Pet Photos, Pet Hospice, a Pet Psychic PLUS a Porn-Loving Cat?

"We've Always Known That Pets Make Us Feel Good.
We Just Didn't Know They Were Good for Us"
Seattle PI

My husband was getting his hair cut at a local hair salon recently. While waiting for the stylist to finish, I was flipping through several Health Magazine issues and found some articles about how pets help people.

I made a comment to my husband that Delta Society was mentioned and started reading portions of the articles to him. The salon was fairly empty and several of the stylists were idle. One of the staff said their standard poodle helps their daughter calm down when she's upset. The dog will go up to the child and nuzzle her. Another mentioned that her cats help her feel less stressed when she gets home after a long day working two jobs. The cats meet her at the door with loud purrs and rub against her ….she said she feels the stress literally drain away as she pets her cats.

Another employee chimed in that his two Golden Retrievers motivate him to exercise more and that he's lost over fifty pounds in the past year by just taking them on daily walks. Our stylist has a small rescued shelter dog that she takes to visit her mom in a local nursing home. All the other residents know when she's coming and will congregate in her mother's room so they can see the dog & pet him. She said they all reminisce about their own pets and there are always lots of smiles and hugs when she leaves!

These stories reinforced what several articles in recent editions of Health Magazine have stated: "Pet owners know that their pets improve mood, but now studies are showing pets' power to heal. Recent research has linked dogs and cats to health benefits such as higher survival rates after illness, fewer visits to the doctor, and better physical and psychological well-being among the elderly.

We've always known that pets make us feel good. We just didn't know they were good for us. Now we've gone from experiencing it to having a body of evidence," says Marty Becker, a veterinary contributor to Good Morning America and author of The Healing Power of Pets."

Health Magazine also has a website which I wanted to check out once we got home from the hair salon. I thoroughly enjoyed the heartwarming slides entitled "How My Pet Helped Me Heal".

The captions enticed me to peruse further ~ How my pet helped me heal, I got a dog and got off medication, My dog is my beside nurse, Adopting dogs cured my insomnia, An Arabian stallion helped me thru depression, Our cat calms my son…all great stories you'll enjoy!

It was gratifying to see that Dr. Marty Becker (a member of Delta Society's advisory board) and Gregg Takashima, DVM (past board chair for Delta Society) are on's expert panel.

Why not cuddle your way towards better health?

Pet Psychic is Eerily Accurate
Pet Tales - Eileen Mitchell - SF Chronicle

Many people visit psychics with some degree of skepticism. Jill Lopate was no exception when, out of playful curiosity, she took her Chihuahua, Kai, to see a pet psychic. However, the Mendocino resident found herself having second thoughts once the psychic started talking.

The 9-week-old Chihuahua fit in the palm of my hand. Handsome, with large dark eyes and a button nose, he had a snowy coat with fawn patches resembling butterflies. The name Papillon (French for "butterfly") seemed too obvious. My husband and I live in Mendocino on a headland overlooking the Pacific, so I chose the name Kai, which is Hawaiian for ocean. Some folks smiled at the highbrow name for so small a dog, while a few disdained my pocket pooch. "Why not get a real dog?" they asked.

Recently, the owner of a local pet store hosted a pet psychic. I was skeptical but also intrigued, so I booked an appointment. As I sat opposite the pet psychic, she immediately said, "Your dog loves to slurp noodles."

I gave her a dubious smile. Sure, but what dog doesn't like a good bowl of pasta? As Kai snuggled in my lap and stared at the psychic, I shared a concern. "He likes to dig at my mouth ..."

The psychic cut me off, her eyes sparkling, "Why yes, I believe he was a dentist in a past life."

I rolled my eyes, wondering what my dentist husband would say about that. And when she said she sensed that Kai had a nagging backache, I thought, "That does it. She's a fake. I'm the one with sciatica." But then I remembered the time Kai fell off my high bed. Terrified that he might have hurt his spine, I gave him baby aspirin, applied ice packs and took him to his veterinarian. Ever since, there were times that Kai appeared achy and snapped at his hind end after rough play.

