Adopt Your Next Pet

10 Ways to Keep Pets Healthy and Happy
By Dr. Don Palermo - The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss

Take time to treat pets with a little TLC during the holidays.

Make the holidays a healthy and enjoyable time for your furry friends with this list of 10 ideas:

1. Spend more time with your pets during the holidays. You usually have some extra time off at the end of the year, so resolve to spend a little more time with your pets. An extra rub on the head goes a long way in showing your pet how much you love him or her.

2. Get your pet caught up on vaccinations. Call your local veterinarian and make sure your pet is current on all required immunizations.

3. Resolve to exercise your pet more during the holiday season and the upcoming year. Exercise will help you as well as your pet.

4. Remember that some of us travel during the holidays with our pets. Keep your pet confined while riding in an automobile and always stop every 1 ½ hours for a water break and a stretch.

5. Take some new photos of your pet. It's always nice to have current photographs. Use the photograph as a Christmas card to friends.

6. Get your pet an identification tag or microchip.

7. Pet-proof your home during the holidays. Keep plants that may be toxic and electrical cords out of reach of pets.

8. Learn a new fact about your pet's breed and share it with the family.

9. Find a few healthy treats that you can make in the kitchen for your pet.

10. Finally, make a contribution to your local shelter in honor of your pet.

Dr. Don Palermo is a veterinarian at Bienville Animal Medical Center in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Adopt Your Next Pet
For the Monitor - Angel Rollins , Webster

In light of an eight-month investigation of puppy mills conducted by the Humane Society of the United States, and with the holiday season approaching, I am asking my fellow residents of New Hampshire to adopt a pet this year instead of buying one from a pet store or through the internet.

Dogs in puppy mills are confined to wire-bottom crates no bigger than a dishwasher for their entire breeding lives. They receive inadequate veterinary care and no socialization and are forced to live in filthy conditions with little shelter from the weather. Once they are no longer able to breed, they are typically abandoned, sold or killed.

The only way to stop this abuse and end the existence of puppy mills is for everyone to stop buying puppies at pet stores and through internet breeders.

Please, if you are planning to get a new pet this season, give the gift of a loving home to a pet in a shelter that needs a second chance.



CRMC Reaping Benefits of Therapy Dog
Heather Mullinix - Herald-Citizen Staff

COOKEVILLE -- Button's stories of aiding patients has helped to purchase new wheelchairs for the impatient rehabilitation center at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Button, a trained pet therapy dog, and owner and handler Mary Dell Sommers penned the book "Entertaining Strangers," chronicling Button's experiences with patients. The book, which costs $3, benefits The Foundation at CRMC, which provides financial assistance to needy hospital patients and provides financial support for hospital improvement projects. More than 200 books have been sold, and The Foundation has also received some special gifts through the book as well, raising $1,000.

"It's probably one of the most joyful experiences," Sommers said of her and Button's visits with patients of the CRMC rehabilitation center. Sommers and the Silken Terrier began visiting patients in CRMC's rehabilitation center in 2006.

"Entertaining Strangers" evolved from those early visits with patients. Sommers said she would keep track of things that happened during visits and would take pictures and keep those in a diary she had received from her daughter.

"A lot of people don't understand the impact a puppy dog can have on a patient," Sommers said. "I thought it might be good to share those dramatic stories."

The book is written from Button's point of view. "That let me use more whimsy," Sommers said.

Sommers thanked The Foundation, which was instrumental in getting the book published, for their support.

Those experiences include a man who had been withdrawn during his stay at the hospital.

"He was quite far from home and felt lonely and sad," Sommers said.

When she and Button arrived for their visit, Button got on the man's lap and he began petting him.

"He had this radiant smile on his face," Sommers said. "That was the first clue I had we were hitting a home run."

Sommers said visits from Button can also help to lower stress levels for patients and studies have shown pet therapy can help lower patient's blood pressure, as well.

Button is the first pet therapy dog at CRMC. Both dog and owner had to undergo extensive training to become registered for pet therapy programs, including behavioral training, temperament testing and hygiene standards.

"There are strict regulations regarding bathing and keeping nails trimmed," Sommers said.

But more importantly, a pet therapy dog must be comfortable meeting new people on a regular basis.

