Friday, December 25, 2009

Beloved Pet Helps Abused Woman

Here's a heartwarming story of the human-animal bond.

After suffering years of physical abuse, a Missouri woman took only her pet rabbit Ruby Angel when she escaped her abusive partner. The woman and rabbit lived on the streets for a time. Eventually, the woman found a place in a shelter and the House Rabbit Society of St. Louis began fostering Ruby Angel.

Now, the folks at the House Rabbit Society are not only helping Ruby Angel with cancer surgery, they are helping the homeless shelter and its residents.

You too can help the rabbit and the homeless women. Here's how.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Social Networking Means More Puppy Porn!

Here at Happy Dog Land, we looooooooove social networking. Both Jill and Billy are inveterate Facebook-heads, and we can tweet with the best of them. With that backround, we were pleased to see that folks are using social networking to do the very most important things. No, we're not talking about the overthrow of repressive regimes, we're talking about sharing adorable pictures of dogs! See the #puppyporn hashtag on twitter for details. So cute!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Most Clever Music Video of All Time!!

This this THE BEST MUSIC VIDEO EVER and the song is good too! We salute the musicians of You Scream I Scream for making the video to promote adoption and help animals in need! Check out the band's website too.

Thanks to our friend Steve Dale for posting this on his blog for us to find!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

C'MON MAN!!: The Canine Version

Tired of wagging their tongues solely with the four-legged set, Shadow and Arthur (notwithstanding Billy's lack of enthusiasm for sports) requested that we begin our own Happy Dog Land version of "C'MON MAN!!" from ESPN's Monday Night Countdown. During the show's wildly popular "C'MON MAN!!" segment, Chris Berman, Keyshawn Johnson, Chris Carter, Tom Jackson and Mike Ditka highlight the most boneheaded plays of the week.

The St. Petersburg (FL) Times brings us the story of Cody the convenience store pooch.

For months, the friendly and courteous Lab greeted customer's at his dad's shop and was loved by all. That is, until the drat state health inspector showed up and proclaimed "no dogs allowed" despite the fact that all food for sale was wrapped and sealed.

Cody brought joy and happiness to people throughout the day and now he's forced to stay at home. All we can say is.....


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ask Billy: When Should I Neuter My Male Dog?

Jamie and her Portuguese Water Dog Oscar wrote in and posed an important question about neutering:

I have a 5 month old Portie named Oscar. I am getting conflicting advice as to when is the best time to neuter him, which I absolutely am going to do.

My parents who have Oscar's older brother (5 years old now) had him neutered at 7 months. My vet says anytime now is okay to be neutered. However, the confusion is that Oscar's breeder asked me when I picked him up to wait until he's at least 18 months old.

My parent's dog is in perfect health so maybe they have the right answer. My vet is an expert in neutering so maybe she has the right answer. Finally, the person who breeds the dog and is the expert in Porties might have the right answer. What do you recommend and what are the pro’s and cons of all the choices?

Jamie, thank you so much for your question. Neutering often brings up a wide variety of opinions, especially when people have different, but equally valid viewpoints.

Let's start with what happens when your dog is neutered. (You may want to have Oscar leave the room.) The veterinarian will examine and sedate your pooch and then surgically remove his testicles from the scrotum. The scrotum (aka "sac"), however, remains and eventually shrinks to a barely noticeable size.

Jamie, I applaud your commitment to neutering Oscar and helping the animal community. Unfortunately, millions of healthy unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States alone. Quite simply, a neutered male (or spayed female) cannot make puppies and, therefore, won’t be adding to the pet overpopulation problem.

Breeder's perspective:
In addition, to finding qualified homes for their puppies, reputable breeders are typically interested in breeding for specific attributes and finding the next Top Dog Model – meaning they want to find show quality dogs.

Once a dog is about 18 months old, he's fully mature. Accordingly, a breeder (or anyone for that matter) can reliably assess the dog for show qualities, such as bite, coat, structural soundness and temperament. If a dog is neutered before he's at least 18 months, you can't reliably guage what he’ll be like as an adult. Just as it’s impossible to look at a 7 year old girl and determine if she’ll grow up to be a supermodel, we can’t look at a male pooch under 18 months old and determine if he’ll win Best in Show. Moreover, a neutered or spayed dog cannot compete in the show ring.

Although I don't know Oscar's breeder, he or she may be recommending you wait to neuter him so he can be assessed to determine if he qualifies as a show or stud dog. In addition, some people believe that a dog doesn't fully physically mature until he reaches a certain age. Interestingly, the American Animal Hospital Association reports that genetics, not hormones, are the primary factor in determining size:

Neutering does dramatically reduce the amount of testosterone in a male pup's system, which may give him a bit less muscle mass in the long run, but won't affect his height or the size of his frame. Actually, studies have shown that dogs spayed or neutered early (at 16 weeks or younger) tend to be slighter larger than those altered later in life.
Neuter A Pet Early
If Oscar is going to be a pet, there’s no need to wait and see if he'll be qualified for the show ring. Therefore, I agree with your parents, your veterinarian and most experts and recommend neutering Oscar as soon as possible after he's 5 months old. I say the earlier the better so Oscar (or any male) has no opportunity to develop any bad habits associated with testosterone, a powerful male sex hormone.

When a dog is neutered before he sexually matures at about 6-9 months, he’s much less likely to develop the annoying and dangerous behavioral habits associated with romance and testosterone. Contrary to myth, neutering is unlikely to affect your dog’s playfulness, interest in work, friendliness or personality. Obedience training, therefore, remains important whether or not a dog is neutered (or spayed).

