Fun & Delicious

Doggie Treasure Hunt!

No one can deny that companion dogs make us happy. In turn, we strive to give them good lives, providing food, shelter affection, and companionship in return. Despite the seeming closeness of the relationship I have with my dogs, I’m still all too aware that snuggling on the couch, taking rides in the car are very human activities, and the dog is happily fitting in to that. The daily “walk”, which rarely miss, is more balanced, in that we feel natural strolling along, and the dog gets to to what is instinctively natural: sniff.

My dogs, like most dogs, live for the “walk.” If they had to choose between that and a treat, I think they would choose the walk every time. This is my projection, of course. I enjoying “seeing” everything and everybody we encounter on the walk, and they enjoy smelling it all. Their nose is, of course, their most important of the five senses we share, and magnitudes more sensitive.

Close up photo of dog sniffing

Photo by Liz West

Just how much more sensitive might blow your mind. BBC entertainment recently aired a program about this and demonstrated a dog on a boat being able to pinpoint exactly the location of a can stuffed with treats that had been dropped to the bottom of a lake and weighted down so they knew it hit bottom. The dog sniffed and sniffed the air and alerted in the direction of where it had been dropped, and their sensors told them it was precisely where the treat had been submerged.

Now I’m not saying that the dog could smell underwater, but perhaps molecules in the air just above where the can was lowered were still concentrated enough to let the dog know it was there. Either way, it boggles the mind to think about the scent abilities of dogs. It’s a dimension we can only try to imagine.

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Donate with a Portrait!

Clawed Monet, high-quality pet portraits from your photo with 20% donated to United Hope for Animals and animal rescue.Wouldn’t it be great if every one of our purchases could benefit animal rescue? Well, one such purchase, a hand-painted portrait of your pet, will donate 20% of the purchase price to United Hope. The company is called “Clawed Monet,” and specializes in showcasing a group of pet portrait artists that are willing to have a part of their fee to go help animals in need. 

Each artist was hand-picked to represent a variety of styles. You may find something you like in oils, acrylic, pastels, pencil, mixed media or digital art.

To learn  about how Clawed Monet came about, read the Examiner.com website’s article on Clawed Monet.

Clawed Monet came about as a way to help UHA raise much needed funds, so if you or someone you know is both an art and a pet lover, please visit Clawed Monet online and order your portrait today: http://www.clawedmonet.com

Sweaters for Tijuana – Lisa Lends a Hand

Back in February we wrote about how readers could help dogs in Mexico by knitting sweaters, which United Hope for Animals takes down to Tijuana on its regular trips there.

A woman in Santa Paula, California, who was touched by our need for sweaters, volunteered to knit some for UHA, and in the last few months she has knitted more than 100 sweaters on her own!

Her name is Lisa Burdg, and after a summer hiatus, unbelievably, she is willing to take up the knitting needles again… who is this amazing spirit? Here is what she had to say:

UHA: Hi Lisa. We hear you’ve been knitting loads of dog sweaters for United Hope For Animals. How many have you knitted now?

Lisa: I’ve knitted 100. I’ll start up again when the weather gets cooler.

UHA: What made you get involved?

Lisa: My son, Peter, volunteered me and I said yes! Because I’m on a fixed income, I can’t donate money, so I donate my time instead.

UHA: Where did you get the yarn?

Lisa: I asked my neighbors to give me any spare yarn, and they did – they were wonderful. And Peter and Amanda (Wray) at UHA brought me more yarn that had been donated. It’s great what they – and you – are all doing.

UHA: And you! You’re really helping.

Lisa: Well, I’m also a dog lover. I had an all-black Pomeranian named Gypsy. She was so beautiful. She got sick overnight and I lost her – there was nothing they could do. She was only seven years old. She had a very rare blood disease, a blood cancer.

UHA: Do you think you’ll get another dog?

Lisa: Yes, I do. I really miss her. She was my baby. But it’s only been a year since she died, so I’m still grieving. Every sweater I made I think of her and I say ‘Here’s another one, Gypsy.’

UHA: How long does it take to make each sweater?

Lisa: I treat it like a daily job – I begin at seven in the morning and I finish at seven in the evening. If it’s a small sweater I can knit two in a day. When I start something I want to see it through to the finish – I’ve always been that way.

UHA: Have you knitted throughout your life?

Lisa: Yes. I’m Austrian, and when you’re from Europe you learn it as a young child in school. Sewing, crocheting and knitting were more important than anything else. And then after the war you couldn’t buy any underwear and I had two small boys so I knitted their underwear. So, yes, I’ve done it all my life.

UHA: Will you knit more sweaters for UHA?

