Beware a Long Leash When Walking Your Dog: A Sad, True Story

Posted by Raja on March 8th, 2013 — Posted in interview, Safety

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A glow in the dark leash helps at twilight.

Up front we’re letting you know that this isn’t one of our cute posts; it’s an important post about dog safety. If you have an extendable and retractable leash, or if you use a long leash, please read.

I sometimes use a retractable leash for Raja and shorten it up when walking in high traffic areas. I prefer not to use any leash when hiking because Raja’s not a runner and I feel that there has got to be a place where dogs can trot free. He loves to lead the pack and I love to watch him do it. We had to change our behavior after learning more about the danger to curious dogs from East Coast copperheads and timber rattlesnakes and the always hungry cougar population of the West Coast hills. (The retractable leash is not for everybody and it does have its detractors.) The picture above is Raja’s newest leash his friend Buttercup gave him. It’s relatively long, but can be shortened up, and has flashing or steady green battery lights to make walking at dusk safer. If the passing cars can’t see us, at least they can see that glowing green line moving along.

But this post isn’t about hiking in the wild hilly badlands or streets at twilight…

A few days ago one of our friends was walking her three dogs through a parking lot. To tell the story short, a car backed over one of her pups, killing him and my friend had her arm and leg fractured as she dove to save him.

Our friend’s dogs were short, but all dogs are shorter than the height of a car’s trunk. When the lead dog pulled ahead behind the parked car, the driver, if he looked, didn’t see anybody directly behind, started the engine and, in the same motion, reversed smoothly.

Raja and I don’t want to discuss this one too much. We’re not talking about blame. We feel squeemish and heart broken, but we want to emphasize- even in a seemingly quiet parking lot, walking on a seemingly quiet sidewalk- please be aware that a nimbly handled car can back out or emerge quickly from a parking spot or a driveway. Now, a well loved reading therapy dog will be missed at a Miami public library after-school program. That little Shih Tzu led a valuable life. She did a lot of good in her world. She lived larger than her 10 inches high. She listened while stammering kids read to her. They learned and grew because of the furry therapist with all the patience in the world. My friend also won’t be getting out to volunteer again for a long time.

Please shorten up your leashes around cars, driveways and when traversing alleys and streets. It’s hard to pick up multiple dogs, but picking up a small dog in random traffic areas isn’t a bad idea either, if you are so moved.

Human Babies and Furry First Children: Creating Good Beginnings

Posted by Raja on February 25th, 2013 — Posted in Celebrations, Safety

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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!

How to Put Your Dog’s Boots On

Posted by Raja on February 12th, 2013 — Posted in Gear

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“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”

- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

That’s right right- when dogs go out and about, boots mean adventure, whether it’s galavanting on the cross country slopes or trotting in the urban slush.  Some may say, “Dogs don’t need boots.”  Oh, but they do… crossing the finish line at the famous Alaskan sled dog race the Iditarod, as well as transporting supplies for scientists and explorers in the Arctic, dogs wear boots.  Your dog, stepping out on a blustery day in January on icy cold slushy streets, deserves boots too.

Look at it this way… human beings don’t need boots either.  Cave people didn’t have boots.  (Of course, their average life spans were perhaps 16 years.)  But, as we human beings have learned, anything that keeps us comfortable makes our lives longer and better.  Ditto the dogs.

Boots prevent cracking in the callouses of the pads and keep the feet clean.  While boots in summer can make a dog too hot, boots in winter make for happy little feet.

Now, maybe you are thinking you don’t know how to get boots on a dog.  He’s not jut going to step in on his own.  Or, perhaps you are thinking fatalistically, that your dog’s unlikely to like boots.  In this case, boots are like kale: how do you know you won’t like it until you try?

Rubber Boots are led in the industry by the Paws brand (don’t be suspicious,we cannot be bought).  Paws are the hardest to get on, but the easiest
for dogs to adapt to. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit your dog on your lap, back to your chest and wiggle the boots on in exactly the same way as you would put socks on a toddler.  There will be  squirming.  There will be floppy feet and limp ankles. Don’t give up.  If you can put socks on a child, you can put boots on a dog.
  • Make sure you work the claws all the way forward into the toe and make sure you have not rammed a toe in at a peculiar angle (same as for a todder).
  • Make sure the boot covers the bottom pad of the foot and doesn’t just cling to the toes.
  • Now is the moment of truth… put your dog down outside, give him a treat and watch him trot. If he walks “funny” at first, do not indulge him.  Walk on and say something like, “You can really chase squirrels in those shoes, Fluffy.”  Paws boots have a high success rate.

