Cats bring solace, happiness and relaxation with visits to nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
When their patient received a terminal cancer diagnosis, the staff at the Oregon nursing and rehabilitation facility where he was cared for offered him anything he wanted: cupcakes and ice cream for every meal, a pile of puppies to play with or anything else he could name.
“All I want is to have a cat on my lap again,” he said.
Basil to the rescue. The orange-and-white tabby, one of only 100 or so therapy cats recognized by therapy animal organization Pet Partners, made regular visits to the man for the last four weeks of his life.
“That was really special to me,” says Tina Parkhurst of Beaverton, Oregon, who fostered and then adopted Basil and her brother, Mac, after they were found in a field when they were about two weeks old.
Though not as numerous as therapy dogs, therapy cats throughout the country provide people of all ages and health conditions with unconditional love and comfort. Their visits can help improve patients’ mobility, memory, communication, pain management and self-esteem, or simply make them smile and laugh. Often, people reminisce about previous cats in their lives.
Parkhurst was familiar with the concept of therapy cats when she began fostering Basil and Mac. She recognized special qualities in their personalities that made her wonder if they would be suitable for the work. They connected easily with people and had calm natures. Basil seemed a little more fearless than Mac, so Parkhurst began training her first, teaching her to wear a harness and leash and taking her on visits to a big box pet supply store. Eventually, they went through the Pet Partners training program, earning a perfect score in the evaluation.
Now Basil and Parkhurst make visits to facilities two or three times a week. Basil gets a bath before every visit, and she’s trained to sit on a towel that is placed on a bed or someone’s lap. To entertain residents, she sits up on her hind legs and gives a high-five. But her best “trick” is her ability to help people relax. Parkhurst recalls one woman suffering from dementia whose daughter had invited them to visit.
Because of her dementia, the woman had become increasingly aggressive and agitated, unable to sleep despite heavy doses of medication. When Basil came to visit, the woman was sitting in a recliner, her daughter at her side.
“We started to talk, and I asked if she would like to have Basil on her lap,” Parkhurst says. “She said, ‘That would be nice.’ I put Basil’s blanket on her lap, put Basil down and in three minutes this woman who would not sleep unless she was heavily medicated was crashed out like a light. Basil was out like a light, too. Her daughter sat there and quietly cried. She said, ‘My mom hasn’t slept like this in weeks and weeks.’”
Because they are people-friendly in a variety of settings, many active or retired show cats make therapy visits, but any cat with a friendly, calm nature can become a therapy cat with the right training. Appropriate handling and socialization in kittenhood, with exposure to many different people, places, sounds and experiences, can help cats develop a therapeutic personality.
Taking Basil to visit people brings special rewards, Parkhurst says. One woman told her, “I wake up smiling on Sundays now because I know I’m going to get to see Basil.”
Parkhurst adds, “To see their faces light up and the love in their eyes when they say something like that, it touches your heart and changes the way you walk through the world.”
POT FOR PETS?
Not so fast. The science isn’t there. Yet
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
We bet you know at least one person who shares his or her stash with a pet. Not to get the animal high, but to relieve anxiety, nausea or pain from cancer or another ailment. But does it really work?
That’s hard to say. Anecdotes aside, no research to date shows any benefit of marijuana for dogs or cats. Only minimal research is available on its effects in humans. That’s because federal law classifies it as a Schedule I drug with no medical usefulness. Regulatory restrictions hamper researchers’ ability to study marijuana’s potential benefits for humans or animals.
In theory, cannabinoids — the chemical compounds found in marijuana — carry great promise, says Robin Downing, DVM, a pain management expert and hospital director at the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, Colorado. Dogs and cats possess cannabinoid receptors. Think of them as the “lock” into which cannabinoid molecules fit like keys.
“These are exquisitely specific receptors that do not interact with other molecules,” Dr. Downing says. Unlike THC, cannabinoids are not involved in altered mentation, but they are credited with other actions in the nervous system, such as pain relief and relief of seizure activity.
“This is what gives us hope that medical marijuana will at some point become an important tool in the pain management toolbox,” she says.
That can’t happen, though, until the drug is better understood. Right now, little is known about dosing and delivery of medical marijuana to pets.
The idea of treating pet ailments with marijuana may give rise to the image of coming home to a dog or cat who’s chowing down on Doritos and listening to Bob Marley. The truth is, we don’t know a lot about how pets respond to marijuana because they can’t tell us how they feel.
