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Editorial Department: Pamela James Adam Colwell Art Department: Catt Gould Caryn Metcalf Contributing Writers: Lis Coplen Dave Ficere Stephanie Fries Linda Gilden Copyright 2012, Pet Genius LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Pet Genius Magazine is a product of Pet Genius LLC. Printed in the United States of America. The articles in Pet Genius Magazine are for information only. Pet Genius does not practice veterinary medicine. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health.

On the Cover...

New Years Resolutions

pg 4

Holiday Guests & Your Pet pg 5

Ask Bre tt the Vet p Pet Fitn


Holiday Dressing Taking

ess pg 8 Traditio

ns pg 14

Your Pe


t for Win


Pet Bytes If your dog is trustworthy and won’t damage anything, give them freedom to roam the house when you’re gone. Also, make sure they have easy access to their toys and try hiding a treat among the toys.

ter pg 1 5

pg 16

Holiday Travel

pg 6

Holiday Dangers

pg 9

Reservation Dogs

pg 10

Gifts for Your Pet

pg 12


Brett the


Our staff veterinarian answers your pet questions Q: I adopted a shelter cat and have always cause for concern, yet warno idea about her history. Should I rants discussion. be concerned about her health? Life threatening diseases include: Feline Leukemia Virus (FLV), Feline BTV Answer: This is a great quesImmunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and tion and my answer is complex. To Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus begin, not all feline rescue organiza- (FIP). tions are the same. Some organizaUnfortunately, these diseases can tions may focus on feral cats, which be found in epidemic proportions tend to have a higher incident of in poorly organized operations with life-threatening viral disease. Other run-down facilities and shoestring “high-volume catteries” may be con- budgets. taminated with viral diseases that If you’ve adopted a young kitcause chronic, non life-threatening ten, these viral diseases can go diseases of “nuisance,” which I’ll undetected in early life only to review shortly. Some feline rescue show up later with devastating organizations can harbor diseases results. Testing early can idenwith “zooinotic potential” which tify positive kittens, but negacould infect people. The latter is not tive cases can often turn positive


Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012

in the first year of life. Retesting a year later can give you peace of mind, especially if your kitten’s initial results are negative. A positive result warrants further veterinary counsel to identify care options. Don’t lose heart: some viral positive cats live long, full lives. Chronic diseases of nuisance, like Feline Herpes Virus (FHV), Feline Calici Virus (FCV), and Feline Upper Respiratory Virus (FVRCP) can create long-term, reoccurring problems that don’t go away. These nuisance diseases often result in added veterinary expense throughout your cat’s lifetime. One chronic disease of particular interest to me is found more often in regions where fleas infest cats. Bartonella, known also as “Cat Scratch Fever,” is a weird form of bacteria that can rest in the body for years. It can cause a variety of problems from goopy eyes to diabetes. Bartonella can infect humans, particularly if their immune system is weakened. It’s important to test

for Bartonella because treatment is easy in infected cats and it keeps you safe. I recommend any cat from an uncertain background be tested for Bartonella. Final rule of thumb: if your kitten or cat looks healthy, chances are they are healthy. If you’re considering adoption, I recommend adopting from a “first-class” organization, which can sometimes be difficult to verify. Consider checking with your veterinarian and do some homework on the organization prior to making the big commitment. Obtaining a good health record from the facility is a start. In the absence of records, you will have to create one. Doing so can add cost, but it will provide you with the peace of mind that your furry friend is healthy. Adopting a cat can pose risks, but most of the time feline adoption is uneventful and rewarding.

Step 1: Gather your dog, a leash and a willing friend to help you recreate the doorbell delirium scenario. This controlled situation will allow you to focus your energy towards correcting your pet’s behavior without having to worry about how your guest is responding.

Thanks for your question, Brett the Vet Q: My dog barks every time someone is at the door and won’t calm down when the company is trying to visit. How do I get him to stop? BTV Answer: Wow. This is a challenge that can escalate into a serious problem if not corrected. Keep in mind that when the doorbell rings, nobody has warned the dog. I see a similar reaction from my wife when I surprise her with dinner guests. I’ve learned my own corrective behavior – ask the wife before inviting guests! Retraining your dog, though, will take a bit more effort. A barking dog is both disruptive to company and taxes your dog emotionally. My best practice suggestion to help correct this behavioral issue I call “Doorbell Delirium.”

