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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