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Oldest Dog?
Challengers Question Chanel's Record
USA Today

Since we had a story Tuesday on Chanel passing away at the grand old age of 21 and holding the Guinness World Record for being the world's oldest dog, several people have claimed their dog -- or someone else's -- is older.

After posting a story Friday about a German woman claiming she had a dog older than Chanel, I checked the comments on the story and found this from ericinsydney:

"Greetings from Sydney, Australia. Chanel was NOT the world's oldest dog. And New York's Paco Sosa (20) is six years younger than a "terrier mix" named Max, owned by Janelle Derouen of New Iberia, La., born on August 9, 1983. He celebrated his 26th birthday last month. Janelle says Max is in remarkably good shape. He suffers from cataracts, so he wears doggie goggles when he's out in the sun, and a touch of arthritis has slowed him down, but not by much.

eric in sydney continues: "Max is probably the world's oldest dog.

"Earlier this week, a German woman claimed her pooch was 25 -- with a tattoo of her birthdate in her ear to prove it.

"Verena Wulf from Bavaria told her local radio station SWR3, "My Penny is 25," and came to her family in 1986.

"The vet at the time put her age at about one and a half."

"Perhaps Penny is the world's second-oldest dog. But Max is the max."

Veterinarians Seeing More Pet
Insurance as Costs Rise

Today, the range of treatments and specialists and equipment that can be found in the veterinarian world rivals that of the human medical world.

At the South Meadow Animal Clinic, veterinarian Dr. Les Mayes easily ordered an echocardiogram to assess a puppy’s heart function, and everything was loaded onto a computer system so a board-certified cardiologist could read the results and give a diagnosis and design a treatment plan. There are no paper records, Mayes said, and he expects to get his results same-day, which is a lot faster than getting results for many human patients.

However, the advanced care that is given to pets today comes with its own drawback.

“Just like in human medicine, as we advance in our technology, the price of our services goes up,” Mayes said.

Some pet owners opt for pet health insurance in order to battle costs of veterinary care that wasn’t available in past years, and having that financial support can be a major factor in decisions about a pet’s health, vets said. The plans vary, but so far the pet insurance industry hasn’t become the unwieldy juggernaut that health insurance has become for the human medical world. Dealing with the insurance companies is the pet owner’s responsibility, but having a plan gives owners a peace of mind and can defray the costs of an unexpected illness or accident, veterinarians say.

Dr. Tricia Earley, a veterinarian at Metro West Emergency Animal Hospital, affiliated with Hulen Hills Animal Hospital, said the reality is that most owners aren’t prepared for the cost of care for emergencies and sometimes are unable to pay.

“It’s very unfortunate that in our profession people are forced to make decisions on their pet’s health based on their finances,” she said.

Pet health insurance plans can vary widely, Earley said, but the annual cost — which she estimated to be $300 to $400 — is significantly less than the cost of care from an accident, like surgically repairing a dog’s broken leg, which can cost around $2,000.

During the past decade, pet health insurance has been gaining ground slowly but surely. Earley said none of her patients had insurance a decade ago, and today probably less than 1 percent have coverage. That is still a definite increase, she said. Each month, about 20 claims verifications come into the animal hospital where she is on staff, she said.

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency, one of many companies that sells pet health insurance, sold its first policy in 1982. At the beginning of 2004, it insured 220,000 pets nationwide, and this year it insures about 470,000 pets, according to company statistics.

Packaged Facts, a market research firm, estimated sales of pet insurance in the United States to be $175 million in 2006 and $210 million in 2007. In a 2008 report (based on 2007 data), the company also estimated North American pet insurance sales will triple in five years and hit $756 million—or more—by 2012.

Mayes said a small percentage of his clients use insurance, but many opt for plans that include regular wellness exams and vaccinations. He said he tries to promote preventive medicine for his patients, just as a family physician or primary care giver would for his or her patients; preventing an illness or finding a problem early on is financially better and a healthier option, he said.

Since such a small number of people use pet health insurance, it can be difficult to have any concrete idea about the future of the industry, Mayes said.

“I don’t know what to make of the big picture of it,” he said. “ . . . I guess the jury’s still out on how well it will progress.”

