Welcome to Ruff Housing!

Thank you for taking the time to follow this blog! I hope you find this site not only fun and informative but also I hope it changes your perspective and raises your awareness about animal welfare. My goal is to show you that ALL animals are unique one way or another. Wild animals that look strange and scary are fascinating! There are so many fun facts to learn about the animal kingdom that you will never get bored! Please ask me any questions or feel free to comment or provide feedback to any of the posts that interests' you.

About Me - Everything seemed like it fell into place when my boyfriend and I decided to adopt a wonderful four-month-old puppy. We fell in love as soon as we saw her and named her Pointer. Because of Pointer I started to become much more aware and concerned for aggressive dogs. I then volunteered at a local shelter and realized how wonderful all animals are. I found myself being interested in taking care of not only cats and dogs but also other small and exotic animals like rats, birds, and reptiles.
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Happy Q!

Happy Q!

Last year, my other dog Q (believed to be a Chihuahua/Terrier mix) was diagnosed with an anal rupture! Many mammals such as dogs and cats have these small anal glands or anal sacs that are found near the anus. These glands are often known as “scent glands,” that’s why every time your dog meets another dog the first thing he or she does is sniff the butt. An anal rupture occurs when your dog’s stool is too soft to exert any pressure to secrete those glands and when those glands are not well secreted a small pimple will form outside of the anus. Similar to humans having a hemorrhoid, this anal problem can be extremely discomforting for your pet! Some key symptoms to look for are licking or biting the affected area, dragging or “scooting” their rear end across the floor, chasing its tail, difficulty in both sitting and standing comfortably, and fishy odors in their stool.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening? Just like humans, make sure your pet is getting sufficient amounts of fiber in his or her diet! Eating fiber will produce firmer stool which will lead to more pressure to exert the glands so an infection will not occur. You can also take your pet to the groomers so they can manually secrete those glands for your pet. But if you are thinking about not spending the extra cash every month you may also consider doing it yourself! Just be prepared for some flying butt juice!

Here are some basic directions from lovetoknow.com of how you can do it yourself:

  1. Prepare a warm moist washcloth.
  2. Locate your dog’s anal glands by raising his tail and using your other hand to feel for two lumps at approximately five and seven o’clock on either side of his anal opening.
  3. Holding the cloth over his anal opening to prevent an unpleasant squirt, begin applying firm but gentle pressure to the sacs. This should cause some of the fluid to be expelled through the rectal opening, thereby emptying the glands. Wipe your dog’s behind clean, and the job should be finished
  4. Give your dog a bath afterwards!

I’m not gonna lie, I’m totally guilty of indulging my two pooches with yummy scraps and treats. Truth is, who can possibly resist when those puppy eyes stare right at you, begging you to spare just one tiny crumb. And how about when you see the drool hanging three inches in the air while you eat your Big Mac in front of your pup?!  When it comes to food, humans have a hard time simply saying ”no” to their four-legged friends. Obesity is no joke, and if you think children are the only ones being affected, you’d better think again. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, approximately 53% of cats and 55% of dogs were either overweight or obese! This is troubling to hear since an overweight pet may be at a higher risk to diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and many forms of cancer! Think this doesn’t sound bad enough? Just imagine all the medical costs you will be responsible for when your pet visits the vet for check-ups and medication.

It is extremely important to consistently monitor what your pet puts into his or her mouth. Here are some basic questions you should constantly ask yourself and some tips of preventing your pet from getting chubby!

1) How much are you really feeding your pet?

Most people think that feeding your dog or cat three times a day seems to be the right thing to do. Afterall, that’s what we as humans are suggested. For the average pup, they should only be eating twice a day and about half to a whole cup. The serving size may vary depending on the age of your puppy and his or her breed and overall health. Check this website for more information. Never leave a buffet of food for your pet to eat throughout the day. Cat owners have a tendency to do this, since it always seems like cats have a smaller appetite. This is not true!

2) What kind of food are they eating?

Just remember: Dogs were never meant to eat corn or wheat. Corn in dog food has been shown to cause skin allergies, joint swelling, and bloating. Most inexpensive dog food has either corn or wheat as the main ingredient. Just like if you were buying food for yourself at the store, make sure you check the ingredients on your pet food. Like humans, dogs also need to eat more protein and less fat and carbs.  Avoid purchasing dog food that has any by-products as the main ingredient.

3) What kind of excercise is your pet getting?

Let’s be honest. Walking your dog around the neighborhood or letting him out in the yard for a quick run is simply NOT enough. Your pet should get the same amount of excercise as you do! The next time you go out for a stroll in the park with the baby take your pet too! Your dog should not be constantly staying at home taking long naps while you are out. Engage your pet by playing fetch or take him to a doggie park where he or she can run and wrestle with other dogs. Excercising with your pet also means you are bonding and providing owner/pet interaction!

It may be cute when you see an overweight pug or daschund walking on the street but remember just like humans our pets also have to consider their calorie intake. More importantly the overall wellbeing of your pet is what matters.  If your pet is at risk of being obese his or her’s life expectancy will decrease drastically. 

Frans de Waal is a notable Dutch primatologist, ethologist, and professor from Emory University. He has received his Ph.D in Biology and Zoology from Utrecht University and has participated in a lot of primate research.  He has written several books including "Chimpanzee Politics," "Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape," "Good Natured," and his most recent, "The Age of Empathy" just to name a few.

Frans de Waal is also an amazing blogger! I have read every single one of his posts and each one will leave you craving for more! His writing is influential, entertaining, informative, and inspirational.  My favorite post by far is about Travis the Chimpanzee.

Last week I blogged about the sad story of Lucy Temerlin and in many ways her story was very similar to Travis’.  Both stories were about humans trying to domesticate a Chimpanzee and raise it to live a human life. Both stories were about the chimpanzee suddenly became aggressive and destructive towards humans. Both stories had horrific endings— Both Travis and Lucy ended up killed.

Before I go any further, here is the story of Travis:

Many of you may be familiar with the sad story of Travis, one of the most vicious Chimpanzee attacks on a human. You may have also recognized Travis in Hollywood. He appeared in several American television commercials, talk shows, and worked with many famous actors and actresses. 

At an extremely young age, Travis was adopted by Sandra Herold and was raised in domesticated environment and was very well socialized with humans. His upbringing was very similar to Lucy’s.  Both chimps adopted many human-like characteristics and gestures. He would dress himself, open doors with keys, drink wine, eat at the dinner table, watch television, and even use the computer!

On February 16th, 2009, Travis attacked and mauled Sandra’s friend, Charla Nash.   Travis had stole car keys and escaped out of the house and Sandra quickly called Charla for help.  When Charla found Travis, Travis attacked her without hesitation. In an attempt to stop the attack, Sandra hit Travis with a shovel and stabbed him numerous times with a knife. In the end, Travis was shot several times by a police officer.

The attack was so severe that it left Charla with devastating injuries losing her eyes, nose, lips and hands. Charla later pressed charges against Herold with a $50 million lawsuit. Herold was eventually found not to be liable, as Travis had not showed any signs of violent behavior prior to the attack.

On November 11th, 2009 Charla made her first appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show.  WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE

Like Frans de Waal I was also in disbelief with the conclusion. After reading his post on Travis I couldn’t help but to think about who was really at fault. After much thought I still came to the same conclusion.  Humans are ignorant, selfish, and irresponsible when it comes to handling a wild animal.  What are people thinking when they decide to captivate a wild animal and think they will make lovable pets?! Part of the problem is the media.  People have seen these cute apes in movies, magazines, and commercials thinking how cute these animals can be.  Travis was a 200-pound adult male chimp who’s strength can not even be compared to an arm-wrestler.  As de Waal had noted, “there is no unarmed defense possible for anyone.”

Similarly, the stories of Lucy and Travis also reminded me of my dog Pointer.  Even dogs, a domesticated animal for thousands of years, can show signs of aggressive behavior without notice. Wild animals were never meant to be domesticated and any animal that can cause damage or injury should not be considered a good pet. We also need to remember that it was never the choice of Travis or any of the other animals that have attacked to live human lives. So how can we blame these innocent animals by the fault of us humans? In defense of Travis, the attack was unfortunate but humans should have full liability. It was also recorded that Travis had several incidents where he showed signs of misbehavior. Sandra Herold should have been more aware of Travis’ unusual behavior to begin with.  It was also noted that Travis was suffering from Lyme disease, and may have been disoriented from the drugs he was given by the vet when he attacked.

Each year, there seems to be a repeating pattern with these wild animal attacks. But by far the story of Travis has been one of the most severe cases.  Pet owners need to learn from this unfortunate event and note that even the most domesticated animals can show signs of aggressiveness at any stage of their life.  It is also in the nature of many of these wild animals to attack for any purposes. In the end, a tragic story like Travis’ is unnecessary and unfair. It is never the fault of the animal when us humans have the power to make better pet ownership decisions. 

Cookie the Penguin from Cincinnati Zoo!!!!!!!

Think you know some of the world’s most fearless creatures?? Take this quiz to find out how cool these animals are! To find the answers watch this quick one minute clip!

What is the world’s meanest animal?

a. Grizzly Bear

b. Honey Badger

c. Pirhanna

d. Human

What animal has the strongest bite (possibly ever!)?

a. Hippopotamus

b. Great White Shark

c. Tyrannosaurus Rex

d. King Cobra

Which animal can lift 850x its weight?!

a. Rhinoceros Beetle

b. Indian Elephant

c. Fire Ant

d. Cockroach

Which animal holds the land record for speed?

a. Human

b. Thomson’s Gazelle

c. Jack Rabbit

d. Cheetah

The Bar-Tailed Godwit was tracked flying how many miles NONSTOP WITHOUT DRINKING OR EATING ANYTHING?

a. 7,000

b. 12,000

c. 275

d. 1,300

To take more animal quizzes please visit the Animal Planet Homepage!

I recently listened to an episode of the Radiolab podcast, which told the sad story of a chimpanzee named Lucy. Lucy was adopted at only two days of age by psychologist Dr. Maurice K. Temerlin and his wife Jane. The Temerlins decided to conduct an experiment to see if Lucy could be successfully raised as a human. During the early stages of her adolescence, Lucy learned human-like behavior such as eating at the dinner table and wearing clothing. She adopted human gestures, facial expressions and body language from her human parents. Primatologist Roger Fouts taught Lucy American Sign Language, of which she learned 140 signs.

Lucy’s human upbringing in the Temerlin house was relatively smooth until the age of about 12. As Lucy matured she became more disruptive and destructive, and she became particularly frustrated as she reached sexual maturity. Since she was raised as a human, Lucy identified as one and was only attracted to human males. When introduced to another chimpanzee, Lucy became confused and frightened.

Eventually, Lucy was moved to a rehabilitation center for chimpanzees in Gambia where she was accompanied by grad student Janis Carter. As Lucy got older, her mental condition worsened and she started to exhibit depression - refusing to eat at certain times and expressing “hurt” in sign language. Lucy never reproduced and found assimilating to her new life incredibly difficult.  Janis Carter worked with Lucy for several years, observing her and helping her assimilate with other chimps. 

After years of dedicated help from Carter, Lucy slowly adjusted to her new life as a chimpanzee. Though she still had human interaction and did not find a chimpanzee mate, she showed signs that she now identified as a chimpanzee and was comfortable in her new environment. Years later when Carter returned to Gambia she found the remains of Lucy’s skeleton, which seemed to indicate that she had been killed by poachers, although this fact is disputed by some.

The story of Lucy Temerlin raises many questions:

1. Is it ethical to conduct an experiment such as Dr. Temerlin’s?

2. Should wild animals be held in captive by humans under any circumstance?

3. What should the role of animals be in our society?

I think that an experiment such as Dr. Temerlin’s goes too far. It would have been unethical even if Lucy had not suffered any of the unintended consequences of being raised as a human. We do not have the right to turn wild animals into something they are not. Animals should be respected as living creatures, and not used for experimentation, entertainment, food, financial gain or any other human purpose. I think it is wrong to domesticate wild animals, as elephants are in Thailand. Elephants are seen as a symbol of wisdom and wealth in most Asian countries. This is an example of using a wild animal without regard to its natural state. Also, many species have been endangered and pushed to the brink of extinction due to human interference in their environment. Even America’s national bird, the bald eagle, is an example of this. As humans share the world with other species, it is inevitable that we will interact in many ways. As the dominant species, humans have more of a responsibility to treat our world and the rest of its inhabitants with respect. I believe that though we have the power to do whatever we please with many of the animals around us, that doesn’t give us the right to.

Nothing is better than spending a sunny Saturday in one of San Francisco’s most beautiful parks with my two pooches! DogFest 2011 will be held at Duboce Park in San Francisco on April 16th, 2011 from 11-4p.m. Although this wonderful community event is free, McKinley Elementary School will be there to fundraise. Whether you have two legs or four this festival will be sure to have something fun to offer to everyone! There will be live music, different pet contests, and even face painting and carnival games for the kids. So be sure to get out there this Saturday to have a pawesome time with your pet and help support McKinley Elementary School!

Sweet Meika caught my eye as I was browsing through Muttville’s homepage. Meika is looking for a permanent home so if you are interested please visit Muttville’s homepage and fill out the adoption application today…

Here are some quick facts about Meika:

-She is a senior dog approx. 8 years old

-Medium size dog, up to date with all her shots, spayed, and micro-chipped

-Crate-trained and potty trained

-Very respectful of furniture and great with guests of all ages

-Don’t let her age fool you! She is extremely active and loves to run and play fetch

Meet Asia!  Winner of Guiness Book of World Records for most expensive cat!

Meet Asia!  Winner of Guiness Book of World Records for most expensive cat!

Many people have become fascinated with adopting exotic animals such as reptiles, rodents, and amphibians as pets.  The trend started when people became interested in the distinctive features of certain wild animals. But did you know that people are also starting to breed exotic feline hybrids? This is the result of breeding a wild cat with a domesticated cat! There are three main breeds - Chausies, Savannahs and the Safari.  Chausies are a hybrid created by breeding a jungle cat and a domesticated cat.  The Savannah, which is the most common, is a hybrid between a Serval and a domesticated cat. The Safari is a cross between a Geoffroys (a south American feline) and a domesticated cat.

These cats are not only expensive (a Bengal cat entered the Guiness Book of World Records as the world’s most expensive cat, selling for $42,000!) but are extremely hard to breed and take care of. Unlike your ordinary pets, these cats require much more attention as their behavior may tend to change as they get older. Physically, these guys are medium in size, slender with long legs, and are about 23 to 36 inches in length!  Similar to dogs, these cats are extremely trainable, they can fetch, be walked on a leash, and respond to certain commands. 

There is much debate over the ethicality of breeding wild cats with domestic ones.  Just as with dogs, humans breeding these cats have overpopulated the world.  With each passing day, the local shelters are bombarded with abandoned cats. On the other hand, many opponents argue that these wild cats are becoming increasingly endangered, so preserving them through breeding is important. Breeding these wild jungle cats and holding them captive seems to be the only way to conserve these feline species.

Although it is important to conserve these animals, is breeding the right route to go?  Just like breeding dogs, the idea of breeding any animal seems so wrong to me. Wild animals are meant to stay in the wild and should only be protected in their natural environment.  It is much more ethical for animals to die naturally on their own rather than being bred. Instead of breeding and keeping these cats captive we should focus on other ways to conserve them such as paying more attention to recreational hunters or other predators. Just remember “better dead than bred.”

(This is a picture of Dr. Lyudmila Trut with a domesticated silver fox)

I recently watched “Dogs Decoded,” an episode of the PBS series Nova. I’ve always known how smart and wonderful dogs are but after watching this film I was amazed and shocked! This documentary reveals the science behind the dog-human relationship and raises many questions about our bond with our furry four-legged friends! For example, did you know that dogs read the facial expressions of humans starting from the left side, which is the side that first displays emotions. Or did you know many dog owners feel that they are somehow attuned to their pets, and can interpret the meaning of their barks. This is very familiar to me, and I can easily tell the difference between the barks of my dogs when they are asking for food as opposed to a bark of warning when an unknown person knocks at the door.

"Dogs Decoded" also investigates how dogs became domesticated and digs deep back into their evolutionary origin. It follows a few experiments that have been conducted to study the differences between dogs and their close cousins, wolves. One such experiment had the researchers adopt newborn wolves and dogs, and raise them both in the same environment. In the early stages of the experiment the wolf puppies were almost identical to dogs in their behavior. But after about six weeks, the wolves started to exhibit the same wild and aggressive tendencies as they do in their natural environment. While the dog puppies showed affection and loyalty to their owners, the wolves became less social and pet-like. These results suggest that in the debate of nature vs. nurture, it is nature that determines the behavior of these animals.

Another experiment took place in Siberia, where captive Silver Foxes were selectively bred. The most tame foxes of each generation are mated, making each new generation tamer and more human-friendly than the last. At the same time, the most aggressive foxes are also selected to breed with each other, producing very wild, unfriendly foxes. The most interesting result of this experiment, which has gone on for over 50 years, was that while tameness was the only trait being selected for, other traits seemed to be affected as a side-affect! For example, after many generations the tame foxes were not just different in their behavior from their ancestors, but also in their appearance. Their tails and snouts were slightly different, and their appearance was more dog-like overall. This helps us understand how wolves could have transformed into the various breeds of dogs we have today. The human influence in breeding dogs accelerates the changes in different breeds, and when breeders favor a certain quality other traits are unintentionally affected as well.

It is official! The African Lion is now listed as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act.  Scientists have estimated as little as 23,000 lions left. According to the Humane Society of United States, over the past thirty years their population has declined to forty-nine percent! So where have all these wild cats gone?  They have been trapped and killed by recreational hunters and they have been used to trade commercially around the world.  Every cent counts! Please help to conserve the African Lion by donating to the Humane Society of the United States!

Please don’t freak out! Yes, the first time I saw a rat I was grossed out just like you but these guys actually make AMAZING pets! They are so freakin’ sweet, and they don’t bite as often as hamsters do. Forget the horror movies and the diseases, we are talking about domesticated pet rats.  Try to let go of everything you ever thought about rats and give these guys a second chance!

1) All animals with a mouth can bite. Rats on the other hand bite only accidentally because they think your fingers are food!

2) Rats are so easy to take care of! Tired of walking your dog? No problem. Male rats are generally more mellow and laid back and they make great couch potato buddies!

3) Tired of spending money on expensive pet food? Rats can eat pretty much anything we eat and not get sick!

 The 2007 Michael Vick Pit-Bull Fighting Scandal