Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ask Billy: What's the best chew toy?

Tam from Chicago writes: My new chihuahua-terrier mix, Damen, is a bundle of energy. I'd love to give him something he could chew on to keep him occupied and relieve some of that nervous energy. And if this chewie thing cleaned his teeth at the same time, that would be great.

I've had a bad experience with rawhides in the past (caused bouts of diarrhea). I've seen rubber toys that seem like they would last awhile, but I'm not sure how I feel about Damen chewing on rubber (even if it is vanilla flavored). Those dried chicken parts at the pet store give me the willies. I've given him stuffed-animal-type toys--which he loves--but he pulls the stuffing out of those pretty quickly. Any suggestions for a safe, long-lasting chew?

Well Tam, Damen sure is a cute little guy. You hit the jackpot when you adopted him from a rescue! Dogs love to chew. Chewing releases energy and entertains. Although chewing also helps clean teeth, it is NOT a substitute for regular dental care. Sorry!

It sounds like Damen is a heavy chewer and requires strong chew toys. My dog Gabriel was a heavy duty chewer too. He enjoyed those allegely indestructible nylon bones. Somehow, he managed to break up the “indestructible” bone and swallowed a small piece. I rushed him to the animal hospital and after various veterinary delays, he had surgery to remove the resulting blockage. He died four days later. I still cry about this tragedy, but, thankfully, I can help others keep their precious pooches safe.
For power chewers like Damen, rawhide and other animal body parts, such as tendons, tracheas, bully sticks, bones, ears, hooves and snouts, are NOT a safe option. A power chewer can rip right through them in a matter of minutes and swallow the pieces. There is no reason to risk injury or death since other options are readily available.

Damen and other power chewers should stick with hard rubber toys specifically designed for heavy canine chewers. (Just because you wouldn't want to chomp down on a rubber toy doesn't mean that your pooch won't be thrilled!) Personally, I don't like the scented or flavored toys since chemicals are involved. So I'd stick with the plain, unscented and unflavored options. Many rubber toys are covered in nubs, which also help clean teeth and massage gums. Just to be sure you were listening: dental toys merely enhance home dental care. You are still required to brush Damen's teeth!

Whether he has jaws of steel or a soft mouth, no dog should ever be unsupervised while chewing. If a piece breaks off, you must retrieve it immediately before tragedy strikes. At least once a week, inspect all of Damen's chewies and toys and, if possible, wash them occasionally too. The moment you see any wear and tear, throw the chew or toy away. I also recommend forgoing soft toys, since power chewers destroy them almost instantly. The stuffing, squeaker and anything sewn on are chocking and obstruction dangers.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Love Portuguese Water Dogs!

Stop the presses! The Obamas are adopting a Portuguese Water Dog in April. Here at Happy Dog Land, we couldn't be more excited about the news!!

We certainly know a lot about Porties here in Happy Dog Land.  Billy has shared his life with two: Gabriel and now Zeke.  Billy rescued Zeke in a non-traditional manner.  Zeke did not come from a shelter, although we highly recommend shelters and rescues whenever possible! Zeke was re-homed from a breeder. Zeke is a carrier of the gene for a hereditary disease common to Porties and, therefore, he couldn't be used as a stud or a show dog. To Billy, all this was irrelevant -- all that mattered was that it was love at first sight! So, Billy brought Zeke home and, along with Arthur (Billy's Cocker Spaniel), made Zeke one of the family.  Zeke went from kennel to bed without batting and eye.

Billy has cared for hundreds of Porties over the last 15 years, has won many grooming competitions with Porties and often lectures about grooming Porties. Every week, about a dozen Porties visit Billy's shop.

Although we'll have to wait until April to meet the First Portie, here are some examples of this beautiful breed. These pooches are Billy's clients.

From the left: A plethera of Porties (front row) Moby Dick, Jesse, Chewbacca (middle row) Daisy, Zeke,and K.B. Back row: Keela.; Moby Dick in a Lion Cut, wavy-whirley coated Chewbacca, Moby Dick doing an early Beatles impression.

From the left: Jesse showing off his wavy with texture coat, curly coated Zeke and wavy coated Keela.

