Doggie Boot Camps and a Life-Saving Snake! (Photos)

The Most Obedient Dog isn't a Breed

Question: In your experience, what type of dog is usually the most obedient, best behaved and so on?

Answer: Few people will be able to guess up front what my answer to this one is. The best behaved and most obedient dogs I've ever seen are the dogs that belong to homeless people. Additionally, it doesn't really matter what the breed is. I've mentioned here numerous times, that "mutts" or mixed breed dogs tend to be just as awesome as the pedigreed dog when it comes to intelligence (and I've noticed that generally speaking, the homeless aren't into purebreds).

The domestic dog, across the board is very smart — it's that simple. And if you'll notice, the dogs that tag along with homeless people usually just follow obediently without a leash, or if they are leashed, there's none of that pulling jazz like you see on a regular basis everywhere else.

Here's my theory on that. Homeless people and their dogs lead a life that's closer to a "primal dog life" than most of us. Think about it. They basically spend their day traversing their "territory," looking for food and shelter, and the human is the definitive leader in this scenario. He's the one who actually finds the food and shelter. AND they pretty much walk all day long.

Wild dogs and wolves spend most of their time migrating through their territory looking for food and shelter. When they're in this mode, none of the pack members are off sniffing every bush or peeing on every tree or chasing butterflies. Everyone stays together — and nobody gets ahead of the pack leader. The pack leader's responsibility is the safety and the togetherness of the pack.

The domestic dog is hard wired to understand the whole pack hierarchy thing and how that hierarchy comes into play during what we humans call the "walk," but because many dog owners don't really know where to begin teaching their dog this very natural way of getting from one place to the other their leadership is compromised because, in your dog's head, whoever leads on the leash is the leader.

The walk is perhaps the single most important thing we do with our dog to reinforce our leadership. Done incorrectly (i.e. letting your dog drag you all over creation) undermines your leadership.

Take note of the pack dynamic between the homeless guy and his dog the next time you see this pair out and about. Yes, it's a "pack of two," but it's a pack, nonetheless. Much of their communication is non-vebal. Each understands the daily routine and where each falls in the pack order. And I've never seen a homeless guy be ugly, emotional or harsh with his dog either. Dogs don't get angry, so they don't understand that emotion. It always seems pretty casual between these two, but that dog knows where his cues come from for "what comes next," which is what most of us want, I think: a dog that pays attention and responds appropriately to what we want him to do.

Gregg Flowers is owner of Dog's Best Friend dog training services and serves as behavioral consultant for Robinson's Rescue and the Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana. Write to him in care of The Times, P.O. Box 30222, Shreveport, LA 71130-0222.

Puppy Mills:
Washington, Oregon Toughen Laws

New state laws in Washington and Oregon, designed to eliminate puppy mills, impose tougher standards on dog breeders, according to the Associated Press.

The Washington law, which took effect New Year's Day, makes it illegal to own or have custody of more than 50 dogs capable of breeding and over the age of six months. It also spells out requirements for taking care of the dogs, including the size of their cages, temperature and cleanliness. If a breeder has 10 or more dogs at any one time, it requires that each dog have adequate time and space to exercise.

The Legislature approved the law last spring after several puppy mills were discovered in the state.

"The hope is this will help prevent situations from arising that could lead to animal cruelty," said Mary Leake Schilder, spokeswoman for the Progressive Animal Welfare Society of Lynnwood.

"This will give law enforcement a little more leverage to prevent breeding facilities from getting out of hand. We believe this law is fair to responsible and compassionate breeders," she told The Herald of Everett.

A smiliar law was passed in Oregon.

Glucosamine in a Dog’s Diet

As you stand in the store pondering the plethora of types of dog food for your dog’s diet, your mind will truly become overwhelmed. The many ingredients in dog food merely complicate things even further. Who extremely is aware of what all of those ingredients really mean? You see glucosamine on some of the dog food labels. That sounds a bit familiar. Haven’t you heard of glucosamine in the news? What exactly is glucosamine and why should or not it’s in your dog’s diet?

You’ve got most likely heard of glucosamine within the news. Glucosamine has been helpful to joint health in humans. Research has additionally shown that glucosamine in a your dog’s diet can be helpful to your pet’s health.

--Glucosamine is a dietary supplement.

--Glucosamine has been shown to encourage smart joint health. This supplement helps to maintain sensible joint cartilage.

--Glucosamine is one in all the key building blocks to provide joint lubricants. The joint lubricant helps to stay the joints moving and functioning with ease.

--Glucosamine in your dog’s diet can guarantee your pet’s joints work at their peak performance levels for years to come.

How does glucosamine work to help your dog’s joints? Glucosamine hydrates and lubricates your pet’s joints. The added hydration and lubrication will facilitate to stop arthritis in your dog. For this reason, glucosamine could be a good supplement in your dog’s diet.
Dogs that are predisposed to having joint and hip problems should especially think about adding glucosamine to their dog’s diet.

Shellfish is a good supply of glucosamine. Another method to induce glucosamine involves a unique process of fermenting corn. This method to supply glucosamine creates a vegetable primarily based glucosamine.

Glucosamine is typically safe as half of a healthy and balanced diet. Your dog’s diet should include glucosamine to encourage joint health. Your pet will not suffer from side effects or interactions with medications when glucosamine is part of your dog’s diet.

These days, many high-quality dog foods, manufactured by reputable firms, have already added glucosamine to their food products. Animal nutrition reports have discovered the advantages of glucosamine in your dog’s diet and dog food producers have quickly responded. If you find that your dog’s diet does not contain glucosamine, or you are feeling your pet may profit from additional supplementation within the diet, you must haven’t any downside locating glucosamine supplements for your pet.

Glucosamine supplements come in various forms. You’ll even provide your dog a treat specially designed to supplement your dog’s diet with glucosamine. The tasty treat eliminates the hassle of dosing your dog with pills.

After all, it is continually best to speak to your veterinarian concerning any changes to your dog’s diet. He or she will give you advice regarding what supplements should be added to your dog’s diet and in what quantity. Ask your vet concerning the benefits of glucosamine.

As you consider your dog’s diet and also the ingredients, contemplate your dog’s health. Glucosamine is usually added to high-quality dog food. Talk to your vet to work out if further glucosamine supplements would be useful in your dog’s diet. Defend your dog’s joints by monitoring the quantity of glucosamine in your dog’s diet.

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Debate Over Stray Cats
Heats Up in Ravenswood Houses

Debi Romano holds what she considers to be a humane trap for stray cats, as opposed to the squirrel-sized ones she says the city is using.

A friendly black cat scampered up to Debi Romano as she trudged through the snow at the Ravenswood Houses Tuesday.

"Hi, Mama," said Romano, who emptied a can of wet cat food into a bowl. The cat was nursing kittens - one of them popped its head out from the crawl space of a nearby building.

Hundreds of stray cats have settled into similar crawl spaces at Ravenswood, a 31-building complex on the Astoria-Long Island City border. The New York City Housing Authority wants them out, and had started to seal up the crawl spaces a few weeks ago before Romano and others intervened.

Authorities say they will seal off the “crawl spaces” (r.) through which numerous stray cats roam at the Ravenswood Houses.

The latest plan - to trap the felines and bring them to city shelters - has riled up the long-time animal rescuer.

Romano, who runs the SaveKitty Foundation, said her group is close to securing a grant that would help fund a trap, neuter and release plan. Romano and her helpers would trap the cats, adopt out the friendly ones, take the kittens and then release a small number of feral cats after they are spayed or neutered.

But NYCHA officials have rejected that proposal, Romano said.

In a statement to the Daily News, NYCHA said it consulted with the city Health Department to address its stray cat problem.

"NYCHA staff was instructed to post signs in and around the buildings to inform residents not to feed the cats," agency officials said in a statement.

Staffers were also told to purchase cat cages and "remove cats from the crawl spaces with cages and seal open vents."

"No animal has been hurt in NYCHA's process to stop the stray cats from entering crawl spaces," the agency said.

Romano said NYCHA has purchased small cages that are more appropriate for squirrels than cats. And she worries that some cats, hiding in the crawl spaces, will be sealed in alive.

That issue came up at the same location five years ago when NYCHA wanted to seal the vents to keep stray cats out. A local outcry helped stop it back then.

Romano said she has trapped almost two dozen cats in the area on her own in recent weeks.

She said a trap-and-release plan is the only way to cut down on the population.

"If you just remove all of these cats, there will be a vacuum effect," Romano said. "More cats will come."

2010’s First Roundup
Requires Protective Eyewear
By David S. Greene -

No Kill done right in Detroit: Hard on the heels of Christie’s recent pondering of what no-kill means, we have a perfectly timed story from Detroit. An Oakland County shelter’s getting it done, the right way. I’ve gotta tell you, the following quote from Larry Obrecht, the head of the county’s Animal Control Division since 2003, just makes me smile.

“We’re there on dogs, and we’re almost there on cats,” Obrecht said. “The only dogs that are euthanized here are dangerous, really sick or critically injured.”Obrecht, 68, of Lake Orion said reducing the euthanasia rate for strays and other animals that come into the county’s Animal Care Center in Auburn Hills requires the right attitude, an aggressive adoption program and constant efforts to spay and neuter animals.

Sweet Georgia clay: Hey cat-lovers! Did you know that the evolution of kitty litter technology is creating problems in the once-booming Georgia clay industry.

“[A] dizzying variety of new litter has entered the market in the last decade and threatened Georgia’s position as the leading litter producer.

At least two large factories have closed as cat owners shift to clays that form clumps when wet, allowing easy removal with a slotted scoop. Pine, wheat and other natural products have also gained in popularity.”

Canned pumpkin shortage alert: Thank you to Mary Mary for giving us a heads up on this. There’s a canned pumpkin shortage in some parts of the country, and it appears to have been problematic since at least November. It’s worse in some areas than others, and you do have alternatives, of course. You could steam fresh pumpkins (we still have lots here in New England), check with other markets (I found no shortage here in the Boston area, calling around) or, perhaps, use substitutes such as canned winter squash. Canned pumpkin, with all that wonderful fiber, is great stuff that keeps things moving on through, if you take my drift. Not to mention … pie.

