Safe Boating With Your Dog PLUS The Usefullness of Cats

Pet Owner Who Gave Up Ailing Pup
Was Told She Must Pay to Get It Back
By LORA PABST, Mpls Star Tribune

Holly is the mother of the litter of Shih Tzu mix puppies owned by Pat Bergstrom.
Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

Pat Bergstrom watched over her tiny 3-week-old Shih Tzu puppy as its taut stomach heaved with each labored breath. A few hours later in the veterinarian's office, Bergstrom was weighing whether to pursue costly testing or let the puppy die.

Then the vet suggested another possibility -- turn the puppy over to the animal hospital and it would try to save the animal.

"I can't afford thousands of dollars, what else could I do?" Bergstrom said. "I just signed through my tears."

Dr. Adam Hurlbut, the owner of Kelley Animal Hospital in Lexington, said his office believed Bergstrom wanted it euthanized.

"[W]e decided that in order to save the life of a potentially treatable 3-week-old puppy, we would offer Ms. Bergstrom the option of legally surrendering the puppy," he said in a statement. The dog recovered and was placed in an adoptive home, but now Bergstrom has filed a complaint against the vet, saying she was misled about the puppy's condition.

As tough economic times continue, the number of sick pets "relinquished" to veterinarians increases. The confrontation between Bergstrom and Kelley Animal Hospital is an argument against the practice, veterinary leaders say.

John King, the executive director of the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine, said he strongly discourages veterinarians from taking over pets from owners, but he acknowledges that might require vets to euthanize an animal that could be saved.

"Often times it comes back to bite them in the backside," he said.

No other options

Late on a Friday afternoon at the beginning of June, Bergstrom, a special education teacher from Blaine, noticed that one of the puppies in the litter was struggling to breathe and appeared to be in pain. She hurried to the Kelley Animal Hospital before it closed for the weekend.

The puppy lay in her lap on top of a hot water bottle as she discussed the possible causes with Dr. Lisa Heitmiller. Hurlbut and Bergstrom disagree about what was said, but copies of the patient records from Kelley Animal Hospital show what options were presented.

The record lists four options: take the puppy to the University of Minnesota for an ultrasound, give it medication for the pain and take it home, sign the puppy over to the clinic, or euthanize the animal.

Hurlbut said Heitmiller was not able to make a diagnosis without further tests, so she presented as many options as she could to Bergstrom, including taking the puppy home to monitor it. While Hurlbut said Bergstrom asked to have the dog euthanized, she vehemently denies that.

"The way she phrased it made me feel like if I left with that puppy, it would die," Bergstrom said. "I felt I had no other options."

On June 5, Bergstrom signed a two-line form that concluded: "I understand I am signing over my rights to Kelley Animal Hospital because I decline any further medical treatment for my puppy."

A few days later, Bergstrom said she received a voicemail from Heitmiller saying that the puppy was doing much better. The records say that Heitmiller was still unsure what caused the puppy's distress, but that she suspected nasal congestion and labored breathing caused by gas.

Bergstrom said she was confused because she thought the puppy would die without extensive medical treatment. She hoped Heitmiller would offer to return the puppy so it could be with its mother and siblings.

Hurlbut said his office manager did offer to return the puppy to Bergstrom if she would pay for the care the puppy had received when Heitmiller took it home, but Bergstrom refused. From Bergstrom's perspective, since she had already paid $220 for veterinary care, she said she thought it was ridiculous that she would be asked to pay more.

Three days later, the animal hospital sent Bergstrom a letter saying that the puppy had been turned over to a new home.

Bergstrom has filed suit in Anoka County Conciliation Court seeking more than $600 for the cost of the puppy, the puppy's medical care and court costs.

She's also considering a complaint with the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine.

After hearing about Bergstrom's case, King said if she brings her case to the state's veterinary board it will go through an investigative process, just like every complaint, to determine if any action against the veterinarian is warranted.

"What this comes down to is money and who is going to spend it and who's going to take the risk to care for the animal," he said. "That's the unfortunate horrid situation that animal owners and vets are placed in in these types of situations."

He said pet owners need to be prepared to pay for veterinary care and make tough decisions based on the information the vet can provide at the time. Vets can make the choice to treat an animal for free, he said, but they can't save every pet that shows up in their clinic.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Click on banner to visit this site.

Suzy-Q is Always Eager & Oh So Happy
to Cuddle with Sick Children…..Parents, Too!
Lori Moak-Kean - Seattle PI

Suzy-Q is a three year old chocolate lab who was adopted from Homeward Pet by Arron and Jacquie. They adopted beautiful Suzy in 2006 because they fell in love with her big brown eyes. As Jacquie told me, "While all the other dogs were barking and jumping in their kennels, Suzy-Q was just sitting there quietly with a ball in her mouth and those big brown eyes which to this day, nobody can resist. Needless to say our search for a dog was over and we couldn't be happier. Since she was already 3 years old and responded to her name, we decided that is was not necessary to change it."

Arron and Jacquie have been volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Seattle for the past 5 years. Since Suzy's temperament is so laid back and she loves people, big and small, they inquired at the RMH about having her registered as a Delta Society Pet Partner. And, in just under a year she successfully completed her basic obedience, Canine Good Citizen, and eventually all three became Pet Partners teams.

For the past couple of years, Suzy-Q goes to the RMH on Wednesdays to visit with the families staying there. "One of us will stay with Suzy-Q while the other one takes the families on shopping trips, then we switch every week. The parents, as much as the kids, love to come by and just hang out with Suzy. She's always happy to cuddle with whoever stops by and cheers up those who need it. If it's a slow night with not many visitors, sometimes Suzy falls asleep and the kids get a kick out of hearing her snore as she can be quite loud! The staff also loves her as well and she always makes her rounds to see everyone and never fails to leave the House without a tummy full of dog treats.

In fact, the Volunteer Coordinator at the RMH always has doggie treats on hand and Suzy always knows when she's coming and instantly perks up before she's even in sight. Sometimes we have to remind Suzy that she's actually "working" as she gets so spoiled by everyone!" said Jacquie.

Arron, Jacquie and Suzy enjoy their weekly visits to RMH. Many of the parents and children thank them for coming in. In fact, one little girl can often be heard yelling Suuuuuuzzzzzzy from down the hallway as she is coming in to visit Suzy. Several parents have said that their child would never get close to a dog yet pretty soon they are petting Suzy and sitting right next to her. The kids especially love to pet her ears the most as "they are the softest".

Jacquie mentioned a particularly poignant "a ha" moment when sharing their story with me.

"One of the parents had just lost their child from cancer and was returning to the RMH from the hospital. She was obviously completely heartbroken and crushed. Shortly after she came in, her friend came to see us and asked if we would mind bringing Suzy to see the mom as she apparently had a lab at one time and loved dogs. Of course we agreed and Suzy gingerly made her way over to the woman. Through all the pain which I couldn't even begin to imagine, the lady indeed gave Suzy a big hug and there was even a quick, small smile. You know, I haven't thought of that story for awhile yet it still gives me chills. It is definitely moments like that which remind me how VERY important simple things like bringing Suzy in to visit the RMH for a couple hours a week can be."

Arron says that the majority of the time people mention that Suzy reminds them of their own animals which have either passed away or are at home being taken care of while they are staying at the RMH. Of course, these folks miss their own pets very much but it makes them smile and laugh as they tell all kinds of great doggy stories. In addition, Suzy seems to provide a relaxing and easy break for both the parents and the kids; giving them a nice, fun distraction from the reasons why they are at the RMH.

A sincere thank you to Suzy-Q and her two humans, Arron and Jacquie, for their wonderful volunteer efforts. You three provide comfort, kindness and smiles every Wednesday at RMH!

P.S. Did you know that approximately 30% of all Delta Society Pet Partners teams adopted their animal partner from a shelter or rescue organization!

