UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE

A dog’s “depth sensation” or depth perception is not as acute as a human’s. Breed and age, and of course health, are all factors that contribute to the accuracy of a dog’s vision.

The brain can calculate depth, or formulate depth perception, by using two images of the same scene obtained from slightly different angles, meaning both the right and left eyes.

The shared space or overlapping region that can be seen by both eyes at the same time is known as the Binocular overlap.

The average dog’s eyes are set about 20% apart. Popular breeds like Labs, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds have a binocular overlap of about 75 degrees. Because human’s eyes are set on the front of the head, binocular overlap is about 120 degrees.

Why am I telling you this?  To help you understand that a puppy at the top of a staircase does not perceive the depth of it, the same way we do. And always keep in mind that every new experience with your puppy needs patience, understanding and love to help him learn and grow.

So how do you teach a puppy to go down a staircase?

Simple! Just the opposite of what you’re probably thinking. Place the puppy on one step before the bottom of the staircase and let him jump down. Then try two steps from the bottom. Before you know it that puppy will feel more comfortable with attempting more and more steps.

OK, now for going up.  Place the puppy one step from the top and let him jump up. Then two, then three and so on.

If the puppy is large breed and you need an extra pair of hands, have one person at the top of the staircase encouraging the puppy to come up while you are on the step with the puppy making sure he is safe and won’t slide or fall down.

Your puppy’s safety and well-being are always most important.

GOING TO THE BATHROOM or GOING FOR A WALK…

Go potty, go pee, go poo, let’s go out, or the latest entry Bio-Break.  What is your favorite word for asking your dog to urinate or defecate?  Go potty is the one I hear the most often.  Merriam-Webster defines “potty” as a toilet or a bathroom and defines “bio-break” as a short break in a meeting or event so participants can use the restroom. Hilary Clinton has been noted as using that phrase. Obviously neither one applies to your dog. I tell you this because my word of choice, and I am asked quite often,  is “bathrooming” and I define it as the act of going to the bathroom. I admit I do kind of like the sound of bio-break.  Merrian-Webster does not consider “bathrooming” to be a word at all, but the Urban dictionary defines it as “The act of doing something in the bathroom.” So, considering that hopefully, your dog’s version of going to the bathroom means going outdoors to defecate or urinate, I will continue to use the word “bathrooming” or as my neighbors may hear me say to Kahuna; “Go to the bathroom.” “Good Boy.”

The truth is, it doesn’t matter what word or phrase you use, as long as you use it consistently and your dog understands what you are asking of him. What is important is that you use the same designated location as the “place to go to the bathroom or to go potty” every time you take your dog out for that purpose and tell him what you expect him to do there. 

When your dog is taken outside because he must urinate or defecate it should be a different event than taking your dog for a walk. Most pet parents will attest to the fact that their dog urinates every time they take them on leash outside. That’s fine, but there should be an order to this process.  First you take your dog to the designated area, which is very close to your home, and tell him why he is there; which is to go to the bathroom. Once this is achieved in preferably under 10 minutes, take your dog for a walk. It’s a very simple process and will make your life a lot easier when it’s bad weather, too cold or too hot, you’re late for work or maybe just too tired. Going for a walk around the block or to the park or waiting for half an hour for Buster to find the “right spot” because it’s “time to go out” is really doing things the hard way.

Remember when your parents told you to “go to the bathroom” because you were going for a ride some where or out for the day?  Same thing for your dog; bathrooming is the first thing to be done and then going for a walk. 

If you let your dog out into the fenced back yard or property, the same training technique would apply. Take your dog ON LEASH to urinate or defecate in one area and always the same area of the property and then release him to run and play. That way you know for sure if he did what he was supposed to do, you can clean it up immediately and he is not using the entire property as his personal bathroom. BUSINESS FIRST!

BTW, you can designate a small area on your property for your dog to use as his bathroom, by changing the ground cover. Gravel or small stones or putting a border of railroad ties around the area may help to “mark the spot”.

