Costumes and candy and doorbells—oh my! A dog’s-eye view of Halloween

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by Betsy Lane, MA

Ghosts and goblins, capes and masks, and bowls of chocolate—it’s not a holiday for the dogs!

If you have one of those super-easy-going dogs that trainers sometimes call “bombproof,” feel free to stop reading now and go get a Pumpkin Spice Anything at a quaint sidewalk café, your beautifully calm dog relaxing by your feet.

For the rest of us, it takes some care and forethought to keep our pups safe, happy, and healthy on Halloween. Let’s start by looking at things from Fictional Fido’s perspective on Halloween—perhaps the most confusing holiday in a dog’s year:

I know you humans love your holidays, but this one is a little scary.

First, my human family puts on odd costumes. It’s fun, sure—but I sometimes wonder where my normal humans went!

In all the extra excitement leading up to a holiday, I don’t always get my regular walks and napping done. Both of these are Very Important Activities to us dogs!

And then my humans want me to walk WITH them and the costumed kids, in the dark, with all those OTHER excited humans in THEIR weird-looking outfits? Yikes! I’d rather stay home, thankyouverymuch. (Besides, that’s where the big bowl of peanut-butter cups is!)

But at home, the doorbell rings every two minutes, and we’re greeted by ghosts, goblins, superheroes, princesses, and giant black cats shouting, “TRICK OR TREAT!!!” And my humans keep giving THEM treats out of the big bowl, but never give ME any of them. I missed my walk, my nap, and my dinner, and now you deprive me of TREATS?

It’s just not fair. I see the grown-ups sneaking piece after piece of chocolate, making those enticing crinkly-wrapper sounds. Human food = yummy food, so….  I’m just going to have to help myself! I’d better scarf down as much as I can before they stop me!

Uh-oh. Now I feel really, really icky and my humans are talking about a trip to the vet. This is not what I signed up for. I think I need to throw up now… sorry about the rug, Mom.

Poor Fictional Fido! Here are a few tips to help ensure your pups have a much better Halloween than he’s having. And they might just keep you away from the emergency vet and the local hardware store to rent a carpet shampooer.

Keep all candy (not just chocolate) safely out of reach of your pets. Chocolate is especially dangerous because dogs are much more sensitive to methylxanthines than humans. For a good idea of how little it takes to make your pup dangerously ill, check out this Chocolate Toxicity Meter

What goes in, must come out. Those high-fat, high-sugar treats can exit the system rather more quickly and unexpectedly than your dog’s normal, nutritionally balanced food. Just sayin’.

Keep pets away from doors (use a baby gate, or put them in another room with a special, dog-appropriate treat). Don’t take dogs trick-or-treating with you—for their safety and comfort, and that of other trick-or-treaters. And stick to their normal routine as closely as possible; routines are reassuring. (Check out Erin Schneider’s wonderful blog with practical safety tips for Halloween here.) 

Finally, you might LOVE that irresistibly cute dog costume, but your dog doesn’t. (They may tolerate it because they’re good dogs and they love you, but they won’t like it.) If you want to do something festive that isn’t going to make your dog miserable, try a fun seasonal bandanna, non-toxic chalk tattoos, or black-and-orange nail polish, available at the PetSmart Grooming Salon.  

This is a difficult holiday for many dogs, for many reasons. Let’s do what we can to ensure everyone has a safe, fun, happy Halloween! Aw-woooooo!

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Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

 

Canine curiosities your groomer knows

 

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by Betsy Lane, MA

Professional dog groomers get to know more dogs well than almost anyone, other than a veterinarian. This week, we spoke with Nicole Morris, Regional Salon Quality and Education Manager for PetSmart’s Great Lakes Region, and asked her what she’s learned that might surprise us. As usual, Nicole didn’t disappoint!  

Every pet professional picks up specialized bits of information on the job. For example, a pro musher will quickly learn that not all “Northern breeds” are created equal (not by a long shot). Vets learn that sometimes the fastest way to get a simple but stressful procedure done is to give the patient brief breaks. And dog walkers learn every client-dog’s preferences, from how they like to get leashed up to which fire hydrants provide the most fascinating scents.

Over the course of a career a groomer’s hands will cover every inch of thousands of dogs, from miniatures to giants, puppies to seniors, and super-relaxed to super-stressed. Because of this, experienced groomers have an inside scoop about dogs that other pet pros don’t usually have. Here are three of Nicole’s favorite fascinating facts:

Terriers pose one of the biggest challenges as far as temperaments for grooming. The terrier personality is “fight or flight” and when they don’t like having their nails trimmed, for example, they will try to get away from the groomer—and if that’s not an option, they may try to fight. Reading the behavior of a terrier and changing your technique/approach are crucial for both the terrier and groomer to keep everyone safe.

Many people bring their pups in for a groom because the dogs “smell.” One common culprit of a smelly pet is dirty ears! Pets ears should be cleaned regularly, especially if they have dropped ears, like spaniels and hounds. Look inside your pet’s ears regularly for redness, dirt, or discharge.

Did you know poodles shed? Instead of dropping the hairs onto your floor, they often fall back into the dog’s coat and, if not brushed out, can cause tangles and mats to form.

Because of their extensive contact with so many dogs, good groomers—those who pay close attention to the dogs in their care, understand canine body language, and know the unique characteristics of each breed or type of dog—have insights like these that are as fascinating as they are useful.

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Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon

How to get rid of that cat pee smell

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By Germaine Shock

 If I could, I’d have about ten cats and I’d wear sweaters with their faces on them (yeah, i’d be that person). I don’t mind the presents of dead animals, the attacking of curtains at 2am, or even choking on cat hair 24/7.  But there’s that one caveat of cat companionship that even those of us with the best trained felines have to deal with at least once: the dreaded smell of cat pee.  

There’s no mistaking it. It’s like the love child of a ball park urinal and skunk spray taking a sauna break. Soooo… what do you do about it? 

The Art of War – on cat pee

Ok, so let’s start by better understanding what makes that cat pee smell so pungent. There are several different waste chemicals involved, most notably urea, which is a compound found in both human and animal urine. Basically, when environmental bacteria and bacteria within the urine breaks down the urea, ammonia is released. If you’ve ever cleaned with the stuff, you’ll be familiar with its eye-watering side effect.

As time passes and the bacteria continues to multiply, mercaptans are produced. Mercaptans are what causes the smell when a skunk sprays. There’s also felinine, which is a protein that is part of the pheromone system and emits fragrant sulphurs (rotten egg smell) that get stronger as time goes by. This is part of the reason why that cat pee stench doesn’t seem to fade. The main use of all of this is communication. It helps males to mark their territory; cats can also use these aromas to tell if their fellow feline is sick or in heat.

Cause and effect

If your kitty is litter box trained, chances are the smell is pretty well contained due to deodorizing cat litters. But if your cat is a little on the stubborn side and tends to go outside of her box often, it’s important to figure out why. It could be something as simple as a dirty box to something more serious like a urinary tract disease. Your best bet is to go down the list. Make sure the box is kept clean and in a private area. Have you introduced a new animal or family member that might be making your cat jealous? Is your kitty exhibiting any signs of illness such as blood in the urine or frequent urination?  If in doubt, don’t hesitate to see your vet.

Once the potential cause is determined and corrected, it’s time to get down to business. First, you’ll need to locate the source of the smell.  While this may sound like common sense, you’d be surprised at just how tricky the area can be to locate. The cat pee scent is so strong that it fills the room, making it hard to pinpoint the exact location.This is especially true if the spot has already dried and there isn’t an obvious marking on the floor. 

Cleaning tips

Once you have located the source of the stink, the process for getting the smell out will depend on what the soiled area is made of:  

Machine washable fabric – If the item in question is machine washable, consider yourself lucky! Wash in the machine as usual but add a box of baking soda (yes, an entire box) in addition to your detergent. Make sure to wash in cold water and air dry if possible, as heat can cause the smell to set.

Carpet or upholstery (fresh stain) – Let’s say you’re fortunate enough to find the area before it has dried (hopefully not by stepping in it). First, soak up as much of the liquid as possible with towels, newspaper, microfiber cloths, etc.  You’ll want to dab the area instead of rubbing so you don’t spread the stain. A hands-off method of doing this is to put down the soaker-upper of your choice and then place something sturdy – like a stack of newspapers – on top of it and then stand on this. Do this several times, replacing the wet soaker-upper with a clean one, until the area is as dry as you can get it.

After this, you’ll need to clean the spot thoroughly.  You can either use a wet vac with water, or you could try a homemade recipe. Saturate the area with baking soda and then pour a mixture of ¾ cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon dish detergent over this.  You’ll want to work this mixture into the material and let it sit until dry. You might want to do a patch test to ensure that the peroxide won’t discolor your carpet or upholstery. You can then vacuum up the excess.

If DIY isn’t your thing, you can also buy commercial cleaners. Just make sure not to use ammonia… the smell is too similar to urine and might make your kitty want to mark the spot again.

Carpet or upholstery (dry stain) – Dry stains are usually already set, and therefore a lot more stubborn when it comes to removing them. You can use a wet vac and follow up with a high quality pet odor neutralizer.  

As a note, neutralizers don’t clean; instead, they’re simply used to neutralize the alkaline smell of the pee, which can help keep repeat offenses from happening. A simple, acidic neutralizer contains one part white vinegar with six parts water; spray this solution on the fabric and let it sit for ten minutes before completely removing it with an absorbent towel.

Whether you use a neutralizer or not, you’ll probably need to hit the spot twice to get the stain out completely.  Unfortunately, if the urine has also soaked through to the padding underneath the carpet, you may end up having to replace that area of carpet and padding.

Tile, wood, or laminate floors – If the mess is on wood, laminate, or tile, cleanup is fairly easy, since the liquid doesn’t tend to soak in. Clean up the excess liquid, then follow up by wiping down with ½ cup white vinegar mixed into 1 quart of warm water (or use a commercial product).  In the case of hardwood floors, sometimes the chemicals in cat urine can react with the varnish and leave a permanent discoloration; you might need to sand and re-varnish the area.

Think outside the litter box

Teach your cat how to use the toilet. (It can be done.)

What are your favorite cat pee clean up tricks?

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germaine-shock-pawedin-300x300

Germaine Shock is a pet enthusiast who has an appreciation for everything from Pythons to Parrots. She also has a passion for writing and majored in English from the University of Arkansas with a focus on classic literature.

Halloween safety tips

 

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By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Halloween is just around the corner. I was never a fan, but I’ve developed a new love for the holiday since moving to Colorado. My husband takes our kids out trick-or-treating and I stay home to pass out candy.

During our first Halloween in Colorado, we were dog sitting my parent’s dog, Dolly. When we lived in Chicago, we had a condo and didn’t get trick-or-treaters, so I never had to worry about how our dog, Bailey, would react to visitors. Still, I know that Halloween is a stressful day for dogs and I was prepared for having a dog on this hectic holiday.

Dolly isn’t crate trained, so I had some gates set up away from our entryway so she couldn’t get out. I set up a nice little spot for her to relax and hang out. Well, my plans didn’t go very well. Dolly was very stressed and barked the entire time. Shortly after trick-or-treating began, I knew I would have to change up my plan. I quickly set up a safe zone for her upstairs where she wouldn’t hear the doorbell and feel stressed by all the visitors. She was already pretty worked up, so it took her some time to calm down.

Halloween is a lot of fun for humans, but not so fun for our four-legged friends.

It’s scary seeing everyone dressed up in weird costumes, some with extra-scary masks. So below are some tips to help your dog survive all those ghouls and goblins!

Keep your dog at home. I know, I know. You have the perfect costume planned for your dog and you want to show it off. Instead, take some photos of them to show off to all of your friends and save your dog the stress. Dogs don’t enjoy being out on such a busy day with “funny looking” people.

Give your dog a safe place to be at home. This is when a crate comes in very handy. Set the crate in a place that is out of the way, give your dog a treat-filled Kong and let them relax. They don’t need to participate in all (or any) of the events of the night; they’ll be much happier on their own.

If you don’t have a crate, set up a spot in a room such as a bathroom or laundry room. Put their bed in there, give them a Kong and put a baby gate up.

