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Stop Your Pet From Peeving You Off
Dr. Debbye Turner Bell - CBS Morning Show

Each new year, we make resolutions to break bad habits, but what about our furry family members?

Sometimes their behavior can be destructive and annoying. So what can you do?

We all love our dogs and cats and think they are the smartest creatures on earth. But veterinarians and trainers hear a daily list of "pet peeves" they commit that we really wish they wouldn't. So what do you do when your cat won't stop using your expensive sofa as a scratching post or your dog nearly knocks you to the ground every time you come home from work?

The first step is to understand the behavior, then institute some simple steps designed to discourage your pet from committing those deeds.

It's important to note that, often, our pets develop bad habits out of boredom, and lack of training. Spending quality time with your pet daily, walking, playing, exercising, etc., will go a long way toward keeping Fido or Fifi on their best behavior.

Also, cats and dogs tend to be territorial. So any perceived "intrusion" by another animal, even a new human, can trigger some mischief.

Of course, remember to always consult with your veterinarian first when addressing a behavioral issues. Many times, a change in behavior is related to physiological or health concern.

Cats: Scratching

Scratching is a natural and healthy behavior in cats. The problem is, they often choose our best furniture or rugs to display this behavior. The point is to redirect your cat's scratching, not eliminate it. It's nearly impossible to get a cat to stop scratching altogether. Cats scratch for a number of reasons, including "marking" their territory with their scent, stretching their agile muscles, and removing the outer dry layer of their nails. You want to provide an alternative surface for your kitty to claw. Place a scratching post next to or near the furniture that your cat is scratching. Rubbing a little catnip on the scratching post will help attract your cat to the post. Also you may want to take some steps to discourage the cat from returning to the object that you don't want them to scratch. Affixing double-sided tape or contact paper (with the sticky side facing outward) to the furniture will deter the cat. Cats do not like the sticky feeling on their paws and will stay away. Noxious scents can also be used to keep a cat away from a chair or curtains. Just place dried orange or lemon peels around the base. Cat's won't come near. Cottonballs soaked with orange juice concentrate or nail polish remover usually does the trick too. Cat's also don't like the smell of bitter apple. So a few sprays of bitter apple will usually keep the cat away.

If you happen to be nearby when you cat starts scratching your valuables, a quick squirt of water from a spray bottle will usually send her running away. Or put a few coins in an empty soda can and tape the opening shut. A shake of the can (makes a loud rattling noise) is enough to startle the poor kitty into forgetting all about the scratching.

If you just can't get your cat to stop scratching your valuables, a product called "Soft Paws" can be applied your cat's nails. They are dull plastic tips that are glued to your cat's nail tips that prevents the damage done by scratching.

Cats: Not Using Litter Box

This is a fairly common, really frustrating cat behavior. Most cat owners have had to deal with an "accident" that the cat made outside the litter box. It's no fun. The most likely reason your cat stops using the litter box is you're not keeping it clean enough for them. Cat's are very fastidious creatures. If the litter box is too full or smelly, they just simply will find another spot to go. So if this happens with your kitty, the first order of business is to keep the litter box cleaner. Scoop out the "goodies" at least twice daily and change the whole box 2-3 times a week. Your cat will be most grateful. (and hopefully will stop using the living room carpet as a toilet!) It is also important to have multiple litter boxes with multiple cats. There should be at least one box for each cat. And if you live in a multi-story home, there should be at least one litter box on every floor of the house.

There are some important health reason that can cause a cat to start having "accidents" like urinary tract infection, kidney or bladder stones, diabetes, and hormonal imbalance. So it is important to take your cat to the veterinarian to rule out health problems first if you see inappropriate elimination.

Finally, if your cat has found a new place to do her business, it is imperative that you thoroughly clean the area to prevent her from returning to the scene of the crime. Often, cat will urinate as a way of marking territory. Once she has marked it, it's her mind. So she will keep coming back to that spot unless you remove the "mark." (smell) It may require discarding the soiled pillow, piece of carpet, etc. There are cleaners on the market that have enzymes and disinfectant in the ingredients. These can help but don't always get out all the scent.

Dogs: Jumping

Some dogs just get really excited to see people. So they will rear up on their back feet and place their front feet on your chest to say hello. Of course, this always happens when the paws are caked with mud and you're wearing your best silk blouse! A dog that jumps on his owner is really just an untrained dog. Proper behavior training during puppyhood will prevent this basic bad behavior. But if your pooch is a big, slobbering adult who nearly knocks you over when you come home, there are some things you can do to minimize or even stop this behavior.

First, when you arrive home, ignore your dog. This will be hard! Don't talk to him. Don't make eye contact with him. Just go about your business, open mail, grab a snack, whatever. Eventually, your dog will settle down and stop bouncing around (if only out of pure confusion!). When your dog has calmed down, THEN greet him and give him a treat for being so calm. When you greet your dog while he is going nuts, it only reinforces the behavior. If your dog jumps at other times, here's a few tips. First, give a firm "no." Then give a sit command. If he sits, reward him with a pat on the head or a small treat. If he continues to jump, say "no!" again and ignore him. Continue this pattern or "no" and ignore until he keeps his paws to himself. As soon as he's on all fours, reward him. He will soon learn that good things happen when he's firmly planted on all four feet.

Just a side note, many times dogs are so exuberant because they have loads of pent up energy from being left alone all day. A good walk or brisk play session may be all he needs to use up that excess energy and calm down.

