Best Friends: Suryia the Orangutan and Roscoe the Bluetick Coonhound

Heroic Dogs Go Head to Head
By Bo Emerson - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two Georgia dogs —- Hank, the sweet-faced beagle, and Charley, the stylish West Highland terrier —- are among the real-life Lassies and Rin Tin Tins nominated for a special award to celebrate canine heroism.

Fifteen dogs are in the running for the Dogs of Valor Award, created by the Humane Society of the United States to “honor and celebrate dogs who have performed an extraordinary act of courage by heroically helping a person in need.”

The dogs are listed on the Society’s Web site (, where visitors can vote on the most deserving Fido through Friday at 5 p.m. The site also lists the valorous acts that earned each dog a place in the roster.

Charley, at 15 pounds, is on the small side compared to some of the giants in contention, but has plenty of heart to spare. He pestered Loganville owner Frances Gippert to take him outside one afternoon last August, then tugged on his leash to lead her to a man who had fallen from a ladder. Roy Monie, 61, was lying semi-conscious between two houses, where he had been working on the roof at one of his rental properties.

Gippert quickly summoned emergency technicians and Monie survived. The EMTs told her “if we hadn’t gotten to him when we did, he wouldn’t be here,” she said.

P.W. Wesley, 81, a farmer who lives near Dublin, was working one morning last October, when his tractor rolled over him, breaking four ribs, cracking his sternum and knocking him unconscious. Hank licked him to wake him up and helped back to the house.

“When we knew what Hank had done, it just sent chills,” said Wesley’s daughter, Sheyrl Stanley. “I said, ‘Dad, you are a miracle. That could have been the last time we ever saw you.’ “

The Right Pet for You

Congrats—you’ve decided to join the happy ranks of pet parenthood! The hardest decision you face may not be what to name your furry bundle of joy, or what color food bowl to buy, but simply what species to adopt.

Whether you have a thing for fur or feathers, we’re here to help. With tongue-firmly-in-cheek, we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of living with a particular—and sometimes peculiar—animal companion.


YES! We don’t call them our best friends for nothing. Loyal and loving, dogs are social animals who thrive on being upstanding members of their family “packs.”

NO! Children under seven are usually not developmentally suited for puppies, who have sharp teeth and nails, or toy-sized dogs, who don’t hold up well to a child’s clumsy handling. If there are kids in the house, your best bet’s a medium- to large-sized dog over five months of age.

WAY TO GO! If you’ve done your research and found a breed that meshes with your lifestyle, you’re on the right track! Don’t forget to draw up a schedule of who in the family will do what—walking, playing, feeding and grooming.

For more information about living with a pooch, please read our guide to dog care online. And while you’ll score big with us if you adopt a mixed-breed dog, we understand you may have your heart set on a purebred—but don’t give up on finding one at your local shelter!


YES! Graceful, athletic, playful, sensitive and affectionate, felines are the most popular pet in the United States today. They’re less work than a dog, but still stand high on the cuddle scale.

NO! Cats are not like dogs. Your domestic cat probably won’t hang out with you all day or be interested in learning new tricks. We’d also like to recommend adopting an adult cat instead of a kitten—not only are they litter-trained, but most have graduated from the rowdy ankle-attacking stages of adolescence.

WAY TO GO! If you’ve done your research and decided on a cat of an appropriate age for your household, visit your shelter and be sure to have your new friend spayed or neutered!
For more information about living with kitties, check out our guide to basic cat care online.


YES! Playful, cheery and chirpy, this little charmer is the most popular avian companion. He’s gentle and funny, can be readily tamed to sit on your shoulder, and makes a perfect first bird for the young members of the family.

NO! Birds can be messy….really messy. You’ll need to clean the cage and surrounding area daily. Also, keep in mind that not all budgies talk, even though they have the capability.

WAY TO GO! A budgie is a great choice if you’ve got your heart set on an avian mimic but don’t have the time, money or space for a larger member of the parrot family.

For more information, read our guide to bird care. And if your kids or students have birds on the brain, send them to our nifty kids’ site, Animaland.

Pet Owner Chooses Snake and Chips

Pet owners that intend to sell their animals must get them microchipped

A Nottinghamshire vet has begun microchipping reptiles as more owners of exotic animals turn to having their pets chipped for security.

One man who keeps dozens of snakes has taken two of the valuable pets to the surgery for the chips to be implanted.

Dave Ward, Ilkeston, owns 30 snakes including two adult Dumeril boas, which have undergone the procedure.

The 6ft (1.82m) long reptiles have been injected in the neck with a microchip at Buckley House Vet Centre in Hucknall.

