The 10 Smartest Dog Breeds (According to Someone Else!)

Five Tips for a Slimmer, Healthier Cat
By: PetMD -

Being a fat cat might seem cute, but it’s really not good for your feline’s health. If your kitty is a little chubby or beginning to look that way, we have some simple tips to guarantee a slender, healthier version in no time. And best of all, if you keep following these tips, you won’t have to spend the big bucks it takes to feed a fat cat!

1. Diets Are Not All Equal
The cat is a strict carnivore. That means a diet mainly consisting of “fillers” (e.g., corn and rice), is just empty calories for kitty. Do a little light reading during your shopping expedition, and start paying attention to the cat food labels. Meat should always be one of the first ingredients. Better quality food means less filler and that means a svelter cat.

2. Wet vs. Dry Debate
Some people swear by dry food, while others won’t touch it. Ultimately the choice is up to you, but you’ll find more and more experts are leaning towards the wet food end of the argument. Less filler, more water content, and a happier, thinner cat can all be yours.

3. Portion Control
Two words familiar to dieters everywhere. Try not to “free feed” the cat. If the food is left out all day for the kitty to help herself to, then she’ll snack whenever she feels like it—even when she’s not hungry. Engage the hunter instinct. Leave the food for fifteen minutes. If there’s still food in the bowl, put it away in the fridge for dinnertime. You’ll start seeing a difference in your cat’s silhouette in no time.

4. Exercise
Play with your cat! Get her to run around and chase string, toy mice, laser lights (cats love them!), balls, and other fun toys. We don’t recommend taking kitty for walks unless she’s the type who enjoys it, though. But just twenty minutes of play a day can make up for it. Not only will this keep kitty from being bored and depressed, but it keeps her mind sharp and burn off any extra fat.

5. No Table Scraps
People food is for people, not cats! Those little morsels are similar to us scarfing down a pizza or huge bag of potato chips (and we know what that does to our hips). So, curtail table scraps from your cat’s diet, and those treats designed for cats down to a minimum. But if Princess absolutely cannot go without her treats, try to find healthy options in the natural or holistic section of your pet store.

So there you have it. Five simple tips to keep your cat in tip-top shape.

The World's 10 Smartest Dog Breeds
(Aside From Your Dog, Of Course)

How to Check Out a Kennel for your Pet
SF Gate

Traveling can be all the more expensive and stressful when you can't take your pet with you. That's when you need a trustworthy, affordable kennel.

Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook and surveyed thousands of people and found significant differences in how highly they rated kennels they'd used.

Some kennels were rated "superior" overall by more than 90 percent of their surveyed customers; others received "superior" ratings from fewer than 60 percent.

Consumers also rated kennels on key factors like cleanliness, spaciousness, affection toward the dog, returning the dog in good condition and pickup/drop-off arrangements. (Read the full report for free for the next four weeks at

The good news: You don't necessarily have to pay more to send your furry friend to a top-quality kennel - Checkbook found that some highly rated kennels also had below-average prices.

But it pays to check prices and to discuss explicitly all the services that are included - or not included. For example, to simply board a medium-size dog for one week, Checkbook found prices that ranged from $112 to $385. Some kennels charged an additional $5 for an extra dog walk each day, and $3 or more to give a daily pill.

When choosing and dealing with a kennel, Checkbook also has this advice:

-- Choose a kennel that will let you inspect its facilities.

-- Check whether a dog will have an indoor and outdoor run.

-- Be sure the kennel is clean and not excessively smelly, that pets must have proof of proper vaccinations and that pets are examined at check-in.

-- Size up the staff - whether they answer your questions, show affection for the animals, and are available 24 hours a day.

-- Get a clear understanding of a kennel's drop-off and pickup terms to avoid paying for an extra day.

You can save money by making other arrangements, but Checkbook advises weighing the pros and cons of each. Traveling with your pet may mean car travel, changing water supplies, and perhaps trusting your beloved to baggage handlers.