“For animals, we have no safety data, no efficacy data and no dosing data,” Dr. Downing says.
For example, she says, humans can adjust their doses based on their response to a drug, but animals cannot.
“How do we know what they are feeling? How can we tell when they have received ‘enough’ to create whatever effect we seek for them?”
At veterinary emergency hospitals, marijuana is the number-one intoxicant for pets, especially in states such as California, Colorado and Washington, which have legalized medical and recreational marijuana. A retrospective study published in 2012 looked at cases in two Colorado veterinary hospitals from 2005 to 2010. Researchers found that the incidence of marijuana toxicosis in dogs increased fourfold over the period.
“Our numbers have been increasing for several years,” says veterinary toxicologist Tina Wismer, director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Many vets are able to diagnose the typical patient — wobbly and dribbling urine — on sight.”
Typical incidents include eating an owner’s baked goods that contain marijuana or THC-laced butter or coconut oil, eating the actual plants or inhaling smoke.
“The edibles are much more dangerous due to the concentration of THC when compared to plant material,” Dr. Wismer says.
Do pets who partake get the munchies? Usually not. Signs of toxicity include glassy eyes, incoordination, dilated pupils and vomiting, usually within an hour or less or ingestion or inhalation.
Because of marijuana’s Schedule I status, veterinarians cannot legally prescribe the drug. That doesn’t mean related products aren’t available, though. Companies sell hemp tinctures, edibles and extracts formulated for pets. While hemp and marijuana are both derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp is defined as containing a concentration of no more than 0.3 percent THC.
Dr. Downing worries about variability in levels of active ingredients and lack of regulation.
“We need formal studies to determine efficacy, safety, application, optimal dosing, side effects and tolerability,” she says. “We need standardized preparations with known content of active ingredients and no contaminants. Unfortunately, we are a long way from being at a place where we can in good conscience recommend marijuana for animals.”
ALLERGIC TO YOUR PET?
You don’t have to give up your dog, cat or other pet if you suffer from allergies. Here are some ways to cope
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
My husband’s allergies to our dogs were mild until last year. Now he has developed asthma and has a twice-daily routine of medication and an inhaler.
Allergies. They’re the bane of people who love pets but develop a runny nose, itchy throat and watery eyes in their presence — or worse, coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
It’s one thing to know from childhood that you’re allergic to dogs, cats or other animals, but when allergies develop later in life, after you’ve built a relationship with members of the animal kingdom, it’s hard to give them up.
The good news is that in many cases, you don’t have to. Medication and environmental changes can help you and your pet live comfortably together. Here are some ways to keep allergy symptoms at bay.
? Bathe your pet frequently. It’s not fur or hair that causes allergies, but saliva, urine and dander (microscopic dead skin cells). These substances contain proteins that cause allergic reactions, and frequent bathing helps to remove them from fur. Our dogs are bathed weekly, and it helps. Some cats take well to baths, believe it or not, but if yours doesn’t, at least wipe him down with a damp cloth daily.
? Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after roughhousing with your dog or cuddling your cat.
? Keep pets off the bed or out of the bedroom entirely. Reducing the presence of allergens in your sleeping area will help to ensure a good night’s rest. Instead, enjoy your pet’s presence while you’re both awake.
? Clean often. Use HEPA air purifiers and filtering products. Use a double or microfilter bag in your vacuum. Have a family member wipe down the inside of your car after your pet has been in it, or take it to the car wash.
? Redecorate. If possible, replace carpeting with hard flooring such as wood or tile. Limit floor coverings to machine-washable throw rugs (and use hot water on them). If you must have carpet, choose one with a low pile, and steam-clean it often. Steam-clean furniture as well. Declutter your home. The fewer items that collect allergens, the better.
? Avoid being with your pet in small, enclosed areas such as veterinary exam rooms. Veterinarian Kathryn Primm (who is herself allergic to pets) has some clients with allergies who wait in the lobby or outdoors while their pets are being examined. “We have alerts on their charts; ‘client allergic to dogs,’” she says.
? Consider the type and size of pet. It’s just common sense that a small dog produces less allergens than a big one, but did you know that female cats produce less allergens than males? If you are adding a pet to your family, these are factors to consider. Be aware that there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. Some animals produce less allergens than others, but it varies by individual. You can’t assume that just because a pet has a certain type of coat or is a certain breed that you won’t react to him.
