Calculating 'Dog Years'

Firefighters Rescue Dogs,
Cats from California House Fire
Bruce Chambers / The Orange County Register via AP

Held by his owner, Clyde, a pitbull, is given oxygen by Garden Grove Fire Department Captain Jeff Wilkins, right, on Thursday, June 21, 2012 in Garden Grove, Calif.

AP reports: Twenty firefighters from Garden Grove and Anaheim put out a house fire in Garden Grove, California on Thursday. According to Garden Grove Battalion Chief Chuck Green, the firefighters arrived to heavy smoke coming from a back bedroom. Two occupants of the home got out on their own but firefighters rescued two dogs and two cats inside the home.

Bruce Chambers / The Orange County Register via AP
Garden Grove Fire Department Captain Albert Acosta, left, struggles with a cat that was rescued.

Bruce Chambers / The Orange County Register via AP
Garden Grove Fire Department Captain Albert Acosta checks on the welfare of a cat named Magic, as Magic's owner Norma Arbotast finishes the cat's oxygen treatment on Thursday.

Hints From Heloise:
The Equation for ‘Dog Years’
By Heloise,

Dear Readers: Have you ever heard the old saying about “every dog year equals seven human years”? Well, it’s not that easy. While dogs do AGE DIFFERENTLY depending on their size, each of the first two years of a dog’s life equals about 12 human years. After that, each year equals only about four human years. So if your dog is 5, that equals about 36 human years. A dog 13 years old equals 68 years! Remember, this is not an exact science, but just a calculation. So keep that in mind, and take care of pets as they age. -- Heloise

Cat Gives Birth to Kittens Inside
Rotating Tumble Dryer
By Chang Liu -

A cat has given birth to kittens inside a rotating tumble dryer.

The cat's owner Patrick Ambrose, 44, was pleasantly surprised to discover five unexpected additions inside his dryer when he came back home from work last week.

Electrical engineer Patrick said: "It was warm and dark in there and she had made herself comfortable on a towel that was in there. Cats are said to have a sixth sense so she obviously felt at home in my house."

As they were birthed in a tumble dryer, he plans to name the five kittens Whirlpool, Bosch, Hotpoint, Zanussi and Beko - after famous tumble dryer brands.

"She's been with me for years and has gone blind, but she doesn't seem to have a problem with the new arrivals," he said.

"I am so glad I have been able to help because they would not have survived if they were left as strays. It's obvious someone previously had the mom as a pet because she had been well looked after. I hope people will take them on."

Patrick said he would continue to look after the cat mother, Yahoo! reports.

Cats Protection volunteer Shaki McFarland said: "She was huge. She looked like she had swallowed two rugby balls. It's not the safest place but luckily they were all okay. We will arrange to have the mother spayed and we'll get the kittens immunised before we try to find them a home."

Greenville Dog Named 'Naughtiest' in Nation
by Casey Vaughn -

"Prison Break"

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - An Upstate dog may think she has some new barking rights, but her owners nicknamed her "The Destroyer" for a reason.

Lucy's owners, who live in Greenville, entered her into Camp Bow Wow's "Bad to the Bone" worst behaved dog contest and she was the lucky winner.

The national doggy daycare and dog services franchise asked people across the country to send in pictures and videos of their dogs with stories of how naughty they have been. Facebook users and professional judges voted.

An 11-month-old, 60-pound husky mix, Lucy's owners said she has bad chewing habits and has failed previous training classes.

By the time she was 6 months old, her owner Eve Memmer said she had enough with her crate. Lucy did everything possible to get out, and one time, even chewed through it.

It was the photo of Lucy looking at the crate she destroyed that Memmer posted to Facebook, and named "Prison Break." That picture and story won Lucy the "worst behaved" title.

Memmer said now that she's a little older, she's a little better, but still chews on anything soft she can find.

"We have some pillows on the sofas that we call sacrificial pillows," Memmer said. "She chewed the end of those, so it's not really the bad stuff like the wood furniture, but if she wants to destroy something, she will put her mind to it and she will destroy it."

As the winner, Lucy will receive year's worth of time to stay at an Upstate location of Camp Bow Wow along with free training.

Trainers at Camp Bow Wow said Lucy's behavior is pretty typical of energetic puppies, but there are plenty of methods to train her, or any dog that needs a little discipline.

Though Lucy was named naughtiest dog, the company said they have chosen 51 "Bad Dog" finalists who will have another chance to win training or other services.

Cats Make Friends with Baby Robin

Associated Press - Peeps, a baby robin nursed back to health by Karin Caston, sleeps on one of the woman’s cats.

Cats and birds aren’t usually considered friends. Many outdoor cats make a game of chasing and scaring away wild birds that cross their paths.

But several cats in Michigan recently proved that felines can indeed make feathered friends. A baby robin spent quality time with some friendly cats in Otsego Township, Michigan.

Karin Caston’s cats accepted the bird, named Peeps, after she found it about two weeks ago in her yard. The bird lived in a cage, but it spent time nestled in the fur of two of Caston’s cats or perched on their backs. A third cat let the bird walk around it.

The robin also liked to hang out on Caston’s finger.

Caston, who released Peeps back to the wild on Monday, told the Associated Press in an e-mail that she first locked up the cats when she started caring for the bird. Peeps’s new home is Brookside Park in Otsego, Michigan.

Italians Have Just the Thing for
Dog Days of Summer: Canine Gelato

(Andrew Medichini/ Associated Press ) - Rosaria, left, serves Lara ice cream as Kiyoko looks on in a pet shop in Rome, Monday, June 18, 2012. Gelato for dogs contains no milk products harmful to canines. With temperatures in Rome topping 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit), dogs are lapping up the icey treat at a pet supply store on the outskirts of the capital.

ROME — Leave it to Italians to come up with just the thing to survive the dog days of summer: canine gelato.

This Italian ice cream for dogs contains no milk, eggs or sugar, which are harmful to canines. With temperatures in Rome topping 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) this week, dogs are lapping up the icy treat at a pet supply store on the outskirts of the capital.

Dog-owner Anna Bordoni couldn’t resist a taste from her mutt Elsa’s cup and declared it “fantastic.”

Rome vetrinarian Marialivia Palmieri says water remains the best cool-down treat for dogs. But she said the special canine gelato does dogs no harm — and can be gratifying for pet and owner.

Flavors come in vanilla, rice and yogurt and a serving costs €2 ($2.50).

New 'Beer' Has Dogs Barking for Brews

What's the legal drinking age in dog years?

That's what you might be asking yourself if you come across a bottle of Bowser Beer, a new brew crafted for a canine clientele. But you need not worry: this dog-friendly beer is non-alcoholic. Eschewing hops, which are toxic to dogs, Bowser Beer is a non-carbonated mixture of meat-broth and malt barley, with glucosamine added for joint health.

Creator Jenny Brown said she got the idea at a holiday farmer's market in 2007 for which she made spicy pretzels and, at the urging of customers, a peanut-butter alternative for their dogs. Thinking to herself, "What goes better with pretzels than beer?" Brown devised four beer recipes for her three dogs to taste-test. One recipe was the clear winner, and Bowser Beer was born.

"People have an incredible emotional bond with their dogs, so it's just natural for people to want to include them and say, 'My dog can have a beer too,'" Brown said.

Brown was looking for a job when she took Beefy Brown Ale, Bowser Beer's first flavor, to a pet expo in Virginia later that year. But the more she looked into it, she said, the more it started to dawn on her that she had a business opportunity on her hands.

Since then, she has shipped batches of beer nationwide, and dog-oriented businesses in 42 states have begun selling Bowser Beer, which now comes in a chicken-flavored variety, Cock-a-Doodle-Brew. The beer has taken off internationally, too, with a special edition selling in the pet section of London's Harrods department store.

At Diane Ludwig's Barkery Bistro, a dog boutique in Greenville, S.C., Bowser Beer has been on the shelves for the past three years. Ludwig said sales spike on Fridays, when customers stock up for weekend parties.

"Whether it's a football game or people are just having their friends over, they say, 'I gotta get a bottle for my four-legged,'" Ludwig said.

In Vienna, Va., Carol Fleming said customers at her grooming business, Vienna Pet Spaw, often buy Bowser Beer as a gift when a wine bottle feels too conventional.

"Even when they don't buy it, it's always a good conversation piece," Fleming said. "It catches your attention and gives people a good chuckle."

