American Bobtail

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American Bobtails have only been around for the last 40 years. They are rugged-looking, sturdy, medium-to-large sized cats named after their bobbed tails. Their coats can either be short and dense or long and shaggy. Male Bobtails can easily reach 15 pounds in weight! (Females are slightly smaller.)

American Bobtails do not originate from wild bobcats or lynx. A male brown tabby kitten with a bobtail was found on an Indian reservation in the Southwest United States in the late 1960s. He was bred with a long-tailed (normal) female. This first litter formed the basis for the breed and the bobbed tails are a naturally occurring genetic “flaw.”

Owners describe Bobtails as “fun, friendly, talkative and amazing climbers.” American Bobtails make an excellent addition to any family because they make great companions for other pets (dogs too!) and children.

Airedale Terrier

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Group: Terrier

Size: 40 – 65 pounds

Colors: black and tan or grizzle and tan

Health problems: hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, gastric dilatation-volvulus

Life span: Up to 12 years.

Named for the valley of Aire in England, the Airedale terrier developed from a smaller terrier that is now extinct (the Waterside or Bingley terrier).

Originally Airedale terriers were hunters, messengers or guard dogs.

The largest terrier in the world, Airedales are full of energy, very brave, square in stature with deep chests. Smart and protective, Airedales can become unsociable and unruly without proper patient and consistent training. However, they do better with older children.

Airedales have wiry top coats with a soft undercoat. They are not known to shed excessively, but their coats do require a lot of attention — regular haircuts and brushing.

With a high energy level, Airedales require a lot of exercise. The more you can handle, the better. Keep in mind, with this high level of physical activity requirement, they also need the same amount of mental stimulation.

Common Behavior Problems and Solutions (Cats)

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URINE SPRAYING
There is still much debate on the purpose of urine spraying, but it is generally considered to be a form of territorial marking behavior. The thing is when another cat smells the markings, the cat doesn’t retreat. (So stop doing it!!) It is very normal for outdoors cats to spray. But if your feline is an indoor cat, there’s a problem with him: he doesn’t feel secure, is experiencing stress or there may be a health problem that requires diagnosis. Common problems causing indoor elimination are actually the litter boxes: they’re too dirty, there aren’t enough or there’s a problem with the placement of them. If this is the problem, this is the easy to fix. The first thing to do is to take your cat to the vet and get a checkup to rule out a medical condition. If not, tinker with the litter box placements or try adding more. If that’s not the problem, it’s best to find a behaviorist and try to get to the bottom of the problem behavior.

SOILING INDOORS

If a cat is ill, trapped in a room or suddenly frightened, usually this will be a one-time problem. If this is becoming a chronic problem, you need to get your car to a vet because there is most likely a health problem somewhere.

Punishment (for soiling or spraying) is never the answer; your cat will only become more fearful and make the problem worse. Putting down deterrents will only cause him to move to a new location. The only solution is a vet visit.

SCRATCHING

Scratching can be another form of marking territory. There are scent and sweat glands between the pads of the feet that mix and produce a unique smell. It can be a sign that kitty wants to play or wants some attention. Of course, cats also scratch to sharpen their claws. Generally, if the majority of scratching occurs around windows or doors, your car is experiencing insecurity. The easiest way to deal with scratching is to provide plenty of scratching posts. If your cat is kept strictly indoors, trimming his nails can help this problem as well.

AGGRESSION BETWEEN CATS

In a multi-cat household, there will always exist a potential bully. When a “victim” responds to the threats, the more the “bully” will engage in aggression. The best way to handle strife is to remove the primary trigger of the aggression. If your cats are simply incompatible, you’re going to have to take steps to re-introduce them as though one cat is new to the household. Ensure that each cat has its own water and food dish, litter box, toys, bed, scratching post, etc.  is a necessity whether your cats get along or not. (Competing for the “best” resources can trigger aggression.) If these don’t help, consult a cat behaviorist.

Keep in mind that all adult cats continue to engage in play fighting (like they did as kittens). Play fighting is usually silent, happens in bursts, claws are retracted and any biting is done gently. It can escalate to include hissing. You can tell the difference by observing the cats during “normal” times. If there doesn’t exist a level of tension regularly between them, they probably engage in play fighting.

