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When a beloved pet leaves our lives, there is no easy way to deal with the void that is left in our hearts. The grieving process is necessary while painful. Each individual may express their grief in different ways. While some may prefer to move on as quickly as possible, others find closure by memorializing their pet. This may be done through a number of simple ways as well as holding a private or public memorial service. At Family’s Pet, we offer a wide variety of services from individual and private cremations to viewing and memorial/funeral services, so that our clients can choose how they want to say good bye while preserving their fondest memories in the midst of departing.

Our brand new modern facility in Arlington Heights, IL is beautifully constructed with a memorial/funeral room where you can hold a service for your pet or simply serve as a quiet setting where you can privately say your good byes. Whether you decide to preform the service on your own or with the help of a professional, we offer some suggestions of practices that may be appealing for you to include. An opening word is helpful in some cases giving reassurance to those who are attending. State the purpose of your coming together. While it may be a new experience for some, it is an opportunity for loved ones to comfort one another and give closure as they express their love for the departed.

Lighting a candle is one way to remember your pet. You may choose to say a heartfelt word or allow the beauty and warmth of the flame to speak for itself. The warm flame of the candle is a reminder of the way our pets have warmed our hearts with their presence and love. May they be guided to safety and rest by the light of its flame. It’s power compels us to move forward with courage as we face the future.

Sharing a Memory is a great way to celebrate the life of your pet. It may be a particular event or experinece you shared such as an outing or funny moment. It may be what you will remember most about your pet’s character such as the way he greeted you when you arrived home each day. Our lives are different because of their love and hearing how they have touched the lives of others compounds that love.

Offering a blessing is a way for you to express your faith at a time when you may need it most. Though death is a difficult reality, we find comfort in the promise of life after death. You may ask for God’s peace and strength to be with you and all who are grieving. Knowing that your pet has passed to a joyful place with no more pain is a great blessing and offers the hope of reuniting with him again one day.

Reading a poem or singing a song can be a beautiful and constructive outlet to outwardly express what many are already feeling inside. You may choose to prepare your own words or select the author that you feel best communicates how you feel. One such poem that has provided comfort to grieving pet owners for many years has been The Rainbow Bridge in it’s many variations.In closing, you may decide to pray as well as read an excerpt from Ecclesiastes chapter 3, as is customary at many funeral and memorial services:

3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

A Memorial Service is a tangible way to demonstrate the significance your pet held in your life. When a great companion is laid to rest it is appropriate for those that held him dear to stop and recognize his absence. It is by far the greatest honor that can be given.

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Besides taking away your cats “manhood” or “womanhood,” you may have other concerns about spaying and neutering. One prominent concern is whether a cat will gain weight afterward. This would not only lead to your cat being “out of shape,” but also increase his risk of many health conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and urinary tract disease.

Research seems to support the trend of cats gaining weight after getting fixed, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. This is because the surgery slows down a cat’s metabolism by roughly 20 percent. Because of this slowdown, less sustenance is necessary for maintaining a cat’s body mass. This means that a cat post-neutering can eat the exact same amount of food as before, but still gain a noticeable amount of weight. It has also been noted that the cats appetite may simultaneously increase because of the extra nutritional support needed causing a perfect storm for weight gain.  

It becomes necessary then, to reduce your cats daily caloric intake after surgery. Your vet can help you with determining this amount. Adjusting your cats food intake may be one way to curb the weight gain while another less sought after route would be to switch from dry food to wet food. Kibble is made up mainly of carbohydrates. As a carnivore, protein from meat is your cats preferred fuel for its tank. This may be a way to satisfy your pets appetite and avoid excess weight gain at the same time. This theory would only be successful when kibble is avoided completely. When using dry food either solely or along with wet food, portion control should adamantly be executed.

Always eek out food that is made from natural, high-quality ingredients during this important time since most cats are spayed or neutered when they are still young and growing. Also, make changes in the type and amount of food given gradual to avoid upsetting your cat’s digestion.