Dogs: Walking on a Leash

There are some dogs that just don't like to be restrained by a leash. The moment you put one on, they do one of two things: 1) stubbornly sit or lie down and refuse to move or 2) take off like a racehorse, dragging you along behind. Teaching a dog how to heel properly on a leash is not just good canine behavior, it's a safety issue. You don't want your pooch taking off down the street and into traffic. Your dogs needs to know how to walk calmly and obediently by your side, on a leash.

Of course, it easiest to teach heeling to your dog while she's young. Any good obedience class will cover the topic. First make sure you have a collar or harness that is the right size for your dog. Too big, and she'll slip right out of it. Too small, and it may cause damage or just be so uncomfortable that your dog is less likely to comply with your wishes. I recommend body harnesses for very large dogs and very small dogs. It may be easier to control a large dog with a body harness. And small dogs tend to be susceptible neck injury by a ill-fitting collar that is too tight.

Start by getting your pooch to simply stand on your left side. Each time he comes to your left leg and stays, reward him (a pat on the head is fine or a small treat). Then walk a few steps, telling your dog to come. If he tracks right along with you, reward him with lots of praise. If he stays in the same place, coaxing him forward with a treat. When he joins you, reward him. If he lunges ahead of you, stop abruptly. Say "no!" Tell him to come back to your left side. As soon as he does, reward him. It's important to praise or reward your dog every time he successfully performs what you are asking. For some dogs (especially the rambunctious ones), this may be a long, tedious process. You will have to be patient and consistent. But if you continue the pattern of giving the command to come to the left side, then walk, then praise, he will eventually get it.

How Would You Like to Make $6 Million Sitting on Your Couch?
By: Tamara Schweitzer -

Recessions can be a great time to start your own business. Thanks to the Web and a variety of other resources, it's cheaper and easier than ever to start one at home.

By his own admission, Paul Mann used to be a corporate stiff. Sure, he had a successful career, as CEO of Informative, a technology company that he co-founded in the late 1990s, but he hated putting on a suit and tie and trudging to the office every day.

All that changed -- almost by accident, Mann admits -- one day back in 2002 when he was looking for someone to watch his dog in a pinch. "I got very few responses back to my query," he recalls. "And the people I met, I just didn't feel comfortable handing them the keys to my home."

What followed was an "aha" moment that led him to start Fetch! Pet Care, a local network of pet sitters and dog walkers that busy people like himself could rely on, especially on short notice. What started as a service for San Francisco pet owners little more than six years ago has grown into a nationwide franchise with 200 locations and a network of more than 3,800 pet sitters servicing pet owners in 1,800 cities. This past year, Fetch! ranked No. 964 on Inc.'s list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation, bringing in $6.25 million in revenue.

Oh, did we mention he works from home?

Looking back, Mann says he wouldn't trade his newfound flexibility as a home-based business owner for even the most prestigious office job. "I was disenchanted working in a glass fish tank," he says.

Fetch! Pet Care's rapid growth underscores the growing potential of home-based businesses these days. Using his technology background in systems processing, Mann built a software program that monitors and tracks everything from booked appointments to customer feedback -- a completely virtual system that allows him to manage his entire company, quite literally, in his pajamas.

Mann is hardly alone in his success. Last month, StartupNation released its second annual list of the top 100 home-based businesses in the United States, on which Fetch! Pet Care ranked No. 1 in the category of "Best Financial Performers." The list also includes a "Recession Busters" category -- a ranking of home-based entrepreneurs whose companies are thriving at a time when most of the business world seems to be struggling. (Joseph Pickett and his company Expert Briefings, which provides teleconferencing and webinar services to companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, tops the list.)

"The reality is that the options are narrowing for people in the employment arena," says Rich Sloan, an expert on start-ups and co-founder of StartupNation. "More people are going to be taking control of their life by not counting on someone else for the paycheck."

Entrepreneurial success stories are often born during recessions, but with the current crisis making credit more difficult to secure, starting a business in the traditional way is no longer the most viable option. Instead, the convenience and low cost of starting a business at home is becoming more attractive to entrepreneurs in a variety of industries.

The percentage of micro businesses -- defined as 10 or fewer employees -- operated out of the home has grown steadily since 2005. According to the National Association for the Self-Employed, 55 percent of micro businesses in 2007 were home-based, up from 48 percent in 2005. Home-based businesses count for more than half the estimated 27 million small businesses in the United States.

Home-based entrepreneurs face the same challenges as their office-based counterparts, of course, especially in a tough economy. Gene Fairbrother, the lead small business consultant for the NASE, says the current economic climate is challenging micro businesses like never before. "Even though there are legitimate business opportunities out there, entrepreneurs have to be cautious and that much more smart about starting a business," he says.

But home-based businesses have one key advantage, especially during a recession -- they're cheap to start and even cheaper to run. "Keeping overhead costs low has always been a strong point for starting a business out of your home," says Terri Lonier, founder of "But it's even more important now as each industry gets more competitive."

Many home-based entrepreneurs have found success in the service industries, from staffing and accounting services to technical support, and typically they have done so by filling a need for a larger company. Lonier says that while there is less certainty when it comes to the strength and financial stability of the larger companies right now, home-based businesses are also well-positioned to provide the services that many companies are now seeking to outsource. The viability of many home-based businesses this year is going to depend not only on the products and services being offered, but also on how the entrepreneurs position themselves with their clients. Home-based business owners, many of whom are sole proprietors, have an edge when it comes to making business personal.

