If Your Pets Could Talk PLUS How Was Your Day? (Photos)

Gary Bogue: Our Tortoise
is a Good Weather Forecaster
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Behold the tortoise. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.

— James Bryant Conant

Dear Gary:

According to my tortoise and his sudden change of habits, I suspect fall weather will be hitting us within four to six weeks.

Each year before the cooler weather arrives, our old desert tortoise eats a lot more, he climbs on top of garage cupboards and up steps into the house, and hides under cupboards in the garage. It's as if he knows it's about bedtime for him and he's stocking up his belly and looking for the best place to bed down for the long winter nap.

He most often sleeps under the hot water heater.

So often I think he's been a better judge of weather than the guys we see on TV. Do they smell a change in temperatures, feel it in their bodies, or "... ?

Mrs. Shaw, cyberspace

Dear Mrs. Shaw:

They feel it.

It's a combination of the environment and the tortoise's physiology. Changes in the surrounding temperature and in the amount of daylight (days get shorter) make reptiles start to slow down about this time every year.

This doesn't necessarily make your tortoise a better weather forecaster than the next guy. Fall weather usually hits about this time every year.

Tortoises are creatures of habit, as are most animals. Based on past performances, that "feeling in the air," and shorter days, your tortoise figures it's time to stuff down the food and get ready to hibernate.

He's right.

Dear Gary:

I recently saw a brown rat helping himself to the dropped seeds from our bird feeder.

Other than using nasty poisons that would get into the food chain, is there a way to encourage this rat to seek his breakfast/dinner elsewhere?

We're currently leaving the feeder empty, which makes us and the birds very sad.

Dori Cavala, Martinez

Dear Dori:

You can pick up a bird feeder "seed catcher" that hangs under the feeder and catches most falling seeds. These things are carried by bird specialty stores like Wild Birds Unlimited and some pet stores.

That should cut down on seeds being spilled on the ground.

The rat won't go away. It'll just find something else to eat.

That means you should think about trapping it.

Dear Gary:

As we read about the damage squirrels do to gardens, we keep thinking that they sure don't bother ours even though we have a palm tree squirrel condo not far from our veggie garden.

So, we are wondering if the used coffee grounds that we routinely spread around the veggies to keep snails, slugs, etc., away is also keeping squirrel away?

What do you think?

Shirlee, Benicia

Dear Shirlee:

That's a good question. I don't know. It's an interesting possibility, I guess.

Anyone out there in never-never-land using coffee grounds in your veggie garden or flower beds?

Do the coffee grounds keep the squirrels away?

Do they keep anything away?

A final note

Gary: I've read questions from dog owners about letting their dogs eat "grass."

In my opinion and experience, it isn't a good idea to let them eat grass and weeds. They can easily get a foxtail in their nose, ear or eye that way.

I have two large Airedale terriers. Every day I give them a handful of "3 Color Cole Slaw" as a treat. They love it and eat it up like candy.

It's healthier than grass and weeds and keeps them regular. (Dick Agusta, Antioch)

Dog Grooming Tips for Bathing
and Grooming Your Own Dog

Being a Dog Groomer for about 20 years l wanted to share some tips you can use at home to keep your dog looking and feeling their best. There are just a few necessities to keep on hand which will be very useful in your dog grooming/bathing experience.

Brushing your dog at least a couple of times a week is always good advice, especially for the dog breeds with longer hair. However, brushing does not solve the whole problem of keeping the coat in good snarl free condition. It is imperative that you have a good comb for your dog which can be purchased at one of the bigger pet supply stores like Pet Co and Pets Mart. A good comb usually has two different size teeth on either side. When using a brush, you are working the top of the coat but not helping the possible mats that could be developing under the surface of their fur. As a result the coat gets more and more tangled. If you have a short haired dog, getting one of the hand held brushes that actually has rubber tips is great for stimulating their coat and fur to keep it in healthy condition. Brushing your dog helps to remove dirt and spreading the natural oils throughout the coat and skin. It is so important to start this at an early age though an older pet can be trained to love their grooming by starting out slowly, a little time each day, reinforcing the action with treats and a lot of praise.

Bathing your pup every couple of months is usually sufficient. Sometimes when you have a new pup, they seem to get dirty a lot more often, just as a baby would, and bathing often with a gentle puppy shampoo is certainly fine. Be sure your dog does not have mats prior to a bath or you will never get them out. Brushing first is important. Wet your dog from head to toe with warm water, apply small amount of shampoo and lather in starting at the head down to the tail. Be careful around the eyes (I usually always use puppy shampoo on the head). Rinse thoroughly. You can use a cream rinse for a longer haired dog if you like and again rinse thoroughly. Towel dry and if possible, blow dry to excess moisture out. If it is cold out, be sure your dog is dry before allowing them to go outside.

Cutting the nails is a very important part of any grooming process though many pet owners are fearful of doing it themselves. You first need to have the right type of nail clippers for your type of animal and staff at Pet Co and Pets Mart can help you. The guillotine clipper is the most popular though you may need a stronger clipper for the larger dog. Be sure to get some of the “Quick Stop” blood clotting powder available just in case the nail is cut a bit too short and bleeds. This is not uncommon and the longer you let the nails get, that inner vein grows more, raising the chance of getting that vein. It is fairly easy to clip white nails as you can visibly see that vein and avoid cutting below it. With dark nails, stop cutting the nail just behind where the nail appears to curve. Many dogs do not like their nails cut so starting to get them acquainted with the process, begin by handling the paws a little at a time, prior to cutting the nails. Do this from the time you get your dog, offering treats and praise until they are comfortable letting you handle their paws. Use the treats and praise as well to actually do the nail cutting. If you should happen to cut the quick, do not panic. Just place some of the clotting powder on the nail, sometimes needing to put a little pressure at the time. If it seems to be bleeding a lot, try pressure with paper towel, then quickly using the powder and hold. Don’t forget about getting to the dew claws as well if your dog does still have them.

Don’t forget the ears, an important part of grooming and preventing very painful ear infections. To begin with, if there is a sour foul odor within the ear, it would be best to get your veterinarian check to see if there is an infection present so it can be treated as soon as possible. If the ears appear to be a pale pink, moisten a cotton ball with special ear cleaner or warm water & mineral oil, and clean the ear canal and flaps best you can. Do not probe deeply into the ear.

Brushing the teeth is a very important step that many people seem to forget (or are afraid to attempt). If you start your dog young with this process, they will love the yummy meat flavored tooth paste. Always use a small tooth brush with soft bristles, start from the back teeth and work your way to the front. I always use children’s tooth brushes and brushing in the bath is a great way to get the job done and rinse their little face right there with their bath. In my opinion, that is a good place to clean the ears as well.

If you follow my simple steps above for routine grooming of your dog in between those visits to your professional dog groomer, you will have a much happier healthier canine family member . . . and the rest of the family will be much happier as well. To help you further I have included some resources that may be a further detailed guide for keeping your dog looking and feeling their best at all times.

Click on banner to visit The Pet Warehouse

If Your Pets Could Talk
Thanks to Bonnie in BHC, AZ

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