Is That A Weasel Riding a Woodpecker?

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Have you seen this picture?  I came across it on the Houston SPCA blog…and I thought it was too awesome not to share.

First of all – that’s a woodpecker…a GREEN woodpecker (pretty cool, huh?)  And that is a baby weasel riding it.  Now, unfortunately, this picture was captured out in real-life nature (and not a Disney film) – so the weasel is trying to kill the woodpecker…but what an amazing shot!

Fortunately, the woodpecker did escape the encounter unharmed.  

The picture was taken by an amateur photographer named Martin Le-May who happened to witness this amazing site while out for a stroll in London.  Read what he has to say about the whole ordeal here.

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How My Toddler is Like My Dog – Thinking Outside the Box (House)

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It still amazes me when I’m reading a parenting book…and the advice given is almost word for word the exact same advice as the last dog behavior book I read.  I’m actually not even sure why I still get a kick out of it – it happens so often.  Apparently – when it comes to psychology – toddlers and dogs aren’t so far apart.

(No, I’m not suggesting you crate train your kiddo.)

I just finished The Happiest Toddler on the Block.  The Happiest Baby on the Block is pretty much required reading for every new mom.  Seriously.  (And for good reason, too.  Dr. Karp’s advice is spot on – hence why I picked up the sequel to help me understand how to keep Sebastian happy.)

Dr. Karp advises parents to make sure that their toddlers go outside every day.IMG_3621  “Every” day – he is sure to remind his readers – is “EVERY” day.  Toddlers won’t die (or even catch cold) from going out for short amounts of time even if it is raining, cold, windy, snowing, hot, etc.  The psychological benefits are worth the bundling or being slightly uncomfortable.  We as a species have not primarily resided inside single-family, four-walled, covered structures for all that long.  If you look back at the history of humanity – the majority of it took place outside…or in a cave…it is in our nature to be more comfortable (happier???) outside.  (Think of that blissful moment when you office workers step out for lunch and feel the sun on your face.)  Dr. Karp explains your toddler might be unhappy simply because you are forcing him into an unnatural physical situation.

DOGS ARE THE SAME!

IMG_3546Maybe even more so!  Dogs were built to be outside.  They spent most of their evolutionary lives on the move.  They don’t like to go for walks….they NEED to go for walks.  They NEED to be outside.

Often pup parents try to over think it when their dogs start acting out (chewing, biting…any destructive behavior, really).  Nine times out of ten – they are just bored and/or frustrated.  You are forcing them into an unnatural physical situation.  Your dog wasn’t meant to be kept in a box!

Obviously, you cannot walk your dog for 8 hours a day to fulfill his nomadic tendencies.  Nor am I suggesting you take your sweet, spoiled pooch and suddenly decided she will primarily be an “outdoor dog.”  What I am advising (and I’m no doctor or vet…so no one has given me an authority to give advice) is that you go outside with your pup AND your kid EVERY day.  Even if it’s raining and you all have to towel everyone off when you come back inside.  Even if it’s only while you thumb through the junk mail.  Even if it’s only for 10 minutes!

If for no other reason that this: a tired dog/toddler is a happy dog/toddler!

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Book Review – Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

Citizen Canine

I can honestly say this is one of the best books about dogs and cats I have ever read (and I’ve read a lot of them!) This book takes on a subject matter that is often touched on in books and articles, but rarely the main focus – pets in society.  More specifically, it analyzes how society’s view of pets has evolved as society itself has evolved.

The book is divided into three sections: “Family” – which outlines how dogs and cats came to be domesticated, “Person” – which explains how the animal welfare revolution brought about changes in animal cruely laws and created groups like the ASPCA, and “Citizen” – which tells of the ongoing legal issues that modern day dogs and cats (and their guardians) are fighting.

Now, most of us dog lovers are at least somewhat familiar with the theories of how dogs and cats went from being wild creatures to living in our homes…so that first section wasn’t really anything special.   The second section, “Person”, is where things really start to get interesting.  It is hard to believe that what we take as common sense respect of animals – the fact that you can’t abuse your pet, for instance – was once political debates.  It was fascinating to read about the legalities of something like this.  To me, these principles are obvious it seems ridiculous that at some point our legal system had to spell them out…yet, in a court of law, if a dog was considered your “property”, why couldn’t you do whatever the heck you wanted with/to it?   Also included in this section were detailed accounts of what happened to pets left behind when New Orleans was evacuated for Katrina and the ongoing efforts to care for them.

“Citizen” really dove into the current state of pets in our legal system – of course it touched on the whole pit bull issue, but also describes how the  field of veterinary medicine has transformed as pets become more like family and less like animals.  He shares court cases where dog mothers and fathers have sued their vets for far above what the animal is actually worth.  Well – in the word “actually”, we get to the heart of the matter.  Would you really say your dog is “actually” worth only what you paid for it?  (You wouldn’t, of course, but what would a court of law say??)  I found all of this incredibly interesting and something that I had never read about before.

I think one of the reasons this books stands out in its genre is the author.  David Grimm (check out his website here) obviously has an amazing analytical, scientific mind.  (And I’m not just saying that because I know he is the online news editor for Science!)  He takes on the topic of pets in our life with as much seriousness as he does when discussing biochemistry.  It is obvious he did extensive research when writing this book – I love how many personal stories of dog and cat lovers he tells.  Grimm writes with a scientific brain and a cat-loving heart.

Have I convinced you to read this book yet?   I said it before…and I’ll say it again – I loved this book!  It is a well written, fascinating read with interesting personal accounts as well as pet related historical facts.  It will help you understand more about our human society by examining the way we have and continue to view our pets.  It will make you think…and help you understand more about that furry creature that has found his way into your home and your heart.

Seeing Red – What to do If Your Dog’s in a Fight

Last week I was walking 3 brothers that I walk every day.  As we rounded a corner, 2 large off leash dogs approached (not in a polite manner, I might add) and one started acting aggressively.  It only took about 5 seconds for a serious fight to break out between one of the off leash dogs and one of the dogs I was walking.  With 5 dogs in the mix (3 on leashes held by me!) – things could have escalated to insanity pretty quickly.

It doesn’t really matter the back story…your dog is in a fight with another dog.  What do you do?

Leash Clip Art

Step 1 – Don’t panic (or fake it ’til you make it)

“Panicking” doesn’t necessarily mean running around in circles, screaming like a lunatic, waving your hands above your head.  “Panicking” in this context is any behavior out of the ordinary that your dog will take notice of.  For us gals…this often means raising our voices an octave and getting that squeaky, desperate quality.  It could also mean shifting our weight back and forth or trying to run.  It could really be anything that your dog is going to pick up on and interpret as danger! this other dog means us harm.  

You must stay calm.  Your dog is already “in the red” and is not thinking normally.  If your thoughts start to go all wonky – no one is thinking properly.  And when no one is thinking properly – that’s when the situation will spiral out of control.

(“Fake it ’til you make it” is hard…but not as hard as “Don’t panic”.  It is just a reminder that while on the inside your heart might be racing and you seriously feel like you are about to loose your lunch – the most important this is that you project that calm energy that Cesar Millan is always talking about.  The dogs won’t know the difference!)

Step 2 – Trust no one (no dog)

I know. I know.  This is a really horrible thing to say.  Let me explain – in this situation, your dog is 99% wild animal and 1% sweet creature that you know and love.  Your dog’s brain has undergone a change and your dog is literally not your dog.  (Haven’t we all seen sibling dogs that get along perfectly well snap at each other when worked up?)

DO NOT put any part of your body in-between fighting dogs (unless you are prepared to have that body part sustain a dog bite.)  DO NOT think that your dog will recognize that it is your hand/leg/torso and refrain from biting you.  In this aggravated state – your dog cannot determine friend from foe.  While you still think of your dog as a friend…at this point EVERYONE is the enemy to your dog.  By not trusting your dog in this situation – you will avoid blood and heartache.  (Feelings tend to get hurt when your own dog bites you.)

Step 3 – Give direction (to humans )

The whole reason I am writing this post is because of this step.  Reread the situation I described at the beginning of this post, or here is a recap: a dog fight has erupted between my dog (on leash) and neighbor dog (off leash).  Now, I have broken up many a dog fight – even sustaining a few bites in my day protecting dogs (yeah, I’m kinda a bad ass) – so I will admit I’m a little more trained in the corect way to act in this situation than the average dog lover.  As I was doing everything I could to slow this quickly spiraling-out-of-control situation, I took a half a second to glance up at the owner of the other dogs.  He was standing about 10 feet off.  Watching.  Doing nothing.

Now, when I retold this story to friends and family they all had different reactions.  “Maybe he was scared and didn’t want to put himself in harms way by getting closer to a dog fight?”  “Maybe he was stunned?”  “Maybe he didn’t realize how serious the situation was?”  In the moment, though, all I was thinking is WHY ISN’T THIS GUY HELPING ME?  (Him – large man, standing at a safe distance.  Me – little lady in the middle of 5 dogs (4 big, 1 little…2 free, 3 tethered…3 I know like my own, 2 I don’t know at all.)

In my calmest – but firmest – voice, I instructed the man on what to do.  I am not kidding.  As I’m physically trying to keep our dogs from ripping each other apart, I have to stop to state the obvious to this man (who thankfully did exactly what he was told.) “YOU NEED TO COME GET YOUR DOG!”  “You need to physically come over here and help me separate these two.”  “Now please back up.”  Seriously.

leashHonestly, I think this man (like many who find themselves in this situation) didn’t believe that his dog would ever get in a real fight.  Your dog could be of the “sweet as pie, wouldn’t hurt a fly, gentle around kids, doesn’t mind cats” variety…but certain situations can bring about reactions from your dog that you might never understand.  (Isn’t that the same with humans??)

When you find yourself with a dog who has crossed over to the “red zone” the most important thing to do is diffuse the situation as quickly as possible.  If you can remain calm, remember these are animals, and take control by giving others direction – you will be able to walk away as if it was a regular day at the park.  (Surprisingly dogs can do just that….while it might take a few minutes for your heart to stop pounding!)

Countdown to Halloween – DIY Bow Tie (…yes there is still time to make this!)

Amigo Halloween

Amigo the Dandy

 

OH MY GOSH!  Look what I made Amigo!

The extended family is coming over to our house for Halloween this year.  I’ll be cleaning/cooking/costuming my own kiddo, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle dog costumes as well!  Still, I think the dogs should look festive for the holiday.

Buffy has a skeleton dog shirt that she will be debuting this year (a Target SUPER markdown from last Halloween)…but Amigo didn’t have anything to wear to the party.  Hence the brand new, handmade bow tie!

As someone who cannot use a needle and thread to save her life, I can honestly say this was a super easy project.  Instead of taking step by step pictures as I went for the blog (honestly – this would have been quite embarrassing) I am going to tell you to read instructions on BarkPost here or check out this video on YouTube.  While I didn’t follow either one to the letter (I didn’t use an iron or a hot glue gun), these gave me a good idea of what I needed to do.  While I initially measured (or cut?  or read the tape measure?  Have I mentioned how bad I am at sewing???) wrong…once I recut the pieces, it was smooth sailing.

I think this is an absolutely adorable way to get Amigo in on the Halloween fun.  He has been wearing it around…and doesn’t seem to mind it at all.  I can’t wait to see what our party guests say about our dapper little man!

Countdown to Halloween – Pets in Costume!

It’s Monday….the Monday before Halloween.  Hopefully you’ve bought your candy, finished up your costumes, and now are just waiting for Friday.  To kick off this holiday week, I suggest you stop working immediately, and check out these list of pets in costumes.  (Because what is the internet for if not to look at pictures of cute animals??)  While you’re at it, make sure to take our poll and let us know if your pooch or kitty cat will be dressing up this year.

Happy Monday…and enjoy!

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26 Dogs Who Hate Their Halloween Costumes – This list is awesome because instead of focusing on the Halloween costumes…it focuses on the facial expressions of adorable pups who are obviously not thrilled to be dressing up.  Ah, the things that our pets do to make us happy!

 

Freddy Guinea

25+ Terrifyingly Cute Costumes for Pets – I love this list because it has lots of non- dog animals in costumes.  (And not just cats…guinea pigs, horses, lizards….) Make sure to click “show more” when you get to the bottom to check out all the costumes posted.  You can even add a picture of your own pet to the list!

 

Scuba Cat

Adorable Cats Halloween Costumes – Cats in Halloween costumes.  Enough said.

Countdown to Halloween (Poll)

One week until Halloween!!