? Consult a board-certified allergist. In the bad old days, allergists used to recommend getting rid of pets, but now most of them recognize the importance of the human-animal bond and will help you develop a treatment plan to manage your symptoms. For many people, immunotherapy (allergy shots) is an effective long-term treatment. They helped Elizabeth Tobey, who as a young child was so allergic she couldn’t have pets. “I had a series of allergy shots as a kid, and over time have built up some tolerance through exposure,” she says.
PETS IN PAINTINGS
A portrait of a beloved pet can bring you happiness every day
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Have you ever admired the portraits of dogs and cats that you see in museums? Immortalizing a pet on canvas isn’t just a thing of the past or something for the wealthy. You can commission one yourself to commemorate a special event, such as a dog earning a championship or a sport title, or simply to capture the likeness of a cherished companion. A pet portrait can also be a special gift to a family member or friend.
“I have many pictures of my animals,” says Jenn Prendergast of Tracy, California. “Several friends over the years have given them. I feel honored that they made them, and it honors the memory of my beloved pets.”
Finding a pet portrait artist is as easy as asking around at local pet boutiques, getting referrals from friends or looking up artists on the AKC’s Museum of the Dog registry. Before you choose someone, look at many different styles of dog portraits. Decide if you like a whimsical look or something more formal.
Consider the pros and cons of different media as well. Acrylics and oils look different than watercolors. Pencil art looks different from paintings. Oils and acrylics on canvas or board don’t need to be under glass, but pastels, watercolor and pencil art can be damaged by water, so they need protection.
Interview the artists before you hire one. Questions to ask include the size and price, whether it will be matted and framed or unframed, how long it will take, whether you can see a sketch beforehand, what medium the artist will use (some work in more than one), and if the artist guarantees satisfaction.
“I always say I will do it over if they don’t like it,” says Terry Albert of Poway, California, an award-winning artist whose work has been exhibited at the Museum of the Dog. “Once I had to make a tabby cat browner instead of gray, and once a black Lab just didn’t come out the way they envisioned it. The second version in both cases was a hit.”
Costs can range from as little as $50 to five figures. Price depends on the medium (oil, pastel, watercolor, charcoal or pencil), the demand and the artist’s reputation.
Oils are usually most expensive, often starting at $1,000 and rising from there. Price can also vary by such factors as the number of animals in the painting, the size of the canvas and the complexity of the background. Expect to pay a deposit, with the balance due upon completion.
Cavalier owner Cathy Remoll Torres has an oil painting by artist Dominique Oboyski of her beloved dog Jake, who died three months ago.
“Dominique asked permission to paint him years ago when she was working on painting cavaliers,” Torres says. “Years later, she was clearing inventory and offered to sell it to me at a cost I could afford — it was too expensive for me when she originally painted it. I jumped on the chance, and the painting now hangs in my bedroom.”
If you find an artist who works in your area, he or she may meet your dog in person to get an idea of his looks and personality. Otherwise, plan on providing several photographs in different poses. A written description of your dog can help as well. Is he serious or funny? Does he have any quirks? How does he look at you when he wants something? All of these details can help the artist produce the perfect painting.
A portrait of a pet is an everlasting tribute to a friend. When an artist captures an animal’s essence, the pleasure a painting brings is immeasurable.
“I have always thought my dogs and cats were true, moving works of art,” says Janet Velenovsky. “Having a talented person make that a reality is the logical next step.”
Hero dog overcame torture, helps others
- A dogue de Bordeaux was named the 2016 American Humane Association’s Hero Dog of the Year. He was honored not only for his work helping children with autism learn social skills, but also for surviving torture early in his life when someone cut out his tongue. Now, the first word spoken by many children who were previously nonverbal is his name: “Hooch.” The burly, happy French mastiff also acts as a companion to women in shelters who have been victims of domestic abuse. The other seven finalists, all honored for their service, were law enforcement dog Edo, search and rescue dog Kobuk, service dog Gander, military dog Layka, arson dog Judge, hearing dog Hook and therapy dog Mango.
- A new diagnostic test may help determine the best treatment for dogs with transitional cell carcinoma, the most common type of canine urinary tract cancer. Developed by Matthew Breen, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, the test detects cancer by measuring different DNA copies to see if they are elevated or reduced from a normal control sample. Depending on the test result, the dog’s veterinarian may recommend surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- Don’t forget to include your dog, cat, bird or other pet in your estate plan. A pet trust — legal in all 50 states — allows you to set aside funds for an animal’s care, administered by a trustee. Pet trusts can take effect during an owner’s lifetime — if he or she becomes incapacitated or moves into a nursing home, for instance — or on death. The trustee disburses payments to a designated caregiver on a regular basis. In most cases, a pet trust ends when the pet dies or after 21 years, but pet trusts can be set up for longer periods for animals with long life expectancies, such as parrots or tortoises.
— Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
Pet mischief and mishaps are a traditional part of the holidays. Here are some things to avoid
By Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell
Thornton and Mikkel Becker
The 6-month-old Lab puppy grazed on the Christmas tree, gorging on glass bulbs, shimmery tinsel and more. When his owners brought him to the veterinary hospital, swollen with swallowed ornaments, he resembled a four-legged black tick with a pink tongue. A dose of barium to illuminate the intestinal tract on radiographs and force out the intestinal contents worked quickly, and before long, the dog was pooping out pieces of glass, string and wire hooks. As a big wad of tinsel emerged, it gave him the appearance of a giant New Year’s Eve party blower.
No doubt all of us have memories of a cat scrambling up a Christmas tree, a swooshing dog tail overturning a lit menorah or a canine or feline counter cruiser tucking into the roast beast. As we enter the holiday season, it’s time to bone up on pet-proofing our homes to prevent pet mischief. After all, no one, least of all our dogs and cats, wants to spend any of the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in the veterinary ER. We’ve gathered some cautionary tails — er, tales — to help you adapt your holiday traditions to the realities of life with pets.
A pointer we know made the news when he ate a child’s pushpin craft made with marshmallows to form a snowman. The dog ate the entire thing and required emergency surgery to remove the pushpins. This year, the family will be surrounding the Christmas tree with a pet gate to prevent unauthorized ingestion of ornaments or presents.
Cats, famed for their ability to leap tall counters in a single bound, and their partners in crime, dogs of all sizes, are notorious for stealing food off plates, tables and counters, sticks of butter left out to soften, chocolate-covered espresso beans and marshmallow Santas (ask us how we know this). And we’re not the only ones with larcenous animals.
Dexter, a parson Russell terrier, lives with a family who made the mistake of leaving a box of holiday chocolates sitting on their coffee table. They came home to find the contents strewn all over the floor, with much of it eaten. Dexter, apparently a discriminating dog, picked out his favorite varieties from the box. Fortunately, the only outcome was a case of diarrhea, but now family members make it a point to put unsafe food items (or anything they don’t want him to eat) well out of their dog’s reach.
In another case, curiosity didn’t kill the cat, but it did cause him to get an unusual bath. Amanda Graves recalls the time her husband noticed that their Abyssinian kitten, Peyton, was looking a little greasy. Upon closer examination, he discovered Peyton was covered in chicken broth.
“He had pushed aside the silicone lid on a cooling stockpot of homemade chicken bone broth and had gone for a swim,” she says.
Strategies that can help you head off holiday trouble include decorating with unbreakable ornaments, forgoing tinsel and putting unsupervised food out of reach.
To protect her cat Kismet, Sharon Melnyk gave up using ribbons to wrap presents.
“He would try to eat any kind of ribbon and once bit my finger trying to get at a ribbon I was holding,” she says.
Choose pet-safe plants, too. Poinsettias have a reputation for being poisonous, but at most they cause mild stomach upset. Of greater concern are lilies, which can be lethal, and amaryllis bulbs and holly.
Our pets don’t mean to cause trouble during the holidays; they just want to help us celebrate. These simple precautions make it easier and less stressful to enjoy the season.
BRINGING UP PUP
From a dog-training expert: 8 puppy-raising tips to help you be successful
By Liz Palika
A 9-week-old English shepherd puppy, Hero, recently joined my family. The adorable dark brown-and-white little guy with freckles on his nose immediately stole my heart. At the same time, my brain kicked into “puppy-raising” gear. Having raised a number of puppies over the years, I’ve learned some skills that make the process easier. Here are eight tips that have helped me be successful.
1. Buy lots of inexpensive towels. When I knew Hero was going to be joining my family, I immediately ran to the nearest store for a stack of cheap towels. I don’t think most puppy-raising sources express how important towels are for raising a puppy, but I think they are invaluable. Towels can serve as bedding for your puppy (as long as he doesn’t try to eat them), for cleaning up spills or other accidents and for bathing and drying the puppy. I always have a clean stack ready for use. You can find them new at discount or big-box stores, or even purchase them used at stores such as Goodwill. Just wash them well before using them.
