Manatee watches over dog waiting for rescue

Manatees and dogs don’t usually meet, but if they did they just might be friends. White Boy is a dog from Tampa, Florida, who recently fell into the river. Residents of the Seminole Heights area heard a strange noise from the river Friday night, and saw the dog struggle to climb out the next morning. 

When officers from the Tampa Police Department’s Marine Patrol unit came to the scene, White Boy clung to a cement wall with his front paws – and a manatee stood guard behind him. It is unknown how long the manatee kept the dog company, but it stayed until the dog was rescued.

White Boy has been reunited with his family, and got away from the adventure with bug bites and hurt paws. Hopefully he will stay away from the river in the future.

Image from Tampa Police Department's Facebook page
Image from Tampa Police Department’s Facebook page

Pet shelters step up efforts on keeping pets in their homes

According to the humane society, between three and four million pets are euthanized in shelters each year. It is a mind boggling number, but still an improvement – in the past the number was 20 million. The really sad part is that many of these cats and dogs aren’t strays; they are surrendered by their owners. These pets used to have a home, and for different reasons their owners can’t or won’t keep them.

Every person’s life is more complicated than it appears at first glance. Some things are easy or self evident to one person, and difficult to someone else. Situations change – many pets are given up because their owners can’t afford their vet bills, or even become homeless.

Shelters around the country are stepping up to the challenge, and many now try to work with owners to help them keep their pets. Some need education – they might honestly believe that their dog is happier on a chain in the back yard than in the house – others need practical help, financial support for vet care, help with a pet deposit on a rental, or help with boarding a pet for a shorter period of time.

If the pet is surrendered to the shelter, one of two things can happen: either the pet is killed, or the shelter pays for medical care, food, toys, and the effort to find it a new home. Helping the original owner keep the pet is a win for everyone.

Cutest friends ever?

Image from Facebook: Duluth Animal Hospital
Image from Facebook: Duluth Animal Hospital

Roo is a two-legged Chihuahua, and Penny is a fluffy chicken. They should reasonably never have met, but they were both rescued by the Duluth Animal Hospital

Roo was born without front legs, and was allegedly found freezing in a ditch when he was seven weeks old. Penny was a mere nine weeks when she was rescued from an experiment program. Today, they’re the best friends anyone can imagine.

They spend their days together at Duluth Animal Hospital, snuggle together, take baths together, and dress up for the holidays together. Watch the video for images of ultimate cuteness!


Is your dog an optimist or a pessimist?

Some people have a decidedly sunnier outlook on life than others who tend to expect the worst. Up until most of us have thought this is a human trait, but it turns out that dogs can also have a predisposition towards optimism or pessimism.

This new information comes from the University of Sydney, and started as a doggy personality test to determine the best service dogs for particular tasks. Dogs with a more pessimistic look on life tend to be more careful and reluctant to take risks – which makes them better guide dogs for the disabled.

Optimistic dogs are more persistent and tend to do better in, for instance, search-and-rescue settings where a pessimistic dog might give up. The optimistic dogs also recover quicker when something bad happens.


Missing Philadelphia dog found in Oregon

Gidget is returning home
Photo from Washington County, Oregon, Animal Services in Hillsboro, Oregon

Months ago, Gidget the Jack Russell terrier went missing from her home near Philadelphia.  Luckily, she was microchipped. She was found wandering the streets of a Portland Suburb – 3,000 miles away from her home. Thanks to the microchip, shelter workers could identify the owner, and Gidget will soon be taken back home.

Gidget disappeared right after easter, and she’s the only one who knows how she ended up in Oregon, and what she has been doing since April. It was surely a big adventure.

She has never lived in Oregon and is unlikely to have walked there on her own, but who brought her is still a mystery. Shelter workers say she was thin but in good shape when she came to the shelter.

Gidgets owners didn’t have the money to fly out and get her, but sunshine stories like this bring out the best in many. Several people have offered to pay for transportation, and PetLink – the company that manufactured Gidget’s microchip – will pick up the bill for her flight back home. A man also came to the shelter and paid for all expenses in caring for the dog.

Suffolk DA hires comfort dog

Many victims of crime, especially children, are too traumatized to talk about what happened, but talking is required to solve the situation. A Suffolk District Attorney has found a new way to help victims relax: Indy, a 2 year old Golden Retriever.

Indy is trained to comfort people in emotional distress, and he is the first facility dog to work in a governmental agency in New England. He is donated by Canine Companions for Independence, and he has a knack for building trust and relaxing the people who need it the most.

Each service dog placed by Canine Companions cost over $45,000 to raise and train. The dogs undergo intensive training,learning over 50 commands, and each dog is recertified every year.

Indy can open doors and pick up items, helping people with physical  tasks, but his greatest talent is for emotional support. He has already made a big difference for victims in Suffolk, and his duties might well be expanded. Read more on the Boston Globe!

If your pet presses its head against the wall, it might be time to see the vet

Sometimes, not often, a cat or dog starts pressing its head against the wall or another object. The pet might even walk into a corner and seemingly not know how to get out. The head pressing is often the most notable behavior, but the pet might also show compulsive pacing, circling, changes in trained behavior, and even have seizures. If you note some or all of these symptoms, it’s time to see the vet. 

These strange behaviors indicate damage to the nervous system, or a toxic poisoning. There can be a number of underlying causes, and the sooner the pet gets to the vet, the better.

Amongst the possible causes are cancers, stroke, metabolic problems, an infection, lead poisoning, head trauma, and parasites. Treatment is imperative for the future health of your pet.

Compulsively pressing the head against a wall or other object shouldn’t be confused with playfully “head butting” their human. Head pressing is hard to miss – the behavior doesn’t look normal.

Get the most out of dog toys

Tennis ballsDog toys are important, but can get expensive. If your dog tires of toys quickly, here are some tips for getting the most out of the toys.

  • Rotate your dog’s toys on a weekly basis and keep a few available at a time. This way, old toys can be like new. If your dog has an absolute favorite you might want to keep that available all the time.
  • Make a good mix of the toys that are available. For instance one toy to carry, one to kill, one to roll around, and one to baby.
  • Play hide and seek with your dog through hiding toys and letting your dog seek. A toy that’s just handed over is okay, but a toy that required work and was “found” can be even more precious. You can also hide treats and teach your dog to seek them. This is a good mental exercise that keeps your dog active.
  • Take time to play with your dog. Whether it’s a hide and seek game, playing frisbee, or tossing a ball, interactive games will help establish the bond between you. Playing together also gives an opportunity to learn good behavior.

Examples of good dog toys

Dog toysThere is a plethora of dog toys available, and which to choose largely depends on the dog. Some dogs tear through everything but the most chew-resistant in minutes, and others carry the same soft squeaky duck around for years.

Most dogs like a good thinking game. Many dogs are alone while their humans spend time at work or school. We’re tired when we come home after a full day, but the dog is bored and has been napping most of the day. Handing out a “thinking” toy can be a great solution – you need to be around to make sure nothing happens, but it will keep your friend occupied for a while.

Examples of thinking games include “boxes” with hiding spots for treats. The dog must move parts around with the nose, or remove them, to get to the treats. Others are shaped as balls or cubes that must roll a certain way to dispense treats.

Kong-type toys frozen with a mix of broken-up treats or kibble along with some peanut butter or soft food can keep dogs occupied for hours.

Many dogs love toys meant for chewing or carryinglike Nylabones, Kong Wubbas, and similar. Rope toys are great as long as your dog doesn’t manage to untie the knots and eat the threads, and many dogs love tennis balls. Make sure you use balls of an appropriate size, so the dog can’t choke on them.

Some dogs love soft, stuffed toys. Make sure you get one with pet-safe stuffing. If your dog likes to carry the toy around it needs to be small enough to carry, yet large enough to prevent accidental swallowing. If your dog wants to shake and “kill” the toy, it needs to be sturdy enough to survive the attacks.

Many dogs who spend many hours alone love to have a piece of dirty laundry, like an old T-shirt, towel, or blanket. Something that smells like you can be very comforting to a dog. Pick something that doesn’t break easily, and that you won’t mourn if it’s destroyed by carrying, bedding, and nosing.

Are dog toys important?

