Why dog grooming is important

We all love our furry friends, but sometimes pet grooming, to many of us, seems to be not so tempting, especially for dogs as they are super playful and never sit still for a grooming time. In fact, while we underestimate the benefits of grooming, or sometimes we even misunderstand that grooming is just giving your dogs few swipes of brush, dog grooming is substantially important to the pets’ health and happiness; and yes, dog grooming includes taking care of your dog’s various body parts such as nails, teeth, skin, eyes, and coat.

Dog grooming benefits both the pets and owners in several ways. First of all, the most well-known benefit is that dog grooming improves your dog’s appearance. Grooming helps to remove dirt and maintains natural cleanliness for your dog. For example, brushing not only removes dirt and dead hair, but also removes dandruff. Additionally, natural oils in dog’s fur are secreted while being regularly brushed. These natural oils then spread all over the fur and give the coat a healthy sheen. Moreover, a clean and well-groomed dog is more attractive. Now you may think that being attractive for a dog should not be so essential at all, but it does actually have a psychological effect on your dog. As more people will be more likely to interact with a clean dog, your dog, in fact, will have more opportunities to socialize. Thus, dog grooming improves not only your dog’s physical health and appearance but also his or her mental health. More article about how to take care of your dog on crittersitca.com

Benefit From Dog Grooming

To continue with the cleanliness, your dogs are not the only ones who benefit from dog grooming. You, as a house owner, will also greatly benefit from grooming. When being regularly brushed and groomed, your dog will less likely to leave hair and dirt in your home, especially your furnitures such as sofas, beds, curtains, and so on. Hence, you can eliminate more allergens derived from your pets in your home. Now if you have a visitor coming and he or she is prone to allergies, although grooming cannot help to remove perfectly hair and dander that act as allergens, at least grooming helps to make your home a safer place for your visitor.

Next, dog grooming can also act as a health check for your dog. The time you brush or comb your dog is the best time to identify any abnormal bumps or lumps on his skin. The same concept applies to other body parts such as teeth or nails. During dog grooming, you can also also find out any bleeding wound or bad breath that indicate a health problem. Regular grooming is one of the best ways to discover potential health issues in a timely manner so you can bring your dog to the veterinarian for further help before these health issues start to worsen.

So now you may have gained a better understanding on how dog grooming is tremendously essential. Let’s talk about how you can effectively groom your dog so that you can save your time and effort. There are various pet care services that offer professional grooming services for your pets. However, the cost could be not so affordable for regular visits. Hence, another highly recommended option is DIY grooming at home with supporting tools and equipment. Few tools you can get for dog grooming at home are a dog clipper for grooming hair, a nail clipper, brushes, and so on. With some proper research, you can get these tools at a very affordable price.

Start Grooming Your Dog

After having the tools on hand, you can start grooming your dog. Don’t forget to take care of other body parts besides brushing the coat. For example, cleaning the ears is important as well. They should be clean and odor-free. While cleaning the ears, you should also check for infections and parasites by identifying red spots, unpleasant odor, or other signs. After the ears, you can move on to the eyes. Your dog’s eyes should be bright and clear. Any hair obstructing your dog’s eyesight should be trimmed or removed. Then, when it comes to the nails, trimming the pet’s nails is one of the most basics. Your dog’s nails may get sharp if not being trimmed regularly, and sharp nails can highly increase the risk of injury for you and your dog. Therefore, even though you may not have time for full-body grooming, do trim your dog’s nails once in a while to make sure your pet would not hurt himself with his nails. Last but not least, you should also check their teeth for any bad breath or gum diseases. As dog grooming allows you to do a mostly comprehensive check of your dog’s overall health, you should do grooming often so that you can discover immediately any abnormalities and cure them in time.

In short, dog grooming is not necessarily a painful chore. It is understandable that it may be difficult at first to train your dog to stay still for grooming, but once you get used to it, the benefits you get for you and your dogs are priceless. After all, dog grooming is just an occasion to enjoy a good time with your furry friend while keeping him in a good shape. So why not?


“Cat won’t drag you out into blizzard just to piddle on a tree” says Garfield. Despite the feline and the canine torment of the comic strip, we all know Garfield genuinely loves Odie, an experience both sweet and comical, and one that many of us who live with both cats and dogs may observe. After having lived and breathed Garfield for 28 years, Jim Davis says we need to be serious about living life in good humor. Today, Garfield the comic strip appears in nearly 2,600 newspapers around the globe, its readership is estimated at 260 million and currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip. Garfield’s second movie is in theaters this summer. Surely, the movie will do exactly what it sets out to do: entertain kids and everyone else with a fondness for animals!

HOUSEPET: Hello Mr. Davis. It’s a pleasure to welcome you to Housepetmagazine.com. Of course, our first question is: Do you have any house pets? If so, can you tell us about them?

DAVIS: I have two dogs and a cat. Molly is a chocolate lab — very sweet but getting older and arthritic. She enjoys being outdoors and taking an occasional dip in the pond. Pooky is more of a pampered indoors lapdog — a little white fluffy Yorkie. I also have a cat…Spunky. She spends most of her time in the greenhouse in my studio. In the winter, her name changes to “Chunky”. She’s an American Shorthair.

HOUSEPET: Any advice for all the sweet dogs out there who must live with cats in the same house?

DAVIS: Lay low and stay out of the cat food.

HOUSEPET: Have you ever come across a dog in your life who is as cynical and lazy as Garfield is?

DAVIS: Never. Dogs live for acceptance and love — cats could care less. If a dog sees a squirrel or rabbit, he’s off like a shot. Cats tend to weigh the energy expenditure they’ll have to make before they make a move.

HOUSEPET: I live with a cat and a dog too. Sometimes I think I am being mistreated just like John Arbuckle. What are the first signs that people should see before it goes too far?

DAVIS: It’s gone too far when your cat controls the remote control.

HOUSEPET: Mark (age 29) “My cat tries to stand on his rear legs too. Should I encourage that? I am afraid.” –

DAVIS: Weird. I’d say you have a rather talented cat — or at least a highly evolved cat. I’m no vet, so I can’t answer whether or not you should encourage it — if it were me, I’d not only encourage it, but I’d try to teach the cat to tango.

HOUSEPET: From Kutan (age 30) ” Mr. Davis, my cat wakes me up at 5:30 am every morning to be fed. Does John Arbuckle have a trick that I can use to stop this torture? 

DAVIS: Get a new cat. Seriously, you may have to just refuse to budge — show your cat who’s boss. Yeah, right.

HOUSEPET: From Alice (age 20) “Has John ever taken Odie to an animal communicator?”

DAVIS: No, Odie communicates everything he needs to with his tail and his tongue. It would be rather interesting though if an animal communicator discovered Odie had a high IQ and spent time thinking about molecular science.

HOUSEPET: Odie is a good boy. He seems very well trained. Almost flawless. He seems good off the leash, responds well to John’s callings, never destroys furniture. How come he’s so well trained?

DAVIS: Odie was originally owned by Jon’s college roommate Lyman, who did a great job of training Odie. Maybe Odie is trying to make up for all of Garfield’s shortcomings — if that’s the case, no wonder he’s an angel.

HOUSEPET: Will John ever pamper Odie with today’s ever changing dog fashion: massage therapy, spa treatments, couture clothing and gourmet food? How would Garfield react to that?

DAVIS: Garfield’s the only pet in the house allowed to have a Gucci scratching post. Jon Arbuckle is a pretty simple guy … I don’t think he’d go in for all that — but if he did, there’d be big, big, trouble. And by the way, if you do all that for your dog, in my next life I’d like to come back as your pet.

HOUSEPET: Can you tell us about Professor Garfield Foundation?

DAVIS: The Professor Garfield Foundation learning portal (www.professorgarfield.org) is a fun interactive online environment where children can safely explore, learn and creatively express themselves. The Foundation (PGF) was formed in 2003 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization to provide children, parents, and teachers an opportunity to enhance and support classroom learning in new and innovative ways.