2. Choose toys carefully. Everything goes into a puppy’s mouth, so it’s important to have appropriate toys ready for him to sniff, taste, chew and sometimes destroy. If a toy has hard eyes, a button nose or other parts a puppy could chew off and swallow, remove them. Make sure the toy itself can’t be swallowed.
3. Provide a variety of toys. I like to give some chew toys to gnaw on, toys that can be shaken and tossed, balls of various kinds and toys with different smells and textures. Every puppy tends to develop his own likes and dislikes, but a variety in puppyhood can be great fun.
4. Your puppy is a baby. Puppies grow and develop so quickly it’s hard to remember that they are babies. I consider a puppy younger than four months a baby, although that’s an arbitrary line; many puppies develop faster or slower than others.
5. Baby puppies need extra meals. Hungry puppies get antsy, fussy and grumpy, and they will cry and whine. Toy and small-breed puppies need four to six feedings a day for the first few months, while larger puppies should eat at least three times a day. When you take your puppy in for his first veterinary exam, you can ask the vet for a specific recommendation for your pup.
6. Puppies know no fear. As with most babies, young puppies don’t consider their own safety and will do things that cause themselves harm. They need to be protected from jumping, climbing or getting stuck. Baby gates, exercise pens and crates can help you keep your puppy safe when you can’t supervise him.
7. Puppies need help with temperature regulation. I quickly discovered that Hero’s fluffy puppy coat kept him warm. It was difficult for him to get comfortable in a crate as he quickly became too hot. I wrapped a frozen water bottle in a towel (another use for those towels!) and he would cuddle up to it, immediately becoming more comfortable. Make sure your puppy can also move away from the water bottle so he doesn’t get chilled.
8. Teach independence. It’s important for puppies to learn to spend some time alone. Although it’s our nature to cuddle a puppy — and we should — puppies also need to learn to be OK when left alone. I started by putting Hero in his crate with a toy for 15 minutes, then half an hour, then while I ran errands. This is an important life skill for dogs, so start it when they’re young.
Guest columnist Liz Palika is an award-winning writer and certified dog trainer. For more information, go to kindredspiritsk9.com
“ARF”-LETES FOR THE WIN
Dogs showcase guts and glory in canine sports
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Eventing. Jumping. Racing. Diving. With the Rio Olympics in full swing, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the world of competitive dog sports, which often parallel those of their human counterparts and require just as much athletic ability, stamina, speed and agility. Top dog contestants come in all shapes and sizes, but the two things they have in common — with each other and with human athletes — are heart and hustle.
Take Wren. The 10-inch papillon excels at the highest levels of her sport, agility. With tight turns and at top speed she races around a course that includes bar jumps, tire jumps, weave poles, a teeter-totter — the element that can really slow a tiny dog because it tips downward more slowly — an A-frame and tunnels. In the six height classes, from 8-inch (Wren’s category) to 26-inch, the dog with the fastest time and fewest faults wins. Wren, owned and handled by Betsey Lynch of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has had big wins in her class in the past year, including American Kennel Club’s National Agility Championship, USDAA Cynosport Performance Grand Prix and Westminster Masters Agility Championship.
Any dog can compete in agility, but the dogs with speed and drive tend to be the ones at the top of the charts. Current contenders include Sier ra, a Shetland sheepdog, in the 12-inch class; Hottie, a border collie, in the 16-inch class; Mr. T, a golden retriever, in the 20-inch class; Skillz, a border collie, in the 24-inch class; and Pace, a border collie, in the 26-inch class.
The best agility dogs from more than 35 countries will gather in Zaragoza, Spain, Sept. 22 through 25 to compete in the 21st Agility World Championship, where they’ll run on state-of-the-art artificial turf specially ordered for the event. Closer to home, check out the North American Dog Agility Council Championships, held Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 in South Jordan, Utah.
Flyball, the fastest-growing canine team sport, is a relay race popular around the world. Teams of four to six dogs race over four hurdles, pounce on a spring-loaded box to release a tennis ball and race back over the hurdles with it before the next dog begins. Each dog has a handler, and line coaches help to improve the team’s performance.
Any dog who’s fast and loves tennis balls can play, but small dogs have a special role. They can be a team’s secret weapon because jump height, ranging from 7 to 14 inches, is determined by the height of the team’s smallest dog. A team with a “height dog,” as the shorties are known, benefits because the larger dogs get to jump lower hurdles.