Kathy Sweeney, founder of The Write Resume, has grown her resume-writing service over the past 20 years by establishing strong relationships with her clients, most of whom she has never met face-to-face. Instead Sweeney spends long hours on the phone consulting with her clients and gleaning information about their professional lives in order to write resumes that will stand out to a potential employer. "One of the things that's really unique about my business is that I have to know a lot about every industry," Sweeney says. "And that comes from being observant and from knowing what questions to ask clients that will elicit the best answers."

Sweeney has written resumes for thousands of professionals all over the world and is considered one of the foremost experts in the industry. Her impressive track record -- if the resume does not land the client an interview in 60 days, Sweeney will rewrite it for free -- has not only won her a huge customer base, it is also proof that the corner office is no longer the only gold standard for success in business.

Even with her business flourishing, Sweeney has chosen to stay a sole proprietor because of the specialized nature of her service. However, many home-based businesses are growing beyond the capacity of just the founder, and as a result, their owners are turning to franchising. For Paul Mann of Fetch! Pet Care, franchising has allowed him to grow his business exponentially while still allowing it to operate as a home enterprise. Mann is finding that the home-based franchise is an enticing opportunity in this economy -- franchisee applications for Fetch! jumped by more than 200 percent in December.

Allan Young, CEO and co-founder of the home-based franchise ShelfGenie, is experiencing a similar phenomenon. Young started ShelfGenie, which installs custom-made glide-out shelves in people's home, in 2000 and decided to franchise the business in April 2008. In less than a year, he already has 51 franchise locations. "The business is very scalable, and we have a relatively low investment range," he says.

Young believes his company is very attractive to potential franchisees because they have a built-in support system. ShelfGenie franchisees receive management and bookings support through a call center. Without the burden of dealing with operational issues, Young says his franchisees are free to focus on marketing and growing their own part of the business. "It's a really good fit for all the parties involved," he says. "Our franchisees value their time and they are doing this because they love the product and they love the idea of having a business."

Thanks largely to the Web, there are now more options than ever for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make a million in their living room, but it's important to remember that there is more to running a business than a commute to your couch and working in your PJs. Without a passion for what you're putting out there, your business won't survive the tough times, Sloan cautions. His advice to entrepreneurs starting out is to structure the company around a product or service that customers are going to care about. "Make your business meaningful to the customer," he says. That way, "when it comes down to the decision of giving you their business, it isn't just based on math, but on whether the business stirs a sentiment beyond their wallet."

Finances Force Owners to Give Up Pets
By Betsy Reason -

NOBLESVILLE -- Jen Borman was volunteering at the local animal shelter Sunday when a pug owner gave up her dog, which wore a splint and bandage on its leg.

The owner could not afford further medical treatment for the puppy. Borman, who owns three dogs, agreed to temporarily take in the 8-month-old pug, named McLoven, and pay the canine's $900 medical bill.

An increasing number of pet owners are citing financial reasons for dropping off their animals, Humane Society for Hamilton County shelter officials said.

In 2008, a record 846 of the 3,373 animals received at the county's Humane Society were turned in by the owners, a 27 percent increase from 2007 and a 59 percent increase from 2006.

The shelter also saw an increase in its medical costs as a result of the added animals coming in.

"Based on reports and what we're hearing, I don't know that things are going to turn around real quickly," said Rebecca Stevens, the shelter's executive director. "We're hopeful we'll see a change. We're hoping the trend will decrease."

"It seems to be getting worse," said David Landau, the shelter's marketing director. "Folks are losing their homes. They have new living situations where they can't bring their pets with them. Older pets have certain medical conditions (and) folks can no longer pay for their medication.

"We hear from folks that they have to make the difficult decision to feed their family or feed their pets," Landau said.

He said the shelter gives donated pet food it cannot use -- the shelter's animals are on a regimen of the Science Diet brand -- to animal owners who can't afford to feed their pets.

Christa Pugh, a shift manager for the shelter's kennels, sees owners give up their pets "usually every day," she said.

"They're upset, crying, trying to tell us about the animal."

Those details can make a difference for their pet. Information, such as whether the animal is house-trained, spayed or neutered, and if it is purebred and has a registration certificate, can sometimes help it be adopted sooner.

Residents Fear for Pets After Man Shoots Neighbor's Dog
By Brian Bearden - McKinney Star Gazette

Neighbors on Watson Drive and Cotton Ridge near Bennett Elementary on the west side of town say they are concerned and living in fear for their pets and children after a man down the street shot one family's dog on Tuesday morning.

McKinney police said that the man is Jason Chapman, a Dallas Police officer who lives in McKinney The shooting is under investigation by McKinney and Dallas police. Neighbors said the man did not say he was with the police.

Neighbors told the dog's owner that the Camryn, a 3-year-old light buckskin-tan coated pit bull owned by Eric and Kevyn Allen, had broken free from its yard about 10 a.m.

"It was normal for our dogs to run up and down the fence chasing rabbits in the hedges though Stonebridge," said Kevyn Allen. She said a large number of rabbits live in the Summerset addition near Custer Road.

Witnesses said a man in a car coaxed the dog over. Neighbors said they were horrified two hear two shots. Several residents went outside only to see a man fire more shots from a handgun at the dog.

