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I didn't want to get out of bed this morning

I woke up with a stiff neck

I washed my hair but couldn't do a thing with it

Made breakfast for the cranky youngsters

and fed the baby a bottle

She dribbled milk all over herself and my new blouse

I loaded up the kids in the carseat and took them to daycare and school

I was late for work, and traffic was a nightmare

My husband called my cell phone to tell me he got laid off from his construction job

I got to the office (I'm a Tech Analyst)

My Supervisor chewed me out

for misplacing the mouse

I went out for lunch and got caught in the rain

I left work early to pick up my new eyeglasses (wrong size)

I then picked up the kids from daycare and school

fed them all a quick meal

drove the boys to karate lessons

and the girls to tap and ballet

When we got home, all they wanted to do was watch TV

and, sing karaoke instead of doing their homework

After much chaos, they took their baths and got ready for bed

and after much hounding, they brushed their teeth

then I read them their nightly bedtime stories

they finally went to sleep

All of this daily stress is causing me to gain weight

so, I tried doing some aerobics in the living room

uh oh, I don't think all the 'fast-food' and exercise is agreeing with me

now I think I'm getting a migraine

and a runny nose

I'm pretty certain it's the flu

After a long and grueling day, I crawled into bed and was just drifting off when

I realized I had forgotten something

Dear Lord, despite the topsy-turvy day I've had, I give thanks to you
and for all the blessings you've bestowed upon me and my family

and next week, I'm off to the spa and pool

for some much-needed rest and relaxation with my girlfriend

That's how my life is, how are things with YOU?

Thanks to Kathy in Bhc, Az

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Seven Years Bad Luck Keeps Dog at Shelter
By Amy Lieberman -

Honey the dog is just as sweet as her name implies, yet she has remained shelter-bound for nearly seven years. She's only one of millions whose minor quirks -- whether behavioral or medical -- keep them waiting endlessly for someone to take them home.

NEW YORK -- While animal shelters are designed to serve as rest stops for its residents, not all animals who walk through a shelter's door are able to walk right back out.

Six to eight million pets enter shelters each year, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

And while the majority of admitted animals find homes within weeks, according to shelter employees interviewed by Pet Pulse, in some rare instances, pets deemed undesirable can remain shelter-bound for months, and even years.

Take Honey, a German Shepherd mix who has spent almost her entire life at the Humane Society of Cherokee County, Tahlequah, Okla. A shelter worker rescued her as a stray puppy in 2002 from a deserted country road.

It's since been a long seven years for Honey, who has been adopted out twice -- and then promptly returned to the shelter, after her owners realized she couldn't be trusted around other dogs.

"Around people, she is the best dog you could ever want," shelter board member Lou Hays said. "Just a big wuss. But around virtually any other dog, she growls and snaps at them."

The shelter is the "only home Honey has ever known," Hays said, but she still tries to make herself as appealing as possible to visitors and potential owners. The humane society has also tried to provide incentives by making Honey its "pet of the month" on several occasions.

Though Honey has yet to catch her perfect match, she keeps on trying to flaunt her assets.

"Whenever people walk by, she gets up in her pen and waves her paws at them. She is a really cute dog, but she just has this problem," Hays said.

'It's Mine!' Mantra Acts as Deal Killer

Rocky, a Border Collie mix, struggles to overcome similar behavior issues. The six-year-old male is friendly and intelligent, but can't be fully trusted around children or other animals.

It's a problem that has kept Rocky at the Humane Society of Nature Coast, in Spring Hill, Fla., since he was rescued in 2005 from New Orleans, following Hurricane Katrina.

Rocky has never bitten anyone or acted aggressively -- but he does become possessive over his toys and food.

"We have had to turn down several families with small children or animals," Schoch said. "He is a great dog, and any of us here would take him, but we all have animals at home."

The orphaned dog has made the most out of his life at the shelter, though, where he quickly rose to the top of the class at obedience school. He loves palling around with shelter employees, playing fetch and chewing on his toys. His intelligence and quick moves prompted the shelter to provide him with agility training.

As Rocky works on his skills, the search for a tolerant owner continues.

"He's very sweet and friendly, but he can be dominant," Schoch explained. "He just needs a firm hand.

