Buttercup says 'NO' to rain.
Travel dogs, stay at home dogs, working dogs all need some clothes. Just because nature gave dogs fur and thick foot pads doesn’t mean that dogs don’t need clothes sometimes. Consider human beings: They don’t come out of the womb with clothes, but they have learned that clothes make some things more comfortable. Clothes have allowed them to occupy more niches more comfortably. Same thing for the highly evolved, specialized, traveling, working, all climate dogs of the 3rd millennium. What we’re talking about here is ESSENTIAL clothing for warmth, protection, and professional engagements of all kinds. Raja and I want to make a disclaimer: We do not sell clothing or accessories; we take no kickbacks; we are not on salary. If we suggest any item or clothing line, it’s because we like the product and nothing more. You can’t buy any of this stuff through us. We promote for the love of passing the word. Rainwear: When it rains, long furred dogs get wet and dirty and musky and matted. Every dog should have a raincoat. They pack flat and make life so much easier. Here’s Buttercup the Maltese in her pretty and functional spring raincoat. Boots help in the mucky puddles. I like the Pawz boots. They last a long time and keep the feet dry. I’d really like to buy Raja a pair of the durable snow boots the dogs wear in the Iditarod Race, but seems nobody makes them for small feet. (Hint to sled dog cobblers: If you make them, they will come.) Coats and Sweaters: Dogs get cold too. For really cold weather, or for sustained periods outside, fur is not always enough. Sled dogs have fur that insulates in winter. Non-sled dogs and dogs that are not massive do not. Here’s Chloe the Bichon Frise in one of her many hand knitted sweaters. A furry girl can get cold, like Raja, a skinny boy who needs a down coat when he’s sledding with his neighbors. When buying or knitting a sweater for a boy dog, make sure the belly is cut up far enough to make lifting that leg comfortable. Girl dogs can wear longer cuts. When making a down coat for your dog, use the filling from an old down vest and tightly-woven water resistant fabric. Hats, Doggles and Visors: Just as for people, dogs lose a great deal of heat through their heads. For really cold winter days, a stylish hat keeps the heat in and the ears organized. Here, Chloe models her new pom pom hand knit hat and dreams of snow. Sun affects canine eyes as much as it does human eyes. Morgan the Shih Tzu spends a lot of time in her customized bike basket. Morgan always wears her Doggles to protect her eyes from wind, dust and sun while touring on the handlebars. (If you have a long haired dog, make sure you brush the fur away from the eyes before fixing the Doggles in place.) For dogs who are at little league games, on the sand, on boats and boardwalks and traversing the desert, visors protect the eyes the way the bills of baseball caps help players see in bright sun. Here are Tasha, Cy and CT all wearing their visors, custom made by Carolyn’s Originals ( http://carolynsoriginals.weebly.com/index.html ). Carolyn herself began to make doggie clothes when she began to take her 3 doggies on therapy visits. The patients loved the outfits and the nurses would line up to see what the dogs were wearing each week. Plus, Carolyn says her dogs come running when she gets the outfits out. They know they’re going to go meet people and they love the praise, attention and extra pizzazz the outfits give them. Comfort is always a factor. Just as we people don’t like wearing uncomfortable clothes, dogs need comfort, especially because style means very little to them. Whereas some of us human beings would suffer to feel beautiful, dogs need comfort. Functional and comfortable garments that provide warmth, protection and professional costuming should be options for all modern dogs today, whether they travel to the hospital for therapy work or to the marina to take the yacht to Catalina.
Lexi, cosy and warm.
Yes that’s what I said… travel dog Raja always goes away on trips because he loves travel and meeting new people, but not all pets are portable or even like to travel. Take cats… some of them do travel, but most don’t. Take fish… or rather don’t take fish. Fish stay home always. Do not take ferrets. They don’t travel well and are just skinny enough to fit through a hotel room keyhole and escape forever.
Our family has gone on vacation with a small circus including 1 Shih Tzu, 1 Angora rabbit and 2 hamsters. All those animals travel well and like the beach. I suspect our pleasure in having them with us might not be shared by some people, but vive la différence!
If you are left with another’s pets to care for whilst your globe trotting friends are away, don’t say “yes, sure, no problem” without getting some helpful info. If somethng goes wrong, you will be blamed. Even if a tornado lifts the house into the next state, it will be your fault. (And your private guilt will be eternal.)
What you need to know for each animal includes:
What is the usual food, the usual quantity and where is it?
When are the meds given and where are they? Do you need to wear a muzzle while giving the meds or not? (Yes, that’s how we meant it.)
Where is the leash and harness?- and never fail to walk a friend’s dog without both.
How much hands on time is expected of you- can you just feed and run (as in fish) or do you need to spend social time (as in dogs and cats)?
Who is the vet and what is the number and location?
What is the alternative vet?
How do you contact your traveling friend in the Mongolian Steppe?
When is your friend expected home and at what point should you send out a camel squad?
Say “no” if you really do not want to watch those pets. Animals know when they are liked. They make it very hard for people who do not honestly like them. Pet owners do not want their pets looked after by unwilling people who have to grit their teeth to be responsible. Only say “yes” if, for example, being a cat den mother for a week sounds like fun, or if you had considered yourself a surrogate parent for your friend’s pets anyway.
Finally, when pet sitting, nothing, absolutely nothing should keep you from your scheduled pet care visits. If you finally get invited into the meeting or asked out by the person of your dreams, if it means the pet charges will suffer, look Ms. or Mr. Opportunity in the eye and say, “Yes, but not tonight; I have a promised obligation to a friend.” Shows your character, doesn’t it?
Raja, who will be traveling soon, invites you not to miss our upcoming August posts about California’s Muir Woods, Napa Valley, and a special interview with the social networking organization Dogster, located in San Francisco.
