Canine Rivalry

By Diane Blankenburg

My three labs love to play with each other—often in a manner that some might describe as play-fight. In the mornings when they are most full of energy, they ritualistically engage in this behavior. It’s called play-fight as it playfully emulates behaviors common to fighting: growling, baring teeth, grabbing throats, and pinning to the ground. The dogs seem to know how far to go without hurting the other. But the sounds combined with intense actions, often make it difficult to know if and when it crosses the boundaries to true fighting.

Yesterday morning I witnessed the cross over. The three were in the middle of their usual morning romp around the bedroom as I was getting ready for work when the growling started escalating and climaxed with a loud, very serious yelp of pain. I quickly assessed the situation and realized that my older male, Beaumont, had put my young male, Boomer, in his place. It was clear that this was no longer play and it was clear who was top dog.

It is still common belief that domestic dogs descended from wolves and deep within the psyche of pet dogs lie instincts retained from wild ancestors. The definition of alpha dog has evolved in recent years but the idea of an aggressively dominant alpha wolf in gray wolf packs has been discredited by wolf biologists and researchers. The so-called “alphas” in packs are viewed as the breeding animals and dominance relationships are no different than the parent-child patterns of humans.

I am not a wolf scientist nor a canine behaviorist, but my personal experience and observations have borne out the idea that there is a definite hierarchy. The current alpha in my household is wiser but older Beaumont—and he puts the youngsters in their place when they cross over the line.

Yesterday morning was a great example of this at its best. After the so-called play-fight, I continued to get dressed and Beaumont and my young female, Beignet (pronounced Ben-yay), went about their business as if nothing had happened. Boomer had retreated to another part of the house and was sheepishly peeking around the corner of the hallway,  apparently checking on whether the coast was clear. He then slowly walked down the hallway, into the bedroom where the elder was awaiting, and play bowed—as if bowing to the master. The moment seemed much longer than the few seconds and the tension was obvious—then the playful bounce back from Beaumont and all were at peace once again with Boomer the wiser for it.

This episode was equally educational for me and just reinforced my belief that having an older dog run the show keeps my pack in line much better than I ever could.

Events that Help Homeless Pets

Last Weekend for Pick Your Price adoption fees at Nevada Humane Society. Adopt a dog or cat through October 31 for the price you choose. Open for adoptions 7 days a week at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno, 11 am to 6:30 pm, 10 am on Saturdays. For more info, call 775-856-2000.

Safe Trick-or-Treating at Nevada Humane Society on Halloween, October 31, 4:00 to 7:00 pm. Plenty of treats for children who come in costume. Hot chocolate and apple cider, spooky music and staff and shelter dogs in costumes. FREE.

Political Animals

By Bonney Brown

With the election fast approaching, it seems appropriate to call attention to a few non-traditional candidates.

In Virginia, a Maine Coon named Hank is running for Senate. Hank has an inspiring story; born to a single mother, he was homeless and ended up in a shelter. He has over 27,000 Facebook fans, an impressive website and ads on YouTube. Every campaign has its detractors and Hank has had to face a blistering attack ad that asks tough questions about his birth certificate and use of catnip.

Hank’s economic development plan calls for “milk in every bowl.” His campaign slogan is “Vote the Humans Out.” Hank has the endorsement of the prestigious Canine Party of Pennsylvania which hosted a rally gathering over 500 lbs of pet food for their local shelter in Hank’s honor. His campaign merchandise raised over $12,000 which has been donated to his favorite cause—spay/neuter programs.

Tuxedo Stan, a black-and-white cat, is a mayoral candidate in Halifax. He is calling attention to homeless cats in his community and has challenged other candidates to sign a pledge to stand up for the voiceless animals. Stan has succeeded in getting signatures from four of the mayoral candidates and all council members.

Given requirements for office holders to be human or to be able to legibly sign their name, it is a discouraging road to election for animals. But some have persevered, including;

  • Junior Cochran, the black lab mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky and his successor Lucy Lou (a Border Collie) who defeated 9 other dogs , a cat, a donkey and a possum in a tough election.
  • Clay Henry III, a beer-drinking goat and mayor of Lajitas, Texas.
  • Bosco Ramos, a Lab-Rottweiler mix and mayor of Sunol, California, for 10 years.
  • Stubbs, an orange cat, has served as mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska for 15 years. Stubbs was a write-in candidate when citizens decided they weren’t impressed with the two human candidates and he has been re-elected several times. One supporter noted that Mayor Stubbs a is a tourist attraction for the small town and he has never raised taxes.

One thing is for sure, the love of animals cuts across all political boundaries. Whatever your political persuasion, you can adopt a RePUPlican or DemoCAT that is sure to be a good fit for the role of commander-in-chief of your home.

Events that Help Homeless Pets

Empty the Shelter: Adopt a dog or cat at Nevada Humane Society this month for the price you choose. Open for adoptions 7 days a week at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno, 11 am to 6:30 pm, 10 am on Saturdays. For more info, call 775-856-2000.

Safe Trick-or-Treating at Nevada Humane Society on Halloween, October 31, 4:00 to 7:00 pm. Plenty of treats for children who come in costume. Hot chocolate and apple cider, spooky music and staff and canine friends in costumes. FREE.

Do Dogs Really Hate Halloween?

by Diane Blankenburg

At this time of year, there are lots of emails flying around between animal lovers with the subject line Why Dogs Hate Halloween. The email body is a series of very funny photos with dogs (and sometimes cats) in a variety of Halloween costumes. There is a dog gator, fish, lion, and lobster. There is a dog skeleton, angel, and devil. It includes a canine Elvis, Darth Vader, and Little Red Riding Hood. There are bananas, hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries. There is even a dog policeman with a cat prisoner.

Halloween costumes were originally worn to “scare off ghosts and demons” but now people simply choose to wear them because it makes the holiday more fun. There is also a deeper significance for many of us—it’s a chance to dress up as something we are not and play pretend for one day.

I grew up in the 1960’s when the Peanuts TV shows were new. One popular character, Lucy Van Pelt, always had pearls of wisdom to share. In It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, she said “A person should always choose a costume which is in direct contrast to her own personality.”

The holiday gives people and animals alike an opportunity to be something they are not—whether it’s the little girl being the princess she dreams about, the little boy being a super hero so he can save the world, the shy adult coming out of her shell, or the straight-laced person being a little crazy for one day. Many of us are also guilty of dressing up pets; and though some are not pleased, many seem to truly enjoy the attention they get in costume and strut their stuff.

Nevada Humane Society is the perfect place to bring your family on Halloween where children in costume may participate in safe trick-or-treating. In addition, willing shelter pets will don clever costumes in hopes of showing you a different side and hopefully finding that perfect connection with a new family.

Events that Help Homeless Pets

Empty the Shelter: This month you can adopt a dog or cat at Nevada Humane Society for the price you choose. Open for adoptions 7 days a week at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno, 11 am to 6:30 pm, 10 am on Saturdays. For more info, call 775-856-2000.

Empty the Shelter special festivities onOctober 13 at Nevada Humane Society. Shelter open for extended hours: 8am to 8pm. Dog wash, refreshments, music and raffle contest for Raiders tickets.

Dogs and Cats Show Up in Common Expressions

by Bonney Brown

Our dogs and cats certainly brighten our lives, so when I recently came across a list of common phrases I probably should not have been surprised to see the number of sayings involving pets. The actual words of the phrases are often not to be taken literally; instead they have come to mean something completely different, giving us more colorful ways to express ourselves.

We can talk about the cat’s pajamas or cat’s meow to convey the very height of perfection. (Surely, if cats had PJs, they would be cool!)

It’s a dog’s life (easy life) for fat cats (wealthy individuals) and big dogs (important people). But even if you are not rich, you could put on the dog (behave or dress in a showy manner).

While a cool cat would be unflappable, a scaredy cat (frightened person) would have the opposite reaction.

Feeling pleased with yourself? You might look like the cat who swallowed the canary. Facing a hopeless task? You might as well herd cats.

If you are slow to speak, someone might ask if the cat got your tongue. On the other hand, if you accidentally let a secret slip, you might be said to let the cat out of the bag and that could land you in the dog house (in trouble). Rather than bring up a touchy subject, you might be wise to let sleeping dogs lie.
The hottest days of summer coincide with the rising of Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, and so came to be called the dog days. If it’s raining very hard, you could say it’s raining cats and dogs.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play (without supervision people might misbehave) and the whole workplace may go to the dogs (take a turn for the worse). If  you put on a dog and pony show (a good performance) you might be able to impress your boss and get ahead in this dog eat dog (competitive) world.

Feeling dog tired (very tired)? Take a cat nap (short nap). Indulged in a little too much to drink last night? Folk wisdom recommends a hair of the dog that bit you (another drink in the morning). Even if you feel sick as a dog (very sick) today, remember; every dog has his day (a time of influence and power).

Events that Help Homeless Pets

Empty the Shelter: This month you can adopt a dog or cat at the price you choose. Open for adoption 7 days a week at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno, 11 am to 6:30 pm, 10 am on Saturdays. For more info. call 775-856-2000.

Yard Sale at Nevada Humane Society Saturday, October 6, 8am to 1pm. 2825 Longley Lane, between Rock and Mira Loma.

Purses for Pets & Kitty Glitter October 14, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. This auction fundraiser will benefit Pet Network Humane Society. Purse donations are being accepted at the NHS shelter. For more info, call 775-832-4404 or email info@petnetwork.org.

%d bloggers like this: