Lists | Lists http://www.dogster.com/lists Lists en-us Wed, 07 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 Wed, 07 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Orion <![CDATA[What Are the Most Popular Dog Names on Dogster?]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/most-popular-dog-names-2014-dogster-doggienames-bella-buddy We all know that Dogster members are the coolest pet parents around. You're passionately dedicated to the health and happiness of your fur kids and to keeping up with the latest dog news, views, and Internet memes. So it should come as no surprise that you're also leaders of the cultural zeitgeist when it comes to naming your dogs.

Dogster has chowed down the data and dug up 2014's 10 most popular dog names within our thriving Community, where pup parents such as yourself share pictures and diaries, along with participating in groups and advice forums, where you find guidance from other owners on food and nutrition, senior dog care, behavior and training, and lots more.

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Meet Bella, one of the many pups with that name on Dogster.

There are close to 585,000 dogs with profile pages on Dogster, which makes this particular year-end dog-name list one of the most comprehensive you'll find anywhere. So without further ado, drumroll please ...

Top 10 female names on Dogster

  1. Bella
  2. Lucy
  3. Daisy
  4. Molly
  5. Maggie
  6. Chloe
  7. Sadie
  8. Sophie
  9. Lola
  10. Roxy

Top 10 male names on Dogster

  1. Buddy
  2. Max
  3. Charlie
  4. Jake
  5. Rocky
  6. Jack
  7. Toby
  8. Bailey
  9. Buster
  10. Bear

Want more? DoggieNames.com recently released its own world's top 10 most popular dog names list, derived via data not only from Dogster, but also from pet insurers in English-speaking countries such as the U.S., the UK, Canada, and Australia, along with other online pet communities and city or county records in Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Toronto, Wellesley (Massachusetts), Anchorage, Cincinnati, Lansing (Michigan), Eau Claire (Wisconsin), New York, and Los Angeles. That adds up to more than a million names. And you'll be happy to know that Dogster members are pretty on point.

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Dogster's list brings Chloe and Sophie to the top 10, instead of Coco and Princess, and adds Buster, Bear, and Jake, in lieu of Lucky, Cooper, and Duke, who appear on the world's most popular male dog name list. However, all of Dogster's monikers are in the world's top 15.

Why Bella works

Bella has been the most popular dog name around the globe for more than five years. We used to think this was linked to the Twilight series of books and movies, since it's the name of that series' popular heroine, but now it looks like it stands on its own as a cross-cultural favorite.

Bella is a lovely name that means "beautiful" in Italian, and it also follows the trainer-recommended guidelines of giving your dog a name with one or two syllables, led by a strong consonant, and ending in a long vowel sound like e, o, or a.

Above all else, your pet's name is a safety and training tool. You want her to alert to the name as soon as she hears it, immediately stop and follow your command. This prevents your dog from getting into dangerous situations such as darting out into traffic. In fact, all of the names on both the male and female lists fall under those recommendations. So yay, Dogster members!

Nostalgic names rule

Of course, the name you give your dog is a personal choice that can reflect cultural trends. And the current favorites from around the world point to a more nostalgic, retro vibe. Looking to the past provides comfort when there are so many unknowns in the future -- and there's often no more comforting presence in our lives than our dogs. So it makes sense we'd want to give them names that harken back to a simpler time. For example, the current top ten dog names for girls could've come out of a tea party RSVP list from the 1880s, when Daisy, Lucy, Sadie, Charlie, and Roxy were some of the most popular baby names, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration.

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DoggieNames co-editors sport the popular names Daisy and Buddy.

It also looks like pop culture doesn't have as much to do with dog-name popularity as once believed. If it did, we'd for sure be seeing Frozen's Elsa, Anna, and Olaf on the top of the list.

No more Rover?

The shift from monikers such as Rover and Ranger to more "human" names such as Molly and Jack might also reflect the fact that most dogs are no longer working and hunting on farms and ranches for a living. Instead, they're now the doted-upon leisure class that've been welcomed into our homes as beloved family members and waited on hand and foot. This might then explain the names Princess and Duke showing up on the world's most popular list.

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Royal names are hot. (Prince by Shutterstock)

This trend appears not just in the U.S., but across the globe as well. And the fact that so many of the same names appear on lists both here and abroad shows just how connected our cultures have become. Dogster has active members in several countries, including in the UK, Canada, and Australia, and in fact, DoggieNames's research shows that Bella also happens to be the most popular dog name in Finland.

And though the top 10 most popular dog names work as baby names, too, there's surprisingly little crossover in the human vs. pet name list. The Social Security Administration recently came out with its own top 10 baby name list, and while the monikers are somewhat similar, there was no crossover at all. For example, Sophia, Emma, and Olivia are the most common girl names, while the baby boy names are led by Jackson, Aiden, and Liam, which kinda sound like the latest boy band out of London.

How to decide on a name?

It's always nice to choose a name that means something to you and your family, whether it's from a favorite book, movie, hometown, or sports team. That's why I created DoggieNames.com, to help you shake loose some more creative ideas by browsing through our database of more than 5000 names, searchable by all kinds of categories, including Most Popular.

It used to be that it didn't really matter how popular the name was -- you were really only going to be talking to your pet around your house or yard. But now, with the rise of daycare and dog parks, it might make sense to choose a moniker that's a little more creative and different. You don't want your special girl or guy mixed up with the 12 other Maxes or Bellas at the groomer or vet. And you want to be able to call and control your dog at the park. So unless you want to be trampled by 10 different Buddys, maybe you should choose a slightly different "B" name, such as Baxter or Barney.

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Meet one of Dogster's Buddys.

One Dogster family knows they chose the best moniker for their Buddy, who "earned his name because he was the definition of man's best friend. ... Buddy was there for you when you were feeling down. He could sense it and come up to you and nuzzle you to let you know everything will be okay. ... He is not with us any more but he will always be my Buddy."

Does your dog have a popular name? How did you decide on it? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more about dog names:

About the author: Atlanta's own Toni Perling is a writer and web content provider, mostly about dogs, hence her blogger name, Doggienista. :) And hence, her two beautiful rescue dogs: Daisy Jo and Bud Earl. She tweets for them at DaisyJoBudEarl, and shares her collection of dog names and trends at DoggieNames.com. Toni started asking her parents for a puppy pretty much the minute she learned to speak, but they held off until she was the ripe old age of 10, when the family welcomed a Miniature Schnauzer named Truffles. In between, she inhaled every book about dogs ever written and can pretty much identify any breed by sight. She's also a longtime supporter of spay/neuter/rescue, and adopted her first dog, a sweet lovable mutt named Sophie, from an Los Angeles County shelter.

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Wed, 07 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/most-popular-dog-names-2014-dogster-doggienames-bella-buddy
<![CDATA[Haiku by Dog: Meet Tucker, an All-Out Terrier Who Loves to Write Poetry]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/haiku-by-dog-tucker-dog-poetry-life-with-dogs-cats About 1.7 seconds into meeting Tucker, you'll know he is some kind of Terrier. From his wiry fur -- which acts like Velcro, attracting every leaf, burr, and scent the dog encounters -- to his old-man beard and eyebrows, his appearance is unmistakably Terrier.

If you need confirmation, just say the word "ball" and his obsession will become instantly apparent. I actually have to spell the word out in front of him. I am beginning to think he knows what the letters mean, though, and I've begun referring to the object in question as "the orb of exhaustion," partly so he won't know what I'm talking about but also because Tucker will chase that thing until his tongue is hanging out past his knees if I let him.

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(All photography by Susan C. Willett)

As long as there's a willing human with an available throwing arm, Tucker will pester until his goal is accomplished -- many times over. And if there is no ball in sight, he'll run after Frisbees and sticks as well. You throw it, he'll retrieve it, wagging his ropey tail on the way back with his prize and anticipating the next throw.

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When he's not hunting down inanimate objects, Tucker will chase nearly anything that moves, including evil squirrels, marauding rabbits, and treacherous chipmunks who escape under the garden shed.

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Do you speak Meow in addition to Woof? Check out Haiku by Cat on our sister site, Catster.

Read more Haiku by Dog:

About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with three dogs and four cats (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans -- all of whom provide inspiration for her work. Refusing to take sides in the interweb's dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home -- like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Lilah, Jasper, and Tucker (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by Dog™Haiku by Cat™, and Dogs and Cats Texting.

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Tue, 30 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/haiku-by-dog-tucker-dog-poetry-life-with-dogs-cats
<![CDATA[10 Holiday-Related Dog Names]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-names-holiday-christmas-hanukkah-related-dog-names After careful consideration and research, your family has decided to celebrate the holidays by making a lifelong commitment to a new dog. Congratulations! I hope you'll consider adopting one of the many deserving animals waiting for a loving home. Many rescue organizations will help you figure out the best time and way to welcome a new pet during the hectic holiday season.

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Santa's Little Helper is a member of the Simpsons family. Borrow his name!

And you might decide to mark this momentous occasion by giving your new dog a holiday-themed name. If you've had your tree up since Thanksgiving, exterior lights you can see from space, and It’s a Wonderful Life on an endless loop, then naming your pup after the holiday makes perfect sense. Plus, you'll get a sweet reminder of your favorite time of year every time you call him or her.

With that in mind, over at DoggieNames.com I have compiled fun, festive -- and out-of-the-gift-box -- seasonal names worth considering. Most of these monikers fall under the guidelines recommended by trainers and experts. First and foremost, your pet's name is a safety and training tool. You want her to alert to the name as soon as she hears it, immediately stop and follow your command. This prevents your dog from getting into dangerous situations such as darting out into traffic.

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DoggieNames.com co-editors Bud and Daisy prefer to be called Jingle and Belle during the holidays.

That's why it's important to make the name easy for you to say and for your fur kid to understand. So try not to make the name too much of a tongue twister -- one or two syllables is best. A name starting with a hard consonant, such as "r" or "t" or "d," and ending in a vowel sound, such as a long "e" or "o," makes a great choice, as it grabs your dogs attention and signals the end of the name and beginning of the command. 

Here are a few of my favorite holiday-themed names:

1. Dickens

Of course, your pup is as "cute as the dickens," right? Plus, if you're looking for literary inspiration, you could do worse than Charles Dickens. The author's A Christmas Carol remains a worthy holiday favorite, with lots of wonderful ideas for dog names. There's Tiny Tim, Marley, Humbug, and 'Neezer for Ebenezer. Scrooge could even work for a grumpy-looking French Bulldog or Pug.

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If the name Scrooge fits... (French Bulldog by Shutterstock.)

There are a couple of minor characters in the story that have great names, too. Scrooge's nephew is named Fred, and the folks he visits on his trip to the past are his kindly first employer, Mr. Fezziwig, and his neglected fiance, Belle.

2. Tinsel

Not only is Tinsel a pretty darn adorable name for any puppy, but it fits the criteria of having just two syllables and starting with a strong consonant sound. Some other festive monikers you might consider are Jingle, Belle, Joy, Kringle, Merry, Holly, Jolly, and Noel, with the last one working for either a female or a male. And let's not forget Santa himself -- Nick, as in St. Nick, is an excellent choice.

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The name Tinsel suits this little pup. (Dog by Shutterstock.)

3. Figgy

Think about your family's favorite holiday treat and go from there. Besides figgy pudding, you've got Chestnut, Tamale, Fudge, Cinnamon, Cookie, Ginger, Cider, and maybe even Ham. As far as food goes, though, you'd probably do well to stay away from Fruitcake, Turkey, or Egg Nog as names. You don't want to be yelling those at the dog park.

4. Dasher

Out of all of Santa's trusty transports, the best for year-round use as a dog name might go to Dasher, which is great for any speedy dog, such as an Italian Greyhound or Border Collie. But while I'm on the subject of famous sleigh pullers, the beloved TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has tons of fantastic names in it. Of course, there's Rudolph -- or Rudy -- as well as Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen for a male. And don't forget Hermey (the elf) and Bumble (the Abominable Snowman.)

As far as the female names go, there’s Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen, as well as Dolly from the Land of Misfit Toys. I'm on the fence about the name of Clarice, the adorable little deer who caught Rudolph's eye. It's cute, but doesn't make for the best call name.

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Dasher, Dancer, Comet, or Cupid? (Dog by Shutterstock.)

5. Dreidel 

The holiday of Hanukkah itself might not roll off the tongue the way a good dog name should, but related names like Dreidel (a spinning top), Latke (potato pancake), and Maccabee (the warrior heroes) certainly do.

