Tick’d Off

By Shirley Bittner
Parasites are one of those things that people tend to avoid in polite conversation. It’s just not good table manners to talk about creatures that feed off something’s precious bodily fluids. But instead of skirting around this unsavoury topic, let’s smack the thing head-on!
This hot summer is perfect for everyone’s favourite Lyme-y loafers: ticks. Unlike mosquitoes and fleas who drink and dash, the tick enjoys a much more committed relationship. Unfortunately, like all parasites, ticks have a tendency to carry nasty diseases, so it’s important to know how you and (more importantly) your pets can avoid these little blood-suckers.

First off, why are ticks so bad? Sure, they’re icky, but the main danger of the little guys is the illnesses they tend to bring around with them. Of the 650 different species of ticks in the world, there are only about six or seven types in North America worth being worried about, and you can find tips for identifying them here. Lyme disease, which causes inflammation and fever, is the classic tick-borne plague. It’s dangerous if left untreated, but if caught it’s perfectly curable with antibiotics. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesiosis are two other tick-borne illnesses, unpleasant but curable if caught early enough.
An ounce of prevention is worth its weight in tacos. Luckily, there are specially designed tick repellent products for both cats and dogs, ranging from salves to sprays to collars. While these products get the job done, they are rather toxic (they have to stop ticks somehow) and should be used to the letter of their instruction. The bad news is that other than good ol’ fashioned chemicals, the only way to keep your pets clear of ticks is to check them regularly.
Should you discover a tick on your beloved pet, it’s important to know how to properly deal with it. The average tick is a single-minded thing, and even when it’s being pulled off, it will try its best to keep its face buried in the sweet buffet of your pet’s blood. In fact, if it’s pulled off improperly, the body will come off, but the tick’s head will remain thoroughly embedded in the skin, possibly resulting in infection. Contrary to some popular beliefs, holding a match under a tick or smothering it in alcohol is not a good thing. It’ll only tick the tick off, and while a ticked off tick will probably let go, it’ll make sure to spit in the hole it’s made, increasing the risk of transmitting a potential illness to your pet.
The proper way to remove a tick is with tweezers (preferably the specialized anti-tick ones for sale at most pet stores). Pinch as close to the skin as possible, and then pull with steady force. Alternatively, just go to a vet and have them do it. That way, they can run some tests on the tick to see if it was carrying anything nasty. If you do remove the offending bloodsucker at home, it’s always a good idea to preserve it in alcohol and bring it to a vet for testing.
Ticks, and all parasites, are yucky. It’s a fact of life. But gross things still happen, and ignoring them won’t make them go away. If you have a very outdoorsy cat or dog, do them the courtesy of checking for ticks every now and again. More often than not, ticks are harmless. Like mosquitoes, the vast majority don’t carry the disease they’re famous for, but it’s never a bad thing to double check. Just don’t start checking Fluffy for the little bloodsuckers over dinner.
By Alexander Bentley 

When Bow Wow Bows

By Shirley Bittner
What does a dog think of a fist-bump? Or dancing? Or Monopoly? The world of human play is a surprisingly complex beast, and even the smartest of dogs probably have no idea what’s going on when two people high-five. While the mystic realm of humanity may be as indecipherable as quantum physics to dogs, the nuances of canine amusement don’t have to stay a mystery to us. All you need to understand how dogs play is to watch closely.

Way back in the day (way, way, way back), dogs were wolves. They had wolf-y needs and wolfish ambitions. They hunted in packs; not as a group of close friends like commonly believed, but more like a group of businessmen striving towards the same goal. The dogs of today, while still retaining some lupine traits, have been completely domesticated. They have become totally dependent on humans, and the man-dog relationship is more akin to parent and child than two fellow pack members. The child/dog analogy can extend even further – dogs play just like toddlers. And just like toddlers, there comes a point when their boundless energy is just too much for you, and it’s time for that spunky someone to meet a couple new friends. If your dog isn’t tiny, the park might be a good bet, but sometimes a simple play-date with another pooch is even better.
So you’ve set your canine companion up with a friend. The two of them do some classic sniffing, then BOOM! They’re all over each other, growling and body-slamming! You break it up, but the dogs just look at you like you’re crazy. Why? Because amidst all the action, you’ve missed one of the most important signals dogs send to each other. Much like people wink or assume a more satirical tone, dogs have a way of saying, “Everything I’m about to say and do is in jest.” It’s called a ‘Play Bow.’ The dog who wants to play gets down on their little doggie elbows and sticks their butt in the air. The dog this gesture is directed to then either refuses by walking away or accepts by engaging. Once both dogs have agreed to play, they play at full throttle! Although they’re chasing each other around and growling, the dogs’ faces aren’t angry; their lips aren’t curled back and bearing teeth for more than an instant at a time, which means they’re having a grand old time! When dogs are playing all of their movements are nice and loose, fluidly bouncing and bounding all over each other.
By Shirley Bittner
 Just like with children, however, sometimes the good-natured roughhousing crosses a line. One dog slams or nips the other just a bit too forcefully. The dog on the receiving end will let out a small yelp or snap at the offending pooch and leave that dog’s space. Whomever committed the faux-pas might (depending on the situation) try to re-initiate play with another bow. Ultimately, the decision to continue play is for the dogs to make amongst themselves. Sometimes the play goes on, other times enough is enough.
Although doggy-play is naturally quite rough, sometimes the play can transition directly into aggression and it is important to be able to differentiate between the two. For instance, one dog may be bit too meanly, or maybe two dogs just really don’t like each other. Their play turns from a smooth flow into quick, strobe-like pauses and consistent teeth-bearing. When this happens, it might be time to call your dog away for a quick time-out; not as punishment, but just as a brief break from all the excitement. Again, as with children, sometimes personalities can clash, so it is important to make sure that your dog finds a friend they like and can learn to play nicely with.
Understanding the signals you dog sends while playing can open the window to their personality and needs. Is you pooch constantly getting picked on, or are they the one who keeps accidentally crossing the line between play and conflict? Or do they simply get along with everyone they meet? Knowing the inner workings of your friend’s doggy brain is an important part of the bonding process and play can help reveal key components of their psyche that may otherwise go unnoticed. The act of playing is also great exercise that is hard for a human to match for their canine. So if you’re unsure whether your dog’s a dashing Dalmatian or a twitchy Terrier, or if you simply need to run off some steam, get out to the nearest park and watch them play!
By Alexander Bentley