"Just give him some baby aspirin and apply ice if he snaps at himself," she said as if reading my mind. "Oh, and Kai wants his photo taken with an abalone shell," she added.

"Kai and I go to the beach a lot," I started to say. "He sees me picking up shells and ..."

But she shushed me. "Wait, he's telling me something." When she leaned forward in her chair, Kai's head cocked to one side. "He said he hates that green sweater thing. It flops against his rear, which bugs him."

I winced. His winter fleece sweater coat was green.

"Well, that's 20 minutes," the pet psychic said. "Time's up."

I thanked her and went to the register to pay, still doubting the idea of a pet psychic. And yet, I had to marvel at her accuracy. Slightly embarrassed, I told no one about our visit.

Two days later, Kai and I were at the beach enjoying our usual routine: I threw tennis balls, he fetched them. At quitting time, I called Kai, who normally obeys, but this time he ignored me and ran into a small cave. Worried, I sprinted over, leaned in and got pelted with clumps of wet sand flying backward from between Kai's legs. What had caught his interest?

A giant abalone shell he had just unearthed.

That evening, recalling Kai's request as relayed by the psychic, I sat him in his bed, propped up the great shell and snapped photos.

Evidence indeed that Kai is a real dog.

E-mail your pet tale to

Gary Bogue: Dying Pets: More Ways
to Help You Cope with Them
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Our pets are family.

Dear Gary:

I was very moved by Laura Clifford's letter to you (Thursday) sharing ideas of how to help with the pain of a dying pet. It moved me to suggest two other things.

Malone, our volunteer cat, lived with us for 17 years "... the last two surviving cancer operations and treatment — yes, even "cat scans."

We were told that he could be expected to have good life quality probably up to two more years. He had gained lots of weight and energy and was doing sooo well. We, of course, were watching him like hawks and feeding him only the best food from the vets.

Then he sickened, kidneys stopped and he was gone in four days. We were devastated. So my tips are three additional ones.

If there is a question about the cause of death, have an autopsy performed. This was March 2007, and while we were conscious of the tainted food killing pets in the U.S., it would have been a tiny comfort to know the cause of his sudden illness and death to add to the body of knowledge that might protect other pets. We were too grief-stricken to think of doing that at the time.

The other suggestion is a happier one. Sit down and write the complete story of your pet's life with you, all the funny things, sweet habits, etc., etc. Fortunately we had quite a few pictures, too, but writing it out helped and when I really feel sad about him, I take that out and remind myself of the great time we had together.

The final lesson is that grieving takes a long time — or it did for us — but now the "rest of the story" is that two pouncy kittens found us hanging around the local shelter and demanded we take them home — and happy we are that we did.

Helen (and Sam) Sause, Alameda

Dear Helen:

I like your last suggestion best. The two pouncy kittens (or puppies!). They help make the grieving go away.

Just ask our still-new-but-not-so-little-anymore orange kitty, Jasmine. She'll tell you all about it.

Some beastly fun

Bring your pooch to Valley Humane Society, 3670 Nevada St., Pleasanton, noon-4 p.m. Saturday for a free dog wash (all donations appreciated!). More at

Take your dog for a fun-filled afternoon with dog games and contests, pet portraits, and new friends at Furry Friends Rescue Dog Adoption Showcase. It's the Shore Dogs Park 11th Annual Radio Road Roundup, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Shore Dogs Park, Radio Road, Redwood City. More details and directions at See "events."

Help! Vinny's lost!

Vinny, a small (slim) black and white cat, has been missing since July 25 from his home on Derby Court in Pleasant Hill (off Pleasant Hill Road, near Oak Park). Please call 925-286-3617 if you've seen him.

