Bomb-Sniffing Dog Retires

Veteran Reunited with Dogs Given Up for Adoption

SPOKANE, Wash. — A man who gave up his two pet beagles six years ago when he went into Navy is pleasantly stunned to have them back.

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane reports 24-year-old Raymond Behrens didn't expect to see Bullet and Trigger again. He had them since he was 16 but gave them up for adoption in 2004.

After serving as a Navy Seabee in Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan he's back home with a wife and son and went looking for another four-legged friend.

Behrens couldn't believe it when he saw photos of Bullet and Trigger. He got the dogs back from Second Chance Pet Rescue on Thursday for a slobbery reunion.

The dogs had been with a family who decided to give them up because they are moving.

Pet Tales: Cat Finds Entertainment in Strange Places
Garrett Trotter -

This story is about my cat. Her name is Scout. She is like a bouncing puma. You better buckle up, because this story is going to get weird.

When I play with my cat, I usually get a napkin. First, I wad up the napkin. Next, I flick the napkin. Then she runs after the napkin and brings it back.

Sometimes Scout sits on her butt. Her tail is sticking up in front of her. She starts to slap it with her paws. Sometimes she and her mom, whose name is Julia, get into fights.

One time I got out of bed just to look around. I saw the strangest thing. I saw Scout’s mom in her bed. You think that’s strange, I saw Scout lying on top of her mom. That’s what I call strange.

As you can see, that cat is weird. She is the strangest pet you can get. You better get one that isn’t so silly like mine. Do you have a strange pet?

Credit Mark Buehrle for Save After Dog’s Recovery

Debbie Bray of Chesterfield, Mo., watches as her children Jordan (left) and Haley play with Shelby, a Sheltie that was found with an arrow sticking out of her abdomen. | AP

A dog found wandering in the St. Louis area with an arrow sticking from her abdomen has a new home, thanks to the generosity of star White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle, who lives in St. Charles, Mo., volunteered to pay the veterinary bills of Shelby, the stricken Sheltie, after media reports of the pooch’s plight. The bill was almost $3,000.

Shelby’s story drew nearly 80 applications from people interested in taking in the dog whose well-being now rests with the family of Jeffrey Bray, a St. Louis hospital anesthesiologist who was moved by the dog’s ordeal.

Shelby, rescued Dec. 9, managed to bounce back after emergency surgery that fixed damage to her intestines.

After getting a Google e-mail update on Shelby’s recovery, Bray forwarded the photo to his wife, Debbie, and their three children, ages 26, 18, and 16. The middle child begged her mother to apply to adopt the dog, unaware the mom already had done just that.

“We were all thinking the same thing,” Debbie Bray said, noting that the family felt the time was right to take in another pet after their 14-year-old Siberian husky, Nikki, died last Christmas.
The Brays got the nod from Hope Animal Rescues of Alton, where Jackie Spiker said those reviewing the applications felt drawn to the fact that the Brays always had adopted from shelters and “understand the importance of rescues.”

Spiker invited the Brays to visit Shelby last weekend to see how the family and dog interacted. All five family members came.

“They all got down on the floor with her, loved her and gave her kisses,” she said.

Shelby got her new digs this week.

“We feel very fortunate to have Shelby in our family,” Debbie Bray said.

Bomb-Sniffing Dog Crazy Jack
Retiring from Duty at Mineta San Jose Airport
By Lisa Fernandez -

San Jose Police Officer Randy Changco, 50, and K-9 Labrador Crazy Jack,... ( Maria J. Avila Lopez )

All in the name of keeping the skies safe from terrorists, security czars have rolled out high-tech, full-body scans and aggressive passenger pat-downs. They've forced air travelers to strip off their belts, watches, jewelry and shoes -- and are now scrutinizing those insulated coffee cups.

Then, there's Crazy Jack.

He's the aging yellow Labrador retriever who patrols Mineta San Jose International Airport, sniffing unattended bags, luggage, overhead bins and, yes, even passengers' privates.

But after eight years of patrolling Silicon Valley's airport, the 11-year-old bomb-sniffing dog and his handler are calling it quits. They are retiring in less than a month.

And if you ask most passengers, the pair -- especially the furry one -- will be missed.

"I don't like the radiation, I don't like the frisks," Scott Manley of Sunnyvale said on his way to Tampa. "But the dogs? I like the dogs."

Jack, or "Crazy Jack" as he's been nicknamed, was the San Jose airport's first bomb-sniffing dog hired after the Sept. 11 attacks, paid for by the Transportation Security Administration.

Now, Crazy Jack works with three German shepherds, also paid for with TSA money, who are handled by San Jose police officers. His replacement has yet to be found. And it's hard to know whether the new K-9 will steal the hearts at the airport like Crazy Jack has.

On a recent visit to the airport, young and old bent to pet the furry bomb expert.

Crazy Jack even gets smiles and scratches from the normally straight-faced TSA agents who cheerfully shout, "Hi, Jack!" and "Hi, Jack's Dad!" to the dog's handler, San Jose Police Explosion Detection K-9 Officer Randy Changco. Both are set to retire just after New Year's.

"I've done everything," Changco said. "SWAT. Undercover. Vice. Narcotics. This is absolutely my favorite job, though. My partner loves me. He doesn't talk back. He doesn't whine."

Then, Changco paused, and corrected himself: "Well, maybe a little to pat him."

The two work together 10 hours a day, checking to make sure the inside and the outside of the airport are safe. That means roaming the halls, the airplanes, the garbage bins, the bathrooms and the luggage areas looking for explosives. They've never found one. But Changco said they have to train all the time just in case.

He hides all types of dynamite, TNT and other bomb-making agents in warehouses, trucks, airplanes and bags, training Jack's uber-sensitive nose to these odors.

Jack gets excited, sometimes crazy excited (which is how he earned his nickname), when his nose has locked on an explosive smell. He sits when he's found the danger.

When he gets it right, Jack receives a "Good boy!" and is thrown a red, rubber chewy toy. When he's wrong, like the few times he's gone nuts over the smell of bacon or another doggy delicacy, Changco tells him "Phooey."

Changco depends on Jack's nose for guidance. The rest of the airport world depends on Changco's interpretations of his partner's behavior. Changco can usually tell when Jack has locked onto a food smell, or when it's really gunpowder.

Military planes routinely deliver mysterious, potentially explosive packages to San Jose, where Changco tries out new odors on Jack's olfactory nerves.

"No one knows what we do," Changco said. "Even my wife. She just thinks I walk around all day with the dog. But we train all the time. Just like a baseball player. Do you think they don't train on their days off?"

Changco said he feels fortunate there have been no real bombs found at the airport, even though once, several years ago, he was called to board a plane with Jack to sniff out the "weird" looking luggage of five men who checked in together but sat in different seats. Turned out the cases were holding musical instruments.

The pair are often called on outside the airport, too. There was the time in August 2009, when they raced to the San Mateo home of a former Hillsdale High School teenager who set off two explosions at the school. Later, Jack sniffed out more pipe bombs stashed in the teen's room. They were also enlisted to check out the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose to make sure it was safe for the arrivals of then Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Jack usually gets excited on these trips because there's so much gunpowder residue in the air left by the Secret Service agents.

When the Dalai Lama visited, Changco and Jack were part of a team to sweep the area to make sure it was safe. They were called out this fall to sniff out AT&T Park in San Francisco during the World Series, checking out the locker rooms, the bleachers and the media room, looking for bombs.

"I just want to be ready for that one time," Changco said.

Changco is leaving his job in January because he feels he's maxed out on the pension perks with the San Jose police after 25 years. A replacement handler already has been found, though a new dog has not yet been selected. For now, the father of four is not sure what he and Jack will do next -- at least Jack gets to spend his retirement years living at Changco's home.

All Changco knows now is that he's going to miss working at the airport, side by side with the best partner he's ever had.

"Everyone loves Jack," Changco said, as an endless stream of people stopped to pet the lab. "I'm really going to miss this."

DeGeneres 'Donates One Million Pet Meals'
By Jennifer Still,

Ellen DeGeneres has teamed up with Halo brand pet food to donate one million meals to shelter dogs.

The comedienne and talkshow host continued her efforts to raise awareness of pet adoption by working to make sure the animals have healthy food to eat while awaiting a new home.

Halo has now confirmed that it has "delivered" on the goal of one million meals, which was originally announced on Degeneres's show on March 17.

"At Halo we want to promote healthy living for pets and good food is a big part of that. So we agreed to donate one million meals of Halo to shelter pets," she said.

"I mean, imagine, an animal in a shelter, in a cage, lonely - a good meal is kinda all they have to look forward to, until you adopt them!"

Halo partnered on the campaign with non-profit organisations including Freekibble, The Humane Society of the US, ASPCA, Pets for Patriots and The National Canine Cancer Foundation.

Barking Dog Prompts Quick Response to Fire

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A neighbor's barking dog prompted a quick response by firefighters early this morning that prevented a two-alarm garage fire in San Jose from spreading to the attached home, a fire spokesman said.

San Jose fire Capt. Chuck Rangel said the fire on Purple Cliff Court was reported at 3:42 a.m. by residents who were awakened by their barking dog and saw smoke and fire coming from their neighbor's garage.

The woman who owns the house was visiting family members in Salinas, Rangel said.

He said firefighters were able to knock down the blaze by 4:17 a.m. and prevent it from spreading to the woman's house.

The woman rushed to the scene and "was very pleased that there was no damage to her home," Rangel said.

She shed tears of relief and exclaimed, "Thank God - now we'll have a merry Christmas!" he said.

The fire damaged the electrical panel for the garage and house, so the woman's gas and electricity were shut off, Rangel said.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The fire caused heavy damage to the garage and also caused some smoke damage to the first floor of the house, Rangel said.

Cat Missing for Four Years in Garstang is Found

Colin has now been reunited with his owners

A missing cat has been reunited with its owners in time for Christmas - four years after disappearing.

Colin the black cat disappeared shortly after Peter and Maria O'Neill moved from Middlesbrough to Garstang, Lancashire, in August 2006.

Despite attempts to locate the missing moggy the couple eventually gave up hope and moved back to Middlesbrough.

Colin was found in a garden in Garstang and taken to charity Cats Protection, which arranged a microchip scan.

