Some dogs love to swim underwater

There's money to be made in scooping poop

Can dogs swim underwater? Our lab, Tony, lives to fetch. I threw
a rock into the lake for him and he came back with a different
rock. It would be neat to train him to be a doggy-diver!
Q: Can dogs swim underwater? Our lab, Tony, lives to fetch. I threw a rock into the lake for him and he came back with a different rock. It would be neat to train him to be a doggy-diver!


Even though swimming underwater isn’t usually a part of their repertoire, some dogs love to go under the surface to fetch things. One of my favorite events is the water trials put on by the Northern California Newfoundland Club (NCNC). Newfies are tested in a time trial where they submerge their head in ankle-deep water to fetch an object placed by their handler or a judge. It’s amazing to watch how quickly they find that submerged treasure. They’re also tested for swimming strength and skill. In two different events, they actually tow a “stranded” boat ashore and they swim out to rescue a “drowning” person who calls for help from the water. This show is great fun for the family to see. To get information about the NCNC and its activities, go to their website

And keep working with Tony. Try using colored objects for him to fetch, so that he can better identify them when you toss them out in the water. And how about this idea? Maybe you could make a video and we can let other people see Tony’s talents.


I just heard a story that an artificial sweetener in candy is toxic to dogs. Is this true? Can cats get sick if they eat it?


Xylitol is a sweetener used in many different sugar-free candies and gum. It’s also found in baked goods and oral hygiene products (toothpaste and mouthwash) used by diabetics. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, and it only takes a small amount to be fatal in a very short time. Just two to three pieces of candy or gum can be fatally toxic to a 20-pound dog. This stuff is reportedly dangerous to ferrets as well, although there are few reported cases to substantiate this.

Xylitol causes a rapid release of insulin within 30 minutes of ingestion. This quickly initiates a sudden, dangerous drop in blood glucose levels. Affected dogs vomit and rapidly become very weak and lethargic. Some patients have seizures and develop internal hemorrhaging. If not treated quickly and aggressively, Xylitol ingestion causes liver failure. Treatment includes intravenous fluids with glucose, but early detection and aggressive treatment are absolutely crucial to successful recovery.

There are few, if any, reported cases in cats (probably because cats are more finicky than dogs, so they are less likely to pick up any food or candy left lying around the house). Kitty cats may not be as sensitive to this substance as their canine counterparts.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that sugar-free products are dangerous to pets and should always be kept out of reach. This really is bad stuff for our furry friends.


Our horse, Belle, has been a back yard fixture for more than 18 years. She’s about 25 years old now and hasn’t had a saddle on her back since our kids moved out and went to college. Now our neighbors have asked if their daughter could try riding her. Will it be OK for her to have a 9-year-old on her back while she is walked around the pasture? We don’t want to hurt her.


There are a lot of things to consider before you loan out your older mare. If Belle’s been in good health all these years, and her feet are in good condition, chances are she’ll do fine with a young rider on her back. But there are some important things to consider.

First, be sure she’s up to date on her routine preventative medication for intestinal worms. This should be given at least twice a year. (She should also be properly vaccinated.) If she hasn’t lost any weight or muscle in the past few years, and if her feet are healthy, then she should do fine.

Just the same, I think you should have her checked by a veterinarian and get her feet trimmed by a reputable farrier. After that, she ‘ll ready to go. Carrying your 9-year-old neighbor on her back won’t be too demanding. But they should only go for a slow walk the first few times. No heavy workout. Let them slowly work up to a more-energetic pace over the course of a few weeks.

All in all, Belle and her new exercise companion might make an ideal team. This will be good for both of them. Have fun!

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