Another reason I’m not a tarantula owner: Gina sent me something on New Year’s Day morning which briefly made me consider changing my e-mail address so she couldn’t send me anything more like it. I wouldn’t think you’d need an excessive number of reasons to consider not owning a pet tarantula, but just in case, the LA Times has one more: The little monsters can (and do) shoot tiny, barbed hairs into your eyeballs. That’s right, eyeballs. Indiana Jones didn’t like snakes, and for the record I’m pretty seriously anti-spider. There’s a lovely, sharp picture in the article that I opted not to include here in the post. You’re welcome. (Oh, and here’s another version of the same story by ABC News which I could not bear to look at, sorry, but which I’m told features the expert advice of Cindy Steinle, one of our pals at

What will we be talking about over the next 12 months? Pete the Vet offers a pointer to predictions of issues we may face in 2010 . Would you believe the spider story gets a mention in the article’s preamble? How many times am I going to be squicked out in one day?

A loving legacy from a grateful client: Vets get to make wish lists for Santa, too. For Sydenham Veterinary Services in Kingston, Ontario, Santa (in the guise of a longtime client’s family) came through in a big way.

Not sure of what the dollar amount might be, the veterinarians at the clinic came up with items that ranged from $50 to $20,000. From the list, the family picked the surgical table.

They wanted something that would be a lasting testament to Mrs. Gemmell, said Mrs. McRobert. They also donated money to various charities in her memory, “but we wanted something that was a little more tangible.”

They are also donating a digital picture frame that can hold thousands of photos. One of the photos that they have already loaded is of Barbara Gemmell.

The stainless steel surgical table, about two feet by four feet, can be raised, lowered or tilted in any direction so it can be positioned just right for whatever procedure happens to be going on, said Chubaty.

My Pet Resolutions For 2010
Steve Dale - My Pet World/Tribune Media Service

Q: What are your resolutions for pets for 2010? -- Y.A., Montreal, Canada

A: I wrote an entire feature on my hopes and dreams for pets for 2010. Here are six highlights:

1. Stop the hollering. A charismatic TV dog trainer says he "whispers" to dogs, when he, in fact, trains with intimidation. It's about time we return to motivating our dogs by rewarding them for behavior we like, rather than using bullying as a training technique. Motivation is not only a significantly more effective way to train but it's also more humane.

2. Pet insurance may be your best investment to protect your pet. If something traumatic happens -- from cancer to your pet being hit be a car -- sharing the expense means that it's more likely you'll be able to afford treatment. Even routine pet care is covered by most policies. Along the same lines, twice-a-year veterinary exams are good medicine, as preventative medicine always is, and also a good investment.

3. Scoop the Poop! Sometimes I think, 'no wonder non-dog owners get ticked off.' I'm not too pleased either when I step in it. It's rude not to pick up, and unhealthy for our dogs since poo can transmit parasites.

4. Pro Choice: I'm a huge proponent of spay/neuter, however I'm adamantly against government mandates to spay/neuter. Mandated spay/neuter doesn't work and creates a long list of unintended consequences which are not in the best interest of pets. Besides, personal decisions should remain between veterinarians and clients. I believe there's too little space in those cramped vet exam rooms for the long-arm of government.

5. If your resolution is to lose weight, also consider your 4-legged household members. No offense, but based on statistics, odds are your pet is a tad tubby, too. Being overweight is a health risk to pets and also impacts their quality of life.

6. There isn't an animal shelter in America that can't use help, so consider volunteering. Tasks range from office work (for example, if your skill is marketing, perhaps you can help write press releases) to walking dogs and socializing cats.

Q: Do you think it's a worthy resolution for 2010 to bring my 14-year-old and 12-year-old indoor-outdoor cats inside only? - S.C., Cyberspace.

A: You know I do! I think nearly all cats should be indoors only. And that's even more true for senior kitties. Unable to move as quickly away from cars or predators, older cats are at most risk. As they age, cats are like people; they sometimes forget things, including how to get home. I'm confident your resolution will extend the life spans of your cats.

Q: We have a 14-1/2-year old Peek-a-Poo who's very healthy, except for the last two months, when she's been gnawing the paint off our bedroom walls. She eats well, though she didn't seem as interested in one brand so we began to feed her another. Any advice? -- B.W., Ocala, FL
A: Whenever there's a sudden change in a pet's behavior, particular a senior pet, consider that something medical is going on. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tuft's University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, MA, says, "Your pet's behavior may be a form of pica (eating inedible inappropriate objects). But for a dog who never had pica before, I would think, 'why now?" Dodman suggests one possibility could be a brain tumor.

Dodman, author of "The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman's 7 Steps to Lifelong Health and Happiness for Your Best Friend" (Houghton Mifflin Co, New York/Boston, 2008; $24), suggests your dog might be eating paint because it contains lead, which many dogs find appealing. He says, "Perhaps, some paint chipped and the dog stumbled upon it. The dog likes the taste and has continued to eat it. Of course, this is would be an enormous problem. Leaded paint, over time, can cause seizures even induce a coma. Perhaps, having the blood lead levels checked would be a good idea."

Dodman adds that eating inedible objects isn't a classic symptom of canine cognitive dysfunction (or canine Alzheimer's disease) but it is still another rule-out for your vet to consider.

(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.

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Veterinarians Warn Pets
Need More Than Coats
Associated Press/Chicago Tribune

WATERLOO, Iowa - Iowa veterinarians are warning pet owners to be careful when they take their pets out for a walk in the cold blanketing the state.

Dr. Chad Smith of Taylor Veterinary Clinic in Cedar Falls advises pet owners to put booties on their dog’s paws before heading outdoors. He adds sweaters and coats are good, too.

According to Smith, coats are especially good for dogs with short fur. He adds owners should be careful not to take their pets out into the cold for extended periods of time.

Cedar Bend Humane Society administrative assistant Jessica Parker says the shelter limits their dogs to 10 minutes of outdoor time in colder temperatures.

Smith also says it is important for pet owners to keep the fur on the bottom of their dog’s paws clean and short to prevent snow and ice buildup.


Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier,

Pet Snake Saves Family
from House Fire
By Stephanie Rogers -

Rescued animal returns the favor by warning family when an electric blanket catches fire

When Yu Feng of Liaoning Province in China found a dying black snake in the grass outside his home, he made an unusual decision that would change his life.

Yu brought the snake inside, determined to give it another lease on life. Little did he know the snake would soon return the favor, according to the website Ananova.

"I treated it with herbal medicines, and in 20 days it recovered," Yu said.

Once the snake recuperated, Yu decided to release it back into the wild. He took the snake to a nearby mountain more than a mile away.

But the snake had grown attached, Yu says, and the next morning, it was back outside his house. He tried two more times to set it free, but it always came back.

"People around me said the snake had come back to repay my kindness, so I kept it."

The snake, dubbed Long Long, became the family pet, and before long, it had a chance to return Yu's favor.

One night, while Yu was sleeping, he says he felt something cold on his face and awoke to find Long Long.

"He had never woken me up before, but I was so sleepy I went back to sleep. But Long Long grabbed my clothes with his teeth and whipped the bed with his tail.

"Then he went to my mother's bed and whipped her bed with his tail. I woke up then and smelled something burning, and saw my mother's electric blanket was on fire so I leapt up and turned it off."

Though local reptile experts say snakes simply don’t have the brainpower to behave in such a way, Yu insists the snake saved his life. These days Long Long is never far from his side.

Add Some Woof! to Your Workout

(HealthDay News) — Forget about walking around the park with your pooch.

Boot camps designed for people and their pets are fast becoming popular choices for busy owners looking for a one-stop fitness program.

During the 60-minute classes, campers are put through a series of high-intensity moves, focusing on strength, balance and cardiovascular challenges, as well as dog obedience drills.
At Leash Your Fitness in San Diego, personal trainer Dawn Celapino usually leads a pack of nine clients during her outdoor sessions held in and around the city.

“Most of the people showing up for class work all day and feel guilty leaving their dog again while they go to the gym, or the weekend comes and they just want to spend time with their dogs,” she explained.

The circuit-style camp is timed so people can work at their own pace, said Celapino, adding: “I literally have 11-year-olds and 80-year-olds in the same class.”

Nancy Kelly joined Leash Your Fitness earlier this year, after relocating from New York, as a way to meet people and stay in shape.

“It’s so much more fun than just taking my dog for a walk down the street,” she said.

Kelly and her yellow Labrador retriever, Montana, religiously attend twice a week; on the other days she runs or goes to the gym.

The rigorous training has paid off. Since April, Kelly, 49, has dropped a jean size and Montana has shed eight pounds.

“It really has added to my workout regimen,” she said.

Regular exercise keeps both people and pets healthier by managing weight, enhancing energy and combating chronic disease, experts say.

Adults need 2.5 hours of aerobic activity weekly, and two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening work for improved health, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Pets need regular workouts, too. Veterinarians suggest that adult dogs engage in 20 to 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise daily.

For some people, getting fit is made easier by teaming up with a furry workout partner.

Jacqueline Epping, of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said people who care about their dog’s well-being are more willing to engage in physical activities with them.

“There is evidence to support [the theory that] dogs motivate some people to get active and stay active,” Epping said.

But doggie boot camps do more than just focus on fitness. Enlistees also get the added bonus of obedience training for a better-behaved pet.

“By stimulating [dogs'] minds and their bodies at the same time, they’re 20 times more tired than just an average walk,” according to dog trainer Jill Bowers, who started Thank Dog! Bootcamp last year with her twin sister, Jamie.

And a tired dog is a happy dog. Veterinarians at Tufts University’s Animal Behavior Clinic say aerobic exercise stimulates the brain to make serotonin, a mood-stabilizing chemical that produces feelings of contentment and helps dogs, especially those who are anxious or aggressive, to relax.

At Thank Dog! Bootcamp, both a certified personal trainer and dog trainer lead clients in the hour-long class, held five days a week, barking out orders like drill sergeants.

The outdoor classes attract a lot of onlookers. “It’s very visually stimulating,” explained Bowers. “Imagine 15 to 20 people all telling their dogs to sit at the same time, and all the dogs doing it.”

If owners can’t participate, their dogs still can through the “Borrow Me” program, where a “cadet” takes them through the program. Pooches are also available for loan if you want to attend but don’t own a dog.

Camps are offered in several California cities, including Santa Monica, San Francisco and Costa Mesa. Strong interest in the camp from around the country has the sisters thinking about franchising.

Bowers — who got the idea for the business after losing 40 pounds at a fitness boot camp — says teaming up with a dog makes exercising feel less like work, and more like fun.