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Some people REALLY get into Halloween (Have you guys seen some crazy yard decorations?  I’ve seen people really getting into it this year!)…while other people seem to try to ignore it as much as they can.

I’ve found completely opposing views on celebrating Halloween with pets as well.  Some people buy or make elaborate costumes for their dogs…others seem to think dressing their dogs up is cruel and unusual punishment for their furbabies.

To kick off the Wags & Whiskers Blog countdown to Halloween, we thought we would start with a survey to see how our readers felt about pets and the holiday.   Let us know where you stand – we would love to hear more about your opinion in the comments!

(Be sure to check the blog daily for more fur-based Halloween stories!)

Please HELP! Found Dog in Houston!

Husky Found Vet

This beautiful guy was found last Friday (October 17th) near Montrose here in Houston.  He was lucky enough to have found dog lover (and all around wonderful lady) Laura who immediately took him to Central Houston Animal Hospital.  He is not microchiped or neutered but unfortunately is heart worm positive (treatment has been started.)

People are guessing he is a Husky or white German Shepard…and he is got a set of those amazing different colored eyes (right is brown and left is parti-eyed…blue, white, AND brown.)  He is 55 pounds and young (most likely around 1-2 years)…but more importantly he is SUPER sweet.  He has interacted with many people and dogs, and he has been friendly with everyone.  On a walk, he didn’t even go nuts when he saw a cat (which is more than I can say for most of the dogs I walk!)

Laura is not able to adopt this guy right now….and yet she still stopped to help him.  Knowing that she was unable to take him in herself – she still loaded him up, got him to the vet, and started heart worm treatment.  This woman is a saint!  

Can you help us find a forever home for this amazing dog?  Even a foster??  If you could even spread the word about this amazing animal, we would really appreciate it.  Email a pic to your dog lovin’ friends, put a link to this post up on social media….or spread the word the old fashioned way and just TALK to someone!

Please leave comments below with any advice…or just to give Laura some words of encouragement.  If you know of a rescue group or individual who is interested…or would like more information, please email blog@wagsandwhiskershouston.com.

THANKS!  Let’s all work together – we all know this guy (like all animals) deserves a loving, caring home!

Who Am I?

I have a key to your house.  I know your alarm code.  I know about that squeaky floor board in your hallway and where you like to kick off your shoes when you come home.  I am in your house all the time…but you might only see me once or twice a year. Who am I?

IMG_3920I am your dog’s best friend.

It is an interesting relationship I have with my clients.  The human ones, that is.  I can walk their dogs every day for months on end, and maybe only talk to them on the phone every six months.  Mostly, we communicate via notes.  (SO sixth grade girl, right?  I’m not going to lie, though, it is kinda fun!)  I take on a odd role – I’m not family, but I’m not a visitor either.  No need to tidy up for me, but you might want to put on pants if you know I’m coming.

What I often think about, though, is who does your dog think I am?  I show up when their family is gone (either out at work or away on vacation.)  I don’t have to worry about putting away groceries or taking a shower or picking up toys – I am 100% there for them.  I am not a visitor that will pat them on the head and then shoo them away so I can have a human conversation.  I only have eyes for your pooch.  I am there to walk or play…to scratch behind the ears…to “hang out”, canine style.  I give them treats and love on them.  I might even have a special nickname for them…I might even know their favorite potty spot which even their dad doesn’t know about.  I might even notice if something is bothering them before you – because I am only their for them.

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So what do you think they think?  I like to think dogs don’t know what “dog walkers” are.  In my mind, they just think I’m their buddy.  Like their human brother who has classmates over for play – I believe they think of me as a friend.  THEIR friend.  Not your friend, not a family friend, not little Timmy’s playmate – THEIR friend.  (This is often reinforced by pup’s behavior on the rare days their parents are home when I stop by.  Parents are surprised by how their pets gravitate to me…or at least get ridiculously excited and forget their mom and dad are home.  Come on!  Who would you rather hang out with? Someone who gets worked up when you come in with muddy paws…or someone who takes you out to get those paws wet!)

So from now on I believe my official job title will be “Pet’s Best Friend”  rather than “Pet Sitter” or “Dog Walker”.  Anyone can walk…but only a select few can be a PBF.