AGGRESSION TO HUMANS

Cats aren’t naturally aggressive. If they’re acting aggressive, it’s usually a sign of an emotional disturbance. The first thing to do is to take your cat to the vet to rule out a physical cause. The next step may be to take your cat to a behaviorist. However, if your cat is only aggressive with you at playtime, you’re probably playing too rough. (This type of play actually encourages aggression.) Play gentler games and whenever he gets aggressive, stop playing. If your cat hisses at you when you approach, he’s afraid. The best thing to do is let your cat initiate contact and keep your responses brief in reply to him. When your cat has had enough, he will leave; don’t take it personally. Don’t force social situations on him, if he wants to stay hidden, let him hide.

Perhaps aggressive cats didn’t receive enough human socialization during kittenhood. You can retrain an adult cat, but it’s a slow process that requires time, patience and dedication — and consists 100% of going at your cat’s pace, but it is possible.

OVER-GROOMING

If your cat has bald spots, he most likely is suffering from a skin condition or is in pain. Take him to his vet for a checkup. If there isn’t a medical cause, it’s possible your cat may be under some stress. Your best bet is to take him to a behaviorist to help you identify the stressors.

PICA

For many Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese and Oriental breeds, there may be a genetic component; for some reason, these breeds enjoy “wool eating.” Pica is described as consumption of non-edible materials. Any ingestion of any material can cause obstructions in the intestine which will require surgery. It is quite possible for a cat to recover fully but they most likely will continue to engage in pica. Make sure that you’re providing as stimulating an environment inside as you can. If it’s feasible, let your cat outside into a secure garden or fenced in area outside. Remove any materials that your cat consumes. Switch to a high fiber diet or provide your cat with softened hide sticks dipped in fish oil for your cat to chew on.

It is also possible that there is a medical condition like hyperthyroidism, feline infectious peritonitis (a fatal viral disease) or cancer. A vet check-up should be your first step.

BEREAVEMENT

Some cats who had no particular bond may not show any symptoms, while other cats make it painfully obvious. There are generally three stages of feline bereavement. The first stage is usually very brief where the cat actively looks for the deceased. They may vocalize more and may sniff while walking from room to room. In the second stage, cats tend to become withdrawn or inactive. Some cats may develop appetite loss. The third is acceptance. Your cat may permanently change his habits. He may become more friendly and attentive (or less) and other resident cats who may not have actively grieved may “blossom” after a housemate’s death. In a multi-cat household, feline hierarchies may change. Unfortunately, there’s nothing really we can do, it’s best to let your cat figure it out and work through his grief on his own time. The only intervention needed is to ensure that your cat does eat if he experiences appetite loss.

ANXIETY

Unfortunately, most baseline anxiety is an inherited trait and the amount of human socialization that kitten gets in infancy will play a role in the cat’s level of anxiousness as an adult. You can’t change genetics or the circumstances in the past, but if you have an adult scaredy cat, the best thing to do is to act naturally and be relaxed with him. Let him dictate your relationship, let him seek you out. Give your fraidy cat an air of “invisibility,” let him move freely without focusing your attention on him.

If you’re in a new relationship and your cat is fearful of your partner, you can “bribe” the cat into a relationship with treats. Go slowly and be patient. Never force your cat to do anything he’s not comfortable with, he needs to feel in control.

There are synthetic pheromones that can be sprayed throughout your home to help him if he’s nervous or in your carrier when he has to go to the vet. However, if it’s a sudden change in behavior, there could be a medical cause and he’ll need to have a check-up.

If you would like to avoid contacting a behaviorist (due to the cost), but would like the advice of one, check out the book The Cat Whisperer, written by Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a cat behaviorist; it’s a wonderful book full of how to help your cat with common behavior issues. In fact, the books covers all the problems listed here and provides a multitude of solutions. Proven solutions that work!

Abyssinian

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Looking at an Abyssinian is like looking at an ancient Egyptian cat. The exact history of Abyssinians are shrouded in mystery. Abyssinians are the oldest breed of cat and is assumed to be one of the earliest descendants from the African wildcat, the ancestor to all domestic breeds of cats.

Abyssinians are medium sized cats that move with lithe and grace and have long, slim, well-defined muscular legs. Abyssinians have slightly rounded heads with big ears. They are lively and active. If you provide ample play, they will love you for life. But don’t expect an Abyssinian to be a lap cat. Abyssinians LOVE water.

They are very interested in all that goes on around them. Abysinnians want to participate in your activities and will reward you with so much love and affection.