"My dog is not the only dog that gets out,'' said pet owner Kevyn Allen. "Why did he have to shoot my dog? Our whole family is beside itself. There was no reason to shoot Camryn. Was it because she was a pit bull? She was the nicest dog. She was great with kids and everyone. Our neighbors even said she was happy and wagging her tail when the man coaxed her over."

What happened next shocked her neighbors, who called police.

"Then, he just went boom, boom, boom, boom into the dog," Allen said. "He emptied his gun into our dog. That is just wrong. It was a family pet. It is just mind-blowing knowing that the man who shot your dog lives down the street from you."

Mrs. Allen said that neighbors Gregory Jones and Naomi Jones called police and gave the man's license plate number. That's when the neighbors learned the man was a Dallas police officer. Two others also saw the shooting, according to an incident report which said the man fired a gun in a residential area.

McKinney police issued a release Wednesday evening about the shooting in the 8300 block of Cotton Ridge saying that "Thus far, the investigation has yielded that Jason Chapman (white male, DOB 11/17/1983) shot and killed a pit-bull dog after the pit-bull and another dog cornered his wife, Tamra Chapman, near a tree while she was out walking. Tamra Chapman stated she was scared as she was screaming and crying during the incident. No charges are pending at this time. Mr. Chapman is an officer with the Dallas Police Department. Both the McKinney Police Department and the Dallas Police Department are investigating the incident."

Neighbors told Mrs. Allen that the man scolded them, saying they shouldn't let their dog out.

"He thought it was their dog," she said. "At first he said his wife was scared of the dog, and that's why he killed our dog. But, if she was afraid of the dog, why didn't they call Animal Control? You're not just supposed to shoot someone's family dog. He did not identify himself as a police officer. Our neighbors didn't know who he was or what he was up to when he started shooting a handgun."

She said she intends to file charges with Dallas Police.

The family's other dog, Sierra, was also out that morning. Kevyn Allen said Animal Control called her that day to say they had found the red-coated Sierra shaking on the porch.

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Does "Marley & Me" Teach Irresponsible Pet Ownership?
Lindsay Barnett - Los Angeles Times

"Marley & Me," the film adaptation of John Grogan's bestselling book, has topped box office revenue lists since its release Christmas Day. But while it's won legions of fans (including the American Humane Assn., which gave it an "Outstanding" rating), not everyone is singing its praises.

A notable naysayer? Times film columnist Scott Collins, who writes:

No, I have not come to bury "Marley & Me" for its corny sentimentality and Christmas-card triteness -- many others have already beaten me to that. My beef is that the film ... represents a toxic hazard to dog owners as well as anyone who ever comes near a dog -- basically everyone, in other words.

Marley's owners, played by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, "sit by with a kind of bemused helplessness" as their wayward Labrador commits bad deed after bad deed, Collins says. Marley, he ponders, might be a perfect candidate for celebrity dog trainer Cesar Millan, who's known for his emphasis on training dog owners to "stay calm and assertive":

Now Millan's "rehabilitation" techniques are themselves not without criticism. (The American Humane Assn., for example, in 2006 attacked "Dog Whisperer" for training that was "inhumane, outdated and improper.") But Millan's focus on the need to train the owner -- rather than simply the dog -- falls well within the mainstream of opinion among dog experts.

People being naturally lazy, most owners bend Millan's mantra into an imperative more to their liking: much affection, minimal exercise, zero discipline. And that's more or less the strategy on display in "Marley & Me." A lot more people are going to see the movie than will ever watch "Dog Whisperer."

What do you think? Does "Marley & Me" promote negligent dog ownership?

Therapy Dog Visits LaGrange Library
By: Francesca Olsen -

LAGRANGE - The LaGrange Library has added a new program to its long list, with an animal magnetism.

MacGyver, an English short-haired pointer who belongs to LaGrange resident Peg Basso, will be visiting the library every Thursday from 3-5 p.m. into the month of May, where children 8 and up can come read to him.

Reading to a dog stories may seem strange, but according to research and the library's head of youth services, Alison Francis, reading to an impartial figure is good for confidence, reading comprehension and fostering a general love of reading in children.

"The dog is non-judgmental. It's not a classroom setting," said Francis. "They're relaxed. They're not being graded."

Without the pressure of adults, who are quick to correct children with the best of intention, the idea is that children can get the feel of reading and explaining what they have read. A quiet, loving canine who can do nothing else but listen is a supportive way to bolster skills.

Children read to MacGyver in fifteen-minute increments. The library has had four sessions so far. "The same kids keep coming back," said Francis. "They come in and pet the dog. Immediately, it's been a really nice relationship between the kids and the dog."

Francis plans to meet with some of the children who have participated in the sessions with MacGyver and get their opinions on whether they have improved their reading skills. "I've had the same six kids coming each week," she said. "I want to see what kind of effect it's had on them. They seem very relaxed, and very at ease."

MacGyver is a registered therapy dog. Children must sign up beforehand to read to him and can bring their own book to share.

Francis said she had been looking into setting up a therapy dog program at the library when Basso called her and offered her services. "It was just a perfect match," she said.

Old traditions also remain at the library, with a chess night scheduled for Jan. 9. David Whalen, an elementary school teacher in the Arlington district who also does the program at other libraries in the area, will oversee the games, give pointers and answer questions. All children are welcome, from those who want to learn the game to those who already know and are looking to hone their skills.

The chess night is for those 8 and up. "It's a popular program. It usually fills up," said Francis. At press time, slots were still available for chess night. To register, visit and click on "calendar of events."

Do Your Homework Before Bringing a New Pet Home

Jamie Roemer says it took her family about two weeks to decide to adopt a year-old Sheltie from Springfield’s Animal Protective League after the loss of its other Sheltie, Max.

“We wanted to fill the house again,” says Roemer, a first-grade teacher at Cantrall Elementary School.

It took a family vote — from husband, Harvey; daughters, Jenna, 14, and Lindsay, 5 and son, Collin, 12 — to bring Joey, or “JoJo” home. The decision was made easier because the family was familiar with the breed of dog.

“We wanted something that was good with the kids,” Roemer said. “They are gentle and sweet, but these are herd dogs that like to run and jump. If you don’t do your homework, you’ll end up with a dog that doesn’t fit your personality.”

The Roemers relied on their experience. But some new pet owners — including the family of President-elect Barack Obama, which is searching for a dog to bring to the White House, and people who may want a canine pal after seeing how a dog captures the heart of a young couple in the film “Marley & Me” — face plenty of questions.

Before you start shopping

From space needs to finances to whether you plan to have multiple pets, area pet shelter directors said people should assess their situations before searching for a dog or cat to add to the family.

“The most realistic question is, what are an owner’s expectations? A pet is a 10- to 15-year commitment,” points out Rose Rebbe of the Springfield APL.

“You can learn more from people just by listening,” said Lorraine Jackson, who founded Adopt-A-Pet in Benld, about 50 minutes south of Springfield. “When someone adopts a pet, we ask what they’re looking for and what their last pet was.”

Some breeds of dogs require a lot of attention, which is fine for the person or family willing to make the time commitment, Rebbe said. And potential dog owners should never evaluate a four-legged friend by looks and size alone.

“People think small dogs require less work, but that’s not necessarily a good pick,” Rebbe said. “You have to think: a dog is going to have to be walked or let out at 2 a.m. in the dead of winter. They need attention. They need care.”

Julia Lescault of Springfield has twice adopted dogs from Adopt-A-Pet. She offers two key pieces of advice: have patience and get a dog that meshes with the individual’s or family’s personalities.

“That will ensure it will be a happy addition to the family,” says the Springfield High School math instructor.

Avoid hazards

A new house means pets, especially kittens and puppies, will want to explore and get into things. New environments can also cause stress to a pet.

So put the plants up, along with the small toys, advises Jackson.

“Anything a small child can put into its mouth, a small puppy will do the same,” she says.

If a pet has access to a garage or a basement — even for a short time each day — keep pesticides and fertilizers out of reach, Roemer said.

Impulse buys

Jackson says if an animal and a family don’t mesh, it’s not as easy as taking a pet to the “return” counter. However, in the middle of January, Adopt-A-Pet inevitably finds an influx of animals.

“That’s why we don’t encourage a lot of adoptions around the holidays,” she says. “(In a few weeks) kids are already tired of playing with them or there are problems with housebreaking them or they’re jumping on the child.

Age considerations

“People want to get a puppy (for their child) right away,” Jackson said, “but a large breed dog grows up faster than the child. An animal goes through stages just like a child.”

Certain breeds — a beagle mix, a Shih Tzu or a poodle, for example — are better with children and older people, Jackson said.

For an older person, a puppy, which is going to be underfoot, may not be the best fit. But a more mature dog that is already housebroken or previously was owned by an older person may be a more viable option.

Watchful eye

No matter their temperament, kids and dogs need supervision.

“The last thing in the world you want is for the child to get bit in the face,” Rebbe said. “They can’t roughhouse (pets). They need to find out immediately what the (dog’s) triggers are.”

Who’s the top dog?

Pet owners also need to be aware of introducing new animals to those already in your home.

Older dogs probably won’t be accepting of puppies, cautions Jackson. And it’s always best to introduce new pets in a neutral territory, such as a park.

“That way the resident dog won’t feel invaded,” Jackson said. “If you pay a lot of attention to the new dog, the other one is going to get jealous. They do notice this stuff.”

If you’re really ready

Rebbe says the rewards of children growing up with an animal are immeasurable. A child can learn compassion, especially if the pet isn’t feeling well, and responsibility — even a small child can fill a food bowl or a water bowl.

“Growing up with a dog teaches children about life cycles,” Roemer said. “It’s led to conversations with them about life and death.”

Searching for (pet) shelters?

As the family of President-elect Barack Obama searches for a dog to bring to the White House, Rose Rebbe of the Springfield Animal Protective League and Lorraine Jackson, who founded Adopt-A-Pet in Benld, are rooting for the first pooch to come from an adoption shelter.

"It would be a huge pat on the back for shelters if they did," Rebbe said.

The Animal Protective League holds a mobile pet adoption from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Ace Hardware, 1600 Wabash Ave., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. APL is at 1001 Taintor Road. Adoptions are available from noon to 5 p.m. daily. Call 544-7387 or visit

Benld Adopt-A-Pet holds a mobile adoption today at Tractor Supply, Co., 20 Litchfield Plaza in Litchfield from 11:45 a.m. to 4 p.m today. The shelter also holds mobile adoptions at Petco, 2721 Veterans Parkway in Springfield, from 11:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Adopt-A-Pet is at 807 Stewart Road in Benld, and is open from 1 to 5 p.m. daily. Contact: 835-2538 or

Be pet-prepared

1. Although many experts recommend a child be at least 6 years old before a pet is brought into the family, parents are the best judges of a child’s maturity. At the very least, make sure the child exhibits self-control and understands and obeys the word “no.”

2. Puppies and kittens are fragile and require extra time and care. Adopting a friendly, calm, adult animal that has a known history of getting along with children might be the best route.

3. A dog’s breed is only one of many factors that affect temperament and behavior. The best dogs for kids are those who receive proper socialization, human training, exercise and attention.

4. Provide pets with a place of their own where they can retreat from children. Don’t put pets in situations where they feel threatened.

5. Pets can swallow small toys or objects around the house just as easily as children. Make sure such items are stowed properly.

6. Some plants may be poisonous to curious pets. Make sure plants and other toxins in the house and in the garage are out of reach.

7. Remember — it takes financial resources to feed, house and provide regular and emergency veterinary care to pets.

8. If a pet is going to spend time outside, make sure it cannot stray onto neighboring properties, or escape your yard and get lost, frightened or injured.

9. Although adults must handle certain pet-care activities, include children when taking the pet to veterinarian or pet-training.

— Sources: The Humane Society of the United States and Marie Mead’s “Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Bring Home a Pet this Holiday Season (or Anytime of Year)”

Top 3 New Year's Resolutions... for Your Canine Companion! Part 3
by Sharon Uy, LA Dogs Examiner

Riddle me this--can you think of all the ways in which we keep up with our bodies' general maintenance? ...Does this question barely even register? If so, it might be because we don't give our general maintenance much thought to begin with, as most of these things come to us fairly naturally by now -- brushing our hair and teeth, putting deodorant on, cleaning our ears and scrubbing our faces, to name a few. The ways our dogs take care of themselves include: 1) licking, 2) scratching, 3) that funny little back-scratching move they do, which is basically wiggling manically upside-down on the carpet (in Bubba's case, followed by a sudden halt, a quick wriggle back on all fours, and a look of confusion/suspicion--I'm not certain which). I'm sure if our beloved pets could clip their own toenails and brush their fur to a clean shine they would (or so I'd like to think), but as the laws of nature would have it, they can't!

Therefore, New Year's resolution number 3 for our dogs will require much of our help.

3. Once you've tackled the first two resolutions for your dog, all that's left is maintaining your dog's general health and cleanliness. Liken it to keeping your car maintained and running smoothly, except cheaper and less messy. Here are some preventive measures you can take to make sure your dog stays as healthy and happy (and clean!) as possible.

Bath timeGrooming

If the word "grooming" sounds a little daunting, fear not! It's the same as what you do in the morning before you rush off late to work every day. Well, maybe a more thorough version of that. Basically, it's keeping your dog clean, feeling fresh, and looking brand-new. Even better news for your dog (and probably you), you don't have to groom your dog all the time. According to Martin Moldavon, owner of PetLife in Woodland Hills, "Grooming shouldn't be done more than once or twice in a six-month period. Bathe your dog every two to three months, otherwise it just dries the skin out. Get your dog's teeth brushed once a month, or on a weekly basis if you're doing it yourself."

-Brushing teeth - According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs suffer from periodontal disease by the age of two. So, you can see that brushing your dog's teeth has a couple of benefits--he's without disease, and you're without his smelly breath! Before you rush off to get your dog's teeth clean, make sure you use PET toothpaste! Using your toothpaste for your dog will likely result in an upset stomach, not to mention--ready for this one?--a bad taste in his mouth! (I couldn't help it, sorry!) St. Jon has a Natural Toothpaste for dogs, with ingredients including purified water, mushroom extract, eucalyptus oil, parsley seed oil, and hydrated silica, whose naturally abrasive properties are perfect for getting rid of plaque on your pup's teeth. As for brushes, Bubba's currently using St. Jon's double ended toothbrush. We're thinking about switching over to those finger brushes, though, as Moldavon told me that he can brush his dog's teeth and massage his gums for five minutes without any problems. This sounds like a good idea, as Bubba can seem a bit conflicted between the foreign object in his mouth and the yummy tasting toothpaste. Perhaps he'll feel better if he knows it's just me digging in there.

-Baths - I'm lucky to have a small dog that I can stick in the kitchen sink (sans dishes, of course) and wash away. Regardless of whether you have a small dog or a large one to wash, make sure you're using a bona fide dog shampoo. FourPaws makes an oatmeal shampoo that is all natural and hypo-allergenic. Don't forget to brush your dog to get rid of the extra fur and help prevent shedding. I use a rubber brush similar to this one. Bubba's even grown to like it!

-Trimming nails - Moldavon gave me a great (and easy) piece of advice if you or your dog aren't comfortable with clipping those nails. "Walk your dog on the cement." Can't get much easier than that! Moldavon prefers to walk his dog on the sidewalk around a dog park, as the furiously tapping nails are naturally filed on the cement.

Visit the vet annually

For some people, annual visits to the doctor are not in their repertoire of general upkeep. I'm sure many visit the doctor only when something is palpably amiss. As with humans, checkup visits to the vet once a year are recommended for dogs. Bubba, on the other hand, ends up visiting the vet a couple times a year--boy, he's got a couple health issues! If your dog is lucky enough to seem perfectly healthy with no need for a visit, schedule an annual checkup anyway as a preventive measure.

Don't forget to keep up with your dog's vaccinations. There's controversy surrounding this issue, in particular as to whether vaccinations should be administered as often as they are. Bubba's vet doesn't think that annual vaccinations are necessary, but he did receive his core vaccinations in his first year. For more information on pet vaccinations, visit

One thing that can't hurt is preventing your dog from getting fleas. There are plenty of commercial oils, sprays, and shampoos available for killing or preventing fleas, but there are also organic treatments, as well as several home remedies. Only Natural Pet has a natural flea treatment that comes in a powder form. Ingredients include sage, eucalyptus, yellowdock root, fennel seed, and rosemary leaf. As an organic solution that doesn't involve dipping your dog in anything, Moldavon suggests administering flea-eating insects or plants such as chrysanthemums into the environment that eat fleas' larvae. Chrysanthemums contain pyrethrins, which are naturally-occurring insecticides that are not toxic to mammals unless consumed in large doses, in which case they may cause neurological or gastrointestinal problems.

Get rid of (or reduce) the toxins in your dog's environment

Our dogs are exposed to the pesticides and cleaning agents we use all around the house, and they walk around without the protection of clothes or socks. On top of that, they lick these same feet! They're also more susceptible to toxic agents than we are as humans.

Reduce the amount of toxins in your home. Try to use natural cleaning agents inside and outside the house. Use pet-friendly detergents--after all, dogs (well, Bubba, anyway) use our blankets and especially have contact with our clothes. Make use of all-natural stain and odor removers. Use dog-friendly fertilizer on your lawns and wipe down your pet's paws after walks outside.

Mental health

Believe it or not, your dog can be afflicted by such mental problems as depression and anxiety. Depression can be caused by such factors as the weather, and symptoms may include lethargy, lack of energy, and refusal to eat. Dogs can also suffer from anxiety, whether it be separation, noise or social. (I think Bubba's dealt with all three, come to think of it!)

In cases of depression, the most successful prescription is extra, extra TLC, but in severe cases in which they just don't seem to snap out of it, vets can prescribe doggie anti-depressants. As for anxiety, symptoms can be alleviated by easing your dog into whatever is causing him anxiety. For instance, if your dog is dealing with noise anxiety due to loud noises such as car doors slamming, every time he hears a car door slam, reward him with a treat. This way, he'll associate the loud noise with something pleasing rather than feelings of anxiety.

Don't forget that most dogs not only crave mental stimulation, they need it! If you're at home, play a game of chase with your dog (if they love chasing objects around, imagine how much they'll love chasing an interactive toy--you!) If your dog is home alone, invest in a toy that can keep them entertained for long periods of time, like the Kong Dog Toy. You can fill this hollow toy with treats, and your dog can play with it and move it around until they're rewarded with a treat falling out. Ideas like these are enough to help alleviate their anxiety and depression.

Whew! Now that you've got the top three resolutions for your canine companion, your dog can be on his way to a healthier and happier 2009!

Hotels Roll Out the Red Carpet for Traveling Pets
Philadelphia Business Journal - by Diane M. Fiske

Dog days ... and nights

Many Philadelphia hotels see Fido and Fluffy as a luxury they are happy to cater to for an additional charge.

“Dogs traveling with their owners are big money now,” said Donna Schorr, director of communications for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. “People are willing to spend money on pets because, in these hard economic times, our pets love us no matter what our economic condition.”

According to her organization and others, 14 percent of American families traveled with their pets on trips of 50 miles or more in the past three years.

She said 75 percent of the travel companions are dogs, while another 15 percent of the travelers said they took their cats along. Two percent traveled with birds and some were accompanied by ferrets, rabbits, or even fish, said Schorr, who has led doggie tours to show travel experts where canines are welcome.

Rick Staub, general manager of the Loews Philadelphia at 1200 Market St., said the Loews chain has always been pet friendly.

“We support the [Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] and were the first chain to serve owners with dogs that weren’t service dogs,” said Staub, who owns a mixed breed. “Each dog guest gets a doggie place mat, water and food bowls, biscuits, a doggie notice for the door and the opportunity for 24-hour room service with a specialty menu.”

The menu includes a doggie serving of “beef tenderloin” for $22 or, for a cat, salmon at $17.

Loews charges owners $75 for their pet’s stay and asks that each owner leave a cell phone number if the animal is left alone in the room.

Pets are restricted to certain floors. The rooms with pet guests, generally about 25 a week, are cleaned with a special hypoallergenic solution when the pet leaves. Staub said that usually, owners are couples who do not have children or they are empty-nesters. Most of the pets are 25 pounds or less, but he said, the hotel has hosted Great Danes.

At the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia at Broad and Chestnut streets, hotel manager Mike Walsh shows a picture of his own dog.

Pets are very welcome in the hotel, Walsh said. Occasionally a guest can have a drink in the lobby bar with a dog as long as the dog stays on the marble floor away from the very costly New Zealand wool carpet.

Most Ritz canine guests are small. They are welcomed with a small dog bed and a dog basket. After the owner registers, the dog receives a letter addressed to him.

Like Loews, the Ritz charges owners $75 for the stay. The owner is warned to leave a cell phone number if the dog is left in the room, and no room service calls are provided while the dog is in the room.

“If the dog is barking and disturbing someone, we have to call the owner and sometimes interrupt a dinner or a special event,” Walsh said.

