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Advice for Pet Owners
by Arden Moore - Washington Post

Inexpensive Pet Care

When money is less available, humans aren't the only species that suffer. Financial setbacks often effect the companions we love most -- pets. But animal expert Arden Moore can give advice on how to provide your pet with sufficient care without going into debt. She is an animal behavior consultant, an editor at Catnip magazine, editor-at-large of Fido Friendly magazine and host of the "Oh Behave!" podcast on Moore is the author of 20 books on dog and cat care, including "The Dog Behavior Answer Book," "The Cat Behavior Answer Book," and "Clicker Training." She is also a professional speaker who specializes in topics like networking and writing.

Arden Moore: Paws up to all of you! In these tough times, pets are also feeling the "bite" of this economy. That's why I am happy to participate in this online chat. My goal is to help you save money without sacrificing quality care for your priceless pets. So, unleash those questions, America!


Washington, DC: Dear Ms. Moore,

Big fan of yours and Susan Sims of Fido Friendly. Question: Should I get health insurance for my two young Westies (3 and 4 years old) or should I just self-insure by putting money away each month into a special savings account. Thanks!

Arden Moore: Thanks for the kind words! Susan is grr-eat! Now, here is how you can feel like a "rock star" to your cute Westies. Get pet insurance now before they get any older and develop any pre-existing health conditions. There are several pet insurance companies out there, but I recommend you get one with a straight 80-20 reimbursement policy. The reason? Less confusion on policy exemptions.

My two dogs, Chipper and Cleo (ages 6) have been on pet insurance plans since adopting them at ages 2 and 4, respectively. Two years ago, Chipper developed an anal tumor (fortunately, it was benign) that required very delicate (and pricey) surgery. My policy covered 80 percent of the bill.

Look for payment options that best fit your budget -- monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or yearly. The beauty of pet insurance is that you can go to any veterinarian -- they have not yet created pet "HMOs" or "PPOs" yet. Having your pets insured gives you peace of mind. Chipper and Cleo are sending sloppy kisses and tail wags to your doggy duo!


Takoma Park, Md.: I'm submitting a question early as I'll be in meetings all day. I have two cats and a dog, all rescues. The youngest cat, a 1-year-old Bombay, keeps getting worms and it sometimes spreads to the other cat. Every time this happens requires another costly trip to the vet. How can I prevent this from happening, or at least, decrease how often it occurs? (Both cats are largely indoor cats, although I occasionally let them out in the yard.) Any info would be appreciated - thanks!

Arden Moore: Thank you for giving a good home to these second-chance pets! Bombays can have sensitive digestion systems. I suspect that there are some unwanted parasites populating some where in your yard that your cat is coming into contact with.

Worms can be easily treated at a vet clinic but there is the hassle of coaxing a cat into a carrier, the car ride and the time spent at the clinic. Save yourself some time -- and money -- by providing your cat a safe outdoor enclosure. Do let your cats roam freely where they can pick up these parasites. Also, check with your vet to make sure that all of your pets are up to date on their vaccinations, including heartworm. For years, people have been educated about the importance of those once-a-month pills for dogs to prevent heartworm disease, but guess what? Cats can develop their own type of heartworm disease -- that strange-but-true - impacts their lungs. These monthly preventatives can save you lots of expensive vet care and may also aid in your cat's worm woes. Best to you and your cool critters!


Gainesville, Fla.: Thank you for taking my question! I want to provide my two dogs and two young cats with good nutrition, but the most expensive brands of pet food -- those sold only at pet stores, like Purina Pro Plan -- are getting to be out of my budget. What grocery-store-sold pet food do you recommend for cats and for dogs? Iams? Purina One? Thanks so much!

Arden Moore: There's a direct correlation between what you put in the food bowl and the quality of health (and longevity) in your pets. Like you, I have a "furry fab four" household (two dogs and two cats -- the dogs know the cats are "gods" so there is true harmony).

When it comes to selecting quality food, the most important advice I can give you is to become a label reader. Select foods that list a REAL protein as the first ingredient (such as fish, chicken, beef, turkey) and not "meat by-product" (reminds me of the mystery meat served in my grade school cafeteria years ago) or certainly not wheat or other grains. Dogs are omnivores (meat and veggies) and cats are obligate carnivores (MEAT and more meat). That is how their bodies are designed.

Step 2. Portion control. Don't guess on how much you are feeding your pets. Measure it using a measuring cup. You can s-t-r-e-t-c-h food by measuring properly. Also, knowing exactly how much you feed your furry crew is helpful should they suddenly start gaining or losing weight. Conveying to your vet your pets' food portions is a helpful clue in pinpointing the "why" behind the weight change.

Step 3. Clip coupons. And, contact the pet food manufacturer and inquire about any possible "special sales" or promotions. Pet food is a very competitive business -- just like the phone biz -- and companies don't want to lose a customer to a competitor. Express your loyalty to their brand.

Step 4. Shop in bulk -- to an extent. Store your dry food in plastic bins with resealable lids to prevent the kibble from becoming stale or rancid. Opt for a one-month's supply at max -- because the food can become bad. Look for 2-for-1 sales or buy a 12-case or 24-case of canned food (far less than one at a time).

