The Minneapolis Lake Creature PLUS Questions to Ask a Pet Sitter

4 Tips to Fight Your Pet's Blues
When Kids Go Back to School
Reported by: Jennifer Harrington -

The kids will be headed back to school in just a few weeks.

After months of having the kids around to play with, your dogs and cats could find themselves sad and lonely once the children head to class.

Melissa Gable Executive Director of FACC's - Friends of Animal Care & Control says your pet may appear upset, sleep more than usual, or may even become destructive.

She says you may find they start chewing, digging or having accidents inside the house.

These types of behaviors are commonly referred to as separation anxiety.

Gable offers these suggestions to cure your pets back to school blues:

•Exercise! Just like humans, physical activity releases endorphins – feel good chemicals in the brain. Also, keep in mind that many animals can pick up on your feelings … if YOU are depressed about your child going off to college, your dog may sense that.

•Soothing Scents! Have your son or daughter leave behind a t-shirt or blanket that has their scent on it.

• Desensitization. Think about all the “cues” your dog reacts to – such as putting on school clothes, or picking up keys to drive your kids to school. To desensitize your animal, pick up your keys 10 times in an evening without actually leaving – the dog will eventually no longer associate keys with leaving. This will reduce their level of anxiety.

•Play down your departure. Ignore your dog or cat 15 to 30 minutes prior to leaving and arriving; resist long drawn-out goodbyes. Only give your animal attention when they are calm and relaxed.
Finally, your veterinarian may be able to help you with behavior modification, or refer you to a trainer or animal behaviorist. They may also suggest medication for your pet.

The Origin of the Short-Legged Dog
By Sarah Arnquist - The New York Times

Dachshund owners may love their little dogs’ short legs. But to scientists, this trait is just a developmental disorder.

This week a group led by Heidi Parker, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute, reported in Science that they have identified the single evolutionary event that created the modern short-legged dog. It’s an extra copy of a gene that was acquired by mutation at least 300 years ago, when modern dog breeding began.

The extra gene is the reason for the stubby legs of dachshunds, basset hounds and other short-legged breeds. It causes the overproduction of a protein that disrupts their growth during fetal development, the scientists say.

Having joined the genetic repertoire of dogs, the gene was available for selection by dog breeders whenever they wanted to develop a downsized breed. The basset hound, for example, was bred for its short legs so people on horseback could keep up with it during hunting, Dr. Parker said.

The Dachshund’s long body, short legs and flexible spine make it ideal for wriggling into tight spaces to follow badgers and other burrowing, according to the author of “Dachshunds for Dummies.” The breed’s short legs give it other advantages, such as the ability to move briskly through thick brush, to dig holes and to catch and follow a scent due to its closeness to the ground.

In exploring why some dogs have short legs, the researchers sifted through a database of more than 40,000 markers of genetic variation from DNA samples of 835 dogs, including 95 with short legs.

Dog owners may adore their little down-sized pets. But to the wolves who are the ancestors of all canine breeds, short-legged dogs and all other quirky deviations from the wolf form must seem like freaks of nature.

What Are Some Tips For Keeping A Garage Cat?

This cat was our lovable outdoor cat. We tried bringing her in the house b/c of mice issues. Even the smell/presence of a cat keeps mice out. But, none of us are really enjoying the cat being in the house. We’d like to try to keep her in our attached garage. Will it work to allow her outdoors during the day and bring her in at night? We’ll have litter, bedding, food, water in the garage.

5 Responses to “What Are Some Tips For Keeping A Garage Cat?”
danl747 says:

Some basic tips:

1. If she is not already, GET HER SPAYED! If you don’t you will have more than 1 cat! If cost is an issue talk to your local shelter or rescue about low cost spay/neuter services.

2. Make sure she’s up to date on shots. Since she’ll be outside full time she’s that much more likely to encounter another cat or another animal.

3. Sounds like you have the basics covered in the garage. Just make sure you keep up with it. Change the water daily, keep food in the bowl, etc. She’ll be depending on you for that.

4. Extreme weather. You should bring her inside during extreme weather events, especially winter storms/very cold weather, etc.
Good luck with your little friend

The_Pet_ says:

Think of the cat the same way you would of a garage band!
Plenty of beer and/or whisky. Lots of pizza and cheese doodles!
And you will have a kitty that still can’t sing any better than the garage band in your mind, but the cat will be happy and fat!

Unless it tries to sing the blues. In that case, give the cat some bologna and banana sammiches, the same thing that Elbis used to eat a lot of.

Though Elbis was the King of Rock and Roll (read this as King of the Rockabillies, because some stupid head dummy tried to make Elbis the King of Rock and Roll, and I do hate the thought of Elbis trying to claim that title), he ended up dead on a toilet. I do believe that Elbis mainlined one too many Twinkies.

So make sure there is no toilet in the garage. Elbis would insist on no toilet! And make sure that you check up every once in awhile on the Kitty of Rock and Roll and/or Blues. We wouldn’t want the Kitty of Fame to mistakenly think that a shotgun is a nice bong, do we? Kurt Cobain…where are ya now?

So make the cat think that you really care about it. And don’t be disappointed if the cat says that you don’t love it anymore. Or that it hates you. And that the cat uses your cell phone minutes as if they were free. And likes to go around with a mohawk haircut.

It will grow out of this!
The Pet Ponderer

harold. says:

I would say yes bring her in at night and keep her there for the night and then let her go out in the morning….and keep repetting it until a regular routine is there.

Alexa's mommy ? says:

just have a cat door for her to go in and out when she pleases. she’ll come in at night if thats what she wants. as long as she knows where her bed and food are she’ll keep coming back

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Keeping Exotic Pets is Lighting Fuse for Danger
By Jennifer O'Connor -

A toddler is strangled to death by her family's pet python. A woman lies in a coma, her face and hands ripped off, after being attacked by her friend's pet chimpanzee. A 9-year-old girl is dead after an attack by her stepfather's pet tiger. Thousands of people all over the country - most recently in Florida, where the horrific python attack took place - have been bitten, mauled and killed by exotic pets.

How have we reached the point at which lions and tigers live in basements, monkeys are diapered and alligators are walked on leashes?

Every year, countless people succumb to the temptation to purchase "exotic" animals such as monkeys, macaws, lizards - even tigers, lions and bears - to keep as "pets." Unbelievably, there is no federal law prohibiting the private ownership of wild or dangerous animals. But captivity is often a death sentence for exotics and, in too many cases, for the people who "had" to have them.

The ugly cycle begins when breeders remove newborn animals from their mothers within hours or days of birth so they can be "hand-raised" and acclimated to human contact. Big cats, bears and primates all have close bonds with their offspring, and such traumatic separations leave both mother and infant emotionally scarred for life. Birds and alligators are extremely nurturing and will fight to the death to protect their babies. Being bred in captivity doesn't negate the instincts and desires of these animals.

Dealers market exotics as if they were little more than stuffed toys, and they downplay their extremely specialized needs. Because exotics are sold at flea markets and auctions, in classified ads and on the Internet, it's all too easy for people to buy them on a whim.

But exotic species have precise dietary needs and require specialized veterinary care that even zoos, with their vast resources, have a difficult time fulfilling. Reptiles need technical spectrum lighting, big cats require a specialized fortified diet or their bones become deformed, and tropical birds need high levels of humidity in order to thrive. The thrill of owning a novelty pet can wear off before the check even clears, once the burdensome level of care becomes apparent. Many animals are quickly relegated to life at the end of a chain or in a tiny cage; others are passed from one owner to the next.

Many simply are dumped, left to succumb to hunger, terror and thirst. Some animals, such as pythons, adapt and overtake ecosystems in which they don't belong. Florida officials estimate there may be as many as 150,000 Burmese pythons (snakes native to Southeast Asia) living in the Everglades - descendants of "pets" who were discarded and now are reproducing. The effect these invaders have on native wildlife is staggering.

Denied everything that is important to them and forced into close contact with humans, stressed and agitated animals frequently lash out. Countless people have suffered devastating injuries, and many have lost limbs or their very lives. But why is anyone surprised when a wild animal behaves as nature intended? Tigers are genetically designed to hunt. Alligators have remained unchanged for 200 million years. Yet when wild animals follow their instincts, it's usually their death sentence: Most captive animals who cause injuries are killed.

Keeping tigers, reptiles and bears in cages is like lighting a fuse and pretending it won't go off. How many people and animals must pay with their lives before we acknowledge that exotic animals don't belong in private homes and backyard menageries?

• Jennifer O'Connor is a captive-exotic animal campaign writer with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Write her at PETA, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510.

Walking the Dog, Cat, Bird, Ferret, or You Name It
Seattle PI

One of the true pleasures of having an animal companion is being out in nature with your pet. We receive letters from people who walk their cats regularly. That's a sight we haven't had the pleasure of seeing yet.

We have observed people walking a family of ferrets on leashes. One woman carried her multi-colored bird -- squawking and talking -- on her shoulder around the lake.

It's delightful for us to take our cocker spaniel Leaf for walks around the wonderful lakes and ponds here in Minnesota. He picks up what one of our friends calls his "pee-mail" report while sniffing every tree, trashcan, and blade of grass he passes. People stop to pet him. Sometimes, he's receptive. Other times, he just wants to be left alone to enjoy his communion with nature.

Last week, while we strolled along the path surrounding beautiful Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, we spotted a new addition -- the Lake Creature.

Passersby told us that this prehistoric creature was first spotted on July 8, 2009. Fortunately we had brought our camera, so we were able to take pictures.

The Lake Creature is not as scary as the Loch Ness monster but he reminded us that dinosaurs roamed this area millions of years ago. Perhaps the Lake Creature is our own Jurassic Park remnant of that bygone era.

Visit to view the pictures. Also visit to read about this interesting and fun Minnesota project that causes lake walkers to do a double take and children to say, "Ooooo!"

What creatures have you seen on your walks with animal companions? What types of unusual pets have you observed people walking?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network

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PET CORNER: Place ID on Collars
By Laverne Hughey, Humane Society of Harrison County

Yes, another article about lost dogs or cats not wearing proper identification on the animal's collar.

No doubt, a lot of readers are weary reading about animals being out in the heat, the cold, or not wearing I.D. on their collars, but when animal guardians start placing I.D. tags on animals, I will be happy to stop writing about this problem.

Last weekend, a friend of mine mentioned that she saw a Chihuahua and a larger dog walking along her street, headed toward U.S. Highway 80. Not a good thing. So, being the thoughtful person she is, she prepared a bowl of water and another bowl with dog food and set it down for them. They were obviously well-cared for and were not hungry or thirsty. It was one of the very hot days that we have been experiencing lately, but they took only a sip of water and a bite of food, looked around, and turned in the opposite direction, away from the highway. What a relief.

Then, a neighbor came out and told my friend she would put the dogs in her fenced yard to keep them safe. Later, the dogs somehow escaped from that fenced yard. The lady picked up the Chihuahua with the larger dog following along. Soon, a man drove by in his car and said he had just arrived home from work and noticed the dogs were missing. He put the dogs in his car and headed home, about two blocks away. The dogs have not been seen since, so perhaps they are totally secure in their own fenced yard, never to escape again.

The man and his dogs were very lucky they were noticed by my friend and her neighbor and they were willing to take the time to help the dogs. The man did seem to appreciate it, as he should have.

Most people ignore dogs or cats that roam the streets and perhaps visit their yard. They don't want to be bothered and hope the animal will eventually go home. No one knows that dogs or cats that are out of a fenced yard or home can often give chase to another animal and run so far that it becomes lost and does not know where home is. Or, the animal may be chased by another animal and become lost. These dogs or cats are fortunate if someone notices them and gets involved.

How the process of getting the animal's guardian and animal reunited would be so simple, if only the animal had an I.D. tag on its collar. One quick phone call, and that's it.

My friend's sister who lives in Denver, Colo., noticed a dog in her yard one day, it was wearing a tag on its collar. Unfortunately, it was on a Saturday when most veterinarian's offices are closed. This can present a problem if the animal is wearing only a rabies tag. This particular dog was wearing a tag with a company name and microchip number. She called the company, gave the clerk the chip number and was advised of the dog's caretaker and telephone number. Animal and family reunited, end of that story.

How many people do you suppose would go to that much trouble? Probably not many. A lot of people do not know what a microchip is and would not pursue it.

The lady called the owner and told her that she had the dog, and to please put the home phone number on the tag. The woman said she thought it would be "dangerous" to put her own phone number on the tag. She said she was concerned someone might steal the dog. How a phone number could cause someone to steal a dog is strange.

Whether you have a dog or cat in the family and the facility the dog or cat came from does not place a collar and I.D. on the animal before it leaves the shelter, humane society, or whatever, please take the animal to its new home, placing it safely inside the home or garage, and go immediately to purchase a collar and I.D. tag. Some stores have name tag machines and the tag can be completed in a matter of minutes.

Bone Up on Pet Sitters
Sara Irvin Special to the Reporter-News

Questions to ask a potential pet sitter:

1. How much notice does the pet sitter need to schedule services? Many request two weeks notice.

2. How much do you charge? Sitter should have a published list of fees.

3. Is the pet sitter bonded and insured? Ask for proof of coverage.

4. Does the sitter have a clean criminal history? Ask for third-party credentials that verify the sitter has a history of honesty and integrity. Official verification documents will contain current annual dates (within one year) and certified seals.

