Alaskan Malamute

Group: Working

Descended from Eskimo dogs, Malamute refers to the regional dialect of Alaskan Inupiaq Eskimos. Alaskan Malamutes were “designed” to pull sleds in harsh winter conditions.

Size: 75 to 90 pounds. 22 to 26 inches.

Colors: light grey to black with white markings. Sable to red with white markings. Solid white.

Life span: Up to 15 years.

Health problems: hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, inherited polyneuropathy, hemeralopia (day blindness).

Strong and energetic, intelligent and independent, Malamutes are friendly, affectionate and develop deep bonds.

Malamutes feature a deep, dense coat in order to survive Arctic conditions. Their undercoats are soft white, with a thick, coarse topcoat. In warm months, Malamutes shed excessively. Normally your Malamute should be brushed several times a week — even better is a quick, daily brush.

Malamutes need equal exercise physically and mentally — and they need a lot of it! Training will keep his mind focused and stimulated.

They can do well with children if socialized and trained well — though they pair better with older children (they are a large breed of dog).

Cats: The Indoors vs. Outdoors Debate

Don’t be fooled: Even though your cat has been domesticated, at his core, he is as wild as any of his wildcat cousins. If you asked your cat he might say that he’d be happy to divide his time between living on his own outside and living with you inside. No matter how badly you try, there is no way for you to provide as stimulating an environment as the outdoors. Letting your cat live outdoors, even part of the time, cuts down on maintenance (no litter!) but presents a whole host of other problems.

The two biggest reasons to keep your cat indoors are for disease prevention and a cat’s life span. Outdoor cats are at increased risk for rabies, feline leukemia, fleas and other diseases. With proper vaccinations and medications, you can prevent (or manage) these hazards. Outdoor cats frequently get into fights with other cats. These injuries (depending on the severity) can be easily managed and treated, but it will cost you money each time. Every time your cat gets into a fight, he must go to the vet to be checked out. If any bite becomes infected, you will have a major crisis on your hands.

The life span of an indoor cat ranges from 12 to 20 years. The life span of a feral cat is only 3 to 4 years! An outdoor cat is at increased risk of getting hit by a car and these injuries are usually always severe or worse, fatal.

There are numerous ways to let your indoor cat experience the outdoors without turning him loose on the neighborhood. You can train your cat to walk on a harness or leash. (Note that the younger your cat is when you start training him, the better and faster he’ll learn to accept it.) You can also build your cat an enclosed pen; this way your cat can experience all the outdoors has to offer but he cannot run off anywhere. If your backyard is fully fenced so your cat can’t get around to the side of your house or to the front yard, you can always let him out into his enclosed backyard. There’s always the option of letting him experience the outdoors from his carrier or crate.

Dog Collars

So you’ve got yourself a puppy or you just want some new bling for your pooch, you head to the store to check out the collars and are amazed and overwhelmed by the choices. This was supposed to be simple! Let’s look at the options.

The traditional collar is a piece of sturdy fabric that fastens around the neck like a belt. Multiple holes or a buckle stamped in the collar make it a great choice for your puppy because you can adjust the size as your dog grows. These are also great because there’s space to put on your licensing, rabies and identification tags. There are a wide array of design options and styles and these types of collars are readily available, in any section of any store.

Choke/spike collars are used to control “unruly” animals. These collars are supposed to help owners with dogs that pull on their leash. The choke or spike collar is thought to provide a quick instance of pain that should make the dog stop pulling. Unfortunately, the dog may continue to pull. If used improperly, these collars can damage the dog’s neck and, in extreme cases, can cause a dog to have trouble breathing.

Bark collars are designed to stop a dog from barking. When the dog barks, something unpleasant (a small shock or a spray of citronella) happens. The dog associates barking with the unpleasantness and stops. It’s best not to simply rely on bark collars — and to train your dog not to bark in addition to using a bark collar.

You can thank those other pets for this next collar.  Most popular with the cat set are breakaway collars. Cat owners like their pets to sport collars with identification details as well. Cats that are allowed outside, though, face a choking hazard by wearing a collar. Hence, the breakaway collar. If the collar gets caught on something, it breaks away from the neck and the cat continues on. Obviously the big drawback is you have to go out and replace it when kitty (or puppy) comes home collar-less.

Then are harnesses and there are many different types. Harnesses are designed to go under the front legs, across the chest and a leash attaches to the back between the shoulder blades. The two most common benefits are it decreases neck strain and eases breathing. Harnesses are a very popular choice for dogs after neck surgeries, slipped discs or for older pets suffering from arthritis. If you have a breed of dog that’s prone to breathing problems, you may want to consider using a harness instead of a collar.

Is Peanut Mona Lisa?


(The hardest part of this story was getting this photo; it took a long time to get this photographic proof!)

There is always debate about whether animals actually smile. I’d like to submit this photo for your approval. This is Peanut and she is smiling. This is not her normal facial expression, she only smiles when she’s really happy and receiving lots of attention (not to mention purring like a little motor boat). I’d say that, yes, animals can and do smile. Look at this happy kitty!

Socks’ Commentary on Her Mom’s Schedule


Socks’ mom is a very busy lady. Socks is a very loving cat. Her mom calls her the Greeter and Socks loves attention. Whenever Mom lays down on the sofa, no matter whether it’s for a long or short length of time, Socks just has to curl up beside Mom for a cuddle. This happens at nighttime too, though Socks doesn’t spend the entire night next to her mom. Socks is such a sweetheart!!