The PGF Learning Portal is a partnership between Paws, Inc., the world headquarters of Garfield the Cat, and Ball State University, one of the preeminent educators of classroom teachers in the world.

PGF offers fun, engaging and transforming educational content for school children between kindergarten and 8th grade. The educational content is upgraded continuously and presented in a popular culture entertainment format. All of the content has been reviewed by educational experts and tested in classroom settings.

HOUSEPET: What are Garfield’s future plans? And, of course, Odie’s?

DAVIS: Garfield has a new movie coming out on June 16th, Garfield’s A Tail of Two Kitties. He’s also working on some direct-to-video projects and has a bunch on new video games on the market. For a lazy cat, he’s a busy fellow — so I expect he’ll squeeze in a 5 1/2 week-long nap sometime soon, and then probably devour a lasagna the size of Rhode Island. Odie will continue to drool, chase his tail, and put up with Garfield. Thanks for your fun questions! And best of luck to all you pet owners out there!

Thank you Jim Davis for making the time to speak with us here at Housepet!


It is easy for owners to jump to the wrong conclusion and think “cancer” whenever their pets become ill. While the frequency of cancer in pets does seem to be increasing, most ill pets do not have cancer! However, any time a pet has an illness that does not respond well to treatment within four to eight weeks, the possibility of cancer must be considered.

Cancer can mimic signs of other disorders such as kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or urinary tract infections.

Some common physical complaints for which cancer may be suspected, but which are commonly caused by diseases other than cancer, are vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, coughing, sneezing, lumps under and on the skin, and changes in appetite, thirst, and urination.

Gastrointestinal signs: Vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss

Chronic gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss can occur as a result of cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, or cancer anywhere else. However, the most common cause of weight loss, vomiting, or diarrhea that persists for more than one month is usually inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is rarely caused by gastrointestinal cancer and most often caused by an infiltration of white blood cells into the pet’s intestines. Very rarely, an infection (usually fungal) of the intestines can cause IBD. early diagnosis and treatment of IBD is very important because chronic inflammation can progress to cancer. Chronic vomiting, weight loss, or diarrhea should be investigated by endoscopic examination (examining the intestinal tract with an endoscope while the pet is anesthetized) and biopsy of the intestines to determine the exact cause. A hormonal disease affecting the adrenal glands called Addison’s disease can also cause chronic gastrointestinal signs, especially intermittent vomiting, and should be considered as a possible cause.

Respiratory signs: Coughing and Sneezing

Acute coughing is usually the result of allergies or an infection, such as the infection that causes kennel cough. Chronic coughing can also result from hear disease, heartworm infection, lung infections (usually fungal if the problem is chronic), and chronic irreversible bronchial disease (which is especially common in small breed older dogs), but rarely lung cancer. Unlike in people, primary lung cancer is rare in dogs. WHen cancer of the lungs occurs, it is usually the result of metastatic disease after a cancer somewhere else in the body spreads to the lungs. Sneezing is usually the result of allergies or a respiratory infection. Cancer should be suspected if the pet has a nasal discharge that is confined to one side of the nasal cavity and if the discharge contains blood. Dogs with longer noses, usually characteristic of large breeds, are more prone to nasal and sinus cancer than other breeds.

Lumps and Bumps

As discussed in the previous chapter, there are many forms of cancer that can appear on an animal’s skin. Fortunately, most lumps and bumps (technically referred to as nodules or tumors) are benign fatty tumors or epidermal cysts. However, these lumps and bumps are sometimes cancerous tumors, including mast cell tumors or connective tissue tumors such as fibrosarcomas. Dogs with multiple lumps on their bodies that appear suddenly may be afflicted with a type of cancer called lymphosarcoma, also referred to as lymphoma. These lumps usually occur in areas where the lymph nodes are located, such as under the jaw, in the armpits, in the groin, and in front of the shoulder blades. Owners should also keep in mind that any lumps and bumps that appear, then decrease in size or even disappear, and finally reappear and enlarge are more likely to be cancer (often lymphoma) than benign lumps or infectious lesions.

Changes in appetite, thirst, and urination

The most common causes of changes in appetite, thirst, and urination are diseases other than cancer that are commonly diagnosed in older dogs. these include diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, liver disease, bladder infections, urinary incontinence, and bladder stones. these diseases are so commonly diagnosed that I believe all dogs, but especially those five years of age and older, should be checked at least twice yearly with simple blood and urine tests, in addition to a thorough physical examination, to ensure early diagnosis and treatment of these conditions; most pets with these conditions can live comfortably by using a holistic approach treatment.

Abnormalities in blood or urine tests

Unlike in people, leukemias and blood cancers are very rare in pets. Most commonly, changes in the red or white blood cell counts occur as a result of anemia (often secondary to any chronic disease), infection, or inflammation somewhere in the body. When the counts for several different cell types(red cells, white cells, and platelets) increase or decrease on the complete blood count, a bone marrow aspirate should be performed to investigate if cancer may be the cause.

While a blood test will not usually tell if a pet has cancer, elevated calcium levels are often seen in pets with cancers such as lymphoma or anal sac cancer (adenocarcinoma). Pets with high calcium levels must be carefully examined for cancer if no other cause of the elevated calcium is apparent from the pet’s medical history and physical examination. One cause of elevated calcium is Vitamin-D rodenticide poison.

Recently, a tumor antigen test (V-BTA) became available that purported to help screen for TCC in its early stages. Unfortunately, blood in the urine causes false positives in this test, and because bloody urine is the chief symptom in TCC, the test is not felt to be useful at this time.

I remind pet owners not to suspect cancer everytime a pet becomes ill. having a pet examined early in the course of any illness will usually allow for a prompt diagnosis and the correct treatment. In the unfortunate event that some type of cancer is in fact responsible for the pet’s illness, early diagnosis ensures quick intervention, which can extend the pet’s life and, in some cases, totally cure the pet of cancer.

Clinical signs that might indicate cancer in dogs
  • Lumps and bumps (especially new ones; those that grow quickly; those that appear, decrease in size or disappear, and then reappear or enlarge; and those that change color or easily bleed)
  • Skin sores and irritated areas
  • Skin sores and irritated areas
  • Red spots on the skin, gums, or mucous membranes
  • Wounds that do not heal
  • weight loss or gain
  • lack of appetite or decreased appetite
  • Abdominal enlargement (potbellied appearance)
  • Weakness or exercise intolerance
  • Excessive panting or heavy breathing
  • Collapse
  • Pale gums or mucous membranes
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or chronic discharge from wounds or any body orifice
  • Change in bowel habits (chronic diarrhea, vomiting, or both)
  • Change in urinary habits (blood in the urine or urinary incontinence)

NOTE: While cancer can cause these signs, so can many diseases. (Consult your veterinarian for more information)

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Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M., is a holistic veterinarian and nationally recognized expert on integrative medicine for animals. A graduate of Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine, he has served as Editor-In-Chief of DVM Management Consultant Reports as well as The Practical Veterinarian Series. His holistic medicine columns have appeared in such journals as MSLO’s own, The Dallas Morning News, Veterinary Forum, Alternative Medicine, Animal Wellness, Pet Business Magazine, Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy, and Cats Magazine. Martha Stewart Omnimedia (MSO) has selected Dr. Shawn Messonnier as the pet care expert for her new radio network. The Natural Vet show airs live each Tuesday at 7 PM CST on Martha Stewart Radio Sirius channel 112.

Dr. Shawn is the author of several books, including the award-winning Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats, The Allergy Solution for Dogs and The Arthritis Solution for Dogs. He owns the Paws & Claws Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas. You can find out more about Shawn Messonier by logging on to his website: www.petcarenaturally.com

SAFE AT HOME: What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know

By Becky Schultz, CABC, CDBC

Editor’s note: The below article is reprinted with permission from the author and The Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Although the article is intended and written for professional dog trainers, I found it informative for all dog owners to read. Please consult a trainer or contact the association for further information.