"We have tried anything and everything -- stories in the newspaper, things on our Web site. We are just determined to find him the right home."

Frisky Spirit Keeps Adopters at Bay

A slight attitude problem can prompt a quick rejection for many shelter animals, including Jill, a 10-year-old black domestic short haired cat who has called the New Fairfield Sherman Animal Welfare Society home for the past three years.

Like Rocky and Honey, Jill can be "a little feisty," says shelter manager Sherri Ruffler.

It acts as an instant turn off to many prospective owners.

"Someone will come in and reach out and instantly start petting her, and she swats at them and they say, 'Who else do you have?' " Ruffler said.

Her attitude is not "unmanageable," Ruffler says, as long as people know how to read her signs. Once her space is respected, Jill emerges as the sweet cat shelter workers have come to love over the years.

The shelter remains optimistic that the right owner will come along, but Ruffler knows that the thyroid medication Jill takes daily might be working against her cause, as well.

Even when animals' illnesses are manageable, they can still dissuade people from considering the pets.

Ailments Create 'Forever Home' Barriers

It's a trend CatNap from the Heart, a shelter in LaGrange Park, Ill., which frequently takes in ill cats, is quite familiar with.

Twenty-five cats admitted to the facility in 2005 and 2006 still remain; the shelter has nine cats that arrived sometime from 2002 to 2004, and can even name cats that it took in from 2000 to 2001.

Two cats named Cosmo and Feria are the shelter's oldest residents. They arrived in 1999.

"The cats may have a sensitive tummy, a special diet, diabetes or hypothyroidism," shelter director Bobbi Meyer said. "The cats that have been here the longest just aren't for everyone."

The shelter has taken the over-extended stays in stride, however, with the addition of a special "residential cat" section to its facilities. There, the cats have more room -- and privacy -- to make their living situations as comfortable as possible.

"They will be a part of this shelter for as long as they need to," Meyer said. "They will continue to wait for an owner, but this is their home."

At the Humane Society of the Black Hills, in Rapid City, S.D., one cat, China, no longer has to worry about looking her best for prospective owners. After a two-and-a-half year stay, the shelter simply decided to keep her on as a permanent fixture.

"She was here for about five to six months, and instead of euthanizing her, we decided to just make her the shelter's pet," said shelter manager Mischa Highland. "She just kind of stuck, and nobody ever wanted to get rid of her."

China now enjoys free rein of the facility, and according to Highland, "loves her freedom."

"She fits in here 100 percent," she said.

In other circumstances, docile, friendly pets' appearances work against them -- black dogs and cats are frequently left behind, as well as breeds with poor reputations.

Bound Homeless by Stereotypes

Breed prejudice could explain why two Pit Bulls named Dewy and Rubia have remained in adoption limbo since 2005. They have lived at the Animal House Pets and Grooming Inc., in Fort Collins, Colo., for one year, after their previous shelter had to turn them over.

The 4-year-old male and 7-year-old female are "great dogs," shelter manager Ali Eccleston says, but can be weary of small animals.

Both of the dogs love people, and Rubia, who frequently visits local schools to participate animal education programs, goes crazy over children.

"Kids are her favorite thing in the world," Eccleston said. "They are good dogs -- they just need someone who understand the breed."

If no one does come along, there isn't any pressure for the dogs to pack their kibble -- Animal House Pets and Grooming is a no-kill shelter, which will allow any dog to "stay with us forever," Eccleston said.

Animals like these exist within a unique classification, in limbo between the three to four million pets that are euthanized each year, and the additional three to four million that are annually adopted in the United States, according to the HSUS.

It isn't the most traditional of endings to a shelter admittance, but some pets simply have to take what they can get. And in rare cases, they get lucky with an open invitation to stay at a shelter for as long as necessary, making it their forever home.

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Reading Buddies Take Unusual Shape
By Maggie Fitzroy -

Dogs go to libraries for story time with youngsters who are comfortable with them.

Rhiannon O'Donnell, a 5-year-old Atlantic Beach Elementary kindergartner, loves to read, especially to a 9-year-old German shepherd named Liebchen, whom she meets once a month at the Beaches branch library.

On Jan. 3, Rhiannon brought a stack of books to share with the big gentle dog, a Hero Reading Buddy owned by Dot Mitchell of Jacksonville Beach.

"We're here all the time to read to Liebchen," said Rhiannon's dad, Todd O'Donnell. "She's a good listener."

After spending most of her life as a therapy dog through the Hero Assistance Dogs organization, Liebchen has been retired from visiting people in nursing homes for a second career as a reading dog for children.

The Hero Reading Buddies program aims to provide kids with opportunities to read to trained therapy dogs so they can improve their reading skills and confidence in a relaxing environment.

Since Mitchell began bringing Liebchen to the Neptune Beach library the first Saturday of every month, the dog has proven to be popular with young readers who look forward to her visits from 11 a.m. to noon.

Now the reading dog program is growing at the Beaches.

During her Jan. 3 visit, Liebchen was joined by another reading dog in training, a 10-month-old yellow Labrador retriever named Dora, owned by Kayla Wendzel of Ponte Vedra Beach.

Dora proved to be such a good listener that she will begin reading with children at the Ponte Vedra Beach branch library in February.

"They're great, the kids love them," said Beaches branch children's librarian Nicole Saveill. "They like to pet them and tell them stories."

The Hero organization, based in Floral City, has several programs that train dogs to help people.

Service dogs are trained to assist people with disabilities, therapy dogs are well-behaved pet dogs who visit people to help them feel better, and reading buddies visit children in schools and libraries.

Mitchell first took Liebchen into her home when she was an 8-week-old puppy to train her to be a service dog. But that didn't work out because she had a bad hip.

Service dogs are trained to retrieve objects that are out of reach, open and close doors, turn light switches on and off, bark for help and assist with walking by providing balance and counterbalance when needed.

Since Liebchen wasn't physically capable, Mitchell trained her to be a therapy dog instead.

Last year, Mitchell transferred Liebchen into the reading program "because she's always liked kids."

Dora is in training to be a service dog, and so far is doing well during her training period, which is slated to continue until August.

Since she is being trained to be a full-time companion to a person with disabilities, she goes to school every day with Wendzel, 18, a Nease High School senior.

Service dogs go with their masters everywhere, including school, work and shopping.

Dora is popular with students at Nease, Wendzel said. So popular that some nominated her for the homecoming court last fall.

Being a reading dog is also part of her training.

"She's doing well today," Wendzel said. "She's really good with kids."

As Liebchen listened to Rhiannon read, Katrina Williams of Jacksonville Beach brought her 2-year-old son Khalil over to visit with Dora.

Khalil didn't sit still for long. He looked at pictures in a book, hopped up and down, then offered his toy truck to his canine reading buddy.

Even though they just met, "these two have a special relationship," Williams said with a grin.

When it was time to go, she told Mitchell and Wendzel, "thank you guys. Thanks so much for doing what you're doing."

Maggie FitzRoy can also be reached at (904) 249-4947, ext. 6320.

Help Your Pet Survive Winter
By Tom Wharton - The Salt Lake Tribune

Winter's snow and frigid temperatures might be an inconvenience for humans but can be downright dangerous for pets. That's why pet caregivers should make certain that animals have a warm and safe place to spend the winter as well as adequate water. Here are seven tips from Kelly Milligan of the Midvalley Animal Clinic to help keep your pet safe during the cold season:

Outside » Keep your pet indoors if temperatures fall below 32 degrees.

Shelter » Provide a dry shelter that is insulated with blankets or has an outdoor heating pad. If a dog is prone to chewing blankets, use straw.

Water » Use a heated water dish or make certain that the water supply does not freeze. Pets can quickly become hypothermic if they eat snow.

Frostbite » Pets are susceptible to frostbite on their ears, noses, footpads and tails. Watch for any signs of frostbite, such as blanching of the skin or crusty patches.

Walking » After walking outside with your pet, wash paws to get rid of any ice-melt residue, which can be irritating to the skin and mouth.

Heaters » Never use any type of combustion heater to keep your pet warm. These can easily burn, catch fire or cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Toxic » Keep pets away from windshield cleaner and antifreeze. Many contain a de-icer made from ethylene glycol, which is toxic to pets.

