Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

Human Babies and Furry First Children: Creating Good Beginnings

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Remember what happens in Disney’s 1955 animation “Lady and the Tramp”? A sweet, little Victorian family has a gentle, pampered dog. Then they have a new baby. Lady the Spaniel is delighted about the baby, but the self-absorbed couple begins to ignore her. Aunt Sarah, who dislikes dogs, comes to watch baby and, eventually, Lady herself is on the street. Fortunately her walk on the wild side draws her to a real dog who lives by his wits. When push comes to shove, Tramp is a champ. He saves the baby from a rat, even though he almost ends up in the doggie gas chamber. The young father saves Tramp in the nick of time and finally, the reconciled Victorian household includes cute new baby, Lady, Tramp and the inevitable puppies. Nasty Aunt Sarah has been sent packing for fermenting trouble between people and their loyal pets. Disney’s mid century theme was timeless: an interspecies family can thrive.

In July 2012, I read “Prep Your Pet for Baby” in “Martha Stewart Living.” Our family was then expecting a new human baby. I wondered what Martha would have to say about the first meeting of interspecies family members. I was disappointed with the article on several significant points. “Martha Stewart Living” advises:

. Make a chart of needy behaviors your pet has developed and ignore them.
. Begin spending less and less time with your dog so you can reduce his playtime to two half hour sessions daily.
. Crate your dog while you play with the baby.

I think following these three points will guarantee a sad, disaffected dog that will dislike the baby and hold her responsible for his fall from grace.

I know what I’m barking about. When I had my two human babies, I had a Shih Tzu baby named Yang Kwei-fei. (OK, from her name, you can guess she was treated a if she was still in the Summer Palace.) When the human babies came along, we didn’t cage her, ignore her or fail to take care of her “needs.” Nobody growled or bit anybody. Everybody got along just fine. Kwei-fei didn’t learn to sulk or to resent anybody. The new babies learned that we are all born into a community where everybody is important.

Raja’s and my point here is that mistreating and alienating a gentle and good pet is asking for trouble when baby arrives. Just as dogs have integrated themselves into human lives, dogs can easily accept new family members. So, before any babies come on the scene, work with your dog to make sure he is gentle, sociable, trusting and calm. Make him feel he’s an important part of the family, a being who has status and respect. As baby approaches, don’t scare him into a panic attack by changing the best aspects of his daily life. Maintaining your pet’s social standing and sense of self worth means you can expect your canine family member to treat the new human with love, respect and gentleness because that’s all he knows in his own experience.

Raja wants to bark out his welcome to our new family member! He doesn’t mind having had to give up travel for a few months and he’s very excited not to be the smallest family member any more (for now). Plus, he can’t wait to help show the little one around the world!

Happy New Year to All Our Readers!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Love my Travel Dog Theme Quilt!

Raja and I want to thank all our readers, especially our most loyal commenters:  Patty, Buttercup, Sheryll, Carolyn, Cy, CT, Tasha, Rhea, Skamp, Colette and Demon Flash Bandit the Sled Dog. We want to send a bark out to our friends at Dogster, Dog Fancy, Fido Friendly and Three Rivers Holistic Veterinary Service who help us get our message out on the web. Originally, when we began our blog, we wanted to focus only on pet travel, but we found ourselves also drawn toward other issues such as pet health, athletics, advocacy, book reviews, recipes and just plain fun.  We redefined travel for our blog to mean anything from a walk around the block to the adventures of a dog making new roads to places where travel dogs have never been able to go before- Raja’s trips to Machu Picchu, the Vatican Museum and Valle Nevado in Chile being three of them.

To that end, we want to thank some of our favorite Travel Friends: Mr. Mohammed, our driver in Cassablanca, Morocco who was super nice to Raja; the staff of the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome, Italy and the Tambo del Arriero in Cusco, Peru and the Porto del Mare in Tropea, Italy and Gringo Bill’s in Aquas Caliente, Peru- all of whom rolled out the red carpet and didn’t mind muddy paws; and the owners of the Bakeri Fuchs Café in Zematt who treated Raja like a regular.  Raja sends happy barks to that cute Shih Tzu girl Kiwicha that he met in Cusco and the baby camel he played with in Morocco.

Our plans for 2013 are to go on doing exactly the same: supporting travel dog companionship near and far.  Pushing boundaries and expectations. And traveling.

To that end, in our next post, we are going to bark at the airlines about a simple remodeling project at all airports that could make pet travel ever so much better.

Wishing peace and happiness to all in 2013.

But for right now, on Christmas Day 2012, Raja wishes you a wonderful, adventuresome, healthy and peaceful 2013.  He got two awesome gifts this year- his whole family in one house for a few days and this beautiful Travel Dog Theme Quilt by his wonderful friend Carolyn of Carolyn’s Originals , Raja’s favorite outfitter. He loves it so much that it’s highly likely we will be traveling a little less light in future.

Shelter Pets at Holiday Time: Girl Scouts Really Care

Monday, December 17th, 2012

There was a rustle outside and then a chorus of “Jingle Bells”!  Raja and I scampered to the front door to see what was up.  These faux furry animals, featured here, were lined up outside singing at the top of their hoarse little voices and collecting donations for the Animal Shelter.  Pretty wonderful, huh?

Here’s what all shelters need all the time:

  • Food: any, but no recalls
  • Treats: any, but no recalls
  • Nonprescription Multi Vitamins: but check the dates
  • Blankets and Towels: clean, but old are OK
  • Toys: somewhat pre-owned, but still sturdy are OK
  • Sweaters and Coats: clean second hand are fine
  • Money: any amount

And remember, you don’t need to be sung at to give to the shelter.  Just take your surplus to the shelter any day of the week.

You know, we pet writers always say that the Holidays are not a good time to get a pet because the excitement and random mess of celebrations  could be dangerous.  New pet might nibble unsupervised or run out of a door left ajar or even get stepped on in the shuffle.  And all that is true.  But right now, Raja and I are thinking that, if the spirit really moves you, an opportunity for a pet to be a Holiday present could work out OK.  Just
be responsible and take the new family member most seriously.  We think that in shelters near you, each pet is longing for a home of his own.  But,
of course, no pet wants to ever return to the shelter.  So if you get a Holiday Pet, plan to keep the Holiday going for many, many years.

Raja and I are spending Christmas on the East Coast.  We wish all our readers Peace and Happiness in 2013 and Happy Travels Always!

(Raja says faux fur looks great on clothes and real fur look great on animals.)



Happy Chinese New Year to All the Dogs of Mainland Asia!

Friday, January 20th, 2012
Let’s celebrate the Shih Tzu, the Pug, the Pekinese, the Chow-Chow, the Shar Pei, the Chinese Crested, the Chinese Imperial, the Kunming Wolf Dog and all the ancient dogs of Mainland East Asia!  According to an article by Evan Price entitled “Chinese Dog Breeds- Symbols of Luck and Protection,” written for the e-zine “The Intelligent Pet” :

“The Chinese believe that dogs bring good “yang” energy into our homes. They create bright, positive, active energy and provide us with comfort and security.”

Yang energy comes from ancient Chinese Taoist thinking.  Yang energy is warm, brave, shining and forward.  Like the warm sun, dogs encourage happiness and activity. A dog gets you up out of your chair to play with a toy, out the door to enjoy nature, out and about in the world to meet others and make new friends.  As we say in our book “The Journey of the Shih Tzu,” dogs start every day with optimism.  Yang energy is especially important in the cold months of winter when Yin energy freezes the earth into darkness and cold quiet.  Everybody needs the dog’s bark and wag to keep the mood bright and the fun flowing.  This radiant dog energy is one reason why dogs make such good therapists.  Patients always feel better after spending time with a sweet-tempered dog.

While the dog is a member of the Chinese Zodiac, the next dog year won’t be until 2018.  This New Year is the Year of the Dragon, and the Dragon has some similar characteristics to the Dog, according to Chinese mythology. Both are symbols of the earth and encourage growth and development in a nurturing environment.  Both are symbols of high energy and health.  (Yes, we do aknowledge that, philosophy aside, in real life, it isn’t always an advantage to be a dog in China, but where security, comfort and peace have prevailed, being a dog has not always been bad.)

So, if you have a dog in the house at this time of the year, let him or her do what dogs do best. Allow the bright Yang energy of the dog to keep you moving and optimistically looking forward to each new adventure.  As the Chinese say, “Xin Nian Kuai Le!” (Sin nian quai leh) Or “Be happy in the New Year!”

Special thanks to our friend Kellie of Three Rivers Holistic Veterinary Services in Madison, NJ for suggesting this topic.

On February 13-14, look for the fabulous breeds of Mainland Asia, proudly representing themselves in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York.  A short history of each breed is always included in the show commentary.  The dogs that came from Himalayan Asia are possibly the oldest breeds in the world, according to an article in “Science Magazine” from 2002 by P. Savolainen (et all) (v 298, p 61). When you see them strut their fluffy stuff in the conformation show ring, keep in mind, there’s more to the dogs of Mainland Asia than a pretty face.  These dogs are ancient, wise, strong and forbearing.  Or as we say every chance we get, you just can’t go wrong with a Shih Tzu!