Reptile expert, Ashley Swift, said it was a busy time of year for reptile breeders who are legally obliged to register animals they intend to sell.

Mr Swift, from The Reptile Centre, Nottingham, said: "They'll have to get the parents chipped so they can register the babies - it's like a birth certificate."

More than 450,000 animals have been microchipped in the past five years in the UK.

Graham Oliver from Buckley House Vet Centre said snakes were among the many creatures which came into the centre.

"We chip all sorts of animals - eagle owls, you can do fish, birds, cats and dogs, horses, wives and children, all sorts," he said.

Fishy behaviour

Mr Oliver said microchipping was often used for commercial purposes, especially when there was a risk of theft.

He said: "Some of the Koi carp that people exchange for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds can be 1m long so they can cope with a little chip."

Koi carp are often stolen from ponds
Theft may be a problem for owners of exotic pets - but some animals leave home of their own accord.

Mr Oliver said pets, especially cats, went missing for a number of reasons.

"They will jump in the back of vans. They can travel great distances."

Happy endings

Last month a cat which ran away from Nottingham in 2005 was returned to its owner.

Kofi had been taken in by the RSPCA in Suffolk after he was found injured.

His owner, Sarah Hawley, said: "We had given up hope of seeing him again. He seems happy and we will gradually reintroduce him to his brother Ted once he's settled back in.

"I am so pleased he was microchipped as otherwise he really would have been missing forever."

Another cat, Dixie from Erdington, Birmingham, was found after nine years thanks to microchip tracking.

Supporters of animal micro-chipping are working hard to raise awareness about its importance. Students from Thorpe House School in Norwich, Norfolk, have joined forces with the RSPCA and celebrities to promote a petition calling for microchipping to be made a legal requirement.

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Animal House Friday: What My Pet Can't Live Without
Jill Rosen - Baltimore Sun

My Leo has a little something that's terribly special to him. More meaningful to him than I am, probably. And perhaps more important than food on his priority list. It's his little red pom-pom ball.

The kitty loves this pom-pom like nobody's business. It's actually the inside of what used to be one of those glitter-tinsel balls. He ate all the tinsel off, piece by piece, until the bald ball was all that remained. The best part -- his Tootsie Roll in the middle of the lollipop.

Anyway, Leo loves this toy. He loses it for a few weeks, under the sofa, under the oven, and then it reappears. The joyous coming together of cat and pom-pom, this is what Peaches and Herb were singing about in Reunited.

For Animal House Friday, I thought it would be fun to talk about the toys -- or mundane objects -- that make your furry ones go bonkers. As usual, all commenters with stories in by about 3 p.m. will be eligible for a prize. Something better than a pom-pom -- though Leo would beg to differ.

This Aqua Garden by Drinkwell was a gadget for a cat's amusement that recently came on the market. The cat seems to like it, but not as much as Leo likes his pom-pom. Photo by Associated Press.

Posted by Jill Rosen

My cat Beijing has this red feather fishing-pole-type toy that he just loves. It was in a stocking full of toys that a friend of mine gave him for Christmas. Since then, most of the feathers have come off in bits and pieces, and now just the string and a few die-hard feathers remain. He doesn't care, he still loves it just as much.
It too disappears for days at a time, and then magically reappears. He carries it around with him, and the click, click, click of it being dragged up or down the stairs alerts me that he has found his beloved toy once again. Like most kids, he also likes boxes and packaging more than what came in them.
In the absence of his feather toy, a bottle cap fills the void just fine.

That's awesome. Both of my kitties luv feathers. Nothing more than the 'Da Bird' toy. Try it. Trust me. -- Jill

Posted by: Marge Neal

After I adopted my pit-mix Foxy, I bought her her first toy: a stuffed monkey with rope arm and legs. Foxy and her monkey became inseparable; she reminded me of Linus and his blue blanket from Peanuts. She would cry if her monkey was stuck under the couch or coffee table, she would hold it firmly in her teeth when we went out for walks or drove in the car. When I would come home from work, I would ask her, "Foxy's, where's your monkey?" and she would run off and come back with it! Yeah, Foxy really loved that monkey - I'm still finding pieces of him around the apartment.

Aw, so cute! -- Jill

Posted by: Holly

My Cairn furbaby, Han, absolutely loves squeaky tennis balls!! He goes nuts for them. He loves to chase them and, eventually, decides that he must destroy them. First, he'll kill the squeaker and then he works on removing all of the yellow fuzz before, finally, ripping them apart, piece by piece. i can't tell you how many half tennis balls i find laying around. All of this usually takes about 2 weeks or so, maybe some will last a bit longer, if we're lucky.

