Confessions of a Dog-Loving Cat Person…

Healthy Homemade Dog Treats Doggy Bag To Go

Since I’m going to be a fairly regular contributor to this blog, I have to come clean about something.  I am a cat person. I was raised with cats, and my roommate for over 13 years was Stella, a cantankerous striped tabby who had definite ideas about sharing me with other people. I giggle over funny cat videos and make uncharacteristic squealing noises over Facebook pictures of cute kittens.

That said, I love dogs.  Other people’s dogs.  I don’t mean that sarcastically, either.  My family never has owned a dog, but there have been many dogs in my life that I have cared for and who have had an impact on my life. My earliest dog friend was our next door neighbor’s Miniature Pinscher named Ralph. He was the perfect size dog for a three year old to interact with.  Then there was my aunt’s German Shepherd, El Cid. He was so loving and protective.  The wonderfully playful Labrador Retrievers Ask’em and Gretchen lived across the street with one of my best friends. And  I’ve mourned my neph-dogs, a loving Golden Lab named Corey and a sweet Whippet named Fenris.  And just this last year saw the passing of little Tiffany, the Silky Terrier, and gentle Penny, the mutt, the beloveds of my friends.

And now, my life is rich with Balder, Hermes, Mercury, Morgan, Ginger, and Karamela, among others. I don’t get to see my puppy pals as often as I would like, having moved far, far away, but when I do see them, I love to pet them and play with them.  They are the “children” of my very dear friends, and so they are very dear to me.

Alas, I haven’t yet found a mammal with which to share my new home.  We have fish, and I have become really fond of them, but it’s pretty hard to cuddle with them on the sofa or scratch them behind the ears. And while I like to flatter myself that they know and love me, I’m secretly suspicious that they are just responding to movement near the tank, regardless of who it is. But they are a living presence in the apartment that I don’t think I could do without. For most of my life I have had a pet of one type or another; it just feels right.  But until I adjust to my new lifestyle as a city-dweller,  I don’t want to make a commitment to a cat or a dog, so I guess the fish will have to do.

Anyway, that’s my story. I am a cat person who loves dogs.  I love their playfulness and their loyalty, their friendliness and their intelligence. They give so much love and they are wonderful companions.  They are the best “friends of friends” around.

~ Jayne Burt-Ozyildirim for Doggy Bag to Go

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So you want to be a dog-owner…

some_different_dog_breeds_by_insanesokpuppet-d5a69h3Human beings have a long history of co-habitation with animals.  In many cultures, those who kept livestock would bring them into the house at night to keep them from being stolen or attacked by wild animals. Cats and dogs have been domesticated since ancient times, and kept in households for practical reasons, such as keeping the rodent population in check, assisting with hunting or herding, or guarding the family.  And today, people keep various types of pets, mostly for companionship.

According the Humane Society, 39% of American households have at least one dog living in them.  Twenty-eight percent of dog owners own two dogs, and 12% of owners have three or more dogs. That’s a lot of pups!

There are over 150 breeds of dogs, and many more mixed breeds. So how do you choose the type of dog that will be an ideal companion?

Group of dogs different sizes isolatedThere are many factors to consider. First and foremost, one must consider the size of the dwelling space that will be shared with the dog.  A high-rise apartment dweller with a 1Bed/1Bath may want a high-energy larger dog, but unless that owner has the time to take that dog on a good long run every day, it won’t be a match made in heaven. Many breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Collies, Malamutes, Border Collies, Dalmatians, among others, need lots of daily physical AND mental exercise; if their owners are short on time or energy, these dogs can become frustrated and destructive.  Smaller lap dogs, such as the Papillon, do better in smaller places.

Another factor: with whom will the dog be sharing space? Kids? Cats? Other dogs? Each breed of dog has certain characteristics that make it either more or less likely to live peacefully with children and other pets.  For example the Staffordshire bull terrier is known to be so good with children that in the UK it is called the “nanny dog.” However, this same dog may not do so well with other pets.  Great Danes are known to be good with children, but small children may be overwhelmed by the dog’s typical size.

Choosing a dog is also like choosing a roommate; you must consider day-to-day living and your  tolerance for shedding, drooling, barking, and chewing on items other than dog toys. If your potential roommate’s habits will annoy you, it would be wise to choose differently.

The pros and cons of purebred vs. mixed breed dogs must also be weighed.  With purebreds, it tends to be easier to predict the general characteristics and personality of a dog, but they tend to be more expensive to adopt (unless from a rescue organization), and they may have a greater risk of genetic health problems.  Mixed breeds have greater genetic diversity leaving them less prone to health problems, but there is also less certainty about physical and behavioral characteristics.

group_of_dogsOnce you have puzzled out the purebred/mixed breed decision, then you must choose where to look for your best friend.  Choices include breeders, rescue organizations, and animal shelters, each having their own set of advantages and disadvantages.  The Human Society of the United States strongly urges people not to buy dogs from pet stores in an effort to combat the cruelties of puppy mills.  Wherever you decide to go, see how the dog responds to you in a petting area. Ask about the dog’s characteristics—is it good with children? High or low energy? A barker or a shedder, etc.? And observe the dog’s interactions with other dogs—is it reserved or social, domineering or timid?

Wow! There is a lot to consider when choosing a new companion. Luckily, we live in the internet age, where information and help is readily available. There are websites with quizzes that can help you determine which breed is right for you and your circumstances.  Choosing a dog is a big deal; choose wisely and you’ll be the best of friends.

~ Jayne Burt-Ozyildirim for Doggy Bag to Go

Tracy Baylor – Pet Hero

I recently attended the American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast in Lewisburg, PA.  The entire audience was moved by the award earned by Tracy Baylor for Pet Hero.  Hearing her story made me really think about what our pets mean to us, and how we love them unconditionally.  How many of us can extend that circle of love beyond our own pet families to include those who are homeless and hurt? We may not have the facilities, space, and/or time to do what Tracy does, but we can all help. Read the excerpt about Tracy’s work below, and be sure to check out her contact info to see how you can extend your own pet family’s circle of love.

Tracy Baylor spends time with some of the dogs she has rescued that are ready for adoption at her kennel, Turkey Run Rescue in Mifflinburg.

Tracy Baylor spends time with some of the dogs she has rescued that are ready for adoption at her kennel, Turkey Run Rescue in Mifflinburg.

Tracy works tirelessly on behalf of animals everywhere through her program, Turkey Run Rescue.  Her work began more than a decade ago.  She is well-known, loved and respected as an animal advocate, spending countless hours and thousands of dollars on preserving the lives, dignity and quality of life for hundreds of dogs every year.  She makes sure they are seen by a vet, get their shots, and in many cases, costly medical procedures to save them.  She embraces them in her loving care and keeps many of those who cross her threshold because they are simply not adoptable, but certainly worth saving.

They come from friends, neighbors and strangers, and her goal is to find them forever-homes.  When that part is not possible they live out their lives in her care, as part of a strange and motley looking family!  Some have one eye where two should be, and others have three legs instead of four.  Some are blind, and many suffer from chronic medical conditions, but all are fed and housed with a large outside run and plenty of affection to make their final days a joy on this earth.  She enfolds them all with a maternal calm that transfixes them,and when you are in her presence, with her canine family, you know that Tracy Baylor is an extraordinary human with an unusual fan club.

Tracy is always in need of pet food, blankets & other supplies.  Call Turkey Run Rescue at (570) 428-5613 to see how you can help.