Give Your Ageing Pet a Break

Ask Dog Lady:
Overcome Fear of
Outliving Pet
By Monica Collins - GateHouse News Service

Dear Dog Lady,

I want to get a dog but I don’t think I could stand the heartbreak. I watched helplessly as a friend recently put down her 11-year-old dog Truffle. Truffle was in the advanced stages of bone cancer. My friend was inconsolable after Truffle died. A month later, she’s still a mess whenever she sees a dog.

Before the Truffle tragedy, I had been seriously considering getting a dog. I had decided to adopt from a shelter. After I saw my friend’s extreme grief after Truffle died, I am reconsidering the whole thing. How do I reconcile getting an older dog while knowing I may outlive my pet?


Dear Harry, don’t be wary of letting a dog into your life. Your instinct to adopt a shelter dog is marvelous and affirming. You can’t shy away from it just because you fear the natural course of time. No matter whether you outlast your animal or vice versa, both you and your dog will have a better quality of life.

Your friend who lost Truffle has been through an ordeal that we pet lovers know is the greatest sadness of dog guardians – bidding farewell forever.

But, as Woody Allen once observed in his classic film “Annie Hall”: “The heart is a very resilient muscle.” Your friend will eventually recover. Her pet-loving spirit will be elastic enough to allow another animal into her life. The love she had for Truffle will make that possible. Over time, she will learn how to put her late dog’s memory into a special chamber of her resilient heart and move on.

Don’t be paralyzed by “what if?” Go to that shelter, adopt a dog, and exhale.

Dear Dog Lady,

I've found more than a dozen local dog trainers though the Web and phone book. How can I determine if I've selected the right one? Are there any local reviews, articles, blogs, etc. that I can review?


Dear Stacy, start your research on the Web site of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers – You will read their mission statement: “The APDT offers individual pet dog trainers a respected and concerted voice in the dog world. We continue to promote professional trainers to the veterinary profession and to increase public awareness of dog friendly training techniques.” The site has many articles to read and a search tool so you find trainers in your area by entering a Zip code.

You should also understand the alphabet soup of credentials trailing behind a trainer’s name: CDBC means “certified dog behavior consultant,” CPDT translates as “certified pet dog trainer,” and CAAB is “certified applied animal behaviorist.” (This is the Ph.D. equivalent for dog-training professionals)

There’s also a book, “The Ethical Dog Trainer: A Practical Guide for Canine Professionals” by Jim Barry ($19.95) that you can order from Ostensibly a wonky manual for other trainers, this features lots of good information for the ordinary person who wants to understand the principled, effective approach a trainer should take with the owner and the dog.

Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Her Web site is Contact her at

Gary Bogue:
Smart Birds, Blind Dogs,
Smelly Bulldogs, Wet Cats
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

November chill

the manzanita meets me

with blooms

— Anastasia Hobbet, Walnut Creek

Bird intelligence

Last chance to enter my survey on bird intelligence. Send me your lists of what you think are the five MOST and five LEAST intelligent birds. I'm on vacation next week. I'll publish the results here during the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 4 when I get back.

To date, parrots, ravens and crows lead the list of MOST intelligent birds "... and mourning doves and pigeons top the LEAST intelligent list.

Blind dogs

In Wednesday's column, Betty Bailey in cyberspace wrote about her Dachshund that had suddenly lost its eyesight to an eye disease called SARDS. Betty asked if she could speak to anyone who knew anything about SARDS, or who lived with a blind dog.

As usual, my wonderful readers (that's you!) immediately responded with 10 e-mails full of valuable information and phone numbers so Betty could call and talk with them. I've forwarded the information to Betty.

Here's a sample:

I'd like to recommend the book "Living With Blind Dogs: A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind & Low Vision Dogs" by Caroline D. Levin, R.N. My wife had a dog who went blind at age 9 from SARDS, and with the help of the book the
dog happily lived out the rest of his life.

Along with medical explanations of causes of blindness, the book has very useful sections on pack issues, training concepts, learning new skills, negotiating the house and yard and community, and playing. It helps the dog owner through his or her own, and the dog's, feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance of the dog's blindness, and gives advice for working with any children in the household.

If your letter writer would like, please have her call us. She is also more than welcome to have our copy of the book. (Hank Hansen, Pleasanton)

Stinky bulldogs

In my Nov. 10 column, Aldo in San Mateo wrote asking, "How do you clean a stinky bulldog?" Aldo has a 21-month-old bulldog that smells and he's tried everything he can think of to resolve the problem.

Bulldogs are naturally smelly and here's one response to Aldo's plea for help. You can find the other helpful reader responses in my blog at

Our 4-year-old Old English bulldog has a very tight corkscrew tail and it is a breeding ground for all kinds of stinky stuff to grow, and I mean stinky. I have to clean it every other day along with his face folds with a bath once a week. Aldo may want to ask the vet to check the dog's anal glands; they can sometimes get clogged but are easily expressed. Bulldogs are a very high-maintenance breed. They are prone to skin infections and eye problems, and setting up and sticking to a hygiene schedule is a must.

My dog's name is Slim and he is the official mascot for the Tracy High Bulldogs! (Lora Perez, Tracy)

Cats & water

I lost the water bowl battle with my Calvin. Like the South San Francisco couple, I tried every bowl/dish/mat I could find. He seemed to take it as a personal challenge. He'd drag the nonskid bowls across the kitchen, making an even bigger mess.

After many years and dollars, I put the darn bowl in my shower. End of mess. (Desi, cyberspace)

My large orange tabby prefers a small bucket filled with about 6 inches of water, placed in the bath tub. (TaiRho, Richmond)

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Go for the Gold by
Adopting a Senior Pet
By Humane Society of Harrison County

When thinking about a new pet, consider two things: the pet you would like for your home and the pet that would most appreciate your hospitality. Those cute kittens and puppies will scratch, dig, chew, and wet their way into the house! An older cat or dog will probably start their life with you in a much more respectful manner. Elder pets become homeless in a variety of ways. Sometimes their guardian becomes ill or passes away, and the extended family doesn't want the animal. Other times, frankly, people discard pets as the animals age. Age doesn't necessarily mean that there is anything at all wrong with the pet.

Cats often live nearly two decades. Dogs, depending upon breed, have expected life spans of 10 to 15 or more years. Older pets can have health problems, it's true, but those issues vary with the breed as well. Adopting a senior pet does mean that you should make sure you can commit to the veterinary care they may need to remain comfortable. Just because their vision may be a little blurred or they take a few minutes getting up and down doesn't mean the senior pet won't bring years of contented joy to your heart and hearth.

The seniors won't require quite as much of your time and energy as young pets, as they are often happy with a stroll outside, a warm bed, good food, and a rub under the neck. They often come already trained. Contrary to what many people think, senior pets adjust quickly and well to a secure new home. In fact, they can be extremely grateful. So think about it — is it how many years you have with an animal, or is it how good the years you do have can be?

Senior cats and dogs can do well in new homes, but they suffer in shelters. Stressed, confused, and uncomfortable, with no relief from the noise and turmoil, older dogs and cats may sink into depression, be susceptible to illness, or have health problems worsen. Pretty quickly, a homeless animal can appear even older than it is. The best cure for these wise old owls is a comfy bed and perhaps some warm sunlight at homes where they are loved.

Humane Society volunteer, Jan Reddin, scooped up in her arms a sad, little old poodle and took her home to foster. The abandoned poodle was blind, unable to bark, had no teeth, and had a heart murmur. Everyone was glad that the tiny animal would have a warm and cozy place to spend the last few weeks of her life. This Thanksgiving will mark Tinkerbell's third year in the Reddin home. She needs to be carried down steps, but navigates her way around yard and house and comes up the steps quite well. Tinkerbell stands her own with the other dogs at her home, and enjoys affection and treats as much as any of them. She would like you to know that "reports of my imminent demise were greatly exaggerated." Without her new home, though, Tinkerbell would not be enjoying life.

November is Adopt-A-Senior Pet Month, and The Humane Society of Harrison County has several older animals waiting for adoption at The Pet Place, 1901 Jefferson Ave. in Marshall. Think about "going for the gold," the gold of the wisdom of age, the gold at the end of the rainbow, the golden heart of a pet who needs to give and receive your affection.

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Ways To Help Make Your
Ageing Dog’s Life Easier
Submitted by Jennifer White -

The number of ways you can give your oldster a break is limited only by your imagination. Here are a few tips to get you thinking:

1. Clothes: Canine clothing isn’t just for poodles anymore. Older dogs, like older people, have a harder time maintaining their body temperature. This problem is even more pronounced in slender, short-coated breeds like the greyhound or whippet. So check out the sweater selection at your local pet-supply store, or consider altering one of your own for the task.

2. Beds: Think soft. Think cushioned. Think low. Think heated. Your dog will thank you for all of these thoughts, especially in cold weather.

3. Dishes: Raised food and water dishes are a kindness to tall dogs of any age, but they are especially easy on the back of an old doggie. You can find them at pet-supply stores or you can make your own.

4. Ramps and Steps: If your dogs are allowed on the couch and the bed, you should be able to find or build something to help out the dog who can no longer make it in one jump. You wouldn’t want to watch TV without your dog at your side, would you?

Dog Training Tricks –
How to Get Your Dog to
“Come” Every Time You Call

You are trying to tell your dog to come here. It ignores you. You try again getting a bit more frustrated. No matter how much you shout at your dog it does not seem to react. There are simple dog training tricks that can make this work so that your dog will come to you immediately, every time.

First, it is important to understand that you dog is ignoring your commands because it doesn't understand you. You may have tried to teach your dog this command already, and it may now be that what it is thinking you want is different from what you actually want.

Your dog desire is to please it's owner and the easiest way to teach your dog is to do it for a few minutes each day in the form of play. Make it fun and your dog will learn faster. Also, this is a great way to bond with your dog. Spend those few minutes a day to teach your dog to "come" as soon as you command it.