Corky the Yorkie lived across the street from me a few years ago, and his story is short but important. He was purchased from a farm by a busy family with small children that probably should have had a stuffed dog instead of a puppy. Their first complaint was that he was probably going to end up being “too big”, and they had really wanted a dog under five pounds. Then the puppy of course jumped up and did some puppy biting with the kids, so they tied him out. He was left unsupervised on the tie-out by the owners, and neighbor kids soon began to entertain themselves by teasing him. My repeated chats with the owners included offers to help train or re-home the dog, but they weren’t interested. When Corky began lunging and snapping at the neighborhood kids, I accurately predicted a bite. For Corky, the story was short, because a few months later he was found dead at the end of his tie-out. They didn’t do an autopsy, but the owner shook her head sadly, and said it was “probably a brain tumor or something, because that dog has always been crazy.”

As a shelter trainer, I’ve certainly been warped by what I’ve seen and heard at work. Every day we see cases of neglect and abuse that would curl your hair and confirm your worst suspicions about humanity’s inhumanity to our most vulnerable companions. Mostly what really impacts me is that, after 12,000 or more years sharing our lives with canines, most people still don’t seem to know very much about them, and frequently this ignorance contributes to dogs ending up in shelters. In a society in which half of all first marriages end in divorce, it shouldn’t surprise us that the surrender rate in puppies is often about the same. Some of the surrender studies have suggested that 10-15% of the pet population ends up in a shelter in any given year, and it’s estimated that veterinarians lose a similar percentage of their practice to behavior-related problems each year. Working as a shelter trainer has given me an inside view of all these issues and changed the way I train dogs forever.

Considering how long we have been co-existing with canines, it’s amazing how much we don’t know as a culture. The average person struggles with the basics, including teaching their pet where to eliminate, what to chew, and how to behave in the house. When there’s a real problem, people rarely use their veterinarian as the intended first-line resource or consult a trainer.

Virtually none of the dogs surrendered to shelters have received any type of formal training, so these are animals that aren’t getting to us as trainers. Either people don’t know we’re here as a resource, or they don’t see what we offer as relevant or salient to their situation. Perhaps we’re not offering what they want? Although pet dog training has shifted the focus away from teaching pretty but useless pre-competition skills like square corners and swing finishes, perhaps we should be teaching other things in addition to the basics of Sit, Down, Stay, and Come. Here’s my list of what every pet owner needs to know and what we can teach them. For every student who comes to classes, there are 4-5 other dog or puppy owners who do not come to class. Our students become their neighborhood and family experts on pet care and training, so we must teach them well.

Pet Selection: This is entirely an education piece and it’s hard to do, because we all know that puppy breath turns your brains to mush! Everyone who ever had a dog (which means they had one when growing up and Mom took care of it) believes they’re an expert, but even people who are trying to do the right thing find themselves unsure about how to get good information. The shelter staff person who talked her 90-year old relative into adopting her foster coonhound puppy, the shelter person who wouldn’t allow a family with small kids to adopt an adolescent Lab because it “might knock them down”, and the breeder who convinced an older couple that their “temple guarding” breed would be great with visiting young grandkids are all guilty of giving out questionable information to people who trusted them.

A prospective puppy buyer may want to work with a breeder, but doesn’t know that puppy-millers also call themselves “breeders” and that there’s a world of difference. They think that “farm-raised” is a plus, and that having someone meet them halfway (for cash) is a nice convenience. The English Bulldog puppy buyer with her heart full of excitement was stunned to find out that the puppy she had bought on the Internet was not a female as promised, but a completely different dog. She was overcome by puppy breath and purchased the male puppy brought to her instead, and months later is still waiting for her AKC papers that will never come. Offers of free pet selection consultation and Pet Parenting classes are a start, but they are notoriously poorly-attended and will reach the people who would do their homework anyway. Pet Fairs or a “Parade of Breeds” event can bring people in for a fun event that can be informative as well as fun. We need to educate ourselves past our own breed prejudices and preferences and look at matching people with a pet that will work for their particular household.

Management: The first thing new pet owners need to know is how to “batten down the hatches” and to use good management tools and practices while they get the training under way. Good management preserves the house and the relationship with a pet, and it does not come naturally to most pet owners. Dog professionals puppy-proof the house and use tools like baby gates, indoor draglines, crates, or exercise pens to save our sanity. But we need to get the message to the pet owners that these are great tools for them, too. Gentle Leaders are wonderful tools to help prevent puppies from learning to pull, to address puppy biting, and to interrupt barking behavior, and in our program, we put them on puppies as young as 8 weeks. The puppy study that was published in JAVMA, “Evaluation of association between retention in the home and attendance at puppy socialization classes”, showed a 94.2% correlation (p value of 0.008) with Gentle Leader use and retention in the home, so we really encourage their use, especially with our puppy owners. Our students hear us chant our mantra, “Never let them practice it wrong—because they get really good at it.

Another critical management issue is the expectation that in our urban and suburban lives we can safely have our dogs off leash and they’ll be okay. Puppy owners are always shocked when their sweet little puppy stops following them around and takes off to explore the world at about five months of age, and we explain to them that the puppy’s eyesight has improved and they are developmentally ready to see more of the world than a younger puppy. They must be ready for this and make sure the puppy is not running loose in a non-secure area. We need to teach them how to systematically teach a recall to their pet, rather than seeing this a moral obligation.

I also include exercise as a management tool, because its judicious use will prevent many behavior problems in dogs, add socialization experiences, and build the relationship with the owner. The mantra, “A tired dog is a good dog!” is so important, and it’s a myth that the backyard will adequately exercise the dog. We try to bust this myth.

Early Socialization: The importance of socializing puppies correctly during their first four months of life just cannot be over-sold. As a shelter worker, I see daily the devastating results of keeping puppies in the barn, garage, or even the house, and isolated from other people, places, and friendly animals. You never get that time back. Most of the dogs that come into our shelter as a “shy/fearful” are not neglected or abused, but were perhaps a “winter puppy” that came home around the holidays, and kept inside during the winter months, missing their optimal socialization period. Mother Nature ensures that they develop caution about things they haven’t seen just about the time that they’re ready to range a little farther from their den, so they will approach and potentially dangerous objects carefully. As a culture we forget that Mother Nature doesn’t design dogs to live in our homes, but to live in the wild, and that has implications for how we live with and train them. Early socialization includes being handled by people other than family members, going to visit new places, and visiting potentially stressful environments like the veterinary clinic. “Social” visits to the clinic should include being petted, getting treats and being handled without getting poked full or holes or lose body parts!

Dog-dog Socialization: Another common gap in pet owners’ socialization is how to adequately socialize their pet to other dogs. Pet owners don’t always recognize that dogs come from “doggy families” and they come to us already knowing how to be dogs, and most of them are very good at it. Most people assume that their resident dog will socialize their new puppy, and what they end up with is a dog that’s only good with the resident dogs. A veterinarian called me about a dog-aggression problem with their youngest dog, their fifth. They thought their other dogs would adequately socialize the new pup. While he was fine with those dogs, he was reactive and petrified around new dogs until we muzzled him up and let him play with other friendly dogs. Fixing reactive behavior is a slow remedial process, and easier to prevent it with adequate socialization in the first four months. We offer additional Puppy Playgroups and a Small Dog Playgroup to our students, and they absolutely love it. Adding play sessions to adult dog classes increases attendance and improves graduation rates. Owners who feel that their pets are having fun at class are less likely to skip class and stay on the couch if they feel they’re depriving Fluffy of a fun night out. Trainers can use the play time to narrate what’s happening, and educate pet owners about normal dog-dog interactions, different play styles, body language and dog behavior. Many people forget that their pet is actually a dog, and they’re afraid to allow Fluffy to interact with other dogs because they’re “afraid of what might happen”. Before working at our shelter, my knowledge of bunnies was limited largely to what I learned from Monty Python’s Killer Rabbit in “The Holy Grail” (“He’ll bite your head clean off!”), but since learning more about their body language, I’m much more comfortable handling them. Pet owners who get a chance to watch normal dog-dog play in a supervised setting often relax, learn to read their dogs, trust other dogs to not turn into Cujo, and can allow them other play experiences.