Step 5. For your dogs, you can actually serve a little less kibble and canned by including steamed veggies (no seasonings, no butter) into the bowl. Perfect place to put your leftover broccoli or carrots! Veggies help a dog feel full without adding calories.

Bottom line: investing in your pets' chow -- by selecting quality food -- may cost you a few pennies extra at the checkout line, but you will be saving plenty of dollars in their health because they won't be having to be treated for poor food-related conditions like pancreatitis or obesity. Paws Up!


Washington, DC: Is mass-market pet food really that bad? I mean the kind of food you buy in a supermarket, like Purina or Friskies. I have three cats and the prices of the expensive stuff seems astronomical. Thanks.

Arden Moore: As I mentioned earlier, it is the ingredients -- not the name of the food -- that is most important. There are reasonably priced foods that contain healthy ingredients. Purina, for example, has a range of cat foods and recently came out with one that is high in protein (dry food) that meets a cat's need for meat.

It may sound contractive, but investing in your cats' food bowls with quality chow will actually save your mega dollars in vet bills. Food is one of the big price ticket items in pet care, but it is a good investment. You can save other money by making homemade cat toys (paper wads, a tent of newspapers, etc.), but please don't skimp on the quality of their food.


Fairfax: Hi. I have a spoiled male border collie who is not great with kids (the dog lives with two adults and is the center of attention etc.); I think he sees small kids as competition for food, toys, etc. (maybe as another dog???). How do I deal with this behavior when my 2-year-old nephew comes to visit? The last time he visited, the dog barked at him and kept acting very nervous around him, as if he were about to snap at him, etc., especially when my nephew entered the kitchen (the food area) or was near a toy of any kind. Thanks.

Arden Moore: This is definitely a behavior that needs to be addressed quickly before your dog truly becomes a bully around the food bowl. As an animal behavior consultant, I go all over the country to help explain why dogs and cats do what they do.

Your "spoiled" dog needs to develop some meal-time manners before your young nephew -- or anyone else -- gets hurt. Step 1. Have your dog sit while you prepare his food.

Step. 2. Teach your dog to Stay when you go to put his food bowl down.

Step 3. Teach your dog the "watch me" command to maintain eye contact with you.

Step. 4. Teach him to Leave it until you give the OK command for him to eat.

You may need to start with him on a leash at mealtime, but he needs to relearn that you -- and other two-leggers -- are in control of all doggy resources -- food, treats, toys, walks, etc. Teaching him doggy manners at meal time is very important.

I offer a lot more meal time tips in great detail in my book, "The Dog Behavior Answer Book." You have a smart breed but one who may test who's top dog in the house. Please look into this book or work with a dog trainer in your area. Good luck!


Manassas, Va.: Our daughter's 9-year-old cat was diagnosed with a nasal sarcoma January 2007. We followed the recommended path of radiation, with the total cost for surgery, MRIs, radiation and care being around 8K. Now the growth is back. She has an appointment with the oncologist tomorrow morning. The specialized pet care cost is very expensive. I'm not sure of my question, basically what choice do we have if we don't go to a specialist? Put the cat down? It is very troubling. Thanks.

Arden Moore: First, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. Cancer is very indiscriminate -- strikes any person, any pet. That is a lot of money. Foremost, you need to consider your cat's quality of life. Like you, I recently incurred a major expense for my senior cat (diagnosis was actue pancreatitis) and I wrestled with the economics of my decision. Fortunately, the meds worked on her. But ask these specialists to be candid with you about the possibility of your cat having recurring bouts with this cancer. That is a lot for a cat to under go. I wish you the best. The important message to give your daughter is that you both love this cat and love means doing what is best to ensure she has a happy, healthy life and not one filled with lots of trips to the vet and treatments.


14-Year-Old Dog with Cataracts: Hello. Thanks so much for doing the chat. My 14-year-old Norweigan Elkhound is in great shape, but she has cataracts. Not in any way to skimp on surgery for her (assuming she is in good enough health to have the surgery) but is it safe and/or less expensive to contact a vet school? Would getting pet insurance now, would she have a pre-existing condition? Thanks!

Arden Moore: At your dog's golden age, a pet insurance policy would be very pricey. I'm editor of Catnip - a national magazine affiliated with Tufts University's vet school. I would encourage you to contact a vet school in your area and ask them to price out the cost of treating cataracts. It may indeed be less than at a veterinary specialist center. Good luck!


Takoma Park, DC: When we first adopted our 3-year-old male cat, he had major litter issues. We were finally able to rectify that by discovering that he only would use clay litter. Since then, we moved to a new house, where he had no litter issues. However, several months later, after no issues, he's suddenly decided to start peeing in the front hall. His litter is cleaned regularly and he doesn't seem to mind using it for solid waste. What can we do to get him to use his box again? Thanks!

Arden Moore: Ah, the mystery of inappropriate elimination. Cats have yet to learn how to talk English, so their actions convey their messages. Not sure of your house's design, but sometimes, cats pee by a window or a front door because there is an outside intruder (say, a stray cat or other critter) that is paying an unwanted visit. Your cat's pee on the floor is a way of claiming, "hey, this is my turf!" to the trespasser. That said, your cat may also have a urinary tract infection, so I urge you to have her thoroughly examined by your vet. Cats are masters at masking pain. Finally, avoid using any bleach product in cleaning the urine because -- guess what -- bleach is a kissing cousin to urine and only serves to attract cats back to the scene of the crime. Use protein-enzymatic cleaners instead such as Zero Odor or Nature's Miracle.