“We’ve had people with us for nine months now,” she says. “They renew every month so they use it like a gym membership.”

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10 Surprising Facts About The Great Dane
by Micah -

The Great Dane is a dog that seems to capture attention wherever it goes, stopping traffic and drawing crowds. When well-bred, this dog is tall, chiseled and muscular in form, with a regal bearing. The qualities and characteristics of a well-bred Great Dane reflect the hundreds of years of careful breeding that has gone into the making of this magnificent creature. With popular media being what it is, as well as the legend and lore that accompanies the Great Dane, sometimes it can be difficult to know what is true and what is false when it comes to this huge breed of dog. Here are 10 surprising facts about the Great Dane:

1.Apartment life is just fine for Great Danes. Despite their size, according to the AKC, life in an apartment can suit a Great Dane quite well. They are not as high energy as other breeds, but despite their couch potato ways, daily exercise is important. A brisk half hour walk a day will do, especially if complemented with some run time at a dog park or secure area a few times a week. No fenced area? A 50-foot training leash and a ball can help your Dane keep fit.

2.Great Danes grow incredibly fast. Within a span of just 1 year, Great Danes go from just a handful of fluffy puppy to being able to stand up on their hind legs and look a 6-foot tall man eye-to-eye. During their rapid growth spurts, puppies can be visibly bigger after a night’s sleep.

3.They really don’t eat that much. A full grown Great Dane eats about 2 cups of dry dog food in a day. Too much protein should be avoided, particularly with puppies, as growing faster than they already do can damage bones and joints. Rather than the high-protein, quick-grow type puppy foods, they should have an adult food with no more than 23 percent protein.

4.Great Danes can be remarkably gentle. That is, once the period of rapid growth passes and they gain full control of their body, bringing an end to accidental injuries due to clumsiness. Many Danes share their homes with small dogs and cats. Great Danes have a well-deserved reputation for being wonderful with children and sometimes work as therapy dogs. However, no animal should be fully trusted with young children, especially one of such a size that a single mistake could be tragic.

5.They must have people. Great Danes are an extremely sensitive breed and do not fare well without close contact with their human family. Living outside in a doghouse can destroy a Great Dane, make him mentally unstable, depressed, and even aggressive.

6.Anxiety can kill Great Danes. There is increasing evidence that bloat, a condition in which the stomach gets air in it and twists, or torsions, is related to anxiety. This can kill a Great Dane in less than an hour. Make sure to learn the symptoms and, if considering this breed, consider how much time per day the dog will have to be alone.

7.They tend to be a lady’s dog. That’s only because of the difference in speech and mannerisms between men and women, however. Great Danes do not respond well to hard correction or training methods, as they are emotionally sensitive creatures.

8.Great Danes can be shockingly aggressive. Modern breeders have worked hard to eliminate the centuries of breeding for the aggression necessary to hunt such prey as wild boar. While they’ve met with great success, poorly bred Danes can display dangerous throwback temperament traits. Not every Dane is Scooby Doo friendly. Never approach a Great Dane on the assumption of friendliness, especially if the Dane is accompanied by the children in his family, as the drive to protect the youngsters of the pack from perceived danger isn’t something that is so easily bred out.

9.They are not the tallest breed. Although the current holder of the world record for tallest dog is a 42-inch tall Great Dane, the Irish Wolfhound is the breed that tends to be tallest, though it is lighter in weight.

10.Many Great Danes are thrown away. People don’t seem to understand that Great Danes are giant, powerful dogs. One of the commonest periods for this breed to be surrendered to a shelter or rescue organization is after they are 9 months old, as people neglect to factor in the potentials of a still rapidly growing 100-pound dog that, because of his age, still acts like a crazy puppy.

Dog News:
Deduct Your Dog’s Vet Bills?
by Dan -

Vet bills are necessary part of owning a dog (or any pet), but no one enjoys dishing out the large sums each year for annual care. According to a survey conducted in 2007-2008, 63% of American households own a pet. With the economic state of the country, pet care is often the first item to be compromised in many households.

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) is trying to make the process of being a responsible pet owner a little less financially painful. He introduced the HAPPY Bill or Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act H.R. 3501 this past July. The bill would “permit pet owners to deduct up to $3500 from their taxable income expenses they occurred in providing adequate pet care.” It would not cover costs related to owners obtaining a new pet. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Do you think this bill would encourage people who are struggling with veterinary bills to seek out the care needed for their dogs?

How to Choose a Pet Bird
Allene Reynolds -

Things You Should Consider Before Buying a Bird

Purchasing a pet bird isn't just a matter of what you like - it should be carefully planned and armed with research. Some birds live to be 40 years old.

If you are really fond of birds you may become enamored by the large blue and gold Macaw pictured with this article. Or the sight of a snowy, white Cockatoo with its regal crest and babyish manners may call to you. Perhaps the uplifting song of a golden canary or the chattering of a beautifully colored parakeet is more your taste. Whatever you have your heart set on think first of your own environment, the time you have to devote to a pet bird and your checkbook. Consider not only the initial cost of the bird but its lifelong care; feed, toys, veterinarian bills. Birds, especially big ones, can be expensive.

Spending Time with a Pet Bird
Big or small most birds like a little, or a lot of attention. If you work an eight hour job with some down time on weekends and evenings you will probably have adequate free time to socialize and enjoy a pet bird. If, however, your job requires long hours, or travel, or your weekends are committed to other projects spare yourself the agony of guilt and admire birds from afar. Large birds, like the Macaw, the Cockatoo and the African Grey get very attached to their owners and they love interaction. Playtime for the big fellows will take an hour or so every day, more if you can spare it. They love toys and will learn tricks. African Greys especially like conversation time. Most Greys have phenomenal speech capabilities; the more interaction the larger their vocabulary.

Birds in an Apartment
Think about where you live before you set out to purchase a pet bird. If you are an apartment dweller the larger birds will not make good neighbors. Even some of the smaller ones, like the Quaker Parrot, have a healthy scream which can be heard for a good distance. In the wild birds congregate in flocks. Early in the morning and in the evening they call out to make sure the flock, or 'family', is gathered before beginning the day or settling for the night. Birds raised in captivity retain that sense of togetherness and will call their flock at those times. Cockatoos especially are family oriented and don't like to be left alone. To get their point across they scream. Cockatiels can even be too loud for thin walls.

Feeding Your Pet Bird
When you decide what kind of bird you want and where you are going to purchase it you need to ask what kind of diet it has been fed. There are seed diets and pellet diets. If the bird was weaned to a pellet diet then it will not take too well to seeds and the reverse is true. Most veterinarians feel the pellet diet is the best because the birds have less free choice and doesn't just choose to eat what it likes. Your bird's feed bowl must be emptied every day and replenished with fresh feed. Birds on a seed diet hull the seeds and put the trash back in the feed cup. It may look like they still have seed but in reality it is empty husks. With the pellet diet you can see what they have eaten but give them fresh feed anyway. They have clawed through the dish, or eliminated fecal matter in the feed and it is no longer clean. Daily fresh water is a must. Always wash and dry the water bowl to eliminate bacteria.

A Word About Bird Cages
Your pet bird will need a cage. It should be large enough to accommodate the wing span with room to spare. There should be at least two perches, one higher than the other. One should be in front of the feed area and the other higher up for sleeping.

Most birds enjoy toys. Ask your local pet dealer which are recommended for your bird.

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Are You a Cat Lady?

When Young Dog Goes Astray,
Revisit Training
By Yvette Van Veen -

Q: We would like to start giving our 1-year-old lab some freedom. He still goes in the crate during the day. When someone is at home, he is supervised diligently. However, occasionally, he jumps up on our bed and relieves himself. What is he trying to tell us by doing this and how do we make it stop?

A: Owners often seek meaning in a pet's actions but that is not the most effective way to approach a behaviour problem. Apply the principle of Occam's razor – that all things being equal, the simplest solution is most likely.

If the dog is emptying its bladder, chances are this is a house-training matter, not a complex communication strategy. Dogs urinate in unusual locations more often than one would assume. This is a common problem that goes unrecognized – perhaps because owners are too embarrassed to discuss the matter.

The first course of action is to see a veterinarian. Health issues always take priority. Sick animals cannot obey rules about where to go and when. Bladder infections, for example, can easily explain this situation. The animal's behaviour is nothing more than a means of seeking relief.

Once the question of a health problem is eliminated, owners should always look for errors in the training process.

Communication problems should top this list.

For starters, pet training involves two species, one of which has poor language skills. Even two members of the same species have been known to misunderstand each other. Let's say that I ask my husband to take the trash out in the morning. In the evening, the garbage is still in the shed. In his defence, my husband states he did not know I wanted it taken to the curb. He took the kitchen trash out to the shed instead.

Unlike humans, dogs do not have the luxury of explaining their actions. Owners can give pets the benefit of the doubt by searching for patterns of behaviour that indicate misunderstanding.

When it comes to soiling furniture, there is one very common mistake. Instead of learning "go outside," the dog understands the lesson to be "Don't go on the floor." This is particularly problematic when dogs are forbidden to get on furniture. These dogs learn nothing – good or bad – about locations that are up high.

When faced with a full bladder, they look for a spot that works. The bed makes an unusual – but logical – choice. The dog followed the rules set out by the owner. It did not pee on the floor. Striving to keep its own space clean, the dog avoided its eating and resting areas while simultaneously obtaining physical relief.

There is only one way to undo this type of error. Go back to puppy basics and start house training again. The dog did not understand.

It is not necessary for the dog to gain access to furniture. But do feed the pet its meals next to beds, sofas and similar areas. Appeal to the dog's natural desire to keep eating areas clean.

Most important, give rewards for good behaviour. Just as the dog finishes going outside, give it a special treat. This provides motivation, but it also offers clarity.

Dogs need to learn what to do, not just what not to do.

Yvette Van Veen is a certified animal behaviour consultant. Write her at pet

A baby Kirk's Dik Dik antelope stands on a desk in the office of Chester Zoo's curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands, in northern England, on January 22, 2010. The antelope is being hand reared at the zoo after being rejected by its mother during the recent cold weather. Photo/Phil Noble

Pet Owners Seek Psychic Link
Through Animal Communicators
By Heather Grimshaw - Special to The Denver Post

Known to be a picky eater, Moby, a 70-pound Rottweiler/Labrador mix, had all but stopped eating.

His owner, Vicki Fragasso, was eager to find a solution when a friend suggested she consult an animal communicator.

Sometimes called pet psychics or intuitives, depending on personal preference, animal communicators can help pet owners address behavioral problems or determine how to care for sick animals.

"It's a growing profession," says Mary Ann Simonds, an applied behavior ethologist and ecologist who teaches veterinarians about "animal awareness."

Simonds has seen an explosion in the number of pet psychics in the past decade. She attributes the growth of the profession to the strength of the human/animal bond and the interest in interspecies communication. "It's really become more mainstream," she says.

Fragasso needed some convincing. "I was more curious than anything" at first, says the Denver resident. Within minutes of their hour- long, $65 session, Moby had put his head in the psychic's lap. "He just doesn't do that with anyone," Fragasso says.

Pam Baca, a Conifer-based animal communicator, says Moby was showing her mental images of green beans and asking for more variety in his diet. Now all his meals include legumes, and Moby cleans his bowl.

"He'll be sleeping until the very moment I pull out the green beans," Fragasso says, "and then he'll eat."

"Now I'm a believer," she adds.

Although there are no available studies about the popularity of pet psychics, an increasing number of scientists and pet owners say using them works.

Kim Murdock of Denver has sought advice from a psychic for her own pets and referred several friends to them. After her own dog, Basta, died of cancer three years ago, an animal communicator helped Murdock find closure.

Basta was diagnosed with the disease and died two and a half weeks later.

"I was desperate to talk with him after he died," Murdock says. "I wasn't ready to say goodbye. I felt the need to apologize to him, to tell him that we tried everything we could."

With the help of animal communicator Terri O'Hara, Basta told Murdock that he had loved his life and knew she was not in control of what happened to him. "For some reason that was very helpful for me to hear," Murdock says.

Skeptics abound. Murdock's boyfriend is one of them.

"He's a very scientific kind of guy," she says. "We agree to disagree."

Nancy Tharp, a veterinarian and owner of Veterinary Acupuncture Services in Littleton, also has doubts.

"There is simply no data to support it," she says. "One of my big concerns is how do you verify if it's real?"

Another concern, she says, is if pet owners were to defer treatment recommended by a veterinarian because of something an animal communicator says. "That could pose a real risk to the animal."

Holistic veterinarian Pete Rogers, on the other hand, has recommended the service. He says animal communicators provide support for people facing a difficult decision about their pet's care.

"I've become very open-minded," says Rogers, who has practiced veterinary medicine for about three decades. "Is it for real? I don't know. People tell me it's really, really helped, and I trust their judgment."

Rogers often works with elderly pet owners who are facing their own mortality.

"It's always (hard) for folks to think about (pet) euthanasia," he says. "It helps for some clients to work with an animal communicator to get a sense of, 'Does this animal want to be here, or it is time to help them go?' "

That was true for Mireya VanAmee, a Louisville resident who sought guidance for her aging cat, Spike Lee, who had been sick.

Her veterinarian suggested she call pet psychic Rhianna Gray, who confirmed that Spike Lee was sick of being sick and ready for the next of his proverbial nine lives.

"It helped to know that it was time," VanAmee says. "When they don't feel well, it's nice to be in alignment with what their wishes are."

Gray says that after working with an animal, she often finds herself reaffirming what the owner already knew.

"Some people need help trusting themselves or (they) need a second opinion," says Gray, who has worked with cats, dogs and birds since becoming an animal communicator in 2001.

Training for these psychics varies. Some communicators complete classes — either online or in classrooms — or enroll in seminary programs with companies like Boulder-based Psychic Horizons to obtain licenses in spiritual counseling.

The psychic process — reading energies that surround people, animals and even buildings — is the same regardless of the subject, says Naomi Horii, a Lafayette healer and clairvoyant who teaches classes for pet communicators.

"Once you can read," she says, "you can read anything."

The service can be quite helpful when trying to assess a pet's complaints, says Diane Stewart. The Denver resident sought guidance from Pam Baca in January, when her 7-year-old cat, Sundance, became aggressive. "I was desperate to find out why he was so mad at me," she says.

Stewart fosters cats for the Max Fund until they find permanent homes. After she adopted Tiki, a cat she had fostered, the ordinarily calm-tempered Sundance started lunging, scratching and biting her.

"(Sundance) told Pam that he felt betrayed, like I had lied to him," Stewart says. "I'm still apologizing."

After several sessions, the situation is improving.

"Every time I've consulted with her," Stewart says, "I've felt more enlightened."

Pet Tales:
Resolve to Do the Best
for Your Animal
By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Residents of Riverside Care Center in McKeesport watch as Peaches, an 11-year-old Collie Shepherd Mix, walks down the aisle during her wedding to Toby, a 4-year-old Shelty performed by the Keystone Canine Club from Bethel Park. Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette

Happy New Year to all the readers of Pet Tales and to all the animals that you love. Have you made New Year's resolutions for your pets? We should all do that, according to the many news releases sent out by just about every company and organization that has anything to do with pets and pet care.

"Exercise and play with them more often, each day if possible," is No. 6 on the Top Ten resolution list sent by Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine.

There's a resolution that doesn't cost money, but it's not always easy. If your pet's playtime and exercise schedule suffered during the busy holiday season, there's time now to make amends.

Trainers and behaviorists say that "bad" and destructive behaviors often occur because pets are bored and don't get enough exercise. A 30-minute daily walk can work wonders for dogs and their owners. A daily 15-minute indoor play session can make a world of difference for all pets, including birds and rabbits.

So play fetch or tug-of-war with your dog. Cats are a little tougher when it comes to organized play. Type "fun games to play with cats" into an Internet search engine and you'll see many Web sites with lots of suggestions, including games played with flashlights, yarn and other common household items.

Regular grooming is a proposed dog resolution on many lists.

We should brush every day because it's "very important to your dog's health and happiness," says American Humane Association. Brushing stimulates the skin by removing dead skin flakes and "uncovers skin and coat troubles such as dandruff, parasites, or dry or brittle fur, which may indicate an illness.

"While brushing, look for any changes or abnormalities, such as bites, parasites, injuries, lumps, or changes in the skin's color or texture."

American Humane recommends professional grooming for all dogs. Poodles, Shih Tzus and other breeds with abundant coats should see a professional groomer every four to six weeks, they say. Even dogs with "uniform length coats" like Labs and beagles will benefit from professional grooming every 12 to 16 weeks.

Advice lists often contain conflicting information. The Purdue vets, for instance, recommend that we "groom them at home, especially the minor grooming procedures, because it causes less stress."

Purdue's resolution No. 10 suggests "if your pet is especially social, patient and people-oriented, consider certifying it as a therapy animal."

Go to for information from Therapy Dogs International. Call local shelters and training clubs to find out about training classes and certification tests.

Stories about therapy dogs are always popular in Pet Tales. One of the biggest hits of the year was the July 27 column about a dog wedding at the Riverside Care Center in McKeesport. The video on our Web site was widely viewed, and the column was a top e-mailed story for more than a day.

The minister and all nine members of the wedding party are certified therapy dogs and members of the Keystone Canine Training Club in Bethel Park ( All were dressed in elaborate costumes.

The groom, a Shetland sheepdog named Toby, wore a black top hat and tails. The bride, a collie mix named Peaches, wore a flowing white gown and veil.

The nursing home residents were enthralled. There was laughter and cheers and even a few tears as the dogs marched down the aisle.

A special thanks should go out to all of the owners who take time to train their pets as therapy dogs. Owners like Phil and Caroline Chapman of Peters "share" their dogs with visits to hospitals, nursing homes, libraries and schools.

Peaches was a 7-week-old puppy when the Chapmans adopted her from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. They took her to training classes at the Keystone club, and she earned her Therapy Dogs International certification when she was 1-year-old. In 10 years, Peaches made 484 therapy dog visits, including many doggy weddings and visits to schools for handicapped children.

Peaches, 11, died Nov. 13 after a four-year battle with cancer and arthritis.

Diagnosed with cancer in her jaw when she was 7, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery put the disease in remission for four years. Cancer symptoms returned last July, right after the McKeesport wedding, Mrs. Chapman said, and pain medications were prescribed to keep Peaches comfortable right up to the end.

"Her role as the bride in our doggie weddings brought smiles from hundreds if not thousands of people, "Mrs. Chapman said. "We miss her so much."

To everyone who read Pet Tales in 2009, and to everyone who telephoned or e-mailed me with story tips, comments, compliments and criticisms: Thanks for reading, thanks for e-mailing, thanks for calling and thanks for caring.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco can be reached at or 412-263-3064.

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Guide to a Good Life: Own a Dog
Graeme Hamilton, National Post

Emotionally, it is reassuring to know there is another creature in the house who will always be delighted to see you. Tyler Anderson/National Post

With kids, the jury is out. There is a school of thought that says they keep you young, and it's true that you do meet a lot of middle-aged men speaking nonsense to their toddlers. However, the grey hairs teenage children give a parent arguably counter any rejuvenating qualities.

Dogs are another matter. Owning a dog is the next best thing to discovering the fountain of youth, and that's not just me talking. It's the scientists. Lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, physical fitness, mental well-being ... the list of benefits keeps growing. There are even dogs that sense when their owners are going to have epileptic seizures. And the only grey hairs they bestow are the ones you vacuum off the carpet.

True, not everyone is convinced of the merits of dog ownership. Last year, a couple of New Zealand university professors published a study that argued that owning a dog was more damaging to the planet than driving a Hummer. Robert and Brenda Vale, "architects who specialize in sustainable living," according to New Scientist magazine, calculated that dogs leave sizable carbon pawprints because of the meat and cereal they consume. The land used to raise a year's worth of food for one medium-sized dog represents twice the energy consumed by an SUV, they concluded. Others piled on, noting that dogs sometimes kill birds, and that their feces makes a mess.

The title of their book, Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, hints that the authors might be struggling with some deeper issues, but the real clincher came in a line in New Zealand's Dominion Post. The couple "do not have a cat or dog," the newspaper noted. No wonder they're so miserable.

Maybe I would seriously contemplate the Vales' advice to buy an "edible pet" such as a chicken or rabbit if Jack had not arrived in our home five years ago. At the time, the decision to get a dog was all about our two children. Our son was starting high school, he and his sister were beyond the age of needing a babysitter, and with both my wife and I working, they would be returning to an empty home for the first time. What better way to ease the transition and make them feel secure than the dog they had been gently lobbying for? We started our search when they were away at camp, and contacted a rescue group that had posted flyers of a handsome mutt looking for a home.

The first sign that a dog was not just going to affect the children came the night we rushed home from work to be on time for our weekend trial run with the dog. At the last minute, the rescue group called to say they had decided the dog was not suited for a family with kids. We were devastated, as if a cherished friend had cancelled a long-anticipated visit. But there was another dog we might be interested in, they said. He had been abandoned on the streets of Lachine.

So Jack, a wild-eyed, wolf-like dervish of matted fur stormed into the house the next morning, tracking mud as he charged up the stairs and emerging from our daughter's room with a doll clenched between his teeth. What was there not to like?

Over the years, he has certainly been a comfort to the children, although their enthusiasm for walking him is uneven. But there is no question that the people benefiting most from his presence are my wife and me.

For one thing, Jack and I take long walks, usually twice a day, and I credit him with helping keep me fit. Findings published in 2007 in the British Journal of Health Psychology surely came as no surprise to any dog walker. Deborah Wells of Queen's University in Belfast reported that dogs were found to reduce their owners' incidence of everything from minor ailments like headaches to coronary disease and high cholesterol.

In some cases, they also help recovery. For example, dog owners were nearly nine times more likely to be alive a year after a heart attack than the dogless.

Then there are dogs being trained to detect odours associated with cancer, to sense oncoming epileptic seizures and to detect hypoglycemia in diabetics.

Ms. Wells acknowledged that dogs also pose risks, but these dangers can be minimized through proper training, control and veterinary care. The dog, she concluded, "can contribute to a significant degree to our well-being and quality of lives."

Emotionally, it is reassuring to know there is another creature in the house who will always be delighted to see you. Perhaps my teenage children are an exception, but when I come home from work they barely look up from their computer screens, let alone rush to the door to greet me. Naysayers will point out that Jack's affection stems not from his assessment of my character but from his understanding that I keep him fed. To that I say, kibble is a bargain.

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“Canine Sports and Games”
by Kristin Mehus-Roe
By Lee and J.J. MacFadden - Special to the Herald Courier

“Canine Sports and Games” by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2009, Storey Publishing, $16.95, softbound, 255 pages

According to Mehus-Roe, there are plenty of reasons to take up sports with your dog: it’s a great way to bond with your furry loved one, it supplies exercise for both you and the dog and it can even settle some behavioral issues.

Chapter one deals with finding the right sport for your dog. There are tables matching sports to personality traits; sports to breeds, although there are only 41 breeds listed; and another table matching sports to physical characteristics, such as the size of the dog and whether he or she is agile, powerful or a good runner, for example.

Nineteen sports are covered in this book – everything from agility to obedience to skijoring (in which the handler wears cross-country skis and follows behind one to three dogs). Mehus-Roe reminds the reader that it’s important to find a sport that both you and your dog will enjoy.

Other activities besides competitive sports are listed, too, along with pointers on how to get the most out of these activities. The author discusses playing with the older or disabled dog, swimming with your dog, walking or running with your dog and even training a therapy dog. There are tips on buying a puppy, socialization and training, including some specific tricks to teach your dog beyond “sit” and “stay,” such as “shake,” “take a bow,” “play dead,” “crawl” and more.

Chapter four deals with maintaining the health and fitness of your dog. Mehus-Roe suggests developing a fitness program with warm-ups and cool-downs. Mehus-Roe explains about dealing with injuries, keeping cool and knowing when your dog is hurt. There is a also chapter devoted to keeping perspective and knowing when to give your dog a break.

The rest of the book is an overview of dog sports. First are the high-energy games, such as flyball (for quick dogs who love balls and get along with other dogs), and disc dog (Frisbee); these are for enthusiastic, athletic dogs such as border collies and Labs. Next are obedience: rally (a variation on obedience training) and canine freestyle (a sort of human-dog dance). Then there are the instinctive sports, which are based on tasks dogs were originally bred to do, such as herding or tracking. Lastly are the power sports, such as sledding and weight pulling.

An appendix of canine sports organizations follows, and Mehus-Roe also offers advice on traveling with your dog.

Lee’s take: Great ideas.

J.J.’s take: Eye-opening.

LEE AND J.J. MACFADDEN are twins and voracious readers living in Bristol, Tenn. E-mail them at

"No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens."
- Abraham Lincoln

Outing the Cat Lady

"Having been an Outed Cat Lady for a lifetime,
I am delighted to meet the Outest. Regarding the feminine gender, my only reservation is that the many male cat lovers I know make us look conservative by comparison."
-- Betty White - Emmy®Award-winning actress - and lifelong animal advocate

Outing the Cat Lady is a joyful affirmation of being a woman who loves cats too much--or perhaps loves too many cats. The reader is encouraged by a narrator calling herself "The World's Outest Cat Lady"--who sounds like Miss Manners on catnip--to admit that she, too, is a Cat Lady, and to "come Out" with courage, with attitude, and with style.

You need to admit you are a Cat Lady if:

Chapter 1: You have ever actually exchanged money for a cat.
The acquisition of a cat, either by purchasing, adopting from a shelter or rescue, or, more likely, by minding your own business and being adopted
by a cat.

Chapter 2: Your several cats are all named "Kitty."
Names a Cat Lady might select for her own cats, if she could remember them at any given moment.

Chapter 3: Most of your wardrobe consists of cat-themed fleece.
The fashionable Cat Lady outlook on the "Out look." Or, what a Cat Lady wishes she could wear, and the compromises that look best with cat hair.

Chapter 4: You have ever selected flooring or furniture to match your cat.
Home furnishings and decorating, Cat Lady style.

Chapter 5: Even though you live alone, you require a king-size bed just for you and your cats.
Commentary on some of the more confounding issues that Cat Ladies face in sharing their lives with Feline-Americans: opposable thumbs and litterbox archaeology, to name but two.

Chapter 6: A cat has ever contracted ringworm from you.
A troubleshooting guide to common feline ailments and how a Cat Lady confidently copes.

Chapter 7: You know which cat is the father of the new kittens, because it happened under your bed.
The life cycle of cats, from kitten to geezer in the blink of an eye, as observed by the Cat Lady, and the case for spaying/neutering.

Chapter 8: You have ever had a dead cat in the refrigerator.
Q & A with the Cat Lady on a variety of topics, from the ridiculous to the slightly less ridiculous.
(A: Yes, I have.)

Chapter 9: You have learned to have sex in spite of the cat watching--or trying to participate.
When the Cat Lady needs a little human companionship, there's no reason why the cat can't join the fun. Like you have any choice in the matter.

Chapter 10: Bonus: You have selected any of the above, and you are a man.
In praise of the Cat Daddy, and how some of them can be even more lovably eccentric than their Cat Lady counterparts.

Colony of Cats Coughs Up Pet

Consider this the opposite of a shaggy-dog story.

It's a skinny-cat tale.

The saga began July 18, when a family moving from New York to Florida stopped for a break in Cherry Hill. At a turnpike service area, Laura Lopez and her two young daughters watched in horror as their pet cat, Sprinkles, slipped a leash and ran away.

Next came hours of futile searching, followed by months of dismay.
But then, along came Pamela Ott, a Voorhees woman who runs a cat-rescue organization.

OK, so you can see where this story's going. But you probably can't imagine the chain of events that will bring us to its climax -- a reunion last week for Sprinkles and his family.

For starters, you'd need to know that Ott, a 37-year-old office manager, routinely visits 15 to 20 colonies of wild cats throughout the South Jersey-Philadelphia region.

She brings water and food, going through about 25 bags of cat chow each week. She provides dog houses and plastic containers for shelter. And she traps the animals -- humanely -- so they can be spayed or neutered.

"If I think a cat's adoptable, I'll put it in foster care. The others I return to the colony," says Ott, who runs Saved Whiskers Rescue Organization in her free time -- often before dawn and after nightfall.

This puts a lot of wear on her aging car, which has some 250,000 miles on the odometer.

And when the car broke down last fall on Kresson Road near Howard Johnson Road in Cherry Hill, Ott spotted several cats running free behind a convenience store.

A few days later, Ott was setting traps for the Kresson Road brood when she learned of another colony -- this one roaming along the nearby New Jersey Turnpike, right behind the Walt Whitman Service Area.

On Nov. 22, Ott found that group -- and quickly realized that one scrawny member had been somebody's pet.

"Every time I'd put the food bowl down for him, the other cats would push him away," she says of the seven-pounder, who'd already been neutered. And when Ott scooped up the cat to bring him home, he responded with relative calm.

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Tips That Will Help You To Feed
Your Aquarium Fish Correctly
Posted by: Pet Blogger -

As well as any other pet, aquarium fish require much attention and care. So, if you are going to start up an aquarium in order to save your time and reduce costs on keeping a pet in your house, think twice before you buy a fish tank.

In practice, it is even easier to care for a cat or cavy than to care for an aquarium installed in your house. Note, that you have change water, feed your fish as well as other pets and at the same time daily (which is very important to keep your fish in a good health), to spend money on filtration and lighting systems and so on and so force. Purchase of a proper fish tank and the species for your aquarium is only a half of the deal. The most difficult part is to maintain your fish and to feed them properly. In this article we are going to tell you how to do it right.

The major rule about feeding your fish is not to overfeed them. Use the following tips on feeding especially if you have a saltwater aquarium with exotic fish in it.

1. Some specialists are convinced that you have to feed your fish once a day. On the one hand, this point of view is right and many aquarists stick to this rule, but on the other hand try changing it. Feed your species several times a day, but give small amounts of food. It will prevent the water in your fish tank from greening and clouding. The thing is your fish is usually incapable of eating all food you give them at one scoop. The particles of uneaten food spread all over your fish tank and cover the bottom. The accumulation of these particles causes the dirtying of the water and ammonia and nitrites level increase. If not to deal with this problem timely, you can subject your species to a great danger and even death.

2. Note down the time your fish need to eat the food you give them. Define the quantity they eat in five minutes and never give them more than that. In general, fish need from three to five minutes to satiate themselves. The rest of the food remaining in your aquarium is excess, polluting the water.

3. If your fish prefer meaty food, combine it with a dry food and give meat only two or three times a week. It will diversify your fish’s diet and decrease the ammonia level, increased by meat particles mostly.

4. It is strongly recommended that you have one powerful or even two powerful filters. They can be expensive, but they are capable of solving the problem of greening and clouding of the water in your aquarium.

5. Get a catfish for your aquarium. It will it the most part of food particles in the bottom of your fish tank.

Turn Tiles into a 3D Fish Tank Background

If you're bored with the plain background of your fish tank, you can add a 3D background inexpensively with this simple guide.

You can find rolls of fish tank backgrounds at nearly any fish store, but they lack sorely for realism and look like what they are—flat and static photographs. You can make a 3D background that will add a significant amount of realism and texture to your fish tank with little expense and only about an hour of work. My total cost for the project was $10 for a box of slate tile from the clearance bin and $3 for some silicone.

You'll need some basic supplies and tools including a hammer, a screw driver or chisel, and a caulk gun. On the supplies side of things you'll need a tube of silicone caulk and a box of slate floor tiles. Make sure you buy silicone caulk without any additives. If you want to be extra cautious you can buy only from a fish store, but I've been buying silicone caulk from the hardware store for years without any problem—just make sure you read the label carefully and buy silicone that doesn't have any fungicide or other additives, GE Silicone 1 for Doors and Windows is the brand I've always used.

The first step is the fun one. Take your box of floor tiles and bust them up with a hammer—wear safety goggles! How you break them will be determined by your tank size and the look you're going for. If you want a big chunky background then break them into large pieces and leave them that way. If you want a background with smaller pieces, then smash them accordingly.

Once you've broken the tiles, look through the pile of pieces for corner and edge pieces. You'll want four good corners and a fair number of pieces that have a straight edge on them. These pieces will be the corner and edges of your background respectively. The rest of the edge pieces will need to be chipped with the hammer to break up the straight lines for a more natural look. Slate "naps" pretty easily, so you can hit just the very edge and it will chip away in an irregular pattern.

After you've finished breaking up and sorting the slate tile it's time to start building the background. Lay the fish tank on its side. I put my tank on a piece of styrofoam but you could put it on a carpet scrap, old comforter, or any other soft surface. Lay out the first layer of the background on the glass. Place the corners and edge pieces, then place pieces in the middle trying to leave as little space in between them as possible. Don't stress about a jig-saw-perfect fit because the second layer is going to cover up all the gaps.

When you've laid out all the pieces to your satisfaction, start applying a liberal amount of caulk to the back of each piece and pressing it firmly into place. You'll want to put the heaviest amount of caulk in the center of the piece so that it'll spread out under the slate without spilling out over the edges. You can opt to leave the first layer to set for a few hours or if you're careful and you can move right onto the second layer. You're going to repeat the process of laying out the tile pieces and securing them with silicone, this time with a focus on covering up the seams or gaps in the first layer.

After the second layer is down and you've pressed everything firmly into place, leave it alone for at least 24-48 hours to cure. The silicone will release acetic acid as it cures, so when the background stops smelling strongly of vinegar you know it has cured enough. You can't go wrong waiting an extra day or two at this step; many aquarium enthusiasts will let silicone cure for upwards of a week before doing anything else with a tank.

It's worth noting that although I started with an empty and dry fish tank it is possible do to this project with an already established fish tank. Instead of adhering the tile directly to the back of the fish tank you'll simply adhere the tile to a piece of acrylic sheeting cut to fit inside the tank and then slowly and carefully lower the background into the established tank and lean it against the back.

The 20 gallon long went in my office and now houses four Neolamprologus Brevis, a shell-dwelling Cichlid from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. The male fish seen in the photo above has taken a particular interest in my computer and will swim to the corner of the tank and stare at the monitors every time I sit down to work.

Send an email to Jason Fitzpatrick, the author of this post, at

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Good People Can Make Bad Puppies –
Puppy Training Advice –
Don’t Make Mistakes
by Dog Trainer -

There are many different breeds of dogs and no one of them has a monopoly on brains. Puppies are idividuals just like humans. Some may be bold and some may be shy, but most of them can be molded, in fact a lot of puppies mimic the behavior of their owners. Some of the best puppie training advice is to know what you are doing as a trainer. One of the first things that you should concentrate on is to teach the puppy its name.

Pick a simple name and use it always when you talk to your puppy so that the puppy gets used to hearing it. Make sure that the puppy connects hearing its name with something good like praise or a treat. Start the training gently and don’t be harsh. Puppies and all dogs learn through repetition so you must be patient, you probably won’t see results overnight. Talk to your puppy a lot and establish communication with it. This relationship will draw the two of you closer together.

A good piece of puppy training advice that will save you a lot of frustration is, if the puppy can’t learn a certain thing, switch to something else. Another tip is to make the lessons brief so that the puppy doesn’t get bored. As was mentioned before, you must reward or reinforce the puppy for the response that you want. This can be with praise and treats or just praise. Remember to give the reward immediately as a puppy’s memory is very short.

If you have to correct or discipline, a disgusted voice is usually enough. If you need more force, make a startling noise by hitting a rolled up newspaper against your knee or some object.

Avoid using your hand to hit the dog, if you must, make sure that it is just a light tap. Basic training consists of name recognition, the “No” command, “Quiet” and house training (housebreaking).

Talk to the puppy a lot and start with only a few minutes a day of training and lots of play time. The best puppy training advice is to keep at it, be patient and don’t let either you or the puppy get bored. Follow these basic steps and you should be on your way to successfully training your puppy.

Cocker Spaniel
Dog Breed Training Advice

The Cocker Spaniel is basically a hunting dog and its appearance reflects the capability of the dog. These dogs socialize well and behave nicely with children. Cocker Spaniel obedience training is normally simple as they are always eager to please their owners. Cockers sometimes may become more possessive of their owners and barks to alert them of a visitor. If they are left alone for a longer period, they become aggressive and may retaliate.

Cockers are brilliant family dogs and require lots of exercise; they also love swimming and running off the lead. They are friendly and love human companionship and like to please their owners. They live about 11 to 12 years and some of the health problems that affect them are skin allergies, cataracts, shyness, benign tumors, bite problems and deafness.

There are two types of Cockers namely the English and the American. The tallness in these two types distinguishes them. Normally, American Cocker is longer than the English Cocker. Cocker Spaniel obedience training involves trimming the coat and regular grooming. If you want to give them a neat look, then trimming is necessary.

Cocker dogs are excellent working and hunting dogs. Cocker Spaniel obedience training can be carried out without much difficulty as they are highly intelligent. Also, they are good learners and always eager to please their masters. The dogs can be trained as sniffer dogs that are used to check for food products or drugs. A working Cocker is a flushing dog and it need some training to do the job efficiently. A well-bred Cocker Spaniel is playful, gentle, trusting, loyal and happy towards everyone.

Cocker Spaniel obedience training includes the special grooming needs. The coat length may be wavy or flat. The color of the coat can be buff, liver, buff etc. The ears are silky and long and require daily cleaning. They should be combed and brushed at least twice or thrice a week to shun matting on the chest, ears and legs. They appreciate and love long vigorous walks.

Cocker Spaniels easily catch ear infections and hence the ears should be cleaned properly. If you are leaving her for professional grooming, then make sure the ear is cleaned properly. Any excess fluid or water should not remain inside the ear. The ear cleaning may be difficult to carry out. Cocker Spaniel obedience training will be easier if you keep her healthy and free from ear infections.

Cockers teeth should be brushed with the specific toothpaste and brush for at least twice in a week. Brushing removes the tartar and hence can avoid cavities and periodontal disease. The toenails also require care and should be clipped regularly. Strengthen your emotional bonds with her to keep her healthy and happy.

If left alone, they become more aggressive and even can bite or bark for longer hours to show their unhappiness. On the other hand, if trained right from a young age, they behave very well with others and children and shows their happiness and affection towards the family.

5 Memorable Dog-Training Challenges
By Lisa Moore - McClatchy Newspapers

A pet-behavior specialist shares unforgettable dog-training challenges from the past year.

As we start the new year, the inevitable lists begin to show up: resolutions, want lists, to-do lists, dieting lists, and on and on.

I've come up with a new list; one of memorable dog-training challenges of 2009.

1. DOGS NAMED BO, JOE AND MOE. No kidding, all in the same house. One can only imagine the chaos and confusion of having three dogs all answering to — or collectively ignoring — a similar sounding name. After an hour of "Bo, no!" and "Joe, no!" I told the owner I could take "no Moe" and we discussed necessary name changes for all.

2. "MY DOG IS DUMB" SYNDROME. Many a client will describe his dog as a few kibbles short of a bag, wrongly assuming that the dog is incapable of learning. The bored dog at the end of the leash looks to be thinking the same of his owner. These are such fun cases to work with, because once we are able to teach the client how to relate to the dog in a canine way, learning becomes easy, and success is achieved. So bring on your "dumb" dogs — a good trainer will prove to you the brilliance of your canine friend.

3. WRONG DOG-OWNER COMBO. Time and again we see people matched with the wrong dog for their situation or lifestyle. Dog and owner are caught in a failure chain, as neither individual is capable of meeting the needs of the other. The senior citizen with a crazy Border collie, the 6-year-old with the Great Dane, the marathon runner with a Basset hound, the knitting nester with a German shorthaired pointer, the infirm individual with a young puppy. Training will not supersede the essence of the dog's character or activity level. The solution for this is simple — know what energy level you are able to handle for the next 10 years, and then choose a puppy or adult dog accordingly. Don't expect to bend the will and nature of the dog's spirit — you won't succeed.

4. "IT'S MY CHILD'S DOG." Parents, take note. No matter how much your child wants to be involved with obtaining, training and caring for a dog, the ultimate responsibility is yours. Should your child be involved? Absolutely, but at best it is a joint project, and as your child continues to grow and develop other interests, the family dog will continue to require care, training and companionship, and that's on you. So if you do not have the time or interest to take on a new furry family member, skip the puppy, and get your child a goldfish.

Note: Pet fish can be trained to do tricks, too!

5. "SHE'S NOT A DOG, SHE'S A PERSON." Contrary to current pop culture trends, dogs do not need or enjoy being dressed up in costumes, spritzed with cologne, or used as an accessory for an outfit. No matter the breed or size, dogs are canines, and to ignore their needs as a species is to do them a great disservice. Dogs will put up with all manner of ridiculous things we humans thrust upon them, but embracing and providing your dog with what her true canine needs are is what takes your relationship with her to the next level.

Lisa Moore is a pet-behavior specialist in Modesto, Calif.

