Pet Photos: America's 10 Favorite Dogs PLUS Lilly, the 5-Legged Dog

Preparing for Pet Illness
Josh Noel - Chicago Tribune

Here's advice from experts about how to prepare for, deal with -- and maybe even prevent -- catastrophic (and expensive) illness in your pet.

Plan. If the worst happens and you face an expensive bill, you won't have a lot of options. So if you can, save. "Whether you get pet insurance or set up a rainy-day fund, try to do something so you're able to make an informed decision if the time comes," said Sharon Granskog of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Consider pet insurance. It's not for everyone, but vets say it can make tough decisions easier. "I've seen pet insurance work out for a lot of people," said Maria Manrique, a veterinarian who just left a Lakeview clinic to open her own clinic in the South Loop this fall. "If I tell you your dog needs an exploratory surgery, you're less likely to hesitate" if you have pet insurance.

Ask questions when deciding vet procedures. There might be some disreputable vets looking to jack up your bill, but most care about the welfare of your pet. If you're skeptical about the tests a vet wants to run, ask what each test is and what the vet hopes to learn from it. "Really get a good feel for knowing exactly what they're doing," said Granskog. "That starts early on with a good client-patient relationship so you can trust your veterinarian."

Shop around until you find a vet you like. It could mean a more liberal payment plan in case of disaster. "If you find a good vet, stick with him because they're hard to replace," said Jacque Green of the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance. "Build a relationship, and if you do have a problem, they might be willing to work with you so you don't have to pay everything at once."

Preventive care. It can mean fewer maladies down the line. "Preventive care is key," Granskog said. "Feed them well; get them good exercise. It's the same for animals as it is for people."

America's 10 Favorite Dogs

The American Kennel Club lists the most popular pooches in America

Barack Obama wasn't the only American making a ruff decision for the household. This year, thousands of people narrowed down their search for the breed best suited for their lifestyle. The American Kennel Club, a not-for-profit organization that maintains the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world, sorted out the 157 breeds to bring you the most popular dogs.

Which breed pawed its way to No. 1? Will it be the bulldog, the preferred pup of Los Angeles? Maybe the Manhattan-favorite Poodle? Perhaps the King Charles spaniel, which has seen a 200 percent increase since 1998? Find out which pup made it through the competition to be crowned the American Kennel Club’s most wanted pet.

>#10: Shih Tzu
A compact and solid dog, the shih tzu’s long, flowing double coat is its most distinctive feature. Shih tzu means “lion” and although this dog is sweet and playful, he is not afraid to stand up for himself! Since the sole purpose of the shih tzu is companion and house pet, he should be lively, alert, friendly and trusting toward all. Weighing between 9 and 16 pounds, he requires minimal exercise, but his long, luxurious coat needs daily brushing and maintenance.

#9: Poodle
The poodle, though often considered high maintenance due to its coat, is actually one of the high achievers of the canine world. The breed is exceptionally smart, hardy and excels in obedience training. The breed originated in Germany as a water retriever, and thus requires daily exercise.

The stylish “poodle clip” seen in dog shows was designed by hunters to help the dogs move through the water more efficiently. The patches of hair left on the body are meant to protect vital organs and joints, which are susceptible to cold. Most pet poodles sport a simpler cut, although frequent grooming is required regardless of the trim type. His coat – coming in a variety of solid colors, including white, black, apricot and gray – is also hypoallergenic, which may reduce allergic reactions.

#8: Bulldog
Known for their loose-jointed, shuffling gait and massive, short-faced head, the bulldog is known to be equable, resolute and dignified. A medium-sized dog, they are not your typical lap dog, but would like to be!

Very popular due to their lovable and gentle dispositions and adorable wrinkles, the bulldog may be brindle, white, red, fawn, fallow or piebald. Bulldogs are recognized as excellent family pets because of their tendency to form strong bonds with children. They tend to be gentle and protective. The breed requires minimal grooming and exercise, but their short nose makes them prone to overheating in warm weather.

The dachshund, meaning “badger dog” in German, is a lively breed with a friendly personality and keen sense of smell. Known for their long and low bodies, they are eager hunters that excel in both above- and below-ground work. The breed comes in three different coat varieties (smooth, wirehaired or longhaired) and can be miniature (11 pounds and under) or standard size (16-32 pounds).
Dachshunds are lovable, playful companions, and an ideal pet for many homes. They require moderate exercise, and can adapt to most living environments. Depending on their coat type, dachshunds may need regular grooming.

#6: Boxer
The well-conditioned middleweight athlete of dogdom, the boxer is a powerful dog with an intelligent and alert expression. While they are instinctive guardians, the boxer loves to be with his people. This personality has allowed them to succeed as couriers during wartime and as seeing-eye dogs for the blind.

