Christmas Pet Tips

Give a Dog a Shower

By adding a diverter valve to your shower, you can choose between a rain shower from above or a concentrated spray from a handheld shower head. Dog owners have found the handheld shower head a helpful tool for getting Fido clean.

Q: I enjoyed your column a few weeks back about installing a "rain" type of showerhead. While this sounds like something I'd enjoy, for a dog owner like myself there is an issue. Even though approved rain showerheads meet the water-use limits and standards, the wider area of spray would soak me while I'm trying to rinse off the dog. I'd like the luxury of a rain shower, but still need to wash my dog. What do you do in a case like this?

— Betty in Illinois

A: I received a lot of letters from dog owners — I am one, too — about how they could install a rain showerhead and still wash the dog. To bring everyone up to speed, a "rain" shower is installed a little higher and is wider than a standard showerhead. Also, it points downward and basically rains on the user. Hence the name.

Anyway, for most of us there's a simple solution. Along with the rain showerhead, you can have your plumber install a "diverter" control with a "handheld" shower that connects with a short hose. A diverter control can divert the water from the rain head to your personal handheld shower with just the push of a button.

On a new installation, a wall-mounted diverter valve can be installed to create a custom-looking shower stall. Either way, with a diverter valve you can enjoy a rain shower from above and also have the option of using the smaller handheld shower when you need extra water control. The nice thing is that when the hand shower is on, the rain shower is off. However, strict water codes in some dry areas of the country may only allow one fixture per shower stall. So, check your local water regulations.

Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande, an LEED green associate, is known internationally as the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and for hosting TV shows on Scripps Networks and For information visit eddelgrande.comor write Always consult local contractors and codes.

This Blind Dog Can Really Hunt

Watch Norm Moody's English setter, Golly, work a field for pheasants or sharp-tailed grouse, and you never would know the dog has a major handicap.

"People who see us hunting have no idea he's blind," said Moody, 64, an avid bird hunter who lives near Hackensack, Minn.

Golly (pronounced "Gully") hunted sharp-tailed grouse, pheasants and prairie chickens this month on South Dakota's expansive National Grasslands with Moody and two hunting buddies.

"He quarters back and forth just like a regular setter," Moody said of his 11-year-old dog. "When he gets on a scent, he goes into slow motion, and I know right away he's on a bird. Then he locks up and points."

When the bird flushes and Moody shoots it, Golly knows where to look for the downed bird.

"He usually heads right for it," Moody said. "I think it's the sound, the fluttering of the wings, and he heads in that direction and finds it."

Said hunting buddy Don Collins, 70: "He's miraculous; just a super dog. He almost brings tears to your eyes."

Although Moody lives in the north woods, he no longer hunts Golly there for ruffed grouse. Instead, he hunts 35 days each fall in the open prairies of South Dakota, North Dakota and Saskatchewan, Canada, where his dog is less likely to run into anything. Barbed-wire fences pose problems, but Moody keeps his dog away from them.

"I make a sound if he's going to run into something, and he stops. I'm his seeing-eye person," Moody said.

Hunting buddy Larry Olson, 67, of Backus, Minn., said Golly has adapted well to his blindness.

"It's amazing to me that he doesn't step in a hole," Olson said. "I've never seen him fall down."

Golly doesn't seem bothered by his lack of sight, Moody said. "He's really a happy dog."

When Golly was a puppy, Moody had no idea the dog had eye problems. But Moody noticed Golly bumping into brush while hunting ruffed grouse four years ago.

"I thought he was just a little clumsy," Moody said. "But two years ago, I knew something wasn't right." Golly had trouble jumping into his portable kennel.

"I took him to a veterinarian who specializes in eyesight. She did a battery of tests, and he was almost totally blind."

Golly has progressive retinal atrophy, a deterioration of the retinal cells, a condition that eventually causes blindness. The hereditary disease has no known cure. It affects many breeds. Breeding dogs now can be tested genetically for the disease, so people buying puppies from tested parents can be assured their dogs won't develop it.

"They compensate with their hearing and sense of smell, and that's what he's been doing," Moody said.

He said he was smitten with the dog from the get-go.

"He's just a good dog, so mellow. And he's a good hunter." And Golly has endeared himself to Moody and his hunting friends.

"He has about the best disposition of any dog I've seen," Olson said.

Moody has ordered another English setter puppy but doesn't plan to retire Golly soon.

"He'll likely hunt two or three more years," Moody said. "Other than his eyes, he's healthy. And he just has a ball hunting."

Some Christmas Safety Tips For Your Pets
Written by Melissa Sutton -

For most pet owners, Christmas can be a very dangerous time, so here`s some tips to help keep your pet safe this holiday season. First is wrapping paper and although you might want to ball up some wrapping paper you`ve just torn off a present and throw it at your dog or cat, to play with, this can be extremely dangerous if they swallow any of the paper because the ink and other chemicals might be toxic to your pet.

If the tape is left on the paper, it can also cause major problems. It`s best to keep all wrapping paper picked up off the floor and resist the temptation to use it as a dog or cat toy!

Next is Ribbon and/or Ribbon Balls. Though they can provide hours of fun for your cat, they also have chemicals or ink on them as well, plus they are very easily shredded, especially if your cat has not been declawed. It is best to keep these away from your pet and stick to appropriate cat/dog toys. as per

Next are Christmas Goodies & Treats. Although we can eat bags, tins and jars full of sugary, chocolatey treats, our dogs/cats can NOT eat such foods! They can cause major digestive issues in your pet and this is especially true for Chocolate and Dogs, so keep this HUMAN treat far out of their reach!

Watch out for signs that your pet has eaten something he shouldn`t have, such as vomiting, diarrhea or unusual behavior. If you see any of these signs, get them to the vet as soon as possible!

If you are going out of town for the holidays or are entertaining for Christmas, you may want to opt for putting your pet in a boarding center for that day, to help ensure your pet does not get into something he shouldn`t! There are many great doggie day care centers in your area, so consider this as an option! For more info, you can visit:

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