Take Your Cat to 'Kittengarten'

Resolved: to Educate Clients About Diet
DVM NEWSMAGAZINE - Veterinary News

National Report -- Losing weight was the second most popular New Year's resolution last year, behind getting out of debt, according to a Franklin Covey poll. So this might be an ideal time of year to talk to pet owners about pursuing a healthier lifestyle for their companions, nutritionists say.
An October 2008 DVM News Poll indicated that veterinarians rank about 37 percent of their patient population as obese. A 2006 Pfizer study showed similar results, adding that only about 17 percent of pet owners agreed with their veterinarian's assessments.

Veterinarians are well aware of the health risks to obese cats - diabetes mellitus, joint diseases, non-allergic skin conditions and early death - and to obese dogs - osteoarthritis, cardiac disease, respiratory conditions, dermatological problems, compromised immune function and intervertebral disk rupture.

It might not take much for Fifi or Fido to tip the scales. Just one ounce of cheddar cheese for a 20-pound dog is the human equivalent of one-and-a-half hamburgers. The same thing fed to a 10-pound cat is the human equivalent of three-and-half hamburgers, according to the animal-snack translator at PetFit.com.

So what can a veterinarian do to help their patients get through the holiday season without joining the ranks of obese pets or becoming even more unhealthy? How can a well-meaning veterinarian talk to the overweight owner of an obese pet? Here are some tips:

Already overindulged
Additional foods beyond regular pet foods, like chocolate and grapes, can have adverse effects on some pets, and large amounts of high-fat table foods, common around the holidays, can lead to gastroenteritis and pancreatitis, says Dr. Lisa Freeman, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVM and a professor of nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Talk to pet owners about keeping non-pet foods to a minimum, or substituting human-food "treats" with items like carrots or green beans, she says. Counteract any holiday indulgences or under-the-table sneak treats by feeding pets a little less of their regular food that day. Also, many veterinarians suggest offering treats of affection instead of food to satisfy a "beggar."

For pets already desperate for a New Year's Resolution to drop a few pounds, suggest that owners keep a "food diary," paying close attention to what, when and how much is fed to their pet, says Dr. Sarah Abood, DVM, PhD, a pet nutrition specialist with Michigan State University.

Food should be served in 8-ounce portions, and snack in amounts no bigger than a thumbnail, she adds. Another tip to cut back on pet snacking is to advise owners that all treats should be fed from the food bowl, not a human hand. Also, try placing food bowls at the top or bottom of a staircase so the pet has to exercise a little just to get to their food, Abood says.

Communicating the problem
Talking to pet owners, especially those who don't maintain a healthy weight for themselves, can be a difficult task, Freeman says.

"The main thing is to address it," she says. "Don't avoid the subject. Provide the owner with accurate reasons why it's a health risk for the pet."

Get a thorough diet history of the patient to find out where its individual problems are, whether it's too many treats, the wrong type of food or too many hands in the household offering snacks, Freeman suggests. Offer specific recommendations on food brands, feeding amounts and frequencies and monitor the pet's progress.

For pet owners who simply don't agree that their pet is overweight, Freeman suggests using diagrams or photos of what an optimal weight would look like to illustrate the difference between the ideal and reality.

Increase compliance
Don't be above scare tactics. Sometimes, an incentive must be given to the pet owner to help them understand that their pet is obese and there can be adverse consequences, Freeman says. Outline all the consequences and provide specific instructions to owners that are easy to follow on how to improve their pet's health.

Discuss the incentives the owner offers their pet and negotiate specific types and numbers of treats allowed that will fit into the overall diet plan.

Shelters Deal with Influx of Christmas-Gift Pets
By Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer - The Virginian-Pilot


Cocoa, a 4-month-old black pit bull puppy, was purchased from a pet store a few weeks before Christmas by what was to be her new family.

A month later, she was in a cage at a Virginia Beach shelter with a broken leg, waiting to be taken to another new home. Too much rough play with the family's two other dogs, the shelter staff was told. Cocoa just wasn't going to work out.

It's that time of year again. After Easter, animal shelters see an influx of chicks and bunnies. In the weeks after Christmas, shelters across the nation brace for a slew of animals like Cocoa: cute puppies and kittens picked up for the holiday season.

Soon enough, they reveal themselves as cute puppies and kittens that also pee on the floor, rip up the couch or don't get along with the other residents in the house.

"Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, so when you think about that, it's not a leap to think that a lot of these purchases end badly as well," said Sharon Adams, executive director of the Virginia Beach Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

This year, the post-Christmas influx is coupled with a bad economy that has led people to give up on pets that have been in their families for years because they've lost their homes or can no longer pay for the animal's expenses. It's not just companion animals - as the price of hay and feed goes up, owners of horses and ponies are giving up their animals to rescue organizations.

"People are turning in everything, from guinea pigs to horses," said Jaqueline Van Horn, director of Web of Life Animal Outreach, an animal rescue organization in Chesapeake. She said her shelter took in an Arabian horse last week.

"The economic crunch has trickled down to the animals," she said.

At the Norfolk SPCA, shelter manager Suzanne Swims said staff won't allow animals to be adopted as gifts for other people. The Virginia Beach shelter used to have a rule against adopting out animals two days before Christmas, Adams said, although it's been relaxed because of research that's shown pets adopted from shelters around Christmas aren't as likely to be returned as those bought from pet stores.

Adams said families have to understand what they're getting into - their new puppy is not an accessory, and no, they can't necessarily get it in black.

"This is not merchandise," she said. "This is adding a companion to your family."

Alicia Wittmeyer, (757) 222-5216, alicia.wittmeyer@pilotonline.com

Sitting Pretty, Off the Leash
By Joel Brown - The Boston Globe

Artists answer the call for portraits of pets that capture quirks and charm

Ari is a Chihuahua with an outsized personality, which you can learn from Jane O'Hara's painting "Ari's Night."

"He's this very small dog, but he doesn't know it," said Denise Lindquist of Raynham. "The painting shows this big shadow of him. I think he really thinks he's that size. . . . She portrayed a very small Chihuahua in a very big way, the way he sees himself."

The shadow wasn't in any of the pictures Lindquist provided to the artist when commissioning the portrait. "She came up with that. I think it was brilliant," Lindquist said. "An artist's interpretation is more able to capture the character of a dog than a photograph would."

Portraits of cats and dogs have long been a staple of the pet industry, but now hipper, more affluent pet owners are commissioning more adventurous, less-kitschy portraits that can even find a home on gallery walls.

"I enjoy trying to catch their personalities or a certain sense of dignity I believe animals have into their portraits," said O'Hara, who sells prints at www.janeohara.com and donates part of her proceeds to PETA. "It's quite a thing these days. Pets are big business."

"Ari's Night" and some of O'Hara's other paintings are part of "Best In Show: Artists and Their Dogs" at Brickbottom Gallery. Brickbottom artist David Sholl, who organized "Best in Show," says he doesn't know if there's a trend, but he understands well the appeal of dog-centric art: "The tone is very sort of upbeat. Most people express joy at having their dogs, and I think for the most part it's eye candy, it's delightful stuff. . . . Most people express a joyfulness about their dogs."

O'Hara started out painting portraits of people, but she tired of "the extra layer of trying to figure out how this person wanted to be seen or how they see themselves." She's been painting animals for six or seven years, while splitting her time between Boston and Rhode Island.

"Even with my animal paintings I will do portraits in a more traditional manner if that's what people would like," she said, "but what I prefer to do is get to know the animal as well as I can and then put it in a setting that I think speaks to its personality . . . and if people like it, they can buy it. I like the freedom that comes with that."

With young couples postponing having children - especially in the current economic environment - their pets get even more of their attention and disposable income than ever. "People are devoting more attention, spending more money, getting them better gifts," said Brian Henderson, editor of DogBoston webzine (www.care.dogboston.com).

Anastasia Robbins of Newton started out last year painting pet portraits for friends and family, and then found herself working to finish a handful of commissions for Christmas, with more in the pipeline. She charges from $80 to $425 through her website, www.snoringboris.com, named for her dog. "People that I've gotten so far are younger, mostly mid-20s to mid-30s, doing them as Christmas gifts or birthday gifts," Robbins said. "The people coming to me are finding that I can give them a twist on a sort of urban scale that isn't hokey - it's fun, it's decorative. Mostly it's people who don't really have kids yet. People who are attached to their pets in the way they would attach to children were they to have them."

Of course, nearly every pet owner now has gigabytes of hard-drive space devoted to digital snapshots of their beloved collie or cockatoo, just like every parent has a zillion baby pictures. "I think having [a painting] done really slows down the capture process and lets you stick something on the wall that you can actually remember, instead of breezing through a couple of digital camera photos," Henderson said.