When customers purchase Bowser Beer through Brown's website, they can customize the bottle label with a photo of their dog and a brew name. I Don't Give a Shih-Tzu Brew and I Only Have Eyes for Brew, a batch dedicated to guide dogs for the blind, are two of Brown's favorites, she said.

Brown said she wants to grow her business "carefully," rather than rapidly adding new flavors. But the dog beer market might soon see a new Bowser flavor: seafood-, liver- and bacon-flavored beer are some of the possibilities Brown said she is researching.

Brown moved her company, 3 Busy Dogs, from Arizona to Seattle last month. Since then, she has marketed the beer to the local bar scene, betting on people's desire to bring their pooches to the pub.

"I've gotten a lot more interest here from bars that are adding it to their menus," she said.

Now available in plastic bottles to avoid broken-glass mishaps, Bowser Beer scores better with dogs when served outside of their normal drinking bowls, where they expect to find water, Brown said. Her recommendations: pour the beer over your dog's dry food, freeze it into ice cubes for your dog to lick, or let your dog simply drink straight from the bottle – human-style.

What Causes People to Be Allergic to Cats?

Sorry cat lovers! About 20 percent of the population has pet allergies, and cats are the worst offenders. Here are some tips to alleviate or lessen cat allergens.

Every other week, Dr. Patrick Tate, chief of the veterinary staff and a general practitioner at Webster Groves Animal Hospital, answers reader questions about pets. This week's question comes from Rebecca Daniels.

Question: What causes people to be allergic to cats, and is it more of a problem than with dogs?

Answer: Sorry cat lovers — about 20 percent of the population has pet allergies, and cats are the worst offenders. In fact, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. As I explained in an Ask the Vet column a few weeks ago, there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about why people have allergic reactions to animals.

Allergies to cats (and other mammals) are triggered by various protein molecules, referred to as "allergens." The immune system of an allergic individual overreacts to the harmless proteins, mistaking them for dangerous substances and releasing achemical called histamine. (My apologies to allergy sufferers for this very simplistic explanation!).

Allergic reactions can manifest in skin rashes, hives, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, red and itchy eyes, asthma and more.

For many years, people thought that a cat's fur was the allergy trigger. However, as with dogs, fur is not an allergen. There are at least five cat allergens, and more have recently been discovered. But the Fel d 1 and the Fel d 4 proteins cause the majority of allergic reactions in humans.

The Fel d 1 comes mainly from the sebaceous glands under the cat’s skin, the anal glands and saliva, while the Fel d 4 is found in the cat’s saliva and urine. Cat allergens are more potent than a dog’s and can remain “active” for a long time.

When a cat grooms with his tongue, the Fel d 1 and Fel d 4 protein in the saliva covers his fur and skin. Fel d 1 secretions from the cat’s sebaceous and anal glands also land on the fur and skin. When the dead skin cells (called dander) and loose fur are released into the environment, the Fel d 1 and Fel d 4 allergens are spread.

Dogs also have allergens in their saliva that are distributed by dander, but they do not lick themselves as much as cats, and their sebaceous glands are not as active.

Cat allergen dander particles are much smaller, lighter and stickier than those from a dog. In fact, they are only one tenth the size of a dust mite particle! As a result, they can remain airborne for long periods of time and travel great distances. The invisible allergens make their way easily into the respiratory passages of humans, and can stick to any surface.

Studies have shown that male cats produce more allergenic secretions than females, and that “intact” males generate more allergens than neutered males. Some people think that light-colored cats are less allergenic than dark colored cats, but there is no research to back up the theory.

Since kittens have less allergens than adult cats, pet owners don’t always develop allergic symptoms until their cat reaches maturity.

Despite the negative statistics about cat allergens, many allergic pet owners still choose to live with their feline friends (including my wife!). An estimated 6 million Americans are allergic to cats and over one third of them continue to have cats in their homes.

Scientific studies show that steps can be taken to significantly decrease one's exposure to cat allergens. See my last Ask the Vet answer about reducing allergens on yourself, on your pet and in your house.

Here are a few additional things you can do to alleviate or lessen cat allergens:

•If possible, bathe your cat once a week with a good pet shampoo or plain water. Studies have shown that a weekly bath or a water-only rinse can significantly reduce allergens. Of course, this can sometimes be a challenging task! If you begin bathing your cat at a young age, it is much easier for them to accept it. Pet Place offers some helpful cat bathing instructions.

•Wipe your cat frequently with a cloth moistened with water or a special allergen neutralizing solution like Allerpet C. Cats that hate baths will usually tolerate a damp “wipe down.”

•Brush your cat frequently to remove loose dander and fur. A cat’s fur, no matter what the length, can trap cat allergens along with additional environmental allergens like dust mites, mold, pollen, etc. Always do the brushing outside and wear a face mask if you’re allergic. Furminator deshedding tools are invaluable aids and well-worth the price.

•Feed your cat a high-quality food, rich in skin-supporting oils with the correct balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Cats with unhealthy skin shed more dander. Talk with your veterinarian about what food would be best for your cat.

•Clean your cat’s little box frequently, and avoid stirring up litter dust. Keep the litter box away from air ducts – especially intake vents. If an allergic person has to change the litter, consider a self-cleaning litter box like Scoop-Free or Litter Robot.

For more in-depth advice please consult your veterinarian and/or human allergist. The Avoid Nasal Allergies website and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology website both offer a wealth of information for those with pet allergies.

Do you have a question for Dr. Tate? Email your questions to Webster Groves Patch Editor Sheri Gassaway. Be sure to attach a photo of your pet, and we'll feature it along with your question!

About this column: Dr. Patrick Tate, chief of the veterinary staff and a general practitioner at Webster Groves Animal Hospital, answers reader questions about pets.

Some Things Just Make Your Heart Smile

Skin Cancer and Pets

World's Fattest Cat Dies
By Hideaki Tailor -

The Santa Fe Animal Shelter of New Mexico said Meow, who weighed 40 pounds, died of pulmonary failure.

The two-year-old cat had been surrendered to the shelter as his 87-year-old owners could no longer take care of him.

Employees at the shelter had been working to put Meow, who weighed the equivalent of a 700 pound, on a diet so he could shed weight and be adopted.

Four different veterinarians fought to save the cat’s life to no avail, the shelter’s Mary Martin said on Facebook.

‘The shelter staff – along with all those who met Meow during his short time with us – mourn his passing,’ she said in a statement.

‘Meow had been doing so well in his foster home; walking up stairs and seeking affection – that it is so very hard to believe he is gone.’

She added: ‘We will forever be grateful for the attention Meow’s size brought to pet obesity and to animal shelters across the country. We are especially grateful to all of you who fell in love with this charming cat – as we did – and were so very interested in his progress and success.’

The shelter had previously described Meow as ‘very sweet’ but warned he faced similar health risks to those experienced by a ‘morbidly obese person’.

‘We got him a scratching post with a carpeted ring attached but he couldn’t even get his head through,’ spokesman Ben Swan said.

‘He had no interest in the super-sized toy mouse we gave him either.’

The fattest cat in history recorded by Guinness World Records is Himmy from Australia, who weighed 35 pounds.

But the category was later scrapped amid concerns it would encourage over-feeding of pets.

Doggie MRIs: What Is Your Dog Thinking?

Do you ever wonder what your dog is thinking, with his tail wagging, tongue out the side of his mouth? Does he really love you as much as you think?

Researchers at Emory University are one step closer to finding out. They are now conducting MRIs on dogs, looking for clues to what they’re thinking.

“We don’t really know what a dog is thinking because they can’t talk,” Greg Berns, professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University, told ABC News. “So more often than not, we project our own feelings and thoughts on them as if they’re coming from them, but they’re not — they’re coming from us.”

Giving a dog a brain scan should not be that hard. But there was one problem: using anesthesia to sedate a dog alters its brain activity. They have to be fully conscious for an accurate scan.

Berns had a theory. If we can train dogs to skydive or rescue a drowning swimmer, why can’t we teach them to sit still for 10 minutes to conduct a successful MRI?

So he began training his dog Callie, a two-year-old Feist, or southern squirrel-hunting dog, to crawl into an MRI machine and sit still long enough for an accurate scan of her brain.

Once she was properly trained, the team did a number of scans, with fascinating results — and insights into what Callie was thinking.

“The first task was to see if we give hand signals to the dogs, can we see what parts of the brain are responding to see hand signals?” Berns said.

The answer was yes.