Pippy’s Career

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In Pippy’s bio in the “Stars” section, I mentioned how Pippy would make a great race car driver because of the speed that he races through the house when that particular mood strikes him. But, Pippy also has another career option available to him. He would make a great ear doctor, not so much an ear, nose and throat, nope, Pippy would specialize in just ears. Here’s why.

He spends a great deal of time cleaning other cat’s ears. His favorite bonding activity with his late older brother Boots was to clean his ears. Without Boots, that hasn’t stopped Pippy from cleaning ears. He regularly engages in the activity still. Sometimes I wonder if he’s disappointed that no one (since Boots is gone) returns the favor and cleans his for him….

Cooper Reflects on His First Year

Snowy Cooper
I recently had my very first birthday. My Mom gave me a big bone and a hug. She makes me happy. It did get me thinking about the past year I have had….
When I was small I remember meeting my people parents for the first time, I was sooo excited to meet them that I ran right up to the man and nibbled his toes; I wanted them to pick me over my puppy sister and brothers because I knew these were my people. (It worked too because they picked me.)
My people parents are awesome! They always say how cute I am. I am a beautiful boy, my mommy says. My daddy is a bit more strict with rules but I have learned that if I look at him with my eyes he can’t be mad at me anymore. They play with me all the time with all my toys. I go for walks with them; some are long and some are short. I love car rides now that I am old enough to look out the window (but only when we drive slow). I can smell so many different things when I sniff out of them and my ears flap in the breeze.
My big brother Horton is now my best buddy. He didn’t like me much when I first got here. But I grew on him. Now we play all the time. Plus I learned how to get him going just right. I do tend to tease him just a little bit. I have other play buddies too. Lego comes to stay with us sometimes; he was bigger than me last summer but now that I am all growed up, I can have more fun with him now. Mindy and Marvin are my camping friends, I can’t wait until we go camping together again.
I went to the vet doctor a few times to for my vaccinations, to get…what was the word they used … neutered.  A while ago my ears got really sore and we had to go see the vet doctor again. The doctor also took my blood for a heartworm test. I didn’t like that; it hurt!
Overall I had a great first year. I’ve learned so many things and seen a lot of different stuff. I’m as happy as can be with my daddy, mommy and Horton.

Peanut and Nose at Play

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Peanut, Nose and Pippy love to play with those plastic balls with bells in them. (Although, technically, they much prefer the balls to have the bells removed.) Pippy never carries them around, but Peanut and Nose do. The interesting part is that when Peanut carries it, she meows while doing so (much the same way that Socks meows when carrying around stuffed animals). Nose never makes a sound.

Common Behavior Problems and Solutions for Dogs

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DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR

This is the most common complaint regarding dogs, yet, there is no easy answer as to why the dog is being destructive. The most common reason is actually separation anxiety. We are typically gone from our homes for hours at a time and if your dog is lonely and bored, and, provided with the opportunity, he may engage in destruction. Unless you catch your dog in the act, don’t bother punishing him. He won’t associate the punishment with the destruction; he only acts guilty because he can see that you’re upset. Adding another pet to the home or providing interactive toys can help.

Dogs can also get destructive when they’re confined — the space may be too small or there might be something desirable on the other side that they can’t reach that they want.

Your best bet with any destructive behavior is a great offense, rather than defense. Never give your puppy an object to chew on unless it doesn’t resemble a forbidden object. (For example, don’t give your dog an old shoe to chew on unless you want him to chew on your shoes forever.) Puppies should be crated while you’re away, but never use the crate as a punishment. The goal is for your puppy to see the crate as a safe place.

AGGRESSION

Biting should always be discouraged from the beginning. Aggression is caused by one of two things: frustration and dominance. There is virtually little difference between a small dog’s aggression and a big dog’s, except that large breeds are more powerful and can cause more damage. For powerful dogs, they must see you as the pack leader — but not by you using force or any harsh or rough treatment; this will only make him more aggressive. You must always ensure that the dog you have matches your lifestyle. Do not get a high energy breed if you hate going outside and are a hermit. Always ensure that your dog gets enough exercise according to his activity level. Exercise burns up his excess energy and maintains a dog’s healthy state of mind.

