Sunday, May 10, 2009

Canine Sport

Dog agility is a canine sport in which a handler directs a dog through a course of standard obstacles laid-out by a judge in a race for time and accuracy. Dogs run off leash and the handler can not use food or toys as incentives for performance. Moreover, the handler is not permit to touch the dog or the obstacles, except accidentally. Handler controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of her animal.

Agility course consists of a set of standard obstacles:

A-frame-Two broad ramps, usually about 3 feet wide by 8 to 9 feet long, hinged together and raised so that the hinged connection is between five feet above the ground, forming an A shape;

Dogwalk-Three 8 to 12 ft planks that are 9 to 12 inches wide and connected at the ends. The centre plank is raised about 4 feet above the ground, so that the two end planks form ramps leading up to and down from the center plank.

Teeter-totter-A 10 to 12 foot plank pivoting on a support, like a child's seesaw.

Tunnel (chute or rigid tunnel)-A vinyl tube, 10 to 20 feet long and about 2 feet in diameter, through which the dog runs. .

Jump-Two uprights supporting a horizontal bar over which the dog jumps. The height is adjusted for dogs of different heights.

Tire jump-Roughly the size of a tire, suspended in a frame. The dog must jump through the opening of the "tire"; like other jumps, the height is adjusted for dogs of different sizes.

Table -An elevated square platform about 3-foot-by-3-foot square onto which the dog must jump and pause, either sitting or in a down position, for a designated period of time (usually about 5 seconds) which is counted out by the judge.

Weave poles- Like a slalom, this is a series of 5 to 12 upright poles, each about 3 feet tall and spaced about 20 inches apart, through which the dog weaves.

To prepare for competition, a handler must take the time to highly train her dog and implement numerous strategies to direct her dog for precision and speed. But really, for the average dog and his owner, agility owner is all about fun and spending time together.

A few years, ago I took an agility course with my dog, Hudson at the ASPCA in New York City. It was an amazing experience for both of us. Although Hudson was a bit shy going thru the tunnels, he managed to enjoy the jumps and weave poles and wasn't afraid of the a-frame, dogswalk or see-saw. Over the course of a few weeks, I recognize that Hudson became more athletic and a much more confident dog. Perhaps, I should do some agility with my other dogs, especially Rhone and Teign for just that reason. They are both shy and introverted-typically English Toy Spaniels.

Moreover even if you don't have time to take an agility classes, there are inexpensive agility kits that you can buy. Spend some quality time with your dog this summer in the backyard conditioning him all for sporting fun. Better yet, if you want to experience pure doggie joy, incorporate agility into any type of dog party. Watching a Great Pyrenees, walk over planks and barrel through tunnels is just as much fun as watching a Toy Poodle discover her athletic ability on a low hurdle.

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Foodie's Dream Come True

Last night, my husband and I attended the Black Tie dinner at the National Arts Club to honor Jacques Pepin. Chef Pepin was presented with our club's Medal of Honor For Excellence in the Culinary Arts. Included in the evening was a charity auction to aid The Jacques Pepin Scholarship Fund administered by The Culinary Trust.

I was first introduced to the Arts Club by my dear friend, Jane St.Lifer Kennedy. Thru her generous support and sponsorship, I became a member of this wonderful organization. Moreover, Jane is truly Miss Congeniality, but more importantly, was the auctioneer of last night's event. Mrs. Kennedy gloriously entertained us with her vibrant personality while conveniencing folks to buy more items to benefit the scholarship fund. She auctioned Chef Pepin's watercolors prints, his painted chef coats and a library of his books.

Last night, Jane, Matthew and I had such delight because we sat at the B table. We sat with many of Chef Pepin's friend including Chef Andre Soltner, Chef Jacques Torres, and Sarah Moulton. Also, sitting with us was Chef-Scholar Cathy Kaufman.

Although Chef Pepin was not cooking, he recipes were served. Joseph Fappaolo, the Executive Chef at the club prepared such fine food. We were served Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne, Lobster salad with tarragon accompanied by Domaine Laroche Chablis, Roasted veal tenders stuffed with proscuitto and porcini mushrooms accompanied by Embrix de Vall-Llach Priorat, and Chocolate roulade with fresh fruit accompaned by Presidential Vintage Port 1994.

Gifts Bags included Jacques Torres Chocolate, Illy Caffe, OXO International and BlackRock Investments.

All truly enjoyed the evening.

Frightened Dancer Still Running After All These Years

An energetic pup named Dancer ran away from her South Austin home eight years ago. Her owner, Alison Murphy, made all the right moves to find her: called shelters, vets and animal organization as well as put out fliers even offering a $500 reward for the terrier mix. Unfortunately, Dancer who was wearing two ID tags and had a microchip was nowhere to be found until last week.