A final note

Gary: I meant to send you this when the subject came up a few weeks ago. If you just have a mouse or two, take an empty cardboard toilet paper roll and balance it hanging over the edge on a counter top with a bit of mouse goody in it (peanut, cracker). On the floor below the roll, place an empty 2-foot smooth-sided wastebasket (put a towel in the bottom if you're afraid they'll hurt themselves).

The mouse tips the roll when he enters to eat and drops neatly into the wastebasket. Take the basket and move it as far away from the interior of your house as you can. I read about this somewhere and had no problem removing a couple of mice that had taken up residence in our breakfast room. They never came back, either. (Don Spagel, cyberspace)

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It's a Dog's Life Part 1
Los Angeles Times - Photos by Mel Melcon

Times photographer Mel Melcon has a knack for snapping shots of people with their dogs. Here are a few favorites from over the years.

Jason Drew, 32, of Studio City, gives his dog Casey, a 9-year-old pit bull, a lift while riding his mountain bike along Chandler Ave. in Sherman Oaks. Drew said that he usually takes his dog on a 4-mile ride, a couple of times a week. He is holding onto the dog's front paws as an added protection but Drew said the dog has no problem staying up there on it's own.

Sylvia Montano tries out her inflatable hammer on her dog Atlas, a rottweiler/boxer mix in Simi Valley.

Jan Simpson is greeted by his 3 dogs, from left, Bobo, Bobo Jr. and Bobola in Ventura.

Chris Marino gets nose to nose with Pidi, a chihuahua/pomeranian mix, while at Borchard Park in Newbury Park.

Leroy Singh sees eye to eye with his dog Minnie while visiting Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area in Los Angeles.

Owen Mitchell, left, and his twin sister Grace greet Biscuit being held in check by her owner Paula Rulnik while visiting the Farmer's Market in Los Angeles.

Isai Jimenez, left, tries to escape from his nephew, Issac Zendejas while playing tackle football at Old Orchard Park in Newhall. Joining in on the fun is Issac's dog Po, a chihuahua mix.

Keaton Lindahl holds handle of fountain so his dog can get a drink at Camino Real Park in Ventura.

Julian Smith, 27, of El Monte, relaxes with his dog Pup while taking in the sun at Santa Monica Beach.

Captain Jan Selder, Supervisor of the East Valley Animal Care Center in Van Nuys, holding Jingle, left, a Maltese puppy, and Holly, a Yorkie puppy, leads fellow employees, holding other puppies as they enter a press conference held at the center. Five Yorkie and five Maltese puppies were intercepted at LAX with falsified health documentation in June 2008.

Leon Bazilio and his dog Pluto, take in the annual Kingdom Day Parade on Martin Luther King Blvd. In South Los Angeles in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Kia tries to grab a drink of water as Cherie Corcoran uses hose to water her front lawn in Montalvo.

Armando Cervantes works on a training exercise in which his dog Brisa climbs a tree and stays there until Cervantes gives the command to jump down at Moorpark Park in Studio City.

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Leopard Geckos - a Different Type of Pet
By Peter Wedderburn -

Gary started off with two female Leopard Geckos several years ago, and he’s found himself becoming increasingly captivated by his lizards. He bought a bigger tank, with a more elaborate environment for his pets. Then last year, he bought a male Gecko, and he was delighted when his females started to lay eggs three months later. He then bought his own incubator, and a few months ago, he hatched his own baby Geckos.

Gary has become an amateur expert in Leopard Geckos, gleaning information from pet shops, books and the Internet. He has the husbandry of his pets finely tuned, and as a result, they rarely have health problems. However, recently, he had noticed that the male Gecko was not fully shedding his skin, and he asked me for help.