Keep your dog away from the door. It is important to keep your dog away from the door, both for their comfort and for the safety of the trick-or-treaters. Not everyone enjoys coming to someone’s door just to be greeted with an over-enthusiastic dog. It can be quite frightening for kids. I don’t care how friendly your dog is, it isn’t fair to little trick-or-treaters to feel uncomfortable on their special night.

Noise sensitive dogs should be far away from the commotion. If you have a noise sensitive dog that reacts to the doorbell, it’s best to put them in a room far away from the commotion. If you have a crate, put their crate in a bedroom, turn on some white noise or relaxing music to drown out the noise and give them something yummy to chew on.

Remember, Halloween is supposed to be a fun night for all, but safety is key. This year, I’ll be handing out candy again while my husband takes our kids around the neighborhood. (I admit – I love seeing all the kids in their adorable costumes.) It should be a fun night!

How do you enjoy Halloween with your dog?

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Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

The grooming process … or, “Why does a trip to the grooming salon take so long, anyway?!”

Dog groomer shaving West Highland Terrier

By Betsy Lane, MA

If you’ve been following our blog over the past few months, you’ve probably learned a lot about dog groomers, tools, salons and shops, and so on.  In this week’s post, we unpack the grooming process itself, to answer that perennial question: Why does grooming a dog take so darn long?

Even pet parents who have been taking their dogs to grooming salons for years sometimes wonder why the process takes so long. In this week’s post, Nicole Morris, PetSmart’s Salon Quality and Education Manager for the Great Lakes Region, shed some light on the matter.

“At our grooming salons,” Nicole says, “two to four dogs arrive within the first hour of the groomer’s day. The groomer spends 5 to 15 minutes talking with the pet parents about the dog’s health, behavior, goals, and so on.” This checking-in chat is important, so plan for it when you make your appointment!

Once the dog is checked in, work proceeds in five logically ordered steps:

Prep work – The groomers take care of the basics first: coat (shaving and/or brushing out), nails, teeth, and ears. Always brush your dog’s coat before the bath, to avoid tangles and knots!

Bathing – The bath itself can be quick or more intense, depending on the dog’s coat and any treatments such as conditioners or de-shedding. In any case, an extremely thorough rinse finishes things up.

Drying – The drying process is essential; coats need to be completely dry in order to stretch to full length and make an even cut possible. The dryers make many dogs nervous, so at times the groomer will towel dry the dog, or turn a fan down to low and let the dog air dry. Many dogs still benefit from a break after the drying process. Drying times can be less than 15 minutes for a Yorkie, but closer to 45 for a Goldendoodle.

Clipping and tidying up – Finally, we’re to what feels like the “haircut”! This is when the groomer trims and tends to every last detail, from nose to toes to the tip of the tail.

Bows and bandanas – Your dog is looking and feeling great, so why not top all that goodness off with something fun? Team bandana or rhinestone bow, anyone?

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Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon.

Welcome home, Sassy!

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On the left: Sassy (with Denise Theobald) during the Hurricane Harvey intake. On the right: Sassy prepares to chow down on her Gotcha Day cake.

Little Sassy was a Hurricane Harvey refugee flown up to Chicago by Wings of Rescue in early September. My husband Drew and I volunteered for the emergency intake at The Anti-Cruelty Society in our various capacities, and as the evening wound down one of the last dogs to be processed was a skinny white terrier mix with crazy hair.

We had been looking for a small dog for some time, and after a half dozen or so meet and greets through local rescues we were planning to take a bit of a breather before starting the process up again. We really didn’t plan to foster a dog (and in any case we thought all of the Hurricane Harvey dogs had already been set up with foster families). But suddenly, there was Sassy, with her kennel cough, pneumonia, hookworms, and heart worms – about the only thing she didn’t have was a foster family. 

It must have been fate. After weeks of medication and TLC, we made it official on Friday – welcome to the family, Sassy!

 

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

 

 

How to get what you want – and make it a win-win for everybody

carmen rustenbeck and jamie

As my Grandmother would say: You don’t ask, you don’t get.

It’s great advice, but like a lot of advice it can be easier to implement in theory than in practice.

