Mother Nature at Her Best - Part II (Photos)

Cat Jury Duty -
Boston Kitty Denied Disqualification,
Expected at Court
By Jess Snow -

An East Boston cat has been called to jury duty. Will the kitty be able to perform his civic duty? Even though he has asked to be excused Sal Esposito (a real life four-legged feline) is expected to show up for court and render judgment on someone in Massachusetts.

The family believes that Sal may be thought to be "human" as they included him on the census form. According to MSNBC News, on the last Census form, Anna Esposito listed him under pets. 'I just wrote 'Sal Esposito', scratched out the 'dog,' and wrote, 'cat,'' said Anna, according to the report.

Once the jury summons arrived at the residence, Anna filed for Sal's disqualification of service, but the jury commissioner said no! Now what?

The report adds, "Sal's service date at Suffolk Superior Court is set for March 23. Anna said that if the issue isn't cleared up by then, she will simply have to bring the cat to court."

Dog Behavioral Problems –
4 Simple Tips

Many dog owners are faced with bad behavior in their dogs, and if you’re facing dog behavioral problems, it’s advisable to act immediately. If bad dog behavior is allowed to continue, you may end up with a a bigger dog and bigger problems on your hands. Thankfully, there are many simple techniques to implement change in dog behavior issues in a humane and loving way.

Dog behavioral problems can run the gamut from funny, but annoying pet-peeve problems, to full fledged dangerous issues such as a dog attack. Although there are various causes of behavioral problems, the solutions are pretty consistent. The old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” isn’t an excuse and with consistent training, you can address dog behavior problems. Let’s look at a few really easy dog training tips.

1. Stick to It.

This is the absolute key when training any pet. You may be tempted to let them slide every once in awhile, but this will only serve to hamper your training. Be sure to follow through with praise as well as with discipline and your dog will begin to see that you are absolutely the pack leader.

2. Rewards are Integral to Success.

While many older dog training techniques, like putting your dog’s nose in their mess, may seem initially effective, they may actually cause more issues later on. Positive reinforcement helps your dog relate good behavior with good rewards, and is a very effective means of tackling even the toughest dog behavior problems.

In brief, reinforcing good behavior means that you reward a dog when he or she does what you are training him or her to do, and deny the reward when they don’t. Even the most stubborn dog will begin to respond to these strategies, when they are applied habitually.

3. Introduce a Crate.

One of the simplest ways to put an end to destructive behavior is to provide your dog with clear cut boundaries. Crating them while you are gone, or when you need some space is an effective and humane training aid. You may need to introduce them to the crate slowly, and give them time to get used to being confined. Remember, be consistent and reward them for good behavior in their crate. A crate should never be used as a punishment device, only as a quiet place for them to go and be at ease.

4. A last piece of advice for you and especially your immediate family members.

Once the dog behavioral problems are addressed, and the corrective training has started, it is imperative everyone addressing the dog use the same-exact training commands and positive reinforcement. Everyone must be consistent in the handling of the dog. If not, your poor pet will become very frustrated and may misbehave even more than before the positive reinforcement training was begun.

This system of approaching your pet will result in effectively remediating your dog behavioral issues, without causing your pet harm or severing the relationship between you and your pet. You’ll notice your pooch rewards you with a new, loving attitude, and a healthy respect, not out of fear but out of love. Use this approach when you want to erradicate dog behavioral problems for good.

James Hussey works a family business by day; writes about dog behavioral problems; blogs; freelances on Elance as “JamestheJust” writing SEO/sales articles and web content; and enjoys his family. Dog Pet Stores is his most recent blog, where you’ll find answers to dog behavior questions & dog clothing info.

Come visit, and be sure you get your free sample dog training 6-day mini course, and a sample of a great online video training course, too. Two great resources for dog training, for sure.

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West Yellowstone's Christmas Bird Count
Reveals Four New Species
By John Heine - Director, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center/

For the ninth straight year, avid birders from the area scoured a 15-mile diameter area around West Yellowstone to find every bird present. Sponsored by the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count includes similar surveys throughout the western hemisphere including 30 in the state of Montana.

On December 20, a dozen hearty souls broke up into five groups to hit all the well-known bird hot spots from Hebgen Lake to Idaho's Henry's Lake. This year's search resulted in the sighting of 890 individual birds representing 35 species.

