Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Holiday Noises and Other Harsh Sounds

Greeting “Big Dog” Blog followers! I hope you had a nice holiday.  I surely did, but it was chaotic at times with three other dogs, and two little girls ages 6 and 2! The house was definitely noisy and cluttered. On the up side, however, there was an above average amount of food that fell to the floor and of course needed to be picked up. J

Today I want to share some information with you that I’ll bet you don’t often consider. It’s about all those loud noises in our world today and how they affect us dogs. Even though you often attribute us with human characteristics, we do function differently in lots of ways. So hopefully this can help you appreciate what we need to help us deal with this big bustling world.

Dogs notice how excited humans get during holidays, like our recent Christmas celebration, New Year’s Eve coming up this weekend, 4th of July, birthdays … even Super Bowl parties. Now that I’ve turned 7, I’ve pretty much figured out when the noise is going to happen around our house and where I can go to minimize its effects on my sensitive ears. But younger dogs … especially puppies after 3 weeks, don’t have a clue … and it can be quite traumatizing.  

You see as puppies, we’re deaf at birth and can’t hear until we’re about 3 weeks old. Once our hearing is completely developed, however, we can hear about 4 times better than humans. This means I can hear a sound in the house from 80 feet, that you won’t likely hear it until it’s within 20 feet. You humans generally detect frequencies from 31 to 19,000 Hz whereas we can hear from 64 to 44,000 Hz. Certain sounds drive us especially crazy. Very high frequencies, thunder, other dogs barking or howling, vacuum cleaners, crying babies, sirens and alarms of all kinds can make us skittish.

Did you know we have 18 different muscles that control our external ears? Humans have just 6 allowing you to move yours minimally.  On the other hand, we’re able to perk ours up, move them towards what we’re trying to hear, lay them back, and generally adjust what we’re able to hear.

By just being a little more mindful about the sounds we encounter in our homes, cars, and when we’re outside in the neighborhood, you can add greatly to our peace of mind!

Veterinarians and government officials tell us noisy holidays are when more dogs run away from their homes. The terror experienced can be of such magnitude dogs have been known to crash through glass to get away. Once outside the familiarity of our home, we’re at much higher risk of theft, injury, or even death.

When you’re preparing for holidays or events where you know there’s going to be a lot of loud noises, simply think about the effects these sounds might have on us. Some people put their dogs in a secluded room as far away from the noise as possible, but this doesn’t necessarily reduce fear. We feel more secure when we’re close to you, so sometimes just reassuring us, or letting us sit close to you is all we need. The main thing is to simply anticipate what sounds might create anxiety or fear in us and be prepared to take action that helps us feel more secure.

Recently, one of the more popular methods of soothing us during times of loud noises is the so-called “thunder coat.” No one is quite sure why this brings a sense of security, but for many dogs it reduces their panting, pacing, and overall stress and anxiety. Placing such a coat on a dog well ahead of anticipated noises can make all the difference.

For dogs not accepting of a thunder coat, there’s an array of naturally-sourced, herb-based products available in chewable treat form. These won’t “knock your dog out” but they may well act as a soothing agent. Check with your veterinarian on one they might recommend. Generally, you can give as much as is needed without harmful side effects.  Cesar Millan, the well-known Dog Whisperer, recommends using a lavender essential oil as a calming agent. Place just a drop on the far backside of the dog as well as the underneath portion of their bedding. Just be careful to not get it near the face.

Well, I hope this information was useful. I know your dog will appreciate your following these recommendations to make their celebrations as enjoyable as possible.

Happy New Year, and we’ll see you back here in 2017!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Looking A Lot Like Christmas!

It's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Right now I'm in New Brunswick, Canada, where there's already a few inches of snow on the ground and another couple predicted for tomorrow. Of course there'll be a lot more falling before Christmas, and even more after Christmas, so I'm glad to basically be an indoor dog. It's -10 degrees Celsius outside right now, which Dad says is about 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Either way, that's cold enough to make my trips outside for "business" quite short! On the positive side of the season as an indoor dog, I appreciate the warmth and ready availability of food, family, and toys ... generally in that order ... and of course internet access so I can get this blog out to all of you who are following it. There's also the frequent smell of cookies and other tasty treats wafting from the kitchen and the radio is playing almost all Christmas songs. 

