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July 12, 2011

Senior Pets -- Strategies for Coping with This Challenging Stage of Life

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Watching our dear pets age is bittersweet. Life with them has become comfortable -- we understand each other. All parties cherish the loving companionship. But getting older brings problems--arthritis makes our walks together shorter and more laborious, vision problems make strange situations more threatening, vet bills add up.

Unfortunately many of the physical changes in aging pets go undetected by the average owner. Most pets decline quite quickly, seemingly almost overnight, making it hard for the owner to assimilate the change.

The result is that animals and owners often end up in combat as the owner feels their once agreeable dog is now challenging them.

Dog trainer Lisa Hartman, author of Dial a Dynamite Dog and quoted above, has written a helpful and sensitive piece on the subject. New Tricks for Old Dogs -- Strategies for dealing with an aging pet | Biscayne Times provides excellent strategies to help cope with this new stage and is worth the read.

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June 28, 2011

Amazon Hot New Pet Book Release: Love Has No Age Limit by Dog Trainer Patricia B. McConnell

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We remember vividly driving down the highway back to headquarters the morning we adopted our two puffball 10-week old clone twin girl puppies. We were so excited, and so nervous. On one hand, we love sharing our life with our doggies, but then at the same time we also wondered what have we done? Are we up to the task?

Our favorite dog trainer Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D. and Karen B. London Ph.D. tackle these ambivalent feelings of anticipation and "buyer's remorse" upon adopting a dog of any age in their just-released puppy handbook Love Has No Age Limit-Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home. As the authors point out, this is a new dog, and neither of you know each other. The book guides you through the transition, with advice on surviving the chaotic first few days, training techniques as well as solving and avoiding common behavior problems.

To visit the author's blog, click The Other End of the Leash.

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June 24, 2011

Take Your Super Cool Dog to Work Today June 24, 2011

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Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Here at Super Cool Pets, we work from a home office and therefore get to spend the day with our pets, who like us more than most people, anyway. We think there should be more of it. Sure, you have to get up every now and then to let them out to bark at whoever has the temerity to walk by their house, but it's a good excuse for a break. So if your employer is game, and that is a crucial "if", here are some tips:

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dogsatwork.jpgSeems like we are not alone in supporting dog-friendly workplaces. Dog trainer Liz Palika and Jennifer Fearing, chief economist for The Humane Society of the US, have written Dogs at Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces, explaining how to create a business environment where employees' dogs are welcome. The benefits are improved employee morale, staff retention, and increased human-animal bonding.

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June 6, 2011

PetScoop: Researchers Track Roaming Pet and Feral Cats

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Ever wonder what exactly feral and free-roaming house cats really do when they're out and about in our cities, suburbs and rural areas? You may have heard of the amazing Eyenimal Digital Camera Videocam for Pets owners use to follow and record their pets' travels indoors and out (click here for post).

In the same vein, a recent two-year study used sophisticated tracking devices to monitor the travels of 42 owned and un-owned adult cats over a range of 6,286 acres at the southern edge of Champaign and Urbana, neighboring cities in Central Illinois.

The pet cats had significantly smaller territories and tended to stay close to home, their mean home range being 4.9 acres. Generally they spent just a startling 3 percent of their time engaged in highly active behavior, such as running or stalking prey, the researchers reported. The un-owned cats were highly active 14 percent of the time, largely because their survival depended upon hunting for their own food.

Read more at Medical News Today.

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March 15, 2011

PetScoop: Researcher Finds Three Categories of Beliefs Concerning Pets

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If you have pets or "animal companions", a term some prefer, you know that individuals vary in the nature and intensity of their bond with them. Researchers are beginning to study the effect on families, routines and their relationships, according to the New York Times in Emotional Power Broker of the Modern Family.

Indiana University sociologist David Blouin interviewed 35 dog owners around the state representing a diverse mix of city, country and suburban dwellers. He found that people fall into one of three broad categories of beliefs concerning pets--dominionists, humanists and protectionists:

Members of one group, which he labels "dominionists," see pets as an appendage to the family, a useful helper ranking below humans that is beloved but, ultimately, replaceable. Many people from rural areas -- like the immigrants Dr. Terrien interviewed -- qualified.

Another group of owners, labeled by Dr. Blouin as "humanists," are the type who cherish their dog as a favored child or primary companion, to be pampered, allowed into bed, and mourned like a dying child at the end. These include the people who cook special meals for a pet, take it to exercise classes, to therapy -- or leave it stock options in their will.