Dog with toyWhen it comes to humans, many say that we never stop buying toys – they just become more expensive with age. Toys are important to us, and they’re important to pets as well. To dogs, they’re even necessary.

Toys can:

  • Keep boredom at bay
  • Provide comfort
  • Prevent a pet from developing behavioral problems

Cats are generally picky about what toys they approve, but dogs tend to love everything they can get their paws on, and it’s wise to choose toys for them before they find something on their own.

What toys are safe?

The answer to that depends on many factors, such as the dog’s size, preferences, and activity level. A toy that can be perfectly safe to a small dog not interested in chewing can be dangerous to a large and energetic dog. Use common sense, and try to see it from the dog’s point of view.

Make sure the toy is appropriate for your dog’s size. Balls and other toys that are too small can be swallowed, or choke your dog. Not all dog toys for sale are safe or even appropriate. Remove any ribbons, strings, and other parts that can be chewed off and swallowed. If the toy is torn and falling apart it’s time to remove it.

Some toys, like rope toys that are braided with knotted ends, are great when they are new, but it is important to replace them once they’re worn and chewed, so the dog doesn’t eat any of the strings in the rope.

Always supervise play with squeaker toys. Many dogs feel the need to tear the toy apart and destroy the squeaker, and squeakers should not be eaten.

As a general rule, soft toys made for children should not be used by pets – the filling is dangerous and can in severe cases kill a dog. Not even “pet-safe” fillings are meant to be eaten. Dog-proof your home. Make sure your furry friend can’t get to strings, rubber bands, ribbons, children’s toys, pantyhose, and similar things that can be swallowed.

Therapy dogs at hospice

A hospice is a medical facility or at-home care that provides services and emotional support to a person in the last stages of a serious illness. A hospice facility is focused on reaching a good quality of life, and therapy dogs play an increasingly important role.

Many persons with hospice care have spent their lives with animals, and suddenly they can’t have a pet anymore. Therapy dogs provide the love, comfort, and companionship needed, and enrich the lives of both patients and families. The dogs can provide a physical contact many yearn for, combat loneliness, and make a person feel needed and wanted.

Hospice work isn’t for all dogs, or all handlers, but if it’s something you would like to do with your dog, it makes a big difference for the people who needs it the most.

In order to interact with the patients, the dog must prove itself reliable and with an appropriate temperament. The dogs must be at least one year old to be trained for hospice work, but other than that they can be large or small, mutts or pure breds. The dog must be healthy, and obey basic commands.

If you’re interested in hospice work with your dog, take a look at Therapy Dogs International. They have a testing brochure available telling you about the steps the dog must be able to handle, and you can read more about their testing requirements here.


Chewing problems?

Most – if not all – dog owners encounter a chewing problem sooner or later. Even the most well behaved pooch can fall for the temptation of chewing a shoe, a remote control, or why not a sofa cushion! Why is that, and what can we do about it?

To start with, why do dogs chew?

Puppies explore their world by putting things in their mouth. They do a good job exploring the world through their eyes and sense of smell, but one of their favorite ways to learn about things is chewing on them.

Puppies also teethe for about six months, and chewing makes the sore gums feel better.

Adolescent dogs – for some breeds this period can last up until they’re two to three years old – are a lot like human teenagers. There’s a lot going on in the body, they have energy to spare, they get bored, and sometimes they want to bend the rules a little. All this often adds up to unwanted behavior such as chewing, and the dog no longer has the extreme puppy cuteness to protect it. Unfortunately many dogs are given up during their adolescence, because their owners can’t cope with a teenager on four paws.

Adult dogs sometimes also chew. They don’t do it to spite their humans. Some common reasons why dogs chew on your belongings include:

  • As a puppy, the dog was never taught what to chew and what not to chew
  • Dogs often chew because they’re bored
  • The dog might suffer from separation anxiety
  • The behavior can be fear related
  • It’s a call for attention

If your problems stems from separation anxiety or fear, you might need to seek help from a behavior professional.

How can the problem be solved?

First of all, take responsibility for your belongings. If it doesn’t belong in your dog’s mouth, keep it out of reach. Make sure shoes, clothes, books, trash, remote controls, eyeglasses, and similar are kept out of reach.