Aside from the play/destruction aspect, apparently, another one of his favorite things is to push his ball under our end tables or the tv stand, which are too low for him to get under to retreive it. He'll rush the offending furniture attempting to get it back, bashing his head in the process!! Han knows that once the ball goes under, my husband or i will get the ball out and put it up on the kitchen counter and he is not allowed to have it until the next day. The next morning, after his breakfast and potty break, Han is at the counter, jumping/scratching for his fav ball. This is pretty much a daily routine =)

You must go through a lot of squeaky balls! Haha. -- Jill

Posted by: Dawn

My pit mix Billie, is known for destroying almost every toy we have gotten her. All but one....her red, heavy duty, kong bone. She loves her bone and wants you to love it as well. The toy is pretty heavy and she is not the most graceful of pets, so when she wants to you play with it, she slaps it on your lap and waits (usually impatiently) for you to grab an end and play with her.

When the red bone is lost, we tell her to "get the red boney" and she looks, never really using her nose to find it, but franticly searches the house. She takes it outside at times for bathroom walks and has it near her, where ever she know, just in case you want play.

So cute! -- Jill

Posted by: Jen

My dog, Wally, can't live without his Kong filled with peanut butter. We joke that he gets 'peanut butter eyes' when we bring out the jar. His eyes get all wide and he stares at us until we finish filling the Kong. If only life were that simple for the rest of us :)

Posted by: Leigh

My cat Tuesday can turn just about anything into a toy - and I'd say her favorite "now you're a toy" toy in the spring and fall are the crickets that she finds in our basement.

She spends hours down there in the dark, and when she finds one, unfortunately she brings it upstairs to slowly destroy on our carpet. We come home regularly to find cricket legs on the floor.

But she loves her crickets and will chase them for a bit before eating them. It's entertaining until that point, then it's just gross.

Posted by: Heather

Our rescue cats Max and Missy get hours of fun from simple ping pong balls. They are playing with one right this minute. Missy has especially good soccer skills--she uses her right and left paws equally well.

Our now departed Cleo loved bringing mice and voles indoors--her favorite "squeaky toys."

Posted by: Dahlink

My cat Nobel, who thinks he is a dog loves this squeaky woodchuck dog toy. You can squeeze the squeaker for him and he will hop up and down until you throw the toy for him to chase after. He often carries it around with him but he cant figure out how to squeak it with his mouth. On occasion he will pounce on it and hit the squeaker and the little noise will send him running behind the coffee table in surprise.

Adorable! -- Jill

Posted by: Daniel

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The Economy Is Going to the Dogs, So Cut Your Costs
Nancy Trejos - Washington Post

When my father retired, he decided to buy a dog to keep him occupied. Rocky (yes, my dad likes Sylvester Stallone) is a beautiful miniature collie. My dad figured he had all the time in the world to take care of Rocky. What he didn't realize was that he needed quite a bit of money too.

There are ways to cut costs if you are having trouble keeping up with your pet's expenses. For instance, my friend and fellow Washingtonian Elissa Poma got sick of paying $60 plus tip four times a year to have her cocker spaniel groomed. So she bought a pair of professional dog clippers online for $200. (You can probably find cheaper ones, she admits.) They came with DVD instructions. She also surfed Web sites for tips on cutting dog hair. "The clippers paid for themselves in less than a year," she said. has other tips to offer. I thought I'd share them:

-- Give your pet a thrifty makeover. In a healthy economy, a dog with a Burberry collar -- a real one! -- would not have been a rare sighting, especially here in D.C. But do you really have to pay top dollar to dress your dog? Do you think your dog cares much? Plenty of stores and online shops offer discounts on pet fashion items. You can even check out thrift stores.

-- Find food deals. Use coupons for premium food or slowly transition your pet to a less expensive, yet still high-quality brand. Buy food in bulk to save cash.

-- Search for low-cost medical services. Many clinics offer low-cost vaccinations, spay and neutering services. Make sure the clinic is recommended by a friend, vet or other professional.

-- Consider pet insurance. This is not a good option for everyone, but it could save you money if you have an elderly or chronically ill pet. Research various plans and compare the benefits vs. the costs.

Florida Woman Sues Over Her Pet Monkey's Grave

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — A woman on Florida's Atlantic coast has sued the owner of a pet cemetery over her pet squirrel monkey's grave.

Janet Steiner's 20-ounce monkey Mighty died of cancer in 1994, and she had him buried at Columbia Pet Memorial Gardens in Melbourne. But she says the cemetery's owner did not maintain the grounds well, and she moved his remains last year. Now she wants $500 — the cost of the original burial and the move.

The cemetery's owner says he has maintained the cemetery and that Steiner's demands were unreasonable: asking that he clean up within days of hurricanes in 2004 and cut the grass every week.