TRAINING IDEAS THAT MAY BACKFIRE!

I thought it would be interesting to share some of the dog training methods used by pet parents on the advice of the internet, dog seller and well meaning dog lover, that may work for a short time but most likely will backfire in the long-run.

The following three methods that totally go against professional dog training, pertain to “house training”.

#1. Just to be clear, the definition of House Training is teaching a pet (dog) not to defecate or urinate inside a home or in inappropriate places.

It has become a recognized teaching tool to use a crate or confinement as most puppies will not defecate or urinate in a small enclosure. That being said, it is the “Oxymoron” of house training to put a wee wee pad in the crate. Dogs that bathroom on wee wee pads are NOT house trained. Additionally, it is best to leave the floor of the crate free of blankets, beds and towels, basically anything absorbent, at least for the first week of training.

#2. I can absolutely understand the thought behind trying to avoid any “pee or poo” in the house by taking a puppy outside every hour around the clock. Pet parents are wonderfully devoted to doing this and I’m grateful for the love and care they show for their new best friend. But once again, this idea is not teaching the puppy to “HOLD IT IN” so to speak, because Chloe or Jack can pee or poo as often and even more often than actually necessary. The fact is, the pet parent is conditioning the puppy to relieve themselves every hour. This also becomes a strain on the pet parent as no one can keep this hourly routine going day after day.

#3. Bells on the door. Everyone loves bells on the door and think it’s the best idea since sliced cheese, that their dog rings the bell to go outside. I will admit that this does work sometimes and sometimes only for a short time, because most of the time, the dog will realize that they can go out to play if they ring the bell. So ringing the bell is a favorite pastime and doesn’t necessarily mean the dog needs to go to the bathroom!

If you have any similar training methods that you are not sure are valuable, please let me know by email. Jenna@murphdogancompany.net Thanks

GROWING OLD WITH OUR DOGS

It always seems like the best things in life are short lived. And so it goes for our best friends too. We owe it to them to be more understanding when curling up on the couch wins over playing ball.

Most age related illnesses are all too familiar as they have also touched our human lives.

Similar to Alzheimer’s, Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, “Dementia”, may show itself as withdrawal, failure to recognize family, name or familiar places, standing in corners, staring at walls, increased daytime sleeping, and soiling indoors. Medications may help but there is no cure. 28% of dogs over 11 and 66% over 15 demonstrate dementia behaviors. No specific breeds are more susceptible but age related illnesses may be more prevalent in smaller breeds that tend to live longer.
Cataracts are the number one cause of blindness in dogs. Surgery is the only effective treatment if performed early. Complications like retinal detachment and glaucoma can be painful and irreversible. However, dogs with partial or total blindness usually function almost as well as sighted dogs.

Arthritis is a painful condition that affects one in five dogs over the age of seven causing pain and stiffness in the joints, neck, hips, shoulders, elbows and back. Some things you can do at home to bring relief are: A HEALTHY DIET that keeps your dog at an appropriate weight reduces pressure on their knees and hips. SUPPLIMENTS like Glucosamine Chondroitin are known to lubricate the joints and ease mobility. In combination with Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) it has been shown to relieve arthritic pain, slow joint deterioration and reduce inflammation without negative side effects. As always, I recommend talking to your veterinarian before beginning any diet change or supplement. EXERCISING is also important. Take your dog for several 10 to 15 minute walks rather than one long walk. PROVIDE EXTRA WARMTH AND COMFORT with a soft bed and extra blanket. Gel filled and heated beds are made specifically for arthritic dogs. Moist Heat can also provide welcomed relief. Heating pads must be supervised. RAISING DISHES are easy enough and a good idea for all large breeds at any age. A GOOD MESSAGE is always a treat for the body and mind. USE A RAMP for stairs and access to the back of your SUV.

Oral Disease is caused by plaque. Oral hygiene care means regular brushing, annual examinations and cleanings by your veterinarian. Loss of appetite, swelling or bleeding of the gums, and fowl breath means it’s time to see your vet.