6. Griswold

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation still holds up as one of the funniest holiday movies ever made. You could name your pup after the dad, Clark, or Chevy Chase, the actor who played him. But Griswold is cooler, plus it lends itself to the great nickname "Grizz." Other ideas from that movie are the Griswold kids’ names, Audrey and Russ, or Rusty, which is perfect for an orange or rust-coated dog such as a Rhodesian Ridgeback, Vizsla, or Basenji.

7. Ralphie

Speaking of holiday classics, the great '80s movie A Christmas Story provides plenty of worthy candidates, too, such as Ralphie, friend Flick, and evil bully Scut Farkus. Or if your family prefers It's a Wonderful Life, that film favorite offers up names such as George, Bailey, Clarence, Bedford, and Zuzu. For the slightly more edgy movie fan, there's Will Ferrell's Buddy from Elf and Bad Santa's Thurman Merman. In fact, actress Rachel Bilson named her terrier mix Thurman after that sweet young character.

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Ralphie would make a great name for this dog. (Dog by Shutterstock.)

8. Jenga

Games your family likes to play together may inspire names, too. Jenga makes for a great dog name, as does Trouble, Boggle, or even Scrabble. Classic toys are an excellent source for monikers too -- Slinky, Nerf, Lego, and Tonka are awesome, and for the high-energy, bouncy pet, there's Pong.

9. Max

Not only is this one of the most popular dog names of all time, it's also the name of the put-upon pup in the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Of course, Grinch is a pretty cute name, as is the story's heroine, Cindy Lou Who. Dr. Seuss' real name was Theodor Geisel, and if you'd like to honor the author and his work, giving your pooch the name Theo will do exactly that.

10. Snowy

Finally, if you're celebrating a White (dog) Christmas, there are some excellent wintry names to choose from, including Frosty, Snowy, Winter, Flurry, Marshmallow, Powder, and Snowball. For the very large (or very small) white pup, Yeti is an excellent name that's sure to stir up plenty of dog-park conversation.

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Snowie, one of the sweet dogs available for adoption at the Atlanta Humane Society. (Courtesy of the AHS Facebook page.)

Did I leave any out? Please add to the list in the comments section. Happy holidays!

Read more about dog names:

About the author: Atlanta's own Toni Perling is a writer and web content provider, mostly about dogs, hence her blogger name, Doggienista. :) And hence, her two beautiful rescue dogs: Daisy Jo and Bud Earl. She tweets for them at DaisyJoBudEarl, and shares her collection of dog names and trends at DoggieNames.com. Toni started asking her parents for a puppy pretty much the minute she learned to speak, but they held off until she was the ripe old age of 10, when the family welcomed a Miniature Schnauzer named Truffles. In between, she inhaled every book about dogs ever written and can pretty much identify any breed by sight. She's also a longtime supporter of spay/neuter/rescue, and adopted her first dog, a sweet lovable mutt named Sophie, from an Los Angeles County shelter.

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Wed, 10 Dec 2014 08:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-names-holiday-christmas-hanukkah-related-dog-names
<![CDATA[Introducing Haiku by Dog: Poetry Created by Canines]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-poetry-haiku-life-with-dogs-cats Editor's note: This is the first in a series of dog-parody poetry by Susan C. Willett of the blog Life With Dogs and Cats. We hope it's also the beginning of a long relationship between Susan and Dogster.

Dogs are natural poets. Consider: 

They express themselves eloquently. With just a few barks and a woof, they can tell you everything you wanted to know about that squirrel in the tree and what needs to be done about it.

They have an awesome sense of timing. They know the best moment to place muddy paw prints on your clean clothes.

They are souls brimming with emotion. They overflow with sadness when you walk out the door without them, and they jump for joy when you come back -- even if you've only been gone for two minutes and 12 seconds to take out the trash. 

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Lilah, Tucker, and Jasper -- such emotion.

Why do dogs like haiku?

Based on a type of ancient Japanese verse, haiku in English is written in just three lines, with a pattern based on syllables: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third and final line.

The challenge is to capture a feeling, a moment, a thought in those three short lines. Kind of like Twitter, only deeper.

The form is perfect for dogs, who, you have to admit, aren't very good at rhyming and don't have the patience for long-form free verse.

On with the haiku: Introducing Lilah

Lilah is one of three poet dogs, who live with four poet cats (see their work on our sister site Catster), who write haiku. Here are a few of her poems.

A rescued Border Collie mix, Lilah is a patient dog, except when it comes to dinnertime. Sometimes the humans are late with a meal, and they must be reminded of the importance of prompt service:

Lilah is a vigilant watchdog, keeping an eye on the birds and squirrels out of reach behind the evil glass barrier. Smooshing her snout against the window, she leaves a trail of nose prints.

Lilah is a firm believer in squeaker removal and takes this job quite seriously, though she stays silent on her exact technique.

Check back for more Haiku by Dog in the coming weeks, featuring Jasper, a rescued 70-pound Catahoula mix, and Tucker, a terrier whose main reason for existence is to play ball. Expect new poetry by dogs every other Tuesday. You also can read Haiku by Cat over on Catster.

If your dog could write haiku, what would it be? Go ahead, give it a shot in the comments.

About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with three dogs and four cats (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans -- all of whom provide inspiration for her work. Refusing to take sides in the interweb's dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home -- like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Lilah, Jasper, and Tucker (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by Dog™, Haiku by Cat™, and Dogs and Cats Texting.

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Tue, 02 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-poetry-haiku-life-with-dogs-cats
<![CDATA[8 Reasons to Add Olive Oil to Your Dog's Diet]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-health-diet-olive-oil Olive oil, that staple of every kitchen, happens to make an excellent, healthful addition to every dog's food bowl. I know I'm have touted before the benefits of coconut oil, which is another mainstay in my pantry, but let's not forget the oil that comes from olives, which has its own fantastic advantages. In fact, why not mix things up? Rotate the oils you sweeten your dog's food bowl with! I like to switch among olive, coconut, and (for the omega-3 factor so key to senior dog vitality) fish oil by Nordic Naturals. Here are eight reasons to heart olive oil. Bone appetit!  

1. It tastes doggone good

Few things perk up a boring bowl of dry kibble better than a spoonful of what dog-loving celebrity chef Rachael Ray affectionately calls EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) -- especially if your kibble might be, ahem, the tiniest bit stale. Add a dash of cinnamon and turmeric, and you've spiced your dog's meal in grand style!

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2. It helps the eater lose weight

Whether the portly pepperpot is canine or human, if there are some unwanted pounds that need shedding, olive oil will help grease the weight-loss engine. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil actually encourage pound-melting by breaking down the fat inside fat cells, getting rid of belly fat and reducing insulin sensitivity.

3. It promotes optimal health

Rich in monounsaturated fats, olive oil prevents and lessens the effects of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It contains oleic acid, in addition to some compounds (squalene and terpenoids) that are believed to be effective in preventing cancer, which kills a staggering 50 percent of dogs over age 10.

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Woman cooking in kitchen by Shutterstock.

4. It defends the immune system

With high levels of antioxidants -- including polyphenols, vitamin E, chlorophyll, and carotenoids -- olive oil is very effective at arming the body's immune system so it can efficiently fight off disease. That's especially important as we (humans as well as canines) transition from one season to another.

5. It extends canine longevity  

Dogs don't live nearly as long as we want them to, but nothing looks sadder than a young dog going gray before his time. Olive oil prevents free radical cell oxidation (see above), which can lead to premature aging, so it works to help keep your dog looking as vibrantly youthful as he did in his salad days.

6. It's a brain food

Olive oil helps prevent the cognitive decline associated with aging in all species, so be sure to serve it to senior dogs at least once daily, to keep their minds beautiful and cloud-free. This is especially important if your dog is a super-smartie, such as a Border Collie, Poodle, or Mensa mutt.

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Olive oil can help improve canine circulation in breeds like the English Bulldog. Photo by Shutterstock.

7. It provides an energy boost

Circulation improves and breathing comes more easily with a daily dose of olive oil -- it helps increase blood flow and, in humans, lessens the effects of asthma. So, by extension, it can be a dogsend for brachycephalic breeds such as the Bulldog, who sometimes struggle to breathe.

8. It's also a beauty treatment

There's more to olive oil than mere substance -- it's a style statement, too! Long used to beautify human hair and skin, olive oil can do the same for canines. Condition your dog's coat from the inside out with a daily serving, which helps to impart moisture and gleam to even the driest, dullest fur.

Do you add olive oil to your dog's diet? Did we convince you to start? Let us know in the comments!

Learn more about dog health and care with Dogster:

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Thu, 06 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-health-diet-olive-oil
<![CDATA[The Top 10 Dog Names Associated with Halloween]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/top-10-halloween-dog-names There’s always that one family in the neighborhood who goes all out every Halloween, kinda like the Dunphys on Modern Family. They start planning months in advance, spend an inordinate amount of time and money on pumpkins, dry ice and animated decorations, often turning their house into a walk-through attraction. Of course, they also coordinate their costumes, down to the ones worn by their dogs. It’s in honor of these dedicated Americans that DoggieNames.com has created this list of the Top 10 Halloween Dog Names.

These are great choices for the family who eats, sleeps and lives Halloween, but they’re also perfect for all-around pop-culture fans. That said, you’ll still want to make sure the name is something that you can live with the rest of the year. Most if not all of these names meet that criteria, or at least they have a nickname that addresses that issue.

Also, please think about adopting a black dog (or cat) this season. These guys are often passed over at the shelters, but they’re anything but evil and deserve good homes (and great names!) as well.

The top 10 Halloween dog names

1. Pumpkin -- Pumpkin’s been used as a term of endearment for at least a hundred years, so you wouldn’t be out of your gourd if you chose this sweet name for your best pal. It’s also pretty perfect for a pup whose coat has some orange in it or for one who’s a little bit round and plump. And who doesn’t love the classic Peanuts cartoon, with Linus’ unshakeable devotion to the Great Pumpkin? Of course, Jack O. Lantern’s pretty cute too, and Jack makes a fine year-round moniker.

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Pumpkin? Pretty perfect name by Shutterstock.com.

2. Sparky -- The animated films of the legendary film director Tim Burton offer up several excellent choices. There’s the dog Zero from his movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Frankenweenie features the cute canine couple known as Sparky and Persephone. Frankenweenie also happens to be a great Dachshund name, which leads us to ...

3. Frank -- From Frankenstein to Frank N. Furter of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Frank (or Frankie for a girl) is a perfect Halloween name that also works great for the rest of the year. It’s especially effective for long-bodied dogs, from Dachshunds to Corgis and beyond.

4. Scooby Doo -- The greatest ghost-fighting Great Dane of all time, along with his cohorts Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred, are well worth naming your dog after. And how cute are the names Shaggy and Scooby for a pair of pooches? All are fabulous monikers that meet the dog-name criteria of having one or two syllables, starting with a strong consonant sound.

5. Buffy -- Like good old Scoob and the gang, there are many fine names inspired by TV horror heroes to choose from: Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Mulder and Scully from The X-Files, Winchester (Sam and Dean from Supernatural), Kolchak (from the influential ‘70s series Night Stalker) and even current TV faves like Grimm or Ichabod (Icky) from Sleepy Hollow. And who could forget horror hostess with the mostest Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark? It’s a fabulous name for a dog with silky black hair, like a Cocker Spaniel or Afghan Hound.

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Elvira the Afghan Hound by Shutterstock.com

6. Zuul -- One of the famed demons from Ghostbusters, Zuul is cool. The movie offers up plenty more possibilities, too, from the spirit wranglers themselves, Venkman, Stantz and Spengler; to the big baddie Gozer; ‘Buster (for Ghostbuster); or even the guys’ classic car -- the Ecto.

7. Casper -- This cute little friendly ghost character is an adorable moniker for a white dog. Just plain Ghost works as well.

8. Demon -- See also: Monster, R.I.P. (Ripper) or Satan. These names from the dark side may fit an intimidating, guard-dog breed like the Doberman or German Shepherd, but we prefer them as a more lighthearted choice for the tiniest or tamest dogs in town. You’ve just gotta love a Chihuahua named Satan or a Yorkie known as Ripper. In a similar vein, your little monster could go by Goblin, Zombie or Walker if you happen to be a fan of The Walking Dead.