EXCESSIVE BARKING

Always determine where and when your dog is barking. If it occurs when your dog is outside alone, keep him indoors or go out with him. If he always barks at strangers, it’s simply his natural instinct; he’s trying to protect his space. You need to show him that this is inappropriate. The solution is positive reinforcement. (Positive reinforcement is a great tool to use in most cases — always reward your dog when he behaves appropriately.) When he barks, call him and make him sit then reward with a treat. Repeat until he learns not to bark. Do not use punishment, it can cause fear and make the problem worse.

JUMPING ON PEOPLE

When he jumps up and receives the attention he wants, that’s a reinforcement. Instead, train him to see that jumping up will not get him attention. Ignore your dog when he attempts to jump up; look upward and fold your arms over your chest. Command him to sit. When he does, then reward him with affection. You need to be consistent and enlist the entire family in training.

PICA

Pica is the abnormal ingestion of materials that are not food — like soil, gravel, feces or materials. Puppies are notorious for this and sometimes the objects need to be surgically removed. Unfortunately, puppies are naturally curious. The most troubling form of pica is the ingestion of feces (or coprophagia). To change this, sprinkle pepper on the feces or put hot sauce into the center of it.

EXCESSIVE LICKING

This can lead to hairless patches or infected wounds. If your vet can eliminate another health concern, this is caused by a psychological problem: boredom, stress or changes in your dog’s environment.

TAIL CHASING

It may be humorous, but it should be discouraged. It’s often caused by boredom, not enough exercise and cage confinement. Your best bet is to distract your dog before he starts to chase.

PHOBIAS

The most common phobia is a fear of thunderstorms. Your best bet is to progressively desensitize  your dog to thunder. Quietly playing a recording of thunder while you give your dog positive reinforcement (treats or attention). Gradually you can increase the volume until your dog is comfortable with the noise. It’s best to condition him in 10-minute intervals each day. If this doesn’t help, you may need to get calming medication.

CHASING CARS OR RUNNING AWAY

The easiest way to prevent this is to keep your dog on a leash or in your fenced yard. Once your dog has learned to escape, you’ll need to employ behavior modification. You can squirt your dog with a water pistol or frighten him with a loud noise to discourage him from the road.

DIGGING HOLES

Dogs dig when trying to escape, to catch rodents (hello, you’re a dog, not a cat!) or to keep cool. Ensure that your dog has a cool place to lie down outside and has plenty of water during the summer when he’s left outside. For pests, eliminate them as much as possible. However, if you own a terrier, this is a natural behavior and it’s best to give him his own area where he can dig to his heart’s content.

Affenpinscher

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Group: Toy

Size: 7 to 10 pounds

Colors: black, gray, silver, red, black and tan, beige

Health problems: Brachycephalic syndrome, patellar luxation

Life span: Up to 12 years.

Affenpinschers are one of the oldest dog breeds still seen today. Originally from Germany, their name translates to “monkey terrier.” (Their faces resemble monkeys.) Affenpinschers were originally bred as a large dog that was used to hunt rats. Over the years Affenpinschers have been bred down to the “toy” size, but their hunting instincts remain.

Frequent grooming is required for their course, shaggy coat. (This can be achieved with regular brushing and the occasional trip to the groomer.)

Affenpinschers are curious and intelligent, yet also stubborn and feisty. Consistent obedience training and proper socialization is extremely beneficial for these cuties. A daily walk can help to expend their moderate energy level, Make it a short walk; their stubby faces can lead to breathing difficulties.

Affenpinschers have big personalities that are crammed into small dogs. They are independent with a soft side. They form close bonds and will serve as a protector. If your Affenpinscher has problems with children or other pets, proper socialization will be needed to keep the peace in your household.

Cooper and Mama Cardinal

Cardinal
Cooper’s family has a pair of cardinals nesting in the bush outside their dining room window. A set of stairs comes down from the deck that Cooper and Horton use to get down to the grass. (Picture this: Dining room window, a bush, stairs down to the grass.) Therefore, the pair of dogs run down the stairs several times a day. The female cardinal has been there for (at least) the past week and a half.  Neither Cooper nor Horton have seen the cardinal or haven’t paid any attention to her if they have seen her. On Tuesday (April 29) she flew out of her nest and Cooper saw her do so…
Now Cooper heads for the bush to sniff all around. He will jump up on the railing and bark. But Momma cardinal stays still, not moving a muscle. She is currently still laying on her eggs and hopefully by the time the babies arrive Cooper will have found something else that will capture his interest.