Almost every Center City hotel has some sort of policy regarding pets traveling with their owners. Not all hotels roll out the red carpet, but most make some allowances for animals. At the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, only lap dogs or dogs under 15 pounds are permitted. They’re allowed only in certain rooms and with payment of a $50 security charge, according to General Manager Jeff Miller.

Some hotels provide dog sitters at a cost so the dog will not be left alone in the room. All insist that the dogs are healthy, relatively well mannered and leashed.

All of the hotels that allow pets use special products to clean rooms after the dog or cat leaves. Some require owners to call immediately so a special cleanup crew can be dispatched to a room where a pet has had an “accident.” Hotels that allow cats usually provide cat litter, which the owner is expected to change.

The most sophisticated pet hosting is offered at Sofitel Philadelphia on 120 S. 17th St.

Susanne Pasi, the director of guest services, said her hotel is “very dog friendly because we are European.” The French hotel is a division of a European chain called Accor.

She said the hotel allows guests to have two pets in a room and doesn’t charge an extra fee for the pets’ stay.

“I just think it is good business,” she said of the hotel’s liberal pet policy. “We look the other way if a guest has a drink [with a pet] in our lobby.”

Pet Talk: It's the Economy, Fido!
Merced Sun Star

Tough economic times have made us all get back to the basics and ask the question "is this something that I need or just something that I want?" When it comes to your pet's needs, here are some basics that will help you save money in the long run.

Keep your pet lean and active. Overweight dogs and cats are much more prone to several diseases -- from arthritis to slipped discs in the back and even cancer -- obesity is a serious (and expensive) health problem in pets. Helping your pet attain an ideal bodyweight usually is a two-step program: feed less food and exercise him more.

Exercise for health and good behavior. It takes energy for pets to get into mischief. If your dog or cat is tired, he is less likely to be destructive or misbehave. With dogs, the solution is straightforward -- go for walks around the block on a routine schedule. Your dog will not only look forward to the exercise, he will start to demand it. Exercising cats is a bit more challenging. Besides cat toys, I recommend feeding fat cats small meals (a few kibbles in each dish) in multiple locations around the house. Even the laziest cat is food-motivated, and will at least make laps around the house in search of the many food dishes.

The most expensive food your pet will eat is the one that doesn't keep him healthy. In the long run, cheap foods will cost your pet his good health. It is very tricky to read the ingredients label on a bag of pet food and determine the quality of the food. Instead, simply compare the price tag. In almost all cases, a more expensive food is going to have more consistent, higher quality ingredients and be more concentrated. In other words, you won't need to feed as much of the expensive food as you do the cheap food, because the premium diets are packed with nutrition. A simple rule of thumb: The better dry pet foods will cost close to $1 per pound.

Of course, regular checkups are important for everyone's health. Since pets age much more quickly than we do, a once-a-year exam is like us visiting our doctor once every six years. When you go to the vet, come with a list of written questions and hand it over to doctor or veterinary nurse. Don't leave until you're satisfied that your pet has been fully examined and your questions are answered.

Vaccination schedules vary based on your pet's age, lifestyle and where you live. Though there's a lot of "chatter" out there, undervaccinating poses a much more serious and deadly risk to the average pet than overvaccinating. Every month, I treat many animals with serious infections that could have been prevented with appropriate vaccinations. This is another excellent discussion to have with your pet's doctor so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for your furry friend.

The silver lining to a troubled economy is that many people are spending more time at home and rediscovering the joy that their pets bring. Keeping your animal companions healthy doesn't have to be expensive, and a little effort will save you a lot of money in the long run. It's like having kibble in the bank!

Dr. Jon Klingborg is a veterinarian associated with Valley Animal Hospital in Merced. He can be contacted at

Medications for Your Pet
By: Lisa Chelenza - CapitalNews9

These days, pet parents can help our pets live longer happier lives by providing top-notch health care. We take our pets to veterinarians more than ever before and vets are giving us more choices in caring for our pets with options that now include prescription medications.

It's not uncommon for a vet to prescribe human anti-inflammatory meds for pets with arthritis, stomach upset in horses to be treated with Prilosec or anti-anxiety meds like Xanax to be prescribed for dogs with severe separation anxiety. There are about 300 human drugs now approved for use in pets. Some have different names and dosages but are basically, in many cases the same drug.

Some prescriptions can cost as much as $100 each and if you are dealing with a chronic illness, this can really add up. Asking your pharmacist for generics is a way to cut down on the cost without sacrificing your pet's health. Shop around, many big chain stores with pharmacies like K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Target, offer deep discounts on some generic drugs. You could save hundreds of dollars and more importantly, provide the medication your pet needs without breaking the bank.

Medications for your pet
As pet parents, our job is to provide the best care possible for our companion animals and that includes every aspect of health care, even prescription medications our pet need. Prescription drugs you may have to get from your neighborhood pharmacy. Today we'll learn more about the pharmacy and medications for your pet in this edition of Pet Pointers.

Never try and diagnose a problem yourself. If your pet is vomiting, is very sleepy, seems agitated, or you've noticed any changes in their bathroom habits, it may be a sign they are sick and you need a vets help. Never give your pet human drugs unless directed by your vet. Some human drugs can be deadly.

Always ask about side effects, reactions or behavioral issues to look for in case your pet has an adverse reaction to any prescribed medication.

If you have pet health insurance or are thinking about get it for your pet, ask the provider about prescription drug coverage and make sure it's in your plan.

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