Hero Pet of the Year PLUS More Acts of Pet Bravery!

Should Toads Be Pets?
MARC MORRONE - Newsday.com

August is the month when the tadpoles that hatched in our ponds and lakes this spring have transformed into toadlets and are captured by children who are budding naturalists.

As a result, I get many calls about what is the best type of diet to feed these little guys. The answer often comes as a surprise. There is no perfect diet for toadlets in captivity, as they should not be in captivity at all.

The toads we see are called Fowler's toads and they are a vanishing species on Long Island due to habitat destruction and the lowering of the water table. Adult toads are clever enough to stay hidden from us, but the toadlets are inexperienced and often fall into pool filters and window wells.

If you rescue some out of these places, just turn them loose in a quiet part of your yard.

Some children who encounter these toads develop a true interest in them. If children want to learn about toads as pets, I suggest you allow them to keep fire-belly toads or pac-man frogs. Both of these species are legally sold in pet stores and are suited to living in a vivarium indoors. (Feed them live crickets you can buy in any pet store.)

Dog Wins ‘Hero Pet of the Year’ Award
By Michael Inbar - TODAYShow.com contributor

Chi Chi, a Chihuahua mix, is the winner of this year’s Reader’s Digest Hero Pet of the Year award.

At first blush, 13-pound Chi Chi seems little different than the typical temperamental Chihuahua riding as an accessory in a celebrity tote bag. Even his owner admits everyone thinks of him as a bit of a pest.

But no longer. By sounding a yipping alarm on a North Carolina beach, Chi Chi likely saved the lives of two senior citizens overcome by waves — and was crowned Reader’s Digest Hero Pet of the Year in the process.

Chi Chi appeared humble — if a bit standoffish — in his national TV debut Tuesday, appearing on Rockefeller Plaza as his owners, Rick and Mary Lane, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Ann Curry how their pint-size prize rose to the occasion in a big way when danger loomed.

Sound of alarm
Mary Lane said it was a typical day at the beach for the family last October. She and Rick were relaxing on beach chairs at Indian Beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks while Chi Chi rested on his own chair — restrained, of course, since he tends to chase after other beachgoers.

“He leapt out of his beach chair, still attached, dragging the beach chair, and he started sending out an alarm,” Lane told TODAY. “He was making a sound we never heard before. Rick said, ‘Hey, what’s the matter with the dog?’ ”

It turned out nothing was the matter with Chi Chi — but there was danger some 100 yards down the beach, where Mary Lane spotted a horrific sight.

“There was a storm surge, and there were two elderly ladies — one had fallen on her back headfirst into the surf,” she said. “The other lady — a little bitty lady about 90 pounds — was trying to hold her head up, and she was in danger of being washed out.”

The Lanes rushed to pull the ladies out of the riptide, and after determining the pair were shaken but otherwise fine, returned to their spot on the beach — to find Chi Chi happily sleeping in doggy dreamworld in his chair.

The Lanes were amazed that their pampered pet could sound an alarm of danger, bellowing out strange yips that “would not let us ignore him,” Mary Lane said. And readers of Reader’s Digest were so impressed by Chi Chi’s story they voted him Hero Pet of the Year.

Mary and Rick Lane proudly show off Chi Chi, named Reader’s Digest Hero Pet of the Year, on Rockefeller Plaza.

The alert Chihuahua pulled in 31 percent of the vote over a field that included another dog, a cat, a parrot and a horse — all of which had performed potentially life-saving acts. You might think that would be enough to earn Chi Chi at least a pat on the head from Lauer and Curry, but they kept their distance — the Lanes advised them Chi Chi tends to snap if he feels threatened.

And, as if to prove the point, Chi Chi bared his teeth ominously at the hosts of America’s favorite morning show.

