Alaskan Husky

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AKC Group: Working

As their name suggests, these dogs did originate in Alaska where they were bred for sledding, pulling and racing. They are very fast and have taken the title of the best sled racing dog away from their Siberian Husky cousins. Alaskan Huskies are essentially mutts, mixed from Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Inuit Huskies, even Border Collies and more.

Size: 45 to 65 pounds, about 25 inches.

Color: Not recognized as an official breed by the AKC, Alaskan Huskies can be a multitude of colors. They are usually grey, black and white, but cream, brown and red are seen at times too.

Life span: Up to 14 years.

Health problems: Hyperthyroidism, cataracts, glaucoma.

Alaskan Huskies are friendly, curious, calm dogs. If you’re looking for a watchdog that won’t bark excessively, this is the dog for you. They are good with older children, but your family cat or youngster may only see his annoying curious personality. Alaskan Huskies are much calmer than Siberian Huskies.

To keep your Alaskan Husky mentally stimulated, he needs a yard and the bigger the home you can afford, the better; Alaskan Huskies need a lot of room inside the home too. They are lively, playful, intelligent, mischievous pets that can sometimes lapse into wilful or stubbornness. For the most part, Alaskan Huskies are very easygoing dogs. If you are able to give your Alaskan Husky another (largish) dog companion, he’ll be happy. If you can’t, he’ll need to go to a dog park to give him social interaction time. Bred for sledding activities and racing, Alaskan Huskies need a lot of exercise. This physical exercise will also impact their mental health. If you give them enough physical stimulation, you’ll allow their positive personality traits to shine like a beacon. A bored Alaskan Husky will be incredibly destructive. A canine Houdini, it’s best to have a tall fence that won’t allow him to tunnel under.

A final note: Don’t be surprised if your Alaskan Husky sometimes sounds like a wolf, they have that Husky howl.

American Water Spaniel

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AKC Group: Sporting

The exact history of this breed is unknown, but it’s generally considered to have originated in the Midwest U.S. and Wisconsin. American Water Spaniels were used for hunting, especially birds from the water and is used for retrieval from both land and water.

Size: 15 to 18 inches, 23 to 45 pounds.

Color: Solid liver, brown or dark chocolate. Sometimes they can have white on their chests or toes.

Life span: 10 to 12 years.

Health problems: Hip dysplasia or eye problems. Some lines have skin problems.

American Water Spaniels are energetic and intelligent. They will adore accompanying you to the beach; they are excellent swimmers. Their dense curly coats help them withstand cold water and weather. They have broad heads and look spaniel-like.

American Water Spaniels are gentle, kind and affectionate. They make excellent companions for the whole family, even other pets. Socialization will help them to overcome their natural timidity and reduce suspicion or aggressiveness to strange dogs. They love to fetch, so much so that they will wile away the whole day if you have the time. They do need a fenced yard and teaching them to come when called is vital. They can become extremely distracted by a scent and follow the trail in the blink of an eye if the opportunity presents itself.

American Water Spaniels should be brushed twice a week. Bathe sparingly, it removes their natural coat oils and dries out their skin. If you find your dog smelly, it’s due to the oil in his coat. American Water Spaniels are easy to train. Never use harsh tones or actions, American Water Spaniels are easily scared.  Positive praise and ignoring bad habits instead of punishment is the best way to go.

Nose’s Visit to the Vet

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Time for Nose’s check-up and vaccines. As a 12-year-old cat, he had his senior wellness tests done and everything came back great. His brother, Boots, had a confirmed heart murmur. For the past few visits, his vet has wondered if Nose also has a murmur. They tested for it and he does a slight murmur, but it’s nothing that’s causing him any stress or undue health at this time. Nose got a clean bill of health! (Next up is Pippy…..)

Australian Shepherd

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AKC Group: Herding

Australian Shepherds came about during the 19th and early 20th century to watch over livestock flocks. After the second World War, Shepherds began to regularly appear in Westerns, TV shows and rodeos. Their popularity on farms or ranches saw an explosion.

Size: The traditional Shepherd is 18 to 23 inches and 40 – 65 pounds. There are mini Shepherds that are smaller in size and weight but share the same personality!

Color: Blue merle, red merle, black and red.

Life span: 12 to 15 years.

Health problems: Cataracts, glaucoma, epilepsy, heart problems, allergies, skin problems, cancer.

The Australian Shepherd’s coat is medium length and either straight or wavy. The double coat can present a problem if it feathers.

