Saturday, October 16, 2010

More than food and water

We consider ourselves to be very responsible pet guardians and we doubt our dogs lack much, if anything, in terms of health and welfare. But an article I read recently provided a list expanding the definition of "welfare" and we were surprised to find ourselves lacking in a couple of areas.

For instance, we perform weekly physical checks on our dogs, including brushings, nail trims, palpations for lumps and ticks, and ear cleanings. But we don't do "vibe scans." You can do these scans by having your dog lay or stand comfortably in front of you while you hold your hands a few inches above him, high enough to "feel his vibe."

Staying in this "vibe" space, also known as the "energy space," slowly move your hand over your dog's head, down his face, up and down each leg, across his chest and around to the tummy and private areas, under and over the tail, then up and across the back, ending where you started - your dog's head.

The idea behind a "vibe scan" is to look for sensations of pain with your hands and intuition. Note: this won't work on a stranger's dog. You must already know your pet pretty well. Otherwise, the dog could actually block his "energy vibe" if he is not comfortable with you.

If you and your dog have been partners for several years, you can probably do this scan with your eyes closed and still learn what you need to know about his inner welfare. But most people will need to keep their eyes open so they can watch their dog's eyes and demeanor for pain signals rather than relying on intuition and vibe alone.

Either way, these "vibe scans" can be invaluable to checking in with your pet once a week. I'm sure these can be used with most any kind of animal. And they may be inner-species as well because I've actually seen cats perform these scans on their humans!

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Review: Paw Pads™

Reviewing pet products is always fun and often I find a real gem. I consider our family of 6 canines to be good test subjects. Ranging in ages from 2 to 16-1/2, we have a dog for just about any product's purpose out there.

This week I will review Paw-Pads™ Self-Adhesive Traction Pads. These are little stickers shaped like dog paw prints that, once attached to a pet's paw, are supposed to provide the animal with traction on any kind of slippery surface.

The Subject: Sassy, our 15-1/2 year old Border collie, who suffers from mild dementia and a left rear trick knee. We lovingly joke and call her "Aunt Clara," a character from the old show, "Bewitched." Things appear closer than they really are to Sassy and her right leg often goes to the left as her left leg also goes to the left. This sort of activity leaves her unsteady most of the time and flat on her butt on her bad days.

The Preparation: It was amazingly easy to fit Sassy with the Paw-Pads™ . We waited until she was lying down, placed them on her rear paws, pressed on them for a few seconds, and then let her stand. One pad needed redone, but then she was off, walking, walking, which in itself helped attach themselves to her paws.

The results: Sassy didn't seem to mind these as much as the boots we had tried last year. She got around fairly well for a time, but later, while laying down again, she let us check the bottoms of her paws and we found all the pads had fallen off. A set of 8 large full pads is priced at $13. Subsequent sets stayed on less than 1 hour and at that rate, this option could get expensive.

My rating: I'd give the concept of Paw-Pads™ 4 out of 5 stars, but I'd have to lower that to 2 out of 5 stars for practical performance.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pets welcome -
bad humans NOT

The #1 question I get asked as owner of "Is Florida becoming less pet friendly?" My answer: "Yes, I think our lovely state is becoming less pet-friendly, but I don't think it's because people are annoyed with the pets. I think it's because they're annoyed with the humans the animals have to drag along when they go out and about."

Throughout the 9 years I've had online, I've gotten several emails saying things like, "This dog park is filled with dog waste!" Or "This beach no longer allows dogs." Or "This dog park has closed." The reason for these situations has hardly ever been due to lack of money. Most often, it's irresponsible humans causing bad blood among the non-pet crowd.

In Rennes, the capital of the Brittany region in France, officials have installed dog toilets and special dog walk areas - right in the downtown area. They consider this to be an important part of what they call "initiatives to improve the integration of animals into the city and outskirts." Similar projects are sprouting throughout the UK, with great names like "Good Dog Campaigns" and "Poop Scoop Schemes."

A town in Brazil has built toilets for dogs to help stop humans from allowing their pets to use the beach sand as their personal bathroom.

Supposedly, Tallahassee has started a "Responsible Pet Ownership Neighborhood Scheme." I say "supposedly" because I've not been able to find any information about it. That tells me that "scheme" may not be coming along very well.

Why does it seem other countries put these things together better than Americans? I worry that we don't place value on providing public access for people and their pets. I worry about it because, if we don't start taking such initiatives seriously, we might just become one of the least pet-friendly states. And I can tell you, that would be very bad, not only for people and their pets, but for business communities all around the sunshine state.