By Arden Moore
Kids and pets rule. There, I declared it. When given the opportunity, kids and pets can bring out the best in all of us. And we need the happy, healing magic of this “pawsome” duo now more than ever.
As we all contend with this coronavirus pandemic, I’m betting that you and your family are probably going a bit stir crazy at home and looking for ways to productively spend your time together. You can’t spend a weekend at Disney World. Or catch a movie at your favorite theater. Or even chow down at your favorite pizza joint.
I share my home with my spouse and our two dogs, Kona and Bujeau, plus four indoor cats, Casey, Mikey, Rusty and Mort. We are limiting exits out of our home to pick up takeout food or essentials at our supermarket.
And, like you, we are using hand sanitizers, spending lots of time hand washing and practicing other heightened hygiene habits.
So, I’m on a mission to bring out the wonderful kid in all of you, regardless of your age. In the pages of my just-published pair of books, A Kid’s Guide to Cats and A Kid’s Guide to Dogs, I offer all pet lovers lots of tips, insights, fun games and DIY projects to boost that bond you have with your pets and your family members.
My books feature running sidebars with “comments” unleashed from Pet Safety Dog Kona and Pet Safety Cat Casey to readers. These shelter alums are also certified therapy pets, who travel all over the country to assist me in our pet first aid and pet behavior classes.
Casey, my comical, confident orange tabby, for example, explains why cats are branded finicky in his response: “It’s true that we’re more selective about what we eat than our canine chowhounds. Perhaps one reason is that cats have only 473 taste buds (dogs have 1,700!), so we like food that has a lot of flavor, which usually means it smells strongly, too, like fish. Yum!”
In one of Kona’s sidebars, my sweet and smart terrier mix shares this canine insight: “Woof! Hello! Hola! Did you know dogs are multilingual? We speak Dog, of course, but we all know some human words. In fact, I speak five languages: Dog, English, Spanish, sign language and a little Cat.
“Arden taught me sit and come in English, Spanish and sign language, so she can communicate with me without saying a word if we are at a busy, noisy place. As for Cat, I know to approach my feline sibs when they’re purring and to back off if they hiss!”
Here are some tips to share with your pet-loving family from the pages of these books published by Storey and available on Amazon.com:
• Cats are good for your health. Petting your cat can release calming brain chemicals, lower blood pressure and slow your heart rate.
• Dogs are better at reading human body language and postures than people are at interpreting canine body language. So, choose your words, tone and body language carefully when “chatting with” your dog.
• A cat’s tongue features spiky barbs that aid in grooming, lapping up water and scraping meat from a bone.
• Fend off boredom in the house by creating a makeshift mini-obstacle course for your dog. Balance a broom on two piles of books or a couple of large cans and encourage your dog to hop over it. With your dog on a short lead, have him weave between a line of objects on the living room floor, such as paper plates, books or small pillows.
Here are a couple fun do-it-yourself projects to create:
• Give new life to an old, hard-sided suitcase by transforming it into a cozy bed for your dog. Decorate the interior lid with your dog’s name and use the pocket to hold a favorite toy. Stuff a pillow into the larger side of the opened suitcase. To keep the lid from closing, attach a block of wood or a strap of fabric to the back of the suitcase with heavy-duty glue.
• Create a treat puzzle toy for your cat. Cut two or three holes along the length of a toilet paper tube — just a little larger than the size of the treats. Decorate the toilet tube with a funny cat face using crayons. Fold down the sides of one end to close the tube. Drop in a few cat treats into the tube and fold the other end shut. Call your cat over and encourage him to paw at it to release the treats.
My wish for all of you is to recognize the many benefits our cats and dogs give us every day. It goes without saying, that pets do a body good.
Win an autographed book from Arden
Want to get your paws on my new books? In two or three sentences, email me how your cat or dog makes your life better. Send a photo of you with your pet if you wish. I will choose a winner for each book, A Kid’s Guide to Dogs and A Kid’s Guide to Cats, and announce the winners in next month’s column. Send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline to submit is April 14.
Arden Moore, founder of fourleggedlife.com, is an animal behavior expert and host of the Oh Behave! show on petliferadio.com. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.