During the tests, researchers showed Callie hand signals she had already learned — one that meant she would get a treat and one that meant she wouldn’t.

When Callie was given the signal that she would get a treat, there was a clear difference in the scan in the area of the brain that processes feelings of reward.

“It proves they’ve transferred the meaning of the hand signal to something that’s important to them,” Berns said. “It’s really getting at the start of how a dog processes dog-to-human communication.”

And Berns said he thinks this new insight into what dogs are thinking will open many more doors in the future.

“I think this lets us see how the dogs are responding to us, and in a very practical sense, it’s going to show us better ways to communicate with them, better ways to train that are not exclusively dependent on treats and punishment.”

As Train Bore Down, Dog Pulled Her from the Tracks
By Katina Caraganis - Nashoba Publishing

COURTESY ANGELL ANIMAL MEDICAL CLINIC Dr. Kiko Bracker checks on Lilly, Christine Spain's pit bull, at Angell Animal Medical Clinic in Boston. The dog was struck by a train while pulling Spain from the tracks in Shirley last Wednesday night.

SHIRLEY -- Walking home from her boyfriend's house, Christine Spain collapsed on the railroad tracks.

It was around midnight last Wednesday, and the 56-year-old Shirley woman lay there unconscious after apparently having too much to drink.

In the distance came the rumbling. A freight train.

That's when Lilly, Spain's pit bull, prevented a tragedy. The dog pulled Spain away from the tracks moments before the train went by. Lilly was unable to clear herself from the track and was struck, suffering severe injuries.

All of the muscle and skin were torn from Lilly's right paw. Her right front leg was amputated, and her pelvis was fractured in multiple places.

"I don't know if she collapsed or what happened, but she passed out," said Rob Halpin, spokesman for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "The engineer, the only witness, told police he saw a dog frantically pulling at a woman as he drew closer. He did everything he could. He heard a thump and thought he hit both."

The engineer immediately hit the brakes and got off the train. He found Spain unhurt.

"The dog's head was on her chest," Halpin said. "The woman was totally unharmed."

Spain, who was arrested at the scene and was arraigned in Ayer District Court on May 3 on charges of obstruction, walking/riding on a railroad track and animal cruelty, is a recovering alcoholic. Her son, Boston police Officer David Lanteigne, got her the dog as a means of therapy.

"I truly believe things happen for a reason," Lanteigne said yesterday. "We found Lilly to save her life, and she returned the favor. She almost died here."

The 8-year-old dog was rushed to an animal hospital in Acton and then transported to Angell Animal Medical Clinic in Boston, where she underwent two surgeries over the weekend.

"Lilly's doing a lot better than she was almost a week ago," Lanteigne said. "She's on her road to recovery now. It'll be quite a long ways before she's back up to speed."

He said Lilly and Spain will stay with him in Boston once Lilly is released from the animal hospital.

"My mom's not doing so well, and she's hanging in there," Lanteigne said. "She's been with me and helping out with this, getting things ready at home. She's emotionally severely scarred from this. She's hanging on. If it wasn't for her dog, I don't think my mom would be here today. This dog has kept her sober."

He wasn't surprised when he heard that Lilly had come to his mother's aid.

"This dog is truly a special dog," he said. "She's been amazing since day one. My mother has given anything and everything to this dog. For the past 3 1/2 years since she's had this dog, it's her entire life. She's been eating, sleeping and breathing this dog. The dog is everything to her. She brings her on five or six long walks a day. She spends half an hour preparing all of her meals."

Lanteigne said his mother is doing the best she can in light of the situation.

"It's pretty tough," he said. "She still has a long road to recovery. Lilly is her therapy dog. She keeps her thinking well. Every now and then, things happen. We've had some real tough, bad news in our family the past week and a half, and I think it impacted my mom tremendously. I think it caused her to have a relapse."

He said that while caring for Lilly, Spain has controlled her drinking.

"Thankfully, Lilly was there with her to save her," he added. "This has reduced her drinking, at least if not more than 90 percent. Every now and then, she has her battle with alcoholism and depression and anxiety. She has a lot of things she needs to get fixed."

Lanteigne said he hopes Lilly's heroism will change people's minds about pit bulls.

"I just want it to raise awareness on how special these dogs truly are. They are the most affectionate, loving, caring dogs that you'll ever meet."

Spain has been released on her own personal recognizance and ordered not to drink any alcohol and to submit to random alcohol tests.

Lilly's medical care will likely cost thousands of dollars.

Hero Dog Protects Monrovia Teen From Rattlesnake
By Nathan McIntire -

Five-year-old "Boone," a Siberian Husky mix, got between a 14-year-old and a rattlesnake and was bitten on the snout in the process. He's expected to recover after the venom caused him to lose a large chunk of flesh.

Boone being examined at Family Dog and Cat Hospital after being bitten by a rattlesnake last week. Credit David Garcia

Daniel Whitman never heard the rattle but his dog Boone must have seen something because he came running over anyway.

The 14-year-old Whitman was supposed to be cleaning up after Boone in the backyard of their home on Norumbega Drive last week. He was walking over to the corner where Boone likes to do his business when the dog rushed over.

"Daniel was headed in that direction and that's when I think Boone had noticed something different and darted over there and got between the two of them," said Dan Whitman, the teen's father.

That's when the younger Whitman saw the rattlesnake, and he shouted to his dad and ran inside. The dog soon followed, and he stayed with Daniel for some time afterward.

"He just stuck by Daniel's side," Dan Sr. said. "He followed Daniel all around the house. He did not leave his side."

What the family didn't know was that before Boone came back in the house, he had been bitten. They soon found out, however. Nothing was visible, but the 5-year-old Siberian Husky mix started behaving strangely about 20 minutes later.

"There didn't appear to be anything physically wrong with him," Whitman said. "He started to kind of twist his head funny and look up at the ceiling like he was in pain."

Whitman knew something was wrong. A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy, he also knew that they didn't have much time to save Boone.

So Whitman called 911 and let the police know they had a rattlesnake in the backyard. Then he called Family Dog and Cat Hospital on Lime Avenue and was was eventually directed to the only local place that carries anti-venom and is open after-hours, a veterinary clinic in El Monte.

"I ran him down there real quick. Got him there within 40 minutes of the bite," Whitman said.

The anti-venom saved Boone's life, but he still sustained serious injuries. Rattlesnake venom is an anti-coagulant and it causes tissue destruction, according to David Garcia, a registered veterinary technician who has since treated Boone.

The venom killed the tissue on Boone's snout where he was bitten, and the flesh there started falling off in chunks, Whitman said. The wound has "just progessively gotten larger," he said.

And the dog's face also swelled up severely the morning after the bite.

"In the morning his face had gotten the size of a canteloupe," Whitman said.

Garcia said Boone is expected to recover, but not before the Whitmans had to shell out $500 for rattlesnake anti-venom. The dog could have been saved a lot of pain and suffering if he was vaccinated against rattlesnake venom.

Garcia recommended that every dog owner living above Hillcrest Boulevard get the vaccine after seeing four other cases of dogs with rattlesnake bites over the last month. With the vaccine, a dog's bite survival rate increases, though it would still need to be treated with anti-venom, Garcia said.

Whitman said he was going to make it his mission to raise the awareness of the need for pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated. In the meantime, he's grateful for what Boone did to protect his son.

"I'm sad that Boone took the bite but I'm thankful my son didn't," he said.

Pets Get Skin Cancer, Too

I'm always amazed at how many pet owners are shocked to learn that their pet has skin cancer. Both dogs and cats can develop skin cancer, and the common forms of skin cancers found in humans -- melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinomas -- are also seen in pets. Fortunately, basal cell carcinomas are relatively uncommon in animals, but melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma are all too common.

Normally, mast cells play a role in allergic responses -- they are responsible for the itching, swelling and redness in your skin when you contact an allergen. Although dogs and cats who suffer from allergies are not more prone to developing mast cell skin tumors, certain breeds of dogs -- including Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Pugs and Golden Retrievers -- are predisposed to developing this type of tumor.

Owners of these dogs need to be especially vigilant about unusual skin masses, but any pet owner should be concerned about raised, hairless, pinkish-yellow masses, which could be mast cell tumors.

Mast cell tumors in cats look very similar to those in dogs. Because mast cells induce itching, swelling and redness, mast cell tumors may be red, itchy and periodically swell up and then disappear.

Melanoma Of The Mouth

Our own doctors see every freckle as a potential melanoma. Melanoma also occurs frequently in dogs, but much less so in cats. Melanomas of the haired skin in dogs are usually benign -- the bad ones occur in the mouth, on the gums and where the nails meet the toes. And although orange cats frequently develop freckles on their lips and gums, these flat accumulations of pigment are normal and known as lentigo simplex.

Sunbathing Is Also Bad For Your Pet

For the most part, our pets have dense fur that acts as a natural sunscreen, but white-coated dogs and cats are the exceptions to this rule. In sunny parts of the country where pets spend a lot of time outside, like California and Colorado, sun exposure takes its toll on the thinly furred skin of the ears and nose of white dogs and cats. Dogs who sunbathe on their backs are also prone to developing squamous cell carcinoma in the thinly haired region of the tummy. Solar-induced squamous cell carcinoma can be treated with surgery or radiation therapy if found early, but prevention is simple: Limit your pet's exposure to the sun.

Needles That Do More Than Prick

A rare but important tumor that afflicts cats sometimes forms at the site of a subcutaneous injection. The injection induces inflammation that, for some unknown reason, transforms into a malignancy. Millions of cats get injections, and yet only a few develop these tumors, which are commonly known as injection site sarcomas. Why some cats do and others don't is a frustrating conundrum for cat owners and veterinarians.

About 15 years ago, a group of experts in the field developed a guideline called 3-2-1 for the management of lumps at injections sites. The guideline advises that if a lump is present three months after an injection, and it's larger than two centimeters or is growing just a month after an injection, it should be biopsied to determine if it is a benign or a malignant mass.

This quick look at skin cancer in dogs and cats is just scratching the surface of this important disease. If you find a lump or sore anywhere on your pet's skin, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Dog Person or Cat Person?
 Does Your Personality Influence Preference?
By Monique Balas,

Dogs are loyal and loving. All cats care about are, well, cats. Agree?

Dogs drool. Cats rule. Agree?

Ah, heck. I love them both.

I'm not inclined toward having either in my home.

When Selena Gwin and Jake Dontavion first met, she had always been a "cat person" and he had always been a "dog person."

But instead of fighting like cats and dogs, the two enjoy relative harmony (the dogs do tolerate an occasional nose-swipe every now and then) with their two cats and two dogs in their Southeast Portland apartment.

"There was a lot of compromising all the way around," Gwin says. "If our relationship wasn't so strong, might have caused more friction, but it ended up working out for us."

The couple, who have been together for 11 years, acquired their brood gradually. Dontavion grew up with dogs and had one when he met Gwin. They took on the cats after their former roommates could no longer care for them, and acquired another dog, Mama Pigs, together.

Many pet lovers use the terms "cat person" or "dog person" loosely to describe their preference for one or the other species. And many of us have a general concept of what we mean when we talk about these people.

While these notions are largely based on speculation, the concept of why people prefer one species over the other has garnered more academic attention over the last few years.

In a 2010 University of Texas study, researchers found those in the canine camp were more extroverted, agreeable and conscientious than cat people. Those who favor felines tend to be more neurotic but more open to art, experiences and unconventional beliefs.

A 2008 study from Ball State University revealed that most cat owners see themselves as having personalities similar to felines – in other words, more independent and less submissive - while most dog owners described themselves as friendly and dominant.

How much such studies really mean is up for debate.

"I feel like we're almost opposite of the stereotypes," Gwin says of she and her fiancé.

While she enjoys spending time with her wide circle of friends, Dontavion is more of a homebody.

"I think I use my dogs as an excuse sometimes," he admits. "But they do force me to be more sociable. I do have to take them out and about to parks, where I meet other dog people."

The fact that dogs require regular walks means their owners are more visible and could explain why we think they're more social, suggests Mary Lee Nitschke, a psychology professor at Linfield College who is also a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and dog trainer.

"We know people form their impressions from the data that's available to them," says Nitschke.

"How often do you meet a cat at the bank? Not very often," Nitschke notes. "I don't know if that means that cat people are not as social."

What it does mean is that the two difference species live and play in very different environments.

Historically, cats were typically solitary hunters whose main role for humans was either as religious figures (think Egyptians) or for hunting rodents. Dogs, meanwhile, lived in packs or were assigned jobs assisting people.

Our species preference can cut across many dimensions aside from personality alone: there's the physical reality of dealing with a dog that drools or a cat that sheds. Childhood memories also play a role, Nitschke says. Many people are simply more comfortable with a species with which they're familiar.

But sometimes people convert. Take David Boersema, who grew up around dogs and didn't begin to fancy felines until he was a young adult.

The philosophy professor at Pacific University – who bucks one stereotype just by being male – had so many positive cat encounters in college that he decided to adopt one.

Now, he is a proud "cat daddy" to Karloff, who was abused by a previous owner and walks with a limp, and Mycroft, who was shot in the eye.

Dogs typically want to please their master, he says.

"With a cat, if it approaches you, it wanted to approach you. I guess I'm a cat person because I get a lot from that."

Dogs can be loud and aggressive, he says, and that's just not the case with cats.

Felines also taught him negotiation skills he can apply to his human relationships.

"I truly believe that there's a real valuable lesson for people to learn about how to engage with another being," Boersema says, "where you come to an agreement, an understanding, by negotiating, as opposed to one of the two parties commanding."

Longtime cat owner Darka Stebivka, meanwhile, didn't discover the joys of canine companionship until her early 20s, when she began dog-sitting for friends.

"When it comes to having dogs, there's a more immediate emotional connection," says Stebivka, a Portland-based writer and musician. "You just feel this friendship, like the dog would do anything for you."

She feels such a strong connection with her 12-year-old husky-shepherd mix that sometimes she almost feels she can read the dog's mind.

"If I can read hers," she says, "then she can maybe read mine in some way."

Stebivka says she isn't inclined to believe any stereotypes about personality type based on species preference.

She speculates that the cliché of the "crazy cat lady," for instance, simply came about because caring for a cat is simply easier for an elderly woman to care for.

Stebivka hasn't changed drastically since she identified as a cat person, she says; a dog simply suits her better now.

"Frankly, I think my dog takes care of me," she says. "I would not be in the park six days a week if not for my dog."

Highlights from the University of Texas study:

The study, published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Anthrozoös, asked 4,565 participants to self-identified as a either a dog person, cat person, both, or neither. Researchers then assessed their personality based on the "Big Five" personality dimension commonly used by psychologists.

Researchers found that:

46 % of respondents identified themselves as dog people, while only 12% called themselves cat people.

Nearly 28% described themselves as both, and 15% said they were neither.

Dog people were 15% more extroverted, 13% agreeable and 11% more conscientious than their cat-loving counterparts.
Feline fanatics were found to be 12% more neurotic and 11% more open than dog people.

Veterinary Q&A: Outdoor Plants and Your Pets
by Neena Pellegrini -

Lilies are highly toxic to cats. It is safest to avoid all lilies -- both as cut flowers as part of a bouquet or as a garden plant.

Dr. Denise Petryk, an emergency medicine vet and co-owner of the Animal Emergency Clinic / Puget Sound Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, answers this week's question.

Question: What spring yard plants are safe -- and not safe -- for our pets?

Answer: Spring in our Pacific Northwest is so beautiful. With a little careful planning, it is very easy to create a pet-safe garden. There are two main factors to consider when putting together our spring plantings:

-- Which plants? Which mulch? Which fertilizers? Which bug and slug deterrents?

-- What is the nature of our pet or pets? Are they chewers, eaters and sniffers?

AVOID the 10 most dangerous, most toxic plants:

-- Castor bean (Ricinus communis) -- oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, convulsions, death.

-- Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), pictured right -- vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, death.

-- Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) -- tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting, seizures, death.

-- Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) -- vomiting, seizures, depression, trouble breathing.

-- Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) -- vomiting, heart trouble, disorientation, coma, seizures.

-- Lily (Lilium species) -- kidney failure in cats -- ALL parts of the plant, even in small amounts.

-- Morning Glory (Ipomea sp.) -- vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, tremors, disorientation, ataxia, anorexia.

-- Nightshade (Atropa belladonna) -- drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, slow heart, weakness.

-- Oleander (Nerium oleander) -- diarrhea, trouble breathing, tremors, collapse, incoordination.

-- Precatory Beans (Arbus precatorius) -- severe vomiting and diarrhea, tremors, fever, shock, death.

The 10 most common plants that can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea -- AND if ingested in larger amounts -- more serious health problems:

-- Hydrangea, pictured left

-- Azalea

-- Boxwood

-- Daffodil (bulbs are more toxic than leaves and flowers)

-- Tulip (bulbs are more toxic than leaves and flowers)

-- Rhododendron

-- Iris (Gladiola)

-- Elephant's ear

-- Clematis

-- English ivy

The 10 most surprising problem plants:

-- Apple (the seeds contain cyanide)

-- Plum, cherry, apricots and peaches (the pits contain cyanide)

--Onions, chives and garlic (cause anemia)

-- Potato and rhubarb plant leaves (vomiting)

There are some wonderfully safe annuals and perennials:

--Astilbe (Astilbe sp.)

--Bee Balm (Monarda sp.)

--Begonia (Begonia sp.), pictured right

--Bugbane (Cimifuga racemosa)

--Butterfly flower (Schianthus sp.)

--Calendula (Callendula sp.)

--Catmint/catnip (Nepeta sp.)

--Coleus (Coleus sp.), pictured right

--Columbine (Aquilegia sp.)

--Coneflowers (Echinacea purpura)

--Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.)

--Cosmos (Cosmos sp.)

--Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus)

--Impatiens (Impatiens sp.)

--Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.)

--New Guinea Impatiens

--Petunia (Petunia sp.)

--Phlox (Phlox sp.)

--Primrose (Primula sp.), pictured right

--Queen of the Meadow (Filipendula ulmaria)

--Roses (Rose sp.)

--Snapdragons (Antirrhinum sp.)

--Spider flower (Cleome sp.)

--Turf Lilly (Liriope sp.)

--Violet (Viola sp.)

--Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis lutea)

--Zinnia (Zinnia sp.)

The non-plant concerns in the spring include fertilizers, pesticides, slug bait, mulch, and garden tools. Talk to your local nursery about the safest options, read labels carefully and store everything safely in sealed containers or out of reach.

Try natural products like vinegar for weeds, coffee grounds, beer and salt for slugs, and soap and water as a natural pesticide.

Avoid cocoa mulch as it comes from chocolate manufacturing and can contain substances that will cause minor chocolate poisoning (vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity) as well as general irritation to the mouth, stomach and intestines.

Many of our mature dogs (and almost all of our cats) are discriminate -- they might sniff but they are not inclined to eat plants.

Grass is often the exception and in small amounts, common grasses are safe.
Ornamental grasses can be very irritating to the mouth, throat, and nose so if you have a big grass eater, it is safest to avoid these plants.

Remember that puppies and kittens are always an exception. They will generally eat ANYTHING! It still makes most sense however to always pick the safest plants possible for our spring flower gardens and our deck pots.

Horticulturists employed at our favorite plant nurseries are excellent resources for pet safe plants and gardening products. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has a fantastic guide to pet-safe gardening and a wonderful collection of plant pictures and toxicity information here . also has an array of informative articles written by veterinarians about toxic plants and gardening.

The three most common spring garden problems we see in our busy Tacoma pet emergency room include dogs ingesting SLUG bait poison (metaldehyde), dogs ingesting decomposing things out of the compost pile, and Lily ingestion or sniffing by cats.

A few bites of slug bait can cause horrible tremors. Quick emergency treatment is critical.

A compost pile snack can also cause tremors or it may cause drunk-like behavior or vomiting and diarrhea. Here too, quick emergency treatment is essential for a quick recovery.

Lilies are highly toxic to cats. It is safest to avoid all lilies -- both as cut flowers as part of a bouquet or as a garden plant. Potential sniffing of the flower and inhaling the pollen can even be a problem to our cats.

Enjoy your garden but do your research first. Prevention is so much easier than sick animals and treatment.

Dr. Denise Petryk

How to Trim Dog Nails
By Kathy Salzberg -

Trimming your dog’s nails is a necessary chore and should be done every three or four weeks as part of your regular dog care routine. You can do it yourself or have a groomer or vet clip your dog's nails for you. Most groomers will be happy to show you how it’s done and it might be a good idea to do this the first time around. If your dog absolutely detests the process and it turns into a huge struggle, my advice is to let the pros do it. This unhappy scenario can be avoided by getting your dog used to having his paws handled when he’s a pup.

Reasons to Clip Dog Nails

Whether your little buddy knows it or not, he will be much better off if his nails are trimmed regularly and not allowed to become overgrown. The results are not pretty and can contribute to health concerns:

• Dog nails that grow too long may curl around the paw and puncture the footpad, causing pain and infection.

• They can also interfere with his normal gait, resulting in deformed feet that are splayed, nail breakage, bleeding and general discomfort in the feet, legs and hips because he cannot walk properly.

• Overgrown nails will cause him to rock back on his paws, causing a strain on his joints and ligaments.

Dog Nail Trimming Tools

There are two types of nail trimmers you can use, the pliers type and the guillotine variety. I usually recommend the pliers version because that is what I use in the salon.

Cutting Your Dog's Nails

You can cut your dog’s nails anywhere, but for smaller dogs it’s easier to do the job with your dog on a grooming table rather than in your lap or on the floor. If you don’t have a grooming table, any table will do, but you will want to enlist the help of a friend or family member to help hold the dog. They can also help relax and calm the dog for the pedicure process.

1. With the pet on the grooming table, begin with the rear paws. Face away from the dog and hold the paw. Use your body weight to gently keep him in place.

2. Lift the paw only as far as needed, being careful not to twist the leg and cause injury.

3. “Tip” each nail, removing only the curved portion to avoid cutting the quick.

4. Trim off any additional length, still being careful to avoid the quick.

5. Moving to the front paws, stand by the dog’s front end and lift each one so that you are looking down on the upturned foot, similar to shoeing a horse.

6. “Tip” each nail and trim any excess.

7. To keep those sharp newly-cut nails from scratching your legs, file them with a large emery board or nail file to smooth them down.

8. Praise your dog lavishly once the job is done and reward him with a tasty treat!

"Quick" Fact

The quick is the vein inside each nail that will bleed if you nick it. If the nails are dark, you cannot see it but if they are white, it will be a pink portion inside. On a dark nail, look at the cut nail, if you see a dark circle in the nail’s center, that marks the quick and you have gone far enough.

It is always a good idea to have styptic powder on hand because sometimes accidental nicks do happen. It’s not a big deal and a dab of styptic powder will stop the bleeding, but it can cause the dog to be leery of the process because it can hurt, just like it hurts you if you cut your nail too close and pinch the skin beneath.

Miley Cyrus Saves Dog Left Outside Walmart

Looks like this is one story that has a happy ending: Miley Cyrus just couldn't say no to a tiny pup abandoned outside of a building. The 19-year-old pop star picked up a small male puppy -- what she thinks is "Rottweiler-beagle mix" -- outside of a Walmart on Tuesday to join the three dogs she already keeps at home, Lila, Floyd and Ziggy.

"He was left in a box in front of Walmart .. I don't understand how people can be so cruel. That's why we named him Happy," Cyrus tweeted.

Cyrus has been photographed often recently on an intense workout regime that involves Pilates classes and jogging with her pups. The dog-lover seems smitten already: "From cardboard to Margelia," she wrote, posting a picture of her new friend.

Cats and Dogs Have an Almost
Sixth Sense About Your Well-Being

Q. My cat Jonnie wakes me up during the night if she senses my low blood sugar. What is the cat sensing or smelling to want to wake me up?

A. You just said it yourself — low blood sugar. How do cats and dogs smell these things? Oh, changes in your breathing, your aura, your skin, your odor. Seriously, dogs have been trained to sniff cancer. A researcher in Japan says dogs can predict colon cancer with more precision than a colonoscopy. Cats have a preternatural sense of smell and timing. Enjoy the attention and be grateful for a creature that cares about you enough to wake you if she senses trouble.

Q. My 87-year-old mom wants a puppy. I suggested a grown dog from the pound, but she wants to see the dog grow up and thinks that pound dogs come with all sorts of issues. What do you think?

A. Actually, you’re seeing things clearly. Your mom has a wonderful instinct to bring a dog in her life but a puppy would probably be too taxing for her. She may be spry at 87, but house-training requires a big commitment of walking the pup. And puppy misbehavior — chewing, testing limits — is difficult to control.

Adopting an older dog from a shelter would be much more humane. Giving a second chance to a dog in need of a new home will bring out the puppy in both the dog and your mom.

