Mark Twain: Devout Cat Lover!

Animal Rescue Group Hopes to Bring Iraqi Puppy to U.S.
From the Associated Press - L.A. Unleashed

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi puppy adopted by an American soldier but was refused a flight to the U.S., is alive, the military said Tuesday, giving hope to an animal rescue group that is trying to take it to the United States.

The case has cast a spotlight on Defense Department rules that prohibit soldiers in the U.S. Central Command, which includes Iraq, from adopting pets or transporting them home.

Army Sgt. Gwen Beberg, 28, of Minneapolis, left, tried to send Ratchet home with the help of Operation Baghdad Pups earlier this month as she prepared to leave Iraq. But the dog, also at left, was reportedly confiscated by a U.S. officer before it could reach the Baghdad International Airport, raising concern about the animal's fate.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Cmdr. David Russell said in an e-mail that the dog was alive, but he could provide no other details. More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Army to let the puppy go home with Beberg.

Beberg has been transferred to a staging area to prepare for her departure from Iraq.

Terri Crisp, the coordinator for Operation Baghdad Pups — a rescue program run by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International — planned to travel to Baghdad today to collect six dogs rescued by U.S. troops. Crisp is hopeful Ratchet will be one of them, but she has a substitute dog ready to go in his place if necessary.

"There's a lot of pressure being put on the military right now to allow Ratchet to leave," she said in a telephone interview.

Baghdad Pups has taken more than 50 dogs and cats home for their warrior owners, although the group had to cease its activities over the summer because of the heat.

Last week, Beberg's congressman, Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, asked the Army to review the case.

Kennel Club Addresses Ills of Selective Breeding
L.A. Unleashed

Critics of show dogs have long complained that pedigree breeding can create and perpetuate health problems for some breeds. This month the Kennel Club in England has announced that it will review more than 200 dog breeding standards. The aim: to prevent the spread of genetic diseases caused by selective breeding.

In a statement released Oct. 7, Kennel Club said it was launching "a complete review of every pedigree dog breed in the U.K. in a move that will have far-reaching benefits for the health of many breeds."

The Associated Press, reporting from London, said:

The review by Britain’s main governing body for dogs follows a BBC documentary that claimed the breeding process for pedigree dogs has resulted in a high incidence of inherited genetic disease as breeders emphasized physical traits over the health of the animals

The Kennel Club also released the first of a new set of breeding standards, one that will be applied to Pekingese dogs. That breed has been bred to have a flat face, a feature which has led to breathing problems.

A breed health plan will be coordinated for some 200 pedigree breeds, and dog show judges will be briefed on the new breed standards so healthy dogs are rewarded in the ring, the Kennel Club said. The breed health plans are to be completed by early next year.

"We have been listening and agree with the general public’s view that more needs to be done," said Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko. She credited a groundswell of public attention for helping the club "drive through, with added urgency, new and extended initiatives that will help to safeguard the health of our pedigree dogs."

In a statement, the Kennel Club singled out how breeding has affected Pekingese dogs.

The Kennel Club is releasing the first of these new breed standards today, for the Pekingese, and has taken a tough line with the breed following extensive and abortive consultations. This is set to radically improve the health of the Pekingese, which for nearly a hundred years was bred to have a flat face; a feature which can lead to breathing problems; under the new health plan the breed will be required to have a defined muzzle.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo: Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City. Credit: Getty Images

Online Services Turns Pet Pics into Portraits
The Wall Street Journal - Az Central

Blue can sit, speak, lie down and shake hands - pretty much the basic dog repertoire. Still, we're convinced she's the smartest, most obedient and handsomest pup in the world and wanted to celebrate her greatness with a custom portrait.

Perhaps other people delude themselves about their pets as well. For them - or anyone who would like a special portrait - a number of Web sites offer an affordable way to turn a snapshot into a work of art. Using digital computer technology, photos can be rendered to look like a watercolor or oil painting. More adventuresome souls can have images transformed with cubist or pointillism effects, made to look like charcoal sketches or even colored to imitate Andy Warhol-inspired pop art.

Besides pet portraits, the sites take photos of homes, children, brides and grooms, landscapes and any other sentimental shots suitable for digital transformation. A basic portrait - one with a single subject and printed on fine-art paper - usually costs less than $100. Of course, do-it-yourselfers can create digital portraits using off-the-shelf software. But online services offer specialty papers and framing, as well as print sizes well beyond the capacity of most home printers.
Using our test mutt, Blue, we tried out four Web sites that transform photographs into painterly portraits using computer technology. All four sites give customers the ability to see a proof before making a final purchase. You're then able to request modifications before the design is finalized. The services advise you to allow two to four weeks to receive the final product - a good thing to know when ordering portraits for the holidays.

The first site we tested, Your Photo to Painting, is based in Jacksonville, Fla., and owned by graphic artist Glenn Ivie. He's also a fine artist, a skill he employs in his digital portraits, enhancing colors and removing distractions from the original photos. The site offered the fastest service of the four we tested. Within two days, we received an email proof for our approval. The final portrait arrived in less than 10 days, albeit a little wet when the letter carrier left it on the doorstep in the rain. Thankfully, the artwork wasn't damaged, but the print had curled on the edges. We set it on the table and put books on it for several hours and it straightened out. In the end, Blue was beautifully rendered to look like a watercolor painting. Our print arrived on a heavy cotton paper.

We chose the watercolor effect at another site, Your Artistic Side, based in Boone, N.C. The owner, Deck Moser, offers more effects than Your Photo to Painting, including four sketch techniques and pop art. Mr. Moser's technique involves a hybrid of hand-drawn enhancements and computer-generated effects.

Mr. Moser's treatment improved the original photograph, both by lightening the area around Blue's eyes and softening the background. The end product also looked remarkably like a watercolor - not a computer-generated imitation of one.

A graphic artist, Mr. Moser gives some advice to clients scouring their scrapbooks for a suitable photo. First, think about how much detail you want in the portrait. "If you've got a photo of somebody standing in front of the Washington Monument, their head looks like a speck of rice," he says. "If you want a picture of your daughter, send in a photo that shows her face." Also, consider lighting. "I had a person send me a photo of a black lab in the dark - you really couldn't see the dog."

A third digital-portrait service,, also recommends sending high-resolution photos, which lend more detail to the portrait. The company's shipping and customer-service operations are based in Lake Zurich, Ill. The photos are sent to China, where artists transform them using a number of effects.

According to office manager Cortney Allen, most customers select modern treatments - one is a Warhol-like, four-panel print with eye-popping colors; another effect is called Leonardo's Pop Art, a colorful treatment that uses strong lines. We picked one called Warhol Line Drawing, an effect that removed the background and substituted bold colors for neutral tones. In our case, the effect made Blue hover in mid-air and gave her a slightly demonic look, with red eyes.

At the fourth site,, we requested the "fauvism" effect. The genre is marked by bold colors and strong lines - indeed, the artist Matisse was a dominant fauvist. also offers a number of other modern-art techniques, including pointillism, cubism and Roy Lichtenstein-inspired creations.

The rendering of Blue impressed us. Much of the background was cropped out, putting the focus on our dog's face. The color of her fur was also an exaggerated yellow, with vivid lines that suggested movement. In all, the modern treatment was funky and captured her playfulness.

For somebody who has questions or needs instructions on how to upload a photo, this site offers customer support only via email, not over the phone. Nikita Antonov says there hasn't been a demand for phone support, adding: "99.9 percent of the time, we're able to resolve questions over email."

So which portrait was true to Blue? We liked the watercolor from Your Artistic Side for its smooth wash of colors. But that fauvist print sure is fun, too.

Not All Dogs Can Handle Trick-or-Treating
By Steve Dale - TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES / St Louis Today

Q: I want to dress up Max, our retriever-mix, for Halloween. Our kids are grown, but our grandkids would love to go trick-or-treating with Max. Max loves children. However, my husband thinks dressing up pets is "stupid" and takes away from the animal's dignity. What do you think? We agreed to do what you say! -- G. C., Henderson, NV

A: It sounds as though Max would have a good time trick-or-treating with the family, but your husband is right about some dogs looking totally mortified in costumes or clothing. However, Max may be in the category of dogs who actually enjoy the attention, or at least don't seem to mind as long as this strange ritual pleases their people.

Even dogs who love people aren't all suited to go door-to-door; they're simply too unruly. A few years back, a reader told me about a dog who somehow got away from a band of trick-or-treaters and ran amuck in her home, terrifying her cats. The dog, though friendly, was too enthusiastic, had little training and - most importantly - there was no adult to supervise. Max may love your grandchildren, but unless he loves all kids he's not a good candidate for walking by dozens of children, some reaching out to pet him without asking first.

Q: My son and his family have a 1-year old Lhasa apso who has chewed up half their house. Both adults work and the two children are in school all day. Apparently, the dog is lonesome. When the family is home, he's cuddly and sweet. Obviously, under the circumstances, they can't keep this dog. Any advice? -- P.S., Tamarac, FL.

A: This letter is horrifying! If your son dumps this dog, his family should never get another pet. The dog may be bored, may have separation anxiety, and/or may never have learned the rules of the house (puppies aren't born knowing what to do, and bad habits don't just go away because a dog gets older).

If the pup has separation anxiety, this disorder requires professional intervention. However, the problem may also be that the dog has never learned any better, and never been crate-trained or restricted in an exercise pen in one room. With direction, the dog can earn his freedom -- but this won't happen overnight.

Clearly, this poor pup needs an outlet for his energy. A brief walk in the morning and a midday walk (with a dog-walker) will suffice for most Lhasas. I like dog toys that you can stuff with moist dog food or low fat peanut butter. A dog must really work to get the gooey stuff out -- and it's a great boredom buster.

If your son's family continues to neglect this dog, another home may be a better choice. However, new caretakers will have to deal with the behavior issues that come with being neglected. Also, if your son and his wife dump the dog, what the lesson are they teaching their kids?

Q: Our 6-month-old kitten is very nice, except he poops on the washing machine. He knows he's not supposed to do this because when we confine him to the bathroom, with the box in the room for a few days, he does fine. Then, after a day or two of being free in the house, he's back on the washing machine. Now, he's even urinating on the washing machine. This is driving us crazy and we're ready to give him up. Can you help? -- V.B., Phoenix, AZ

A: Your kitten is not missing the box on purpose, I assure you. He feels anxious about something. I'm willing to bet there's at least one other pet and/or children in the home.

There's often a physiological explanation for why cats only poo outside the litter box, or only piddle outside the box. Certainly, a visit to your vet to check you kitty's physical health is advisable. Having said that, your kitten's behavior sounds like a classic case of intimidation by another pet - whether on purpose or not. You kitty doesn't feel confident enough to use the box. The official behaviorist's rule is two boxes per cat. While that may not always be possible, choices are important for many reasons. Little children making a commotion in proximity to a litter box can also deter a kitten.

Sometimes it's obvious one pet is intimidating another, while sometimes the signs are subtle, particularly among cats. Simply seeing an established cat sitting close to the litter box may be off-putting to your kitten. He's choosing the washing machine because it's elevated, offering security and a view as he does his business. My guess is the washing machine is in the same room as the litter box. If I've guessed correctly, you might try setting up a snack table - if it's sturdy - and placing a litter box on that, offering a lookout similar to the washing machine. An uncovered box is preferable.

If you do have other cats and they're clearly not getting along, write me back for more advice, or contact a veterinary behaviorist or cat behavior consultant. If a dog is pestering your kitty, try some old-fashioned dog training. If toddlers are making a ruckus, you're on your own!

Q: My cat sits on his window perch, looks out at the birds, then chirps at them. Is Freckles the Rich Little (an impressionist) of cats? -- S.G., West Bloomfield Hills, MI

A: Sorry, but your cat's talent isn't unique. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sharon Crowell-Davis, a professor at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine-Athens, has observed outdoor cats actually jumping into trees and then chirping as they hunt. She suggests this could be a feline version of a bird call. Cats may also make this sound when playing, or as a friendly greeting.

It's likely Freckles will chirp when playing with one of those toys that replicates a bird, such as a fishing pole toy with feathers. Some cats excitedly chirp at their owners when they return home. Generally, the higher pitched the chirp, the more excited the kitty.

Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is; he can be heard Sundays on WGN Radio, 8 to 10 p.m. CST ( to listen live), and hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.

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Mark Twain: Devout Cat Lover
By Laura French - Minneapolis Pet Central

“A home without a cat--and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat--may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?” Thus wrote Mark Twain in The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson.

It might seem a little surprising that the cranky, crotchety American writer Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, showed a distinctly softer side on the topic of cats. The website shows the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn with an enormous cigar between his teeth (one of 40 he smoked each day) and a tiny tiger kitten in his lap.

Clemens was always highly critical of the human animal. In his notebook, he said that humans “seem to be a poor invention.” In an article, he called it “a pity” that Noah didn’t miss the boat. He claimed to be free of prejudice and bigotry simply because, “All that I care to know is that a man is a human being--that is enough for me; he can't be any worse.”

A Dignified Reserve
Cats, on the other hand, seemed to Mark Twain to embody strength of character and an incorruptible spirit that he could admire. “By what right has the dog come to be regarded as a ‘noble’ animal?” Twain wrote in his Biography. “The more brutal and cruel and unjust you are to him the more your fawning and adoring slave he becomes; whereas, if you shamefully misuse a cat once she will always maintain a dignified reserve toward you afterward--you will never get her full confidence again.”

Twain elaborated on the cat’s admirable nature in “The Refuge of Derelicts,” a novel that he never completed. The cat, Twain wrote, “ain't servant nor slave to anybody at all. He's got all the independence there is, in Heaven or anywhere else, there ain't any left over for anybody else. He's your friend, if you like, but that's the limit -- equal terms, too, be you king or be you cobbler; you can't play any I'm-better-than-you on a cat -- no, sir! Yes, he's your friend, if you like, but you got to treat him like a gentleman, there ain't any other terms. The minute you don't, he pulls freight.

In short, Twain wrote in his notebook, “Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” His daughter Susy affirmed her father’s preference, saying, “The difference between papa and mama is that mama loves morals and papa loves cats.”

At one point, the Twain household included four cats named Sour Mash, Appollinaris, Zoroaster, and Blatherskite. The names, according to the author, had been given, “not in an unfriendly spirit, but merely to practice the children in large and difficult styles of pronunciation.” An 1898 article in The Rambler Magazine claimed, “He would call (the cats) to ‘come up’ on the chair, and they would all jump up on the seat. He would tell them to "go to sleep," and instantly the group were all fast asleep, remaining so until he called ‘Wide awake!’ when in a twinkling up would go their ears and wide open their eyes."

Contentment and Peace Made Manifest
Twain’s close observation of felines is evident in the passage from Pudd’nhead Wilson describing the perfect home: “When there was room on the ledge outside of the pots and boxes for a cat, the cat was there--in sunny weather--stretched at full length, asleep and blissful, with her furry belly to the sun and a paw curved over her nose. Then that house was complete, and its contentment and peace were made manifest to the world by this symbol, whose testimony is infallible.”

In 1873, Clemens stayed home in Hartford, Connecticut, to finish work on his novel The Gilded Age while his wife, Olivia, and Susy went traveling. He wrote a letter to his wife, catching her up on the news of his work and home life. “The kitties are very frisky, now. They & the old cat sleep with me, nights, & have the run of the house. I wouldn’t take thousands of dollars for them. Next to a wife whom I idolise, give me cat—& an old cat, with kittens,” he wrote. He concluded, “Good bye my darling, I love you & I love the muggins. It is bed time, now—I got to go down & roust out the cats.”

Laura French is a freelance writer who lives in Roseville with three cats — Gracie, Tennessee Tuxedo and his pal Chumley, and Sofie, whose breed(s) will forever remain a mystery.

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Making Pet Sitting a Pleasant Experience
Author: David Hensley

Pet sitting is becoming popular and the availability of pet sitters is getting increased as they like and love this profession of pet sitting. Pet sitting affords your valuable pet to continue its regular eating and routine habits. You, as a pet owner, can enjoy your annual vacation happily as well as your pet can be in safe hands till you come back.

Committed animal lovers generally do pet sitting. The pet sitters enjoy their experiences in their job with total satisfaction and it is an opportunity they don't want to miss. It is a dedicated job loved by animal lovers and their work schedule does not start on Monday and end on Friday.

Professional pet sitting is not by helping you and your pet, but is also doing it as a job for your pet. A pet sitter when hired takes time for instructions and will give importance to what the pet needs and provides due respect to the clients wishes. Once you purchase a pet, the consequences that follow and services provided by professional pet sitting agencies could relieve your stress to a larger extent.

The advantages of pet sitting:

As your pet will be cared in your home in used surroundings, pet sitting reduces your stress and worries about pet management. Because of proper care being taken of your pet in your home by professional pet sitters, the pet will not get affected by parasite or strange illness. Many of the kennels specify vaccinations for boarding animals there, and by using pet sitting service you can avoid this. Your pet will be used to a set of routine activity and environment and pet sitting does not disturb this course of action and there is no need for your pet to get adapted to new environments.

Sometimes a pet sitter is equally helpful as a house sitter by providing extra-personalized touches like picking post for you, turning lights before you come home etc. and these are added bonuses to you. For complete happiness, you should appoint a trust-worthy pet sitter so that due attention is given to the pet for playing, exercising and periodical evaluation of medical conditions.

The following tips will help you in choosing a perfect pet sitter:

To start with, slowly introduce the pet sitter to your pet and provide details regarding routine care. Always ask for literature with statement of fees and references. Check whether the pet sitter is insured and bonded.

