Pet Advice: Are You a Tarantula Person?

My Dog is Afraid of Petting
by Jeff Millman ~

One of the more frequent issues with shy dogs is to be afraid of getting petted by strangers.

When dogs are getting petted the person is close to them, they are looking at them, they are looming over them and then they touch them. These are all potential triggers for anxiety or aggression. If your dog is shy, you should help her get comfortable with people to avoid escalation of anxiety, which could potentially lead to aggression.

Here are two exercises that you can use to help your dog love getting petted. There is no way to know how long it will take for your dog to gain confidence and overcome her fear. There is also a chance that she will never love petting. It depends on her background, socialization history and how often you do good training sessions. A good training session consists of keeping her comfortable and pairing the events with treats that she loves. If she is anxious or stops taking treats GO SLOWER.

Hand Shyness Exercise #1 - Move Closer Slowly
This should be practiced with you first and then with friends, both male and female.

1. Put your dog in a location where you can work with her such as gently putting the leash over a doorknob. The key is that she is not running around, or distracted by toys.

2. Start with your hand 5 feet away from her

3. Hold your hand with your palm towards your dog

4. As soon as she looks at your hand, Click and Treat

5. Reset each time to the beginning distance, in this case 5 feet

6. Now put your hand 4.5 feet away and Click and Treat

7. Move slowly closer and Click and Treat each time

8. If she flinches, or shows ANY hand shyness, move your hand away and go more slowly

9. Move closer and eventually gently touch her and Click and Treat

10. Then you can add different variations such as touching her for a longer period of time, touching and then gently holding her collar, etc.

11. Bring treats or food with you on EVERY walk and do these exercises near people

12. Eventually you can have other people do the exercise with you giving the treat

13. If you can touch your dog, the new person might only be able to be 5 feet away from your dog. Pay attention to her anxiety and do allow the person to move their hand too close too quickly.

14.Make sure for all the above steps you say, “Good girl” as you are moving your hand closer and then Click and Treat (or say “yes”) at the new close point. As you do more practice the Click and Treat will come later in the process until you are able to pet your dog.

Important note: Don’t expect to end up petting your dog the first session. It could take weeks or months for a dog to get comfortable with petting. You also will probably have to start over each time you introduce her to a new person until her overall comfort level increases. Go slow and be patient.

Hand Shyness Exercise #2 - Touch Your Hand With Her Nose

This is a way to teach her that a hand coming over her head is a good thing.

1. Hold your hand vertically with your palm directly towards your dog’s face.

2. As soon as she sniffs or licks your hand, Click and Treat

3. Move it to a different location and continue, Clicking and Treating each time she licks or sniffs

4. Start with your hand farther away and slowly move it closer saying “Good girl” as you do it and then continue as above. The key is to now get her accustomed to movement before the hand gets closer.

5. Move it all over including over her head (slowly), coming up from below, from above, etc.

6. Make sure you say, “Good girl as you move your hand closer. This will teach her that when she sees a hand coming towards her, she should anticipate something good.

Cancer Survivor's Pet Receiving Chemotherapy
Jim Stingl -

It's understandable what Robert Buffone did in this dark moment. His teenage daughter, Christine, was battling leukemia and pneumonia and was in a medically induced coma.

So he leaned in close and told her, "If you get better, we're going to get you a car, a phone and a dog." She had been asking for all three.

That promise somehow penetrated Christine's unconsciousness. When she awoke nearly two weeks later, she told her father she had heard him say that.

"Throughout that whole ordeal, it was the only thing I remembered," she said.

Christine did get better. She's 24 now, healthy, and living for the time being with her father; mother, Pat; and brother Anthony, 15, on Milwaukee's west side.

Dad made good on his pledge. In addition to the car and the cell phone, a golden retriever puppy named Moxie joined the Buffone family in 2001 and became a symbol of Christine's recovery.

Now Moxie is fighting for her own life. In a cruel twist of fate, the 7-year-old retriever has cancer.

"I think sometimes it's like it was meant to be that way," Robert said sadly. "They say dogs and owners are so much alike."

