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Do You Celebrate Your Dog’s Birthday or Gotcha Day?

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According to a study by the Purina Pet Institute, 43 percent of dog owners celebrate birthdays, while 29 percent celebrate their cat’s birthdays.

In contrast, an article in Psychology Today by Stanley Coren, PhD, referred to an online survey by Kelton Research. Of 1,000 people tested,

  • 81 percent of dog parents know their pets’ birthdays
  • 77 percent have celebrated their pets’ birthday by buying them a birthday present

And, according to Nationwide Pet Insurance, $50 billion a year is spent on gifts for our pets. Wow!

Personally, I’ve always celebrated all of my dogs’ birthdays or “Gotcha Days”. I remember every one to this day. There is no big birthday cake, but I always honor the occasion in some special way. It usually involves a new toy, treats, fun training, and extra time enjoying a hike or other outdoor activity with my birthday dog.

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Last month, Sanchez turned 13 on May 17th. Today, June 7th, is Gina’s 7th birthday.

I also celebrate Gina’s “Gotcha Day” on October 14. I adopted her from Guide Dogs for the Blind when she was 16 months old, and it’s a day I’ll never forget.

Dogs don’t understand anything about dates, so they don’t really care about their birthday. Nevertheless, it’s my way of honoring them as family members. Sanchez and Gina do so much to enrich my life. It’s my way of enriching theirs.

No matter how many birthdays, it’s always too few. Most of all, celebrating their birthdays reminds me to be grateful for every day of their lives.

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With a 13-year-old dog, I’m aware that time is precious, and every day is a gift. I’ll never know how many more memories we’ll create together.

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And, that feeling is even transferred to my 7-year-old. Gina is such a blessing in my life. She’s my reminder to be happy for no reason. If she’s moving, her tail is wagging. So, I vote to wag with her this birthday and party on!

Happy Birthday sweet Gina!

I love you to the moon and back.

Do you celebrate your dog’s birthday? Thanks for sharing your experiences in a comment below.

 

Photo Credit: Viviana Guzman

 

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5 Stress Busting Tips for Dogs During The Holidays (with video)

December is my most stressful month of the year, and I’m not even much of a holiday shopper. Regardless, traffic intensifies, crowds expand, my workload increases, and my patience decreases.

The holiday season can be equally—if not more—stressful for our dogs. In addition to feeling the stress of their humans, holidays are also usually filled with changes to their daily routines and unfamiliar visitors, which can create anxious, stressed out dogs.

What Can You Do to De-Stress Your Dogs During The Holidays?

1. Routine
Dogs really thrive and build trust in us by keeping a familiar routine. If you normally walk them first thing in the morning, keep to that routine. If they eat dinner as soon as you come home from work, don’t delay their dinner by wrapping presents first. Remember, just one change in their routine can really throw them off. The holidays are usually filled with many changes.

2. Play Time
This is a good time of year to give them extra attention and playtime. Watch the very short video clip above. I created some extra fun playtime with Gina after some focused, high-distraction training. We were at a Guide Dogs for the Blind holiday party. ‘Career Change’ dogs were invited to play with the puppies in training for a fun game of Musical Chairs Down Dog – rules being that people couldn’t sit in a chair until their dogs were in a down stay. We celebrated our win at the end with a party. But, even if we hadn’t won, she still would have enjoyed some extra playtime with me.

Get Healthy, Get a Dog, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School reported on research with shelter animals.

“Human contact lowers their stress level, helping to calm them and make them more adoptable. The dogs that interacted with humans were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva. The effect was noted across all breeds and ages and both genders. Another study found a similar benefit on cortisol levels for dogs as well as better scores on behavior tests with just 25 minutes of exercise and human contact a day.”

Gina Peanut Butter Kong

3. A Room of Their Own
While some dogs might be able to be calm around guests, others will benefit from being in a room of their own in a quiet part of the house. Give them a nice chewy treat or a stuffed kong to keep them entertained, and play some soothing music specifically designed to calm the canine nervous system. If they are crate trained, they could find great comfort in spending some peaceful time in their crate.

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4. Exercise
Like humans, dogs benefit from exercise, both for their health and behavior. Slacking off of their exercise routine will only make them more anxious and contribute to weight gain. Keeping them exercised will benefit you as much as them, especially if you exercise together.

Santa Sanchea Rabbi Gina with Gifts

5. Sound Therapy
While Sanchez and Gina, don’t know it’s December, I’m sure they feel my tension. As a canine music expert, I’ve learned how to relieve their stress (and mine) with music. The rearranged classical compositions of Through a Dog’s Ear have been clinically tested to reduce canine anxiety and have been successfully utilized by dog lovers world-wide. It’s equally soothing for 2-leggeds.

listen-samples-buster-headphonesHow do you help de-stress your canine household during the holidays? Thanks for sharing your stories in a comment below.