5. Does the pet sitter meet with you and your pet in advance? Is there a charge for this meeting? Some sitters offer this for free. Others may charge.

6. How much experience does the sitter have with your type of pet? Experience in caring for special needs pets or unusual types of pets is helpful if that is what you need.

7. Can the pet sitter provide references?

8. Does the sitter have a service contract spelling out the terms and conditions?

9. How much time will the pet sitter spend with your pet? The average in-home visit to care for one pet is 30 minutes,

10. What will the pet sitter do in a medical emergency for your pet? Arrangements should be made with your veterinarian to allow the sitter to seek care while you are away. This may be covered in the contract you sign.

11. Will the sitter provide updates on your pet’s well being while you are gone? Some sitters offer this service, such as a e-mail updates.

12. Is the sitter willing to do other small tasks, such as collect the newspaper or mail or water plants? Some sitters may offer this in addition to pet sitting.

Source: Pet Sitters International

For many families, summer is a time of rest, relaxation and vacation, but for some, summer can have an added anxiety of how to care for their pets in their absence. Despite a growing trend of motels now being “dog-friendly,” bringing pets along on trips isn’t always an option, many find soliciting friends and family to check on pets too taxing to ask, particularly those in rural settings.

Often pet parents opt for boarding their animals in kennels. Leslie Reyes, office manager at Abilene Veterinary Clinic, says summer is the clinic’s busiest time of year. “Christmas and Thanksgiving are our other two biggies,” she said. The clinic’s rates for boarding are $13-$22 per day based on weight.

One good reason for choosing a boarding service such as Abilene Veterinary Clinic, 1365 S. Danville Drive, is the access to immediate medical attention should the pet need it, Reyes said.

“We have one boarding tech at all times and two vets on staff,” she said.

The clinic also provides food and litter, unless the owners have their pets on a special diet, and ensure dogs get play time outside three or four times a day, as well as a bath before going home.

“The kitties also have their play area as well,” Reyes said.

While dogs and cats make up the vast majority of animals boarded, the clinic has also had more exotic animals, such as birds, rabbits and ferrets, in their care.

Still, those with more tightly wound animals may worry about the stress of a foreign environment and hire a pet-sitter.

Judy Bialik of Critter Sitters has been pet-sitting in Abilene for eight years and considers the service a necessity for pet owners’ peace of mind.

It’s important that pets have a sense of familiarity, Bialik said. Different surroundings can be unnerving, especially for cats and small dogs.

“Cats are unnerved if you just change the furniture,” Bialik joked.

Bialik, who says she has about 100 clients, charges $10 for the first visit, and $5 for each additional visit per day for clients in town, with adjusted rates for those farther flung about the Abilene area. Bialik said these rates are per household, not per animal.

“I don’t do barnyards,” Bialik laughed. “It has to fit in your back yard.”

And dogs and cats aren’t her only game.

“Vets often recommend me to clients who have a dog, but also have birds, rats or ferrets to care for,” Bialik said.

In addition to caring for the pets, it’s not unusual for a sitter to tend to other needs of the house.

Bialik has no qualms about watering plants or fetching mail and newspapers in her clients’ absence. She asks that they leave not just contact information for veterinarians but also emergency numbers for issues of the home such as plumbing problems or a fire.

Whether immediate medical attention or familiarity of surroundings is more important to a pet owner, the knowledge of their pets’ well-being can make all the difference in a summer vacation.

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Housebreaking: Advice To Ease The Process
by Bella Holly -

Housebreaking a dog or puppy is often the most stressful aspect of owning a pet. However, the process can be less challenging if you have a few tips to help you out. This article will give you pointers on dog potty training based around the concept of accident prevention rather than punishment.

Puppies are a lot like children in that their minds are like sponges, which is why most people begin obedience and potty training when during puppyhood. The main thing which you must understand before beginning the training process is that a puppy does have limited control of his bladder, so it is best if you admit to yourself that accidents will happen, and come to terms with the idea. A good thing you can do for your puppy is to buy him a crate or similar place that will be his own “personal” space. That way, if you’re unable to watch him for a time, the accident will be in the crate and not somewhere around the house where you may not notice for a while.

One of the best things you can do for your puppy (and your sanity!) is to develop a regular routine as soon as you can. Try to feed him, take him outside, and put him down for bed around the same time every day. This will get his “body clock” set to the routine and he will eventually learn to rely upon this, as long as you follow through on your part and keep the routine as constant as possible, at least until your pup gets a bit older and develops more bladder control and adaptability.

When an accident does occur, don’t get upset or hit your dog. If you didn’t catch him in the act, simply put him in his crate while you clean up the mess. There is no point in trying to punish him, as he will not know why he is in trouble. If you do catch him in the act, giving him a firm ‘No!’ will let him know you are upset. Immediately take him to the proper spot outside and praise him if he goes again.

Potty training your puppy can be a trying time, but a bit of patience and determination will see you through the process. Just remember: develop a routine and take your puppy outside about 15 minutes after meal time. Soon, you will find that training becomes even easier, at which point you’ll want to start training him not only for obedience, but also for using items such as pet stairs instead of jumping onto furniture. Pet steps are much better for your dog’s joints and reduces the likelihood of your dog developing arthritis or sustaining an injury from falling off of high furniture.

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Pet Travel: Put Safety First

Summer is the peak family vacation season, and more families than ever are taking their pet along on summer vacation. Let's try to make this travel safe and happy.

The major travel risks for your pet are injuries, exposure to unfamiliar viruses and becoming lost.

Basic precautions for your pet's safety include a visit to his doctor before leaving home, updating immunizations and loading up on flea and tick preventatives.

Check with the Department of Agriculture in the areas where you will travel, or ask your veterinary practitioner which other vaccines may be required in that area and ask that your veterinarian administer them to your animal at least 10 days before your planned departure. This 10-day span is aimed at allowing your pet's body to develop the new antibodies required to protect him against unfamiliar diseases.

To lessen the chance of digestive upset, take along some water from home and pack your pet's usual food.

Once your pet has been protected against new diseases, it is time to move on to other safeguards.

Contrary to what Walt Disney would have us believe, animals are not all created with an instant homing device implanted in their brains. Dogs have a slight advantage over cats in their ability to find their way home, but even a bloodhound can become lost if far enough from familiar territory.

Dogs recognize and remember things and places by their scent, while cats focus on vision. A dog taken a couple of miles from home might be able to get back home by searching for familiar scents.

A cat, taken even a block from home, may be permanently lost unless he is able to see familiar places. Animals lost away from home, frightened or injured, may never be able to get home again. So it is up to you to keep them safe.

State law requires that dogs wear a collar with identification tags at all times. One hopes no one would ever leave a training (choke) collar on a dog at any time the dog is not actually being trained. These collars are not intended for everyday wear; they are dangerous.

Many dogs have been killed by one of these collars getting stuck and strangling the dog. But, you are way too smart to ever leave a choke collar on your dog, right?

So, to comply with state law, your dog will wear a strap collar when outdoors, and the collar will hold an identification tag with your contact info, plus the dog's rabies and license tag. Any dog can be traced to its owner through the numbers on these tags, if they are current.

Additionally, if your dog is registered with the American Kennel Club, you can request a tag from them containing the dog's registration number and the toll-free 24 hour phone number for the AKC Companion Animal Recovery Service.

AKC's CAR is not limited to dogs; they accept microchip registration numbers for any animal, from a pet mouse to a horse or cow or a pet rabbit. Further information about AKC and CAR can be found at

Smart owners provide additional protection for their pet dog or cat by having a microchip implanted under his skin, at the base of his neck. The number is then registered with one of the national services, or it will provide no protection. All shelters own microchip scanners, as do many vet hospitals and police departments. The service you choose should be available 24 hours a day, all year long, and should not require that you pay an additional annual fee to renew your protection.

Unless things have changed, AKC's CAR is the only service that provides this full level of service.

When planning travel with your pet, there are some special deals available. One recently announced is for the Motel 6 chain; they have announced that anyone traveling with their AKC registered dog is eligible for a special 10 percent discount.

The Motel 6 Pet Policy is: They will allow one well-behaved pet per room, except in states where this is prohibited. Service animals are always allowed, in every state. The pet must be declared when you check into the motel.

In consideration of other guests, the pet must be attended at all times. Pets should never be left alone in the room or your automobile.

Pets must be on leash or carried when outside of the room. Due to safety concerns for motel employees, they will not clean a room containing an unattended pet.

Pet owners may be asked to vacate the property if their pet becomes a nuisance to other guests. Owners are expected to clean up after their pets both inside and outdoors.

Sounds fair to me. Happy travels.

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