A Publication of St. Louis Critter Sitters
February 2007


Breed of the Month –The Brussels Griffon

DESCRIPTION The Griffon is a sturdy toy dog of square proportions with a domed head, undershot jaw, very short nose and lustrous eyes. The head is large in comparison to the body. The Brussels Griffon's pout gives him an almost human expression. To some viewers he resembles a miniature Boxer. There are two types: Rough-Coated (harsh wiry and dense), and Smooth-Coated or Petit Brabancon variety (short, straight, glossy). The Brabancon needs less grooming. Griffons come in red, a mixture of red-brown & black, black & tan, and solid black. Ears are generally cropped and the tail is docked and carried high, though cropping the ears is optional.

TEMPERAMENT The Griffon is an intelligent cheerful dog with a terrier-like disposition. They make a fine companion dog. It is affectionate, willful and high-strung, but charming. Lively and curious, they love everyone, but can get quite moody. Unusually sensitive and quite demanding, this breed loves to be spoiled. It must be raised in the house with the family. The Griffon is good with other dogs and even with cats. These dogs may be gluttonous or picky eaters and may be difficult to housebreak. They make good watchdogs and can be taught to perform tricks. Griffons like to bark. They do best with older considerate children.

The House that “Spot” Built

Most people would laugh at the idea of letting their pet dictate the floor plan or interior design of their new home, but some pet owners have done exactly that.

Take Bob Walker and his wife, of San Diego, Calif., for example. The Walkers are the proud owners of 12 cats and one dog. This is truly a situation where the cats don't live with the Walkers -- the Walkers live among their cats (in what they appropriately call "The Cats' House.") Mr. Walker adapted the house to cater to the feline population by building, among other features, a 140-foot long catwalk running throughout the house.

The idea started in 1985, Mr. Walker said, when he and his wife made a scratching column for their cats (then there were only two of them) with a leaded glass top that divided the living room and dining room. The cats loved it. They would run along the backs of the couches, up the post and across the top -- but one inevitably would get cornered by the other cat when the walkway dead-ended at the wall.

So Mr. Walker decided to extend the catwalk. And he didn't stop there -- he continued to add feline-oriented features over the years. Thus began the concept for The Cats' House.

"They kind of teach you what you need," Mr. Walker explained.

Each room has cat-friendly additions, like the cat-sized spiral staircase in the TV room. For the cats to get from room to room there are wall openings on the catwalk, some of them shaped like a cat's head or an Aztec star.

Cats want to be high up, Mr. Walker said. "They love having that vantage point. They feel safe up there."

Building a catwalk also helps utilize space more efficiently, he added. Although at nighttime the cats usually aren't found on the catwalk, but in the Walker's bedroom.

The cats are not only allowed in the bedroom, they rule it. As proof of the cats' dominance, the Walkers set up a webcam to document their struggle to stay in the bed as the cats hog the mattress at night.

Most people, especially those who don't allow pets in the bedroom, may think The Cats' house is, well, a little over the top. In fact, at Walkers' abode, there are only two rooms where the cats are not allowed.

Believe it or not, the Walkers are not alone in their quest to design a pet-dominated home. And Norman Askins, Atlanta, Ga., is personally acquainted with many of these animal-oriented homeowners.

As an architect, Mr. Askins has built many special pet features for his clients. For pet owners wanting a private place for their best friend to chow down, he has added dog-dining rooms.
In addition, Mr. Askins once built a climate-controlled dog porch for a well-known celebrity with several dogs.

It was a $50,000 addition.

"Oh, people are nuts," he said.

Some clients have requested special dog bathing accommodations including "a great big tub where you could wash them," Mr. Askins said. Others have ordered special mudrooms built for the dogs "with a drain to hose it down," in case the dog goes to the bathroom when the owners aren't home. Some of the pet facilities he's worked on have also been equipped with electric food timers.

Pet lovers will request outdoor structures for their pets as well. Mr. Askins has designed special pet houses for a senator's wife who had lots of backyard parties and wanted the pets to be included. Each animal had its own house with its name on it; even the goat had one with his name, Billy T. Sherman, emblazoned on the outside. "They were like doll houses," Mr. Askins said. "It was just kind of amusing."

Pet owners who don't want to splurge on features like the ones Mr. Askins designed can still take the needs of their furry friends into consideration when decorating. Interior decorator Roderick N. Shade, New York, N.Y., who owns his own design company, said home owners with pets have specific animal conduct issues to keep in mind.

"Whenever I work with a client with a pet," Mr. Shade said, "I always consider the pet in specifying finishes or fabrics. Some pets are completely fine with fine finishes or fabrics, yet others you really have to consider what the æpet usage' factor will be. [For example] does the cat claw the upholstery? Does the dog use the sofa after a long muddy walk?"

Mr. Shade had a few other suggestions, especially for furniture that will be shared with pets.