Why Won’t My Cat Eat the Head?
By Phyllis DeGioia -

Most serial killers leave some kind of signature. Dickens’ is to leave the rodent’s decapitated head. Apparently he thinks the heads are too yucky or difficult to eat; I guess the skull is not worth the effort unless you’re just going to swallow the thing whole. I have visions of the horse’s head in “The Godfather” reduced to a feline scale, although I’ve stopped screaming loudly enough to wake the dead when I find one.

Talk about bloody murder, murder most foul. … I want to know why he refuses to eat the head. It’s just unnerving to find a head without a body. Ask Johnny Depp in “Sleepy Hollow.”

Last night my eye caught something on the brown rug in the living room. Sadly, it was exactly what I thought: a decapitated rodent head resting on what was left of its neck, its previously cute snout pointed at the ceiling. That meant that in all likelihood Dickens had left most of the rest of the rodent, minus a few victory bites, somewhere in the house. I searched for it rather than accidentally step on it, and wandered gingerly through the house. Never found it. Usually the remainder is adjacent to the decapitated head. Last night he must have either brought the mouse head in from the outside as a gruesome victory, looking for a traitor’s gate on which to pike it ( a la “Braveheart”), or found the rest of it to be tasty.

I hope it wasn’t Leroy. I’m not good at identifying rodents, but twice now a chubby dark rodent that I suspect is a shrew has had the poor luck to be captured and carried into the porch or has had the indecency to get in by himself. Once he made it all the way into the house, which is when I named him Leroy. Leroy sauntered along at his own slow speed with a kind of doop-de-doo ramble with attitude as though he were sightseeing and I should get out of his way. I shooed him out onto the porch with a broom and from there directly to the yard. He is either a big bad boy daring me to nail him– the Travis Bickel of shrews calling ”You talkin’ to me?” – or he’s too ignorant to realize he’s rambled into enemy territory. When I see Big Bad Leroy Brown, I wonder where Dickens and Dodger are. I envision Dickens saying “heads are going to roll around here!” in the most literal sense.

Note to self: never get attached to wildlife by naming them after Jim Croce songs, especially if you get upset when they get decapitated. Birds gotta fly, bees gotta buzz, and cats – at least mine – gotta decapitate. It’s an offer nature can’t refuse.

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.
Click on banner to visit AmeriMark.

Water Safety: Boating With Your Dog: 5 Safety Tips

Once your dog gets more and more confident about going in the water by himself, you may try sharing other marine activities that both of you can enjoy. But before heading to the water, whether to go swimming, boating, or playing fetch, it is important to know some basic knowledge and safety measures.

Here are some tips to help you and your dog get the most out of your water experience, while keeping safety paramount:

1. Not all beaches allow dogs. Check the ordinance to make sure that your dog can come along. If you have access to the Internet, you may go online at to find a list of beaches that allow pets in the United States and Canada.

2. If boating is one of your favorite pastimes and you want to bring your dog with you, take your time when introducing him to this activity. You have to remember that he is used to hard surfaces that are stable and do not move.

Regardless of the size of your boat, whether it is a small canoe, or a large yacht, allow him to get acquainted to your boat while he is on the leash. Also, your dog’s first couple of boat trips should be very short, no longer than an hour or so. This will allow you to get a good sense of his comfortability levels with spending time on a moving surface.

3. When heading out on your boat on a bright, sunny day, ensure that your dog has a shaded area to spend time in when things get too warm. The surface of your boat can become uncomfortably hot underneath the boiling sun, especially during the dead of summer. And your dog’s ears and nose may become sunburned without shade.

4. There is nothing more fun than being out in the middle of the ocean or lake and jumping off the side of your boat for a good swim. If your dog joins you, be sure to pay attention to strong tides, jellyfish, and sea lice.

Sea lice can cause extreme itching and irritation to your dog’s skin. Jellyfish can obviously sting your pet. And when coming back onto the boat, be sure to rinse both you and your dog off with clean water.

5. Last but not least, always bring your own drinking water. Though it may seem more convenient to have your dog drink from the river or lake, it is not a good idea to do so. Slow moving water such as lakes and ponds are sometimes contaminated with bacteria and parasites.

Animal Shelters and How You Can Help
By Natasha Bently

Animal shelters are facing serious budget problems as the economy continues to falter. Contributions are down at most shelters across the country and your local animal shelter is probably one of them. Most animals are basically defenseless and require human intervention for their well being. If you have any concern for animals there are things that you can do to support the welfare of animals in your local community. Remember how we treat our animals and pets says a lot about us as a society.

One of the most important ways in which you can support your local animal shelter might surprise you. If you have pets take care are of them. Don't create more problems for the animal shelter in your own community. Have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted and uncared for pets from roaming the streets or countryside where you live. If you are not part of the problem then you are already helping and have become part of the solution. Be responsible not only with your pets but in every area of your life. Personal responsibility is sorely lacking in todays culture and by taking care of animals that your are responsible for you are doing your part to alleviate the animal cruelty that exists in the country today.

Many animal shelters would appreciate some free help. In fact many animal shelters rely on volunteer help as they are unable to hire individuals for many of the duties that must be performed at the animal shelter. Donating just a few hours of your time a week can lessen the burden on the regular staff and give the animals under their care some much needed tender loving care. It will be a rewarding experience for you as well as the animals give you their love and attention.

Financial help is almost always needed as animal shelters are usually under funded to start with and are one of the first program to suffer when cutbacks are made. If you would like to help your local shelter financially but down have the cash to help out by using a little creativity you can usually come up with a way to support the shelter. Consider holding a bake or garage sale and let people know that all proceeds will go directly to the local shelter. Many people who otherwise would not participate in something are more then willing to help out when it is for a good cause. Use your imagination and you can probably come up with dozens of ways to help out financially.

Animal shelters are one of the last lines of defense for abused and neglected animals. By doing your part to support this worthy cause you will helping those that share the planet with us but can't speak for themselves and you will feel better about yourself knowing you are doing your part to make the world a better place.

Unique ways to help your local animal shelter can be found at Animals Are Love. If you are an animal lover offering both your time and financial help can make a big difference in an animals life.

Article Source:

Click on banner to visit this site.

Click here for "Dating Tips, Relationship Advice and Intimacy"

Click here for "News, Commentary and Opinions"

The Uselessness of Cats, Part 2
By Nicholas Wade - The New York Times

Cat-lovers responded in fine style to the post alerting them to the charge by scientists that cats have no utility. Readers provided touching accounts of the love and companionship that cats can offer.

Thanks are due both to them and to all the cats who insisted their owners include their names in their comments. The cats are: Leo, Cinnamon, Marvin, Milo, Kitten, Melissa, Pufferbelly, Maggie, Gunther, Saki-Maki, Bob, Monet, Enza, Clyde, Jaspurr, Pumpkin, Carlton, S. Pizzicato, Wally, Ted, Seamus, Lionelle, Claudel, Snugglepuss, Plato, Crito, MeToo, Ringo, Raoul, Shadow, Gidget, Rocky, General Tso, Nina, Onyx, Una, Moses and Jeoffrey.

These and other cats performed some pretty useful services, according to their owners’ testimonials. I particularly admired the cats who recommended Apple stock when it was $7 a share (#124), chose which of their owner’s several boyfriends would make the best husband (#213), routinely saved a parking space (#207), and cleaned out a spectrograph tube (#281).

And yet, it must probably be admitted that these are the skills of rather special individual cats, not general feline behavior.

The scientists who alleged that cats lacked utility were comparing them to other domestic species that produce commodities like wool, milk or bacon. The only thing that all cats reliably produce is affection (we won’t distinguish here between giving and receiving). And love, as several readers pointed out, is not a utility.

