The truth about cats and dogs

Trevor the dog might get a little miffed that I scooped him on this one, but I was only able to do get ahead of him because of my opposable thumbs, I’m a bit more adept at the computer than he is I’m sure.

While there are dog people and cat people and I respect them both, however, I’ve always thought dogs were smarter. There, I said it. I love dogs because of how they enhance our lives. I used to tell my cat lovin’ friend, “Look at all the things dogs can do, they search and rescue, they help people see and hear. What do cats do?

“Cats are smart enough not to get put to work.” My friend would retort.

My answer to that was to quote Muriel Barbery who wrote, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog.” She wrote, “… Cats are fat windbags who eat designer kibble and have no interesting interaction with human beings. The only purpose of cats is that they constitute mobile decorative objects…” No, I don’t mean that, because deep down I’m a cat lover, it’s just that I’m highly allergic and that Muriel Barbery quote is always good for a chuckle.

According to a study by Oxford University, “Over millions of years dogs have developed bigger brains than cats because highly social species of mammals need more brain power than solitary animals.” Other animals that have developed larger brains are monkeys, followed by horses, dolphins, camels and dogs. The reasoning being is that the more social an animal is, the larger their brain is, relative to body size of course. A larger brain capacity is needed because social animals need to think more.

So there you have it, the truth about cats and dogs. I would suppose that’s why Mama got Trevor to write the column and Mr.Walter Croncat is just window decoration.

– Aunt B

Why size doesn’t matter

Big dogs aren’t necessarily smarter than small ones like me and little pooches are not apt to bark more than larger breeds. Size isn’t what is important because all dogs have our pros and cons.

Some men are turned off by miniature dogs because they think we are a reflection of their manhood. They’re embarrassed to walk us and even to pet us in public. But there are some benefits to having a small dog just like there are plusses to owning a big dog.

Little pooches can be easier on the wallet because we require less food and smaller doses of flea/tick medicine. We tend to live longer, usually between 12-15 years compared to large dogs, which often live between 8-11 years old, depending on the breed. However, dental problems and luxating patellas haunt us. Plus, our tiny bones break easily; therefore, it’s important not to let us jump off the furniture onto a hard surface.

Larger breeds such as Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and Dobermans are more prone to hip dysplasia, which can make them so lame that owners choose to put them out of their misery. But with proper healthcare, sometimes big dogs can live into their teens too.

All dogs, regardless of size, need daily exercise but owners who want a dog to jog with them will prefer a big dog. My little legs can’t keep up. But we can accompany our owners to more places because we’re easily transported. There’s a misconception that all miniature dogs yap. Many of us are extremely quiet. What is true is that some small dogs like to act bigger than they are. Their strong personalities make up for what they lack in size.
In the end, size doesn’t matter. What does is your lifestyle, your living space and your ability to love your four-legged friend.

– Trevor the Dog

Hybrid cars: easy on my ears, and pleasant to my nose

One of the highlights for me is riding in the car with my owner. It’s another chance to bond, whether we’re running a 15-minute errand or going on a weekend getaway. These outings are more enjoyable nowadays because of hybrid cars, which aren’t just beneficial to the environment but healthier for pooches.

More than 80 percent of dog owners take their canine companions along in their vehicles on errands, leisure rides and day trips, according to a survey by the Automobile Association of America survey in 2010. But some of my fellow canines have problems becoming accustomed to the noise, vibration and motion in standard cars. Therefore, we might shake, drool and even vomit on your beautiful leather car seats.

We smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than humans and hear at a higher frequency too. But because hybrid cars are quieter than conventional vehicles, it results in a more pleasant ride for us. Hybrid cars are also easier on our noses because there’s less smog exhaust in the air.

Regardless of the kind of car, always remember to secure us with a doggy seatbelt or crate us and use a seat belt to secure the crate. This prevents us from climbing into your lap, one of our favorite places, or flying around the car should you have to brake suddenly or someone hit your car. And it’s fine if you put us in the backseat. We know how much you want to pet us (and we like it too) but we don’t want to distract you from driving. Letting us hang our heads out of the window may look cool but it’s bad for us because debris can fly in our eyes and ears and harm us. Also, don’t leave us in a closed car, even for a few minutes. You’d be surprised at how quickly a closed car can heat up and cause permanent damage to us or worse yet, even kill us. Therefore, make sure you can take us inside whatever establishment you go to as well.

– Trevor the dog Fido’s search for the perfect human

Humans go through an amazing amount of research to find the ideal dog to make part of their family. But no one ever asks us what we’re looking for in an owner. Here’s what’s on my wish list for the perfect pet parent. I want someone who is:

Active: Exercise is important for all dogs, regardless of size. I want someone that will take me for walks through the neighborhood and play outside with me.

Sensitive: It’s important that you get to know my behavior and patterns so you can tell when I’m not feeling well.

Caring: I want someone who will bathe me or take me the groomer regularly. Make sure my toenails are clipped because it will help prevent injury and make me more comfortable. Also, brush me often so my coat doesn’t matt and I won’t shed so much.

Great communicator: Talk to me daily. Not only do I like the sound of your voice but you would be surprised at how many words I understand. My vocabulary extends far beyond “sit,” “stay,” “roll over,” “come,” and “fetch.” Nothing warms my heart more than when someone says “I love you,” and kisses me. I’ll even kiss back.

Patient: Please don’t be in a hurry when you walk me. I like to stop and sniff – a lot.

Generous: This means with your time. I’m excited when you come home from work and want you to spend some time playing with me. Before you leave in the morning, take a few minutes to play with me also.

Affectionate: I love to be rubbed and, like most dogs, have my belly scratched. Massages are also nice and can be calming for humans. Try giving me one.

Giver: Praise us. Dogs love their owners and we want to please you. If you praise us then we know we’re doing the right thing.

Remember, dogs are the most loyal pets. We remain devoted through the good and the bad times. But being an ideal pet parent gives us all the more reason to be the best companion to you.

– Trevor the Dog

Steppin’ Out: Cleaning Up After Your Canine Companion

Ten million tons. That’s the estimated weight of cat and dog waste produced by our furry friends every year in the US. And it’s no wonder, considering that over half of all Americans now share their home with at least one cat or one dog. In fact, the total domestic dog population in the US is over 67 million, a group that eats an enormous quantity of food every year, with the market for wet and dry canine delights over $10 billion.

Whether you’re familiar with backyard composting or not, you may want to consider processing your dog’s poop at home by setting up a composting system for it. While you should never compost your pet waste with your regular kitchen garbage because of pathogens which may contaminate your food, you can dedicate a composter just for your dog waste. This simple solution reduces the amount of garbage you produce each week while keeping potential toxins away from our water systems, too.

Commercially-produced dog waste composters can be purchased, making your setup low-maintenance. Doggiel Dooley and the Tumbleweed Pet Poo Converter are two such options.

But if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, a home-spun version can also be built out of supplies you may have sitting in your garage. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A shovel.
  • A large plastic garbage can or compost bin with a good-fitting lid.
  • Septo-Bac, which is an enzyme-active biological compound that increases the digestion rate of sewage purchased a home improvement stores in the plumbing section.
  • An unused corner of your backyard that’s situated away from your vegetable garden or any food-bearing plants.

Putting it altogether is mostly a matter of a little shovel-work. For a pictorial tutorial on making your own doggie waste composter, check out this City Farmer slideshow.

Pets, Relationships and How One Can Improve the Other

We’ve gone dog crazy. Yes I said it. Dogs in purses, designer dogs, dog whisperers. Sheesh! I dig animals and all but uhm… they can’t sleep in my bed and I’m just not picking up poop. I can’t deny the benefits that pets bring into our lives. The companionship and the unconditional love and devotion they give are just too priceless to measure. And let’s just tic off a few of the documented health benefits:

  • Increased longevity after heart attacks
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness

Someone bring me a puppy please!

So when Dr. Suzanne Phillips over at Psych Central asked the question, “Can pets improve your relationship?” I was all over it. We know how their mere presence in our lives helps us physically and mentally, but how we relate to them, our capacity for forgiveness, our openness, and our willingness to let them be who they are, opens us up on an emotional level. Perhaps we should take note of the grace and compassion in which we treat out animal companions and apply that to our loved ones. We are so afraid of getting hurt. We are so afraid of people seeing who we really are, of judgement. Our pets are not. They let it all hang out. And maybe they do it out of ignorance and I’m willing to bet that the bliss of that ignorance is what we really want anyway.

Can we learn something from our relationship with pets that might enhance our relationship with partners?

No matter how you feel or what mood you are in, you greet your pet with a positive, even animated, hello and often with a display of physical affection.

With pets, maybe it’s your lack of expectation that makes the difference. You probably rarely predict that your pet will be angry if you are late. As a result, you don’t head home defensively angry in preparation for the reaction you expect to face.

Holding Grudges
When you do return home to find that your cats have redecorated the room with shreds of every tissue they could find or the dog has eaten some of the mail, you may well react with a choice expletive but you are not likely to hold a grudge. You are still going to be petting Donatello or cuddling with Thor the next day.

Assuming the Best

There is a natural tendency to forgive pets their trespasses – after all, the dog wasn’t trying to torture you by eating the mail. Was your partner really trying to torture you by putting it in such a safe spot it can’t be found?

Few pet owners personalize their pets’ reactions to others to an extreme that makes them so embarrassed that they fear their image is tarnished or they become resentful of their pets. The fact that the dog is licking every part of the arriving guest’s body is cause to pull him away or laugh it away. The cat that will not come out of hiding or the parrot that is screeching is left without judgment or excuses. That’s them!

For Better or For Worse

In most cases, pets are home to stay. People love and care for pets of every size, shape and disposition. “She’s not exactly a watch dog; she’s loving but easily frightened.” “He insists on sleeping on the bed – we have given in.” “She steals food from the other dogs, she’s pretty hyper, but cute.” Few pets live with the fear of being betrayed or with the implication that things are just not working out. Of course they don’t – but just consider how the absence of such fears enhances the trust and connection you feel from them!

So think about what you give your pet and maybe how — in addition to improving your health — your pet can improve your relationship!

– Aunt B

Source: Psych Central

Gardening, walking, and girl talk: Mama’s soup for the soul

This week has been tough for Mama. There were a few sleepless nights, two blood tests, heart racing, a panic attack, a 30 minute phone consultation, hours of research, and a little under-eating. I am one of a select few who’s body refuses food of any kind when I am upset. Today, I feel better and I owe it to gardening, walking, and girl talk.

When I am upset, emotional (yes, Mama gets emotional too), or angry, I put on my gloves. My little pink gloves designed to dig in the dirt. I grab my shovel, and dig holes in the ground. I transport plants, add mulch and compost to different areas of the garden, rake leaves, and trim bushes.

If my angst is still lingering. I grab two leashes and take Val and Gracie on a walk. When I put on my walking shoes, the pups know they are in for a treat. We walk the 1.86 mile loop that encircles my dream neighborhood. We frequent my dream neighborhood so much that I know many of the other dog walkers and their dogs by name. Some of them probably think I am one of their neighbors.

In the rare event that my mood still hasn’t improved. I talk with my friends. Someone once told me that a good friend is worth 100 times a good therapist. I wholeheartedly agree.

What do you do when your world seems to close in on you? I shared first. Now it is your turn.

– Mama

Puppy watches over twin boys with autism

I love animals…

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