If you leave your pet with a friend, think carefully about your pet and your friendship: There's always a chance your pet will react poorly to being left behind. Finally, having a friend or pet-sitter come to your home lets your pet stay in familiar surroundings and a sitter can pick up mail and provide other services. But remember your pet may be alone for long stretches, and you have to trust your pet and your home to someone else.

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Cat a Dear Friend But for Doors
By C.W. GUSEWELLE - The Kansas City Star

Our orange cat, Mickey, is the dearest kind of friend. But the friendship, like any other, is not without certain trials.

I do not mind waking in the night to find him asleep with his head on the pillow between us. I do rather object to his desire to join us at the table — not just at it, on it — while we eat.

He is good company while I write. As is fairly common with us folk who make our way with words, my office area is a clutter. And I worried at first that he might rearrange things in a way that would oblige me to take up a different line of work.

But he’s respectful of my need for calculated disorder. He leaves the stacks of paper unmolested. And though he sometimes naps atop the typewriter, he only rarely erases an hour’s labor by stepping on the delete button of the computer keyboard.

What’s more, mine is a solitary vocation, all the more so when one’s office is at home. Just having Mickey nearby provides relief from the essayist’s occupational curse of endless introspection.

He speaks occasionally, but doesn’t ask to read — and never criticizes — my muddled efforts.

I’d say that he and I might get along more or less perfectly if it weren’t for his fixation with doors, which began several years ago when he grew dissatisfied with his status as an indoor cat.

My wife gave him a taste of the larger world by sitting with him for short periods in the fenced backyard, letting him roll in the grass, eye the impudent squirrels and imagine himself a predator.

That was a mistake. Now it isn’t enough to sometimes be allowed out. He wants it to be his call.

He is vigilant, closely monitoring our goings and comings. At the least moment of inattention, he is through the door and at large.

Once, when my wife was visiting friends in another state, he escaped like that and fled around the corner of the house and was gone in an orange streak, down the drive and behind the garage toward the neighbors’ yard — a yard with a large dog of unknown feelings for cats.

I was frantic. If my beloved came home and found him gone, I just might end up out on the curb with my suitcase and a typewriter.

So I wandered through the neighborhood, shouting his name. Maybe he’d slipped back around to the front door, I thought. But he wasn’t there. I searched behind the bushes, fell into a window well, tore my pants and skinned my leg.

He was gone. That’s all. I sat on the front steps, nursing my wound and howling my despair.

And just then he presented himself — came around the corner of the house, perfectly serene, as if he wondered what the commotion was about.

We’ve learned. When leaving now, we go out the door backward, eyes on him, speaking his name in a cautionary way. On entering, we put a leg through the door first. Mostly it works. The other morning, though, there was a crisis.

At an early hour, when other houses on the block still were dark, I slipped out in my pajamas, barefoot, to see if the newspaper had come.

I wasn’t carrying keys, so when I closed the door behind me I didn’t quite pull it all the way until it latched. As I came back with the paper and climbed the step I heard a fatal click. Mickey had shut me out.

For a desperate moment, I couldn’t find the spare key in its hiding place, and I contemplated the hour or so of humiliation that lay ahead until my predicament was discovered.

I did locate the key, though, and now I’d never dream of going out again without it securely in my hand.

But he’s a clever cat, that Mickey, and a resourceful one.

If he ever learns to operate the dead bolt, I guess I’m toast.

Cathy M. Rosenthal:
Cemeteries Set Policies About Pet Ashes

Dear Cathy: I had planned to have my pet's cremated ashes placed in my casket when I died. Now I am told that this is against the law. Is this true, or does each cemetery have its own rules?

— John G.

Dear John: According to Porter Loring Mortuaries in San Antonio, there are no state laws that prevent people from placing the urns of their deceased pets in the casket with them. But they did say that some cemeteries have policies that may prevent them from doing this for a person. If this is important to you, check with cemeteries before purchasing a plot.