The O'Neills, who originally found Colin as a feral kitten roaming around the Corus steelworks, had updated the charity with their new address in Ingleby Barwick, Middlesbrough.

He was found by a woman in Garstang earlier this month.

Mrs O'Neill said: "I couldn't believe it when I got a call to say Colin had been found. It was really the best Christmas present I could have hoped for.

"When I went to pick Colin up, he was quite nervous and cowering in the corner of a pen. I simply said his name and he instantly recognised me.

"He bounded up to me and stuck his head under my arm. It was just a magical moment and it left me close to tears."

'Made' Christmas

Jeanette Greaves, publicity volunteer at the charity's Preston branch, said: "Everyone at the branch is so thrilled that we were able to reunite Colin with his owners after all this time.

"It has really made our Christmas.

"This case certainly highlights the importance of microchipping and keeping details up to date, as it greatly increases the chances of a happy reunion should a cat ever go missing from his home."

Dog is Best Friend for a Cat in Trouble

Pit bull out for a walk in Troy helps find feline inside box in trash pile

TROY -- Phoebe the pit bull was just sniffing around on her regular morning walk when a meow coming from a pile of trash in an alley got her attention.

''I heard this little meow and walked over to the pile, but Phoebe got right in and then had her nose through a hole in a cardboard box,'' said the dog's caretaker, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Melissa. ''I looked through a little hole made when the kitten apparently tried to escape and saw him inside. I could not believe it.''

Melissa called police and Troy animal control took the small gray cat to the Troy Veterinary Hospital for treatment, said Capt. John Cooney, Troy police spokesman.

Cooney said the box was taped up so the cat could not escape and was put in the trash in the alley between 109th and 110th streets and Third and Fourth avenues for disposal.

''The kitten will most likely have a full recovery from exposure and related ill effects and will be held at the facility pending the results of the investigation,'' Cooney said, adding the kitten ''has been officially named Jack in the Box,'' Cooney said.

Melissa said it took awhile for her to realize someone was apparently trying to kill and dispose of the kitten.

''It was a sickening feeling,'' Melissa said. ''I was disgusted and shocked all at once. I'm glad we found him.''

Troy police detectives are conducting a criminal investigation and Cooney said they are hoping to gather information from the public.

Top 7 Tips For Having a Healthy, Happy Pet

Of course you love your pets and you want to give them the very best so that the live long and happy lives. Here are 7 good and easy tips to help you do just that:

1. Spay or neuter – These procedures will not only save you from unwanted puppies or kittens, but also help protect your beloved pet from cancers and infections.

2. Vaccinate – It’s as important to pets as it is to humans. And, yes, this means indoor dogs and cats, too.

3. Visit your Vet – Schedule regular checkups with your vet even if your pet is healthy. It never hurts to do preventive care.

4. Exercise – Keep them moving. They love it and it stimulates blood flow and keeps muscles and joints flexible and strong. So get out and walk with them. Let’s face it – Most of us can use a little more exercise, too.

5. Feed your dog dog food and your cat cat food – There is a good reason that the grocery aisle has two sections – one for dogs and one for cats – and that the bags are clearly marked. With pictures, even. Each animal has specific dietary needs and the best foods meet these needs. Add supplements to the food to promote breed specific issues such as joint and muscle pain. No candy or prohibited “people food.”

6. Beware of the elements – If it’s too cold or too hot for you to be comfortable, then it is too cold or hot for your pet. Their wild brethren may be able to stand the worst weather, but these are pets. Limit exposure to the worst conditions and watch them at home to see if they are shaking or panting.

7. Shower them with love – A happy pet is a healthy pet.

I hope you enjoyed this. Here is something else you might like. A quality and inexpensive portable bed — rollaway, inflatable, folding or hideaway — can be convenient for travel, kids and overnight guests. Choose the best design that fits your needs and lifestyle at

Pets Need Special Care in Winter

MARION - Complaints and concerns about animals being outside in extreme temperatures peak during winter and summer.

Marion Area Humane Society co-manager John Severns, who also is a humane agent, said people call about dogs not being properly sheltered or being outside too long.

A second humane agent is soon to be sworn in, so Marion County will have two agents.

For now, Severns is charged with investigating alleged cases.

A dog needs at least a dog house, not a makeshift shelter like an overturned truck bed, he said.

"It has to be suitable for the animal. Not too large so it can hold in heat in the dog house. No bigger than for them to stand up, turn around, and stretch out," he said.

Further insulation such as straw or woodchip bedding is important as well.

"Never put hay down. It often has skin mites and they can be allergic," he said.

Bedding should be kept clean and dry. "If it's wet, it will suck out body heat," Severns aid.

When investigating a complaint, if the dog is a husky tied in the back yard running around, as opposed to a dog not suited for such climates, he isn't quite as concerned unless the dog has no shelter.

"A little Chihuahua or Maltese running around on a chain is a problem," he said. "But a husky still has to have access to shelter."

Dog owners should check pets' ears and feet for ice.

"Make sure they're not getting frostbite," Severns said.

Even a house dog that goes outside just to use the restroom should be have their ears and feet checked.

"If they're outside all the time or a large amount of time, make sure their house is away from the prevailing wind," he said.

In Marion County, that usually means the house should face south or east.

Plastic or wood housing is the best, and bowls should not be wood or metal, which tend to freeze a lot faster.

Large buckets of water still freeze if they're not insulated.

"Dig a hole. Put it down in the ground and insulate it a little bit especially with that ground temperature," Severns said.

"If at all possible, bring the dog inside. If you're working on crate training, keep it on a schedule for that," he said.

Grooming plays a big part in regulating a pet's body temperature, and keeping them groomed properly in the winter keeps the heat in, and in the summer lets the heat out.

Pets also burn more calories in the winter, especially if they're outside pets, he said.

"Up their food 30 percent of their calorie intake," Severns said. "Just so they're putting on enough to stay warm.

Complaints about a loose dog should be directed to the dog warden, but humane complaints such as improper shelter or not enough food or water should be directed to the humane society, at 740-389-6548. They also may directed to police or the sheriff.

25 Top iPhone Pet Apps
by Paw Nation Staff

Did Santa bring you an iPad, iPhone or iTouch for Christmas this year? You must've been a very good boy or girl! And, because just like Santa, we love to give give give, here are the pet-focused apps you just can't miss. Sure, we've mentioned some of them before, but now that you've gotten your shiny new toy, it's time to download. Though most of these apps are compatible with iPhones, iTouches and iPads, be sure to check before downloading to make sure the app is compatible with your device.

Paw Nation
Download this one first, as the truly dedicated animal lover needs up-to-date news about pets, daily doses of cute pictures, dispatches from the lives of other pet owners, roundups of pet stories from across the web and more. Our app is cute, easy to use and basically perfect. Free.

This screen cleaner is pure eye candy. It's a selection of eight animals that appear to be licking your screen clean from the inside. 99¢.

Game for Cats
If you are willing your share your iPad with your feline buds, this app lets cats chase lasers and mice by pawing at the screen. Free.

Pet Dossier
This pet lifestyle organizer not only helps you keep track of your dog or cat's key information, but also your favorite reptile or bird. You can even e-mail the info stored in it straight to your pet sitter, so that he or she stays up to date. $1.99; 25% goes to the ASPCA.

Dog Squeaky Toy
This app offers a small selection of basic squeaky toy sounds when you shake your phone. It's fun because -- trust us -- your dog is going to first look at you like you're nuts and then glance at your phone and wonder why it's not shaped like a ball. Free.

Cats HD
The enhanced version of the iKnow Cats app gives you more than 300 cat photos, a breed quiz, a breed guide and more. $2.99.

With the Petfinder app, you can search more than 290,000 pets from more than 13,000 shelters and rescue groups. Bookmark your favorites, share pet profiles on social networking sites and read adoption stories so heartwarming they might just inspire you to take the plunge with that puppy you've had your eye on. Free.

Zoo Sounds
This kid-friendly application allows you to surround yourself with the calls of the wild -- including lions, elephants, seals and more. 99¢.

Fido Factor
This app determines your location and tells you the closest restaurants, parks, pet stores, shops and even hotels that are dog friendly. The app allows you to log in via Facebook or create a Fido Factor account so you can save your favorite locations, add reviews and even post pooch pics. Free.

If you enjoyed the free squeak app mentioned above, iSqueek takes it further with 18 toys an 18 sounds -- and you see the toy being virtually squeezed. $1.99.

Rate My Puppy
This addictive, kid-friendly app lets you upload cute photos of your pet, rate other people's pets, enter contests and more. It's a "10." Just like your adorable new labradoodle. Free.

Dog Park Finder Plus
You're out somewhere with your canine companion and you see that look in his eye -- it's time to run around! But where? This app helps you find not only dog parks but also dog-friendly beaches and hiking areas. $1.99.

Pet Notebook
This app allows you to enter ID information such as birth date, microchip number, medications and rearrangable lists and photos. It even works for multiple pets. 99¢.

Talking Tom Cat
One of the iTunes app store's most popular downloads in 2010, this virtual pet repeats what you say, purrs when you pet him and shows his anger if you pull his tail. Though there is a free version, the additional features are worth the upgrade. 99¢.

All Pets Radio
So you love pets, eh? Do you really love pets? As in, you want to listen to news, tips and interesting tidbits on all types of pets at all hours of the day? Then this streaming radio station is for you. And your dog. And cat. And iguana. Free.

Shake & Bark
Pedigree's Shake & Bark is one of those apps you use to show non-iPhone users how cool your iPhone is. You upload your dog's photo and record its bark, and then when you shake your phone it barks! It's like having your pup in your pocket. Free.

Pet Acoustics
Anyone whose dog has ever raced from across the house at the slightest crinkle of a potato-chip bag knows that animals hear things differently from humans. That's why Pet Acoustics created music specifically for the hearing sensitivities of your pet, to calm and soothe your fur friend anytime, anywhere. This app includes music to relax your dog, cat or horse (yes, horse!) in the vet's office or wherever you need Snowdrop to chill out. $1.99.

Pet Playpen
In this cute Tamagotchi-like game, players adopt and care for virtual pets. You can choose a cat, dog, penguin, rabbit or rock. 99¢.

This app from the Humane Society of the United States delivers videos of pet rescues, news stories and more. Free.

Good Dog Training Clicker
Though you always forget to take your training clicker to the dog park, we bet you never forget to take your phone. That's why we love that you can put a training clicker on your iPhone. It also includes referenced information from basic training, to tricks, to reward/punishment and even harness and collar info. Free.

Show Dogs
If you loved our interview and gallery from the book "Show Dogs: a Photographic Breed Guide," by Kate Lacey, then check out this iPad app that gives you all 170 dogs from the book. $4.99.

Comic Touch
Everyone has taken a photo that warrants a silly caption. With this app, you can add thought bubbles to any pic, distort images with fun house-mirror effects and share them on various social-networking sites. It's loads of fun for dog and human photos alike. A free version allows you to try before you buy. $2.99.

DogBook is Facebook for dogs. Build your dog's profile, find its friends and post status updates like "Just dug a big hole in the backyard. Hope no one notices!" or "Itz hard 2 type wit deez big pawz." DogBook is free and links up with your Facebook profile, so you can brag about your pet on your own wall, too. Free.

Dog Translator
Have you ever wondered what your dog was trying to tell you when he barks? Dog Translator is a novelty app that attempts to do just what its name suggests: translate your dog's bark. Simply record your dog barking and the app interprets what he might be saying. Such bark translations include, "Five-second rule. If you're gone for five seconds, your food is mine" and "I may be cute, but I'm also ferocious!" Free.

Pet Puppy Lite
Pet Puppy Lite is the free version of Pet Puppy. We played this game until we were in danger of spending more time with our virtual dogs than our real ones! Pet Puppy is aimed at kids, but it's fun for adults as well. The full version has more accessories, toys and food you can obtain for your virtual pet, and you can link it to your Facebook profile to let everyone know how you and your dog are doing. With no levels to achieve or villains to face, Pet Puppy features a design that is simple, but nonetheless fun. Free.

Dog Gives Birth To 17 Puppies
by Ron Hogan -

Some dogs, like Ramona Wegemann’s Rhodesian Ridgeback Etana, are used to giving birth to large litters of puppies. Etana’s first pregnancy yielded eight puppies. However, no one was prepared for what happened with Etana’s second pregnancy. After a staggering 26 hours of labor, Etana the Rhodesian Ridgeback gave birth to a litter of 17 puppies, all of whom are healthy and happy. The dogs are currently eating their owners out of house and home in Ebereschenhof, Germany.

Such a large litter usually means that some of the puppies won’t live very long, but not Etana’s brood of eight boys and nine girls. Said the dog’s 32-year-old owner, “All of our puppies survived. This is incredible and wonderful. The birth of the puppies was very special. All puppies were born naturally, no cesarean was necessary.”

However, what has been necessary is an insane amount of work. To ease the strain on Etana, Wegemann and her husband have been assisting the dog with some bottle feeding. Wegemann has quit her job as a freelance animal psychologist, and her husband has used all of his vacation time to help care for the critters. Their hard work has paid off with a litter of healthy baby critters. Wegemann hopes to get $1300 per puppy, but on one condition: her dogs go to families, not breeders.

Tips To Buy The Right Toy For Your Pet
by seolinkvine -

If you’re a dog owner you probably want the best for your dog. To make playtime for your dog more enjoyable you might want to consider buying him/her a few toys. But what kinds of toys? Are there specific toys that you should have in mind when looking? Of course there isn’t one rule that you should be following when looking for dog toys. But there are a few considerations that you should make if you don’t want the toy that you bought to just be laying around in the corner playing with cobwebs and dust rather being played with your dog.

Here are some things to consider:

Choose the right sized toys: Choosing the size of the toy is important for your dog. Choosing a very big toy for a smaller dog can experience stress instead of fun and choosing a smaller sized toy for a bigger dog might induce throttling. Keep the size of your dog in mind when buying the toy. Many toys actually have sizes listed on the package, if you are not sure how to make sense of the specifications, just doing a visual comparison of the toy and the size of your dogs mouth will be enough.

Purpose: Most of the toys for dogs that you will be able to find have a purpose other than offering fun. Chew toys for example can be good for puppies since it will help them deal with their growing teeth, other toys like balls for example, are good for exercise. So consider the particular purpose of the toy before buying first.

Observe your dog: Dogs have various play styles. Some tend to enjoy chewing and others tend to enjoy chasing. Base the toy that you will be buying on the style of your dog. If your dog tends to enjoy chewing more pick long-lasting toys designed for chewing. On the other hand if your dog prefers to chase, choose bouncy throw toys instead.

Inspect the toy: You have to be sure that no matter how much the toy gets worn, no separate parts will come off. This is a choking risk for dogs. Also see how well the toy can be cleaned. For most part, the label will tell you all that you need to know, but if doesn’t you can ask your pet supply clerk.

Explore your options: While it is important that you get quality and safe products for your dog, it is also important that you be able to save as much as you can in return. Just because a toy is expensive it does not mean that there is no other toy like it somewhere else for a cheaper price. So shop around for a bit and you might be able to find the same brand or demand same toy, at a discount.

Ask Dog Lady:
Is it OK to Sleep with Your Dog?
By Monica Collins - GateHouse News Service

Dear Dog Lady,

I’ve heard that it’s not correct to have a dog sleep in the bed with you. But regardless of how many beds or blankets I give for my little one to sleep on while on the floor, when I wake up in the morning, she’s curled up beside me on the bed. Should I just cave in and let her sleep on the bed with me? Why aren’t dogs supposed to sleep on the bed?


A: What mutt manners guide tells you not to sleep with your dog? It’s doubtful there is such a heretical tome. Many pet keepers would be lost without darlings dozing beside them. A dog in the bed is one of the great pleasures of canine companionship – for humans and for these pack animals we bring into our homes and yearn to snuggle with and keep close.

Oh sure, some naysayers wag their fingers and tell you it’s not healthy to lie down with a dog, that you’re bringing all sorts of yucky germs into your bed. (Let’s not go there to imagine how many more germs you pick up from sleeping with stray humans). Also, canine behaviorists warn the practice can delude a dog into feeling entitled to the pillow land. The dog could become aggressive about guarding the territory. This is very true, but you can control behavior by “inviting” the dog on the bed and ordering the dog “off” if your pet shows any signs of possession. Remember, it’s your bed and you decide whether you want to let sleeping dogs lie.

Dear Dog Lady,

My boyfriend Chuck thinks it would be a neat idea to go to a trendy hotel for New Year’s with his dog Butch and me. Butch is this bullmastiff who’s the size of a farm animal. I’m wary of the dog, although I pretend to like him when Chuck’s around. Butch has never done anything except ignore me, but the beast looks very scary. I’m afraid he could turn on me in a second.

Apparently, the hotel is hosting a dog-friendly event on New Year’s Day. Chuck wants the three of us to go and celebrate. I gritted my teeth and told him it sounded like fun. I lied. I dread spending time with my boyfriend and the beast. Can you think of a good excuse to get out of it?


A: Sounds like you’re not too crazy about Chuck, either. If you were wild about the boy, no bullmastiff would ruin the party.

Dog Lady suggests a novel excuse: The truth. Tell Chuck you don’t want to put on the dog for New Year’s. See how he reacts. Your candor may open the way for the two of you to discuss the relationship because, really, at some point you’ve got to come clean about your feelings about Butch – and Chuck.

Even if you didn’t have a problem with the bullmastiff, it is probably best to avoid a trendy indoor mutt mixer because, if truth be told, dogs don’t know how to behave at these fetes. Tails and cocktails events usually disintegrate into a yippy-yappy bowser brawl. Canines are social creatures, but they’re not party animals. They become antsy when forced to engage in polite patter instead of following their instincts and roaming freely. Imagine if humans could do the same.

“And I heard her woof softly as she rode out of sight, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.” Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook.

Pets Have Immune Systems Too

BOULDER, Colo.-- When a pet gets ill, it can be a stressful, expensive ordeal for a family. What many don't know is that animals can get weakened immune systems and that many of the same approaches used by humans can be applied in order to prevent illness and quicken recovery time for their furry friends.

Animals are equipped with both innate and acquired immune systems that work to ward off both known and foreign invaders to the body. And, just like humans, stress, cold temperatures and injury can weaken animals' immune systems. This is especially important for young animals when building up immune systems, specifically those coming from shelters and puppy mills, which are known for having immune stress that can cause illnesses such as respiratory infections.

Steve Sanderlin, DVM, a Boulder, Colo. veterinarian who is trained in holistic animal practices, recommends the following to keep your companion safe and healthy this winter:

1.Avoid and identify Hypothermia: Even if your pet likes the cold and snow, Sanderlin recommends monitoring the amount of time they are outside during the winter and that pet owners should be on the watch for hypothermia in the nose and paws. Signs of hypothermia in a pet include blue extremities (if they are not covered in fur), shivering and lethargic or disoriented behavior. If you suspect hypothermia, bring your pet to a local animal clinic immediately.

2.Protect them outdoors: Protect your pet's paws in cold conditions. Snow and ice can cause cuts/lacerations, frostbite and painful accumulation on their toes. It is a good idea to either invest in booties for the pet if they are outside during the winter or check their paws for snow and ice each time they come inside. Lacerations and pain can help weaken your pet's immune system, making them more susceptible to illness during the winter.

3.Probiotic Immune Supplement: Many pets -- dogs, cats, rabbits and even horses -- respond well to taking the same probiotic immune supplements their humans take. Your veterinarian can tell you the proper dose for supplements such as Del-Immune V® that can be put into their food to support their immune system. Del-Immune V is particularly helpful when an animal has an ear infection, eye infection, respiratory infection or a skin condition and has been proven to significantly speed up recovery time.

"We have worked with several large and small pet veterinarians all over the country who have reported success in using Del-Immune to support pets' immune systems," said John Sichel, president of Pure Research Products, the makers of Del-Immune V. "From daily health maintenance to support on serious illnesses such as cancer, Del-Immune V has helped speed up recovery time and increase quality of life."

About Del-Immune

Del-Immune V®, manufactured by Lyoferm Inc (Indiana) and distributed by Boulder-based Pure Research Products LLC (PRP), is a probiotic-derived nutritional supplement that provides immediate immune system support. Del-Immune represents the culmination of 30 years of research originated by Cold War-era Soviet Bloc scientists and Russian military bio-warfare troop protection programs. PRP obtained exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute and market the unique Lactobacillus rhamnosus (DV strain) from its Russian partners in 2002. Del-Immune V is used by thousands and recommended by doctors around the world. For more information, please visit

My Pet World: You Can't Force Fido to Adore You
By Steve Dale -

Q: How can I get my puppy to be more attached to me? She's a mixed breed we adopted two months ago from a shelter. She's 9 months old. It's not like she dislikes our family but she doesn't seem madly in love with us like other dogs have been. I don't see Daisy standing in front of a train to give her life for us. — D.H., Cyberspace

A: "Give the honeymoon more time," says dog trainer Victoria Schade, author "Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer's Secrets for Building a Better Relationship." "Is the dog appreciating physical contact, or maybe you're making too much contact for this individual dog. I mean, you didn't even date first. Instead of trying too hard, let the dog come to you. And think about speaking softly and offering soft massages."

A great way to bond with a dog is an upbeat training class, adds Schade, of Bucks County, Pa.. You're having fun together and working for a common goal, even if that goal is simply walking without the pup pulling you. Speaking of fun, have a good time doing what your dog likes, be that playing fetch or pulling a wiggle toy.

"It's not likely, and unpopular to talk about, but it's possible you may not be the right family for Daisy," Schade adds. Some dogs can't tolerate young children. They may never be aggressive but they just don't like kids, no matter what you do. But, first, try to have fun, don't think too much, and give the relationship more time." My only additional advice: Be careful at train tracks.

Q: My 9-year-old Sheltie recently began to eat hymnals and novels. At first, I thought he was after the glue in the binding, but then Charley began to destroy sheet music. I took him to the vet to discuss the problem. The exam only revealed protein in Charley's urine. The vet didn't know what to do except give him steroids. Now, we've also caught our 4-year-old Sheltie in the act. Any advice? — C.W., Las Vegas

A: I doubt steroids would help much, and might not be a good idea given your dog's potential kidney problems. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, chair of the behavior clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Mass., says the protein in the urine may indicate kidney disease, which may go hand-in-glove with anemia, which may cause the dog's indiscriminate appetite. Speak to your vet about the suspected kidney issue, and see if treatment for this problem lessens Charley's appetite for paper.

It's unclear if the problem occurs both when you're home and when you're away. If it crops up solely when you're gone, it's likely due to separation anxiety. It may be your younger dog is becoming anxious because Charley is anxious, or more likely, the younger dog is simply mimicking the behavior.

If the paper chewing occurs only when you're in the room, this could be an attention-seeking behavior. Dogs can sometimes be easily "trained" to do the strangest things just because we offer attention, even if that's only reprimanding the pet.

Dodman says other possibilities to consider are physical causes, including digestion or bowel issues, and rarely, seizures. If your dogs are actually ingesting the paper, both could develop a gastrointestinal obstruction, so do your best to keep paper out of reach.

This might be a problem for a veterinary behaviorist, or member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior,

Q: I moved to Nevada from Illinois in July, bringing my 8-year-old cat with me. Rug never previously ventured outside, but he got out recently and is lost. I'm devastated. How can I best get the word out about my lost black cat? — S.S., North Las Vegas, Nev.

A: I received your e-mail about five days ago, and my hope is you've found your beloved cat. I also hope Rug is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped, which greatly enhances your chances of finding him. If Rug is chipped and also happens to be enrolled in the popular HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service (, call to report him lost and HomeAgain will issue alerts via email and the new HomeAgain iPhone app, which gets the word out to an army of volunteers nationwide.

Sadly, your situation is proof that indoor-only cats do get out. This happens more often after a move.

Don't just call all area shelters, but also visit them. Don't depend on a volunteer to identify your black cat out of many black cats in the shelter. Post lost cat notices with a recent photo of Rug and offer a reward. Put them up at local grocery stores, coffee shops, groomers, veterinary clinics and pet stores, even on no parking signs.

If you're on Twitter, send out persistent tweets. Set up a Facebook page for your lost pet. Check out HomeAgain's Guide to Find Lost Indoor Cats at

(Gary MacPhee, director of the HomeAgain Business Unit at Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, contributed to this answer.)

Q: My cat pulls out his fur in clumps and licks himself constantly. The result is a huge hairball problem. I've had him to three veterinarians, and each time prednisolone was prescribed. This helped some at first but is now totally ineffective. My cat is adorable, and I feel so bad for him. Can you help? — J.A., Clearwater, Fla.

A: If you haven't already done so, make sure that a fungal infection and parasites, especially fleas, have been ruled out as possible causes of the problem. Even indoor cats, especially where you live, can get fleas.

"Allergies could be the issue," says feline specialty veterinarian Dr. Drew Weigner, of Atlanta, GA. He suggests you see a feline veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist who might be able to pinpoint the allergy involved, or if your cat even has an allergy. An unlikely possibility is your cat is licking compulsively.

Also, ask your vet about treating the hairballs. While this won't solve your cat's underlying problem, making hairballs less frequent will help him feel more comfortable until you pinpoint the problem.

Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.

The Day the White Wagtail Came to Florida
By RONNIE BLAIR | The Tampa Tribune

This white wagtail spotted at Moon Lake Park in Pasco County in 2007 was the 500th bird species recorded in Florida.Photo by David Faintich.

MOON LAKE - Really, they never should have stopped in Moon Lake Park.

The 7-acre park in west Pasco County didn't make the list of Florida birding sites that David Pierce, David Faintich and Dency Kahn of St. Louis used as their guide as they motored through the state on March 18, 2007, spotting snail kites, Bachman's sparrows and other birds along the way.

The trio decided to swing into the park anyway. Before the day ended, their decision would cause a stir in the Tampa Bay area birding community and make Florida birding history.

Almost at the moment they drove into the park, a bird flew onto the beach, its back to them.

While Pierce parked the car, Faintich and Kahn watched a minute or two before the bird turned to reveal a black bib.

It was a jaw-dropping moment.

"Wagtail," Faintich shouted.

The bird was a white wagtail, a species more at home in Europe and Asia than North America. Faintich knew the bird because he once saw one in Spain. Kahn saw one in Japan years ago. Pierce had never witnessed a white wagtail until that day.

Nearly four years later, Pierce is still mystified by its appearance.

"Somehow that bird made it across the Atlantic," he said last week from his home in Missouri.

Faintich, now deceased, took photographs and shot video. The birders knew instantly their sighting was significant.

They didn't know just how significant.

Until that day in Moon Lake Park, no one had ever seen a white wagtail in Florida.

Up to that point, 499 species of birds had been recorded in the Sunshine State. The white wagtail preening itself by the shores of Moon Lake was species No. 500.

"It was certainly a bird that was lost in its migration," said Ken Tracey, a former president of the West Pasco Audubon Society. "It was only off by a continent or two."

* * * * *
At this time of year, Tracey and other birders throughout the Tampa Bay area participate in the Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count. Different chapters hold the count on different days, but the count must fall between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

Audubon members record how many eagles, sparrows, egrets and other species they spot. They feed that information into an Audubon Society database.

Always there is hope to stumble across something rare.

Bill Pranty, a Bayonet Point resident who authored "A Birder's Guide to Florida," said eight Christmas Bird Counts happen in the Tampa Bay area. Some already took place. The West Pasco Audubon Society's count is scheduled Tuesday. One is planned Jan. 2 in Tampa.

While anything is possible, Pranty is doubtful anyone will spot anything to match the find Pierce, Faintich and Kahn made on a routine day in March nearly four years ago.

It was almost inevitable that, if any knowledgeable birders were going to stumble across that wagtail, they would be out-of-towners, he said.

"Local birders don't go to Moon Lake Park because there's nothing there," Pranty said.

The three Missourians knew they couldn't keep their find to themselves. They tracked down a birder named Murray Gardler, who agreed to meet them and review their photographs.

Gardler confirmed the identification and spread the word. Soon, about 15 to 20 birders headed to Moon Lake Park in hopes of viewing the bird.

The white wagtail was gone.

"Some of the folks, I think, thought we were nuts," Pierce said.

* * * * *
Still, there was the photographic and video evidence. Luckily for birders, and for the reputations of the three visitors from St. Louis, the wagtail showed up again the next day and again on March 22.

Pranty videotaped the wagtail and jotted down his observations. His video can be seen on YouTube. He wrote an article that appeared in the Florida Field Naturalist, detailing the bird's behavior as it foraged for food on the beach and plucked dragonflies from the air.

"It often uttered a two-note call, accented on the second syllable, that was reminiscent of an American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)," Pranty wrote. "Other behaviors observed included preening, scratching its head, resting, defecating and frequently scanning the sky, presumably for aerial predators."

It was happenstance that the white wagtail became Florida bird species No. 500. Earlier that month, species No. 499, a loggerhead kingbird, was seen at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West.

Today the number of verified species in Florida has inched up to 508.

The white wagtail didn't hang around long. Like a phantom, the bird put on its brief show and then disappeared.

Pierce suspects he knows what happened. Based on the advice of Tracey, the Missourians originally had gone to west Pasco in search of a short-tailed hawk. Other types of hawks also soar over the area.

"I think that bird got taken and killed by a predator," Pierce said.

The white wagtail spotting remains the highlight of Pierce's life as a birder. The Missouri birding group he hangs out with now calls itself the Wagtail Senior Birding Club.

Several Tampa Bay area birders who visited Moon Lake Park in the days following the initial sighting also caught glimpses and could add the bird to their life lists.

All because three Missourians happened to stop by the day the white wagtail came to Florida.

Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers

Kroger Recalls Cat, Dog Food
in 19 States Due to Toxin Risk
By Dan Hart -

Kroger Co., the largest U.S. grocery-store chain, recalled kitten, cat and dog food sold in stores in 19 U.S. states because of the possible presence of aflatoxin, a toxic substance, in the products.

The brands are Pet Pride, Old Yeller and Kroger Value food sold in packages ranging in weight from 3 pounds to as much as 50 pounds, the company said in a statement.

Aflatoxin is a toxic substance created by a fungus on corn and other crops that can result in sluggishness, lethargy, severe and bloody diarrhea in animals that eat the tainted food, Kroger said.

The recall affects Kroger stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia, the company said.

Baker’s, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Gerbes, Hilander, Jay C, Owen’s, Pay Less and Scott’s stores in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska also are affected, Kroger said.

Can Pet Ownership Affect Your Earnings Potential?
Author: Susan Bearman -

A recent survey conducted by Career Builder, an online job-hunting site, looked at the connection between careers and pet ownership with some surprising findings. The online, independent survey of more than 2,300 full-time employees found that:

•dog owners were most likely to hold senior management positions (e.g., CEO, company president), and were also drawn to careers such as professor, nursing, IT, the military and entertainment.

•snake and reptile owners were most likely to report six-figure earnings, and were drawn to careers such as engineering, social work, marketing/PR, writing/editing, and police work.

•bird owners reported being most satisfied with their jobs, which tending to be in fields such as advertising, sales, construction and administration.

•cat owners seemed drawn to careers in medicine, real estate, science/med tech, machine operations, and care taking.

•fish owners were found most often pursuing careers in human resources, finance, hotel and leisure professions, farming/fishing/forestry, and transportation.

Pet ownership brings great joy to millions of Americans, and other studies have reported health benefits. I'm not sure this survey really proves anything, but I think it might be time to buy a snake or a bearded dragon.

Survey Shows Pets Good Source of Therapy
Edmonton Journal

A survey conducted by a pet-food manufacturer has established that it's a good thing pets don't understand the strange, non-barking noises that inexplicably come out of their owners' mouths. If they did, they'd have a lot of really juicy material to tell the neighbours, and maybe they'd need pets themselves to talk to after a tough day.

The survey conducted for Purina found humans tell their darkest secrets their pets, ask them advice, and often find them more reliable and generally preferable companions. As any owner would tell you, the pet is also often a conduit to greater interaction with human beings. Who knows how many lasting relationships have blossomed after an introduction imposed by the canine need to sniff the nether regions of new dog acquaintances?

Most interesting, however, is the notion that we get along with other people better after learning from our animals values such as kindness and generosity. Sadly, there was no indication of what lessons are learned from fish. Or, thought-provokingly, from the modern obligation to stoop and scoop.

Pet Parade: Fat Pets (And Humans)
United Press International

A recent trip to the vet confirmed what we had suspected -- both of our dogs are getting fat.

The little beasties are not obese or anything like that but they both are overweight, although the taller one looks to be in perfect shape.

The dogs, a male and a female terrier, each clocked in at 26 pounds, slightly more than their ideal weight of 18 to 22 pounds. But a couple of pounds is a lot as a percentage of body mass for a small dog.

We had suspected the younger dog, a 2-year-old Welsh terrier, was larding up but it didn't become apparent until we had the dogs groomed for Thanksgiving. Sure enough she was kind of rolly-poly below the chest.

Now these dogs eat a lot of dog treats, but that's mainly because we trained them with techniques that reward good behavior. Maybe a whack with a rolled up newspaper would have been as effective but we took the positive reinforcement route and have been rewarded with two well-behaved dogs.

The 2-year-old still acts like a pup and the 8-year-old is as playful as one, especially when treats are in the offing.

We only feed the dogs once a day -- in the evening. I once read you shouldn't feed dogs in the morning because they'll just lie around and sleep all day. So we feed them in the evening -- after they've lain around and slept all day.

Both are self-feeders, we can fill up their bowls and they eat what they want and snack on the rest. I'm pretty sure it's the snacks that are the cause of the weight gain, so it looks like smaller daily rations and fewer table scraps will be in order in 2011.

Overweight pets are susceptible to the same chronic, life-shortening illnesses as humans: heart and kidney disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes.

We would never feed them burgers, doughnuts or candy, although I once had a dog that was crazy about stuffed pizza.

Terriers, golden retrievers, Keeshonds, German shepherds, poodles, schnauzers, Bassett hounds and miniature breeds are predisposed to canine diabetes, South Texas Veterinary Specialists veterinarian Ronald Walton, told KENS-TV, San Antonio.

"The warning signs of a diabetic dog is a loss of weight, frequent, sometimes uncontrollable urination, and an increase in appetite and thirst." Animal diabetes can require either pills or a daily insulin shot.

Just like human diabetics, their blood sugar should be tested at least twice a day. Diabetes is the No. 1 health reason for pet euthanasia.

The Association for Pet Obesity estimates more than half of all U.S. pets are overweight or obese.

The prescription is simple -- even during the holiday season -- restrict calories by feeding a little bit less each day and step up the exercise until you can see the weight coming off. Sound familiar? The same advice goes for pet owners.

And that also goes for fad diets.

Some people blame allergies to grains like rice for pet digestive problems and put their dogs or cats on a mainly raw meat diet. We try for a more balanced diet.

Thank goodness we're only talking about a few pounds here. A former co-worker had a 20 pound tabby cat she named Gluttony. I don't remember how long the cat lived, but I'm sure its lifespan could have been longer.

"People might use feeding their pets as a vent for their emotional needs," Dr. Bonnie Blake of Boswell's Animal Clinic in Columbus, Ohio, told The Columbus Dispatch. "They view their pets as equal and want them to eat what they eat or as often as they eat. That's not how God designed the dog."

Americans tend to feed their dogs a reward when a walk or run outside might be more what they need.

"Walking a dog regularly can be a great way for both of you to stay fit, and it is a fun activity as well," said Sandy Amass, associate dean of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. "When the weather turns colder it is easy to want to stay indoors, but it is just as important to keep exercising."

So every family member in this house will be shedding a few pounds this winter -- Happy New Year.

Is It Possible To Get Your Dog To Stop Whining?

Your brand new puppy just came home with you but won’t stop whimpering, and the noise is driving you crazy. Those living around you have begun to voice concern, and your patience is wearing thin. Sending the dog away is not your preference, though you do wish to stop the dog from whining. What methods can be used to accomplish such a task? Don’t worry; stopping your dog from whining is possible with a few clever tricks. By making an unpleasant noise which only the dog can hear, there is an electrical device which will help with the undesirable behavior. Another option used to stop a dog from whining is to be unwavering in your commands to stop anytime the dog commences the noise. This requires you to be there as often as possible when your pup is whining so that your dog can learn to stop whining and start being quite. There are other ways to help your dog learn how to stop whining, as well as how to stop other problem behaviors, but this article will focus on the devices and system already mentioned here.


To make your dog stop whining, there are electircal devices like the one mentioned above which doesn’t hurt the dog and is inexpensive. Their function is simply to create a noise that the dog will find unappealing. Consider the effectiveness of a device that presented you with a raucous, unpleasant sound whenever a bad dietary choice was made. You would very quickly stop eating cake because you would not want to hear that noise! These clever devices being spoken of are based on this very fact to make your dog stop whining. Of course there are other ways to be sure to make your dog stop whining, especially if you don’t like the idea of subjecting your dog to noises that will bother it, or are afraid your pet might be harmed by them.

Predictable Teaching

Another option for ensuring that the dog stop whining is the owner’s presence whenever the whining begins. Should the whining begin, emit a raucous sound or issue an admonishment. Never, ever hit your beloved dog. Regardless of what your puppy is doing, hitting her is never the answer. Rather than spanking your dog, there are other, better methods to make it stop whining or displaying other behaviors you don’t like. One solution is to create the distracting noise by slapping your hands together, or a rolled up newspaper against your hand. Either will work to distract your dog and help him stop whining or engaging in any other annoying or destructive behavior. The reason these methods are so effective is because dog’s ears are actually very sensitive and your dog will not like any of these noises. Be consistent and do this every time your dog begins to whine.

Soon enough your dog will stop whining; you and your children will then have the puppy of your dreams.

Canadians Put More Trust in Pets Than People: Survey
By NEIL HAESLER, Postmedia News

Canadian pet owners would rather deal with their furry friends than with other people, according to a recent poll by Harris/Decima.

The survey revealed that 53 per cent of Canadians who own pets find them more reliable than people. Ninety per cent of Canadians talk to their pets and one-third have confided their deepest, darkest secrets to Fido or Kitty.

According to the survey, conducted for the Purina pet products company, pet owners look to their animals for all manner of interactions, including using them as confidants, matchmakers, personal trainers and possibly even therapists.

Shiri Joshua, a psychotherapist who specializes in animal-human relationships, agrees that pets are good friends for people.

"There are many reasons why people trust their pets, but what's really important is that we learn from their behaviour," Joshua said in a statement yesterday.

"We can honour what they teach us by offering the same gifts to the people in our lives -namely, by being kinder as human beings toward one another."

According to the survey, 61 per cent of pet owners say their neighbours talk to them more when they are with their pet, and about 41 per cent say their pets have helped them begin a relationship with someone they might not have met otherwise.

Animals have also been found to help people deal with illness, Joshua said.

"Companion animals are very sensitive to their owner's emotions and energy because they share their space," Joshua said.

This might explain why 61 per cent of survey respondents said their pets deal with them differently when they are sick.

Thirty per cent of pet owners said they would bring their animals to work, if permitted, because they don't like to think of the animals being home alone all day.

- - -

Pet Survey Facts:

-73 per cent believe pets can sniff out illness.

-Women are more likely to confide in pets (33 per cent) than men (18 per cent).

-44 per cent would bring pets to a hotel if allowed.

-86 per cent believe pets can help lift a bad mood.

-82 per cent of retirees (age 65 or more) feel less alone in their home because of pets.

Ahwatukee Man Making Cat Litter Out of Used Tires
by Cathryn Creno - The Arizona Republic

Ahwatukee Foothills resident John King has a big dream for eliminating a stinky little problem: The traditional clay-litter-filled cat box.

"There is really nothing good about cat litter except that you have to have it," said King, who doesn't own a cat but has plenty of friends who do.

King has a preliminary patent on a product called EnviroKats that takes the form of a box filled with 18 pounds of litter made out of ground-up tires that would come from a Mesa recycling plant.

The former sawmill production manager got the idea for his product a little more than a year ago, after paying a $2.50-per-tire disposal fee at a store that put new tires on his car.

King is interested in developing a product that he could manufacture and sell in the Valley, so he started thinking about commercial uses for recycled tires.

Cat litter didn't immediately come to mind.

King first played around with a used tire and a saw that allowed him to cut it into strips that he hoped he could turn into a product. But the process was too labor intensive and a bit dangerous, he said.

King next took a look at the ground material from tires used in rubberized asphalt. It looked a bit like coffee grounds, could be purchased at a company out of Mesa, and, being made of carbon, absorbed odors.