A small claims court judge says he will mail his decision after visiting the cemetery.

Information from: Florida Today,

Tips for Kitten First Aid
By: Deidre Wengen -

Kittens are kind of like babies, only they are more precocious. While many little ones end up developing into full-grown felines without any trouble, others are prone to accidents that may put them in danger. That is why knowing the basics of kitten first aid is extremely important.

If you are about to adopt or purchase a little kitty, there are a few things that you should know. Common problems that kittens run into are burns, electric cord injury, choking, bee stings, fractures and poisonings. This article from explains what you can do if a situation like this occurs.

One thing that you have to keep in mind is that kittens might not know the difference between a toy and an electrical cord. They might try to bat at it or even bite through a wire. Because of this, some kittens might experience an electrical shock that could harm them. It is important to kitten-proof your home and hide away any wires that might look like a fun toy to play with. If a kitten does bite through a wire and experiences a burn, it is VERY important to take the cat to get immediate medical attention from a vet.

Also, make sure to rid your home of any plants that can be potentially dangerous. There are several indoor plants that, if ingested, can poison cats. Some varieties include cacti, dieffenbachia, mistletoe, poinsettia, acorns, English holly, tulip flower bulbs, oleander, honeysuckle and most lilies. Ask your vet what plants you need to avoid if you are going to get a new pet.

Make sure to check out the article for more helpful and potentially life-saving tips. It is a really great resource for new cat owners.

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Animal Odd Couple: Orangutan and Dog Are Best Buds

Suryia the Orangutan and Roscoe the Bluetick Coonhound Swim, Play and Walk Together

In the pantheon of animal odd couples, these two belong up there with Kermit and Miss Piggy.

Suryia the orangutan and Roscoe the Bluetick Coonhound met in a sanctuary for endangered animals two years ago, in South Carolina, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

Roscoe was an underfed stray, but Suryia quickly took him under his wing.

Dr. Bhagavan Antle, founder of The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) in Myrtle Beach, told the Daily Mail that Roscoe followed him and Suryia through the park's gate one day.

"As soon as he saw Roscoe, Suryia ran over to him and they started playing," Antle said "It was unusual because dogs are usually scared of primates; but they took to each other straight away."

After a few unsuccessful phone calls to find an owner, Antle said they decided to let Roscoe stay.

Now the the pair have a ball frolicking around the park. "They will spend a few hours each day together rolling around, swimming," Antle said. "Suryia will take Roscoe for walks around the enclosure and even feeds him some of his monkey biscuits."

The pair may even appear soon on Oprah Winfrey's show, the Daily Mail reported.

Hamster Breeds - Full Size Hamsters
By Russ Fleederman

There are many different hamster breeds found in pet shops around the world, but the most common types are Syrian, Chinese, Russian dwarf, Campbell dwarf, Dwarf Winter White, and Roborovski dwarf. Each of these hamsters has its own characteristics that distinguish it from the other breeds. This article will focus on the Syrian hamster and the Chinese hamster, which is often mistaken for a dwarf.

Syrian Hamsters

Syrian hamsters are also known as 'teddy bear hamsters' and is the most popular breed in pet stores around the world. They endear themselves to children because they are easy to handle, thus making wonderful pets for the family. Syrian hamsters are not very social when it comes to their own kind. They should be kept alone after 10 weeks and should be separated, each to it's own cage. Problems might occur if they are grouped together, including fighting or even killing each other.

Syrian hamsters are the largest of the hamster breeds, and can reach up to 7 inches in length when fully grown. Female Syrian hamsters normally grow larger than the males. They are characterized by their large cheek pouches, short tail and small eyes, and can live up to 2 to 2 ½ years.

Chinese Hamsters

These are also known as Chinese striped hamsters or just plain striped hamsters. These types of hamster breeds are generally not quite as social. Owners may find it hard to group or pair them together, thus individually housing them is highly recommended. However, there are instances where the owner has been successful in pairing them together. They may be hostile toward each other, but they are timid and good-natured towards people. Like any other hamster breed, Chinese hamsters are nocturnal animals.

Most often than not, Chinese hamsters are mistaken for dwarf hamsters because of their small size. The average adult size is 4 inches and they have a body that is slender and long - similar to that of a mouse or rat. The most common colors of a Chinese hamster are agouti coat in dark brown. There is a black line along the spine and an ivory colored stomach. Other possible colors include a dominant spot along with a white coat. Like other hamsters, a Chinese hamster's life span averages up to 2 years.

Russ Fleederman is a dwarf hamster expert. For more great information on hamster breeds and a FREE dwarf hamster mini-course, visit

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