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Demon Dog by Shutterstock.com

9. Freddy --  Out of all the horror-movie murderers, Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street cuts it as the most logical dog name, with the evil Chucky of Child’s Play a close second. But if you prefer, there’s also Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, Halloween’s Michael Myers, Damien of The Omen and the latest addition to the club, the evil doll Annabelle, for inspiration.

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Gizmo, definitely by Shutterstock.com

10. Gizmo -- Gremlins is another great horror comedy that offers up several good choices. There’s Mogwai, which is the name of the fictional gremlin species in the movie, not to mention Gremlin itself. Then there's Gizmo, the adorable star of the film and one of DoggieNames.com favorites monikers of all time. It's easy for most any pooch to hear and answer to, and it's different enough that you won't have 100 other dogs running to you when you call for him at the dog park. Gizmo's about as cute as it gets for any small pup, especially a brown-and-white snub-nosed breed or mix like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a Papillon.

Would you name your dog after Halloween? Does he/she already have a Halloween-related name? Tell us about it!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

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Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/top-10-halloween-dog-names
<![CDATA[8 Sacrifices Your Dog Sitter Makes for Your Dog]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-sitter-care-8-sacrifices Many dog owners are hesitant to board their dog in a kennel. This is especially true for dogs who need extra care, those dogs with separation anxiety and the dogs who need constant activity or just a human to lie on. Luckily, for these owners, there are more options than ever to find a reliable and personable dog sitter. Sites such as DogVacay.com and Rover.com are two that provide a forum for dogs to be matched to their perfect sitters. What that means for you is peace of mind. What that means for your dog is a more fun-filled vacation.

What does that mean for your sitter? I’ve been a dog sitter for almost two years, and I can tell you that a good sitter gives her heart and soul to caring for your pet.

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Asscher steals my hat during my selfie moment with Clover. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

Here are just a few things, pulled from my personal experience, that you may not know your sitter is sacrificing for your baby while you are out sightseeing or lounging by the pool:

1. Physical health

I’m covered in bruises and scratches. I've held onto a collar with a Hulk-like grip and had my arm twisted around just to keep a dog from escaping. I've fallen so many times while hiking with the dogs I can't keep track. I've broken up dog fights with my own body (I don't suggest you do this). I've been a chew toy for puppies and have paw-sized bruises on my torso, arms and legs from being stepped on.

I now have what I call “dog walking shoulder,” which flares up now and then and I’m “forced” to down ibuprofen with a good cabernet (I don’t suggest you do this either). I look like I’ve been through dog war and I didn’t win the fight.

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Dot has no shame in her cone. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

2. Sound sleep

I've slept sideways, diagonally, and at the foot of my own bed so the dogs can be comfy. I've slept on the sofa and on the floor. I've not slept because a dog was sick or I've slept with a dog head in a cone on my chest. I've curled up in a dog bed next to an uneasy dog. I've slept with dogs pushing me off the bed, dogs sharing my pillow, dogs on my head, dogs on my legs, dogs on my stomach.

I once didn’t sleep for more than 24 hours while searching for a runaway dog (it was only after the happy ending that the owners informed he was a flight risk). A full good night's sleep is a distant memory.

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Clover, Bella, Shadow, Riggins, and Asscher cool down post hike. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

3. Mental and physical energy

A pooped dog is a happy dog. That means a lot of dog-related activity.

I take the dogs out on an adventure every day. That usually means we hit the SoCal hiking trails. Sure, you may think this sounds like a blast, and it is -- but it is also exhausting. Try climbing or being pulled up a hill or down a path EVERY DAY for approximately two hours a day, seven days a week. No weekend breaks. I have horrible tan lines.

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Shirley enjoying a lift while we're out hiking. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

4. A clean environment

I am CONSTANTLY cleaning. CONSTANTLY. I guarantee I've cleaned my carpet, floor boards (how do the floor boards get so filthy), walls (dog height), and linens more than anyone else you know. My car is covered in muddy paw prints and smears from dog noses. Filth is everywhere.

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Captain Shadow decides he needs to get slobber and fur on every part of my car. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

5. Human first-aid materials

There is no such thing as human first aid materials at my house. If it is good enough for your dog it’s good enough for me. I’ve sprayed dog wound medicine on my nephew’s forehead. I own dog bandages and yes, I have used them on myself. If your dog is hurt or not feeling well I do everything I can to help. I've picked up dogs from ERs in the middle of the night. I've woken up every X number of hours to administer pills. I’ve taken doggie first aid and carry emergency supplies everywhere the dogs and I go. If you are on a hike and need some Benadryl, give a holla. I got your back.

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Sofa takeover by Nugget, Face, and Shadow. No room for me. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

6. A nice-smelling house

I've purchased enough scented candles to make Target's checkers curious about what is happening in my house. Scented candles cover the smell of wet dog and pee (and wet pee when I clean my carpet).

7. Money

Poop bags, poop bag holders, non-retractable leashes, treats, more poop bags, food, tank tops (I’ve had a number ruined by dogs jumping or eating them), underwear (if you own a dog you know why), more poop bags, pee pads, dog beds, dog tags with my info on them, dog deterrent, dog car restraints, and so much more. I can almost guarantee you did not bring enough of most of these items. Did I mention poop bags?

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Asscher decides my shoe is for eating. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

8. Sanity

Who gets the fish protein food and who gets the one in the giant tub? Luna can’t have red meat protein, while Romeo can only eat his food and treats. Clover is a puller so swap out her walking halter for one of Riggins' no-pull harnesses. Shadow has the short green/read leash while Hanna’s is pink and green (she has two). Lulu has to be held tight around men running or she may try to eat them. Lousy is protective of my human bed. I have labels and a whiteboard and it’s still hard for me to keep everything straight!

A dog sitter’s job is 24/7. There are no breaks. There are no weekends ... and did I mention the bruises? Your dog sitter doesn’t just love dogs. She loves YOUR dog.

Next time you drop off your dog, let the sitter know you appreciate all he or she does to keep your dog happy and safe. If I’m your dog sitter, feel free to bring a bottle of wine as a tip!

 

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A dog sitter. After years of stress she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other furry filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures through the Los Angeles area ,where they live together in a cozy happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Read related stories on Dogster:

ENDBLURB FROM WENDY TKTKTK.

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Mon, 20 Oct 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-sitter-care-8-sacrifices
<![CDATA[11 Things That Repeatedly Go Wrong When I Walk My Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/walk-the-dog-walking-behavior-humor-things-go-wrong As a dog parent, there are few things I appreciate in life more than a nice dog walk. However, not all dog walking is equal, nor is everything I encounter on a dog walk under my control. With that said, there are several things that can, and have, gone wrong while walking my dogs. Some of them I encounter repeatedly.

Today marks the beginning of National Walk Your Dog Week. So in the name of fierce determination in seeking that perfect dog walk, here are some tales of bad behavior (human and dog) as well as humor. The top 11 lame things about walking the dog are listed below in no particular order.

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My dogs Daisy, May Belle, & Lilly at dog park with Justin & Zinnia. Photo by Kezia Willingham.

1. My dog poops in a blackberry bush

You might wonder why this matters. Well, trying to pick poop out of thorny brush with a plastic bag wrapped around your hand is challenging at best. More than once I’ve been pricked by the thorns on a blackberry shrub while trying to get my dog’s poop out. Plus, if the thorns poke a hole in the bag, your hand may get contaminated.

2. My kids argue

This is pretty much a guarantee when I set out to walk the dogs along with my 17-year-old, Zinnia, and my six-year-old, Justin. In my fantasy, we’d all get along, all the time, and our interactions would always be calm, kind, and peaceful. While my children are well-behaved at work (teen) and school (six-year-old), every emotional difficulty they experience seems to bubble out when I get home from work. 

When we walk together, my kids generally bicker the whole way. They argue about who gets to walk in front, who is walking too close to whom, and whether one looks at the other the wrong way. It drives me insane. I wish I could say that my daughter has never swung a full poop bag at her brother. But I can’t.

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My kids, Justin & Zinnia, argue like it's a sport. Photo by Kezia Willingham.

3. We encounter an unleashed dog or two

This is one of the things that irritates the hell out of me as a dog parent. I always leash my dogs when I leave the house. It is the right thing to do if you live in the city. There is too much traffic, too many people, and, of course, there are other dogs.

I like dogs. I like people who have dogs. But I hold a great deal of contempt and judgment for those who let their dogs prance all over the neighborhood without a leash. Inevitably those dogs will trot up to my dogs. My little dogs are often scared of other dogs, particularly large ones. And for some reason it is the large ones who are always wandering off-leash. 

In Seattle, there is a leash law and I think it should be obeyed. Your dog’s freedom is not more important than my desire to safely walk outside with my kids and my dogs. And yes, children can be unpredictable. They jump all over and move around erratically. At a park for humans, they should be able to play freely without being approached by an off-leash dog. I don’t care if it’s the nicest dog in the world. I don’t want it walking up to me, my kids, or my dogs in an area where the leash law is in effect.

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At least you know when someone has a dog in their yard. But there is no warning for the off leash wanderers. Photo by Kezia Willingham.

4. I accidentally touch the poop when I reach down with the bag to scoop it

This invariably happens when I'm far from a sink with which to wash my hands. I am no Martha Stewart or germaphobe, but I don’t like to walk around with crap on my hands.

5. I sometimes run out of plastic bags

Once in a while I incorrectly guess the number of bags that will be required on my walk. In these cases, there is always at least one more canine shit session left.

Now, I would never want my dog to poop in someone else’s yard. That is very rude. So I do my best to avoid that from happening. One time Lilly was about to poop after I’d run out of bags so I literally started running with her to this overgrown, undeveloped plot of land two blocks away in an attempt to avoid her pooping in somebody’s yard.

6. Dog poop gets INSIDE my sandal

In warm weather, I often wear Keens while walking my dogs. They are not the most fashionable shoes, but they are quick and easy to put on and work well while traversing the outdoors.

The only problem I have had with them is one time shit got squished inside them. My guess is that one of the dogs kicked it into my sandal after they pooped.

Almost as bad as having crap inside my Keens was having Zinnia and her boyfriend ridicule me for wearing them. “I’ll never wear Keens,” he remarked to her as we sat peacefully in the dog park one summer evening. It was as though I’d sunk to a shameful low point in my life. “Well, I am going to buy you Danskos for Christmas, Jordan,” I told him. I chuckled to myself at the image of him wearing clogs in Texas, where he would be staying with his extended family.

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The offending, yet practical, Keens.

7. That moment when I have to poop

Generally we are prepared for our dogs to poop during a walk. In fact, it is one of the main reasons for the walk: to allow him or her to relieve themselves. The problem arises when suddenly it's my turn and I have to poop in a very real way. This is one of those things that tend to happen at the least opportune time. I am not a jogger, but I probably find myself walking briskly home, almost like a prancing speed walker. Fortunately, this does not happen frequently.

8. I encounter someone’s discarded food garbage

This is right up there with the people who let their dogs off-leash in areas where leash laws are in effect. I don’t throw my garbage on the ground. I’ve taught my children not to do it. It is a habit that is particularly low-class in my mind. 

It’s even worse now that I have dogs, because they are very interested in other people’s discarded garbage. We’ve encountered cast-off sausages, potato chips, chocolate, ant-infested bananas, popcorn, apple cores, corndog sticks, and chewed gum. Inevitably, my dogs smell these long before I see them and it’s always a struggle to keep them away from these potentially hazardous pieces of garbage. So irritating.

9. Weird people come out after dark

I now know why most “normal” people walk their dogs during the daylight hours. With fall’s impending arrival, we don’t have as much light as we did a month ago. Finding ourselves in the dog park after dusk allowed me to see a plethora of odd characters whose presence I hadn’t noticed during the day. Some of these people have large dogs that lurk along with them, of course off-leash. Much better to walk the dogs while there is sunlight.

10. Mechanical failure

One time my son really wanted to put the leash on Lilly, so he did. Moments later she was running free. Turns out he had latched the leash to the little ring that holds her dog tags and it busted while she was pulling. Her tags scattered and she started hopping around. Fortunately she did not run away; we were able to latch her leash to the D-ring on her dog collar and all was well. But we’ve also had a couple of dogs escape collars and harnesses. Fortunately, my dogs are mama’s girls who come to me quickly when called.

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I love Daisy so much. But she is the slowest walker in the world. Photo by Kezia Willingham.