Chi Chi can perhaps be forgiven his temperament in light of his early life: He was rescued as an abused dog by the Lanes’ niece when he was just a pup. Now he’s a local celebrity in the Lanes’ native Greensboro, with newspaper coverage and his gray-white mug posted in his veterinarian’s office. “Everyone recognizes him,” Mary Lane said with pride.

Animal heroes
Chi Chi’s story was just one of many moving stories of animals repaying the love lavished on them that Reader’s Digest profiled in its Hero Pet of the Year contest.

For example, Vivian, La., quarter horse Sunny Boy proved his mettle when his owners came face to face with a snarling, 75-pound pit bull. Chloe-Jean and Kristen Wendell were riding in a local festival when the pit bull ran out of the crowd — spooking Kristen’s horse, Angel, so much that Kristen dismounted for fear of being thrown. Chloe-Jean dismounted Sunny Boy to help protect her sister — but as it turned out, Sunny Boy had the situation in hand.

As the pit bull prepared to pounce on Chloe-Jean, Sunny Boy leapt between them, kicking the dog square in the face. The dog was captured and later euthanized, but dad Mark Wendell says he still shakes his head in wonderment at how Sunny Boy protected his daughters. “I’ve been around horses all my life and have not seen one take on another animal like that.”

Then there’s Denver, Colo., parrot Willie, who is rarely at a loss for words. He calls his owner Megan Howard “Mama” and isn’t bashful about asking for a kiss. But he learned a new word on the spot that turned out to be a life saver.

Howard was baby-sitting her roommate’s 2-year-old daughter, Hannah, when she made a quick trip to the bathroom — but within seconds, she heard a tremendous commotion in Willie’s cage. Willie was screeching, “Mama, baby! Mama, baby!”

Howard dashed out to find the tot turning blue from choking on a Pop-Tart. After dislodging the food from Hannah’s throat, she took a moment to reflect on what her parrot had done. “He was clearly trying to get my attention,” Howard told Reader’s Digest. “He’s loud and talkative, but what really amazes me is that he added the word ‘baby’ on his own.”

Not to be outdone, Waukesha, Wis., terrier-poodle Oscar was a rescue dog, but he ended up coming to the rescue of his owner Ron Gillette. Gillette, a diabetic, got up in the middle of the night with his blood sugar level sinking to dangerous levels, and fell awkwardly in the bathroom.

Gillette was barely conscious, but heard Oscar “let out sounds like a wild animal — honestly, it sounded like the dog from hell.” Ron’s wife Ann was awakened by the howls and found her slumping husband; she called an ambulance and Ron was rushed to the hospital.

Gillette made it through his medical ordeal in good shape, thanks to an alert pet pooch. And afterward, they decided Oscar was just too ordinary a name for a dog of his stature. They rechristened him Eduardo.

And cats can be heroic, too. New Castle, Ind., kitty Winnie usually whiles away the hours curled up on the Kessling family windowsill, but leapt into action when danger loomed. A pump the family was using to suction out a flooded basement was leaking carbon dioxide, and when the family’s heating system kicked in on a cold night, it sent toxic gas streaming throughout the house.

The family was sleeping unawares, but Winnie sounded the alarm. “Winnie jumped from her window perch right onto me, meowing like crazy and scratching at my hair and face,” owner Cathy Kessling told Reader’s Digest.

A groggy Kessling managed to rouse her husband and when she ran downstairs to call 911, found her son lying facedown on the floor. The family was hospitalized overnight, but happily lived to tell the tale of their guardian angel of a cat. “One of the rescuers said that we could’ve been dead in five more minutes,” Kessling said.

Local Expert Offers Hurricane
Preparation Tips...For Your Dog
By Michael J. Mooney in Broward

As South Florida ducked the wrath of Hurricane Bill, we're reminded yet again that this is still high hurricane season.

And as so many meteorologists and hurricane experts put together their preparation tips and kits to protect Floridians, their children, their property, and their weather-viewing habits, at least one local animal behavior expert is thinking about the furry friends of South Florida.