Dear Cathy: I have always buried my pets in my backyard after they die. Is that legal to do in San Antonio and what are the chances the new owners will find the skeletons of these pets?

— Claudia W.

Dear Claudia: According to Animal Care Services, there are no ordinances that prevent people from burying their deceased pets in their backyard, although I highly recommend cremation and then keeping the ashes in an urn, burying the ashes, or spreading the ashes over a favorite spot once loved by the pet. Pet cemeteries are another alternative.

As for finding the deceased pet in the yard, it's definitely possible since digging for a new pool or adjusting the landscape could disturb the site. That's why I highly recommend cremation. No new house owner wants to discover a pet cemetery in their backyard and if you aren't going to remain in the house, it doesn't make sense to leave your beloved pets behind. When you sell your house, you should let potential buyers know there are pets buried in the backyard and where they are buried.

If you decide to bury your pets in the backyard (which is easier to do for small pets), bury them in a heavy-duty plastic bag and place them at least three feet deep to prevent animals from digging at the grave site. About a year ago, a pet dog in the England dug up the family cat's grave site in the back yard and brought the body back into the house. Apparently, the dog had watched his owner dig the grave and knew exactly where to sniff out and dig up his beloved friend.

Dear Cathy: We heard that there was an at-home euthanasia service in Austin allowing your pets to die at home with you, rather than going to a clinic. Do you know of such a service in San Antonio?

— Tanya & Dave Searcey

Dear Tanya and Dave: I haven't heard of such a service here, although there are one or two vets with mobile clinics that will come to your house for all sorts of medical care. If anyone knows of someone who specifically provides this service, please let me know and I will share the information in this column.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or Cathy's advice column runs Sundays. You can read her blog, Animals Matter, at

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Pets are Sweating Along with You:
Use Tips to Help Them Out
by Lynn Kalber - Palm Beach Post

Here are smart words from the folks at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League (and read to the end for Kitten Kalber’s naming!):

•Never leave your pet in a parked car. During the summer months, the inside of your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if you are parked in the shade. Not even a cracked window will protect your pet from overheating or suffering from heat stroke during a summer day.

•Exercise your dog in the early morning or evening hours, instead of during the middle of the day when it is hottest.

•Provide your pet with fresh, cool water everyday in a tip-proof bowl.

•Never leave your pet outside unsupervised. If you have to leave your pet outside during the day, always have shelter available to protect it from extreme temperatures and inclement weather. Be aware, asphalt and concrete can get extremely hot and burn the pads of its feet.

•Keep your pet away from unfamiliar yards and grassy areas as many people treat their lawns with pesticides and fertilizers. These harsh chemicals can cause severe intestinal upset in dogs and cats when ingested. Some types of mulch can also be hazardous.

•Keep your pet well groomed, but resist the temptation to shave off all hair in an effort to keep it cool. Your pet’s coat protects it from getting sunburned, and a matted coat traps heat, attracts parasites and causes skin sores.

•Do not put your pet in the back of a pickup truck. It is dangerous, and in some states illegal, to drive with a dog in the back of an open truck. Dogs should ride either in the cab or in a secured crate, safely tethered to the floor of the truck bed.

Tiny Kitten Teeth Help in Naming

You may remember my latest folly of two weeks’ back - I rescued an 8-week-old black kitten from a neighbor’s yard, where he’d been camped for a couple of weeks on his lonesome.

Naming him took a few days, but we came up with Max Schreck, a silent film star who starred in 1922’s famous vampire film, Nosferatu. He still, for my money, remains the scariest vampire on screen. And I am a huge vampire film fan, so I know my undead stars. So to speak.

As for why little Max got his name - his tiny teeth nailed that down. He still has a huge purr and is curious about his feline and canine siblings. We’ve taken shepherd (Gary) Cooper and basset Mabel (Normand) in to meet him and he’s mighty curious and not very afraid, which is good.

You will hear more about Max’s antics in the future, I’m sure.