The third, called "protectionists," strive to be the animal's advocate. These owners have strong views about animal welfare, but their views on how a pet should be treated -- whether it sleeps inside or outside, when it should be put down -- vary depending on what they think is "best" for the animal. Its members include people who will "save" a dog tied to tree outside a store, usually delivering it home with a lecture about how to care for an animal.

"These are ideologies, and so protectionists are very critical of humanists, who are very critical of dominionists, and so on," Dr. Blouin said. "You can see where this can create problems if people in a family have different orientations. Every little decision about the pet is loaded."

Which group describes you?

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January 18, 2011

Super Smart -- Chaser the Border Collie Knows Over a Thousand Words

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Many dog lovers wonder whether dogs actually understand our words or simply the body language and tone of voice that accompanies them.

John W. Pilley, a psychologist who lives in Spartanburg, SC decided to put his dog's language skills to the test. He has taught his border collie Chaser 1,022 words, the largest vocabulary of any known dog. Dr Piley describes his experiments with Chaser in the current issue of the journal Behavioural Processes (see abstract after the jump).

The New York Times article on Chaser points out that border collies are bred for their ability to pay close attention to the shepherd. "Watch a collie work with a sheepherder [sic] and you will come away amazed how small a gesture the person can do to communicate with his dog," said Alexandra Horowitz, a dog behavior expert at Barnard College and author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

Chaser's words skills may have some bearing on how children acquire language, although that is a matter for scientific debate. In any event, Dr. Pilley's goal is to develop methods that will help increase communication between people and dogs. Chaser is scheduled to star in a PBS Nova episode on animal intelligence airing February 9.

ArrowContinue reading: "Super Smart -- Chaser the Border Collie Knows Over a Thousand Words"

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January 8, 2011

PetScoop: Why Birds Are Such Brilliant Flying Machines

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The above photo from Flying Machines, Amazing at Any Angle--New York Times shows the wake of a hovering rufous hummingbird. The yellow vectors show air velocity, revealed by particle image velocimetry. The mist in the background is a cloud of laser-illuminated olive oil droplets.

According to University of Montana Flight Laboratory biologist and lab director Bret W. Tobalske "the most astounding fliers...are the world's 350 or so species of hummingbirds, which, largely because of their size, have mastered flight like no other bird. The calliope hummingbird weighs only as much as two paper clips, yet it migrates annually between Canada and Mexico."

He and fellow director and biologist Kenneth P Dial research the mechanics of flight and "are obsessed with trying to bridge the gap in flying abilities between humans and birds." Interesting short article. Flying Machines, Amazing at Any Angle--New York Times.

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December 30, 2010

Wacky Facts About Cats and Dogs

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We cat and dog lovers know a lot about our pets, and we can learn something new every day. In case you need to break the ice tonight, or any other time, we have dug up some dog and cat facts that should come in handy as conversation starters.

Cats:

1. Nose-to-nose greetings between cats are unusual, as it puts both in a vulnerable position. However, cats who know each other well but have been apart for a while feel safe enough to do this to confirm visual recognition and gain information about how the other cat is, where he has been and what he has been doing.

2. Purring usually indicates contentment, however, a deep purr can also indicate pain. If you know your cat well you will be able to tell the difference in his demeanor.

3. Cats start to purr at one week old and can do so continually as they inhale and exhale.

4. Young cats purr in a monotone, while older ones do so in two to three resonant notes.

5. Scientist still do not know exactly how the purring sound is made, although some believe that it originates in the cardiovascular system rather than the throat.

6. Cats appear to retain their kitten vocal signals to communicate with their owners, but they use and adult repertoire of sound with other cats.

7. Like dogs, cats can also get sick or die from eating chocolate.

ArrowContinue reading: "Wacky Facts About Cats and Dogs "

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December 24, 2010

Simon's Cat Discovers Christmas -- Santa Claws

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Apropos the above photo, enjoy this Simon's Cat video:


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October 24, 2010

Dogs Notice Our Every Move -- Tell Me Who's Watching by Lisa Hartman

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Have you ever noticed that your dogs are always watching you? They notice details many humans overlook -- small things mean a lot. They know your routine and when you change your behavior. An engrossing article by trainer Lisa Hartman on dogs' obsession with their humans, Tell Me Who's Watching, will strike a chord with all of us who live with dogs.

"Every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you." While this line from a popular song written by Sting was about obsessive love, the lyrics could equally be applied to your dog. Did you know you are training your dog even when you are not trying to train him? Every move you make sends a message to your dog and unofficially trains him to behave a certain way.

dialdynamitedog.jpgLisa Hartman is a well known and respected New York and Miami dog trainer and author of DIAL A DYNAMITE DOG, a dog training book that "cuts to the chase" and speaks to the pet owner in "plain english".

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