Separation Anxiety: A major reason for surrendering pets to a shelter is undiagnosed separation anxiety. The typical dog with separation anxiety (SA) is not the dog that is neglected or left alone for ten hours a day, but is more likely the pet that has never learned to be comfortable being left alone in the first place. They are more likely to come from their litters after 12 weeks, to have always lived with another littermate or resident dog, or to live in a home with a human who is home a lot, such as an at-home parent, retired person, or someone who offices at home. If a wild canine puppy is separated from the pack, he’ll distress call and the dam will come and find him. A puppy coming into our homes must learn to exist often as a single pet that stays alone for hours at a time, and we’re essentially “warping” that puppy to ensure that it can function in our human households. Puppies that learn this lesson late or don’t learn it at all, sometimes end up with what we call “separation anxiety”, which is essentially an exaggeration of this normal distress calling, an exacerbation of the panic and anxiety associated with being left alone. Pet owners often think it’s very sweet that their dog wants to be with them all the time, and don’t see a potential problem with a dog that insists on following them into the bathroom.

As trainers, we really need to get information about preventing SA to pet owners, because they don’t know what they are seeing. By the time they surrender the animal to a shelter, pet owners have not recognized that they have a problem until their pet breaks through the thresholds of destructiveness (usually focused on escape, around doors and windows, may come in to a shelter as a “can’t confine”), house-soiling (dog is losing bodily functions, happens in an otherwise well-house-trained animal only in the absence of the owners), or excessive vocalization (too noisy, landlord objects or neighbors report the barking). Until the dog breaks through those major thresholds, many people are completely unaware that their dog is absolutely miserable about being left alone. They may manage it by taking the dog everywhere or stuffing it into a kennel, not recognizing that the dog is in a panic until the dog breaks out of the kennel, soils in the kennel, or refuses to be crated.

As trainers, we need to be able to recognize signs of potential or incipient SA when we get calls about dogs that are barking excessively, having house-soiling accidents, having confinement issues, or being destructive. We need to know what our resources are, and direct these folks to get help sooner rather than later. Once a dog is presented to a shelter with full-blown SA, there is generally nothing that can be done for the dog. If an owner gets help early on, the dog can stay in the home and the prognosis is much better than if they wait.

Nearly every behavior problem can be prevented or resolved easily with early intervention. Early puppy classes keep dogs and puppies in their homes, as do frequent contacts with veterinarians. Issues with adult dogs can still be resolved with our help, but it sometimes takes more time and patience to do the remedial work. Trainers need to recognize that the best “bang for the buck” they have to offer people and their canine companions is to inoculate pets against relinquishment through education and support.

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Becky Schultz, CABC, CDBC, Golden Valley, Minnesota
Ms. Schultz is Coordinator of Animal Training and Behavior Programs for the fifth largest shelter in the U.S., the Animal Humane Society. She runs a training school for the public, and provides behavior consultations for adopters and the general public, trains shelter staff and volunteers, and does public education and speaking. Ms. Schultz also has expertise in cat and other small animal behavior consulting.

Travelling with your pet

Pets on the Go: The Definitive Pet Accommodation and Vacation Guide
Featuring comprehensive listings on pet-friendly accommodations, these guides allow travelers to share their vacations with their favorite canine companions. Each independent review lists contact information, number of rooms, corresponding rates, details on specific features and amenities, as well as character, ambience, cuisine (for both pets and people), and a history of each establishment. The United States guide features more than 18,000 listings of accommodations as well as rules and regulations for taking a pet into all the state and national parks in the country.

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck set out in 1960 on a journey across 37 US states, he wanted some company, and perhaps even a little protection. Charley, his 10-year-old blue standard poodle, seemed the ideal road buddy. The result was Travels With Charley, Steinbeck’s account of his search for America.

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Travelling with your pet

1- Get an ID tag!
2- Have your veterinarian give you a copy of the dog’s medical history to take with you just in case a visit to a veterinarian along the way becomes necessary.
3- Bring two leashes! Why? You dont want to learn it the hard way.
4- By Air: To prevent airsickness, do not feed your pet within six hours of departure or provide water within two hours of takeoff, and never use tranquilizers unless advised by your veterinarian. An ice cube during the trip will provide refreshment and entertainment.

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Editor’s note: The below hotel listing is pet friendly accomadations. Please be aware that hotels change policies frequently. Call them ahead of time to learn more about their pet policies and room rates.

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New York

Ahh, the spoiled dogs of New York City… dogs that receive acupuncture and nutritional counseling, dogs that enjoy swimming lessons and take massage therapy for their nerves. With an estimated 150 thousand dogs living in the big apple, your dog is bound to find a little friendly sniff sniff here and a woof woof there. For a better listing of things to do with your dog in the city, please go to our New York Events page. Below isour favorite pet friendly hotel recommendations.

1- W HOTELS 1-888-625-5144 ~ Singles & Doubles $250-$515

2- SOHO GRAND HOTEL 1-800- 965-3000 ~ Singles & Doubles $334-$434

3- THE MUSE 1-877-692-6873 ~ Singles & Doubles from $280-$395

4- HAMPTON INN MANHATTAN 1-212-414-1000 ~ Singles & Doubles from $280-$395


Both small and large dogs are allowed on the Boston T (subway) and busses, making Boston one of the easiest cities to get around with your furry friend.. Although Boston is a very dog friendly city, it is hard to find a dog run.


1- Arnold Arboretum 617-524-1718
Dogs must be on leash and must be cleaned up after at all times. The arboretum has a collection of trees, shrubs, and vines on 265 acres. A very nice walk.
2- Charlesgate Dog Run ~ Massachusetts Ave and Beacon St
This is a very small dog park. A great place to meet people. I’ll tell ya.
3- Larz Anderson Park Goddard St and Newton St, Brookline
This is a very beautiful park to enjoy with your dog. Dogs must be on-leash, no acception.
4- Boston Common Tremont St and Park St, Boston
This 50 acre park is one of the oldest parks in the United States and is the starting point of the Freedom Trail. Do not unleash.


1- The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common ~ 1-800-241-3333 ~ Singles & Doubles $300-$600
2- Boston Harbor Hotel ~ (800) 752-7077 ~ Singles & Doubles $300-$600
3-Langham Boston Hotel ~ (617) 451-1900 ~ Singles & Doubles $295-$500
4-Chandler Inn Hotel ~ (617)-482-3450 ~ Singles & Doubles $150 – $200


Chicago is a top-rated place to visit with your dog. There are many things to do for visitors who bring their dogs. You can take horse and carriage rides, boat tours on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River and enjoy the Navy Pier that welcomes leashed dogs as well as many many dog-friendly outdoor cafes and pet-friendly bars. Howevere: Dogs are not allowed on the public transit system.
1- The Palmer House® Hilton ~ (312)-726-7500 ~ Singles & Doubles $199-$300
2- Hotel 71 ~ (312) -346-7100 ~ Singles & Doubles $149-$250
3- The Talbott Hotel ~ (800)-Talbott ~ Singles & Doubles $250-$350
4- Hotel Allegro Chicago~ (877)-536-0508 ~ Singles & Doubles $149-$250


Ok, it rains…bring your “big enough umberella” and rain coats for sure! Dogs are allowed on busses, trains and the Washington State Ferries. My favorite is the Sand Point Magnusion Park beach area where you can let your dog off-leash. Sculpure Garden in Seattle Center is another great place to roam around with your fury friend.