But when you’re faced with a situation that just doesn’t work for you, you can ado something about it, or b) feel resentful for the foreseeable future because you didn’t stand up and speak out.

Let’s be honest – most of us (myself included) will default to Option B because we don’t want to be rude, cause inconvenience, or make work for other people. And that’s fine, if you’re just dealing with the wrong latte size. But when you’re dealing with something that materially impacts your business, you have to go with Option A: do something about it.

(At this point you’re probably saying to yourself – yeah, yeah, Jamie, that’s very high-minded, but what brought all this on?)

We were at the IBPSA conference last week, and our booth placement was not very well-positioned to take advantage of foot traffic. After a day of wandering around muttering to myself (Option B), I thought – nope. This doesn’t work for me OR my company. Time for Option A.

So I found Carmen Rustenbeck, Executive Director and Founder of IBPSA and the co-coordinator of the annual conference. (That’s a picture of us, above.) I told her about the issue and how I thought we could fix it, and together we came up with a solution that worked for everyone. I was deeply impressed not only with how right it feels when people of goodwill work toward a common goal, but also with how much better I felt about myself when I consciously decided to address the issue.

In fact, Carmen and I were so inspired by our collective problem-solving mojo that we’re going to get together to discuss other ways to increase the value of the organization for all of its members.  I can’t wait – it’s always such a pleasure to work with the pet professionals at IBPSA.

It can be tough to ask for more than you’ve been given, because someone might be upset with you!

I get it. I really do. But everyone can go for Option A when the stakes are high enough. So in every situation you have to ask yourself “is it worth taking charge / potentially upsetting someone /c ausing a fuss?” When it’s a Dunkin Donuts coffee order and the line is six deep, perhaps the answer is no. When it’s your business, your brainchild, and your responsibility to do right by everyone who depends on you, my answer to that question is always going to be yes.

No matter your personality type, you can make deploying Option A a little bit easier with this simple exercise. Figure out how you would arrange the situation to your satisfaction before trying to make a change, instead of passively-aggressively addressing it with others or expecting someone else to read your mind and take care of it for you. If you can walk up to the decision maker and say “here is the situation and this is how I think we can change it”, you have a much better chance of getting what you want – and deserve. And, at the same time, you can strengthen relationships and grow as a professional. In other words – everybody wins.

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

What makes a great groomer great?

Groomer with a dog

by Betsy Lane, MA

Many—perhaps even most—dog groomers don’t start out thinking grooming will be their career. Successful groomers enter the field from all sorts of backgrounds. Many come to this work out of a deep love and commitment to animal welfare. Others get curious about the career when they bring their own dogs to be groomed. The paths to grooming are so diverse, it begs the questions: What do these professionals have in common, personality-wise? What attributes make a great groomer? And, could this describe you?

Nicole Morris, PetSmart’s Salon Quality and Education manager for the Great Lakes Region, provided her insights. A former professional dog groomer herself, Nicole knows this work inside and out, and has seen countless new groomers succeed. Here’s what she thinks they have in common:

Groomers need to be compassionate.

“The #1 quality all great groomers share is compassion.” Groomers need to be able to work well with pet parents from all walks of life, and with all different types of dogs. Some (parents and pets!) will be nervous or anxious. Some will bring in a dog with a health issue they might not even have noticed. Whatever the case, the groomer “has to be able to walk them through it,” Nicole says. And they need to do it with compassion and professionalism.

Groomers need to be patient.

Many pet parents are nervous, especially the first time they visit a salon (or a new groomer). “Especially for the Millennial generation, many of whom don’t have kids, the dog is their kid. Dropping the dog off at the salon is like dropping your kid off on the first day of preschool. [The pet parents] want to know the entire process,” Nicole says–and the groomer needs to be able to explain the process quickly but thoroughly, helping the pet parents relax.

Groomers need to be extroverted (in some ways).

When new clients arrive for appointments, the groomer needs to jump right in, engage the clients, and ask questions about some unusual topics, like poop, fleas, hair mats, and so on. As a groomer, “you have to be a little bit of an investigator,” Nicole says. Groomers also need to be extroverted enough to be good team players; they “need to be willing to ask for help—or to jump in and offer it proactively to another groomer who might be struggling.”