 

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6 Loving Ways To Comfort Your Senior Dog

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I have to admit, now that Sanchez is 12-years-old and showing signs of slowing down, I think often about ways to comfort him. While I’m very blessed that he is in good health, it’s not unusual for senior dogs to lose memory, eyesight and experience hearing loss. Dogs also can experience some changes in behavior as they mature.

Some of Sanchez’s new behaviors remind me of his puppy years, such as chewing tissues from the bathroom waste basket. But, more serious behavior changes like resource guarding and separation anxiety developed later in life. I have heard from many people with senior dogs that get restless and agitated at night-time, yet they calmly sleep all day. It’s easy to feel helpless watching their discomfort, yet there are many simple things we can do to help.

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1. Time

Spend time with them doing what they enjoy, whether that’s cuddling on the sofa or long, slow walks in nature. They may not need the amount of exercise they had as a youngster, but they still need quality time shared together. Sadly, they may not have an abundance of time left. Make every moment count.

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2. Nature

Sanchez can’t manage the long hikes of his youth. But, he still really enjoys walks in nature, taking in all the sights and smells. We live near the Pacific Ocean and walks by the beach are the highlight of his days.

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3. Patience

Dogs, like people, move slower with age. Don’t rush them. They like to take more time to stop and smell the roses, and everything else in their path. Allow them this time. It’s a good reminder for you too that every moment is precious.

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4. Train

Dogs love to learn, and you actually can teach an old dog new tricks. I still spend time clicker training every night with Sanchez. If it gets late, he starts whining and begging for this time with me. The bonding time is precious, and it stimulates him to keep learning and being challenged. He has no complaints about his rewards either.

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5. Work

Sanchez has been our loyal Through a Dog’s Ear mascot since 2008. Truth be told, he’s retired all of his previous careers ~ guide dog puppy, agility competitor, canine musical freestyler, and actor (playing Helen Keller’s dog in The Miracle Worker). But, he still really enjoys being in the limelight and posing for the camera. So, his work still continues as long as he is enjoying it.

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5. Physical Assistance

Sanchez still goes almost everywhere with me. But, now I carry a ramp to help him get in and out of the car. I’ve been doing this since he had a slipped disc in his neck at age nine. I’d recommend a ramp for most senior dogs that are too large to be lifted out of the car. Their joints will thank you for it.

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6. Sound Therapy

Most senior dogs don’t have the same tolerance for noise they used to in their youth. The immune system of a senior dog is often heavily taxed. A natural reaction is to self-limit the amount of auditory or visual stimulation coming into the system. That is why senior dogs will often shut down in overstimulating sound environments. Sound therapy can often  help facilitate the nutrients of sound needed for maximum sound intake while conserving energy output. Music to Comfort Your Elderly Canine has also been helpful for pain management with senior dogs and night-time restlessness.

What has brought comfort to your senior dogs in their later years? Thanks for adding your stories in a comment below.

 

Related:
5 Surprising Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing
How Could My Puppy Be 12-Years-Old Already?

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Do you Celebrate your Dog’s Birthday?

I’ve always celebrated all of my dog’s birthdays and remember them all to this day. No big birthday cake, but I always do something special to honor the occasion. It usually involves a new toy, treats, and extra time with my birthday dog enjoying an outdoor activity together.

According to a study by the Purina Pet Institute, 43 percent of dog owners celebrate birthdays, while 29 percent celebrate their cat’s birthdays. If that’s accurate, them I’m actually in the minority.

Sanchez turns nine years old today ~ May 17, 2012. How could he possibly be nine already? He  was just a puppy yesterday, wearing his “Puppy in Training for Guide Dogs for the Blind” green jacket. Even though he was bred and raised to be a guide dog, he was “career changed” at 18 months of age, for being “too much dog” and I was then able to adopt him.

He’s taken the term “career changed” quite literally, as he’s since had a multitude of careers, including agility, musical canine freestyle, acting, student greeter, and mascot/ dog model for Through a Dog’s Ear.

Sanchez was quite the rambunctious, highly energetic puppy. So much so that he was the inspiration for Through a Dog’s Ear. When he was four months old, I took him to a seminar taught by sound researcher Joshua Leeds. I was curious to learn about psychoacoustics, the study of how sound and music affects the human nervous system. Joshua’s application-specific soundtracks were being used in homes, clinics, classrooms, and neuro-developmental centers around the world. Although I attended Joshua’s workshop so that I could learn how to bring his psychoacoustic principles back to my music school, little did I know that I would also be bringing them into the canine world.

