Friday, November 24, 2006

The Only Brush You'll Ever Need

I will admit I am no expert on brushing. Last year on my birthday I threw away all my brushes deciding life was just too short for that sort of thing (and so is my hair!).
Once when my Chow boy Peace was 10 years old I got the wild notion to brush him. I didn't really know what kind of brush to use and I was too embarrassed to ask his groomer, Lisa, in case she wondered what I had been using for the last 10 years, so that notion went with the wind, much like my boys hair.
I have started brushing the visiting dogs at my house though, and I kind of like it. It's either brush the dog or sweep the floor and brushing the dog lowers my blood pressure way more than sweeping.
One of the women at Nashville Pet Products in Bellevue tried to get me to buy this new brush called the FURminator. Well, the medium size one is like $40 and I am Scottish, need I say more?
I resisted the purchase until one day I realized that it had a 30 day money back guarantee. So, if I didn't love it I was taking it straight back.
Turns out I left it on a low shelf one day and my new puppy chewed the handle. I doubt that's covered in the money back guarantee. It didn't matter though, no way was I returning it!
This thing is incredible. At first it scared me a little. It looks a bit like a razor blade.
I would brush a dog ten strokes with what I thought was a good brush and then ten strokes with the FURminator. The difference was amazing. I got a nice little pile of hair with the brush I had thought was good, but the FURminator pile was twice as thick and had a line of dander at the edge.
Convinced that this new brush was actually cutting the hair off the dogs, I cleaned it and used it on myself.
Not a single hair came out, just that lovely line of dandruff! (Might not be a bad idea to market to people as well.)
So, this brush does a great job of removing hair AND allergy producing dander from dogs and cats.
And get this--- pets like this brush!
You know how when you are brushing a cat and trying not to get bloody in the process, you find the one place the cat likes to be brushed and repeat that spot in between brushing all the other spots the cat doesn't like? All the while ducking and weaving so you don't get bit or scratched.
You don't have that problem with the FURminator. I'm telling you, pets like it. They let you brush places "no one has ever gone before".
Tails used to be a huge problem. Nope, they like that now.
Legs are often a problem. Not anymore.
There is something about this FURminator that does the job and causes no pain.
You and your pets dream come true.
Shedding is one of the most annoying things about owning a pet and trying to maintain even the resemblance of cleanliness.
The fact that it removes the allergy producing dander is a great gift to those of us who score high on allergy tests.
I am often asked if I sell this brush or work for the company. No! (But I might if they asked.)
This is just one of the things that can make your life easier and help you enjoy your pet more.
Some other key things I have found to help with shedding are a good diet and supplements. A homemade diet designed by a veterinarian like Pitcairn or at least a human grade dog food that passes USDA inspection along with fresh fruit and vegetables daily.
Omega 3, 6 and 9's (Fish Oil, Flax Oil and Borage Oil) work wonders and frankly we all should be taking them whether we shed or not!

To link to the FURminator -
For info on diet and supplements listen to my radio show "The Politics of Dogs"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Watching vs Whispering

I met a cute little bean of a dog today. She ran right up to my car to greet me. A 15 month old 22 pound mix of a thing, with the most appealing face. I was actually there to teach her tricks. Not exactly my specialty but I was game. It turned out though that she was too nervous for most tricks.
While she didn't hesitate to run up to me and at one point even jumped into my car, she did hesitate when I touched her and she flinched at any sudden movements whether they were directed at her or not.
She has only lived with her owner for 3 months and the previous year of her life is anyone's guess but my guess would be that it was not too pleasant.
I did my usual out of the box training. Taught her to sit, down, stay and come in just a short bit of time. She learned everything very fast. I would break it down into steps and when I would move to step #2, she would jump to #4.
I couldn't teach her any tricks that involved my putting my hands over her head (like rollover) - it made her too nervous. She was hyper vigilant, watching everything and everyone while listening to all indoor and outdoor noises.
How exhausting!
Mostly though I just watched. I'm not real big on whispering. For me listening is so much more important.
So I watched how she interacted with her owner and I watched her body language and his and tried to figure out what she was trying to communicate to him.
Most humans spend so much time and effort trying to communicate TO
their pets instead of WITH their pets.
When he asked her to sit she would take a step or two back and then sit. I'm willing to bet some bad things have happened to her while sitting close to people.
And don't get me wrong, this man loves this dog and she loves him, that's obvious, but they are only 3 months into a relationship and trust takes a while.
Sometimes when he would ask her to sit she would stand there and not move, just look at him. I could see very clearly where another trainer might label that as defiance and the ever dreaded "dominance" issue.
As I stood and just watched that for what seemed like the longest time, I noticed how soft the dogs eyes were and I felt the need to hold my heart and my eyes filled with tears.
What I saw was a dog who really, really wants to please "her man" but she was trying to figure out a way to stay safe at the same time.
I trust that she is smart enough and her owner is kind enough that she will soon figure out that she IS safe.