These things often go the same with people and pets. Early symptoms are dismissed as nothing too serious.

When Christine, at age 14, began having pain in her right arm, everyone thought, maybe tendinitis. But the pain spread to her shoulder, ribs and back. She got a fever and began losing weight.

A bone scan and marrow analysis determined it was leukemia. The diagnosis came on what should have been Christine's first day of high school at Divine Savior Holy Angels in 1999.

"I only made it to about four or five days of my freshman year of high school. Otherwise, I was in the hospital or here at home. It just wiped me out," she told me.

She's talking about the cure, the 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy that left her hairless and weak. She remembers the exact day that a social worker offered to shave her rapidly shedding head. It was Jan. 1, 2000, when the rest of us were chuckling about what a bust Y2K was. She tossed the hair in the backyard for the birds to use in nests.

Another effect of the chemo was that Christine got a severe case of pneumonia when she was 16. The coma was induced because she kept pulling the respirator out of her mouth.

That led to the promise. The Buffone family hadn't had a dog since Christine was a little girl and, frankly, her parents were not eager to get another one.

But when Christine left the hospital, they visited a farm in central Wisconsin to pick a puppy from a litter. The name selected was a hybrid from two nearby cities, Montello and Oxford. It perfectly fits the personality of the high-spirited dog.

Moxie had a normal checkup at the vet as recently as February, but in late March, she started acting strange. She would stand and stare, refusing to move when her name was called. She stopped begging at the dinner table.

"We thought maybe she was just tired," Christine said.

But the night when she lay down outside and wouldn't get up, and her breathing was labored, the family took her at 4 a.m. to Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center in Waukesha. They had to carry her inside.

The diagnosis: A tumor on her spleen had ruptured and was bleeding internally.

At no small expense, the spleen was surgically removed, and the baseball-sized tumor was found to be malignant.

Moxie has a common and aggressive form of cancer of the blood vessels called hemangiosarcoma. Last week, she received her third of five chemotherapy infusions over a 15-week course of treatment.

"She's as rambunctious as ever. The chemo hasn't really had any side effects on her," Christine said.

The 100-pound dog looks perfectly healthy, but in fact is likely to redevelop a tumor on her liver or lungs within a few months, even with the chemotherapy. It will take prayers and luck to prolong her life beyond nine months to a year.

Veterinarian Rachel Reiman, at Animal Emergency Center & Specialty Services in Glendale, where Moxie goes for chemo, knows the story of how the Buffones first got the dog.

"It chokes me up. Now Moxie has this serious illness, and they're here for her," Reiman said.

Christine finished high school on time with her class and went on to St. Louis University, graduating last December. With her cancer in remission, she recently began a job as a physical therapist.

She hugged Moxie as we talked. Experience has taught her - twice - how fragile life can be.

Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at

Caring for a Pet Tarantula

Before you get any new pet, you want to make sure that you know all the specific requirements for the animal. Sometimes you can get started on basic information, but you will still need to make sure to get specific information for the specific species.

You can generally start with an enclosure and decor, but each tarantula species will have slightly different temperature, humidity, and diet requirements that you will need to make sure that you can provide and meet accordingly.

To get started here are a few tips for caring for pet tarantulas.

1. Housing- You want to make sure to meet the housing needs for the tarantula in terms of proper enclosure size, type, and placement. You want to make sure that there is proper ventilation and that you have a screen lid that the tarantula can't escape from.

2. Substrate- You want to make sure that the enclosure has a good substrate at the bottom. Sometimes you may have to try different things before you find something that you like, is easy for you to clean, and that your tarantula likes. Most of the time, a dirt substrate is suitable, especially for non-burrowing tarantulas. You can mix peat moss, chipped bark, and/or cocoa fibers with the dirt. Do not use potting soil or dirt from outside, instead you can purchase blocks of dirt that expand when soaked in water. You want to use at least 2 inches of substrate in the enclosure; the exact depth will vary on the species, though. Burrowing species, will need the substrate to be deeper, especially if you want it to be able to burrow properly.

3. Decorations and accessories- You want to make sure that you provide hiding spots and things for the tarantula to climb on. You can use coconut shells, fake plants, clay pots, fake logs, and other accessories to the enclosure. If you find that the tarantula is hiding too much, you may want to decrease the decoration sin the cage, but if the tarantula isn't hiding at all, you should add a few things to the cage.

4. Water- You want to provide a shallow water dish for your tarantula. Generally you want the dish to be smaller than the radius of the tarantula's legs. Make sure to keep fresh water in the dish daily. DO NOT use a sponge to hold water, as they can hold water and mold spores.

Some tarantulas require higher humidity levels, which you can achieve by misting the enclosure once a day or as needed. You'll want to use a humidity gauge to measure the humidity levels so that you know they are right.

5. Food- Most tarantulas have a staple diet of crickets. Some species will eat fruit flies, mealworms, or pinkie mice. Just make sure that the food is appropriately sized. Also, be leary of mealworms escaping their bowl and burrowing into the substrate of the enclosure.

6. Moulting- As the tarantula grows, it will moult the old skin; younger tarantulas will moult more often then older ones. During the moulting process, the tarantula will generally stop eating a few days prior, and will generally be very grouchy during and right after moulting, as it'll feel vulnerable. Tarantulas moult on their backs, so don't think that yours is dead if you find it laying upside down; it can take a few hours or even a few days for the tarantula to moult completely. Do not attempt to feed the tarantula during this period; it won't starve not. After the tarantula has moulted completely, wait another 3-5 days before attempting to feed.

These tips are bare basics. You should do specific research on the tarantula species of your choose before and even after you bring one home. It is important that you know the specific temperature and humidity that the species thrives in, so that you can match it in the enclosure. You should also be aware of any dietary special needs that the species may have, as well, as diet is a very important aspect of a healthy tarantula.

If you purchase the tarantula from a pet store, read the care sheet they will provide you with, but do not leave your research there. You should never rely solely on the pet store's caresheet. Check out forums, and other online sources, as well as books about tarantulas, and specific species.

Makaha Woman Charged in Peacock Bashing Enters No Plea
By Will Hoover - Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writer

Somebody is killing the peacocks of Makaha.

Eleven have been poisoned, shot or beaten to death in the past few weeks.

Sandra Maloney is accused of beating one of the birds to death with a baseball bat on May 17, and yesterday she appeared in Wai'anae District Court on charges of misdemeanor cruelty to an animal. She did not enter a plea.

However, she has acknowledged that she did it, in remarks to police and to a Honolulu TV news crew.

The Makaha Valley Towers resident said it was the mating call of the wild male peacocks that drove her to it. The birds' incessant loud cries deprived her of sleep, she said.

Friends and supporters defended her yesterday, depicting her as a decent, caring, community-minded person driven to desperation by the peacocks' constant screeching.

But other residents of the high-rise condominium said they were aghast at the brutality of what they saw and heard on May 17, describing the cries of the bird as it was being beaten and for nearly an hour afterward until it died.

They're also concerned about the rash of peacock killings.

"People are shocked," said resident Janet Powell.

Peacocks were introduced to Hawai'i around 1860, and have flourished in Makaha Valley since King Kamehameha V gave a flock to valley rancher Owen Jones Holt.

But today they have become a nuisance to some residents, from the loud mating cries to the droppings the birds leave behind.

The birds roam the whole area, but have been a particular friction point at Makaha Valley Towers.

In 2003, the nuisance factor led the board of directors there to sign a $4,000 contract with federal Wildlife Services to capture and euthanize up to three-quarters of the estimated five or six dozen wild peacocks.

The idea was to thin out the herd, said Ted Pond, vice president of the homeowners association at Makaha Valley Towers.

But the plan was canceled due to public outcry.

Now a person or people apparently has taken it upon themselves to thin out the peacock numbers.

'it's sickening'
City prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who has promised to vigorously pursue the case against Maloney, said she is not suspected in the deaths of the other peacocks.

"That's something that's separate and apart from this particular case," Carlisle said.