1- Alexis Hotel ~ (866)-356-8894 ~ Singles & Doubles $200-$450
2- Hotel Monaco ~ (206)-621-1770 ~ Singles & Doubles $300-$450
3- Travelodge by the Space Needle ~ (800) 937-9582 ~ From $66.87/night
4- Hotel Andra ~ (877)-448-8600 ~ Singles & Doubles $200-$300

San Diego

Off-leash parks and beaches… how can you go wrong on a vacation like that? Our most favorite destination is Dog Beach and Fiesta Island where you can enjoy a major freedom with your dog. Many other beaches allow your well-behaved leashed dog to accompany you. In sunny San Diego, you can rent a boat or kayak together, and dine at outdoor cafes with your four legged friend. Sea World San Diego has day kennels for dogs at a minimal price of $5 per day and they lend you a pager just in case they need get in touch while you are in the park.

1- La Valencia Hotel (beautiful!) ~ (800)-451-0772 ~ Singles & Doubles $250-$400
2- Wikiup Bed & Breakfast ~ (800)-6WIKIUP ~ $175 Per Couple
3- Bristol Hotel ~ (800)662.4477. ~ Singles & Doubles $150-$200
4- Omni San Diego Hotel ~ (619) 231-6664 ~ Singles & Doubles $190-$400

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A great web site with an extensive database for pet friendly accommodations and services. You can also find pet immigration rules for international travel, forms and airline information on pet policies.


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CAMP GONE TO THE DOGS Vermont Vacations for Dog Lovers and Their Dogs
Do you hate to take a vacation without your dog? Do you find anything you do is more fun with your canine buddy beside you? Do you really enjoy watching your dog have a great time?If this sounds like you, Camp Gone to the Dogs® may be your dream vacation. Camp is a celebration of dogs and all the ways they bring joy into our lives.


List of Plants Poisonous to Dogs

House plants provide us with beauty and enjoyment, but some can also cause major problems for your pets.

According to Dr. William Buck, director of the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana, “a lot of ornamental plants have irritating sap that will cause an animal to salivate or maybe vomit and have diarrhea.”

He says that plants like the hibiscus and those in the Easter lily family, which are not toxic to people, may be very harmful to pets. Two or three days after cats have eaten a few leaves of a Tiger lily or Easter lily, they will go into renal failure. After ingesting hibiscus, a dog will vomit persistently, may vomit blood and have bloody diarrhea. “The loss of body fluid may be severe enough to be lethal in some cases,” Dr. Buck cautions.

Holly berries are another plant that is generally toxic to pets. Just a few berries ingested by
a pet will cause it to vomit, have diarrhea, and become generally depressed. Mistletoe also causes digestive system upset as well as irregular heartbeats and possibly cardiac shock. Azalea plants are very toxic to sheep and goats, but are not common problems in cats or dogs.

Plants in the nightshade family, such as European bittersweet and black nightshade, are more erratic in their toxicity. In some individual animals it may cause digestive problems, confusion, weakness, sleepiness, depression, and decreased heart rate, but plants of the nightshade family don’t affect all animals alike. Common houseplants, like philodendron and dieffenbachia (dumb cane) contain oxalate crystals that cause the animal’s mucous membranes to swell, making the animal unable to eat.

“Although catnip isn’t generally toxic to pets, owners should guard against giving too much of the fresh plant to cats. This plant causes hyper-stimulation to the central nervous system and the cat can injure itself,” notes Dr. Buck. However, the dried form usually won’t cause problems for your pet.

Cats may chew on plants as a form of entertainment if they are bored. One safe release for their boredom is to plant lawn grass in a pot for them. The grass isn’t harmful, and cats may also enjoy digging in the dirt. Dr. Buck recommends covering the soil of other houseplants with aluminum foil to keep the animal from digging in it and decrease the likelihood of the pet eating the plant.

If your pet does eat something that is poisonous, you should call your veterinarian. You may also want to call the NAPCC at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. This center is a 24-hour, animal-based poison service.

“Many times an animal’s system will react differently to substances than a human’s will to
that same substance. That is why it is important for the owner and the veterinarian to contact the NAPCC in case of an animal poisoning,” explains Dr. Buck. The NAPCC is accumulating a large database that will aid owners and their veterinarians in treating animal poisonings.

Article Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
By Linda March ~ Information Specialist

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the premier animal-oriented poison control center in North America. So it’s the best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Make the call that can make all the difference: (888) 426-4435.

Here’s the listing of poisonous plants by common name

Bulbs: Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, Daffodil, Day Lily, Elephant Ears, Gladiolas, Hyacinth, Iris, Lily of the Valley, Narcissus, Orange Day Lily, Tulip

Ferns: Aparagus Fern, Australian Nut, Emerald Feather (aka Emerald Fern), Emerald Fern (aka Emerald Feather), Lace Fern, Plumosa Fern

Flowering Plants: Cyclamen, Hydrangea, Kalanchoe, Poinsettia

Garden Perennials: Charming Diffenbachia, Christmas Rose, Flamingo Plant, Foxglove, Marijuana, Morning Glory, Nightshade, Onion, Tomato Plant, Tropic Snow Dumbcane

House Plants: Ceriman (aka Cutleaf Philodendron), Chinese Evergreen, Cordatum, Corn Plant (aka Cornstalk Plant), Cutleaf Philodendron (aka Ceriman), Devil’s Ivy, Dumb Cane, Golden Pothos, Green Gold Nephthysis, Marble Queen, Mauna Loa Peace Lily, Nephthytis, Peace Lily, Red-Margined Dracaena, Striped Dracaena, Taro Vine, Warneckei Dracaena

Lillies: Asian Lily (liliaceae), Easter Lily, Glory Lily, Japanese Show Lily, Red Lily, Rubrum Lily, Stargazer Lily, Tiger Lily, Wood Lily

Shrubs: Cycads, Heavenly Bamboo, Holly, Jerusalem Cherry, Mistletoe “American”, Oleander, Precatory Bean, Rhododendron, Saddle Leaf Philodendron, Sago Palm, Tree Philodendron, Yucca

Succulents: Aloe (Aloe Vera)

Trees: Avocado, Buddist Pine, Chinaberry Tree, Japanese Yew (aka Yew), Lacy Tree, Macadamia Nut, Madagascar Dragon Tree, Queensland Nut, Schefflera, Yew (aka Japanese Yew)

Vines: Branching Ivy, English Ivy, European Bittersweet, Glacier Ivy, Hahn’s self branching English Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy

Misc/Uncategorized: American Bittersweet, Andromeda Japonica, Azalea, Bird of Paradise, Buckeye, Caladium hortulanum, Calla Lily, Castor Bean, Clematis, Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron, Florida Beauty, Fruit Salad Plant, Golden Dieffenbachia, Gold Dust Dracaena, Heartleaf Philodendron, Horsehead Philodendron, Hurricane Plant, Mexican Breadfruit, Mother-in-law, Panda, Philodendron Pertusum, Red Emerald, Red Princess, Ribbon Plant, Satin Pothos, Spotted Dumb Cane, Sweetheart Ivy, Swiss Cheese Plant, Variable Dieffenbachia, Variegated Philodendron, Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow

Stuff Your Dog Must-Haves!

There are definite MUST-haves, then some SHOULD-haves and tons of WANT TO-haves. But the truth remains the same: a dog needs a good leash, a good bed, a few good supplements, a good shampoo, a good ear cleaner and last but not least a good grooming finish. Also, probably a good grooming kit that won’t break every 6 months. I am yet to figure that one out.