"I might call for slipcovers that would be easy to remove and clean when needed," he said. "I have also designed throws that can be used exclusively for the pet -- removed when the pet isn't using the particular piece of furniture. There are lots of different solutions to designing a space with regard to pet usage."

In addition to sharing your space, why not let the animal claim a corner for itself, Mr. Shade added.

"I think that most pets need a space to call their own," he said. "I have even designed pet beds and scratching posts [or] kitty roosts to coordinate with the rest of the room. Sometimes the pet itself will let you know where their favorite spot is."

Mr. Walker's cats have already claimed their favorite spots, he said: "[They] love to look down on us."

For pet owners attempting to make their homes more pet-friendly, Mr. Walker advised people "not to be afraid to cut holes in your walls." Rearrange furniture, give cats access to high points, like bookcases, and secure breakables. Once owners see how much their pets love the new arrangements, Mr. Walker said, they will want to make more accommodations for the animals.

As for why pet-owners would even bother going to such lengths and expense for their furry friends, Mr. Askins said, "People are nuts about their animals. They just love their animals."

Canine Master Searchers

Search and rescue dogs gain much notoriety when a disaster strikes and their abilities to find injured and missing people are needed. Yet many of us are unaware of how many critical operations are conducted with search dogs on a regular basis. Typically a team composed of a handler and dog train for specific types of search and rescue missions, such as mountain, water, or urban rescues. Search dogs assist in a variety of situations such as finding elderly or mentally challenged people that wander away from their home or care facility. Similarly children that become lost may be found by a search dog. Those trained for urban search and rescue find people in jeopardy due to man-made or natural disasters in a populated environment. A number of outdoor situations such as avalanches, rock/mudslide, drowning, earthquakes, and lost or injured hunters are greatly assisted by search and rescue dogs. Also, dogs often help police find either people or evidence of a crime. Cadaver dogs are needed in finding the dead, providing an unfortunate yet extremely important service.

A dog’s keen instincts make them particularly well suited for these searches. The ability not only to smell a person, but also to smell that person’s trail makes them an exceptional as well as unique resource in searches. This is an ability that has not been replicated by human or machine. Yet it is not every dog that makes a good searcher. A dog’s attitude is as important as its tracking ability. The dog must be an eager searcher, able to work well under difficult circumstances, and take commands from their handler. These teams train and become certified for search and rescue missions. There is a commitment of time and money from handlers. To learn more about search and rescue dogs or how to help handlers and search organizations keep this vital service available check out the following search and rescue dog websites.

St. Louis Critter Sitters
Recipe Corner

Beef Jerky Bait

• 3 lbs Thinly sliced beef
• 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp Black pepper
• 2/3 cup Soy Sauce
• 1 tsp Garlic powder (not salt)
• 1 tsp Onion Powder (not salt)
• 1 tbsp Salt
• 1 tbsp Liquid smoke (If you use a smoker instead—don’t use this—or dry it in the oven.)
• 2 tsp Tabasco sauce or 1-2 tsp crushed red – (2 to 3) peppers (this is for a spicier versions)

Preparation

**best choices are London broil, sirloin tip roast, or sirloin steak cuts.  These should be cut in strips about 1" wide and 1/4" thick.

To facilitate cutting, put meant in the freezer until it is stiff but not frozen. You will end up with about 20-25 strips.

Put all ingredients in a large zip-lock bag and place in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight (bowl is in case the zip-lock leaks).

You can also put all ingredients in a large, covered glass bowl and marinate over night. Next day, clean the top oven rack and take out only as much meat as the rack will accommodate (for most ovens, this is about 10 pieces).

Put a cookie sheet or foil on the bottom rack to keep your oven from getting too messy.

Set your oven on its lowest setting and crack the door so the moisture will escape and leave on until the pieces are dried.

Smaller pieces will take about 2-1/3 to 3 hours, while larger ones may take 4 or 5.

If you use a smoker; mesquite, pecan, or hickory wood work very well but don't use water.

While you want to smoke them, you also want the beef to dry. Or you can drag out that food dehydrator you got for Christmas two years ago that's been sitting in a back closet.

 



Good Bacteria: Yogurt and Kefir
One common homeopathic dog nutritional supplement is yogurt. It contains "good" bacteria which can aid in digestion and help keep your dog's digestive system clean and functioning optimally.

Yogurt is also a key in transitioning your dog from kibble or other processed food to a raw diet because of the good bacteria and protein content.

You may want to take your yogurt treatment to the next level and you can do this with a dog supplement called Kefir. Kefir is like a yogurt, but it takes the benefits one step further.

Not only does it contain the healthy bacteria, it also colonizes in the digestive tract which helps improve solid wastes, reduces intestinal disorders, reduces gas and promotes proactive health maintenance. Additionally, it will help with your dog's coat and skin and it has been known to help with anxiety.
*Adding a spoonful of acidophilus -- or a spoonful of naturally cultured yogurt that includes acidophilus -- to your dog’s food might help him digest his meals better or help settle an upset stomach.

"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of humanity."
                                             
...George Bernard Shaw