All photographs by: Michael Vistia, Vistia Designs

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different: More Happy Dogs to Brighten Your Day

This is Rubito. Don't be fooled by her love of the Cubs or her boy name, Rubito is 7 pounds of Toy Poodle girl power. Rubito is named after a famed Spanish matador, but she's gentle as a lamb. Billy has been keeping Rubito fabulous and fluffy since 2003. Join us in wishing Rubito happy birthday. This beautiful lady turns six on March 11th. 

Puma is proof that big girls love fashion too. This buxom beauty is a Chow Chow - Golden Retriever mix rescued from a Chicago shelter. Puma inspired her mom to design a line of apparel for big dogs. After all, no matter the size, all canine eyes and coats need protection from the elements. "Tailored Dog" supports animal rescue and all of the clothing is manufactured by the Chicago Association for Retarded Citizens, an organization that provides training and jobs for adults with developmental disabilities. Puma is modeling a custom designed, one of a kind piece from the Le Puma for Tailored Dog, Hot Couture Collection.

Next, we have Bella Rose Cohen (right), a delightful and dazzling three year old Havanese. Bella lives in Michigan but, despite her tropical ancestry, she loves to romp in the snow. She's as smart as a whip (or a Poodle); she rings a bell by the door when she needs to go out. Bella loves to smooch her mom, but she prefers to chew on her Dad's eyebrows.

Kiki (left) is top dog at Building Blocks Toy Store in Chicago. When her mom visited Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society many years back, Kiki stole her heart. Kiki loves her dad too and enjoys sitting in his lap while he works. This nine year old comely charmer excels at coaxing treats out of everyone she meets. When it's time for bed, Kiki burrows in under the covers and doesn't come out until morning.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Make Your Voice Heard: Take A Stand Against Puppy Mills

Last Friday, the Oprah Winfrey show highlighted the horrors of puppy mills.  Recently, 90 plus Yorkies were saved from a despicable puppy mill thanks to the heroic efforts of the Humane Society of Missouri. Kathy Warnick, the group's President said that "some of the dogs couldn't even walk because their hair had grown so long and become so tangled with urine and feces. In some instances, it was so horrific that the matting constricted the use of their limbs, and it actually cut off the blood supply and their legs died. The bones died in their legs."  Folks such as the dedicated members of the Humane Society of Missouri and local law enforcement deserve a tremendous round of applause for their actions.  Rather than ignore the suffering, these lovely people took action and now these dogs finally have a chance to enjoy a happy life. 

That said, taking action is something we can all do.  The first step is to learn about puppy mills -- the source of the dogs you find in many of America's "pet stores."  Almost every animal welfare organization has information on this shocking and terrible topic.  Click here for the ASPCA, here for the Humane Society of the United States, and here for American Humane. Oprah Winfrey has joined the fight against puppy mills and her website contains a wealth of information and resources. None of this information is easy to watch or digest, but ignoring the problem only allows it to continue.  

Next, read the ASPCA's 2008 legislation round up, which compiles and analyses federal and state animal welfare legislation. Look up your state: if you see laws that you like, call or write your legislator and say thank you.  If your state isn't doing anything or enough to fight animal cruelty, call and write your legislator and demand action.  National legislation is critical too. So, contact your senators and representatives in Washington D.C.  Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Finally, tell you friends about what you've learned. Many folks still have no idea that puppy mills exist. Surely, if people knew about them, they'd stop buying puppy mill dogs, which would help put the "people" (and we use the term loosely -- very loosely) who run these horrible places out of business.  

Change comes when people make the decision to become involved -- and in this case, to paraphrase President Obama, we are the change that we've been waiting for.  So go out and let people know the truth -- there are many, many dogs out there who will thank you for it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

In the news: The economy and pets

The ASPCA estimates that 500,000 to 1 million pets may lose their homes in the current economic down swing. Whether your assets are strong or weak, everyone should think about the "what ifs" of a bad economy and prepare for the worst (but hope for the best). Hopefully, you'll never have to implement your financial disaster plan, but if you do, your advance preparation will help you keep your pet.

