By: Arden Moore
Far too often, people equate barking with bad behavior in a dog. Just like people, dogs vocalize in many ways to convey various messages.
In my neighborhood, we all know (and hear) a mini-Schnauzer named Buddy who lives with a fun and feisty senior named Flo. Buddy unleashes a series of high-pitched yap-yap-yaps whenever anyone approaches the front door or whenever he spots trespassing cats in his backyard.
In this case, barking serves a benefit. Flo wears a hearing aid, and her dog seems to tune in when he is needed by running up to her and sounding a noisy alert. Buddy’s breed was born to bark. Schnauzers rank among the chattiest of canine breeds.
Having a noisy dog comes in handy for Flo during those times when solicitors come to her front door uninvited. Buddy barks so loud and so long that Flo can’t hear what the people are trying to pitch. They leave in frustration and Flo rewards Buddy for a bark well timed. Buddy also barks to awaken Flo if he hears a strange sound in the backyard at night. Most dogs seek jobs, and in Buddy’s case, he feels he earns his daily kibble by serving as Flo’s keen sense of ears. He detects everything that goes past Flo’s house.
But Buddy doesn’t bark just to bark. Whenever I bring over my two dogs, Chipper and Cleo, Buddy doesn’t bark – he cries out in pure joy as the sight of seeing his two doggy play pals coming up his walk. He also turns off his barking machine once welcomed guests are inside Flo’s home.
Flo has been a lifelong dog lover and she does her best to keep Buddy at his best. She signed him up for Pets Best insurance when he was a pup, has his coat professionally groomed and feeds him only high-quality food.
In the beginning, Flo would apologize for Buddy’s noise-making ways. Now, she embraces his vocalizations and proudly nicknamed him, Buddy Barky. Between a home alarm system and Buddy, Flo feels justifiably safe and secure.
Arden Moore, author of 17 books on cats and dogs, including her latest, The Dog Behavior Answer Book and The Cat Behavior Answer Book.
By: Arden Moore
It’s not everyday one receives a personalized letter from Martha Stewart. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine I would garner praise from the queen of daytime TV regarding a six-year-old dog cookbook.
It just goes to show that some nutritional advice is timeless. In this case, I wrote a book called Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes for a Healthier Dog (Storey Books). The recent commercial pet food scare sent sales of my cookbook soaring all the way up to #6 on Amazon. The book has sold more than 40,000 copies this spring, and my life has been forever changed. When I wrote the book, the meals and treats were intended to compliment quality commercial dog food as ways to hone in good doggy manners. The pet food recall, though, found more people turning to my book for safe ways to prepare food for their dogs.
I’ve been on dozens of television and radio shows coast-to-coast plus Canada to tout tips on how to prepare healthy meals and treats for dogs. One stop included an appearance on the “Martha Stewart Living Radio” show with co-hosts Dean and Betsy. Just before airtime, the producer whispered in my ear, “You know, Martha listens to this show. She listens very carefully.”
During the hour, we prepared a recipe from my book called “Bow Wow Brownies” (made with carob – a safe substitute for chocolate, which is lethal for dogs) and made it in honor of Martha’s Chow Chow named Paw Paw. I also gave the producer an autographed copy of my book to deliver to Martha. Within a week back from New York City, I received a letter from Martha, who practiced – as always – good etiquette. She wrote:
“Dear Arden: Thank you so much for sending me a copy of your book, Real Food for Dogs. It was kind of you to think of me and very much appreciated. I have started preparing more home-cooked meals for my dogs since the recent dog food scare and they seem to be happier and healthier because of it. Kind regards, Martha Stewart”
Today, the letter is inside a frame and displayed in my home office in Oceanside, California. True, the letter comes from a celebrity, but the words come from a person who loves her dogs and who wants to do what she can to keep them healthy. That’s the real message all of us who are fortunate to have a dog share our lives should heed.
By: Arden Moore
My dog, Chipper, goes ga-ga if I mention the phrase “woof park.” That’s my nickname for dog parks. If I say that phrase – even in a whisper – Chipper, my Golden Retriever/Husky mix, will start to whine and wiggle with delight.
For nearly three years, we’ve gone to a local dog park in the early morning. There’s a regular crowd there featuring well-mannered dogs just looking to play a friendly game of chase (or chase me, please) and tennis ball fetching. The owners pay attention to the canine antics and share training tips and goofy dog stories with one another.
Recently, however, we arrived an hour later than usual. The usual gang was not there. Chipper and my small dog, Cleo, bolted into the fenced-in dog park and began what they normally do – the perimeter prowl. They stopped and sniffed. Their noses were filled with the scents of dogs and other delights – pure canine bliss, I guess.
At dog parks, I pay close heed to the body languages unleashed from my dogs and other dogs. This time, an Australian Shepherd mix made a direct beeline to Chipper. In the world of dog etiquette, that’s a rude – and threatening – gesture. Most dogs come up to one another from the side. This dog then growled and leaped on Chipper. I produced my deepest, I-mean-business tone and yelled at both to stop and sit. Surprisingly, they did. If they hadn’t, I was prepared to use Chipper’s leash to safely separate them without getting my hands bit.