Old age is something we all face sooner or later. Unfortunately for dogs, sooner is inevitable. Make their senior years as special as possible with love, patience, understanding and some advice from your vet.

A special poem…author unknown

Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, For no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, For though I should lick your hand
between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly
teach me the things you would have me learn.
Speak to me often, For your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps fall upon my ears.
Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, For I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to the bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your
feet beside the hearth.
Keep my pan filled with water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.
Feed me clean food that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and good sight, do not make heroic
efforts to keep me going.
I am not having fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I drew, that my fate was always safest in your hands.

NO, YOUR PUPPY DOES NOT THINK HIS NAME IS “NO”

“NO” is a perfect word; understood the world over. We say it to our spouses, children, siblings, parents, friends, fellow employees; this list is endless.  So why are we afraid to say it to our dog??  Many times the answer is, “My dog will think his name is “NO”!

This is a true account of an experience I had as a trainer many years ago; and similarly many times over again since then. Often I’m hired to train a dog that has been unsuccessfully trained once or twice before by someone who is inexperienced, uninformed and lacks the behavioral knowledge and understanding that is the foundation of training. In this particular situation, the former trainer told the pet parent, that they were to say “FOO” to correct their dog, because if they say “NO”, the dog will think that is his name.  Just in the telling of this, and seeing myself typing it, I really have to laugh at how ridiculous that sounds. I asked the pet parent why their dog did not think his name was “FOO”.

Recently, someone in my neighborhood; let’s call her Susan, told me that she had taken her dog to one of the well known pet supply chain stores that features in store training classes. Susan was told by the chain store trainer to use the sound “EH EH” ( can’t think of any other way to spell that) to correct her dog and never to say “NO” because; can you guess?  That’s right! Susan was told that her dog will think it’s name is “NO”.  Once again, I had to ask “Why doesn’t your dog think his name is ” EH EH”?  Sometimes silence is the best answer.

So, let’s clear up a few things. “NO” is said in a firm, authoritative voice and you should be standing. It’s not a question. It’s not said in a sing-song, please stop eating the couch kind of voice.  Alternatively, when you use the puppy’s name, it is said in a sweet, loving, soft, come to me because I want to hug and pet and play with you and protect and take care of you because I love you voice, and you should be crouched or bending down. As the puppy grows, you can stand up as he approaches  you to train him to sit after coming when called.

The moral of this story is, the puppy will not be confused but the trainer may be incompetent .

 

 

HELPFUL HINTS & THINGS YOU MAY NOT REALIZE

Being a good pet parent means being a loving, caring pet parent. Some of this advice is basic and obvious, and you will think, “I know that.” Of course you do, but despite knowing that, working our busy schedules can sometimes force us to not be as reliable as we should be and want to be. We have to try to be consistent in our pet care.

Jenna’s Generalities: Most Helpful Hints

About Water

We of course provide our pets’ food, because let’s face it, they can’t get it for themselves; same goes for water. However, water must be kept fresh. Ever notice that a water bowl left out a day might have a hint of pink in it? Yeah, pink water is pretty. But it’s not safe. The extra color comes from bacteria that grows in standing water, especially when bits of food, from your dog’s mouth, gets mixed into it every time he or she goes for that needed drink. This bacteria is called Serratia Marcescens, and is also found in toilets, shower and bathtubs. So please remember to keep that water bowl filled with fresh, cool water and clean the water bowl before each use before replacing the water. Both food and water bowls should be at the appropriate height for your dog to eat or drink comfortably without straining.

 

Most recently I was at a friend’s house and heard something slamming in another room. When I asked what the noise was, she said, “Oh, Sadie just had a drink.” Drink from what? I wondered, and then it hit me. The noise was from the lid of the toilet bowl crashing down on the seat. Oh no!! Please don’t allow your pet to learn to do that. It is most definitely filled with germs—germs that can make your dog ill and then be spread around your house from everything your dog touches.

