By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 0 Comments
A California spa that even your dog will love
Finding a pet-friendly hotel isn’t the hassle it once was. A lot of hotels do accept pets. The gamble is, what will the room be like? Sometimes, it feels like pet owners are the new smokers. You can check in, but you’ll be sleeping in the smelly room across from the ice machine on the ground floor. In Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for instance, our pet-friendly hotel room had tufts of fur on the pillowcase when I turned down the bedspread. I called the front desk to complain, and we got moved to a new room where our cat disappeared into a hole in the drywall behind the toilet.
So it was nice last week to check into a dog-friendly hotel that had none of these problems. Retired veterinarian Dr. Paula Terifaj owns and operates the DogSpa Resort and Wellness Center in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. The DogSpa isn’t a spa for dogs, as the name suggests, but rather a hotel where dogs of all sizes and breeds may stay unattended in the room, run in the private off-leash dog park or roam the main lounge while their humans eat breakfast. But what had enticed me there were the website photos. In one shot, a cute dog is paddling in the hotel pool. In another, a woman luxuriates with a glass of wine while a large hunting dog nuzzles her in the hot tub. Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Montrealers see them as a scourge; in B.C. they’re coddled house pets
One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure, but it turns out the well-worn cliché doesn’t just apply to human refuse. Lizzy O Sullivan, president of the “rat fanciers club” RatsPack North West, says one person’s scourge is another’s coddled house pet. “They’re like little dogs,” says the founder of Sith Rattery, one of the country’s most recognizable domestic rat breeders. “They’re loyal and they’re affectionate.”
Last week, O Sullivan hosted “Ratstravaganza,” in New Westminster, B.C. Canada’s largest rat show features discussions on rodent health care—how to properly clean rats and prevent viral infections—and special awards for rodent attendees. Highlights include prizes for the “longest tail,” the “best costume,” and “kissiest” rats. The popularity of pet rats in B.C. is on the rise, says O Sullivan, with several new ratteries opening across the province this year.
The rat population appears to be spiking at the other end of the country too—though Montrealers see them as a scourge rather than treasure. Repairs to the city’s dilapidated sewer system are driving rats into the open, causing widespread alarm and disgust across the city. Infestation Montréal estimates extermination calls jumped as much as 15 per cent last year, while rat sightings in the Ville-Marie district are up 54 per cent.
O Sullivan insists wild rats like those causing disgust in Montreal are “totally different” from her beloved pets, thanks to years of separate breeding. Whereas wild rats can be destructive and diseased, domestic rats, she says, are welcoming and warm. “They’re a pack animal,” says O Sullivan. “You become part of that pack, and they just accept you like a family member.” To find out, just give this year’s “kissiest” rodent a squeeze.
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 8:30 AM - 1 Comment
Even though they stink, they’re ugly and they’re high maintenance
A self-professed “neat freak,” Sandra Fargiorgio used to vacuum the cat fur from the carpet every day. She grew tired of the chore, so when her cat died, the mother of three from Milton, Ont., decided to get a new kind of pet, one that wouldn’t leave tufts of fur on her black pants.
She found a breeder of hairless cats—called sphynxes—and the family drove 3½ hours to pick up a light-skinned kitten named Woody. A year later, they got Gilbert, who looked like a little gremlin. “We have a lot of family friends that think we’re really weird,” she says, adding that guests sometimes think the family has a couple of rats running around the house. “People are just kind of grossed out by them because of the way they look.”
But Fargiorgio and her family aren’t alone in their love of hairless pets. It turns out more Canadians than ever before are snuggling up to the naked epidermis of a hairless animal. Aside from sphynxes, there are hairless guinea pigs—also known as skinny pigs—hairless dogs, even hairless rats, mice and hamsters. Both skinny pigs and sphynxes—obviously vulnerable to the cold—have Canadian connections: the sphynx gene can be traced to hairless cats found in a Toronto alleyway in the 1960s, while skinny pigs first turned up in a Montreal lab in 1978.
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Thinking of owning goats? Get yourself to Maine—or buy this just-released manual.
When North America’s only goat school first opened in Maine, it attracted a total of 12 students. Now, Ken and Janice Spaulding’s school is a two-day affair that often draws more than 100 students. This year’s goat school is on Oct. 8 and 9 at Stony Knolls Farm in Saint Albans, Maine.
For those who can’t attend the school but are interested in owning goats as pets, or raising goats for milk and meat, Janice Spaulding has just released a do-it-yourself manual called Goat School: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking. In it, you’ll find everything you need to know about assisting a pregnant goat in labour to how to whip up a 30-minute mozzarella using goat’s milk and rennet.
“Goats are amazing creatures. They are smart, funny, personable, nosy, and did I say smart?” writes Spaulding. “They can open any latch, sometimes unlock doors, turn light switches on and off, take things apart, and they love to help. They will help you shovel snow or poop, they will untie your shoelaces for you, and they love helping take things out of your pocket.”
By Julia McKinnell - Friday, May 27, 2011 at 9:55 AM - 0 Comments
Vicks VapoRub, ChapStick and Bengay may be grooming and behavioural godsends
Here’s a tip for dog owners from the guy who once talked Jay Leno into shaving with peanut butter and convinced Barbara Walters to put a wet diaper on her head. “To ward off unwelcome, prowling male dogs eager to mate, rub a dab of Vicks VapoRub near your female dog’s tail. The pungent smell of eucalyptus and menthol masks the odour that attracts males,” advises Joey Green, who used to write TV commercials for Burger King but now makes a living finding alternate uses for everyday products.
In his latest book, Joey Green’s Amazing Pet Cures, he describes how he solved the problem of his neighbour’s dog leaving “unwanted presents” in his front yard. “The first time I left the evidence untouched and put up a sign that read, ‘Please clean up after your dog.’ Three days later, the sign and the proof remained on the lawn.”
Realizing he couldn’t retrain his inconsiderate neighbour, Green decided to retrain the dog, by liberally sprinkling his own lawn with cayenne pepper. “In fact, every other day for the next two weeks, I went out and peppered the grass to make sure the dog, with his acute sense of smell, got the message loud and clear. The dog never soiled in front of our house again.”
By Jane Switzer - Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
At the cat café
In Japan, cat lovers are paying for petting time at the country’s popular cat cafés. For a fee of up to $10 an hour, patrons can enjoy tea, lounge on a comfortable chair and borrow the affection of feline employees.
By Stephanie Findlay - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
The growing trend in designer grooming circles: turning your dog into a panda, a tiger, a snake
It’s the year of the tiger in China, and to celebrate, many pet owners have begun transforming their dogs to look like the orange and black felines. Some retrievers have their fur dyed a bright orange, with lifelike black and white stripes. There’s even a competition in which dogs are groomed to resemble other animals, ranging from pandas to fish. Ren Netherland, an animal photographer who has been shooting at dog shows for 25 years, has seen “just about everything”: buffaloes, giraffes, horses, iguanas.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 8:00 AM - 4 Comments
Exposure to tainted cabin air may have real long-term effects
As the airplane pulled up to the gate after a routine flight from Memphis to Dallas, veteran flight attendant Terry Williams saw something strange: a smoky haze, she says, was coming from the ventilation system. The fumes soon dissipated; but for Williams, their impact would be long-lasting. Since that flight two years ago, she says she’s suffered from migraines, asthma, and a tremor in her left arm, as well as vision impairment and memory loss. “I don’t feel I’m the wife my husband married, or the mother I want to be,” says Williams, who has two young sons. “It’s affected me in every possible way.”
Williams, now 40, recently launched a lawsuit against Boeing and its subsidiary, McDonnell Douglas, contending the airplane’s manufacturers “knew or should have known” that tainted fumes could enter the ventilation system, causing serious health effects to those on board. According to Seattle aviation attorney Alisa Brodkowitz, who’s representing Williams, in most Boeing aircraft—including the MD-82 on which Williams was travelling—fresh air is sucked in through the jet engines before being cooled and vented into the cabin (mixed with filtered, recirculated air). Along the way, Brodkowitz says, it can pick up contaminates ranging from engine oil to metals. Continue…
By Stephanie Findlay - Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 1:20 PM - 15 Comments
Allergic to Fluffy? You can re-book—at your expense.
When Air Canada banned pets from aircraft cabins in 2006, pet owners were furious. But many say the airline’s recent decision to reverse that ban was a bigger mistake, as it puts pets ahead of people—and may even put lives at risk.
As of Canada Day, dogs and cats can travel with their owners on executive or economy Air Canada flights, as long as they’re in pet carriers that fit under the airplane seats. The plan, which was recently announced as part of Air Canada’s “renewed commitment to the customer” initiative, allows pet owners to register their pets 24 hours before the flight, as long as they pay a $50 or $100 fee. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 12:22 PM - 0 Comments
There is a new flu virus going around
It is the H3N8 dog flu. While fears of a flu pandemic among humans have shifted from the deadly H5N1 avian flu to the relatively mild H1N1 swine flu, the H3N8 canine flu has been a quiet undercurrent in the U.S. It initially looked quite lethal, and caused panic. Now it is clear that it has killed relatively few victims—and many of those have underlying conditions. Dr. Cynda Crawford of the University of Florida veterinary school estimates that by itself, it kills 5-8 percent of the dogs that catch it. Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it had approved the first vaccine for it.
By Kate Lunau - Friday, June 19, 2009 at 3:56 PM - 145 Comments
Air Canada’s new pets on a plane policy is bound to pit passengers against one another
Before leaving his home in Smithers, B.C. for Northern Ontario in 2004, Dr. Darren Jakubec felt nervous about taking his dog on the flight with him, “for reasons I can’t entirely explain.” A family doctor, Jakubec was travelling to Wawa, Ont., with his wife, a nurse, to start a six-month work contract. Leaving their black dog Sila behind wasn’t an option, he says. Sila, a black lab mix, was kenneled and placed in the plane’s cargo hold. After deplaning in Winnipeg for a connecting flight, the couple waited anxiously for their dog. When she was finally taken off the plane, they were devastated by what they saw: “Sila was brought out onto the carousel,” he says, “dead.”
Jakubec paid for an autopsy “that showed carbon monoxide poisoning as the probable cause of death,” he says. After a two-year legal battle, the case was settled out of court. Jakubec and his wife eventually made it to Wawa, where they adopted another stray dog, Beck, also a black lab mix. Though he won’t fly with a pet again, Jakubec says “if you absolutely have to, insist they’re in the cabin with you.” Continue…