Finding the Right Companion Dog

Finding the right companion dog never occurred to me while living in a small town in Northern California where I had rented an old cabin on a five acre parcel of rural land. I had moved to this remote location following a bitter divorce battle that left me with barely anything I had previously owned. My closest neighbor, whom I still had not met, lived about two miles away.

Being a writer, I was used to long periods of solitude while working. This isolated location offered not only the tranquil setting I required in order to concentrate on my writing chores, but also provided a much-needed seclusion that occasionally became depressing. I wasn’t ready to re-enter the dating scene after 15 years of marriage, so I had moved to the boondocks to spend my time writing the great American novel. Unfortunately, that well-intentioned project had been put on hold when my divorce necessitated working at hack jobs just to pay alimony.

One day while hunched over my laptop writing a short article titled “Finding the Right Companion Dog” for one of the major dog magazines, I was struggling to come up with some perceptive and profound words to write about sharing your life with a loving pet. I happened to glance out the window and noticed a spotted, tired-looking old dog standing in my front yard.

He had wandered in from God knows where, and looked around my yard like he couldn’t figure out where he was. I took a bowl of fresh, cool water out and laid it in front of him. He drank thirstily and then looked up at me with wise, soulful eyes that had obviously seen a lot more of the world’s woes than I had.

He was wearing an old frayed collar but there were no dog tags or other identification attached to it. He wasn’t emaciated, and in fact looked very well-fed. I figured he must belong to someone, perhaps my only neighbor.

I turned to go back inside my cabin with the intention of going back to work and pounding out the rest of my article on “Finding the Right Companion Dog” which was already overdue. The dog followed me into the cabin, looked around my living room, and then trotted over to my sofa where he hopped up and promptly fell asleep.

A few hours later I saw him wake up, get down off the sofa and head for the door. I went over and let him out, silently thanking him for a few hours of his companionship.

The next afternoon I heard him scratching at the screen door so I opened it and let him in. He jumped up on the sofa, laid down, and slept for a good two hours. This routine continued for nearly two weeks and I began to enjoy his daily presence. I never felt as if he were an intruder, and began to accept him as a welcome companion.

One day my curiosity got the better of me. I needed to know who this dog was and where he lived. I hastily scribbled a note and taped it to his collar. The note read, “Every afternoon your dog comes to my cabin and announces his arrival by scratching at my door. I let him in and he hops up on my sofa and takes a long nap. I don’t mind his coming over; it helps with my writing and I really enjoy his companionship. I find that I almost count on him being here every day to spend time with me. I just wanted to be sure you knew where your dog was spending his afternoons and to assure myself that it’s okay with you.”

The next afternoon the old dog arrived like clockwork and I noticed he had a different note pinned to his collar. I removed the note and read, ” I suspect he’s just trying to catch up on his sleep. This old dog lives in a home with eight small children and four young puppies.”

“Is it possible that I could accompany him tomorrow? I need some sleep too.”

Importance of Owning a Pet

The American Animal Hospital Association undertook a survey of more than 1,000 pet owners which revealed that the companionship and affection of our pets play a much stronger part of our lives than most people realize.

This national survey was conducted by The American Animal Hospital Association using its membership rolls covering 39 states across the U.S. plus several provinces in Canada. Those who answered the survey were pet owners who had taken their pets to a veterinarian who was also a member of the AAHA.

One of the most interesting results of this survey was the answer to the question “If you were forced to choose between human or animal companionship if you were deserted on a desert island,” more than 50% of the pet owners surveyed would prefer the company of a family pet rather than another person.

I’m not quite sure whether this speaks highly of our pet animals or it reflects most people’s disenchantment with their fellow man.

The American Animal Hospital Association also asked pet owners about their day-to-day interactions with their pets. The results provide an interesting insight into how people are humanizing relationships with their pets.

Here are some of the more interesting survey responses from the 79% of the respondents who had a dog:

57% would want a pet as their only companion if deserted on an island;
80% selected companionship as the major reason for having a pet;
72% said that affection is their pets’ most endearing trait;
79% give their pets presents on holidays or birthdays;
33% talk to their pets on the phone or through the answering machine;
62% often sign letters or cards that include both their name and their pet’s name;
55% consider themselves a mom or dad to their pets;
94% believe their pet has humanlike personality traits;
50% thought their pet listened better than their spouse did;
34% said their pet enjoyed watching TV, mostly animal planet, followed by cartoons, then sports;
100% said they talk to their pet;
97% felt they knew what their pet was saying;.
78% speak for their pets, speculating on what there pet would say if it could talk;
63% acquired their dog when it was less than 3 months old;
50% did not have a preference for a particular breed of dog while 30% wanted only a purebred dog;
48% specially prepare their dog’s food such as heating it or preparing special meals for their pet.

So the next time someone in your family or a friend criticizes you for paying too much attention to your pet dog, show them these survey results, then sit back and ask them, “Now what do you say!”

Why Dogs Sleep So Much

If you’re concerned that your pet dog may be sleeping too much and there might be something wrong with it, you’ll first need to determine whether it really is sleeping more than what’s normal for its age and activity level.

Why Dogs Sleep So Much

Why dogs sleep so much

Why dogs sleep so much is a common question new dog owners often ask their friends who’ve had dogs for some time.

Dogs sleep more than humans do, but they also wake up more frequently than we do. How much they sleep depends a lot upon their level of activity.

A dog living in a home as a pet will sleep more than a dog that works for a living – like a search and rescue dog, or a dog working on a ranch or farm. Dogs are able to adjust their sleep pattern so that they can be awake when there’s something to do, and can easily sleep the rest of the time.

Many indoor dogs will sometimes sleep out of simple boredom. If you suspect your dog is bored, you can give it ample stimulation during the day by giving it lots of toys to play with or take it on several walks. If your dog has enough to do during the day, it will usually stay awake during the day and then sleep at night when you do.

Sleep patterns

Dogs have the same sleep patterns as humans.

When your dog first goes to sleep, it enters the slow wave or quiet phase of sleep. It will lie quite still and is oblivious to its surroundings. The breathing slows, the blood pressure and body temperature drop, and the heart rate decreases.

After about ten minutes, your dog enters the rapid eye movement (REM) or active stage of sleep. Its eyes will roll under its closed lids, and it may bark or whine or jerk its legs. During this stage, the brain activity is similar to that seen during the dreaming phase of human sleep, and many vets and pet owners agree that this is evidence that dogs have dreams.

Adult dogs spend about 10 to 12 percent of their sleeping time in REM sleep. Puppies spend a greater proportion of their sleep time in REM.

Larger dogs sleep so much more than smaller ones who generally have a tendency to always be alert for anything that allows them to start a round of loud and seemingly uncontrollable barking.

Older senior dogs always sleep more than younger dogs, and 20 hours or more a day of sleeping does not mean an old dog is ill; they’re just tired out.

Medical conditions causing dogs to sleep too much

Although all dogs begin to slow down and rest more as they grow older, there are some medical conditions that may cause your dog to sleep too much.

• Many veterinarians believe that dogs can get depressed just as humans can. Canine depression can be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain but more often is caused by a sudden change in the dog’s routine, such as moving to a new home, being adopted, or losing a long-time companion – human or animal. The primary symptoms of canine depression are an increased amount of time spent sleeping, decreased activity, lethargy, decreased appetite and weight loss.

• When a dog has hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough T3 and T4 hormones, causing a decrease in metabolic function. Most of the time this is an autoimmune response that attacks the thyroid, but it can also be caused by other conditions, such as cancer. The decrease in metabolic function causes the whole body to slow down resulting in excess sleepiness and lethargy. Other symptoms may include weight gain, anemia, hair loss, skin and coat disorders, decreased heart rate, and an intolerance to cold weather.

Juvenile-onset diabetes occurs infrequently in dogs and principally affects older dogs, particularly females. Dogs who have diabetes display symptoms including sleepiness, lethargy, increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and occasional blindness. Treatment is the same as for humans with diabetes: insulin injections. Some breeds such as schnauzers, small terriers, and poodles are at increased risk for diabetes, as are obese dogs.

• There are many infectious diseases that can cause your dog to sleep so much or act lethargic. These diseases include rabies, distemper, parvovirus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Most infectious diseases that cause lethargy and sleepiness are accompanied by a variety of other symptoms that are often more easy to diagnose.


Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.
There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.

How Our Pets Help Us

How do our pets help us? Let me count the ways:

* Any dog owner knows that our pets help us emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Dogs can also comfort us when we have a serious illness or there is a death in the family. Turning to your pet for comfort when a friend or family member dies can help alleviate the depression that normally accompanies the loss of a person close to you.

* Dog owners are less likely to feel afraid of being victimized when walking their dog and also feel safer just having a dog around the house.