 If you are away form home most of the day, an automatic feeder where your cat can come and graze at anytime may make sense, so long as you are sure not to fill it with more food than your cat is allotted for in that time frame. When possible though, offer up the food only at meal times to help your cat  with portion control. And who doesn’t love to see their cat come running and meowing when they hear the sound of the cat food bag or the pop of the canned wet food signaling its feeding time?

Exercise is also a key component to regulate your cats weight, avoid disease, as well as provide an outlet and stimulation for his emotional and cognitive needs. Cats are made to move. They may no longer need to hunt for their food in their new domesticated dwellings but they still have the instincts to pounce, chase, and play. Be sure to provide stimulating play time for your feline regularly with toys he can play on his own as well as ones you play together. A toy on a string that you cast out and then temptingly lure back in will get his attention. Occasionally treating your furry friend to some catnip is a fun way to put him in a playful mood.

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Have you ever wished that you were a dog: lay around all day with no responsibility, play some ball, and have humans stroke and adore you? Okay maybe not, but if you were a dog what kind would you be?

If you were a dog, what dog breed would you be? Take our dog breed quiz below and find out!

1. You’ve had a long week at work and it’s time to unwind. Which weekend activity are you most likely up to?

a. Spending the majority of your Saturday lounging around in bed and watching movies

b. Treating yourself to a massage or day of pampering at the spa

c. Digging up weeds and working in your garden

d. Spending the day at the beach or lake

e. Taking a karate class or hitting the gym

f. Going for a hike or bike ride

g. A little of everything—packing your day full of a variety of activities
2. Your favorite TV shows are usually:

a. Comedies—the sillier the better

b. Reality shows that follow the lives of your favorite stars

c. Prank shows like Candid Camera or MTV’s Punk’d

d. Anything on the Outdoor Network or Nat Geo

e. Crime scene investigation and police shows

f. Reruns of The Nanny

g. You’re a chronic channel surfer
3. Your friends would best describe you as:

a. Stubborn

b. High maintenance

c. Energetic

d. Friendly

e. Protective

f. Brave

g. Versatile
4. What’s your idea of the perfect date?

a. A picnic in the park

b. Dinner at a nice restaurant

c. Game night with another couple

d. Miniature golf or taking your date to the driving range

e. Playing Frisbee in the park

f. Taking a stroll through downtown

g. A night out on the town
5. What is your dream job?

a. Comedian

b. Personal shopper

c. Rock star

d. Park ranger

e. Secret agent

f. NFL player

g. Event planner
6. Which of the following describes your style?

a. Comfortable attire, lounging around clothes

b. The season’s latest trends

c. Bright fun colors

d. A t-shirt and shorts

e. A leather jacket to make you look tough

f. Athletic wear

g. I don’t really have a style. It changes from day to day
7. Your idea of adventure is:

a. Vacationing at all inclusive resort

b. Traveling to an exotic location

c. Bungee jumping

d. White water rafting

e. Horseback riding

f. Trekking through the Himalayas

g. Going on a cruise
8. When you run into a friend on the street you are most likely to:

a. Engage in friendly conversation while cracking a few jokes.

b. Tell them how fabulous it is to see them and invite them over for a glass of wine.

c. Say a quick “hello” but explain that you’ve got to run. You have to be somewhere.

d. Stop and chat for a long time.

e. Wave “hello” but keep on walking by.

f. Stop and say hello. Ask them how their family is doing.

g. Chat about a variety of topics
9. A typical dinner for you consists of:

a. Fish ‘n’ chips

b. The vegetarian special

c. Grilled cheese

d. A hotdog

e. Meat and potatoes

f. A nice juicy steak

g. Pizza
10. Which of the following are you most likely to drive?

a. Volkswagen Beetle

b. Pink corvette

c. Mini Cooper

d. Jeep Wrangler

e. BMW

f. A pickup truck

g. Prius

Here are the results!

Mostly A’s: Bulldog: Silly, relaxed and romantic

Mostly B’s: Poodle/Toy Breed: Fashionable, health conscious, and likes to be pampered.

