Pets and Your Health

42089792 - woman with her dog tender scene

Image ID : 42089792 Copyright : soloway


I don’t know how I would get through difficult days without my three wonderful cats. Tenshi, Shima, and Kazu are so special to me that I always look forward to coming home and seeing their sweet faces. Those of you who have pets to whom you are closely bonded know how comforting it is to come home to them. Animals are capable of deep, unconditional love which is unparalleled. A pet won’t care that you look all disheveled from battling a grueling day. If you are distraught, a pet will make you smile and perhaps even laugh with cute and silly antics. Pets are natural antidepressants, and create the perfect distraction when you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself or ruminate over something which is only causing you anguish.

Pets are wonderful for our well-being and spiritual health.

It turns out that owning a pet also confers physical health benefits as well. Pet owners enjoy a reduction in stress and anxiety, which has a positive impact on blood pressure. Another very striking and unexpected benefit to having pets is a decrease in a child’s chances of developing allergies to animals. The decreased chance of developing allergies to animals in small children who live with animals is as high as 30 percent, according to research conducted by pediatrician James E. Gern which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Gern conducted a number of studies on children exposed to pets, all of which concluded that children who were exposed at an early age to animals tended to develop stronger immune systems overall, and were far less likely to develop pet-related allergies.

When I think of friends who have allergies to cats or dogs, most of them did not grow up with a pet in the house. I also did not grow up with a family pet per se, unless you count the two rabbits I had in fourth grade for about six months. My mother was so fed up with them that she sold them to a pet store, and that was that. But I spent extended periods of time petting and hanging out with numerous outdoor cats in the neighborhood, enough so that I had a regular exposure to them. I also spent weekends with my dad’s dog, or with his friends’ dogs, so the exposure was steady.

I honestly believe that early and regular exposure to pets is a boon to immune health in young children. And since there is a large body of scientific evidence to back that up, why not get a family pet for your children to love?


About nine years ago, I encountered the amusing and rather irreverent music videos which characterized As soon as I saw punk rock kittens wailing on guitar and drums to The White Stripes “Fell In Love With A Girl”, I was a fan.

After watching this video several times, I came across another amusing group of musical kittens playing music on a beach. The song (“We Like The Music”, by John B) became the inspiration for the very first musical kittens video, and many more were subsequently created.

If you are interested in seeing more ridiculous music videos featuring kittens, hamsters and dogs mixed in with characteristic British wit, then check out the classic archives:

In addition to amusing music videos, also offers some clever keyboard programs. If you want a good laugh when you’re at work (make sure the boss has no problems with a rash of obscenities), then you can check out Buffy’s Swearing Keyboard or the Swear-O-Tron. They offer fantastic ways to vent frustrations! (WARNING: Extreme obscenities)

Can Animals Be Left-Handed/Pawed?

left handed dog

Here is an interesting article which I copied and pasted. The article can be found through this link:

It turns out that dogs do show a clear preference for their left or right paw and there’s roughly a 50:50 split between left-pawedness and right-pawedness across all dog breeds. Here are a few tests you can do to find out whether your dog is a ‘southpaw’:

Have your dog sit, and then get up and walk. Which paw do they lead off from?
When you ‘shake hands’ with your dog, which paw do they offer most often?
When trying to get a toy out from under the sofa, which paw do they use?
But whereas left-handedness in humans makes you superior in lots of ways (well, we think so anyway), what does it mean for dogs?

Well, it seems left-handedness in dogs also gives you an advantage. Left-pawed dogs are generally preferred for police and military use and also as guide dogs because they are easier to train (this is mentioned in a few articles but we cannot find a research reference for it. There IS research showing that left-pawed dogs are more aggressive and that may explain the military use) . And a recent study by the Vrije University in Amsterdam has proven once and for all that left-pawed dogs are quicker at learning and better than problem solving (Report: Paw Preference Correlates to Task Performance in Dogs). In the study, the team of researchers selected an equal number of left-pawed and right-pawed dogs to complete some basic intelligence tests. The team found “that dogs departing with the left front paw perform significantly better than dogs departing with the right front paw.”

So let’s hear it for our four-footed lefty friends, and all the dog owners out there do let us know in the comments here if your dog is a lefty or a righty and what effect you think this has.

Wine Tasting In Paso Robles

Paso Robles wine country

I have always enjoyed wine tasting and make a point of visiting nearby wine regions a few times each year. Usually I go to Temecula since it is less than a hundred miles away from where I live, but since I know that area so well, I have been itching to visit other places. While I love Napa and Sonoma, I avoid those destinations for two reasons: 1) both treks are a bit too far for me to make an easy drive, and 2) the wine tasting fees, wines, and lodging out there are outrageously expensive. Yes, the wines up there are phenomenal, but I am not about to go into the poorhouse for the sake of wine tasting up there.

Last week we visited Paso Robles for a three day getaway, and were determined to explore the central portion of the wine tasting region there. I hadn’t been to Paso Robles for close to ten years, so the experience felt relatively new to me. On Friday we visited one winery (Falcon Nest) which we knew stayed open later than the others, and ended up having a lovely conversation with the winemaker there. After our evening wine tasting, we drove into town and had a quick bite to eat, then headed back to the very comfortable and charming bed and breakfast inn where we were staying (Union Road Guesthouse).

We had planned to visit as many wineries as we possibly could the following day, but since the wineries we wanted to visit were only open from 11-5, we didn’t have much time to do wine tastings. We started our wine tour at Glunz Family Winery without any expectations, so we certainly didn’t expect their Bernese Mountain Dog Jenga to literally run towards our car as we pulled up to the winery! With such a great beginning to our visit to Glunz, we knew we were in for a great experience. I was so impressed with Glunz wines that I not only bought a bottle of Grenache Blanc and a bottle of Zin, I also became a member of their wine club, which is something I typically avoid.
We spent about an hour at Glunz, then continued our wine tasting by heading to Hug Cellars/Bodega De Edgar, not realizing that there were two other wine tasting rooms right next door (Paydirt and Brochelle). We met the second dog of the day at Paydirt, a funny little dog named Max. We also tasted a nice zin there which we ended up purchasing. By the time we left the three winery cluster, we were starving so we got something to eat, then resumed our wine tasting tour, visiting Barr, Clautierre, Pear Valley, Steinbeck (and our third dog of the day, Lola), and PasoPort. We paid another visit to Falcon Nest before heading back to the inn, then had dinner at a steakhouse in town.

By Sunday, we had pretty much had our fill of wine, but I just couldn’t resist going for one more tasting at Glunz, since the wines were so fantastic there. Our second visit there resulted in the purchase of their Mission Angelica Port, which is rich with butterscotch and caramel flavors. Seriously WOW.

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend visiting the Paso Robles area for wine tasting. The quality of the wines there is exceptional, the area is filled with charm, and there are plenty of great restaurants and bed and breakfast inns there (though we highly recommend Union Road Guesthouse).

My Cats Are Dogs Trapped In Cat Bodies

Shima the part feral shy girl

Shima the part feral shy girl

All three of my cats are five years old and have been with me since they were kittens. I have one rescue, Shima, who came into the household when she was three weeks old, so I became Mommy in a big way and bottle raised her. Since Shima’s feline mother was feral, Shima’s personality is understandably very skittish, and she needs a lot of coaxing to warm up to strangers. She even runs away from me if I move too quickly. She is very much a feline in her mannerisms and personality, and fits the stereotype of the aloof cat who doesn’t interact much with humans.

My Labrador trapped in a cat's body

My Labrador trapped in a cat’s body

In stark contrast, my two Burmese cats are like dogs, following ANY human around the house, even complete strangers, playing fetch, begging and grabbing treats with their paws on command. My European Burmese, Kazu, dutifully waits for me to enter the house from the garage when I come home and purrs instantly upon seeing me without me petting her. Kazu has the coloring and the personality of a Labrador Retriever, and is always so happy and sweet. I could definitely learn a thing or two from her about how to be in a state of contentment all the time. Another characteristic which Kazu shares with dogs is her innate penchant for fetching. The first time Kazu approached me with a toy and nudged me, I hadn’t realized that she had an instinct to fetch, but I soon discovered that this was something she enjoyed immensely. During her fetching sessions, in which she will continue to fetch for as long as I throw the toy, she purrs the instant she drops the toy next to me and begins to nudge my hand if I don’t pick up the toy immediately.

Check out Kazu’s fetching talents here:

Tenshi my boyMy American Burmese, Tenshi, is the alpha male of the group and loves meeting new people. He is such an in-your-face cat that he rubbed against the legs of the plumber during a recent visit to our house and investigated every single thing the plumber was working on, prompting the plumber to laugh and remark on the doglike nature of my cat. Tenshi walks with a swagger that I have only seen in a few tomcats over the years (pretty impressive for a eunuch!), and he picks on Shima and Kazu regularly. He gets very jealous if people give the other cats attention and will literally shove them away or hit them in the face to scare them off. If I go on a trip for a few days, Tenshi glues himself to me and doesn’t allow me out of his sight. Whenever I go into our trophy room, Tenshi will yell at me until I come back into the main house.

Though I love dogs, I lament the fact that I can’t have them. At least my two Burmese cats make up for it by acting exactly like dogs!

Just Because I Like Cats, Doesn’t Mean I Am A Cat Person

Yes, I like cats. As a matter of fact, I adore them, and have always gotten along well with them and understood their movements and instincts. As a child I was able to befriend strays who would never dare come near any other humans, so this earned me a label very early on of “cat person”. Why do I have to wear such a label because I like and own cats? The labels “dog person” and “cat person” are often attached to an applied exclusion in which the two are not expected to comingle, and in which both labels could not possibly be worn by one person. So what if I have cats? It doesn’t mean that I am anti-dog! I would LOVE to have dogs, but since I have always been a fan of large dog breeds, and because I don’t have a yard, it would be unfair of me to have dogs at this point in my life. I am also so incredibly busy that I wouldn’t have time to walk a dog or devote the extra time which dogs demand from their owners. Most importantly, two of my cats are very doglike and follow me EVERYWHERE I go when I am at home.

My babies...

My babies…

Another thing I do not engage in is collecting cat motif items. Do not expect to walk into my home and see cat pillows, cat artwork, etc., in the common areas, because I will not subject myself nor anyone else in the household to such feline tributes. The only cats you will see in my living room are the living furry companions who are family members and sources of great joy to me. I do have photos of my cats on the fridges (we have two fridges in our place), but there are only a few.

It always surprises me when people who don’t know me well reveal with hesitation that they have dogs, as if I am anti-dog. Instead, I respond with excitement, asking them what kinds of dogs they have. Honestly, I adore dogs so much that I get dog lust if I hang around great dogs. I have also been tempted on more than one occasion in my life to adopt a dog even though my schedule has never been accommodating enough for me to be a good doggy mom.

Whether you have cats or dogs, chances are I will be fine with them all.