Friday, 30 January 2009

dog trainer Ian Dunbar

Slavenka has posted a link to an interesting talk by Ian Dunbar on dog training. An article in the San Francisco chronicle compares Dunbar's methods with those of Cesar Milan.

I admire Dunbar and I don't like Milan's creed that dogs are like wolves and need to be dominated. Dogs aren't wolves. Many thousands of years ago they diverged in their evolution and have lived alongside humans since then, adapting to our lifestyle.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

a dog goes out in the mid-day sun

Penny has helped with the garden today and done some sun-baking. All very well, except for the fact that the temperature reached 44°C today. (That's 111°F.)

'Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun,' as the song says.
But I think Penny's not mad, she's just loyal. So every time I ventured out to see how the poor sad plants were coping, or looked around to check there was still water for the birds and insects, she came out too.

The plants had a terrible time and not all the insects made it through the day, either. Here's a lovely beetle that died in the heat.

But this praying mantis made it, because I found it trying to get a drink from the tap - no luck of course, because of water restrictions the tap was off - and brought it inside for the day to sit in a jar on a little wet sponge.

Penny was quite chirpy for most of the day but flaked out on the floor of the kitchen when the power went off (and our cooling went with it). Thank goodness it was only for an hour or so.

Tomorrow is predicted to be equally hot. So once again it will be a restful day for Penny, except for those little excursions to check the garden.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

travel by plane with a dog

Mary left a comment on my post, hotels in Germany that welcome dogs, saying that a friend of hers had seen a dog in the cabin of the plane on a Lufthansa flight. When I checked it out I discovered many airlines allow small pets to travel in the cabin.
Qantas doesn't appear to allow any dogs except registered guide dogs, who must lie near their owner's feet on an absorbent mat. In first or business they lie in front of the seat and in economy the adjacent seat is left empty so the dog can lie on the floor there.
However, sure enough, Lufthansa allows dogs in the cabin. But...the maximum weight, including the carrier, is 8kgs and may be a maximum of 55X40X20cm. What kind of dog would that be? I guess Ms Winnie the pocket beagle could qualify, but Penny sure wouldn't, so I won't be going on any planes with her in the near future.
Of course, she could travel in the hold, but the recent story about the dog who got loose in the hold and grounded a Qantas jet doesn't fill me with confidence. What if it had happened when the plane was in the air?

Monday, 26 January 2009

chicken jerky from China a world-wide danger

Have readers in other countries been warned about chicken jerky from China? I thought it was just an Australian problem but now I've seen a warning on Dog Blog for pet owners in the US, so I thought I would pass it on immediately. Dog Blog reports that the FDA issued a warning IN SEPTEMBER 2007 but does not have the authority to demand a recall.

I'm not going to feed Penny any sort of chicken jerky at all - unless I make it myself!

PS I've just found a chicken jerky recipe with clearer instructions.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

animal lovers help Greek pets in need

When I posted about German animal lovers helping pets in need, I received an interesting comment from Anna Sioki. She gave some great links to animal welfare organisations in Greece.

I've been to Greece many times in the past - when I was a PDO (pre dog owner) I didn't know what I was missing and thought it was important to travel the world to educate myself. Now, of course, I realise I can learn everything I need to know from my dog, and I can't imagine a greater pleasure than walking in the dawn listening to the magpies sing and smelling the dog poo - oops! I meant the mown grass and the eucalypts.

Anyway...back to those days in Greece. I remember the dogs mooching around the ancient sites and the village streets. I sometimes wondered who fed them, but as a non-dog person that's as far as it went. Now, I wonder if a trip overseas would be as relaxing. After all, these days I carry a dog-leash in my handbag so I can whip it out if I find a lost dog. I guess I couldn't do that for the pooches I might see wandering around in other countries.

Anna gave a link to a Greek welfare organisation where the text was in Greek, but there is an English page and a German one, which I guess might indicate these are the two main language groups who visit Greece as tourists.
On the Greek page there is a blog that looks interesting. I wish they would include the widget that translates pages, but maybe that's not so easy for a language in another alphabet. There are plenty of photos of appealing dogs and other pets - in need of a home, presumably. I felt sad to read on the English page that there is still work to be done to educate people that it is better to neuter strays rather than poison them.

The organisation was formed in association with the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF), which is a British organisation that:
provides Greek animal protection societies with project funding, expert assistance, training and practical help, including assistance with neutering campaigns. Over the past twenty years, GAWF has provided more than a million pounds (sterling) towards animal welfare work in Greece.
Amongst a list of eminent patrons of GAWF is Rolf Harris, which of course gives it lots of credibility in an Aussie's eyes!

By the way, you might like to have a look at the GAWF site, just to see the cute little dog-face icon that follows the cursor.

hotels in Germany that welcome dogs

I can't imagine it here in Melbourne - hotels welcoming dogs as paying customers. In Berlin these hotels exist - canine visitors must be accompanied by a human, of course. Here's the site, Gridskipper where I came across this surprising information. Though perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised. I've stayed in Germany a number of times - on two occasions for some months - and I remember I was taken aback to see dogs in restaurants. In fact, seeing I was PDO at the time (pre-dog-ownership) I didn't like the presence of dogs.
Not sure what I think about it now...

I presume Gridskipper has done research. When I clicked on the links for the hotels themselves I didn't find any information about dogs being welcome, but I guess they might not want to actually encourage people to bring dogs!

Monday, 19 January 2009

visiting other dog blogs

I just responded to a visit by Teddy in the US. When I was reading his blog I saw that he made a resolution on Blog Action Day to click on The Hunger Site each day, because sponsors give food to the hungry each time people click. There are some interesting items for sale on that site - though I haven't seen any dog-related ones yet.

And that reminded me of something I read in the Oxfam shop the other day. They are a wonderful charity, in my opinion, and I like the way they help people to help themselves rather than just giving handouts. In a leaflet they say one way we can help the environment is by feeding our dogs dried food because it contains all a dog needs.

I'm not willing to do that. They say dried food is preferable because canned food contains too much water but I think they aren't taking into account the fact that many of us feed dogs food that otherwise wouldn't be used. For instance, I recently bought a pack of turkey wings that were on sale in the supermarket because they were going out of date, and I'm also thinking of Noah and his canine family who eat fish heads.

I must admit that we haven't had much success with fish heads yet!

dogs who think they can sleep in people's beds

One thing we were agreed on when Penny first came to live with us: she wouldn't be allowed in any bedrooms.
Hmmm. Maybe we haven't made that quite clear.

Lucky we've had hot weather lately, because I had to wash the bedding when I arrived home and found...this!

Okay, it's admission time. I didn't make the bed before I went out. I was tuckered out from the long walk in the morning when she swam in the creek and rolled in the dirt to dry herself.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

a dog's dream come true

Penny can't believe her luck! One of the trees in our backyard has turned into a tennisball tree. The balls are a strange color, but she knows they come in different colors and textures, because she's a connoisseur. From the patio it's quite hard to get them, but there are lots to choose from.

If you go down the steps into the yard you can find any number that have been pecked by the birds and thrown on the ground.
They fit nicely in the mouth and they do roll if pushed with a paw.

The frustrating thing is that they must be magical disappearing tennisballs, because every time she looks away from her acquisition, it's as if someone had swooped down and taken it instantly. It must be her humans, but surely they wouldn't begrudge her a few.

And just this evening, when she went out to get another one - not to eat it, mind you, just to have it on her mat - nearly all of them were gone from the tree.

And a note from the humans:
It's our first good crop on this tree, which we've had all of Penny's life. We really wanted to wait till the plums (oops! balls...) ripened on the tree, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. We don't want to take the chance that she will eat them. We've read stories about the danger of those stones in the middle of the fruit. We left a few pecked ones on the tree and on the ground, because we like sharing with the birds - especially our tame female blackbird. I guess we'll have to watch Penny for a day or two.
As for the apricot crop, we think she only walked around with them in her mouth, and it was such a small crop that we were sure none were missing. Well...hopeful.

Next we have the apple tree to deal with. So far she hasn't shown any interest in the windfalls on the ground, thank goodness. Fingers crossed.

Here's a picture of the picked plums, not as ripe as we had hoped.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

a dog with more than one microchip

This is a story about 'a friend of a friend', but despite that it's not an urban myth. My friend's niece had a Staffy that she loved. She had obtained it from the RSPCA as a four-year-old and had it microchipped when she bought it. A year later, on the recent New Year's Eve, as so often happens, it was frightened by the sound of fireworks and ran away.
That's the bad news.

But it was found and taken to a shelter. That's the good news.

However, a scan at the shelter revealed it had more than one microchip. Bad, because the chip revealed that the dog had been sadly missed by a loving family and was not four, but nine years old.

How could she deny the original owners the joy of this reunion? Even though that family acknowledged my friend's niece had bought the dog in good faith? After much soul-searching, she let it go to the rejoicing family.

It's a sad tale, but it has a nice ending. Now she has bought a lovely little golden retriever puppy to fill the gap in her household.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

more information on the KraMar recall of chicken treats

Today I received an email from the Darebin Dogs group about the recall of the KraMar treats suspected of poisoning small dogs. (Darebin Dogs is an email group for people who walk with their dogs in Darebin Parklands. If you are a local dog owner you can contact them at

It contained a link that advises people who've fed these treats- at any time in the past fifteen months - to get the dog's urine tested, because the dog could have kidney damage without showing any symptoms. Scary stuff!

Being a champion worrier I was planning to go to the vet tomorrow, but then I looked at the image on the KraMar site and realised, to my great relief, that I had been using KraMar Chicken Breast Bites and the product recall is for Chicken Breast Strips. Whew!

The Australian Veterinary Association is advising owners not to panic. But it's hard not to, when our beloved companions are endangered in ways that we can't foresee or prevent. I just don't trust the big dog-food companies any more. I'm glad that most of Penny's food is raw human-grade meat from a reliable butcher.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

cloning our pets

I've just read a short story about the cloning of a pet dog.

It's called 'Admiral', and is published in the 2008 edition of The Best American Short Stories. T.C.Boyle wrote it, and it's about a rich couple who want an exact copy of their beloved Afghan, Admiral, after he dies.They realise that just cloning the animal won't produce a creature that is the same, so they attempt to reproduce the environmnet in which the first dog grew up. I won't say any more about it,because it's a great story and you might want to read it. It was originally published in Harper's Magazine.(You can't read the story there unless you subscribe to the magazine.)

As I was reading it, I had the weirdly scary thought that if this story had been published ten years ago it would have been science fiction .

Now we live in a world in which Korean scientists are currently cloning a pit bull terrier.A woman in the US is paying a reported sum of US$150,000 for the procedure.The BBC report says she saved tissue from the dog's ear when it died 18 months ago and that she loved the dog because it saved her life when another dog attacked her and bit off her arm.(Sounds amazing...)

It's to be hoped that if she succeeds she doesn't lose her new pet to the Dangerous Breeds legislation that seems to be sweeping the US.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

deciding how much exercise our dogs need

Penny has just been out with us to the local shops for a short walk. We mostly stuck to the shade as it's a warm - but thankfully not hot - day. We even stretched our stiff middle-aged bodies to bend down and check how hot the pavement was for her paws. Not too hot, I'm pleased to say.

Now the question arises: how guilty should we feel that she probably won't get another, longer walk today? It's always a temptation to say, as long as she gets 'off the property' for some stimulation, that's enough. We often have to weigh her need for exercise against our need to lie around doing nothing in particular. Especially during the summer holidays!

Well, I've just read an informative article about dogs' exercise needs, on a Canadian site called Dog Blog. Some points that struck me were:
  • having a large backyard is no reason to cop-out on walks, because most dogs won't exercise themselves - being a pack animal, they will wait for the leader to signal that it's time to go out hunting;

  • running around chasing a ball in the backyard is not a sufficient cardio workout;

  • the daily walk is a time for your dog to practise attending to you and reading your verbal or physical commands;

  • if you have exercised your dog well, she should want to curl up and have a rest when you get home.

Hmm...that resting thing doesn't really seem to apply to Penny, even when we've been out for two hours...