"The one thing that experience has taught all of us is that vigilance and preparation are key in surviving a major storm or hurricane," says Robin Edwards, a local trainer with Bark Busters, a national dog training company. Edwards says Bark Busters is "committed to extend this vigilance and preparation to our canine companions."

The most surprising tip: During the storm, if Fido is showing a lot of anxiety, Edwards says you should resist the urge to "comfort" the animal, which would probably come across as encouragement for the stressful behavior.

1. Before the Hurricane/Storm

Planning ahead is the most important thing you can do for your pets if you must evacuate your home, but NEVER refuse to evacuate because of your pets. Below are tips to help you be prepared in the event of evacuation:

--Research a safe place to take your pets because some public shelters, such as those operated by the American Red Cross, do not allow family pets. (Service dogs are an exception.)

--Ask friends, relatives or veterinarians that live inland if they are willing to shelter you and your pets.

--Look for pet-friendly facilities. For a list of pet-friendly lodging and their restrictions, check out www.petswelcome.com or www.pets-allowed-hotels.com. Keep a list of all these pet-friendly facilities with your other emergency supplies.
You can also check animal boarding facilities. As a last resort, consider humane societies and animal control shelters in a safe area, but call ahead to check on their restrictions.

--Make sure your pets are current on all their vaccinations.

--Have a recent photograph of you and your pets together to show proof of ownership in case you become separated.

--Have your pets implanted with a microchip as a permanent form of identification.

--Whether you stay home or evacuate, put together a pet emergency kit. Items to consider keeping in or near your kit include:
1. Collar with tags and sturdy leash
2. Any necessary medications (at least a two-week supply)
3. Photocopies of health records
4. First-aid supplies (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA website at www.aspca.org to buy one online)
5. Secure, unbreakable, covered carrier (large enough that your pet can completely turn around)
6. Flashlight
7. Food and bottled water (at least a two-week supply for each pet)
8. Food and water bowls
9. Recent photograph of you and your pets together
10. Favorite toy (toys can help reduce the stress of unfamiliar surroundings)
11. Disposable trash bags or newspaper for clean-up
12. Zipper storage bags for important papers, treats, toys, etc.

2. During the Hurricane/Storm

Keep your pets calm during the storm:

If your pets show signs of anxiety, do NOT try to "comfort them." This will sound like praise to your pets and may increase their anxiety.
Instead, the best thing you can do for your dog when he is feeling unsettled is to act as you normally would. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him an unusual amount of attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that because you are acting differently, there must be something to worry about.
Use that special "den" where your pets feel safe. A properly introduced crate or kennel (done ahead of time) can be a great den for them.
Turn on a TV or radio at normal volume to distract your pets from loud noises and help them to relax. Classical music is the most calming.
Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noises and bright flashes. The more we can reduce the noise and flashes the better your pets will cope.

3. After the Hurricane/Storm

Walk your pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to the area and your home.
If you have lost your pet, contact the local animal control offices to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a recent picture of your pet, if possible.

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Cat Control: Who’s in Charge?
By BETTY RIDGE - Tahlequah Daily Press

Felines use many ways to try and get their owners to do their will. And it usually works.

Some people say you can’t control cats. Others are equally confident that cats control their owners.

The truth may lie somewhere in between.

What cat fancier who keeps the bedroom door opened hasn’t awakened to persistent mewing, perhaps a few paw pats in the face, to urge the owner to get up and do the right thing — feed the cat, of course.

Another type of meow communicates the desire to go out; unwelcome hisses are emitted when meeting rival cats; and there’s the excited chirping sound when the cat is inside, observing birds or squirrels cavorting around outside.

Throughout the centuries, cats and their communications skills have figured in history. The popular musical “Cats” was based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot (the best edition contains the Edward Gorey illustrations of such renowned cats as Jennyanydots and Simbleshanks, not to mention Old Deuteronomy).

In recent years, cats have become partners in crime-solving. Rita Mae Brown’s tabby Sneaky Pie is credited as the co-author of her “Miss Murphy” mystery series, in which two cats and a Welsh corgi help humans find out whodunit. Sneaky Pie also may be the only cat ever to write a cookbook, for cats, dogs and their humans.

And Joanne Fluke’s “Murder She Baked” series features an unforgettable hefty orange and white cat named Moishe. To Moishe’s credit, the corpulent cat is more interested in solving how to get into his feed container than in solving the mystery in any particular volume.

A new study by a British researcher claims cats make a particular urgent sound, a cross between a purr and an urgent meow, when wanting food. Some local cat experts say they’ve heard this type of meow, but some haven’t.

Karen McComb, an expert on mammal behavior, published the results of her study in “Current Biology” journal. She concluded household cats exercise control over people with “a certain type of high-pitched, urgent-sounding meow.”

This is usually exhibited when the cat wants to be fed, McComb said. Her study showed humans find this type of sound annoying and difficult to resist. She compared it with the cry of a human infant. She described the sound as sort of cross between a purr and a high-pitched meow.

McComb had cat owners record their pets’ vocalizations, then played them for volunteers, including cat owners and those who live without cats. Both found the sound in question annoying and something they would investigate, usually feeding the cat if it seemed like that was what the cat wanted.

Gloria Hoover has probably handled as many cats as any Cherokee County resident, since she not only bred Siamese cats for years, but judges all breeds in Cat Fanciers Association shows across the country. Later this year, she will judge shows in Indonesia and Singapore.

So she’s familiar with cats of all sorts, from the poshest pedigreed Persian to the rescued stray who competes for the coveted Morris the Cat trophy in the household pet division.

While Siamese are considered an especially “talky” breed, “actually, all of them do,” Hoover said.

She’s heard the type of meow McComb describes.

“They tend to do it at feeding time. It’s not really a loud meow and not quite a purr. They want to get fed,” she said.

She also has had cats make the “chirping” noise, when they want some attention.

“Other cats communicate with their voices but Siamese are more high-pitched. They’re really people cats. They want to be right with you all the time. They’re generally one-person cats, but if their person happens to be gone, they’ll sit in someone else’s lap,” Hoover said.

Currently, her cattery holds six — two Siamese, an ocicat, and three American shorthair calicos, all pensioners Hoover took in when their elderly owner could no longer care for them. The pensioners have a good home for the rest of their lives.

Hoover thinks it’s very important to socialize cats, from the time of birth if possible. When raising kittens, she has always handled them and played with them as they grew. People who have bought cats from her have come back for others, because the cats relate so well to people and make good pets.

Listening to and communicating with the cat is an important part of this socialization, Hoover believes.

“I talk to the cats while I’m judging. That’s my way of communicating with them, and they will communicate with me,” she said. “Listen to them, and you will know what they want.”

Hoover thinks cats try to control people’s behavior by the sounds they make, and also by their actions. Her show cats always knew when they were going to a show.

“We would get ready to go to the cat shows and when I’d get out my suitcase, they’d get ready, too,” she said.

Bunny Lawrence has operated a cat shelter north of Tahlequah for 26 or 27 years, and estimated she’s provided a temporary or permanent home to at least 1,000 cats during that time. Currently she has two house cats, cares for shelter cats and feeds a number of feral cats that roam around her property. She has them spayed or neutered, then just “lets them be cats,” as she said.

Her cats have no need to make a special noise when they’re hungry.

“I’ve never heard it because my cats all have free food,” she said. “The only time I hear any of them in distress is when something has happened to one of them.”

One of her two house cats, born prematurely and bottle-raised, is a year old but only the size of a 3-month-old kitten. He doesn’t purr, and rarely meows. When he does, “it’s the softest little meow. You have to be listening and you just barely hear it,” Lawrence said.

Even though she’s never heard the sound McComb described, that doesn’t mean it never happens, Lawrence said.

She said her cats don’t control her behavior; they just act like cats. When she walks across the yard, some will walk in front of her, and she risks stumbling if she doesn’t reach down and pat them or pick them up and give them some attention.

“My cats must be very happy, because they don’t make the noise she’s talking about,” Lawrence said about the study.

Beth Herrington is well-known locally not just as a retired educator, but an animal lover and rescuer. She does know the sound McComb described.

“My Blue Boy, who is a Russian blue, when he wants attention, he has this cry that demands attention. I get up and see what his problem is,” she said.

And sometimes cats express their feelings in a more active manner.

“One of my little calicos, when she wants my attention, runs through the house and over the furniture. I think she’s going to knock something down,” Herrington said.

Herrington noted anyone who thinks animals don’t love one another are wrong. Recently one of her cats was sick and had to spend some time with the veterinarian. When he returned home, his mother greeted him with an expression of concern. They snuggled up and slept together.

Gloria Brewster’s feline menagerie consists of her “permanent” cats, rescue and foster cats needing a home, and feral cats she feeds. She’s a wealth of cat stories and also has heard the “feed me” meow.

“They have a high-pitched meow when they’re hungry. They have the purr-meow combination,” she said. “I keep dry food out for them, and they pretty much eat on demand.”

Although she also keeps plenty of water available, some of the cats want a fresh supply.

“I have some that will only drink out of the bathroom faucet. They weren’t happy when I had it fixed,” she said.

When she comes downstairs in the morning, her large black male cat makes a demanding meow. She goes into the bathroom and turns the faucet on to just the exact level of dripping, and he and several companions drink to their heart’s content.

Her cats “chirp,” especially if they are inside and they see a bird outside.

“They get me up in the morning if they think I am sleeping too late,” Brewster said. “There’s one who is on a special diet. She goes and sits by her bowl, and I give her a pill, then she goes ahead and eats. As many cats as I’ve had over the years, there have been none of them alike.”

Do cats control humans, in Brewster’s opinion?

“I’d say they have definitely domesticated me, rather than the other way around,” she said.

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How Do I Get My Cat To Stop
Drinking From The Faucet?

I have a 5 year old cat that up until about a year and a half ago had no problem drinking from her water bowl. Now, the only way I can get her to drink is if it is from a running faucet. She actually beats me to the bathroom each morning and jumps up on the counter and starts meowing.

Eight months ago, I moved and with the move bought a cat water fountain. All was well for the first couple of months. Then she discovered where water comes from and will not drink from the fountain and we are back to her old faucet games.
She has gotten to the point now where she will walk over to us, meow, and run into the bathroom. If we don’t follow her, she just repeats until we get up and turn the faucet on for her.

I am not as concerned by the annoying factor as much as I don’t know if she is getting enough water during the day.

Any advice on how to ween her would be great


dorcasla says:
Try changing her water bowl. She might just like the water fresher. Try a new bowl and change the water every morning when you wake up. What you can also do if you are concerned about her getting enough water during the day is leave the faucet on,just enough for a drip of water to run down so that she can satisfy her trust until you get home
good luck

K says:
I dont really understand why you object to her drinking from the faucet? It sounds quite cute, and that’s where you get her water from anyways. I think it would be more effort to ‘ween’ her than to let her have her little quirk, especially when its harmless!

wifilly says:
Weird, but one of our cats years ago never drank out of a bowl, but only a faucet too. Anyway, I would leave several bowls of water around for her, different shapes and sizes. When she starts the meowing and wanting a drink, take her to one of the bowls and be consistant. She’ll get it and she will drink when she is thirsty. Give her a kitty treat, Pet her and praise her when she drinks from the bowl. Just don’t turn on the faucet when she asks. None of our cats would drink out of the fountain we bought for whatever reason. They would however, drink out of the toilet instead. So, now we keep lids down and went back to bowls.

