Friday, March 30, 2007

Animal Communication

Can we communicate with our pets? According to animal communicator Donna at, we all have the ability to converse with our pets. Here is some of what she told me:

We have been communicating with animals for centuries. The main way of communicating is sound, our tone of voice and the words we use. Other ways are body language and telepathic communication. To let our animal companion know that we want to communicate with them, we need to clear our minds, relax, visualize an activity or behavior and send this message to our companion. With practice and an open mind you can have conversations with your pet. We can set up reasonable rules, establish limits of unacceptable and acceptable behavior. If we use common sense and strive for harmony we can clear up any misunderstanding with our animal friends. We also must remember that animals observe everything, so be clear in what you expect and want from them. Animals relate better to honesty and sincerity.

Animals as do humans need respect and a sense of purpose. See what your pet is best suited to do: keeping you happy, entertaining you, your family and friends, creating warmth, adding beauty, guarding property, creating safely, getting you to exercise, keeping you calm, giving you perspective, these and others are just some of what our companions do for us. Let them know that they are doing a good job - everyone, including animals, needs and wants praise.
How many times have we wished that our animal companion would do something, and low and behold they did it? How many times have we been sad and our animal companions comforted us? This happens many times but we, as humans don't understand that they are indeed communicating with us. Webster dictionary defines communication as: "an act of transmitting; an exchange of information or opinions." We do this all the time!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dog Performs Heimlich?

The owner of a 2 year old Golden Retriever says the dog saved her life. Apparently the dog starting jumping on her stomach while she was choking and dislodged the item stuck in her throat.

I sure hope the dog got some treats for his efforts.....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pet Bunnies

We have two friends who have a bunny as a pet. Bunnies are interesting little creatures. As I hung around them I started to observe their behavior. Observing really wasn’t all that tough-- they really don’t seem to do too much!

Now, I’m not putting down bunnies as pets, or trying to offend bunny owners. In fact, I think they are great little animals to have around the house. It’s like having a dog that doesn't bark. Actually, bunnies really don’t make much noise at all. They just go about their business, chewing on things, having a grand old time. They are fun to watch hopping about, and because they don’t make any noises, you have to look around at all times to see where the bunny might be don't want to accidentally step on one!

In some ways I wonder if owning a bunny is tougher then a dog or cat. Since they really don’t make any noises, it’s hard to know if the bunny is in need of anything. There is no barking, meowing, clawing, or any other obvious forms of communication that we get from our other furry pets.

I’m left to ponder such questions such as how does a bunny tell us when he’s hungry? Or when they are lonely? Looks like there is more to observe then I thought.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Customer Service Still Exists

I read a lot about how customer service as a whole has been going down hill. Although I agree with that overall, I am happy to see that my local, privately owned, pet shop still offers great customer service.

We were shopping over the weekend trying to find dog food without rat poison. While looking at the various organic offerings, the owner of the store came up to us and asked if we had any questions regarding the different brands.

Now, I don’t know if he would normally hang out in the food section offering advice, but with everything going on, he made it a point to talk to his customers one on one regarding food choices.

Although the food we feed our dog wasn’t part of the recall, I still wonder if I’m buying the best available products. The owner suggested an organic brand that is made in the mid-west and reasonably priced. It’s actually a bit cheaper then the brands we have been feeding our dog. The owner told us that he sees the people who make the food all the time at pet expos and has gotten to trust them and their products.

We’ll give it our dog this week and see how it goes. If all goes well, I may be writing a new food review soon. But in the meantime, it’s nice to know that there are still stores who care about their customers.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Gecko

This is a wikipedia link all about the gecko.

Why do we love these little critters? Is it the insurance company's use of them in their advertising? Could be. I never knew what a Gecko was until those commercials made that particular lizard a household name. To me, a lizard was a lizard. Then I learned that a Gecko is a certain type of lizard, and that there are various types of geckos.

On an Island trip I took, I was surrounded by these little creatures. They appeared everywhere, and showed no fear of people. They were fun, interesting little creatures to observe. Watching them crawl on walls, walkways, bushes and trees, I became fascinated by their behavior.

Though I don't have one as a pet (at least not yet), I can understand people's interest in having one in their homes. And if your local pet store sells crickets by the bag for your lizard to munch on, then owning a gecko becomes that much easier. As long as, of course, the crickets don't get out of the lizard's lair.

The more I read about geckos as pets, the more intrigued I become. Just like any animal, they have specific requirements and needs, and I will continue to do my research before buying one as a pet.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rodent poison found in now-recalled pet food blamed for animal deaths

(Albany,NY-AP) _Rat poison has been found in pet food blamed for the deaths of several animals around the country, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Agriculture and Markets said Friday.