Record-holders in the sport include a mixed breed named Everest, with a run of 3.417 seconds in United Flyball League International’s Singles race, in which dogs run against the clock, and a team called Border Patrol, made up of mixed breeds Troy, Banshee, Epic and Syber. They hold the current North American Flyball Association Regular record of 14.433 seconds, set June 5, 2016, in Rockton, Ontario, Canada. The NAFA CanAm Classic is Oct. 7 through 9 in Indianapolis. The UFLI Tournament of Champions takes place Oct. 21 through 23 in Gray Summit, Missouri, near St. Louis.
Perhaps the nearest canine equivalent to the Olympics is the Incredible Dog Challenge, hosted by Purina Pro Plan. Events include dock-diving, catching flying discs, surfing and more. In the West Coast Challenge, an American Eskimo Dog named Ziggy won the Small Dog Surf Event, and a Belgian malinois named Saphira set a new world record with a 25-foot-6-inch jump in the Fetch It event. The IDC National Finals take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 at Purina Farms in St. Louis.
HOUSE TRAINING HABITS
These 8 expert tips will start you and your pup on the path to house training success
By Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
Are you a new or potential puppy owner? If so, housetraining is probably on your mind. We’ve gathered some of our favorite tips for ensuring a rewarding experience — for you and your pup.
- Learn “caninese.” Body language is the first clue that your puppy needs to go out. He might not be crossing his legs, but pawing at you, standing at the top of the stairs or in front of the door and barking are all signs that he needs your attention — fast! Some dogs go with the classic sniffing and circling behavior. The instant you see this, scoop him up and take him out.
- Use a crate. It’s not punishment, and it’s not cruel unless you leave him in it all the time. A crate is your puppy’s safe spot and sleeping area, so he’ll instinctively want to keep it clean. And when he’s safely confined in it, you don’t have to worry that he’ll have an accident in the house. Staying in a crate helps a puppy learn to control his bladder and bowels. Without it, he may get into the habit of relieving himself whenever and wherever he likes.
- Choose the right crate. It should be large enough for your pup to stand up and turn around inside it but not so large that he can potty at one end and sleep at the other. Purchase a puppy-size crate and graduate to a larger one later, or buy a crate with a divider. A removable panel allows you to section off the crate as needed and adjust the amount of space the pup has as he grows. You can also block off the back of the crate with a box or some other item that the puppy can’t get over or around. Just be sure it’s safe and not edible. Bricks or cement blocks are out; instead, try vertically inserting a large, cushion-style dog bed. An empty cardboard box could also work if your pup isn’t a chewer.
- Stick to a schedule. Puppies need to potty frequently. Set a timer to take your puppy out every two to four hours.
- Certain events trigger a pup’s need to urinate or defecate. Take him out as soon as he wakes up in the morning or from a nap and immediately after eating or drinking. Excitement and stress can lead to potty accidents. Prevent them by taking your pup out to potty every few minutes if he is playing vigorously indoors. Finally, take him out just before bedtime. By 3 to 4 months of age, most pups can sleep through the night, but younger puppies may need to go out once or twice during the night.
- Two’s company. Go out with your puppy to make sure he potties. If you’re not with him, you can’t reward him with praise and a treat so he knows that you want him to potty outdoors. Play is another good reward when your pup potties outdoors. Let him play for a few minutes after he performs. If you take him back inside immediately, he’ll be reluctant to relieve himself right away.
- Feed regular meals. Free-feeding (leaving food out all the time) makes it more difficult to know when your puppy needs to pee or poop.
- Limit freedom. Letting a puppy have free run of the home is a recipe for potty accidents. Instead, keep him attached to you with a leash unless he’s in a puppy-proofed bathroom, kitchen or laundry room. You should always know where he is and what he’s doing.
Eight museums around the country for animal-art aficionados
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Art museums are a visual record of our history. When we visit them, we don’t simply see the artist’s vision, but also fashions, food, furnishings and, yes, animals from a given point in time.
Many famous art museums feature portraits of people with their dogs, cats and horses, but specialty museums focus on works that portray the animals themselves. A visit to one of them is a feast of fine art depicting the role of animals in society through the ages and how they have changed — or not. No matter which one you visit, you’ll be rewarded with a fascinating glimpse into the background of your favorite animal. Here are eight to look for.
- American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, St. Louis. In the 14,000-square-foot Jarville House in Queeny Park are more than 700 original paintings, drawings, sculptures, porcelains and more, all depicting man’s best friend. Bonus: Leashed, well-behaved dogs are welcome to visit, too.
- Feline Historical Museum, Alliance, Ohio. Not to be outdone, the Cat Fanciers Association has a permanent home for its extensive collection of cat-themed art and other unique items, including the silver collar awarded to Cosey, who won the first Madison Square Garden cat show in 1895; a bronze of a Persian by J. Clayton Bright; feline figurines from Lalique, Baccarat and Royal Doulton; and a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house for a cat. Visitors may also enjoy the company of cats on the premises, including Maine coons and ragdolls.
- National Sporting Library and Museum, Middleburg, Virginia. Horse and dog lovers will appreciate the sporting art on display at this museum devoted to equestrian and field sports. Current exhibits include Picturing English Pastimes: British Sporting Prints at the NSLM and the Chronicle of the Horse in Art. Researcher Elizabeth Tobey says, “Particularly significant are its holdings of early modern books from the 16th through 18th centuries from Europe and Great Britain on horsemanship, hunting, natural history and animal husbandry.”
- International Museum of the Horse, Lexington, Kentucky. They’re not just horsing around at this museum. Its collections include fine and folk art, photographs, tack, trophies, sculptures and horse-drawn vehicles.
“Calumet Farm’s massive collection of historic racing trophies alone is worth the visit to the International Museum of the Horse, and the strong selection of permanent exhibits is bolstered regularly by impressive special exhibitions,” says Glenye Oakford of Lexington, Kentucky, senior editor at The Chronicle of the Horse. “If you’re more into history that’s truly alive, just step outside to the Hall of Champions, where some of the racing and show world’s heroes, including the wildly popular 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide, greet visitors.”
- National Bird Dog Museum, Grand Junction, Tennessee. Anyone who has ever loved a sporting breed won’t want to miss this bird dog field of dreams. Displays include a sculpture of national champion pointer Elhew’s Snakefoot and sporting dog art, photography and memorabilia.
- Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Museum, Wasilla, Alaska. Housed in a log cabin, the museum’s displays feature trophies, photos and videos of the iconic race commemorating a thousand-mile run to bring life-saving diphtheria serum to disease-stricken Nome in 1925. In summer, take a ride in a cart pulled by sled dogs to get a taste of what is now a National Historic Trail.
- Museum of Hounds and Hunting North America, Leesburg, Virginia. Housed at stately Morven Park, this collection ranges from a hound head sculpture to a colonial-era hunting horn to the hunting diaries of Gen. George S. Patton.
- Newseum, Washington, D.C. Pets make news, too, especially if they live in the White House. An ongoing exhibit, First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets, presents images and stories of presidential pets, including Calvin and Grace Coolidge’s 12 dogs; Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottish terrier Fala — and his press secretary; and Warren G. Harding’s Airedale, Laddie Boy, who had his own chair at cabinet meetings.
An expert’s look inside the search for intelligence in other species
By Kim Campbell Thornton
I recently flew to Mongolia for a 20-day expedition to the Gobi Desert, Hustai National Park and places in between. One of my companions on the 20-hour flight, plus the five days it took to drive to the Gobi from Ulaanbaatar, was ethologist Frans de Waal — not in person, but in the form of his new book, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” Looking at the science regarding the intelligence of apes, corvids (crows and ravens), dogs and more, primatologist de Waal, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, reviews the evidence for animal cognition.
There is plenty of it, but only recently has the idea of animal cognition been taken seriously. In the past, he writes, the dominant schools of thought argued that animals were either “stimulus-response machines out to obtain rewards and avoid punishment,” or “robots genetically endowed with useful instincts.”
De Waal is in favor of a third premise: Intelligence comes in different forms, with animal minds possessing a complexity that has long gone unrecognized. It has been within only the past two decades that researchers became bold enough, or curious enough, to move beyond the idea that animals could not have intentions, emotions or cognition. To credit them with such abilities was considered anthropomorphic, romantic or unscientific (and still is by some). In fact, he writes, the term “animal cognition” was considered an oxymoron until well into the 1980s.
If you live with a dog, cat, bird or other animal, you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, “Of course animals have emotions and intelligence.” And you would be correct. Their cognitive abilities might not be exactly the same as those of humans, but they are similar in any number of ways, or they simply take a different form that allows a particular animal to navigate his world in a way that would be impossible for humans.
