Label: Dogs

January 27, 2011


This morning I decided to run a spur of the moment "Snow Day" contest, and asked who could be the first person to tell me why my publisher decided to change the original cover of my book DOGS (2004) to a different photo in 2009. 

Paige, from the great Buckeye State of Ohio, came up with the right answer. Paige wrote: "In 2009, President Obama and his family adopted a new dog which is a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo!"

That’s exactly right. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was inaugurated in January, 2009. Since he had promised his daughters Sasha and Malia that they could have a puppy when they moved into the White House, the search was on! The Obamas wanted to choose a breed that would be least likely to trigger Malia’s allergies, and they eventually settled on a fairly rare breed, the Portuguese Water dog

My publishers, HarperCollins, decided to change the cover in honor of the first African-American president of the United States and his family.

Paige was the first person to come up with the right answer, and she wins a personally autographed copy of my book! 

Click here to see a great photograph of President Obama and Bo playing together in the West Wing of the White House.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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January 27, 2011

Since a lot of kids have a snow day today, I am running a special, one-day contest.

In yesterday’s blog post, a Pennsylvania fifth-grade class did a great poll about kids’ favorite dogs. They used the cover of my book DOGS in their chart - the version that is in many of your school libraries, originally published in 2004.

In 2009, my publisher decided to do a new jacket for DOGS. If you buy it today, it looks completely different.

They had a very specific reason to do this new cover. Think about what year it was, and think about what kind of dog it is.

The first person who can tell me the reason why HarperCollins changed the photograph on the cover of my DOGS book will win a personally autographed copy of the book of your choice - the original cover, or the new cover!

Click on COMMENTS, below, to post your answer. And when you write, please include your email address. We won’t post it online in order to keep you safe, but it will allow us to get in touch with you if you are the winner.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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January 26, 2011


I’m going to be speaking later in February at Churchville Elementary School in Pennsylvania and it sounds like they have been doing lots of preparation! Today I received a "favorite dog breed" survey from Gail Gorgol, the librarian at the school. The student’s in Mr. K’s 5th grade class chose my book DOGS to read and share with the class, and then they decided to survey the class to find out the favorite dog breed of their classmates. My favorite breed is the English Springer Spaniel, because that’s what my dog Nova was.



Here’s what the kids had to say about their favorite dogs. Nice work creating the graph!







I’d be curious to see if the results are similar across the country. Write and tell me: which is your favorite dog breed? Maybe you would like to send me a photo of your dog in an email? Be sure to send me the name of your dog and anything that makes him or her special!



Posted by: Seymour Simon

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November 30, 2010

Have you ever been drenched because you were standing too near a dog shaking water from her coat? It turns out that dogs (and other mammals including mice, tigers, and bears) really know how to shake. 

Science News reports that researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recorded video of 40 different animals, representing 15 different species. They wanted to learn about how wet, hairy mammals shake off water after they get drenched.

They learned that these animals are not only expert shakers, but they each do it at exactly the right speed to eliminate all those pesky water drops. 

The bigger the animal, the slower it shakes. A mouse moves its body back and forth 27 times per second, but a grizzly bear shakes only four times per second.

Why is it important for mammals to quickly shed excess water? Dr. David Hu, who led the study, told Science News: "If a dog couldn’t dry itself, we calculated that it would have to use 25 percent of its daily calories to heat its body to get rid of the water. Every time they got wet they would get hypothermia and die."

No wonder your dog is such an expert shaker!



Dog Photo: Alamy/

Bear Photo: Mike Dunn/

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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November 13, 2010

A scientist was watching his cat drink water one day, and started to wonder why it was able to drink so neatly and quietly - especially because his dog made so much noise and mess slurping up water from its bowl.

So, he did what scientists do when they have a question - he called some friends and they decided to run an experiment. Drinking cats lap with their tongues so quickly - four times per second - that all our human eye can see is a blur. So, the scientists used high-speed cameras to capture a cat drinking. What they discovered was pretty amazing.