An illustration for Raja's book: The Shih Tzu was a special pet of the Manchu Emperors.



Amazing Girl Scouts: Caroling for Animal Shelter Donations

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Wonderful NJ Girl Scouts Carol for the Animal Shelter


So busy during the Holidays… buying presents, going to parties, worrying about what to wear, hoping for special gifts, a little nagging worry in the back of the mind about parents and money.  Look what a troupe of wonderful Girl Scouts in New Jersey did… they took time from their busy lives to carol for donations to the local Animal Shelter!  

On Monday, a note in all mailboxes (perhaps they targeted dog loving homes?) on the proposed caroling route announced the Friday night event.  The shelters need: 

* food of all kinds (half opened bags are OK)

* used blankets, quilts and towels (clean please)

* pet toys (used-but- not-abused are OK)

* pet comfort products (paw cream, sweaters)                                                     

The girls showed up on time, sang “Jingle Bells” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, took pictures with Raja, hugged all around and then whisked our bag of fleece throws and greenies into their following mini-van.   They next day, they dropped it all off and played with the shelter dogs. 

Aren’t they flat out wonderful?! 

So back to the list… technically these items can end up in the local shelter even if your local girl scouts have targeted other charities this season.  Just load them up and tote them over.  OK… please?  You know you’ll feel warm and fuzzy immediately after.

To keep you in the know about Raja’s Travel Dog Schedule: Raja will be spending the Holidays at home en famille and shortly thereafter he will go on his annual ski trip.  Where will he go to ski? For every blog fan who posts in a guess this week, we will donate one can of primo Blue Buffalo dog food to our local shelter.  Paw to heart, we promise.

Easter Parade in New York with Raja

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Easter Parade in New York with Raja. Join Raja at the Easter Parade with fabulous hats and fabulous people all having fun outside on Fifth Avenue between 44th and 54th streets! The shops are closed, so there’s nothing to browse but the creative costumes at New York’s famous Spring Fling.

School Girl Tonka is the Winner!

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Announcing our winner:

Adorable and photogenic School Girl Tonka!!!!  With a whopping 30% of all votes, School Girl Tonka will receive a custom party dress, made to order by Carolyn’s Originals! 

Thanks to all the beautiful pups who participated in Raja’s Costume Contest.  You are great sports and you all are winners in our book!

Special mention of William, the US Fighter Pilot.  William missed the contest entry date, but he’s got one of the most amazing costumes ever and Raja and I want to give him his chance to show it off.  William is a very laid back Chihuahua.  He never barks or protests when he wears his many costume accessories and he’s always ready to strike a pose!  Every year William gets a brand new, hand made costume. 

So please put your paws together for all our contestants, Tonka our winner and William!  And a happy and safe Halloween to everyone this year!

A Member of the Wedding: Being Best Dog

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
Congratulating the Bride and Groom

Congratulating the Bride and Groom

Dear Readers, Have any of you had your dog at your wedding?… Please write in to the comments section and tell us how it went!

A few weeks ago we barked about how Raja was going to be Best Dog at a family wedding and we had all kinds of advice about how to have a dog at a wedding.  Were we wrong?  Were we crazy?  Was it the worst idea ever?

NO!  It was a great idea.  Good things happened.  The celebrant (what we called our official who did the ceremony) said that having Raja at the wedding meant that the couple wanted everyone who was important to them to be together.  Raja got a big cheer from the guests.  (Who gets that?)

Afterwards, everyone said it was the most elegant and relaxed wedding they had ever been to.  Why do I feel Raja was a little part of some of that?

Did we learn anything useful?  Yes…

  • Flowers on dogs either wilt or are eaten.  Maybe not needed beyond the ceremony.
  • A shawl doubles as a cozy nest when puppy needs a nap.  No need to drag in a dog bed.
  • Raja was so excited to be at the party that he didn’t want to walk outside, drink or eat… so no problems there.  If your dog is a ham like him, your dog may make it similarly easy.
  • Toward the end of the night when the ladies all dance together, the dogs also like to dance.  Nobody minds.
  • If you don’t get muddy and shabby spending time with your dog in your jeans, you will similarly stay well turned out when you are all dressed up.

Raja says a big, heartfelt “Thank You” to the new half of his family who were so gracious to him.