The Humane Society in New Braunfels called to tell them that their little white dog had been found. Dancer who no longer responds to her name is back at home. A musician in New Braunfels found the dog running around his neighborhood and took her home last week. He kept her a few days, and then went to the Humane Society to see if the dog had a microchip, and perhaps, an owner.

How the dog spent the last eight years is a mystery. Dancer is in good physical shape, her teeth are in great shape and she doesn't even have fleas. Obviously, she was well taken care of.

But old habits die hard. Just last week, she bolted out the door of a pet store when Alison when she stopped to by the dog a new collar and leash. It took and hour and more than a dozen dog lover samaritans to capture the frightened dog.

Murphy has learned a valuable lesson and will take Dancer to obedience class.

Moreover, sometimes dogs need more than a license, identification tags and a microchip. This is why it is so important to train your dog. All dogs should sit, stay, and COME. Although it is one of the hardest commands to teach, dog owners should practice this command on a daily basis. Like Alison, you never know when you are going to need it, even after eight years.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Your Pet Can Be A Greeting Card Star

The Furry Faceoff Challenge, sponsored by American Greetings and Merial's Frontline Plus, is a nationwide pet photo contest held throughout the month of May which pits dogs against cats in the ultimate pictorial showdown. Enter your cutest photos of your pet to win or vote for your favorite cat or dog picture here.

One Grand prize winner will be featured on Pet Channel but also receive a prize package that will include a $250 gift card to Petsmart, $50 Photoworks gift card, one year membership to and one year Premium membership to

Additionally, 10 runners up will be choosen. Runners up will each receive: a $20 gift certificate, a one-year membership to, and a one-year Premium Membership to

All contest participants must register and be a member of the Sponsor's in order to enter the contest.

More importantly, download the coupon for one month of FREE Frontline Plus or Top Spot. Catch: You have to buy six doses to get one FREE

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wash and Wear

A few months ago, I received a bottle of Pet Head shampoo in the mail from the company's PR firm. Somehow the box and the contents got damaged, but in this economy, I don't waste a thing. So, I opened the box carefully and immediately went to work, washing my four dogs, not wasting a drop of the moisturizing shampoo. I used the purple bottle, "Feeling Flaky", because my dogs have sensitive skin. It was a great grooming experience -- washing them with a nice shampoo that made them smell good and look great, too.

Now available in stores nationwide, this line of shampoos, creme rinses and sprays are specially formulated to suit all canine lifestyles and grooming needs. All Pet Head formulas are pH-adjusted and free of parabens, sulfates, DEA and are cruelty-free. Each product is packaged in bright and colorful 16.1 fl oz (475 ml) or 15.2 fl oz (450 ml) bottles. The product line includes:

Life's An Itch - skin-soothing shampoo so doggies won't scratch

Dirty Talk - deodorizing shampoo to make mutts smell sweet

Fears for Tears - tearless shampoo for pups who squirm in the bath

Quickie - quick-rinsing shampoo perfect for a fido who won't sit still

Feeling Flaky - dry and sensitive skin shampoo to add extra moisture to your pup's coat

Dry Clean - waterless spray shampoo for puppies afraid to get wet or ones the go

Furtastic - creme rinse for curly and long coats to make your K-9 silky and smooth

So Spoiled - conditioning creme rinse to give any dog an extra pampering treatment

Furball - detangling spray that makes for smooth brushing

Poof! - magical deodorizing spray to blast any stinky smell away

Besides the grooming products, Pet Head has styling products, such as brushes, trendy apparel and must-have accessories.

Dear Veterinarians

May 6, 2009

Dear Veterinarians:

I write this note to all of my veterinarians – the practitioners that I have and do frequent; my friends; and club members. In celebration of National Pet Week,I want to extend my deep appreciation for your help, guidance and expertise when caring for the furry members of my family, as well as taking care of me.

You have all been an invaluable resource, both to me and to my pets over the years. In emergency situations – such as when one of my dogs got a paper clip lodged in his molar – you and your staff saw him immediately and assured me he would be fine. Your concern and prompt response calmed my nerves; something I am eternally grateful for.

During routine check-ups for my barking brood and meowing muses or when I just want to call in with a question, you have always been kind, gentle and thorough. The suggestions and tips you have given me to keep my four-legged friends healthy and happy have been widely employed. Ultimately, your dedication and compassion led me to dedicate an entire chapter in my book, The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette,(Adams Media, 2007), to teaching others how to properly treat their veterinarian.

Being a responsible pet owner is not only important, but imperative. In today’s tough economic times, spending more conservatively is natural, but the health and safety of my pets is not a place for financial cutbacks. Taking my pets to the vet for both preventative and emergency services is quintessential to preserving their life and well-being. Thank you for teaching me that.

National Pet Week, established in 1981 by the AVMA, promotes responsible pet ownership and awareness of veterinary medicine, in addition to celebrating the human-animal bond. This year’s theme is "Pets Jazz up Our Lives" – in recognition of the AVMA Convention, in New Orleans, LA, July 19-22, 2009. I hope I will see you all there.

Moreover, this celebratory week pays tribute to the more than 172 million companion animals and the remarkable role that they play in improving the quality of our human lives. I know my pets have... jazzed up my life. They have improved and enhanced my life considerably! Across the U.S., pet owners, pet professionals and other pet lovers can use this opportunity to educate the public on how pets improve human health, and how pet owners can return the favor.

Please accept my sincerest thanks for your dedicated and compassionate work when it comes to my pets. Your gift of healing and knowledge does not go unnoticed.


Charlotte Reed

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pet Munching on Houseplants Proves Fatal

Months after a Labrador Retriever-mix puppy, was adopted by a family from the Houston SPCA, she was rushed to a nearby emergency clinic after showing signs of illness. The puppy had eaten parts of sago palm plant, a common houseplant that is highly toxic to dogs and cats.

According to the ASPCA there has been an increase in sago palm and cycad poisoning, since 2003, with 50 to 75 percent of those ingestions resulting in fatalities. All parts of the plant are poisonous; signs of illness include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures and liver failure.

All pet owners should be aware of poisonous plants and other household substances that pose danger to dogs and cats. Some plants that are dangerous to pets include:

Autumn crocus (Colchicum): Its active ingredient, colchicines, triggers an anti-metabolic effect that can cause rapidly dividing cells, shedding of the gastrointestinal tract, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

Azalea (Rhododendron): This popular plant can harm a dog's cardiovascular system and trigger vomiting or gastrointestinal upset.

Daffodil (Narcissus): Toxic ingredients in the bulbs cause convulsions, tremors, lethargy, weakness, and upset stomachs.

Hyacinth (Hyacinth): This popular plant can cause severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, depression, and tremors.

Japanese yew (Taxis): Extremely toxic to dogs, this group of ornamental plants can cause seizures or cardiac failure. The plant and red berries are toxic.

Lily of the valley (Convalaria): This plant can cause heart failure, coordination problems, and vomiting.

Oleander (Nerium): Extremely toxic, this popular outdoor plant contains cardiac glycosides that harm the heart, decrease body temperature, cause abnormal pulse rate, and can cause death. Beware: Even people have died from eating hot dogs roasted on an oleander twig.

Rhubarb (Rheum): Although the stalks are used to make pies, the leaves pack the potential to cause kidney damage.

Sago palm (Cycads): Resembling an upside down pineapple, this plant thrives in sandy soils, especially in warmer states such as California, Texas, and Florida. A few seeds can kill a dog.

Tomato (Lycopersicion): Surprisingly, the greenery of this common plant, not the tomato itself, contains solanine, a toxic ingredient that can prompt gastric upset, depression, weakness, and a decrease in heart rate.

For more information about plants that are dangerous to pets, visit the ASPCA.

Pet's Jazz Up Our Lives

This week, May 4-10, is National Pet Week ("NPW"). This celebration includes paying tribute to the more than 172 million companion animals that live in this country and the remarkable role that they play in improving the quality of our lives. All across the nation, pet owners, pet professionals and others will use this opportunity to educate the public on how pets improve human health, and how pet owners can return the favor.

National Pet Week was established in 1981 by the AVMA and its charitable auxiliary to promote responsible pet ownership and awareness of veterinary medicine, and celebrate the human-animal bond. This year, the theme is "Pets Jazz up Our Lives" in recognition of the AVMA convention in New Orleans July 19-22.

Educating adults and children about responsible pet ownership is one of the most important elements of National Pet Week. Teachers are encouraged to visit the National Pet Week website here where they can download lesson plans and work sheets about pet safety and veterinary medicine.

Help celebrate National Pet Week by reminding everyone how important pets are in our lives. I am going to celebrate by writing my veterinarians and telling them how much important they are to me and my pets.

Monday, May 04, 2009

In the case of Chanel

That's Chanel. She is a seven-year old Daschund, belonging to my friends Carole and Frank. Carole called called me yesterday to alert me to Chanel's medical problems. She told me that Chanel was in a New Jersey veterinarian hospital on the verge of death. The vet on duty was in the processing of diagnosing her but believed that she might have Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE). HGE is a disease syndrome seen in dogs, characterized by the acute (sudden) onset of bloody diarrhea, accompanied by high packed cell volumes (red blood cells). The cause of HGE is unknown.

All breeds can be affected, although the incidence is greater in small breed dogs. Schnauzers, Dachshund, Yorkshire terriers, and miniature poodles are the most commonly affected by HGE which usually occurs in adult dogsm over 5 years. HGE is most often seen in city dogs, or dogs housed in urban areas.

Symptoms of HGE is acute vomiting, anorexia, depression and bloody diarrhea. The onset of HGE is usually very quick with no previous warning signs or health problems reported in the affected individuals. Signs progress rapidly and become severe within a few hours. Signs of shock, collapse, and sudden death have been reported.

Diagnostic efforts include:
Complete blood count (CBC)
Biochemical profile
Fecal examination
Elisa for parvovirus
Bacteria cultures and cytology of the stool
Coagulogram, or clotting profile
Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) should be obtained to eliminate a foreign body or other disease process.

Patients suspected of having HGE are hospitalized and treated aggressively because clinical deterioration is rapid and fatal. Treatment includes: aggressive fluid therapy. In most cases, Antibiotics are recommended. The patient should be kept off food and water until signs are clearly resolving, and the PCV is within normal range. A bland, easy to digest diet should be given for several days, and then your pet can be weaned back to its regular food if his condition has improved.

The prognosis for patients with HGE is excellent if it is caught early and treated aggressively. If you suspect your pet may have HGE, seek veterinary attention immediately. Administer all medication and recommended diet as directed by your veterinarian. Because there is no known cause of the syndrome, there are no preventative measures that can be recommended in these patients.

Although Chanel has many of HGE symptons-except for the diarrhea-, she does not has this illness. Presently, she has labored breathing and her lungs have been filling up with fluids. The vet is bringing in a cardiologist as heart disease is suspected.

I am praying for Chanel and will keep you updated as to her condition.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My Dogs Shines Brite

Summer is just around the corner, and my husband and I are looking forward to participating in a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including boating and swimming with our four English Toy Spaniels. While at our second home in the Outer Banks, a long string of narrow barrier islands of the coast of North Carolina, protecting my dogs while engaged in water activities is paramount, because such activities can lead to loss, injury or even drowning.

Recently, my friend, Carole Cusamano, Chief Designer at the Sherpa Pet Group, introduced me to a line of safety products powered by LunabriteTM. LunabriteTM, an innovative new concept in light technology, requires no batteries, wiring or electricity. It is well suited for pets that are in, or play near, the water. In addition to the new "Be Seen" flotation device, the illuminated line of products includes dog collars and leashes, toys and more. The flotation device, with adjustable girth, is available in sizes: T4 (back length of 9"), S (back length of 12"), M (back length of 16"), L (back length of 21"), 2X (back length of 25"), and 3X (back length of 26"+). Safety collars and leashes are available in sizes: S (11-14"), M (14-18"), and L (18-22"); and the lead comes in one size (5' x 1").

Solutions for Guests Allergic to Dogs and Cats

A national survey conducted by the National Institute of Enivornmental Health Sciences and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developement to measure levels of indoor allergens that might trigger asthma, revealed that in homes with dogs the levels of allergens were high enough to trigger allergies or asthma. People with dog allergies are generally sensitve to dog dander, saliva, and urine. Cat allergies, twice as common as allergies to dogs, affect about six to ten million Americans. People with cat allergies are generally sensitive to all cats.

If friends or family decide to come for a visit or to stay in your home, ask invitees if they suffer from dog or cat allergies and discuss the best manner in which you can alleviate their sensitivities. In most cases, grooming your pet before your visitors turn up can be effective. Products such as LoShed and Allerpet can also reduce shedding and dander. Besides treating your dog or cat, thoroughly clean your home by vacuuming carpets and rugs, dusting surfaces and washing floors.

Once you clean your guest room, limit pet access. If possible, place a HEPA air purifier where guests sleep. The National Bureau of Standards states that air filtered by a HEPA unit is free of 99.97% of all contaminating particles. Allergy experts claim that if you can breathe pure air for at least 8 to 10 hours each night, you can probably tolerate more exposure to allergenic substances during the day.

Most importantly, encourage your guests to discuss increasing doses of their allergy medications with their physicians.

After writing all this, just tell them it would be better for them to stay in a hotel.

Greening Dog Waste

Recently, I discovered that about 4 billion tons of dog waste is collected each year and that plastics are the fourth highest generated waste in the United States Considering I have four dogs, deal with a lot of dog waste on a daily basis and dispose of it in plastic bags, I decided to help alleviate this situation. From my interest in Puppies Behind Bars this past year, I have learned that all it takes to make a difference is one dog and one person. So to help make an environmental impact, I decided to use biodegradable Poop Bags.

Poop Bags are made from a combination of corn and other renewable products which meet the highest standards for biodegradability. Specifically, PoopBags meet the ASTM D6400 specification for biodegradability, and comply with biodegradable product claims in all 50 states. Additionally, they contain no chemical additives to enhance their decomposition. The bags will decompose naturally when exposed to the Earth's elements and micro-organisms in the soil.

To learn more about ordering Poop Bags so that you and your dog can make a difference, visit