How is Neutering Beneficial? Let Me Count The Ways....
Neutered dogs typically live longer than intact males because there’s no testosterone urging Fido to search out females for romance. While roaming, your dog is more likely to be hit by a car, be attacked by another dog or animal, be stolen or encounter many other dangers, like poisoning or disease.

Likewise, because neutered Fido no longer has the strong desire for romance, he’s less likely to mark his territory to advertise for mates. Thus, he's much less likely to urinate in your house or yard or on every single tree encountered during a walk. Although the evidence isn’t conclusive, loads of research has shown that intact dogs are more aggressive because high testosterone levels may cause them to fight over females.

Moreover, an intact male is a target for other males, even those who are neutered. Males can detect the high testosterone levels in an intact dog and dominance challenges often result. Even Arthur, my neutered Cocker Spaniel who is normally the world’s most gentle dog, bears his teeth when he sees or smells an intact male anywhere near by.

Neutering Offers Many Health Benefits
Testicular cancer in older dogs is a significant life-threatening possibility. By removing the stuff inside the scrotum, the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated.

Neutering cannot totally protect a dog from prostate cancer or other prostate problems. Neutering, however, does significantly decrease the risk of prostate enlargement or infection and reduce urinary problems in later life. In addition, a neutered male is less likely to suffer from testosterone-related health issues like testicular tumors and certain hernias.

Always Talk To Your Vet
Neutering is a medical procedure and, like all medical procedures, carries some risks. Indeed, neutering is no guarantee that any behavioral problem will be eliminated since Fido will still have some testosterone coursing through his veins. (Please note, after the procedure, it may takes a few months for Fido's testosterone levels to subside.) Bottom line: Because testosterone levels are significantly reduced, many people find a neutered dog more manageable.

The benefits of neutering far, far outweigh any risks or cons. Always discuss the pros and cons of neutering for your individual dog with your vet.

Finding Free Or Low Cost Spay And Neuter Clinics
Communities around the country offer free or low cost spay and neuter clinics. Check with local animal shelters for more information. Find local clinics here:


For More Information
Check out American Humane's article on how spaying and neutering affects our furry friends and our community. Look at these articles too:

ASPCA: 10 Top Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
American Animal Hospital Association: Neutering Your Pet

Neither Billy nor Jill is a veterinarian. As with any medical procedure, always consult with your vet before making any decisions.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shocking Levels of Lead in Pet Products

With no government regulations for toxic chemicals in pet products it should come as no surprise that a shocking number contain lead and other dangerous chemicals. This is concerning because dogs and cats are smaller (usually) than we are and put everything in their mouths. Thus, the exposure to the hazardous chemicals is extremely concerning has tested over 400 pet products, including toys, collars leashes and tennis balls. The results caused shock and awe in Happy Dog Land. The site is well organized and allows for searches by toxicity, brand or product type. Many of the entries include photographs for easy identification.

In addition to product rankings, the site provides valuable information about keeping Fido healthy and suggestions for taking action to protect our furry friends from hazardous chemicals. also tests human products like toys, apparel and cars. This is a site to bookmark and visit often!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cool Holiday Gift Ideas and an Important Gift DON'T

Santa, reindeer and sleigh-loads of twinkling lights are appearing in malls everywhere. More critically, Black Friday is around the corner, and will be upon us before you can even say "arf."

Given that we have spent more time that we can ever justify looking at, reading about, and trying out an avalanche of canine products, we thought we would share our knowledge with you and help make your holiday shopping easier. Thus, with no further ado, here are our picks for all the canine-loving people on your gift list:

1. Happy Dog: Caring For Your Dog's Body, Mind and Spirit

Since this is our blog, we couldn't resist recommending our own book! HAPPY DOG is top choice for all the dog lovers on your list. Whether your giftee is a new dog owner or an experienced one, HAPPY DOG will teach him/her new tricks that will make Fido happy!

HAPPY DOG is available at bookstores and on-line retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you purchase the book on our website, we will personally sign the book and Barker and Meowsky will donate a portion of the sale to American Humane, the only national organization dedicated to protecting animals and children.

2. Richards Harness Coat

We used to cut holes in Shadow and Arthur's sweaters and coats to accommodate their harnesses. But that was before we found the Richards Harness Coat. This clever coat combines climate control, fashion, safety and convenience.

The coats are fully lined, machine washable, and come in a satisfying array of fashionable patterns and fabric choices for every weather condition. Choose fleece for winter, water resistant versions for rain, spa cooling coats for warmer weather and field coats to protect Fido when he's in the brush. The built-in harness is easy to adjust and closes with 2 simple clips. Fido's leash attaches to a sturdy ring sewn into the top of the coat.

We compared the Richards Harness Coat to others and it's no contest -- the quality and construction of the Richards coat are best in show.

Richards Harness Coats are reasonably priced ranging from $21.95 for XXS to $59.95 for XXL Long. Order on line or call 248-693-7422. Happy Dog Land readers can save 10% on their purchase by entering: HDL-2009-10 into the promo code box from now until 12/30/09.


For all the people on your list who love to walk their dogs, the WACKYwalk'r is a perfect gift.

Constructed from stretchy natural rubber tubing that's reinforced with an internal safety line, the leash extends to twice its length, thus allowing your pooch to explore without ripping your arm out of its socket. How? The leash's flexible tubing reduces the kinetic stress on both the human and the dog. With the WACKYwalk'r, you and your pooch will no longer feel the jerk caused by rigid leashes.

The leashes, which come in 14 vibrant colors, are available in 6 different sizes based on Fido's weight) and in 6 different styles to accommodate various walking environments and the pooch's strength.

