Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Monkey and Peanut

I was never one for French Bulldogs. Sure, I thought they were adorable as any person would, but my usual response was petting them, then not giving them another thought after I walked away. That is, until I began to doggysit Monkey and Peanut! Now I'm hooked!

They are absolutely charming, fun, and wildly cute. Whenever I have the pleasure of watching them, the minute I enter the door they are all love and cuddles and playfulness. What an absolute treat! Now I can't get enough of playing ball with them, rubbing their bellies as they snort and gurgle, and listening to them snore while they sleep. Their human parents have invested a lot of time and love into them and, as it always does, it shows. They know their boundaries, and they don't misbehave and they're so easy going it is unreal! This is why training your pet is just as important for them as it is for you. When pets understand boundaries, everyone is happy!

I have these two sweeties to thank for converting me to French Bulldogs. Now every time I see one of their brothers or sisters in breed all I can see is the sweet nature and hysterical antics of Monkey and Peanut, and I am undone. I mean, really... just look at those faces!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Life with Ernie

How do I describe the sweet dog I walk, named Ernie. There are as many facets to his good nature as there are whiskers on his face. No. Even more! He has the face and soul of a wise elder from some far off realm, and the heart, energy and spirit of puppies his age (he's a little over one). I may say, "He's a healer" with a grin on my face, but I mean it with all sincerity.

This little man is a rescue: plucked from the cages of a local Los Angeles shelter by his equally wonderful human mother, Lucy. His journey has been a long one, with obvious signs of pre-adoption abuse from living on the streets. The very sound of a garbage truck pulls that deep trauma out into the open and shakes his core.

When first he and I met, he had such an aversion to going beyond the walls of his new forever-home, he would lay down on the ground, belly flat, and cry. His mother and I tried our best to coax and coerce and train him to move, but getting him even around the corner was a struggle. Slowly, slowly, as he learned to trust me, we began to have lovely walks around his neighborhood.

And then came the doggy parks...

Oh, how he would run and run. The only thing he loved more than chasing balls (but rarely bringing them back) was chasing other dogs, who were chasing balls. He had a natural disposition to loving and playing with other dogs. Not a hint of aggression nor malice in sight.

But every journey has a moment. As can often happen, Ernie was learning aggressive behavior from other dogs in his immediate surroundings. One can imagine my surprise, one day at the park, when Ernie released an unfriendly growl to another dog who gingerly eyed the ball Ernie had taken to burying under one of the many benches. This was not Ernie. I had spent three days a week with him for months and months on end, and had never seen such a side to him.

The remedy was simple. Both Lucy (who was already well aware of the issue and had been taking steps to stop it) and I made sure to take him out of the growl-worthy situation immediately, and only let him play at the park when he proved he could "play nice." It did not take long for Ernie to return to his usual jovial and loving ways.

He is genuinely one of the best behaved dogs I have had the honor to walk and watch. Whether we are playing tug of war, walking, or reading viking tales when his tummy is feeling off, it's a highlight to spend time with Ernie. It is a testament not only to Ernie, but to his mother as well. The importance of a loving, invested human guardian can never be stressed enough.

With time, love, patience and training, Ernie has become far more confident in himself. Far more than that, he is the puppy equivalent of the kid who welcomes in and plays with all of the new or shy children at school.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Believe it or not, Tea for dry eyes!

We all get dry, irritated eyes. Your cats are no exception.  A great way to soothe little eyes that are dry and a little irritated, is, of all things, tea! This method also works well for humans with dry eyes too!

Here is how to use it. And remember, wash your hands before and after! For eye issues other than dry eyes, take your pet to the vet immediately.

Step One:

Take a clean, unused, tea bag (either plain black tea like PG Tips or a plain green tea).

Step Two:

Run it under warm water until the whole bag and all of the tea leaves are soaked through.

Step Three:

Squeeze most of the water out of the bag. This not only makes it less messy, but also cools the bag down. If the tea bag still feels hot to the touch, wave it in the air so as not to burn any eyes (it should feel just a little warm to the touch. NOT hot or very warm).

Step Four:

While holding your little one, gently rest the tea bag over the CLOSED dry/irritated eye for 10 seconds. Do not push down or hold any longer than 15 seconds. It should be barely touching their face. And do not put anything directly on the eye itself. Make sure their eye is closed before holding anything over it.

Step Five:

Repeat steps one through four every 2 hours for the rest of the day (if you can).

If the problem persists, then please consult your Veterinarian as it may be a more serious issue. Never ever put anything hot or very warm on your cat. Always make sure to have clean hands when working with your pets' eyes. And wash your hands afterwards! Do not put anything directly onto your pets' eyes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Keeping Your Kitty Entertained

Cats get bored easily. It's true! They are intelligent, social, little balls of furry goodness and often need distractions from the usual stretch, eat, potty, sleep, clean and purr routine of their daily lives. And believe it or not, it's actually super easy to entertain your cat companions! Here is a small list to help you get started.

1.) Lasers! It's not just for James Bond villains, science fiction or puppies. Most cats absolutely LOVE chasing those cheeky, sneaky red balls of light around. Get them spinning in circles, jumping up walls and pawing at the ground. Believe me, it is as much fun for you as it is for them! There are even battery operated laser machines made specifically for cats. They sit on your table, you angle the laser, press on and voila! It is on a timer so you needn't worry about switching it off.

2.) Feathers! You can find the feather teasers at any pet store anywhere. They're the long sticks with the feathers and bells at the end of them. These are especially great for cats with a lot of energy- track them along the floor to hone into the stalker nature of your cat or wiggle it in the air to get them to jump like mad.

3.) Crinkle balls! Some cats genuinely do not like the sound of crinkle balls, so get a small one and try it out before you try to play with them. Just rub it in between your fingers and if your cat bolts, you know it's a no go. If they stay, you'll get to watch them bat the crinkle balls around like mad for ages.

4.) Brushing! True, it doesn't sound like entertainment, but they sure do love it. Start them at an early age and every time you bring out that brush they will flop down and rub their faces all over it, like it's going out of style. It's a great bonding activity for you and your kitty, provided they sit still long enough.

5.) Fetch! If you can train your cat to play fetch (both of mine do), nothing will pass the time quite like throwing a little fuzzy ball or mousey toy around.

6.) Mouse hunt! You can find this battery operated toy at pet stores- it's a white circle with a yellow mouse that dashes around the circle with three small "caves" in which to hide. Just turn it on and watch your cats sit around it, and bat at the mouse as he runs about. There are so many other toys of this kind available that cats love. These types of toys keep their wits sharp and minds entertained.