Mostly C’s: Terrier: Fun, extroverted, competitive

Mostly D’s: Labrador: Loves the outdoors, adventurous, friendly

Mostly E’s: German Shepherd: Protective, intelligent, and loyal

Mostly F’s: Pit Bull: Family-oriented, sporty, and kind-hearted

Mostly G’s: Mixed Breed: Easy going, diverse, and fun-loving

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It’s September. That means one universal truth for most children of the world: it’s back to school time. If your great dane is acting like he ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog lately, then it may be that he has the back to school blues. Yes, even your pet can get down when his favorite playmates have gone from full to part time. This can mean his life has gone from fun and fantasy to loneliness and boredom. He may be left feeling neglected and depressed. Alternatively, if he is spending long days in the crate, he may overwhelm you with all the stored up energy that is waiting to be unleashed once his family arrives.

Is your dog displaying symptoms of depression such as lack of energy, loss of appetite, hiding or cowering, and not wanting to play? Separation anxiety is another possibility. Unlike depression, separation anxiety manifests itself in erratic behavior, including excessive barking and whining, frantic clawing at doors, windows, or fences to get out, destructive chewing, and going to the bathroom in the house. Dogs with separation anxiety will be ecstatic when family members get home, whereas a depressed dog may not even get up from his bed. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, he may be upset by the recent change in schedules.

It is important to not disregard your dog’s feelings. Instead take a look at these tips to help your dog cope with the difficulty associated with this time of transition.

SCHEDULING TECHNIQUES AND TWEAKS

Remember that it is going to take some time. If your dog has gone through this routine in past years, he may remember the routine and settle in more quickly but if this is his first time, be sure to be patient as he learns to adjust to the new way of life. Having a simple routine in place can help alleviate any stress your dog feels. Even if your dog does not suffer from depression or anxiety, he will still appreciate this simple routine, which will ensure he gets enough attention and exercise.

AM Exercise: Exercise is essential for having a healthy and happy dog. Create a schedule with your family that gets everyone involved. Each morning someone should get up a little bit early, even just fifteen minutes, to take the dog out for a walk around the block or even the back yard before the day starts. Not only will this let your dog know you still care, but getting out that extra energy means he is less likely to be destructive while you are gone.

Upon Leaving: When it is time to leave for the day, don’t make a big deal of it. It is ok to pet your dog, but don’t get emotional. Dogs can sense your emotions. If you are upset, he will be more likely to be upset. Distract him with a toy or a treat-stuffed toy. For anxious dogs, leaving a radio or TV on can help.

Afternoon Break: Try to schedule someone in your family to go home around midday and let your dog out for some quick exercise. Not only does it break up the length of time he is left alone, but it will also relieve some energy. If no one in the family is available, consider asking a neighbor or hiring a dog walker. Taking her to a doggy daycare a couple of times a week is a good alternative.

Upon Arrival: When you return home for the day don’t make a big deal of it. If your dog has anxiety, making a grande entrance will only feed his anxious emotions. The best thing to do is ignore him when you first get home, then after a few minutes, calmly greet your dog and take him out to go to the bathroom if needed.

PM Exercise: When you finally arrive home, it is easy to put off the dog. You have had a long day, you had to cook dinner, help the kids with homework, and now all you want to do is sit on the couch. But your dog has been waiting for you all day and most likely has unspent energy. After his dinner, be sure to take him out for some exercise and play time.

Following this routine will help your dog have some things to look forward to each day and help him not to dwell on your absence. Continue to monitor him, and if his symptoms worsen or do not improve, take him to a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions that might be causing the symptoms.

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Pet loss is a difficult experience for pet owners as well as for the surviving pets. Though they cannot tell us how they feel, your pet may be going through a time of grief.  As owners, it is easy to overlook behavior changes while dealing with our own sense of loss. When pets grieve, they usually show their sense of loss with behavior changes such as depression or separation anxiety.