About Bedding

How familiar are you with these words: “Mom, do I have to make the bed?” Answer, is usually, “Yes. You do.” Well, you do too when it comes to your pet and the area designated as your dog’s bed. It should be free from dirt, ratty old toys that need replacing, and clean. It should be a place that your dog comes to love as a safe location to take a rest. It should be warm when the weather is cold. It should be well ventilated and cool when the temperatures are soaring. And it should be large enough for your dog to be able to stretch and move freely from side to side; much as we do as humans in our own beds. Same goes when choosing to crate for your dog.

  

About Food

 

People are aware of buying food that is free of preservatives but are sometimes careless about forgetting to close the open bag. I’ve seen wide, gaping open bags.  This can attract insects and rodents; besides it also prevents the food from staying fresh. Some foods are packaged in re-sealable, easy-to-close bags. Some people prefer food storage containers. Either will do to prevent these problems. 

About Feeders

If you use a “ mess proof” dog feeder, you must remove the bowls daily and empty the food and water that has accumulated in the “mess preventing lower portion of the bowl holder. If you don’t, it will only take a few day to become stagnant and moldy. If you have a dog that is a ravenous drinker or eater, and you allow food and water to accumulate in the bottom under the bowls, your dog will be drinking the stagnant water and eating the moldy food that collected under the bowls, when you take the bowls out to refill.  You might find that your mess proof feeder is more problematic than you expected. 

About Collars, etc.

 

Collars and harnesses are not constructed to last the lifetime of the dog. They get filthy, ratty, and too small because the dog grew or gained weight; or too big because the collar or harness stretched out. A proper fitting collar will allow for two or three fingers under the collar. Tags should be in placed securely.

 

Suggestion:  If you put too many tags on the collar or harness or use a leash with a clip that is too large or heavy for the size of your dog, it will pull the collar down and the leash will continually go under the dog’s front leg.

 

About Replacement Toys, etc.

 

Dog parents should make note that toys and chews need to be replaced when they are no longer in good condition. Be sure that stuffed toys are not ripped and are losing stuffing. Also, make sure that the “squeaker” is not exposed enough for your dog to pull it out of the material. You don’t want your dog to eat any of those materials.The photo is of a squeaker pulled out of a well-known brand toy.  ( Manufacturer’s name has been covered)

 

About Medication for your Dog

 

If you need to give your dog a pill, do not put it in the food bowl. Most times the pill will show up on the floor later in the day. Put the pill in a small piece of food or product made especially for helping to make pill-giving a lot easier. Do not use cheese if you’re giving your dog an antibiotic, as it will interfere with the absorption of the medication.

 

“Borrowing” medication from another dog parent because you misplaced your dog’s dose, or weren’t able to get to the store for purchase, can cause severe harm or even death. Every prescription ordered by your vet is specially prescribed just for your dog, according to their age, size, and general health concerns.

 

Remember to never be careless with your household medications as well. If a household member’s pill drops on the floor, you most definitely don’t want your dog swallowing it.

  

About Walking in the Heat, Walking in the Cold, Walking in the Rain

 

Is the sidewalk or roadway too hot for your dog to walk on?  If you can’t hold your hand flat on the ground for at least 10 seconds, the answer is YES. 

Just think of the heat of beach sand beneath your bare feet on very hot days and then you will know just how your dog feels.

Is it cold enough for my dog to need a coat or sweater?  If your bare hands feel cold, the dog does too. Better to put it on. 

If your dog goes for walks in the rain, gently wipe him or her down with a clean towel once back indoors. Make it a pleasant experience.