Use food as a motivator as one of the dog training tricks. Use small one-bite treats as a reward when your dog does something correct, and make sure that you praise with a positive voice at the same time. When you are watching TV, or anywhere in the house, tell your dog to "come" and give him a treat when he does. Only one treat, though! And don't do it all the time or the training trick will no longer be effective. Make sure that you use a calm, happy voice.

Make sure that you are consistent in the way you train your dog to come, and be patient. Do this technique throughout the day, changing the rewards, and soon your dog will be happily obeying your command everytime

Sounds easy, doesn't it? It is! That's really all there is to dog training tricks to get your dog to come to you.

Many people often come to me for advice on dog training, dog training tricks and I find that the best advice that you can give them is by sharing my experiences with them.

I want to share with you dog training tricks and how to train a dog by inviting you to click on and find out what dog training tricks I have done that are effective.

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Keep Tinsel Away from Pet Cats

However much they might want to, cats should not be allowed to play with festive decorations, pet owners have been advised.

While cats in particular are likely to be attracted to all things shiny over the Christmas period, including tinsel and fairy lights, experts have warned that chewing on them can have serious pet healthcare consequences.

Dr Jeff Smith, a vet based in the US, explained to ABC 13 news: "All the tinsel and the ornaments and they can get into the tree and electro-chords are really dangerous and they can play with them and chew through them and cause themselves injury."

He added that pets may also be wary of crowds, advising those who plan on inviting others to their homes for Christmas to consider finding a "quiet room" for their animals, as they may not be so keen on the company.

At the same time, owners have been once again urged to refrain from giving their pet cats chocolate as even small amounts can cause pet healthcare issues due to its toxicity to animals.

Ask a Vet:
Is 4 Months Too Young to
Have My Pet Spayed or Neutered?
LA Times

L.A.'s recent spay/neuter law mandates that pet dogs and cats be sterilized by the time they’re 4 months old. Is that an appropriate age for my pet to have surgery?

Heather Oxford, DVM: This is an incredibly complex issue. My opinion is that the city took the right step in creating a spay/neuter law that is enforceable; however, 4 months might be too young according to new scientific studies.

The first problem is that animals that are neutered (gender-neutral term) before their growth plates close grow significantly taller than those who are neutered after their growth plates close. The extra growth can be unevenly distributed through the different bones of the body since the age of each growth plate closure is different for each bone, which can be up to 14 months for larger breeds. For example, this means that the tibia (shin bone) could grow longer than the femur (thigh bone) and cause an abnormal angle of the knee which could cause ligament tears. Therefore, we may see an increase in orthopedic diseases in the future.

There also seems to be an increased risk of bone cancer developing in dogs that were neutered before 1 year of age. However, the benefits of neutering early far outweigh the risks of neutering later when it comes to cancers of the testicle, prostate, and area around the anus. Early neutering shows a very protective effect in mammary cancer, which accounts for 50% of all tumors of female dogs and 20% of all tumors of female cats.

Neutering before the first heat cycle reduces the risk of mammary cancer to 0.05%, whereas waiting until after the first heat cycle increases the risk to 8%. The first heat cycle occurs between 6 months and 18 months, depending on breed.

Increased noise phobias and undesired sexual behaviors have been associated with neutering before 5 1/2 months of age, and there has been a link between early spaying and urinary incontinence in female dogs.

Infectious diseases were found to be more common in dogs neutered at or before 6 months of age compared with those neutered after 6 months in another study. Studies also suggest that increased behavioral issues like fear and aggression may be due to earlier ages at time of neutering.

I assess each pet individually, as most veterinarians do. For an animal whose breeding lines have higher incidence of orthopedic disease, waiting until the animal’s growth plates close to neuter may be the best decision.

Likewise, a female might be neutered earlier than a male of the same breed. I have concerns with this law and would like for the age to be reassessed, however, the benefits of a spay/neuter law such as this include less homeless animals and less animals having to be euthanized at shelters. I am glad that L.A. has started the ball rolling in the right direction.

Oxford received her bachelor of science degree at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. She also received a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from Emory University and went on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She then went to the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree. She practices at California Animal Rehabilitation and is also certified in veterinary rehabilitation and acupuncture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Wade, and German shepherd, Tess.

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Pet Talk:
Oreo's Shattered Life
Snarled in Cruelty Questions
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

Young pit bull Oreo suffered broken legs and other injuries after her owner threw her off the roof of a six-story Brooklyn building last June. Her story led to an outpouring of support and offers of a new home. But officials said her growing aggressiveness was too much of a danger to people and other animals, and Oreo was euthanized Friday.

She became the sweet-faced emblem of animal survival in the face of unspeakable human cruelty.

Oreo, a young brown and white pit bull, was thrown by her owner from the roof of his six-story Brooklyn apartment building last summer. Against all odds, the heap of shattered bones was still breathing when animal control arrived shortly afterward and rushed her to the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Veterinarians tended to her smashed-up legs and fractured rib, and they medicated her heavily, stunned that as bad as the injuries were, there wasn't more damage.

The dog's owner, Fabian Henderson, 19. was arrested. And Oreo became a rallying point in New York and across the nation. Folks e-mailed her photo and story to friends, cheered her from the sidelines and monitored her recovery.

In the humid summertime nastiness of uncertain finances and job security, Oreo became something more than a survivor. She became living proof that goodness could, perhaps, actually prevail over evil.

On Friday, 147 days after her miracle survival, Oreo was euthanized.

She had recovered from her physical injuries. But she was so aggressive that the ASPCA concluded she couldn't be placed in a foster home or adopted to any of the many people who had, from a distance, begged to take her.

"Usually with aggressive dogs you have something to work with," a deflated-sounding ASPCA CEO Ed Sayres told me Friday. Maybe there's one dog those animals can tolerate, or a particular handler they seem to hate less than the others, or you can identify triggers that set them off and avoid them. Over time you can build on that, and very often have the kind of progress they've pulled off many times, he said.

But Oreo lunged and snarled at dogs and people, often growing so angry when she couldn't reach them that she'd redirect her anger at the closest person. She often raged without any clear stimulant at all, as if there was something simmering deep inside her that spilled over without warning.

She had 59 sessions of about 45 minutes each to try to dampen her reactiveness and unpredictability. Nothing worked. "We have one behaviorist who fears nothing when it comes to dogs. About once every three years she's afraid of one. She was afraid of Oreo," Sayres said.

They called in an outside veterinary behaviorist. She expressed grave concerns. It might be possible to drug Oreo every day so she'd pose less threat, the vet said, but the drugs might, as they sometimes (though rarely) do, make her worse.

Turning Oreo over to a sanctuary was discussed at length. Some offered to take her. The ASPCA consensus was that she was so rageful and unpredictable that she'd be relegated to a woefully isolated existence.

A euthanasia order was signed.

The announcement was made Thursday night, and public response was instant and harsh. By noon Friday when I interviewed him, Sayres had received 250 e-mails, uncounted numbers of phone calls and some death threats. Soon, an online petition demanding his resignation was launched; more than 1,000 people have signed.

"I had to protect public safety," he said. "But I also had to do what was in the best interest of Oreo."

Sayres said he understands and appreciates the "life at all costs" philosophy and the deep feeling among so many that, after all she'd been through, she deserved to live out her days in a sanctuary. But he's convinced the strategies required to protect people and animals would have resulted in "profound suffering" for Oreo.

If there's any comfort that at least some people might be able to take from this, it's what ASPCA animal behaviorist Stephen Zawistowski said when I spoke with him. "Oreo didn't die when she was thrown from that building — traumatically, fear-filled, when the last hand to touch her was a cruel hand. She left this world without stress or panic, in a quiet room, after she'd been sedated, with people who'd cared for her. The last hand she felt was a gentle hand."

If additional comfort could ultimately be drawn from this, that might come if Oreo were to somehow serve as the impetus for caring people to gird themselves and come to terms with some truths easier left undisturbed. In shelters across the country Friday, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dogs met Oreo's fate for the same reason she did: They were too violent — because people made them that way. At least Oreo got the benefit of months of efforts to try to make her capable of living peacefully in this world; most of the rest did not because most shelters haven't the time, resources or expertise to work with such animals.

An even bigger tragedy, if there's a lesser-greater scale in these matters (and probably there's not), is that also on Friday, thousands of perfectly friendly dogs lost their lives in shelters simply because of the numbers reality: No more animals could be crammed in, but more are always arriving because people get bored with them or don't feel like training them, or let them create litters. So discarded pets must die to make room for more discarded pets.

At some shelters, the kill rate is 90%, and the vast majority aren't too vicious or too sick to save. They're merely victims of overpopulation.

Oh, and the guy behind Oreo's ascension to the public eye, Henderson? He pleaded guilty to aggravated cruelty to an animal, and was released on his own recognizance. Sentencing will take place next month. Justice insiders say he'll likely get five years of probation and be told he can't own an animal for five years.

Choosing the Right Pet for You
By Body and Mind staff -

Adopting a pet shouldn't be a snap decision. A lot of thought and planning is necessary before bringing an animal into your life.

Considerations include identifying how much time and space you have for a pet, the temperament of the animal and the preferences of household members, especially if the household includes children and other pets. You'll also want to take into account any health issues such as allergies to pet saliva or dander and whether it's legal to have the kind of pet you want where you live.

It's also important to research your choices before making a final selection. Tracy Wagner decided to look at pit bulls after moving into a house with a yard in Lower Paxton Twp.

"My boyfriend had had a pit bull in the past, and when I volunteered at the Humane Society I saw how misunderstood they are," said Wagner, a community relations representative at Belco Credit Union. "Pit bulls can be just as loving as other breeds despite the stigmas and stereotypes. It's all in how the animal is raised."

When Wagner met Dominick the pit bull -- that's "Dom" for short -- and eventually adopted him from the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Inc., she was happy to see the dog lived up to her expectations by licking her face and wanting his belly rubbed.

For other pet owners, an animal's companionship also provides a form of aid. When Linda Ekelman's husband developed dementia, she was afraid to leave the room because he needed her constantly. The couple's Labrador was "too energetic" to help. Ekelman found respite for herself as well as distraction and comfort for her husband in a cat.