July 2010 Pet of the Month!

If this little man were a person, he would surely be a heart-breaker! Tall, dark and handsome, Junior, a 7-month-old Doberman/Kind Shepherd mix, is a bundle of unstoppable energy and the life of any party!
Delighted parents, Leah and Matt, couldn’t be happier with this charming young fellow. “We found him through an ad on Kijiji,” says Leah. “He was the first puppy we went to go see and the last!”
A sweet lovable disposition and a nose for mischief makes Junior one of the funnest pups you’ll ever meet! Whether he’s tearing around like a maniac or putting in some much needed snuggle time on the couch, he’s the type of guy who likes to be always doing something.
Most content when out and about, either running, being a roller-blading buddy, playing at the park or chowing down on some toys, Junior is up for anything and always ready for action! The ideal summer canine companion!

Congratulations Junior! July 2010’s Pet of the Month!
Ju Ju, Jooj, James Ready, J-rock, June Bug
Marrow Bones (Nomz! Nomz! Delish!)
Stuffingless Skunk — I’m not allowed to have regular stuffed toys anymore. It’s too much fun to pull out all the stuffing and spread it all over the house, but this skunk thing is pretty cool!
Tug-of-War (C’mon, I challenge you to a war! Any time! Any place!)
Learning how to swim (I’m a big guy, okay? I’ve got a lot of legs that flail around in water…and water is weird.)
Ripping apart Mum and Dad’s decorative pillows (What? It’s not my fault they looked so tasty!)
BEST TRICK: Hands down, high fives!
CATCH PHRASE: “I didn’t do it…I swearz!!!”
If you would like to nominate your pet friend for next month’s “Pet of the Month Contest,” please email submissions to info@pawsh-magazine.com.

Cats on the Hill

By Shannon Preston
We always secretly knew that cats ran the world, but in Ottawa it’s plain to see. Right next to Parliament there are miniature versions of the beautiful historic buildings presided over by (you guessed it) cats! They might not pass bills or discuss legislature at any great length, but these federal felines certainly have their own agendas.
Instead of being the political epicentre of the cat world (but hey, who knows?), these quaint little buildings are actually a cat sanctuary. It all started in the 1970’s when a woman by the name of Irène Desormeaux began to feed the stray cats that hung around Parliament. Rumour has it that these cats were first brought in to help with the rat problem in the government… er, I mean, government buildings. They might even still be performing this service today, but they like to keep their business to themselves.
These constitutional savvy cats are well cared for, being fed and watered every day and taken to the vet whenever needed – a task that fell to René Chartrand after Desormeaux passed away in 1987. Chartrand feeds them twice a day, every day, carrying bags that weigh up to 10 pounds despite the fact he is well into his 80s. The whole enterprise gets rather pricey for one man to handle, since caring for the 28 resident cats costs around $6,000 a year. Thus, donations are heavily relied upon to keep the littlest Parliament doors open. The government does not provide any funding towards the care of these cats, but does permit Chartrand to go about his work without interference. In fact, now government workers will even clear a path to the sanctuary in the winter to allow him to fulfill his duties to the kitties more easily.

