Are You Ready For Take Your Dog To Work Day?

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Take Your Dog To Work Day is on Friday, June 22 – are you and your pup ready? As someone who gets to bring her dog to work every day, I know I’m spoiled. Pet Sitters International has been promoting Take Your Dog To Work Day since 1999 to raise awareness of how much dogs bring to our lives and to encourage adoption.

But before you bring Fido into your office, there are some things you should prepare for and keep in mind:

Ask permission. This is the first step, and the most important. Ask HR if you can bring your dog to work, and ask your coworkers if they’re allergic or afraid of dogs.

Make your dog a good canine coworker. Has your pup had his shots? A bath? Is he potty trained? You love your dog, but not everyone else does. Make sure people will want to be around your dog.

Follow the rules. Portland advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy permits employees to bring their dogs to work, as long as they’re non-agressive, potty trained, and on a 6′ leash. You can work on acclimating your dog to a stimulating workplace by bringing him to coffee shops or other dog-friendly places where he can get used to being around new people.

Over-pack for dog’s day out. Be sure to bring any food your dog may need to stay on his regular feeding schedule, a water bowl, special treats, poop bags, toys or rawhides to keep him occupied, and a leash to tether him to your desk or other immovable object if you have to leave him unattended. Don’t tie him to a rolling office chair – I’ve seen an eighty pound Rhodesian Ridgeback drag one across an office and down stairs in pursuit of his master!

Some people just aren’t dog people. If your coworkers seem afraid or avoidant of your dog, don’t press the issue. Be considerate of peoples’ time and space – you are at work, after all.

Keep temptations out of reach. Candy jars and low, uncovered trash cans are not uncommon in offices. It’s not your coworkers’ responsibility to keep your dog out of their lunch, so take the time to dog-proof your work space beforehand.

Have an escape hatch. Your dog may get bored during your work day. Make sure you have open time in your schedule to take him to a nearby park or grassy area for a game of fetch or potty time.

Speed Dating Goes To The Dogs. Literally.

A speed date at the dog park?

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Speed dating – a round-robin type of event with the goal of meeting as many potential mates as possible – have been around for at least a decade. One enterprising pet rescue has decided to take the concept one step further, helping potential pet parents find a new four-legged friend.

On five-minute “dates,” the potential adopters will interact one-on-one with a furry suitor. This time is used to see if chemistry exists between the dog and person.

Event organizer Pam Partis hopes to arrange for eight dogs to attend the event.

Personally, I love this idea as a way to find new homes for well-socialized dogs. At last year’s Portland White Party, I was able to take a break from the human socializing to spend time with some of Oregon Humane Society‘s special guests:

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While I have a full house right now, pet-wise, I would welome the opportunity to “try before I buy”. Allowing potential adoptees to interact in a warm, casual environment outside the shelter helps everyone’s personality shine through, human and canine.

Would you prefer to interact with a potential new pet in a neutral location before adopting? And are appetizers and wine an enticement to attend?

7 Tips For Summer Pet Safety

Now that it’s summer, our four-legged friends are spending more time outdoors, being active – and that comes with risks. Here are some important tips for keeping your dog safe in the hot summer months:

Hot car in the city. Don’t leave your dog in the car when it’s warm – temperatures inside a closed car can be 20 degrees or more above the outside ambient temperature. That means that although it’s only a balmy 80 outside, your dog will be at risk of heat stroke and suffocation in your 100 degree car.

Avoid the hottest part of the day. If you usually exercise your dog in the middle of the day, consider switching to early mornings or evenings, to keep you both cool. You wouldn’t want to go for a jog when it’s 90 degrees out, would you?

Water, water everywhere. Trips to the park for exercise when it’s hot out require frequent water breaks. If your park has a water fountain, bring along a collapsible bowl. Otherwise, make sure to bring an extra bottle of water.

Picnic and BBQ vigilance. We’re more likely to eat outside during the summer, adding more temptation for our dogs to try to steal food that could make them sick. Keep an eye on your picnic basket, even during that scintillating game of badminton, and put your steaks and other goodies high enough that your pup can’t get at them.

Itchy and scratchy. With more outdoor activities comes increased exposure to fleas and ticks. Set up a recurring event on your calendar to remind you to administer flea and tick prevention when appropriate, and make sure to stock up from a trusted source.