"Most dogs either have it or they don't," Sommers said. To help Button become ready for training, she began socializing the pet early on.

"It helps dogs to become accustomed to meeting new people so they are comfortable with strangers," Sommers said.

A new pet has entered training in the area, Sommers said. Gunner is a Belgian Sheep Dog, and Sommers hopes the dog can help expand pet therapy at CRMC. Button and Gunner are already working together in school programs.


Top 5 Books for Pet Lovers on Your Gift List
By LANA BERKOWITZ Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Grand Central Publishing
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (Grand Central Publishing, $19.99) by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter

Share Print Email Del.icio.usDiggTechnoratiYahoo! BuzzA good bet for animal lovers on your gift-giving list is Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (Grand Central Publishing, $19.99) by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter, which has been topping the best-seller list the past few weeks.

The popularity of this cat story is drawing comparisons to John Grogan’s Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog, which still rules the paperback best-seller lists and has been made into a movie that’s to be released Christmas Day.

Five other new books to consider:

• I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun (Gotham, $10) by Professor Happycat and Putting 200 pictures of cats with funny captions in a book doesn’t quite capture the genius of the ingenious Web site, but the paperback still gets a laugh.

• Greyhounds (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $24.95) by Barbara Karant: In her forward, author Alice Sebold calls the dogs both icon and silly beast, and she admires Karant’s ability to portray the retired greyhounds’ varied beauty and personalities.

• Cat Capers: Catitude for Cat Lovers (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.99) by Gandee Vasan: Trivia, poems and musings accompany the revealing photos of cats. This is a companion book to Vasan’s 2007Dog Days.

• The Magical Christmas Cat (Berkley Trade, $15) by Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh and Linda Winstead Jones: Leigh (Nauti Nights), McCarthy (Vegas Vampires series), Singh (Psy/Changeling series) and Jones, who writes paranormal romances, contribute stories with feline touches for the paperback anthology.

• From Baghdad to America: Life Lessons From a Dog Named Lava (Skyhorse Publishing, $23.95) by Jay Kopelman: A lieutenant colonel shares how the adoption of an abandoned puppy in Iraq helped a group of soldiers cope during the war. Then Kopelman describes how he and the dog readjusted to life back in the States.

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A Dog's Christmas Tale
LANIE WAGENBERG •Visalia Times-Delta

The little brown-and-white dog sat in the very back corner of the kennel. She was shivering — not from the cold, but from fear and confusion.

Rosie didn't know where she was or why she was there. Just this morning, she had been asleep in her dog house when the kids — her beloved kids — coaxed her out. They played for the longest time.

Now they were nowhere in sight. Instead, Rosie saw two long rows of kennels filled with dogs she didn't know and people she didn't recognize.

Last week, Rosie heard the grownups talking, in the home where she had lived since she was very young. Was it something about getting the children a new puppy for Christmas?

It might be fun having a doggie friend, she thought. And never once did it occur to Rosie that this puppy was meant to take her place. Sure, she was getting older and slowing down some, but Rosie was certain that her young friends still loved her.

This is where Rosie's story begins — in a kennel at an animal shelter on the day after Thanksgiving.

Will Rosie find a new family to take her "Home 4 the Holidays?" Will she be adopted at all? The staff and volunteers at Valley Oak SPCA will do everything possible to place Rosie into a responsible, loving home.

If that does happen, though it may take time, Rosie will bond with a new family and make it her own. And she will be able to forget about the people who abandoned her.

Although Rosie is a fictional dog, the sad reality is that for millions of cats and dogs, similar stories play out day after day in animal shelters across America.

There are myriad reasons why people surrender their pets. In many instances, it is because of circumstances beyond their control. It may be due to extreme financial hardships or grave illnesses. And it is often an extremely difficult decision to make.

Let us hope for fewer Rosies — and Rileys, Joeys and Jasmines. Let us envision a caring home for every orphaned pet. And although it seems overwhelming, never forget that no matter how small you feel your effort might be, "It makes a difference to this one."

Lanie Wagenberg is outreach coordinator for the Valley Oak SPCA. Her column appears twice a month in Life.

Therapists on Four Legs Find Their Calling
By Sharon L. Peters / USA Today

Animals are in demand as pet therapy teams gain popularity

DENVER -- Most of the time, Biscuit the bulldog is just a regular stubby-legged young dude who runs around the yard collecting sticks and making everyone laugh with his goofy antics.

But each Friday, once he dons his green work vest, he adjusts his jowly mug into an expression of genial concern, discards all thoughts of canine capers and calmly sets about the business of cheering up stroke patients or encouraging kids in their classrooms.

"This is his calling," says his owner, Shannon Pryor, 28, of Wheat Ridge, who recognized Biscuit's empathetic nature when he was a pup and she was convalescing with a broken foot.

Pryor endeavored to get registered as a pet therapy team through Denver Pet Partners when he was just a year old, and now they spend Friday mornings at either the Easter Seals stroke rehabilitation center or at Pine Grove Elementary School.

Across the country, thousands of pets and their owners are doing similar things, spending time with the infirm, the depressed or distressed, as well as with children and adults who need a boost from the unconditional acceptance and cheerful demeanor of an animal.

Therapy dogs, as they are known, are not service dogs, who go through years of specialized training to assist people with disabilities. Therapy dogs are house pets with a special affinity for people, a placid demeanor and solid, reliable obedience. Doctors, counselors, teachers, librarians, physical therapists and crisis managers are so convinced of the positive power of animals, they're lining up to request teams to spend time with people in their charge.

The pet-owning public is responding in ever-burgeoning numbers. The training program by the Delta Society in Bellevue, Wash., is used by dozens of therapy-animal groups nationwide. It has more than 10,000 teams registered and has experienced 6 percent to 8 percent growth annually. Similar growth is reported by Therapy Dog International in Flanders, N.J., which has 15,000 handlers and 18,000 dogs registered, and Therapy Dogs Inc. in Cheyenne, Wyo., with more than 10,000 dog/handler teams. Thousands more people and pets are registered with smaller groups or operate without group affiliation.

Training sessions to help owners prepare usually are booked solid. "We always have a waiting list," says Denver Pet Partners' Diana McQuarrie, who conducts four sessions a year.

With each passing month, the whole pet-therapy arena seems to morph:

Dogs aren't the only species being used. Cats, llamas, miniature horses, rabbits and birds have been trained and registered.

Dozens of new applications are being tried. Therapy animals visit schools to help with reading programs or with special-education students, funeral homes to comfort survivors, disaster sites to help quell the chaos and prisons to offer non-judgmental friendship. The U.S. military has sent therapy dogs to help troops in Iraq.

"Every year we see more activity, more acceptance," says Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of the American Humane Association in Denver. American Humane took Denver Pet Partners under its umbrella last year, and this year has created a division to study the human/animal bond. A key goal will be to help communities establish or enhance programs. "I predict (pet therapy) will be an integral part of how maladies of all sorts are treated in the future," she says.

Contrary to popular belief, there's no ideal breed for this work. "They can be 3 pounds to 150 pounds, of any breed," Delta Society's JoAnn Turnbull says. Some dogs have disabilities, and "30 percent of the dogs we register are from shelters or rescue groups."

Stories abound about animals so adept at plugging into people in need "that the handlers are no longer guiding the dogs, the dog knows intuitively which person needs the most attention, and the handler just lets it happen," Turnbull says.

"Getting a child to speak who's been quiet for months or experiencing any of the hundreds of other happy reactions your dog can get from someone, well, there's just nothing else like it," says Therapy Dogs' Teri Meadows.

Says Ursula Kempe of Therapy Dog International: "When a dog brightens the life of a person, it's the greatest. It's why people do this with their animals."

Cathy M. Rosenthal: Keep Pets in Mind When Decorating
My SA Life

Scheduled to open Christmas Day, "Marley and Me," a movie about an incorrigible dog set against the framework of life, love and marriage, has a human tale to tell: mostly about how a pet can impact every aspect of your life. I know it's not easy to laugh when your dog pees on the carpet or chews up your shoes, but it can be downright hilarious when it happens to someone else, right? Who doesn't love a mischievous pet, so long as he doesn't live at your house?

But most people are well aware that even the most well-behaved dog or cat faces stressful challenges around the holidays. They don't know what they can sniff, climb or play with since every day, from Thanksgiving on, brings out a new decoration that they must avoid.

