More Holiday Pet Tips PLUS Crate Training Your Dog

Dog from Afghanistan
Arrives in Texas
Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN, Texas — An overseas tour of duty has ended for a once-malnourished dog lovingly nurtured by Texas troops in Afghanistan.

The now-65-pound mixed breed dog named "Delilah" on Tuesday spent her first full day in Austin.

The white puppy in June began tagging along with National Guard troops from Camp Mabry while members were on patrol.

Spc. Matt Fleming of Austin says from the start the dog was "pretty cute walking beside us" and he wanted to keep Delilah.

His sister-in-law, Laura Fleming of Austin, set up a Web site and helped raise money to fly the dog to the U.S. About $3,500 was donated by October.

The Austin American-Statesman reports Delilah arrived in Austin on Monday afternoon. Delilah will live with Laura Fleming until her brother-in-law completes his tour of duty in January and returns home.

Information from: Austin American-Statesman,

Ashley Greene Says 'Twilight'
Has Made Even Her Dog Famous!

Washington(ANI): Ashley Greene has revealed that hitting stardom from blockbuster film ‘Twilight’ has been both fresh and shocking for her – and her dog.

The 22-year-old, who plays Alice Cullen in the 2008 movie and will be reprising the role in its upcoming sequels, said the experience was nothing less than crazy.

‘It’s crazy, right?’ People magazine quoted her as telling the December issue of Maxim.

‘I think my dog is more famous than a lot of stars out there.

“I bet some people in Hollywood are like, ‘I can’t get my picture in a mag, but Ashley’s pooch [Marlow] does?’ It’s mind-boggling,’ she added. (ANI)

Pet Myths:
Do Felines Always Land
on Their Feet?
Posted By: Amelia Glynn - SF Gate

This is one of those "most of the time" but "it depends" answers.

"Feline high-rise syndrome" is a term coined by American veterinarian Dr. Gordon Robinson in 1976 to describe the unfortunate increase in the number of cats that have been injured falling out of high-rise apartments.

Murphy's Toast Law: If you attach your toast to the back of a cat it will never fall buttered-side down.

It's thought that after about five floors, the distance a cat falls begins to become less relevant in terms of both injuries sustained and overall general survival. It might sound strange, but cats have what's called a "nonfatal terminal velocity" or maximum downward speed of 60 miles per hour (many small animals have this built-in advantage). Once they orient themselves, they spread themselves out like a parachute (imagine a flying squirrel), which helps slow them down and minimize injuries. There are cats on record that have fallen 20 stories or more without serious injury. As long as they don't land on something sharp, it's very likely that they will walk away from the fall.

For proof of this death-defying ability, many articles cite a 1987 study from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in which two vets examined 132 cases of cats that had fallen out of windows and were brought to the Animal Medical Center in New York for treatment. (Quick Jeopardy fact: the science of falling cats is called "feline pesematology.")

When the vets analyzed the data they discovered that, as one would expect, the number of broken bones and other injuries increased with the number of stories the cat had fallen — but only up to seven stories. Here's the surprising part: above seven stories the number of injuries per cat sharply declined. In other words, the farther the cat fell, the better its chances of escaping serious injury.

On average the cats included in the study fell five-and-a-half stories, with a 90 percent survival rate, although many suffered serious injuries. But of cats that fell between seven and 32 stories, more than 95 percent survived — most with fewer injuries than the cats that fell less than seven stories. One cat, for example, is known to have survived a 46-story fall. (It apparently bounced off a canopy and into a planter.) Overall, the most common injury following a fall is nose bleeds.

Watch video footage of Piper the cat who took an 80-foot spill out of a tree (the equivalent of about eight or nine stories) after being stuck there for eight days. To the amazement of her family and other onlookers, she scampered away injury free.

The uniqueness of the cat's skeleton is one of the reasons they can right themselves so quickly. Cats do not possess a collarbone, and the extremely mobile bones in their backbone allow them to easily bend and rotate their bodies to land feet first. Their "righting reflex" can be largely attributed to the existence of a small organ in a cat's inner ear called the vestibular apparatus, which acts as an internal gyroscope. The reflex begins to develop at three to four weeks of age and is typically perfected by seven weeks.

Cats also come equipped with shock-absorbing pads on the bottoms of their paws and the ability to land with flexed joints, which helps to absorb the shock of impact. But if cats fall two or more floors, even though they can usually right themselves, their legs and feet can no longer absorb all of the shock. Their heads will often hit the ground and they may fracture some teeth. Falls of four or more floors have the potential to cause more serious injuries, including a ruptured diaphragm, torn liver and fractured bones.

To help your cat enjoy outdoor scenery and fresh air in safety, always be sure upstairs windows are securely screened and make upstairs porches and balconies off-limits unless they are also screened or your cat is on a leash. If your cat should suffer a fall, immediately swaddle her in a clean towel to minimize movement and take her to a vet for a full examination to rule out possible broken bones or internal injuries.

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Fluffy and the Flu
Posted By MONIQUE BEECH Standard Staff

H1N1 and Pets

What pets can get H1N1?

Pet ferrets are susceptible and, pet birds and pot-bellied pigs might be at risk.

There is a low risk of transmission from humans to dogs, cats, rodents and rabbits.

Signs of influenza in pets

Not eating, drinking or playing as usual. Pets might also cough, sneeze or develop a fever.

How can I reduce the risk of infecting my pets?

• Cough and sneeze in your arm

• Wash your hands frequently

• Limit contact with your pet when you are sick

• Avoid touching your pet's face as germs can be transmitted through the mouth and nose

What to do if your pet is sick

Call your veterinarian. Tell him or her if your pet has had any contact with someone who has the flu.

Pet owners with the flu might want to keep their distance from Fido and Fluffy after an American house cat was confirmed last week as having H1N1.

The 13-year-old tabby from Ames, Iowa, that came down with the virus was living in a house where two out of three family members had flu-like symptoms.

The indoor cat — the first feline to have a confirmed case of the flu — recovered from the virus, and so did its owners.

But animal disease expert Scott Weese said domestic animal cases of H1N1 are very rare, and cat and dog owners needn't be alarmed.

"We only have one confirmed case of a cat at this point," said Weese, an associate professor in the department of pathobiology at the University of Guelph.

"When you consider that there have been thousands upon thousands of people infected with the flu, and that the majority of households have a pet, we have to assume that a tremendous number of pets have been exposed, but very, very rarely have they been ill."

That hasn't stopped some of veterinarian Kelly Mark's clients from inquiring about H1N1 and their pets.

Mark, a travelling veterinarian who filled in at the Cat Clinic of Niagara in St. Catharines on Tuesday, said she wasn't surprised the virus had infected a cat, considering H1N1 has been detected in other animals such as turkeys, pigs and ferrets.

Still, Mark emphasized the Iowa cat is just one case.

"I think there's always that concern," Mark said.

"To really worry about it at this point, I think, would be overblown."

In general, people should take the same precautions with their pets that they take with family members, she said.

"At this point there seems to be more of a risk to the pet, than people. There's no proven transmission from cat to human. You know, this is one case."

Weese said, in general, different animal species animals are suspectible to their own specific flu viruses.

But H1N1 is different because it's a combination of human, swine and avian influenza, said Weese, an expert in zoonotic disease, or diseases that are transferable between people and animals

Veterinarians are not recommending pets be tested for the virus, saying it's a waste of money and won't benefit the animal.

Birds Will Be Birds:
Living on the Wild Side
by Sangay Glass -

It's fall. Whenever I see a black cloud rising from a field, poking fun at the setting sun, I simply say, "Beautiful."

The cloud is made up of a thousand of Starling birds sharing one song, their song. Each bird was taught the song as a chick, and the song brings the flock together at the end of summer.

My Starling would never be allowed to join. He wouldn't even know what they were.

I never intended to keep him. I actually didn't think he would survive an hour let alone, the night, a week, or the two years he's been with me.

The poor little thing was literally handed to me by a harried coworker who didn't have time to deal with a nearly dead hatchling. I later found out some unknown boy handed it to him and ran off. I was just foolish enough not to pass the responsibility onto someone else.

I work seasonally outside, on a farm, in the cold. The little naked bird must have been hypothermic because my frozen hand was wrapped secrurely around it.

I quickly put it in a box with some paper towels to keep it warm. I watched it breathe. Its eyes were closed tight. It's breathing slight. It yawned. I thought, Hum, Cheyne-Stokes, the coup de grâce of breath. It won't live long.

An hour later, closing time, time to go home . . . alone.

Several co-workers stood around me and the box, making comments of dread while at the same time baby talking to the tiny marvel. Of course, no one wanted to take it home. So I did.

I stopped at the pet store and bought some wax worms. Birds eat worms right? It needed to eat something to at least hydrate. Just something to keep it going until I can get it to the Humane Society.

I accidentally tapped the box when I got back in the car. It was the first time I'd heard its shrill and demanding voice.

I opened the container of what I think are really fat farm-raised maggots and held one over his open mouth. The worm squirmed, tapping the top of the chick's beak. The worm disappeared faster than I could bat an eyelash. The greedy little thing nabbed three more worms before finally quieting.

That night, I learned I would have to find a rehabber who took Starlings. They're considered a pest in my state and not really "worth saving". Unfortunately, the nearest rehabber lived four hours away. A round trip equaled a day's pay, not worth the drive..

I knew nothing about taking care of baby birds. I called the rehabber and got an answering machine. I hung up and did a web search and found, Starling Talk, my savior. At least, I'd be able to feed and take care of the thing properly until my next day off which was over two weeks away.

Honestly, I never ever wanted a bird, especially a high maintenance bird. But I found myself cooking eggs and chopping fresh apples into bits, making a slurry of yuck and cat food, and feeding him on demand with a chop stick from dawn till dusk. I even carried him back and forth to work. Bless my boss for tolerating me and my tired ass.

I felt like I had a newborn baby.

Then its eyes opened. It became something more than a featherless mutant with a wide yellow beak, screaming for more... more... moRE!

It was cute.

My daughter named him, Salem.

Twelve days later, I learned about Starlings with human imprints. Having no contact with birds for the critical period, he would not recognize Starlings as his own species. So I had to face the facts, I could take him to the rehabber when I had time and hope Salem would survive his release, or keep him as a pet, a very high maintenance pet.

Starlings are one of two wild birds legal to keep as pets in my state. It's not recommended, but it's not illegal, I was told. In fact, the ranger I talked to said, "Keep him or kill him. They're a threat to the native wildlife."

I decided to keep him, knowing he could live twenty years or more, knowing his happiness depended on me, knowing he didn't think he was human, but that we were alike and shared his instincts. So, as a human with bird instincts, I needed to do bird things with him.

What are bird things? Singing, talking, letting him poop on my keyboard, remaining silent as he's prying my fingers open and attacking them because fingers are his competition for his beloved face. He never really understood that hands are connected to faces. But we (humans) in the household understand. We enrich his life with toys and challenges everyday. We've adapted our lives for him.

Now, Salem is one of the family, part of our flock. He travels around the country with us. He goes for outings in a pet stroller on warm days. He sings Mozart, Tchaikovsky, movie themes and more. He says, I love you, and calls my daughters by name when they enter the room. He wolf whistles at me, so I tell him he's a good boy which he repeats.

He is a good boy, a joy, and I love him. I don't love exotic pet veterinary bills. But I chose to keep him.

Do I ever recommend keeping a wild animal? ... Never.

Living with a wild animal no matter how small is a huge responsibility. I may have saved Salem's life, but I owe him a life uncomplicated by my human intrusions.

He needs to be a bird. I need to be a writer. (My keyboard needs a good cleaning:)

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Is Your Pet Ready
to Greet Holiday Guests?
By LANA BERKOWITZ Houston Chronicle

If you don't have to worry about boarding your pets, finding a pet sitter or taking the animals with you on holiday travels, guests are probably coming to your house.

With the holidays coming, it's time to think about ways to minimize stress on your pets when strangers invade their space.

Here are a few suggestions from the experts at, and

Warn guests

• Before guests arrive, tell them you have a pet and describe its size and personality. Ask them if they suffer from pet allergies and how to best alleviate their sensitivities. Most people with pet allergies are generally sensitive to dander, saliva and urine.

Brush up on obedience

• Simple commands such as “stay,” “down” and “drop it” can keep a dog from bolting out a door, greeting guests inappropriately or ingesting something that could be harmful.

Clean up

• Thoroughly clean and vacuum your entire home, and pay special attention to your guest room. Open a window, run a fan to circulate air, and place fresh flowers around your home. However, be careful that these don't create hazards for your pet. After the room is prepared, limit pet access. It is also helpful to keep a lint brush handy.


• If you're moving furniture to accommodate visitors, do so a few days before they arrive so your pet can get used to the new arrangement. Put away pet toys and bedding.

Make a retreat

• Many pets can become overwhelmed with holiday gatherings. Having their bed or crate, favorite toys, food and water in a quiet room creates a welcome refuge where they can relax away from the foot traffic and unfamiliar faces in their home.

Keep schedules

• Take your dog for a walk before your guests arrive, and try to keep to his regular routine because dogs love the predictability of their feeding and exercise schedules.

Make introductions

• Many little visitors to your home might not have pets of their own. Show them how your cat likes to be petted, what treats the dog likes and how to behave around the animals. Make sure an adult is with the children whenever they are with a pet.


• Many foods such as onions, raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate and alcohol served at the holidays are toxic to your pet. Poultry bones splinter and can cause serious health issues. Any unfamiliar foods can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Keep your dog's favorite treats on hand for your guests to offer him. This will not only make sure he enjoys their company but also will prevent unauthorized snacking on people food.

Guard the door

• Since visitors may not know that your dog or cat plans to make a run for it every time the door opens, it's best to share your tips for keeping the pet inside when entering and leaving. A “Keep Pup/Kitty Inside” note on the door also may help when you're not around. Also make sure your dog is wearing a collar with current ID in case of any mishaps.

Monitor your emotions

• Overexcitement, anxiety and stress are common emotions around the holidays. Remember that your pet will pick up on your feelings, so relax, stay calm and have fun.


Pet Talk:
High-Spirited Hound
is a Law Dog Waiting to Happen
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

Bo, the black and tan coon hound who couldn't seem to find a home and family right for him, is now training with Sean Hartley to become a trailing dog.

Bo is an exquisitely well-bred black and tan coon hound so handsome that people literally stop in their tracks to stare.

Hounds just don't come much prettier than Bo. Anyone would be proud to have him.

But Bo has some sort of turbo mechanism operating just beneath his well-muscled surface that drives every second of his life. He can't bear to walk nicely on a leash, and he isn't interested in having his velvet ears rubbed. Even when he is worn out, he paces and leaps, desperate to take to the fields, follow his nose. He won't even stop to do his business — he just empties his bladder in a surging stream while on the move.

He's the kind of dog you can appreciate for his beauty and his good nature, but, to be honest, you're kind of glad you don't live with him.

In August, Bo landed in the little Rocky Mountain shelter, Teller County Regional Animal Shelter (TCRAS), where I'm a volunteer dogwalker. He had lived a pillar-to-post existence during his nine months on earth. Adopted from a Denver shelter at about 4 months old and taken home to an apartment, he was turned in at a another shelter 100 miles away when it became quickly obvious that apartment life wasn't a good fit and that his strong prey drive would bring about an unhappy ending for the resident cats.

Then he was adopted out to a couple with young kids, and in days they called a third shelter, TCRAS, saying Bo was unruly and kept knocking over the kids. The caller was told the shelter was overflowing that day, but to contact one of the other shelters (phone numbers were supplied) or to call TCRAS again soon as runs would open. The next morning, Bo was nearly hit by a car in a remote area, obviously dumped. He was picked up by a good Samaritan and taken to TCRAS, where employees instantly recognized him as the dog described over the phone.

We volunteers are accustomed to dogs with too much energy and too few manners. Most people who give up dogs do so because they never bothered to provide appropriate training and exercise, and the dog is undisciplined, stir crazy and confused. We're not professionals, but we can usually at least get animals composed enough that we can walk them and get them used to accepting a little direction.

Bo seemed to be in a different category of creature. He hurled himself at the kennel door day and night. He seemed never to relax or take a nap in the sunshine. Long leash or short, pinch collar or not, he'd pull with the strength of an ox, leaping on his back legs, making himself and the walker miserable. He seemed not to hear when spoken to; he seemed unable to focus on anything presented for his enjoyment.

None of this was his fault, of course. And although Colorado appreciates high-energy dogs that will go on long hikes or trail rides, no visitor wanted this guy.

A shelter volunteer who's a dog trainer declared Bo a dog in serious need of serious work, and took him in September to be assessed by Sean Hartley, a veteran dog trainer and recently retired SWAT cop whose dog Justice is the No. 2-ranked drug-detection dog in the nation. Hartley now trains trailing dogs for law enforcement and other professionals and trains peanut detection dogs for a recently formed non-profit called Angel Service Dogs. Hartley loves to take on shelter dogs, purebreds or mixed breeds, that are motored by some genetic hard drive that cannot be short-circuited, can only be focused into something productive.

We kept fingers crossed. Bo was not just an out-of-control young dog; he was woefully unfulfilled. Maybe this was his shot.

Last week I visited Bo, now five weeks into training with Hartley. The dog remains as high voltage as ever. "I've never seen this dog sleep. And he's probably the strongest dog I've ever seen," Hartley said with a laugh as Bo blasted outside, whining, sniffing the breeze. But when he was put through his paces — he's training as a trailing dog and will probably go to a handler in law enforcement in a few months — it was clear Bo is content … and excellent at what he does. He followed the scent of footsteps through the grass with unerring accuracy.

"This dog's gonna find some suspects or save some lives," Hartley said.

Bo, Hartley said, is clearly from potent working lines, so he's "tenacious, stubborn and hard-tough," meaning he wants to work so much he'll muscle through harsh elements, stressful situations, impossible terrain and bleeding feet to find what he's after.

Certain lines of hounds can be "fairly mellow by hound standards," but Bo's breeding keeps him in fifth gear all the time. "He's good natured, but he'll never be a touchy-feeling house pet no matter how much he's trained," said Hartley, patting Bo affectionately, something the dog enjoyed for three seconds, then pulled away, distracted by some scent on the wind.

After at least three attempts, he's nobody's pet. But stay tuned. If Hartley's right, you may read some day about a lost child being found by a rangy hound called Bo.

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Dog Training 101
Author: autoincome101

Although pet dogs are often seen as of members of the family, they can also sometimes be seen as obnoxious members of the family or even downright dangerous.

In order to mitigate the annoying, obnoxious, and sometimes dangerous behavioral characteristics that dogs can display, their owners frequently turn to training programs.

Because there are around 65 million pet dogs in the United States, there is a vast amount of behavioral training options out there. There are manuals, books, schools, seminars, training experts, and classes.

Finding the right program for you and your dog is often a matter of economics coupled with the problems your dog may need corrected. Some training programs specialize in getting rid of a certain problem characteristic of a dog such as aggressiveness while other programs may be more geared towards teaching tricks. Furthermore, some programs may be geared towards puppy instruction while others are geared towards teaching dogs of all ages what behavior is acceptable as well as unacceptable for them to do. And some obedience programs may be geared towards teaching smaller dogs how to act while other courses are geared towards teaching larger dogs to put on their best behavior.

Many people find that enrolling your pet in an obedience course can be very helpful in getting rid of the aggressive behavior some dogs engage in. Training is used to help dogs that bite, nip, jump on people, and get into fights with other dogs.

Some people buy the books that teaches them to do it themselves. Or they may sign up for dog behavior classes because their pets demonstrate destructive behavior like digging holes in the yard or chewing up everything they can. Other owners seek out other courses to learn how to keep their dogs from running after cats, children, cars or even the mailman.

Many people use some form of obedience training to help with dogs that just cannot seem to stop barking. And many other people use other techniques to help canine companions that need to be housebroken.

Besides ending problematic behavior in canines, training is often used to teach dogs commands such as "sit," "fetch," "stay," "come," and "roll over." People also enroll their pets in specialized courses to teach their older pets new tricks and teach the younger ones new tricks.

Some trainers can also offer advice on how to deal with common canine health problems such as worms, fleas and bad breath. And behavioral training is sometimes used to help dogs that may have problems like leash fear, travel anxiety, or depression.

Become Skilled At Crate Training
A Puppy All In One Effortless Step
Author: effited

Crate training a puppy is not a form of reprimand, but can in fact help a dog become a well-adjusted animal. Not only is training your pet to nap in a crate effortless, but dogs of all breeds find them comforting, rather like resting in their natural home, a den. In no time the crate will not only become your pet’s number one site to sleep but a place of comfort when actions in the outside world become startling – such as fireworks. Although you may suspect a crate occupies lots of space, you can use the cover as tabletop space.

Keep in mind, to house train a puppy you will need some way to impound him when you are not able to watch their actions. A dog crate is a safe way to confine your puppy for short periods of time through the day and to use as a relaxing bed at night. Crates come in wire mesh as well as plastic. The wire one stores level in a small space; whereas, the plastic crates are more comfy and permitted for airline travel.

Before you bring your new puppy home, choose on a good place for the crate. It should be adjacent to where the family will spend lots of time but you may want to at first put the crate in your bedroom to ease the first few nights of sleeping. A spanking new puppy will miss their litter mates and may well whine the first few nights at their new house. This is not because of the crate, but due to isolation.

If they can spot you at night, not only is this more reassuring for the dog, but you will be attentive when they need to go potty during the night. Eventually you will want to move the enclosure to a more centrally situated place so the puppy can feel incorporated with the “pack” even when they are in their crate. Through crate training, don’t be troubled to move the crate from place to place from day to night. It is uncomplicated for the puppy to grasp this as their “home” even though it is in a different location.

Do not put water in their crate as puppies like to keep their pet furniture area hygienic and yet will habitually spill water when drinking. A safe chew toy or two is a nice addition to the crate as it will give them something to entertain themselves with. You may shut the door at night and when you have to leave the puppy alone, but by and large you should leave the door open for the puppy to have access in and out as they see fit. Do not abandon the puppy in their cage for longer than they can wait to go potty. Through early crate training, this is no more than a few of hours during the day.

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