Geckos are a type of lizard, found in many warm countries around the world. They are named because of their strange bird-like call. I remember hearing my first Gecko when I was in Thailand. The noise was like someone calling in a high-pitched voice – “Geck – Oh”. It was at night, and so I searched for the source of the noise with a torch. I found a four-inch long lizard crawling up the wall beside my bed. Geckos have flat toe pads, covered with microscopic hooks that let them climb surfaces easily, like miniature spidermen. They can climb up vertical glass surfaces, and even run upside down across ceilings.

Geckos are harmless, non-toxic creatures, and even in the wild, they are charming and interesting. They eat insects, and in the tropics, anything that keeps the mosquito burden down by eating them has to be a friend.

Leopard Geckos originate from the India and Pakistan area. They live in deserts and dry grasslands, taking shelter under rocks and in shallow burrows. Nearly all of the Leopard Geckos that are kept as pets nowadays have been bred in captivity, but they have the same needs as their ancestors in the wild. They are kept in a vivarium, which is basically a large glass fish tank. The floor of the tank is covered with a “substrate”, which is usually sand, mimicking their natural desert environment. “Cage furniture” is also placed in the vivarium, with a hide-box for the Gecko to use as a den, and an assortment of rocks and pieces of wood to make the Gecko’s home more interesting. A heat source is essential. Gary has a special light for the Geckos to bask under at one end of the tank, and a heat pad beneath to provide warmth from below. He uses a thermometer regularly to check that he has the temperature within the correct range. It is also important to make sure that a Gecko’s environment has the correct humidity, and as well as shallow water bowls that are continually filled, Gary mists the vivarium with a plant sprayer from time to time.

It’s normal for Geckos – like snakes – to shed their skins regularly. When young Geckos are growing, they lose their skins once a week, but as adults it happens only once every few months. Unlike snakes – who leave their skins behind them – Geckos have a strange habit of eating their own skins. They literally nibble the old skin off themselves. There is some debate as to why they do this. Some people believe that the skin may contain useful vitamins and minerals, but in addition, it is thought that by eating their own debris, they effectively remove any smell or visible evidence that might attract predators. It is easy to tell when a Gecko is about to shed his skin – his colour changes from the normal shiny black and yellow to a dull, grayish colour.

Normally, the process of moulting is completed in a few hours. When Gary noticed that the male Gecko had a dull patch of skin on his foot the following day, he knew that there was something wrong.

The answer to the problem was simple: Gary had to increase the humidity for his Gecko in order to allow the old skin to detach properly. I suggested that he put some damp kitchen roll inside a margarine tub, with holes punched in the lid. He placed the Gecko in this tub, inside the vivarium, and left him there for a day. By the following morning, the increased humidity had loosened the patch of old skin, and the Gecko had removed it. His foot looked as shiny as the rest of his body, and he was returned to join his female friends in the main vivarium.

A Noseful of Air Makes the Medicine Go Down
by PetSugar

It's funny how dogs who would normally devour any meal seem to know when you try to sneak in some meds. Even the teeny tiniest pill imaginable. True story, it happened to a friend of mine. Concerned that lil Chico wasn't ever going to budge, she tried everything from the popular peanut butter coating to pill pockets, but her pup refused and the daily battle began.

Just when it seemed that her min pin's determination won out, she called the vet, who recommended this simple trick that actually worked: after placing the pill in the dog's open mouth, hold him and lightly blow on his nose. For some reason, this prompts the pet to swallow and helps the medicine go down. It's probably for the best — a spoonful of sugar wouldn't be good for canines anyway.

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Man Blames Cat for Child Porn Downloads
By Dan Goodin - The

One kitty. One thousand pics

A Florida man accused of downloading more than 1,000 images of child pornography is blaming the offense on his cat, according to published reports.

Keith Griffin of Jensen Beach is charged with 10 counts of child porn possession after detectives found the images on his home computer, the Associated Press reports.

Investigators say Griffin told them his cat jumped onto his computer keyboard while he was downloading music. After returning to his machine following a brief trip to another room, he found "strange things" had happened to the machine. He said his cat frequently hopped on the keyboard when the PC was left on.