Most notable is the addition of Western Meadowlark, Lesser Scaup, Cassin's Finch and Bohemian Waxwing to West Yellowstone's species list - bringing the nine-year total to an impressive 74 species.

This year also revealed high counts for Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Brown Creeper and American Goldfinch. The most prevalent species continue to be the Common Raven and Mallard.

All of the data is registered with the Audubon Society to help look for population trends over the years. For the West Yellowstone participants, it's not only a great way to spend a winter day outdoors, but a great opportunity to share the experiences of the day afterwards at a local pub.

Cathy M. Rosenthal:
Dog Doesn't Listen? This is Why

Cathy Rosenthal Letters about "stubborn dogs" that don't seem to listen flood my e-mail. Margie G. says, "Whenever we go for walks, I say my dog's name, but she doesn't turn her head to look at me."

Gina says she must ask her dog to "sit" several times before her dog will even think about complying. "What am I doing wrong and how can I get Allie to sit on the first request?"

R. Rogers says that his dog responds to the stay command, but only for a second. "As soon as I turn my head, my dog is up and about again."

Does this sound like your dog?

While the desire to please varies among breeds, most of the problem is not with a "stubborn dog" but with a pet owner who might foster indifference with less-than-assertive tones and a failure to see the command followed through on the first request.

For example, the other day, I witnessed a friend asking her dog to "sit," except she said, "You are getting underfoot, Buttons; either go away or sit." Of course, Buttons did neither because Buttons didn't hear a clear request. My friend returned to her cooking.

A few minutes later, Buttons was underfoot again. This time, she said, "I thought I asked you to go away. All right, sit. Sit, Buttons. Sit. I said sit."

Buttons started to "sit," but then my friend turned her back again before Buttons obeyed the less-than-clear request. Did she want Buttons to go away or sit? I wasn't even sure what Buttons should do at this point. Buttons looked bewildered.

Dogs that ignore commands have either learned not to comply on the first request or can't figure out the request because their pet owner is not clear.

As with any learned behavior, repetition is key — but only with the number of times you practice and succeed, not the number of times you say "sit" in one request.

What should my friend, as well as Gina and R. Rogers, have done? All should have said "sit" or "stay" once in a confident tone and then gently helped their dogs to comply by moving a treat over their head or down to the floor to get them to sit or stay.

As soon as their dog complies, they should acknowledge the obedient behavior with a "good dog" response or treat. They should never turn their backs until their dogs have complied with the request. And all requests should be concise and easy to understand.

As for Margie G., she needs to walk her dog, call her dog's name once and give her a treat only when she turns her head to respond. If she doesn't turn her head, then stop walking and stand without saying a word until she turns her head to see what's going on. Then say, "good dog," give a treat and walk again.

Repeat this process during the walk. Once the dog knows there are treats, she will turn her head every time you say her name. Eventually, this behavior will become ingrained and you won't need treats to get the desired results.

Dogs listen best to pet owners who know how to communicate with dogs.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or e-mail them to Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday. You can read her blog, Animals Matter, at

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Mother Nature at Her Best - Part II
Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ

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Dog News:
What Breed is Our Dog?
by Paris and John -

Have you ever wondered just what breed(s) your shelter dog is? We have–and so last week we took our Tiki into the vet to start the Wisdom Panel MX test by Mars Veterinary. this simple test will check her DNA against the DNA of 157 breeds and hopefully will solve the mystery of just what breeds make up Tiki!

The test, which can be ordered through Mars Veterinary or purchased at many vet clinics, includes a vial contained in a larger plastic tube to safeguard it during shipment back to the lab. We took the box to our vet to have the small blood sample drawn then shipped the box back to Mars Veterinary for testing, which should take about three or four weeks.

When it’s done, we’ll receive a PDF document outlining the breeds that make up Tiki’s heritage!

While waiting at the vet’s office, several people had their own guesses as to Tiki’s genetic makeup. The guesses included border collie, Australian shepherd, red heeler, spaniel, and others. We’ll soon see if any of them–or all of them!–are right!

We’ll be reporting the results here soon–and we’ll also be announcing a contest on DogTipper next month to win your own Wisdom Panel MX so you can test your own dog!

The Snow Dog

Oscar our Shih Tzu is as comfortable in snow as he is in any other extreme weather. He’d rather be indoors in the warmth!