Here’s a list of Housepetmagazine’s Must Have Necessities for your dog that I personally found very helpful to me over the years. If you have any comments about the below products (five or no-paws) let me know. I would love to hear from my readers: editor@housepetmagazine.com


Recommended by Dr. Shawn!
PetCentrx “Vim & Vigor

Good health requires diet supplementation and a concerted effort to improve a diet. That’s true for both pets and their human companions. We are happy to have Dr. Shawn share his expertise with Housepetmagazine and give us the perfect tips on how to better care for our pets. He tells me this is an amazing product. In today’s world, most people overfeed their pets with highly processed foods without any fresh nutrients in them. Unfortunately, that steals years and years from our four legged friends’ lives. That’s why PetCentrx “Vim & Vigor” wellness formula made it to our MUST HAVE list. This veterinarian recommended wellness formula is a highly nutritious supplement. It has amazing ingredients and I am mostly impressed to see Co-Enzyme Q-10 and Vitamin B12 Supplement since I take these myself too!!!! So, if you’re wondering how you can improve your dog’s health or how you can keep his good health and looks, than this will be your answer: PetCentrx “Vim & Vigor


Animals, just like their two legged friends, if not groomed well, will smell bad. It’s that easy. And just like humans, eating healthy food and proper supplements will have remarkably positive effects on skin, coat, teeth, and ear canals of our dogs – which means less or no bad odor. But we all know even healthy dogs will smell like dogs. That’s where Sexy Beast wins. First of, I have to let everyone know that I would never put anything on my dog that I wouldn’t be comfortable putting on myself. And if you ask me, you don’t need a dog to buy this highly-sexy eau de perfume. If you’ve been dreaming about pampering handsome Fido with good smells, then go with Sexy Beast. This low-alcohol fragrance is formulated specifically for a dog’s sensitive sense of smell. A unisex blend of bergamot and vanilla-infused musk combined with natural patchouli, mandarin and nutmeg oils. It will keep your dog smelling fresh and clean. And a little New York-er!100% vegan. Five Paws. Worth the price.Also, check the Finishing Products. Pawsome!



I’ve been using DermaPet’s MALACETIC OTIC as an ear cleanser for my cocker spaniel for the past 8 years. The vets are amazed to see my 10 year old with no ear problems and dirt. The vets always ask what my secret is 🙂 This product keeps my dog healthy and clean.TIP-1: Make sure the solution is room temperature before applying to the ear canal. If it’s cold, your dog may feel uncomfortable. TIP-2: I find it easier to apply after washing my dog.Directions: Apply liberally to ear. Gently, but firmly massage the base of the ear. Apply a cotton ball to remove any excess solution. Repeat as necessary.


Health problems do come from a lifetime of enzyme empty diets in our dogs’ lives. Please give Prozyme or any other enzyme supplement to your four legged friends (cats+dogs). Prozyme increases the absorption of vital nutrients and essential fatty acids from your pet’s food and supplements by up to 71%. A plant derived enzyme food supplement, PROZYME is a combination of natural enzymes that help pull nutrients from food that would normally pass right on through. By adding PROZYME to your pet’s diet, you will restore missing enzyme activity. Better digestion and absorption of their food leads to a healthier pet, improved appetite, and healthier skin and coat. This increased absorption provides natural relief from various health difficulties. More info

Read our article on Enzymes

Orthopedic Memory Foam Pet Bed.

Arthritis, which is also called degenerative joint disease is defined as inflammation of the joints. Recent research indicates radiographic lesions of arthritis are apparent in 95% of dogs at age two. Whether or not your dog had an injury or showing signs of arthritis, I highly recommend OCK9 beds for they are the epitome of comfort for our four legged friends. I placed my pup’s new mattress inside his bed frame ( a very old bed he will never give up) and it is a joy to find him in ridiculous positions of sleep comfort every morning. From OCK9’s website: Our premium quality orthopedic dog beds are Veterinarian recommended to significantly reduce the pains caused by arthritis, compressed spines, orthopedic injuries, orthopedic hip dysplasia and older mobility challenged dogs recovering from surgery. Orange County K9™ dog beds will provide your pet with complete comfort. http://www.ock9.com


Retractable dog leash is a bad idea. The main purpose of a leash is to control your dog and ultimately protect him and yourself from chaotic situations. I never liked leather leashes either because I don’t like to wear it and neither should my pup. Then came the Lupen leash to our house. It’s just long enough to give some freedom to my dog on our walk and yet so easy shorten when necessary. The fabric is soft on my hands. Last but not least, I really love the lightness of this leash. If my dog is walking nicely with me, I don’t even feel I am carrying a leash. Oh wait, did I mention the great colors and patterns to choose from. The image on the left is Muddy Paw pattern. http://www.lupinepet.com


Spa Lavish Pet Shampoo: Nature’s Health: We all know that our dogs should not be washed with human shampoos. There are many shampoos to choose from depending on your pet’s hair coat, skin condition, or desired result. And I think over the past 10 years, I’ve tried them all. If your dog does not need a special medicated shampoo, then, I highly recommend this wonderful new shampoo I found at my favorite holistic store. You can also buy this online at PETdiscounters. This unique shampoo line has great smells to choose from and is truly a pleasure for bath times ~ for you and your dog! It smells soooo good! For all I can say, if you’re looking for the right shampoo and bath products for your pooch, give this new line of products a try. Environmentally safe, cruelty free formula. Worth the money. FIVE PAWS!


If it had not been for Synovi-MSM Granules, my dog could never have survived his accident 9 years ago in which he tore a tendon and went under a major ACL, Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery on his rear leg. I found out about Synovi MSM two years after the surgery. My puppy had a significant relief of stiffness and most importantly no more recurring painful attacks. Synovi-MSM for dogs is a combination of MSM, Glucosamine HCl, Perna Canaliculus, and Vitamin C. It’s fortified with carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Synovi-MSM helps maintain healthy joints and stimulates the production of new connective tissue and synovial fluid.

Earth Animal’s Organic Herbal Remedy: For Vision: I just started using this very promising product for my Cocker Spaniel’s eyes. He’s 11 years old. His eyes are not as vibrant as they used to be. I’ll take this as a preventative measure. Ingredients: Eyebright, Chamomile, Ginkg, Goldenseal, Bayberry with Flower Essences of Nasturtium, Shasta Daisy, Higher Spectral Colors #2 & 6 for Emotional Balance. Traditionally used in inflammatory, allergic and infectious conditions of the eyes such as conjunctivitis, corneal conditions, retinal and iris problems, glaucoma, and cataracts. Mix with food. More info


Call me crazy, I love this CD. It will play in my music library even if my pup is not around. My dog loves the songs. My cat on the other hand… not so much. Listen samples here.


Bailey’s Skin Rescue. A very natural skin irritation remedy for dogs for hot spots or any skin irritation, developed when Alex Jory battled a staph infection on her rottie’s belly, caused from bug bites. Bailey’s Skin Rescue is a special combination of tea tree, lavender essential oils and acidophilus in an all natural botanical cream base which also includes extracts of chamomile, avocado, echinacea, green tea, cucumber and sea kelp and various plant oils. $7.99 US plus shipping. Order on Jory’s website.tis, corneal conditions, retinal and iris problems, glaucoma, and cataracts. Mix with food.



India has had a long relationship with animals. The earliest archaeology in the Indian subcontinent has found artifacts from 3000 B.C.E that indicate various ways in which the early people of India interacted with animals. The significance of animals developed in later Yoga traditions and played a definitive role in the shape and form of Yoga: many postures (asanas) come to carry the names of animals. Animals were noted for their particular abilities and accomplishments. To imitate these fine qualities was considered a sign of spiritual attainment. To name a few: Cow Head’s Pose (Gomukha-asana),Tortoise Pose (Kurma asana), the Rooster Pose (Kukkuta asana), Lion’s Pose (Simha asana) and my most favorite Downward Dog(Adho Mukha Svanasana).