The 48-year-old is being held on $250,000 bond in the Martin County jail. It is unclear if the cat was neutered.

Hospice Care Eases the End for Loyal Pets

(HealthDay News) -- Hospice care isn't just for humans anymore, as more animal owners are making that choice for their terminally ill pets as an alternative to early euthanasia.

For nearly 20 years, a handful of veterinarians has helped animals suffering from incurable diseases, such as heart and kidney failure, to die peacefully at home, not in a hospital cage. But only recently have pet owners and the veterinary profession begun to fully embrace the idea.

The spike in interest is mostly from people who went through the hospice experience with a parent or sibling and decide to do it for their cat or dog, said Kathryn Marocchino, founder of the Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, an educational and referral service in Vallejo, Calif.

"These are the people who consider pets a part of the family and want to do whatever it takes to be there for them up until the end," she says.

Under the guidance of a veterinarian, owners learn skills necessary to minister to their pets at home, such as administering medication, changing dressings and giving fluids.

Symptoms such as pain are managed through the use of pharmaceuticals and, perhaps, holistic medicine until death occurs naturally or the owners decide to euthanize.

Some ailing animals only survive a few days or weeks; others live for years with supportive care.

About 100 veterinarians nationwide offer end-of-life support as part of their regular services. A few clinics, including the Argus Institute at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, are dedicated solely to end-of-life treatment for animals.

"It is a service, I think, people are going to be asking for more and more," said Marocchino.

The foundation's annual symposium on animal hospice care at the University of California in Davis in September will draw professionals from both the veterinary and human hospice worlds.

Increasing interest from human hospice workers has a few human facilities considering building special wings for terminally ill pets, Marocchino said.

Sharen Meyers, a long-time social worker for human hospice, made plans to open an end-of-life care facility for animals later this summer after her employer had her research the idea but decided not to pursue it.

Synergy Animal Hospice, located in Bend, Ore., will give aid to all companion animals, including horses, geckos, rabbits and chickens.

A renovated two-story house, sitting on 20 acres, serves as the nonprofit's business office and inpatient-care unit for families who can't physically or financially tend to their dying pets at home.

People often rush to euthanize their animals after receiving a terminal diagnosis then feel like they "executed" their best friend, Meyers said. But that's not the case when owners opt for hospice care, she said.

"When people walk through the hospice process thoughtfully and consciously, it lessens the intensity of the grief afterwards," said Meyers, who also runs a pet loss support group.

Modeling their program after human hospice, Synergy's volunteers will provide animals with spiritual care (through Reiki, a Japanese healing technique) and caregivers with emotional support.

The group is also partnering with a local humane society to find homes for the pets of human hospice patients when they die.

With funding from donations and grants, Meyers hopes to provide these services at little or no cost to the community.

Nursing a terminally ill pet can be exhausting, especially for elderly owners or those who work full-time. But Kenneth Koch of Modesto, Calif., doesn't regret the three years he spent caring for his cat, Midnight.

Adopted by Koch nearly two decades earlier, the black domestic shorthair had chronic renal failure, among other illnesses. Injections, intravenous treatments and a regimen of six different pills quickly became part of Koch's daily routine.

Around the same time, the furniture maker quit his job to provide around-the-clock care at home for his elderly parents, both stricken with Alzheimer's.

"In their time of need, I couldn't turn my back on them, just like Midnight," he said. "I'm just not built that way."

Koch, 52, hoped Midnight would pass away peacefully at home, but because of complications that ensued from changing a feeding tube, she died in 2007 at a nearby animal hospital.

Still, Koch affirmed his decision to provide hospice care for Midnight. And he would do it all again -- even spending $12,000 for treatments, which has left him in debt, for the young stray that showed up on his back porch all those years ago.

"She was such a big part of my life," said Koch. "I was just giving back for all the love she gave to me."

More information

To read more about mourning the passing of a pet, go to the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.

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