Spokeswoman Jessica Chittenden would not identify the chemical or its source beyond saying it was a rodent poison.

State agriculture officials scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon to release laboratory findings from tests on the pet food conducted this week. The deaths led to a nationwide recall.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Trip to the Pet Store

There's something exciting about going to the pet store. Especially one where you feel that the pets are well cared for and you would have no problem taking them home. It's like going to a mini zoo only you can actually take these pets home with you!

Our local store always has a wide range of puppies. Now I know the arguements of adopting a dog versus buying, but that's another topic for another day.

There is always a feeling of anticipation when I go to the pet store. It's like I can't wait to see the new animals that this store has to offer. First, I go to the reptile section. Now, there is no way I can handle a reptile with my dog and fish, but it's always fun to look at the variety of reptiles and geckos that are available.

Next, it's off to the bird section. Lots of colors and noises. There are plenty I want to take home, but then I think back to the last time I had a bird, the noise he made all night, and the mess he always left me. Then, I think about how playful my dog can mistake on my part and that bird will be his newest toy.

So, I move along to the puppy section. With all the new "designer" cross-bred dogs, it's fun to see what will be in store. A Have-a-poo sounds nothing like a dog breed, but I play with this Havenese poodle mix just the same.

After my wife and I wish we could take every dog home, I move on to the aquarium area. fish I've never seen....I wonder if it's compatible with the fish in my where's that fish manager, I have questions. But don't I alreay have enough fish in my tank? And this internal fight goes back and forth in my mind until I talk myself into either buying another fishy friend, or leaving for another hobbyest to enjoy.

By this time, I've pretty much been through the entire store. It seems like every visit ends the same way -- I have to stop myself from buying every animal in the store, while trying to decide which new "premium" treat to buy my dog, and what type of high quality fish food I want to try for my aquatic pets. I always yell at myself for spending too much on my pets, for feeding them better food then I feed myself, and walk out of the store wondering how I can save money the next time.

Yup, it always ends the same way, but yet I look forward to the next visit.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More Great Dogs Quotes

"I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult." -Rita Rudner

"Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!" - Anne Tyler

"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons. " - James Thurber

"If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise." -Unknown

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pet Food Recall Unfortunate, But Not Surprising

Although the food recall, and the effects it had on some pets, was unfortunate, it's not all that surprising. A lot of brands, including those more expensive, so-called premium dog foods, include animal by-products. Here is why these are not good.

The pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse left-overs considered "unfit for human consumption," and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes such appetizing things as intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts. These items are considered animal by-products.

Usually, about 50% of an animal contains parts that are not fit for human consumption. So, in order to make some cash flow from the other half of the animal, it's processed into pet food and animal feed.

There is also some concern as to the cleanliness of processing these by-products. Since they aren't fit for humans, there are some thoughts that these parts aren't treated with same care and quality control measures as is the rest of the meat.

Now, there is no evidence as of yet that this is the cause of the pet food recall. However, with the way the pet food industry uses these foods unfit for humans, it's no wonder that a break-out such as this is possible. Here's hoping things will get better.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Are Fish High Maintenance Pets?

As a life-long fish keeper, the answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. First, there are the differences between fresh-water set-ups versus salt-water. Having a salt-water tank is much more time consuming and high maintenance then fresh water set-ups.

For those looking for less maintenance, fresh water is by far the choice to make. The advantages to a fresh water set-up is that once the initial set-up is completed, the daily maintenance of the fish are basically just feeding and checking to see if there are any problems with the fish.

By looking for problems, I am referring to checking for unusual behavior, looking for any damaged fins, and checking for any signs of disease or fungus. By observing your fish for a few minutes everyday, you'll start to see what their "normal" behavior is, so that you can spot abnormal behavior.

Freshwater Fish also need weekly and monthly maintenance choirs. Once the tank is established (i.e., been running for more then a couple of months), you still need to stay on top of checking the water quality of the aquarium. By water quality, you should check the PH level weekly (the amount of PH varies based on what type of fish you have) and the ammonia level (ammonia, even in small amounts, can be fatal to fish). Water softness/harness can also be a factor is you are keeping fish that are sensitive to the amount of harness (dissolved minerals) that are in the water.

As for monthly chores, the tank filter media should be cleaned or replaced at least once a month. Partial water changes are also of importance. An aquarium is an enclosed environment. Fish are excreting waste in the same water they are living and breathing. There is also decaying food in the tank producing ammonia. It is for this reason the tank water must be changed approximately every two weeks. When changing the water, a water conditioner must be added in order to remove any chlorine and other items in tap water that are harmful to fish. These conditioners can be found in most pet stores where fish are sold.