This may be the biggest couch potato summer of the century. Last summer, some of us ran away from the recession for one last fling with a foreign port. This summer, many of us aren’t going very far. Hence Raja’s and my posts about camping and other adventures with low admission fees, but a high satisfaction and adventure quotient. The primary, non-economic danger about this summer is that many of us may turn into spuds watching the horrible, stultifying summer TV. Solution: Get up and take puppy OUT.
If you think you’re getting softish, imagine how bored and soft puppy is getting, lying about watching you lie about. Best plan: Both of you- out the door and off to the park or, for urban pups, around the block for a pleasant walk. Or make up your own doggy Olympics with home-made props and appropriated children’s toys that simulate agility courses for dogs. A toddler crawl tube makes a great “run through tunnel.” Dowels suck in the ground make a great “in and out.” A dowel set on blocks 6 inches off the ground makes a sturdy “jump.” Try this in the dog park, city dwellers, and I bet you’ll get a whole 3-ring circus going.
It’s not only the Shelties and Shepherds who are running agility these days. Malteses are demonstrating great agility and, recently, a Shih Tzu named Bam Bam pulled 664 lbs. in a contest. Hmm, er, … why? Look, I guess it’s OK as long as Bam enjoys herself, but a Shih Tzu, and dogs generally, do not make good draft animals. (Honestly, it slays me to think of asking Raja to try that one.) A Shih Tzu and most domestic dogs are excellent companion animals. They don’t need to work out like real Olympians, but they do like a little field day once a week.
If you are up for trying this light fitness idea out, remember, your dog is probably about as fit as you are. (Well, you live together and eat the same snacks, right? Fluffy, did you finish the chips already?) Don’t expect more of him than you can muster. Take it easy at first and take it slow. Dogs with existing health conditions should not be expected to exercise strenuously. Keep all activities sensible and follow the doctrine of the mean: All things in moderation. (Summer TV is the exception. Just say “No” to summer TV and you’ll feel fitter right away.)
Since a dog gets hot faster than a human being and suffers heat stroke more easily, please watch out for that panting tongue and give your dog frequent rests. Moderate exercise is what you are looking for. Walk and trot; smell a rose; watch a butterfly; stare in a shop window; dogs love a little vanilla sorbet. (A little.)
Raja and I suggest we all use our down time to keep our energy and spirits high because we all want to be in top shape next summer, and the summer after that, etc, etc. Plus, you never know… next year you might get asked to lead the first ever interspecies human and dog expedition over Mt Everest and you don’t want to have to say, “I’ll sit this one out; just pass the Skittles.”
Update on Mexico: Why is it so easy to take your dog into the sunken, bat-infested Camuy Caves of Puerto Rico and so challenging to try to take your dog to a meadow 2 hours drive out of Mexico City? Can anyone say “Raja never eats butterflies” in Spanish? Help!
Now and then, a madness overtakes urban human beings in the form of a desire to go camping, which I personally read as going out in the dirt and pretending to be happy sleeping there. Nevertheless an interest in sleeping on the ground in a nylon pouch now and then overcomes me too, and when it does, I think it best to include Raja, a dog of cultivated taste and obsessively maintained cleanliness. He handles the whole thing so much better than I do, plus worrying about him makes me stop worrying about myself.
If you go camping, do take your dog. Dogs are easy campers for the following reasons:
* Dogs sleep when they’re tired. They do not need soft beds or clean sheets. Follow their example.
* Dogs are vigilant. If they’re sleeping soundly in the dark in the middle of nowhere, you can be sure you should too. Shut your eyes. The dog will bark if there’s anything to pay attention to.
* Dogs like to pee in the woods. Let them. Imitate them.
* Dogs are happy when dirty. You be happy too.
Some things to be careful about:
Water: Drinking from a puddle of standing water can transmit Leptospirosis to your dog. I continue to recommend the water purifier noted on the Tips page. Yes, wild animals do drink from puddles and stagnant pools, but wild animals have short life spans. Don’t let your dog drink any water you wouldn’t drink yourself.
Food: Bring your food; bring your pet’s food. (In bear country, sleep far from your food and trash.)
Leash: As noted in a previous post- and as guest blogger Sean Christensen noted- a leash protects your dog from discovering a bear or a rattle snake or a mountain lion or another dog that is not friendly while on the trail. Personally, I hate the idea of pets hiking with a leash, but the leash could save your dog from a very bad encounter. Yes, wild animals don’t have leashes. But you aren’t responsible for them, are you?
Mosquitoes: Diseases mosquitoes carry can be dangerous and mosquitoes do bite dogs. Repellent patches are useful. There are various herbal potions made for dogs to repel insects. The ones containing pennyroyal should be avoided generally. In camp, smoke from your fire or even smoke from incense keeps them away. Only camp near water that is flowing strongly, other wise camp well above the bank of the stream.
Tents: Does your dog sleep in the house at home? Then don’t even imagine not letting him in the tent. (Of course he’s smelly. It’s your fault and so are you. Go with it.)
Light stick locators: Buy some 12 hour light sticks and attach one to your dog’s harness as dusk descends or if he leaves the tent in the night for a bush break. Should he wander off, you will see the light. Of course this should never happen… but it could, couldn’t it?
Meds: Take a human-canine medical kit. Naturally. Dew claws and toe nails can get torn on the trail. This happens to wolves all the time. They have no med kit, poor things.
Expectations: Let’s be realistic. A dog, unlike a person, will be himself in all situations. Dogs have very stable personalities. So, even if you suddenly decide to channel Lewis or Clark, your Couch Potato, Miss Prissy Foot, Random Runner or Scardy Dog will not turn into White Fang. You be yourself and let pup be himself and enjoy discovering the wild woods together.