Today, I am talking about tree decorations. Most conscientious pet owners know not to adorn the bottom third of their tree with ornaments because cats will knock them off and dogs turn them into chew toys. Many a dog has been treated in the pet emergency room for eating a glass ornament, so these are wise choices to make.

But some cat owners must go to great lengths to keep the holiday tree from being knocked over by a kitty simply excited over having a tree in the house. One woman told me she used to anchor her tree to the wall with fishing line and a hook. Another reader, Carl, says his family used to hang its tree from the ceiling so that it hung about 4 feet from the ground. "No chance the cat could scamper up that tree," he said. Good thinking. That leaves lots of room for presents, too.

Another person, "Crazy about cats," says she gave up on large trees years ago and got a 2-foot tree that she nailed to a small table and then sat on a taller table every year. She decorates it with only lights, which must burn steady because one of her cats "goes a bit insane chasing the blinking lights around the room," she says.

My favorite pet-proof tree-trimming tip, though, is to use silk flowers from the craft stores as "ornaments." You wrap the flower stems around each branch with some of the flowers showing on the tip of the branch and some on the inside. You can create an entire tree of white carnations (or whatever your flower preference), from top to bottom, without the slightest chance your dog or cat will knock them off. And on artificial trees, you can leave the flowers on and close it up for storage. That's what they call a win-win.

If you do use ornaments, get rid of any that can shatter if they fall to the floor. Use ribbons to hold the ornaments, instead of hooks and string. Place the ornaments inside the tree instead of on the edges to keep passing pets from knocking them off. And replace tinsel and garland with decorative lace; it looks pretty swept across the tree and can be used year after year.

As you look for ways to reduce your pet's stress around the holidays, remember to consider all your decorations with pets in mind. No real gingerbread cookies or strung popcorn around the house (they will pull a chair over and climb up to get it); no wrapped food items under the tree. Use only sugar water to sustain a real tree, as your dog or cat will likely find this a good watering hole.

And, if your friends and family wonder why you make such concessions to have a pet around, tell them to go see "Marley and Me."

Send your pet stories to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or e-mail them to Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday.

The Pet Passport
by Casey Cavalier, Dallas Pet Health Examiner

Image design: Casey CavalierTraveling overseas with your pet has gotten easier in the last several years, but it still involves about six months of preparedness and planning. A pet passport is a collection of forms and documents that prove your dog, cat or ferret is fit to enter a foreign country.

If you're simply jumping the pond to the UK or other European Union countries you'll have an easier time of it. If you're going to one of the world's rabies-prone countries, your pet's journey could include more complications, including quarantine.

The Pet Travel Scheme is a program run by the UK's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that offers loads of information for those traveling to the UK. If you're traveling or relocating to another country your best bet is this Web site which summarizes all the information you'll need and sorts it by country.

The pet passport is more of a process than a document. There are very specific requirements that must be accomplished in sequence. Be sure to read carefully and double check information that you get from your Vet's office or other sources.

International travel with your pet can't occur until you've met some or all of these requirements:

1. Implant a microchip in pet

2. get rabies vaccination and blood test

3. treat for fleas, ticks and tapeworms 24-48 hours before travel.

4. obtain veterinarian's certification that pet is disease-free and fit to travel.

Pet Food Costs Continue to Increase

Pet food costs continue to increase and meanwhile, most people are experiencing decreased income or at least are worried about their financial security.

We all have read reports that families are giving up their pets in unprecedented numbers — which in fact proves not to be as many as some reports would have you believe. Nonetheless, the cost of feeding your pet may be causing more concern now than two years ago.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor's Consumer Price index, pet food prices for the second quarter of 2008 rose by an average of 8 to 9 percent compared to a year ago. Based on my very limited survey of prices in local stores, it appears that the foods that list grain as the first ingredient have increased more than others.

As corn has been grown increasingly as an ingredient in the gas-additive ethanol, corn prices have risen exponentially. Developing countries have suffered increased hunger as corn prices have risen here, and here we see an increase in the cost of pet food and some prepared food products for us.