After Joshua’s lecture, I started trying the same psycho-acoustic principles on Sanchez. I wondered if he would calm down if I slowed down and simplified Bach and lowered the frequencies. Did I mention that Sanchez was a bundle of energy? It was fascinating watching how reactive Sanchez was to this specialized music and how quickly he calmed down when the music with the right prescription of beats per minute, frequency range, and simplification were played.

No matter what his age or career, one thing that has remained constant throughout the years is my love for him and the healthy sound environment I provide. He goes with me almost everywhere, but when I leave Sanchez and Gina, they listen to Music to Calm your Canine Companion.

If Sanchez had a tag line, it would be “It’s All About Me”. And this is how you benefit from it being all about Sanchez on his 9th birthday. Join our virtual pawty and save $9 until May 19th….

Sanchez on the Eve Before his 9th Birthday

Birthday Special Details:

  • Enter coupon code “Sanchez9” at checkout
  • Good at ThroughADogsEar.com only
  • Applies to any TADE CD’s
  • Three CD minimum purchase
  • Limit of one Sanchez Birthday Special per customer
  • Add each CD to cart individually for full $9  discount
  • Does not apply to downloads or the Canine Noise Phobia series

Enjoy Through a Dog’s Ear music with your canine family at an irresistible price. And please join me in woofing Señor Sanchez a very happy 9th birthday!

Do you celebrate your dog’s birthday? If you don’t know the actual birthday, do you celebrate your adoption date or make up a date? Thanks for letting us know with a comment below.

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system.

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Through a Dog’s Ear

Calm your Canine Companion Music Series

Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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Advice from a Dog

 

 

After reading “Advice from a Dog” on a beautiful card by Ilan Shamir of Your True Nature, I started thinking about everything my dogs have taught me. I have two “career change” dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sanchez is an 8-year-old Yellow Lab. If Sanchez had a tag line, it would be “It’s All About Me.” If he could talk, these are the words I think he would share with me:

 

Life is All About You

Be Patient

Treats are the answer to everything

Great days start with tummy rubs

Don’t sit at the computer for too long

If you really want the ball, then you go get it

It’s always a good time for a hike, as long as it’s not raining

 Break out into moments of craziness when people least expect it

Play the piano everyday, and keep helping improve the lives of dogs worldwide with music!

 

 

 

 

Gina is a two year old Black Lab and couldn’t possibly be more different than Sanchez. Her tag line is “Let’s Play”.  I’ve had her for a little over a year, and she is bringing me different lessons. Here’s what she has to say:

It’s all good

Sleep close to those you love

Take frequent breaks for play time

The more kissing, the better everyone feels

If you are breathing, that is reason enough to be happy

Always keep your toys nearby and play with them often

Playing with another person is so much more fun than playing alone

Be present with your loved ones and they’ll be  present with you

Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle

Do your animals give you advice in the form of life lessons? Thanks for sharing them in a comment below. Cat lovers, thanks for sharing your as well. Here’s Ilan Shamir’s Advice from a Cat.

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system.

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Through a Dog’s Ear

Calm your Canine Companion Music Series

Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.

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Is Temperament all about Breeding?

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Last night we experienced heavy rain and the loudest thunderstorms of my life. Since I grew up in Syracuse, NY, where summertime thunderstorms were plentiful, that’s saying a lot. The loud booming sounds woke me up around 3 in the morning. My dog, Sanchez, however barely noticed the sounds of thunder. I think he only slightly noticed that I was awake and moving about.

I have received hundreds of emails telling me stories of how much the music of Through a Dog’s Ear has helped dogs during thunderstorms. In honesty, I was momentarily jealous that I couldn’t test it on my dog, but that feeling didn’t last long. I soon became very thankful that he doesn’t have sound phobias and has a very solid temperament that has served him well on so many occasions.  

I remember when he was a puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind and it was our first July 4th together. I was prepared with so many calming techniques (including my music) and he literally sat with me on my mother’s porch and just watched the fireworks, completely unaffected by the sounds.

I wouldn’t have been so surprised by his calm demeanor last night, except that the thunder was so loud that it even rattled me a little. Then I reflected on his breeding. Sanchez was bred by Guide Dogs for the Blind. A successful guide dog is confident, calm, smart, and very reliable. And although he didn’t make the final cut to be a working guide dog, many of his character traits would have served him well in that work.

Since he was bred to be a working dog, he loves to “work” – whether that means greeting students at my music school, or running agility courses, or acting in theater – he likes staying busy and he likes being the center of attention. If he had a tag line, it would be “It’s All About Me.”

Are there ways that your dog works in a traditional or untraditional sense? Please click “comment” below to share your story.