Through Castaway Critters, the Perry County woman adopted a kitten who liked to climb on her husband's shoulders and put its head under his chin. "My husband was reasonably unemotional then, but he developed a real affection for the cat," Ekelman recalled. "When the cat got sick and we had to put him down, my husband kept asking for it."

Ekelman adopted two more kittens before her husband died. Both were "very therapeutic" for him.

But the search for the perfect pet can be challenging. To begin, make sure every member of your household is ready to adopt. Lillian Byers of Etters was seeking a dog who could get along well with her surrogate family: a child with hearing-impairments she cares for while his mother is at work, his mother and her dogs. Byers found and adopted Dozer, a Shih Tzu mix, from Castaway Critters. Though abused and sick before a foster parent took him in, Byers said Dozer is now "the sweetest dog in the world." Her friend's child considers the pet as his own.

"Owning a pet is a big responsibility," said Kelly Hitz of the Humane Society. "A lot of people don't think ahead. If they get a puppy, they may be looking to a 10- to 15-year commitment and that's hard, especially with busy lifestyles and with kids. They may not have the time needed to spend with a pet."

With dogs, it's important to research breeds in terms of their level of activity. Often people come to the Humane Society with firm ideas of which type of animal they want and which personality or breed they prefer. "But when they describe their circumstances, we might say the choice is not so good," Hitz said. "We try to get a handle on the animals' personalities. Dogs get a temperament test to see if they're good with men, women, kids and other dogs."

It is recommended that every human member of the household spend some time with a pet before adopting it. Of course, there still may be surprises, said Nina Mantione, a veterinarian with Good Hope Animal Hospital in Mechanicsburg. "An animal doesn't always behave in a shelter or in foster care the way he would otherwise," Mantione said. "The animal may seem more withdrawn because of the stress of being in the shelter."

It may be hard to give specific advice if you don't know the prospective pet owner's situation, but the veterinarian can offer general tips. For example:

•Have young children? Avoid large-breed dogs as they tend to be too energetic and require a lot of exercise.

•Have teenagers? Your family might benefit from having a dog with energy to burn. "You might want to avoid extremely shy or extremely aggressive dogs," Mantione added. "A very shy one can be aggressive if threatened. You probably want to look for an easygoing, friendly dog without it being 'wild and crazy.'"
Annette Reiff, a longtime volunteer with Castaway Critters (and Patriot-News columnist), urged potential adopters to think twice before choosing a specific pet. "I've seen cases of people who returned kittens to rescue groups or shelters because they were "too active," when a little research would have told them to expect this," she said. "It's great to ask a lot of questions."

But along with information you need determination. It can be stressful for an animal to be adopted and then returned, Reiff emphasized.

Unwilling to meet the demands of a dog or cat, some people may consider a smaller animal as a pet. Hitz agreed that a rabbit may be a good option to provide companionship and teach responsibility to a family who's not yet canine- or feline-ready. Prospective owners should familiarize themselves first with the requirements for caging, bedding and handling of these pets.

"With a bunny you have more husbandry," she said. "You have to clean the cage and change the water bottle, and the bunny may not be as personable as a dog or cat."

Small animals in general can be more delicate. Guinea pigs, for example, need vitamin C (through supplements or fresh vegetables) to prevent scurvy. And, "you may have to watch kids around hamsters, gerbils or guinea pigs," Mantione advised. "They're not recommended for families with kids 5 and under."

Kids and holiday time might lead to the thought of giving pets as presents. But that's not recommended, the experts noted.

"Everyone in the family should meet the pet before it comes home," Hitz said. "If someone wants to pay for the adoption fee, that's fine. But a pet shouldn't be a gift the family doesn't know about. At the very least you have to make sure the primary caregiver is compatible with it."

Caring for your pet

Make sure the pet you select is home-ready, which means it has been spayed/neutered and given all of its necessary shots. A license and an initial round of shots are offered by the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area Inc. as part of the adoption fee. The society also provides twice-a-month low-cost vaccinations, microchipping (for identification) and other pet products.

Area rescue groups offer periodic spay/neuter clinics for existing pet cats and feral ones. Vaccinations and other services are available at community events such as Woofstock.

"But we want people to know getting shots for their animals is not enough," cautioned Kelly Hitz of the Humane Society. "It doesn't take the place of an annual visit to the vet."

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Curbing Fido’s Financial Strain
By LearnVest -

Having a pet is a fine balance: We love our pooches, but we know that pet hair isn’t a fashion accessory. They burrow in our purses, poke out of our car windows, and try to lick our face masks away. We’ve compiled the best insider tips to help you scratch away at your pet’s expenses—you and Junior won’t remember how you coexisted without us!

Look For Veterinary Colleges. Money isn’t a reason not to bring your pet in for regular checkups, but vet visits are expensive. Do a quick Google search or refer to this list to see if there are any veterinary colleges in your area. If so, they are probably looking for new patients and likely offered reduced rates. Don’t worry about putting Mr. Fuzzy in the hands of students—they are supervised and accredited for treating animals!

Go To The Vet Regularly! We know that this may be hard for some money-savers to stomach, but going in for regular “tuneups and oil changes” is the first line of financial defense of your pet care bills. Failure to diagnose early will translate to much more expensive treatment bills in the future. For example, canine cataract surgery can easily cost $2,000 to $3,000, and a kidney transplant can cost $7,000 or more. Treating heartworm in a dog can cost over $700, whereas heartworm prevention ranges from about $5 to $15 per month.

Consider Pet Insurance. Pet coverage can cost $2,000 to $6,000 over the course of your pet’s life, and odds are that you probably won’t wind up paying that much for any particular treatment. All the same, if you’re one of those people who would do absolutely anything for your pet, then pet insurance might make sense…

Dogs and Cats in Las Vegas
to be Spayed or Neutered
USA Today

Hello, readers. Here's a topic we haven't talked about yet: when and if pets should be sterilized? One city has a lot to say about this subject and is taking action.

According to a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Las Vegas city council passed a new ordinance this past week requiring most cats and dogs to be spayed or neutered by four months of age.

The ordinance takes effect April 1. It is in response to Southern Nevada's pet overpopulation problem and had support from local veterinarians and animal rescue groups. Every year The Lied Animal Shelter takes in about 50,000 animals, 86% of which are not sterilized. The shelter has seen its number of impounded d0gs increase 10% a year for the past three years. The cat intake is up 5% annually. Overall, the shelter has to euthanize about half of the animals.

Exceptions to the new ordinance are individuals with a breeder, animal handler or fancier permit, and for pets that qualify for a medical exemption. Violating the ordinance will be a misdemeanor.

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Pet Dog for Christmas?
Wait 'Til After Holidays

Potential ethical insurance shoppers who are considering getting a pet dog for the holidays may want to heed some expert advice and wait until Christmas has come and gone.

Times Courier Dog Speak columnist Katie Gammill said "reputable breeders will not release small puppies during the holidays".

She noted this is because it is a chaotic, busy time for everybody and this was not the best situation in which to welcome a pooch into the household.

Firstly, the puppy could be ignored with so much going on and Ms Gammill even suggested some families have let the animal outside to relieve itself and forgotten about it.

Secondly, this kind of environment could be quite stressful for an animal with so many sights and sounds.

And many welfare authorities including the Humane Society of the United States have reminded people that there are many preparations to be made before welcoming a new pet into the home.

This could mean it is not the type of present that should be sprung on someone or bought on an impulse.

Specialized Veterinary Care:
At What Point? And At What Price?
By Patty Khuly, Special for USA TODAY

Over the past 10 years veterinary medicine has witnessed an explosion in the number of veterinarians heading into three- and four-year residency programs after veterinary school. An estimated 40% of veterinary students now vie for postgraduate positions, up from less than 10% a decade ago.

Translation? More education means more veterinarians offering expert services in cardiology, neurology, ophthalmology, surgery, internal medicine, dermatology, anesthesiology, radiology, behavior medicine and more.

No longer is your general-practice veterinarian expected to provide you with all the services your pets need, à la James Herriot. In fact, it's gotten so that veterinarians who don't mention the services of specialists when it comes to non-routine veterinary matters risk legal action for not offering their clients an informed choice regarding their pets' care.

And that's probably a good thing, right? You (the client) get more options while your pet (the patient) gets the benefit of access to higher-quality medicine previously available only in veterinary school settings. That is … if you can afford it.

Yes, specialty practices are expensive. These multi-doctor hospitals typically charge two to three times what your regular veterinarian would for the same services. But, to be fair, they also offer much more than your regular vet ever could: round-the-clock critical care, certified veterinary technicians, CT scans, MRIs, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine … among other menu items previously labeled "for humans only."

Problem is, it's gotten so that it's not always so clear when a pet owner should see an expert. When is a general practitioner not good enough? When does a pet's condition demand the skills of a specialist?

While our leading professional organizations have issued guidelines for when veterinarians should refer to specialists (reference the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association), they're loosey-goosey at best on the particular circumstances in which a veterinarian should recognize his or her limitations and offer the services of an expert. It's still up to each individual veterinarian to decide when to refer. Failing that, it's up to pet owners to be educated enough to ask for a referral for non-routine surgeries, difficult diagnoses and complex problems if they want the best possible care for their pets.

So where does that leave pet owners who really need to know when it's best that their pet see a specialist?

Every veterinarian has their own personal philosophy on this issue, but since this is my column I'll offer you mine:

#1 Any second opinion.

Don't see another general practitioner. If it's a tough problem for your vet, it'll likely be tough for the next one. See a specialist for best results.

#2 Any lack of trust.

Should you fail to trust your veterinarian when it comes to a diagnosis or treatment option, see a specialist.

#3 Any legal matter.

If you have a legal issue with an individual, a company or even a veterinarian, you need an expert.

#4 Any orthopedic surgery or thoracic surgery.

Orthopedic and thoracic surgeries are ALWAYS best performed by a board-certified surgeon. Experience is everything in these cases.

#5 Any exploratory surgery.

Again, a board-certified surgeon should always be offered. After all, we never know whether what we'll find once we get in there will be something we can't manage as well as someone more expert than ourselves.

#6 Any time it takes more than three visits to solve a problem.

Most problems that require more than three visits to manage deserve the offer of a referral.

#7 When better equipment is needed.

Most specialists offer better equipment than regular vets do. It often makes all the difference.

#8 Heart trouble.

ANY time I hear a heart murmur or cardiac rhythm abnormality, I recommend the services of a cardiologist. (Again, reference better equipment.)

#9 X-ray or ultrasound images.

It's my take that every questionable X-ray or ultrasound image should see a radiologist.

#10 Every time critical care is required.

High, unrelenting fevers, blood transfusion cases, respiratory trouble, complicated diabetes, severe arrhythmias, non-routine post-operative patients (among others): They all do best under 24-hour watch at a specialty hospital.

Problem is, not everyone is willing or able to spend gobs of money on saving their pets. We all draw the line at a different dollar value and various treatment levels based on our philosophical beliefs with respect to pet care and animal welfare along with very practical considerations regarding the condition of our bank accounts.

It's been posited that specialty veterinary medicine represents the death of modern society in all its frivolous glory. Some observe that the choices seem overwhelming and confusing, especially given the disparity among veterinarians with respect to specialist referral policies. Still others embrace the new choices with grateful fervor, happy to spend whatever it takes … which is not as difficult as it may seem given that intensive care typically costs no more than a leather interior package on a luxury car.

In any case, specialists in veterinary medicine are here to stay. We'll doubtless have more in years to come as more students opt for specialization as a way to meet their hefty financial obligations (reference student loan debt). And if the trend toward pets in all things American continues apace as it has done for the past 20 years, we can expect demand for these services to continue to drive even more veterinarians to enter the Byzantine medical morass that is specialized veterinary medicine.

Will we miss James Herriot? I will, for sure. But that doesn't mean I'll play ostrich to the kind of sophisticated medicine I've come to expect for my patients as well as for my own pets.

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Grooming Tips to Keep
Pets Prim and Proper
By EMC News

Pet parents know there are many responsibilities that come with having a pet as a part of the family. Medical care, feeding and watering, providing exercise, and offering moderate entertainment are all par for the course. Another consideration is keeping your pet well groomed and clean.

Depending upon your pet, grooming may need to be a frequent or intermittent part of care. Birds, for example, may need nail trimming every once in a while. Cats keep themselves relatively clean, so may only require nail trimming and infrequent baths. Fish don't need grooming, per se, however you will have to keep the tank clean and at the right pH.

When it comes to grooming, most people associate the task with dog ownership. Dogs of all shapes and sizes, with various coat types, may require more grooming than other animals. Grooming may feature home involvement, professional grooming or a combination of both.

Professional groomers will offer an array of services and are the way to go if you do not have the time or the ability to bathe, dry and shape your pet's coat. Depending upon the groomer, certain services will be rendered at every grooming appointment. Here are some things to expect:

* the grooming appointment will likely last a few hours from start to finish

* your pet will be brushed and bathed

* some groomers use a dryer for your pet, others believe it is better to let the coat air-dry

* detangling and dematting will occur if the pet needs it

* ears and teeth may be cleaned

* nails are trimmed

* emptying of dog's digestive system may occur

* clipping and shaving of coat will take place

* if pet has fleas, a flea dip will be offered

* advice on routine maintenance may be given

Pets who are introduced to the grooming experience early on whether at-home brushing or visits to a groomer will become less nervous and more tolerant of the experience. While groomers expect some skittishness from certain pets, your animal may be refused if he or she is overly aggressive. You may want to consult with a veterinarian to see if a sedative is helpful or necessary to make grooming sessions less traumatic.

Grooming is not just for aesthetic purposes. Regularly cleaning and brushing a pet's coat ensures that the skin remains healthy and receives adequate air and blood circulation. Matting or other problems can cause infection or fungus to form, or hot spots that lead to irritation.

Act Fast When Pet Becomes Lost
By Gail Krueger -

A few weeks ago, my friends' dog, Maggie, dug out from under their backyard fence and disappeared into their Wilmington Island neighborhood.

Those of us who know Maggie felt our collective hearts sink; surrounded by woods, marshy ponds and next to U.S. 80, it was not a good place for a shy, scared dog to run loose.

The upside was that many caring neighbors and kids in the area kept their eyes open for Maggie. She was spotted several times as she raced around. Several of us walked the area looking for her. We knew her shyness would keep her from coming to anyone but her mom, but we wanted to keep her in sight.

In the wee hours of the morning, Maggie came to the front door and barked. Hungry, thirsty, muddy with mats and burrs in her coat, she found her way back. We were all happy and relieved, knowing that it could have been our dog and not all such stories have happy endings.

Steps to safety

HomeAgain, a pet microchip registration service, says that without proper identification, 90 percent of lost pets never get home. The American Humane Society says that one in 1 in 3 pets will become lost in their lifetime and that only 15 percent of lost dogs and 2 percent of lost cats find their way home. Almost 4 million pets are euthanized every year, according to American Humane Society; many of them lost family pets.

All of this went through my mind when the notice came to renew my dog Tipper's microchip registration. Unlike Maggie, Tipper will go up to anybody. I don't think she would ever run away; more likely she would embark on a good will tour of the region. No Walmart greeter has anything on Tipper.

Even though times are tough, I'm going to pay the $15 annual fee again.

You can get a microchip implanted at your vet's office or at clinic events run by local rescue groups like Save-a-Life. The theory is that if your missing pet is found, a vet, animal shelter or rescue group can run a scanner over the animal and find the chip. Even if their brand of scanner cannot read your pet's brand of chip, it should be detectable. That detection turns the animal into a lost pet instead of a stray.

Of course, this all depends on somebody getting their hands on your pet, running the scan and doing it correctly. And, most importantly, it depends on you sending in the registration.

Does that mean microchips aren't worth the money? Hardly. They are a great way - but not the only way - to keep your pet safe.

A well-fitted, no-slip or martingale-style collar with a prominent ID tag on it is the first line of defense. Again, reading the phone number engraved on the tag (or embroidered on the collar, or engraved on a small plate attached to the collar) depends on someone getting their hands on your pet. But they are more likely to try, as the collar lets them know this is a pet, not a stray.

Understanding a bit about animal behavior can help you recover a lost pet. The Missing Pet Partnership, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to reuniting lost companion animals with their owners, has a great Web site ( with behavior-based tips for finding pets. The group notes that dogs run away for three common reasons: an opportunistic journey, wanderlust or blind panic.

An opportunist journey can start with a gate or door accidently left open. The dog follows her instinct and nose and ends up miles away. Wanderlust is common for intact male dogs who try every means of escape to reach a female - a good reason to neuter your dog. A panicky dog goes into flight mode if it is scared by thunder, loud noises or a traumatic incident which can be as simple as a toppled table or as extreme as a car wreck.

The panicky dog travels fastest and farthest and its behavior - shyness, slinking away from people, hiding - makes this pet the hardest to find, like Maggie would have been. When they are found, their fearful behavior often leads would-be rescuers to assume they've been abused.

Temperament also plays a role. A shy, aloof or fearful dog can be hardest to help because of its behavior. Again, well-meaning people sometimes assume they are abused. Another good reason to make sure your dog is well socialized.

Whatever your dog's reason or temperament, if it gets lost, act fast. You don't want to miss the opportunity in the early hours to run into the person who saw your dog traveling down a certain road or sniffing in a certain park.

I've included a short check list on things to do if your pet becomes lost.

Act fast, be persistent and enlist the help of friends. All of these will help your Lassie come home.

Gail Krueger writes the Savannah Weeder column and about her other passion, pets. Send her an e-mail at savannahweeder@

Do all you can to prevent your pet from getting lost in the first place. Go to for some great prevention tips.

What to do if your pet is lost:

-- Call the animal control and humane shelters. And keep calling. Visit in person. Take copies of your pet's picture. People can interpret a written description of a pet in many different ways and misidentify breeds.

-- Post a lost pet notice wherever you can: newspaper, televisions stations, petfinder and Craig's list. Most media outlets give free brief listing for lost and found pets. Don't be shy about spending the money to do a bigger listing with more detail.

-- Large signs with your pet's full-color picture and your phone number posted at intersections near your home and at major intersections are an easy and effective way of getting your pet back. Smaller notices with color pictures are good to post at vet's offices, on bulletin boards and at shelters.

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Strange Pet Accessories

Pet Safety Tips
During the Holidays

Holidays are a great time for friends and family but we should also remember to take care of our furry friends! Pet safety tips are always good to know, but during the holidays pet owners need to be especially mindful of our pets. Animal hospitals and veternarians see a surge in animal injuries during the holiday season, but with a few safety tips we can keep animals safe.

Food & Candy

Candy, and especially chocolate, can be fatal to animals – especially cats. The wrappers can also be fatal to animals since they are sharp and can do internal damage.

Holiday leftovers, or “scraps” are high in fat and are too rich for pets. These foods can cause digestive turmoil for animals that are not used to these foods. In addition, this can create bad behaviors, such as begging during mealtimes.

Bones can be very dangerous for dogs. Bones can splinter easily and when ingested can be fatal!

Be mindful of pets that sneak up under your feet while carrying hot plates around. Hot drippings can scald animals.

This should go without saying but, animals should not be given any alcoholic beverages at any time – save the libations for your guests!


Certain decorative items can be harmful to your pets, such as candles, tinsel, and ornaments.

Small ornaments and tinsel can be ingested and cause obstructed airways and choking.

Animals can be attracted to light in a dark room, be sure that candles are placed high enough that a pet will not get burned.

We all know presents look great with ribbon but ribbon can also be chewed on causing the same obstructions in the airway that tinsel would cause. Also, try to refrain from tying ribbon around your pets neck, it could cut off their airway or they could get caught on something that would cause suffocation.

Many plants can be toxic if ingested. Check this list to make sure your plants are non-toxic.


Frenzied schedules and new house guests can put stress on animals, so try to keep your animals routine the same. However, be mindful of constantly open and closing doors as animals can slip out easily. Be especially mindful of black cats during Halloween. They should be kept inside for their safety.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll keep your furry babies safe and happy through the holidays!

Protecting Your Pet While Selling Your Home
By Sking -

Your pet is your pride and joy, and is considered a member of the family. It is therefore extremely important to take precautions throughout the home-selling process to ensure that your pet remains safe and protected, and that your buyers aren’t turned off.

The number-one problem with pets when selling your home is what to do with them during a showing or open house. It is important to not only consider the comfort and safety of your guests, but the comfort and safety of your pet, as well.

The following tips can help you protect your beloved pet while showing your property:

--Consider a back-up location during showings and open houses. Ask a neighbor, friend or family member to take care of your pet during these times, or simply set up kennel time. Although this may not be the most ideal situation, it eliminates any problems with those buyers who may not like animals or those that are allergic to animals.

--If your pet must remain in the house during showings and open houses, put it in an area of the home where it can’t escape. A laundry room, spare bedroom or the garage are good spots to keep Fido or Fluffy, as long as you aren’t keeping potential buyers from seeing the main areas of your home.

--Post a sign on the door to the room your pet is staying in to discourage visitors from opening the door.

--Keeping your pet safely locked in a room - or keeping your pet completely out of the home during the showing or open house - will prevent your guests from tripping over your pet and becoming hurt, and will eliminate the chance of your pet escaping from open doors.

--If you can, simply take your pet with you during open houses and showings. A walk around the neighborhood or a drive around town during these times is often a convenient and practical solution.

Pain Patch For Horses, Dogs,
And Cats: HealFast
by Lady Bee -

If you've ever had to give your dog, cat or horse pain medicine, you don't want to keep them in the resulting state of mind and body very long. As alternative medicine for humans, the PEMF, Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field, is a non-drug treatment that has been used to treat pain by alternative medicine specialists with reported success.

PEMF equipment is large, cumbersome, and expensive. It is not easily accessible by an animal, and treatment usually requires several visits. But BioElectronics Corporation has developed a use-at-home electro-magnetic field within a patch, called HealFastTM. The patch provides therapy for pain and/or swelling between visits to the veterinarian.

There are two types of HealFast patches available: One is a post-operative patch, designed to reduce pain and swelling after surgery and help wounds to heal. The other version, more for chronic soft tissue pain, enables the pet owner to turn the patch on and off, depending on when pain relief is needed.

Van E. Snow, D.V.M. of Equine Veterinary Asociates, has been testing the patch, successfully. "I have found the patch to reduce pain and inflammation which therefore promotes a healthier environment for healing to take place. The patch is more user friendly than other pulsed electromagnetic field modalities that are available today."

For dogs and cats, HealFast makes a special pain relief patch that you can place directly over a sore area without it adhering to their fur.

The HealFast website provides good information on the treatments available through patches. If and when your cat, dog, or horse is in need of pain relief, you may want to ask your veterinarian about HealFast. Maybe pain drugs should be your pet's last resort.

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Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ

Finally, a Grateful Cat

A cat died and went to Heaven. God met her at the gates and said, 'You have been a good cat all these years. Anything you want is yours for the asking.'

The cat thought for a minute and then said, 'All my life I lived on a farm and slept on hard wooden floors. I would like a real fluffy pillow to sleep on.'

God said, 'Say no more.' Instantly the cat had a huge fluffy pillow.

A few days later, six mice were killed in an accident and they all went to Heaven together. God met the mice at the gates with the same offer that He made to the cat

The mice said, 'Well, we have had to run all of our lives: from cats, dogs, and even people with brooms! If we could just have some little roller skates, we would not have to run again.'
God answered, 'It is done.' All the mice had beautiful little roller skates.

About a week later, God decided to check on the cat. He found her sound asleep on her fluffy pillow. God gently awakened the cat and asked, 'Is everything okay? How have you been doing? Are you happy?'

The cat replied, 'Oh, it is WONDERFUL. I have never been so happy in my life. The pillow is so fluffy, and those little Meals on Wheels you have been sending over are delicious!'

Thanks to Bonnie in BHC, AZ

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Strange Pet Accessories

The pet business just doesn't stop growing, but sometimes we are surprised by the sorts of accessories that come out for pet and owner.

Some of these inventions are really useful, like the cat bathroom. This invention teaches cats how to take care of business. It seems to work, but you'd have to ask the cat if it is scared to position itself in the cup.

Another invention which seems a bit silly is the portable fish tank. Using the portable fish tank you can take you fish for a walk. But, we all know that goldfish have no memory, so maybe going for a walk is a bit ridiculous. Then there is another invention which is supposed to translate a dog' bark, but how does anyone really know if the translation is correct?

The umbrella leash is one of the inventions we think could be useful. Using it, you can take your dog for a walk and it won't get wet. And what do you think about this beer for dogs? It is made from water, malt and vitamin E and doesn't have any alcohol. According to its creators it is a healthy beverage that dogs love to drink.

Gary Bogue:
More About Cat Who Kept
Coming Home from 3 Miles Away
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Silken-soft cloud scarf

Wraps around Diablo's head:

Jaunty fall fashion.

— haiku by Lura Osgood, Pleasant Hill

Dear Gary:

Thanks for taking time to address my concerns in your Sunday column about my daughter's cat, who keeps coming back to my house from three miles away! I wanted to give you an update on the cat since I wrote to you.

Sure enough, he came back two more times and I just can't stand the thought of him crossing those two busy streets.

I talked to my daughter and she is good with it, too, so the cat is back home to stay.

As much as my daughter will miss him, she agreed that thinking about him trying to get to my house was more nerve-racking.

At least she has two other cats at her new place to keep her company and she knows her kitty is in good hands with "grandma."

Kathi J., cyberspace

Dear Kathi:

That was a good decision.

The cat survived and is now living where it obviously wants to live.

Thanks for doing that.

Dear Gary:

My husband and I are wondering if we should take our pumpkins out to a pasture or an open space so that the cattle, horses, or other wildlife can feed on them.

Or should we just toss them into the recycling container (green container)?

I am sure my husband would love a pumpkin pie, but baking is not my forte (smile!). We look forward to hearing from you!

Joe & Lori Pino,

El Sobrante

Dear Joe & Lori:

Ranchers probably wouldn't like you to feed their livestock and I'm not sure there are any wild creatures that would think pumpkins are all that tasty.

It would be a shame to have to toss your pumpkins out, so why don't you donate them to some pie-loving humans?

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County, 4010 Nelson Ave., Concord, accepts nonperishable food and produce donations. You can call them at 800-870-3663, Ext. 213 to find out more about what times and days they're open, etc.

Anyone living in Santa Clara County can call the Second Harvest Food Bank at 408-266-8866 to see if they'll take your garden produce. If you're in San Mateo County you can call the Second Harvest folks at 650-610-0800.

I'll bet your husband is drooling just thinking about all those soon-to-be pies.

Dear Gary:

I read about the cat returning to his former home in Sunday's column (Nov. 15), and remember reading about a cure.

Put butter on his paws at the new location, and he will lick away the scent of the old home.

I don't know if it works or not, but it should be worth a try.

Anonymous cat lover, cyberspace

Dear Anonymous:

Bonnie Brewer of San Lorenzo also sent me an e-mail on this.

Putting butter on a cat's paws so it will lick away the scent of its old home is an urban myth that doesn't keep these cats from finding their ways home. Ever seen a cat taking its daily bath? The first thing it licks off is its paws. It doesn't need butter to do that.

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Pet Talk:
Canine Companions Boost
Readers' Confidence
By Jacques Von Lunen, Special to The Oregon

Olive, a therapy dog, volunteers at the French-American International School as a reading companion. During a recent visit, students Youssef Boshra-Riad, 8 (left), and Spencer Schuh, 8, show the book Spencer wrote to Olive and owner Julie Dubansky.

The little voice barely carries past the brown-haired girl's lips.

"I have a pet. It is a cat." The girl reads the staccato phrases from a thin book in her lap. She doesn't look at her audience; she knows Olive is right next to her, sprawled out on a blanket.

The girl, like the other children waiting their turns, prepared all week for this moment; now she's making sure her reading is spot on. Not that she has to worry about being embarrassed or corrected -- Olive is a retriever-shepherd mix.

Students in this second-grade English class at the French-American International School in the Cedar Hills neighborhood read to the young dog once a week. Teachers and school officials say the new canine visitor will help the children's learning, a safe assumption given the experiences of other Portland schools.

The French-American students' first assignment this year was to produce books about their animals. They wrote stories, drew pictures and sewed pages into bindings to make the small volumes.

That's an involved project for 7- and 8-year-olds. But when their teacher said they'd have a four-legged regular visitor soon, the kids set a deadline.

"It was the kids' idea to read (their own) stories to Olive," says Robin Faltersack, their English teacher. "It motivated them to finish their books."

Both the dog and the humans learn something in their weekly meetings. Olive, much like the students -- for whom second grade is the first time they encounter a strict regimen in English reading -- is a newbie in her field. The dog has garnered fans in her other volunteer jobs at a pediatric dentist's office and in the healing garden at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital. But she wasn't used to being surrounded by children excited to touch her.

On her first day at the school, Olive was distracted, sniffing and peering out the window, says Julie Dubansky, who adopted Olive as a puppy last year and, with the help of two local trainers, turned her into a registered therapy dog.

The dog's presence calms the children. "They seem to be considerate of Olive," Faltersack says. "They appreciate that she's here and want her to come back." The results were obvious last week: For second-graders just back from recess, this group was very disciplined.

Olive also makes them practice harder. The children's daily homework is to read, which can be laborious for beginners. But "now it's not just about becoming a better reader, but to read (fluently) to Olive," Faltersack says.

She admits she was reluctant initially to give up precious class time to telling stories to a dog. But she has seen motivation go up already; time with Olive is time well-spent for this class.

That matches observations at county libraries and public schools around Portland. The Multnomah County Library's reading-to-dogs program is a hit; kids often sign up weeks ahead of time. Several other schools have brought in dogs over the years, too.

At Gilbert Heights Elementary School in Southeast Portland, Jasper, a yellow Labrador retriever, has visited the library every other Tuesday for the past six years. Librarian John Wolfgang lets teachers choose which kids can read to Jasper.

"It's safe, secure fun for the students," Wolfgang says. "It's for the kids that need a little extra attention, be it for reading or for social one-on-one time."

Walt Morey Middle School in Troutdale has had a dog help out with its literacy-intervention program in the past, says Kevin McCann, the school's reading specialist.

Kids who struggle with reading have experienced a lot of failure by middle school. The lack of confidence can cause, or at least exacerbate, behavior issues and turn kids away from wanting to learn. By the time McCann sees them, students have tested below benchmarks for reading. He uses a national program called Read Naturally to get them back on track.

The program requires students to read a story over and over. "It works perfectly for reading with dogs," McCann says. Last year, when he announced that students could have a canine companion for reading, "some of our most challenged students expressed interest," he says. He plans to request canine assistance again.

For middle school students, getting to pet a dog probably just provides added incentive and rewards them for trying in school. But for younger kids, such as the second-graders at the French-American School, the roots of success run deeper, says a researcher who's written about this topic.

It's easy to see that dogs are nonjudgmental, making it easier for kids to read out loud. But that doesn't tell the whole story, says Gene Myers, an associate professor at Western Washington University who wrote "The Significance of Children and Animals."

Children learn to interpret body language, tone of voice and signs of stress long before they learn English -- or French or Mandarin. But when they do learn the spoken language, they find that adults don't always mean what they say, that their words don't match their nonverbal language.

With dogs, children don't have this problem. Dogs have one way of communicating -- body language -- and children pick it up with ease. "The animal's activity is perceived as especially authentic by children," Myers says.

Also, with adults, children find that words' meanings are narrowly defined; with animals, children are free to interpret words. That would explain why the students at the French-American School have taken to reading to their own pets since Olive came into their lives. It's liberating to find a communication partner who speaks one's own language.

And young children don't find anything wrong with talking to a dog.

"Young kids don't put animals in a category distinct from humans when it comes to language," Myers says.

The librarian at Gilbert Heights can confirm that. The kids there are free to choose which books they read to Jasper; many bring books on dogs. But Wolfgang remembers one student who clearly thought of Jasper as an equal.

"One of the kids brought a knock-knock-joke book to read with Jasper," Wolfgang says, chuckling. "I guess he didn't realize someone would have to answer the knock-knock line."

Or maybe he did.

Advice For Buying A Rabbit

Choosing the right rabbit for you and your family can be a very exciting process. There are currently over 40 recognized breeds of rabbits. There are also many different coloured rabbits, so it is interesting to see which ones appeal to your family the most. In addition to these facts, the size of the rabbit in general can vary greatly and you may find that they can be weigh over 10 pounds, in which case you will need to make sure you know what you’re doing with rabbits and have a good understanding of general rabbit care.

Many breeders give different answers regarding the preferred gender for a pet rabbit. A lot of the differences are dependent on how people look after their rabbit. A good example of this is with a doe, as she will become much more territorial as she gets older if she hasn’t been spayed when younger. She may nip at you when reaching for her or even her food or water dishes. However, if a familiar face does the feeding and suchlike, they should calm down considerably. Some does can be non-aggressive, and yet others can become territorial towards everybody, but that is very rare. If you still favour the idea of having a doe, but want her purely as a pet, the best thing to do is to get her spayed. This is a good long-term plan for your rabbit care approach.

Another important thing to consider when it comes to rabbit care is the art of grooming. If you have a luxuriously soft angora rabbit, grooming will become part of your everyday agenda. The wool rabbit breeds will need quite a bit of time spent on them to ensure their grooming is properly done.

There are some recommendations that rabbit owners would suggests, and one is to make sure you don’t buy a rabbit without seeing it first, either at a pet store or from a breeder. Once you know which breed of rabbit you would like to buy, do an online search for a breeder in your local area. Then you can pay the breeder a visit. See what the conditions are in the barn. It is also a good idea to see if you can hold a rabbit whilst you are there. Watch the rabbit’s reaction to their cage being opened. Those happy rabbits in the hutch will come hopping forward hoping you will pick them up. Other rabbits will immediately go to the back of the cage. Look out for these signs as they could indicate that the rabbit won’t make a good pet.

Whilst you should always consider the in depth details that rabbit care involves, the important thing to remember is to enjoy your search for that perfect rabbit. There are many sizes, colours and choices and finding the right one for you can be time consuming but will be very rewarding in the end.

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Medication for Pet Anxiety?

Stem Cells Could
Save Your Pet's Life

Local Woman Turns To Cutting Edge Procedure To Keep Her Dog Alive

JUPITER, Fla. -- Seeing your pets suffer in pain can be hard to watch, but a new cutting edge procedure could be the remedy you've been waiting for.

Salmia Witt is a dog owner who spent thousands of dollars trying to help her beloved German shepherd. Witt said nothing seemed to work, so she went searching for a solution and discovered the prescription for relief was inside her dog's body.

Witt owns a 10-year-old shepherd named Ranina, who suffered from arthritis.

"It just progressively got worse. She started gaining a lot of weight, which was even harder on her joints, and then she got to the point where she couldn't really walk at all," Witt said.

In addition to the arthritis, Ranina was overweight and tore her cruciate ligament last winter. Witt said she didn't think Ranina could handle a big surgery.

"I was looking for something that would be more outpatient -- something just as beneficial but less invasive," Witt said.

So Witt took Ranina to veterinarian Dr. Michael Stephan at the Juno Beach Animal Hospital.

Stephan said Ranina was a candidate for a cutting edge procedure using stem cells.

"We discussed an alternative therapy using stem cells from the dog," Stephan said. "Most people are familiar with stem cells from embryonic research or banking cord blood in infants, but stem cells exists in adult bodies also."

Stephan said the procedure is similar to liposuction.

"We removed some of Ranina's fat and sent it to a California company called Vet-Stem," Stephan said. "The company then extracts the stem cells from Ranina's fat and sends us the cells in a syringe. They then go to work to repair the damage that has been done."

About two months after the shot, Ranina's owner said she was back in action.

"She was swimming and playing," Witt said. "She is not 100 percent better, but I would say from the time she had her surgery to now she is 75 percent better."

The procedure ranges in cost from $2,600 to $2,800.

Ready for a Pet?
Ask Questions First
By ROBIN Y. RICHARDSON, Marshall News Messenger

Loving, sweet, adorable, funny, innocent, loyal and intelligent is how I would describe "Max a Million."

What Woman Wouldn't Want a Companion Like That In Her Life?

Features editor Robin Richardson holds Max.

I knew I wanted Max A Million, a poodle/terrier mix nicknamed Max, the first time I laid eyes on him when checking my e-mail from the Humane Society of Harrison County to place in the Pets of the Week section of The Marshall News Messenger.

He was available for adoption and I was convinced by myself and others — once I declared my desire for him — that he was the dog for me.

So, I called Kay Hill at the Humane Society and confessed my interest in adopting the dog. She extended an invitation to come to the Humane Society's The Pet Place the next day, a Friday, to meet Max and see if we were compatible.

Max was running, playing chase with the other dogs inside the fenced outside area when I arrived. He's a little thing, but he could definitely keep pace with the pack.

He paused once he heard Sally Socia, director, summon him to meet his potential new owner. Sally gathered the rest of the dogs, led them inside, and let me and Max have some quality time to ourselves outside, getting acquainted with one another.

He must have liked me because he leaped in my lap the moment I sat down and nestled his wet nose against my hand. It was like we already shared a bond.

He didn't cry, he didn't whine, he didn't bark and he didn't howl. He just comfortably rested his head in my lap as if to say, "Thank you, for considering me."

I did consider him and decided to adopt him. Sally gave me some great tips on how to care for a house dog, since this would be my first. I grew up in the country so our dogs were always outside dogs — mainly strays that we ended up caring for.

Her main concern was that Max lived somewhere with a fence or gate so he wouldn't dart away and get lost.

Upon adopting him, I was given all of his medical records, which detailed all of the shots and immunizations he was updated on, and also included his age and breed. I also received adoption papers.

Max didn't leave with me until he was given a collar, which was placed around his neck with an ID tag with my name and phone number to contact me in the event he was lost.

As I was signing the papers, I couldn't believe that Max was actually coming to live with me. That meant, the Humane Society entrusted me to provide adequate shelter, food, water and veterinary care for him. I was responsible for him — possibly for eternity.

But, just in case I had any reservations, Sally was nice enough to allow me to bring him back within a week to see if it was for me. Before I left with him, she equipped me with helpful tips on when to bathe him, feed him and take him outside for relief.

Getting adjusted

The ride home was nice. Max wasn't fussy. He adjusted well, finding himself a comfy spot beneath my coffee table to snooze and watch TV — yes, he actually watched TV. We often watched it together, me on the couch with him stretched out, relaxed across my lap.

Our morning walks became his favorite — and mine too, I must admit. Max was always anxious to take our daily walk early in the morning, even choosing it over eating a bowl of beefy flavored dog chow first. He would bypass his bowl of food and run to the door to spend our morning quality time together walking before I headed to work.

Flattered, I was.

He definitely taught me discipline in that area because I am, by no means, a morning person. But, once Max barked and scratched at my door, I would jump right up out of the bed, put on my walking shoes and clothes and begin our daily regime. I've never exercised that consistently so much in my life! It was great!

I would come home daily for lunch to check on him.

When I had free time at home, we'd spend it playing ball, watching TV or just walking.

Everything was great! He never destroyed my furniture, he was well house-trained, never using the restroom in my home. He was very respectful, smart and sweet.

But, I came to the realization that I just couldn't be in it for the long haul. As a young professional woman who is always on the go and juggles an extremely busy schedule, I had a difficult choice to make — should I keep him or return him. So, before it ever got to the point of neglect, I decided to return Max so he could be placed with someone or a family that truly had the time for him that he deserves.

I got to the point where I felt guilty about being so busy and having to leave him.

One thing tells you about "How to Know if You're Ready for a Pet," is to ask yourself, "Do you have the time?"

It says that you'll want to enjoy your pet, but if you have an already-crowded schedule, you may simply not have the time to spend getting to know the pet. It further reads, unless you have the time to devote to the care and raising of a pet, maybe you should delay your decision to get one."

So, on last Friday, I contemplated — even making a pros and cons list — and consulted everyone in my circle about it. Ultimately, it was my choice and I had to make the hard decision of whether to return dear, adorable Max. I spoke to Sally first and revealed my decision. She was very understanding.

"I don't mind if you fostered him for a while," she told me.

Sally even allowed me to spend one last weekend with him and enjoy our time together.

When Monday came, I went to work, still with Max on my mind. It was hard for me to depart, but I knew it was a wise choice to make. I went home for lunch to check on him as usual, feed him and walk him outside. In the afternoon, I went back home to pick him up and take him back to The Pet Place. The ride in the car was bittersweet. My eyes started to well as I watched Max through my mirror, looking out the window.

I didn't realize how emotional departing from your pet could be until I was inside of The Pet Place and the reality of him not coming home with me hit. As I sat, waiting for an attendant, tears silently streamed down my face as he jumped out of my lap to frolic with another dog passing by. It would be the last time I would see him, but I found joy in knowing that he'll hopefully be adopted long-term — this time. I was, to my knowledge, his third home and second home in a matter of two weeks.

But, Friday the 13th, brought some good news for Max. Sally reported to me that he was adopted by a widow who was a retired nurse and lived in Woodville. I sure hope it works out for him.

But through the experience, I learned several things about adopting a pet — make sure you are ready and prepared for the commitment, don't make an abrupt decision — think it through, don't beat yourself up for realizing when something wasn't for you at that particular time — applaud yourself for making a wise decision.

Perhaps the greatest lesson Max of the many he thought me during our 13-day stay together was respect — respect for all pet owners and rescue groups. I truly admire them because it takes a special group to be caretakers for this spectrum of God's creatures.

Max definitely made a mark in my heart.

To quote my sister, Kim, who fell in love with him too and visited him nearly everyday, "Oh, Max," she said, during a visit the day before I returned him. "I'm going to miss you.

"I never thought I'd like a dog as much as I loke you," she continued, cradling him in her arms. "You're sweet and loveable."

I absolutely agreed.

With that said, I want to say thanks a million, Max, for melting our hearts with your canine charm.


Do you have the money? You need to realize that pets can be expensive. There's pet food, toys and a place for it to live, not to mention that, should it become ill, there'll be veterinanrian bils that can run into the hundreds of dollars. Be sure you can handle a pet financially before you make the decision to get one.

Do you have time? You'll want to enjoy your pet. But if you have an already-crowded work schedule, you may simply not have the time to spend getting to know the pet. If you are thinking about getting a dog, for example, it will require housebreaking, or else you will suffer the consequences. And it will need to be trained to avoid behavioral problems that could be a danger to both you and your children. Unless you have the time to devote the care and raising of a pet, maybe you should delay your decision to get one.

Do you know what to get? It's not enough to say that you want to get a dog or cat. Each comes in a variety of breeds, and you need to determine which breed fits into your lifestyle and that of your family. For example, there are certain breeds that are traditionally difficult to be around. If there are young children in the family, you'll need to find a pet that won't turn nasty if subjected to the typical treatment young children provide. Do your homework before you bring your pet home.

Are you ready for a long-term commitment? Dogs and cats can live 20 years, or more. So, before you get one, understand that you are making a huge commitment. Pets are not like cars that you can test-drive, than walk away if you aren't happy. Be certain that you are ready to dedicate a portion of your life to a pet before you decide to get one.

And like Sally Socia with the Humane Society said, "It's a commitment, but shelter and rescues will work with you to pick a dog that's right with your lifestyle and family."


Animals are adopted to persons 18 years of age or older as household pets. The animals shall have adequate food, water and shelter at all times, and veterinary care as required (including current inoculations, heart worm prevention, and flea/tick control). If adopted as an outside dog, which is not preferred, ,the animal shall have a well-fenced yard and shelter, and shall not be chained.

No adoptions are made in violation of lease or rental agreements.

Adopted animals shall not be traded, sold, given away, or used in research. They must be returned to the Humane Society if the adopter becomes unwilling or unable to care for them.

Adoptions are not made to recipients of low-income spay/neuter assistance, so that their financial resources may be devoted to the proper care of the animals they already maintain.

Adoptions are not made to applicants who have unspayed or neutered animals already in their care, or animal not current on vaccinations and heartworm prevention absent special circumstances approved by the Humane Society.

Adoptions are not made to any individual who has had an animal cruelty complaint or citation without further investigation.

Adoptions are not made to any individual who has previously lost or had killed an adopted animal with out further investigation.

There are not guarantees on the health or disposition of any animal adopted, and the Humane Society is not liable for any animal adopted, or for any damage to person or property that maybe caused by the animal.

Refunds may be made if the animal and adoption papers are returned within five days of the adoption, or by special arrangement with the Humane Society

Adoption of cats are not made to individuals who intend to declaw the animal without trying behavioral modification techniques before subjecting the animal to that mutilation. Persons who prefer declawed cats may be contacted as potential adopters for animals that are received by the Humane Society and are already declawed.

Adoption approval is discretionary with the Humane Society and requires that an animal and the potential family be compatible in terms of the ages and composition of the family, the breed, age and needs of the animal, and any other factor relevant to the long-term health and safety of the animal.

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9 Reasons You Should Never
Buy an Animal from a Pet Store
by Sarah Irani -

When my husband and I were about to move to our new place, I told him I’d like to get a cat, so we planned to adopt one. We didn’t get that far, however, because as soon as the landlady unlocked the front door to let us in to our new place, a skinny little black cat scurried in and made herself at home. She’s been with us ever since.

Speaking of black cats, there still prevails a superstitious bias against dark-colored animals and they are often passed over for adoption at animal shelters. Unless you have all-white furniture and the dark shedding fur would cause you major grief, consider bringing a black dog or cat home with you.

There are some other important and compassionate reasons to consider adopting a pet over buying from a store.

Puppy mills. Most pet stores get their puppies from factory-style breeding facilities called puppy mills. Puppy mills are high-volume breeding facilities where many dogs are kept in squalid, caged conditions until they’re ready to sell. They often have health and socialization problems.

Save a life, make a friend for life. It’s sad but true ““ space is limited in animal shelters and if that sweet little creature doesn’t get adopted within a certain amount of time, it will have to be euthanized. There are some no-kill shelters, but they are in the minority.

Save money. It costs much less to adopt from a shelter than to buy from a pet store. What you pay to the shelter generally includes vaccination, de-worming and spay/neuter services. You’ll also get some guidance and advice for the care of your new pet!

AKC papers don’t guarantee health. Purebred papers from the American Kennel Club guarantee only the purity the breed ““ nothing more. Even if a puppy is purebred, it might have hereditary health problems. If you are looking for an AKC-certified pet, look beyond the anonymity of the pet store or the internet and visit a reputable breeder in person to find out more about the puppy’s parentage and living conditions. These days there are rescue organizations for nearly every breed, so it’s not necessary to adopt a mutt if you want to rescue an animal.

You can find purebreds at a shelter. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular breed, give animal shelters a chance; purebreds show up there all the time.

Good karma. Many years ago, our family cat went missing and although my mom scoured the local shelters for him, he was never found. In the meantime, however, she came across a scrawny little ball of fluff that caught her eye and tugged at her heart. She brought him home, took care of him, and now he’s the biggest, fluffiest Maine Coon you’ll ever see. He and my mom are inseparable. She saved his life and he’ll never forget it.

Socialization. A pet store animal has probably never been in a house before, whereas a shelter animal most likely has. Most shelters screen for good behavior and temperament and will be honest with you about the animal’s personality and needs, whereas a pet store only wants to make a profit. Most shelter animals have been left behind because of a cross-country move, a new baby, or expense. These animals have likely been housebroken and know how to manage their way in the world of humans. They’ll certainly be happy to have a new home.

Don’t support animal over-population. There are already so many domestic animals in this world that need a home. Pet shops and puppy mills support over-breeding of these animals for profit. It’s estimated that 6 to 8 million pets are euthanized every year! Rescue a spayed or neutered pet instead and give it the loving home it deserves.

Shelters offer a huge selection of animals. Many shelters rescue more than just dogs or cats. Birds, horses, guinea pigs, hamsters, reptiles, farm animals and all kinds of other critters may be your ideal companion, too.

Ask a Vet:
Should I Seek a Pharmaceutical Solution
to My Pet's Anxiety Problem?
Los Angeles Times

Allow us to introduce a new feature here at Unleashed: Ask a Vet. We're excited to have Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) on board to answer your burning questions about your pet's health and well-being. Got a question for Dr. Oxford? Leave a comment on this post, and look for her answer in an upcoming installment of Ask a Vet.

Photo: Seamus the dog takes his stress out on a feather duster. Credit: CM / Your Scene

Unleashed: Under what circumstances, if any, would you prescribe medication to deal with a pet's anxiety? Do you recommend any herbal remedies?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Great question, because anxiety is the second most common reason pets are brought to veterinary behavior specialty practices today! Mild forms of anxiety do occur and are usually easy enough to correct if the cause of anxiety is identified early and the veterinarian and owner work together to help modify the behavior and the environment.

Behavioral modification, involving teaching the owner the proper way to leave and return without creating anxiety in the pet and teaching the pet to be calm and independent, is key. Managing the environment, such as taking the pet in the car, hiring a pet sitter, confining the pet during the day or even sending the dog to daycare, are good ways to help avoid the situation that makes the pet anxious in the first place. If the anxiety is due to an unavoidable noise phobia like car alarms, smoke detectors, fireworks or thunderstorms, I recommend distracting the pet with music, or games that will divert his/her attention.

