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!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Update: Swine Flu and Pets

According to the ASPCA, our furry friends are safe from Swine Flu -- at least for now. Dr. Miranda Spindel, Director of ASPCA Veterinary Outreach reported:

"Many species can become infected with influenza viruses, but the current 2009 H1N1 virus, which is a mixture of genetic material from different species, has not been identified in animal populations in the United States to date. These viruses are notoriously unpredictable, though, and it is important that we remain vigilant.
Pet owners must remain vigilant against canine influenza, which is not the same disease as H1N1 (Swine Flu).

Canine influenza is extremely contagious to dogs, but poses no risk to humans. According to the CDC, symptoms of canine influenza include: cough, runny nose and fever. Some dogs exhibit severe infections that can lead to pneumonia and some dogs show not symptoms at all.

If you suspect that your pooch has been exposed to the disease or if she shows any symptoms or is acting strangely, contact your vet immediately and avoid areas populated by other dogs. While you're talking to your veterinarian, ask about the new flu vaccine.

Week 2's Contest Winner Sam Shows Off His Prize

Check out Sam modeling his Barker and Meowsky collar and leash. He sure looks like a happy dog!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Contest Photos

We are so thrilled and honored by the overwhelming response our Show Us Your Happy Dog contest has received this week! It may take us a little while to upload all of the photos we received. We will pick our winner as scheduled on October 2nd and post the pooch's story next week. Please check back to see photos of all the happy entrants!

Thanks for your patience.