Pup links!

Actor Frederic March and his cocker spaniel in the rain. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

And now for some dog-related links:

The Dogs of “Mad Men.” OK, Dogster made another great list, assigning breeds to characters from AMC’s original series “Mad Men.” I think they’re spot-on, and the descriptions are priceless. Roger Sterling is totally a weimaraner and, weirdly enough, I can actually see Joan as an Aussie. (Dogster)

On Expensive Medical Treatments for Your Pet. Preach it! I think this is all that needs to be said on this prevailing and backwards mentality: “No one has ever noticed that a friend has a really nice new couch, and said: ‘well, gosh, I’d feel terrible buying such a nice couch, considering how many mosquito nets the Gates Foundation could have given out in the developing world with that kind of money.’ Ever. But people WILL say that to you for choosing to spend your own money to save a living creature that really matters to you.” (Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews)

A Collection of German Shepherd Champions Over Time. This actually makes me kind of sad. Look how beautiful and strong the GSDs from the early 1900s looked. Today? They look like weirdly deformed half-dogs. It’s almost like a flip-book to deformity as you scroll upward quickly. Sigh. (Les Anges Gardiens)

Are Your Pet Adoption Listings Hurting Pets? An exhortation not to try to rope in potential adopters with sob stories; be honest about the dog’s strengths and weaknesses and you’ll give everyone a fair hand, including–or especially–the dog. (Dogged)

Woman’s Best Friend. As mentioned last weekend, this is my new pin board, featuring photographs and artwork of women and their dogs. Crazy dog ladies, enjoy! (Pinterest)

Choosing a vet

Boy in Veterinarian's Office

Boy in Veterinarian's Office, Norman Rockwell.

Next on my list of things to do before bringing a dog home: Finding a local veterinarian. This one is also somewhat intimidating to me. I’m planning on asking friends with dogs who they’d recommend in the area, but beyond that, I’m curious what you think about how to go about this process.

What kinds of questions should I ask a prospective vet? What are some things to watch out for? How will I know to evaluate them if I don’t have a dog yet? Does anyone go to a vet who practices holistic or homeopathic medicine?

Still so many questions! And I’m, as always, grateful for your advice!

Review: Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats

Dr. Pitcairn's Guide to Complete Natural Health for Dogs and Cats

I got a used copy of the older edition of this reference book, Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. The more I learn about dog food and even what humans eat in general, the more I want to just eat happy, pesticide-free plants.

Despite the lack of any medical degree, my mother has always espoused a general mistrust of traditional Western medicine, and I suppose I have a little bit of that in me. That said, I found Dr. Pitcairn’s book quite interesting.

Some of his recommendations sounded pretty kooky–the discussion of the unquantifiable and unknowable “life force” that permeates all things, which we must channel for our own benefit–but overall, I think this book provided a helpful overview of the alternative medicine techniques and therapies for dogs and cats.

The emphasis of the book is grounded strongly in preventative medicine. Pitcairn advises that the first thing we must do is create a healthy, non-toxic environment for our animals to live in (ourselves included!). This means keeping all chemicals at bay, when at all possible; shying away from plastics; any synthetic products that do not come directly from the earth, and so forth.

The second big emphasis on the book is understandably on diet. The more we learn about health, the more we understand the indelible link between what we eat and how our bodies perform. This is just as true for dogs as it is for us. Feeding your dog a bag of generic kibble may be cheap and convenient, but you’d just be filling your pet with animal byproducts, unnatural chemicals, and known toxins. This leads to the breakdown of a dog’s entire system, Pitcairn asserts. He pushes for a raw food diet, which is a serious commitment, but also gives advice for those who can’t or won’t make that kind of time.

I don’t know if there are any veterinarians in my area who practice alternative or homeopathic medicine, but I’m definitely interested in looking further into this topic.

Do you practice any alternative medicine or home remedies with your dog? Does your vet? What have you learned?

Review: Dogs Behaving Badly

Dogs Behaving Badly, by Nicholas Dodman

This book was my first foray into a medical perspective on dogs and I found it very helpful and insightful. I imagine I’d reference it myself if my dog was displaying any of the undesirable behavior traits listed in this book.

Dodman is a well-known and widely respected canine authority who leads the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine’s program in animal behavior. I’d love to be able to take a few classes from him sometime, if it were only possible!

I liked Dodman’s use of anecdotes throughout his A-to-Z chapters. The unusual stories from his practice helped illuminate some of his medical explanations for common canine problems.

I didn’t really dislike anything about this book, although it probably wasn’t so helpful to me now, since I don’t have a dog that’s actually exhibiting any of these symptoms or behaviors. I imagine I’d probably pick it up again once I actually get a dog and can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’d recommend this book as a friendly and easy-to-understand guide to behavioral issues in dogs. I hope I’ll be able to recall some of Dodman’s suggestions when the time comes to actually deal with my future dog’s issues.