If I were a cat’s PR agent, I would say my client transcended utility and change the subject. Ailurophiles should probably concede the scientists are right in doubting the general usefulness of cats. If scientists are to be challenged on the nature of cats, firmer ground might be the question of whether cats can read human minds.

People have an ability, called “theory of mind” by psychologists, to infer what is going on in the minds of other people. Psychologists doubt whether any other species possess this ability, at least to the same degree. Baboons, for instance, are very intelligent primates yet seem to have only a weak theory of mind. A mother baboon may ford a crocodile-infested river, leaving her infant crying on the other side and being apparently unable to infer the reason for the infant’s distress.

But a cat of my acquaintance seems to be very adept at reading minds, at least those belonging to people. When he needs to be let back into the house, he jumps up onto the ledge outside the kitchen window, waiting for people to notice him and open the door. If ignored, he will grab the mesh of the storm window in his claws and rattle it impatiently to gain attention, having clearly read people’s disinclination to get up and open the door for him yet again.


Cats are adept at learning a narrow range of skills. A cat learns to rattle a door either by chance because it works or because it tried the other way and that didn’t work.

One of our Siamese would climb up the outside of the screen door, destroying the screen. We finally figured out she was trying to look inside when she was locked out.

One of my cats is not very good at communicating specific needs. About the best he can do is stand near the food bowl and arch his back while making noise. His brother is a master of communication for a cat. He looks at you, catches your eye and then quickly looks at what he wants. Want food? Glance at you, then at the bowl. Out? Catch my eye and then look at the door handle that I pull. His brother looks at you generally and then stares into space.

Cats have a narrow ability to connect activity over time and space. The adept cat is the best I’ve had. Yesterday, he came up and made noise. This usually means he wants to be picked up - or maybe he’s begging for food - but when I bent over he walked away. I stopped. He came back and did it again. I bent over and he walked away. This time I looked at him as he walked away. He looked at me and then walked quickly to the door and looked up at the handle. That’s pretty complicated communication over space and time for a cat.

— jonathan2

Cats are the only creatures more self centered and arrogant than humans. That is saying a lot.

— Rucker3

People who think cats are arrogant are giving them credit for cognition they don’t have. They’re rather simple creatures with faces that aren’t as mobile as, say, dogs’ faces, so people think they have a superior expression when they basically have almost no expression. And they have very little utility in terms of fur, skin, milk, eggs, or drug-sniffing. But they make a house a home and they’re wonderful.

— Turner4

I didn’t see the first post, but there was no love for mousers? The cat is my organic, mostly non-toxic, semi-humane mouse control mechanism. If she wasn’t mousing every day she’d be out on her butt.

— Royce5

What about farm/barn/garden cats that reduce pest population? Cats prevent both the spread of disease from rats/mice and animals such as rabbits and birds from eating crops/plants.

— RDT6

Unfortunately catgut is not made from the intestines of cats, although I believe it could be.

— Gerard Schaefer7

Cats are mousers and that is why we (cats and humans) decided to live together. Cats are very useful mousers. See if your dog will catch a mouse.

— Bruce W8

Cats form the only other species that believes in a Deity. This belief is reinforced whenever a cat peers into a mirror.

— GDT / Buffalo9

“The only thing that all cats reliably produce is affection…”

Cat’s also hunt and they can keep the house clean of small rodents. That’s where their utility lies.

— David, New Hampshire10

My non-professional belief is that the utility which cats have that caused them to be domesticated to begin with is their talent as mousers. In former times when human survival depended on long-term storage of grain in mouse-vulnerable locations, having a cat on hand could keep the mouse population in check and keep our food supply safe.

— Matt11

Cats are not hypoallergenic.

— Francisco12

I thought my cat had extra-sensory perception because about 3 minutes before I entered my 3rd floor apartment she would invariably (according to my roommate, who was in the apartment) go to the door to prepare to greet me, no matter what the time of day. Months later I realized that she was actually sitting in the room facing the street and she was hearing the unique way I pulled the keys from my pocket and jangled them. She was smart, yes, but not super-smart.