His friend, Kat Moline, who lives in a multi-cat apartment in Tempe and was spending $50 a month on litter, agreed to do the beta test with her cat, Pappion.

"At first, I was worried that the rubber would have a smell that would turn them off. But that was no problem. They took to it right away," Moline said.

King and Moline say EnviroKats litter absorbs odors and never has to be replaced.

Moline said she simply scoops the solid waste - the way she did with her previous cat box - then rinses the rubber litter with water. A plug near the bottom of the plastic litter box that comes in the EnviroKats kit makes it easy to drain water from the bottom of the box, she said.

King said he came up with the EnviroKats name for his business because it creates a new use for old tires and also potentially keeps tons of used cat litter out of landfills.

King recommends one $39.99 18-pound EnviroKats box for every two cats in a household. He said he has yet to sell many of the kits - available on his website - but his sales goal is 1,000 a month by the end of next year.

That would allow King to raise the capital to start manufacturing the litter boxes at his own plant, he said. He envisions eventually employing from 15 to 20 local workers.

The recycled tire material would continue to come from Mesa's Crumb Rubber Manufacturing, which has the expensive grinding equipment needed for the job, he said.

3-Cat Household Wins Litter Kwitter,
Cat Toilet-Training System
By Kevin Kirkland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Litter Kwitter cat toilet training system.

Apparently not a lot of people are eager to train their cats to use the toilet.

The Post-Gazette received only four letters seeking Doogie's Litter Kwitter, a three-step cat toilet training system. But quality definitely exceeded quantity (in letters, not the litter box).

One woman sent in a poem, another said her cat is so humanlike that he would prefer using the toilet, and a sergeant in the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office wants to use it to train his dog, "a Bichon Frise named Coconut who really wants to go potty on the toilet." An attached photo showed a fluffy little dog standing on the seat and apparently reaching to flush.

But the winners chosen by Post-Gazette staffers were the three cats who live with Jim Mazza and Mary Brown of Whitehall. When it arrives in the mail next week, Mr. Mazza said he will wrap it up for them to open at Christmas. Then he'll give it a try and report back on the results. Here is the winning letter:

We have just recently moved into our new home in Whitehall & feel the Litter Kwitter may work since the surroundings are new & training may be easier.

First & foremost, we have three cats & four litter boxes, two on each floor so the chore involved need not be explained. All three kitties are great pets full of spunk, love & affection but there is a need to explore the Litter Kwitter option. The biggest reason (literally) is Molly, or as I refer to him as "The Molly Burger." He is a 22-pound tabby cat. He's HUGE therefore, again, I needn't explain. Theodore (Teddy Bear) is our most congenial of all three & there's our little girl Tabetha (Tabby).

Now obviously Molly being a big boy usually gets the blame for any impeding odors in the house & this brings about a rousing, "Holy Moly Molly" or a "Good Golly Molly" from us all. On occasion of said odorous risings, lo & behold Molly is in sight & then our sweet little Tabby girl appears. Well I'm not going to go into the whole male vs. female controversy but WHOA BABY we really could use the Litter Kwitter in our new home!

Thank you for this opportunity & consideration. If this works, we will anxiously await the obvious second edition, "Furry Flushers!"

Happy Holidays, Jim and Mary

Dog That Defied Odds Teaches About Pet Ownership
 Associated Press

FRANKLIN, Ind. — A four-legged ambassador walks the halls of Johnson County classrooms. She has a lesson to teach with each wag of her tail -- one that Humane Society officials hope breeds a new generation of responsible pet owners.

Mira, a three-year-old mastiff-German shepherd mix, shouldn't even be here. Born to an ill mother dog that died shortly after giving birth, she and her litter mates were taken to an animal shelter and euthanized, their bodies put in barrels in a freezer so they could be disposed of later.

But Mira -- whose name is derived from the word miracle -- survived. She was found alive in the Rush County shelter's freezer four days after receiving what turned out to be too small a dose of the barbiturate that was intended to kill her. A shelter worker who was ordered to take the puppy to a veterinarian to be euthanized instead gave her a warm bath, had her examined and then sent the dog to a new home.

Three years later, Mira tours classrooms in Johnson County to teach children about taking care of their pets, Johnson County Humane Society board president Vicki Palmore told the Daily Journal. The dog accompanies volunteer educators who talk to children and adults about the bond between people and their pets, about why they should adopt if they want a pet and how they should spay or neuter their pets to reduce the number of unwanted animals facing a fate like Mira did.

After Mira's case, an investigation found that euthanasia procedures weren't followed properly at the Rush County shelter. Rushville reassigned its shelter warden to the town street department as a result.

That's all behind Mira, who weaves through rows of children who want to pet her or slides between a volunteer's legs when she's being talked about.

"Above all, we try to stress that pet ownership is a commitment that comes with responsibility and lasts for the life of the animal," Palmore said. "It's not something that should be taken lightly, since there are far more animals than there are homes that will accept and love them."

Obama Says He Scoops First Dog Bo's Poop

US President Barack Obama has revealed that he scoops first dog Bo's feces when he takes him out for walks at night on White House South Lawn.

He was answering questions from youngsters at an elementary school on Friday.

"Sometimes I have to scoop up his poop, because I don't want to just leave it in the lawn," The Telegraph quoted the President as saying.

"Eeeewww," the kids responded.

"If you guys have a dog, you've got to walk your dog, too - and clean up after him," said Obama. (ANI)

Pet Tales:
A Brief 'Paws' for Winter Walking Tips

When the weather outside is frightful, a dog walk is not delightful.

I view single-digit "real feel" temperatures as the perfect excuse for staying indoors. Pablo, our cocker spaniel, would disagree. He loves walks, snow and cold weather, and is clearly bored and unhappy when walks are canceled.

The veterinarians at Purdue University are on Pablo's side.

"Winter weather is no excuse to avoid outdoor exercise with your dog," says Sandy Amass, professor and associate dean in the School of Veterinary Medicine. "The obesity epidemic has an impact on humans and also our canine friends."

She has tips for winter walking:

• Dogs develop a thicker coat over time as they are exposed to cold weather, but short-haired dogs might need a coat or sweater.

• Dogs need extra water in winter. They can lose water when they pant during exercise, and cold air has very little moisture.

• Chemicals that de-ice sidewalks can burn or irritate dogs' paw pads. Wipe paws with room-temperature water after a walk or use dog boots. Good luck with the boots. Most dogs don't like them, and it's difficult to find boots that fit and stay in place.

Here's something better: Musher's Secret. The manufacturer's website,, says the product is an "invisible boot" made from natural wax. I discovered it last year when it was recommended by Ann Cipriani of Woody's Dog Wash & Pet Boutique in South Park and Jeanie Barrett of Larry's Laundromutt & Dog Spa in Sewickley.

Developed in Canada for sled-pulling dogs, Musher's Secret creates a "breathable bond" that protects paw pads from snow, salt and chemicals. In the summertime, it protect paws on hot sidewalks and sandy beaches.

This stuff is amazing. The white wax becomes colorless as soon as you rub it in. Pablo sits on our taupe-colored leather sofa as I apply the wax. When he jumps off the sofa and walks across the hardwood floor, there are no greasy footprints and no stains.

Rub wax directly on pads, between toes and in those crevices between the pads. Pablo has never had sore or cracked pads from winter walks, but snow forms iceballs between his toes and pads, and that makes walking difficult and painful. The wax prevents iceballs and lasts for at least several walks.

I was dipping my fingers into the wax and rubbing it onto Pablo's paws and pads. Ann has a quicker and better application tip: press the dog's entire foot onto the wax and move the paw around. Use your fingers, if necessary, to even out the wax or remove any excess.

You'll notice it makes your own hands feel good. Mrs. Cipriani said her customers recommend it for human feet, especially dry heels.

Home for holidays
Wow! Pittsburgh dog-lovers really are special. More than 100 have applied to participate in "Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays."

The Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania put out the appeal earlier this month. Workers at the Larimer shelter asked people to make 12 days of the Christmas season merry by giving shelter dogs temporary homes from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2.

Six dogs have already moved into foster homes provided by people who just couldn't wait, said Cleda Klingensmith, who is working 10-hour days coordinating the program. And, several people who were thinking about fostering decided, instead, to adopt dogs. is spearheading the holiday foster program. Nationally, more than 1,600 shelters and rescue groups are participating. Information: or 412-661-6452.

Priceless pets
At Animal Friends, more than 150 dogs, cats and rabbits have been adopted since the day after Thanksgiving. They are the beneficiaries of a unique holiday campaign called "Recycled Pets Are Priceless." The special deal is in effect through New Year's Eve: There are no adoption fees for animals 2 years old and older.

There is always great joy when any animal leaves a shelter. Animal Friends is especially anxious to empty cages because staff and volunteers are gearing up for the annual New Year's rescue, when dogs and cats scheduled for euthanasia are rescued from shelters and animal control facilities that cannot keep them any longer.

Tips for Happy Holiday Pets
By Michelle Sathe -

With the hustle and bustle of the season, take a few steps to keep your furry friends safe.

As our houses fill with tantalizing aromas and excited guests for the holidays, there’s a family member you may be forgetting about: your dog or cat.

Holidays, which are at times stressful for humans, can also present challenges to the family pet. There are new smells, lots of noise and endless opportunities to get into mischief.

Sometimes, such adventures can lead to the veterinarian’s office or on a frantic search for a pet who may have escaped unnoticed during all the festivities.

To keep your pet happy, healthy and stress-free through the rest of the holiday season, here are some tips from Santa Clarita Valley experts.

According to Dr. B Grewal of Valencia Veterinary Center, keeping dogs away from rich holiday foods is the top priority.

“I always recommend not giving human food to dogs. Instead, give treats made for pets, and discourage guests from sharing their food, which can be high in fat or calories and trigger gastrointestinal problems, such as pancreatitis, vomiting and diarrhea,” Grewal said.

Additionally, dogs should not be fed chocolate, anything with caffeine, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic or nuts, all of which can be toxic.

If new people stress your dog out, Grewal suggested putting Fido in a separate room and keeping the door closed while guests are in the home.

Puppies and younger dogs who are not accustomed to holiday goings on should be kept away from ornaments, wires, tinsel and cables that are so prevalent in the home during the season.

“If a dog is teething, it will get into everything, which can cause obstruction, vomiting and diarrhea,” Grewal said. “Cordon off the area around the tree, store wires and cables properly, or try spraying Bitter Apple on exposed items to deter chewing.”