Newburyport artist Helen Pinsky, who paints as Olivia Clove, said she has painted perhaps 30 dogs in the past two years, more than half of them commissions. "I told a woman what I was doing and she said, 'Oh, I have to show you a picture of my dog,' and she pulls out her phone. I find out later that she has three children, but there are no pictures of them on the phone."

Sexy Fundraising for Homeless Pets
by Sharon Seltzer, Pet Rescue Examiner

Animal rescue groups are getting creative when it comes to fundraising in this challenging economic climate. Costs are rising as non-profit shelters take-in more cats and dogs because people cannot afford to keep them. And at the same time, donations are down dramatically due to unemployment and home foreclosures.

In order to bring in the necessary money to continue their work, some animal welfare organizations are resorting to – SEX.

Hooters for Neuters
At a recent Pet Expo in Las Vegas, NV the Heaven Can Wait Sanctuary recruited the help from the animal loving Hooter’s girls to bring in fundraising dollars. The young women drew a lot of attention to the organization’s booth during the two day event, which raised money for a low-cost, high volume spay/neuter program. Heaven Can Wait Sanctuary spay/neuters 8,000 cats and dogs every year.

Burlesque Dancers help Pit bulls
In Savannah, GA Deirdre Franklin – her stage name is Little Darling – has created a calendar with her fellow burlesque dancers to raise money for Pitbull dogs. Her “Pinups for Pitbulls” calendar raised more than $10,000 to support rescued Pitbull terriers. The calendar featured the beautiful dancers with their own dogs and a heartwarming story about their beloved pets. Franklin’s Pitbull dog, Carla Lou was left for dead in a Texas basement. Franklin calls her, “An angel.”

WeHo Firemen
The hunky firemen of West Hollywood, CA Fire Station #8 have a new steamy and sexy calendar to raise money for orphaned pets. The firemen posed with their dogs to help Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). The organization rescues homeless pets from public animal shelters when they are put on the euthanasia list.

Get Off On the Right Foot (or Paw) in 2009

DAYTON, Ohio -- It’s a new year and a new time to get involved in your pet’s life. Did you slack off last year and get lazy? Well, guess who suffers?

OK, get off that couch and get busy. The American Kennel Club offers easy tips on how to get off on the right foot in 2009 for you and your pet.

Follow a healthy diet. Cut back on the calories, and the pounds will depart for you and the dog. Set regular meal times, cut back on meal portions and count the calories.

Get more exercise. Use the backyard. Use your neighborhood street. Get a routine that includes walks on different surfaces such as sand or dirt as well as up and down hills to build leg muscles. If you have a breed with a purpose -- herding, high-energy, scent hound -- make it a point to use that to your advantage. Go out into the woods or start an agility course.

Help others by volunteering. If your dog is friendly, calm and trained, volunteer at a hospital or nursing home. How about letting school children read to your dog? Take an obedience course and get an AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate.

Devote more time to family. And that includes four-legged members. Get the family involved in a day trip to a dog park. Take a hike in the woods.

Get organized. Make sure the whole family helps with pet chores. Each person can help feed, walk or groom. Rotate the tasks so no one gets stuck on pooper scooper duty every day.

Additional activities you can do with your dog can be found at www.akc.org.

Doggie heroes

If you need inspiration for what your pet could be, check out “Dog Heroes: A Story Poster Book With Tales of Dramatic Rescues, Courageous Journeys and True Blue Friendships” by Karl Meyer. The book has 30 full-page posters of dogs doing everything from jumping out of helicopters rescuing drowning people to just being a friend to a child. The full-color photos are great, and this would be a wonderful book for a young dog lover who has walls that need to be covered. It is published by Storey and sells for $9.95.

The Pet Lovers Choice Award goes to ...

Zootoo.com has compiled its list of Pet Lovers Choice Awards -- the best products, petsitters, dog parks, etc. in the country. The winners were determined by 7.6 million votes from pet lovers nationwide. To see if you agree, visit www.zootoo.com/petloverschoiceawards.

The Pet Lovers Choice Awards highlight America’s top three service professionals in each of the following categories: animal shelters, day cares, veterinarians, pet clubs, dog parks, breeders, pet-friendly hotels, petsitters, groomers, kennels and dog clubs.

The Zootoo.com community also rated the top three pet products for dogs, cats, horses, reptiles, fish and birds in the following categories: accessories, apparel, food, books, magazines and care.

Pet lovers interested in learning about the best pet-related services in their area can learn more by going to zootoo.com/petservices.

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Puppy Theft: Have You Seen These Guys?
By ADAM TOWNSEND - The Orange County Register

Pooch grabbed from pet store is still missing.

Orange County sheriff's deputies are releasing photos today hoping to catch a crew of dognappers.

Deputies have been investigating the theft of a 3-month-old, $1,300 golden retriever for almost three weeks now.

Sheriff Investigator Janet Strong said she "had no idea" whether these dognappers were violent and desperate men.

"At this point, they might be desperate with their faces all over the place," she said. "They might throw a bone or something."

Strong said she had pretty much exhausted all other leads on the case before releasing the images this week, but sat down at her desk this morning to several anonymous e-mails that appeared to be about the case.

The dog was taken from Pet City, 7041 Katella Ave. in Stanton, about 5 p.m. Dec. 22, according to Sheriff's Department reports.

Two men came into the store and spent several minutes talking to clerks. One stole the animal while the other distracted a cashier.

The stolen puppy is fitted with an identifying microchip.

Surveillance tape offers "extremely vivid" depictions of the suspects, according to a sheriff's press release.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff Department's tip line at 866-847-6273.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3706 or atownsend@ocregister.com

Don't Dump Your Pet When Times Are Tough
Sharon L. Peters - USA Today

Just before Christmas, a dude in a tricked-out big-boy truck roared into the parking lot of the little Rocky Mountain animal shelter where I'm a volunteer dog walker. DudeMan launched himself out of the cab, adjusted his jacket (appearance always matters) and hauled a terrified black-and-tan hound into the intake office. "She won't hunt and she won't breed," he declared, and stormed off.
Having rid himself of such a worthless lump of canine disappointment, he was no doubt able to relax and have a much merrier Christmas.

The shelter folks had a better Christmas, too, because in this case, the owner did not dump the dog in a snowy field miles from home where she was certain to freeze to death, be killed by a mountain lion, hit by a car, or, if she was one of the lucky few, picked up by animal control days or weeks later and brought in starving and shell-shocked.

As the economy has tanked, most shelters are reporting not only a spike in what they call "owner surrenders," pets given up by the owners (often because of finances), but also in pets being abandoned in buildings their owners are vacating, or let loose on the streets or in the country.

Some of the owners who leave behind or set loose pets seem to have the idea that since dogs and cats were once wild, they'll quickly recover their survival skills and live a long, happy life running free, flexing their genetic muscles and reverting back to the kind of adventures their ancestors enjoyed.

Problem is, it just doesn't happen that way. House pets had their wildness and most of their instincts for surviving on their own bred out of them generations ago. That's why they can live in harmony with humans.

Pet dogs that are set loose quickly demonstrate they've pretty much lost their hunting skills over the eons, and their sudden ejection from human-companion status muddles their decision-making about who/what to trust (and they often make the wrong choice). They'll often link up in packs, and they may form a hierarchy similar to what you might see in the wild (and sometimes, though rarely, become a public safety menace).

But although they do better together than alone, they're always hungry, they're preyed upon regularly, they live in constant confusion about their past/present life, and they're scared most of the time.

Randy Grim, head of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, probably knows more than anyone about the lives of dogs turned out to fend for themselves. He's devoted nearly two decades to rescuing street dogs —many of which had clearly been house pets — from their miserable lives in ruined inner-city neighborhoods.

"Some of them, when they're first abandoned, are pretty healthy, not thin, and may be wary of people, but don't live completely in hiding," he told me a few months ago. "But faster than you'd think, they get very thin, they might get mange, or injured somehow, they live in the shadows, and soon they have an air of dejection."

In The Man Who Talks to Dogs (Thomas Dunne Books), a biography of Grim, author Melinda Roth shares a poignant example of the wrenching ineptness of street dogs. While roaming around a decaying warehouse area where a dog pack lived, Grim pointed out piles of dead pigeons. The starving dogs had stalked and killed the birds, and piled them up as if for a banquet, but, Grim said, the dogs were never able to figure out how to get through the feathers to the meat.

It's an awful thing when a dog must survive on its own. I remember the one the shelter people named Gracie, a gentle pointer raced to the shelter last winter by animal control after someone called about an unmoving dog beside a creek. No one knows the details, but her thinness suggested she'd been roaming for some time and lay down by the stream after drinking, was too weak to move, and her feet were in the water when it froze overnight. She was chopped out of the ice and nursed back to health.