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Tips For Choosing Pet Stairs
by Bella Holly -

Decorative pet stairs are an incredibly useful piece of pet aid furniture. They are particularly wonderful for smaller or elderly pets, however they can be a great benefit to pets of all sizes. As pets jump onto and off of a bed, sofa, or other piece of furniture, the impact it exerts onto their joints can cause severe problems later in life. Pet steps are a great preventative for that!

Naturally, the more decorative or durable style of pet steps will be priced a bit higher than those made for pure functionality. There are high-end doggy stairs available, for example, made of cherry wood with a carpeted stair surface and accented with moldings. Other models available are even made of mahogany and contain storage areas under the stair surfaces, as well as large and small pet stairs. These models are usually priced around $34.99. Most pet steps range from $30 to about $70.

Some decorative pet steps are collapsible while others are solid in structure. Collapsible pet steps are often constructed of polyurethane or other plastic material. However, some collapsible models are made of canvas or carpet stretched over a frame. Sturdy structure pet steps may be constructed of plastic or wood.

Pet stairs also vary depending upon the amount of steps they consist of. Some models have two steps, some three, and some have up to even six steps. Pet steps also vary with regards to the amount of weight they are able to support. Solid wood construction would support more weight than pet steps made of a plastic frame, of course. Some pet steps offer more surface area on the stairs for larger animals. A few models are also made for use with an automobile. You may also find designs of pet steps for bed climbing assistance.

While the choices are vast, there is definitely a set of steps out there that are a perfect suit for your and your pet. If it helps, make a list of your pet step requirements, everything from height, to constitution, to color, and don’t stop searching until you find the right steps for your pet!

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Randy Grim Gives Simple Advice
to Beleaguered Dog Owners
By Jane Henderson - Post-Dispatch Book Editor

Randy Grim, founder of Stray Rescue, has been featured in two recent Post-Dispatch columns: Gail Pennington previewed his appearance on the History Channel and Susan Weich brought us up-to-date on Grim’s efforts to raise money for a new shelter. But neither centered on his new book, “Don’t Dump the Dog,” which is a lively and unusual combination of training tips, humor, memoir - and criticism. He’ll be promoting his book this Saturday (Aug. 1) and Monday (Aug. 3) with three events. Check out his website for details.

In writing the newest book with Melinda Roth (who wrote “The Man Who Talks to Dogs” about Grim), the dog advocate had to pull back from lashing out at deadbeat owners to dump dogs rather than train them. (Dog trainers have written for decades that the real problem with problem dogs is often the owner.)

He’s still blunt. He refers to one owner as Mr. Couch Potato, but he tries to lighten his criticism by also mocking himself. At one point, he says he scares his own dogs when he chases them in his bathrobe.

Grim told me: “I don’t think I’m too hard on owners. I’m just being realistic. They aren’t the ones in the shelter dealing with it.”

After years of hearing some pretty lame excuses for giving up a family pet (things like “we’re getting a white carpet and the dog sheds black hair”; “he’s old and has lost his cute freckles”), Grim decided to write a book with clear, simple ways to change (or adapt to) irritating dog behavior.

He’s happy that readers are already writing in and telling him that his advice helps. A woman from Idaho said her husband wanted to get rid of “Buddy,” who chewed furniture. After reading “Don’t Dump the Dog,” she bought a Frisbee, which helped wear down poor, bored Buddy and eliminated the chewing problem. (Of course the Frisbee didn’t just sit in the closet; she had to throw it for Buddy.)

Even though two other books have included a lot of personal, memoir stuff about Grim, his frank, straightforward style (comments about sexual orientation and drinking a plus or minus, depending on your taste) is what makes this book different from a lot of basic dog training guides. And of course Grim has heartbreaking stories about feral dogs that few animal lovers can match.

“Don’t Dump the Dog” also made me want to read the first book by Roth, which Grim says has been optioned for a movie. (He dropped some prestigious Hollywood names, but with the movie business it’s often best not to count on a film deal until it’s practically in the theater.)

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