When the cat or dog first becomes sick or starts to decline, the surviving pets often begin to act differently . For people, this can be a time of preparation, and some of our grieving may be done well in advance of the pet’s actual death. Although we don’t know for sure if surviving pets realize their companion animal friends will soon die, they certainly do act like they are aware of the changes taking place . In fact, many sensitive cats react to their owners’ emotional upset and grieve in response to our changes of behavior over the heartache.

The surviving pet may seem withdrawn and depressed. Often the personality changes and a shy cat could become more demanding of attention, while a demanding cat may start to hide. One of the most heartbreaking situations occurs when the surviving pet cries and looks everywhere for the missing loved one. Sometimes it can be helpful to allow the surviving pet to say “goodbye” to the body after a furry friend has died. They may sniff and examine the body, cry or ignore it all together. All of these reactions should be considered normal. That’s the only way we can explain to them what has happened to their friend. Viewing the friend’s body allows them to understand he’s not coming back. They still grieve, but aren’t searching for their friend or plagued with curiosity any longer.

People go through several stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, while not always in this order. Pets have their own process of grieving which may include anger or depression until they finally work through the situation to acceptance. Just as people get over a loss in different time frames, some pets may take longer than others.

Owners and pets can provide mutual support as they grieve together. The bond they share offers comfort and safe place to release the painful thoughts and emotions of the loved one they’ve lost. Be sure to welcome your pet into your presence. Speak to them about the situation to help you both process. Although they may not understand your words, your pet will pick up on your emotions. Be careful not to baby your surviving pets, however, as this can be interpreted as a reward for acting depressed.

Play uplifting music to lift depression. An herbal remedy also helps a percentage of pets. The Bach Flower remedy called Star of Bethlehem is said to be particularly helpful for relieving sorrow and grief. You can find Bach remedies at many health food stores, or online. Also, the herb Saint-John’s-Wort acts as a natural antidepressant but must be dosed according to a veterinarian’s advice. If the depression doesn’t lift and lasts too long, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe an antidepressant drug.

The most effective way for you to help your pet grieve, and even yourself, is to give ample time for this necessary process. Though it hurts, the capacity to grieve honors the memory of the departed, and is a measure of the depth of our love. That truly is a legacy to celebrate.

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You may have read headlines and heard stories of pets alerting their owners just in time to find safety before adverse weather struck. Before we know that a storm is on its way, your dog or cat may have felt it, heard it, or even smelled it.

According to an article by The National Geographic, some pets can smell incoming rain, feel trembles in the earth, hear thunder and wind, and sense pressure changes long before their human counterparts.

A study looking of animal reactions before major tremors, including the Northridge, California, quake in 1994, and the Greek and Turkish quakes in 1999 reports of peculiar behavior beforehand, including dogs howling in the night mysteriously, caged birds becoming restless, and nervous cats hiding.

Geologists, however, dismiss these kinds of reports, saying it is “the psychological focusing effect,” where people remember strange behaviors only after an earthquake or other catastrophe has taken place. If nothing had happened, they contend, people would not have remembered the strange behavior.

Regardless of the controversy, what we do know for sure is that animals are more sensitive to drops in barometric pressure than humans. Barometric pressure is the pressure of the atmosphere. A drop in pressure means that conditions may be ripe for a storm to develop. A dog may learn to associate this pressure drop with the arrival of a storm. Changes in the static electric field may trigger the same anticipation. Dogs may also pick up the subtle vibrations that precede a storm.

Additionally, it may be possible for a dog to hear a storm. Dogs can hear at much higher and lower frequencies than we do. A small rumble which may be almost imperceptible to us, does not go unnoticed to a dog. Another possibility is that dogs may smell storms coming. Dogs’ noses can detect concentrations of chemicals in the low parts-per-million range. In fact, dogs’ noses are said to be more sensitive than a mass spectrometer. Lightning ionizes air with the formation of ozone – which has a characteristic metallic smell. This may be the odor dogs detect, or some other odor associated with the storm.

Finally, a dog may learn to associate darkened skies and cloud patterns with a storm and you may only learn of the storms imminent arrival through observation of your dog’s behavior. For some dogs, thunderstorms are traumatizing events. They are so frightened by the storm that they may bark, hide, urinate, or defecate, and some dogs become destructive, particularly when forced to endure a storm alone. Others may react to the sound, but may remain relatively calm. The more anxious the dog in thunderstorms, the more he may react before the storm actually arrives thus providing you with a personal miniature weather predictor.

Listen to your pets when it comes to the weather. They have better senses than you do, and their early warning could just save your life. Should your furry friend alert you, be prepared to find a safe place for your family and pet with some basic survival accessories in place. Don’t forget to include some pet treats to thank your furry friend for their contribution to the family’s safety.

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Catnip, the herb Nepeta cateria, is somewhat mysterious to us. By simply sniffing it, cats seem to be overcome with playfulness. It is a member of the mint family, nonaddictive, and completely safe for cats. So what is the secret to its overwhelming influence over felines?

Aptly named, catnip seems to only affect cats. Sniffing or ingesting this herb invigorates them through all of the five sense of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. It has a varying influence from cat to cat with some being more greatly affected than others and a small amount are not affected at all. After contact with the herb cats can display a wide range of behaviors from sneezing, sniffing, licking and chewing, head shaking, chin and cheek rubbing, head-over roll and body rubbing, eating the catnip, mewing and purring. The effects only lasts a few minutes.

Your cat may enjoy occasional contact with catnip. It can be purchased at the store in dry form as well as in many cat toys. Pet owners can even grow their own plant at home allowing your cat to approach it on his own time. No need to worry about your cat overdosing as its affects are due to scent and not consumption.

While catnip is not a necessary part of a cat’s diet, it can provide a fun outlet as well as a bonding experience for you and your pet.

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Pet owners are more frequently questioning the safety of using cat litter: “How does it affect the environment?”  “Is it even safe for my cat?” and “What are the natural alternatives?”

THE PROBLEM:

In clumping cat litter sodium bentonite, a natural clay ingredient that expands and hardens when it comes into contact with moisture, is the main villain. It’s purpose is to make cleaning kitty’s box a little easier but at what price? While digging in their litter, cats can inhale fine sodium bentonite particles which expands when it hits their lungs. This can cause asthma and other lung problems. There is also a risk of ingestion as cats are cleaning their paws. Lastly even the pads of their feet may develop sores from contact. 

Another danger lies in using silica-based litter. A porous granular form of sodium silicate, it absorbs odors and moisture. However, being easily inhaled by humans and felines, it has been linked to lung cancer, bronchitis and even tuberculosis. A fatal form of pulmonary tuberculosis called silico-tuberculosis has been found in some cats.

The effects on our pets is bad enough but they also negatively impact our environment as well. The process of producing these conventional litters involves strip milling which is destructive in itself. The secondary affect comes in to play after disposing of the litter which fills up land fills, unable to be decomposed any further resulting in about two million tons of cat litter being sent to the land fills each year. 

THE SOLUTION: 

Luckily, some natural alternatives do exist. One to consider is Swheat Scoop. As you may have guessed by its name, it is made from a processed non-food grade wheat. Its admirable qualities include being biodegradable, free of chemicals and fragrance while still maintaining its clumping abilities. It comes in pellet form and clumps when wet so you do not have to sacrifice convenience for health. It has a velvety texture which will not irritate paws.

Another great alternative that many companies are turning to is recycled newspaper. Newspaper is naturally biodegradable and absorbent. Fashioning them in to soft, paper pellets makes them friendly to use and they wont cling to your pet when he is done doing his duty. Good Mews and Yesterday’s New are two popular brands sold in pet stores. 

The options are plentiful with Corning litter being another safe choice made of…you guessed it, corn! Corn has a unique ability to capture ammonia which is that nasty smell you may have noticed when cleaning Fluffy’s box. One Earth Cat Litter utilizes fast clumping corn cob granules while featuring yucca and pine for a natural fragrance. These two brands are compatible with self-cleaning automatic litter boxes.

Feline Pine uses remaining pine sawdust from lumberyards.The dust is cleaned, kiln-dried, and pressurized to remove oils which results in sterile, dust-free pellets that are super absorbent. Vets have been known to recommend using this litter for post-surgery since it has been sterilized.

Although these green litters are biodegradable and may be septic- and sewer-safe, it’s best not to flush them down the toilet into our waterways. Cat feces is known to contain a parasite known as Toxoplasmosis gondii (TG) which is extremely dangerous to pregnant women and marine life.You may however throw your used litter into the compost bin but it is only suitable for use on trees, shrubs, flower or r potted plants, not vegetables or fruits. Cats are known for being finicky, so you may have to try a few before you find the green litter that works best for your kitty.

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With so many varying opinions available today over what is healthy and what is not for your pet, many pet owners are looking for answers. Knowledge is power and we hope that laying out the pros and cons regarding this popular chew treat for dogs as well as answering some basic questions will help you to make an informed choice about what is best for your pooch.

What is it?

A rawhide is made from the inner soft hide of an animal. It is most commonly made from the skin of cows but can also be from pig, sheep, or horse.

Pros:

· Can relieve teething pain in puppies. When a puppy chews it helps to counter the pain from teeth pushing through the gums as well as help to strengthen jaw muscles.

· Satisfies your dogs chewing desire. Dogs have an instinctual desire to chew. In the wild their meals consisted of plenty of animal bones to chew on.

· Promotes healthy gums and teeth. Chewing a rawhide causes friction on your pets teeth, rubbing off any plaque buildup which leaves teeth and gums clean and can reduce his risk of dental problems.

· An alternative to chewing valuable items. Fulfilling that instinct to chew and keeping your dogs jaws busy for hours can help to prevent him turning to your valuable household items as his chew toys.

Cons:

· Not all rawhides are safe to ingest. Rawhides  produced outside USA have been reported to be made from toxic chemicals including arsenic and formaldehyde. Check the packaging and only select rawhides that are made in the USA.

· A potential choking hazard. Ifyour dog swallows a small piece of rawhide, it can get lodged in his throat causing him to choke. Once the rawhide becomes small enough to be swallowed whole toss it in the trash.

· Can cause digestive blockage. If your dog does swallow a large piece of rawhide, the outcome could be fatal. The rawhide can expand inside of the stomach, or even wrap around his intestines, causing an obstruction.

· Some rawhides contain skin from other dogs. The Humane Society International stated in an investigative report, “In a particularly grisly twist, the skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.”

There you have it, the good, the bad, and the ugly truth about rawhide chew treats. For many, the risks outweigh the benefits and pet owners will seek out alternative chewables for their pets. For those who would continue to use these timeless treats, knowing where and how they are manufactured is key for your pets safety.

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The Dutch Shepherd is not a commonly sought after breed among typical dog owners. While their unique talents come to life in the fields of police and military work, they are increasing in popularity for their protective nature and loyal disposition.

Known as a “working” dog, the Dutch Shepherd comes in three varieties, long, short, and wire-haired. They tend to be brindle in color or shades of gold and silver. The typical weight of a Dutch Shepherd is 50-70 pounds. They have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. Their bodies are sleek and muscular. They are excellent in areas of agility, catch, obedience competitions, guard work, herding, field trailing and companionship. Their protective nature makes them the ideal guard dog while their love and loyalty allows them to fit in well in a family setting. Maintaining a strong pack leader position is key in keeping this intense dog under control while providing regular opportunities for them to exercise such as daily walks, fetch, biking, and hiking. They tend to do well in all types of weather. Snow or sun they will be up for a run and playing about outdoors.

The Dutch Shepherds are very similar to the Belgian Shepherds. While they differ slightly in size and color, they both originate in the continental herding dogs that also created the German Shepherd around the same time as the Belgian and Dutch Shepherd. The breed evolved in the early 1800s in the southern part of the Netherlands. The Dutch Shepherd is almost unknown outside Holland where it is valued for its ability as a herder and for its quick reflexes. Originally an all-purpose farm guard, herder, cart-puller, guard, police and security dog.

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