Roof rats and your dog

artie and the faux roof rat
The cooler weather in Phoenix apparently brings out more than lovely dinners on the patio and great daytime hikes with the dog – it also means the Return of Roof Rats!

My recycling can lives on the west side of my house and I usually get to it by going out the front door. A lot of the times, the dog comes with. She moseys to the neighbors, going as far as two or three house. I yell for her, show her a treat and she willingly comes back into our house. One morning, earlier this week, I took out the recycling, she went moseying and I went into the house to get her lure-back treat. I opened the front door and she was already on the porch.

And in her mouth was a dead rodent-looking thing. I screamed and slammed the door in her face. I’m sure she was thinking “Lady, what the hell, I brought you a gift.’’

I collected myself, opened the door and apologized to the dog. I then gave her perfectly hygienic dental treat. Using about three layers of poop bags, I grabbed the rodent by its long, dead tail and disposed of him in the garbage in the alley.

All day, I told myself that she brought a mouse onto the porch. A ridiculously large mouse but a mouse nonetheless. But then I remembered the long, hard tail and did enough Googling to realize it was a roof rat. They were living in our neighborhood two years ago and now it looks like they are returning. (Roof rats, fertilizer smell, coyotes – contrary to what my blogs say, I do live in a great neighborhood!)

Not alone –Roof Rat City

Turns out our little central Phoenix neighborhood isn’t the only one facing down roof rats. In 2017, Phoenix was named 12th Roof-rattiest city in the country in a study done by Terminix.

Roof rats aren’t native to metro Phoenix; they were first discovered in the Valley in the Arcadia area in 2002. Most likely, they were inadvertently brought here from a neighboring state. Apparently, they like to hitch a ride and have been known to travel cross country on commercial trucks. Yech.

They also like to climb. They’ll move along power lines and can climb up brick and stucco. When they reach their destination, they can enter homes through any nickel-sized opening. And true to their name, they like hanging out in  attics.

Roof rats can move 200-300 feet at night and are most active in the cooler months of the year, according to the City of Tempe.

Roof rats and your dog

What does the Return of the Roof Rat mean for your dog?

Chances are the rats will try to avoid your pooch as much as possible. (which is a good thing since rats carry around a lot of diseases, some that can be harmful to your dog). In fact, the dog may figure out the rats have re-located to your house before you do. Your dog’s sense of smell and hearing are far keener than yours. If she starts fixating on a spot or making a lot of trips into a room she never spends much time in, something could be up.

And it’s ironic that while rats will try to avoid your dog, the rats do think of your dog as a food source – anything from dog food that is left out to the dog poop that hasn’t been picked up in the yard. Yech, yeech.

And now, if you will pardon me, I’m calling an exterminator!

 

Five Ways for Photo Fun with the Dog

Here’s a great indoor activity to do with the dog when it is so hot outside: photo shoot! And with a lot of great new apps, you don’t have to bother the dog with a lot of different attempts at being creative. She can resume her position guarding her spot on the sofa and you can create some different looks just by fiddling a little bit with the phone.

If you want some great tips on how to photograph your dog

So cuddle up with the dog, break out your phone and have some chill time as you two avoid the heat and turn her into a little star:

Barkcam

There’s an app – of course, there is – for sounds that will get your dog’s attention so that she looks at the camera. I tried Barkcam and it worked fine but frankly, I can get her attention pretty well as it as and I am a little worried about having the high-pitched sound going off and annoying the crap out of her if I mistakenly use the app.

Woofie

Again a nifty little way to get your dog’s attention as you try to take a photo of her. Woofie is a pet-treat dispenser that clips onto your phone/camera.

My Talking Pet

My Talking Pet costs $4.99 for my Iphone and I think it is totally worth it to make the dog talk. You can have the dog sound husky-like, ala Barry White or you can have her sound high-pitched like Mickey Mouse. Or add sunglasses, sombrero or text to the video. So much fun!

Christmas in July

It’s not too early to start thinking about the holidays. Either the cards you want to send out or the personalized gifts that you would like to give this season. Set up that photo studio and get this task done! Looking for inspiration?

Stamps or shoesfun with dog photos

And what to put on those cards that you send out five months from now? Dog stamps! Put her photo out there so that everyone from the mail carrier to Aunt Sue sees her lovely mug. Don’t use stamps anymore? How about shoes? You can make flip flops with your dog’s photo.

 

 

 

 

HDP’s 30 Dog Days Summer Challenge

keep your dog cool this Phoenix summer

Right now we are in beginning stages of Happy Dog Phoenix’s 30 Dog Days Summer Challenge, in which HDP posts for 30 consecutive days tips, recommendations, solutions of what to do with the dog in the Phoenix summertime.

It seems about the right time of summer to make this challenge. The initial excitement of bathing suits, swimming pools and BBQs has evaporated. The monsoons look like they may be taking a break and that leaves only, hot, hot days until say, October.