Washington, DC: Are there ANY kinds of bones (leftovers from our meals) that we can safely give our dog (supervised of course!) I have a large ham bone in the refrigerator that I know my dog would love but I've heard that bones can shatter and harm the dog.

Arden Moore: I'm leery of serving real bones to dogs because of the splinter possibility and the parasites that can quickly emerge on a raw bone.

Here is a better alternative: buy a synthetic hollow bone and let it marinate in your ham bone juice and perhaps, stuff it with a little bit of ham (no fat trimmings, please). Your dog will enjoy it and the best part is you can then put the bone in the dishwasher and clean it so it is ready for the next time!


Washington, DC: Is there any science behind the claims that Feliway can calm a nervous or upset cat? I have found it to be expensive and worthless. Thank you. (Mom of three cats)

Arden Moore: The use of Feliway has supporters -- and doubters -- in the veterinary community. The purpose of this product is to emit synthethic feline pheromones designed to ease stress and anxiety. It comes in plug-ins and spray forms. We humans can not detect its odor.

Personally, I have found it to be very effective -- especially in spritzing carriers before taking cats to the vet clinic or on long trips and to ease in the introduction of a new cat into a cat-residing home. Arnold Plotnick, DVM, board-certified internal medicine vet who operates a cat-only clinic in NYC, serves as medical editor at Catnip -- the national monthly magazine for which I serve as editor. He is one of the best experts in feline medicine I know and he advocates the use of Feliway.


DC: Hello, Arden! Recently my dog and cat both seem to have contracted some kind of ear irritation. Is there some kind of OTC meds or home remedy I can try before I have to take them to the vet? Thanks!

Arden Moore: I've authored two herb books and work with some holistic vets, but I do not feel comfortable giving out medical advice -- especially when it involves the ears. Please don't automatically think that OTC meds or home remedies will be less expensive or more effective than prescriptions. My answer: please have your pets treated by your vet. Once the problem has been addressed, you might ask what you can do with at-home remedies that may prevent this from happening again. Good luck!


Northern, Va.: Hello. I have to go out of town soon (just for a long weekend) and leave my big, boisterous 1-year-old lab behind. I do not feel comfortable asking a friend or neighbor to pet sit (either in their house or in mine) because she is very energetic and social and needs lots of walking every day. This seems to leave a kennel as the only option. What do you think is best in this kind of situation; if a kennel, what should I be looking for? Thanks!

Arden Moore: Having known the original Marley (I worked for 9 years at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel with John Grogan), I can emphathize with your high-energy lab. You're right in not expecting a friend or neighbor to pet sit your go-go-go Lab unless this individual is very dog savvy and can be home the whole time. Labs take about two years to fully mature and can be fun but challenging.

My advice: seek out a boarding facility that offers doggy day care. I do that on occasion for my two dogs. They get to play with other dogs during the day and then camp out in their own boarding rooms at night. Visit a few places WITHOUT your lab first and make sure they give you a full tour. Watch the body language of the dogs there -- do they seem happy or stressed? Make sure there is a good ratio of kennel staff to dogs. Once you pick a place, make sure you walk with in with good energy so your lab regards this as a great place -- a vacation spa for dogs -- so he doesn't feel you are abandoning him.


Better cat food: I have two senior kitties and one MEOWS like mad until she gets Fancy Feast -- other canned foods don't satisfy her. The other one nibbles on wet food, but prefers dry food. Problem with the dry food is I think I'm buying stuff that isn't good for him -- especially since I recently read how most cat and dog food is made (gross!). Is there a brand you'd suggest, or particular ingredients to look for, or avoid? When I got my dog's food, I could bring her in to the store, get some samples, and see what she preferred. I'd rather not waste money, but I do need to get food that is healthier - especially since the cat that likes the dry food seems to have dry skin now. My sister's cat had this and when she switched to organic cat food, the condition cleared up. The cat that has the Fancy Feast obsession will eat dry food, but only if someone's not there to give her fresh wet food.

Arden Moore: A cat is led to a bowl by his nose. Most cat food contains more aroma than dog food -- that also explains why dogs dig cat food so much! You can try warming up your cats' food in the microwave (a few seconds) to unleash the aromas and entice them to eat. But at their age, they need and deserve quality food designed for seniors (high protein). The switch needs to be gradual because cats have sensitive digestive systems. Your sister has made a smart choice and you see the results. I would encourage you to talk to your vet and work together on selecting a quality food that best meets your cats' age and health condition.


Clayton, Mo.: What can I do to make my 8-year-old dog more comfortable in his crate? He had one when I first got him six years ago, but he hated it, destroyed anything in it or around it and after six months I got rid of it. Now he has an injury that requires forced rest, but he has not mellowed in his old age and I'm afraid being in the crate could make his injury worse.

Arden Moore: That was a long time ago -- especially in a dog's memory. My advice is to get a crate that is different in design from the original one. Second, attitude is very important. Your feelings of "oh no" or fretting can be read by your dog. You need to incorporate a positive, upbeat attitude and convey that "crate is great" to your dog. Crates should be viewed as doggy condos, canine getaways -- not places of punishment.

Your dog needs to have his movements controlled so he can heal properly and completely. Remind yourself of that goal. Introduce the crate by letting your dog sniff it, toss a high-quality treat inside it for him to go in and retrieve. Initiallly shut him in for 30 seconds -- praise him and let him out. The crate needs to be where you are -- bedroom because he is a pack animal.


Olney: I have three very destructive cats. They have completely shredded three chairs and my carpets. I have tried sprays, tape, etc. I have put out scratching posts with catnip on them but they just ignore them. These cats are 8 years old and cannot be de-clawed. Any suggestions?

Arden Moore: Time for SOS (save our sofa) help! Not all scratching posts are created equal. Your cats need and deserve sturdy ones that contain up-and-down post, slanted post and horizontal post (cats claw in all these ways). Also, organic catnip (kept fresh in sealable bags) is much more beckoning than the cheap, stale stuff. Finally, check with your vet about applying caps on their nails. Do not declaw -- the procedure does more than remove the nails.


Philadelphia, Pa.: I see you wrote about clicker training dogs. I look forward to reading this book. What are the advantages of the clicker over just vocal commands?

Arden Moore: Clicker commands are quicker -- sometimes, we can stumble over words or say words that sound like other words and create canine confusion. I'm a fan of using voice, hand and clicker cues for my dogs so they can be responsive in any situation. Karen Pryor is the queen of clicker training and I learned from the best!


nwdc -- : I could really use your advice...I now have three dogs (large, medium and small) on my own after my husband and I split apart. My day is long and I cannot afford a walker/sitter. Two of them now urinate in the house while I'm away from 9:30 am until 6:30 pm five days a week. I videotaped for week to catch the culprits. I'm losing my mind because of course it is ruining the floor (laminate and hardwood)/carpet/furniture. Of course they miss the company and walks my husband used to give them. He doesn't want one or any of them. I cry over the thought of giving one or more of them to a shelter, etc. The idea of one of them being put down in a shelter hurts so deeply. What course of action should I try? I can't train them if I don't catch them in the act. It never happens when I'm at home. Please, any suggestions would be very much appreciated. :(

Arden Moore: That is a long time for a dog to try to hold a bladder from splattering. I would strongly recommend you create a safe outdoor access for your dogs - a doggy door, enclosure. This would eliminate the bathroom accidents. It is also far less expensive than replacing your flooring. Also see if there is a responsible neighbor (savvy on dogs) -- say a senior or a mature teen -- who can come in once or twice a day to let your dogs out. Consider bartering a service for them to avoid spending money.


Catonsville, Md.: Hi there! My question involves my (almost) 3-year-old male cat. He is an indoor cat, and faithfully uses his litter box, but likes to clean his paws afterwards by washing them in the water bowl. This makes for damp paws that then leave clay prints all over the hardwood floors. Any solutions?

Arden Moore: Sounds like you have a feline racoon in your house! Actually, it is a myth that cats hate water. Some, like Turkish Vans, revel in making a splash. Can you place your water bowl on a large absorbent surface like a wide/long rug so the paws can be drid before they hit the hardwood?


Wheaton, Md.: Ciao Arden. We have a cat, about 8 years old, who throws up his food on a regular basis. We don't feed him much at a time, since we initially thought he was gorging on an empty stomach. He gets dry kibble food (we've tried many different brands), but we have not found anything that he doesn't end up bringing back up. Now, he doesn't always bring the food back up, it only happens about once or twice a week, but usually if he does bring up some food, he does it again the next day. He is a short hair cat, and we do not notice hair balls of any sort in what he brings up. Mostly it is just the solid pieces of kibble with some stomach juices. He is active so we don't think he not getting enough to eat. In fact, he is gaining a bit of weight in the last year or so. My wife has taken him to the vet a number of times, but so far no luck. Any ideas? Thanks.

Arden Moore: Consider taking your cat to another vet for a second opinion -- that is not normal or healthy for a cat to vomit so much. Also, consider talking with a vet nutritionist about picking a diet that may be better digested. You can go to and consult with a veterinary nutritionist. I suspect your cat may fare better with quality canned food. Also hairball medicine should be applied on the nose for a cat to lick off and ingest. Good luck! Ciao for now!


Clifton, Va.: Spoiled BC: The BC sees your nephew as a new dog competing for food and attention. Actually he sees the nephew as a new puppy. I would have the nephew assist in the feeding with adult supervision. Have the nephew scoop the kibble into the dog's bowl and place it down for the dog. The BC needs to realize this human is above it in the pack order. Playtime can also be used to emphasize this. Have your nephew throw the toy to the BC. BC retrieves, and have nephew if he has the verbal skills give the command to drop the toy and have nephew pick it up and play. Remember most BCs are the closest thing to their ancestor the wolf in dogdom.

Arden Moore: That's good advice -- but the nephew is very young. I would be careful and have the nephew present but take cautions so that the dog does not bite him.

Arden Moore: Wow -- time sure flies when you're talking pets! Thank you for writing me. I can tell you all truly adore your dogs and cats. Remember, pets give us so much each and every day -- they are truly a treasure to all of us! Paws Up! Arden

Vets: Pet Owners are Spending Less in Preventative Care
By ANNE JUNGEN - The LaCrosse Tribune

The recession has put a leash on pet owners’ willingness to splurge on their animal’s preventative care but has had less effect on spending for emergency or necessary treatment, area veterinarians report.

“Sometimes I’ve been surprised, because of the economy, that people have put pets high up there and have done the expensive surgery, mediation or diagnostic tests,” said veterinarian Elizabeth Havlik of Sand Lake Veterinary Clinic in Onalaska. “Sometimes they just say, ‘Do what you have to do, because they’re an important part of our family.’”
Dr. Kimberly Kratt with Central Animal Hospital in Onalaska meets Hanna, a 6-month-old Shih-Tzu, during a new puppy exam Wednesday. PETER THOMSON photo

But fewer pet owners are opting for the $47 annual wellness exam and flea and tick prevention, said Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Assoc-iation President Douglas Kratt, a veterinarian at Central Animal Hospital in Onalaska.

If the pet has a serious but not life-threatening condition, some owners have requested a medication or less expensive route before opting for surgery, Havlik said.

“I’ve seen more cases of them (pet owners) doing less and not doing the full recommended treatment,” said veterinarian Lehua Maloney with Winona Veterinary Hospital in Winona, Minn.

Prevention treatment also is down at the Sand Lake clinic, but routine vaccinations — at about $90 annually — are steady because pet owners can anticipate the cost, Havlik said.

Maloney advised pet owners to continue preventative care to avoid more costly health problems in the future.

Ask the Vet's Pets: New Dog Should Sleep in his own Bed
By Dr. Lee Pickett - The Reading Eagle

Berks County, PA - Dear Daisy Dog: Where do you sleep? The dog I just adopted, Cody, wants to sleep on my bed. The books I read discourage this practice, but most of my friends let their dogs sleep with them. What's your advice?

Daisy Responds: I sleep on Mom's bed - as does Christopher Cat - but I didn't for many months after my adoption at age 5.

That's because Mom wanted to do two things before she gave me bed privileges: evaluate my temperament to ensure I'd be a good sleeping companion and teach me my place in the family.

Good canine sleeping companions have these characteristics: they are house trained and don't leak urine while they doze; they sleep quietly, without hogging the bed; and they don't get aggressive when they're startled by a noise or awakened by a child rushing up to the bed - or when they're asked to hop off.

Not only do you need to be sure Cody has these characteristics before you offer bed privileges, but you should keep him off the bed initially so he doesn't form an exalted impression of his place in the family. We dogs know instinctively that the leader of the pack sleeps in the best bed, and Cody needs to understand that you are the leader before he shares your bed.

If you decide after several months that Cody would make a good sleeping companion, start gradually.

If Cody is small or has orthopedic problems, install pet steps or a ramp next to the bed so he won't injure himself jumping on and off.

If you're like my people - and the 47 percent of Americans who share their beds with their dogs - you'll find many benefits to sleeping with Cody. For example, one study showed that when a person and a dog sleep together, their brain waves synchronize, which means you may sleep more soundly with Cody on your bed.

Pleasant dreams!


Dear Christopher Cat: My cat has bright red blood in her stool. She vomits, and she's lost weight. What's causing these problems?

Christopher Responds: Your cat's clinical signs may result from a disease of her gastrointestinal tract - or nearly any other organ system. To find out, make an appointment with her veterinarian.

She may have something as simple as intestinal parasites, so take along a fresh fecal sample for testing.

If she's a senior cat like me, her bloody stool, vomiting and weight loss may be due to an overactive thyroid gland. A simple blood test can help your veterinarian diagnose hyperthyroidism, which is easily treated.

So don't be afraid to visit your veterinarian and learn what's causing her problems. Once the cause is determined, effective treatment can begin.

•Ask the vet's pets appears Wednesday. The animal authors of the column live with veterinarian Lee Pickett, V.M.D. Write to them at P.O. Box 302, Bernville, PA 19506-0302, or visit

What is a Feral Cat?
by Will Braden - Seattle Pet Rescue Examiner

Feral Care, a local organization dedicated to helping feral cats, defines them as cats who have "become disconnected from humans." They are much less likely to be spayed or neutered, and therefore contribute to a problematic cycle of reproduction in feral colonies.Feral Care, located just outside Seattle, has created a sanctuary for feral cats, where they spay and neuter cats that have been rescued.

In some instances, cats have been sufficiently socialized to the point of accepting contact, but many just use the sanctuary as a home. Since they are all fixed upon arrival, they won't contribute to more feral colonies. Most importantly, they are protected from the many dangers that strays face on a daily basis.

For too long, the attitude towards feral cat colonies has simply been eradication, a process as ineffective as it is inhumane. The truth is, as Feral Care's website points out , "eradication has never been an effective way to control any animal population. When animals are removed from a location, new animals move in to take advantage of the food source. This is called the vacuum effect"Feral Care is in need of volunteers and donations to help continue their unique cause. More information (along with some great photos!), can be found at

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Family Dog Saves Girl from Her Encounter with Coyote
By Richard Salit - Providence Journal Staff Writer

When her 7-year-old daughter came running into the backyard screaming “A doggie was trying to drag me into the woods!” Denise Allard knew it was no dog.

The sun was quickly setting and, as she rushed her crying daughter inside and rolled up the girl’s sleeve to check for bite marks, Allard had just one animal in mind: coyote.

Allard and her neighbors on Prudence Island have seen plenty of them this year. Once, she heard eerie yelps and cries while a pack attacked prey. Then there was the time a coyote just stared at her from her neighbor’s backyard, lying on a mound and not running away until her neighbor grabbed a rifle and popped off an errant shot.

This time, Allard said, the coyote might have made off with her daughter, Lauren, if it weren’t for Kelly, the family’s yellow Labrador, which fought off the coyote. Lauren was unharmed and Kelly also appears to have escaped largely unscathed.

Still, the Dec. 30 incident marked the first reported coyote attack on a human in Rhode Island since the animals first arrived here nearly 50 years ago, according to Charles Brown, principal wildlife biologist for the state Department of Environmental Management.

However, he cautioned that no adults witnessed the incident, making it hard to know exactly what happened or to even know for certain that it was a coyote.

“It’s very disturbing, I know, to the mother and the girl. I’d like to be able to continue to say — not just to make my life easier — that we’ve never had [an attack],” he said. “Up until now, I’ve always said, ‘Just be careful. It’s not likely to happen.’ ”

While “it’s always a possibility,” Brown said, “I don’t necessarily think it’s a trend.”

But Allard said that she and her neighbors have definitely noticed some disturbing trends on their peaceful island in the middle of Narragansett Bay. Cats have disappeared. Foxes, once common, are a rare sight. Raccoons no longer forage through garbage. And deer, which Allard hunts with a crossbow, are vanishing, too.

“We went from having a lot of deer to no deer,” said Allard, recounting how a hunter the other day came upon the fresh carcass of a fawn in a stream not far from her house. “He said it was a bloodbath.”

Meanwhile, she and her hunting buddies have seen lots of coyote tracks at both ends of the long, narrow island, as well as impressions in the dirt indicating places where the coyotes rest in the sun.

“I know they are at the south end and I know they are at the north end,” said Allard, who has lived on the island for 10 years.

It was 4:15 on Dec. 30 and darkness was falling fast. “I heard the dog barking frantically and Lauren screaming,” Allard said.

Her daughter had gone across a narrow street behind her house to a wall that borders state-owned woods. Now, she was running home with Kelly and crying.

The girl said that a dog by the wall had suddenly lunged at her and grabbed her arm in its mouth. The animal was tugging on her until Kelly jumped into the fray. Lauren thought Kelly had bitten the other animal and that Kelly might have been bitten, too. [Kelly weighs about 80 pounds. Coyotes range from about 20 to 30 pounds.]

“I was shaking. She was shaking,” Allard said. “It was shock. I was numb.”

Once inside, Allard could find no bite marks on Lauren’s arm. And their dog, up to date on its vaccinations, appeared to have sustained only a slight mark under the chin.

Volunteer firefighters from the island tended to Lauren, but Allard declined having Portsmouth paramedics visit by boat. She said she consulted with Lauren’s physician.

Allard believes the coyote wasn’t rabid and was simply acting in the brazen fashion she has already witnessed on the island. Brown, the state wildlife biologist, said rabies has not tended to be a problem among coyotes in Rhode Island, whose populations have risen dramatically since first arriving here in the 1960s.

“These animals aren’t supposed to be coming as close as they are. I haven’t let Lauren out since the incident,” Allard said. “It’s sad. She should be able to go out in the backyard. Attacks only take a few seconds. These are sneaky animals. They stalk.”

Allard would like to see the DEM react to what is happening on Prudence Island. Brown said he may take up her request that he visit for a day to look around and talk to residents. But that alone isn’t what Allard hoping for. Killing coyotes is, she said.

One resident, she said, shot two coyotes enticed by the turkeys he raises.

That’s perfectly legal, said Brown.

“Residents are within their rights to protect themselves,” he said. For coyotes, “There’s no closed season.”

Allard is more interested in authorizing a few select hunters with extensive knowledge of the island to shoot coyotes.

“I believe in the ecosystem and how it works,” she said, “but I believe we have a problem out here on the island.”

A Gentle, Loving Mush Pot ~ That's Rowdy!
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Every Tuesday, in between working and also caring for her elderly father who lives many miles away, Terre and her therapy pal, Rowdy, visit two assisted living/ nursing homes in Ritzville, WA.

As Terre says:

Rowdy, is a red tri Aussie with golden eyes and battery operated stub tail. He was given to me for my birthday 3 years ago by my best friend and we have been inseparable ever since. Rowdy is just the opposite of his name. He is a gentle, loving, mush pot who loves people and other dogs alike.

Rowdy and Terre enrolled in a Delta Society Pet Partners training course and the day of the test was on his first birthday. Rowdy passed with flying colors as did Terre!

What a wonderful birthday present for Rowdy to become a registered Pet Partner.
Apparently Rowdy was quite fearful as a puppy and very shy. But Terre feels the Delta Society Pet Partners Program has helped him become more outgoing and sociable.

I have always loved training my dogs, said Terre. And, when I heard about Delta Society's Pet Partners Program, I knew I wanted to give it a try - mainly to help my lil guy get out of his shyness. BUT also because he could do it without strain to his own body. You see, Rowdy has hip dysplasia.