A drinking cat darts its tongue into the bowl so delicately that the tip just lightly touches the surface of the milk. When it pulls its tongue back, it is moving so quickly that a thin stream of milk gets pulled up behind it. Just at the moment when gravity is about to take over and cause the milk to fall…..SNAP! The cat closes its jaws over the stream of liquid and swallows it. 

A perfectly neat solution!

Since I have written books about both DOGS and CATS, kids often tell me which one they really love, and which one they think makes a better pet. The truth is that both dogs and cats can each be good and loyal pets.

But when it comes down to who is a neater, more elegant drinker? Cats win, paws down!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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May 26, 2010

We’ve been writing a lot this month about the work we are doing to develop free, downloadable TEACHER GUIDES to go with all 26 of Seymour’s Collins/Smithsonian books (plus some other perennial favorites like ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES, EARTH, THE MOON, THE PAPER AIRPLANE BOOK, etc).


One of the nice features at the start of each Guide is a brief piece of first person writing from Seymour entitled "Why I Wrote This Book." It’s designed for teachers or parents to read aloud with kids before starting to talk about the book together. Today we are working on the Guide to accompany DOGS. Here is a preview of what Seymour wrote about the genesis of this book.


My first dog was a Springer Spaniel named Nova. Nova means "a new star" and that’s what NOVA was: a new star in our family. Then my son Mike got a dog and he named it Riley (who was then the coach of the New York Knicks). He eventually got another dog named Dizzy (you can guess why) and I dedicated this book to all three (but I misspelled the name of one of my son’s dogs-check the dedication to see which one).


We have completed a prototype Teacher Guide - for EARTHQUAKES - and are currently testing it in classrooms.  If you would like to give us your feedback you can download a copy by clicking on this link. We would love to hear from you!


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animal Books, Teacher Guides, Dogs, Teachers and Librarians   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 20, 2010

As we wrap up the week here at Seymour Science, we’re also finishing up the series of blog entries we’ve been doing to accompany his new book,  DOGS. We’ve talked about how to select the right puppy for your family and how to train your new puppy.

As a final entry in this series,  we thought that kids would like to know about the art contest that the American Kennel Club runs every year. Seymour judged the national finalists last year, and the entries were adorable. The 2010 AKC Kids’  Corner Art Contest asks you to draw a picture of yourself doing something fun with your favorite dog.

If you know a child who might be interested in entering, you can download the entry form at AKC Kids’ Corner.

Good luck (and have a good weekend).

Simon, Seymour. DOGS. New York:  Collins/Smithsonian, 2009, pg 31. 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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March 16, 2010

Last week, I shared 6 things every family should know before deciding to get a puppy, and promised a followup about how to train your new pet. So,  here we go!

The first thing that you can teach your puppy is its own name. Always reward a puppy when you call its name and it comes running, either by petting and praising it or by giving it a tidbit.  After awhile, just use praise to reward an older puppy. You don’t want to teach it to come only when you have food.

Simon, Seymour. DOGS. New York:  Collins/Smithsonian, 2009, pg 13.

Don’t use baby talk with a puppy. Keep your commands short, clear and consistent (everyone in the family should use the same words, in a similar tone). A puppy learns by the tone of your voice as well as by the words.

One of the first things you will need to do is paper train your puppy, as soon as it comes home. Spread newspapers on the floor of the room where the puppy is kept, but leave part of the floor bare. Your puppy should be placed on the newspapers as soon as it wakes up from a nap and after each meal. Watch the puppy carefully. As soon as it shows that it wants to squat to relieve itself, rush it over to the newspapers. When it wets the paper, praise it by saying "Good dog, good dog." As you praise your puppy, pet it and make it feel good.

When you see the puppy wet the bare floor, say "Bad dog," in a stern tone. Push its nose to the wet spot and let him know you are unhappy by the tone of your voice.  Then place the puppy on the paper and pet it. Clean up the mistake on the floor very thoroughly; you may want to use a few drops of vinegar to disguise the odor of the spot. If the scent of urine remains, it will attract the puppy and it will tend to wet there again. It’s useless to scold a puppy for mistakes a long time after they have been made, so you will have to spend a lot of time watching your puppy in the beginning to get good results. An 8-week-old puppy doesn’t have much control over its bladder and bowel movements, so it will learn much quicker if you watch it so that you can praise it when it goes on the paper.

Then,  when you first start to take your puppy outside for walks, take a piece of newspaper with you and repeat the process out of doors. Before long,  your puppy will be housebroken.

Other kinds of training should really be started only after your puppy is housebroken. You teach a puppy any new behavior in the same way. Remember that directions should be simple and always in the same tone. Always reward your puppy when it is successful.

Don’t try to teach your puppy too many things at once. Wait until your puppy has learned one thing before you go on to the next. A good command to learn from the beginning is the word "no."  Say this firmly and make the puppy stop whatever it is doing. If the puppy stops by itself after you say no, praise and pet the puppy.

"Sit"  is the command you will give when you wan your puppy to sit down and be still. Push down...

read more

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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March 12, 2010

I’ve noticed as I visit schools around the country that my new DOGS book is very popular with all the kids,  from Texas to South Carolina to this week in New Jersey.

Children love dogs, and whose child hasn’t begged for a puppy of their own? A dog can be a wonderful companion, but it is important to make the right choice for your family. Here are six important things to consider before you bring a puppy home:

1. Do some research on types of breeds before you choose a puppy, and make sure you are choosing a breed that is compatible with your own family’s lifestyle. Some breeds need lots of daily exercise - are you an active family? If you choose a breed that needs plenty of attention from family members or else it becomes bored and destructive, you’d better be sure there are people around during the day. Some breeds require large amounts of grooming - is this something you’re willing to take on? There are many questions to ask, but the point is to do your homework before you buy. The American Kennel Club website is a good place to read about all the different breeds as you think about which dog is the right one for your family.

2.  When you choose a puppy, look for one that is lively and alert. Make sure that its eyes and nose are clear and without any discharges. A well-cared-for puppy should be clean, look well rounded, and have loose,  soft skin. If the puppy looks listless or the kennel is dirty, do not buy. You will be much happier if you start off with a healthy puppy.

3.  Which puppy of a litter should you pick: the active one that trots right up to you and licks your hand, or the shy one that is cowering in a corner?

Your best bet might be neither of these. A puppy that is too friendly to everyone might make a real pest of itself. The other one might be too timid and shy away from strangers.

Choose an independent-looking puppy that will accept your petting but is also perfectly content playing with the other puppies in the litter.

Simon, Seymour. DOGS. New York:  Collins/Smithsonian, 2009, pg 30.

4. When you bring your puppy home, keep things calm and relaxed. Don’t have everybody crowding around, picking up the puppy and trying to play with it. It needs a chance to explore its new surroundings in its own time.

5. When they are alone for the first time at night, most puppies will cry or yelp all night long. This is only natural and is nothing to worry about.  Don’t punish the puppy for crying - this will only make it more frightened. On the other hand, don’t take the puppy into bed with you,  either. Then it will expect to sleep in your bed every night. Instead,  try to make sure the puppy gets lots of exercise during the day so it’s tired at night, and try wrapping a loudly ticking clock in an old, soft blanket, so the puppy hears something beside it. Even if all this doesn’t work, don’t worry. Most puppies will calm down after the first few nights.

6. If your puppy comes with a diet sheet, follow the instructions. Introduce any changes gradually. Generally, puppies should be fed three small meals a day until they are six months old, then twice a day until they are one year old. Full-grown dogs can be fed either once or twice a day. Your vet may recommend a special vitamin supplement or some other additions to your puppy’s diet. Naturally, you should follow these recommendations.

Next week, we’ll talk about early training. A great measure of your dog’s successful integration into your family depends on how well you train it as a puppy. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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July 30, 2009

It’s easy to see why dogs are the most popular pets in the world. For a run in the park or a cozy snuggle on the couch, a dog is the perfect companion! But dogs are much more than loyal pets. For thousands of years, these amazing animals have helped people herd sheep, hunt for food, and keep warm.

This is the new updated edition of my introduction to a human’s best friend. (Anybody know the name of the breed of dog shown here on the jacket? Hint: The owners of this kind of dog make news all the time and have a dog just like this named BO.) 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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