Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘dogs’ tag

January 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 am

Winter Pet Safety Tips


Winter has just begun and temperatures will continue to drop for a little while.  It’s easy enough for us to survive the harsh season, but make sure you also protect your pet from the colder weather!  Here are a few essential safety tips for your furry friend:

  • Never EVER leave your pet alone in the car. You probably already know that summer can turn your car into an oven. Well, winter can turn your car into a refrigerator and be just as deadly to your animal. Also be sure to clean up any antifreeze spills from your car, as antifreeze is a highly poisonous chemical for dogs and cats.
  • Bring your animal inside during the colder months and make sure they have a warm place to sleep, such as a blanket that’s away from drafts.  If you live in an area with many outdoor cats, provide a warm shelter for them that’s lined with old blankets and regularly check the bedding to make sure it’s still dry.
  • Be sure to wipe your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in from the snow.  Otherwise, he could be ingesting salt or other dangerous substances while licking his paws.
  • Consider outfitting your short-haired pet in a coat or sweater for when they do need to go outside. Some of you may think it silly to put clothes on animals, but your little critter may thank you for it! has some adorable options!
  • Make sure your pet is wearing his ID tags at all times!  More pets are lost during the winter than any other season, so make sure your pet can be easily identified so he can be returned home more quickly.

Pets are our family, so do everything you can to protect them this season!  How do you prepare your critters for the winter?

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November 28th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Homemade Dog Treats


For many of us, our pets are like furry children. We often let them sleep in our beds, get away with being naughty and spoil them rotten. We also want to make sure they’re healthy and happy, so feeding them delicious and nutritious foods is important. Frequent pet treat/food recalls and common unhealthy ingredients like BHA and BHT make it difficult to find good treats. Making your own from scratch will ensure that your pup is eating safe, healthy foods that they’ll love! Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

 Bacon & Cheddar Dog Treats

 Peanut Butter & Honey Dog Treats

 Apple-Cheddar Dog Biscuits

Have you ever made homemade treats for YOUR pets?

Photo Credit:


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September 19th, 2012 at 5:00 am

All You Need is Love … and Patience

In 2009, my friend Angela and her family adopted a nine-month-old Vizsla from the Chicago Canine Rescue. “We had had a Viszla before and loved the breed,” said Angela. “This dog needed a home.”

Houdini had been neglected and then abandoned. “He was about 20 pounds underweight,” Angela told me. “And he had been given the name ‘Houdini’ for a reason. He could not be crated (he would tear the crate apart) and could jump a six-foot fence.” The family and shelter were afraid he would run away.

It turns out that Houdini did not want to escape. “It was just the opposite,” said Angela. “He wanted to be with us all the time.”

Unfortunately, school and work prevented them from being with Houdini 24/7. He was not happy and became destructive. “He ate a batting glove, Tupperware, my husband’s shoes, and the hands and feet off of 22 Barbie dolls,” said Angela.

Rather than giving up on Houdini, they called in an expert—an animal behaviorist. She sent Houdini and the family to obedience school. She recommended that he sleep in his own space in the house, rather than with a family member. They also learned to keep him busy, with things like puzzle toys that made him work for his food. They exercised him with long walks or runs every day. He was eventually even prescribed some medication to deal with his anxiety.

“The behaviorist said that if we worked with him for a year, he’d be a great dog,” said Angela. “She was right. It took a lot of patience, but he is an excellent companion and very protective. He even prevented a burglary in our home. We adore him. And he adores us. You can see it in his eyes.”

For more information on bringing a rescue dog into your family, click here.

Related Picture Books
Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts
The Stray Dog: From a True Story by Reiko Sassa by Marc Simont

photo credit: Houdini by Matt Dinerstein

Susan Bearman is the author of the Animal Store Alphabet Book. She also writes at Two Kinds of People and The Animal Store Blog

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July 25th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Dog Days of Summer

Today’s forecast here in Chicago calls for a high of 93°F. According to one local meteorologist, we are on a record-pace for days in the 90s this summer. I make it habit to avoid complaining about the heat. In my mind, that would preclude me from complaining about the cold in February, and I would much rather complain about that.

But for most people, these are the “dog days” of summer. I know what the idiom means—the long, hot, sultry weeks between the beginning of July and the middle of August, but I’ve always wondered where the phrase came from. So, here’s the scoop.

The dog days of summer are actually named after Sirius, the Dog Star. During this time of year, Sirius (the brightest star in the sky), is very close to the sun. The ancient Romans and Egyptians believed that when Sirius and the sun were in conjunction, Sirius added its heat to the sun, causing the blistering hot days of summer (at least in the Northern hemisphere; in the southern hemisphere, the dog days of summer fall in January and February).

I’m not at all surprised that these are called the “dog days”, because when anything goes wrong in our house, my kids blame it on the dog.

To make it up to our poor maligned canine friends, you might like to know that July is also dog house repair month. So, take a little time and put a little elbow grease into fixing up your puppy’s palace.

And when you’re done, reward yourself with a frankfurter, because July also happens to be National Hog Dog month. You can find out anything you ever wanted to know about hot dogs (and then some) at Hot Dog City, sponsored by the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. This year’s winning slogan—”Hot Dogs: Relish the Moment.” We take our hot dogs very seriously here in the Windy City. This is how you eat a hot dog, Chicago style:

  • yellow mustard (as Chicago native Joe Montegna says, Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog)
  • two tomato wedges
  • pickle spear or slice
  • two sport peppers
  • “neon” green relish
  • fresh chopped onions
  • dash of celery salt
  • poppyseed bun

Enjoy the rest of your summer, even the dog days, and check back again in February, when we’ll talk about three dog nights.

Related Picture Books
One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews
Hot Diggity Dog: The History of the Hot Dog by Adrienne Sylver

Photo credit: Chicago hot dog by Jeremy Keith via a Creative Commons license.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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June 13th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Visiting the Dog Beach

The dog-days of summer are really pretty inviting if you have a dog and a beach nearby, as we do. Just steps away from the shores of gorgeous Lake Michigan, you would think we would take our dog to the beach all the time, but we don’t.

Our city has a lovely dog beach not far away. It comes with a load of rules and regulations, including the requirement of a valid city pet license ($10/year for a spayed or neutered dog; otherwise $15/year) plus a $60 dog beach pass. That’s $70 a year to take my dog to the beach. My teenage kids get free 10-punch beach cards. I understand the rules, but the fees are a bit out of our budget.

Just down the road a piece, Chicago’s Montrose Dog Beach is available and much more affordable. It was also voted one of the top 10 dog-friendly beaches in the country for 2012. You still need a valid pet license, plus something called a DFA (Dog Friendly Area) tag, available for $5 to dogs with current vaccinations. Both beaches fall within the same county, so the vaccination/test requirements are the same. You must show proof that your dog has been protected from: rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, bortetella, and leptospirosis.

There are many dog-friendly beaches throughout the country. Each has a different set of rules, so check them out first. Some require the dogs to be leashed, others are specifically designed for off-leash play. In addition to the health requirements, there are many rules common to dog beaches. Most are really common sense, but some others are you might not have considered.

  • Clean up after your pet.
  • Even when your dog is off leash, you should have his leash in your hand at all times.
  • If your dog does not play well with other dogs, stay home. Dog beaches are often very crowded and can be overwhelming to skittish pups.
  • Many dog beaches do not permit food (except dog training treats). It makes sense, since most dogs are so food motivated.
  • No unaccompanied dogs. Your dog should be in your sight and control at all times.
  • No kites, which can be a safety hazard.
  • No whistles. Some dogs are trained to the whistle, but a whistle is an important lifeguard safety tool, so leave your whistle at home.
  • Never bring a dog in heat to the beach.
  • Bring water. Dogs can get dehydrated quickly in hot, sunny weather. Don’t let your dog drink salt water.

You are responsible for the health and safety of your pet, as well as anyone (and any other pet) she comes in contact with. Follow the rules. Be a good visitor. Take home all your toys. And have fun.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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February 22nd, 2012 at 5:00 am

Opening Your Home to Foster Dogs

Our cousins in New Jersey are big dog lovers and their younger daughter, Sarah (14), has a new calling: fostering dogs. I first called her mom to ask about the process, but she assured me that this was all Sarah’s idea and Sarah’s responsibility.

The family has a dog, Jazzy, but like many children, Sarah wanted another. Last June, she and her mom stopped by a dog adoption event, and when her request for a second dog was turned down, Sarah picked up a brochure and an application for becoming a foster home for dogs.

She did her research, convinced her family that it was a good thing to do, and promised she would do all the work. “I thought Jazzy was lonely when we were gone, and would like a friend,” she said. Their family was approved and, in eight months, Sarah has fostered 10 dogs who now all have good homes.

“I really like dogs,” said Sarah, “and I feel really good helping them.” Fostering helps socialize a dog so it will be a good pet for an adoptive family. It brings them into a real home while they wait for someone to adopt them.

“We’ve been lucky and had good dogs that get adopted quickly,” said Sarah. “But they all come with challenges. None is perfect.” Like the supposedly housebroken dog who peed everywhere in the beginning to mark his territory. “It takes a while for us to learn their ways and for them to learn ours.”

That can be a little tricky when a dog is only with you for a short time. Sarah and Jazzy took a training class together years ago, so Sarah has some skills working with the dogs.

Sarah says that Jazzy does pretty well with the foster dogs. “She’s very laid back, and not an alpha dog. In the beginning, she just ignores them. After a week or so, Jazzy opens up to them and they start playing. When a foster dog leaves, she’s happy to have all the attention again, but she doesn’t play as much.”

I asked Sarah if it’s hard to say goodbye to the fosters. “No, I feel good because they are going to live with a family that will treat them with love. They get a forever home, and I know that I’ll be getting a new dog soon.”

For more information on how to provide foster care for dogs, visit

Related Picture Books

Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts
The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest
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Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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December 21st, 2011 at 5:00 am

Reindeer Q&A

Do you have a questioner in your house? We do. No matter what the story or subject, my middle boy is always full of questions. This is true even of fables, mysteries, and politics—areas where it is often difficult to tell fact from fiction.

This time of year is full of joyful myths and stories, and true to form, my middle guy always has a million questions. If you have one of these Type Qs in your house, here are a few reindeer facts that may help get you through the holidays.

Q: Are reindeer real animals?
A: Yes, they are the domesticated version of caribou. Both animals are known scientifically as Rangifer tarandus. Reindeer are raised by people and are slightly smaller; caribou are wild and live in large herds of thousands of animals.

Q: Can reindeer really fly?
A: No, but they are excellent swimmers and can run up to 50 miles an hour.

Q: Do reindeer really live at the North Pole?
A: Pretty close. Reindeer make their homes in some of the coldest parts of the northern hemisphere, including Alaska, Canada, Northern Europe, Northern Asia and Greenland.

Q: Do reindeer ever really have red noses?
A: Nope, not even from blowing them. Reindeer are well-protected from the cold with two layers of insulation, a wool undercoat and an overcoat of long, hollow hair. Even the bottom of their hooves are covered in hair.

Q: Do reindeer really pull sleighs?
A: Yes, reindeer were domesticated at least 3,000 years ago to serve as pack animals and to pull sleds and sleighs in cold climates.

Q: Do reindeer really work for Santa?
A: Reindeer have been raised for many centuries to work for people. The Nenet nomads of Siberia are completely dependent upon reindeer, herding them all year long for food, clothing and shelter. The beautiful Samoyed dog was originally bred to help herd reindeer in Siberia.

Q: Can reindeer really get around the whole world in one night?
A: No, but they do migrate great distances, often traveling hundreds of miles or more in the winter in search of food. Reindeer are herbivores (vegetarians) and eat up to 12 pounds of food a day, including moss, herbs, grasses, ferns, and the shoots and leaves of young trees.

If you want to have a little reindeer fun with your kids, visit the National Geographic Kids website, where they can learn more facts, see photos and videos, and even send an e-postcard.

Related Picture Books

Reindeer: A day in the life of polar animals by Katie Marsico
The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

Photo credits: Reindeer Pulling Sleigh by Elen Schurova and Corn-a-mazing by lilhelen.

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September 21st, 2011 at 5:00 am

Man’s (Woman’s, Boy’s, Girl’s) Best Friend

September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month, sponsored by the American Kennel Club (AKC). (If you’re not into dogs, it’s also National Chicken Month, but that’s a whole other story). This week, September 18-25, is also  National Dog Week, so it’s a good time to talk about Man’s Best Friend.

While humans and dogs have been have had a strong bond for more than 15,000 years, the origin of the saying “Man’s Best Friend” dates back to an 1870 court case (Burden vs. Hornsby) in Warrensburg, MO, where one brother-in-law sued another for shooting a beloved dog, Old Drum. In his famous closing argument, now known as Eulogy of the Dog, then Senator George Graham Vest summed up what a dog means to a (hu)man:

“The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.”