njyecats says:
We bought our cat a water fountain water bowl. They love it! Check at Petsmart or Petco

juliabay says:
dont let ur cat drink from the faucet…..if she meows so what! ignore her.If u stop your cat will stop because she realizes that no matter what u r not going to turn on the faucet.

happyinl says:
just ignore her until she stops meowing and the presnt her with her water bowl.

wishorst says:
That’s amazing!Funny too.Wow

digimutt says:
I do not think that you are going to change the cat’s mind about this. Cats are smart and she has figured out that the faucet is where you get your water and now she does not want anything else. We had a cat that at two years old started to use the toilet and soon would have nothing to do with the litter box. We tried everything but the cat never did go to the box again. We just left the door open and the seat top up.
You just might have to leave a drip going for her if you do no want to be at her beck and call. Since she comes when she sees you at the faucet just let her get a good drink and be done with it.

it is because some cats like fresh running water. you can but a small cat drinking fountain from pet shops which runs fresh water at all times, you should try this

Kylekepp says:
Your cat has you trained well!
Think about it-why drink from a dish when you have your own maid who will come to your beckon call and turn the faucet on for you!!!! Your cat’s a lazy bones!
Put fresh water out in clean bowls in several places for your cat throughout your home.
My Siamese likes to drink out of the taps as well even though he has fresh water daily throughout the house-he’s just a lazy bones and at that moment in time cannot be bothered walking 2 feet when there is water available right there! ( I asked my vet when this first happened and he verified what I have just told you)

cashflow says:
Believe me if she needs water she will get it from her fountain.
If you want to break her form this habit, simply don’t give in.

digitals says:
my advice would be,,,,,kick the little **** up the hole ,,,that will teach it to listen to whos boss,from a strict pet lover,

butterfl says:
It sounds like an emotional problem more so than a preference for faucet water. She may revert to the old habits as a way of relieving stress. Talk to your veterinarian about treatment. Also, make sure the filter in the fountain is always clean, and replaced regularly per product instructions. Cats do prefer fresh, aerated water. Good luck!

Sheido says:
If she has access to water ( other than the faucet,) she can drink whenever she wants.
May be it is just a habit I personally thinks it’s quite cute!
At the age of five…she is too wise to change habits unless she wants to…I am sorry cant’t think of anything to help you!

Music Chick says:
I have a cat that used to do the same thing.
What my mom finally did was stopped turning on the faucet. She would just ignore the cat, Tigger, and do something else in the bathroom while he waited. It seems harsh but it works. Now when he didn’t get water from the faucet he would follow my mom downstairs and my mom would get the cat dish and fill it full of cold water and sit it down in the floor and give it to him. After a about a week and a half he relized that the only way he could get water was to go downstairs to the water dish.
Hope this helps.

amaya says:
try being stern with her,you need to sow her YOU ar the boss!not her!

Kirstie says:
Put a cup of faucet water by the sink or always keep the door shut.

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Dog Days of Summer
By ELISA LALA • The News Journal

Frank and Terri Durham have 10 children, all of them four-legged.

As mommy and daddy to eight black and yellow labradors and two beagles, the Durhams searched for years to find a fitting place to lodge their pets while they traveled.

"We found places that were safe, but they weren't cozy enough," Terri says. "We wanted a place where we would want to take human kids; we wanted someone who would really, really care for our kids."

And that's where the idea for their pet-pampering resort came from. Today, they own the Maryland Shore Pet Resort, a 440-acre plot of land for dogs and cats to sit and stay a spell.

It's one of a growing number of businesses that cater to dogs, and not just during the dog days of summer.

There's a reason it's not so hard to find a doggie beach resort, doggie treats at businesses, dogs-but-not-kids-allowed bed and breakfasts -- even restaurants that serve doggie cuisine.

According to a recent Associated Press/ Petside.com survey, half of America's pet owners treat their animals like humans. Half said they valued animals in the family as much as the people; 35 percent include their pet in family portraits; 43 percent say their pet has its own sense of style.