The only downside of that is most of the stations have a single loop of pretty much the same 5 Christmas songs that just play over and over. You know the ones I'm talking about. There's Brenda Lee singing Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, often followed by Gene Autry (the original singing cowboy) doing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, then Burl Ives with the classic Holly Jolly Christmas, Bing Crosby's White Christmas, and finally, of course, the one and only Elvis Presley singing Blue Christmas. So, it gets a bit monotonous ... but it's still good for keeping everyone in the Christmas spirit. 

As I may have mentioned in the introductory issue, Christmas Day is also my birthday! Woof! I'll be 7 this year, though it's hard to believe that many years have rolled by since joining my family. People are always saying a year in a dog's life equals 7 in theirs. Given they're humans who haven't lived a single day as a dog, makes it a little questionable for me. Although, if it's true, I'll only be 3 years younger than Dad in a couple weeks, which I think would make him quite happy. He really acts a lot younger than his age though. I mean the fact he likes to swim and negotiates stairs quite easily makes him a great athlete from my perspective. This whole project also tells me he's still at least young at heart. Just to have the stamina to run a business in today's crazy economy is pretty good evidence. 

Well, I had some time on my paws this morning so I thought I'd send out a little pre-Christmas cheer. Also to let you know ... there's still time to order your dog, and of course your favorite dog-blog author ... a little something special at 

Just sayin ...



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Welcome to the Big Dog's Blog!

I've created this new blog to support my Dad's web site,, an online source for great dog merchandise. I think you'll find it significantly different from most of the blogs you come across, however. You see they're usually written by humans ... undoubtedly as a result of their digital dexterity and opposable thumbs ... certainly not any particular intellectual superiority. Humans like to act and sound intellectual, but they often lack plain old common sense! At least my Dad has the common sense to let a dog tell you about dog stuff. Apparently I was his inspiration for this whole online business venture to offer dogs ... especially big dogs ... quality merchandise to make their lives more pleasant. So, I guess that makes me the "Big Dog" where his website is concerned, but please just call me Buddy!

In the months ahead I promise to bring you a variety of useful topics about dogs from a dog's perspective. Hopefully it will help you understand our needs better when it comes to things like health, toys, clothes, and basic equipment. We are a unique niche in the animal kingdom and feel almost as warm and fuzzy about you humans as you do about us. More on that later.

Just a bit about my background so you might get to know me better. Once you know me, you're definitely going to want to spend more time with me. You'll probably bug my Dad to post more pictures of me and tell you more of the stories about our crazy adventures. I was born on Christmas Day in 2009 in Harpursville, New York, at the home of my mid-wife and breeder, Cathy Vavrina. She calls her place Franklin Hill. It's just a few miles northwest of Binghamton, NY. Cathy has been breeding Labrador Retrievers for many years and is truly an expert and conscientious breeder. She interviewed my human parents when they expressed an interest in getting a dog from her, to make sure they were the right kind of responsible dog owners to whom she could entrust one of her dogs. Dad apparently came down initially and met my soon-to-become dog parents, Cargo and Trouble. Cargo (the Sire as we refer to our male parent) is a big Yellow Lab with a broad chest and a very deep voice.  Trouble (the Dam) is a svelte Black Lab who didn't live up to that name. She's retired now as Cathy doesn't breed her female dogs more than two or three times. As I said, she's a very responsible breeder.

                 Cargo (Dad)                                                          Trouble (Mom)            

Cathy (Breeder) and Me at 6 weeks                                                                 Me all grown up


Well, that's enough of an introduction for now. We hope you'll return for more information you can use as you live and work with your own dogs. Dad and I hope you'll find education as well as some entertainment in these pieces, so visit us often and don't forget to check out Dad's store at

Love, Buddy