Australian Shepherds are clever, energetic and fast. Extremely active, they demand a lot of attention and need to be busy! Australian Shepherds are born workers, if you don’t keep them busy or give them a “job” to do, life will not be harmonious. The reason you often see a Shepherd on a farm is that’s where they do best. On a farm they can work, in the city, they can’t. On a farm they can run, in a city, it’s hard to burn off their energy. If they are raised with other animals or children, they can tolerate them well; strangers, not so much.

Expect your Australian Shepherd to shed excessively twice a year. During these times, you’ll need to brush and groom regularly. Otherwise, their coat isn’t bad to maintain.

You’ll need to take your Australian Shepherd to training classes within their first year as proper training for these dogs is essential. Australian Shepherds excel at agility and obedience. Socialization to other people and animals really help Australian Shepherds to open up and showcase the best of their personality and tame their over-protective leanings. They are quick learners and they love to play!

How to Turn a Feral Cat into a House Cat

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If you live in a residential neighborhood, you probably have semi- to full-out feral cats running around. If you live in a rural neighborhood, you have most likely had a cat dropped off on your property and have permanent feral cats roaming around. As a cat lover, you may have at one time felt sorry enough to put out food or water for this cat or decided to try to bring it inside and give him a better life.

Trying to tame a feral cat is a difficult undertaking — but it is not impossible. You may find out that he will turn into the one cat who has loved you the most of any cat you’ll ever be fortunate enough to love and care for. Take note: as a feral cat, he has not been socialized to live with humans and will be extremely fearful of you, your home and any other member of the household. You must go slowly and let the cat dictate the pace of the domestication. It is always a possibility that the cat may never become affectionate; don’t take it personally, some cats just have a naturally timid personality that they can’t overcome.

The first step is to take the feral cat to your veterinarian. A feral cat almost always has a flea infestation, possibly ticks and needs to be checked for medical conditions that need addressing. (The last thing you want coming into your home are fleas or ticks.)

Once your cat has been given the all-clear, you can bring him home. It’s best to start by confining him to one room for a few days so he can acclimate himself to his surroundings. Provide him with a litter box, food and water dishes, toys and a bed or box with a blanket in it to substitute as a bed. It’s also a great idea to have something in the room that has your scent (your natural body scent, not your perfume) on it so he can learn to familiarize himself to it and begin to gain a sense of security in relation to you. Go into the room from time to time and just sit there — do not approach him; let him come to you. Always remain calm and speak to him in soothing tones. In fact, take a book in with you and read. In the beginning, he will show no interest in you whatsoever, eventually though, he should slowly start to come over. Also, from time to time, bring some treats with you and see if he’ll approach you with treats. If he won’t, try leaving the treats in the room with him. As much as you can, try to let him see you providing the food for him.

Once he begins to warm up to you and you get a sense that he’s comfortable, you can open the door and let him explore the rest of his new environment. Again, go slowly and let him dictate the pace. If you have any other pets in residence, you’ll need to slowly introduce them to each other. The above steps are your foundation for any other introduction you’ll need to make with him. (Instead of your scent, make it the dog or other cat’s or your spouse.) Always ensure he has a safe place to run “home” to when he feels secure. (He may always run back to that room when he feels uncomfortable, so ensure he has access.)

Catnip

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Catnip is a plant with heart-shaped leaves on a thick stem. It has a chemical ingredient that drive cats crazy!

How does catnip work?

When cats breathe in the chemicals, it triggers a behavioral response. Not every cat has the same reaction, but it is usually a pleasurable one; they rub, purr and roll around to their hearts content. If you have an aggressive cat, be very careful regarding catnip, it may make him more aggressive.

Why doesn’t a cat respond to catnip?

About 25% of cats will not respond to catnip. Why not? Genetics; if neither of his parents react to catnip, their offspring won’t either. Meanwhile, if only one parent cat responds, you cat should still respond to it. If a cat is younger than 8 weeks old, he will not respond either. Very young kittens are unable to respond to the glorious chemical catnip emits.

Is catnip harmful?

So far there hasn’t been any research to suggest that it’s unsafe or that catnip is addictive. It’s been suggested that an overdose of catnip can lead to seizures, a decrease in mental abilities or personality change. However, nothing one way or the other has been proven 100%, so it’s probably best the use the “in moderation” method.

Some Catnip Facts:

  • Australian cats are not susceptible to catnip. Domestic Australian cats have been bred from a very small population that did not produce a reaction to catnip.
  • The actual effect of catnip (despite the response) only lasts a few seconds.
  • Afterwards to experience another high, a cat has to wait two hours before their body can reset to its normal state.

 

If your cat is in the 75% majority that reacts to catnip (the pleasurable reaction of course), any time you let him indulge, you are in for some crazy hijinks.

Bombay

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Bombays look like a mini black leopard with the personality of a Burmese cat. The Bombay has a glossy jet black coat and brilliant copper eyes. Medium in size, Bombays are a mass of muscle. Males weigh 8 to 11 pounds, females tip the scales between 6 to 9 pounds. Their coat lays close to their bodies and feels like pure satin.

The Bombay breed is a manmade creation. Breeder Nikki Horner wanted to emulate the black leopard. She used a sable Burmese male with a black American Shorthair female.

A Bombay companion is a devoted one indeed, but he won’t drive you crazy, conversation-wise anyway. He will follow you around because he craves your attention and he adores being in your lap. Bombays are very sweet, utterly affectionate and completely agreeable. Don’t be surprised if your Bombay never plays with his toys unless you join in. They are naturally curious and intelligent.

Appenzeller Mountain Dog

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Group: Foundation Stock Service

Appenzellers originated from Roman Mastiffs and local Swiss working dogs during the Roman conquest of Europe. A touch of Hungarian influence is suspected somewhere along the way because of the curled tail over the back. Bred for herding and guarding, Appenzellers still perform these tasks.

Size: 18 to 23 inches, 50 to 70 pounds.

Color: Tri-black (black, brown and white).

Life span: 12 to 13 years.

Health problems: no known regularly occurring problems.

Appenzellers are well-built, muscular dogs with wide, flat heads and a muzzle that narrows to its black nose. They have small eyes and pendant ears (ears that hang down). Their tails curl over their backs. They have a short double coat that is thick and glossy. All Appenzellers have rust markings between the black and white colors on their coats.

Appenzellers love to run and jump, they are hard to wear out! They are super smart and learn very quickly. They are loyal and sensitive to your emotions. Appenzellers are always up for the next adventure! They make ideal companions when they are adequately exercised both mentally and physically every day. If they aren’t, Appenzellers will get into mischief — destruction-style. As a natural herder, they may nip while running, so you’ll have to discourage that and do some training. If raised with a cat or another dog, they make an excellent companion to them too.

Grooming is super easy. When it occurs to you, give them a brushing to remove the dead hair (but don’t feel the need to keep to a rigid schedule). Training is essential for Appenzellers. Do not be too harsh or aggressive or your Appenzeller will respond in kind. You should be firm, fair and consistent. If you treat your Appenzeller with respect, you’ll get that respect right back.

 

What are Cats’ “Points?”

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What exactly are “points” of a cat and why do they happen?

The body points (ears, face, mask, feet and tail) are darker in color because of a temperature-controlled enzyme. The parts of the body farthest away from the heart are cooler and coat color concentrates in those areas. As a cat ages, the point color continues to darken.

Point coloration is a genetic mutation associated with albinism. Kittens are born pure white and develop the point patterns at a few weeks of age. Pointed cats have blue eyes and when a light is shone on them, the eyes appear red instead of the normal blue or green. The red eye occurs because the back of the eye lacks the necessary pigment.

Point coloration also happens to rabbits, horses and sheep.

Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog

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AKC Group: Rare

Alapahas were once called the “Plantation Dog,” used in Georgia to protect the slaves that worked on the southern plantations. Alapahas were only bred from one kennel. The bloodlines are very small and these dogs are very rare.

Size: 22 to 24 inches, 60 to 100 pounds.

Color: All colors, merles (blue, brown or red) are most common. Also piebald color.

Life span: 12 to 13 years.

Health problems: Genetic conditions that result from line breeding and inbreeding. Entropion (inversion of the eyelids), cherry eye and tear duct inflammation can happen as well.

These oversized bulldogs have broad heads with naturally dropped ears. Originally bred for the plantations, Alapahas are a farmer’s best friend, they can work cattle and catch hogs. Alaphas are loyal, excellent companions that will protect your home and be patient with your children. They are quick to train and learn quickly. They will attack if they feel threatened.

Regular brushing (twice a week) will reduce excess shedding. A bath once a month or every other week will curtail their natural “dog” smell.

The more socialization you can give your Alapaha to other dogs, puppies, environments and people, the better he will be able to ignore his natural aggression. He’ll become aggressive only if he has to defend his home or people. Your training should never be harsh or aggressive because an Alapaha will respond in kind. If you’re positive to him, he’ll respond positively in return. Alapahas excel at obedience and he will learn anything you can think of. Alapahas are so smart.