Hard soled boots are led in the industry by the Uggs-style faux suede boots with fleece trim, velcro fasteners and awesome ridged  rocker
soles.  These seemingly clumsy boots are fantastic for protecting the pads and they actually work.

  • Sit your dog on your lap, toddler style.  If your dog is very furry, try to get the paw in the boot without unzipping, since zippling is hard with fur in the way.
  • Work your dog’s foot into the forefront of the boot and make sure gently to lower the leg into the boot cuff so the pad is flat on the shoe floor.  (This is hard the first time, but easy by the third time.)
  • Now tighten the velcro ankle straps very firmly.  Take advantage of the narrow part of the lower leg between the hock and the knee.
  • Similarly, carry your dog outside, offer an irresistable treat and see what happens.  Trust us- that awkward walk will transform into a comfortable rolling gait as your dog learns to roll the rocker sole along.

I will leave choosing the size to you and the website directions.  And I will leave it to your discression whether to buy one or two sets.  Sometimes you can lose one shoe, although if the boots are on correctly, they will stay put.  Raja has many sets of Paws and one set of Ugg-Style boots and he and his happy little feet are doing fine.

What does a flying dog do when nature calls?

Posted by Raja on January 22nd, 2013 — Posted in Airplane Safety

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Nothing could be more unnatural than air travel- for all of us.  Two hours before flight we submit to a series of harassments during which TSA  counts coup on our fatigued persons: questions, clothes removed, body scrutinized, luggage rummaged, torso wanded, patted down, patted up,  hurry up, wait, eat bad food, wait.  Then, we load thousands of pounds of heavy stuff in a winged metal rocket and depend upon the effects of thrust and lift to keep us hurtling through the skies until we land far, far away.  And while we are in the plane we sit, alternately freezing or sweltering,  cramped and phlebitic, hungry and thirsty. Our only source of exercise is an apologetic squirm to a claustrophobic, germy WC.

But that’s the humans… what about the traveling dogs!

In some sense, the dogs have it better. They get transported and, for the small in-cabin traveling dogs, their travel bags insulate them from outsiders.  (Well, for some reason, Raja always gets frisked.  He’s not a real fan of having complete strangers fumble around under his fur, but he puts up.)

In another sense, dogs who travel are not properly served.  First, they can neither eat nor drink during transport because, once they leave the car at drop off in front of the airport, they have no place to go to the potty.  Think about it.  Once they enter the airport, they are not able to relieve themselves until they arrive.  So for International transport, that’s 2 hours, plus the flight (a minimum of 5 hours) and then a minimum of 1hour post flight, considering how slow gating, deplaning, baggage and customs are.  And let’s think of how the frequent delays take a toll on pet patience.

We have two obvious solutions:

  • The first is that dogs should not fly.  But that’s preposterous.

and

  • Airports  should provide restroom facilities inside the terminals for traveling  pets.  It is not an unreasonable  request since airlines charge for pet transport- around $150 per flight-  which is a whole huge lot to pay and get absolutely nothing in return except the expectation that the paying client will be neither seen nor heard from.

Many airports have smoking porches or decks for the really addicted.  A segment of this area could be partitioned off for traveling pets to sprinkle a plastic hydrant.  Perhaps once a day somebody could douse it with inexpensive, non-toxic hydrogen peroxide.  (Is that so hard?)

Traveling pets are highly unlikely to relieve themselves in their transport bags.  This would be tantamount to relieving themselves in their beds. This they will not do at any cost because, in spite of what some may think, pets have strong codes about where they will and will not, uh, “go.”

Since airlines charge for pet transport, airlines should do the minimum to make transported pets as comfortable as possible.  Since most people cannot make it through an airplane trip without also visiting the WC, to expect our pets to be “better” than we are is both unfair and mean.

Raja and I call upon the great airlines of the world that allow pet transport to do the right thing for all the paying customers that keep the airlines in business.

Happy New Year to All Our Readers!

Posted by Raja on December 25th, 2012 — Posted in Celebrations, interview

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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

Posted by Raja on December 17th, 2012 — Posted in Celebrations, friends, Pet Adoption

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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.)

 

 

Semi-Urban Wild Animals and Your Pet

Posted by Raja on December 4th, 2012 — Posted in Safety

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The United Staates leads the world in urban encounters with wildlife.  Which is wonderful- if we consider the global ecosystem.

Not one step further into the rough, puppy dog!

Here in New Jersey, Raja has foxes, raccoons, possums and even the occasional bear to deal with. Well, he doesn’t really deal with any of them if I can help it.  The worst problem is the foxes.  They run through his yard, scenting anything they like the looks of and the girl foxes are particularly thorough.  Raja finds the fox scent alluring, while I find it completely repellant. Completely. What he doesn’t know is that, although he is only a little smaller than the fox, he is completely docile and gentle and the fox is pure predator.  Raja sees the fox as an interesting dog friend.  The fox sees him as an enormous, tender snack.

In his California home, Raja has possums, raccoons and coyotes.  The coyote scent scares him and terrifies me.

In both locations, unbelievably, neighbors find the wildlife charming… until their cats don’t come home at night, that is.  Until they hear about a lost Chihuahua.

How do wild animals survive as suburban and urban sprawl encroach on their territories?  Very, very well, it seems.  Green belts in Northern and Central New Jersey cover enormous contiguous swaths of land all the way into upstate New York.  In California, the isolated hills of the mid state regions lead toward urban/suburban neighborhoods that dead end right at the feet of nature.

And we feed them.  A garbage buffet is fairly carelessly set out once a week.  Fruit and berry trees, as well as compost, attract small animals that larger animals eat.  Even badly cleaned grills lure with the deliciously rancid scent of animal fat.  Docile, protected wildlife like deer, wild turkeys and songbirds attract non-docile, but similarly protected, carnivores.  Urban golf courses grow tender grass that grows enormous, tasty gophers in spite of the pesticides.

I’m not advocating eradicating wild animals.  Except for the smelly foxes and hungry coyotes, I like having wild creatures around.  In theory, I even like the foxes.  On a good day.  But we all have to be sensible, especially as winter makes every wild thing hungrier.  And bolder.  And more confident to reclaim yards as cooler weather keeps people inside more. (Yes, even in California where some people think 60 degrees is awfully cold.)

In winter, put on your coat and go out with your dog in the yard.  If you stand behind a glass door and watch, you cannot beat a fox to the prey.  If you chase a coyote down the sidewalk at night, you will run out of steam far before the coyote tires, and he will not drop the Chihuahua to lighten his load.   Keep an eye out for movement at the edge of darkness at night and do not allow your dog to wander more than a foot away from you.

Especially in New Jersey and New York where Hurricaine Sandy has uprooted trees and taken down brush, if at all possible, reassert order in wooded property.  Chaos and neglect make for new neighbors.

We can all live together if we pet owners are vigilant and protective at the edge of nature.

Winter Disaster Prep for Pets

Posted by Raja on November 8th, 2012 — Posted in Health, interview, Safety

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Staying warm on a really chilly day inside.

Hurricane Sandy wasn’t the best at Raja’s house, but it was disastrous in other parts of New Jersey and New York.  Since climate change is a reality and since we can anticipate future challenges, Raja and I want to bark about home prep for pets in power outage cold weather conditions.
So… Let’s all do a little cold prep for our pets:
. Sweaters: Every small, thin or older dog needs a couple of fluffy, lofty sweaters.  As we know for ourselves, fluffy sweaters trap air and are warmer.  Put the sweater on in the house and keep it on until the pet doesn’t need it.  (You might be thinking, “But he has fur to keep him warm.”  Sure he does, but you have hair and yet wear a hat when it’s cold, right?  And, I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, you have no problem with canine winter apparel.)
. Fur Care: Do not leave a single sweater on for days at a time.  Sweater fiber mats fur, reducing loft and reducing the natural warming properties of fur when neglected.  Daily remove the sweater, comb and brush your pet’s fur gently and put on a different sweater.  Keep alternating so one sweater doesn’t wear fur too much in the same places.
. Socks:  No, we’re not being funny.  Dogs lose heat through their paws on freezing floors. Little dog socks with slip free patches help, if your pet is compliant.
. Hats:  Without a hat, Raja’s nose was icy cold.  With a hat, his nose was appropriately cool. That’s all.
. Calories:  A recent NYT article discussed the extra five pounds apartment grounded New Yorkers gained in the past two weeks.   Dog physiology is different.  When dogs worry, they do not binge eat.  They mope.  If you have a dog who is inclined to be thin, increase calories.  Bulk supports warmth and chilling promotes weight loss.
. Exercise: Keep your dog’s spirits up and keep the blood pumping by playing in the house.  Well, do what you can.  When we exercise we feel happy and we warm up.  You will too.
. Feet: While you can’t wash your dog when you have no hot water or power for a blow dryer, you can keep his feet clean.  Wet feet make a cold dog colder; matted fur makes for less effective drying; dirt is unhealthy.  Using a damp cloth and a dry towel, you can  maintain those fluffy paws.
How did Raja do during the days of cold and no power?
Having fun in my fierce Yeti costume in the sunny snow!

At Dog School, Graduates are Champions

Posted by Raja on October 5th, 2012 — Posted in Agility, interview

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After a month of back to school for the children, it is possible your family dog will be a little lonely.  Non-family dogs have been watching the children come and go through the window.   Where are they going?  What are they doing?  Can’t I go somewhere important too?

Cy has returned to school to get in shape for his upcoming Championship events.

There are so many things dogs can learn in dog school.  Obedience is just the beginning of the skills set.  There is agility, rally, flyball, Frisbee, dock diving, lure coursing, nose work and the much appreciated therapy categories that include hospital visitor and reading helper.  Not only are there lots of classes for dogs, but also Raja and I must share with you that we have never seen a dog who is unwilling to go to school. Oh sure, some dogs learn faster than others and some are more suited for
different courses than others, but all dogs always have fun.

Raja’s friend Cy has returned to school and to competition after a few months down time healing from the neck trouble that took him out of the Canine Performance Event Nationals in Altamont, New York.  Some people might say Cy’s career should have been over, but, as we humans know about ourselves, exercise is good for the body and exercise helps prevent injuries from becoming entrenched.  Cy’s slipped neck disk could have happened jumping off the couch while turning his head toward the side, or in any number of ways.  There’s no reason why Cy’s days of glory and Olympic dreams (read: days of fun and sense of pride) should be cut short.  That doggy’s too busy to be shut down; he’ll only get in trouble from being bored.

Cy and CT share some downtime with Carolyn between events.

For his rehab, Carolyn took him to Arf Animal Rehab in Dexter, Michigan, an animal sports and injury reconditioning facility for an evaluation and training program.  Working in conjunction with his vet and the specialists, Cy was prescribed a personalized exercise regime that stretched his range of muscles in his neck and strengthened his core, some of them using a ball similar to the way humans use a ball to strengthen the center.  Since Cy’s a social snacker, he took readily to the exercises as long as treats and human attention were the main part of the process.

Cy returned to private classes with his trainer before competing at Think Pawsitive in New Berlin, Wisconsin  for a weekend of fun in which he earned three qualifications towards his

Cy taking the high road in his little white socks.

championship in the categories of Wildcard, Snooker and Jumpers. Still doing fine, Cy recently competed in Williamston, MI, Capital City Canine Club to earn 2 more Qualifications towards his championship.  And now, Cy has only 5 more Q’s to earn.  4 of them will be the hardest Q’s for him ever as he competes in an agility event called Jackpot.  In Jackpot, the dog and his human are far apart, so Cy has to run away from Carolyn to do his challenges.  Cy likes it best when he’s got Carolyn close.  But we have confidence that he’ll get the job done.  Carolyn and Cy are saving the bet Q for last- one final Q in Jumpers because Cy is he best in that challenge.  And next time you readers hear about Cy, he’ll be Champion Cy to you and me.