While many of de Waal’s examples focus on apes and corvids, dogs don’t go unremarked upon. In Chapter 4, “Talk to Me,” on communication, de Waal discusses the advantages of working with an animal “intentionally bred by our species to get along with us.” Of course, he means the dog.
“Dogs eagerly pay attention to us and need little encouragement to work on the tasks that we present to them,” he writes. “No wonder ‘dognition’ is an up-and-coming field.”
He visits Emory colleague Gregory Berns to see dogs Eli and Callie demonstrate their prowess at sitting still in an MRI machine for brain imaging. Hand signals inform the dogs that a treat is on the way, allowing Berns to visualize activation of their pleasure center.
The prospect of food lights up a dog’s brain in the same way and location that anticipation of a bonus lights up the brain of a hedge fund manager.
De Waal’s book is a fascinating peek into the minds of our fellow beings, whose cognitive abilities may be best described by naturalist Henry Beston: “In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.”
For other new books that address animal intelligence, see Jennifer Ackerman’s “The Genius of Birds”; Jonathan Balcombe’s “What a Fish Knows”; and Bernd Heinrich’s “One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives.”
Keep Pets Safe from Summertime Threats
Just as humans are exposed to certain risks when temperatures rise, hot weather creates the potential for both emergency threats and everyday dangers that can affect pets.
From weather-related emergencies to fleas and ticks that can threaten even the healthiest animals, special care during the summer months is essential to making sure your pets stay safe.
The makers of Adams(tm) Flea & Tick Control have teamed up with Code 3 Associates, a national non-profit that rescues animals during disasters, and their spokesperson, Tony Stewart, to offer these tips to help pet owners steer clear of trouble this summer:
* Never leave a pet in the car, even with the window cracked. In fact, every year hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked cars. Especially during the summer, pet owners should be mindful that temperatures inside a car can increase almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.
* Protect against flea and tick infestations. The summer heat triggers flea and tick outbreaks and products like Adams(tm) Flea & Tick sprays and shampoos help keep pets free from fleas and ticks – and as an added benefit, from 4/1/2016 through 9/30/2016, for each bottle of Adams(tm) shampoo and Adams(tm) spray sold by US retailers $1, up to $150,000, will be donated to Code 3 Associates to help animals in need during times of disaster.
* Provide plenty of water and shade to help protect pets from overheating.
* Save outdoor play time for mornings or evenings when it’s cooler.
* Make a pet disaster kit including water and food for seven days, water and food bowls, leashes and ID collars, a first aid kit, medications, medical records, familiar toys, muzzle, cleaning supplies and a contact card.
* If living in a disaster prone area, designate a family member to be in charge of your pets. Formulate a buddy system with a neighbor or friend who can check and care for your pets if you are out of the area and cannot return.
* Keep current frontal and profile photographs of each of your animals. If an animal has an identifying mark, take a photograph and keep it with you. Use this as positive ID if you need to reclaim a pet who is separated from the family during an emergency.
Learn more about summer pet safety at adamspetcare.com
(boy holding water bowl for dog)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Food truck for Fido in Seattle
• The food truck craze has gone to the dogs. The Seattle Barkery, owned and operated by Ben and Dawn Ford, rolls out such popular pet treats as air-fried chicken feet and duck neck, bacon “pupcakes,” a canine ice-cream sundae — served in an edible bowl with bacon sprinkles — and a peanut butter and banana bone, to name just a few. Ingredients are, of course, human-grade and frequently organic. Humans can order their own separate treats — and coffee, because this is Seattle — but dogs are the primary customers.
• The leading infectious cause of death in young cats is feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), caused by a virulent feline coronavirus. A vaccine for FIP is available, but it has little to no efficacy and isn’t recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. But a new treatment reported by Kansas State University researchers in the journal PLoS ONE may block the virus from replicating and stop the disease from progressing. The cats in their study recovered fully after treatment with an experimental antiviral. The authors report, “We found that antiviral treatment led to full recovery of cats when treatment was started at a stage of disease that would be otherwise fatal if left untreated.”
• Lucca, a U.S. Marine Corps German shepherd, saved thousands of lives through her patrol work in Afghanistan, where her job was to sniff out explosives. Where she was on the job, no human casualties occurred. But on her final patrol, she discovered a 30-pound bomb. During the search for additional explosive devices, one detonated. Lucca survived, but at the cost of her left front leg. Now she has become the first Marine Corps dog to receive the Dickin Medal, an award for animal bravery in wartime service created in 1943 by animal welfare pioneer Maria Dickin.
— Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker