Friday, January 8, 2016

Why Is My Cat Behaving This Way

Knowing why your cat behaves in certain ways, helps you form a closer bond with your pet.


Cats love to rub their faces against corners, cabinet doors, and your legs. They rub against things because they are leaving their scent on their surroundings. Cats recognize each other through their scent. Rubbing is also a special greeting from your cat.


Purring is the soothing way mother cats talk to their kittens. Cats continue purring as they grow into adulthood as a sign of contentment. When your cat purrs, it means he's happy.


Sometimes your cat will begin kneading your lap when she is sitting on you. The cat spreads her paws which pushes out the claws and digs them into your lap, one paw after the other. Your cat is not trying to hurt you; rather it is a behavior from when she was a kitten. Kittens knead their paws when they are nursing. When the cat is an adult, kneading means she feels safe and warm in your lap just like when she was nursing from her mother.

Spitting up Hairballs

As your cat washes himself, his rough tongue pulls dead fur out of his coat and he swallows some. Most of the hair passes through the stomach as the cat digests but some of it forms a ball in the cat's stomach. When your cat throws up the hairball, it is a good thing but when the hairball passes into the cat's intestines it causes problems. Cats sometimes eat grass which helps them digest the hairball. Often, a hairball blocking the cat's intestine has to be removed with surgery. Brushing your cat every day helps stop hairballs from forming.

Flattened Ears

When your cat holds her ears flattened to her head and her eye pupils are opened wide, it means she is afraid. Crouching down and fast breathing are also signs of fear. When your cat is afraid, she will try to reach high ground, like the top of a refrigerator on top of a closet shelf.

University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine: "Why Does My Cat Do That?"
Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine: "A Hairy Dilemma"

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

White House Pets - Traditional and Unusual Presidents' Pets

Presidents aren't the only ones to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hundreds of pets have also
Coolidges with their two collies.
made the White House their home.

The White House pets have listened in on the nation's secrets, negotiations and the presidents' family matters. The following lists a few of these lucky Presidents' pets.

George Washington

(1789-1797) President Washington owned over thirty dogs. Most of these dogs were used for hunting but he did have his favorites. One of Washington's Staghounds, Vulcan, was allowed in the dining room and grabbed a ham off the dinner table. His other two Staghounds were named Sweet Lips, and Scentwell. Washington's other hounds were named Drunkard, Tipler, Tipsy, and Taster. Blueskin and Nelson were President Washington horses.

Thomas Jefferson

(1801-1809) President Jefferson owned more pets than any other president, thirty-six in all. Some of his most unusual pets included two pet grizzly bear cubs given to him by Zebulon Pike, mockingbirds, lizards, rabbits, a pony, and a badger.

John Quincy Adams

(1825-1829) President John Adams kept a pet alligator in the East Room of the White House. He received the pet alligator from Marquis de Lafayette as a gift.

Andrew Jackson

(1829-1837) President Jackson owned a cursing parrot named Poll. The parrot caused some gaiety at the funeral of Andrew Jackson as it cursed the entire time. It's probably as Andrew Jackson would have wanted it.

Martin Van Buren

(1837-1841) President Van Buren was the proud pet owner of two tiger cubs. The cubs were a gift from the Sultan of Oman, Kabul al-Sayeed.

Franklin Pierce

(1853-1857) Commodore Perry brought two tiny dogs back from his voyage to Japan and presented them as gifts to President Pierce. Pierce kept one of the 'sleeve dogs', as they were known, and offered the other toy dog to his friend, Jefferson Davis. President Pierce carried the tiny dog in his coat pocket.

James Buchanan

(1857-1861) President Buchanan owned a very large Newfoundland. It is told that Lara, the Newfoundland, slept with one eye open to protect the White House. James Buchanan also had an elephant and an eagle.

Abraham Lincoln

(1861-1865) The Lincoln home was always filled with pets. President Lincoln was very fond of cats. He allowed one of his favorite pet cats to sit in a chair next to him during a formal dinner, feeding the cat a gold fork.  

William Seward, the Secretary of State gave Lincoln two kittens as gifts. President Lincoln would speak to the kittens for up to an hour. The kittens gave him great comfort in trying times.

The Lincoln's family dog, Jip, often sat on the president's lap during meals and was allowed to eat from the president's plate.

Tad and Willie, President Lincoln's two sons had two pet goats named Nanny and Nanko. The boys would hitch the goats to kitchen chairs or wheeled carts and have a ride through the White House as the goats pulled them along.

Teddy Roosevelt

(1901-1909) President Roosevelt's pony, Algonquin, was allowed to roam around the White House. The pet pony even rode in the White House elevators.

Other famous pets of Teddy Roosevelt were Eli Yale, the macaw parrot and a bear named, Jonathan Edwards. President Roosevelt had many other pets as well, including: a Bull Terrier, Rat Terrier, Manchester terrier, Saint Bernard, Pekinese, and Chesapeake Bay retriever. There were also cats snakes, guinea pigs, a rat, and a pig named Maude.

Woodrow Wilson

(1912-1921) President Wilson owned an unusual pet. The pet was Old Ike the ram who enjoyed chewing tobacco. He also kept a flock of sheep on the White House lawn to keep the grass trimmed.

President Wilson's more traditional pets were Puffins, the cat, Mountain Boy the Bull Terrier, and Bruce the Greyhound.

Warren Harding

(1921-1923) Laddie Boy, an Airedale terrier was President Harding's dog. The dog had his own special chair to sit in on presidential meetings.

Laddie Boy was more popular in the public eye than the president himself. In fact, the country's newspaper boys raised enough pennies to erect a copper statue of Laddie Boy. The fund raiser was organized by Louis Newman, a member of the Newboys Association. The pennies were melted and sculpted by Bashka Paeff. Laddie Boy's statue can still be seen today in the Smithsonian Institute.

Calvin Coolidge

(1923-1929) Calvin Coolidge once said, "Any man who does not like dogs and want them about, does not deserve to be in the White House." President Coolidge and his wife, Grace, loved animals and kept a large assortment of pets in the White House. The Coolidge's owned a pet raccoon named Rebecca, two kittens named Tige and Blacky. The two cats had custom made collars with the engraved words, The White House, imprinted on them.

Peter Pan was the president's first wired-haired Fox Terrier but the pup did not adjust well to life at the White House. He was replaced by Paul Pry, an Aeirdale, related to President Harding's, Laddie Boy. Many other dogs lived with the Coolidges. One of the dogs, a Chow, was named Tiny Tim but dubbed Terrible Tim because of his bad behavior.

The two most well known of President Coolidge's dogs were the Collies, Prudence Prim and Rob Roy. Rob Roy was Calvin Coolidge's favorite dog and he wrote of the dog in his biography, "He was a stately companion of great courage and fidelity."

President Coolidge also owned a raccoon named Rebecca that he walked on a leash and Billy, the pygmy hippo.

Franklin Roosevelt

(1933-1945) President Roosevelt owned a Scottish Terrier named "Murray the Outlaw of Falahill". The little terrier was most commonly known as, Fala. The dog accompanied Roosevelt wherever he went, including his meeting with Winston Churchill to sign the Atlantic Charter. This historic event took place on the USS Augusta in 1941.

John Kennedy

(1961-1963) President Kennedy owned an unusual pet white rabbit named Zsa Zsa who enjoyed playing a toy trumpet. The Kennedy family also owned a pony named Macaroni. Little Caroline Kennedy was often seen riding Macaroni on the White House grounds.

Nikita Chrushchev, the Soviet Leader, gave President Kennedy a white Husky. The Husky's name was Pushinka and it accidentally mated with Kennedy's Welsh Terrier, Charlie. President Kennedy called the puppies, 'Pupniks'

Lyndon Johnson

(1963-1969) Loki, was the little, three-legged dog of President Johnson. His daughter, Lucy, found the little white dog at a gas station, abandoned and scared. She brought him home to the White House. She later said that Loki brought her father loyalty and love.

Gerald Ford

(1974-1977) President Ford was very close to his Golden Retriever, Liberty. So close, in fact, that when the dog was locked outside one night, President Ford went outside to look for him. He locked himself out of the White House too and had to bang on a window to be let back in.

Ronald Reagan

(1981-1989) President Reagan owned a Bouvier des Flandres named Lucky. This breed is similar to an English Sheepdog. The president had a luxurious dog house built for the dog by Theo Hayes. She was married to the great grandson of Rutherford Hayes.

George H. W. Bush

(1981-1989) President Bush and his wife, First Lady Barbara owned a Springer Spaniel named Millie. Millie was loved by Americans and given the name of "First Pet". The pet Springer Spaniel made the front page of the nation's newspapers when she gave birth to a litter of pups while living in the White House.

William Clinton

(1993-2001) President Clinton was the proud owner of Socks, the cat and a Chocolate Lab named Buddy. Buddy died in 2002. Socks the cat actually belonged to Chelsea, the President's daughter. Both Bill Clinton and Hillary were allergic to Socks.

George W. Bush

(2001-1009) President Bush and Mrs. Bush owned two dogs. Both were Scottish Terriers, one named Barney, and the other, Miss Beazley. They also owned a Springer Spaniel named Spotty who died at fifteen years old in 2004. The president's dogs were often seen in photographs with him as he went about his presidential duties.

Barack Obama

(2009-present) President Obama and his family got a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo, shortly after moving to the White House. People across the nation speculated at what type of dog the Obama family would choose. Bo was a gift from the late, Senator Edward Kennedy who owned three porties of his own.


Annabel Wildrick, Do presidents need pets?, Appleseeds, Sept 2008 v11 i1 p22
Mo Rocca, All The President's Pets.
Abraham Lincoln Loved Animals, Appleseeds, Jan 2009
Alice Furlaud, Presidential Pets Past, Weekend Edition Saturday, Dec 6, 2008

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pet Alpacas for Fun and Profit

Looking for an Unusual Pet - Think Alpacas

History of Alapacas

Alpacas originated over three million years ago. They  belong to the camel family (camelids) and were native to central North America. During the Ice Age, they migrated south, never to be seen in North America again, at least not in the wild.

As time went on, the original camelid transformed into the vicuna and guanaco, roaming the wilds of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. People living in these areas domesticated the vicuna, breeding them  for their soft, insulated coats. The vicuna eventually became today's alpacas.

Alpaca Personality and Size

Alpacas make wonderful pets because of their gentle, easygoing nature. They are very cooperative and submissive, making them ideal as a family pet. Alpacas love to be around the family members and become attached to them. They never spit at people unless they are teased but will spit at other alpacas.

Alpacas communicate by moving their ears and tails into different positions. Alpaca owners soon learn what the different positions mean. Alpacas also hum and make a shrill scream if they are frightened.

Adult alpacas are usually three feet tall to the shoulder or four and a half feet to the top of the head. They weigh about 16 pounds when they are born and grow to approximately 150 to 175 pounds as adults.

Training Alpacas

Alpacas are smart animals making them easy to train. Repeating a behavior four of five times is all the alpaca needs to learn the desired skill. Training an alpaca is very similar to training a dog. They learn how to walk with a lead and halter, get into a vehicle. Alpacas are able to ride in a station wagon or minivan.

Feeding Alpacas

Feeding alpacas is much cheaper than feeding most pets. They have three stomach compartments, just like sheep and cattle, chewing their cud. Alpacas require only two or three bales of hay every month. A veterinarian may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements for pet alpacas.

Best Climates for Alpacas

Pet alpacas thrive in almost any climate. When the weather is very hot, alpacas should be sheared and placed in a shady area with water sprinklers. Alpacas also do very well in cold weather but must be kept in a barn that is closed to winter weather conditions. For all other weather conditions, pet alpacas only need a three-sided shelter.

Alpaca Fleece

Pet alpacas are not only fun but are profitable, as well. It's soft, dense fleece is used for making yarn, fabric, and even stuffed animals. Raising alpacas for fleece or breeding is an expensive venture but can be profitable over time. A small herd is needed for both breeding and shearing, so most alpaca owners stick to owning one or two as pets.

Alpaca Cost

The cost of alpacas depends upon their qualities and if they are being raised for fleece, breeding, or stud. A gelded alpaca male can cost as little as $500.00, while a female used for breeding can cost as much as $20,000.00.

Pet alpacas usually range from $500.00 to $1500.00. Research many different alpaca farms before purchasing your pet to find the best price for your budget.

Phil Switzer, Switzer Land Farm, "Alpacas: Just the Facts"
Rock Ridge Alpacas

Photo Credit: By Kyle Flood from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (Alpaca) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Your First Dog Agility Trial: What to Expect

So, you and your dog have been training for months or even years for your first agility trial. You feel you are ready for the competition ring and just thinking about it gives you butterflies in your stomach. Your first agility
trial can be nerve-wracking but understanding what happens at the trial helps alleviate some of your fears. Try not to be concerned with earning Q's your first time out and stay lighthearted to prevent your dog from getting anxious.

Waiting Area

Waiting between agility events is harder than competing because you and your dog have time to stress over the situation. Having a comfortable waiting area will keep your dog comfortable and help you remain calm. Bring a crate for your dog to rest in between events and a chair for you. A crate cover works wonders if your dog becomes nervous from all the sights and sounds of other dogs and cheering crowds. The cover gives your dog his own safe area, making him feel grounded and secure. Your dog can stay in the crate while you observe other competitors or volunteer to help with the events.

Judge's Explanation

Before you begin your first agility event, all the competitors gather at the ring to hear the judge's explanation of the rules about scoring, handler behavior and dog behavior. You can ask any questions you might have about the run at this time.

Walk the Course

Take advantage of the time allotted for walking the course. The more familiar you are with the course layout, the less anxious you will be during your run. As you walk the course, figure out which obstacles require a front-cross or a rear-cross, so you do not find yourself on the wrong side of your dog during the run. Look for patterns in the course layout to help your remember the order of the run. Although the agility obstacles are numbered, it is difficult to watch for the numbers and watch your dog at the same time, so following patterns can help.

Agility Run

Agility rules require your dog to run the course without a collar or a leash. A leash runner takes your dog's leash and collar at the start line and hands it back to you when as you cross the finish line.
The event timer begins as soon as your dog crosses the first obstacle, so take your time settling your dog before starting the run. Once your dog crosses the first obstacle, there is no turning back and restarting.
Stay positive during your run, smile at your dog and use an upbeat voice. Keep your dog happy, no matter if he knocks off a jump bar or misses an obstacle. The main thing is to keep your dog's first agility trial fun. A dog that has a negative experience the first time around is less likely to perform any better the next time.

Finish Line

Once you cross the finish line, put your dog's collar and leash back on. Immediately go to your dog's treats and give him a jackpot. Agility trials strengthen the bond between you and your dog. It doesn't matter if your dog qualified, as long as you worked as a team and had fun.


North American Dog Agility Council
Steve Schwarz, "Learning Front Cross," Agility Nerd

Friday, June 20, 2014

Top 5 Pet Pinterest Boards to Follow

Here are five of the top pet Pinterest boards to follow for animal lovers. Four of them involve how to take care of your pets and the fifth one has some great photos of kittens and cats. Check them out for some great information on pet adoption, care and health tips. 

This pet adoption board will pull at your heart strings, that’s for sure. When I check this board, I want to adopt all of the animals but, alas, I can’t do that. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat or a dog, check out the Pet Adopt and Rescue board on Pinterest and you could save an animal’s life. 

Also, if you’re trying to find a home for a pet you can’t keep, you can post a photo and information about him on this board and maybe a kind-hearted soul will adopt him.

This is a pet care Pinterest board sponsored by the ASPCA. It is loaded with pet care tips to help keep your pet safe, healthy and happy. You can find homemade dog treat recipes, healthcare information, how pets communicate and so much more. Check out the ASPCA Pet Care Tips board and find out everything you need to know about owning a pet.

This pet Pinterest board is sponsored by Petplan Pet Insurance and features some great information about pet health and care. An example of the pins on Pet Health Tips include games you can play with your dog, common puppy illnesses, soothing stressed dogs and traveling with pets.

Pet MD  

PetMD, an expert resource for the health and care of pets, sponsors this Pinterest pet care board. You can find information on adopting pets, behavior and training, veterinarian advice, pictures of cute animals and so much more. The PetMD pins include advice on fish care, cats, dogs, horses, turtles and exotic pets.

This cat Pinterest board is strictly for high-quality photos of all types of domestic cats. So, if you just want to browse through some funny and adorable cat images, check out the pins at Puuurfect Cats. The board only accepts friendly comments and has some of the best cat photos for all you cat lovers out there.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Homemade Insect Repellents for Pets and People

Sunny skies and warm weather compel us to get outside with our dogs and romp in the grass or go for nature hikes in the woods. Unfortunately, all the biting insects, and blood sucking ticks, fleas and mosquitoes have the same idea. You don’t have to change your plans about enjoying the good weather if you prepare before you head out the door with your pet.

It’s not healthy to use bug repellents that contain DEET on your dog, but there are some non-toxic alternatives made with natural ingredients that can keep those nasty bugs off your dog. The following tips for using natural bug repellents can help repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

HomemadeNatural Bug Repellent

Lemon and Herb Spray - You can use this natural bug repellent for both yourself and your pet. Take a lemon and cut it into one-quarter inch slices.  Place the lemon slices into a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Add 3 or 4 mint leaves or one-quarter teaspoon of mint extract, along with one tablespoon fresh thyme or one teaspoon of dried thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the lemon mixture to sit in the water until cooled or overnight. Pour the water through a strainer and into a spray bottle. Now, you’re ready to go. Spray the lemon-water mixture on your dog’s coat but avoid getting it in his eyes. The citric acid from the lemon will sting.

Vinegar Spray – This insect repellent doesn’t smell the greatest but it is effective in keeping the bugs away from you and your dog. Mix together one cup of apple cider vinegar, ½ cup water, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp baking soda. Stir it gently until blended and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar mixture on your dog’s fur, avoiding contact with his eyes.

Natural Flea and Tick Control

Washing your dog with this natural flea and tick shampoo will kill any fleas and ticks on your dog. To control fleas and ticks, was your dog with this mixture weekly. It does not work like chemical flea and tick preventatives that you only need to apply monthly. It may take more effort on your part than just applying a tube of flea medication but at least, you are not apply harsh chemicals to your dog’s skin.

Here are the supplies you need to make homemade flea and tick shampoo:

One-quarter cup dish soap (I use Dawn but I don’t think it makes any difference which brand you use). One-quarter cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup water. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a squirt bottle. Shampoo your dog with the mixture, making sure to saturate the fur and skin, especially under the chin, legs and around the ears where fleas like to congregate. Let the mixture stay on your dog for about five minutes, the longer the better. Thoroughly rinse all the shampoo out of your dog’s fur. Brush out the fur to remove any dead fleas or ticks. Using this formula regularly can help prevent fleas on your dog and in your home.

If you come across any tough ticks that are still embedded in your dog’s skin, follow these instructions for removing ticks.

Even when using these homemade flea and tick repellents, make sure you have a veterinarian perform a blood test on your dog every year to check for Lyme Disease caused by deer ticks and heartworm from mosquito bites.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cocoa Mulch Is Extremely Toxic to Dogs

Roasted Cocoa Beans
When you’re planning your flowerbeds and landscaping this season, carefully consider the type of mulch you spread in the garden. If you have a dog, avoid using cocoa mulch, which is becoming a popular choice for

Smells Good and Tastes Great to Dogs

Cocoa mulch is extremely toxic for dogs because the sweet smell attracts them and it actually tastes great to dogs. If an unsupervised dog gets into cocoa mulch and eats a large quantity, it could result in severe illness or death. The chemical theobromine in the cocoa mulch is the same chemical as the one in chocolate bars and makes it dangerous when dogs ingest it. Most home and garden stores sell cocoa mulch, which is made from roasted cocoa bean shells.

Cocoa Mulch Symptoms

How severe your dog's symptoms are when eating cocoa mulch depends on how much he weighs and the amount he ingests. According to Kansas State University veterinarian, Dr. Susan Mulch, if your dog weighs 20 pounds, eating only an ounce of cocoa mulch can cause adverse symptoms and 1.5 ounces can have severe symptoms such as:
  • vomiting
  • racing heart
  • diarrhea
  • muscle spasms
  • seizures
  • death

If your dog eats cocoa mulch, call your veterinarian immediately. If it’s been less than two hours since ingesting the cocoa mulch, the vet can induce vomiting. Anti-seizure drugs are also used for dogs having seizures from eating cocoa mulch. The digestive problems caused by eating the mulch can result in dehydration and your dog will be placed in intensive care for treatment.

Although cocoa mulch smells wonderful and looks great, it is better to stick with traditional mulches for your garden, like shredded hardwoods and compost. 

Image Credit: Creative Commons By Chocolaterie-nestlé-broc-fèves-cacao-torrefiées