The best movies starring…dogs!

Just the other day, Collin, a three-year old preschooler, approached me and asked me to watch a movie with him. He looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes and a smile that could melt your heart, and of course, I had no choice but to say yes. I was pleasantly surprised, though, when he handed me Beethoven because I found myself smiling as I reminisced about when I watched this movie with my own children. It’s a cute story of a slobbering disaster-prone St. Bernard who becomes a big part of the Newton family. A shady veterinarian wants to use Beethoven as an animal experiment, and dad has to come to the rescue. I have probably watched it a dozen times when my children were little and enjoyed it just the same for the thirteenth time with Collin.

I then began to think about other movies I have seen and liked throughout the years. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (remake of the 1963 movie The Incredible Journey) is one of my favorites. It is a cute funny movie about three pets (Shadow the Golden Retriever, Chance the American Bulldog, and Sassy the Himalayan cat) that get left behind when their family goes on vacation. They then set out on an adventure to find the family. There are also sad movies that have had a lasting impression on me. For example, Old Yeller (starring Old Yeller the yellow mongrel dog), Turner and Hooch (starring Hooch the French Mastiff), and Where the Red Fern Grows (starring Old Dan and Little Ann the Redbone Coonhounds) are great sad movies where, unfortunately, the dogs die, and I found myself bawling like a baby!

I would be crazy not to mention the classics such as The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Lassie Come Home, Lady and the Tramp, and 101 Dalmatians. I have watched these movies numerous times, and they are just as good each time I watch them! There are so many wonderful dog movies that I can’t possibly name them all. I would, however, like to recognize a few more good movies worth watching with the family: Benji, All dogs go to Heaven, Cats and Dogs, Because of Winn-Dixie, and Air Bud. If you haven’t seen some of these movies, then maybe it’s time for a movie night (and no you don’t have to children to enjoy!)

Bulldogs are back by popular demand!

The people have voted, and the bulldog made the top ten list of the most popular purebred dogs in the nation for the first time in 72 years. The American Kennel Club surveyed 50 of the largest cities in 2007 and concluded that the bulldog ranked 10th (157 different breeds recognized), knocking off the Miniature Schnauzer. The Labrador Retriever was the “Top Dog” again, a title it has held for 17 consecutive years.

The 2007 most popular dogs:

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. Yorkshire Terrier
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Beagle
  6. Boxer
  7. Dachshund
  8. Poodle
  9. Shih Tzu
  10. Bulldog

The bulldog was most popular in Los Angeles where it ranked 2nd right after the Lab. The Lab was most popular in every state except Detroit, Knoxville, Miami, Honolulu, and Orlando. Detroit and Miami both picked the German Shepherd as their favorite dog, Orlando the Yorkshire Terrier, Honolulu the Golden Retriever and Knoxville the Boxer. The Beagle is the only breed, however, that has consistently been in the top ten since 1915. It was the most popular breed from 1954 to 1959. The longest reign as most popular dog though goes to the Poodle, which retained this title for 23 years (1960-1982).

If you are wondering what all the bulldog fuss is about, just check out the video below!

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The Name Game

Having trouble deciding on a name for your puppy?  Oh yes, the pressure of a name. Well, you are not alone.  It is hard coming up with just the right name for your new puppy.  That is, the perfect name that fits it’s personality or appearance.  Since dogs are considered to be an integral part of the family, people are more inclined to choose a human name for their dog.  For example, Max has been the most popular male dog name for the past four years.   

One thing you might want to consider when picking out a name is the number of syllables in that name.  Pick a name with as few syllables as possible.  First of all, it’s much easier for your puppy to understand since their brains are much simpler than ours.  Second, it’s much easier to yell a one or two syllable name in an emergency to get their attention.  It also shouldn’t sound like anyone else’s name or like any of the commands that will be used to tell the dog what you expect him to do.  For example, Beau might sound like no to the dog and confuse him. 

Another tip is to pick one name to call your puppy and stick with it. Although nicknames are cute, your puppy might not be able to learn its name.  By calling your puppy different nicknames or a full name one moment and a nickname the next, it will not ever develop a strong bond with its name, and you may have problems teaching it to return to you.  Consistency is the key!   

But what should you name your puppy?  Some dogs are named for their attitude (Rebel), potential (Prototype), natural feature (Stripes), movie (Shiloh), flower (Daisy), or even food (Oreo).  My children named our dog Chip simply because he is a chocolate Lab.  We also had a yellow Lab named Knucky because he had a big knot on the top on his head that never went away.  Just take a walk around your neighborhood or park and listen to the fascinating names of the dogs.  Our neighborhood is an interesting place to do just that.  Down the street,  there is a heavy-set black Cocker Spaniel named Barbie that growls at us as we walk by and a massive Great Dane named Tiny that looks as if it could jump the fence effortlessly (and swallow me whole).  My favorite, though, is a Saint Bernard named Twinkletoes. 

Take your time.  Waiting a few days to name your puppy will give you a chance to pick the perfect name as your puppy’s personalty shines.  You can find a name that fits your dog and makes you happy!  

It’s Great to be Man’s Best Friend

If you have grown up with or around dogs, you can definitely relate to the old clich of them being man’s best friend.  They are loyal and provide us with needed companionship, unconditional love, and laughs.  There is certainly a special bond between a dog and its owner/family.  But I think that dogs have played us for years! 

Here are the top 10 reasons why it’s great to be a dog (man’s best friend):

  1. It’s alright to sleep anytime, anyway, and anyhow

  2. April 15 is just another lazy stress less day

  3. Money has no meaning to them yet they’re guaranteed to get spoiled rotten — bling, bling

  4. If they don’t amount to anything, its OK

  5. They are not expected to remember birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays, yet no one ever forgets theirs

  6. They can scratch themselves, sniff anywhere, and pass gas without any consequences

  7. They have a well-rounded diet: “human food,” dog food, dessert out of the trash can, and then washed down with toilet water

  8. If they gain weight, no one blames them

  9. No one questions their stupid moments

  10. Being frisky with every dog is acceptable and expected

Can anyone say “woof woof?”


Chip, “The Peacemaker”

Let me introduce you to my charismatic chocolate Lab named Chip. I rescued him from a neglectful owner as he was hanging on to life by a thread. His ribs were protruding and he could hardly walk but his big brown sad eyes melted my heart. The Vet said that he would never make it through the night but yet I stayed up with him holding him tight and keeping him warm. Much to everyone’s surprise, Chip survived the night and has been making my family smile and laugh for the past four years.

I have often wondered what the connection was between his fun-loving personality and his horoscope (Zodiac sign) so I did some research. Here’s what I found out. Chip, you see, was born in October, which makes him a Libra. More specifically, Chip is “the peacemaker.” He, therefore, can be described as loving, happy, peaceful, and sociable.

Well, Chip is definitely a social bug (well ok, a social canine). He loves to greet everyone at the door with a wag of the tail so forceful it shakes his entire body and then follows it up with a big wet kiss as he jumps up to plant one on you. He is very affectionate as you can see, and he hates to be left out. In fact, Chip will lie across board games, usually at a critical part in the game, just to make sure we haven’t forgotten about him. If the family is sitting on the couch watching a movie, you will be sure to find Chip either lying across our laps or squeezed into what looks like the most uncomfortable position. Yet he is so content!

You can always count on Chip to be the center of attention, especially when we have company. One of his favorite tricks is to retrieve something (yes, usually something completely embarrassing!) and then roll on it numerous times as he grunts. When he’s finished performing, he will wag his tail, perk his ears up, and look at you with those loving eyes as if to say “ Am I a good boy?” It’s really hard not to give him a good ear rub no matter how embarrassing.

One of the most remarkable things about Chip is how intuitive he is. If I’m having a bad day or not feeling well, I can always count on him to make me smile or laugh. There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~ Ben Williams

Obsession or Compassion for our “child-like” pets?

Roughly two thirds of U.S. households have at least one pet.  These pets are considered to be an essential part of the family.  After all, pets are not just pets anymore.  But let me ask you: Are we obsessed with treating our pets like royalty or is it simply out of compassion that we feel the need to give our pets a better life than they were dealt?

Empty nesters, single professionals, and couples without children tend to be the ones that are bonding and certainly spoiling their “child like” pets.  That is in the tune of $41 billion a year.  This includes but not limited to the simple pleasures such as clothes, strollers, and beds to the extravagant, like doggy daycares, afterlife provisions, and plastic surgery.  

Is “pet pampering” getting out of hand?  How about $919/pair for testicular implants, $430 for an indoor potty, or $30-an-ounce for perfume to keep your canine smelling just like you?  Half of dog owners admit they consider their pet’s comfort when buying a car.  In Cleveland, Ohio, Progressive Auto Insurance now offers collision coverage for customers with dogs and cats at no additional premium cost.  If the customer’s dog or cat is hurt or dies in a car accident, Progressive will pay up to $500.  

Just think, if owners are spending billions to keep their pets looking young (plastic surgery to Botox injections), they certainly will spend the same if not more to keep them alive.  Euthanasia was once seen as the most humane way to put pets out of their misery, but now owners are turning to painkillers, chemotherapy, extensive surgery, and hospice care for a prolonged life and a clear conscience.  But don’t worry.  If you can’t find just the right words to say to your pet, Hallmark has your back!  “A dog’s life” certainly seems to have new meaning these days!