Archives for February 2011

Are you fulfilling your pet’s needs or yours?

dog fashion fulfills human needs not the dogs
Above: Humans are Animals, Dogs are Animals BUT…

Are you fulfilling your pet’s needs or yours? I want you to take a couple of minutes to think about this question.

It came up during a passionate discussion about this with a friend of mine who is actually involved in the pet industry as a manufacturer of dog and owner apparel.

She also has a few show dogs and likes to accessorize so that they all coordinate. In addition, she enjoys participating in dress up contests and other activities.

Most of her dogs like the attention but not every animal does.

As for me, I have held events with such activities. Come to think about it, I believe my parents had me dress up and present my pet as a child.

There must have been some sort of adornment on the dog–but I don’t think animals need to be dressed up like dolls or treated like accessories.

Now, the whole thing that got this discussion going was that she and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to animal management.

I, quite frankly, am a harda** which is how I got the nickname, Doggie DI in the local dog training community.

Truth be told, I am harder on the pet owners than the animals.

But by harda**, I actual mean that my first priority is the mental and physical health of the animal before my needs and desires.

I’m the sort of person that does animal chores first and makes sure the animals are looked after before my needs are.

My friend on the other hand, has a different modus operandi entirely. And although she enjoys her animals, she also humanizes them and she gets around to the chores but doesn’t prioritize her animal management like I do.

Now truth be told, I have the view that humans are primates and dogs are canines. What that means is, by our very classification, we are different.

But although the fact is that we are all animals, the differences should be respected. Part of that respect means not trying to morph animals into something they are not.

Nor does it mean taking actions to make our charges into things that fulfill some human need.

This means my priority is to fulfill the animal’s needs and not mine–although at some level, all relationships with an animal fills some sort of need…but that is another discussion.

Anyway, the whole dialog came from my distress when watching an online video of a new reality series (gag) called, Doggie Moms.

Seriously, it made me cringe.

But people seem to think nothing of the things covered in the series these days and so will probably find it entertaining and it will probably get good ratings.


Now in my experience, there are the urban pet owners that spare no expense on their precious pets. Those in the pet industry call this the trend toward humanization. (In the zoological or exotic animal realm it is called anthropomorphism) And this trend presents many opportunities to market products and services to those pet parents because of those views–but that doesn’t mean it sits well with everyone.

Then there are those animals who get no such treatment. Some live in rural areas and on farms where they work hard and are usually are not pampered. Life takes a different path for all involved.

Animals on the farm are not likely to get specialty surgery and water therapies that escalate into bills of thousands of dollars. Some metro pets might.

Pet insurance, that I used to have a hard time convincing owners to get, is now a necessity. The mere cost of veterinary care today is astounding.

Fifteen years ago I saw the indulgent trends coming mainly from more affluent circles. I also saw a real disconnect from the animals and that resulted in some bizarre (and bad) behavior problems.

Today those trends have hit mainstream. For instance, this week I saw the article about Little Yippers, Big Nippers. Basically, there is an increase in bad behavior in pampered pets because people do not understand how to live and work with them to prevent issues.

Now not all pampered pets are doggie delinquents or felonious felines–but without guidance and rules, they can become that way.

Anyway, I’ve touched on this briefly before so if you have not read my commentary, Animal Professional or Animal Lover, read it.

And what exactly are my views about an Animal’s Minimum Daily Requirements?

Animal Minimum Daily Requirements

  • mental stimulation & occupation
  • physical activity
  • companionship
  • adequate and regular veterinary care
  • appropriate nourishment or nutrition
  • daily assessment and quality management
  • a suitable, safe, secure, clean and comfortable environment

Notice that this list does not include doggie proms or dress up.

Of course, everyone has their own version of what works for them, their animals, and their family. So tell us yours in the comments.

Capistrano Swallows

swallows return to capistrano

The annual swallows return to Capistrano is a popular event, and as a native of southern California, I’ve been fortunate to have witnessed the arrival of the swallows of Capistrano more than once. I say fortunate because over the past few years the avian visitors have gone missing–and the swallows have actually headed for the hills.

The famed swallows of Capistrano have relocated to less urbanized areas and are showing up in the San Bernardino Mountains (Big Bear Lake) while others have taken up residence at other areas around southern California including the Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills. Only a few can be found under freeway overpasses not too far away from the San Juan Capistrano Mission.

san juan capistrano swallows

Just why the swallows migration has changed is up for speculation.

Locals and visitors alike have celebrated the annual migration of the swallows for as long as some of us can remember, and it is disappointing to those who show up for the Swallows Day Parade only to find the avian ambassadors missing.

The annual swallow migration has received a lot of attention over the years. For instance, Leon Rene’s 1939 hit, When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano song lyrics are a tribute to the long migration.

The amazing journey takes the swallows over 12,000 miles round-trip. They abandon their winter haven in Goya, Corrientes, Argentina and travel to southern California, arriving on St Joseph’s Day (March 19th) and then begin the return trip to Argentina on the Day of San Juan (October 23rd).

Some people mistakenly confuse sparrows with the swallows who migrate to Capistrano, but it is actually a species of cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) that migrates.

It used to be that scouts arrived a few days prior to the main flock who would arrive in large numbers shortly after. The swallows are known for their energetic movements and their jug-shaped nests of mud and clay. Upon arrival, they quickly rebuild the mud nests clinging under the eves of buildings in the area and begin rearing their young.

Centuries ago the San Juan Capistrano Mission padres noticed that the swallows returned consistently on St. Joseph’s Day. The tradition of celebrating the swallows return to Capistrano began then and people would arrive from around the world to officially welcome the birds back. Today the people still come but just why the birds no longer do remains a mystery.

At one time, the Mission also offered the highest, most protected perches in the area but it seems that construction and other changes have made the location less attractive to the birds. Another influencing factor may be that the California mission once provided an abundant food source (insects) but as the insect population decreased due to urbanization and the continued development of the area, most birds seem to have relocated.

To try and sort out just why the swallow migration changed, the Mission called upon Charles R. Brown, an ornithologist from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma,to see if they could find ways to attract the swallows back to the area–but it doesn’t look promising.

So for now, I enjoy the birds from my perch above the lake near Big Bear. You can enjoy them too if you decide to try and see them near their arrival date in their new locations.

In the meantime, I invite you to enjoy these two short videos from other regions in California where these winged travelers can now be found.

Cliff Swallow Photo Credit: Ingrid Taylor