Free like a bird, strong like a lion, with senses well protected like those of a tortoise. (Kalpa Sutra, Jacobi, 261)

In a recent interview Denise Kaufman, a prominent yoga teacher in Los Angeles, commented “Animals move; people can learn about movement from animals. House pets stretch all day long, creating space in their joints. Animals sit in different kinds of positions. Monkeys and apes do things with their hands. Perhaps as humans we need to reclaim our four leggedness. Getting down on all fours stimulates the pranic flow. Sitting in chairs tightens the hamstrings and the lower back. Animals don’t sit on furniture; they have not built things contrary to their nature.” From her perspective, Yoga involves recapturing our animal physicality, reconditions the body to establish itself within a non-technologically enhanced environment.

Yoga is constantly evolving. Yogis are always experimenting.

Soon you will be able to learn Doga at home. Suzi Teitelman’s first Doga DVD is almost out. The trailer is here, and you can get more information on her web site. Doga classes at Crunch Fitness is held in New York City on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 in downtown Manhattan. Check www.dogadog.com for more information. (Let her know if you are interested in the first copies!)

Then why not practice yoga and include our animals, specifically our dogs to this experience? Of course at first the therapeutic effects of practicing yoga with a dog seems very limited to the physical. But one can not deny the calming effects and a bonding experience between a dog and its owner.

“It is said that when you relax, you smell a certain way. And dogs smell that, and in turn they relax. This happens every time you do yoga. The dogs feel the way you feel.” says Suzi Teitelman a doga teacher and the Director of Yoga for Crunch Fitness NYC. She offers interactive partner yoga classes for dog owners. She adds “Doga is for all dogs: Old dogs, young dogs, sick and healthy. Nothing can stop a dogi! All dogs do doga instinctually, and what we are doing, is bringing more out of each other: going deeper, getting happier, and loving more. Dogs are naturally in a start of awareness, totally present in each moment, and willing to let go. We have a lot to learn from a dog, and being present and aware is one of them.”

Suzi explains: “In the Doga poses, we will help our dogs go further in the stretches, and they will help us go deeper too. The poses are based on Hatha postures, and the dogs and humans stretch, breathe, bond and relax in sync. The weight of their body, their scent and their love all work together and that makes doga a complete spiritual experience. Chanting, massage and accupressure are a large part of doga as well as reflexology on all the paws, and on our pads too. Sun salutations are probably Coali’s favorite (her cocker spaniel). He loves inhaling his arms up, and exhaling down, inhaling his back legs up and then exhaling down! Doga is the most amazing bonding experience you will ever have with your pet.”


Courage, hope, survival… Where does a dog’s real life begin? In a cold, dark deserted house in New Jersey? Or, in a school for broken hearts and fragile spirits in the mountains of North Carolina?

by Laura Hickey

Purpose, love, healing… How did Rudy, a rescued Great Dane, make the spiritual journey from abandonment to discovering the ability to help nurture the recovering hearts of sexually abused children?

Rudy’s story began in 2003 in an affluent New Jersey community. Rudy’s owner was a successful career professional who unfortunately became involved with drugs. During his drug binges, he would neglect Rudy horribly. Concerned neighbors fed Rudy whenever they could get to him, and made food available when he was outside of the house. One day the neighbors heard Rudy howling much as a wolf howls before it dies. They became concerned that the owner may have been binging on drugs at home and died. When the neighbors realized the owner was no longer living in the house, they contacted the local police who found Rudy, an aging arthritic Great Dane, abandoned in the house and starving. The police impounded Rudy and then called Animal Control as well as the Humane Society.

The New Jersey Chapter of the Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League MAGDRL was contacted at this point and Rudy was taken to the home of Peter Quinto to be fostered until an adoptive family could be found for him. Giant breeds in general have shorter life spans and, at 8 years old, Rudy was considered a “senior” Dane. And, to complicate matters further Rudy was diagnosed with arthritis in his hips. His MAGDRL caretakers assumed it would be hard to find a forever home for an older Dane with medical problems.

In the fall of 2003 I saw Rudy’s picture and story on the MAGDRL online discussion list. It was love at first sight and I immediately began adoption proceedings. In November I traveled to New Jersey to meet Rudy and his Foster Dad. During my visit I adopted Rudy, planning to give him a secure and loving home for whatever amount of time remained in his life. My plan was to give Rudy a richer life by training him to be a therapy dog in nursing homes. Little did I know that Rudy’s lifework would be in my own back yard!

My job is Director of Residential Treatment at the Grandfather Home for Children located in the mountains of Western North Carolina. This facility is a mental health treatment provider, and temporary home where children heal and attend a charter school: Grandfather Academy, founded to serve the educational needs of these emotionally, physically, and sexually abused children.

During the period between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, both the home and school experienced the loss of several support staff members. These holidays are especially hard for children who, for many reasons, are separated from their parents. I knew something needed to be done quickly to fill the emotional gaps created by the loss of staff members. For some time, I had been seriously considering establishing an animal-assisted therapy program at the home. I approached the Director of the Grandfather Academy, Doug Herman, and the Language Arts Resource Intervention Specialist, Renee Rogers, about the possibility of Rudy being able to help the children in their classrooms. Both Doug and Renee agreed, given the urgency of the staff shortage, to give Rudy a chance to fill this void.

Because of Rudy’s abusive background, the children were instinctively drawn to him and felt safe with him. In his own unique way, Rudy worked on healing the children’s hearts. Miracles began to happen very soon after Rudy started attending classes and interacting with the children!

Seeing the marked improvement in the children, Doug, Renee and I decided it was time to formally launch the Pet Services Program at school with Rudy serving as the pilot dog. Rudy became an honorary staff member at Grandfather Academy. With a desire to expand the children’s experience with dogs, I consulted the Coordinators of the NC Chapter of the Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League (MAGDRL) about the possibility of partnering with them to provide a foster home for another Dane. As a result, they chose Milo, a rescued Great Dane who was fostered and trained by a group of the children.

As the program has grown, several other mixed breed dogs have been brought into the school to work with the children. Recently a group of the children shouldered the task of fostering and training four Great Dane puppies. The process of caring for and working with the puppies, including finding adoptive homes for them, has been one they will remember and treasure for the rest of their lives.

With so many positive experiences, it was time to create a name for the children’s rescue work. It was of the utmost importance for the name to reflect the sense of safety and empowerment the children have experienced with Rudy. Out of all the amazing names the children submitted, the acronym “HELP” ~ Helping Every Little Paw ~ was chosen as the name of the children’s work with rescued animals.

I feel extremely privileged to spend my days observing Rudy opening the children’s hearts and minds to the power of unconditional love. Witnessing the profound impact Rudy has on the children and the staff members who serve them is inspiring. Rudy simply pours love and acceptance from his eyes and the children receive it. By example, he has taught children to be sensitive to others and about the extraordinary gentleness of true power – no matter what your life experiences have been. One day, Rudy left a group of children playing to walk to a separate area where a child was disclosing abuse experiences to a child protective services investigator . . . without a prompt, to lay at her feet and be with her. His impact on individual children is now part of the discussion at treatment team meetings where mental health and social service professionals struggle to plan for high risk children.

There simply aren’t enough words, pictures or stories to express the hero Rudy is to all of us. You really have to be there and hear the soft voices say “Goodnight, Rudy” from their bedrooms as I pick Rudy up after a day with “his” girls . . . or hear a child say “Hey, Rudy! Guess what!” and then continue to chatter as she walks to school with Rudy, her confidant. Those voices say it all!

Rudy was recently honored for his work with the children by receiving the Hero Award at the 2005 Broadway Barks adopt-a-thon. Hosted by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters, the event is produced by Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS and sponsored by Animal Planet, Dogsters, The New York Times, Loews Hotels, Sherpa, and took place on Saturday July 30 in Shubert Alley.

Presented by Monty Python’s Spamalot star, David Hyde-Pierce, the Broadway Barks Hero award is a certificate of recognition awarded to an animal or individual who has made a significant contribution to the community and/or to animal welfare. Past recipients have included various types of service dogs, as well as a dog that played a prominent role in search and rescue on 9/11. The first award was granted at Broadway Barks 4 in order to pay tribute to the dogs that showed such heroism and courage in their search and rescue efforts on 9/11.