Groomers need to be detail-oriented.

Finally, great groomers are extremely detail oriented. They see the details, and feel motivated—compelled, even—to ensure every detail is just right.

Does this sound like you? If so, why not consider a career (or a new career) in dog grooming? PetSmart’s Grooming Academy is just one option, and it’s a great place to start exploring!

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https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon
Learn more at https://jobs.petsmart.com/salon.

Ancient cat breeds

Abyssinian

By Sandie Lee

Have you ever wondered where all the different cat breeds come from?

There’s the Russian Blue and the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Himalayan and the Siamese, and the Domestic Short and Long-haired felines.  Although there are over 70 specific cat breeds recognized today, they can all trace their lineage back to the Felis Sylvestris or the Middle Eastern Wildcat.

It was in the Middle East, some 12,000 years ago, that people began to recognize cats’ usefulness in keeping vermin under control. The ancient Egyptians even elevated the feline to the status of a god, a trait which seems to have followed this independent creature throughout time.

Let’s claw back the curtain of history to uncover some fascinating facts about our feline friends.

Nature or Nurture?

Did you know 95% of cats in the U.S. are randomly bred and are called American Domestics, while the other 5% are pedigreed? That’s a whole lot of nature being responsible for the majority of our cat population. Nature has also done some amazing things to help the feline species cope with and adapt to its surroundings.

For example, Maine Coon cats often have extra toes, a completely harmless condition known as polydactylism. These extra digits not only look adorable, but gives the cat greater abilities while hunting and over snowy terrain.

As cats became more and more popular, man took it upon himself to encourage traits in our felines that were naturally occurring in some litters.

A completely hairless kitten sparked the idea of a cat that would be more suitable for those who suffer with allergies and later became known as the Sphynx, while half a litter of kittens born with super-short legs inspired the Munchkin breed.

These are relatively new breeds to the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), but there are ancient breeds that have been around for hundreds and even thousands of years.

Ancient Cat Breeds

There’s a catalogue of cats that have been known throughout history. See if your favorite breed can count itself as “ancient.”

Turkish angoraTurkish Angora –  This fluffy breed can trace its documented lineage back as far as the 1600s in France. However, it is quite possible that the Turkish Angora originated in the mountainous regions of Turkey, where it developed an unusually soft, medium-long coat for protection against the harsh winters.

In addition, long-haired cats were also present as far back as the 1400s in Europe. In the early 1900s, this breed was used indiscriminately in breeding programs with the Persian cat to improve on the quality of the coats in the offspring. This almost lead to the demise of the entire Turkish Angora breed; fortunately, a breeding program was set up in Turkey to preserve the cat.

Today, all purebred Turkish Angoras must be able to trace their lineage back to Turkey to be registered with the CFA.

persian cats

Persian –  Another long haired feline, the Persian, also makes the list for being one of the oldest cat breeds known today.

Way back in the 1600s this cat was smuggled out of Persia (modern day Iran) by European explorers, along with spices and jewels. It then went on to grace the castles and courtyards of royalty in France, Italy, and England.

In fact, this breed was favored by Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale. Experts believe the Persian can trace its lineage all the way back to the wild cat, Felis Libyca, which are still found in Africa and Asia today.

siamese catSiamese –  The elegance of the Siamese breed can trace its roots back to Thailand (formerly Siam); in fact, a detailed description of a cat resembling the Siamese was found in a book that was believed to be written between 1350 and 1767.

As this breed gained popularity, President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) and his wife Lucy were the recipients of a Siamese cat shipped to them in 1878 by David B. Sickels, a U.S. diplomat stationed at the consulate in Thailand. The letter detailing the feline gift is still on file at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.

korat

Korat –  Thought to bring good luck to those that own one, the Korat can also trace its ancestry back to Thailand and was documented in The Cat-Book of Poems or Smud Khoi in the 1300s.

Its piercing green eyes and silver coat were highly valued and were the qualities that were believed to bring prosperity to its owners, both hundreds of years ago and even today to newlyweds and farmers in Thailand.

Siberian forestSiberian Forest – This centuries-old breed dates back hundreds of years to Russia. It was fondly mentioned in children’s fairy tales and books, as well as officially named in 1889 in a book by Harrison Wier called Our Cats and All About Them.

Not only was the Siberian Forest cat talked and written about, it was also highly prized for its natural hunting abilities, which helped keep the rodent population under control on the local farms.

After the Cold War, the Siberian cat was imported into other countries and finally made its way into the United States in the early 90s.

norwegian forestNorwegian Forest – Another long-haired breed makes the ancient list as the Norwegian Forest cat can trace its furry roots back centuries to the area of Norway. It was featured in their folk tales and mythology and was referred to as the “Skogkatt” (which means “forest cat”.)

It is thought this cat was most likely used on the ships of Vikings to keep the rodent population under control, the same role they played on the Norwegian farms.

Abyssinian (see photo at the top of the article) –  Although researchers are not entirely sure just how far back the Abyssinian breed dates, there are depictions of cats resembling the Abyssinian in Near Eastern art and sculptures. However, recent genetic testing now suggests the breed most likely originated in Southeast Asia on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

According to the CFA, the first mention of the Abyssinian was in the Harper’s Weekly (January 27, 1872 issue) where the 3rd prize in the December 1871 Crystal Palace show was taken by the Abyssinian Cat “captured in the late Abyssinian War.”

egyptian-mau-sink

Egyptian Mau – Perhaps the most “ancient” of them all, the Egyptian Mau was found mummified in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs and Kings.

In addition, papyri and frescoes dating back as far as 1550 B.C. depict spotted cats. Many documents found from the dawn of the New Kingdom make it well know that this breed was an integral part of daily life.

This cat is thought to have been used to aid hunters. It still retains the skill of being the fastest cat alive, reaching speeds of up to 30 mph!

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

 

Fun activities for fall weather

autumn-dog

By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the weather, the colors, the holidays, and the food. I could go on and on about all the things I love, but one of the things I love most is being outside, taking longs walks in the crisp, cool air. When my Westie, Bailey, was alive, this was also her favorite time of year. She loved to bounce in the fallen leaves, chase the squirrels, and smell to her heart’s content.

Fall is a great time to get out with your dog. Here in Colorado, the Aspen trees in the mountains are breathtakingly beautiful, so hiking is ideal. But there are many things to do with your dog that gets you outside to enjoy the fresh air.

Find it

Find it is one of my favorite activities to do anywhere. But you can make it a little more fun by hiding your dog’s favorite toy in a pile of leaves. Practice the following.

  • Without your dog seeing, place your dog’s favorite toy next to a pile of leaves.
  • Release your dog and say, “Find it.”
  • Once your dog finds their toy, say “good” and play a short game of fetch.
  • Once your dog is getting to be very good at finding their toy, you can start hiding the toy within the leaves.

Hikes in the great outdoors

Like I said, Colorado is lovely this time of year (but when isn’t it lovely?) and the crisp mountain air is just perfect for some hiking. But even if you don’t live in Colorado, there are some great trails just about anywhere you live. Make sure to bring lots of water for both you and your dog. Just because the temperature is cooler, doesn’t mean that your dog can’t get dehydrated. And also be on the lookout for wildlife. Many wild animals are out more during the cooler months.

Outdoor agility

Agility is a great sport any time of year, but it can be especially fun on a cool, fall day. You don’t have to have expensive agility equipment to have fun. DIY jumps and weave poles work just fine.

Working walks

I believe all walks should be working walks, but let’s be honest, not everyone has the time to take their dog for a long walk. But when the kids are back at school and the cooler weather is just inviting you to be outside, take the opportunity to spend a little more time on your walks and tiring your dog out. Working walks are simple – you go for a walk, but work in some training at every corner. I like to practice the following on my walks:

  • “Sit” and “stay” at every corner. Release when you cross the street.
  • “Touch” on the side of the sidewalk when you see another person/dog coming towards you.
  • “Watch me” before you release your dog to go sniff their favorite tree.
  • “Come” when your dog gets out in front of you.
  • Loose leash walking/not allowing your dog to pull you down the street.

No matter what you do with your dog, just make sure to have fun and stay safe!

What are your favorite activities you like to do with your dog during fall?

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Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Trainingis a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.