 

BEFORE YOU BUY THE NEXT BAG OF DOG FOOD

In a constant effort to bring you information and hopefully open your eyes and your interest about what “Dog Food” is made of, how it is rated, how it is marketed, how safe or unsafe it is, and how healthy or unhealthy it is, I am happy to reprint the following, in part, from www.reviews.com/dog-food/ 

According to my friend Ilona Abramova, a team of researchers at Reviews.com have dedicated over a thousand hours analyzing 2,223 formulas on the market to find the top 13 picks that offer optimal nutrition for our furry friends. Their in-depth guide to dog food can help dog parents choose safer nutritional options. Marketing companies use operative words like “All Natural”, “Healthy”, “Organic” and “Fresh” are at the very least misleading and in most cases, just not true. Beautiful packaging, pictures of wolves and adorable puppies, brightly colored kibble and “pull at your heartstrings” slogans, are all created for the benefit of selling food for dogs, to their human families.

Here is a sample of what you will find on www.reviews.com/dog-food/

In early 2015, the law firm of Morgan and Morgan filed a class action law suit against Purina over ingredients found in its line of Beneful Dog Food. Despite this lawsuit-and the thousands of complaints of kidney failure that let to it-the product remains available to purchase at a store near you.

 

Best Dog Food

It’s all About Quality Ingredients: Best Food For a Safe and Healthy Dog

The Truth About Recalls and Manufacturing Practices.

Good Ingredients and How They Relate to Your Dog.

Dog Food Types.

Life Stages.

Breed-Specific Diets.

Formulas and Ingredients.

Brands and Recalls.

And my favorite — Dog Foods That Were Cut Because of Their Ingredients—and the reasons why.

 

Thank you Ilona, for sharing this with us.

 

SUMMER SAFETY

Our canine family members add a tremendous amount of joy during the summer playtime months so please give them the love and care they deserve. No matter how many times we hear that warning on the radio that tells us not to leave our dogs in the car during the summer, police are still breaking into them and emergency rooms are filled with dogs that are left for “just a few minutes” while their human families are shopping or banking. They were not “forgotten”. What some people don’t realize is that even when the outside temperature is in the low 80’s, it only takes a few minutes for the temperature inside an automobile to become 102 or more; even with the windows slightly open. Not too long after that, your dog will suffer from heat stroke. If a car is parked in the sun, the temperature inside can rise 30 degrees per minute obviously not taking more than just a few minutes to become a deadly situation. If you are going out for the day and there is a slight chance that your dog will not be allowed to accompany you inside a store or you might need to stop somewhere for lunch, please leave your dog home. It’s the kindest thing you can do. Make sure that wherever your dog is, he is cool and comfortable. Bracchiciphalic dogs, which are dogs with indented foreheads and short snouts like bull dogs, shih tzus and pugs, puppies, older dogs, dogs with long or thick coats and dogs that are overweight or have health issues especially respiratory and cardiovascular problems should be given extra consideration during the summer months. If you keep your dog outdoors make sure there is plenty of shade and fresh clean water. Chipped ice will help to keep it cooler, longer.

If you have areas on your property that collect standing water, DO NOT let your dog drink it; that includes the bird bath and the pool cover. It’s a pool party for intestinal parasites, known as giardia, causing diarrhea and requiring antibiotic therapy.

The garden hose is off limits too unless you have a new “SAFE TO DRINK” garden hose. Hoses can be lined with dangerous levels of lead and fittings containing toxic chemicals. So even though we all have fond memories of drinking from the garden hose as kids, it’s really not a good idea.

Another summer hazard hiding in plain sight is the sidewalk…especially roadways, black top driveway and brick walkways. I know that sounds pretty much like there’s nothing left to walk on but in bright sunlight some of these areas can be extremely hot and harmful to your dogs paws. If you notice that your dog will not stand still and keeps shifting from leg to leg it’s probably because the walkway is too hot, and you need to cross to an area with more shade.

This is something I cannot get use to seeing: dogs riding in the back of pick-up trucks. This is so dangerous that it has become illegal in many states. Your dog may not attempt to jump out of the truck but any short stop might throw him into traffic.

Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides including Tick sprays can be fatal if your pet ingests them. It is equally important that you know what’s growing in your garden as over 700 plants can be harmful.