If convicted on the cruelty charge, Maloney faces up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Judge Clyde Sumida issued a bench warrant for Maloney's arrest at 9:33 a.m. yesterday when she failed to appear. He withdrew the warrant after Maloney showed up at the courthouse at 11:05 a.m. and later told the judge she hadn't appeared earlier on the advice of her lawyer, who was also a no-show.

The judge continued the arraignment until June 19.

Outside the courtroom, Maloney was in no mood to make a statement.

"I don't want to talk to you," she told reporters. "I was convinced by somebody that they were going to present my side, and they just smeared me nationwide," she said, referring to an early TV report about the incident.

Maloney's side was presented yesterday by several longtime friends and supporters who handed out written statements at the courthouse.

"I have a suspicion that Ms. Sandra had momentarily gone berserk after many sleepless nights when she attacked the peacock," wrote Janice Henry, who was at the arraignment. "If she had to do it over, I know the incident would never have happened."

Meanwhile, at the Makaha Valley Towers, folks remained stunned by the entire peacock killing spree.

"The residents here are just plain disgusted," said Pond, the vice president of the homeowners association.

"It's sickening," said Mike Targgart, another board member.

Pond agrees the baseball-bat killing probably has no relation to the other peacock deaths. He said the peacock poisonings may not even be related to the two birds he said appeared to have been killed with a pellet gun.

But others aren't so sure. Targgart and Powell both point out that a couple of months ago someone poisoned to death a dozen feral cats around the property. So obviously someone's out to harm to wildlife around the Towers, they say.

On May 17, there was no question about the intent of the attack.

Witnesses heard the cries of the bird and saw it as it was being beaten in a picnic area. Then they saw Maloney carry the injured animal up a flight of concrete stairs and toss it in the bushes.

"You know the sad thing is the bird wasn't dead," Targgart said. "It came out of the bushes with a broken leg, a broken neck, a smashed-out eye. It took another 45 minutes to die. It fell down the stairs. It was pitiful."

Targgart confronted Maloney following the beating, even as she was being questioned by police.

"I said, 'Did somebody kill a peacock with a bat?' And she goes, 'Yeah, I did — and I'm going to kill some more, too.' And I said, 'What are you, crazy?' And she said, 'I'm sick of these big birds — I can't sleep at night.' "

a part of makaha
In addition to complaints of peacock mating noises, some residents have complained for years about peacock droppings on sidewalks and steps around the property. The statements of Maloney's supporters echoed those sentiments.

"I would think the owners of Makaha Valley Towers would want to control these foul fowls," wrote Maloney's friend, Virginia Hogue.

Powell is always quick to remind anyone within earshot that peacocks were a part of the valley landscape generations before the complainers were ever born.

Peacocks were introduced to Hawai'i around the time of the American Civil War, and soon became the darlings of Hawai'i's royalty. Princess Ka'iulani, heir to the throne, kept the exotic birds at 'Ainahau, the family's 10-acre garden estate in Waikiki. She became affectionately known as "The Princess of the Peacocks."

The animals flourished in the valley after the gift of King Kamehameha V.

Powell says the peacocks are part of the magical ambiance of the Towers.

"I love the sound," she said. "How can we be so lucky? It's nature. It's woods. It's terrific. And they're wonderful because they are so beautiful.

"Now, they are noisier in the spring and the fall, because I guess those are the mating seasons. But so what? And, occasionally, they're out with their tails spread open — and it's the most gorgeous thing."

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Keep Pet Safe on Road, in Air

As the value of pets in our lives rises, many people now consider their dogs to be part of the family and want to include them in family vacations.

Whether you're heading out to the beach or to a neighboring state for a dog show, the American Kennel Club offers the following tips to keep your travel days as comfortable as possible.

By car

• Secure your dog in a crate, carrier or harness that attaches to the seat belt. Pet supply stores sell harnesses and carry a range of sizes that will fit most breeds, from pugs to Great Danes. No animal should ever ride loose in the bed of a pickup truck, which can lead to serious injuries or death in the event of a crash.

• To prevent ear and eye injuries, do not allow your pooch to stick its head out the car window.

• Stop regularly to allow your dog to relieve itself and take a drink. A familiar toy or bed can also make the trip more comfortable.

• Do not leave your pet unattended in the car on hot days. Temperatures can rise quickly, causing heat stroke and other problems even with windows open. Stop immediately if your dog begins to pant excessively, drool or act sluggish and unresponsive.

By plane

• Pet travel policies vary by airline, so check requirements before booking your flight. For a list of carriers and their guidelines, visit

• Reservations are required for dogs traveling in-cabin as well as excess baggage or cargo. The number of pets allowed on each flight, the dog's age and breed, and crate size all factor into the reservation process.

• Your veterinarian must verify your pet's health and ability to fly no more than 10 days before the date of departure. Schedule a visit a few days before your trip to pick up a health certificate. Also request proof of rabies vaccination and other inoculations, which you may be required to show at various points during your journey.

• Weather can impact your dog's travel. Federal regulations prohibit shipping live animals as excess baggage or cargo if an animal will be exposed to temperatures below 45 degrees or above 85 degrees for more than four hours during departure, arrival or while making connections.

• Travel crates should be sturdy; large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down; and must be airline approved. Remember to have your name and contact information attached.

Additional tips can be found on the American Kennel Club Web site at

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More Weird Food My Dog Likes
by Nona Nelson -

Discovered this week that Stormy has a taste for: canteloupe, watermelon, cherries (pits removed, but I don't know why we bother since I am pretty sure he'd eat those, too) bell peppers and sugar snap peas.

The other two dogs do not seem to share his enthusiasm for these healthy treats, which suits him just fine because there's more for him that way.

They all like shrimp tails, however.


1.I have a cat & sheltie that just luv spaghetti!
I feed to them by holding it vertical & they just chomp their way up it!

Comment by mikey — May 31, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

2.My cat likes chili and just about anything we eat, especially cheese. The only thing she won't eat is fish. Go figure.

Comment by Liz — June 1, 2009 @ 10:46 am

3.I don't have a dog but one of my cats, Patrick James "PJ", (a rescue from the group FERAL) loves bakery products. One day he was determined to have a blueberry muffin, which was still in the plastic container from the grocery store. He carried that plastic thing all over the place trying to get it open. I finally gave him a nibble and he scarfed it down. He ended up eating almost 1/4 of a muffin! He also likes buttered toast. He's still skinny though, running off his extra calories chasing the laser dot.

Mikey, do they like the spaghetti plain or with sauce? lol

Comment by Debi — June 1, 2009 @ 10:59 am

4.My old golden loved to eat blueberries. We'd toss them and he'd catch them, yet the silly pup would never just eat them off the bush. Lucky for us. Anything that hit the floor was his though.

On the other hand, my cat Mooch loves to eat the bad stuff, the stuff he's not allowed, the stuff "mom" takes away...rubber bands, string, elastic hair bands, bracelets. Anything he can gnaw on needs to be guarded.

Comment by Heather Froeschl — June 1, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

5.Molly too, eats whatever she can, except potato chips and french fries. She doesn't like the salt! She loves spaghetti also and will eat it either way (sauce or not) but I try not to give her sauce if it has garlic and onions in it.

Comment by Tami — June 1, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

6.My dog, Holly, eats anything she can find. I have to watch her in the yard..she is constantly trying to eat bees! Last year she had a little frog in her mouth!

Comment by Deborah — June 1, 2009 @ 6:56 pm

7.We have 2 rescue dogs and Darlynn loves most any kind of fruit, especially melons, lettuce, red peppers and pretty much anything except corn. Bella, pickiest eater I have ever had. She is not really very fond of any type of doggie treat and most people foods don't get eaten. She will each chips, and...... beans, like chili beans, black beans... go figure. She actually tries to cover her own dog food up because she doesn't want it but doesn't want Darlynn to have it. Strange eats at my house.

Comment by D — June 2, 2009 @ 9:04 am

8.D- I am sure my dogs would love beans, but there's no way I am trying that one. The three of them can foul the fragrance of a roon enough as it without adding beans to the mix.

Cats are funny little eaters. My cat Thai does not have a taste for people food at all, but he will take a sip of beverages in glasses. I walked in once to see him slurping down a Diet Sprite.

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Puppy Chicken and Rice Medley
By Brad Weston

If you are looking for a way to save on the high cost of dog food in the stores, why not try making your own with a great puppy chicken and rice medley? This is a recipe that is very simple to make, and you can always change things up or make swaps in ingredients to make it different once in a while. When people wonder why dogs will beg for food, you need to only be reminded of the bland and flavorless kibble that they eat. Making your own will not only offer the dog something different, it will ensure that they are eating healthy.

What you will need in order to make this recipe is:

• 1 cup of long grain or brown rice
• 1- 1 1/2 pound ground beef
• 3/4 cup rolled oats
• 2 cut up chicken leg quarters
• 1 rinsed and drained can of kidney beans (15 ounce)
• 2 shredded carrots
• 1 cup of cottage cheese
• 1/2 cup of olive oil
• 2 cups frozen chopped broccoli that has been thawed
• (optional) 1 minced clove garlic

All of these ingredients are healthy and will promote a healthy lifestyle for your dog, but it is important to note that garlic is something that should always be used in moderation if it is going to be used at all. Garlic is something that can actually cause anemia in dogs so it should be used with discretion. Regardless of the garlic that can be used or negated all together, this puppy chicken and rice medley is an excellent option for those that are looking for something different.

Preparing A Puppy Masterpiece

When you have decided to give the puppy chicken and rice medley a go, you are going to need to do some preparations. You will first need to cover the chicken pieces with water with the chicken being covered by at least an inch. You will bring the water to a boil, and when this happens you will then reduce heat and simmer the chicken for approximately 40-45 minutes.

Once you have removed the chicken from the water that it was boiling in, you do not want to discard the broth, as this is what you will be adding the rice too. You will be browning your ground beef in a large skillet while the rice is boiling, and once they are both complete you will be adding all of the other ingredients to a bowl for mixing.

A Great Meal

This puppy chicken and rice medley is something that your dog will absolutely love, and you will not have to worry about the quality of life that your dog has. This is an excellent alternative to the filler formula kibble foods that are on the market today, and you will find that your dog will be begging for your food less. This is an excellent way to introduce something special into your dog's life.

Brad Weston writes dog food related articles for the Good Dog Food Recipes website at

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Leash Training Your Cat
By Mark M Fischer

Many people are keeping their cats inside because they know outdoor cats are exposed to more dangers and they typically have a shorter lifespan. But some cats desperately want to go outside occasionally, despite their parents' concerns. I know I get the urge to get outside after being in the house too long. I can see my cats glued to the windows at times; I think they may feel the same way.

But there is a way you can let your cats outside while keeping them safe. While it doesn't work for all cats, some cats take pretty well to being on a leash. It's better to try leash training your cat when she is younger, but sometimes older cats will take to it. But before committing to it be prepared to dismiss the idea if it isn't working for your kitty.

To have a better chance of success there are a few steps you can take during the leash training process. For starters it's better to have a harness that fits around the body instead of a regular pet collar that fits on the neck. A regular pet collar isn't as safe to use when you are leash training a cat or taking your cat for a walk because if the cat is suddenly scared or spooked she could hurt herself by pulling or jerking on the leash, or she could slip out of the collar and run off. A harness can help prevent these types of things from happening.

Of course you can't expect to just put the harness and leash on and go for a walk right away. You will need to work up to it. First you may want to keep the harness and leash around the house so she can start to become familiar with it. Next put the harness on your cat and let her wear it around the house for short periods. Once she seems alright with that try putting the leash on the harness and try walking her in the house.

During this time always be gentle and talk in an encouraging voice. Don't yell or jerk on the leash and don't force anything. If kitty seems too scared or fearful this probably isn't a good idea for her --you may need to scratch the idea of leash training your cat. If you can't walk with her comfortably in the house, you definitely don't want to take her outside. You may need to find another way to get her the fresh air she may be craving.

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