The WACKYwalk'r ($24-35), which extends from 3 ft to 6 ft, is the longest leash. The URBAN ($22-$31) extends from 1.5 feet to 3 feet and allows for more control in congested areas. The STUBB'R ($27), which extends from 10 inches to 20 inches, is ideal for large dogs who are strong pullers. The X'TENSION ($8-$15) attaches to retractable leads and acts as a serious shock absorber for the dog and human.

Multiple dog families are also in luck. The CRAZYcoupl'r ($24-$35) allows you to walk 2 dogs comfortably on one leash. For a 3 dog family, the TRICKYtripl'r ($28-$33) is a perfect choice.

Our WACKYwalk'rs have made squirrel watching much easier to bear when we walk Shadow, Zeke or Arthur. Purchase the WACKYwalk'r products on line or call 610-222-0679

4. Port-A-Poo

Nobody likes hauling around a full poop bag while searching for a garbage can. The clever folks behind Port-A-Poo make life with a canine so much easier (and less smelly) with this must-have gizmo for anyone who walks their pooch.

We were initially drawn to Port-A-Poo's cute logo and pithy slogan ("picking up where your dog left off"). Then, the cleverness and usefulness of the product won us over.

The Port-A-Poo is a hands-free way to carry poop bags whether they're empty or full. The Port-A-Poo easily and securely attaches to any leash. Once attached, it's literally a snap to use. Just open the clip, slip in the bag and you're good to go. Now, you'll be able to throw a tennis ball instead of clutching Fido's poop bag.

At $9.95, the Port-A-Poo makes a great stocking stuffer or gift for one of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Choose from 5 bright colors and 2 sizes that fit standard and retractable leashes. Purchase the Port-A-Poo on line or in retailers in the US and Canada and around the world.

5. Nose Print Jewelry By Robin's Loving Touch

Indiana artist Robin Durnbaugh of Robin's Loving Touch offers one of the most unique and meaningful jewelry ideas we've come across.

Robin's nose print pendants, charms and identification tags are made from an impression of your pooch's schnoz in yellow gold, white gold, sterling silver or solid chrome ($195-$625 depending on the metal and most include a matching chain).

Robin's jewelry keeps your best friend close to you at all times. Robin also offers finger print pendants to keep your human loved ones with you.

The pendants, charms and tags are personalized and instant heirlooms. Included in the price of the jewelry is a kit with easy-to-follow instructions for making the impression for the piece.

Both Jill and Billy have put in their orders. Jill will be wearing Shadow's nose print and her son's fingerprint. Billy will be sporting Zeke and Arthur's nose prints. Order on line or call 260-489-0671.

8. No Ears In Here Dog Bowl

Here's some welcome relief for all the long-eared dogs on your list. The cleverly designed No Ears In Here Bowl keeps pendulous ears out of the food or water so Fido's ears and the floor stay clean and dry while he eats or drinks.

The bowl is 9 1/2 inches tall so it won't tip over. The inner bowl, however, is just deep enough to hold 2 cups of food or water. This means that Fido is less likely to gulp his food and swallow excess air, which might upset his tummy.

The bowls are made in the USA and at $9.35 a piece make an economical and practical gift. Fill the bowl with treats, wrap it in cellophane and voila you have a snazzy gift that didn't break the bank. Order on line or call 574-267-6258.


Honor the people or pets on your gift list by helping animals in need. Making a donation to a favorite local or national animal welfare organization, shelter or rescue is a perfect gift for any animal lover. Most charities will be happy to notify the honoree of your gift, which saves you the time and effort of sending a card.


We hope our suggestions help make your holidays easier and removes some of the stress of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list. One thing you will never see on our list is a live animal: dogs (or any pet) make lousy gifts! Taking on the responsibility of pet ownership is something that should not (and cannot!) be "given" to someone.

Everyone doesn't share our love of animals, and even animal lovers may be reluctant or incapable of assuming the responsibilities, time commitment and expense of a new pet. Animals are not returnable or disposable and, therefore, should never, ever be given as a gift.

Instead, wrap up a creative stand-in for the living, breathing animal, such as a picture, toy, food or cute collar and leash. Better yet, purchase a gift certificate from a local shelter or rescue. This allows the recipient to decide for him- or herself whether she’s ready, willing and able to welcome a pet into her family.

Moreover, the holidays are a dreadful time to introduce a new pet into a household. Routines are altered, celebrations take everyone from home and everyone is probably too busy to provide a new family member with the required care, stability, love and attention. Wait until after the holidays. Local shelters and rescues will be overflowing with rejected holiday gifts that are anxiously awaiting their new home.

We hope that this provides you with some good ideas on how to make your holiday season doggone amazing!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Really Cool Dog Story from a War Zone

A dog lost during a battle in Afghanistan was found after 14 months alone in the desert--yes you read that correctly--14 MONTHS! His handlers are not sure exactly how Sabi, a NATO bomb sniffing dog, survived but the pooch is safe and sound and back on his base.

Get the full scoop here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soldiers and Their Dogs: A MUST SEE on Veteran's Day

We just came across this incredible compilation by Jason English of videos depicting dogs reuniting with their soldier parents after deployments around the world. Stop what you are doing and watch it ASAP!

The videos will leave you teary and smiley as they demonstrate the incredible human-animal bond.

After you've watched the videos, take a moment to think about the brave men and women who keep us safe everyday and send them your thanks and prayers.

Happy Veteran's Day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Philadelphia Pet Expo

We just flew in from Philadelphia and boy are our arms tired!

We met many wonderful people and pooches at the Greater Philadelphia Pet Expo and gathered a ton of fur for the Pledge folks to demonstrate the Pledge Fabric Sweeper For Pet Hair.

