October 31, 2007

Cat Body, Cat Mind


At Super Cool Pets we read a pet column by Dr. Michael W. Fox in our local newspaper. Dr. Fox is a compassionate and humane animal-lover, as well as a renowned veterinarian and animal behaviorist. In his new book Cat Body, Cat Mind: Exploring Your Cat's Consciousness and Total Well-Being he "explores the minds, hearts, and bodies of cats." If you find your cat an enigma (and who does not?) this book should help you to learn how to better care for and communicate with your furry friend.

Fox believes that cats, and all animals, have much to teach their human companions - if only humans learn how to listen. In Cat Body, Cat Mind, Fox not only teaches readers to communicate with their cats, he illuminates the extraordinary powers that cats possess - from their amazing ability to empathize to their mysterious ability to find their way home. Fox makes a terrific case for the right of cats and all animals to live safe, healthy lives, free from fear and harm. Only by better understanding and appreciating our cats and by strengthening the cat-human bond, Fox explains, can we do right by them.

Cat Body, Cat Mind also offers a holistic approach to companion-animal care and preventive medicine, including essential nutritional guidelines, as well as behavioral advice and troubleshooting that will help guarantee a healthy and happy pet.

Great book for the cat-lover from a well-respected expert.

At Amazon.

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October 22, 2007

What Pets Do While You're at Work (Paperback)--Review


If you feel guilty when you leave your pets home alone, this book is for you. Yes, they may mope, mew and whine, look up at you with sad big eyes, but don't let them fool you. What Pets Do While You’re at Work by Jason Bergund and Bev West is an "unauthorized album of caught-in-the-act photos your beloved furry ones never meant for you to see". As soon as you back out the drive, they party party party.

This handy (approx 6 " x 4") paperback is filled with real-life funny pet photos and captions. Great book for laughs and a perfect stocking stuffer.

At Amazon.

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October 20, 2007

Halloween Safety for Your Pet


We all want Halloween to be a safe time for our family. It is easy to forget about the pets, or assume they will be "all right". Here are two sources of tips to think about to prepare your pet for the busy and perhaps scary holiday.

From: Steve Dale's Pet World - Halloween and Pets: How to Be Safe

Dog trainer Peggy Moran of Lemont, IL says, “I realize that some dogs and cats are very social and enjoy people coming to the door. It’s a calculated risk, what if that kid in the Freddie Krueger mask sneezes, scares the dog and the dog lunges at the boy in the costume? Or if the cat bolts outside? Personally, I don’t like taking risks. You can minimize the risk by keeping your dog on a leash and the cat on a harness.”

Of course, you can further minimize any risk by keeping the pets off in another room all together. But don’t keep the dog in the yard on Halloween. It’s a no win situation. Moran says. “If the dog loves kids, the dog will bark and bark. If the dog is anxious because of the kids, the dog will bark and bark.”

Indoors/outdoor cats should absolutely never be allowed to roam outdoors in the days leading up to Halloween, or especially on the holiday itself. “It seems some cats are used for satanic purposes or just pranks,” says Kari Winters, an author and dog and cat rescuer from Los Angeles. Some shelters and humane societies don’t adopt black cats from mid-October through Halloween.

Veterinarians offer some more great tips here for Halloween safety. Things you may not have thought about. Don't let your pet be the victim of any Halloween pranks!

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June 2, 2007

Pampered Pets


Fascinating discussion of animal behvior and human-animal interaction for all of us dog and cat lovers in Newsweek--A Pampered Pet Nation. Downloadable, so read at your leisure, but read it you must.

This year we’ll shell out more than $40 billion to keep our furry friends fed, adorned, amused and healthy—the latter a huge growth category, with more and more owners paying top dollar for elaborate medical treatments to forestall that inevitable last visit to the vet. By the end of the decade, we’ll be spending $50 billion on pet products, according to the APPMA. Walk the aisles of Petco or PetSmart, past the Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses for your dog and the $140 Catnip Chaise Lounge for your cat, and you’ll discover just how well-trained we Americans have become. “I don’t know who’s been domesticated: the animals, or the humans?” says Jeff Corwin, Animal Planet’s globetrotting wildlife biologist....

But is all this coddling for our pets, or is it for us? A growing number of animal behaviorists, researchers and trainers think we’ve gone off the deep end, anthropomorphizing and infantilizing our pets to the point that we’ve forgotten an essential biological truth: at the level of basic instinct, Tabby is a wildcat and Fido is a wolf.

At msnbc.com

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May 23, 2007

Calming Signals


Our dogs speak to us, but do we listen? Humans often expect them to understand English (substitute any language), and I know our dogs do. Or do they understand the body language that goes along with the words? Since this is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, SuperCoolPets suggests On Talking Terms with Dogs--Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. This book, as recommended in a prior post, can help educate us in canine body language.

From a review by "gunillam":

I attended a weekend seminar with Turid Rugaas last year which opened my eyes and I know that this works. Since then, and also since looking at video recordings from dog meetings, I now understand that dogs "talk" all the time. When meeting us or another dog, every single move or glance can carry a meaning. The other dog understands, if he has been allowed to "practice" dog language in lots of meetings with other dogs, but we, the humans, the supposed alphas, don't understand. Instead we try to teach the dog OUR verbal language. How frustrating for the dog! Shouldn't we first learn the dog's language?

On Talking Terms with Dogs--Calming Signals also available in DVD from Amazon.

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May 19, 2007

Dog Bite Prevention


The third week in May is designated as National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Good idea--every week should be that way. Our family dog Kelly, an English Setter, supposedly a kind and gentle breed, bit our then 3 year old son on the jaw. Frantic call from sitter, rush home, rush to ER, kick mother out. He had a few stitches and his black and blue face swelled up--closed eye--the whole bit. Traumatic for us all, and our sweet doggie went to live with relatives.

How to prevent? Listen to warning signals from the animal (and hire a competent babysitter). We were out, but reports from my now adult children, not the sitter, are that our little guy cornered our pup. Did our dog give warning signals? I will never know. But I have started to find the topic of canine communication fascinating. People tend to anthropomorphize dogs, which is an error. Fascinating suggestions from Cissy Sumner, Be aware of canine communication behavior in yourhub.com

I do find it hard to believe the dogs bit without warning. I find it much more likely the dogs gave warning, but the humans did not recognize it. It is the simple fact that dogs and humans communicate differently. Since humans are supposed to be the more intelligent species, we should learn to recognize canine warning signals.

Dogs often use subtle "calming signals" to let us know they are uncomfortable in a situation. They may yawn, blink, sniff or turn their head away to avoid our gaze. Few people notice these small signs. (I highly recommend Turid Rugaas' book or video "on Talking Terms with Dogs-Calming Signals" for anyone interested in learning more about canine communication.) Perhaps the dogs in question gave some of these signals, but no one noticed.

If a dog has been telling you subtly to back off and you did not get the message, the dog must escalate his warning. This can be a growl or it may be simply freezing and becoming still. A growling dog is giving a lot of vocal warning. This is good because if you have any common sense you now know there is a problem and can give the dog more space. You can deal with the problem later. The first thing is to diffuse the situation and keep everyone safe. Remember, growling is the early warning system. Do not punish a growling dog. He may bite you for correcting him or he may simply stop growling and go directly to using his teeth.

Dogs that do not growl, but just freeze before biting are more problematic. Most people do not notice the dog is suddenly still. This is the most dangerous situation. With this type of behavior, you can find yourself in in trouble before you realize it. I suspect these are the dogs that we think bite without warning.

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April 28, 2007

Dog Body Language


Truly fascinating New York Times article making the rounds: If You Want to Know if Spot Loves You So, It’s in His Tail, the gist being:

Right Brain, Left Brain The muscles on either side of the tail apparently reflect emotions like fear and love registering in the brain....there is another, newly discovered, feature of dog body language that may surprise attentive pet owners and experts in canine behavior. When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.

ArrowContinue reading: "Dog Body Language"

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April 5, 2007

Understand Your Pets--Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior


Ever wonder what your pets are saying and thinking? Haven't we all?

Super Cool Pets found this fascinating study, Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Temple Grandin, to be an eye-opener:

Among its provocative ideas, the book:

*argues that language is not a requirement for consciousness -- and that animals do have consciousness

*applies the autism theory of "hyper-specificity" to animals, showing that animals and autistic people are so sensitive to detail that they "can't see the forest for the trees" -- a talent as well as a "deficit"

*explores the "interpreter" in the normal human brain that filters out detail, leaving people blind to much of the reality that surrounds them -- a reality animals and autistic people see, sometimes all too clearly...

*maintains that the single worst thing you can do to an animal is to make it feel afraid.

Recommended read for any animal lover who wishes to understand pets better. Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

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