Bang! Independence Day is one of the most enjoyable summer holidays for humans, but loud fireworks can upset animals and cause them to bolt in fear. Keep pets inside, give dogs a safe place to “hide”, and make sure all pets are wearing collars with ID just in case someone pulls a legger.

Toxin risks. If you use petroleum based fertilizers – or any substances that have a poison warning on the container – on your garden, keep pets away for the period stated on the label. If you have an emergency, the ASPCA’s poison control center operates a 24/7 hotline at (888) 426-4435 (there’s a $65 charge).

Breed Bans – Protection or Perception Problem?

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In the aftermath of Maryland’s ruling that pit bulls and pit bull mixes are “inherently dangerous”, owners and their landlords are now liable for damages resulting from an attack.

But what constitutes a “pit bull” or “pit bull mix”? Would you be able to recognize one?

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Take the quiz and find out. Courtesy pitbullsontheweb.com.

I’ll admit that when I’m at the off leash park and see one or more dogs who look like pit bulls enter, I’m warier than I am when, say, a lab ambles up. But yesterday, at the local off leash with my lab mix and a friend’s French Bulldog, we came upon three pit bulls who were all so friendly – to both humans and my dogs – that I’ll be less suspicious next time.

Have we just been trained to see pit bulls as dangerous, just as we were German Shepherds and Saint Bernards in previous decades? I remember how scary Cujo was, and my avoidance of the breed stuck with me for years!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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In honor of Mexican culture in the US and the Battle of Pueblo – not Mexican Independence Day, which in on September 16th – let’s celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some Mexican dog breeds!

Chihuahua

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Named for the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, the Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed, and commonly believed to be descended from the companion animals of the Toltec civilization. The breed was accepted by the AKC in 1904, and it’s small size makes it a favorite – it’s one of the twenty most popular breeds.

There’s a great deal of variation in coloring, and all combinations are accepted except for merle, which is linked to a harmful genetic disorder. There are only two accepted coat varieties, the short-haired or smooth-coat and the long-coat:

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While they are popular with apartment dwellers, they’re not recommended for families with small children and can be fiercely loyal to one person.

Mexican Hairless Dog, or Xoloitzcuintli

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The Xoloitzcuintli – “Xolo” for short – is a rare, hairless breed that originated in Mexico more than 3,000 years ago. Xolos were highly valued and considered sacred by some native cultures, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, and Maya. Xolos were one of the first breeds registered by the AKC, making an appearance in 1887.

Their hairlessness may have started as a mutation, but it could function as an advantage in tropical climates. Since hairlessness is the dominant trait of Xolos, the recessive expression of coated Xolos will appear in almost every litter:

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Coloring is variable, including spotted dogs, and AKC recognized sizes include Toy (at least 10 through 14 inches tall at the shoulder), Miniature (over 14 through 18 inches tall) and Standard size (over 18 through 23 inches tall).

The national breed of Mexico, Xolos make popular companion animals, although that popularity has yet to spread to the US. Rambunctious puppies grow up to be even-tempered adults, although Xolos are considered a to have a “primitive” temperament like Basenjis and Pharaoh Hounds – highly intelligent and prone to escape artistry. Xolos need a great deal of socialization and training, and are ill-suited to colder climates – their hairlessness requires different grooming and care than most other breeds.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Is Your Dog Or Cat Obese?

Overweight cat on a scale

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Now that we know how expensive and risky obesity can be for our pets, the first question is how to figure out if your dog or cat is overweight or obese.

What an obese pet looks like

The simplest indicator of whether or not your pet is overweight is if you can see a waist – if you can, your dog is probably a healthy weight. If you can’t, it’s time to ask your vet about how Fido can drop a few pounds.

Antiochvet.com provides a simple visual chart for what a dog or cat’s waistline should look like:

How to tell if your dog or cat is overweight

More specifically, your pet is a healthy weight if:

  • his or her stomach doesn’t sag
  • you can see his or her waist from above

Your pet may be overweight or obese if:

  • they have a flat, not rounded, back
  • there’s no discernable waist

What an obese pet feels like

Since many dogs and cats have thick coats of long fur, it can be difficult to assess your pet’s weight by sight alone.

  • You should be able to feel your dog or cat’s ribs through their fur.
  • Your dog or cat shouldn’t have a belly you can grasp with your hand.

Now that we have a better idea of whether or not our pets qualify as overweight or obese, we’re ready to do something about it. Future posts will discuss dietary changes you can make to slim down your pup, and exercise for even the laziest house cat.