Step 2: With the leash on, cue your “guest” to ring the bell. When the dog responds, make quick corrective action to stop the anxiety / barking behavior. I use the phrase, “No bark!” consistently with my dog ,“The outlaw Josie Wales.” I also make Josie sit down. This is where the leash is helpful and reinforces basic training. Step 3: Once the dog is sitting calmly, invite your guest to come in and sit down. Wait a few minutes for the anxiety to subside and, while still on the leash, allow your dog to approach the guest. Your guest should use the same corrective terms you use

to convey a consistent message. And be sure to praise your dog for positive behavior. Generally, your guest will be able to pet and praise under this controlled environment, fully neutralizing doorbell delirium. Practice this a few times with your friends and watch your dog improve. In the future, try to inform visitors ahead of time about your dog and have the leash ready. This helps set the expectation for your pet that visitors are coming and there is nothing to be worried about. Thanks for your question, Brett the Vet Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012


New Years resolutions for your pet by Linda Gilden

The New Year is a time for new beginnings. January comes with goals such as lose pounds, clean out the garage, and read a book. But have you ever thought about New Year’s resolutions for your pet? Just like people, certain things make pets happy and healthy but get pushed aside during the year. Some of those things will increase your pet’s contentment and wellbeing. 1. Schedule the annual checkup. Waiting until your pet is really sick to take it to the doctor often results in more serious illness, complications and more expense.

2. Include dental evaluation. Veterinarian Elizabeth Baird, owner of Country Oaks Animal Hospital in Palm Harbor, FL, says “periodontal disease can lead to kidney failure, heart disease, liver infection and many other problems. The more bacteria present deep in the periodontal pockets, the higher the risk.” 3. Check your pet’s diet and use a food that is suited to your pet’s age and size. High quality nutrition gives a pet a better chance at a high quality life. 4. Groom your pet. A stinky, unkempt pet is unpleasant. You and your pet will enjoy life more if the pet is clean and well groomed.

5. Reestablish your routine. During the year we may become a bit slack on the house rules such as no sitting on furniture, eating from the table, or sleeping in the bed. Evaluate the rules of your house and make sure you stick to them. There are goals that benefit your pet – then there are resolutions that help both of you. • Learn more about your pet. Borrow books from the library about the breed of your pet. Discover a trait you never knew. Understanding more about your pet will enhance your relationship and help you be a better pet owner. • Assess your pet proofing. You’ve already discovered pets like to get into anything they can. Make sure you have put away everything that could be harmful like poisons and sharp items. Hide things your pet can destroy. Make it easy for your pet to succeed by removing temptations around the house, especially if the pet stays home alone. • Create a checklist for taking care of your pet. This will give you peace of mind and assure your pet will be cared for. Include things such as changing the litter in the litter box or cleaning the cage. Linda Gilden is director of writing programs for CLASSeminars, Inc. She holds degrees in French and Religious Education and writes full time.


Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012

Holiday guests


he holidays are fast approaching and the excitement of seeing family or friends is building. One of my sisters is allergic to our cats, so she doesn’t stay very long. One of our dogs, Rufus, is overly protective. Then I have a relative that likes to bring her pet when she visits and my dogs don’t like her animal. All this can be stressful – unless you do a little planning in advance. If you have a holiday guest that’s allergic to animals but has nowhere else to stay, you can provide an animal-free bedroom with freshly washed sheets and blankets, comforters or bedspreads. Consider a humidifier, which will cut down on the amount of dust in the air. You may even want to keep allergy medication on hand for emergencies. Your guest will get a little privacy and be more comfortable, too. Some pets are antisocial when it comes to company. My cat Calico hides while we have visitors. Ringo, our cranky senior cat, walks right up to people and sniffs them, wants to be petted but not picked up, and he sheds a lot. Dogs, just like cats, have their own personalities and traits. My dogs hate the doorbell. If the guest enters slowly and let’s them sniff around, they usually respond well instead of being scared. That’s where their aggressive behavior stems from: fear. Help your pet to feel safe and secure.

and your pet

by Stephanie Fries

Boarding: A happy alternative When I leave home for holiday visits, I prefer to leave our pets at home with a trusted pet-sitter. But what do you do if guests come to your house and cannot (or will not) leave their animals at their home? How about offering to split the cost and have their pets boarded? Professional animal boarding facilities walk the animals, make sure they have adequate playtime, and administer any medications the pets need. They’ll have a chance to have fun with other animals and may not miss their owner as much. According to the Karen Hollish of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian or dog trainer, then visit the boarding facilities. Ask these questions: • Does the facility look and smell clean? • Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?

• Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations? • Is there sufficient ventilation and light? • Is bedding provided? • Are cats housed away from dogs? • Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably? • What veterinary services are available? Stephanie Fries is a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner. She is also a voiceover artist, radio announcer and producer and hosts “Lifestyle Tucson,” a public affairs program. She has worked in Tucson, AZ media for over 25 years.

Holiday Travel with Yo Flying: easing the stress Holiday travel can be stressful under the best of circumstances, but traveling with your beloved pet can add to the family drama. Knowing what to watch for when taking your pet with you on your holiday excursions, and how to plan if you decide your pet shouldn’t travel with you, will make the season less trouble and more festive for you and your animal. So what do you do if you’re flying with your pet? Just as air travel has become more nerve-wracking for you since security was beefed up after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, your dog or cat faces new challenges as they’re crated and left

in a strange and noisy environment. Although taking your pet on a flight can be an ordeal, careful planning can minimize the stress for both of you. First of all, check with your airline to find out their policies and costs regarding pet travel. Rachel Farris with says most airlines have standard fees and procedures, although both can vary between carriers. Check with your airline to find out if your pet will travel as cargo, which means they may be checked in for only a baggage fee. And, since many air carriers limit the total number of animals allowed within the cabin on each flight, it’s important to make

your reservation as early as possible and confirm it at least one or two days before departure. Farris suggests preparing your pet to travel by purchasing their crate well in advance and getting them used to it. “It’s going to be their home while flying, so if they’re used to being in that space, they will have less anxiety and a much better time during the flight,” she says. Make sure, too, you have updated health or vaccination records and proper identification tags for both your pet and their carrier.

Driving: finding a comfort level Traveling with your pet during the holidays can be stressful, but you can reduce some of the anxiety with proper planning and preparation. When hitting the road with your pet to your holiday destination, the first thing to figure out is if Fido or Fluffy are comfortable riding in the car. The last thing you want is a carsick pet on a long trip. If your pet isn’t used to the car, take them for a few short rides before your trip so they’ll feel more comfortable in that environment. Your pet will also learn that riding in the car doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the vet or some other unpleasant destination. Staying with family or friends? Make sure to ask in advance if your pet is welcome. The same advice applies to hotels and motels as well as parks and campgrounds. Rachel Farris with says it’s best to even verify pet-friendly hotels “to find out exactly what that means and if it will suit your pet’s needs.” 6

Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012

It’s also a good idea to house your pet in a portable crate while traveling as well as when staying at someone’s home or in a hotel. It’s important that your pet has an identification tag and, if possible, a microchip ID. Also, make sure to carry your pet’s immunization records if crossing state lines or international borders, and keep a photograph of your pet with you (a picture on your smart phone will do) in case your pet gets lost. Finally, taking along the necessary grooming supplies and your pet’s favorite food and toys will make them feel more at home in a strange location. Both cats and dogs should always be confined inside their carrier and should never be left alone in the car. For a long trip, frequent rest stops and potty breaks will help your pet stretch their legs and take care of business in an approved location, not in your vehicle!

our Pet

by Dave Ficere

Home while away The holidays are here and you are planning that visit to family members in another state. You’ve already decided Fido or Fluffy can’t go with you, so now the big question is, “What do I do with them while I’m gone?” Dr. Nancy Bradley from the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix, AZ recommends putting your pet’s interests first. “While you might think your pet won’t be able to tolerate being separated from you, you’ll probably have to leave the animal in a strange hotel room or home. That will make the animal more anxious than ever, so finding a pet-sitter and leaving your pet in your home would probably be a better choice.” Other options include getting a responsible friend or relative to watch your pet or boarding them at a kennel. If choosing a kennel, get references and personally inspect the facility. A pet-sitter might be your best option if your pet is elderly or timid around others and needs to be in familiar sur-

roundings while you’re gone. It’s also a good idea to have your pet microchipped before leaving them with a new person or at an unfamiliar place. If you do hire someone to care for your pet in your absence, make sure to leave them your contact information along with the name and phone number of your pet’s veterinarian and any instructions about your pet’s special medical needs or diet. Sifting out a great sitter When choosing a baby-sitter for your child, you take the matter seriously. The same should be true when selecting a sitter for Fido or Fluffy as you travel. Bradley says there are advantages to hiring a sitter, such as keeping your pet in their familiar environment with the same diet, routine and attention. “A good sitter leaves you one less thing to worry about because you know that your pet is being cared for

by a professional,” Bradley says. • What training have you received? • What happens if you experience car trouble or become ill? Do you have backup? • Will you provide a written contract spelling out services and fees? • If you provide live-in services, how many hours a day will you be in the home? • Will you provide the phone numbers of other clients as references? Dave Ficere is a media veteran with more than 30 years experience in broadcasting and print. Married and the father of two teenagers, he runs his own freelance writing and editing business in Phoenix, AZ. Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012


Good for both of you Pet fitness and the holidays


he holiday season typically means a lot of extra activities, grabbing meals on the run, parties, extra food and…a lot of calories. This can lead to extra pounds for both you and your pets. While it’s common knowledge that obesity rates in the United State have risen dramatically over the last two decades, what isn’t as well known is that this trend also applies to many household pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, about half of all American pets are overweight. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help keep your pet fit, healthy and happy not only during the holidays, but all year long. Veterinarian Natasha Clarke from the Valley Center, CA Veterinary Clinic says the first step is finding out why your pet is overweight. “You may be accidentally overfeeding them or, if they’re on medication, that could be adding to the weight gain,” she says. “It’s also important to keep them active with their regular walks and playtime, even with the extra demands of the holidays.” Clarke recommends monitoring what’s being given to your pet by guests to keep it as close as possible to your pet’s usual diet and calorie intake. Occasional treats are okay, but meals consisting of leftovers and bacon bits won’t help your pet

maintain a healthy weight. Of course, activity is also key for both health and behavior. “Even when it’s cold outside, your pets need to have a way to burn off energy,” Clarke says. “That means walks, visits to the dog park and indoor playtime can all make a difference. That is true for cats as well.” In many parts of the country outdoor playtime will be a weather challenge, but that doesn’t mean you and your pet can’t get moving indoors with some of these activities: • Fetch – Toss a ball for your dog or a ball of yarn for your cat to chase and bring back to you. • Hide and seek – Using two people, position yourselves at different spots or different rooms in the house. Take turns calling your dog and giving the animal a

by Dave Ficere

reward treat. • Search – Hide treats or favorite toys around the house and tell your dog to find them. • Laser tag – This is generally a game for cats, but some dogs like it, too. Just shine a laser pointer at the floor, move the light around and watch your pet chase the light. Dave Ficere is a media veteran with more than 30 years experience in broadcasting and print. Married and the father of two teenagers, he runs his own freelance writing and editing business in Phoenix, AZ

Harmful foods & decorations

Pet Bytes If you catch your dog chewing an inappropriate object, give them a firm “no” and replace the object with a tasty chew toy. Praise your dog when it starts chewing the toy.

Holiday pet dangers

by Stephanie Fries

With the holidays approaching, it’s vital to keep your dog or cat in mind when choosing decorations and what you feed your guests. Curiosity from kittens and puppies can get them in a lot of trouble if they ingest the wrong things. Kittens have been known to climb the Christmas tree and bring it tumbling over. They also like to chew wires, so be careful with your holiday lights, and make sure your ornaments are not within reach of your canines. Your use of candles and fire should also be considered. Flameless candles that can give you the warm ambiance without potential danger. If you have a fireplace, make sure the screen is secure enough that there are no gaps where small animals can squeeze through. Dr. Havah Haskell from Rolling Hills Pet Clinic in Tucson, AZ says if your feline eats tinsel, it can cause life-threatening problems in the intestinal tract. If you put any sort of preservative in the water for your Christmas tree, make sure the stand is well covered so pets don’t drink it. As far as food goes, “do not give your animals any fatty foods like chicken or turkey skins or other high in fat foods like cheese,” Haskell said. “They can cause pancreatitis.” Haskell adds that the holiday staple chocolate is toxic to pets: eight ounces of dark chocolate can kill a small dog. Most cats are not attracted to chocolate. Serving eggnog? A dog who licks up eggnog could suffer from alcohol poisoning.

Harmful plants, berries and bulbs Mistletoe is a holiday tradition usually hung over a doorway; however, if cats or dogs eat the leaves or berries, both of which are poisonous for them, the results can be anything but festive. Common reactions to mistletoe poisoning are bellyache, diarrhea and quickened pulse, although death is definitely a possibility. No matter how much is ingested, see a veterinarian immediately. Haskell says pet owners should also avoid: • Holly – the leaves and the berries are poisonous and, in some cases, tremors or seizures may be seen followed by coma and death. • Poinsettias – the sap is considered to be mildly toxic and will probably cause nausea or vomiting. • Christmas trees are considered to be mildly toxic. Fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth and stomach. Tree needles are not easily digested, possibly causing vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction or puncture. Stephanie Fries is a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner. She is also a voiceover artist, radio announcer and producer and hosts “Lifestyle Tucson,” a public affairs program. She has worked in Tucson, AZ media for over 25 years. Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012


Reservation A man and his camera capture a unique landscape


by Stephanie Fries • photos by Steven Sable


teven Sable was driving near Antelope Cave in Page, AZ when he spotted a dog on the side of the highway. Curiosity got the best of Steve, so he pulled over and approached the animal. To his surprise, she willingly let him pick her up and put her in his vehicle. At the time, Steven didn’t realize it, but he just had his first encounter with a Reservation Dog. These sometimes partially feral dogs wander loose on the many Native American reservations across the nation – fending for themselves, find-


Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012

ing food and shelter wherever possible. Steven took his Reservation Dog home and named her Page. Little did he know Page was just the beginning of Steven’s experience with Reservation Dogs. When the stock market crashed in 2008, Steven left his sales job and decided photography would be his profession. He traveled to Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly near the Arizona-Utah border to take pictures. He noticed a curious thing – there were lots of dogs in the background of his landscape pictures.

Steven was intrigued, enough so that when he returned to the reservation he made it a point to study their behavior. He noticed when he put food out for dogs foraging around a trash bin, there was always one that tested the food before the others would eat. Steven discovered there was a definite structure within the packs and observed how the dogs worked together for the benefit of the group. Steven continued to take beautiful yet heartbreaking pictures of Reservation Dogs because he felt the need to

let people know about their plight. These photos were the beginning of “Rez Dogs Biographies.” But the work became much more than a pictorial snapshot of dogs living on Native American reservations. Steven began to name the dogs he photographed. He framed each individual picture, added information as to where the picture was taken and provided any interesting details about the dog that he could document. And then Steven took it one step further. He decided to use his work as a response to the stray and feral dog problem on most Native American reservations. He chose to sell his “Rez Dog Biographies” and donated the proceeds to worthy organizations that work to assist these dogs without insulting the Native Americans on the reservations. “It works like this,” Steven explains.

“I make hopefully noble and informative images. I turn the results into fine art and hold fundraisers at exhibition openings to pay for spay and neuter vans to go to a reservation for the weekend. I continue to donate revenue from images to people and groups on the reservation who do hard work on the front lines, usually only with money from their own pockets.” Steven’s work has aided two nonprofit organizations. Each work to help these animals by spaying or neutering them, giving them food and water and, in some cases, providing a place of shelter so the dogs aren’t exposed to the harsh weather elements of the desert southwest. In “Rez Dog Biographies,” Steven’s deep connection to the dogs is apparent. And it’s amazing to see the amount of emotion Steven’s photos capture. Some of the dogs showed

despair, pain, curiosity and distrust. His animal portfolio is amazing with both color and black and white images, photos that invoke passion, thought and reflection. His portfolio is also filled with inviting images from nature, and he captures his canine subjects in such a way that they almost appear three-dimensional. Steven hopes to someday publish a book of “Rez Dog Biographies” for non-profits to sell. He would also like to write a serial novel about his journey and where it may lead him. He says this project helped him face some things about himself, discover his passion and purpose, and find happiness. Stephanie Fries is a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner. She is also a voiceover artist, radio announcer and producer and hosts “Lifestyle Tucson,” a public affairs program. She has worked in Tucson, AZ media for over 25 years. Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012


Toying Around

Holiday gifts and your pet

by Dave Ficere

The holidays are here and most of us include our furry friends among those who we’ll be spending money on this season. 80 percent of pet owners say their gift-giving list includes their pets. And just like with children, you can’t go wrong with toys. Phoenix, AZ animal trainer Jo Perez says make sure the toys you buy are safe and appropriate. “Anything that gets your pet to be active or helps them live a healthy lifestyle is good. Try to avoid toys that could be dangerous, like small pieces or stuffing for your dog,” she said. Great playthings for your dog include: • Bones – Every dog appreciates a good rawhide, plush or plastic bone. Most dogs will spend hours chewing

on their rawhide bone and love chasing or smacking it across hardwood or tile floors. • Kong toys – These are hollow toys made of hard plastic or rubber that you fill with food or treats that your dog will spend hours trying to get out. Peanut butter and dog biscuits make great treats to use in Kong toys, which come in various sizes and are dishwasher safe. • New bed – If you want to splurge a little, buy your dog a nice new bed, maybe even one made out of down feathers or memory foam. Most dogs can sleep any-

where, but they still enjoy having their own special bed. • Stuffed animals or toys – You have to be careful with this one and not buy items with buttons, squeakers or anything else that can be bitten off and swallowed. As with dogs, safety should be one of the top considerations in gift buying for cats. “Gifts that contain string or ribbons aren’t good for cats,” Perez says, “and neither are toys with pieces that can break off and be swallowed.”

There are many fun gift choices for the feline family member, including: • Catnip – This is a substance that appears to produce a euphoric state in cats that sniff or chew it. Catnip comes as fresh or dried leaves and can be sprinkled onto carpets or scratching posts and rubbed onto or put into some toys. It’s not harmful and cats can’t overdose on it. • Climbing towers – These wooden structures are usually covered with carpet. Cats like to rest on them and watch the household activity from their safe perch. In a home with dogs or young children, a climbing tower serves as a place where they can escape the chaos but still be around the family. • Window seats – These cloth-covered ledges attach to a window sill and are a good gift for indoor and outdoor cats that like to sleep in the sun or watch birds out the window. • Water fountain – These devices promote water drinking in cats as they constantly ventilate the water. This is a great gift for all cats since hydration is important in controlling urinary disease. Dave Ficere is a media veteran with more than 30 years experience in broadcasting and print. Married and the father of two teenagers, he runs his own freelance writing and editing business in Phoenix, AZ

Pet Bytes A rolled-up pair of socks makes a good toy for cats to play with, but it’s even more effective if you tie a string around the socks. Cats enjoy chasing or batting at anything that’s attached to a string.

Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012


For the fun of it!

Get you pets involved in holiday traditions My favorite part of the holidays is keeping family traditions alive. It deepens the meaning of the season, bonds us together – and is a ton of fun! Most of my family members have children. I’m childless, so my pets are my kids and I love including them in traditions every chance I get. Better yet is turning these same traditions into holiday presents. Nothing’s better then a homemade gift from the heart.

Four ideas for pet-inclusive traditions: 1. Pictures: Including your pet will insure a complete picture and a great personalized gift. Liven up the photo by dressing your pooch or kitty in a Santa Hat, Chanukah scarf or Pilgrim bonnet. With so many editing tools and printing options, you can turn photos into gifts such as calendars, coffee mugs, stickers, shirts or even blankets. I love decorating my house with pictures of my cats in themed costumes. • Halloween: Up goes a picture on the front door of Kinky wearing a witch hat. • Thanksgiving: Vixen’s the star of the show with a photo cube table centerpiece of her wearing a pilgrim’s bonnet. • Chanukah: Gagster’s time to shine with his photo strategically placed next to the menorah as he proudly sports his blue and white bow. 2. Filming: Recording the action Christmas morning or

by Liz Coplen

during holiday dinners is a fun way to include everyone. Zoom in as your daughter introduces her guinea pig to its new habitat. Catch your hamster running like there’s no tomorrow when it first discovers its new exercise wheel. These make great gifts for loved ones who live far away. Make Grandma feel like she’s there with you by tying a personal note to Fluffy’s collar. Don’t forget the close up so she can read the greeting. “Creating gifts out of pet-inclusive holiday traditions are only limited by your imagination,” says Telvi Roybal, co-owner of several cats and a bird in Tucson, AZ. “Go wild and think outside the box! Your family will cherish the personalized presents while avoiding long return lines for sweaters that don’t fit.” 3. Gift delivery: To make a big impact with a loved one, tie a small package on your pet’s collar. It’ll wander the house as usual until eventually your loved one discovers the gift-wrapped surprise. 4. Dinner: Holidays are great excuses to feast on fabulously extravagant meals. As part of your family, your pet deserves a treat as well. I like to make a special plate for each of my pets and serve them at the same time as the rest of the family. Make sure to do your research on dangerous foods for your pet. Also, don’t overdo it. Liz Coplen is a writer working with underrepresented communities and non-profit organizations. She has five cats and one parrot and lives in Tucson, AZ with her girlfriend of 10 years.

Dressing your pet for winter When is it necessary? by Liz Coplen

With the chilly winter months upon us, it’s time to break out those heavy winter jackets, scarves and hats. But what about your pets? Do they need extra bundling? Or is their fur a sufficient fashion statement to keep them toasty warm? Outdoor only pets: They’ve most likely become accustomed to the changing elements. This doesn’t mean they won’t suffer in extremely cold weather. Make sure to provide a warm, waterproof shelter with plenty of bedding. In extreme climates the shelter should be insulated and heated. Indoor / outdoor pets: Additional outfitting for them really depends upon the type of pet or breed of dog. If you own an Alaskan Malamute, they’re well equipped for extreme conditions and should be fine with their natural coats. However, owners of toy dogs, hairless or low-hair dogs such as Dobermans or Greyhounds may need extra warmth during outings. Indoor / outdoor cats should be encouraged to stay inside as often as possible in the colder season. Pay attention to your pet: It’ll let you know if it’s cold. Look for signs such as quivering or shaking, extended periods of lying in a tight ball, or clawing its way under the covers with you in bed. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to dress up your critter. You can find everything from lightweight shirts to thicker sweaters and hoodies at your local pet store. For pets with sensitive paws, you can even find snow or rain boots. “I always bring my dogs with me to the store,” says Maris Tater of Tucson, AZ, owner of four Shih Tzu’s. “That way they can try the clothes on first. Every garment is built differently and some can become uncomfortable after extended wear if not properly sized.” Best bet is to decide your plan of action now before the cold spells hit. If you aren’t sure if your pet will need extra protection, simply base your actions on the lifestyle of your pet. And don’t forget to tell your pet to “strike a pose” and get some pictures.

Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012


How to take

great holiday

dog pictures by Steven Sable

The secret to great holiday dog photography: be smarter than your dog (at least temporarily). At my house this takes focus, hard work, a polished plan of attack and a welldeveloped sense of humor. Here are a few tips, tricks and hard fought lessons that will ensure that this year’s holiday card featuring your best friend will be worthy of framing, displaying on your desk at work, or even showing to complete strangers at the grocery store. Equipment – Almost all cameras have a “portrait” setting. If you can find the little picture of a human head on the dial on top of your camera, you’re good to go. The little picture of a sprinter is best if you want action shots or expect them to happen unintentionally. Timing – Schedule your photo sessions for when your dog is usually awake but not necessarily up for a jog. Photographers talk about the “golden light” shortly after dawn or before sunset. Avoid shooting at midday if at all possible. Perseverance – Don’t expect great pictures from a single session. Repeatedly working in the same setting at the same time of day over several consecutive days will create some familiarity for your German Shepherd. The sense of routine will calm you both down right from the start and your dog will become used to seeing a camera in front of 16 Pet Genius Magazine • Holiday 2012

your face and right in theirs. Location – Go anywhere and make a day of it. Good dog photography is about documenting good memories with your best bud. Garland is easy to carry and looks great draped on bushes at the ball field down the street. You’ll also get a great effect by replacing your dog’s collar with a battery-powered string of lights, especially for images made at dusk. Don’t forget to bring the holiday costumes, like elf hats. Position – Once you’ve found a good location and have mastered the suggested camera settings, put some distance between your Weimaraner and the background. Even a few feet will make a difference. The resulting images will keep your dog in sharp focus with everything nicely blurred. Plus, don’t only use the camera’s zoom to change the framing of the shot. If you move in close to your Dalmatian and use both the wide angle and the zoom setting, you’ll

get unique perspectives and cooler results than you thought possible. Creative direction – Who has ultimate authority at this photo shoot? Not you. The images you will value most are the ones that catch your Pit Bull’s patented look of exasperation. They know what makes them cute. Observe them and execute the shot. Truth is, you’re probably not smarter than your dog. But if you follow these guidelines and pay attention to how your dog poses naturally, you’ll have a leg up on other holiday dog photographers. Steven Sable is a professional photographer in Arizona specializing in photos of “reservation dogs,” sometimes partially feral dogs that wander loose on the many Native American reservations across the nation.

Pet Genius Holiday  

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