After Championing, what next for Cy?  Carolyn and Cy will decide, but I will share with you that National Champions can compete Internationally, and if Cy chooses to fly overseas to compete, you can bet Raja and I will be on the same plane.

So back to back to school… Dogs love school because dogs love to interact with their humans, make new friends and learn new ways to be companionable and important to humans in daily life.  If your dog seems like a schooldog to you, google “CPE” for your area and learn how you two can get started.  Your little scholar might amaze you by graduating to be a Champion too.

Fall Feasts and Feasting Dogs! Read down for a delicious fall feast recipe for your dog.

Posted by Raja on September 24th, 2012 — Posted in Giveaway, Health

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Tulips and daffodils are not good doggy snacks!

Dogs love fall. It’s cooler so they have more energy and the chaos of swirling leaves and gusty cool winds makes dogs feel like running and barking all day long. Or at least that’s how Raja feels.

Now, running in the wind makes a dog hungry and a hungry dog will begin to forage. Just because a dog wants to eat something he finds does not mean that the food is safe. Wild dogs learn the hard way. Your dog has you to sort out the forrage from the fodder.

Acorns:  Pigs, squirrels, chipmunks and deer love them. Dogs should not eat them, but the smell of deer, squirrel and chipmunk in the areas where acorns fall might draw your dog to them. Acorn contain gallotanin. While in lab tests gallotanin has been associated with antioxidation, anti-inflammation, blood lipid and glucose lowering action and anti-aging, acorns are not a good way to ingest gallotanins. Basically, acorns will cause gastric distress and the hard crushed nut material could injure the intestine. So if you see your dog rooting like a truffle pig amid the fallen acorn leaves, haul him out and redirect him to some other more productive.

Tulips:  You guessed it, tulips are considered to be toxic. They contain tulipanin, which is an anthocyanin, which is a water soluble plant pigment, which is present in eggplants and red wine, but which is supposed to be poisonous to dogs. Hmmm, eggplants are OK for dogs, but red wine is not. Squirrels and deer love tulips and seem to thrive on them, as they do after a big meal of acorns.???Look, tulips may attract the gastronomic dog in some way. Just don’t let them eat them. They’re probably not fatal in moderation, but I bet even one will make your dog sick.

Dadodils:  Even deer that are starving won’t eat daffodils. It is unlikely your dog will try to eat them, but if she does, they are very bad news. Pobably the scariest symptom is cardiac arrhythmia. And that’s very scary indeed.

Alliums:  Those gorgeous puffball purple and white spring flowers with the strappy leaves are allium family. They are onion relatives, very toxic to dogs, can cause dangerous anemia and some crazy dogs seem to like raw onions.  Plant them deep and make sure your pup doesn’t dig them up.

You don’t need to worry about these toxic and irritational plant materials unless your dog is a mischievous snacker. Raja won’t eat bulbs and acorns, so avoiding his contact with them is just paranoid.  As for you and your doggy, well, some dogs will try anything at least once, so keep an eye open.

What can your doggy eat in fall?  To support good food in fall and not to seem like two spoil sports, we have created a seasonal, sustainable early fall garden-inspired dinner for your dog.  It’s much tastier than forage- a cooked meal with meat, fruit, vegetables and grain.  Some of you may buy your dog food; some of you may feed raw; some of you may be anti-grain.  Raja and I are not canine nutritionists, but we are canine home cooking enthusiasts.  Do whatever you think best; we’re not doctrinarian… but Raja really loved this seasonal stew made with our own beans and figs:

A seasonal stew with a fall theme...

Cornucopia Lamb Slow Cooker Stew

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground lamb (crumbled in small morsels)

1 medium yam (cut in medium dice)

15 fresh purple Tuscan beans- green are fine too- (cut in one inch dice)

4 ripe figs (quartered)

1 cup faro (rinsed)

3 cups water or onion-and-MSG-free meat or vegetable broth

Coat a slow cooker with the olive oil.  Add all ingredients making sure the liquid covers the faro.  Cook on high for 4 hours or until done.  Cut to desired bite size and serve.  Makes eight ShihTzu- sized portions or three Lab-sized portions.

Readers… what seasonal foods do your dogs like?  Let’s hear your ideas for snacks and meals of the season.