Chew on This!
Dental Advice for your Pet Dog
Deva Samuels -

When humans go to the dentist for our bi-yearly checkups we all get the lecture from our vet about flossing and brushing our pet dogs at home. Imagine if you never brushed your teeth, if all your food was hard and crunchy but your gums were swollen and sore! That’s how it can be for our pets.

Dental disease, periodontal disease and gingivitis have been a huge issue for both cats and dogs. Although some pets take to having their teeth brushed, removing all the tartar and plaque can only be obtained though a dental prophylactic cleaning. Most veterinarians recommend pets to have their teeth cleaned yearly. This process involves a routine blood panel to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia. This is very important to confirm that your pets liver and kidneys are functioning properly to process the anesthetic.

Your vet will also perform a general exam. Your vet will then anesthetize your pet under full general anesthesia and using a hand-scaler will scale all surfaces of each tooth to remove any plaque and tartar. The vet will scale under the gum line to help prevent gingivitis. Routine cleanings while under anesthesia will allow a very thorough cleaning and also allow the doctor to see full inside your pet dog or cat’s mouth, checking for broken teeth, masses in the mouth or any other oral issues.

There are different ways to maintain your pet’s teeth at home. Dental chews are a great way to occupy their time and clean their teeth at the same time. It is best to choose chews that are the appropriate size and texture for your pet. Some chews are kibble/treat like and some are bone like. Water additive is an easy way to help with bad breath. Most water additives contain enzymes that neutralize bacteria in the pet’s mouth to prevent bad breath. Brushing your pet’s teeth is a spectacular way to keep plaque and tartar build up away. Although it is easiest to start when a pet is young, a lot of older pets will come to tolerate teeth brushing. Some pet even like the taste of the poultry flavored toothpaste.

Never use human toothpaste on your pet. One way to get pets used to having their teeth brushed is to start with toothpaste on your finger and rubbing along the inside of the mouth for a short time. Doing this for just a few minutes each day will help adjust your pet to having things in their mouth. Then you can take the next step to a finger type toothbrushes and then move onto a regular brush. These activities will also help build patience if your pet ever has to go to the vet with an issue with their mouth, such as a broken tooth or object stuck in their mouth. It will be easier on the pet during the exam if they are used to having their mouth touched.

The benefits to good oral health range from better breath, better appetites all the way to helping prevent kidney and heart issues. The bacteria in a pet’s mouth can make it from the mouth to the blood stream. It is proven that pets that have had their oral health needs maintained live longer, pain free lives.

If you are ever in the need of pet sitting or pet services most sitters will take the time to follow your instructions on the dental care route you have chosen for your pets. Having different people handle your pet dog or cat will help prepare them for a long life with all of their teeth. When meeting the pet sitting company you chose, make sure they offer these services and be sure to show your sitter the technique you use when handling your pets mouth. Together we can make sure our pets live their lives to the fullest.

This article was written by Deva Samuels, owner of Fetch! Pet Care of West Seattle. Deva can be reached at 206-965-9851. Fetch! Pet Care is the largest national pet care company in the United States; serving 38 states in more than 2,000 cities and towns.

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Ollie - Not to Be Eaten!
by Ed Kent -

My daughter with her four children is at the moment visiting friends in CA. I was slightly in shock when she mentioned that a new addition was being made to the family.

It was with great relief that I learned that the new family arrival, Ollie, is a 1 LB LAP DOG (MALTESE) WHO NEVER MAKES A SOUND. My grand daughter had eagerly wanted a dog — the family has only a hamster now.

The possible catch here is that the last dog the family had some years ago became ours when a new residence in a another state turned out not to permit pets. I will admit that we became very attached to her and missed her when she finally had to be put away due to a painful illness.

Personally I grew up surrounded by animals - dogs, cats, but also two lambs and a pig. It was WW II and the two latter additions were supposed to provide food eventually. But Betsy and Butch became family pets who mowed our lawns as did Tiny, our pig and general garbage disposal unit. Tiny was picked up by my father when he noticed a burlap bag bouncing around on the side of the road. Tiny had probably fallen off a truck.

It was interesting to learn that our farm animals vary tremendously in intelligence. Tiny was by far ahead of the rest and a real friend to us as well. Needless to say, he did not become our bacon. We eventually returned our proposed meals back to the professionals.

With farming having become largely a cruel corporate operation, I wonder how many kids have direct contact now with more than the small dogs that we see in our neighborhood or the cats that my other daughter has.

I fear a great loss with the decline of family farming in this country. Animals now appear on a plate or in a bun. And those are not always so healthy.

One of the major beef suppliers to our schools, McDonald’s etc. has been mixing ammonia into its beef so that it can make a few more bucks selling the scraps that tend to carry infections. Apparently the process does not work very well either:

Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned -
Dec 31, 2009 … A Beef Products Inc. processing plant in South Sioux City, Neb. The company injects fatty beef trimmings with ammonia to remove E. coli and …

Perhaps it is time to become a vegetarian?

Kandi Stevens:
Lost Pet? Here Are a Few Tips

We try to make life safe for our pets, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, they get lost. When that happens, it's important to act immediately. Don't wait and assume that they will find their way home.

Here are some steps you can take to help locating your missing best friend:
If you've lost a pet:

•First, contact your local shelters and animal control agencies. The two local agencies that receive stray animals appear below. Animals received at these agencies are held about a week (varies by agency). The Valley Oak SPCA is required to hold stray animals for four days. Visit the shelters in person and ask to look at the strays picked up recently. Check back often as stray pets sometimes arrive weeks or months after they first disappear. Be sure to ask about the animals that were picked up by the shelter as sick, injured or deceased.

•File a lost report with all the shelters and agencies that you visit. When you make an actual lost report, the more specific you can be when you describe your missing pet, the better. Give lots of detail and provide a photo if you can.

•Search for your pet. Canvass the neighborhood, call and whistle. Injured, frightened or trapped animals might be encouraged to respond by the sound of your voice. Check with neighbors and friends.

•Make fliers and post lost pet notices with photographs of your missing pet in stores, churches, libraries and around your neighborhood. Include the pet's name, photograph and description, along with your name and contact information.

•Place a Lost Pet notice in the newspaper.

•Watch the found pets column in your local newspapers.

Winter Safety Tips
By Debbie Gary-Taskey - BeeHaven Canine Coaching

Winter time is here! In our area, winter can be harsh and frigid cold. Our pets depend on us for their safety and comfort.

For those of us who have dogs (or pets), it’s time to take precautions. First and foremost; pets are safer, happier, and healthier when kept indoors. If at all possible, pets should be brought indoors for winter. Pets can become sick or even die from hypothermia or freezing to death in extreme temperatures.

Pets that are kept outdoors need to be protected by a dry, draft free shelter large enough that they can comfortably sit and lie down in but small enough to hold their body heat. The doorway should face away from wind and have a flexible cover, such as heavy plastic, tarp or burlap. The floor should be raised off the ground and covered with cedar or straw to help keep them dry and warm.

Unless you keep your dogs outdoor water heated, you need to check more frequently and keep water available, as it will freeze. Keep in mind to use a container other than metal to feed and water your pet so that their tongue does not stick and freeze to the feeding container. Pets that are kept outdoors in winter will need more food as they burn up more calories during cold temperatures.

When taking your indoor dog outside during the winter, those dogs with a short coat or whose bodies are low to the ground can benefit to wear a water resistant coat. Boots for their paws can protect them from the harshness of winter and from harmful salt that can irritate or crack their paw pads.

Puppies, senior dogs and those with medical conditions can be more susceptible to winter conditions.

Check your dog often for signs of frostbite or hypothermia. Frostbite signs include skin discoloration (gray, red or pale), blistering or swelling usually around the ears, tail, feet or scrotum. Hypothermia could be life threatening and signs can include lethargy, shallow breathing, shivering or a weak pulse.

Some of my dogs have long hair and in the winter time I keep the long hair on their feet, paws, legs and belly trimmed. This helps to prevent snow and ice from clinging to their long hair. When they get snow balls on their body, I remove them as soon as possible to keep the cold away from their body and make them more comfortable.

It is a good idea to keep your dog on a leash as they can get lost due to having a harder time detecting scent in cold weather. Leashing dogs will also help keep them from running onto partially frozen bodies of water that could prove to be hazardous or deadly if the ice breaks and they fall in.

Keep in mind that antifreeze has a sweet taste that is tempting to pets but can be very deadly. Keep spills cleaned up and keep pets away. Consider using antifreeze products that contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Salt can be irritating to their skin so be sure to wipe or wash areas of your dog that could come in contact with salt after bringing them back inside.

Winter time is also a good time to practice some basic manners with your dog. Reward your dog when he allows you to handle him while wiping or checking out those paws.

It is important that your pet feels comfortable while being handled. Practice “loose leash walking” and /or the use of a harness like the Easy Walkª harness can come in handy on those slippery days when you take your dog for a walk. Having a good “recall” (come when called) is handy if you pet gets loose to keep them from running away, getting lost or keep them from winter hazards such as running onto partially frozen bodies of water. The “leave it” cue can keep them from harmful antifreeze or other unknown objects you may encounter in the snow.

Keep these winter safety tips in mind so that you and your dog can enjoy the wintery days ahead.

Debbie Gary-Taskey is owner/professional trainer of BeeHaven Canine Coaching and PAWSITIVE STEPS columnist featured in the Daily American and Somerset Magazine.

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Can a Dog Live as a Vegetarian?

One of the first decisions we are faced with when introducing a dog into our home, is what are you going to feed him. Of course dogs do not eat what you eat, so you are tempted to go to the store, grab a bag and get on with it. However, other choices exist. Perhaps you have done away with meat in your life, and would like your dog to follow on the same footsteps. One of the primary reasons why a pet owner will take away meat from their dog’s diet is, is because they have taken it away from their own as well. This is fine, as long as the pet owner has taken the necessary precautions. One of the most important facts you need to realize when going in this direction, is that your pet is a dog, and you are a human being with similar, but different nutritional requirements.

If we take a moment to study wild dogs, you would soon make note that they rely on the hunt of the day to survive. However, there are prolonged periods of time in which the hunt is slow, and the animal will be lead to eating greens and grains to stay alive. So as much as appealing as vegetables may be, a wild dog will always be on the lookout for nice chunk of meat.