Just a word about swimming pools: if your dog has easy access in, make sure he knows how to exit. Simply teach him the way you would a young child. A life vest is always a good idea.

POOP HAPPENS

I was never really good at telling jokes, and I don’t know the punchline to this one, But I’m not going to let that stop me from telling you what it was about. The jokes starts out with an elaborate description of an alien ship landing on Earth. The amusing part details an alien being witnessing and human being walking behind a dog. The dog stops to defecate, the human picks up the dog’s feces, puts it in a bag and takes it home.  I can see where that can be funny and confusing at the same time.

So here’s the “Scoop”:  There is no longer any excuse for leaving feces where it falls!

Parvovirus, Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Tapeworms,  Giardia and Coccidia are transmitted via dog feces. Salmonellosis is the most common bacterial infection transmitted to human from dog feces, but not the only one. Dogs step in it, roll in it, sniff it, and yes, even some dogs will eat it. Not only is there a risk of stepping in the waste and tracking the mess and the diseases into your home, but as rainwater begins to dissolve the piles of waste, contaminants are transported via runoff into the ground water. Dog feces are known to be one of the leading sources of contamination in lakes, rivers, and streams. In addition, the nitrogen released in animal waste combines with other naturally occurring elements in lakes and streams causing an increase in ammonia levels resulting in dead fish.
There is a plethora of products designed for the easy removal and disposal of this unsanitary, toxic, and otherwise disgusting entity available everywhere there is poop. Pet supply companies have an abundance of easy to use, inexpensive devices and bags to aid in your quest to clean up your property and your neighbors. Poop bags seem to be the most popular was to quickly bag and dispose of your dog’s waste. No  more forgetting to take bags because there are cute and colorful plastic attachments for your dog’s leash that are made to be filled waste pick-up bags. Some poop bags are designed with handles for easy closure and carrying. Some bags are thicker than others depending on the manufacturer, so I recommend a little investigation and not going with the least expensive brand, if possible. BETTER YET:  vegetable based bags are 100% plastic free.

For the latest in modern convenience, there are reliable companies that will Scoop-the-Poop for you, and dispose of it in accordance with your town’s regulations.

MORE THAN GUIDE DOGS

Those who know me well know that I can say with all honesty, “I never met a dog I didn’t like.” I admire each and every one of them from the family pet to the search-and-rescue dogs, as well as those who assist the physically disabled and bring a well being to the emotionally challenged. I want to give the deserved recognition to them as well as some of the other animals that not only bring us joy and companionship, but also do remarkable jobs to benefit and enhance our lives.

It has been shown that people who own cats are less likely to die from a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. The study examined data from 4,435 people, ranging in age from 30 to 75, participating in ongoing research with the National and Nutritional Examination Study conducted over a 20-year period. It’s also been found that cat owners benefit from reduced levels of depression and stress. The cat’s relaxed nature and soothing purring, like a mantra, segues into a tranquil coexistence for both. “Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.”

In 1999, an experimental program, called The Guide Horse Foundation, was started with the purpose of training miniature horses to assist visually impaired people. There is a critical shortage of guide animals and Guide Horses have shown great promise. They perform exceptionally well at keeping their blind companion safe and seem to be a wonderful alternative for blind horse lovers, those who are allergic to dogs, and those who want a guide animal with a longer lifespan. Many people who are afraid of dogs are often comfortable having a miniature horse to assist them. They are also strong enough to provide support for people with physical disabilities by helping them to rise from a chair or bed. Reports show that the Guide Horses demonstrate excellent judgment; like choosing a ramp instead of stairs, and are not easily distracted by crowds and people. Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. Guide Horses are very clean and can actually be house broken!

In a study, conducted by the Pine Street Foundation, a cancer research organization in California, compelling evidence showed that cancers hidden beneath the skin can be detected by dogs sniffing the odors of a person’s breath. According to the foundation, dogs with only a few weeks of basic training learned how to accurately distinguish between breath samples of lung- and breast-cancer patients and healthy subjects. Previous studies have confirmed the ability of trained dogs to detect skin-cancer melanomas by sniffing skin lesions. Nicholas Broffman, executive director of the Pine Street Foundation, states that lung and breast cancer patients are known to exhale patterns of biochemical markers in their breath. Cancer cells, he goes on to explain, emit different metabolic waste products than normal cells, which can be detected by a dog’s keen sense of smell, even in the early stages of disease.

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled is a national nonprofit organization that provides highly trained monkeys to assist quadriplegic and other people with severe spinal cord injuries, with daily activities. The monkeys are raised and trained to act as live-in companions who will provide the gifts of independence, companionship, dignity and hope to the people they help.

The monkeys are trained to respond to a laser pointer and can pick up objects from the floor that would normally stay there until help arrived. They can open a refrigerator, retrieve a bottle of water, open the cap, insert a straw into the bottle, and put the bottle into its holder on the handicapped person’s chair. They turn lights on and off, bring the telephone and remote for the TV, and do other tasks that would otherwise not be possible in the daily lives of people who can’t, including putting in a CD or DVD, flipping pages in a book or magazine, scratching itches, and even warming up food in the microwave.

These wonderful loving animals are not only companions but they are the caregivers as well. They never cease to amaze me and have earned my utmost respect.

It has been shown that people who own cats are less likely to die from a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases. The study examined data from 4,435 people, ranging in age from 30 to 75, participating in ongoing research with the National and Nutritional Examination Study conducted over a 20-year period. It’s also been found that cat owners benefit from reduced levels of depression and stress. The cat’s relaxed nature and soothing purring, like a mantra, segues into a tranquil coexistence for both. “Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.”

In 1999, an experimental program, called The Guide Horse Foundation, was started with the purpose of training miniature horses to assist visually impaired people. There is a critical shortage of guide animals and Guide Horses have shown great promise. They perform exceptionally well at keeping their blind companion safe and seem to be a wonderful alternative for blind horse lovers, those who are allergic to dogs, and those who want a guide animal with a longer lifespan. Many people who are afraid of dogs are often comfortable having a miniature horse to assist them. They are also strong enough to provide support for people with physical disabilities by helping them to rise from a chair or bed. Reports show that the Guide Horses demonstrate excellent judgment; like choosing a ramp instead of stairs, and are not easily distracted by crowds and people. Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. Guide Horses are very clean and can actually be house broken!

In a study, conducted by the Pine Street Foundation, a cancer research organization in California, compelling evidence showed that cancers hidden beneath the skin can be detected by dogs sniffing the odors of a person’s breath. According to the foundation, dogs with only a few weeks of basic training learned how to accurately distinguish between breath samples of lung- and breast-cancer patients and healthy subjects. Previous studies have confirmed the ability of trained dogs to detect skin-cancer melanomas by sniffing skin lesions. Nicholas Broffman, executive director of the Pine Street Foundation, states that lung and breast cancer patients are known to exhale patterns of biochemical markers in their breath. Cancer cells, he goes on to explain, emit different metabolic waste products than normal cells, which can be detected by a dog’s keen sense of smell, even in the early stages of disease.

Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled is a national nonprofit organization that provides highly trained monkeys to assist quadriplegic and other people with severe spinal cord injuries, with daily activities. The monkeys are raised and trained to act as live-in companions who will provide the gifts of independence, companionship, dignity and hope to the people they help.

The monkeys are trained to respond to a laser pointer and can pick up objects from the floor that would normally stay there until help arrived. They can open a refrigerator, retrieve a bottle of water, open the cap, insert a straw into the bottle, and put the bottle into its holder on the handicapped person’s chair. They turn lights on and off, bring the telephone and remote for the TV, and do other tasks that would otherwise not be possible in the daily lives of people who can’t, including putting in a CD or DVD, flipping pages in a book or magazine, scratching itches, and even warming up food in the microwave.

These wonderful loving animals are not only companions but they are the caregivers as well. They never cease to amaze me and have earned my utmost respect.