October seems very far away and that leaves us with the rest of July, a possibly brutal August and a so-so September — so let’s play a game, shall we?

The rules/rewards

We are posting a tip, recommendation, suggestion every day on our Facebook page and our new(ish) Instagram page for 30 days. Go ahead and post your own suggestion (and we love seeing your dog’s photo!). Each person is allowed seven suggestions. With each suggestion that you make, your name is entered into a drawing for a prize. If that suggestion has already been made, your name is not entered. Don’t despair – just come up with another suggestion.

We are going to be pretty generous about possible duplications – so just keep entering and know that you will have at the most seven chances.

What do I win?

A $100 gift card to a pet-supply place. It can be a gift card to a chain like Target or PetSmart, etc.

win $120 by telling us how keep a dog happy in phoenix summer

Or Behind Door #2, if you choose an independent pet-supply store like Noble Beast or Bonnie’s Barkery or The Stock Shop, we will make it for $120.

Deadline

Aug. 15 and we promise to get results to you as soon as possible, as long as the household AC holds up.

Happy Summer everyone!

Baseball and your dog

baseball at downtown Phoenix ballpark
You know what is great? It’s great when your baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, is on a scorching hot streak? And they beat the Dodgers repeatedly. And that you can take your dog to a game in downtown Phoenix.

That’s great. Really, really great.

(Of course, how long the Diamondbacks are in downtown Phoenix remains to be seen since there are a lot of rumors that they will be headed to north Scottsdale sooner or later)

Head to the ballgame with your dog

But for right now, you can hope on the Light Rail and head down to the ballpark with your pooch.

The Diamondbacks were the first baseball team in the country to have a dog-friendly section at the ballpark. Other teams, including the Dbacks, had had bring-your-dog-to-the-game days but our team was the first to put in a special section for our four-legged friends.

Two baseball-viewing options

So here’s the rundown, baseball and dogwise:

On Sunday, you can go to  “Bark at the Park” versus the Houston Astros, with a pre-game Puppy Parade on the warning track at Chase Field.  Bring your dog and sit in the stands.

And on 17 other Sunday and Monday home games, there is “Dog Days of Summer”. Dogs and their peeps have their own dedicated seating and concessions area, PetSmart Patio, and their own indoor/outdoor dog park. There also will be onsite adoptions of dogs by leading area animal-rescue groups.

Dog Days of Summer ticket packages start at $160 and include a semi-private space with all the necessities for four people and one dog. Each table comes with access to All-You-Can-Eat hot dogs, soda, water, popcorn, peanuts, and chips. Fans must purchase entire table.

For dogs, hanging out on the patio means they aren’t confined to a seat and can roam around the suite. Another big thrill for the dog: dog-friendly ice cream with chicken, bacon, turkey or sweet potato toppings.

Be sure to head to the Chase Field dog park so Fido can burn off some of that sugar-induced energy before the trip back home.

But wait, there’s more

For those of you who love road trips with the dog, just know that the San Diego Padres are having their own “Dog Days of Summer” event Tuesday, June 19. Info is available on the Padres’ website.

Gifts for the dog this holiday season

You know you are getting the dog a gift this holiday — a little something extra.

Why not shop local?

The metro Phoenix area is home to a lot of great entrepreneurs who love dogs as much as you do and their products/stores show it!

Plus, when you visit these local stores and vendors, they welcome your dog as well as you!

Coyotes in Central Phoenix

coyotes in central phoenix

We face a problem in our central Phoenix neighborhood: coyotes.

Amid all the new condos being built, there is a den of coyotes living on the Encanto Park/ Encanto Park Golf Course. And me and my other dog-loving neighbors worry about it.

Technically speaking, coyotes are part of the dog family but they also have been known to kill their canine cousins, especially smaller dogs.

If coyotes are in your neighborhood

In writing Happy Dog Phoenix, I contacted Arizona Game and Fish Department for advice about coyotes in the neighborhood (never thinking they would make it my central Phoenix ‘hood). They told me that if you see a coyote yell at it, wave your arms, make noise to scare it off. And remove all sources of food and water.

All fine advice.

Except I live next to large fields with plenty of hiding spots and small lakes. And lots of feral cats. I have good-hearted neighbors who feed stray cats, some of whom inevitably will become coyote food. There’s also other good-hearted neighbors, who see coyotes as just another one of Nature’s creatures and say we should just let them be.

I wish I could be so good hearted

But instead I selfishly worry about my little roly-poly potential coyote entrée, the Beagle, who would have no idea how to protect herself if attacked. She’s a goofball, not a fighter.

Would coyotes go after her? If the supply of feral cats decreases and the number of coyotes increase, they may.  Also, these coyotes are not afraid. I yelled and screamed at the coyote lounging on my front yard, and he just gave me a look, a shrug and sauntered off into the neighbor’s yard. Another neighbor has to charge them with an air horn to get them to move.

 What I am doing

Normally when I write a blog, I try to offer a solution. Right now, I have none. Except carrying a used golf club when I walk the dog, further cementing my reputation as a neighborhood eccentric.

On Monday, I contacted Phoenix Parks and Recreation. The first woman asked me to repeat my address because she couldn’t believe there were coyotes this far south. She transferred me to another woman who explained that they had unsuccessfully tried  to capture the coyotes but they can’t do anything more until the coyotes become aggressive.

I explained that I thought that was just waiting for trouble, especially if the coyotes are living on Encanto Park, which can be filled with children during weekends. By her silence, she indicated that it wasn’t her decision.

Then, I then called my City Council representative, Laura Pastor and spoke to someone who promised to get back to me. For the past two days, we have played phone tag — not his fault.

I’ll let you know what I find out.

In the meantime, beware of coyotes in central Phoenix and of strange women walking dogs and carrying golf clubs.

 

Flagstaff road trip!

Attention: residents of Phoenix. It is hot, still hot. You’ve still got time this Labor Day weekend to head up to Flagstaff, which may be Arizona’s most dog-friendly town.

In fact, it may be easier to list the places that aren’t dog friendly in Flagstaff than those that area — especially in downtown, historic Flag, where there dogs in all the best places.
dog friendly flagstaff

Shopping in Flagstaff with your dog

You know how sometimes stores say they are dog friendly but you get a way-different vibe once you and poochie get inside? In Flagstaff, they offer genuine hospitality for dogs. There’s water bowls, dog treats and even resident dogs in the stores. Check out the art galleries along San Francisco street for a lot of love for dogs as well as dog-related art.

biffs bagels flagstaff

Dining with the dog

For breakfast, hit Biff’s Bagels, which is named after a beloved pet and has photos of everyone else’s dog on the wall. For lunch, wow — so many choices. Charley’s on Aspen and Leroux has a great dog-friendly patio. Or Mix.  Or Macy’s. Or Mother Road Brewery. Or any others from our fine list.

roxy at tuthill fairgrounds

Hiking with the dog

You don’t have to be a super wilderness person to enjoy a hike with your dog. There are a lot of mild trails out there — which is especially nice since you and the dog may not have been as active during this hot summer season. Altitude change can also affect breathing for you and the dog.

There are several dog-friendly park trails throughout Flagstaff. Just have a leash and plenty of water.

 

  • Wilson Meadow at Hart Prairie:  A hike that can go as short as you want it to go. Wilson Meadow offers plenty of romping room and a pond to swim in (That’s for the dog; not you).
  • Griffith Spring Trail: Another short hike that allows your dog to wade in a creek.

Drinking with the dog

After a hard day of shopping, dining and hiking, it’s great to kick back with an adult beverage. Your best friend can come into the bar with you as long as the fine establishment doesn’t serve food. And that’s why we can get great scenes like this one at Hops on Birch:

dog in bar, Flagstaff AZ

Monsoons and your dog

help your dog during storm
It’s that time in Phoenix, when the monsoon storm clouds roll in and dogs sneak under beds to escape the booming sounds. Does your dog suffer during this rainy, noisy season?

Happy to report that in this house the Beagle is can hear a cheese bag rustle from three doors down but she seems tone deaf to thunder and lightening.

We asked Alexis Siler, clinical assistant professor, Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic for her suggestions on helping dogs during monsoon season:

How can I calm my dog when it thunders outside during monsoons?

ThunderShirts can be helpful if your dog is fearful or anxious during storms. They hug your dog’s body to apply gentle pressure to hopefully make them feel more secure.

Often dogs will try to hide to avoid thunderstorms. If your dog seems anxious or restless, you may want to try providing a safe place for him to go. This secure space should be readily available, especially if nobody is home. You can also try closing doors and windows. Or you can use white noise or music to block out the sounds.

If your dog is food motivated, you can engage them in fun exercises like food puzzle toys, etc.

You might try playing recordings of thunderstorm sounds and pairing that with pleasant outcomes, such as treats or a new toy, to desensitize your dog to storms.

If your dog exhibits extreme or persistent anxiety, consult with your veterinarian since these animals may need rapidly-acting anti-anxiety medications.

Are there things I shouldn’t do during the monsoon?

It’s also important not to panic or show your dog your own anxiety to avoid making it worse for them.  Any change in your behavior (holding, cuddling, consoling, etc.) can easily condition a fear response and exacerbate the anxious behavior.

If your dog’s anxiety is minimal and recovers quickly, ignore the behavior so he may adapt to storms.

Why does my dog freak out during thunderstorms?

Fear of thunderstorms is a common concern. One thought is that loud noises from overhead are difficult for dogs to orient to, which makes them anxious.  Many dogs adjust to the sounds of a thunderstorm, but some are more sensitive and the fear can become worse with each exposure. The degree of anxiety a dog feels is based on the dog’s perception of the noise as a threat.

Are certain breeds more affected than others?

Thunderstorm phobias can occur in any breed, but some believe herding breeds and cross-breeds are at an increased risk.

Heatwave — keeping your dog safe!

phoenix dogs during heat wave
Yea, it is hot in Phoenix now. Hot for you and the dog. Blazing, furnace-level hot. Mucho de heat.

We checked in with our friends at Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Vet in Gilbert for some info on how to keep your dogs safe during this excessive heat. Here’s a great Q and A with Dr. Gloriana Halterman, DVM

What should dogs drink in the heat? Anything besides water?

Water is really best. Things like Gatorade or Pedialyte have a lot of sugar. Having lots of fresh, cool water available is the most helpful thing to do for your pet. Misting sprays can also help your pet dissipate some of the heat.

My dog still wants to walk in the heat. What can I do?

It’s tough. But when it gets this hot, sometimes you have to say, “We just can’t do it.” One option may be to wait for the sun to go down. But you’ll still need to be cautious. Another option is to seek out an indoor exercise area, such as a doggie day care that is well air-conditioned.

What about booties? Do they help?

They can be helpful, but the problem is they get worn down with extended use. And we don’t want to be overly reliant on them because then we can encounter the other problems that the heat brings, such as heatstroke. If it’s hot enough, you can use them to help your dog walk short distances — just enough to get from one place to another.

How about having the dog just walking on grass when it is hot?

Grass is better than concrete. But be cautious around dry, broken grass. And especially with artificial turf — this may look like it would be cooler but it can actually get quite hot.

What else should I know dogs and this kind of heat?

One thing that we really want to stress is to take caution if you have a breed of dog that is brachycephalic, such as a pug or a bulldog. Because of their short noses, these breeds are very prone to heat-related problems. Last year, I had a horrible case of a family who had their bulldog out at 9 p.m. at night on the Fourth of July and he still got heatstroke. Just be very, very cautious if you have one of these dogs.

Also, if you suspect your dog is suffering heat-related problems, please don’t dunk her in an ice bath. You may accidentally lower her body temperature too dramatically. Instead, gently cool your dog with wet towels, a mister or a fan.

What have you seen so far during this heat wave?

We haven’t actually seen as many heat-related cases as you may think at our Gilbert hospital. We did have one case of heatstroke and another dog with bloat who had skin lesions that appeared to be heat related. It’s actually more common to see heat-related cases at the start of the summer. Right now, when it’s so brutally hot, everyone is very cognizant of the heat. It’s earlier in the season that people are generally less aware of it. But we will continue to see some cases throughout the summer.
Great advice about keeping our dogs safe when it so hot out there, Dr. H — thanks so much for the info!

Hikes, dogs and the heat

dog hike on hot trail

Want to take your dog out for a hike?

Just do it before it gets to be 100 degrees out – that’s the law now in the city of Phoenix.

The city of Phoenix changed what had been an interim policy into a permanent ban and now dogs shouldn’t be on th trails once the temperature is 100 degrees or more. Phoenix is the first city in the country to have laws like this on the books.

New hiking rules for dogs

The new rules cover all city of Phoenix trails; however there are certain Phoenix trails that dogs can’t go on no matter what the weather is.

Under PCC 24-54 (failure to comply), people who hike with their dogs when it is 100 degrees or hotter could be subject to a Class One Misdemeanor that could include a fine of up to $2,500 and six months jail time.

Why do we need such a rule for hikes?

Anyone who hikes in Phoenix knows the answer to this. We’ve all seen dogs on out on trail when it was just too hot for them. It’s one thing for dumb humans to go out when it is too hot but it’s just unconscionable to bring a dog out in the heat like that.

Phoenix veterinarians who practice near popular city hiking trails report they frequently treat hiker dogs who have been overheated. And, vet warn sometimes dogs brought in for heat exhaustion don’t survive the ordeal.

While the city of Phoenix didn’t have any statistics on the numbers of dogs affected by heat in the mountain preserves , the city of Glendale reported in 2011 that three dogs passed away on trails. The only way the city knew about those deaths was because the fire department was called to help the dogs. “For everyone incident reported, we believe there are dozens of animal fatalities that we don’t hear about,’’ said Sue Breding, Glendale spokeswoman.

Heat is dangerous for dogs

Dogs can’t cool off as easily as humans because they don’t sweat like we do.

Dog lovers who want to get some exercise with the dog, should do it early in the morning or in the evening and bring plenty of water. And know the signs of heat distress in your dog.

Let’s stay safe (and legal) out there!