Some thoughts from students and staff of Grandfather Academy:

Tania J. age 14 (a student): “Reflecting back on my time with Rudy I have come to realize much about myself through my care and interactions with Rudy. When I first came to Grandfather Home, I wanted to become pregnant because I wanted to give something all the care and love I felt I had missed in my life. I was able to transfer this incredible love that I have in myself to Rudy. Since he was there with me, I learned, with the help of staff, how to care for him without messing up. This made me feel good about myself, and it helped to fill a hole in my heart. Rudy’s slobbering kisses make me laugh. His welcoming facial expressions fill my heart with joy. Watching him trot around on walks brings a smile to my face. In general, I can not find enough words to express how Rudy has changed my life.”

Jennifer B. age 14 (a student): “Rudy is a great support person and he really listens to what you tell him and he can’t hold a grudge. Rudy’s soft eyes and comical eyebrows tell you exactly what he is thinking. When you are having problems you can sit by Rudy and read to him while he listens to what you are saying. Talking to him about your feelings helps and sometimes you can hear what this wise old dog is telling you.”

“Because of Rudy’s size he can surprise you the first time, but just spending a little time with him you’ll know why he is loved by so many people who come here. Rudy was abused and neglected and then he was adopted by a family that loves him. This makes Rudy an even better support person because we can relate to him. Rudy has issues with being separated from his owner. He will sit, whine and pout just like a kid when he sees her and can’t go with her. He also listens to adult authority, which sets the example for us. Rudy stays in the class with us every so often so he can visit other classrooms too. We miss Rudy when he isn’t with us but we cherish every moment we have with him while we can.”

Doug Herman, Director of Grandfather Academy: “Our hero Rudy performs with the wisdom, charm, and patience of a veteran teacher. His work with our struggling readers has been more beneficial than we could have ever imagined. Even our most reluctant readers are eager to read to him, and he perseveres consistently demonstrating his support and non-judgmental active listening skills with all his students.”

Renee Rodgers, Language Arts Resource Intervention Specialist: “Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and Rudy, our devoted Harlequin Great Dane, is no exception. When you look deeply into the piercing blue eyes of this Gentle Giant you will not see the pain, abuse, or neglect he suffered in his younger years. What you will experience is the wisdom and understanding he has for our abused student population coupled with the unconditional love and compassion he feels toward everyone he meets. Rudy is honestly one of the most incredible gentlemen I have ever encountered! He truly is a naturally gifted service dog. He is, without a doubt, Grandfather Home and Academy’s Hero of the Year!”


William Wegman is a pioneer in the fields of moving image, performance, and photography. Since the 70’s he has charmed us with his signature Weimaraners and his deadpan humor when he began taking photographs of Man Ray, his first Weimaraner. His photographs, videotapes, paintings and drawings have been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. A retrospective of his work originated by the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne traveled to museums throughout Europe and the United States including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. William Wegman lives in New York and in Maine where he continues to make his art and lives in a pack of eight: his wife, kids and four weims. Welcome to Housepetmagazine.com Mr. Wegman:

Your work with weimaraners is often described as anthropomorphic images. Can you explain us this term?

Anthro“, in that they are a throwback to ants; “po” (like Edgar Allen) kind of creepy; “morphic” i.e.sleep inducing, dreamy shape shifting. Also…when dressed up and made tall they look like humans. They are hybrid people. Mythological.

How did you decide to get your first weim Man Ray?

I was teaching at the University of Wisconsin Madison when the issue first arose. I promised my wife that when we got to LA next year we would get a dog. Hoping she would forget, she did not. She liked short haired dogs like Dalmatians and that’s what we first looked for. Some said,” Weimaraners are good dogs, and they have short hair”. We found a litter advertised in the Long Beach newspaper for 35$. That seemed like a good price. We saw the dogs. There was only one male. She wanted a male. I flipped a coin. Five times in a row, tails. When I brought him home to our house in San Pedro (in 1970), he was sitting in a ray of light. He looked like a man. “Man Ray’!



How did your collaboration begin with Man Ray?

Our new puppy and my interest in photo and video as art mediums were practically coincidental. In retrospect it seems inevitable that he would become such a focus of my work. That he sat still and gazed at me, that he was neutral gray, that he pointed and retrieved… all these were factors in the longevity of our collaboration.

Can you tell us about your current dogs?

My current cast includes offspring from my second dog, Fay Ray. Fay is represented in several children’s books including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, ABC and others. A biography published by Hyperion a few years after her death in l995. Her off spring Batty, Chundo and Crooky were magnificent performers who were born into their work. Like a family of actors. I didn’t really train them. As with all my actors, training is on the job. Now I have Chip, Batty’s son; Chip’s son Bobbin, his mate Candy and their daughter, Penny. Penny is much like Batty who died at age l4 last year. Perhaps [Penny} appears sweeter in photographs but less comic, less droll. Bobbin is like Chip, handsome but less forlorn. This is because his skin is tight.


One of your past exhibitions “The Look, Images of Style and Glamour” displayed stunning images of your Weimaraners as fashion models with all the attitude of their human counterparts. What makes them such wonderful models?

Weimaraners have a kind of blank, cool look, the look fashion models generally adopt on the runway. And then there is the color. Gray. Gray they say goes with anything so weimaraners are the perfect fashion models. Blankness, neutrality, one can write on them over and over. You can’t do that with a golden retriever, dalmation or bull dog. They have only one story. And then there is the posture. That for me is the pictorial challenge. How to put human clothes on the canine form. In that challenge the real artistic struggle and quest for resolution lies. That’s where the fun is, and the solutions are varied. If you look at individual photographs you will understand what I’m trying to say. Keep in mind I don’t use photoshop. Like magicians I work point of view of audience, or in this case, lens.

When choosing fashion for your weims, do you have a favorite designer?

Miyake is the best designer for my weimaraners. His forms wonderfully expand to adapt to theirs. But I love shopping in thrift stores. When I do, I’m aware that I am ruminating about style and palette. The thought process evolves as I shop.

Do you find your art work with dogs sentimental? Especially if you raised the litter yourself.

I am in love with my dogs. When you photograph someone you are making a map of them in a way. Switch back to life and you see them in a new way. The map helps you know them and you get more and more attached. When Man Ray was ill and near the end I was desperate to get a last picture. What would it be? A loving portrait? A commemorative coin? The funniest one ever? All week at the Polaroid studio in Boston we worked together on this but as it turned out my mother took the final shot . Man Ray and I are sitting on the front steps of our house in Western. Mass where I grew up. Yes, it is sentimental. now I live with four dogs. Chip, his son Bobbin . Bobbin”s mate Candy and their daughter Penny, who is now l8 months. I recently had to put down Batty, Chips mother. It was the first time I had to do that and it was not easy. My vet said it was a great thing to be able to do. Humans are not so lucky. A lifeless body is different than one with life. Anyone who has done this knows what I mean.

Your weims are among the most recognizable art images of the 20th century. How do you keep their stamina?

A common misunderstanding is that the dogs work hard. No. We work hard, my assistants especially the one crammed in an extreme position behind the dog presenting limbs to appear attached. The dogs are usually sitting, like dogs do and only for seconds. It takes 1/60th of a sec to take a picture. It takes a lot of time to set it up. The dogs are standing by in the green room (the couch) waiting for their call. Some dogs are more actively eager to be in front of the camera but all crave the attention. At least mine are.

Would you like to tell us about your new projects?

My new projects: A retrospective of my work including paintings, drawings, photos and video opens March 10 2006 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. A book published by Yale in time for the exhibition serves as the catalogue. I’m hoping to write a book based on my film, The Hardly Boys. I’ll probably work on it this spring and finish it in the year 2030.

Thank you very much for the time you’ve put into this interview Mr. Wegman, and much more for all the amazing photographs you’ve brought to us.