Veterinarian Joseph Wakshlag, who also holds a Ph.D. and is assistant processor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, estimates that consumers are paying, on average, 80 cents to $1 more for low-end dry pet foods, which can be purchased at grocery and big box stores, and $2 to $3 more for high-end pet foods, which are available from veterinary clinics and specialty stores. But Wakshlag points out not all high-end pet food (whether canned or dry) is worth the hefty price tag.

"A more expensive brand of (pet) food will sometimes have more digestible ingredients," he says, "but that's not always the case. There are some really high-end foods out there that have some pretty poor (ingredients). It really comes down to going with a product that has worked well for your (pet) for a long time."

There are steps you can take that will save you cash while still assuring your pet receives the best quality nutrition available. Purchasing cheap foods is the worst kind of false economy. Quality nutrition is one of the best health protections you can provide your pet.

Buy the best food you can afford — but before making that purchase, check out the quality of the food by reading the label; you want to purchase a food that lists a form of meat (NOT meat by-products) among the first two ingredients whether you are shopping for a dog or a cat. Best by far are foods that contain no by-products of any sort.

One step I have added is to check out the food on the AVMA and the FDA lists; I will not buy any product that appears on either of these recall lists. I have been surprised to find most of the heavily advertised foods on these recall lists at one time or another. If you do not have Internet access, your reference librarian will help you do the research at your local library.

Seek special sales of the food you prefer; most canned foods are offered at reduced prices about every 4 months or can be bought at a good price in case quantities; you can safely stock up with enough food to last till the next sale. Dry foods are easier; buy the largest size bag you can afford. Keep enough meal for one week in a plastic container and put the rest in your freezer. Freezing the meal will prevent insect infestation and keep the food fresh. Dry meals cost much less per pound in large sizes.

Share the wealth

If you can afford to supply food for your own pets and can help others who can't afford to feed theirs, you could perform a true service and help to ensure people will not have to dispose of their pets due to financial problems. The Dover Food Pantry will accept donations of pet food and make it available to those who come to them for aid.

You can drop off your pet food donations at the First Parish Church, at 218 Central Ave. in Dover. If you have questions about donating pet foods or need help feeding your own pets, you can phone the food Pantry's Director at 742-2929 during normal business hours for information.

Preventable accidents

Many of my readers report that they regularly bring their dog to a doggie day care center. Sometimes the dogs attend regularly, sometimes only once or twice a week. Any of these dogs are susceptible to severe injury up to death if the center leaves collars on the dogs. Let's see why this is true.

While visiting a center I noticed two dogs playing happily. Quickly their play began to look like a serious fight — something all day care centers experience, and dread. Caretakers rushed to the dogs and attempted to separate them. In fact, the dogs were not fighting at all. One of the dogs had caught his jaw in the collar of the other dog while they were roughhousing, and it proved impossible to separate them.

The more the dogs struggled, the more the dog wearing the collar was choked and the other dog's jaw was damaged. Some clever person thought to get a knife and the collar eventually was cut, in time to save both dogs. In the process, one dog was cut pretty badly, but at least he wasn't choked to death.

Both dogs were rushed to the nearest veterinary hospital for treatment, and both survived. One dog will carry a scar on his shoulder for the rest of his life; the other needed to have his jaw reset and is still healing. He will never be able to completely and normally close his jaw — but he will be able to eat. Currently he is on a liquid diet and getting pretty tired of wearing an Elizabethan collar. But — both dogs survived what could have been a fatal accident — all because their collars were left on during play time.

This column periodically has reminded dog owners not to leave collars on their pets unless they are actually engaged in a training session. There are instant-release collars now available, but they may be a bit hard to find.

Instant-release cat collars have been around for years. Please keep this rule in mind: never use a choke or prong collar other than for a training session. Use a strap collar or a gentle-leader head halter for walks and exercise. Once the dog is inside your home, or in his yard, remove the collar for safety's sake and keep it off until it is needed again.

I can just hear you saying — "this woman is a nut. No dog is going to be harmed by wearing a collar."

T'isn't so. In fact, more than 26,000 dogs are strangled by their collars, or hung to death when tied outside, every year. In the general scheme of things, 26,000 isn't a huge number — unless one of those dogs is yours.

Play it safe; remove your dog's collar whenever he is not actually on a leash or being trained. It's such a simple precaution, and yet so important.

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