The good news is that once the tank is established, this type of maintenance routine is much lower in comparison to having other pets. If you enjoy a crisp, clean aquarium, then it is worth it to take these steps. If not, it could cause more problems down for your tank, making it higher maintenance.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hyper Pet? It's my own fault!

Seems like whenever my dog gets a little crazy, I'm always quick to yell at him to calm down. I know the yelling doesn't really help the situation, but it does make me feel better.

So is it the dog's fault? Is it just his nature? Not really. It's my fault. A dog needs regular exercise. They need play time. My dog likes to play rough, so I need to make sure I get him tired on a daily basis.

A dog, especially a young one like mine (15 months old), has a lot of energy to burn. If I don't help him burn it off with regular walks, play time, trips to the dog park, and exercise, he'll find a way to burn it off himself. He gets bored and starts with the toilet paper roll. Then he may move on to "digging" motions on my furniture. Of course, my first (and wrong) reaction is to yell at him to cut it out. To blame him for being a crazy dog. It's not his fault he's crazy, it's mine for not giving him enough physical activity. On days when he gets two walks a day, he's a joy to be with at night. On those other nights when schedules, or weather, doesn't allow his night time walk, he's a terror around the house.

So what to do? The best thing is to find a way for him to run around. A long walk, a fenced in park for him to run, a "play date" with another dog, or just playing fetch around the house, are all great activities for allowing the dog to burn off some energy

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How to care for a Japanese Fighter Fish (Betta)

One of the most common misconceptions of betta fish is that they must be in a bowl all by themselves. Mostly because of the stories that they are fighting fish and because these fish are seen in stores in those little plastic cups.

While Bettas don't get along with their own kind, they can make a good community aquarium fish and get along with other community type fish. I've have one with tetras and an angel fish without any problems. Because they are used to being in confinement and are very shy by nature, I found that it likes to hide in the caves and plants I had set up in my aquarium. Having plants, artificial or real, is important for housing a Betta in a community aquarium.

It's been very popular lately to have a betta in a bowl with a plant in it. While the plant may look good and make a nice display on a desk or end table, bettas are other words, they don't feed off of the plant. They need to be fed food formulated specifically for them like any other tropical fish.

As with any fish, it is better to house it in an aquarium with a filter. However, if you do decide to house it in one of those bowls, it must be cleaned out frequently, as it needs fresh, clean, de-chlorinated water. Otherwise, the water will contain ammonia caused by fish waste and uneaten food. The ammonia is toxic to fish.

Bettas have a special respiratory organ that allows them to breath air directly from the surface. In fact they inherently must do so. Bettas must have access to the water surface to breath air directly from the atmosphere.

In their natural habitat, Bettas often come from warm, tropical climates. Bettas thrive on heat, and will become increasingly listless when the water temperature falls below 75 degrees F.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tips for keeping cats healthy

Obesity is one of the leading health problems cats face. If your cat is more than 20 percent over his ideal body weight, he is at risk for heart and liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, and an increased surgical/anesthesia risk (a lot like humans).

Adult cats typically weigh between 9 and 11 pounds, have very little fat over their ribs, and a pronounced waist.

Obesity results when your cat takes in more calories than he burns. To help prevent obesity and the health problems associated with it, be sure to schedule a veterinarian visit to rule out any health problems that may be contributing to obesity.

It suggested that you feed your cat only once a day - preferably in the evening - and leave the dish out for 30 minutes only. You can also reduce the amount of food by one quarter.

Also, make sure your cat gets plenty of exercise. Encouraging him/her to play is one of the best methods. Get your cat moving with his/her favorite toy. Obesity is a very preventable problem. Keep your cat thin and he'll reward you with years of health, happiness, and joy.

Great quotes about dogs

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person." Andy Rooney

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man." Mark Twain

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." Ben Williams

"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful." Ann Landers

Treatment of Freshwater Ich

Ich, commonly referred to as white spot disease, is basically a parisitic infection that is commonly found on fresh water fish.

Although there are various forms of treatment, including anti-biotics, available, I've found that the best way is with something called Aquarium salt, made by doc wellfish.

This salt is a natural tonic to fish and helps them fight off this potentially fatal disease.