By Shannon Preston
Chartrand built these now rather famous felines their own buildings to help them survive the harsh Ottawa winters. Despite their fancy digs, however, they are free to roam the grounds and do so quite often. They might appear quite domesticated in their posh houses and too-cute-to-be-true names, like Bebe and Max, but it is important for visitors to remember they are still stray cats and it is best to remain cautious around them.
Each of the 28 cats is spayed or neutered to keep the population number on the Hill to a minimum. However, Chartrand will occasionally add another cat to the sanctuary, but only from a shelter when they are about to be put down and there is no other option. Even though the sanctuary was set up to care specifically for cats, other animals in the area have profited from it as well. Squirrels, raccoons and other wild animals enjoy the scraps left behind by the cats. The birds aren’t forgotten about either, as Chartrand will often bring bread crumbs for them to join in the feast too.
The sanctuary has become quite the tourist attraction in the capital and even gained Chartrand the nickname the ‘Cat Man of the Hill.’ So the next time you are in Ottawa and have finished your obligatory tour of Parliament, check out the cats right next door and maybe make a donation to help ensure that they continue to receive the excellent care Chartrand provides.

By Allison Vorstenbosch

Super Dog! To the Rescue!

By Tyler Pollard
When one googles the definition of “hero,” the first result we are given is “a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength.” The list goes on to describe champions, a mathematician, song titles, Greek mythology and even a type of sandwich, but nothing mentions our selfless friends in the animal kingdom. Time and time again there are instances of pets saving human lives, yet these acts of bravery aren’t always given the recognition they deserve. Fortunately, the Purina Animal Hall of Fame exists to raise awareness about pet heroism and to ensure these amazing acts of bravery are honoured.

Founded in 1968, the Purina Animal Hall of Fame is one of the longest-running pet-recognition programs in Canada.  The year of its conception three dogs were inducted into the hall of fame for performing extraordinary acts of bravery, intelligence and devotion which had gone beyond the human-pet bond and saved lives. Pat, a Labrador Retriever, towed his owner in an oarless boat for almost four hours in the rough waters of the St. Lawrence Rivers.  Then there was Tippy, a Shepherd/ Lab mix, who pulled an eight-year-old child from the icy Niagara River.  Lastly, little Bambi, a Chihuahua, saved a visiting friend of the family by awakening her after a fire started in the house. Today a grand total of 142 heroic Canadian animals have been inducted in to the Purina Animal Hall of Fame: 117 dogs, 24 cats, and even one horse!
The Hall of Fame’s long history has brought attention to many life-saving acts and each animal’s story is quite unique. From warning humans about deadly carbon monoxide emissions, to warding off bear attacks, to drawing attention to stroke victims, pets have given a heroic paw to all sorts of dangerous situations.  In 1994, a one-year-old Labrador Retriever named Belle was one of several heroes credited with saving the life of three-year-old, Ken.  The young boy fell into an icy channel of the Lunenburg Harbour in Nova Scotia and spent 30 chilling minutes under water.  The boy was saved from the water after his father spotted Belle in the water too, acting as a marker.  Local rescue and medical teams were able to restart Ken’s heart two hours later and to the amazement of doctors, Ken awoke from a coma after 48 hours in hospital. That same year, Sam, an eight-year-old German Shepherd saved her owner when she fell through a frozen river in Mississauga, Ontario. Her owner, grabbed Sam by the collar, who was able to pull her to safety.
By Tyler Pollard
 Unfortunately, not all heroic acts have such happy endings. Chance is a nine-year-old Dalmatian/ Fox Terrier and was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame just this year for trying to save the life of his seven-year-old autistic owner, James. In December 2009, James was playing with Chance in their backyard when the pair suddenly went missing. The community searched for them long into the night, sadly without any luck, and there was still no sign of either James or Chance in the morning. To make matters worse, a snowstorm hit the region and little James had no jacket. Two days later, Chance returned home, leading search and rescue teams directly to James, who was unconscious and was suffering from severe hypothermia. He was, however, miraculously alive! Medical teams at the hospital where astonished that he had survived the blizzard and credited his survival to Chance staying by his side. Tragically, James succumbed to hypothermia and passed away later that day. Although James is no longer with his family, Chance kept James alive until he could be found and gave his family an opportunity to say their goodbyes.
The Purina Animal Hall of Fame also awards the noble Ralston Purina Service Dog of the Year Award.  This award was inspired in 1992 by Tracker, a 10-year-old German Shepherd owned by Sergeant Larry Bigley. During his time spent serving in the Sudbury District, Tracker had been involved with about 500 missing persons searches, criminal, drug and security details. It became evident that canine involvement with the force was extremely beneficial to fighting crime and helping officers perform their duties. The first five Police Service Dogs to receive the prestigious Service Dog of the Year Award were Cato (1993), Ewo (1994), Keno (1997), Caesar (1999), and Bandit (2001), while Keno (2002) was the first non-police dog to receive this honoured distinction for finding Ryan Radchenko beneath two meters of snow.
While our furry heroes may be overlooked by many, the bond we share with our pets is unarguably inspiring and can save lives.  To nominate a Canadian hero, either a pet or service dog, send your story to Purina.  The 2011 inductees will attend a private ceremony in the spring at PawsWay in Toronto. PawsWay, home to the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, is open six days a week and admission is free (and canine friendly)!
By Krystinne McKinnon