One of the breed’s most notable characteristics is its desire for human affection, especially from children. They are patient and spirited with children, but also protective, making them a popular choice for families. Appearing in both fawn and brindle colors, the boxer’s short coat requires minimal maintenance, but he is an active dog that needs daily exercise.

#5: Beagle
A sturdy hunting dog, the beagle should look like a foxhound in miniature. His easy-to-care-for coat, combined with a merry personality, has made the beagle a favorite of many families over the years.

Today’s beagle comes in two height varieties (13 inch and 15 inch) and any true hound color, including tri-color, red and white and lemon. Beagles are happy-go-lucky and friendly, making them a wonderful family pet. Since they lived in packs for hundreds of years, they naturally enjoy the company of other dogs and humans. Curious and comedic, they often follow their noses – which can lead to some mischief if they are not provided with daily activity.

#4: Golden Retriever
The golden retriever, whose trademark is its light to dark golden-colored coat, possesses great intelligence and an eager-to-please attitude. Originally bred to retrieve game, the working ability that has made the golden retriever such a useful hunting companion also makes him an ideal service and search-and-rescue dog.
This active and energetic Sporting breed can adapt to many different living situations as long as he has plenty of daily exercise. His water-repellent double coat sheds seasonally and needs regular brushing. With his friendly temperament and striking golden color, this breed is both beautiful to look at and a joy to own.

#3: German Shepherd
The German shepherd dog is hailed as the world’s leading police, guard and military dog, however, this dependable breed is more than just a hard worker. It is also a loving family companion, herder and show competitor. The breed is approachable, direct and fearless, with a strong, muscular body, and can be most colors except white. Energetic and fun-loving, this breed is a loyal family pet, a good guard dog and the ideal choice for many families. He requires regular exercise and grooming.

#2Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire terriers, affectionately known as “Yorkies,” offer big personalities in a small package. Though members of the Toy Group, they are terriers by nature and are brave, determined, investigative and energetic. They have long, luxurious blue-and-tan coats that require regular brushing. This portable pooch is easily adaptable to all surroundings, travels well and makes a suitable pet for many homes. Due to their small size (they weigh only 4 to 7 pounds), they require limited exercise, but need plenty of daily interaction with people.

#1:Labrador Retriever
The gentle, intelligent and family-friendly Labrador retriever is the most popular breed in the United States for the 18th consecutive year, according to American Kennel Club registration statistics. Because of his aptitude to please his master, they excel as guide dogs for the blind, as part of search-and-rescue teams, and in narcotics detection with law enforcement.

This versatile hunting breed comes in three colors – yellow, black and chocolate – and as a double-coated breed that sheds seasonally, regular grooming keeps his coat at its water-resistant best. An ideal sporting and family dog, the Labrador retriever thrives as part of an active family or as a trusted hunting companion.

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Tips On Canary Breeding
by fts -

Canary breeding can be done for profit or mere enjoyment of the new birds. If you want to breed your own, there are a few things you need to know. Here are a few tips on breeding canaries.


Breeders commonly have problems with their canaries fighting. Males can sometimes be aggressive with the female. The male’s abuse may even become life-threatening. Therefore, make sure you keep an eye on things and separate the two if you have to. You can help prevent fighting by keeping the two birds in adjacent cages until they get used to each other.


You should feed your male and female a rich diet before trying to breed them. This will help give them more energy for the upcoming egg production and physical activity. You should feed your canaries apples, green vegetables, and boiled eggs mixed with biscuits.


You will have to provide each pair with their own nest. If possible, you should consider providing each pair with two nests. Common materials used to make nests include dryer lint, burlap, and shredded paper. Some birds are pickier than others.


Most hens lay five small blue eggs, while some can produce up to eight. After a week of sitting on the eggs, you should check each one for signs of a developing embryo. Just hold it up to a light. It’s safe to toss eggs out if they’re clear. Make sure that you always wash your hands before handling the eggs. Some substances can penetrate the egg shell and harm the developing chick.

These are a few tips on breeding canaries. If this is your first bird, then you definitely need to learn more about proper care of canaries. You will learn all you need to know to ensure your little bird stays healthy.

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Tony Hicks: Here's the Sad Truth About Guinea Pigs
By Tony Hicks - Contra Costa Times

I've been meaning to write this important column of warning for a few months, ever since I started seeing previews of that "G-Force" Disney movie, staring rodents who talk like Tracy Jordan.