Invest in good chewing toys that doesn’t look anything like the forbidden objects. Many let their dog chew on an old shoe, or make a toy out of an old sock. The difference between allowed shoes and socks and forbidden shoes and socks is clear to humans, but not at all as clear to dogs.

Spend extra time with your dog. Spending time with you will increase your bond, and help your dog learn acceptable behavior. If need be, keep doggie with you on a leash in the house, and confine him or her when you’re unable to keep your eyes on him.  Provide plenty of “safe” toys.

If you have a teething puppy, try freezing a wet washcloth and offer it for chewing – this can help soothe the sore gums. Supervise so your puppy doesn’t chew it up and swallow it.

Make sure your dog gets ample physical and mental exercise. Many chewing problems stem from the dog being bored. You might want to invest in puzzle toys, enroll in a training program, learn tricks, or take him jogging. You can also use meal-time as doggy entertainment. Instead of just pouring kibble into a bowl, mix it with a little peanut butter or soft dog food, stuff it into a Kong, and freeze it. Getting the food out will take a while, and give your dog something to work with.

If you catch doggie chewing on something forbidden, interrupt through making a loud noise. Then, offer an acceptable chew toy, and give lots of praise when he or she takes the right toy.


Pizza-baking cats?

It’s hard to resist pizza, and even harder to resist cats. So, why not combine the two in an advertising campaign? That’s just what Pizza Hut in Japan did, presenting a web series called Pizza Cat where all pizza is made by cats.

Stars of the show are Tencho, Hime, Dora, and Detch – four kitties wearing red caps and scarves. Cats are a big deal in Japan, where cat cafés pop up all over  to allow patrons to watch and pet cats even if they can’t have one of their own.

The Pizza Hut cats are also popular, but they don’t seem to have the delivery completely down:


In this episode, it’s time to clean the restaurant. Watching a cat ride an automatic vacuum is surprisingly relaxing.



Dogs can need sunscreen too

Summer is officially over, but parts of the country are still hot and sunny. Did you know that dogs can get sunburned and get skin cancer just like humans? You shouldn’t use human sunscreen on pets, but there are pet safe versions created to fit their skin, and to be safe in case the pooch would lick it off.

Areas extra sensitive to the sun include the tip of the ears, the nose, the belly, and the groin – areas that typically have less hair coverage as well as thinner skin.

New findings show that humans should wear sunscreen every day around year – even on rainy days, during winter, and up north – and that UV rays can reach us even through windows and cloud covers. Knowing that, it makes sense to protect our furry friends at least when they’re romping about in the sun.

Dogs love their outside time, but they don’t know when enough is enough, and we need to control their time in the sun and heat. Even if the weather has cooled down a little it’s wise to watch for signs of heatstroke. Symptoms include panting, drooling, lethargy, fever, vomiting, and collapse. Breeds with short noses, senior dogs, and puppies are  more susceptible to heat.

If you think your dog might have heatstroke, do your best to cool it down, and call the vet at once!

Would you like a cat with your new home?

In Russia it’s considered good luck if a cat enters a new home ahead of the owners. It’s a nice tradition, and cats with their keen senses can probably say more about a building than humans, so the Russians might be on to something.

Now Russia’s biggest bank – Sberbank – attempts to take advantage of the tradition through an unusual promotional campaign: the bank offers to deliver a cat to the doorstep of new mortgage clients. The campaign is limited to the thirty first new mortgages, and CNN reports that a few customers already signed up.

Friends of cats might worry that everyone who buys a home isn’t cut out to be a cat owner, but that shouldn’t be a problem – the cats are only on loan for a couple of hours.

Bank customers can choose from ten cats with different breeds, and The Financial Brand reports the cats belong to bank employees. On the big day, a branded van with a giant cat logo comes to deliver the pet.

The bank says, “Order a cat for your housewarming and bring happiness and luck to your home.” It is unknown what happens if the cat refuses to enter the house…

The video below is in Russian, but expresses the sentiment of the campaign even without understanding the language, and who can resist watching cats?


Time to vote in the Hero Dog Awards!

Each year, the American Humane Association holds a competition in order to find and recognize the country’s phenomenal hero dogs. Voting is open until September 15th, so you still have a chance to get your vote in.

Dogs running for the award come from all walks of life, and there are eight categories:

  • Law Enforcement Dogs
  • Arson Dogs
  • Service Dogs
  • Therapy Dogs
  • Military Dogs
  • Guide and Hearing Dogs
  • Search and Rescue Dogs
  • Emerging Hero Dogs

The last category are for ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things, or are heroes to their families.

One dog also walks away with top honors as the winning American Hero Dog, and the prize is $5,000 for a charity. In 2013, Elle the Pitbull became the American Hero Dog. She’s a therapy dog who also works as safety educator, and with a children’s reading program.

Watch this wonderful video about Elle, and hop on over to // to vote for a 2014 Hero Dog!


Hero dog saves 8-year old from angry bees

When Jesse-Cole Shaver and his sister Jasmine went out to play with some neighborhood kids, they had no idea a rotten log nearby hosted a swarm of bees. One of the kids stepped on the log, and the children were immediately surrounded by angry insects.

The children made their way up the hill towards home to get help, but Jesse-Cole couldn’t follow. This is when Hades, the adopted family dog stepped in. Hades ran over to the boy and dragged him up the hill to safety, getting stung several times herself in the process.

Jesse-Cole was stung at least 24 times, and Jasmine five. To make things worse, she is allergic to bees. The children were rushed to the hospital, where doctors had to pick bees out of their hair. Thanks to Hades, the story ends well, and the pit bull is now cheered as the neighborhood hero.


Guinness’ Fastest on Two Legs

Jiff is  a Pomeranian, cute as can be. He is also fast enough to be featured in the new edition of Guinness World Records book. He ran 10 meters on his hind legs in 6.56 seconds, and 5 meters on his front legs in 7.76 seconds.

Many dogs can balance on two feet, but few can walk or run on just the front paws.

Besides two-legged running, Jiff can also ride a skateboard, bow, stamp his pawtograph, and shake hands.

Naturally, this cute pup is already becoming a celebrity. He has appeared in TV ads, and in a video by Katy Perry.


New Oregon Law is a Win for Animals

Late August the Oregon Supreme Court passed a ruling that changes how animals are treated under state law. Now, any animal can be seen as a legal victim in a case, and this gives animals more protection against abuse. 

For a pet lover, it’s evident that each pet is an individual. Up until now, the law has seen them as property. The new ruling means, for instance, that if a person abuses 20 animals he or she can now be sentenced on 20 counts instead of just one – each individual animal is a separate victim. This can, in turn, result in longer sentences and make it more difficult for abusers to expunge these convictions from criminal records.

The ruling also makes it easier for law enforcement to help animals in danger – if an animal is “property” an officer would need a warrant to step onto private property and for instance take the animal to a veterinarian. Getting a warrant can take four to eight hours, and that is enough time for an abused animal to die.

2014 has seen some great steps in the right direction for animal rights. Hopefully, the trend will continue until they are all protected.


Keep laundry detergent pods out of reach

Laundry detergent pods are convenient for making sure you use the right amount of detergent. Just make sure you store and keep them out of reach of pets and children – they are highly toxic.

As an adult it’s often hard to predict what will be dangerous, because we think like adults. We know laundry detergent goes in the laundry machine and not in the mouth. Unfortunately, the pods can look like candy to small children, and like toys to pets. They look fun to kick around, hold between the paws, and chew on.

Laundry detergent pods are dangerous to pets and children

But, isn’t the detergent in plastic?

Not exactly. The pods are designed to hold detergent until the shell comes in contact with moisture – such as the water in the laundry machine or your child’s or pet’s saliva. The detergent in the pods is highly concentrated and much more dangerous than most regular detergents.

When released, the detergent can cause life-threatening damage to the respiratory system, burning of the stomach and trachea, and eye damage.

Symptoms of contact with a pod include drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and respiratory problems. Many times, the pod is gone – already swallowed – and it’s difficult to know what’s causing the symptoms.

The problem is easy to remedy. Keep your detergent in a secure shelf where your pets and children can’t reach it. Never leave a pod lying around the house, not even on top of a laundry pile.