Big hugs and thanks to Coal, Foxy and Belle and their families for helping with Billy's seminars. The dogs were patient and cute models!

See the photos from the event here.

We'll be at the Great Indy Pet Expo on Nov. 14-15. If you're in the area, stop in and see us!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dogs and Swimming

This charming new entry in The New York Times' Puppy Diaries series reminds us that many of our pooches love to swim. Dogs that range from Portuguese Water Dogs and Retrievers to Poodles and Newfoundlands were literally bred to paddle their paws, and swimming can be great exercise for pooches. Nonetheless, although it may seem to us humans that the dog paddle is hard-wired into every canine brain, not all dogs like swimming or know what to do when they enter the water.

Thus, swimming safety is as critical for Fido as it is for people. So, whether you live somewhere that permits swimming year-round, or you can only bring your furry friend to the beach during the summer, keep these safety rules in mind:

  • NEVER let Fido swim unattended or unsupervised.
  • Verify that your dog knows how to exit the water.
  • Be realistic about your dog's fitness and agility level and her desire to swim. Some dogs are perfectly happy walking around in ankle deep water, some dogs could spend all day paddling around the deep end of a pool and some are terrified at the mere thought of putting paw to water. Listen to your dog!
  • Don't toss Fido into the water, introduce him gradually so he doesn't panic and sink.
  • If you own a pool, be sure it is securely fenced in and covered when not in use.
  • Use safety equipment like entry and exit ramps and canine life jackets.
  • Wash your dog after his swim. Chlorine and lake or ocean water can leave stinky and irritating residue.
And, as Jill's grandfather used to say, don't let Fido swim on a full stomach.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How Smart are Dogs?

We all like to think of our dogs as being two (or perhaps even one!) step removed from Einstein. Much of this is not mere pride -- dogs accomplish some pretty remarkable things, and can be trained to do tasks both astonishing and profoundly useful.

This past week, the New York Times took a look at one such furry friend named Jet. If you don't feel inadequate after reading this, well, you're probably more interesting than the two of us:
He is both a seizure alert dog and a psychiatric service dog whose owner has epilepsy, severe anxiety, depression, various phobias and hypoglycemia. Jet has been trained to anticipate seizures, panic attacks and plunging blood sugar and will alert his owner to these things by staring intently at her until she does something about the problem. He will drop a toy in her lap to snap her out of a dissociative state. If she has a seizure, he will position himself so that his body is under her head to cushion a fall.
Sounds pretty amazing, eh? You're not the only one who is impressed:

In September, the Army announced that it would spend $300,000 to study the impact of pairing psychiatric service dogs like Jet with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. Both the House and Senate have recently passed bills that would finance the training and placement of these dogs with veterans.
Well, here's the rub: are these dogs aware of what they're doing? Are they "thinking" or are they merely responding in conditioned ways to certain stimuli (the way, for example, Jill does when she is near a french fry).

One researcher at the University of British Colombia has attempted to figure this out, by giving dogs language tests and other intelligence exams meant for toddlers. Based on that, he has categorized different dogs by how many commands they can learn. Shadow, Jill's dog, will be pleased to know that Poodles are one of the smartest dogs according to this researcher. Another researcher, however, at the University of Florida, argues that dogs are simply deeply sensitive to the human beings around them, and that through conditioning they can effectively mimic the traits of human thought.

We're not sure of the truth. But we challenge anyone to deny that Zeke, Billy's Portuguese Water Dog, is not interested in the latest developments in fluid dynamics....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Is There a Presidential Dog Walker?

I'm sure that many of you have wondered about walking habits of the Presidential dog, Bo. Who walks him? What happens when the President and his family are traveling -- who takes care of Bo?

The answer is here. It turns out that there is a designated Presidential dog walker, who has walked our national canines since 1972. His name, is Dale Haney, and we can now report that his favorite Presidential dog was Spot, the dearly departed dog of President George W. Bush (and ironically a puppy born of Millie, the dog owned by the elder President George H.W. Bush).

It's really quite an interesting tale!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Come Meet Us at The Greater Philadelphia Pet Expo This Weekend!

Billy pampers a K9 police dog at the Meet the Breeds event in NYC in October

If you live near Philadelphia, we'd love to meet you! We'll be at the The Greater Philadelphia Pet Expo on November 6-8 at the The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 422 Business Center, Oaks PA. Billy will be speaking several times during the event and answering all your dog care questions.

In addition, stop by the Pledge® Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair booth to get your copy of Happy Dog: Caring For Your Dog's, Body Mind and Spirit signed by Billy and Jill and pick up some valuable coupons. Billy and Jill will donate $1 from every book purchased to the American Humane Association.

Click here to see other places you can meet Billy and Jill.

Old Dogs

Here at Happy Dog Land, we never cease to be moved by the sight of an old dog, half-remembering its frisky past, shuffling along beside its human companion, a sign that the circle of life was more than an Elton John sing-along. Andrew Sullivan notes a particularly moving story by Gene Weingarten, entitled "Why Old Dogs are the Best Dogs." Weigngarten, best known for perhaps the finest piece of feature writing ever put to paper, "The Peekaboo Paradox," tells the story of his recently departed dog, Harry. In this canine tribute, Weingarten says something unexpected and oddly powerful:

Puppies are incomparably cute and incomparably entertaining, and, best of all, they smell exactly like puppies. At middle age, a dog has settled into the knuckleheaded matrix of behavior we find so appealing—his unquestioning loyalty, his irrepressible willingness to please, his infectious happiness. But it is not until a dog gets old that his most important virtues ripen and coalesce. Old dogs can be cloudy-eyed and grouchy, gray of muzzle, graceless of gait, odd of habit, hard of hearing, pimply, wheezy, lazy, and lumpy. But to anyone who has
ever known an old dog, these flaws are of little consequence. Old dogs are vulnerable. They show exorbitant gratitude and limitless trust. They are without artifice. They are funny in new and unexpected ways. But, above all, they seem at peace.

Many shelters specialize in placing older dogs in new homes. Check Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet, where you can search for dogs by age.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Circus Dogs

We are of mixed feelings here at Happy Dog Land about circuses. There have been many reports over the years regarding mistreatment of circus animals, and we are not completely convinced that many traditional circus animals are enjoying their fate.

However, we may make an exception here. The Big Apple Circus, apparently, does not use exotic animals (no elephants, etc.). Instead, this circus adopts homeless domestic animals and then trains them to become circus performers. Even more importantly, these dogs live with their trainer as pets.

One detail, however, was particularly striking:

Mr. Anastasini is adamant about taking care of the dogs after they retire. They still long to perform, he says, so he often runs them through their old acts to keep them happy. One of his goals is to build a shelter to rehabilitate problem animals and return them to their owners or give them to others. And where does Mr. Anastasini take the animals during their three-month stay in New York? Central Park, of course. “A lot of people think I’m a dog walker,” he said.

Now that's a circus we can get behind...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Military Rescue

We challenge anyone not to be moved by this story of a Marine stationed in Iraq and his dog. Interestingly, this is a case of a feral, wild dog (and see our in-depth discussion of that phenomenon here) who chose his human companion. Which just goes to show that dogs can be good judges of character!

Eat Fido? No way!

We have been gob-smacked at the number of recent articles proposing (Modest Proposal-style, we hope!) that we should eat our pets. First, we have environmentalists trying to place our dogs on buns. The authors of the forthcoming Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living argue that because dogs and other pets have a significant carbon footprint we should, well, get rid of them. "A lot of people worry about having SUVs but they don't worry about having [dogs] and what we are saying is, well, maybe you should be because the environmental impact is comparable," says Brenda Vale, one of the authors.

This is, of course, intentionally provocative, and we appreciate a good polemic here at Happy Dog Land as much as anyone. However, let's be honest -- arguing that we should not have pets because of the adverse environmental impact is akin to saying that we should not have children because of the adverse environmental impact. Or, for that matter, do almost anything associated with modern life because it has an adverse environmental impact. Unless, of course, the authors are prepared to quit their jobs teaching at a university and return to the land as hunter-gatherers.

This type of (and Jill's husband Darren will provide the pretentiousness here) "utilitarian fiddle-faddle" is not far from the type of "ends justifies the means" logic that would justify government control over our daily lives in the interest of the "greater good." As we do not defend Grindlewald (or Stalin) we strongly encourage the Vale and the other authors to consider where this type of logic leads us. We should all do our share to improve the environment, but never presume that entire categories of behavior (and, by implication, entire populations of animals) should be eliminated.

Our next provocateur is novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. A talented writer (he gave us the classic Everything is Illuminated) he now tries to use our love of dogs to convince us all to become vegetarians. In the Wall Street Journal, Foer argues that there are fewer things that separate our beloved pets and the animals we consume that folks would generally like to admit. Thus, suggests Foer, why not eat dogs?

While we were quite surprised to find that it is legal in 44 states, Foer doesn't really want us to eat Fido. Instead, he wants us to avoid eating animals altogether. Here at Happy Dog Land, we are not proscriptive about the eating habits of our friends and visitors -- and count both vegetarians and omnivores amongst our close companions. However, we do agree that industrial agriculture is bad for animals and people alike, and try to be as cruelty-free as we can.

More importantly, however, we do strongly encourage all of you to be aware of the decisions you make. Why are we feeding ourselves (or our pet?) certain types of food. Could we do better? Could we help prevent animal cruelty by purchasing meat (or dog food) from certain types of vendors, rather than others?

While we are not planning on eating Zeke, Arthur or Shadow anytime soon, we are always glad to have the opportunity to think about the role played by dogs in our lives, and how it differs from other relationships we have with the natural world.

That said, if we see you chasing Fido with a fork, we've got his back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ask Billy Update: Abbie is House-Trained!

Last April, we met Abbie and her mom Judy when Judy asked Billy for some help with potty training. Click here to read Billy's Potty Training 101 advice.

Abbie will be celebrating her first Halloween.

Judy checked in with us in June. Judy reported that Abbie was making progress and asked for some help working through a few minor setbacks.

We are pleased to report that Abbie is now fully potty trained. High fives to Abbie and Judy! Kudos to Judy's husband who pitched in too! After all, the human half of the team must demonstrate tremendous patience and dedication when training a furry family member. Judy notes that patience and remembering that "she is just a puppy" were significant factors in Abbie's success.

Abbie turns one on November 14th and everyone in Happy Dog Land sends her big birthday smooches!

Friday, October 23, 2009

FDA's Pet Food Recall Website

Please bookmark the FDA's pet food recall website. In addition to having critical recall information at your fingertips, you can sign up for alerts and receive up-to-the-minute recall information.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Cute Dog Song

Here's a fun dog song for your viewing enjoyment:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If you like dogs and science fiction....

Even if we don't always agree with conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, we have to admire his ability to combine his love of dogs and science fiction in these pop culture laden posts:

Start here with the short blog entry and then click here for Goldberg's truly inspired posting. Can you name all the references? Jill can.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yoshi Our New Friend From The East Coast

Dogs bring people to together -- that's one of their many benefits.