A pet sitter should have a good reputation and you can get recommendations of a pet sitter through your family, relatives and friends. Arrange for a meeting and watch the pet sitting procedure and try to sense your pet’s liking towards the pet sitter. Always insist the pet sitter to take important notes related to your pet like any health problems, allergies etc. Always get a copy of the pet-sitting contract so that you will understand the pet sitting conditions.

Paying a small price for pet sitting will get you a good professional care for your pet. Peace of mind is very important to all and so when you wish to travel without your pet, you can use a pet sitting service. Pet sitting allows you and your pet to enjoy a good time but in different places with different companions.

Natural Pet Allergy Treatment Options Are Simple And Effective
by Jeff Glasser

Even though you may have a deep love for animals; after coming into contact with them, sometimes you could develop pet allergies. Developing pet allergies even after having kept pets for several years is also common for some people. The sad part is that your love for animals can be put to severe test if you develop pet allergy and this allergy in turn will make you suffer from ill health. Some of the common symptoms of pet allergies include itchiness in the skin, wheezing as well as having eyes that water constantly.
Part With Your Pet

If pet allergy treatment does not work in controlling symptoms of your pet allergy you may even be forced into parting with your pet. However, some people are so fond of their pets that they will not contemplate giving them up. The chances of developing a pet allergy are greatly diminished for such people, by reducing dander and allergens in the home.

There are however a few simple natural pet allergy treatment options worth trying out. For one, you need to ensure that your pet is not allowed anywhere near your sleeping area and to also ensure that the pet is not allowed on to your furniture. These are relatively simple natural pet allergy treatment options and should be followed strictly to prevent pet allergy from affecting you.

Another natural pet allergy treatment option is to bathe the pet every week and when brushing the pet to remember and do so outside of the house and on a daily basis as well. These measures will help in reducing the quantity of dander that the pet carries within the home. Converting your pet into an outside pet and not letting him stay indoors with you is another simple natural pet allergy treatment option.

On a daily basis you will also need to vacuum your carpets and also damp out dust at least once in a week. Other than this, you need to ensure washing your hands with a good soap each time you have played with or touched your pet. Other simple pet allergy treatments include installing air purifier in the home which will remove pet dander from the air and to have wooden floors instead of carpeting the floors which will only trap the allergens and that will mean increasing the risk of pet allergies.

Allergy asthma is very often noticed among children and also in young adults and to prevent and treat this condition requires learning about effective allergy asthma treatment such as becoming physically active and playing sports and games.

Another pet allergy treatment option to consider is choosing an allergy friendly pet. Known to carry fewer quantities of dander and so will therefore pose less of a threat in regard to risk of pet allergy, which means that small birds as well as small dogs are known to carry fewer quantities of dander.

About the Author
Even though you may have a heartfelt love for animals; sometimes you could develop pet allergies after coming into contact with them. There are however a couple simple natural pet allergy treatment choices worth trying out. View more articles at

Franklin Pet Memorials
“Remember them with a custom solid bronze memorial.”

Contact: Cynthia Linnon
191 Howard Street Franklin, PA 16323
814-346-7205 ph 814-346-7047 fax

Pet Adoption Centers
By Peter Gitundu

Depending on the pet you are trying to adopt, then choosing the right pet adoption center becomes easier for you. There are several different animals that we are willing to adopt and to care for. Such as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamster, fish, tortoise, turtles and many more. If you adopt from pet stores very few have qualified staff that can actually advice you on how to take care of the pet.

Pet adoption centers on the other hand are guaranteed to know what your pet needs are as well as have a well trained staff when it comes to what you have to provide for your pet for it to have a good and healthy life. They are also dedicated to their job and will ensure that all animals they have at their center gets a good and loving home.

In these pet adoption centers, there is a process you will have to go through before you can get your pet. They first screen you to make sure that you are a suitable candidate for adopting their pets and then you will have to sign legal documents which state that the new family is ready and able to care financially, emotionally for their pet. They will also agree to pay for any medical treatment that is required for the health of their new family member.

These pet adoption centers can be found all over and many states. I am sure you have already seen a couple of them around. If you are an animal lover than you will be glad to know that these centers provide the pets with the best care that is available and also medical care.

Peter Gitundu Researches And Reports On Pet Adoption. For more information on pet adoption centers, Visit His Site At PET ADOPTION CENTERS You Can Also Post Your Views About pet adoption centers On My Blog Here pet adoption centers

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