He is doing very well now but the fast push offs of herding and agility were not good for him. I believe there is a reason for everything, and Rowdy was sent to me to help bring joy and happiness to our senior citizens.

We visit the local rest homes usually scheduled once a week with a fellow Pet Partners team. He wears a green vest with the Delta Society patch on it, and a bandana. The residents love him and marvel at his eyes. So many of them ask his breed and then tell us stories of their childhood and the herding dogs of their family.

I cannot help but get a little teary when a resident reaches out to him from their wheelchair or bed, and he goes to them unafraid, butt wiggling, eyes bright, and smiling.

Rowdy brings joy and wonderment to them, a little break from the everyday doldrums. We visit the Rose Garden Estates and Life Care Center every week.
Both are assisted living/nursing homes with varying levels of care for their residents.

There is one special lady at Life Care Center whom Rowdy is happy to see. He knew her after one visit and is always welcoming to her especially. Brings tears to my eyes to watch him do this, and her little face lights up each time we all come in.

I'm so happy that this blog is happening and more people will learn about Delta Society.

Terre, we're so happy and thankful that you and Rowdy are helping improve the lives of seniors living in nursing homes. Your visits sound like the highlight of the week for many of the residents.

Health & Wellness ~ People & Pets,

Pet Scoop: Max is the Most Again as Top Cat, Dog Name
By Cindy Wolff - Memphis Commercial Appeal

Max is the No. 1 name for cats and dogs for the sixth straight year, according to Veterinary Pet Insurance, which analyzed the data of 466,000 pets.

Other top cat names include Chloe, Tigger, Tiger, Lucy, Smokey, Oliver, Bella, Shadow and Charlie.

Other top dog names include Bailey, Bella, Molly, Lucy, Buddy, Maggie, Daisy, Sophie and Chloe.

As for unusual names for cats, there's Edward Scissorpaws, Sir Lix-A-Lot and Optimus Prrrrime.

For dogs, unusual names include Rush Limbark, Sirius Lee Handsome, Rafikikadiki and Admiral Toot.

Purrrfect ideas

Cat lovers contacted me after I wrote in my New Year's resolutions to write more cat stories. Did you notice I started with cat names in the previous segment? I'm trying.

Here are some story ideas I'll be writing about in the future. I'm open for more suggestions.

Veterinarian Dr. Angie Zinkus said she spends a lot of time teaching cat owners that cats have special needs that are different from those of dogs. But one disease they have in common is heartworms. Cat owners don't realize that their pets can get heartworms, too, and should be on preventive medicine. I'll write more about that and other cat ailments soon.

Several readers said I should write about cats available for adoption all around the county and the efforts that groups make to find homes for and save these animals.

Other ideas: Jane Dalton wanted to know about the difference in the cat breeds in personality? Are some breeds more friendly?

Also, what are expert opinions about allowing cats to roam in backyards vs. never letting them out among neighborhood predators?

What are the latest opinions about declawing among veterinarians and cat owners?

Are cats from shelters more prone to being afraid and distrustful of humans? Do shelter workers see this often? Are some pets returned to the shelters?

Finally, Dena Sonnemann would like a story about how cats secretly love water? How they like to paw in it and play in it. Look for stories about these topics in the upcoming months. Send me other suggestions.


All animals are spayed/neutered and current on vaccinations.

Dogs/puppies: Good Dog Rescue, 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Hollywood Feed, 1001 N. Germantown Pkwy.; and 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Petco, 3484 Poplar. $125. 276-7751.

Dogs: Mid-South Greyhound Adoption, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturday, Petco, 1250 N. Germantown Pkwy. and 3468 Poplar. $250. or (870) 735-7317.

Contact Cindy Wolff, owner of three spoiled dogs, by e-mail at, or mail sent to The Commercial Appeal, 495 Union, Memphis, TN 38103 or call 529-5220. Visit her blog at

True Tails: My Dog Ate Xylitol!
by PetSugar

Nosy noses don't always know what's safe and, while even most of my nondog owning pals know the risks of chocolate, not everyone realizes the dangers of chewing gum. While this can lodge in a pet's throat (especially if ingested paper, packaging and all), those sugar-free products are pure poison to pets.

The not-so-sweet alternative known as xylitol can cause liver failure and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can lead to depression, loss of coordination, and even seizures in your furry friends. TeamSugar member hanako66 shared a scary story of what happened when she fell asleep on the couch and her pups were able to knock down her purse and spill the contents. Hear the tale from her mouth when you read more.

Luckily, I had read about the dangers of sugar substitutes for dogs so when I noticed a chewed up, empty package of gum, I was concerned. I quickly googled "my dog ate gum" and instantly found enough info to warrant a call to the emergency vet. They asked if the gum had xylitol in the ingredients, which it did. I rushed Bailey and Jager to the vet and they induced vomiting.

Turns out that only Bailey had ingested gum. They did blood work, which showed that she was stable enough to go home with me, but I needed to feed her constantly the next day to make sure that her blood sugar level stayed high. Please let PetSugar readers know about the dangers of xylitol so that they can react as quickly as I did – had I known quite how serious it was before, I would never have purchased the gum in the first place.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any products containing this substance (or any other risky or questionable substances), please contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435.

Aquascaping With Live Rock - Six Ways to Make Better Use of Live Rock in a Saltwater Aquarium
By Darin Sewell

Aquascaping with live rock in any saltwater aquarium is a way to improve the look of your tank and provide a foundation for a successful marine aquarium. However many people get nervous and over think the process of stacking their live rock and wonder if there is a right way to do it.

Tips To Make Your Live Rock Look and Function At Its Best

Copy Nature- Take some time to look at books and pictures on the internet that show the wild reef. Take note how the reef looks in those pictures and try to replicate it in your reef tank or saltwater fish tank..

Hide Equipment- When decorating with live rock you can stack pieces to hide things like heaters, pumps and power heads and other unsightly pieces of aquarium equipment. Just make sure they do not impede the function of the equipment they are hiding.

Stack Securely- Do not stack your rock work so it is unstable or wobbly. Rock work like this will fall down and could damage your tank, tank equipment or even kill animals in your aquarium. If you need to secure your rocks use some underwater epoxy to glue the rocks together

Make Caves- Make sure you place your live rock to make some quiet areas like caves and other hidden areas that the fish can retreat to to feel safe. This will help reduce stress in your fish and also give your saltwater tank a more realistic look to your tank.

Leave Enough Room- Do not stack so much live rock in your saltwater aquarium that there is little room left for fish and corals. Use common sense and make sure to leave enough room to place corals and account for their growth over time, the same holds true for swimming space for fish.

Mix It Up- Try buying a few different types of rock for your saltwater tank. This will help you get more creatures and useful bacteria into your system. And in any reef tank diversity is a great thing to have.

Do you want a Stunning Saltwater Aquarium that is thriving and growing? Then check out our saltwater aquarium guide that will help you regardless of your experience in the hobby. You can learn more about improving your marine aquarium at

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Horse Facts - How Horses Use These 5 Senses
By Lisa Blackstone

In your efforts to become a good horseman, you need to know certain horse facts that will hasten your progress. Horses have the same senses we do, hearing, smell, taste, sight and touch. But, they operate differently than our own. Because the information they get from their senses dictate how horses interact with their environment, it is important to take the time to understand how they work and what to expect from our horses. Let us explore their senses and how they may differ from our own.

A horse can hear keener than we do and since he can move his ears about 180 degrees around, he can better isolate where a sound is coming from. That way, he will know which direction to run in, escaping from whatever he perceives endangers him! For us riders, horses can hear us speak quite well. This horse fact is important. We know we can speak quietly and they will hear us just fine. Horses are conducive to learning voice commands and they are always best received when delivered in a calm, soothing way.

Their sense of smell is also more acute than ours, but not as good as dogs. They can detect smells that we are oblivious to. This is an important horse fact. If you are out riding and your horse stops and acts alarmed even though you cannot see anything, he may be smelling another animal lurking nearby that you are unaware of. Pay attention to his behavior and trust him! Almost always, if you stop, watch and listen, you will eventually see what your horse has been smelling all along.

Like us, horses enjoy a variety of tastes including sweet and salty foods. Molasses and a good salt block will satisfy a horse! But, that is not enough to keep him healthy. It is up to us to provide healthy feed and roughage, all of which will be covered in another article. They can develop a distinct preference for sweets which is not good for them! Giving them sweet treats can create a bad habit of nipping, looking for that treat in your hand or in your pocket. We are all guilty of spoiling those we love, including our equine friends. But, I would encourage you not to do too much of this.

Horses have very sensitive skin and can feel a single fly light on their hair anywhere on their body! That makes it easier for us to train them because they are receptive to the side of our legs on their bellies and the feel of our hands through the reins attached to the bit in his mouth. In fact, sometimes, we must de-sensitize the horse so he does not over react to us as riders. That is why slight pressure from a rider is all that is usually needed to signal a command to a horse, whether that be legs or hands.

Probably the most important horse fact to understand regarding senses is about their sight. They have monocular vision, meaning they see different things out of each eye and only occasionally use binocular vision like we do, seeing the same thing out of both eyes. Their eyes are set out on the sides of their heads which allows them terrific peripheral vision. They have two blind spots, however: directly in front of their forehead and directly behind them. You will often see horses moving their head from side to side to increase their field of vision. They are going from monocular to binocular use of their eyes. Their color detection is poor and they do not have good depth perception.

That is why a mud puddle in a tire track could appear to be a bottomless pit to them! They can also visually detect motion better than us. You will notice that on a windy day, horses seem to shy and jump around more. Part of it may be the wind on their skin but also, they see things moving that we do not notice. They are looking for scary things to run from and seem to be ready at any second to do just that! So, recognize that for what it is next time you are riding on a windy day and your horse is acting flighty!

In conclusion, once you understand these horse facts, how horses perceive the world through sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste, you will be better able to predict their behavior. You will also better understand your horse and develop a true compassion for him as your friend and companion.

For more information on horse facts, go to or

Lisa B. Blackstone has been involved in the Arabian horse business all of her life. She operated a family owned Arabian horse breeding and training stable called Onyx Arabians for many years. She went back to law school in the early-90s and is now a practicing attorney in the Atlanta, Georgia area. She is an original founder of the Equine Section of the Georgia Bar.

Recently, Lisa launched two websites designed to teach the novice rider about horses and horsemanship. You can visit them at and She continues to ride and to judge Arabian horse shows in the United States and abroad.

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