It's those pets and their owners that the Durhams hope to attract to the Maryland Shore Pet Resort, which includes private suites with an adjacent personal patio, a warm water whirlpool with adjustable jets, a natural trail with "stop-and-play activities," and a flatscreen TV to ensure the pooch or kitty doesn't miss its favorite sitcom. "When you walk in, you'll wish you were vacationing here," Terri says.

The cats and doggies lucky enough to book a room have a yappy hour, tuck-in service with a bed-time story, splash dance by the pool and bonding time with other four-leggers during family-friendly movie night. The resort also has a Best-Friend Bistro, which offers meals made in-house.

But one of the biggest draws is Frank Durham himself, a renowned dog trainer. Frank's business, Walker Branch Retrievers, offers water dog training and handling services and attracts pooches from all around the U.S.

"We have a dog that just flew in from California staying with us now," Terri says.

But not all pet-lovers want to drop off their animals. A lot -- as many as 50 percent, according to the survey -- are packing up Fido and Frisky and taking them along. Business owners are pulling out the water bowls and welcoming four-legged clients, a trend most noticeable at Delaware's beaches.

Two Bed and Breakfasts in Delaware, Lazy L. at Willow Creek, in Lewes, and The Homestead, in Rehoboth, put pets first.

At The Homestead, though pets are welcome, children aren't, says co-owner Judy Hedrick, 67, the owner of two cats, Pumpkin and Patches. The bed and breakfast sits on two acres and offers four private rooms, a fenced-in pet area with a dog run and more pet-conscious accommodations.

"We have been slammed," Hedrick says.

The Homestead recently won an award for being the most pet-friendly B&B by bed and breakfast.com, based on guest reviews.

Hedrick says most of her guests are young professionals from the Washington or the Baltimore area whose pets are their children. Many are regulars.

"We remember the dogs' names before the people's," she says. "We have two guys that came back summer after summer. Last year their poor old dog died, and they still come back."

Delaware's beaches also have a full animal agenda, starting with pet-friendly beaches such as Bethany and Dewey Beach, where dogs can sunbathe and splash in the ocean. Pet lovers will even find restaurants catering to doggie tastes.

Jamie Idzi, 23, owner of Yuppy Puppy pet shop, in Bethany Beach, offers pups free pancakes on Sunday mornings from 9 to 11 and pizza on Fridays evenings from 7 to 9. Idzi, who makes the food herself, says the recipes make even the owners drool.

"The pancakes are made with cheddar cheese and potatoes and the pizzas are topped with chicken, broccoli and mozzarella cheese,"Idzi says.

Sometimes the owners sneak a bite, she says. But mostly the owners take the treat she offers them -- free coffee.

Owners can dine with their dogs at Fish On!, a seafood restaurant in Lewes that not only allows dogs to hang out with the diners on the patio, but also offers a full doggie menu called "Oh My Dog."

"We have a dog that just flew in from California staying with us now," Terri says.

General manager Fred Mazzeo, who has a 6-year-old, 115-pound mixed breed named Puck, says Fish On! believes dogs should eat as well as their owners do.

He says more and more people are taking their pets on vacation with them, and they need things to do on the trip.

"When our four-legged guests come in, our wait staff brings them a fresh bowl of water with ice and puts a jar of treats next to the bread basket," Mazzeo says. "When it's time to order, the dogs and the parents can chose their main courses."

Dogs can pick mini chicken treats, cranberry-orange pieces and banana carob chips, with ginger snaps or ice cream for dessert, Mazzeo says.

And dog lovers have plenty of choices of places to eat with their pooch by their side. Dewey's Sharkey's Grill, Lewes' Lazy Susan's and Rehoboth's Café Solé all welcome pets.

There are few complaints. If anything, patrons return with extra customers.
"When someone sees a dog on the patio, their reaction is: Next time I'll bring mine," Mazzeo says.

Which gives a whole new meaning to the time-honored tradition of a "doggie bag."

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