— Terence_LA13

Cats can do things that provide an insight on their personal reasoning. I once had a cat who hated going out in the rain. He would ask to go out the back door, then stand there disapprovingly when it opened to reveal a downpour. Then he would turn around, march across the house and go ask to be let out at the front door. Surely the weather would be different there.

We now have an indoor cat who has never been outside in her life, yet seems to comprehend that she is living inside a structure that is sitting in space. When a squirrel can be seen in the front window, but then climbs the tree and disappears, she often races to a back window to look for the squirrel (which sometimes does appear there, having taken a tree route over the top of our house and down into the back yard). I’m still trying to figure out how she first noticed that a disappearing squirrel in the front window often means a reappearing squirrel in the back window - since she can’t see either window from the other, nor has any outdoor conception of the house’s position in space.

Utility of cats: They are darn interesting to have around.

— Jen14

Love both of my cats, and have had a multitude of cats throughout my life. My cats do have a utility… Keeping the rodent population at bay around my house. The number of mice, voles, moles and rabbits they have left at the back door this year has been phenominal. Of course we have to do the “clean-up on aisle 9″ before the dogs go out and clean it up for us, which creates a different set of issues.

And my cats mew or ratlle screens also when they wish to go in or out.

Plus they help keep the local economy rolling with me buying food, litter in winter and vet visits :)

I’ll keep em :)

— Michael15

This is silly. Just another Golden Scientific Research Goes Boink Award for so-called “scientists” who would waste their time and no doubt public money assessing the relative value of cats. Ever heard of cats that keep mice amd rats out of houses and barns? Ever heard of cats that warn their owners of fire or other dangers? Know any “scientists” who do as much practical work?

— Judy Chicago16

I missed Part I, so I don’t know if Mr. Tierney covered this point — but cats perform a useful service by catching mice. And for each mouse a cat destroys, it drives away several others with its scent. This has been a useful service to humankind for many centuries, especially during the plague years when cats kept plague bearing flea infested rodents at bay.

— Mark Walker17

Apologies to Mr. Wade for mistaking him for Mr. Tierney!

— Mark Walker18

Like jonathan, my cat herds me or attracts my attention through noisemaking toward what he wants. If I am on the couch, he will sit between the couch and the hall leading to his food bowl waiting for my head to turn that direction or waiting for me to get up. As soon as I do, I get this little dance and life-is-pain routine from him until I give him food. At other times, he wants to drink water out of the tub faucet, and will wait in another place to complain and herd me toward the faucet. If I ignore him, he will do it every time I move or look at him until I do it. He is persistent, and it is very clear what he wants. He won’t take one for the other.

— Erin19

Cats are extremely low maintenance compared with most other working animals or livestock. Because they don’t need much care so therefore they don’t have to provide a lot in return to still be useful. Also I don’t know how valid it is to judge a cat’s anti-vermin abilities based on today’s cats. Like most other modern pets they have been bred for companionship as opposed to utility for some time now and whatever skills they exhibited in the past have surely been diluted, especially since feline hunting skills are in part learned from the mother.

— Mike B20

While I have a cat as a pet - she has provided utility by alerting me when mice gets inside, and comes when called. Certainly on my grandparents farm cats weren’t pets, they lived in the barn and hunted rodents prolifically, both in the grain bins, and near the chicken coop, which kept the rats down. Their utility was high enough my grandmother, who tolerated nothing that didn’t earn it’s keep, would willing supplement their diet with fresh milk.

Most dogs today don’t have “utility” either. My cousins yellow lab (think Marley & Me on steroids) while an affectionate happy dog, has cost him thousands in home repairs, only comes when called if she feels like it, and has never performed a “directed task” that I’ve observed. My cat comes about 99% of the time when called, rolls over and shows her belly about 75% of the time when asked. Cats are task trainable - it just takes more time and patience than dogs.

Having read the part 1 - but not the original study I think the definition of utility used in it appears to be overly constrained.

— jafi

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores

No comments: