Dog Breeds for Cat Lovers

Even the most ardent cat-lovers sometimes find space in their lives and homes for a dog. After all, perhaps you’ve married a dog lover, the kids are clamoring for a puppy, or you have simply decided a happy-go-lucky dog would be a nice addition to your household.

The Dog-cat Overlap
The key to your happiness as a cat-loving dog owner, say the experts, is to understand the traits you enjoy in cats and to look for similar traits in a dog. “Unfortunately, ‘low-maintenance dog’ would be an oxymoron for most cat lovers,” says Dr. Bruce Silverman of Village West Veterinary in Chicago. However, Silverman and other experts agree that with a little thought, you can find a dog breed that’s right for you.

Among factors you should consider:

· Activity level Some dogs are miserable without an outlet for their boundless energy, while others are content to sit on your lap or at your feet.

· Noise Some breeds are more talkative or yippy. If you’re accustomed to a cat that seldom talks, you might consider a quieter dog breed.

· Grooming If you’re used to caring for a long-haired Persian, you likely won’t mind the care needed by a Collie or Shetland sheepdog. However, if your cat takes care of its own grooming needs, you’ll likely want to consider a dog that needs less grooming.

· Size If your cat weighs around 8 or 9 pounds, it might be something of a shock to add a large dog to the household. Remember: That cute, wiggly cat-sized puppy is going to grow.

· Nature A number of dog breeds were bred for working purposes. If you have a cat in your household or plan to add a cat someday, avoid dogs that have been bred to hunt small animals, says Amy Shojai, a Dallas-based certified animal behavior consultant who has written 23 pet-care books. For example, terriers and sight hounds might perceive the family cat as prey.

These Dogs Channel Their Inner Cat
Of course, every dog possesses its own individual personality and quirks, but in general, breeds can be counted on for certain predictable traits. Experts say you’ll likely find some familiar, almost cat-like traits among these breeds:

· Toy poodle Cat lovers likely will be comfortable with the Toy poodle’s small stature, says Shojai. Toy poodles are smart and playful, and they make good pets for novice dog owners. However, they do require regular grooming, and they thrive on interaction with you. They’re likely to be more dependent than the average cat.

· Basenji The Basenji is known as a bark-less breed, but that doesn’t mean they’re silent, says Shojai. “They will scream, yodel and more when not getting their way, something like a complaining Siamese,” says Shojai. If those vocalizations aren’t enough to sell you on the Basenji, consider the breed’s other cat-like qualities. “The breed likes to self-groom with licking, similar to a cat. It’s a very clean dog,” says Shojai. “They also may enjoy countertop surfing or lounging on the backs of chairs, as do cats.”

· Cavalier King Charles spaniel “The Cavalier is a sweet, lap-sitting, quiet and clean dog,” says Shojai. The Cavalier’s gentle, adaptable nature works well in a household with cats.

· Pekingese Do you appreciate most cats’ regal approach to life? The little Pekingese might be the dog for you. “The Pekingese’s holier-than-thou attitude could be compared to some cats that know they are the center of the universe,” says Shojai. Be aware, though, that the Pekingese’s large, slightly protruding eyes might make it more vulnerable to eye injuries from cat scratches.

· Golden retriever Certainly the golden retriever is a bit larger than a cat -- or several cats. However, these dogs are known for their happy, gentle and adaptable natures. Plus, retrievers are likely to have gentle mouths as well, says Shojai. “Dogs like retrievers have inhibited bites.”

Social Media Boosts Dog Adoption Efforts

Scrolling down the Facebook wall of Let’s Adopt! (USA) is a virtual stroll down doggie death row. The posts are a last-ditch effort to save shelter dogs that are scheduled to be euthanized. But they’re also a prime example of how social media is transforming the process of rescuing and adopting animals.

“We started as a simple Facebook group in order to find homes for my rescues,” says Let’s Adopt! founder Viktor Larkhill. “Less than four years later, the group has expanded into a truly global network, with growing communities not only in Turkey (where it started), but also in Indonesia, Bulgaria, Germany, France, USA, Canada and Australia. All of this, and in such a short period of time, would have been impossible without social media in general and Facebook in particular.”

Social Petworking
Let’s Adopt! is a national effort; however, since animal rescue is usually a local phenomenon, most other social “petworks” are local. For instance, Urgent PART 2 on Facebook and Twitter only posts info about dogs in New York City shelters.

“I get the euth list every night from Animal Care & Control (AC&C) and post it on Facebook,” says Kay Smith, a New York City animal activist who runs the page. She started using social media after she discovered AC&C put out a daily list of animals to be euthanized within 24 hours. There were so many dogs on the list (she estimates the daily average to be 15 to 20) that she felt overwhelmed by her inability to save them all. So she just posted the list to Facebook, and a movement was born.

Smith also agrees that social media has taken her efforts to a level she never could have achieved offline. She and Larkhill attribute this to a handful of areas where social media gives them a boost:

  • Speed With the click of a button, Smith can post the entire to-be-destroyed list to her network.
  • Specificity With a picture and a bio for every dog, they’re more than an idea of a dog in a shelter; they’re personalized, with faces and stories to tell.
  • Amplification Says Smith: “I post the list, and if somebody with 500 friends clicks to share it, all those other people see it. And if four of those people click ‘Share,’ it could go to 2,000 more people, and it just snowballs.”
  • Convenience Going to the shelter is an event, but logging on to Facebook or Twitter to window-shop is a cinch. Smith wonders if it can sometimes be too easy and lead to owners who aren’t ready for a rescue dog. But Larkhill says the Net can also help those matters thanks to one community.
  • Community Social networks can help rescuers better get to know the people they’re playing matchmaker for. “It has enabled us to build an unprecedented level of trust with our community,” says Larkhill. “By looking at someone’s profile, we can tell a lot about someone. Used correctly, Facebook provides us a deep insight into people’s personality.”

Online Dog Rescue/Adoption Resources
Other national projects that have a social media presence include The Shelter Pet Project, Pets911 and Adopt-a-Pet.com. Aside from Twitter and Facebook feeds, they also have searchable websites that are a pet-seeker’s answer to online dating.

Beyond that, Smith suggests looking for local activists and organizations in your city and recommends always going to the shelter to visit dogs before making a commitment. If you’re not able to adopt, you can still get involved. Find out if your local shelter has a social media presence or if someone advocates for the dogs there. If not, start your own Facebook page for them. “I believe the potential has only just begun to be tapped,” says Larkhill. “As the level of connections increases, the power of the network increases.”


Preparing for a New Puppy

There’s no question that puppies are cute, but all that awesomeness can distract from the fact that getting a puppy is also a serious matter. Among the precautions and preparations to consider are vaccinations, a leash and a constantly filled water bowl. With the help of Dr. Katy J. Nelson, a Virginia-based veterinarian and member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council, and Dr. E’Lise Christensen, a New York City-based veterinary behaviorist, we’ve put together a checklist of commonly overlooked recommendations.

Know Your Breeds
Whether you’re buying a dog from a pet store or adopting from a shelter, you should research the breed you’re considering and make sure it’s a good match for your lifestyle. “Many people do not carefully consider what breed they are getting; they just see a dog they think is cute and get it without a thought as to whether or not their personality and lifestyle is appropriate for this type of dog,” says Nelson.

Puppy-proof the House
“Think of puppy-proofing like baby-proofing -- you must protect them from themselves,” says Nelson. In fact, she says the baby-proofing items found in home improvement or baby stores are just what you’ll want. It’s also very important to make sure all medications are locked away. The No. 1 call to the Animal Poison Control Center each year is for human medication ingestion. Another tip: “Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around to see the world from their level,” says Nelson, and you’ll find plenty to puppy-proof.

Prepare the Children
Kids and puppies gravitate to each other, but kids are understandably the least informed and certainly the least restrained when it comes to puppies. Christensen says it’s very important that puppies have only positive experiences with children. Kids therefore need to be taught restraint, and all puppy time should be supervised. “They should only touch the puppy gently, and only at times the puppy is interested in interacting,” she says. “They should play remote games, such as fetch or chase the kibble, rather than hugging, lifting or grabbing a puppy.” 

Learn Dog Body Language
Misinterpreting body language is an area where adults can be as uninformed as children. It’s easy to assume a dog’s body language is self-evident, such as a wagging tail, but that’s far from the truth. “A wagging tail doesn’t (always) mean that a dog wants to be petted. Some dogs that are wagging their tail may be very upset and may even bite,” says Christensen.

Choose a Food
Most breeders, pet stores or shelters will send you home with a short supply of the puppy food your dog was eating before going home with you, and you should use it at first. You’ll then want to transition them to the food you’ve chosen, based on research and a consultation with your (future) veterinarian. Christensen also suggests deciding on a single location for feeding and sticking to it. The regularity and routine will help with training.

Open a Savings Account for Your Dog
Among her list of supplies for responsible ownership, the first thing Christensen notes is money for veterinary bills and care. Estimates can range from several hundred to a couple of thousand per year, so set up an account and contribute to it on a regular basis, little by little. You’ll be happy that you have it when the time comes to use it.

Lastly, both experts urge you to do more of your own research on these and any other puppy preparations you make. “Educate yourself on what your dog needs to live a long and healthy life,” says Nelson.

Dog Survivors of Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami

Many of us saw the image of a dog found floating at sea amidst a collection of debris three weeks after the recent Japanese tsunami, happily wagging his tail when eventually reunited with his owner. That lucky animal, however, is just one of tens of thousands that were displaced by the massive waves and flooding following the 8.9-magnitude undersea earthquake on March 11.

“There is no way to know how many animals are in need of help,” says Elizabeth Oliver, founder of Animal Rescue Kansai in Japan. “But to give you an idea of the scope, we heard there were 6,000 registered dogs in Fukushima Prefecture alone, which means double or triple that number since most people don’t bother to register. And when we take into account the other seven prefectures hit by the tsunami, the total number is huge.”

Help and Hope for Japan’s Dogs

Animal Rescue Kansai (ARK) is a 20-year-old organization dedicated to animal welfare in Japan. It has funneled resources and expertise to aiding animals affected by the tsunami. “We’ve been taking in animals, both those rescued on the road or those belonging to evacuees,” says Oliver. “After coming in, they are processed by our on-site vet: deworming, vaccination, microchipping and neutering. Some animals are boarded; some are given up for adoption.”

Other local organizations doing similar work include the Japan Animal Welfare Society, the Japan Veterinary Medical Association, the Japan Hearing Dog Association, the SPCA and Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS).

“Our rescuers just drive down the street and see dogs that need rescuers,” says JEARS animal welfare activist David Wybenga. “You don’t need to go looking for dogs -- you simply drive into the affected area and they’re just there.”

Preparing Your Dog for a Disaster

  • Have your dog microchipped or at least make sure its collar contains your name, address and phone number. “Most of the animals we’re finding have not been microchipped, so we have to post pictures and descriptions and hope that someone will see that and claim the pet,” says Wybenga. “If there’s a microchip, you get the name and address of the owner by scanning it.”
  • Make a “go bag.” This should be something portable and filled with nonperishable food, water bottles, a dog bowl and a can opener, and a flashlight (ideally a human-powered one that doesn’t require batteries).
  • Take your dog with you. During evacuation notices for many disasters, local agencies tell people to leave pets behind. This was the case in Japan. “Take your pet with you, even if they say you can come back for it later,” says Oliver. “If it’s not safe for you to be there, then it is not safe for your pet either.”
  • Be up-to-date on shots. If your dog does get abandoned, the stress can make them more prone to diseases, like heartworm, that are easily preventable by up-to-date shots.
  • Have an exit strategy. This is especially important if your exit may mean leaving the country. Know what the requirements and procedures are for animal travel for the departure airport, the airline and the country you’ll be traveling to.

How You Can Help the Japanese Effort
The most obvious way to help is by donating money, which will still be needed months from now. You can also donate goods, such as cat food or bedding, and have them sent directly to the organization.Finally, you can help urge Japanese legislators to make animal rescue an official priority for future disasters.

“The hurricane Katrina disaster was the largest cat-dog rescue process in the world, and as a result of that, the U.S. -- specifically FEMA -- has required that projects must have a contingency for pets,” he says. “We’re hoping people will write the Japanese embassy, or the American embassy in Japan, and tell them to please do something more for the animals that are in distress.”

Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/tunart

How ‘Adopt a Senior Pet’ Month Is Saving Lives

Each year, Adopt a Senior Pet Month, sponsored by Petfinder.com, grows in popularity and helps to save more and more older dogs from euthanasia in shelters. Adopting a senior dog can benefit shelters and your own home. Here’s how:

Bypass Puppy Training
Puppies offer their own playful companionship and charms, but they also can be high maintenance. “They have incredible energy and require a great deal of exercise,” says Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Adoption Center and Mobile Clinic Outreach Program. She says that puppies fly out the shelter doors, but owners may, in fact, do better with an adult or senior pet, depending on their particular lifestyle and needs.

Gain an Adult Family Member
Some people worry that senior pets come with problems, but healthy ones don’t often ask for much. They’re usually just looking for a warm place to sleep, companionship, good meals and plenty of love.

Buchwald agrees and walks the talk. She has two pets: an elderly cat and dog. She adds that some owners who take similar medications as their dogs do schedule med times with their pets. “My dog is on a glucosamine chondroitin supplement. A lot of people who also take this supplement for arthritis will take it when they give it to their dogs,” she says.

Senior Pets Are Still Active
Dogs, like humans, often live long, active and healthy lives well past reaching adulthood. “There’s a bias in our culture towards youth, and that extends to our pets,” says Buchwald. “People will fixate on wanting a kitten or puppy, when really their best match might be a senior dog.”

You May Save Money
Many shelters offer adult and senior animal adoption promotions. Check with your local shelter to see what it has in place. Some of the programs help to match senior people with senior pets. The Atlanta Animal Rescue Friends in Atlanta, for example, has a Silver Paws program for older adults who wish to adopt a senior pet. Silver Paws pays for all medical care and even later boarding for adopted dogs.

You can also save money on your medical bills with a senior pet. The Humane Society of the United States reports that the comforting presence of a dog can lower blood pressure and have additional cardiac benefits. Pets also help to ease loneliness, thereby promoting mental health too.

5 Tips on Caring for a Senior Dog

1. Feed your elderly dog a proper diet. “Veterinarians recommend senior diets for older dogs,” she says. Certain dogs may require other special diets if they have particular health issues.

2. Groom and bathe your dog regularly, per recommendations for its breed. If you use a professional groomer, make sure that he or she is informed of any health conditions, such as arthritis, which could require a more gentle touch.

3. Provide regular physical activity, following veterinary guidance.

4. Keep your home relatively quiet. “If your home is like Grand Central Station all of the time, your older dog is likely to become stressed out,” says Buchwald. Make sure your dog has a nice, peaceful spot to retreat to throughout the day.

5. Schedule regular veterinary visits. Prevention and early detection can help to save and extend lives.