Lisa: Of course. If people donate more yarn I’ll knit more. In the meantime, I’m working on a sweater for myself. I can’t just sit here and do nothing – I always have to have my hands doing something. I have to keep busy. At my age [Lisa will be 82 this week] it’s important.

Trikin’ with your Pooch

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways for my dogs to get exercise. I’m a firm believer that “a tired dog is a happy dog.” I don’t get the opportunity to get them as worn out as I’d like every day, but regular exercise is key to a sound mind and body.

I walk my dogs daily, but there is nothing like a good run to get the kinks out. Since I’m not a runner or a rollerblader, the next best thing for me is a bicycle.

The problem with running a dog alongside a bike is the unsteadiness of it all if the dog decides to stop suddenly or head in the other direction. Personally, I like to be able to keep both hands gripping the handlebars, not just one. Plus, I have two dogs to exercise, which increases the odds one of us will end up tangled in the spokes.

I decided I need to find some other kind of cycle, one that would allow for more stability and would allow me to be closer to the dogs level so I could keep an eye on them more easily. I wanted to know if my dogs were eager to run faster or if they were falling behind, or if they got something stuck in their paw and were limping.

dog running along side bicycle trikeAfter looking online I found a number of sites that featured some kind of contraption that would allow the dogs to pull you along, but I wanted to actually get some exercise in the bargain, and decided that wasn’t for me.

This led me to start researching adult tricycles. There were quite a few out there, and Wal-Mart even sold one, but in my reading it seemed that the regular trikes weren’t that great at going around corners. Plus, I wanted to ride a bit lower down.

This narrowed the field considerably, and I ended up researching recumbent trikes. Some of them have you super close to the ground, which isn’t what I wanted. Seemed too much like lying down to me, which would make it harder to see what was going on around you. No, I wanted to be higher than that. Luckily, someone else thought this was a good idea, and I ended up on the website of a company named Sun Bicycles.

I really wanted to try one out, but none of the local bike shops carried any. So basically I had to buy one sight unseen and hope for the best. I wasn’t ready to plunk down $900 for something I just thought would work in theory, and so decided research rental options.

As it turns out, Venice Beach is filled with bicycle rental shops, and I was able to track down a place that rented recumbent trikes. Woo Hoo! We packed up the car with my pooches and headed to the sand. My boyfriend and I each took one dog, and set off down the crowded sidewalk. Felt funny at first but the dogs took to it right away and I know I had a winner of a plan.

It was easy to pedal, felt super comfortable, and the dogs loved it. I got to watch them trot along, eyes glittering, tongues out, wind in their hair. They looked great and we all had a blast. That settled it. I would get my own trike.

I contacted Sun Bicycles and they gave me a list of local bike shops that would assemble it for me. The next thing was to figure out how to attach the dogs to the bike. I bought a metal spring-loaded contraption that attached to the frame of the bike, but this didn’t last long as we could never get it tight enough to where it wouldn’t start moving out of place. Besides, it was too rigid and didn’t allow enough movement for the dog.

Turns out all I needed was a good harness (I like the Easy Walk Harnass, which I turn around for trike rides so the clip area is between their shoulders) and a stretchy leash, and I was able to find a heavy duty model on Amazon.com that worked like a charm. The trick was to tie it far enough back (I now keep it attached it behind my seat) so the dogs can’t cross in front of the front tire. It’s just long enough so that I can have both dogs on my right side, but short enough that they can’t get too far away. Perfect!

Now I’m able to ride around the neighborhood with my dogs and not worry about tipping over if they decide to stop suddenly—I just feel a gentle tug. An added benefit is that my elbows don’t hurt riding my trike the way they would on a bike. It’s like sitting in a chair. Your upper body can be totally relaxed, but your legs still have to a little extra work as you don’t have the ability to sit up in your seat and use your weight on the pedals. That’s okay by me. My legs will just be in better shape.

I avoid busy streets for safety reasons, and choose the quietest streets possible because it makes for a more enjoyable ride. An added bonus, is that everybody who sees us does a double take and gives me a big grin and a thumbs up. “Now that’s the way to do it!” they say. “Where can I get one?”

To see my trike in action, watch this short video of us heading up my street.

If you decide you’d like a trike, too, I’d recommend getting a side mirror so you can see cars coming up from behind, a light for when it starts getting dark, a reflector for the back, a bell so you can alert people you are nearby, and an orange flag so you are very visible. Although they don’t sell Sun Trikes on Amazon, there are a number of other less expensive models to choose from, some of which I’ve posted in the left column.

Photo Credit: Scott Mucci (top) and Richard Masoner