Archive for June, 2008

Tick patrol

Oh, tick season. While I don’t live in the tick heartland anymore, reports of bulging bloodsuckers from Georgia to Maine have inspired PTSD-memories of my years in tick-infested Westchester. I provided one tick removal strategy in Dog Park Wisdom, but some others have surfaced since then. I like the suggestion below, which came to me via Cindy Trimble Kelly, an interior designer in Georgia and a contributor of countless pet-friendly-design brainstorms for my book. Cindy learned this tick-removal recipe from a friend who got it from a nurse (quoted below) who got it from a pediatrician — good advice travels fast.

Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and let it stay on the repulsive insect for a few seconds (15-20), after which the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away. This technique has worked every time I’ve used it (and that was frequently), and it’s much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me.

This is great, because it works in those places where it’s sometimes difficult to get to with tweezers — between toes, in the middle of a head full of dark hair, etc. I even had my doctor’s wife call me for advice because she had one stuck to her back and she couldn’t reach it with tweezers. She used this method and immediately called me back to say, “It worked!”

While this is a suggestion for humans, I’m all over trying it on my dog. Also, check out this blurb on “tick sticks.”

Herding the Roomba

In my book, I wrote about the Roomba, an automatic vacuum cleaner that several dog guardians I interviewed swear by. No one told me that the little robo-cleaners could inspire mayhem but today’s Wall Street Journal reviews the weird, wacky and sometimes violent interface between Rex and R2D2. Now I’m thinking I should have included a section on introducing robots into your dog’s home or at least suggested Roboquads under the pets for your pups category.

Scooping sloppy stuff

Coming home from a midday run with my dog, I arrived in time to see a man hunched over and diligently working a patch of my lawn (weeds, really) with a plastic bag. His Rottweiler splayed indolently nearby. The man was making a gallant effort to erase any lingering remnants of a successful outing. I appreciated his effort, even as I knew how impossible this can sometimes be.

Waiting in my in-box was an email from local gardening maven Robin Haglund with an idea for this precise state of affairs. Canine kismet? Her pup Shiloh (sleeping, above) has been struggling with ongoing GI issues and diarrhea, precisely the sort of icky necessity that births invention.

I was feeling horrible about cleaning up after her on walks and leaving a “smear” on various parking strips. It seems so simple, but one day I was thinking, “I wish I could train her to go on paper.” And, it struck me, why not take a sheet of paper on walks and slip them under her as she “gets in position” to poop? I tried it, and it works like a charm. No embarrassing, smeary messes left behind anymore. I just grab a few sheets of paper from the recycling bin (ads that come in some bills work great!) and a few recycled veggie bags from the grocery, and we’re good to go for a walk.

Dog-proof blinds and more

I’m just back from Boulder, Colorado, where I signed copies of Dog Park Wisdom at PC’s Pantry — a truly wonderful pet supply shop. During my visit, I spent some time in Arvada with my brother, Michael, my sister-in-law, Linda, and their adorable dogs, a Bijon-Cocker-mix named Reggie and a Golden Retriever named Mabel. Lifelong dog lovers, Michael and Linda slipped a couple dog-savvy ideas into the tour of their beautiful, newly renovated home.

Michael pointed out a pair of French doors with the blinds built in — sealed between two panes of glass. They operate pretty much like regular blinds, only these can’t become tangled or torn by the paws of an anxious pup. (They also won’t collect dust.) How perfect is that?

Linda shared her secret for quick and easy backyard poop patrol: latex gloves. For multiple pickups, these are more manageable and sanitary than a plastic bag fashioned into a mitt. They are also inexpensive. (Less than $6 for 100 from Costco.)

High-altitude paws-up

The Colorado Dog Magazine recommended Dog Park Wisdom in its summer edition. With its focus on canine whole health, outdoor adventuring with your hound (including rock climbing) and folks who do good for dogs and vice versa, CO Dog is my kind of magazine. Thanks for the woofs!