Health Tip: Coping With Pet Allergies

Reduce symptoms without getting rid of your furry companions

(HealthDay News) -- If being near a pet makes you sniffle, sneeze, and your eyes water, you may not have to live a pet-free life.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology offers these suggestions:

--Always wash your hands after you touch a pet. And avoid kissing or hugging your furry friend.
--Keep cat litter boxes away from vents, and try to limit your exposure to them.
--Give your pet a bath each week to reduce dander. And try to have a person who isn't allergic regularly brush your pet outdoors.
--Don't allow pets on upholstered furniture. If necessary, cover the furniture in plastic.
--Make sure your pet is on a healthy diet to help reduce shedding.
--Try to eliminate rugs and carpets from your home, and use a double filter or micro-filter bag in your vacuum.
--Ask your doctor about getting allergy shots to control symptoms.

Homeless Pets Don't Have a Choice
Modesto Bee

Regarding "Put people before animals" (Jan. 3, Letters): People have the right to choose, animals don't. People can choose to abuse alcohol and drugs, spend beyond their means and produce offspring that they cannot afford to support.

Animals didn't ask to be born because some pet owner is too cheap and lazy to spay or neuter their pet, or some money- hungry breeder continues to produce for sale pets while countless perfectly healthy animal shelter pets are euthanized daily. Animals didn't ask to be stuck in some backyard cage, tied to a tree or dumped on the side of the road because they are no longer cute, entertaining or convenient.

We have a moral obligation to treat humanely not only the down and out of our own species, but the animals that we share this planet with.



My Own Dog Story: Rusty & Me
By George Messenger For the Concord Monitor

Rusty is my own dog; he is about 9 years old. Rusty has been such a big part of my life ever since I got him. He had a broken leg at the time, and his previous owners couldn't handle him anymore, so they donated him to me. He is more human than dog. He comes to work with me every day and wanders around my hospital and greets everyone - he prefers people over dogs although occasionally he shows affection toward another dog (rather inappropriately, I might add). He rests his head on the chairs and benches; he will lean up against people and encourage a good scratching or pat on the head. He lives for food, especially people food.

Two years ago he was having signs of pain in his neck and leg and I took a lot of X-rays and did blood work; he needed to be on prednisone to control his discomfort. After consulting with a neurologist in Maine, we found he had a tumor. This doctor operated on what we learned was a malignant nerve sheath tumor. It took a lot of TLC, pain medications and radiation treatments; finally Rusty was back to his old self. The prognosis was pretty good; he was likely to be okay for at lease a couple of years.

A few weeks ago Rusty acted a little bit odd about his front legs, and I became concerned that his tumor might be growing. I spoke with my wife and staff and warned them that this might be the case, that they should spoil him in the meantime, and that we were not going to put him through this again - the second time around would carry a much worse prognosis. So, my employees have helped him to gain probably 10 pounds! He currently has no symptoms, so maybe I was premature; I hope this cancer never grows back.

Why am I talking about this? Well, because this is part of my job and it's a really big deal for anyone who has ever had to make the decision to part with their pet. I have to euthanize animals every day, something that requires me to separate my emotions from the task at hand. I can't always do that, especially for the very special clients and pets, and it can be very painful for everyone involved. It also can be a wonderful moment, because it is such a peaceful gentle process; if an animal needs to be put out of its misery, we can do that. I would never euthanize an animal for convenience of the owner - only for severe behavioral or medical problems; mostly for older animals with terminal illnesses.

The decision to euthanize a pet is a very important one, because there are often many factors involved, and the emotions (pain, guilt, fear) can get in the way of making that decision. Sometimes it is obvious, but often I am asked, "How will I know when it is time?" I usually tell people that the decision is up to them; they will often know when it is time, but sometimes it can be very hard to know when that is, unless it is obvious that the pet is suffering.

The holiday season tends to be a time when vets euthanize a lot of pets, for several reasons. Christmas is not the time to get a puppy, but I would add it is also not a good time to euthanize an older pet and then replace it with a young one. It is best to take your time to grieve the loss of a loved one before you make the decision to get a new pet. However, everyone is different, and some people need to immediately get another pet because it helps to ease the pain.

Here are a few guidelines that should be considered concerning euthanasia.

• It is a very peaceful and painless process if done well.

• You should express any special needs to your vet - for example, if you would like to witness your pet's euthanasia, or you would like to do it outside, or on your property, etc. These can be arranged.

• It should generally be considered if an animal is suffering from an untreatable illness.

• If an animal is suffering from a treatable illness (i.e. a broken leg), although it might be expensive to treat, it would be ideal to try to come up with the funds to do so. After that, there could be years of a happy, healthy pet. It is very unfortunate to have to put a pet to sleep for financial reasons, but sometimes it can't be avoided.

• Making the decision to put your pet to sleep can be the most loving act you could ever perform. Most pets are more like members of the family, and to have to say goodbye is difficult, but it is done out of love, in order to avoid further suffering of the animal.

• If this is a family pet, everyone in the family should be involved in the decision. Sometimes it is tempting to avoid telling the young ones in the family, but if they are old enough to understand what is going on, it is best that they are allowed to express themselves.

• Use your vet (and get a second or third opinion if necessary) to make sure you have a good understanding as to what is wrong with your pet, what the prognosis is, whether it is treatable, and whether it will cause suffering.

I am very sorry for all of you who have had to do this, especially recently. I will have to do this with Rusty some day. I dread that day.

Pet Owners Say They're Satisfied with Vet Visits

Survey finds a pet owner’s satisfaction can depend on clear communication.

About 92 percent of pet owners who took their pets to a veterinarian in the past three months were very satisfied with their visit and would recommend their veterinarian, according to findings from BNResearch PetPoll 2008, a nationwide telephone survey of pet owners that was released in December covering a range of topics. The client satisfaction portion surveyed 438 pet owners.

However, continued satisfaction rates depend upon effective client education and communication, the poll revealed. Pet owners who have an “excellent” understanding of their pets’ treatment plans are significantly more likely to follow the plan “all of the time” (86 percent) compared to those who have a “good” understanding (65 percent). Non-compliance increases the probability that the recommended treatment will not work, which also results in a less than satisfied client, according to BNResearch.

Also, with household budgets getting tighter due to the economy, BNResearch said it expects more scrutiny and questions related to the cost of veterinary services. One-third of clients rated their animal hospitals’ explanation of fees and charges less than “excellent.” If pet owners do not understand the value of the services they are receiving, hospitals are at risk of facing both unsatisfied and lost clients, according to the company.

PetPoll 2008 found that involving a veterinary nurse or technician, in addition to a veterinarian, during the visit significantly improved a client’s understanding of their pet’s healthcare needs and treatment plan.

Another component of the poll evaluated the demand for pet insurance. About 3 percent of the 980 pet owners surveyed had pet insurance. However, nearly all of those pet insurance customers are satisfied with their plans and they are willing to recommend them to others. Policy holders even noted that pet insurance has increased their use of veterinary products and services such as medications, diagnostic tests, and routine exams.

The major obstacles hindering the sale of more pet insurance policies are related to cost, according to the poll. Other reasons included the confusion regarding what is available and what the various plans consist of.

Mickey Rourke Wins Best Actor at Golden Globes and Thanks His Dogs
by Helena Sung, Pet News Examiner

Mickey Rourke won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes Sunday evening for his lead role in The Wrestler.

He gave a surprisingly eloquent and heartfelt speech, noting that he is not used to speaking in public and that he was almost "out of the business" (Hollywood) a few years ago. (The critics are calling his speech "interesting.")

Rourke thanked his agent, director, producers, co-stars, etc. and then he told the audience he'd like to thank his dogs--both the ones that are still with him now, and those that had passed on.

"Sometimes when a man's alone, all you got is your dog and they meant the world to me."
--Mickey Rourke, during his acceptance speech for Best Actor at the Golden Globes.

I bet nobody's ever thanked their dog before at the Golden Globes, and I admire that Mickey Rourke did. He expressed the immense love and gratitude we feel towards our dogs who give us unconditional love, companionship and loyalty. (Not to mention regular laughs.)

Watch video of Rourke's Golden Globes acceptance speech--complete with director, Darren Aronofsky's affectionate, yet profane, hand gesture...Rourke seems to choke up when he talks about his dogs.

A Pet’s Ten Commandments

1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainments, but I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

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