Then last week, two days before the film was scheduled to open, I read about animal rescue groups bracing for an onslaught of homeless Guinea pigs, thanks to parents caving into children who want said rodents because they think the critters talk like Tracy Jordan. When the Guinea pigs/rodents end up not talking like Tracy Jordan, the kids will no longer want the animals. Which is understandable. I stopped paying attention to our horses as a kid when it turned out I couldn't teach them to talk like Mr. Ed. But at least my grandfather, after repeatedly assuring me it could be done, enjoyed watching me try.

Bleak future

So these Guinea pigs will end up going to animal rescue groups or being set free into the suburban wild, where they will join roaming bands of spray paint-toting Guinea pig street gangs looking for trouble.

I know these things, as we have two Guinea pigs who, despite being treated rather well, still refuse to talk, shoot little guns, fly, or jump through flaming hoops.

So, now that you're probably coming back from taking your kids to see "G-Force," I figure it's my duty to warn you that, not only do Guinea pigs not talk like Tracy Jordan in real life, but they're really terrible pets.

The reasons are many.

For one, they don't talk like Tracy Jordan, but they do squeal like the brakes of a gravel truck straining to stop a wild descent down a mountain. They do this constantly. No joke, I woke up at 4 this morning because one of them wanted a drink of water and was squealing while gnashing the tube of its water bottle back and forth like a hyena fighting for its share of a wildebeest carcass. I finally decided I'd either get it some water, or feed it to the raccoons patrolling my yard, which was tempting, but problematic long-term.

Not so sweet

And while the movie might make Guinea pigs seem cuddly, this is definitely not true. I actually tried making friends with the little beasts for a few weeks, receiving many bites for my troubles. Once outside the cage, they freeze up or try to run. They bite and scratch your kids. The other animals in the house all want to eat them, even the fish.

Though the pet stores always tell you to buy two because they're so darned social and all, they don't like each other. They constantly fight and chase each other around, kicking up any filth in their cage, which usually ends up on the floor. Nothing like having grandma come over and step into newly-tossed rodent excrement. Which, by the way, doesn't exactly smell like a flower shop.

Pet stores also try to talk you into buying those little exercise balls that, on TV, always show a happy rodent rolling all over the house to the delight of family and friends. So when we shelled out enough money to fit a Guinea pig in one of these balls slightly smaller than the Death Star, it sat there. And sat there. And sat there. Then it finally did something "... and I had to hose out the Death Star.

We put the other one in, with the same result. We kept trying until the Death Star started losing all its interior paint.

There's a reason one of the funniest "South Park" episodes was the one in which Peru tries taking over the world with giant Guinea pigs: Because they're the most unlikely animals to have that kind of ambition. Unless it comes to chasing each other around their cage and coating the floor with excrement. The film's tagline is "The World Needs Bigger Heroes." No, the world needs fewer Guinea Pigs "... until they really do learn to talk like Tracy Jordan.

Reach Tony Hicks at Read his blog, "Insert Foot," at

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Do-Gooders Deny Five-Legged Dog
Career in Entertainment
By Hamilton Nolan -

Lilly the five-legged puppy was born to be a star. But some misguided "dog lover" types are determined to see to it that she never achieves her Freak Show career dream! You monsters.

John Strong, a kindly man who runs a freak show on Coney Island, offered to buy Lilly and bring her here to the Big Apple, where she could achieve fame and fortune while amazing visitors with her many-leggedness. But then some lady in North Carolina too Lilly in and had her fifth leg removed, under the guise of "helping" her. Yea, helping her grow up to work at the 7-11!

"She'd better keep the dog's leg because she's not going to have a leg to stand on when I get through with her," said Strong, who has eight two-headed turtles and a two-headed cow in his menagerie.

John Strong is not a man to be trifled with. According to the NYT he "shares his bed with a dog named Wally, as well as tiny two-headed turtles that swim in little dishes," which indicates a fantastic aptitude for not rolling over in the middle of the night. He's still fighting to win custody of Lilly. And why not? Would a dog really feel "exploited" by working on Coney Island, which boasts America's highest concentration of hot dogs per square mile? It's a dream come true. Come, Lilly. Here, girl.

Fairbanks Man Falls After
Rescuing Cat from Tree
By The Associated Press/Seattle Times

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks man is in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries suffered in a fall after he rescued a cat from a tree.

Seventy-three-year-old Joe Fletcher had a torn aorta, broken ribs and brain swelling after falling 25 feet from a tree at a home.

He had just retrieved a cat named Sam, who was chased up the tree by a dog and refused to come down. Pet owner Jenny Ray called Fletcher who has operated the J and E Trees business for 30 years.

Employee Chris Held told The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Fletcher rescued the cat as a favor.

The Fairbanks Fire Department has a policy against animal rescues. Assistant Chief Ernie Misewicz says most animal situations resolve themselves.

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