The ASPCA has several recommendations:
  • Find a friend, relative or neighbor to temporarily foster your pet until you are in a better financial position.
  • If you lose your home and must move, obtain written permission from your new landlord stating that your particular pet is welcome before you sign a lease.
In addition, contact animal shelters, rescues, breed rescues and animal welfare organizations about programs to help you keep your pet or even to provide a temporary foster home.

If you have no other option than to give up your pet, research local shelters and rescues to find the organization that can best care for your particular pet. When you leave your pet, provide his medical records, behavioral information, a favorite blanket or toy and any other information that will help him find a new home.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ask Billy: What's up with the Puli's coat?

Sandra from Chicago writes: I was watching the Westminster Dog Show last week and saw the Puli. Every time I see a Puli, I wonder how they are groomed. I always forget to ask you and thought this a perfect place to do so. Love your blog and I tell every dog owner and/or lover I can about it.

Sandra, thanks for your question and kind words. 

Pulis are indeed interesting, beautiful and unusual dogs.  The fancy hair do you saw on the "show" Puli is called a "corded coat."  The corded coat resembles dreadlocks.  Do you remember the Bud Light Commercial from a few years back?  The guy used his Puli as a wig so he could go inside a bar and drink a cold one.

The coat on a Puli or any other corded dog, such as the Komondor and even Poodles and Havanese, is not groomed in the traditional manner: brush, brush, brush and wash and dry. Making and maintaining the cords, however, takes just as much work (if not more). 

A corded coat requires a huge commitment. On many dogs, the coat doesn't naturally start cording until the pooch is about one year old. Moreover, it can take years to develop all those beautiful long cords.

The cords are really well manicured mats that are shaped into long tubes. The owner or groomer gently pulls apart the mats into the appropriate size. The cords are never brushed. When washing a corded dog, the coat cannot be scrubbed. Rather, the dog is soaked in a tub and then the cords are squeezed -- like when you wring out a mop. Scrubbing makes the cords frizzy and breaks up the mats (cords) you've worked so hard to produce. Rinsing is crucial because the cords can trap soap near the skin. 

Corded coats require specialized grooming at home and with a professional. Talk to a trusted breeder to help you find a capable groomer. Alternatively, you can groom a Puli or other corded coat dog in the traditional manner and have a fluffy ball of fur to snuggle up with at night.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Do dogs have friends?

Depending on whether you ask a veterinarian, an animal behaviorist or a dog owner, you may receive a different answer to this critical question: Do dogs have friends?

Zeke and Arthur share a smooch.

Here at Happy Dog Land we've observed, entertained, loved and lived with countless dogs for many years. Based on that experience (and the fact that Billy fluently speaks "woof"), we firmly believe that dogs do indeed have friends. The photographs we chose to illustrate our point are not staged. Rather, they are snapshots of the relationships of dogs we know and love.

Lily and Louis enjoying the sun together.

Just as people are wont to do, dogs both like and dislike other dogs. For example, Jill's dog Shadow has decided that Arthur (Billy's mild mannered Cocker Spaniel) is his sworn enemy. Perhaps they both had their eye on the same mate in a former unneutered life or it could be that Arthur took a strong liking to Jill's son and Shadow is jealous. Although Shadow is perfectly happy to have Billy's other dog Zeke come and play, Shadow won't willingly let Arthur through the front door. When Baxter, a fluffy Coton de Tulear comes to visit, Shadow greets him at the door with crazed excitement and kisses. Shadow immediately gets into a play bow (front paws extended, head low and rear and tail up and loose), his entire butt is wagging and the joy in the air is palpable. Shadow clearly views Baxter as his friend.

Shadow and Baxter relaxing together.

When dogs share a home, they often become dependent on each other for emotional support and security -- just like we do with our friends. Arthur and Zeke are inseparable. When they are apart, each one is a bit anxious and lethargic. When they are reunited, even after a short break, they jump on top of each other and kiss and run through the house with expressions of happiness and relief on their faces. Their favorite way to relax is to lay on top of each other on the sofa and they often share a bone, each one chewing on the opposite end. Zeke and Arthur are more than friends. Indeed, they believe they are brothers and kindred spirits...and they are.

Maro and Spike play nicely together and share.

Pay attention to your dog's body language to determine whether he views another pooch as a friend or foe. If Fido's posture is loose, his whole back end is wagging, his mouth is relaxed and he's in a play bow, let him enjoy frolicking with the other dog. If Fido is stiff, baring his teeth, his tail isn't wagging or it's straight out, his ears are up or forward or his fur is standing on end (especially on the shoulders or hips a.k.a the "hackles"), he's telling you that the other dog is not a friend. Never force the issue. Remember, you can pick your friends and your nose, but you can't pick your dog's friends or your dog's nose. In addition, be aware of your dog's limitations: if he doesn't share, put away his bones and toys before a furry friend visits. Don't leave the dogs unattended, as play (even among friends) can occasionally get too serious.

So yes, we believe dogs can be friends. But don't assume that your dog will want to be friends with any other particular dog. Just as with people, some folks rub our fur the wrong way. So if you respect Fido's opinion, he can experience many of the same joys of friendship and companionship that you do. Except you may not want to sniff your best pal's butt!

Shadow and Bean resting after a long play date.

Some photographs by Michael Vistia, Vistia Designs

Survey says...

A friend of Happy Dog Land is taking a survey on dog food as part of a class. If you have a few moments, please answer the survey.  The survey closes on February 21st.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ask Billy: Why does my dog like to sleep on dirty laundry?

Sammy and Rachel from West Bloomfield, Michigan write: "This is our dog Mulligan, why does he like to sleep on our dirty laundry?"

Well girls, you ask an interesting question. You may be surprised to hear that people ask me that same thing all the time.

To a dog, smell is just as important as sight. Seeing you makes your dog feel safe and loved. If he can't see you, smelling you makes him happy and comfortable too. You leave your scent everywhere you go, especially on the clothes you sleep in or wear all day. So, when Mulligan finds the pile of dirty clothes, he thinks that he's won the scent lottery. Besides, the pile also makes for a comfie pillow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A few more Happy Dogs

How cute are these Happy Dogs?

Matilda enjoying her big backyard.

Piccolo in one of her mom's beautiful hand-knit sweaters.

Pupstar Marie frolicking in the snow.

Send us a photo of your Happy Dog and we'll share it with everyone in Happy Dog Land.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Contemplate this riddle sent in by Melissa R. from Michigan:

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct her/him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!

Friday, February 13, 2009

RECALL ALERTS: The list of affected pet food product grows.

Please check the FDA's list of recalled pet (and human) foods today. It seems that the products, both human and canine, believed to contain the tainted peanut butter grows every day.

As always, if you suspect that your dog is sick, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian immediately.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

They've Got Benji's Back

Did you ever wonder who is behind the "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" statement that pops up on the screen at the end of a movie? American Humane, a national non-profit organization that advocates for children and animals, that's who. American Humane’s Film & Television Unit supervises the use of animals on movie sets in Hollywood and around the world.  American Humane also monitors television shows, commercials and student films

American Humane's Certified Animal Safety Representatives observe the animal actors and monitor their safety according to strict guidelines. The Film and TV unit then rates the movie based on what they observed.  

Before you buy a movie ticket, search the film by name and check to see whether it earned an outstanding, acceptable or unacceptable rating.  Look here for recently released movies. Click here to search the archives for older releases.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Puppy Mills: Denial is not just a river in Egypt

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." --- Mahatma Ghandi

Jill attended a party this weekend, and naturally, the subject of dogs came up. One of the guests was talking about her new 7 pound Poodle puppy recently purchased from a pet store specializing in itsy-bitsy dogs -- just like the ones that Hollywood celebs have made fashionable (mind you, without a word about responsible pet ownership).

As Jill inquired about the new pooch's history, the woman's vague answers brought puppy mills to mind. Jill mentioned this, but the new owner cavalierly dismissed the idea remarking, "I talked to the breeder and I know the family of the store owner." Not one to ever let a dog peril issue rest, Jill hit her hard with a barrage of deftly constructed probing questions:

"Do you know how to determine if a breeder is reputable and humane?"
"Where was your dog's breeder located?"
"Did you personally visit the breeder?"
"Do you know how often your dog's mother was bred?"
"Was the mother free to roam around or kept in a wire cage all the time?"
"How many times did the dog change hands before he arrived at the posh pet store?"
"How was the dog's tailed docked, under clean and sanitary conditions or with a kitchen knife?"
"Do you know the mother's medical history or that of your dog?"

Showing no mercy, Jill fired the final bone-crushing blow: "Do you, Mrs. Party Guest, know that pet stores all too often sell puppy mill dogs?"

Naturally, Mrs. Party Guest answered "no" and followed up with "What's a puppy mill?" Clearly, she needed to be educated and Jill was up for the challenge. After recounting, in excruciating, horrific detail, just what happens at puppy mills, the woman actually stated she wasn't convinced this was a real problem since "everyone has a right to make a living." Without a hint of embarrassment, she pronounced, "we are a capitalist society." At this point, Jill abruptly excused herself from the conversation and located the nearest garbage can. Even today, if you look closely, you can still see the steam coming out of Jill's ears.

Yes, this story is hard to believe, but it's true and all too common. Indeed, when Jill recounted the conversation to Billy, he sighed (dramatically) and declared that he has similar experiences "all the time, and not just about puppy mills -- about all aspects of canine care."

Well, Mrs. Party Guest, ignoring the well documented facts and pretending it's "just a business," may be human nature (no one wants to believe that these things really happen), but it won't make puppy mills go away or prevent people from making a buck from animal cruelty. People like Mrs. Party Guest don't want to be bothered by the truth, especially when they inadvertently participate in a bad thing. If you make a mistake once, we'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but refusing to acknowledge the suffering is inexcusable. Shame on you Mrs. Party Guest!

Don't be like Mrs. Party Guest, if you don't know about puppy mills, need to educate someone else or you just want to learn how to help, check out these websites:

Oprah's ground-breaking show about puppy mills

Main Line Animal Rescue


Humane Society of the US

In addition, talk to your local, state and federal lawmakers and ask about laws affecting animal cruelty and puppy mills. In Illinois, State Representative John Fritchey recently introduced a bill to crack down on puppy mills. Hopefully, this will catch on and help the truth sink in with Mrs. Party Guest-types.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day Safety For Dogs (Yes, You Read That Correctly)

Valentine's Day is fun to share with your loved ones -- both the two and four legged variety.  It is, however, a plant and chocolate intensive holiday, which means DOGGIE DANGER ALERT!  

Keep your bon bons, champagne, wine, candles, flowers and plants well out of Fido's reach. Chocolate and dogs don't mix, and alcohol is incredibly dangerous too.  Flowers, such as Lilies, Rhododendron, Azaleas and Tulip bulbs and thorns on roses range from disastrous to deadly. Remember: dogs can perform exceptional feats of agility if food or smelly or interesting items are involved.  Always operate under the assumption that your dog can and will can get to your paramour's generous gifts -- even if they are on a high counter.

Before the 14th rolls around, check out the ASPCA's Valentine's Day Tips for additional information including links to lists of toxic food and plants.

If your precious pooch ingests or comes in contact with a dangerous food or other substance, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian immediately.  The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center is another excellent resource.  These experts are available 24/7, 365 days a week at (888) 426-4435.  A $60 fee applies.

So enjoy a safe Valentine's Day and give your pooch a hug and smooch from the folks at Happy Dog Land!

Photo of Billy, Rafa and Louis by Michael Vistia, Vistia Designs

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ask Billy: How often should my dog's nails be clipped?

Nancy from Chicago, writes: "I noticed that my partially paralyzed dog's nails grow faster. I suspect it is because he does not get to wear them down the way most non-handicapped dogs do since he uses a wheel cart. My question is, how often should his nails be clipped?"
Nancy, thanks for your question. It's a good one because it actually applies to all dogs, whether or not they are handicapped.

Let's start with a short nail anatomy lesson. At the end of each toe -- your dog has four per paw -- you'll find a nail. Depending on the dog, the nails may be dark, light or a combination. The “quick” is the fancy name for the blood vessels and nerves that grow through the center of each nail. The tip of the nail has no nerves or vessels and is safe to cut. However, if the quick is cut, it's a bloody mess and your pooch is in pain.

Some dogs have "dew claws," which are extra nails loosely attached to the inside of the leg a few inches above the front and/or back paws. Most dogs have one on each front paw, but some breeds, like the St. Bernard, Briard and Norwegian Lundehund, often have dew claws on their rear legs or even double sets of dew claws. Dew claws never contact the ground and, therefore, require frequent clipping.

Now to your question....

A dog's nails grow continually. However, walking around on hard surfaces helps keep the nails from growing too fast because friction naturally grinds them down. Because Mr. Magoo a.k.a Gooey, your cute pooch shown here, has nails that don't contact the ground, his nails appear to be growing faster than on a dog without physical limitations. Whether a dog is handicapped, less active due to age, illness or personality or just spends his time walking on softer surfaces, such as grass, carpet or sand, his nails aren't naturally worn down and require more frequent trimming.
If left uncut, nails can become painfully ingrown and infected and seriously impair a dog's gait and posture. And, that's NOT GOOD. Moreover, long nails can scratch your skin, floors and furniture or get caught in a crate, on your sweater or other places and rip off --OUCH!! So, regular nail care is critical for everyone!

I recommend that dogs have their nails trimmed about once a month. This rule, of course, varies by the individual dog and his genes and lifestyle. Obviously, the more active the dog, the more likely the nails will be naturally ground down and fewer trimmings will be needed. Once you hear the tell-tale clickety-click of nails on the floor or concrete, you'll know it's time for a pet-i-cure. For Mr. Magoo and other handicapped dogs, older dogs or pooches that stay inside or walk on softer surfaces, I recommend more frequent nail trims, perhaps even every two weeks.

It is the rare dog that requests a pet-i-cure and it's often difficult to see the quick and, thus, accidents happen in an instant. Therefore, I always recommend that people take their dogs to a trusted professional groomer or veterinarian for nail care. Professional nail care is not typically expensive and it will save you and your precious pooch a lot of pain and suffering.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Guest Column: Greyhounds are GREYT!!

Today, we have a special guest columnist: Jill's friend Amy R., a Greyhound rescue expert. Amy and her husband have opened their hearts and home to several former racing dogs. We thought it would be a good idea to present Amy's guide to rescuing retired racing Greyhounds -- a group of pooches who are always in need of a helping paw. Greyhounds are one of the many breeds subject to misguided preconceptions, which sadly prevent people from adopting these beautiful and graceful animals. Some people think that Greyhounds are high strung, high energy dogs who need to live on 30 acres in order to be happy. Not so! Thus, as part of our larger effort to help dogs in need and debunk old wives' tales, we give you Amy:

Greyhounds are wonderful dogs. Here's some basic information and corrections to some common myths about this breed.

1. Greyhounds are indoor dogs and are excellent pets for people in urban environments and/or yard-less environments. Since greyhounds have little body fat and thin/short fur, they are NOT meant to stay outdoors for any length of time. We live in a townhouse in a city neighborhood with no meaningful outdoor space and our dogs fit great. They are very graceful, body-aware dogs and rarely bump into anything. We walk them several times a day and occasionally take them to the dog park and they are healthy and fit.

2. Greyhounds are mellow, docile and very affectionate. They are not high-strung at all. On the contrary, they are low-key, and love nothing more than to hang with their people and snuggle up for an ear- or belly-rub.

3. With short coats that generate little oil - they rarely generate a "doggy" smell and they hardly shed. (Note from Billy: Use a rubber curry to bestow a relaxing massage and remove any dead coat before it falls off your Greyhound).

4. Greyhounds sleep most of the day, with only occasional bursts of energy. They are often called the "30 mile an hour couch potato." Ours have one or two 5-minute bursts of energy per day - after playing with their toys or running up and down the stairs - it's back to nap time.

5. Greyhounds are purebreds but rarely have the genetic problems common to many large dogs, such as hip dysplasia. Greyhound breeders keep rigorous records back several generations of each dog's genealogy so they can avoid in-breeding. Here's a link to the family tree of our newest grey, Patti (aka Looking Forward). The racing industry also maintains detailed records of each dog's career. Our 9-year-old boy Miller (aka Butch Miller) had an illustrious career before he retired 5 years ago. Click here to see what a racing resume looks like.

Here are a couple of sites where you can learn more about greyhounds. Click here and here. It's easy to adopt a retired racer even if you live in a state without racing. check it out - there may be one waiting for you!

Thanks Amy for sharing this important information! If you are looking for a new furry family member, be sure to consider a retired racer!


The peanut butter recall is growing with new products being affected every day.

The FDA now lists 8, count 'em 8, brands of problematic pet food products and scores of human food products. Immediately review this list and check back daily until this mess is over. Read the labels of all the human and pet food in your home. If you see the word "peanut" contact the manufacturer before you eat it or feed it to your pet.

The Chicago Tribune gives us an inside look at a peanut processing plant involved in the FDA investigation. If this doesn't encourage you to read labels, we don't know what will.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Dogs in the News

The news is hard to digest lately. Here are some happy dog stories that will make you smile:

Actress Jennifer Aniston, pulled her car over and rescued a lost dog running through the streets of LA recently. At Happy Dog Land, we believe in "Lost Dog Karma" -- if you help someone else's dog, someone will help your dog. So, if you see a lost or stray dog, be a "Friend" to the dog and help the pooch find his way back home. If the pooch is a stray, bring him to a shelter or hold the dog until local animal welfare authorities arrive. The Humane Society of the United States describes in detail how to help strays and lost dogs and cats here.

In other news, a good Samaritan rescued a lost pooch from a cement bin in Florida. The man who helped this pooch also earned Lost Dog Karma. The dog had a micro-chip and local animal welfare officials are working on reuniting the pooch with his family. Now is a good time to verify whether your dog is wearing current identification. If he has a micro-chip, check to see if the registration is up-to-date. American Humane offers helpful identification and micro-chip information here.

A family dog saved his family by alerting them to a fire in their home near Memphis, TN. Ironically, the family was scheduled to euthanize the dog because they could no longer afford veterinary care for Tiger. Lucky for them and Tiger, the family missed the appointment. Hopefully, someone in their home town can help with Tiger's the vet bills.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ask Billy: When should I begin grooming my new puppy?

Last week, this adorable Bearded Collie named Sookie came to Doggy Dooz, Billy's salon, for her very first professional grooming. Like all good groomers, Billy requires his clients to be fully vaccinated before their first appointment. Most puppies receive their final puppy shots at around four months old. Talk to your veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your puppy.

Puppies have immature immune systems, which makes them susceptible to infectious disease, many of which can be serious or deadly. Until your pup is fully vaccinated and your vet gives you the green light, try to keep her away from areas frequented by other dogs, such as parks and busy sidewalks. Unfortunately, some owners refuse to clean up after their dogs. The abandoned piles of festering poop can sometime transmit viruses, worms or other horrible parasites, so steer clear. As tempting as it may be to take your new puppy to visit a friend's dog, resist! Your friend's dog may be perfectly healthy, but still have been in contact with a sick dog. When visiting the vet, carry your puppy and avoid the dogs in the waiting room. Likewise, leave your pup at home when you shop for dog supplies.

Even though your puppy must wait before she can go to the salon, begin introducing her to grooming at home right away -- well, it's okay to give her a few days to get used to you first. The manner in which you introduce dog care determines your pup's lifelong attitude toward grooming or any other activity for that matter. If her early experiences are scary, stressful, and painful, your pup will quickly learn to hate and fear grooming. If, however, she associates grooming with pleasure, treats and your positive attention, she’ll flourish and enjoy a lifetime of grooming. In other words, don't toss her in the bath the first day!

Soon after your puppy arrives, begin petting and touching her all over: handle her paws, gently rub her ears, run your fingers in and around her mouth and rub her belly and undercarriage. The idea is to get her comfortable with the manhandling that is part and parcel of good grooming, whether by you or a professional. Your puppy doesn't need to know there's a method to your madness, she just needs to learn how much fun it is to be rubbed, petted and cared for by her new best friend. Be sure to share the petting and handling duties with others, whether family members or friends. Socializing your pup to accept other people in close proximity is good for you, the groomer, the veterinarian and anyone who comes near your precious pooch.