If we analyze your dog’s dentures, you will notice that nature has endowed them with large side teeth called “canines”, which serve as tools for ripping raw meat apart. Thus, in their natural state, dog where designed to be meat eaters. Steering your dog away from meat and towards greens may be going against the current, but perhaps possible.

In theory, it is possible to nourish your dog by means of vegetables and grains, but not recommended. The ingredients in your dog’s meal should contain all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support a healthy body. What sounds like an ideal lifestyle for you as a vegetarian, may end up being fatal for your dog.

The body of a dog requires large quantities of protein, which is mostly found in meat and some dog food brands. A lack of this nutrient in your dog’s diet will result in a weak dog that lacks enthusiasm and energy. Amino acids are another part of a nutritious diet that can hardly be met by a vegetable eating dog. Even though the dog’s body does produce close to half of the amino acids it requires for healthy living, the other half needs to come from his daily meal. It is unlikely that your dog’s amino acid requirements will be met through vegetables alone.

If you have made up your mind on a vegetarian meal for your dog, please consult your veterinarian for advice. He might be able to give you recommendations, and indicate some additional supplements to complement your dog’s meal. Remember that your dog might be able to survive as a vegetarian, but surviving life is not the same as living it. Nature did not intend for dogs to be vegetarians, and depriving them of meat could result in illness, lack of energy and even death.

Top 5 Pet Stories of 2009
Posted by Hope Hammond -

There were a ton of unique animal related stories this year. Perhaps the most followed was the Presidential family's decision to buy a Portuguese Water Dog.

However, there were a lot of other ones such as these listed below by the Houston Chronicle:

1. Houston's Stump won best in show at the 133rd annual Westminster Kennel Club show at Madison Square Garden. The 10-year-old Sussex spaniel, who lives with Scott Sommer, is the oldest dog to win the title.

2. Daizy, a Texas Blue Lacy lost in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, was reunited with her Clear Lake family 10 months later. Muffy, a dog missing nine years in Australia, was reunited with its original owner in July, thanks to microchip information embedded in the dog.

3. Michael Vick was released from prison after serving 23 months on a dogfighting conviction. Animal rights activists protested his return to pro football when he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. The quarterback speaks to youth groups about animal cruelty and dogfighting.

4. A few cats tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 “swine” influenza virus this fall and were treated successfully. This month the H1N1 virus was confirmed in a dog that is recovering. Of more concern for dogs is the Canine Influenza Virus, aka H3N8. A CIV/H3N8 vaccine for dogs is now available.

5. Nora the piano-playing cat got her moment in the spotlight, but the wackiest video sensations were Keyboard Cat, Jenny the pug, which pushes a stroller, and Surprised Kitty.

Some Pet Stores Getting Out
of the Puppy Business
By John Keilman -

Humane Society seeks pledges in fight against 'backyard breeders'

The Humane Society of the United States has long denounced the practice of selling dogs at pet stores, contending that it props up a mass-breeding industry that treats animals cruelly. But as the group seeks new laws to clamp down on the trade, it is also trying to prompt change with a few kind words.

The organization has given its endorsement to 45 Chicago-area pet stores that have taken a pledge not to carry puppies. The society hopes the seal of approval will funnel more customers to those retailers, rewarding them for steering clear of the breeding business.

"We want to encourage (the shops) by saying thank you, and to encourage people to support those stores," said Jordan Matyas, Illinois director for the Humane Society.

Those who run some of the shops say it's hard to tell whether the endorsement has made an economic difference. But they added that many shoppers have made it abundantly clear that they expect stores to stay out of the puppy trade.

"A lot of our clientele patronizes us because we don't sell puppies," said Chuck Hume, owner of Animal Feeds and Needs in Arlington Heights. "We'd lose I don't how many customers if we decided to do that."

The Humane Society and other animal welfare groups have for years criticized "puppy mills," breeders that produce dogs on a large scale.

Even though many of these operations are licensed and inspected by the federal government, critics say the minimum standards of care, which allow animals to be kept in wire-floor cages and bred without limit, are so low they amount to cruel treatment.

"If the average dog owner saw the conditions that are allowed under (those) regulations, they would be horrified," said Stephanie Shain, senior director for the society's anti-puppy mills campaign. "They would not allow their own animals to live that way."

Some Downstate animal control officers say widespread unemployment appears to have produced a growing number of "backyard breeders," novices who hope to make money by selling puppies.

Those efforts frequently fail, the officers say, leading to animals being abandoned or dropped off at the local pound.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture, which regulates some breeders, had no statistics reflecting the state of the industry here. But anecdotally, veterinarian Colleen O'Keefe, the department's division manager of food safety and animal protection, said the tough economy seems to have produced a slowdown.

She said one large dog auction in Arthur, a town east of Decatur, closed last year after slack demand pushed the price of a puppy to as low as $10.

"A lot of the commercial breeders have really cut down, recognizing there isn't much of a market right now," she said.

The Humane Society would like to keep the pressure on big breeding operations, so it is pushing for new laws in Missouri, a state it says supplies many Illinois pet shops.

The organization is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would cap the number of dogs a breeder can keep, as well as establish stricter requirements for the animals' care.

A similar proposal in Illinois last year went nowhere, and one of its sponsors, state Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago, said it was wrongly portrayed as an attempt to put all breeders out of business. A task force is working on a compromise measure, he said.

"Every session we don't take action on this issue is another year where countless animals are mistreated," he said.

But for all the attempts at changing laws and regulations, Shain said she hoped the low-key campaign of applauding puppy-free stores could prove effective in its own way. So far, she said, about 450 stores in 35 states have taken the pledge and received the group's support.

"I couldn't tell you how much (the endorsement) has helped, but I can tell you for sure that our clients appreciate that we don't sell puppies," said Joe Spitza, co-owner of the Wet Nose pet stores in Oak Brook and Geneva. "I'm sure we gain clients because of that."

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Home Pet Grooming Tips

Pet grooming will be performed by the owner or from a skilled who has gone to school to be told the craft. If you’re a do-it-your-self sort person there are plenty of safety tips you would possibly need to keep in mind. The animal you’re grooming is special to you and you will need to stay the animal safe and calm during the pet grooming experience. Any undue pain or injury caused by unsafe practices can cause emotional stress to your animal and damage to the trust level the pet could have with you. The subsequent tips will guarantee a secure and pleasurable pet grooming experience.

Most pets do not like this, however the surplus hair that forms in the ears must be clipped. Excess hair can build moisture that can trap bacteria and cause ear infections or be a breeding ground for ear mites. These types of afflictions will cause your pet a nice deal of discomfort. Infections cause the animal to scratch and shake their head. Mites will really cause the animal to do harm to their inner canal as they stick their nails inside attempting to scratch. Giant eared dogs have already got a predisposition for ear issues and therefore the shaking of their ears back in forth will rupture blood vessels. Professional pet groomers have specialised equipment to remove ear hair, however the novice could use nose hair trimmers to urge the same effect. The noise of the clippers may scare the pet, thus stroke him with the other hand and supply soothing words to calm them.

Another novice mistake is to shave the animal all the way. Pet grooming specialists can do this at the request of the owner, however it’s unwell suggested if the animal is an outdoor pet. The coat protects the animal from the cold and additionally from the sun. Each parts will cause serious skin harm to your pet which could result in expensive veterinarian bills. The lack of hair on the body will cause rashes. The hair in some breeds secrete essential oils that shield and lubricate the skin, whereas others such as Labradors have 2 coats that serve different functions for the animals safety. Try to shave mats as close as possible until you’re ready to work them out with a brush. Even shaving mat patches to the skin can leave your pet in danger of the sun and wind.

If you employ a clipper, brush the hair backwards against the grain and then move your clippers with the grain. Pet grooming specialists could use a selection of length of clipper combs which will be used in variance with the length and thickness of the coat. The novice pet groomer might use home hair clipper systems, but they ought to experiment initial in one unnoticeable area before continuing the entire job. When shaving the underbelly, beware the nipples.

Even on a male pet this can a painful experience if they’re cut or cut off. Home pet grooming is an cheap way to stay your pet healthy and happy, however it is also a means for your pet to be injured or messed up so unhealthy that only skilled pet grooming can fix the owners mistake.

Guide To Feeding Your
Pet Bearded Dragon
By flukerfarms -

Bearded dragons are not just pets; they are an exotic variety of pets. The Inland or Central Bearded Dragon is the one that is most popular. Bearded dragons are native to Australia and there a variety of species that are found there.

When upset, the bearded dragon, they inhale and puff themselves up and in the process also enlarge a pouch under their jaw which resembles a beard. This is how they get their name as bearded dragons. Although referred to as a dragon, this is in fact a hardy lizard with a mild temperament and a trusting nature. This is why they are very popular as pets even amongst children. Bearded dragons tend to have triangular heads and flattened bodies. The adult of the species grows up to approximately 16 – 22 inches. Their growth generally ranges from 3 to 6 inches from birth to the end of their first month (measurements being head to tail). For your beloved bearded dragon to gain weight steadily, you have to feed it a wholesome nutritious diet.

Bearded dragons are classified as omnivores i.e. they feed on both vegetation and insects. If you are queasy about handling bugs, then having a bearded dragon for a pet may not be for you! They eat crickets primarily and also some mealworms. It is also important for you to have greens available for them to feed on although baby bearded dragons do not consume as much greens as their adult counterparts. Crickets work as the main food for them. Mealworms should only be given in small quantities as they have a hard outer chitin, making it difficult for bearded dragons to digest them. If you over feed your bearded dragon mealworms, this could eventually result in impaction leading to death. You also need to be careful of the fact that the insects you choose to feed your baby bearded dragon should not be bigger than their mouth. If you feed a baby or young bearded dragon a large cricket that is larger than the bearded dragon’s mouth, this could potentially result in choking or a blockage and even digestive problems. Obviously as your baby bearded dragon grows, you can increase the size of the crickets and mealworms that you feed your pet.

If your baby fruit flies is receiving a nutritious diet and proper care, you could see it grow up to 8 or 9 inches at the end of two months. After this stage, up to approximately six months of age, you could see your pet grow at the rate of half an inch per week on an average.

As with all pets, bearded dragons also require that their diet is monitored as they grow from a baby to an adult. A baby bearded dragon will take 2 or 3 feedings of insects like crickets in a day. But let your pet guide you and never over feed it. As the baby bearded dragon grows, it will be capable of eating a few greens, but the diet will still constitute a maximum of crickets.

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