It snowed heavily and steadily today in Blarney. We took Adam out in it after wrapping him up warm and he played with the kids down the road, throwing snow around, messing with a bucket, and generally having fun.

Library Cats 45, Bookstore Cats 0

Before She Was Famous: A Rare Unretouched Photo of Stacks The Library Cat.

Cats are drawn to quiet, solitary activity. Writers know that putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, is a magnet for Kitty more potent than fresh catnip. Same goes for knitting, sewing, drawing, paying bills, folding laundry, and, of course, reading. So no surprise libraries and bookstores often have felines in residence. Two recent news stories reveal a trend in the area of literary felines: while library cats bask in the spotlight, bookstore cats are an endangered species.

The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois reports that the February 2010 issue of Cat Fancy magazine will feature a cat from nearby Litchfield among 45--count'em 45--amazing library cats. Stacks The Cat was added to the Litchfield Carnegie Public Library staff to take care of a large number of problem patrons. Stacks' mission wasn't to cuddle with crying babies, nor to tail-lash truculent teens, nor even to hiss disapprovingly at online porn watchers. Stacks signed on to rid the library of vandals who at best gnaw on pages and bindings, and at worst defecate and urinate on the collection: members of the genus Muridae, commonly know as mice.

Media Darling, Stacks The Cat, And Her Companion, Litchfield Carnegie Public Library Director Sara Zumwalt. (Photo Courtesy Of Sara Zumwalt.)

According to Library Director Sara Zumwalt: "We haven't had a mouse problem since [Stacks] came." The 2-year-old black cat that has lived at the Litchfield library for about a year. She was an abandoned stray left at the local "Adopt-A-Pet." Having earned her keep, the formerly forlorn feline is now a local celebrity. Below a photo of Stacks on the homepage of the library's website is the following banner headline: Stacks The Library Cat Is Famous!! A press release from the celebrated cat's publicist follows: "Our own Stacks the library cat was featured in the February 2010 issue of Cat Fancy magazine. The article, written by Erika Sorocco features 45 library cats. Stacks is lucky number 13! Come in today to see the one, the only Stacks The Library Cat. No autographs please." (This last indicates Stacks is already developing the disposition of a demanding diva, a backstage rider requiring Fancy Feast, Evian Water, and Catnip Budz is sure to follow.)

Linda, The Skyline Bookstore Cat, In Her Endangered Domain. (Photo Courtesy Of The Gothamist.)

Meanwhile a less felicitous feline front-page features failing fortunes of Linda, the longtime grimalkin of New York City's Skyline Books. According to a January 8, 2010 story in The Gothamist, the independent bookstore's closure at the end of the month may force this feline to join the ranks for the homeless. The store owner fears that Linda's upbringing will make it impossible for her to make the transition to household pet status. An employee relates the following tale of woe: "Linda is a territorial cat. She's had complete run of the bookstore her entire life. She's 8 years old, and for 8 years any dog that's intruded on her domain has been sent packing, and she's pretty good at it. Ideally another bookstore could take her. She's a bookstore cat, and there just aren't any left, [independent] bookstores or bookstore cats. It's very sad."

As avid book buyers, Book Patrol readers are no doubt aware of the perilous state of independent bookstores in the current economy. But most may have remained unaware of the desperate need for a Bookstore Cat Orphanage. A haven for displaced tabbies of the tomes must be established posthaste by some kind soul. (No Mr. Bumbles or Miss Hannigans need apply.) Without quick action, waves of bibliophile felines will roam the streets, prowling to find a place permitting them to purr peacefully atop their precious pages.

Erstwhile Editor, Mr. Ripley, Stops At His Favorite Watering Hole. (Photo Courtesy Of Henry Kirkwood Mattoon.)

My own feline companion, the charming but untalented Mr. Ripley, has been settled by the keyboard as I write this post. He's been a reluctant visitor to the library where I'm employed on a couple of occasions, but, as far as I know, has never seen the inside of a bookstore. Nevertheless, he showed his solidarity with displaced bookstore cats by stepping firmly on the "Delete" key and erasing half of this text. (Or was he just jealous of the media frenzy over divalicious library It-girl Stacks?)

Vet: Prevention Key
When It Comes to Pet Healthcare

Ethical owners should count preventative vet visits among their pet healthcare priorities - and one vet has shared sad stories to convince everyone to do so.

Dr George Messenger wrote in the Concord Monitor that too many people only bring animals in when it is obvious they are sick "as opposed to 'wellness' visits".

The vet recounted how one man's inability to afford veterinary care meant he ignored his beagle's heart condition until she was suffering too much to carry on living.

"All I can do is ask you to do what you can to prevent this," he commented, adding: "Our pets are dependent on us, their owners."

The vet also discouraged trying to diagnose illness on the internet, as this could put creatures at a greater risk of suffering.

His warnings about unprofessional diagnosis could be considered particularly timely.

Recently, Pet MD, a site that purports to allow owners to identify their furry friends' illnesses and benefit from online expert advice was launched and has already solicited similar expressions of concern from the veterinary community.

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Chicago Pet Butler Franchisee Needed:
What Would You Do for a Job?
By Julie Wernau -

Remember when you said you’d do anything for a job?

A couple who owned the fastest-growing operation within the Pet Butler poop-scooping empire has called it quits. And the corporate mother ship – which has taken over the cleanup of 100 yards per week in Chicago – is looking for a new owner.

“We would love to find the right person,” said Matt “Red” Boswell, who founded Pet Butler in 1998. The company, which later merged with a similar one, has since grown to 126 franchises nationwide.

The Chicago franchise owners, Boswell said, decided to give up the business for “personal reasons” about four months ago.

Franchisee Kevin Kendall of Indiana bought in three years ago when he saw that he was about to lose his job as an aircraft dispatcher.

“It’s a great conversational piece when you’re out wearing your ‘Got poop?’ T-shirt,” Kendall said.

“There are people out there who are willing to drop their pride,” said Boswell, who also goes by “chief excrement officer.” He said franchises cost about $60,000.

Clients are mostly dual-income families working long hours and willing to pay $10-$15 per week to have someone else patrol their yards. Boswell said franchisees have picked up more than 60 million piles so far using rakes, bags and shovels.

Training is provided at “Poop University” (nicknamed P.U.).

Customers schedule pickups on “PoopNet,” which maps franchisee’s routes and provides real-time updates on their mobile phone.

Beginners Guide To Setting Up A Fish Tank

So you want to set up a fish tank, well the first thing that I will tell you is that you have to be patient and should not jump right into putting fish in your tank. In this article I will be explaining all of the steps to setting up a fish tank for tropical fish only.

When you are selecting an aquarium to buy you must know what kind of fish that are going to be living in it and how big the fish will get. As a simple rule, for every inch of fish that there is there should be 1 gallon of water.

The items that you will need to set up a fish tank are the aquarium, filter pump, heat pump. Optional items that you should get also are gravel, thermometer, lamp, decorations, and a back up filter pump in case the main one goes bad.

Now that you have all the items you need next is to set up the stand and put the tank on it. Make sure you choose a good spot that will not be blocking anything you will need to get to later on like receptacles, air vents, etc.

Now that your tank is positioned right it is time to leak test it. Do this by filling the tank up completely with water and let it sit for a day or two. Inspect the surrounding area for any signs of water, nothing is worse than a leaky aquarium, bad for your home and the fish. Once you are sure there are no leaks go ahead and empty the tank.

While you are leak testing your aquarium you can start filling up jugs of tap water. Mix the tap water with water conditioner as fish do not like plain tap water. I also add bacteria supplement to the water also. Make sure you follow the directions on the water conditioner bottle exactly.

Next you can start adding gravel, make sure that you rinse the gravel very good. Since the tank is still empty you can start putting in the gravel and decorations. It is very important to make sure that everything that you put into your fish tank is washed well, as it only takes a little bit of dish soap to kill fish.

Start setting up the filter pump and the heating pump. Add the water solution from the jugs that you already pre-mixed, fill the tank up to about an inch from the top. Put the overhead lamp on if you have one and turn on the heater and the filter pump, you now want to be patient and let the water cycle for a week at the minimum.

Let the fish tank cycle the water for at least one week. After that one week you can add a couple of fish to get the tanks ecosystem in action, but do not add anymore fish for at least 5 weeks. Be patient and your fish will be healthy and live for a long time.

It's All Trew:
The Do's, Don'ts and Wonders
of Having Pet Turtles
By Delbert Trew -

My recent article about turtles brought numerous responses from avid turtle owners. I could not believe how many ladies had backyards full of turtles.