Over the weekend, we were in New York City at the Meet the Breeds event, which drew 36,000 people. We joined the folks from the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair and talked to thousands of people about our book Happy Dog Caring For Your Dog's Body, Mind and Spirit, which helps make your pooch happy and about the Pledge Fabric Sweeper, which helps make you happy by quickly and effectively removing pet hair from your furniture.

We also met some hundreds of dogs at the show. One of our favorite new furry friends is Yoshi.

We instantly fell in love with Yoshi, the bubbly Chow Chow. Her parents, Marianne and Lee are lovely too. Some people hear the name Chow Chow and want to run the other way due to some misconceptions about the breed. Yoshi, however, makes you stop dead in your tracks and take a closer look.

Yoshi is drop dead gorgeous and a stunning physical example of a Chow Chow. It's not surprising since she's the great granddaughter of Martha Stewart's Chow Chow Ch.E-Lin Kublai Khan Paw Paw. As you marvel at her beauty, you'll be drawn in by her welcoming personality. Sharing Yoshi with others and showing them a well socialized Chow Chow is extremely important to Marianne and Lee. Bravo! We nominate Yoshi as the Top Chow Chow Ambassador.

Meet the Breeds introduces and educates the public about dogs, breeds and sharing your life with a furry friend. People are encouraged to get up close to the dogs, pet them and learn about them.

Yoshi was the perfect Chow Chow for the job! She relished in the attention and welcomed people with a tail wag and smile. She enjoyed meeting new people, getting pats from kids and most of all, getting brushed and massaged by Billy, several times a day! She was so relaxed after visiting Billy that she went to her booth and slept like a log.

Yoshi and her family will be visiting us at the Meadowlands Pet Expo on November 21-22, 2009 in New Jersey. Stop by and see us at the Pledge booth and maybe you'll be lucky enough to meet Yoshi too!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Charlie Loves His Prizes

Charlie, the week 4 winner in our Show Us Your Happy Dog contest was a Happy Dog when he saw his prize package. Mom Julie said he looks very handsome in his new green collar and that Charlie was a good boy and shared his treats with siblings Minnie and Bella. Check Spelling

Looks like Minnie can't wait to unpack the Wellness treats and use the Pledge Fabric Sweepers for Pet Hair!

Charlie enjoying his Barker and Meowsky frisbee.

Charlie looking snazzy in his Barker and Meowsky collar.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Costume Ideas

It's the time of year when mums and decorative cabbage fill flower pots, and jack-o-lanters light up porches. It's also when we start receiving emails with photos of funny dog costumes. Here are a few of our favorites so far.

Gives a new meaning to fish out of water.

How much did they have to pay the cat to agree to this one?

Wow, now THIS is creative!

We think the dog is a vegetarian based on her expression.

This may be the funniest costume of all!

Ever since the first cave dog donned a saber-toothed tiger costume, people have been debating the merits of dressing up dogs. Billy doesn't dress up Zeke or Arthur. Jill, however, crafts elaborate home-made dog costumes every year and strongly believes that a dog should express his creativity. That said, always consider Fido's comfort and safety.

If Fido doesn’t mind dressing up and you determine this by checking with an objective third-party, go right ahead and have a ball. Whether he’s Bark Vader, Dogzilla or Hairy Potter, keep these safety rules in mind:
  • The costume must be comfortable and not obstruct your dog's vision, hearing, breathing or movement.
  • Never force your pooch to wear his costume if it makes him stressed, scared or nervous.
  • Be sure the costume allows your dog to wear his collar, identification and leash.
  • No doggy bags! Keep your dog away from the Halloween candy.
How do you feel about canine costumes? If your pooch is dressing up, please send us your photos to share with everyone in Happy Dog Land.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Joys and Challenges of Dogs With Physical Limitations

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and colors . . . and with all different physical capabilities. Some dogs can bound after a squirrel at velocities approaching hyperdrive, others are born with physical limitations that bring unique challenges and some dogs develop health issues that result in life-changing disabilities. Regardless of health or physical limitations, all dogs deserve love, proper care and respect.

When it comes to dogs with physical limitations, people sometimes exhibit unusual reactions. Some people are scared when they see a dog that looks different or they are uncomfortable because they don't know how to react. Other people automatically assume a disabled dog is unhappy or uncomfortable and (gasp) some even believe that a severe health issue means the end.

One of our goals in Happy Dog Land and with our book Happy Dog: Caring For Your Dog's Body, Mind and Spirit is to dispel dog care myths. By discussing the issues related to owning a special needs dog, we hope people will approach the topic with open minds and open hearts.

Today, we're sharing the stories of 5 special needs dogs and the generous people who love and care for them. Their insights will shed some much needed light on the associated challenges and joys, inspire you and make you smile. We also hope the information will open a dialogue and ultimately, help physically challenged pooches find loving and caring homes or keep the ones they already have.

Scrappy Jack is a 15 month old Pug from Kentucky. The poor guy certainly had a very rough start in life. He was physically abused and as a result, had one protruding eye, which had to be removed, and a broken jaw all before he was two months old. Luckily, he came under the care of RePets Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky. (The photo on the left was taken when he arived at the rescue.)

A few months later, mom Karen adopted Jack. Karen says that people react differently to Jack when they see that he has one eye. "They tend to feel sorry for him, which I do not want." She explains, "I don't consider him 'disabled' and do not treat him any differently than my other pets."

According to Karen, who has other Pugs, Jack is leery of strangers, which is unusual since Pugs tend to be very friendly and welcoming. "Jack doesn't like being touched by strangers and barks at them." Karen attributes Jack's reaction to the abuse he endured before arriving at the rescue and not to his physical challenges.

Scrappy Jack is a happy guy now. Notice his smile and perky ears!

Some people have counseled Karen to coddle Jack, but she rejects this advice. "If I did that, then he would realize he has limitations. I don't want him to feel that way." Instead, Karen focuses on training Jack to ease his fear of strangers.

Under Karen's care, Jack has blossomed into a happy dog who loves to play. "He has challenges most certainly. Jack does not have good vision in the eye he has left, but he doesn't let that slow him down. He is a very happy, active little boy," Karen observes. She does takes a bit of extra care to safeguard Jack's remaining eye. Karen walks through her yard a few times a week to clear away sticks and other dangerous debris that Jack may not see when he runs.

In addition, Karen has adjusted their games of fetch to account for Jack's sight challenges. "If he doesn't see me throw the toy, he doesn't know to fetch it and I have to show him where it is." Occasionally Jack plays so hard that he runs into a table or chair on his blindside. We're sure that he gets lots of kisses and the tenacious little guy just keeps going.

Karen and Scrappy Jack visit area schools and clubs, like the Girl Scouts, above, to teach kids about pet care. Certainly, interacting with Jack also teaches these children to accept others who may look different or have special needs.

Tazi, is a 12 year old Jack Russel Terrier from Ontario, Canada who lost his sight from Diabetes in 2008. Tazi's mom Barbara-Ann was pleased to share his story because "it's important for people to know that they don't have to put their pets down if they develop an illness."

Barbara-Ann explains that a pet's illness changes the owner's role. "Your dog counts on you more, but the friendship just gets stronger. I believe the love and extra care is what makes a pet [successfully] overcome a limitation or illness like Tazi has." We think she's right! Barbara-Ann adds that Tazi is doing so well that, "I don't see or feel the disability in him any more. He's just a happy Jack Russell, that still plays, loves his walks, loves his toys and has a great appetite."

Tazi's nose helped him find his Christmas stocking last year.

"I don't even notice he's blind because he does all the same things as other dogs except run by himself in the park," Barbara-Ann explains. She has, however, made some minor adjustments to ensure Tazi's safety when he plays. "Tazi runs with me by his side on his leash. It was an adjustment for him, but he did it with flying colours. He loves his walks now and trusts me as his guide. He listens to commands when we're out and when I say 'up' his little legs lift up and reach because he knows he has to step up on a curb." When Tazi hears a 'down' command Barbara-Ann says, "he knows he's going to get down off a curb so he's careful."

Neither Diabetes nor age has slowed Tazi down. When it's time for his twice daily injections, "Tazi lays down on his side and lets me do it without a problem," says Barbara-Ann. In addition, Tazi still plays with his toys all the time and enjoys hiding them in his blanket. (See photo on above.)
Tazi and Barbara-Ann teach us how love, care and patience can transform the experience of a dog (or person) with an life-changing illness.

Beatnik is another inspiring pooch with a wonderful owner. He's a 15 month old Chihuahua mix from New York who was born without front legs. His mom Linda found him on Petfinder and knew instantly that he could live a full, happy life with love and a quality canine cart.

After bringing Beatnik home, Linda's first order of business was finding that cart. Before purchasing the cart, however, Beatnik had to stop growing. "It was heartbreaking to wait, Karen remarks, "but wait we did!" Beatnik's cart arrived when he was six months old. After a second growth spurt and some additional adjustments to the cart, Beatnik is unstoppable and "has been up and running ever since."

Linda compares Beatnik to a "trotter coming out of the gate." She reports, "he navigates perfectly – backwards, figure eights, you name it. Beatnik gets very excited when he sees the cart and jumps right in it." According to Linda, the cart has not only increased Beatnik's mobility, but it has made him a confident, joyous pooch too. "He’s become very independent and loves the freedom his cart gives him."

Linda carefully monitors Beatnik for any orthopedic problems that may develop from his physical condition. For example, walking upright on two legs can damage his spine. Beatnik's condition occasionally causes "aiming" problems when he relieves himself. Linda doesn't mind the misfires and she chocks them up to "a navigation issue where he can’t position himself exactly right."

Like four-legged canines, Beatnik is busy honing his manners, playing and exploring. His two missing legs haven't caused him to miss a beat. "He's otherwise just a normal, very happy lovable dog. Always kissing, full of energy and very healthy, thankfully," says Linda. Beatnik, like all dogs, brings immense joy and excitement to his dedicated owner.

Mr. McGoo, Trio and their carts make guest appearances in our book.

In Happy Dog: Caring For Your Dog's Body, Mind and Spirit, we feature two dogs in carts. Mr. McGoo, left, who passed away earlier this year, was blind and also paralyzed after a mid-life accident. These limitations notwithstanding, Gooey, was "the happiest dogs I ever met," says mom Nancy. "Gooey's" perseverance and joy inspired everyone he met and demonstrated first-hand that disabilities need not curtail a dog's happiness or spirit, unless you let them.

As a 4 week old puppy, this Pit Bull was used as bait in an illegal dog fight in Chicago. Her leg was bitten off during the fight and she was discarded. Thankfully, the pooch was rescued and received the medical treatment necessary for her recovery. Sue, a dedicated dog lover, adopted the puppy and named her Trio since she had only 3 legs. Sue's love and care have turned Trio into a happy dog.

According to Sue, caring for a large dog with physical limitations is challenging. "Trio is a big dog and weighs 65 pounds, so it can be physically exhausting to move her around," says Sue who assists Trio up the 4 flights of stairs to their walk up apartment several times a day. "I hold up her back end and help her up the stairs. I tried a harness, but it kept slipping off and Trio didn't like it."

The years of walking on 3 legs has taken its toll on Trio's body. "Her rear leg has bowed out and her back is painful," Sue says. Trio now takes daily pain killers and anti-inflammatories. Once walking became too taxing, Sue purchased a cart from Eddie's Wheels. "The cart has definitely helped Trio walk much more comfortably." Sue also takes Trio swimming for exercise. "Trio loves the freedom that the water gives her. She's so buoyant in the water." Sue opines, "the water allows Trio to move her body without excessive wear and tear or pain. She uses her tail like a rudder. She's so happy, she could swim for hours!"

Sue is always mindful of Trio's situation and limits the duration of walks, even with the cart. In addition, Sue never takes Trio to a dog park. "I'm worried that another dog might run into her and hurt one of her good legs." Trio doesn't mind and happily plays at home with her brother Gambit and enjoys short walks around the neighborhood.

Despite the challenges and expenses associated with caring for a disabled dog, Sue says it's well worth the extra effort. Sue explains "I just love her to death and she has inspired me to start a charity, the Trio Animal Foundation", which helps shelters, rescues and dog owners pay for medical care. "Generous people helped Trio when she was a puppy and I want to do the same for others," Sue adds.

Trio motivates and educates people she meets. "Everyone is moved when I explain why Trio has 3 legs and how she has thrived despite her traumatic beginning. I think Trio has helped many other animals by teaching people that dog fighting is a very real problem." Sue also finds that people are fascinated by Trio's cart. "Most people we meet have never seen a dog in a cart and have no idea they are even available."

The carts used by Beatnik, Mr. McGoo and Trio are made by Eddie's Wheels, a company highly recommended by Linda, Nancy and Sue. Linda explains, "Eddie and Leslie Grinnel are a goldmine of information about physically challenged pets and their website has a huge amount of information." Beatnik is featured in several inspiring videos on the website. Watch Beatnik in action here, here and here.

We hope reading these stories inspire and move you by showing just how fulfilling life with a special needs dog can be. Yes, these dogs have unique challenges, but love, patience and a generous heart is all they need to thrive. And, next time you see a special needs dog, don't hesitate to talk to the owner and meet the pooch.

Many shelters and rescues, such as
Angel's Gate, specialize in assisting special needs dogs. In addition, allows you to search for these dogs. Breed rescue groups are also good resources for information about adoptable dogs with physical limitations.

Ling Shows Off Her Prizes

Ling the Chinese Crested who won Week 3 of our Show Us Your Happy Dog Contest clearly loves her prizes.

Ling and cousin Sheba enjoy the Wellness treats.

Ling, held by mom Jean, models her Barker and Meowsky collar and leash.

Thanks again to everyone who entered our contest. We're still uploading all the photos from week 4, so check back over the next week to see all the entrants.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Charlie is the Week 4 Winner of our Show Us Your Happy Dog Contest

Wow! We've had a very busy week meeting hundreds of amazing dogs! Thank you to everyone who shared their pooches during our Show Us Your Happy Dog Contest! It's been a pleasure and an honor getting to know your dogs. You can meet all our contest winners here.

We'd also like to thank Wellness Pet Food for including our contest and book in its monthly newsletter! The response was incredible! We are in the process of uploading the photos from Week 4, so please check back to see your darling dog in our Week 4 gallery.

And now, (drum roll please), meet Charlie an 8 year old Labrador Retriever, the lucky winner of Week 4 in our contest. He was chosen randomly from all the entries and as you'll see, he sure is a Happy Dog!

Charlie's mom Julie adopted him in June from Fetching Companions Retriever Rescue. "As soon as we saw him, we knew he was coming home to live with us." Julie says that, "Charlie's foster mom Mary O'Gorman and everyone at Fetching Companions do such a wonderful job finding forever homes for great dogs just like Charlie. I feel so fortunate to have found the organization."

Charlie loves toys, but he has a particular affinity for squeaky toys. When Charlie arrived at Fetching Companions, he was a stray and had suffered from severe ear infections that had gone untreated for quite some time. As a result, Charlie's "hearing is very poor, but what he can hear, he cherishes," Julie reports. This likely explains Charlie's passion for squeaky toys.

Indeed, Charlie squeaks his toys when Julie come home, squeaks when he gets to go for a car ride, squeaks before dinner, and squeaks before going on his walks. Charlie also, "squeaks to let you know he's happy. He can sit and squeak on his toys for hours," says Julie.

Charlie's favorite toy is his Teddy. According to Julie, Charlie "knows whenever he wears out the Teddy's squeaker he can bring it to you and you'll fix it for him by putting a new squeaker inside." There is no question what type of toy Charlie will find wrapped up for the holidays!

Charlie taking one of his occasional power naps.

"Charlie sure is one big ole happy guy. He loves to love and be loved," observes Julie. Charlie also likes to keep track of his mom and has been known to stick his nose through the shower curtain while she's inside, "just to let you know he hasn't forgotten about you."

Charlie has 2 furry siblings. Charlie's sister Minnie is an 11 year old black Lab mix. These two became fast friends and "act like they've known each other for years," Julie says.

Charlie's other sister Bella is a 3 year old Poodle-Maltese mix. Charlie is a smart guy and understands that he's much bigger than Bella. "He's such a gentle giant when it comes to Bella. He plays very carefully with her, especially when it comes to tug, he sits still and let's her do all the tugging," Julie explains. Charlie is such a good brother, we know that he won't mind sharing his prizes with Minnie and Bella.

Charlie is another example of the absolutely wonderful dogs you can adopt from a shelter or rescue! Bringing a homeless dog into your life not only makes the pooch smile, it makes you happy too!