Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Fitness Partner You Can Count On: Your Dog!

Mark Twain said that the outside of a dog was good for the inside of a man and those of us who love our canine pals know that this is absolutely true. A study from the University of Michigan, however, shows that it may well be true in a factual way, as well and that dogs can have a real impact on not only our well-being, but our fitness, as well. Writing for Dogs in Canada, Alison Preiss says:
Owners who walk their dogs (which accounts for roughly two-thirds of American dog owners) walk about an hour more per week than their non-dog-owning counterparts. More encouraging is that dog walkers were found to achieve an overall higher level of physical activity.
With this idea in mind, Toronto’s Sal Sloan has developed Fetching,“for fit dogs and bods,” a fitness program that partners humans and their canine companions for everyone’s health and happiness.
The idea for Fetching came from Sloan’s experience as a busy marketing professional. “I’d get home at 8 p.m. and walk my dog, and then there was no way I was going to the gym, I just didn’t have time. So, either I would go to the gym and ‘Chewy’ would get a 15-minute crappy walk, or I would take Chewy for a walk and I would have to sacrifice my exercise. So I thought, there’s got to be a way to pull everything together.”

So that’s what she did. A typical fetching class involves a workout that emphasizes cardio endurance, full body strength and flexibility. On top of that, the dogs learn a new command from an experienced trainer, which is worked into the routine. There is also a stretching session and some agility added just for fun.

When the hour-long class is over, you have the satisfaction of a good workout, a tired dog and the benefit of the time you’ve spent together.
Hopefully Vancouver follows this trend and starts classes soon so we can reap the fitness benefits along with our dogs!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ask Casey...

Dear Casey,

Q. I lick my paws way too much and it is driving my mom crazy! She has tried oregano oil but it is really expensive and is stinking up the house and my feet are smelly from licking them so much. Do you have any suggestions??? Thanks, Robbie Burns, West Highland White Terrier, Extraordinaire.

A. Excessive paw licking, biting, and/or constant scratching is often a sign of food allergies. Sometimes pets develop allergies toward their diet. Paw biting, excessive licking, ear scratching and belly licking can all be signs that their diets are starting to aggravate them.

Various meat proteins, food preservatives, and additives or fillers when ingested may cause itchy skin disease or intestinal disease in domestic animals. This is an acquired allergic reaction and often a dog may have been eating the same food for months or years before any problems arise.
There is currently no accurate blood or skin test to tell if your dog has food allergies. The only method is by avoidance and challenge -- a process of elimination.

To determine if your dog may have a food allergy, you can try putting them on a carefully selected hypoallergenic diet. Studies have shown that, in most cases, the allergen can be diagnosed after your pooch has been placed on a selected diet for 8-10 weeks.

Have a chat with your vet about food allergies and change your pooches’ diet. Find a different protein source (beef & chicken are often the main culprits) that your pet has not be exposed to before. It may be the key to ridding him of itchy toes and feet!

Good luck.

Dear Casey,

Q. We recently noticed that our dog, a neutered male, isn’t just sniffing in the grass, but that he licks other dogs’ pee. He doesn’t see where the dog went to the bathroom, but he can smell it and goes straight to it. He will lick the grass and then foam at the mouth a little bit, or his tongue will poke out and his lips will quiver. Once he’s on the trail there’s no stopping him. Is this really gross? Why does he do this and how can we get him to stop?

A. When a dog licks another dog’s urine, they are using an organ in the roof of their mouth that allows them to not only smell the scent, but to also taste it.

It helps them to analyze the scent in a more in-depth way. They are then able to tell whether the urine is male or female and even if the dog is in season or not. Your dog can determine if it is a young or old dog and even tell if the urine is coming from one of his friends. Your precious pooch drools or foams, and chatters his mouth to help him “waffle” the scent around in order to better identify the depositor of this pee!

While most humans view this as disgusting behavior, and thankfully don’t posses this unique trait, urine itself is sterile and therefore not really harmful to a dog, so don’t panic! Your kidlet is only doing something that comes totally naturally to him: checking out his environment the best way he knows. While it may seem totally gross to humans, a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than humans, and all your dog wants to do is sniff out his world and locate where his friends are hanging out! Stop panicking and go with the flow.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reading Is For the Dogs: Tammy’s June Picks

Just in time for Father’s Day -- two great books featuring a dog as the main character, naturally!

I did a review a while back on The Art of Racing in the Rain, but thought I would pass it along again as it is the perfect gift, along with A Dog’s Purpose, for the dog-loving guy in your life…

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein (Harper)
Jodi Picoult said it much better than I ever could, “The Art of Racing in the Rain is the perfect book for anyone who knows that some of our best friends walk beside us on four legs, that compassion isn’t only for humans, and that the relationship between two souls who are meant for each other never really comes to an end. Every now and then, I’m lucky enough to read a novel I can’t stop thinking about; this is one of them.”

Attention all dog lovers: If there is one book you should read this year, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Seattle author, Garth Stein, is it. This tale is told from the dog’s point of view on the last day of his life and is simply captivating... I could not put it down and although there were many poignant moments throughout the story, I only cried at the very end and even then, only because their final parting was sweet and touching and the loving bond between Enzo and Denny will never really end.

A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans, by W. Bruce Cameron (Forge)
All dogs go to heaven, unless they have unfinished business here on Earth. Thus begins the story of Bailey, an endearing mutt, who comes back to earth repeatedly searching for his purpose in life... Bailey’s life really begins when he finds himself in the arms of an eight year old boy, named Ethan.

This story is an emotional, yet hilarious and often heartwarming tale of one special dog…and truly, that one dog, is the dog each and every one of us own.

I loved this book for its touching and funny story and for the way it explores the bond that all dog lovers share with man’s best friend.

Doggy Biz of the Month: Studio 2 Photography

Tamara Roberts graduated from The Western Academy of Photography in 1991 and has been building her business ever since. In 2003, after working out of her home for many years, Tamara opened Studio2 Photography in North Vancouver.

Tamara loves people and has a natural way with them and tries to capture emotion in every shot. She discovered that when people brought their pets to a photography session, it seems to relax them. Tamara says, “My clients completely forgot their inhibitions and just had fun!” Thus, a whole new segment of her business was born.

Tamara began looking for ways to expand on this animal theme and get involved more in her community. Being an animal lover, it seemed natural to join up with the BCSPCA’s Paws For A Cause as a community sponsor.

With two very successful fundraising years behind her, Tamara hopes animal lovers will help her make 2011 the best ever fundraising event by signing up now for this year’s Paws for a Cause Studio 2 Photo Event! For a $25.00 fee, and a donation of a bag of dog food, you and your beloved pooch will have a mini session in the studio.

The next event will take place Septemper 24 and 25. Give Tamara a call and commemorate your pet with fabulous keepsake photos while supporting the S.P.C.A. Limited space is available. Book by calling Studio2 Photography at 604-990-4301.