Author Archives: mimin

Spending a Holiday in the Mountains

Life in the city can be fun during the holiday season.  You have all the parades, the displays at the big stores, and the events and entertainment.  But sometimes you also want to go someplace to get away from all the hectic city activity for a day or two.  That’s why my family looks forward to our seasonal drive to the mountains each winter.  We first did it because my sons wanted to try skiing.  So we rented a car for a day and drove to the nearest ski vacation spot as a special holiday treat.  It wasn’t far, but we had to hurry back home to return the car the next day.  I promised the kids on our next trip we’d spend more time to enjoy the place.

The next year I took advantage of a Groupon coupon to rent a car for a weekend at a discount from Enterprise.  We left that Friday with our winter clothes, some games and entertainment packed.  I’d rented us a cabin at a lodge one of my co-workers shared.  They not only ski there, they also go in for dog-sledding.  The kids became more fascinated with the dog sledding than they had ever been with the skiing; they were around those dogs nearly all the time.  I kind of liked them myself; they reminded me of those holiday TV commercials.  We took the sleds for some trips to places to attend holiday parties, ice skating on frozen lakes, and then back to the ski slopes, where the dogs waited until we took the lift back up after doing a run down the slopes.  Then the sleds took us back to the lodge for evening supper and a rest before the fireplace, roasting marshmallows and listening to good stories and our favorite music.

The kids didn’t want to return to the city, but I assured them they’d get a chance to return before winter ended.  That’s were using the rented car with the Groupon coupon for Enterprise had been valuable; saving on the cost of personal car maintenance and upkeep by relying on Enterprise made it possible for us to afford more than one trip for the season.  The kids don’t know it yet, but we’ve already made reservations to return to that lodge on a trip during their next school break.  That’ll be their present for good performance at school.

Tips for Naming Your New Pet

It can be exciting to add a new member to your family. When you get a new pet, a lot of different name ideas will pop into your head, but you’ll need to find the right one. You don’t want to spend weeks trying to figure out a name, but if you’ve never named an animal before or just don’t know which would be best, there are ways to determine what name to go with.

Here are three tips to help you name your pet.

Choose a name that is easy

Think about the many names you have heard over the years. Have you ever thought about how difficult some names were to say? You don’t want to choose anything that is too difficult for you, your family or even relatives to say or even understand. Easy is always best when it comes to naming your new pet, so steer clear of names that are too odd or uncommon.

Stick to something short

You will say your pet’s name often, especially if he or she is being disobedient. When it comes time to discipline them, you don’t want to have to say their long name every time. Sticking to something short is a good idea, but if you do want a longer, catchy name, try to go with something that can be shortened, so you still don’t have to waste time trying to get out every part of your pet’s name when talking about them.

Study your dog’s behavior

Your pet will have its own personality, and it could be nothing like other animals you have encountered. If you want to choose the perfect name, studying their behavior would be a good idea. This is actually something a lot of people do when they can’t decide on a name, and it has allowed them to find something that their pet seems to like and respond to. You take time to carefully pick out clothes, shoes and even cigars from JR Cigar, so why not take a bit of time to figure out a name for your pet?

You might not think that naming a pet is that hard, but it can be. You want to choose the perfect name, so making the wrong choice is not an option. Following these tips can help you find the perfect name for your new pet and ensure it is something that everyone, even your pet, is comfortable with.

All About Snails

Many hobbyists love to have snails in their aquarium. Snails appear gentle and calm. Their slow and graceful movement has a soothing effect. Many snails are placed in the aquarium deliberately as part of the display.

However, too often, a small number of snails can lead to a full blown infestation. Snails usually eat detritus, algae and other organic matter. Sometimes, though, they can attack aquarium plants. A huge number of snails on everything from plants to aquarium walls to the gravel and the filters can affect the aesthetics of the aquarium.

The Snail becomes a pest which needs to be controlled. There are different ways of controlling snails.

Commercial pesticides for Snails available at your petshop can be used. However, these pesticides tend to damage the beneficial bacterial in the aquarium affecting the biological filtration.

There are mechanical snails traps which lure the snails into an enclosure form which they cannot escape. The snails can then be discarded.

Another method is the use of snail eating fish such as loaches and puffer fish. These fish target snails and can be effective, particularly in large aquariums.

Preventing Snail infestation

Avoid Snails

It is best to avoid snails. Many people put snails in the aquarium as part of the display. However, the snails can quickly turn into pests.

Disinfect new additions such as plants and accessories

The most common way snails enter aquariums is as eggs in plants. If the aquarium plant was previously in a tank with snails. There are chances that there are eggs in it.

The best way is to disinfect the plants by immersing them in a solution of Potassium Permanganate for half and hour. Rinse the plants thoroughly with freshwater before putting them in the tank.

Snails can be delightful additions to your tank. But sometimes, unwanted species or an increase in the population can wreak havoc on the tank system particularly the plants.

There are chemicals which can control the snail population. However, they destroy the good nitrifying bacteria as well, damaging the biological filtration. Hence, these should be used only as a last resort.

Snails reproduce very fast and hence their population needs to be monitored and kept in check. When the population explodes, they may have to be removed. One easy way is to boil a lettuce leaf and immerse it in the substrate and leave it overnight. The next morning, you will find that the snails have climbed on to the leaf to eat it. Remove the lettuce leaf and the sails and throw it away. Repeat this for many days till the problem is under control.

Another method is the introduction of snail-eating fish. Several Loach species eat snails. These will help you keep the population in check.

There are chemicals which can control the snail population. However, they destroy the good nitrifying bacteria as well, damaging the biological filtration.

 

Little Tricks For A Betta Fish

Keeping your Betta fish happy and at the top of his health has a lot to do with what you feed him. Betta fish can be notoriously picky eaters, but will eat with enthusiasm food they like, including things they shouldn’t be eating. In order to keep your fish looking and feeling their best, you need to pay close attention to what and how you feed them.

Don’t Overfeed Your Betta

Siamese fighting fish can be really expressive. So expressive that you may feel tempted to feed them more than they should, because given the way they attack the food they like, the poor things must be starving! That is just not true. Your fish is fine with feeding once a day a moderate amount of high quality food, they just like making a big show of it. You should feed enough food to be eaten within 2 minutes, because overfeeding will just end up causing a dirty tank which is the perfect growing ground for bacteria instead of healthy Bettas. A bit of a rounded belly is OK, as you don’t want your fish to be too thin, but a definitely rounded shape is a sign that you are feeding your pet too much. Remember, they can eat themselves to death if you aren’t careful.

Bettas Like Interesting Food

Betta fish are inquisitive by nature, and they need an exciting environment with plenty of things to investigate in order to be happy and active. Food is not an exception, and your fish will appreciate if you change the menu every so often, just to keep things interesting. Siamese fighting fish love live food, particular worms and brine shrimp that you can buy at your local fish store or in some cases even breed yourself. However, be careful because they will absolutely eat all of it, and they can end up having issues due to overfeeding.

But They Hate Plain Stuff

Forget about just buying plain tropical fish flakes or pellets and hoping your Betta will eat them. Unless your fish is absolutely starving they will just give you the evil eye and ignore your offering of boring fish food. Even if you get your fish to eat that sort of food, it will lack on the necessary protein for good coloring and your fish will look lackluster and sluggish. Don’t do that to your beloved pets, and treat them to specific Siamese fighting fish pellets, frozen and dried live food. They will appreciate it, and they will look all the brighter and happier with a good diet.

Betta fish are one of the most popular fish for beginners because of their bright colors and active personality, perfect for a beginner’s fish tank. You can keep them on their own, or in a large enough aquarium they can live with other community tank species as long as they can keep their own territory.

 

Step To Build A Pond

I don’t know anyone who has ever regretted building a pond. However, I do know several people who would have made some changes to their pond design if they had known how much fun and pleasure they got out of their ponds. Especially if they stock it with koi fish. These guys are hogs, they’ll eat out of your hand and they never get full.

Here are five tips to consider if you’re thinking about building a pond:

1. Build the pond as big as your yard and budget will allow. Most of us start out with a pond that ranges in size from 500 to 2,000 gallons. And then, if the room is available, build another one.

The reason is simple. If we stock it with fish, we start out with a few and then want more. There are hundreds of color combinations and many varieties of fish to choose from and one is never enough.

Some, like Koi, get really big and you should limit the number of fish to one for 100 gallons to avoid overcrowding. Fish may require additional water filtration and aeration equipment and that should be decided during the design phase. It’s very similar to planning a swimming pool. Considerations are almost the same.

2. Locate the pond where it will not be in direct sunlight all day. Fish, especially koi, need shade to help keep them from stressing out. Plants that do well in water can be used or plants in pots placed close to the edge of the pond. Anything that provides shade on the water will give them relief from direct sunlight.

Overhanging trees should be avoided to keep debris out of the water and reduce the maintenance requirements.

3. Don’t skimp on the water pump and filtration system. And get an ultraviolet sterilizer. You can get these almost anywhere pond kits are sold. Think of it like building a swimming pool. If you can’t get a professionally designed filtration system, you can do some homework and build a homemade filtration system that will do the job.

4. Get a water heater. If you live in a cold climate and your fish winter outside, an inexpensive water heater may be needed to keep the pond from icing over. Cattle trough heaters are available from most hardware stores in 1,000 and 1,500 watt sizes and can be used safely. You may be able to keep it from freezing just by moving the water or providing aeration. The important thing is to keep the pond from icing over completely.

5. Avoid the temptation to put goldfish into your pond. These little guys are prolific breeders and will get very big in a big pond. you might end up spending a lot of time trying to get the gold fish out of there because they breed so easily.

A pond, whether you call it koi pond, a fish pond, garden pond or whatever, can be a joy to own. Building one is not an impossible task if prefer to do it yourself, and there are many places to get help and advice when you need it. Think about it and make a list of what you desire in a pond. Then remember the rule of thumb about DIY projects. Take your time and cost estimates and double them. When you get it finished, you’ll have something to be proud of.

 

Choosing The Right Aquarium To Buy

Many people have different hobbies. One popular hobby involving animals is caring for fish in an aquarium. Watching these small creatures swimming gracefully around in a tank all day can be a true source of joy, comfort and relaxation for many enthusiasts. This is why there are always several retail spaces in most cities offering everything from different varieties of fish, to fish food, to live plants, to equipment, and of course, the aquarium.

While many retailers can claim to have the best products, you can’t always judge from their stocks alone whether they would be the best people to get your supplies from. The best way to identify a trustworthy supplier of aquariums and all other products related to this hobby would be to take a look at how the company does business. Look for a retailer that practises and observes the following principles.

– Choose a retailer that sells healthy, choice livestock. You want to do business with a retailer that provides fish that will live a healthy life. This means that the fish are not genetically modified, or enhanced with artificial colours, or unsuitable for life in captivity. When the retailer demonstrates care for the fish you will be taking home and does not take shady steps to sell as many as they can for profit, then you know that you are dealing with an ethical and responsible company.

– Choose a retailer that’s always available. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner to fish-keeping or even someone with considerable experience and a retailer that is only thinking about profit will try to convince you to buy and take home your aquarium and your fish on the same day. This isn’t how it’s done. You need to purchase and have the aquarium set up properly before you can add the fish to it. A reliable seller will know this and will help guide you so your fish can adjust and thrive to their new environment.

– Choose a retailer who knows more about your hobby. As a rule of thumb, the number of fish you need should be in proportion to the size of the aquarium you buy. In the interest of moving product, some retailers will knowingly sell you more fish than your aquarium can handle, which can lead to the death of the animals. Choose a seller who can tell you the proper fish-to-aquarium-dimension ratio.

 

Loving Your Rabbit

With long ears, a twitchy nose, and a puff ball tail, rabbits have long been a popular pet. Caring for your pet rabbit can be time consuming, but, if done right, it will give you the affections of a beloved member of your family.

Choosing the right hutch: indoors or outdoors

In the past, rabbits were largely kept outdoors. Provided with a sturdy hutch, they can be kept safe and clean outdoors. They can also be given an enclosed area of grass for a run.

However, many now prefer to keep their rabbits indoors. Inside, they can be kept in a hutch or allowed to roam free as house rabbits. In either case, they should be given plenty of time to exercise.

Exercise for your rabbit

A rabbit’s main exercise will be running, or hopping around. The larger the area, the more they will be able to do, but any exercise area should give them enough space to do several fully stretched hops. It is also possible to train a rabbit to walk on a lead, but many rabbits do not enjoy having a harness or lead on.

Another way of giving your rabbit exercise is to make them search for their food. Rabbits will naturally graze on plants throughout the day, looking for hidden treats. Your pet rabbit should have plenty of good quality hay and free access to water throughout the day. Rabbit pellets and fresh fruit and vegetables can supplement the hay. Each rabbit will have its own preferred food, but there are some that can cause problems for any rabbit.

What to feed your rabbit and understanding them

Keeping your rabbit away from dangerous foods, such as the leaves and stems of tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and too many processed treats, can do a lot for their health. The biggest health concerns for rabbits are related to their digestion, including gut stasis and bloating.

It’s important to understand the signals your rabbit gives. In nature, they are a prey animal and much of the prey behaviours are present in pet rabbits. Most notably, they do not do anything to express their illness or pain. As a rabbit owner, you must be able to notice small changes in your pet’s behaviour or eating habits and be ready to get them medical treatment as soon as possible.

Are rabbits right for you and your children?

The need to carefully monitor rabbits is part of why they are often not suitable pets for children. While children can enjoy playing with a rabbit, they may not have the ability to give it the veterinary care needed. Depending on training and socialization, rabbits may also bite or not tolerate being handled, something many children simply don’t understand.

Like any pet, a rabbit is not a small commitment. Whether you opt for a smaller breed, such as a Netherland Dwarf, or a bigger breed, such as a Flemish Giant, your pet rabbit will require food, healthcare, and lots of attention. You may also need to prepare your home for a rabbit by ensuring that there are no exposed wires that they could chew through. However, a rabbit can also be an excellent pet, bringing a lot of love and joy to a family.

 

The Cons of Exotic Species

What are exotic species? Exotic species are species that are not native to the environment. They can be plants, fish, or animals. The reason they are dangerous is that they can invade a native environment and take over because the native species, whether plant, fish, or mammal, do not have the means to defend themselves against the exotic introduced species.

One exotic species, that is not really so exotic, but comes under the heading of harmful or potentially harmful and can overtake an environment and affect the ecosystem is the common goldfish. Goldfish are plentiful. They are easily obtained. And they may be dumped into a local pond or lake where they can grow and crowd out native species as they eat food meant for the native species. Another fairly well-known example is how pythons have been taking over the Everglades in Florida, even able to consume alligators.

Potentially harmful plants include water hyacinths, giant salvinia, and hydrilla. Exotic fish include Asian carp which go by the names of grass, silver, and bighead; tilapia, and zebra mussels. Harmful plants and animals are regulated by strict state laws. Permits are required to transport them. There are fines if these species are found. There are some permits given to zoologists or for research purposes, but outside of that there are strict controls against exotic and potentially harmful species. Texas alone has a 370 page book that presents information on the various species and similar species. If you do a Google search for “exotic species regulated”, in conjunction with a specific state’s name, such as “Texas exotic species regulated”, you will find the different states have information and links specific to their state regulations. The point is, the issue of exotic species and dangerous species is an important topic.

For example, in the case of the zebra mussel, it is required that boats be drained of water as they leave or approach public fresh water. Plus, these mussels cannot be found clinging to the vessel. Other regulations cover the clinging of vegetation to the boat, or regulations on live bait. The only way to know the regulations for the particular state where you live or vacation is to search out the regulations of that particular state. People in tournaments are covered by special rules and documentation that the tournament organizers possess.

Another form of regulation concerns transporting live, non-game fish in specific geographic locations. In other words, certain geographical locations have specific rules covering only them. These will be better known by the locals, but if you are going into a certain location, it is worth searching out these regulations so as not to be in violation. The purpose of these regulations is to keep the native species alive and well, and keep the non-native species from overcoming the native species and destroying the natural ecosystem.

 

Wrong Things New Dog Owners To Do

First-time puppy owners are a lot like first-time parents – they’re happy about the new arrival, but fearful of making mistakes, and perhaps even a bit intimidated by the responsibility they’re about to undertake. Certainly, it is a big responsibility, and it’s a given that you’ll make mistakes. The key is not to re-invent the wheel.

Dog owners who came before you have already made just about every possible mistake. So, if you understand where they got it wrong, you can avoid common mistakes. Here are 10 of them.

1. Committing Without Thinking

If you’re not 100% sure that you’re ready to commit to a dog, stop right here and wait until you are ready. A puppy is not something you should buy on impulse. Too many dogs end up in shelters because people decided they weren’t ready for a commitment that lasts ten or so years.

2. Putting off Training

“I’ll start tomorrow,” you think. Then tomorrow comes and goes, and your puppy grows, and next thing you know you have a rambunctious adolescent with a lot of bad habits. The sooner you start obedience training, the better – it’s much easier to nip a problem in the bud than to correct it later on.

3. Inconsistency

Train consistently, using the same verbal commands and hand signals all the time. If you vary the method, your dog will become confused.

4. Over-Treating

Puppies will usually eat pretty much anything you offer them, but treats shouldn’t just be handed out for no reason. It’s best to reserve treats for training sessions – that way, the puppy connects a treat with good behavior, and you have a powerful motivational tool as opposed to something you offer, and your puppy expects, for no particular reason.

5. Poor Socialization

Puppies are meant to remain with the litter for the first eight weeks of life – this is the time when they learn how to be dogs. So, if you’re thinking of buying a puppy younger than eight weeks, don’t. During this period, a responsible breeder will also make sure that the puppies are frequently handled by humans. Then, once you take your puppy home, it is your job to continue the socialization process, making sure that your puppy is exposed to different people and also to other pets. The more experiences your puppy is exposed to, the more confident he will be.

6. Not Enough Exercise

Puppies and dogs typically have a great deal of energy, and even the laziest dog is going to need daily exercise. A lack of exercise can lead to behavioral problems like destructiveness and excessive barking.

7. Not Enough Mental Stimulation

In addition to exercising your dog’s body, it is also important that you exercise his mind. Training provides mental stimulation, as do a variety of toys, and of course playtime with their person.

8. Too Much “Alone” Time

If your puppy is alone for long periods of time, chances are he’s missing out on both exercise and mental stimulation. He is also more likely to have accidents in the house, and could also develop behavioral problems or separation anxiety.

9. Not “Puppy-Proofing” the House

You need to puppy-proof the home in much the same way as you would child-proof it. This means making sure that any cleaning products are secured, and electrical cords are out of reach. Make sure to puppy-proof the garage as well – petroleum products and anti-freeze can be deadly.

10. Punishing Undesirable Behavior

It is possible that if you punish your dog for misbehaving, he will learn not to do what you punished him for doing. It is more likely, though, that he’ll become afraid of you. Praise and rewards are always more effective ways of training your dog than punishment.

The Final Word

As a new puppy owner, you will make mistakes – it goes with the territory. No one ever raises a puppy, and when that puppy reaches adulthood, says, “I got it exactly right.” But now you know the most common mistakes, and they’re also the most significant ones. Avoid them, and you’ll be well on your way to having a well-adjusted dog

 

All About Dogs And Breeds

Toys

The toy dog is defined as being under 20 pounds. Besides being lap dogs, many are smart, stubborn, and rule the roost. They make excellent pets for apartment dwellers and seniors as they can get plenty of exercise indoors. They are affectionate and people-oriented dogs. The Pugs and (smooth-coated variety) Chihuahuas are easy to groom; where as the Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, and the Shih Tzu are high-maintenance dogs. The Pomeranian is a breed that sheds a lot. Breeds also include Toy Poodles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Havanese, Papillons, Pekingese Sporting Dogs.

Sporting Dogs

Sporting dogs are the larger dogs that needs lots of exercise but make great companions. These dogs are the ones you take hunting with you. These dogs are great family dogs, smart, and are affectionate. The Cocker Spaniel is a high-maintenance dog as there will be many trips to the groomers. The English Springer Spaniel is one that has been a winning show dog. Breeds also include Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Brittanys, American Water Spaniels, and German Shorthaired Pointers.

Non Sporting Dogs

This group varies in size from very small to very large. Personalities vary as well. There are breeds who are very lovable and those which only love their owner. There are differences in their looks also. There are coated breeds and there are smooth breeds. Colors have a wide variety as well; from the black and white of the Boston Terrier to the variety of colors of the Lowchen. As for grooming goes the Poodle is a high-maintenance dog; and the French Bulldog and Dalmatian are some of the wash-and-wear dogs. Some of the other breeds in the Non Sporting group are the Keeshond, Bulldog, Schipperke, Lhasa a pso, and the Tibetan Terrier.

Herding Group

Historically, these hardy dogs were used to keep grazing cattle and sheep from straying, and to protect the livestock from Wolves. Many of these breeds are still popular as farm animals. Most of these dogs have long hair, long ears, and short legs. Size ranges from medium to giant. They are intelligent, eager to please, loyal, affectionate; but need enough exercise. Some in this group that are high-maintenance are the Collie (rough-coated variety), Old English Sheepdog, and the Briard. Breeds also include Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, German Shepherds Dogs, Shetland and Belgian Sheepdogs, and the Polish Lowlands.

Working Group

These dogs serve people in various ways. For example, Doberman Pinschers, and Mastiffs make excellent guard and police dogs. The Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, and Siberian Huskies pull sleds; and the St. Bernards and Newfoundlands were bred for rescue work. They are usually large, strong dogs,and need significant exercise. The Boxers and Rottweilers are easy to groom; but the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Great Dane, and the Samoyed shed a lot. Breeds also include Akitas, Giant and Standard Schnauzers.

Hound Dogs

The Hound group can be broken into two types: Scenthounds and Sighthounds

Scenthounds

These dogs hunt by smell, not sight. The Beagles and Foxhounds run with their nose to the ground to follow an animal’s scent. Their size ranges from medium to large. Beagles shed a lot but are easy to groom. Breeds also includes Bloodhounds, coonhounds, Dachshunds, Harriers, Petit Basset Griffons Vendeens, and Otterhounds.

Sighthounds

These are dogs that hunt on instinct when they see prey moving; then by using their speed they overtake their prey. They have a wide size range; from toy to giant. Sighthounds are very fast runners. As for grooming goes the Greyhound is a wash and wear dog. Breeds also include Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Basenjis, Borzois, Irish Wolfhounds, Lurchers, Salukis, and Scottish Deerhounds.

Terriers

Terriers were originally bred to drive game out of holes in the ground. The majority of Terriers have a wiry coat and a bushy beard. These dogs make fearless watch dogs. They also help people by killing mice, rats, and other pests. Busy, Feisty, and active, many Terriers are the canine version of hyperactive children, so they need a lot of exercise. Breeds include Cairn Terriers, Irish Terriers, Kerry Blue Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Scottish Terriers, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, and West Highland White Terriers.