Lastly, Grewal said staying with routines can be crucial.

“Certainly, dogs will be less likely to get into things if you keep your regular exercise or walking regimen,” he said. “If they don’t have anything else to do, they can become destructive.”

While cats may not be as likely to dig into holiday foods as their canine counterparts, they can get into their own unique brand of trouble said Dr. Tracy McFarland, of Cat Doctor and Friends, in Saugus.

“They love to go after things on the tree. They’re not only interested in tinsel, they’ll drink water left in the tree stand for a live tree, which can be pretty toxic,” McFarland said.

McFarland suggested wrapping a heavy blanket around the tree stand to prohibit access to water or better yet, if you have cats, put up an artificial tree instead. Unbreakable ornaments should be placed along the lower third of the tree or if you have kittens, all over the tree.

“Young cats have a hard time staying out of the tree,” McFarland said. “And don’t put tinsel on a tree in a household with cats. It’s pretty tempting.”

If your cat is not naturally social, McFarland suggested securing them inside the master bedroom until all guests have cleared out.

“If people want to see your cat, bring them to the room for a visit,” she said. “Even if your cat loves activity, you may want to put them away. With indoor cats, which I stress all cats should be, there’s always the worry of how easy it is for a door to be left open and have them slip out.”

Boarding vs. a pet sitter

What if you’re going away for the holidays? What is the best solution the family pet in your absence?

For young dogs, Grewal suggested boarding at a clean, reputable, well-staffed facility and discussing any special needs or food requirements before checking in.

“When puppies don’t know how to behave, I think boarding is a better choice. Just make sure they have their vaccinations so they won’t pick up a contagious disease,” Grewal said. “Don’t board them at a facility where pets are accepted without vaccinations.”

Wendy Bentley of Fun Fur All Pet Sitting in Saugus said pet sitting can be a great option for any pet.

“I would recommend pet sitting strictly because the animal has less stress of traveling or having to go somewhere that it’s not familiar with. They like being in their own environment and they don’t have to get vaccinations,” Bentley said.

“All around, I think pet sitting is a bit safer and keeps the pet happier.”

When meeting with a potential pet sitter, Bentley advised making sure that the sitter is comfortable with the pet.

“After they shake the owner’s hand, they should get on the ground with the pet and play with them, whether it’s a dog or cat,” she said. “Make sure the animal is comfortable with the pet sitter. If they don’t like someone, they’ll let you know.”

Once a sitter is hired, Bentley suggested providing him or her with a list of emergency contacts, a letter of approval for veterinary care, and to call your vet and leave a credit card on file in case of emergency.

Valencia Veterinary Care, 23928 Summerhill Lane, Valencia, (661) 263-9000. Cat Doctor and Friends, 26055 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus, (661) 259-5288. Fun Fur All Pet Sitting, (661) 296-5391 or

Great Gifts for Pets and Pet-Lovers on Your List
by Wendy Diamond -

Reward your furry, four-legged friends this season with these gifts and tips

It’s important to keep your dog or cat warm this cold winter season. Remember, a cold or snow covered dog can turn into a sniffling dog.

The holiday season is here and you can stop chasing your tail wondering what’s the best pet present to buy. With this holiday gift guide, you don’t have to feel like an underdog when finding the perfect gift for the deserving four-legged companions and dotting pet parents in your life. And if you want to stay out of the doghouse during the holidays, the holiday tips will keep your wintery adventures fun and festive!

Dog-friendly winter destinations

Dogs and cats are gifted at napping, and Petco carries a wide variety of pet beds designed for dreaming animals. The Cuddler Bed in Berry ($14.99) is a round plush comfy zone for dogs to easily climb into and relax — perfect for older canines. The Red Plaid Cat Bed ($18.74) will have your cat snuggling up to the stuffed sides, and the no skid bottom will keep even skittish kitties grounded.

Tip: Make sure to have a comfortable bed for your dog or cat to relax on and help them stay away from the holiday dinner table. Especially since candy canes and other sugary treats can be toxic to dogs.

Crazy Critters pet toys will have your little crazy critters jumping for joy! The Fox & Raccoon Stuffing Free Toys ($9.99) are super soft and a dog’s perfect hunting toy. If your Christmas canine is a chewer by nature, then the All Natural Mega Munch Sticks ($4.99) made of bark covered willow branches will have your dog chomping and chasing this multipurpose toy. ($4.99 - $9.99; for more information visit:

Tip: Keep your dog busy and entertained with a new Crazy Critter toy as you are running around getting everything perfect for the holidays.

Dog bakeries target owners of hungry holiday hounds

The Ubisoft Petz Nursery 2 video game is the perfect holiday gift for the entire family, especially if you’re thinking of adopting a new pet this holidays. Animal lovers can bond with 22 different animals while discovering each breed’s likes and dislikes. Ubisoft Petz Nursery 2 helps players learn which pet is the right fit for your family, and adds to what you already know about beloved pets. Nurture and create relationships with baby “petz” by feeding them, providing shelter and watching them grow! ($29.99; for more information visit:

Tip: Instead of pulling down the Christmas tree or helping you “rearrange” your holiday decorations, your kid(s) will keep busy with the Ubisoft Petz Nursery 2 video game.

We all have Land’s End jackets – now our dogs can too! Every dog needs an extra layer when running from one holiday hound party to the next. Your dog will keep warm throughout the wintry cold with a Land’s End Fleece Dog Jacket, perhaps in seasonal red or green, with a memorable monogram. This cozy, machine washable, polyester fleece jacket protects dogs during the ruff-est of climates. ($19.50; for more information visit:

Tip: Not all dogs are huskies! It’s important to keep your dog or cat warm this cold winter season. Remember, a cold or snow covered dog can turn into a sniffling dog.

Would you take your pet on vacation with you?

If you’re planning some holiday travel with your snow bound pets or know a pet parent that is, artist William Wegman has created the gift for you! The William Wegman Crypton Super Fabric exclusive Throver works like a tarp but looks like a topline blanket. The “Throver” (for Rover) can be used to cover and protect outdoor car seats and indoor sofas. This must have pet present is available in two designs; Show (six colors) and Gameboard (five colors). The Throver is easy to spot, machine clean, and is stain and odor resistant. ($149.00; for more information visit:

Tip: Use a William Wegman Throver to keep your furniture clean for all the holiday guests! The Throver is easy to clean, and will help keep your furniture pet damage free, saving you from buying a new sofa or couch.

Final note: Do not give pets as gifts! This isn’t Scrooge speaking, but it is important that the receiver is ready to play, love and care for the pet 24 hours a day! Unlike an ugly pair of wool socks, pets aren’t gifts you can just toss aside or return. If you do know someone who’s ready to become a new “mommy or daddy,” make sure you adopt as there is every breed, size, color, shape and personality available.

Don’t Leave Out Your Pets Come Gift Time
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett -

Crazy Pet books and DVDs ($7.99 to $9.99 at Teach kids how to care for pets and have fun, too, with the "Meet the Crazy Pets" DVD, "Pet Training and Dog Tricks" DVD and other stocking stuffers in the series.

Forget Santa. It’s Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer and Prancer who could get ticked off if you don’t give your pet a present this holiday season.

Many pet owners do shop for pet-perfect gifts. Fifty-six percent of dog owners say they’ll buy their pets a treat this Christmas, and 48% of cat owners plan a gift, according to an Associated poll this year.

There’s still time to fill Fluffy and Fido’s stockings with some items that are new this year. Here are some gift suggestions for the dog or cat on your list:

Sleigh Ride Collars ($20 at Made for rough-housing, these collars are created of high-tensile strength nylon webbing and cast brass hardware.

Sasquatch Pet Bed ($69.95 to $119.95 at It looks like a Croc shoe, but pets know it’s softer and cozier. The bed’s lining lifts out for easy washing.

Cat Bathroom Cabinet ($129; store details at How would you like it if your toilet facilities didn’t have a lid?! Kitty’s business stays private with this enclosed litter box, complete with paw-towel bar.

High Hopes Pet Cupcakes Mix ($9.99 for a six-pack, $14.99 for a 12-pack at Yogurt-based holiday cupcake mix, complete with frosting.

Crypton Mess Mats ($29 at Dribbled kibble? It’s no trouble when you put down this stain, odor and bacteria-resistant mat with a moisture barrier and designs inspired by artist William Wegman’s famous Weimaraners.

"50 Tricks to Teach Your Dog" (by Sophie Collins, TFH Publications, $13.95) From "Under the Bridge" to "Counting," the easy tricks in this book will amaze your friends, not to mention you. Take a bow, Rover.

Sherpa Cloak & Dawggie Coats ($36 to $40; store details at Fleece feels fine around your neck in winter, even if you have your own permanent coat. These water-resistant nylon/fleece parkas keep even Chihuahuas warm in the Wisconsin cold.

Neater Feeder ($34.99 to $65.98 at Tired of stepping in the results of your pet’s sloppy eating habits? This two-part feeding system contains spills; food stays in the top reservoir while water drains in the lower reservoir for easy cleanup. Kick-proof, too.

The Dogbrella ($29.95 at Walks needn’t be postponed because of wetness. The waterproof clear cocoon keeps small dogs dry and prevents Eau de Wet Dog smell.

SmartCat Peek A Prize Toy Box ($23.95; Who needs to touch an icky mouse hole when you can have dozens of cool toy spots to poke your paw into. Stuff the wood box with catnip mice to keep your cat intrigued for hours.

Vibram K9 Tech Coat --> ($48 small, $58 medium, $64 large at Light up your dog’s inner geek with this water-resistant coat featuring LED blinkers to keep dogs visible at night.

SkratchKabin Cat Bed ($99 at Part scratch pad, part cat hideout, this nifty bed has everything for cat comfort. It even offers an entertainment center: a sisal mouse on a hook.

BigFunny Cards ($19.50 to $44.50 at Send your favorite pet lover a jumbo greeting bigger than Clifford the Big Red Dog. Cards go up to 4 feet tall and can be personalized.

Doggie-jamas ($9.99 at the Wisconsin Humane Society Animal Antics Store, 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave.). "Naughty or Nice?" asks the print on these jammies. Whether worn by Bad Dogs or Good, the onesies have a great high cut for a stay-dry fit.

See Me Reflective Gear ($5.99 to $8.49 at Even if your pet is a creature of the night, you can still watch him. The leash reflector sleeve comes in 18-inch lengths and can be trimmed to fit; reflective collars are also available.

Boogie Mat ($9.99 at WHS Animal Antics). A plush cat mat filled with a surprise: holiday cat nip.

Hartz Tuff Stuff Nose Divers ($5.99; Walmart, Kmart) Rope tuggies tough enough for the toughest tugger.

Finding the Cat's Pajamas and Other Great Pet Gifts at Christmas
By Amber South Staff writer

Santa is making a list and checking it twice, but is your furry friend's name on it?

Your pet may not be on Santa's list, but that doesn't mean he has to go giftless. There are many ways to show Fido, (or Kitty or Polly) how much he or she means to you.

Many options not only make good Christmas gifts but are useful all year round for best buddy. At Franklin Hardware and Pet Center, 1975 Philadelphia Ave., the most popular pet gifts for dogs are bones and chew toys.

"We definitely hammer through toys and rawhides even prior to Christmas," said Lindsay Keefer, the store's assistant manager.

Many dogs and cats may even find themselves a little warmer and comfortable this winter. Keefer also said that sweaters and beds have been hot tickets.

The Pet Store, located at 1710 Lincoln Way East in the Walmart shopping center, has also found success with similar gifts. However, there is a particular item that is the reigning king of pet presents there -- icing-decorated dog treats.

"We have to refill them about every other day," said Angela Cutchall, president of the store's parent company, Cobwebs Inc.

The treats could easily be mistaken for Christmas cookies for people. They come in shapes such as Christmas trees, stockings, stars, gingerbread men and others and are decorated with pet-safe icing.

"They are of human quality and wrapped for Christmas," Cutchall added.

Some gifts will not only be meaningful to a pet, but to a pet owner as well. Keefer and Cutchall both said that pet food is a good gift for those people. However, while all pets need food, some may need extra care in the "hair care" department. Cutchall recommended specialty shampoos, which come in a variety of scents.
Another gift that would benefit both pets and their owners is pet-friendly ice melter.

"It is pet-safe and keeps paws from becoming irritated," Keefer said. Not only will pets be more protected from possible injury, owners will have one less veterinarian bill to worry about.

Dogs and cats are getting plenty of gifts this year, but what about the birds, hamsters, gerbils and Guinea pigs?

"We don't see much of an impact on birds and small animals," Keefer said.

While a new cage or item to put in one is a good gift for such pets, Keefer suggested buying treats, and particularly recommended treat sticks containing nutrients that are made for both small mammals and birds.

For those who are not sure exactly what to get or are in a hurry, gift baskets can make life easier. Cutchall recommended gift baskets that include assorted items like toys, treats and other supplies.

In the search for pet gifting tips, Public Opinion talked to pet lovers who never miss an opportunity to shower their pets with material love.

Maria Krose, Chambersburg, explained that every year she hosts a Christmas Eve party for about 18 friends, who between them have 14 pets.

"I always go to The Pet Store to fill the 14 stockings," she said.

Krose, the owner of a groodle (a poodle and golden retriever mix), a shih tzu, a Himalayan-Persian cat and a Yorkshire terrier, shops for rawhide candy canes, big and small stuffed animals, dog biscuits, decorative holiday treats and "whatever else catches (her) eye."

She also made a gift recommendation for those needing to buy for someone who loves their pets.

"People who are pet lovers would rather get something for their pet," Krose said.

Cathy Mentzer is another Chambersburg resident who treats her pets as people when it comes to gift-giving.

"What, there are people who don't buy presents for their pets?" she said when asked if she buys gifts for her pets.

Mentzer is the "mother" of two pugs, whom she said are "like my kids." She said she buys them not only Christmas gifts but birthday gifts too. Her favorite items to buy are sweaters and other types of doggie apparel and, for one of her dogs, puppets.

"I usually shop online to get the brand I like but I heard there is a store in Shippensburg that carries the brand so I may go there to shop," she said.

Mentzer added that this year she bought at Kohl's two stuffed animals -- the Grinch and his dog Max -- for her dogs.

Amy Horn, of Chambersburg, also makes sure her pets are not empty-handed on Christmas day.

"I treat my dogs like kids," she said. "We do not have children so (the dogs) get what our kids would get, just in smaller quantities."

Horn said she goes to Franklin Hardware and Pet (Center) and Walmart to buy her dogs treats and other food, collars and toys to fill their stockings.

Know Where Your Pets Come From

Coopersville, MI — Our purpose in writing this letter is twofold. We hope it will serve as a public service warning — especially during this holiday season — and also give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.

For some time we have been hoping to find a friend for our cavalier King Charles spaniel, whom we adopted through a wonderful rescue group in Texas. During a recent stay in Ottawa County we answered an ad in the Grand Haven Tribune for a one-year old female cavalier. The person indicated that she had to surrender her dog due to her own health issues. Knowing that so many families are forced to give up family pets due to the economy or other reasons beyond their control, we asked to see the dog.

The ad did indicate “can deliver.” This should have been our first red flag. The second should have been that there was an ad with the same phone number for another breed. In the days that followed, more ads for more breeds appeared. After the contact refused to let us come to her, we agreed to meet in the parking lot of a local business.

We were stunned when she arrived, and could not walk away. She had almost a dozen dogs of various small breeds stuffed into cat-size carriers that were stacked in the back seat of her car. They ranged from puppies to probably 2 years old. Some were three to a carrier and could not stand or turn.

We never pictured us purchasing a dog under the cover of dark, for cash, with no health information or out of a car filled with frightened dogs, without access to food or water and covered with urine and feces. Not a single dog made a sound, but all were shaking. We wanted to save them all but could only take one. We took the little girl we were holding, the little girl that couldn’t or wouldn’t stand. She is now our little Ava.

The next day we visited a wonderful local veterinarian who assisted us in promptly filing a police report. Our Ava has suffered in her short life. She was found to have severe ear infections, ear mites, bone loss in her jaw and periodontal disease. The knees of both hind legs may require surgery at a later date. She appears to have had litters of puppies and is at least 2 years old rather than the age we were told. Although she is on the road to better health, her socialization will take time and patience as will house training and learning to wear a collar, walk on a leash or even eat from a bowl. Thank goodness she is finding comfort in the company of our other dog. They love to snuggle and make quite a pair.

Additional research revealed that Ava is from a breeder in Indiana. It appears the woman we purchased from buys small dogs from breeders or puppy mills and traffics them to Michigan to sell. We know we all have heard about the horrors of puppy mills, but this experience has revealed another dirty little secret of the mass production of dogs. According to the Humane Society of the United States, mass production means the largest number of dogs spending the least amount of money. It is about profit over well-being.

Health issues and socialization of dogs like Ava who have been living in such condition is just the tip of the iceberg. If there is not more money to be made breeding, the females are simply sold or even shot.

If a puppy is on your list this holiday season, please be aware of the conditions that these poor animals experience and only buy from a reputable source. Even better, adopt or rescue your new pet from a rescue organization. Both the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States offer guidelines for getting a new pet. Also, please be informed of your local and state animal ordinances or laws.

We can make a difference.

Double Recovery for Amazing Cat
(UKPA) –

Vet Ruth Corbett showing the type of pellets that were found embedded in Tinsel after an airgun attack

A cat has used up two of her proverbial nine lives after surviving a serious traffic accident and an airgun attack which left her with some of the worst injuries vets had seen.

The veterinary charity PDSA said the unlucky animal, named Tinsel, made remarkable recoveries after both incidents near her owner's home in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

Four-year-old Tinsel was taken to the PDSA's Petaid hospital in Stoke-on-Trent last year after being shot and underwent a two-hour emergency operation to remove two pellets and repair severe damage to her internal organs.

A year later the cat suffered a fractured pelvis when she was run over by a vehicle, forcing vets to repair her broken bones with a metal plate.

Tinsel's owner, 55-year-old Tim Gamble, said the hardy pet had not been deterred from venturing outdoors by either incident.

Mr Gamble, who was twice warned by vets to expect the worst, said: "She really is remarkable - to look at her you wouldn't know anything had happened to her.

"She's lucky to be alive after getting into two such serious scrapes."

Describing his pet, Mr Gamble added: "She's very much an outdoor cat. She doesn't really play with toys or laze around in a cat bed - she just loves to explore.

"I just hope she's learnt a lesson or two and stays out of trouble in future."

Tinsel spent nine days recovering at the PDSA's premises after the first incident, which caused injuries with one of the charity's vets said were among the worst she had ever seen.

Setting Up A Home Aquarium - Information and Advice

Have you ever thought about setting up a home aquarium of your own? If you have, there are many factors you need to consider and a number of preparative steps you’ll need to take to ensure the water is filtered properly, regularly maintained and always kept at the same temperature depending on the type of fish you plan to keep. In this article, to help you get started on this project, we will discuss some of the major factors to consider before setting up your aquarium.

Aquariums are made from a few different types of clear materials, including glass, fiberglass and acrylic, and while all of these materials make for a good aquarium, each will vary a bit in terms of price. Be sure to tell the pet store owner which type of fish you’re planning to keep, along with your budget for this project, and usually they can help you choose an aquarium that will best suit your particular needs.

Prior to filling the tank you will need to take steps to create the perfect biological system for the fish you plan to add. This is done with filters that separate the water you need from the chemical and biological impurities it contains. If you’re unsure if your filter is working properly, fill up a small container of water from your tank and bring it to the pet store to have it analyzed. Pet shops will typically be able to determine whether or not your water is ready for fish.

If goldfish is all you plan to keep in your aquarium, then you won’t need a heater, but for all other types of fish you will. Generally, at least for tropical fish, the water temperature should be constantly maintained between 76 and 83 degrees, while some freshwater fish will need the water much colder. Most fish cannot survive when kept in water that has the improper temperature, so you’ll also need to buy a water thermometer to ensure the correct temperature is always maintained. If you don’t know the proper temperature, check with a pet shop owner.

So you still want to be an aquarium owner? That’s great, but keep in mind that owning tropical or freshwater fish requires much more than simply filling up a tank and dumping them in. Take the time to consistently make certain the filtration system is working properly and the water temperature is optimal and your fish-owning experience will go a whole lot smoother.