However, the best way to prevent ick in your freshwater tank is through regular maintenance and water changes. I usually change about 25% of my tank's water at least once every 2 weeks, and have not had any type of ich, or other common funguses or diseases, as long as I keep on this cleaning schedule.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fishkeeping : Hobby or obsession

In most cases, having a fish tank starts out as a hobby. However, I can understand how it can become an obsession. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm starting to become obsessed.

Fish are relatively inexpensive when compared to the costs of many other animals, and with so many varieties and types, it is easy to become obsessive about the hobby. At first, a 20 gallon tank is great, but then you want to keep more fish, so you look to purchase a bigger tank. Maybe a 30, or 55 gallon tank. But after a while, as your fish get bigger, and you get bored of the species you own, and you want to get a bigger, newer tank. With more fish. Or perhaps you want to keep the fish you own, but you want to try a different species that isn't compatible with your current fish.

So you start a second tank with a different species. But maybe you want to try your hand at breeding fish, which then of course may require some type of breeding tank. And then you want to keep some of the fish you bred, so you need a bigger tank to keep those fish, and the cycle starts all over again.

I know a person who loves the hobby and has his own fish room. He built it in his basement and now has over 50 tanks with all kinds of species. He breeds many of them and sells some to fellow hobbyists. To many people, this can be considered some what obsessive. To him, this is what he enjoys doing and this is what brings him joy.

I've also gone to fish auctions. These are usually sponsored by aquarium fish clubs and it features hobbyists who breed their own fish and bring them to auction off to other aquarium enthusiasts. Again, you see people who have several fish tanks, perhaps obsessed by them, but also bring tons of knowledge to share with others.

In my opinion, it's a matter of how it effects your life. If it is something you enjoy, and it doesn't interfere with the rest of your life too much, then enjoy!

Clothes for the dog

I admit, we treat our dog like a person some times. Most of the clothes we buy are good, but I often wonder if I'm buying it just for our sake, or does a sweater really help the dog in the winter.

Other clothes, like his polo shirt, help dress him up and give him a personality.
One problem with the clothing is how it is cut. We bought a sweater made for a dog, but it covered his privates...not good when you are taking a dog out for a walk to relieve himself!
Another issue is where, or even if, there is a hole cut out so that we can put the sweater/shirt on him over his harness, and still be able to clip his leash on through the cut out in the shirt. Some don't have the cut out, some are just in places that don't work out too well.

I've also seen, but have not tried, booties for a dog. I'm not sure if my hyper pup would even let me put those things on his feet. It's probably easier for me just to wipe off his feet after a walk in the wet grass or snow, then it is to put those things on his feet every time we go outside. A lot of whether it is practical for a dog to wear clothing depends on the type of dog, and if the pet is patient enough to let you put the clothing on him in the first place.

I'm also amazed at how the market for pet clothes continues to grow. A big retail chain has a little section for dog clothes. There are pet botiques and specialty stores. I was in Atlantic City and saw specialty pet shops in the casino. It's a huge market which keeps growing.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cleaning Up After Your Dog

As a "responsible" dog owner, it always amazes me when people don't clean up after taking their pets when walking outside. There have been several articles recently about public parks and walking trails looking to ban dogs. The main reason? Because of the mess dogs leave. The problem is, it's not the dog's fault, it's the owners.

And now, responsible dog owners are suffering because others aren't cleaning up after their pets. If you don't want to clean up a little dog poop, why get the dog in the first place? That's one very simple responsibility of having a pet. And for those of us who do clean up, we're stuck suffering the consequences of those who don't.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Purchasing a Dog from a pet store

Purchasing from a pet store is like any other major need to do your homework. Doing this, however, meant that we had to put our spur of the moment emotions aside every time we saw a dog we just "had to have."

We purchased our puppy from a store, but only after doing considerable research, asking the store for references of others who have purchased from there, and asking around to other pet owners for their feedback.

We also took visits to the store to see their puppies. The dogs at the store where we purchased from were always alert and awake. They were playfull and, well, puppylike. The puppies also played in pens together, rather then being individually crated. The pens were very clean, as were the dogs. The puppies were well documented, with information from the breeder should we wish to contact them to find more info about the parents of the dogs.

I've visited other stores and didn't get the same feeling. In fact, going to some of the local malls, it seemed as though some of their dogs were drugged...the dogs were very sluggish and did not act like you'd expect a dog to act when seeing new faces. The mall dogs were dirty, the place smelled, and some dogs were in crates way too small.

This is the problem with pet stores, there are too many who don't care about their animals, and are just looking for the profit. The one diamond in the rough that does show they care about the animals get lumped in together and get a bad rep. That is why we made sure to do our research. The last thing we wanted was a dog with health problems and social issues from not being treated properly and not being with other dogs.