For mild forms of anxiety I find that Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P. by CEVA) is pretty effective at reducing anxiety. This comes in both a diffuser and a collar. I have also had good success using the lavender collars, and Bach's Rescue Remedy either added to the pet's water or three to four drops placed directly on the tongue.

More severe anxiety usually requires all of the above, and then some. Separation anxiety is the most common type of anxiety and is a serious problem that can cause the pet to vocalize excessively creating a disturbance to neighbors and other people and pets in the home, destroy property or themselves (scratching, licking, chewing their paws) and even urinate and defecate in inappropriate locations. If the pet is doing any of these things, the pet first needs a thorough physical exam to make sure a medical condition is not the cause. It is best to start drug therapy as soon as the diagnosis is made in order to have the most effective treatment. Pets typically are on the drug for a minimum of six months. The drugs that are used for anxiety can cause several side effects, including vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea and even hyperexcitability in rare cases, and some cannot be used with certain other medications that the pet might already be on. It is important to remember that drugs are not "cure-alls" and will work effectively only if used in conjunction with behavioral modification and environmental management.

Oxford received her bachelor’s of science degree at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. She also received a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from Emory University and went on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She then went to the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree. She practices at California Animal Rehabilitation and is also certified in veterinary rehabilitation and acupuncture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Wade, and German shepherd, Tess.

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Money Saving Tips
for Your Pets
Michael Finney -

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's estimated Americans will spend $45 billion on their pets this year. But giving your pets the best doesn't mean you have to spend a lot.

Pet owners love to pamper their furry friends.

"She basically gets to choose her own toys so we go and I give her an array and whatever she kind of takes to, she gets. That's how she chose her bed, that's how she chooses her clothing," said dog owner Nicole Cramer.

All that pampering can be expensive. But you can save money by not overfeeding.

"If you can't easily see or feel your pet's ribs, it's probably time to cut down on the pet food," said Good Housekeeping's Janet Siroto.

If your pet is overweight, you can save $180 a year by giving your pet the lowest recommended amount on your pet food package. You can also take advantage of services at the local shelter. On average they charge one-third to a half of what a private vet does.

"One of the ways we recommend people save money long term is to not skip on annual exams, which a lot of people tend to do especially during tough economic times," said veterinarian Michael Sanchez.

If your pet needs medication urgently, get a week's worth from your vet and then take the prescription with you so you can order the rest online. Or see if your vet will match the on line price to keep your business.

Some vaccines may be unnecessary. If your pooch has no contact with other dogs, you may want to skip the "kennel cough" vaccine. That will save you about $20. Indoor-only cats may not need the feline leukemia vaccine, saving you about $25.

You can get good savings at warehouse clubs. For example, Good Housekeeping found at Costco a case of 24 22-ounce cans of Pedigree Chunky beef dog food for $24.99, versus $33.36 at a local supermarket.

Supplement your pet's diet with your leftovers. Just be careful and avoid spices and dairy. Be also careful with fat. Some human foods are toxic to pets, so check

Finally you can save money by buying your animal's prescriptions online.

Bowwows of Holly
Sun-Times Media

Pet pictures for holiday can be a snap

Pet owners love to take photographs of their pets, and often the photograph ends up as the family's Christmas card.

"Pet owners can capture great, festive photos of their pet," said David Sutton, an Evanston-based photographer specializing in pet photography.

Here are Sutton's tips on how to get the best holiday shot of Max or Buddy:

• Set the scene: Look for a clean background. Before shooting, scan the corners of the frame. Anything in the background will be in the photo and could draw attention away from the subject.

• Light 'em up: Don't use the on-camera flash. That makes light reflect into the pet's eyes, making them look like big saucers. Look for natural light near a window, or take the photograph outside. (The best outdoor lighting is found early in the day or in late afternoon.) If you have to use your flash, shoot from one side of your pet so he's not looking directly at you. That way you avoid retinal reflection.

• Lower, lower: For an interesting photo perspective, get down on the floor at your pet's level. The closer you get, the better you'll be able to capture your pet's distinct -- and adorable-- personality.

• Attention, please: Use unexpected noises, tops, treats or familiar and positive phrases to get Fido looking into the camera. But frame your shot, get your camera focused, and then grab your pet's attention. And don't try to shoot for more than 15 minutes without taking a break. After the break, try again.

• More, more: It's unrealistic to think you'll capture perfection in just one shot. Take lots of pictures. With a digital photo, extra frames cost time, not money. Keep only the strongest images.

Bonus tip: Shoot in black-and white for a mood that will seem timeless.

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Pet Travel Tips
By Chuck Zemek

When traveling with your pet on that weekend adventure, sometimes we will not remember their basic needs. Our pets often times are just as important as having a child with you. They can be noisey, have to stop several times and will get hungry. Like children, they need to stretch their legs, play and do their other business while we take them on our adventure. The adventure becomes more pleasant when they are not getting sick, making all kinds of noise that could take our focus off the road. That could be disastrous! Some quick tips to keep in mind.

Quick tip 1) Take some type of restraint. Pets' love to see what is going on. Surely, they will not use a seat belt, so take a leash or harness. This will also simplify when we take those much needed stops. Just unhook from the vehicle and walk.

Quick tip 2) Take along their favorite food. While traveling, we tend to stop at the local restaurant and grab a quick bite. Often times, this will not be the best food for you, and especially, not your pet. The best thing to do is have a sealed bag of their food so that their diet does not change. Animals should really not eat human food, it will upset their normal functions.

Quick tip 3) Bring a bag! You have seen it, while stretching their legs, along with their pet, the pet will have to do his "business". Often times the owner will just "let him do what he has to do" and just walk away. Disgusting. Be courteous and clean up after your pet.

Quick tip 4) Take a toy. Your pet loves to play and needs to get that energy out. Again, like a child, they will get restless after traveling too long. While stopping for food or rest, play. This in turn will make your travel experience more enjoyable and your pet will love the play time.

These are some of the quick tips when getting ready to take that weekend adventure with your pet. There are many others that can also be found at that will help make your weekend adventure one you will never forget.

We all have our favorite pet travel stories. The more time that your pet travels with you, the more it will become relaxed in how it travels. Our pet, Brewser, has been traveling since he was a puppy and has become well versed in his experiences, We have mapped our trips with the help of to make the most of our trips.

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Is There Lead In Pet Toys?
The Boston Channel

Team 5 Investigates Uncovers No Federal Safety Standards Protecting Pets

To get on store shelves, children's toys have to pass strict standards for safety.

But toys in the pet aisle don't.

Team 5 Investigates took 20 pet toys to the lab RMD Inc. in Watertown. While only one dog toy had lead levels higher than what's allowed in children's toys, lead detectors found everything from slight traces to lead levels much higher.

"Right now, it's looking to be 1,000 ppm (parts per million) or a little bit over perhaps," said Paul Bennett, a scientist at RMD, as he examined a "Spinmeister" dog toy.

The final reading: 1,360 ppm.

That's pretty high compared to the federal limit for children's toys, which is 300 ppm.

Wornick: "So you're not bringing this home to your family?

Bennett: "Probably not."

Like with humans, excessive amounts of ingested lead can cause a variety of problems for dogs and cats.

"Lead toxicity typically causes either gastrointestinal signs like vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite," said Dr. Lisa Moses, a veterinarian at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. "Or in more serious cases, actual seizures or other neurological problems."

But Team 5 Investigates discovered, there are no federal safety guidelines for pet toys. No federal agency monitors them for lead content or choking hazards.

Angell's medical files contain x-rays showing how dogs swallowed everything from a ball to rubber ducks.

"I think it makes a lot of sense for there to be similar regulations for animal toys that there are for kids' toys," Moses said.

Both Petco and Petsmart -- two of the largest national retailers for pet supplies -- told Team 5 Investigates in statements that they hire independent companies to check for toxic chemicals and other safety concerns before products are stocked on store shelves.

Team 5 Invesigates also contacted Cardinal Pet Company, the distributor of the Spinmeister.

In a statement, the company said its tests on the Spinmeister also found lead levels higher than what's allowed for children's toys, and stopped selling it, but can't control the sale of any leftover inventory still available at some stores.

Why is Quaker Parakeet
Biting His Owner?
by Dr. Lisa Radosta - Palm Beach Post

Question: I have a “bipolar” Quaker parakeet and want him to stop biting. He’ll start off sweet as pie, then, in a second flat, try to bite me. Are there any medications to level off his behavior? — Berdi

Answer: Quakers are commonly seen for territorial aggression, but that is not the only type of aggression they display.

While mood-altering medications are used in birds, they are generally used for severe disorders or at least less frequently than in dogs and cats. This is primarily because there is not a great deal of research on the use of pharmacologic agents in birds, birds are generally more sensitive than dogs and cats to medications and also because birds have such a fast metabolism, they usually have to be dosed multiple times a day to reach effective levels.

The real question here is not whether there is a pill which can solve your Quaker’s problem, but why your bird bites you in the first place.

The answer lies in the fact that birds are among the most misunderstood pets. Most birds kept as pets are not domesticated animals, but rather wild animals kept in captivity. This is not a small distinction.

Animals who are domesticated are bred for generations to display characteristics that allow them to live in harmony with people. They have been bred to be able to live in environments we provide for them.

Most pet birds live very under-enriched lives and this is at the root of many bird behavior problems. How enriched is your pet’s environment? The second thing to consider is whether or not your bird is healthy. Is he eating a proper diet? When is the last time that he went to see a veterinarian? Next, consider your relationship with him. Do you have a structured relationship with him where he knows how to get your attention?

The first thing to do is to bring him to your veterinarian’s office and make sure that he is healthy. Then, scour the Internet for information on captive foraging.

There are some good videos out there.

Then, enrich his environment with toys so that he has something to do. He needs A LOT of exercise. Finally, go to and look for information on training birds. Once your bird has a more “natural” life and he knows how to interact with you, he will bite you less and everyone will be happy!

Dr. Radosta

Lisa Radosta DVM, Diplomate ACVB
Florida Veterinary Behavior Service
PO Box 210636
Royal Palm Beach, FL 33421-0636

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