Whereas most hospitals or practices need a staff member or contracted agency to handle insurance claims and billing in the human world, Mayes and Earley said owners pay for services out of pocket and then submit a claim to their insurance companies. A veterinarian’s role is usually limited to verifying that a pet received certain services. Since vets aren’t directly involved in the insurance claims, their businesses aren’t affected by reimbursement rates, something that affects the finances of many medical doctors and institutions.

While vets aren’t affiliated with pet insurance companies, Earley said she does talk to owners about getting insurance and has an array of brochures and Web sites she can give out.

Mayes said turning to pet insurance is a logical progression in the advancement of veterinarian care, especially now that animals are treated as a member of the family and people are more willing and able to spend money on their pet’s health. He joked that if someone’s child is coughing, a parent usually won’t rush him or her to the clinic. But if the dog is coughing? Straight to the vet’s office.

“Most people take better care of their pets than they do their children,” he said.

Brad Pitt ‘Spends $100k on Fancy Gerbil Cage’
Posted by Adam -

Brad Pitt clearly isn’t feeling the pinch — he’s just spent a whopping $100,000 on a home for his kids’ gerbils!

Pitt — who raises six children with partner Angelina Jolie — reportedly oversaw the construction and design of the project, which boasts tunnels, platforms, seesaws and mazes.

“Brad pores over architectural journals like other people pore over newspapers,” a source told British newspaper The Sun. “He had so much fun putting the run together with his kids.

“It’s incredibly complex and cost a lot but Brad’s more than happy with any activity that can combine his two passions — his kids and architecture.”

The rodents – who will live at the family’s mansion in the South of France – were chosen by Maddox, eight, Pax, five, after their superstar parents took them to a local pet store last week.

“The boys were really keen to get the gerbils and it was Angelina who reached into the cage to pet them before a store worker got them out,” an onlooker said.

It was recently claimed that Jolie was furious with the amount of money Pitt spends on frivolous nonsense.

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So, You're Worried About Squirrels
Getting Into Your Bird Feeder?!?!

What The Heck Is That Line Made Of?

Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ

Deal of the Week 120x60
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Deaf Dog Learns Sign Signal!

MELBOURNE - A deaf dog is learning sign language with the help of her carer.

Coffs Harbour specialist Liz Grewal has taught Pixie, a border collie, to sit, drop and come forth through her hand commands.

“Dogs understand your body language, your hand gestures, they read all of that. They know,” the Daily Telegraph quoted her as saying.

She added: “Consistency is the key to training any dog but you have to emphasise it more with a deaf dog. You’ve to train them in a different way, they train quicker than a hearing dog as there are no noise distractions.”

Liz has been an owner of deaf dogs for six years and presently owns four of them.

She said: “I want these dogs to have a fantastic life, and I know they can do it.” (ANI)

Dog Training Tip: Praise

Something I notice a lot of dog owners do is ruin praise.

By that I mean, they are ALWAYS praising the dog – for nothing.

‘Good boy!’

I trained with a Scottish HPR man – one of the best dog trainers I’ve ever met. Lives on his own in the Highlands with a pack of 9 dogs, used to trial but gave it up to go and live like a hermit.

I noticed that when he was training he hardly ever spoke to the dogs but their fixation on him was like nothing I’d ever seen.

I did some work with him with my own dog and he told me I was giving undue praise. I was ‘wasting’ it. His philosophy was that the dog would perform acrobatics to simply get a touch on the chin from him – and they did.

He takes his puppies and uses the normal encouragement that we all do – praise, high voice, lots of excitement – but as the dog gets older, the praise becomes far more subtle. This guy works some of the highest drive pointers and setters I’ve ever met and they are very rangey, independent dogs – but he never, ever uses punishment over and above 1) Ignoring the dog and 2) Withholding praise.

He has trained field trial champions that would have beaten even some of the successful pro trainers – he’s soft spoken (to the point that he hardly ever speaks) and his dogs work for just the merest touch from his hand.

I worked to incorporate this in my own training style and saw great results. Because it makes you very conscious of when you’re wasting praise. That’s not to say you can’t play with the dogs and roll and round and act daft with them (I and he do all of that) but in a training situation or even just every day situations, praise is to be earned and it doesn’t need to be lavish (otherwise, anything below lavish, over inflated demonstrations of praise will not have the same effect with the dog).

So, if you’re in a training situation – can you get your dog in to a state of mind where they will do ANYTHING for simply a touch on their chin from your hand?

If not, you might be wasting your praise – at which point, it can become like white noise to the dog – which happens a lot with a dog that is used to getting lots of praise for little reason.

Fur Flies Over Proposed Ban
on Declawing Cats
Marisa Lagos, Chronicle Staff Writer/SF Gate

In this pet-crazy town, it sounds like a no-brainer: a proposed ban on the declawing of cats, framed by supporters as a simple animal cruelty measure.

But the ban is opposed by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and others. While the SFSPCA opposes declawing in general and does not practice it at its hospital, it argues that politicians shouldn't regulate the medical procedures. And the organization's director worries the proposed law could actually lead to more abandoned or euthanized cats.

Crafted by San Francisco's Animal Welfare Commission, an advisory body, and sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the legislation would bar the onychectomy (declawing) and tendonectomy (removal of the flexor tendon) procedures in San Francisco, unless they are deemed medically necessary.

The measure would effectively halt the procedures that cat owners have used largely to save themselves and their furniture from scratches. The practice, veterinarians say, has widely fallen out of favor in recent years anyway and is already banned in West Hollywood and about 25 countries, including the United Kingdom.

If passed, the legislation would become effective before a new state law is enacted in January that would prohibit local jurisdictions from creating legislation to ban declawing. The proposal also comes six years after the Board of Supervisors passed a nonbinding measure opposing declawing, and two years after West Hollywood's similar ordinance survived a legal challenge by the California Veterinary Medical Association. The association, which represents more than 6,000 California vets, also opposes San Francisco's ordinance.

Mirkarimi noted that declawing involves not only removing claws but also the last bone of each toe; his measure compares the procedure to cutting off a person's finger at the last joint. The legislation also discusses the importance of claws to cats' health and well-being.

"It comes down to animal cruelty and mutilating an animal for the convenience of its guardian," said Sally Stephens, president of the Animal Welfare Commission, who raised the issue earlier this year.

Stephens and others - including SFSPCA President Jan McHugh-Smith - pointed out that there are many other ways to deal with a cat that scratches too much, including behavior training, scratching posts, trimming claws and "soft paws," temporary vinyl caps that can be glued to a cat's claws. Stephens pointed to federal health guidelines that show that even immune-compromised people can keep cats without declawing them as long as the cat more than a year old and the owner avoids rough play and washes any cut immediately.

But McHugh-Smith and Mark Nunez, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association, said they have concerns about legislating bans on medical procedures.

"We don't believe medical management procedures should be made by city council members. They should be made by professionals," Nunez said.

McHugh-Smith said the SFSPCA is also concerned about the propensity for abandonment.

"The SFSPCA is opposed to declawing ... but we are concerned about the option being taken away from the guardian," she said. "They could potentially give up the pet, and it could end up in a shelter and end up being euthanized."

Stephens said abandonment can occur anyway, as cats that scratch can often default to biting and other aggressive behavior once their claws are removed. She said training is a more reliable and humane option.

"Declawing a cat doesn't always keep it out of a shelter," she said.

E-mail Marisa Lagos at

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Ask Dr. Watts: What If My Dog
Gets Bit By a Copperhead?
Ask Dr. Watts - Dr. Michael Watts/Vet Care,

Q: What should I do if my dog gets bitten by a copperhead snake?

A: First, do not panic. Try to stay calm so your dog does not get too excited. Second, try to get a really good look at the snake without getting too close. Is it really a copperhead? Or is it just a brown water snake, corn snake, or other look alike? Most snake bites are from non-poisonous snakes.

There are two kinds of poisonous snakes in central Virginia. The first is a copperhead and the other is a timber rattlesnake. In the far southeastern portion of Virginia, you can also find water moccasins. All of these snakes are pit vipers, a generally non-lethal type of snake. The poison is produced in thick bulging glands behind the jaw giving the snake’s head a remarkable triangle shape. There are heat sensing glands, or “pits,” below each eye. The poisons produced are called dermonecrotoxins. They work by killing skin and muscle tissue. This type of poison is much less dangerous than the neurotoxins produced by cobras, coral snakes, and other infamous reptiles. However, in a small pet, the pit viper toxins can still be life threatening.

In our area, poisonous snake bites may require multiple visits to the veterinarian to remove necrotic tissue and prevent infection. However, most pets survive the experience. Small pets and pets bitten on or near the face are at higher risk for life-threatening complications. Rarely, a pet may be highly allergic to the snake’s venom and develop a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction.

After a bite there are two priorities. The first is to keep the toxin from spreading as much as possible. To reduce the spread of the toxin, use an ice pack on the area of your dog will let you.

Stay calm to try to keep your pet calm. If your dog is small enough to carry, avoid having him walk around as much as practical. The second priority is to get to a veterinarian right away.

Veterinary treatment for snake bites primarily involves reducing swelling, pain, and infection. Antivenin is also available in some locations, but its use is controversial. The antivenin is known to cause severe life-threatening allergic reactions in a significant number of dogs. Since the vast majority of snake bites are from non-poisonous snakes and since most pit viper bites are non-lethal, the risk of reaction to the treatment should be carefully considered before using antivenin. Most general practices do not stock the expensive antivenin serum, but many emergency clinics do. (Antivenin for one dog can cost $600-$2000 and it expires if not used within a certain period of time.)

Q: Can my cat get the dog flu?

A: Recent columns on influenza viruses have generated several questions from concerned cat owners. There has never been a cat diagnosed with the H3N3 (canine influenza) or H1N1 (“swine flu”) strains of influenza. Influenza viruses are generally associated with birds, humans, horses, and pigs. Most viruses are not able to pass between different species. When one develops the ability, it generally becomes a household name (avian influenza, swine flu, SARS, monkeypox, rabies, etc.). While researchers continue to monitor cats, there is little worry our feline friends will catch the flu anytime soon.

Q: Can you tell me why my poodle tries to find every spot in the yard the cat has been too and then eats it? This is driving me crazy and I can’t seem to stop her. What can I do?

A: There is no easy answer for your problem. You may try transitioning your cat to stay indoors and use a litter pan. It’s better for the cat and there won’t be anything in your yard for the dog to eat. You could also train your dog out of the behavior by walking your dog for a period of time only on a “Gentle Leader.” These collars allow you to close the mouth with a pull on the leash. You will find products sold at pet stores that claim to make pet waste undesirable for consumption. However, I have yet to find one that works consistently and reliably. Good luck.

Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached through or by calling 428-1000.

Monster Exotic Fish Found
in Hong Kong Ponds

Hong Kong has launched a search of ponds in public parks after at least 16 fish of an exotic species that can grow up to three metres long were discovered, apparently dumped by their owners when they grew too big. A metre-long alligator gar was caught in a park pond after reports that visitors feared for their safety, the South China Morning Post reported. The fierce-looking creatures get their name from their long snout, which resembles that of an alligator. While they are an aggressive and carnivorous species, they are not known to attacks humans. Native to North America, alligator gars are commonly sold in Hong Kong for home aquariums when they are less than 30 centimetres long but can grow to three metres and weigh up to 140 kilogrammes. Another 15 of the fish had been found in ponds and lakes at other parks across Hong Kong, the Post said. The department warned that people who dumped unwanted pet fish in public parks risked a HKD 2,000 ($260) fine and two weeks in jail. afp

Watch African Wild Dogs LIVE
on K9 Magazine!
Submitted by K9 Magazine News Editor -

K9 Magazine is delighted to bring you transmission of a truly amazing event. A 24-hour live video feed of an African wild dog den deep in the African bush, featuring touching footage of newborn pups emerging from the den.

Free for everyone to view, the cam shows a wild dog pack nurturing its newborn pups. Viewers can enjoy the progress of these characters as they grow and learn to hunt with their parents.

An advanced camera system, including infra-red night vision, has been installed to monitor the behaviour of these endangered animals by a team of conservationists from the Ingwe Leopard Project and

You can watch the wild dog den, live, on

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