Four Legs Good

Four Legs Good is a place to talk about pets, and the joys and frustrations of owning them. Netguide Award-winning blogger Nick Barnett writes about the animals in his life and pet issues of all kinds. And though 'Four Legs Good' is true, he’s just as fond of animals with two legs, many legs – or none.

Big dogs, small dogs, and safety

05:00am 13 Aug 2015

NICK BARNETT

Big dogs and small dogs - how should they mix?

"Peacefully" is probably the best answer. And most of the time, when big dogs and small dogs meet each other for the first time, it's peaceful. They recognise each other as dogs, sniff each other's snout and butt, and start to play - or not.

bella
  Bella and Zsa Zsa: a big size difference, but great friends.
But sometimes it's not peaceful and the dogs don't get on. In those rare cases you can chalk it up to nature and chance, keep the dogs apart, and move on.

Except when yours is the small dog and the other dog is much bigger. In those cases, you might not stay quite as calm. A lot of harm can come to a small dog in those moments before you can separate it from a much bigger dog that's determined to treat it as an enemy, or as prey.

This is the small-dog owner's nightmare. It happened to Deborah Mills and her jack russell terrier Whiskey - not just once but several times at a dog park in Brisbane.

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When your pet battles cancer

05:00am 11 Aug 2015

NICK BARNETT

Pets are unlike us humans in many ways, but they're exactly like us in others. The similarities help us understand these animals that share our homes.

Similarities like the way they need to eat, and drink, and pee and poo - and their need for sleep, warmth and stimulation. Their bodies and ours are heir to the same needs.

One of the sadder ways our pets are like us is that they're liable to get cancer.

MunchLast month a reader, Ayesha, told me the story of her dog Munch (right).

"Munch has been our companion for the last 12 years. In April he had some sunken-in muscles in the right side of his face and this led to many doctor visits and to us finding out he had a brain stem tumour and only a couple of weeks to live.

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Furry Friday: Small faces, big hearts

05:00am 07 Aug 2015

NICK BARNETT

A small dog has small ears, short legs, and a tiny tail that beats in a blur. But don't think that a wee dog has a wee heart, because it's not true. 

Inside a small dog's chest beats a heart as big as the world. And, somehow, that heart seems connected to its small-but-enormous eyes.

Today's collection is of little-bodied, huge-hearted dogs. 

Meet Sam, the wire-haired Jack Russell who can out-gaze any camera.

sam

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Helping a cat be more confident

05:00am 05 Aug 2015

NICK BARNETT

Bringing a new cat into your home always needs attentiveness and care. But what happens if the cat just won't integrate? And what if the cat was and is now inside a house for the first time?

I put both of these issues to Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy last week when he was in New Zealand.

Kitten
  A cat's confidence sometimes has to be built up.
The questions came from blog readers and Galaxy didn't get to meet them or their cats. But he brought his huge experience and insight to bear in his responses, with pointers that could be of use to many people who live with a cat. He's not only a TV cat-behaviour specialist, but the at-home companion of five cats (as well as two dogs). He and his wife also consider five feral cats to be part of their family.

As always, his solutions build on the idea of preserving "cat mojo", the confidence that a cat feels in its environment. And as in Monday's post, Galaxy's top-of-the-head replies are lightly edited.

Question: How can I help my ex-wild cat be more confident and less skittery? I have had her since she was a kitten but she is still so flighty. 

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What to do when your cats don't get along

05:00am 03 Aug 2015

NICK BARNETT

Do you have cats that just won't get along - always at claws-drawn, or just coldly distant towards each other despite your best diplomatic efforts? Jackson Galaxy has some thoughts on this common issue for cat owners.

lester and cloudy
  Lester and Cloudy encounter each other. Will it be peaceful?
I put some real-cat questions to Galaxy, TV's Cat Daddy, last week. Here are the first, sent in by blog readers - there wasn't enough time to cover many, but there'll be a second group later this week.

Note that Galaxy works directly with clients, visiting their homes, watching the cats in action, and prescribing solutions for them. You may have seen him in action in My Cat from Hell

He also has books and a website and a YouTube channel where he gives practical suggestions about solving cat "problems". Above the practical ideas is his notion of cat mojo - the confidence that a cat needs in its security and territory, that an owner needs to be careful about preserving. That mojo expresses itself in a peaceful, social, happy cat.

Galaxy didn't get to meet the cats mentioned in the reader questions, but he used them to hit on some wider issues that many cat owners will find useful. His responses are slightly edited.

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