Q. Our 5-year-old Chihuahua, Snickers, is afraid of drinking water. He will slink up to the dish and maybe take one lick before jumping back. I have tried all different kinds of water dishes to no avail.

A. After you call your veterinarian and make an appointment to discuss Snickers’ H2O trauma, take up the water bowl and wet down your dog’s regular grub. The food bowl might look a little soupy but at least your dog is getting hydration. The vet may tell you to do this regularly, but check with him or her first.

Don't You Just Love Dogs?

Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ

Dog Facials?

Women (and Dogs) First:
Exhibit Tells Tale of Titanic's Canines

Before 24-year-old Margaret Hays and her girlfriends fled their cabin, as the ship Titanic began its descent to the sea floor, she made sure to take one treasured possession: Lily her Pomeranian.

Standing on deck - 100 years ago on Saturday - they put on their lifejackets before boarding the lifeboats. One passenger commented, "I suppose we ought to put a life preserver on the little doggie too."

When Hays stepped into the lifeboat she held tight to her ball of fluff wrapped in a blanket. The two would both survive the most storied maritime disaster in history.

In the annals of Titanic lore, few know that 12 dogs boarded Titanic at Southampton that April day in 1912. Of those, miraculously, three would live.

The dogs of Titanic are featured in an exhibit, RMS Titanic: 100 Years, that opened this week at the Widener Art Gallery at Widener University in Chester.

"Not a whole lot is known about the dogs," said exhibit curator J. Joseph Edgette, professor emeritus of education and folklore at Widener and a Titanic scholar. "All belonged to first class passengers. When the rich and famous traveled they took their dogs with them."

Since dogs were considered cargo there was no official list of those on board. Edgette - from his extensive research into the personal papers of passengers - created his own "pet manifest" listing the dogs, their names, breeds and owners.

All of the objects in the exhibit come from Edgette's personal collection, including the photograph of the group of Titanic dogs on the deck above, that was taken by passenger Father Francis Browne, a Catholic priest.

Browne captured the few surviving images of the voyage and took the only known photographs of the ship's grand interior, Edgette said. "The Kodak company was to take pictures of Titanic's interior when it arrived in New York," he said.

There were 100 passengers from Philadelphia aboard Titanic of whom 78 survived. Among those who perished were George Widener his son Harry, and William Dulles, an attorney and horse breeder, whose fox terrier, Dog, also went down with the ship.

Among the other canine passengers was the Airedale, Kitty, who belonged to financier John Jacob Astor. Neither she nor her master survived.

Other artifacts on display include original newspapers, replicas of Titanic's silver service, a newly-issued anniversary replica of a Stieff "mourning bear," just like those given to the families who lost children. There is even a vintage embalming table to show how the victims were treated on the rescue ship, Carpathia.

There is a section on how the lost passengers were memorialized, most often, given their station in life, that meant with ornate mausoleums. (Edgette regularly gives Titanic themed cemetery tours at Laurel Hill in Philadelphia and New York's Woodlawn and Greenwood where many passengers are buried.)

Edgette says one popular Titanic dog story is not true.

Capt. Edward Smith's dog, Ben, was not on board the ship when it sank. In fact, Ben did spend the night before aboard Titanic in the captain's quarters. But because he was a recent gift of Benjamin Guggenheim to Smith's daughter, he was taken to the Smith's home in Southampton before the ship sailed.

"There is such a special bond between people and their pets. For many, they are considered to be family members,” Edgette said. “I don’t think any Titanic exhibit has examined that relationship and recognized those loyal family pets that also lost their lives on the cruise.”

The exhibit runs through May 12.

Choking Dog ‘Dials’ Police,
Saved From Strangulation

A dog that was being choked by a telephone cord unwittingly called British emergency services as he thrashed around to get free, summoning the help that saved him from strangulation.

The dog – a basset hound named George - got into trouble when he knocked the phone to the floor and the cord wrapped around his neck, The Sun newspaper reported.

In his struggles, the 2-year-old dog somehow dialed 999, the British emergency hotline.

The emergency operator could only hear sounds of heavy breathing and gasping on the line, and police were dispatched to the West Yorkshire location. As officers were preparing to break in the door, neighbor Paul Walker opened it with a spare key the animal’s owner had left him.

Walker and police searched the house frantically. It was Walker who found the distressed dog and freed him. George was “absolutely terrified,” Walker told the Sun.

“When the police came into the room and realized what had happened they burst out laughing,” he added.

George’s owner, Lydia Brown, 18, said the dog was lucky his paw hit the dial the way it did. She described the pooch as “not usually very smart.

“He’s really dopey,” she said, “and just likes to chew socks.”

A Polar Bear as a Pet? It Works for This Guy
By Katherine Cooney -

Doesn’t everyone just love a cute, cuddly pet…polar bear?

Horror stories of wild-animals-turned-adorable-house-pets suddenly attacking their owners doesn’t seem to phase 60-year-old Canadian Mark Dumas, who has raised the polar bear, Dawn, since she was six weeks old. The Canadian clearly shares a loving relationship with his large pet, as he affectionately accepts kisses on camera.

What are some of the duo’s favorite pastimes, you might ask? Wrestling in the backyard, swimming in the pool, and a good old game of chase and be chased.

Let’s just hope that predator instinct doesn’t kick in

Woman Attacked by 'Pet' Wild Coati


KINGMAN - A Prescott Valley woman was bitten Monday by a coati, a member of the raccoon family, which she had been apparently keeping illegally as a pet. The animal attacked the woman, biting and slicing her finger when she tried to take something away from it.

It is illegal in Arizona to take animals out of the wild or to possess restricted wildlife without a permit. Not only had this coati been kept illegally as a pet, it had also been improperly cared for, according to Game and Fish officials. The immature coati was about the size of a large house cat. The tips of the animal's toes had been amputated at or near the last joint to intentionally de-claw it. These inappropriate alterations were performed in a failed attempt to turn a wild animal into a pet.

When the woman voluntarily surrendered the animal to Game and Fish officials, it was wearing a tight red pet harness device that had left marks from what appeared to be nearly constant wear and constriction. The coati had also been neutered. It had been living on an unnatural diet of cold cereal, human baby food, and a milk-based protein drink for domestic pets.

"Wild animals deserve to live their lives in the wild," said Jim Paxon, information branch chief for Game and Fish. "This is a basic tenet of wildlife conservation."

The injured woman readily admitted to medical personnel that the coati had never received a rabies vaccination. When the animal bit her, it broke and sliced her skin, leaving a bleeding wound that required medical treatment. Because the animal had not been vaccinated against rabies and its bite had broken the woman's skin, testing the coati for rabies was necessary.

Many animals in the wild may look tame enough to be pets, but it's important to remember that wildlife is just that - wild.

An investigation by Game and Fish is ongoing.

'Friendly' 3-foot Pet Alligator Seized
 from Iowa Home With Infant
By Stephanie Rabiner, -

Police in Des Moines, Iowa are currently investigating Colby Karaidos, a man accused of housing a 3-foot long alligator. Officers found the pet -- along with a dog and infant -- after being called to his home on an unrelated matter.

Could that matter have been Karaidos' recent drug arrest? Or perhaps his occupation?

Oh yeah, he's apparently a cage fighter that goes by the name 'Tha Alligator."

Colby Karaidos told officers he has a license for his pet namesake, but was unable to produce it at the time, reports the Des Moines Register. Josh Colvin of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa told the paper that the state doesn’t give out those licenses to just anyone. Licenses are reserved for those who operate a commercial, scientific or educational enterprise.

Maybe the pet alligator was Karaidos’ mascot?

Even if Tha Alligator has a license, chances are his reptile-owning days are gone forever. Photos indicate that the gator was allowed to wander free. With an infant in the house, this was hardly the safest move.

Granted, Colby Karaidos claims alligators are "friendly pets."

But maybe, for the sake of not attracting child services, he should stick to his other pet — the dog. It may not be a pet alligator, but its name is Gator. And according to Karaidos’ Myspace page, Gator is "no joke."

Cops: Woman Steals High-Priced Pup From Pet Store

Police are searching for a woman who stole an expensive puppy from a pet store in Huntington Station Friday.

According to police, an unknown white female walked into Canine Corral, located at 1845 New York Ave., stole a white Bichon Frise puppy, valued at $1,300, from the open pen where the dog was kept. The woman, described by police as being 25-35 years old and heavyset, fled the store with the the puppy in her large handbag. She was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with bold stripes.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential, acording to police. A cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest is being offered by police.

Beyonce, A Dachshund Puppy,
May Be The World's Smallest Dog
The Huffington Post | By Hilary Hanson

Beyonce, a contender for the title of World's Smallest Dog, can comfortably fit on an iPhone.

One of the world's biggest pop stars may now be sharing her name with the world's smallest puppy.

Beyonce, a dachshund mix born at the Grace Foundation animal shelter in El Dorado Hills, California on March 8, now measures less than four inches, according to the Sun.

The pipsqueak pup was so small when she was born that she could fit into a spoon.

Now, the NY Daily News reports that Beyonce is about the size of a business card, and can comfortably fit on top of an iPhone. The animal shelter has submitted an application to Guinness World Records on Beyonce's behalf for the title of smallest dog.

If Beyonce wins the title, it will be the culmination of a lucky streak for the diminutive dachshund. When her mother, Casey, was found pregnant and without an owner, Devore Animal Control scheduled the dog to be euthanized. However, they ultimately contacted the Grace Foundation, which agreed to take Casey in, according to CBS Sacramento.

When Casey finally gave birth, Beyonce, the last of five puppies to be born, had no heartbeat and was not breathing. Veterinarians performed heart compressions and mouth-to-mouth, and soon little Beyonce began breathing, the Telegraph reports.

The shelter states that Casey is now healthy and thriving. The pup and her mother and siblings will be up for adoption within the next few weeks, though none of the puppies will be available to take home prior to May 3.

Driving with a Dog on Your Lap:
As Dangerous as Texting?

More than 1 in 5 American drivers with a dog in tow let Fido climb into the driver's seat — and some even play fetch

Texting behind the wheel may be the new drunk driving, but it appears we have a furry front in the war on unsafe motoring, too: Keeping dogs off drivers' laps. Driving with an unrestrained pet in the front seat is apparently widespread enough, and dangerous enough, that at least two states — Rhode Island and Tennessee — are considering bans on the practice. Here, a look at the issue of driving while under a dog, and why people are trying to stop it:

How widespread is this problem?
A 2010 survey from AAA has some pretty jarring numbers: 21 percent of drivers who transported their dogs in the last year said they let the pooch ride on their lap, 7 percent said they'd fed or given water to the dog while driving, 5 percent admitted to playing with the dog while driving, and 31 percent said that the dog had distracted them, regardless of where it was in the car.

And it's dangerous?
Yes. An unrestrained 10-pound dog traveling at 50 miles per hour flies forward with 500 pounds of pressure in a crash, and an 80-pound dog at only 30 mph packs a 2,400-pound punch, says AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher. "Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path."

But it's legal to drive with a dog in your lap, right?
For now, yes. No state forbids dogs, cats, or other animals from running around freely inside your vehicle. But two states are trying to change that. In Tennessee, a Republican-sponsored bill passed in the House on April 2 and is currently stalled in the Senate. In Rhode Island, a Democrat-backed bill was introduced April 9, and is working its way through the House. "There shouldn't be anything in your lap, whether it be your little pooch or your Great Dane of your wife," Rhode Island bill instigator Suzanne Arena tells WPRO Morning News.

How would Rhode Island and Tennessee punish violators?
Rhode Island dog-driving scofflaws would only get a fine: $85 for the first offense, $100 for a second ticket, and $125 for every violation after that. In Tennessee, driving with a dog in your lap or "between the driver and driver's door" would be a Class C misdemeanor, bringing a $50 fine and up to 30 days in jail. But given the risk of injury or death to the dog and driver, "it is clear logic to me that anyone would want to secure an animal in the car," Arena tells WPRO Morning News.

Have other states tried this before?
California's legislature outlawed dogs in drivers' laps in 2008, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. And South Dakota's Supreme Court sided with police who stopped a woman in 2010 with 15 cats running loose in her car, impounding the cats because they posed a risk to public safety. The woman, Patricia Edwards, didn't even see the patrol car behind her because cats were huddled in her rear window.

Finches are Fun and Easy to Keep as Pets
Gina Spadafori - The Salem News

Q: My 12-year-old daughter wants a pet bird. Can you recommend what kind? Something that's not too hard to care for, please.

A: Zebra and society finches are the "easy keepers" of the finch group — hardy little guys who'll bring energy and sound into your home.

They're not very expensive to acquire, set up or maintain. Unlike hookbills — budgies, cockatiels and parrots — who need and desire physical interaction, finches will be happiest if you leave them alone. That's really the only downside of having them as a children's pet, by the way: They're not the best choice for a child who wants a hands-on pet experience.

Since finches, unlike other pet birds, are generally always left in their cages, they're a good option for a multiple-pet household. (In most cases, the cage will offer protection from cats.) Still, since predatory pets can be resourceful, you should probably keep finches in a room that you can close off when you're not around to supervise.

Because finches stay in their cages, get the biggest cage you can afford, with bar spacing close enough to prevent escape. Since cage-bound birds need to fly for exercise, choose a cage that's more horizontal than vertical, to give them room to flit from side to side. A reputable bird shop will be able to set you up with everything you need, including healthy finches.

Pet Sounds:
What is Your Cat or Dog Thinking?
By Rachel Belle -

If you've ever had a pet, you've most likely wanted to know what it was thinking about or why it acts the way it does. I was lucky enough to get some of these questions answered when animal communicator Joan Ranquet came to my apartment yesterday to read my new cat Baby, who I've had for just three weeks. Joan got quiet, closed her eyes, and connected with Baby, who was hiding in the closet.

"The first thing she wanted me to tell you, over and over, is 'I'm a really good girl, I'm a really good girl.' Has she been a good girl so far? It's almost like someone didn't think she was good. There was something there that she really needed you to know that's she's a really good girl...and a very cute girl."

I think a lot of people are skeptical about the idea of an animal communicator, and I was too, but I surprised myself by getting emotional during the reading.

Joan: She said that you guys really connected right off the bat. It feels like they were very kind to her, where she was, but she almost got pretty depressed there and there was something about the way that you looked at her. She also feels like it was really good timing for you, that you needed her also.

Rachel: This is really weird! I almost feel like I'm going to cry. I'm so happy that she's here. I've only had her for 3 weeks and I totally love her, like I really love her.

Joan: She loves you too. It's going to make me start crying too. Yeah, it's really really big.

Joan has been communicating with animals for the past 18 years, but she's not a psychic.

"I do telepathy which is the transference of pictures, words and feelings. I would say that I don't have a gift, I think everybody can do this, but I've been really good at honing the skill."

All she really needs is a photo and the answers to a few simple questions.

"I like to find out how old the animal is, who else is in the household and how long they've had the animal."

She can even do readings over the phone with all kinds of animals.

"I've talked to the elephants at the zoo, I take people on dolphin trips and we talk to the dolphins, a lot of horses. Up at Sarvey Wildlife Center, I go up and talk to the eagles."

Joan says she's often contacted by frustrated pet owners who want to know why their cat is peeing on the rug or why their dog is biting the kids. She can help them understand why the animal is behaving that way, and tell them how to change it. But the owner has to do some work.

Joan: The owner has to also participate in rethinking their thoughts. It's good to be careful of your thoughts.

Rachel: So even thinking 'You're a bad cat.' They can read that?

Joan: Oh yeah, that's an easy one. Then they're gonna be like 'Oh boy, here we go again.' or 'Oh yeah? I'll show you bad!'

The only problem I've been having with Baby is that she wakes me up really early in the morning. She walks all over me, she purrs loudly and she wants me to pet her. Joan told me to play with her a lot before bedtime and then tell her, out loud, that we're not waking up until 8 o'clock.

"Just keep telling her that, you know, this is really fun to sleep. I'd really go to sleep with that intention. Make it all about her before you go to bed so that she's tired."

For the past 3 weeks, Baby has woken me up early every single morning. But last night, I did exactly what Joan said to do and I swear to you: for the first time, the cat did not wake me up! She wasn't even on the bed when I woke up, like she always is. Joan told me I could expect some small changes.

"She may be different. She may be more relaxed because now all this is out, how much you love her and how connected you are."

Joan told me that Baby also thinks that she's very cute, that she thinks I'm funny and that she likes the 'cat voice' I use when I talk to her.

Pet Connection:
Tips to Protect Your Dogs from Snakes
By Gina Spadafori -

Spring hadn't even clocked in a full week before two dogs belonging to friends of mine were bitten by rattlesnakes. Both dogs survived and will recover fully, but the pain was significant – and so was the cost of treatment.