I managed to put the leash on a shaken Chipper and noticed that she had a cut below her left eye. It was starting to bleed. Meanwhile, the owner of the Aussie just looked, shrugged and said, “Oh well. Dogs will be dogs.” Unbelievable.
Fortunately, I keep a dog first-aid kit in my car, and I cleaned Chipper’s wounds and stopped the bleeding. Then I noticed another man coming back into the parking lot with a dog limping. It turns out that the Aussie attacked his dog, too.
Dog parks are designed to be places where well-mannered dogs can romp and socialize. They are not places for aggressive dogs to try to “work out” their bully tendencies. And, they are certainly not places for owners to abandon their responsibilities to keep their dogs from harming others.
My parting advice: Please pay close attention to the interactions of dogs – and the watchfulness of their owners – before you decide to bring your dog inside the park. If you see aggression, leave and treat your dog to a long walk elsewhere. Even though your dog will have to be on a leash, it will be a far safer way to get in some exercise.
By: Arden Moore
The Book Expo of America is to authors and publishers what the Super Bowl is to quarterbacks and linebackers. It’s THE event of the year. The most recent book expo took center stage in New York City and I was invited by my publisher, Storey Books, to unveil my latest book, The Cat Behavior Answer Book.
When my publisher told me that I would be signing books at the autograph arena – rubbing elbows with the likes of far-more-famous folks like Dave Barry and John Grisham, I tried to be realistic in my expectations.
My hope was that at least a dozen or so attendees would come to my table in search of my autograph on this new cat book. After all, the topic is cats – not the latest Dave Barry humor-filled take on life in the 21st Century or a suspense-filled page turned penned by the likes of John Grisham.
I was wrong. Instead, the line s-t-r-e-t-c-h farther than I could see. In one hour, I had signed more than 300 copies – and ran out of books! This is clear evidence that people – especially fans of feline – are mystified and puzzled by cats and their behaviors. They want answers – and they want peace and harmony in their households.
Why does my cat make a cackle sound at birds? What can I do to stop my cat from sleeping on my pillow at night? How can I teach my cat to shake paws? These and more questions were fired my way by those in line to have my books signed.
Face the feline facts – cats revel in being a bit mysterious and hard to pin down. But they can be as loyal as a Labrador and as fun as a Border Collie. If you’re blessed to share your life with a feline or two, count yourself fortunate. Invest in their health by booking regular veterinary visits, obtaining pet insurance, serving nutritious food and spending one-on-one time with them. The dividends you reap will be beyond your expectations.
By: Arden Moore
Indoor cats – guaranteed to be free of risks from illness and injury, right? Wrong. For 12 years, I have jokingly regarded my calico cat, Callie, as a “cheap date.” The reason? For a dozen years, all I’ve need to spend on her was routine needs – food, treats, bedding, toys and annual veterinary exams. She was the poster cat for feline health.
She has spent her life indoors since I adopted her as a tiny kitten found running the streets of Miami. She goes outside to my fenced backyard, supervised by me, and she strolls back into the house when I say, “Callie, inside.”
For the past few years, however, her belly has grown and I nicknamed her “Calorie.” I knew she wasn’t to blame for the added weight. She wasn’t raiding the refrigerator at night while I was asleep or pilfering food from the dogs’ bowls. The blame belonged to me because I wasn’t paying attention to her food portions.
But a couple months ago, I noticed that Callie was slimming down. It’s natural to take credit for this fit feline look, but I knew unexplained weight loss often signals a silent health condition.
My veterinarian confirmed my thoughts: Callie was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, a silent disease that strikes middle-aged and senior cats. It is caused by a benign tumor in one or both of a cat’s thyroid glands, which in turn, causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Unchecked, it can trigger hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a disease that causes a thickening of the heart) and damage the kidneys and eyes.
The best option for curing this condition is a pricey radioactive iodine injection. The total cost for this procedure, necessary tests, medications and hospitalization tops $1,400. Ouch. But this is one feline disease that has a real cure.
Callie is definitely worth this investment, and she recently returned from a week’s stay at a veterinary imaging center. During that week, I received daily updates on her recovery and was able to “tune in” and see her through a Web cam accessible on my computer.
It turns out that only one of her thyroids was affected by this disease and now she is happy being back at home. She is displaying renewed kitten-like energy and purrs longer and louder.
That hefty veterinary bill reminded me of the importance of getting pet insurance. At the time, I only had policies covering my two dogs. Callie’s pricey “vacation” convinced me to obtain insurance for my cat, Murphy, age 7. Due to Callie’s senior status and the hyperthyroidism diagnosis, the only insurance available for her would cover in case of an accident – not an illness.
Please learn from my experience and obtain insurance policies on your cats. As I’ve learned, even indoor cats are not insulated from disease.