Then there was Diego, a black mixed breed found ravenous and scared at an abandoned campsite, waiting, apparently, for the person who left him there and never returned. Or the two young retrievers found skinny and skittish at a trailhead after what had probably been weeks on their own.

Those are the happy-ending stories. I won't share the others.

Colonies of feral cats do better than dogs, especially when they're helped by tenders who provide food, and trap and neuter them to prevent more litters. But everyone agrees that when a pet cat is let loose and can't find a colony or isn't allowed into one, it doesn't have a good chance of surviving more than a few days or weeks.

No one knows how many dogs and cats are dying a slow death on their own out there. But experts believe they're in the millions and growing because owners are setting pets free instead of taking them to a shelter.

The deposited-at-the-shelter hound named Dixie hasn't been adopted yet. But she's warm and getting food and attention. Living behind chain link isn't ideal, but I'm guessing she prefers it to dodging trucks on the highway, trying to keep warm when it's 2 degrees, and seeking food that simply doesn't exist.


Experts recommend that people struggling financially to support their pets take the following steps:

Contact local shelters or rescue groups to locate pet food pantries or to find pet-friendly apartments if you have to move. They can link you with programs that can help with necessary vet care, medications or low-cost spay/neuter. In an increasing number of cities, groups are forming to provide short-term foster care for pets whose owners need a little time to get stable again.

Go to the home page of the Humane Society of the United States (hsus.org) and click on Pet Tip, which offers a state-by-state, ever-growing list of groups offering free or discounted pet food, medical care or temporary foster care.

Barter a short-term living arrangement for your pets. You provide free dog-walking or housekeeping or landscaping services for someone who gives your animal a home until your finances improve.

If you conclude you must give up your pet:

See whether responsible pet-loving friends or family can take it. But be careful with your selection process.

If it's a purebred, contact the breed rescue group in your region. A few will also consider mixed-breed dogs that are primarily a particular breed.

Contact no-kill shelters or rescue groups first.

My Pet World: Dog Left Alone Too Long Could Use New Home If Neglect is Actually Abuse
By Steve Dale - Twin Cities.com

Q My daughter's dog, a sweet 40-pound beagle, is constantly left alone. She hardly ever gets outside. My daughter's two teenage sons are never home to take the dog out. I've tried many times to talk my daughter into finding a good home for this dog, or at least getting another dog as a companion. You're such an animal lover, I'm hoping you have some ideas.

— C.B., Las Vegas

A I'm not sure what you mean by 'constantly left alone.' Listen, it's a lucky dog these days that enjoys human companionship anywhere near 24/7. Still, aside from food and water, what our dogs desire more than anything is us. Adding a second dog would simply afford your daughter the opportunity to neglect two dogs.

If the situation is so bad it extends beyond mere neglect into abuse, you must take action. That line can be a fuzzy one, but if the dog is alone for so long she's forced to have "accidents," is missing meals to the extent she's frequently hungry and/or is treated poorly when someone is home, this poor pet's only salvation may be you stepping in.

Q My year-old Pekingese is eating her own feces. For six months, I've tried pills from pet stores, but nothing helps. What can I do?

— B.P., Anderson, S.C.

A It's only a coincidence that for my answer, I sought the advice of a dog trainer named Teoti Anderson (perhaps your town is named for her?). Anderson ought to have a town named for her; after all, she's the author of "Puppy Care and Training" (TFH, 2007) and a past president of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

"You may not want to hear this, but dogs sometimes have a very different sense of a delicacy than we do," she says. "I know some people who use hot sauce, which is supposed to teach dogs a lesson once they eat poo with the sauce. Maybe, this will work. Or an enzyme nutritional supplement (such as Prozyme). Or adding a manufactured product, which you tried (such as For-bid or Deter), or even (adding) pumpkin to the dog's diet.

"But usually, there's only one surefire answer: Pick up after your dog. Eventually, many dogs simply get out of the habit. And for other dogs, the only solution is a lifetime of management."

Q Recently, we found numerous small growths in our newly acquired 14-year-old deaf cocker spaniel's ears. They seem to extend deep into both ear canals. My veterinarian said surgical removal of the tumors would be too traumatic and we should just leave them alone, except to keep the ears as clean as possible. The vet says our dog's deafness has nothing to do with these growths. What do you think?

— M.B.C., Clarksville, Va.

A "Based on your description, surgery likely means removal of the ear canals," says veterinary oncologist Dr. Heidi Ward. "If the dog was 4 years old, maybe, but at 14, that option doesn't make sense. Talk to your veterinarian about how to keep the ears clean."

Write to petworld@stevedale.tv.

Kittengarten: Take Your Cat to Class!

A four-week class covers basic health and behavior facts, including nutrition

WASHINGTON, DC - For the kittens dashing and tumbling around the room, the Washington Humane Society's first Kittengarten class is all about the playtime.

But for the humans and the shelter there's a bigger goal: making sure that cats are healthy and happy in their adoptive homes — and that they stay there.

Kittengarten is just like what it sounds, a class for kittens and their owners. Along with kitten socialization and grooming, the four-week class covers basic health and behavior facts, including nutrition. While dog owners have long taken their charges for training, cat owners don't always know that they and their pets could use some guidance too, organizers say.

Even those knowledgeable about cats can really benefit from some hands-on practice, as when trainer Hanna Lentz demonstrates the most important grooming basic for a pet with needle-sharp claws: the nail trim.

Lentz crouches on the ground, holding a kitten with its back to her, and touches its shoulders. "A cat's natural instinct when you touch them up here is to back up," she explains, "so they have nowhere else to go." Next, she clips a nail. "Do that: one nail, treat, relax in between," she says. "Taking it slow can really make a huge difference."

The students, sitting at the table with piles of treats in front of them, attempt to follow her example on the squirming, reluctant little felines.

"They're not born liking to get their nails trimmed," Lentz observes. "It's so important to start when they're kittens."

While kitten kindergarten is new in Washington, the idea has been around for a while. Elise Gouge of the Houston SPCA, where they've been offering a course since early 2007, says she wishes she could get everyone to take it.

"Cats don't raise themselves," she says. "They don't instantly love people, they don't know not to scratch the furniture."

The first kitten kindergarten is generally acknowledged to have been the idea of Kersti Seksel, a veterinary behaviorist in Australia. Cat behavior consultant and veterinarian Ilona Rodan brought the idea to this country in 2004 and held classes at her cat practice in Madison, Wisc., for a while; she's now working on a CD that presents the information for cat owners who don't have the opportunity to take a class.

Beyond the basics of cat care and behavior, people also need to know how to play with their pets and provide a mentally enriching environment.

"As a feline specialist I see people who are crazy about their cats. This cat means everything to them, but do they do the right thing for them?" says Rodan. "They don't, because they don't understand them."

Rodan is enthusiastic about the idea of holding these classes in shelters. Often, those adopting cats don't think that cats need regular preventative health care, she says. The class is a place to make that connection.

For the shelters, these classes are a way to keep cats in homes, by helping people to understand they can often deal with behavioral issues rather than returning a cat to the shelter.

"People underestimate how willing a cat will be to work with you," says Gouge. "They're not motivated by just our love. You'll have to do a little better than that — maybe a little cheese or a little piece of shrimp."

Gouge says that training and education can help people keep their cats by solving specific problems, but there's more to it than that: working with their pets creates a bond that results in more of a commitment.

"We'll teach them how to sit and how to give paw," she says. "I've had cases with people who were thinking of surrendering their cat. We taught them some of that stuff and it's saved the relationship."

Lou the Pet Mule Saves Woman from Raging House Fire
by Helena Sung, Pet News Examiner

Jolene Solomon, 63, was sitting down to dinner on New Year's Day when she heard her pet mule, Lou, come running out of the barn.

Lou was agitated, throwing her head back and braying. Wondering why her normally placid mule was acting so strangely, Solomon stepped outside. That's when she saw the flames.

"When I looked around the side of the house, that's where the fire was coming from," Solomon told News Channel 5 in McCinnville, Tennessee. "And a fire blazing out just like it was wide open."

Solomon called 911 and stood watching with Lou at her side as her house burned to the ground. Solomon lost the only home she's ever known and everything in it, but considers herself lucky.

I don't know what I'd do without Lou. I been blessed.

Solomon doesn't know how old Lou is. Years ago, her father bought Solomon a pair of mules--Lou and her sister, Blue--to help Solomon around the farm. Blue died six years ago; an incident that took Lou months to get over.

Solomon is staying with family until her home is rebuilt--whenever that may be.

Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part XIV
The Boston Globe

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