Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Things Dogs Really REALLY Can’t Eat

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Happy New Year to all our blog readers and to all their dogs who are read to!!! Raja here.  I’m doing the first blog of the year… our blog really IS all about me, so I’m starting 2011 off with the first post about safety.

I'm not eating this kalanchoe!

Dear Readers,

There is too much “unresearched heresay” about plant-related products dogs can and can’t eat. We can’t have poinsettias, as one example. Well, who wants to eat poinsettias? NOBODY who is even remotely sane wants to eat poinsettias. And they don’t make a dog sick in and of themselves, it is now discovered. BUT, think about this… how would anybody react to a bellyful of tough leaves? Even humans would be sick if they ate a pile of poinsettias. But they won’t. You can leave them alone with those plants and take your nap. And as for you, puppy, if you are a desperado who will chew on anything to get attention, I guess poinsettias, as well as electrical cords, slippers and area rugs are all out the door.  (If any of you animals ate a poinsettia over the holidays, please comment in and let us know how it went  so I can put poinsettias back on the list if need be.)

The list of things we REALLY can’t eat is a short one.

Grapes, Raisins, Grape Juice, Wine. Dogs should not eat grapes, but if one of us happens to eat one dusty raisin, I think it’s OK. Beware guests who leave half finished glasses of wine around. Most of us won’t touch it, but some of us (you know who you are out there) will.

Onions. Onions eaten in quantity can be extremely toxic and have long term effects. If we get a bite of stew that has onions in it, it’s probably OK. But we should avoid onions, and that includes onion powder in foods.

Xylitol. The humans like this plant-derived sweetener in chewing gum. It’s fine for them. Have you ever smelled a delicious minty-sweet odor coming from a lady’s purse and put your nose in and found a little rectangle wrapped in paper and sneaked away with it to chew it up? Well don’t do that again! Xylitol is dangerous.

Finally, here are two serious, systemic  plant toxins we might be exposed to, but only the weirdest dog would actually nibble them. (Yes, you out there with the crazy eyes- this is for you!)

Kalanchoe. Kalanchoe succulent plants are a huge genus of about 125 species.  The flowering varieties are often sold in supermarkets.  For the demented dogs who gobble anything, kalanchoe is severely dangerous. Vomiting is the least of the trouble, so owners of crazy dogs must not keep these plants around. (Since I eat nothing without being beseeched, we have many of these plants around. But I can be trusted. Can you?)

Oleander. Very pretty landscaping plant and very toxic. Only a lunatic would eat the stiff, tough leaves, but if one of us does, vomiting is the best possible outcome. Most people don’t keep oleander as a house plant, but in southern and perennially temperate latitudes around the world,  oleander is common in landscaping. Don’t get any ideas to grab attention by eating oleander, OK? Eat slippers and rugs instead.

It’s a short list pals. Stay healthy and don’t misbehave in the first days of the New Year when our somewhat dazed humans aren’t watching closely.


In 2011, we plan to share more adventures and tips and we will be introducing my Insight Exclusives- narrated journeys with Raja Cam.  See the world as I do.  You humans might be tempted to get down on all fours.

Raja and Roses in Portland

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Usually when we’re in Portland, Raja and I visit friends or hike or visit a nursery (it’s the seed and plant capital of the USA) or shop the Pearl.  But this time, with limited time and taking advantage of finally being in Portland at the right time of the year… we visited the …

International Rose Test Garden

The oldest garden of its kind in the USA, the test gardens are public and, yes, dogs are actually allowed to trot about throughout all five acres.  There are roses the size of a dime (really) and roses bigger than Raja’s head…. Antique roses, primitive roses, hybrid teas, climbing monsters and long stemmed American Beauties.  And the history of the garden is tied in to the history of America and its international relations.  In the late 1800’s, the rose exhibition was a private event for Portland’s moneyed society to show off their flowers (and clothes and marriageable children).  The test garden was established in 1917 and became immediately internationally relevant when famous gardens all over Europe sent rose varieties there to be sheltered from the ravages of WWI.  Portland high society still distinguishes itself by becoming knights and dames of the fictional land of roses, Rosaria.  But everybody, can enjoy the gardens, and there have been more marriage proposals per square foot there than under Eiffel Tower.  

While Raja was not asked to be a Royal Dog of Rosaria, he honestly didn’t mind since he, and many other dogs of Portland, were having a beautiful stroll on rose petals and soft grass.  A leash is required, but I think it’s primarily to protect the dogs.  Some of those roses have appalling thorns.  But all are gorgeous.  If you come from the hot and humid regions of the US, you probably think that Japanese beetle-nibbled runt hanging off the side of that black and thorny stick in your garden is a rose.  You have been misled.  Go to Portland to see what a rose is all about. 

In many parts of the world a garden this glorious and this well manicured might be off limits to dogs, wrong as that idea seems.  So, if you are in Portland, Oregon in June, take Fluffy and Fido to the International Rose Test gardens, conveniently located near downtown at 400 SW Kensington St.    Admission is free!

Spring Flowers from Travel Dog Books

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Traveling seeds from Raja

Traveling seeds from Raja

Sometimes Raja and I like to put down roots for a short while.  It only takes a few minutes to plant a seed and the after effects can be astounding!  Plus, in many cases, a seed that is planted reseeds for years, making a continually beautiful spot for a long time.

In honor of the concept of staying put, Raja and I are offering a free gift to our readers of a few seeds of either Heavenly Blue Morning Glories or Scarlet Runner Beans.  All you have to do is dig, plant, water and wait.  If you have a garden, plant them there.  If you have a balcony or a patio, get a sizable pot, fill it with dirt and plant away.  If you don’t have either, just find a sunny spot that needs beautification, work up a patch of dirt, plant and walk away.  (It would help if your spot has something for the vine to climb up, but a vine can trail along the ground too.) 

If you want some of Raja’s free magic seeds, all you have to do is send your seed request to us with your mailing address.  While we can’t guarantee which you’ll get… Scarlet Runners or Morning Glories… we can pretty much promise that each variety will travel at least 6 feet along, blooming all the way.  Morning Glories are not edible, but the young beans of Scarlet Runner Beans are most certainly edible… and if you let a few pods grow big, you’ll harvest more seeds from the dry pods in fall. (Same thing for the dry pods of the Morning Glories in fall.) 

Send your snail mail address to us at:  And no worries, as you can see, Raja and I have nothing to sell and we’re independent spirits, so we don’t have any relationships with commercial mailing lists or merchandise spammers.  We just have two little heaps of seeds we want to share around the world while supplies last.  If you live in another country, we’ll be happy to send you seeds, but we cannot guarantee customs… although our guess is that they’ll arrive.  So let us know while the sun shines on your spring, because our paws are itching to be off again.