11. My dog doesn’t want to walk

Daisy doesn’t really like to walk that much. She’s like a dead weight when I am trying to get my very active May Belle and Lilly out for a vigorous walk. Daisy prefers to stop and smell the roses. Except not really the roses, but more like the pee trail left by all the other dogs in the neighborhood. She is quite also adept at finding the food scraps left about. Daisy’s ideal walk would probably have me moving at the pace of taking one step. Stop. Take another step. Stop. And so on and so forth. So if I really want to get moving, I leave her at home. This makes me feel a little guilty, but I hate tugging her on the leash. It feels so undignified.

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My kids argue a lot. But when they are nice, it's priceless. Photo by Kezia Willingham.

Even when there are problems, I still hold high regard for the dog walks I have in my life today. I love my dogs and I enjoy being outside with them. Some days I feel lazy and don’t go, but those are the exception. Dog walks really are one of the best things in life. And the quirky ones leave good memories anyway.

What bothers you when you take your dogs for a walk? Tell us your stories in the comments!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About the author: Kezia Willingham is a Breadwinning Laundry Queen who works as a Health Coordinator for Head Start. She is a regular contributor to Catster and Dogster. Her writing has appeared in Literary Mama, the New York Times, the Seattle Times, and multiple anthologies.  She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, which includes a number of rescued cats and dogs. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Wed, 01 Oct 2014 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/walk-the-dog-walking-behavior-humor-things-go-wrong
<![CDATA[The 10 Best Dog Names From the "Harry Potter" Universe]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/harry-potter-10-best-dog-names Harry Potter fans have a lot to celebrate, what with the opening of the new Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World and creator J.K. Rowling adding an exciting new coda to her beloved series of books starring the boy wizard and his intrepid friends on her Pottermore website. 

Cleverly penned as if Daily Prophet gossip queen Rita Skeeter were reporting on the old gang’s attendance at the Quidditch World Cup, the article describes how all the grown-up members of Dumbledore’s Army seem to be doing quite well, as is Rowling, who’s at her hilarious best as describing the 33-year-old Harry: “there are a couple of threads of silver in the famous Auror’s black hair, but he continues to wear the distinctive round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient twelve-year-old.”

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Harry's creator, J.K. Rowling. (Image courtesy Pottermore.com)

By the way, if you sign up to access Pottermore, the site automatically assigns you your choice of several user names. I got NimbusSilver26591 and SunCauldron9335 as well as the one I chose, SparksWombat8313, which I kinda love for a dog name. 

Speaking of which, Rowling’s magical imagination is also responsible for plenty of creative pets and pet names. Remember Harry’s owl, Hedwig; Hermione’s cat, Crookshanks; and Ron’s evil toad Scabbers? And who could forget Hagrid’s three-headed guard dog Fluffy? While all of these are perfectly acceptable dog names for any Potter fan, DoggieNames.com has come up with some more interesting choices inspired by the still-popular series.

1 Hairy Potter

Perfect for the shaggy dog in your life. And you can’t go wrong with Harry Pawter or Harry Pugster, either.

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Dog Wearing Glasses by Shutterstock.com

 2. Luna

Luna Lovegood made her mark as a trusted and important member of Harry's inner circle, even though, like her name, she's known to be a little loony. Luna also means "the moon," and the word's construction -- two strong syllables with vowel sounds -- makes it easy for animals to respond to. It’s become an increasingly popular dog name, akin to Lilly and Lola. 

3. Gryffindor

Harry and his friends belong to this house, one of four at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The names of the other houses -- Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw –- are fine choices too, but they just don't roll off the tongue the way a good pet moniker like “Gryff” does.

Of course, you could just slightly alter them and get Gryffindog, Slobberin, Huffleruff, and Roverclaw, if you prefer.

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Gryffindor Indeed

4. Dobby

The ever-so-grateful house elf, freed from indentured servitude from the Malfoys by Harry. This would be a great name for a pet with large, soulful eyes; big floppy ears -- and/or a hairless breed, like an Italian Greyhound or a Chihuahua.

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Definitely a Dobby by Shutterstock.com

5. Muggle

J.K. Rowling coined this term in her brilliant novels to describe a person who does not possess magical powers. But how cute is it for a dog or cat name? We predict it'll be this generation's Gizmo -- one of the most popular dog names of the last few years -- derived from the '80s movie Gremlins.

6. Snitch

A small golden sphere with wings that zips around the playing field in the wizarding sport of Quidditch, Snitch would go nicely with a blonde or golden dog, especially one that moves fast. In fact, Quidditch would make a great, sporty name, as would the balls used to play it –- Quaffle and Bludger.

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Golden Snitch dog toy by Starzia on Etsy

And while we're on the subject, Nimbus, the brand name of Harry's flying broom, would fit a nimble pet perfectly.

7.  Patronus

An animal protector cast by a spell as a way to defend against dark creatures. A very regal name for a guard dog, perhaps.

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Patronus perhaps? Rottweiler Showing Its Tongue by Shutterstock.com

8. Sirius/Padfoot

Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, transformed into a large black dog named Padfoot in order to escape the dreaded prison of Azkaban. Fittingly, Sirius is another name for one of the brightest stars in the galaxy, also known as alpha Canis Majoris -- the Dog Star. 

9. Grawp

Hagrid's half-brother is a full-fledged giant, so this name fits a large breed of dog quite well. Plus, it'll definitely make an impression when you call for your buddy at the park. Hagrid would also be a fine fit for a hefty canine.

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Fang lookalike -- Portrait of a Neapolitan Mastiff by Shutterstock.com

10. Fang

And last but definitely not least, who could forget Hagrid's dog, Fang, known for his copious slobber. He was identified in the books as a boarhound, but was portrayed in the films by a series of Neapolitan Bull Mastiffs.

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A young Ron Weasley isn't sure about cuddling up to Fang.

According to the Potter wiki, Fang was played by a veritable pack of dogs named Hugo, Bully, Bella, Vito, Luigi, Monkey, and Uno.

If you can think of any more great "Harry Potter" dog names, we’d love to hear them!

Read more about dog names: 

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Fri, 01 Aug 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/harry-potter-10-best-dog-names
<![CDATA[5 Ways Spring Can Be a Miserable Time for Me And My Dog]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-health-care-spring-woes-tips-springtime When spring comes, it's a time for many wonderful things, like green grass and blooming flowers. It also brings on a host of other things, including seasonal allergies, pollen, and the return of gnats and mosquitoes if you live below the Mason-Dixon like I do. You may be familiar with these typical cons of an otherwise wonderful season, but springtime brings its own special breed of woes to our household.

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Spring means growing grass...and shedding hair.

1. Hair splinters

Springtime means growing grass, warming weather, and shedding hair. Lots of hair. That means an increase in furbleweeds and the onset of hair splinters. Never heard of them? If you're one of the lucky ones who has a dog with longer hair or at least soft, flexible hair, you've probably never had a hair splinter. My dog's hair is short and soft but stiff, so that means when I'm sock surfing across the living room or even just getting up to go to the bathroom during the night my feet are at risk. More than once I've felt a sharp, shooting pain in my toes, the cause being a small hair that has forced it's way into my flesh like a splinter. It can only be removed with tweezers in bright light ... if you can find it.

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Ahhhh...the first roll in fresh spring grass and weeds.

2. Dandelion perfume

You may not know this, but dandelions stink. Like really, really stink. Sure, they're fun to make wishes with and such, but they have an odor that sticks with you and can smell up your whole house if your dog happens to enjoy rolling in them like mine does. It doesn't matter that he gets routine baths -- there are dandelions where we walk and all in the backyard where he does his business. Even if I can prevent an all-out rolling fest, those pesky dandelion leaves still crush between his toes and leave their acrid stench on his paws for me to smell the rest of the day.

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His dad is a mechanic and already smells...so a dandelion-perfumed, pollen-vomiting Axle is no problem to him.

3. Pollen vomit

We have lots of pine trees in our yard. They have these weird little caterpillar-looking things that grow and distribute pollen. Unfortunately, they have some strange appeal to my dog. He likes the way they crunch and he'll go out of his way to find them, chew on them, eat them, whatever he can do before I notice what he's up to. The little crunchy pollen holders also fall apart in these little grainy parts very easily, so they tickle his throat and get stuck to his mouth. A couple hacking coughs and my floor is granted a watery, foamy pool of pollen vomit. Thanks, spring.

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Having fun with bubbles.

4. Puddle poops

No, I'm not referring to diarrhea. I'm referring to actually pooping in a puddle. Springtime means rain, rain means puddles, and Axle likes to poop in puddles. Not only does he like to poop in puddles, it seems that he forgets that he pooped in puddles and later runs through them, splashing smelly poop water all over his legs. That's pretty gross, and you can imagine the extreme difficulty of trying to extract a puddle poop with the poop-scooper.

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"The world is my salad bar."

5. The walking salad bar

With all the lush green grass growing again, a simple walk ceases to be a training or exercise time and instead becomes a smorgasbord of salad greens for Axle to peruse and sample at his leisure. He sometimes gets so overeager about sampling the lushes blades of grass that he'll vomit a pool of smushed up grass and slobber. If I'm not quick enough, he'll then eat his icky grass vomit.

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Axle and me. Photo credit Southernly Chic Photography

What about you? What does the season bring to your household? Let me know in the comments!

Read more about dogs and spring on Dogster:

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it's in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of one human child, one dog (Axle) and one cat (Toby). I'm a former quiet nerd who's turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

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Wed, 26 Mar 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-health-care-spring-woes-tips-springtime
<![CDATA[Take It From a Blind Man: 10 Reasons Why Guide Dogs Are Amazing]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/guide-dog-behavior-awesome-service-dogs-blind I’m often asked what’s it like to have a guide dog. I often steal a line from the great philosopher Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when I say, “It’s totally awesome, dude!”

It’s hard to believe that my guide dog, Nash, and I are coming up on our fifth anniversary. The traditional anniversary gift is jewelry, but since I don’t wear jewelry and Nash embraces the nudist lifestyle, those wanting to send us a gift can just send cash. 

Why is it so awesome to have a guide dog when you’re blind? I couldn’t explain all the reasons in 140 characters, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the list below.

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Nash comes on vacation with me, but he's working every minute.

1. My guide dog doesn’t miss things

You would think with all the technology out there, someone could have come up with a better way for a blind person to get around than a cane. Oh wait, they did -- it’s called a dog.

For 10 years before Nash, I walked with a cane. You would be amazed even with swiping a cane right to left and walking the streets of New York City how much stuff my cane would miss that was directly in front of me. My favorites were lamp posts and those big metal grates that restaurants keep open in front of them. Fortunately, I never fell into one of the grates, but I did walk in to my fair share of parking meters.

Since Nash and I have been partnered, walking into those things never occurs anymore, and I don’t even think about it.

2. He provides a feeling of security 

The great unknown is whether Nash, who is a Labrador Retriever, would ever attack someone who attacks me. I hope to keep that an unknown. It’s just better to not know some things in life. However, Nash does provide me with a feeling of security when I walk down a New York City street.

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Nash is my trusty sidekick as well as my guide.

Prior to Nash, every time I left the house I had a lot of insecurity and had to think about every little thing and scenario that could happen. Now with my trusty guide, I just throw on a pair of sunglasses and don’t worry about where the day will be taking us. I also like to think that someone who is going to attack someone is less likely to attack a person walking with a 75-pound dog next to him.

3. Nash gets me more exercise

People often offer to find me an elevator, and I don’t know why they are always so surprised when I tell them stairs are fine. Yes, Nash would rather take the stairs. Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that I’m looking to move in to a fifth-floor walkup, but he does love him some stairs. 

4. He gets me out of the house

Being blind has caused me to become a bit of a recluse. If it wasn’t for my guide dog, I might have become Howard Hughes and not leave the house for months. Thanks to Nash we get outside several times a day, as I have yet to figure out how to potty train the guy. 

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Nash and I go for a walk in Central Park in the snow.

If only Nash could learn how to cook healthy food, I could be living the complete healthy lifestyle.

5. He’s a great alarm clock 

Many dogs are up at the crack of dawn. Luckily for me, I don’t ever have to get up that early. Amazingly, Nash will let me sleep as late as I want, but when my alarm goes off, and on those cold mornings when I can’t seem to stop hitting the snooze button, there’s Nash with a little groan or two to let me know, "Hey, bud, you might not have to get up, but I’m hungry over here, and want to get outside to pee." So at least one of us is on a schedule.

6. Gone are the days of needing a Dustbuster

Nash does not get fed from the table. He doesn’t even get a lot of human food. Don’t fret -- there are plenty of doggy treats, and he sure does love his lamb and rice. 