* Dogs help us relax by taking our attention off our current problems and fears. A pet dog sitting by your side is comforting and relaxing for both the dog owner as well as the dog. Having a dog you can touch and caress is important when the daily grind gets you down. Many studies have shown how important touch is to a human’s physical and emotional health. And it doesn’t need to be the touch of another human; it can be your dog. A pet dog can lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation by providing unwavering companionship.

* As humans we want to feel needed and have someone or something to care for deeply. Caring for a pet dog provides consistency and emotional support to our lives. Friends may come and go, but for a dog’s entire life it will be your best friend. Dogs give us the experience of unconditional love which most people will never receive from another human. Perhaps humans are incapable of always giving unconditional love since we always have our own agendas and needs, whether we realize it or not. A pet dog can influence how you feel about yourself and your life.

* Dogs are teachers and healers of extraordinary talent.

* Things can be going really bad out there in the rat race, but once you come home, that furry, four-legged confidante and friend can bring a sense of peace and calmness to your rattled day.

* They shower us with love.

* They amuse and entertain us.

* They comfort us and make our lives better in so many ways.

* They help our soldiers stationed in Iraq who are missing their loved ones back home. The stray dogs adopted by so many soldiers are the best companions and friends some of the enlisted men and women have. More than 300 stray dogs from Iraq have been adopted and now have new homes with their pet parents in the U.S.

* They bring peace and comfort to people who are in nursing homes, children who are in hospitals, and even the poor souls in nursing facilities who are suffering from the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

Our pets help us in so many more ways. There are thousands of inspirational stories available on the internet and in book form. As for me, I could never do without my dog. No matter how much I love him and pay attention to him, I always feel as if I’m the one that’s truly blessed – receiving more love than I can possibly give in return.

How to Control a Dog’s Shedding Hair

Dogs shed their hair as a natural process, but for some owners with allergies, this can become problematic. All dogs shed their hair, some breeds more than others. If you have a problem with dog hair, there are several ways to control a dog’s shedding hair.

Brushing your dog on a regular basis is the best way to manage shedding. Careful brushing daily will remove all the loose fur and prevent hair from ending up on your clothes or furniture.

You’ll need to buy a brush or comb that is suitable for your dog’s coat type and length. Petco and PetSmart sell a variety of brushes for any type of dog’s hair. If you’re unsure of which brush or comb is best for your dog’s coat, be sure to ask because using the wrong type of brush could pull out your dog’s hair and cause injuries.

Short haired dogs will need less brushing, while long or wiry-coated dogs need brushing daily.

Bathing your dog also helps to control shedding. A clean coat and skin results in less shedding. While bathing your dog, it becomes much easier to remove loose hair.

Most dogs should be bathed once a week or every two weeks. Some breeds require less frequent baths and can be bathed once a month. The frequency will depend upon several factors including whether your dog is strictly an indoor one or whether it spends most of its waking hours playing or resting outside.

During the summer a dog needs more frequent baths due to the heat and humidity. If you give your dog a bath once a week it will moisten your dog’s skin and prevent dryness. Dry skin leads to more shedding, which is what you’re trying to avoid. Using a gentle shampoo will nourish the dog’s skin and reduce shedding.

Many people don’t realize that their dog’s diet can also contribute to the amount of hair shed. A dog with a poor diet sheds more hair so it’s best to feed your dog a balanced diet rich in protein, fat, and fibers, but fewer carbohydrates.

Dogs benefit from a diet rich in Essential Fatty Acids, yet most dog’s diets lack these necessary nutrients. Their systems lack the ability to produce needed Essential Fatty Acids on their own. An excellent high quality EFA supplement like Omega Glo-Coat 3/6/9 helps produce a healthy coat and also reduces shedding. Fatty oils are important for a healthy coat and a hydrated skin.

Ticks and fleas and other parasites will cause a dog to scratch excessively and this may lead to more shedding than normal and result in bald patches on the skin. Fleas and ticks will need to be removed with special formula shampoos.

It surprises many people to learn that a stressed-out dog will lose more hair than usual. Stress in dogs can caused by simple things like a change in the dog’s environment or the loss of a fellow pet or family member.

If you notice that your dog is shedding hair a lot more than usual, schedule a visit to the vet to check for any medical condition that could be causing the excess shedding. Common diseases that cause shedding, besides skin problems, are ringworm, mange or even worse, cancer.

Dogs: Man’s Best Friend

Dogs are a man’s best friend (and a woman’s too!)

If the only thing I got from having my pet dog was friendship and a trustworthy companion, it would be enough for me. But there is so much more that this beautiful, loving animal brings into my life. He brings love (lots of it), true happiness whenever we’re together, and enjoyment that only a dog can give.

Most dogs provide valuable accompaniment to their owners. Some breeds like Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are more “loners” and don’t require a lot of attention as do breeds like Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Beagles, Terriers or Sheepdogs.

Some dogs are sporty and enjoy running, walking and playing fetch with adults and children. These types of dogs are great for children who have no siblings to play with.

Many dogs have also proven themselves to be invaluable to their owners and have saved many lives by awakening a family when their house was on fire or by rescuing a child who was drowning in a pool.

Dogs are also very useful in giving medical assistance to those in need. They can detect seizures in a person before they occur, which enables epileptic people to live a normal life without fear of a sudden seizure while driving or operating machinery.

Dogs also help the blind to navigate their way around in the outside world as well as within the home.

Dogs provide security to their owners from home intruders and are especially useful outside at night when human visibility is marginal.

Specially trained police dogs can sniff through bags at airports to detect drugs and other illegal substances.

Purebred German Shepherds are used by police departments because they are known for their trainability and eagerness to work.

Dogs such as bloodhounds can track down suspects by the scent left behind.

Dogs have many personalities within the same breed and certain breeds are popular due to their inbred traits.

If you don’t already have a pet dog, perhaps today is the day to start looking for one of man’s best friends who will never let you down, and who just might save your life in the event of an emergency.

When Dogs Behave Badly

Is your dog protecting you or is it just behaving badly?

There are many behavioral problems in dogs that make us wonder “why is my dog doing that? What causes my dog to act like that and what can I do to stop its bad behavior?” Here are some of the worst behavioral problems displayed by dogs:

Destructive behavior is one of the most common complaints from dog owners. When your pet dog continues to urinate on your expensive rug or carpet, chews up shoes left lying around, or destroys clothing belonging to a family member, it makes everyone involved unhappy. Destructive behavior can have many causes, including separation anxiety. If you are away from home for many hours during the day, and your dog demonstrates destructive behavior, you must be careful that any punishment be administered at the proper time. If you come home and find the dog has chewed something it was not supposed to, don’t punish the dog then. The dog will not be able to associate its act of destruction with the punishment because it will not understand exactly why you are upset. It will act ‘guilty’ because it knows you’re upset, but will not be able to associate your anger with its act of destruction. Don’t punish a dog for its bad behavior unless you catch it in the act. You can help your dog overcome some of the causes of destructive behavior by giving it Calming Soft Chews. This soothing formula has high potency natural ingredients properly formulated to treat dogs who have separation anxiety, are overly nervous, or won’t stop pacing. It’s the natural way to help your dog mellow out.

Another reason for destructive behavior is lack of environmental stimulation. Boredom is often the cause of destructive behavior, especially in puppies or large dogs that are not receiving adequate exercise. All dogs need environmental stimulation. You might consider getting a second pet dog to keep it company when you’re away from home, or you could buy interesting toys to entertain your dog during your absence.

Destructive behavior can also arise if you punish your dog by penning it in a closed room or a fenced yard. Your dog may be inclined to break through a fence or may destroy your door frame or door knobs.

To treat destructive problems in your pet, you must establish the exact cause of its behavior and make necessary changes. For example, if a young dog chews furniture but not doors, it is probably in need of more environmental stimulation. Try increasing the amount of time of its exercising, adopt another dog as its companion, or leave the TV or radio on when you are away from home.

Preventing bad behavior from developing is easier than treating it after your pet acquires it. Puppy owners should not give a new puppy old shoes or a piece of rug to chew on because the puppy will not be able to differentiate between old tennis shoes and your good leather shoes. Dog toys should be of the type that your dog can easily distinguish as being different from objects you don’t want chewed up.

Aggression is also a common complaint from dog owners and is usually a serious threat to public safety. Biting should never be encouraged when a dog is still a puppy because it will grow up believing that type of behavior is acceptable.

Excessive barking can really bug your neighbors as well as you. To cure your dog of this bad behavior, determine where and when, or at what it is barking. If it happens only when it’s out in the backyard alone, you should keep the dog indoors and only take it outside when on a leash. It is common for dogs to bark at strangers or visitors to the house. This is due to territorial behavior and the dog is simply protecting its property and you. You need to teach your dog to stop inappropriate barking by using positive reinforcement to modify its behavior. When your dog barks, call it over or command it to sit and reward it with a tasty treat. Negative punishment does not work in these instances because it can cause fear in the dog, which can make the barking problem worse.

Digging holes under your fence is usually the result of the dog trying to escape from your yard. Dogs will also dig holes to keep cool or to catch rodents. Place chicken wire where your dog likes to dig to discourage digging. If the dog is a natural digger like a Terrier then digging is part of its genetic makeup. You might consider marking off an area where the dog is allowed to dig. If your lawn also looks unsightly because your dog’s continuing urination causes your lawn to look like a hodge-podge of green and brown spots, try Lawn Aid, a formula designed to balance your dog’s urine pH to prevent unsightly discoloration of your lawn. The combination of Cranberry, Yucca, DL-Methionine and Brewer’s Yeast will help keep your grass green all season long. The Cranberry Extract in this perfectly balanced formula also supports proper urinary tract health.

Jumping up on people is a common behavioral problem that is usually minor, unless the dog is very large or you have small children. The dog will continue jumping up on people because it wants attention. The best way to stop this is to train the dog that jumping up will result in not getting any attention. You should ignore your dog completely when it attempts to jump up on you. Look up and fold your arms across your chest so the dog receives no physical or visual contact from you. Calmly command your dog to sit down. Once it sits, you should reward it with attention. You must be consistent and other family members also need to participate in this training. Your dog will soon learn that jumping up gets it no attention.

When a dog behaves badly try to put yourself in its place and ask “What is happening with the dog, or to it, that would drive


batty or cause


to demonstrate bad behavior too?

Health Care For Older Dogs

Proper health care for an older dog requires more attention from an owner than when it was a puppy or young adult dog.

It is important to know when your pet is a “senior citizen” so you can make appropriate changes in its diet and exercise to ensure a longer, healthy life. As a general rule of thumb, dogs are considered senior around seven years of age.

A quick look around your favorite pet store will reveal most dry packaged dog foods carry the inscription “For senior dogs 7 years or older”. As a general rule, larger dogs are considered to be seniors around five or six, and smaller dogs around nine years. There is such a large variety of dog breeds and sizes that there is no single age that automatically designates senior status.

Most dog owners feel their dogs do not live long enough. A recent survey of more than 1,000 people showed that one third of Americans who own a pet dog have no idea when their dog is a senior dog. And with 71 million pet-owning households in the United States, this translates to millions of dog owners that don’t know how to provide the best care for their dog’s senior years.

One of the most common misconceptions among dog owners is that pets and their owners age differently. While the rate at which dogs age is different than humans, the changes that take place with advancing age are very similar. Both pets and humans either gain or lose weight, develop arthritic joints, encounter problems with their heart, and often experience dental problems.

Another misconception that seems to be common among almost all dog owners is if a dog is overweight it isn’t a major health concern. While obesity should be a major health concern for dog owners, sudden weight loss is also a serious health worry. Diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, and diabetes can cause weight loss and you need to schedule a visit to your veterinarian if your dog has a sudden weight loss.

The usual symptoms of obesity can be managed with proper diet and exercise. Winston’s Digest All can aid your dog in losing weight if it is overweight or obese. Aching joints and lack of energy can also be managed successfully with natural supplements like Winston’s Joint System formula. This highly recommended product has helped thousands of dogs who were suffering from debilitating joint diseases such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.

One of the most popular misconceptions now found on the internet is that exercise and dog toys that entertain and engage a dog’s senses are the best ways to prevent cognitive decline. The reality is that cognitive decline, or geriatric dementia, although most often associated with older humans, also affects older dogs who are prone to age-related dementia also. Dementia in older dogs usually becomes evident with inappropriate acts like barking in the middle of the night, urinary accidents in house-trained dogs, or becoming disoriented in his familiar home, and a lessening of interaction with family members. Dementia, which exhibits itself as a general disorientation, usually causes stress, anxiety, and fear, both in the dog and its human owner.

Some common age-related changes to watch for as your pet dog ages: He or she becomes less active, sleeps more, often develops a reduced sense of hearing and sight, is less able to handle temperature changes, and loses muscle mass. These changes may be symptoms of a disease, so be aware of any sudden weight loss or gain, sudden loss of appetite, lethargy, increased thirst or urinating more than usual.

When your dog reaches the start of his senior years, he will need your loving care more than ever. This is the perfect time to start your dog on Winston’s Senior Complete Multi vitamin supplement. This is the most powerful and complete once-daily multi vitamin for dogs 5 years and older. It contains almost 50 active ingredients from the healthiest sources available.

Maintaining good health care for your older dog is is the best way to repay your aging dog for the loyalty and pleasure it has given you for so many years. Show him or her that you love them as much as they have loved you. Spend time petting and just being with them. You may be surprised at the calming effect it produces in both of you.