American Curl

American Curls are named for their ears. Their ears are curled back! It’s easy to confuse American Curls with the Scottish Fold, but an informed observer will tell you that each cat has a distinct body “shape” (meaning the cats aren’t the same size) and their ears each fold differently.

The very first American Curls were born to a longhaired black stray named Shulasmith whom herself had unusual ears. The curled ears are naturally occurring thanks to a dominant gene in the cat’s makeup. To keep the breed pure, American Curls are only bred with other Curls or (very infrequently) other domestic cats that align to breed standards.

Curls are medium-sized, slender, slightly muscular cats. They come in almost all colors and patterns.

Curl kittens are born with straight ears. At three to five days old, the ears begin to curl. They unfurl at about six weeks old. Between twelve and sixteen weeks, the ears reach their permanent “curl” state.

Curls are sweet, intelligent and curious. They adore their human family! Curls retain their kittenhood (behavior-wise) through their entire lifespan. They get along well with other pets and children.

The Cats’ Visit to the Vet

Flea Nose

The cats recently went to the vet’s to get weighed.

The results were good!

Pippy and Socks have stayed the same, which is good, neither of them needed to lose any weight.

Nose (see above) lost a pound which is great because he needed to lose some weight. See photo below to see how Nose looks now.

Peanut lost about a pound too, which isn’t necessarily good, she needed to lose a little, but maybe not that much….



Group: Working.

Akitas hail from the city of Akita, Japan. They were bred as guard dogs and all-purpose hunting dogs in the northern mountains. Traditionally Akitas represent health and good luck to the Japanese.

The story goes that Helen Keller was the first to bring Akitas to the U.S. after she fell in love with them while traveling through Japan. After WWII, Akitas were brought back with the servicemen.

Size: 70 to 110 pounds, 24 to 28 inches tall.

Color: Most common are brindle and pinto with white markings.

Health problems: Hip dysplasia, gastric dilatation-volvulus, hypothyroidism, sebaceous adenitis.

Life span: Up to 12 years.

Akitas make excellent protectors, when barking is necessary, they let loose no problem! They are loyal and courageous. Generally quiet, they can be quite strong-willed and require proper obedience training. Early socialization is also necessary as both will allow the Akita’s better personality traits to shine.

Akitas have a stiff outer coat that hides a soft, thick undercoat. They do shed (generally) and additionally shed excessively twice a year. Weekly brushing will keep the coat sleek and healthy, though more frequent brushing should be done during peak shedding seasons. Akitas should be walked for a good distance twice a day — Akitas have plenty of energy to expend.

In the right home, an Akita will be affectionate and loyal. If socialized properly, they do well with kids — but is probably not the right dog for you if you’re a first time dog owner.


Why Vet Care is SO Expensive

There is no getting around it, sharing your life with a pet is an expensive endeavor. There’s food, toys, grooming fees, pet-sitting or kennel boarding fees and the biggie: vet bills. You don’t want to deny your pet the care he desperately needs, but money doesn’t grow on trees. (If only!) But why are vet bills so darn expensive?

A typical/routine office visit costs you $60 to $90 just for walking in the door. X-rays start at about $150 or more. Yikes! To put it in perspective though, these figures are lower than what we humans would have to pay for the same procedures. How do vets set these prices? There are usually two components — and these are typically true for any service (from mechanics to the food service) — “fixed” costs and labor.

Fixed costs include the cost of supplies (such as the drugs used in a procedure), catheters, bandages, needles and other items during a treatment and also includes the ongoing costs of running a clinic — mortgage, salary of staff, electricity, internet, office supplies and the like. All these costs must be factored into the price of any service provided.

Labor cost is usually the dollar amount per hour that the veterinarian gets paid.

There is a “governing” body, in terms of a veterinary medical association that provides vets with an objective fee guide that they base on average costs and salaries for services provided. These prices are designed to reflect the affordability level for the clients and yet still allow the vet to be able to run a successful practice. The location of a vet’s office is always taken into account as well. An urban veterinarian’s office typically tend to charge more than a rural one, mainly because fixed costs are higher in urban areas.

If you’re wondering about the prices at your vet’s office, you are well within your rights to ask how they came up with their prices or even if they follow the price guidelines from your local Veterinary Medical Association. It is your money and your pet. Don’t assume that cheaper prices are the best way to go or that more expensive clinics are better.

There are constant medical advances occurring all the time to help our pets live their healthiest, longest lives possible. These procedures may not be cheap, but, ultimately, only you and your vet can decide what the best options are for you, your pet and your family at large.

Pippy’s New Habit

Pippy sitting

Speaking of habits, Pippy has a new one. His Mom’s bed is pushed up against the wall and around the middle of the bed there is a window. Therefore Pippy jumps up onto the bed from the front and has to go to the back to get to the window, which he loves to lay under during the day (Hello, sunshine!!). In the morning, before wake up time is when Pippy likes to look out this window, but Mom is always in the way. Instead of jumping over or climbing over her, he walks down the length of the bed and steps over her feet. I wonder if this stems from when he was kitten and fell off the stair step….what a funny little guy.