First, I learned that as turtles reach a certain age, the male turtles have red eyes and reddish-tinted scales on their legs and skin. Male turtles are very aggressive, will bite the hand that feeds them and will attack another male turtle. Female turtles, at a certain age, acquire yellow eyes. They are gentle, will not bite unless threatened and can become great pets.

It seems land turtles have a territory usually in the area where they are born. The size of the territory varies according to the amount of food available. By the way, turtles will eat almost anything, including hamburger meat, lettuce, tomatoes, almost any fruit, dog and cat food, cow feed, grain and fresh garbage from the kitchen.

After awhile, they will come to a call or sound, and some will scratch on your back door for feeding. One longtime pet will enter the house, go to the refrigerator and rock back and forth begging for lettuce.

I've wondered where land turtles get water out on the prairie, miles from the nearest pond. They acquire moisture from morning dew as the turtle moves through the grass. They can sense a rain coming 24 hours before and will dig a small hole to catch the rain.

One expert said turtles always know when the first freeze is coming, dig a hole and begin winter hibernation. They also know when the last freeze is over, and come back to the surface. If a turtle has sufficient food and escapes predators like coyotes or other male turtles, they can live to 75 years of age.

Another expert states, if you are trying to trap turtles out of a pond to protect your fish, the best bait is fresh meat or roadkill like a rabbit or bird. Somehow, they sense or smell this presence and will scale trap ramps to reach the bait.

Some believe that, like other pets, if turtles are removed from their home territory, they will continue to try to return until they arrive or are killed in the attempt. Coyotes have been known to turn turtles over on their backs to die in revenge for not being able to eat them because of the shells. I have seen coyotes going cross country carrying a turtle in their mouths. I wonder why?

One response cited a humorous side.

Some consider many politicians are like "post turtles." A post turtle finds itself sitting on top of a square-cut fence post with no traction, absolutely no idea how he got there, no clue as to how to get down or what he is going to do while stranded on top of the post.

Delbert Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164, by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by e-mail at For books, see His column appears weekly.

Raising Chickens
and Ask an Expert
By: Karen Nazor Hill -

Throughout my life, I've shared my home with dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, a bird and, once, reluctantly, an iguana. I can now add six chickens and three roosters.

I didn't want chickens. I have been told that their eggs attract snakes, and I don't like snakes. I don't care that "good" snakes kill rodents, bugs and "bad" snakes. I don't like any snakes, but I live on Signal Mountain and so do snakes. Fortunately for me, I haven't encountered one on my property. But I'm afraid that will change since I now have chickens. (Snake lovers, don't fret, I'd never harm a snake. I would run. Fast.)

My husband had a long-range plan of raising chickens. The plan was put into action after my daughter and granddaughter moved next door. My husband, an avid gardener, wants our family to be sustainable by growing much of our food.

Our bountiful gardens, vineyard and orchard provide our entire family with rich food throughout the year. And we'll soon have fresh eggs.

Truthfully, I love the idea of living off the earth and growing our own food. I love knowing that my 3-year-old granddaughter already appreciates her grandfather's gardens and that she, too, will learn how to dig and plant.

Meanwhile, our chickens and roosters live in a spacious, comfortable fenced-in pen and heated coop that protects them from any predators, except snakes. I guess it won't be until late spring that I find out if the snake-likes-eggs story is truth or fiction. But, for now, I'm thinking our chickens are pretty cool.


Q: Is it cruel to leave my dog in a carrier while I'm at work?

A: Dog-crate training can provide security for your pet and prevent unwanted behaviors while you are at work. Any dog of any age can be trained. Once crate-trained, your dog will feel secure in his new home and will use it as a safe and quiet "den" of his own. However, a few basic rules need to be followed.

First, make sure the crate you choose is big enough for your dog to comfortably turn around and be comfortable standing or sitting. To begin training, the dog should be actively encouraged, but not forced, to enter the crate. Treat it as a natural and obvious place to go, and offer food rewards for entry. Place the dog's bed inside the crate, add an interesting toy and, initially, a small tasty treat, and leave the crate door open. Introduce your dog to the dog crate with a calm approach so there is no obvious drama involved in the crating process.

A crate isn't a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated. Many of the animals that are relinquished at shelters every year are "dumped" because of behavior problems. Crating can help limit many of those, but no tool replaces loving playtime, human interaction and good solid obedience training to create that perfect companion.

-- Karen S. Walsh, LVMT, executive director, McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center

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