Thursday, January 12, 2012

The DNA Results Are In!

We just received the results from the Canine Heritage  Breed Test on our dog Duke (pictured above) and his litter mate Cali (pictured below). (See previous post.) What was your guess? We were somewhat surprised but not completely. We had guessed that they probably had Catahoula, Chow Chow and/or German Shepherd in them. The results came back that they have two secondary breeds of Chow Chow and Bluetick Coonhound (see pictures below).  Wow. We were right about the Chow Chow but the Bluetick Coonhound was a surprise. What an interesting mix! We looked up the two breeds in our dog books and as we read about each of them, it explained a lot about some of their particular behaviors and traits. As far as their appearance, we can see they got the spotted, Merle pattern from the Bluetick Coonhound but the actual hair color of the Chow Chow. They got the ear size of the Coonhound but the ear shape and posture of the Chow. Duke has a coat more like the Coonhound but Cali's thicker coat is more like the Chow's. Her tail definitely says Chow. Duke's tail curls back too but not as completely as his sister's. 

Interesting! It was fun finding out what breeds make up their DNA. It gives us some insight into their personality traits and also of any possible health problems that may be inherent in the two breeds. We already knew they are characters full of personality that we just love to pieces! Read more about how we found them here.
Chow Chow

Bluetick Coonhound

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Favorite Pet Product

This month's favorite pet product is for cats. Cats need different forms of entertainment to keep them happy and active. Toys are great but cats like to climb and scratch too. Scratching is a natural behavior they do to shed the outer sheaths of their claws and leave their scent. Cats like different kinds of surfaces to claw on such as carpet, cardboard, sisal, upholstery and wood. They like to scratch on things horizontally and vertically. They like to climb to high places too. I have several different kinds of scratchers strategically placed throughout the house especially in spots where they tend to want to scratch like the corners of the sofa or chairs. My favorite cat trees are made by Armarkat. They have lots of sizes, colors and types of cat trees. I have a large one like pictured here. I've had it for several years and the cats climb, scratch, play on and run up it all the time. I bought it through an Ebay auction and got a very reasonable price (most of it was in shipping cost). It was very easy to assemble and can be taken apart easily too. Some of their cat trees like the one pictured here use faux fur instead of carpet which I like better. (Carpet puts off chemical fumes.)

Another scratcher my cats love is the "S" shaped horizontal one pictured here. They really like the sisal pad to scratch on and they also like to lay inside the other side or crawl underneath. I have a client who has one that is a double-wide. I've tried to find where I can purchase a double-wide but haven't had any luck. (If you know where to get it, let me know!)
The all time favorite horizontal scratcher is the corrugated cardboard box. After they have shredded the top you can turn it over and use the other side. I think they like the double-wide ones (as shown) better because they can lay on top of it while they scratch. They can't do that so well with the narrow ones. Be sure to apply some catnip for added pleasure!

There are all kinds of cat scratchers so try a variety to see which ones your cat  likes best. Place them in their favorite scratching areas (like the corners of the furniture). Cats can be trained to scratch on appropriate things it just takes some training and patience. When you see them scratching on something they are not supposed to, you can tell them "no" and gently remove them from scratching on that item and then place them on the item they are supposed to scratch on. (I've even demonstrated what to do for them!) You've got to give them an alternative to scratch on if it's not going to be your furniture. And most important: When they do scratch where they're supposed to, be sure to praise them, a lot, every time you see them do it. This will reinforce their good behavior! My cats have come to expect praise when they scratch on their cat scratchers and it's very rare for them to scratch on anything else.

Note: The Emerycat board (as seen on TV) which has emery board as the surface was not a hit at my house or many of my cat clients either. Although the idea is good, most cats don't like the feel of the emery board and shy away from scratching on it.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Trees Can Be Deadly

It was my last pet sitting visit of the year. Saturday night, December 31, 2011. This client of almost four years has a dog and three cats. I went in, turned off the alarm, let the dog out and started to prepare the cats dinner when I noticed the oldest cat, Allie, age 19, did not appear in the kitchen with the others like usual. I went looking for her and was horrified to find her hanging upside down by her waist in the Christmas tree. She first appeared lifeless. She was so entangled in the lights that I frantically untangled them from around her back legs and waist and discovered one around her waist was so tight I couldn't get it off so I ran and got the scissors and cut it off and lowered her gently down to the floor. She meowed a pitiful weak meow. She was still alive. I don't know how long she had been like that. My previous visit was early that morning and now it was twelve hours later. She had probably been like that for hours. She got up after a just a minute or so and tried to walk but had no use of her back end. She drug herself to the litter box and laid in it. Of course I called my client who was due to return the following afternoon. After being treated at the emergency clinic, she ended up passing away peacefully at home the following evening, New Year's Day. 

The sad thing is that my client told me she had intended to take down the Christmas tree before going out of town. But she had lots of errands to do before leaving and didn't get around to it. Of course now she feels horrible for not doing so. So remember: If you are going out of town for the holidays and you have pets, take down the tree! The risk of leaving it up is not worth it. When an animal gets caught in something and can't get loose, they panic and make it worse. Even a nineteen-year-old cat finds a Christmas tree irresistible to climb. Christmas trees can be deadly for pets!

Rest in peace sweet Miss Allie. You will be greatly missed.