidental photos of him while I was playing with the camera when it was new.

Feline diabetes affects approximately one in every 400 cats.  That, to me, is a surprising statistic.  I thought the number would be higher... but then again, we've had about 40 cats altogether between the two of us, and Pointy is the only one I can remember who actually was diagnosed diabetic.  Male cats are at twice the risk of female cats for developing diabetes.

The disease affects all of the cat's organs.  Just like diabetes in humans, the problem is an inadequate production of insulin, or an inadequate response of the body to insulin.  As the condition becomes worse, a telltale sign of diabetes in a cat is frequent urination.  I can remember Pointy spending an inordinate amount of time in the litter box, and us having to constantly change and clean the box.  It was thought that he had a urinary tract infection, but that was not the case.  Frequent urination is a sign of diabetes, as is the need to drink a lot of water.  Just like in people.

At diabetic onset, the cat will eat a lot.  I remember Pointy seemed "ravenous".  Once the illness has taken hold, though, appetite loss is characteristic along with weight loss.

Gosh, just reading back at this, it all sounds so depressing!  But, just like with humans who have diabetes, it can be treated.  The problem with diabetes in cats is, we humans may not realize anything is wrong until it is too late to treat.  Have you ever tried giving a cat insulin injections at home?  Not fun!


Here's more info about feline diabetes.

I am not a veterinarian, medical professional, canine or feline professional or specialist.  I have owned and parented nine dogs and more than 40 cats in my lifetime. I write this blog based on my own experiences as a pet owner/pet parent.  Please consult a professional if you need help with a canine or feline medical or behavior problem.  Thank you.