Sadly, not all humans are as kind in return. Hundreds of thousands of adoptable dogs are euthanized every year for want of a good home. Dog fighting continues to grow as an illegal betting sport. Puppy mills continue to thrive. We can do better. Here a few ways to honor our best friends.

If you happen to be in the Raleigh, NC area this Saturday, September 24, AKC will host its own event at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Or celebrate Responsible Pet Ownership Days virtually on their Facebook Page.

Even if you aren’t a pet owner, you can celebrate by honoring a dog from your past or one that you love. Consider making a donation in that animal’s name to one of these or other dog-worthy causes:

Whether pure bred or pure mutt, here’s a big WOOF to all the dogs out there, especially our own Hazel. She may not be my best friend, but our house sure wouldn’t be the same without her.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.



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July 13th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Don’t Forget the Dog

So last  year at this time, my family was planning a trip to my stepson’s wedding in Seattle. Despite dire warnings from friends and family, we packed up Bessie (our “mature” minivan), shoe horned all six of us into the car in Chicago and hit the road, taking in a half dozen National Parks along the way. It was a great trip, with minimal bloodshed.

Planning for such a momentous trip took some real family engineering. My husband had the brilliant idea of shipping our dress clothes out to Seattle so we wouldn’t have to squeeze them into the car. Since we would be traveling every day, instead of packing individual suitcases per family member, I packed one suitcase per night with everyone’s stuff. When we went through all six suitcases, it was time to do laundry. I tell you, it was a stoke of genius.

As my son toted the last suitcase down so my husband could pack the car-top carrier, I turned around to see Hazel, our Wheaton Terrier, staring at me with her big brown eyes.

We had packed, bought our snacks, plotted our route, charged our electronics, and changed the oil in the car. We had not, however, made arrangements for the dog. We toyed briefly with the idea of taking her with us, but soon nixed it. Too much driving in the heat of summer.

Despite being in the pet business (our store actually boards other animals, but not dogs), we have yet to find a satisfactory solution for own dog-boarding needs. Now we were scrambling at the last minute. I do not recommend this strategy, as many reputable boarders are booked months in advance. In the end, we boarded Hazel with our groomer — a wonderful woman who is very good with dogs. Hazel was not too happy, though, and it took weeks for her to get back to normal.

Recently, our neighbors hired two of my boys as pet sitters. Their dogs were able to stay at home, and my boys shared the responsibility of feeding and watering them, walking them twice a day and playing with them in the afternoon. I think we will try to make similar arrangements next time. If you do decide to board your dog, here are some tips from the American Kennel Club for making it a good experience.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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June 8th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Introducing a New Pet

If you’ve been following along on Wednesdays, you’ll remember that we recently added a new kitty to our family menagerie. Even though this was done on the sneak by two of my children and my husband, I have to admit that little Pekoe is pretty cute.

One member of our family, however, is not quite sure how she feels about sharing her digs with a new cat: our dog Hazel. Hazel is a three-year-old soft-coated Wheaton terrier. She’s also very cute and tends to be submissive around other animals. Hazel weighs about 30 pounds and Pekoe is still just two pounds, but given Hazel’s reaction at their first meeting, you would think their sizes were reversed.

You see, Pekoe did what cats do when they come face to face with a big hairy beast — she arched her back, bared her teeth and hissed. It was quite a ferocious display from such a little thing, and enough to send Hazel running for cover in her crate.

Introducing a new pet into the family, especially into a family with small children and other animals, takes time, knowledge and patience. The first thing to know is that you should not introduce a new pet to another animal who already lives in your home until you have had your new pet checked out by the veterinarian, so make that initial appointment as soon as possible.

Once you get the all clear from your vet, take your time. Don’t introduce the animals to each other for at least three or four days. Feed them in different areas of the house and keep them away from each other’s food.

If you have a dog at home and are introducing a new kitty, you want to keep your dog on a leash for that first introduction. Have treats on hand and reward your pup for sitting calmly. Let the cat roam free. It’s not a good idea to hold either animal in your arms, because they can become agitated under stress and bite or scratch in an effort to get away. Keep the first several meetings short and keep small children well away from both animals.

As your animals become more comfortable with one another, you can let them hang out in the same room when a responsible adult is present to step in if things get tense. Keep the animals separated when you are away until you are confident that they are completely comfortable. It’s been a few weeks now and Hazel and Pekoe are still checking each other out. Things are going well, but we know it will take a little time.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of People, Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blog, as well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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