Fortunately, most snakes aren't all that interested in biting; they prefer to hide or skedaddle when faced with a threat. If they can't escape, they'll bite. That's when dogs typically get bitten: They put their noses where they don't belong, and instead of letting a snake slither away, they bother the reptile until it strikes.

Dr. Tony Johnson, a veterinarian specializing in emergency and critical care, spent part of his career practicing in the dry, brushy foothills of Northern California – prime rattlesnake country. In his experience, terriers tended to be bitten more often than other dogs.

"It's almost always dogs and it's almost always terriers," he said. "Cats tend to be more cautious than dogs, and a terrier is more likely to put his nose where it will get him into trouble than many other dogs. And they don't learn from the experience."
What can you do to protect your dog? Here are some tips:

• Keep your dog on leash if at all possible. While that's not possible for working dogs such as search-and-rescue or hunting dogs, it's likely the safest strategy for all others.

• Work with your dog to ensure that he comes when called, so that if you hear or see a snake, you can get your dog away and give the snake room and time to escape.

• Stay on established trails instead of hiking through areas where snakes can hide.

• Don't allow your dog to burrow or otherwise try to tangle with wildlife. If he's looking for trouble, he may find it.

• Consider snake-proofing. Many hunters take their dogs through clinics where professional trainers expose the animals to caged snakes and use electronic shock to establish a negative association. The clinics are controversial, however, because of the use of pain in teaching dogs to fear the reptiles. Balancing risk vs. benefit is an owner's judgment call.

Signs of a bite include puncture wounds from the fangs of the snake, bruising, blood and a rapid swelling as well as severe pain. If you suspect that your dog may have been bitten, end your outing and immediately get to a veterinarian – and call ahead, if at all possible, so the veterinary team can prepare.

Your pet will need emergency veterinary care to address the immediate dangerous of swelling and pain as well as the longer-term challenges, such as dead tissue and infection. Most dogs survive a bite, especially with prompt veterinary care.

"There's nothing you can do in the field to help your dog," said Johnson, "certainly not cutting the wound or sucking the venom out. Just get to the vet."

It's worth asking your veterinarian about vaccines that protect dogs from the venom of some snakes. But really, if you're going to be hiking with your dog in areas that are perfect habitats for snakes, you'll need luck as well as precaution.

And, as always, know where to find a veterinarian when you have to, quickly.

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are also the authors of several best-selling pet-care books. Email them at or visit Back columns:

Dog Injured in Afghanistan
Finds New Life in Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A white, mixed-breed dog utters a warning bark at a beige SUV as it pulls up alongside a barn on Mount Gilead Road, a few miles east of Bloomington.

The van stops, and a 30-year-old man climbs out.

"Hey, buddy," the man says, extending his hand. "Remember me?"

The dog, which has an unsightly hump on its surgically repaired back, carefully studies the man. For the past five months, the two of them have been a world apart, separated by an ocean and 7,000 miles. But the dog seems to detect something familiar about the man — his voice, his mannerisms, his scent.

Suddenly, the dog flattens its ears against its head and begins wagging its tail. Then, moving with a noticeable limp, it hobbles over to the man and burrows its snout into his thigh.

"How you doing, Bub?" the man says, scratching the dog behind the ears. "It's good to see you again. You're one lucky dog."

The dog slathers the man's hands with a wet tongue, panting between licks with an open mouth that looks for all the world like a smile. The dog remembers.

In late 2010, Kyle Huttenlocker was in Kabul, Afghanistan, working for a security company hired by the U.S. State Department to protect the U.S. Embassy there.

"There was a stray dog that lived in an alley right behind our camp that we were all very fond of," said Huttenlocker, a Bloomington native who previously spent a year in Iraq as a member of the U.S. military. "We named him Darak after the neighborhood he lived in, which is called Shash Da Darak."

Darak was leading a difficult life — scrounging for food, sleeping on the hardscrabble terrain and running for his life from unfriendly people.

"Afghans don't treat dogs very well," Huttenlocker said. "They throw rocks at them and hit them with sticks. Darak figured out really quickly that we treated him a lot nicer."

Huttenlocker would often take bologna from the dining hall, place it on a white paper plate and give it to Darak — who must have thought he'd died and gone to heaven as he voraciously devoured the meat.

"Darak would hang out with us behind our camp, and bark at the Afghans whenever they walked by," he said. "We were clearly his favorites."

One day Huttenlocker got a phone call from one of the camp's guards, who told him he saw an Afghan motorist intentionally drive his vehicle over Darak. Huttenlocker and some friends rushed to the area and found the terrified dog hiding inside a pipe that ran along the base of a ditch.

"He was scared and in pain," Huttenlocker said. "But we were able to loop a leash around his neck and drag him out. We could tell he was seriously injured because he was dragging his rear legs behind him."

Huttenlocker and his friends pooled their money and gave $400 to a dog rescue kennel in Kabul, which housed Darak for three weeks and gave him some antibiotic shots, but was unable to diagnose or treat his injuries. The kennel contacted the Rescue Puppy Mission, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to help American soldiers bring their furry friends home.

The mission raised more than $4,500 to transport Darak to a veterinary clinic in Pakistan, where he got some cursory care, and then fly him to the U.S. for more extensive treatment.

Three months ago, Huttenlocker's mother, Beth Sherfield, picked up Darak at the Indianapolis International Airport while a television news crew filmed the scene.

"We got home at 1 in the morning, and I quickly realized that he was more than I could handle," said Sherfield, who already has two dogs and six cats. "Cats were probably part of his regular diet in Kabul, so he really went after them. Once I was holding him on a leash, and he pulled so hard I actually fell down."

Sherfield took Darak to a Bloomington veterinarian, who found not only that his spine had been fractured, but his abdomen contained three deeply lodged bullets. She then took him to Wayport Kennels, and hoped a Bloomington family would open their home to a 60-pound dog with a battered body but a sweet heart.

When Steve and Kathy Headley heard Darak's story from a friend, they contacted Sherfield and told her they wanted to adopt Darak.

"We needed another dog like we needed a hole in the head," said Kathy, who along with Steve already had three inside dogs and three inside cats. "But when we heard the story, we couldn't refuse. Because Kyle had gone through all that effort to bring Darak to the U.S., there was no way we weren't going to adopt him."

For the Headleys, the first order of business was paying $4,000 to an Indianapolis veterinary hospital to have Darak's broken spine repaired and the bullets removed.

"He still walks a little funny and has that hump on his back," she said. "But now he can at least use his back legs, and his back right paw is no longer curled up."

Kathy said Darak has adjusted to his new life in America. Still frisky at just one year of age, he loves to fetch plush toys in the Headleys' fenced-in backyard or luxuriate in the lush grass — taking long naps in the warm sunshine. Inside, he's always up for a game of tug-of-war using one of his soft blankets, or a nap in his downy soft doggie bed — perhaps dreaming of the rocky ground in Kabul.

Kathy said Darak gets along well with the family's other dogs, except at dinnertime.

"We have a sweet boxer, Lucy, who Darak allows to eat with him, but he goes after the other two if they get near his food," she said. "He used to go after our cats, but we have a big tomcat, Big Boy, who smacks him on the nose if he comes after him, so he's learning that's not a good idea."

Kathy said Darak is outgoing and sweet-natured, but still has a lot to learn.

"He tends to run into our sliding glass doors," she said. "He's never seen them before."

Huttenlocker is gently stroking the white hair on top of Darak's head. Darak's eyes are closed contentedly and he's panting softly — his tongue hanging sideways out of his open mouth.

Huttenlocker tells Darak he has something special for him. He pulls out a package, opens it, and hands him six slices of Oscar Mayer bologna.

The dog gives the meat a brief sniff. Then it is gone.

Miley Cyrus Gives Her Dog a Facial

Now that her dogs have started modeling, Miley Cyrus is taking extra steps to keep them camera-ready.

"Just gave Lila a blueberry facial," she Tweeted on Sunday, posting a photo of her fresh-faced pooch, who's also received a new wardrobe in recent months. "Doesn't she look purrrrttttyyyy!!!"

A day earlier, the 19-year-old singer caused a stir when she stepped out sporting a serious sparkler on her left hand, prompting rumors that she and Hunger Games beau Liam Hemsworth, who are parents to English bulldog Ziggy, got engaged.

But Cyrus took to Twitter again to deny the buzz. Instead, it seems the singer's best accessory remains her furry family.