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Nash and I have been best friends for more than five years.

I eat in front of the T.V., one advantage of being a single guy with no kids. Our nightly routine has become pretty comical. I eat dinner as Nash snoozes in the bedroom, but as soon as I get up to take the dish to the kitchen, Nash shakes himself awake and darts into the living room to make sure the blind guy didn’t drop any food. He is such a neat freak that he will even move the little ottoman I eat on to check behind it for crumbs and morsels.

I think it’s so great that Nash wants to make sure I don’t leave any food behind so we don’t get any ants. He’s thoughtful like that. Now, if only Nash could help me lower my cholesterol.

7. He lowers my blood pressure

I am a big sports fan -- the Yankees for baseball, and the Florida Gators for college football. They're my church and temple, and like many sports fans, I'm guilty of yelling at my teams on TV when they play poorly. It sure is cathartic -- or at least I thought it was.

Nash doesn’t like yelling of any kind. When I do yell, he will get in my face as if to ask what is wrong. He doesn’t understand that it's just me being an idiot.

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Nash and I go everywhere together. (Photo courtesy Brian Fischler)

After the first few times of me yelling at the Yankees and Nash getting in my face, I realized okay, I don’t want to worry him, so I better stop yelling at something as meaningless as a sporting event on TV. And yup, I can confirm that you yelling at your team on TV will not affect its performance in any way. 

8. He warms up the bed

I remember the first night I allowed Nash to come up in to my bed. It’s easy to remember because ever since then, my bed has become his bed. He’s in it morning, noon, and night, and I love it. 

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Nash never met a bed he didn't like.

He warms up my bed for me, which is great, especially this winter. He also makes a very fluffy pillow. Yes, Nash lets me rest my head on him, but more often than not, he will use me as a pillow.

Since my bed isn’t big enough for the two of us to comfortably enjoy, Nash eventually goes down to his bed, as we both like to spread out. Unfortunately, I am at the age where you wake up in the middle of the night to go the bathroom, and sometimes I am half asleep when I go to collapse back on to the bed into dreamland.

The problem is in those few seconds I'm gone, Nash wakes up, sees an empty bed, and figures it's all his, so when I do fall back into bed I land on him. Poor fella. Life’s definitely not fair. 

9. He goes everywhere with me! 

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Kathy Nimmer’s guide dog, Elias, helps her enjoy the great outdoors, too. Photo by Maddy Staszewski.

I don’t care if you have been married for 50 years to your high school sweetheart. It’s still not the same as having a guide dog!

When I go to work, Nash is with me. When I run out to grab a quick bite, Nash is with me. When I meet a friend, Nash is with me. When I go to a show, Nash is with me. When I travel anywhere, Nash is with me. When I am out in a public and have to use the restroom, Nash is with me. When I go to the doctor, Nash is with me. When I go to the store, Nash is with me. Top that for commitment and quality time! It’s impossible to be a loner when you have a guide dog. 

10. Guide dogs are total chick and dude magnets!

When I walked with a cane, people went out of their way to avoid me. I'm not sure why, but the day I came home with a guide dog, everyone wanted to talk to me.

It amazes me how many women come up to me and want to meet Nash, and my blind female friends with guide dogs tell me it works both ways, as their dogs are total dude magnets.

Moral of the story: As long as I have my awesome guide dog then I still have a shot at charming Jennifer Aniston. Or at least Nash does -- he’s the chick magnet!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

Read more about guide dogs:

About the author: Brian Fischler is a standup comedian and writer. He has been seen on The Today Show, published in Maxim Magazine as the Comedian of the Month, and on Top Gear USA on The History Channel. Brian also writes for Cesar Milan’s website and Magazine. Brian runs Laugh For Sight, a bicoastal comedy benefit that features the biggest names in comedy who come together to raise money and awareness for retinal degenerative eye disease research. You can connect with Brian on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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Thu, 20 Feb 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/guide-dog-behavior-awesome-service-dogs-blind
<![CDATA[The Top 12 Veterinary News Stories of 2013]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/top-veterinary-news-stories-2013 As the year draws to a close, suffice it to say that 2013 was a tumultuous one for the world of veterinary medicine. Many of the stories that kept the veterinary news wires humming made it into the mainstream media. However, some of the most persistently attention-grabbing items among vets have flown below the radar of the non-veterinary world.

What follows is a list of items that I found compelling during 2013.

12. Zeuterin, a nonsurgical way to sterilize male dogs, hits the market -- again

In 2001 I attended a lecture about a then-revolutionary nonsurgical way to neuter dogs. Neutersol, a product containing zinc gluconate, which could be injected directly into the testicles, was poised (according to the manufacturer) to change neutering forever.  

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Veterinarian examining dog by Shutterstock.

The product bombed, but was reintroduced several years ago as "Esterilsol" in Latin America.

In 2013, there was news that the product would soon be taking the USA by storm, but most vets reacted to the news skeptically. In 2014 we will see whether the product gains any traction on its second go.

11. Kabang, the Philippine hero dog who lost her snout, goes home

In December 2011 a scrappy mutt named Kabang saved two girls from being struck by a motorcycle in the Philippines. In the process, Kabang's maxillary structures (also known as her snout) were severed by the spokes in the motorcycle's wheel. After an international fundraising effort, Kabang was flown to my alma mater, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

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Kabang received treatment at my alma mater at UC Davis.

Kabang first required treatment for heartworm disease and a transmissible venereal tumor (that's right, dogs can catch STDs), and ultimately received surgery to close the open would from the injury. She received a hero's welcome upon her return to the Philippines this year.

10. Heartworm preventative resistance was confirmed

Speaking of heartworm disease, this year it was announced that resistance to most of the commonly used preventatives has been identified in a discrete area of the Mississippi River basin. The problem seems to be not a big one for now, but it has caused significant handwringing among veterinarians worried about what the future might hold.

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Maybe we need to ask this bomb-sniffing Malinois where to find all the drugs.

9. Drug shortages and recalls continue to plague veterinary medicine

And, while we're still on the subject of heartworm, it's time to mention a news item that has been on the top of all vets' minds for as long as I can remember: chronic drug supply problems. This year saw ongoing shortages of medications to treat heartworm disease, seizures, diabetes, and certain types of infections. Recalls of both manufactured and compounded drugs were common frustrations for vets, and may have caused significant health hazards for pets. 

8. Tens of thousands of vets lost their health insurance

For years, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has offered health insurance to its members through the Group Health and Life Insurance Trust (GHLIT). In January, the underwriter announced that after December 31, 2013, it would be canceling health insurance for 17,500 vets covered by the program.

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Photo of Dr. Eric Barchas by Liz Acosta.

Some have speculated that the program's underwriter decided that it would be simpler to cancel the program than to comply with the Affordable Care Act. The AVMA has created a health insurance marketplace to help the affected vets get new coverage, but it should go without saying that many people who diligently paid their premiums for years felt terribly betrayed.

7. The DEA tries to stop home euthanasias 

In 2012 a DEA agent in Sacramento, Calif., decided to interpret federal drug laws in a manner that precluded carrying controlled substances in vehicles. The shock waves hit the veterinary community in 2013, when it became common knowledge that this practice might make home euthanasias impossible (euthanasia solution is a controlled substance).

Fortunately the agent's interpretation hasn't had a grave impact on the practice (yet), and a bipartisan congressional effort is underway to correct the problem.

6. Midwestern mystery illness kills dogs, threatens to turn into a plague

In August and September an outbreak of vasculitis and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis among dogs in Ohio led to many fatalities. In circumstances eerily similar to the Ebola virus outbreaks among humans in the 1990s, dogs rapidly became sick and suffer from leaking blood vessels leading to bloody diarrhea, shock, and death.

Initial reports suggested that canine circovirus might be responsible; although the cause of the syndrome remains a mystery, the outbreak fortunately faded away before becoming a true plague (but not before causing major anxiety in the veterinary community).

5. The benefits of spaying and neutering are called into question

Once an article of faith among veterinarians, the benefits of spaying and neutering -- especially early spaying and neutering -- have become controversial. Most vets, including me, still believe that, on the whole, most dogs benefit from being spayed or neutered (although the timing should be tailored to each dog's individual circumstances).

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"Did your previous vet keep something from me -- and you?" A man and his dog outdoors by Shutterstock.

However, in 2013 we saw increasing evidence that spaying and neutering might not be right for all individuals. And a newly vocal group of veterinarians is beginning to oppose the procedures altogether. With time these individuals may be proven wrong, or right. Or, more likely, partially right and partially wrong.

The spay/neuter controversy promises only to become more prominent in 2014 and beyond.

4. Jerky treats continue to kill dogs, and the government finally takes notice (but doesn't do anything)

Vets have been aware of a problem with jerky treats since 2007, but 2013 saw the problem begin to receive some traction in the veterinary world as the FDA began to solicit more information from vets about dogs sickened or killed by jerky treats.

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Dog eating by Shutterstock.

Nobody knows why jerky treats are dangerous to dogs, nor what component is responsible for the illness that can occur when dogs consume them. There has yet to be any recall or ban. This issue could take several more years to play out fully; meanwhile, I strongly recommend that you not feed any jerky treat to your pet.

The last three items on my list are related, and they are insider items specific to the veterinary community. You may not have heard of any of them, but for most of the vets I know, the next three items are the news items of 2013.

3. Just about anyone can now become a vet 

When I graduated from veterinary school, I took pride in the fact that it was harder to get into vet school than into med school. Well, not anymore. The recent economic downturn led to markedly reduced government funding for vet schools. The vet schools had an epiphany: There is an endless supply of starry-eyed youngsters who want to be vets and will pay anything to achieve their dreams.

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Yep, there's plenty of crazy out there, and sometimes I think I've seen it all. Crazy woman with hypno by Shutterstock.com

So vet schools tried to solve their financial woes by increasing class sizes and admitting more high-tuition, out-of-state students. Simultaneously, entrepreneurial types have realized the potential financial rewards of offering to fulfill these starry-eyed kids' dreams. Over the last decade and a half new schools have opened, or have been planned to open in California, Arizona, and Tennessee.  

Making things worse (or better, depending upon your viewpoint), the AVMA has extended accreditation to a for-profit school in the Caribbean and many additional foreign schools. All of these factors have combined to result in many more available slots for would-be veterinary students. The upshot is that now just about anyone who can fog a mirror and get a student loan can get into vet school (and many people suspect that mirror fogging is optional). Of course, once they graduate, those kids will have massive student loans and poor job prospects. More on that below.

2. Revolt in the American Veterinary Medical Association 

The AVMA exists to support the interests of American veterinarians who comprise its membership, or so I thought when I joined it. It turns out I was wrong. In fact, the mission and objective of the AVMA make no mention of its members or of individual veterinarians. And many dues-paying vets are up in arms. They believe that the AVMA has devolved into a good ol' boy network that looks out for itself and has thrown its members under the bus by, for instance, accrediting foreign schools and thereby facilitating the education of more veterinarians who will enter an already saturated market (but will become dues-paying AVMA members).

Because the AVMA no longer even offers health insurance, many vets are wondering what exactly they get from the organization. Some vets are reacting by quitting. Others are vocally calling for change. Others still have taken the fight to Schaumburg, Illinois, where AVMA is headquartered. In 2014 the organization will discuss member-sponsored initiatives to change the organization's mission statement and to cease the accreditation of foreign schools.

And why are elements of the AVMA membership so upset about the organization's activities? It's because of the story that is unequivocally the No. 1 veterinary news item of 2013.

1. Veterinary medicine is in crisis  

You may think your vet's charges are high, but she may very well be having trouble keeping the lights on and paying her staff. Vets have known for years that our profession is suffering a major economic crisis, but 2013 is the year that the problems really hit the news.

In February, the New York Times detailed the miserable prospects for those above-mentioned starry-eyed young folks who were willing to do anything to become vets. The article appeared to open the eyes of the many vets and especially vet students who formerly had been living in denial.  

The economics of the veterinary profession are not good. We are squeezed by high debt, vendors and laboratories who raise prices like clockwork, clients who are still struggling to recover from the recession, and plateauing demand for our services.  

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The veterinary profession is a tough one. There just aren't enough pets to support all those vets. Photo of Dr. Eric Barchas by Liz Acosta

Later in the year the AVMA finally got off its ass and released a study that confirmed what most vets in America already knew: There are too many vets in the United States (although the AVMA referred to it by the circumlocution of "excess capacity"). Despite this, existing schools are increasing class sizes and new schools are set to churn out new vets at a record pace. There simply are not enough pets to support all of these vets, and bankruptcy may be looming for many vets. The AVMA's response -- that vets need to "increase demand" -- has rung hollow to many in its membership.  

However, there may be a silver lining to the cloud. Things have gotten so bad that denial is no longer an option. As mentioned above, the AVMA's membership is in revolt, and most vets have removed their heads from the sand. My hope for the new year is that constructive action takes place to ensure that today's veterinary and pre-veterinary students do not face a lifetime of penury.

Here's to a better 2014. And you can kick it off right by keeping your dog safe and happy on New Year's Eve. 

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

Got a question for Dr. Barchas? Ask our vet in the comments below and you might be featured in an upcoming column. (Note that if you have an emergency situation, please see your own vet immediately!)

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Tue, 31 Dec 2013 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/top-veterinary-news-stories-2013
<![CDATA[Girl Dog Names: A Wealth of Cute and Unique Choices]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/girl-dog-names Are you welcoming a new female dog into your life? Are you looking for cute girl dog names to choose from? Perhaps you'd like to have your imagination stoked by thumbing through some unique female dog names! Whether you're about to bring home a new puppy, or adopting a grown dog who needs a fresh start, when it comes to naming the newest member of your family, there is a universe of choices out there.

We're here to give you a number of exciting options that you might not have considered. 

Awesome dog names are everywhere to be found. Think through your favorite books, pop stars, movies, or television shows and write out a list of the ones that stand out to you. Some folks will name their dogs as soon they encounter them. Going on instinct often yields good girl dog names that stick in our minds and in our hearts forever. For those of you who struggle to find just the right name before settling on one, let me reassure you, the right name can come from the most unlikely sources.

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There are enough unique girl dog names to go around! Labrador retriever puppies and mom (one week old) by Shutterstock.

Awesome dog names I have known

My own history with girl dog names has been a bit haphazard. I've had two of the most wonderful female dogs in my life. One was named after a cartoon, the other after a llama, and both names worked out marvelously. I got my first dog in elementary school and named her Violet. The name came from a character in a cartoon I watched as a child, called Pound Puppies, based on a stuffed-animal line that was all the rage in my youth.

Who knows how many popular dog names are drawn from our childhood experiences? When I saw the dog for the first time, the name just seemed to fit! Violet the dog far outlived Violet the cartoon character, and she was a huge part of my life until she passed away when I was in college.

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Violet was the friend of my childhood. Photo by Melvin Pena.

My family named the dog I have now. If you think about cool dog names, "Tina" probably isn't the first one that pops to mind, but I assure you, Tina is one of the coolest dogs I've ever had the joy of knowing. Cute puppy names can grow on you over time, as your dog begins to inhabit the name, until you can't think of her as possibly having any other.

So where did "Tina" come from? My parents are huge fans of Napoleon Dynamite and loved the pet llama in the movie, whose name was Tina. They thought it was a good name, and it stuck.

So my girl dog names have both been drawn from cartoons and movies. When it comes to sources for cute puppy names, I've been lucky that two relatively unlikely characters provided inspiration at key moments. Sometimes people will choose names based on what they mean; I've found that the meaning of names comes from the feelings you develop for a dog over the course of your lives and adventures together.

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This is my dog, Tina. She's the best! Photo by Melvin Pena.

Cute girl dog names

That’s enough about my dog names. You want cute girl dog names for your new dogs! I have loads of them for you! Try saying some of these aloud and see whether they appeal to you as possible names for your new companion:

Ace, Ada, Abbey, Adele, Alexis, Alice, Bella, Bunny, Buttercup, Charley, Clara, Dorothy, Dottie, Emma, Gracie, Hanna, Heather, Juliet, Kibbles, Kiki, Laurel, Libby, Lucie, Maddie, Martha, Molly, Olivia, Penny, Peri, Polly, River, Rose, Sarah Jane, Sally, Sam, Sandy, Sophia, Trixie, Sybil, Victoria, and Zoe.

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These two Border Collies are going to need some creative dog names. Two 5 weeks old border collie puppies in a old wooden barrel by Shutterstock.

Unique female dog names

Maybe you’re looking for something more interesting, something with a pleasing cadence. A selection of unique girl dog names to ponder might help you decide. Well, I’ve got plenty of those as well! You are certain to find one among these wonderful and unusual dog names that will work for your new pet. At the very least, they will offer you a host of fresh ideas:

Adeola, Anji, Athena, Beulah, Cass, Daria, Dodo, Effie, Elinor, Elora, Eloise, Evelina, Flip, Galadriel, Hetty, Idris, Inara, Izzy, Lakshmi, Lara, Leela, Merivel, Naomi, Nubbles, Nyssa, Reinette, Rochelle, Romana, Romola, Rosamund, Ryoko, Scully, Suranne, Tegan, Topper, Washu, and Zelda.

Not a dull one in the lot!

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What is your name, then, Corgi friend? A beautiful Welsh Corgi by Shutterstock.

Share your favorites!

What do you think? Do you have more ideas? What's the strangest dog name you know? We want to hear the stories of your favorite girl dog names! Where did they come from? Did you name your dog after a musician, a character in a book, or someone in a TV show or movie? Do girl dog names just come to you in a moment of inspiration or do you plan ahead and make lists? Share the names of your dogs, or names you’re considering, in the comments!

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

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Tue, 24 Dec 2013 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/girl-dog-names
<![CDATA[What Not to Give This Year for Christmas: Puppies!]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/what-not-to-give-this-year-for-christmas-puppies Your child begs for a darling, doe-eyed puppy. You keep telling your child NO, because you know that puppies need a lot of time and attention and the adults in the house have jobs and the kids go to school five days a week and have obligations every weekend ... but then just as you are getting depleted from the long-haul of holiday madness that begins at Halloween and ends on New Year’s Day, you fumble. You see an adorable puppy with big eyes staring at you from a pet store ... you go in ... and you are doomed. (Please never purchase pet shop puppies, as they come from puppy mills.)

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A cute and adorable image. Or is it? Visiting A Pet Shop by Shutterstock.

You are doomed in even bigger ways than you can imagine, actually. Puppies are a lot of work. Exactly how much work are they? Let’s review:

1. Puppies need vaccines, which cost money and time

Many of these vaccines require more than one shot to provide full immunity, which means several trips to the vet. It’s also a great idea to visit your vet several times to greet the staff without getting anything painful done to the pup. You make the experience a happy, happy good time with petting and treats by the staff so your dog won’t grow up to be a dog that wants to bite your vet. Best to plan on having your vet’s office on your speed dial.

Here are a few of the items that the new pup will need to receive vaccines for: DHPP (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus), bordatella, leptospirosis (in some areas), and rabies. Prices vary widely across the country for vaccines, but know that you will pay not only for the shots but also for the exam.

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Puppies take tons of time to raise -- do you really have the time to devote to a puppy's training?

2. Your little wiggly puppy will need to be spayed or neutered

There are low-cost options, but plan on this because there is a huge overpopulation problem, and millions of unwanted pets die needlessly every year for lack of a home. This is a great opportunity to teach your child about responsible pet ownership.

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It is critical that positive and early socialization happens for your puppy!

3. Your dog will have to pee and poop

You know this. How will you potty train your new family member? It takes time and consistency. Young children are not capable of teaching Rover to potty outside. This is adult work.

When I get a new puppy in my household, I clear my schedule for at least two months so that I can put the quality foundation training on the dog that will last for his lifetime. On average, I get about two “oops” potty mistakes in the house as the dog is learning. I achieve this by being with the dog nearly 24/7 and praising and treating when she goes outside. Also, what will you do with all the poop in the backyard? Somebody’s got to clean it up or your neighbors will get testy.

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Even those these two adult dogs are well trained, they can't help you pick up the dog poo in the back yard.

4. Your puppy will be teething, for longer than you think

She might chew on your couch. She probably arrives with a liking for leather items, especially shoes. You will need many appropriate chew items to help your puppy through this time.

Spend time researching what items are safe and which aren’t, because dogs are literally dying out there from chewies that come from China. Others present a choking hazard. You can’t go wrong with a Kong, so start with those and branch out, because your new whirlwind of a dog is likely to get bored and will need many chew things. Oh, these cost money, by the way. But you knew that.

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All puppies go through a teething stage and they will require appropriate chew toys.

5. Your puppy needs to be trained

He doesn’t understand that we don’t like him jumping on us to give us a lick-on-the-face hello. He doesn’t know that it isn’t fun to have the human’s arm ripped out of its socket on the daily walks the dog needs. I train in short increments (15 to 20 minutes) every day with my new puppy, several times a day. These cutie little munchkins are sponges soaking up everything you teach them -- and every thing that you don’t teach them, too.

Who is the designated trainer in your clan? Again, this is an adult job, though with adult supervision, older kids can help out. Also the little darling must go to a few puppy classes so that he can learn to be obedient around other dogs. You can skip this if you want an adult dog who may very well lunge at other dogs for the rest of his life. Your choice.

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You have to teach your dog how to walk nicely on-leash -- they don't arrive already knowing how.

6. Your puppy needs socialization

The puppy needs this now while he is still forming opinions of his new world. Is that tall person walking down the street who is wearing a weird hat and sunglasses a threat or a happy human walking towards your puppy? Positive experiences help the dog learn that the world is a safe place, especially with you as her coach, leading the way.

Puppies need a huge amount of leadership. Some trainers say you need to show your dog 100 new things/experiences in the first 100 days you have the puppy. Oh, and you need to get this under the puppy’s belt before he turns three months old. Otherwise you will be playing catch up for the remainder of your dog’s life. Who is in charge of puppy socialization in your home?

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Dogs need to learn how to play nicely with other dogs when they are young to have the best success.

After reading this, are you still thinking about a puppy as a Christmas gift? Are you wondering why I have taken a snarky tone in this article? It’s because after more than a decade of rescue work, I know what’s coming as early as the first week in January: Puppies are dumped at local shelters by the car load. It gets worse in February and March, and we know the cycle continues year after year.

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Seriously. Please don't do this. Puppy at Christmas by Shutterstock; artistic tweakage by Liz Acosta.

Sometimes the reasons for the drop-offs drive rescuers to the brink of insanity, such as “the dog got too big.” It has made me grumpy about puppies as gifts anytime of the year.

So what’s a parent to do with their pleading child? I like the idea of getting a stuffed puppy that resembles the one your child is begging for. Put this dog under the tree as the present. Promise your child that every Saturday in January, you will together volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter. If the child commits to this at least four times, his or her big reward will be to choose an adorable shelter puppy or young dog in desperate need of a good home.

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Decrease the snarkiness in your favorite trainer by socializing and training your pup!

Then start your research on how to successfully raise your new family member. Please consider doing this because it is not only the responsible thing to do, you will be helping snarky dog trainers everywhere deal with our exhaustion and high burn-out levels. Socialize and train your puppy. Doing so will save a dog and a dog trainer’s sanity.

About Annie Phenix: Positive-reinforcement dog trainer and author Annie Phenix never met a mountain she did not love. This explains why she lives in Colorado, where she's surrounded by mountains, and why she is always smiling. She delights in the snowy season here, as do her five dogs, two horses, and six adorably cute donkeys.

To read more from Annie, check out these articles:

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/what-not-to-give-this-year-for-christmas-puppies
<![CDATA[5 Reasons Why I'll Never Have a Puppy]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-behavior-care-tips-never-have-a-puppy As the plane started its final descent into Denver, I dutifully began stowing various items in my carry-on bag. The woman next to me must've noticed the logo of a well-known dog food brand on the side of the bag because she suddenly asked, "Oh, do you have a dog?"

I'm the kind of person who will do just about anything to avoid talking to others on a plane. Unless you want to talk about dogs, that is. In that case, I'm all, "OMG! Will you be my new BFF?"

"I do! Two of them," I responded. "What about you?"

"Yes," she answered with a smile. "We've only had her a few weeks. She's a puppy." 

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"You were planning on getting a new couch, right?" Puppy destroys furniture by Shutterstock

Wait a sec. Was it my imagination or did her eye just twitch? 

"A puppy! I bet that's fun."

"Oh, yes, lots of fun. And oh my gosh, is she ever cute! She's just, you know, a puppy."

Okay, there was definitely a twitch that time.

The woman went on to tell me about how they had lived in New York City for years and never had a dog. But when they moved to Colorado, their kids begged for one and they finally gave in. They decided on a puppy (twitch) because they wanted it to grow up around their kids.

But puppies are, you know, puppies. Hello, behavior issues. And since they had never had a dog before, they weren't quite prepared for the unique challenges their new little bundle of joy presented. The woman even briefly considered sending the puppy to prison. Okay, not prison exactly, but a well-respected prison dog training program in the state. But the waiting list was three months long and her children loudly protested being separated from their furry sister. So instead, they found a positive reinforcement trainer nearby.

"It's really helping," she said as the plane touched down. "And I love that little dog to death. But, well, between you and me, I'll never get a puppy (twitch) again."

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Grownup Mayzie is my heart.

As I said good-bye to my new BFF (whose name I didn't catch), I started thinking about puppies and all the reasons I never, ever want one. Have never wanted one, as a matter of fact. Oh, I don't have a problem with someone who adopts a puppy (as long as they're from a rescue or a reputable breeder -- no puppy mills, please). And I can certainly understand the allure. I'm as susceptible to puppy breath as the next person. But no puppy will ever have the opportunity to breathe on me and here's why:

1. They have no brains

Okay, I suppose technically they do have brains but there's nothing in there. It's not their fault. I mean, they're brand new and have no clue how to actually use their brain so they act entirely on impulse. Which, in my opinion, makes them uncomfortably close to zombies. Cute, fluffy, adorable zombies, but zombies nonetheless. What? Want proof? How about ...

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You can train puppies not to bite, we promise. Puppy bites woman by Shutterstock

2. They want to eat you

Have you ever noticed how puppies are constantly biting you? And really, that's just not fun to me. Especially since they have sharp little razor teeth that will bring the burliest man to his knees if they catch him on the nose. Some people are all, "Oh, they're so CUTE when they do that! They're just trying to play. And ... PUPPY!" I just don't get it because that's obviously how they lure you in so they can DEVOUR YOU. And if that's not enough ...

3. They want to eat everything in the entire world

Since a puppy has rarely been able to consume an entire adult human, they have to settle for smaller prey. Like your shoes. And your socks. And your purse. And your table. And the antique doily your grandmother made (which, okay, maybe you didn't like anyway but it was made by your Memaw, for crying out loud). They're little piranhas. Little zombie piranhas. And of course, the problem with eating everything in the world is that ...

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This? Oh, I'm not hungry. Not at all. Just experimenting with a new fashion direction. Yep, all the cool kids do this.

4. They poop and pee ALL the time

I really have no idea whether zombies poop and pee but puppies sure do. A lot. And they do it wherever and whenever the mood strikes them. Now, I get that they have teensy little bladders. Plus, the lack of a brain is a definite handicap when it comes to being able to hold it until the next trip outside. But wow! The amount of waste a puppy can produce at any given time is just impressive. How can such a tiny little body ever produce so much poop and pee? Blurgh.

Yes, yes, I know. Puppies do eventually grow out of the zombie stage. But that leads me to my biggest problem with adopting a puppy ...

5. You have no idea what you're going to end up with

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Happy dog? Or future crazy piranha zombie dog? Smiling dog by Shutterstock

Yes, there are behavioral tests you can do to get an idea for a puppy's basic temperament. And even without those, you can pretty easily pick out the bold one or the fearful one in the litter. But beyond that, who knows? You could do everything right and still end up with a dog who has an irrational fear of windmills or birds or men with funny hats. You could also do everything wrong and have the most solid, well-socialized dog in the world. It's kind of a crapshoot, really. But with a dog who's already an adult, you know exactly what you're getting. Even if the dog has issues, I'd rather know right from the start than be surprised down the road.

Again, I totally understand why some people want a puppy, and I sure don't think there's anything wrong with that. But for me, a fully grown, brain-engaged, non-zombie dog is worth more than his weight in puppy breath.

Your turn: Do you prefer adopting puppies or adult dogs? Tell us in the comments!

About the Author: Amber Carlton is owned by two cats and two dogs (all rescues), and is affectionately (?) known as the crazy pet lady amongst her friends and family. She and her husband (the crazy pet man) live in colorful Colorado where they enjoy hiking, biking and camping. Amber owns Comma Hound Copywriting and also acts as typist and assistant for Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She encourages other crazy pet people to connect with her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Fri, 06 Dec 2013 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-behavior-care-tips-never-have-a-puppy
<![CDATA[6 Romantic Getaways for Couples Obsessed with Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/romantic-getaways-couples-obsessed-dogs-bucket-list Editor's note: This post originally ran on YourTango.com, but we're republishing it here (with permission) so folks here at Dogster can comment on it.

They say that dog is a man's best friend -- so why shouldn't your dog tag along as your wingman (or wingwoman) when it comes to date nights or romantic getaways with your partner? Your furry little matchmaker is the perfect excuse to check out these destinations (in some cases, no leash required). Here are six to add to your bucket list for couples who are obsessed with dogs.

1. Woofstock, Toronto

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Woofstock photo via Facebook

Woofstock is all about peace, love, and dogs. This is where 300,000 dog owners and their four-legged friends come together every June to join the biggest dog festival in North America. There's a lineup of events including dog speed dating, trick contests, fashion shows, and competitive courses. Don't miss the Running of the Pugs!

2. World's Ugliest Dog Contest
, Sonoma-Marin (California) Fair

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Mugly was among the winners in recent years.

Your significant other always jokes that your mutt is ugly, but you just know your pooch is so ugly, she's "cute." If you both have a sense of humor, then settle the score by entering in the World's Ugliest Dog Contest. Every year, shaggy-haired canines vie for the title of the World's Ugliest, a trophy and $1,000. With those winnings, who needs Westminster?

3. Dog Beach, San Diego

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Photo via oceanbeachsandiego.com

You'll want to hit the beach before the summer ends, and what better way to do that then with your furry friends tagging along? Dog Beach permits dogs to frolic off leash, splash around in the waves, explore the sand dunes, and scavenge for beach treasures. It's a great place to squeeze in that "long walk on the beach" and even meet another couple to double-date with. Or, the two of you can always curl up in the sand and watch your dogs run free.

4. The Dog Cafe, Busan, South Korea


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Photo via odditycentral.com

Your coffee date is about to get seriously upgraded. When Japan came out with cat cafes (we've also heard of at least one in Amsterdam), South Korea answered with its own canine-friendly take: The Dog Cafe. So if you're on the eastern side of the world with your special someone, stop by this venue. An entry fee of $7 buys you a coffee, a pastry, and a welcoming group of loveable pups who can't wait to play and snuggle in your lap. Just make sure you can resist their puppy eyes when you leave!

5. The BoardWaddle, Ocean City, New Jersey

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Photo via tristatebassets.org

Imagine hundreds of saggy-faced, floppy-eared, stumpy-legged Basset Hounds waddling down the street. How can you help but feel giggly with all that cuteness? That's what makes the annual BoardWaddle so irresistible. This event is sponsored by an organization that helps find homes for homeless bassett hounds called Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue. You'll be marching hand-in-hand with your guy or gal for a good cause.

6. Museum of the Dog, St. Louis

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Roy Andersen's "Ch. Ginjim’s Royal Acres Mervyn," 1986. Photo via museumofthedog.org

The Museum off the Dog, operated by the American Kennel Club and located in a historic 19th-century house in lush Queeny Park, houses an impressive collection of more than 700 paintings and sculptures. There have been some contributions made by famous benefactors, including an original painted portrait ("Millie on the South Lawn") of the former First Dog, which was donated by former First Lady Barbara Bush. Oh, and did we mention that the museum hosts weddings?

About the Author: Alexandra Churchill is an editorial assistant at YourTango.com.

More Recent Posts from YourTango:

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Wed, 25 Sep 2013 12:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/romantic-getaways-couples-obsessed-dogs-bucket-list
<![CDATA[11 Reasons Why It's Great to Date a Dog Owner]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/11-reasons-date-a-dog-owner-dating-dogs Earlier this year when I was looking to start dating again, I realized quickly how scary the dating world can be. There aren’t really any hard and fast rules and the quest for “the one” can be daunting. Then I took a closer look at myself and realized there were amazing habits and responsibilities I had developed through owning my littler Border Collie mix, Sierra. It was then that I realized a lot of the traits I’d appreciate in a life partner are also shared with people who love dogs! Boy, did that make things easier.

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Me with a friend's dog.

When looking for a potential mate, we're always on the lookout for traits that make them stand out in a positive way. Studies have found that men and women that own dogs tend to be more social, active and thoughtful; all great traits when it comes to the dating world. Owning a dog teaches you how to care for another being, which in turn helps develop your character. In fact, choosing to own a dog can also uncover an underlying personality preference to spend one's alone time with a social, curious and giving creature. Read on for 11 stellar reasons to date a dog owner.

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When looking for a potential mate, the characteristics of owning a dog stand out in a positive way. Photo by Barbara M.

1. They're social

Dogs are social animals who enjoy meeting others, playing in groups and exploring the world with friends. For this reason, people that choose to own dogs tend to be more social and easy to get along with. Whether it means doggie play dates at the park, pet sitting for a neighbor's pup or bringing your pup out to dog-friendly restaurants, the bottom line is dogs help dog owners stay social and more connected with their communities.

2. They're active

When owning a dog, there are times where you'll be woken up at the crack of dawn for a walk or a jog. There's no use complaining about it, your dog needs you to take him out, he depends on you. This is how we care for our dogs, and in turn this is how they keep us positive about being active. Dog owners are constantly looking for new active things to do with their dogs to make sure their needs are being met.

4. They're responsible

Learning to care for another animal is a process that requires patience and commitment. Even if they want to go to dinner with coworkers, owners have to first take their dogs' well-being into consideration. Putting someone else's well-being above yours is an admirable quality that requires time and practice to achieve. Luckily, with a dog owner, they get plenty of practice with their pooches.

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People that own does tend to be more active than people who own cats, or no pets at all. Photo by B Rosen

4. They're thoughtful

When you own a pet, you're no longer just thinking for yourself. You have to be keenly aware of someone else's wants and needs. For many pet parents, a specific whimper, growl or stance can signal a specific problem or need. Someone who has learned to be so attuned to her pups behavior will most likely transfer those skills to her human relationships.

5. They're playful

Dogs are social, playful creatures. If you've ever tried to ignore a pup when they were trying to play with you, chances are you had a pretty difficult time. Dogs are known to bring out the playful side of even the most curmudgeonly of us, and when you're a dog owner, this is even more so the case.

6. They're forgiving

For anyone who's ever owned a puppy, you've come to understand that accidents happen. A puppy owner definitely has to learn to be okay cleaning up a fair share of messes. What you learn in the process is that despite life's messes, what's more important is that the pup is happy, healthy and continues to grow and learn from his mistakes. This attitude is both healthy and important.

Her pup will always stick by her side, and she’ll stick by yours.

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People who own dogs often carry loyalty like qualities. Photo by Liz Poage

7. They're loyal

When you are a pet parent, you can't help but feel slightly undeserving of how devoted your dog is. Being on the receiving end of such unwavering loyalty makes pet parents more likely to want to give that back to their friends, family and partners.

8. They're easygoing

If you've ever hung out with a dog, you'll soon realize that they are just happy to be alive. This attitude is absolutely contagious and most dog owners either are laid-back in nature or pick up this easygoing attitude from their pups.

9. They know how to enjoy life

Dogs tend to live fully in the moment. Someone who chooses a pup as her companion usually value a dog's approach to life or shares the same approach. In a world where anxiety runs high and people are constantly stressed about money and work, having someone who knows how to enjoy life becomes all the more important.

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Dog owners understand how to enjoy life. Photo by patti haskins

10. They're good companions

The majority of dog owners find comfort in the companionship they have with their dogs. This means that they are open and willing to share their life with someone. This openness means that dog owners have the tendency to be great companions themselves simply because they understand the importance of it.

11. They're conscientious

Dog owners are shown in studies to have a higher tendency to show self-discipline, to aim for higher goals and to complete tasks. This reveals that dog owners tend to be reliable people who are aware of their surroundings. Who wouldn't want someone like this by her side?

What about you? Can you think of any more traits of dog owners? Let us know in the comments. 

Priscilla Liang is a blogger at DogVacay.com. She spends her days writing about dogs and browsing through adorable puppy photos. Woof!

 

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Wed, 07 Aug 2013 12:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/11-reasons-date-a-dog-owner-dating-dogs
<![CDATA[10 Things That Are Not Chew Toys: Are You Listening, Dogs?!]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/10-things-not-a-chew-toy Dear Dogs of the World,

There has been some confusion of late -- since the dawn of dogs, actually -- as to what qualifies as a chew toy and what does not. To help you understand the difference between approved items for your teeth and those your human would really prefer you leave alone, we offer the following list of 10 Things That Are Not Chew Toys.

1. Fingers

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shutterstock.com

We're talking to you, puppies. You breath may be sweet, but your teeth are like needles when you sink them into our fingers. We understand that growing teeth can be painful, so we promise to give you chew toys and treats made specifically for sore gums.

2. Books

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icanhas.cheezburger.com

Just so you know, destroying the dog training books will not get you out of said training. And don't you dare touch our e-readers.

3. Shoes

While we likely will never own shoes as fancy as those featured in the above French Vogue editorial spread, we still would prefer you not use our footwear as chew toys. 

4. Purses

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icanhas.cheezburger.com

Purses should never be left within a dog's reach. They often contain items that could make you sick if swallowed, such as medication and sugarless gum and mints. As far as the items in there that won't harm you, as well as the actual purse, it would pain us to see them destroyed.

5. Furniture

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zazzle.com

Many of your chew toys have stuffing, so you may wonder why couches, chairs, and pillows are any different. Because we said so. Follow this general rule: If it gets sat or slept on, consider it off limits to your teeth.

6. Plants

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shutterstock.com

We promise not to bring plants poisonous to you into the home unless they can be kept well out of your reach. To be on the safe side, though, steer clear of anything in a pot.

7. Underwear

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dogster.com

Moxie, the beloved pup of Dogster Editor-in-Chief Janine Kahn, loves to steal her underwear, but he most certainly does not gnaw on it. Follow his lead, or better yet just leave it in the hamper.

8. Power Cords

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dogshaming.com

In addition to costing us big bucks to repair or replace, you could hurt yourself chewing on a power cord if plugged in. Don't believe us? Check out this article from PetMD.com.

9. Electronics

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funnyasduck.net

We promise to spend more time playing with you and less time staring at screens if you keep your teeth away from our electronics. Deal? Also, we vow not to confuse you with chew toys that look like phones, TVs, and the like.

10. Walls

Another general rule to follow: Do not chew on the house. This applies to walls, trim, doors, steps, floors, windows, cabinets, and doorknobs. Did we leave anything out?

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dogstruction.com

So, are we on the same page now, pups? Consult your particular human, or humans, if anything remains unclear. Also let them know that there are plenty of chew toys and treats available to keep you occupied -- and some even have health benefits! -- as well as training if separation anxiety causes you to chew inappropriately.

Sincerely,

Humans of the World

Let's hear from you, readers. What do the dogs in your house like to chew on? Good and bad. Share stories and photos, please!

This post is sponsored by DENTASTIX® Daily Oral Care - Clinically proven to reduce up to 80% of tartar buildup.* 

(*Average reduction was 47%.)

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Fri, 14 Jun 2013 11:10:00 -0700 /lifestyle/10-things-not-a-chew-toy
<![CDATA[The 10 Best Apartment Dog Breeds: Why Size Doesn't Matter]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/10-best-apartment-dogs Today, let's talk about the best apartment dogs. First off, many dog owners will tell you that dogs and apartment living don’t go together. But you know what? They’re wrong! You don't need a huge yard in suburbia for your dog to be happy. If you live in an apartment and you want a dog, there's a wide variety of breeds that will do just fine in that environment. If you haven’t already acquired a dog, check our our list of breeds (or mix of breeds; we LOVE mutts) below that are well-suited to apartment living.

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Great Dane by Shutterstock.

Why Size Doesn’t Always Matter

Just because a dog is small doesn’t mean he’s suited for apartment life. Some small breeds of dog are far too vocal to meet the requirements of being a good neighbor in an apartment building. Others are too antsy and have too much energy to be cooped up, even if their smaller size makes the space seem bigger. For example, though it is the smallest of dog breeds, the Chihuahua can make a bad choice for apartment living because of the breed's tendency to bark, as well as its energetic, nervous demeanor. However, many Terriers, though they are high energy, tend to be decent apartment dogs as long as they get enough exercise.

Some large breeds also make excellent dogs for small spaces offered in apartments. For example, the Greyhound is often thought to need room to run because he was bred to do just that. But many rescued Greyhounds are retired racers and are much more inclined to lie around with that sexy, languid look than to chase bunnies on sticks. And, again, as long as exercise requirements are met, many large dogs can live comfortably in an apartment or a small house. 

10 Great Dogs for Apartment Dwellers (Small to Large)

1. Yorkshire Terrier: At around 7 pounds, this extra-small wonder is a wonderful apartment dog not only because he takes up little space but also because he is not a barker. He is also friendly with people and other pets and very adaptable to new experiences.

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Yorkshire Terrier by Shutterstock.

2. Maltese: The slightly larger Maltese (around 9 pounds) has a silky coat with no undercoat that sheds very little, making cleaning in a small space easier. He is also a quiet dog who mostly wants to be where his owner is, making him great among apartment dogs.

3. Boston Terrier: At 12 to 18 pounds, this breed is also very attached to his owner, which means he doesn’t mind being indoors in a small space as long as his owner is attentive. He is also an easily trainable dog.

4. French Bulldog: A smallish dog (around 20 pounds) with the traits of a larger dog. He is calm and quiet, often relaxing on the most comfortable seat in the place. His practical demeanor makes him suitable for any living space, including an apartment.

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French Bulldog by Shutterstock.

5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: This is one of the friendliest breeds, making it easy to deal with other tenants and their dogs. At 13 to 18 pounds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is also calm and very adaptable.

6. English Bulldog: This is the larger cousin of the French Bulldog who weighs 49 to 55 pounds, a stable dog who is comfortable in small spaces. Indeed, most seem to prefer the couch to the dog park.

7. Basset Hound: This breed might seem less than apartment-friendly with his bulky stature (around 60 pounds), but like the Bulldog, he is a very calm dog who is easily kept busy with treat toys and lots of petting.

8. American Staffordshire Terrier: The show dog version of the American Pit Bull Terrier is more dog-friendly than his cousin. He is easily trained and forms a tight bond with his owner. As long as he gets adequate exercise, he is a content and quiet apartment dog. He weighs 55 to 65 pounds.

9. Greyhound: This racing dog (60 to 80 pounds) might seem an odd choice for small-space living, but retired Greyhounds are some of the biggest canine couch potatoes. They are very trainable and adaptable. They seem to appreciate a more sedentary lifestyle.

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Greyhounds by Shutterstock.

10. Great Dane: "Huge dog" doesn't seem like it fits with "great apartment dog," but the Great Dane (at a majestic 100 to 130 pounds) is such a natural loafer that, though your couch will probably be fully occupied, he’ll take up far less space than you might think. Add to that his calm demeanor, friendliness, trainability, and quiet nature, and the Great Dane makes an excellent choice among apartment dogs.

If you live in or are moving to an apartment or small house and already have a dog, don't worry. The following tips can help you all live happily in a small space.

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Man sitting with dog by Shutterstock.com.

Ten Tips for Living with a Dog in an Apartment

1. Acclimate: If you’ve adopted a new puppy or adult dog, or if you’re moving your current dog into a small space, try to acclimate him slowly by visiting for shorter and then longer periods.

2. Be present: Again, if an apartment or small house is a new environment for your dog, try to stay with him as much as possible. Go out for short periods alone at first, and then lengthen them.

3. Create space: Think storage, storage, storage when it comes to furniture. Anything that takes up space should serve as storage as well. Try to keep as much floor space open as possible.

4. Darken and lighten: Apartments can be very dark because of the surrounding buildings. They can also get too much light if they’re high up. Drapes and special bulbs can help keep the lighting natural.

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Make the most of natural light. Modern living room by Shutterstock.

5. Establish a routine: This is vital for dogs who have to wait to go outside. Feeding and walking times should be consistent.

6. Find a good trainer: If you’re having behavioral issues such as barking, find a trainer in your area who specializes in that issue.

7. Get a bench: A small or large bench against a windowsill gives your dog a place to jump up and observe the world -- and also makes the space seem larger.

8. Hire a dog walker: For the times when you can’t get your dog out for extra exercise, a trusted dog walker is a necessity.

9. Invest in a gate: If you have a studio or open floor plan, make sure you can put a gate up to keep your dog separated from others. Using the kitchen or bathroom often works. Also, make that space your dog’s haven with his bed and toys.

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A puppy behind a gate by Shutterstock.

10. Juggle those balls: It’s perfectly fine to play fetch in your apartment, as long as it’s not too early or too late. Installing rugs helps absorb the noise of dog nails. You don’t have to be at the dog park to have fun with your dog.

It’s easy to find a dog who will live well in an apartment or small-house setting. Size isn’t everything -- a quiet, lower-energy, non-working dog is really what's right. And if you already have a dog who needs to adapt to a small space, remember: If our dogs are with us and we’re happy, they’re happy, too. Rather than fretting over sharing a small space, look at it as a bonding experience. After all, tripping over each other is just a game of tag, if you look at it that way. 

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Yellow Lab sitting by Shutterstock.com.

Do you live in an apartment with a dog? What do you think of our tips? Who else should be on the best apartment dog breeds list? Let us know in the comments!

Read more about breeds and improving life with your dogs:

The 10 Smallest Dog Breeds
The 10 Biggest Dog Breeds
Dog-Walking Etiquette: 7 Tips for a Better Walk

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Mon, 03 Jun 2013 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/10-best-apartment-dogs
<![CDATA[5 Ways I Accidentally Exercise With My Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/5-ways-accidentally-exercise-with-my-dogs-cardio-workout-dancing I loathe exercise. Hence, a lifetime of dieting. It recently occurred to me, though, that I have been accidentally exercising with my dogs for the past 10 years. Spot, Dolly, and I work muscles and burn calories together every single day.

Here are five ways we do it.

1. Scratching

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Spot thought bubble: Give me 10 more scratchies. You can do it!

Several times a day, Spot jumps up into my lap for scratchies. He likes me to scratch and rub the back of his neck, which requires me to flex my forearm muscles repeatedly until he tires of the attention. Who needs dumbbells when you have Boston Terriers?

2. Chasing

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Dolly thought bubble: Tag. You're it!

Dolly loves to chase me. In our current home, I have a clear, circular route -- once all of the toys have been picked up, that is -- through the living room, office, kitchen, and dining room. I change directions several times during a game of chase, which kind of makes it like sprinting, right? Sprints count as cardio!

3. Walking

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Spot thought bubble: Ready for your workout?

Of course I know that walking equals exercise, but I realized that the way we do it actually resembles the type of dance-aerobics classes I avoid because they make me feel out of shape and uncoordinated.

During our afternoon walk around the neighborhood, Spot and Dolly get to sniff and pee on whatever they like until we reach the halfway point. This keeps my arms and legs moving as I spin around and adjust leashes so no one trips. Lest you think I don't know how to "properly" walk my pups, on the way back we move briskly down the sidewalk without distraction.

4. Fetching

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Spot thought bubble: Throw it! You need the exercise, lady.

As I have written about several times before, Spot loves to fetch. We usually start with me sitting in my comfy patio chair, but eventually the ball gets so coated with slobber and dirt that I stand up to kick instead of throw it.

I alternate hands and feet during our game to avoid straining a particular side -- laugh all you like, but I still feel the Frisbee injury that happened two summers ago -- and I push my muscles to get him the distance he deserves.

5. Dancing

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Dancing cheek to cheek with my sweet Dolly girl.

I rarely dance in public, but we shake our groove thang all the time at home. Spot and Dolly bounce at my feet until one gets picked up to twirl with me from room to room. Spot weighs 21 pounds and Dolly just a bit more. How could my moves not count as exercise?

While I know that none of the above will help me drop a dress size, these activities do get me moving. Spot and Dolly enjoy them, too. Though, when Dolly hears the opening notes of "Dancing Queen" for the umpteenth time, I imagine her thought bubble says something like, "Enough with the disco! Can we get some JT, please?"

Let's hear from you, readers. Do you exercise with your dogs, accidentally or otherwise? Tell us all about it -- and post photos of your workout partners -- in the comments!

Looking for more stories about the lighter side of pet parenting? Check these out:

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Mon, 13 May 2013 10:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/5-ways-accidentally-exercise-with-my-dogs-cardio-workout-dancing