Dog Rescued at Sea PLUS Pygmy Goats and Angelfish

Ask a Vet:
How Do I Tell If My Pet is Depressed?

Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford offers some advice to reader Allie about identifying and treating depression in dogs and cats:

Allie's question: What are some signs of depression in cats and dogs? I've heard stories about dogs being treated with antidepressants. What are your thoughts on animal psychiatry? What other options are available for sad pets?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Veterinarians have the most extensive training in animal behavior of anyone working in the pet industry, and I doubt any one of us has ever prescribed antidepressants as a first-line for animal depression.

The reason is simple: There is a language barrier between us and our patients that does not exist in human medicine. Animals don't come into our offices and tell us that their hearing or vision is failing them, that they've had a chronic headache for weeks now, or that they've been having stomach or intestinal pains that just won't go away. They just look sad. It is our first responsibility to rule out causes of depression that are endocrine/internal, neurologic or orthopedic in origin. A lot of medical causes of depression can be treated, avoiding the unnecessary use of prescription antidepressants.

For the small population of animals whose depression truly can be traced to behavioral origins, I like a natural anti-depressant called S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). This is a naturally occurring compound found in every cell of the body, made from the amino acid methionine. Although SAMe has many uses, there is evidence for its short-term use in treating major depression by assisting the body in producing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. For cats, Feliway diffusers are helpful as well. There are also floral essences and homeopathic remedies that are useful for depression disorders. For animals that need stronger antidepressants, there are prescription-strength drugs available at your veterinarian's office; however, I reserve these for last.

Canine Pain Relievers
'Can be Viable Pet Healthcare Option'

The horror stories surrounding pain relievers have meant that too many owners do not consider canine versions of it as a pet healthcare option, a vet has said.

Dr Patty Khuly wrote in her USA Today column that one of the aspects of her work she most struggled with was having opinions that conflicted with ethical insurance shoppers' decisions.

One of these is when she encounters people who have been too influenced by received knowledge to follow her advice.

She told the story of a Labrador retriever with probable joint cancer who would have benefitted from canine pain relievers in the interim.

"Problem was, they'd heard so many horror stories about certain kinds of canine pain relievers they refused to consider the subject at all," Dr Khuly explained, adding: "So much for animal welfare."

Dr Marty Becker wrote in the Sacramento Bee that owners should consider this type of medication as treating pain can also promote healthy healing by improving mobility, respiration and even shortening post-surgical hospitalisation.

Gary Bogue:
Cats are Territorial & That's Why
Adopting a New Cat Upsets an Old Pet
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

Dear Gary:

We have a problem with our white feral female cat.

We adopted her when she was a kitten, about seven years ago, after my mother found her wandering in the store from a nearby field. This cat has only recently become affectionate, following my wife everywhere. However, earlier in her life (the cat, not my wife), she was very skittish and never let us touch her without having a cat fit.

We have always kept Milky in the house. We also have two other house cats and two other cats we keep outside.

Recently, my wife adopted two other kittens from the SPCA. It seems that ever since the new kittens arrived about three months ago, Milky is spraying in certain areas of the house; my office, our guest room, the dining room and probably other places yet to be discovered.

We clean up the sprayed area, but that doesn't do any good. We have two litter boxes, upstairs and downstairs, which are cleaned regularly.

We think Milky may be jealous, but to be honest I don't care about the cause. My sentiments range from making her an outside cat to taking her back to the SPCA. At any event, we await your advice.

Craig LaFargue,


Dear Craig:

You should care about the cause of Milky's spraying because, ahem, it's you and your

Cats are very territorial. Because Milky spent her early, impressionable years running wild, I would expect her to be particularly sensitive to other cats invading her turf.

When your wife brought home those two new kittens, that's exactly what happened. After seven years of living with two other cats in your household, two strangers have been added to this stable equation, profoundly upsetting the mix.

Simply put, Milky is feeling insecure about her position in the household. Your wife has probably (understandably) been lavishing a lot of time on the new kittens and this is really stressing Milky.

The problem is further aggravated by the fact that Milky doesn't have her own litter box. If you were a cat, you would be offended if strange cats suddenly started using your bathroom. (Those things don't flush, you know.)

Milky is instinctively responding to the intrusion by marking her territory. She can't help herself.

Sticking her outside would probably cause her to revert to her feral ways. She might even run away. Finding her another home may also cause her serious emotional problems. Look how long it took her to warm up to your wife.

As you guys have created this situation, however innocently, you have a responsibility to make it work instead of blaming it all on Milky.

Back off on the kittens and start paying more attention to Milky, especially when the kittens are around. Greet Milky first. Feed her first, pet her first, etc. Make her feel secure again. Arrange for her to have her own litter box and provide her with a private place to eat.

If you catch her spraying, tell her "No," and take her to her litter box. That's it. Punishment won't work anyway and only confuses the issue.

Clean sprayed areas with a urine neutralizer (at pet stores). Urine smell stimulates cat to spray and may start up the other cats.

She may get over this and she may not. Give it a month. If you must relocate somebody, I recommend moving the kittens to a friendlier setting.

I'm not sure Milky could handle the change.

Dog Park Etiquette

We are new dog owners and want the best for our new puppy. We want him properly socialized, so we decided to visit the two dog parks in St. Catharines.

What we found was a combination of good and bad behaviour -- from dogs and owners. Our No. 1 concern is overly aggressive dogs who want to dominate the other dogs. We found some owners who were inattentive of the actions of their dogs, others weren't able to control their dogs. These people should keep their dogs away from the parks. They are an accident waiting to happen.

Having said that, we found many good pet owners with lots of good advice. But we still haven't decided if dog parks are the right choice for us. Future visitors should look to see if the scene is safe, sparing your best friend a scuff with the neighbourhood bullies; look to see if the grounds are clean and the dogs are playing well together. If you notice aggressive behaviour or little human supervision, consider another park or come back later.

The dog park is not a time to catch up on phone calls -- it is essential that you supervise your dog at all times. Puppies under four months don't have the necessary strength or vaccination protection they need for safe play with other dogs so keep them away. When a dog starts acting aggressively for any reason, it's time to go. By leaving immediately, you protect all the dogs at the park while teaching yours that bad behaviour won't be tolerated.

D. Hicks

St. Catharines

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PetSmart Survey Reveals
Motives for Pet Adoption
by News Hound - Internet Pet News

In a group of animal lovers or "The Price is Right" hosts, it's easy to see a passion for adopting homeless pets and controlling the pet population. But thanks to a national survey commissioned by PetSmart Charities, we now have an insight to the overall national perceptions and opinions about pets.

Among 1,000 new pet owners (those who acquired a dog or cat in the past year), the study found that only 24 percent were adopted from shelters. This means a whopping 76 percent of pets were received from sources other than shelters, with the primary reason being a desire for a specific purebreed.

Interestingly, when those who purchased pets were asked what might motivate them to choose shelter adoption instead, knowing that "millions of purebred animals end up in shelters" was found to be the least motivating factor.

Despite Bob Barker's tireless encouragement, the study also found that nearly half of people who have acquired unsterilized pets in the last year haven't fixed them. As a result, more unwanted pets are being born into the world. Owners reported that more than half of the litters born to their dogs and cats were unintentional.

Other interesting findings from the study are that people earning $55,000 or more per year are more likely to adopt from shelters, and southerners and the under-35 set are the least likely to sterilize their pets.

"We hope that by providing this data to others who share our passion for saving the lives of homeless pets, we can break down the barriers to pet adoption and spay/neuter that survey respondents identified," said Susana Della Maddalena, executive director of non-profit PetSmart Charities, Inc. "We can all use the data to develop new practices and messages based on what we now know to be key motivators and barriers."

News on Pet Food:
Low-Calorie Food Labels Unreliable

People trying to find the right diet to help their pets lose weight don't have it easy, new research shows.

The calorie information on the back of the bag might not be reliable information, according to a study done on 100 commercially available diets by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The commercial foods studied had weight management claims.

"There is so much information -- and misinformation -- about pet foods, it's understandable that people are confused abou what to feed their dogs and cats,'' says co-author Lisa Freeman. "To counteract these myths, people are accustomed to turning to the labels on food -- but, as this study shows, packaging might not always be a reliable source of information.''

The study is published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Recommended intakes and caloric density vary greatly for both dry and wet foods.

Nearly 50% of domesticated animals are overweight or obese. The study concluded that pets would not only lose weight but could actually gain weight by following some of the feeding recommendations on the back of the bags or cans.

Pet Talk:
Buddy's Painful Death
Brings a Demand for Justice
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

In life, Buddy, the shepherd/blue heeler mix, was a beloved pet.

In death, he has become a rallying point for outraged pet lovers around the world who are tired of sickos hurting animals.

Buddy's story has galvanized Grand Junction, Colo., near where Buddy was dragged to death just before New Year's, provoking scores of people to cram into the courtroom and spill into the street when the man accused of killing him appeared at a preliminary hearing.

It has prompted the online petition "Demand Justice for Buddy!" The petition achieved its goal of 100,000 signatures — from people in nearly every state and dozens of countries, including Canada, Denmark and Australia — in just 11 days. (More than 106,000 had signed at by this morning). And it inspired United Kingdom singer/songwriter Maria Daines to write and record Buddy's Song, a moving tribute posted on her website.

"The U.S. assistant attorney (who is prosecuting the case) told me she's never seen anything like it. She's received several thousand e-mails," Paul Shockley, the reporter who has been covering the case for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, tells me.

Buddy allegedly was stolen from his owner's parked truck — with a second dog, a black Lab, later recovered by authorities — and within hours was dead. Steven Clay Romero, 37, was arrested and is being held without bond. He had been out on bond awaiting a March trial for a weapons and drug charge carrying a possible 48-year sentence when Buddy died.

The legal system will have to establish precisely what happened and who was responsible. But one thing is indisputable: Buddy is dead, his body found in the snow at the top of a steep hill with a blue rope fashioned like a choker collar around his neck.

The discovery was made before dawn after a maintenance worker at Colorado National Monument — a massive park of sweeping plateaus and canyons — who followed with growing horror the nearly two miles of tracks in the snow of a dog walking behind a vehicle, then running, and finally being dragged up the steeps and switchbacks, according to court testimony.
Authorities say that video surveillance captured a truck entering the park at 2:18 a.m. with a dog in the truck bed, and the same truck exited at 2:30 without a dog. They have charged Romero's sister with felony theft and false reporting, alleging that hours before Buddy was found dead, she (with her children) had loaded him and the second dog into her vehicle and had driven away. Affidavits state that Buddy later attacked the woman's cat and that the woman told Romero to get rid of him.

Romero's next court date is Wednesday, during which he may enter a plea on charges of aggravated cruelty, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

It's unknown, of course, whether this court appearance will draw as many people as the one earlier this month, when some shopkeepers locked up their businesses to attend the hearing and people with dogs milled about outside the courthouse. "The tension in that courtroom was very high" that day, Shockley told me, the proceedings punctuated by the sound of "dogs barking in the street."

As testimony about Buddy's faltering tracks in the snow was given, spectators were moved to tears, he said, and "the family of the dog had to walk out of the courtroom."

The intensity of outrage does not seem to be diminishing with time.

A case can't be tried or decided based on public sentiment, of course. And some people have wondered especially about the value of online petitions — perhaps they'll never understand the profound release that comes to an outraged animal lover given the forum to write the words "May the killer also be dragged up a long steep hill by a rope slip-knotted around his neck."

But really, it seems that most who are doing whatever they're doing to make their feelings known are hoping lawmakers on state and federal levels will strengthen cruelty laws. For this is by no means the only case of a dog being hideously tortured, or even being dragged behind a vehicle. In just the last couple of months there have been two widely publicized dragging cases elsewhere in the USA.

And there's something else, something that Daines understands and speaks to in her song. What happened to that Colorado dog in the brutal winter predawn hours is every dog owner's worst fear — that in one dark second, something will happen that prevents us from keeping it safe.

I won't be home again, Daines writes in Buddy's Song.

And that's partly because dogs are what they are.

I'm everyone's friend

I'm everyone's Buddy.

Pygmy Goats: the New "It" Pet?

In addition to their popularity among enterprising grass-cutting and weed-control operations like City Grazing and Goats R Us, more and more people are choosing to employ goats as family pets.

Are you passionate about Pygmies?

According to the New York Times, some Chicago residents have become particularly fond of Pygmies. Valued for their milk and desirable compact size (they max out at around 17 to 23 inches tall), these bitty billies have trotted into backyards (and hearts) throughout the Windy City and its burbs. Pygmies are also revered for their intelligence and good temper.

"Out in a yard, they easily pass as a dog," one goat enthusiast told the Times.

As in Chicago, keeping a goat is also legal in San Francisco, you just can't sell the animal's milk or cheese. According to San Francisco health codes, donkeys, mules, cows, and goats (basically all "even-toed hooved animals") require a permit, although pot bellied pigs and Pygmy goats are typically defined as pets.

Just be sure you know the local laws before picking up a Pygmy of your own to avoid any "5-4-7"

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Dog Found at Sea, Floating on Piece of Ice
by Jill Rosen -

Talk about amazing rescues....

This lucky pup was found cold and alone, floating on an ice floe 15 miles off the Polish Baltic Sea coast in Gdynia. Adam Buczynski, a sailor from the ship "Baltic" pulled out the dog to safety and carries him here. Rescuers have given the dog the name "Baltic" until it can hopefully be reunited with its owner. (AP Photo/Maciej Czoska)

Trim Costs, but Don't Short-Change Pets
By Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori -

Let's not kid ourselves: Things are tight, and people are learning to make do with less. That's the bad news.

The good news: You don't have to shortchange your pets to save money. By focusing on prevention, smart buys and sharing, you can slash what you spend on your pets. Some tips:

• Work with your veterinarian to cut costs: Vaccinations are no longer recommended annually for most dogs and cats, but that's not a good reason to skip your pet's yearly vet check (twice-yearly for older pets). These "well-pet" examinations can spot little problems before they become expensive ones. Ask your veterinarian to give you prescriptions for medications to be filled elsewhere, or to match prices. Check for short-term promotions such as for Dental Health Month (which is coming in February) or for ongoing discounts such as for multipet families or senior citizens. Consider pet health insurance as a backup in case of emergency – it can help save your pet's life when money is the issue.

• Keep your pet fit and trim: A majority of dogs and cats are overweight, and those extra pounds increase the likelihood of health problems, such as arthritis, diabetes and cancer. If your pet is overweight, get your veterinarian's help to reduce weight slowly to avoid the health risks of sudden weight loss, especially in cats.

• Learn to do things yourself: Most people can learn to handle basic pet grooming at home, from bathing to nail trims. If nothing else, you can probably stretch out time between professional groomings for high-maintenance pets with some at-home care. Check your library for grooming guides and find breed-specific tips with an Internet search.

Another do-it-yourself strategy is more about health: Brush your pet's teeth – it'll lengthen the time between cleanings at your veterinarian's.

• Minimize risk from accidents: Saving the life of a pet who has been poisoned or hit by a car can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars – and these tragedies can often be prevented. Keeping cats as indoor-only pets will prevent injuries and protect them from communicable diseases; a sturdy fence and the use of a leash will do the same for dogs.

Go through your home with an eye toward possible hazards, especially foods, plants and drugs that can be ingested, as well as cleaning supplies, pesticides and herbicides. The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center offers information on all toxic risks to your pet at

• Consider purchases and buy in bulk: Shopping for pets can be great fun, but that new designer collar may be something you want to postpone if there's wear left on what your pet has now. When it comes to toys, cut them back, but not out – good chew toys have saved many an expensive pair of shoes.

You can save money buying the largest bags of food or litter, or get case discounts on canned goods. Split your dry food purchases with family or a friend, and store your portion in an airtight container. (Do keep product info from the bag, though, in case there are questions or problems.)

• Look for freebies and secondhand items: Check classifieds, Craigslist and the Freecycle network ( to find bargains. Crates, cages and cat trees can often be had for next to nothing – or nothing at all. And don't forget to return the favor: Don't let unwanted supplies rot in your garage. Sell them at a decent price or give them away to other pet lovers, shelters or rescue groups.

• Share services: Other pet lovers are likely also feeling the squeeze, so look into sharing or trading services such as pet-sitting. Remember that bartered services don't need to be the same: You can save just as much money if you can provide one kind of service (such as tax preparation) for another (such as pet-sitting or dog-grooming).

Dogs Sniffing Abilities Are Truly Amazing
Steve Dale - My Pet World - Tribune Media Service

Q: If you were on a beautiful beach - and one grain of sand smelled different from the rest - could most dogs identify that grain of sand? -- V.D., Cyberspace

A: Yes. Your average dog's proboscis is about 10,000 times more efficient than ours. We can't even conceive what the world's dogs must sense. Imagine, sniffing a fire hydrant and getting the 4-1-1 on everyone in the 'hood.

Of course, the stories of dogs sniffing out bad guys, or finding lost Alzheimer's patients are legendary. Do away with a body in a river; a dog may sniff it out from the boat above. The U.S. military has spent millions on land mine detection equipment but they can't come anywhere near replicating the nose of a dog. Military working dogs and U.S. Department of Agriculture dogs are also irreplaceable. Their ability to sniff out dangerous weapons or drugs is legendary.

So, if somehow you could isolate a specific scent on one grain of sand on a beach, most dogs would find it.

Q: I'd like to have the cat that was left at my door neutered and declawed. However, I want a doctor with reasonable fees for seniors. I took in the cat, but now what? -- M.B., Brockton, MA

A: First, find a veterinarian. You could contact the Massachusetts State Veterinary Medical Association, or simply ask friends or relatives for recommendations. I understand how money is an issue for many people, particularly seniors. However, while special senior discounts might be a good idea, I don't know of any vets who make such offers. Most communities do have an outlet which provides low-cost spay/neuter. In some cities, for those who qualify, there are even free spay/neuter programs.

As for declawing, think twice before you follow through. You could save money here because this procedure isn't necessary, particularly for kittens who can easily be taught to use scratching posts. Also, talk to your vet about keeping your cat's nails trimmed. If you offer moist food as you clip, you can train your kitty to actually enjoy or at least tolerate the procedure. You could also ask a friend to help you clip your cat's nails.

Q: My dog won't stop barking at the mailman. I can't tell the mailman not to come, and since I'm not usually home when he arrives, I can't tell Barney not to bark. Even when I close the blinds, Barney manages to push them aside so he can see outside. Any advice? -- F.C., Richmond, VA

A: Jim Barry, of Reston, VA, a dog behavior consultant and author of "The Ethical Dog Trainer" (DogWise Press, Wenatchee WA, 2008; $19.95), offers three tips:

--Management: Keep Barney in another room away from the walkway the mail carrier uses, and close the door. Turn on the radio (or download versions of my national radio shows from I-tunes) to drown out the sound of the person delivering mail.

--Exercise: If your dog gets plenty of exercise and sleeping when the mailman arrives, he won't be barking. Also, get Barney some enrichment toys, such as Kong toys stuffed with low-fat peanut butter or Busy Buddy toys with kibble inside.

--Training: When Barry alerts you to the "intruder," calmly go to the door and open it. Then, thank Barney for diligently doing his job. There's no longer a reason for him to bark. This method is surprisingly effective but only works when you're home, and only if your dog isn't fearful and/or aggressive about the "intruder" but simply wants to tell you someone is there.

Q: My 13-year-old Siamese cat always had weird eyes. Now, I've noticed that she seems to have two retinas in each eye. Will this affect her vision later in life? Have you ever heard of this? -- E.F., New Port Richey, FL

A: Dr. Amber LaBelle, a resident in veterinary ophthalmology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Urbana, says, "It's interesting, because it's not likely you can actually see your cat's retina without special equipment." Also, she's never heard of the condition you describe. What seems far more likely is another abnormality. Perhaps your cat has hole in the structure of the eye, a condition known as a colobama (or cat eye syndrome). Cats with this condition can appear to have multiple pupils. While kittens are born with the condition, it can grow worse with age.

A condition called pseudopolycoria also gives the illusion of multiple pupils. A third possibility is iris atrophy, which creates age-related changes in the iris, and in a 13-year-old cat, that is clearly possible.

LaBelle can't be certain of anything without examining your cat. However, in general, none of these problems typically causes blindness, though it's possible your cat will have increased difficulty adjusting her eyes when the sun is shining bright or going from a darkened room to a bright room. Someone should market sunglasses for cats!

(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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Pet Parrots On Shoulders
- Is It Okay?
by Lisa Desatnik -

I was asked that very question not too long ago by someone whose beautiful companion loves shoulder-eye views of the world. She was warned, as I’ve heard so often, that she shouldn’t be allowing her bird on her shoulder because her pet will think he’s dominant and may likely bite her. I’m not sure where this originated but I thought I’d shed some insight I learned from respected behaviorists and trainers.

So, what is this height dominance theory, really?

Well, Steve Martin, renowned trainer and president of Orlando-based Natural Encounters, wrote about it in a paper actually. “To put it bluntly,” he said, “height dominance does not exist in parrots.”

Yep, if you talk to those in the know – ornithologists, field biologists, and wild bird behaviorists -
there is no such thing as an alpha parrot. Aggression between wild parrots is brief, and a parrot that loses in one confrontation may very well win in the next.

A frustrated bird owner may question that. “Well, of course my bird gets dominant when he’s up high. He bites me every time I try to pick him up from somewhere high,” that person may ask.

My response to that? Let’s do a little behavior analysis and look at a scenario that bird owners frequently use as an example of their pet showing ‘dominance’. Barney – a macaw – is on top of his cage playing with a toy when his owner, Suzy, needs to put him into his cage. She reaches for him and when he steps up, ‘without any warning’ (as is often described) he nails her.

Let’s look at some potential things that could be coming into play here.

• Birds are more comfortable stepping up. However since Barney is up high, unless Suzy gets on a chair, more than likely he is needing to step down to her and may even catch his long tail on the cage. Not very fun for Barney.

• Barney was perfectly happy playing with his toys. His past experience of stepping up for Suzy when he’s playing with his toys is that the consequence of his stepping up means he goes into his cage more often than not. And being inside that cage is just not as fun as being on top of it. (He’s at least taken away from doing something that he was enjoying doing.)

• Before Barney actually bit Suzy, he tried to show her he didn’t want to step up by pinning his eyes or other body language but she ignored or didn’t pay attention to it. Therefore biting her is the only behavior he can do to get the message across that he really does not want to step up at this time.

So, now, is this really a case of height dominance or is the bird simply behaving to escape something negative from the bird’s point of view?

Now back to the original question. Is it okay to wear your bird on your shoulder?

Well, there are a number of factors to take into consideration with regard to that decision. None of them have to do with height dominance.

• What is your relationship with your bird? Does your bird reliably ‘step up’ onto your hand?

• One problem with having your bird on your shoulder is that you can’t see his body language. Therefore you can’t effectively allow your bird to communicate a fear or aggressive response, thus you may be setting both of you up for a possible bite.

• Another consideration is that, while it’s fun companionship to wear shoulder birds it’s healthy to offer a variety of enriching activities for your pet that encourage independent play, foraging, and more. Encouraging your bird to stay perched in one place for long periods of time limits the time he could be learning and playing in different ways.

Right now I only allow Barnaby on my shoulder. Dreyfuss is my hand bird. While both of my birds are fairly fluent in ‘step up’ (Barnaby much more so than Dreyfuss, although she’s getting better), Barnaby has a much more predictable calm behavior than Dreyfuss. It’s not so important for me to keep an eye on Barnaby’s body language. However, Dreyfuss can be a little on the unpredictable side. It’s very important for me to watch her body language as I have her ‘step up’, therefore it is not a good idea for her to perch on my shoulder.

When I had Chester, he and Barnaby were always my ‘shoulder’ birds and Dreyfuss’ place was on my hand. (When you carry three birds around the house, you have to be creative.) So, my hand is where she got used to being and I think I’ll keep it that way.

I do want to just mention that if it is a goal of yours to wear your parrot on your shoulder, a good first goal would be to teach a reliable ‘step up’ behavior.

The Rabbit Didn't Die

The mysterious Christmas Eve bunny has found a home, though it's still unclear who dropped the hopper off.

On Dec. 30, we reported the story of a caged rabbit who showed up on a random Oak Park woman's doorstep the day before Christmas. Homeowner Barbara Kahn had no idea where the bunny came from, so she passed the animal along to an Oak Park friend, Ceal Bacom, before going out of town.

Bacom speculated that someone might have left the critter on the wrong doorstep, and asked Wednesday Journal for help finding the owner. Realistically though, she admitted the rabbit was likely abandoned.

Well, the mystery never was solved, but one of Bacom's co-workers, Marybeth Waldorf of Villa Park, volunteered to adopt the rabbit on Jan. 10.

"Apparently the family had only had fish as pets, so the kids are delighted to finally have a pet mammal," Bacom's husband, Tim Bannon, said in an e-mail Friday. "Nobody ever came forward to claim the rabbit, nor did anybody ever admit to dropping him off. So, mystery remains unsolved."

Waldorf and her three kids are keeping the name Ralph, which Bacom's son came up with, based on the character from the film, A Christmas Story.

"They're very excited, and she doesn't hate me," Bacom said Monday. "It's a happy ending for Ralph and all of us."

Important Tips on Angelfish Care

Angelfish are numbered among of one of the largest families of vertebrates on Earth. The family Cichlidae is made up of over 1,300 classified species in 220 assorted genera. Previously undiscovered species are being added to this family every year. It is estimated that there may be as many as 3,000 species that fall within the scientific classification of this family. The family Cichlidae, referred to in laymen’s terms as cichlids, also includes oscars, discus and tilapias. Many sources will indicate that angelfish are indigenous to the Amazon River in Brazil. While this is true, this species also inhabits both the Orinoco River and Essequibo River systems. The angelfish’s natural habitat extends throughout Guyana, Venezuela, and Columbia in addition to Brazil.

These fish are elegant and graceful creatures. These fish top the popularity charts with freshwater aquarium keepers worldwide. Their unique appearance absolutely added to their massive popularity. Angelfish are sold in a variety of body colors and patterns, from solid silver to striped, marbled, black, golden, or Koi. These fish are one of the most available fish marketed in pet stores. They are cheap to buy. Freshwater angels are easy fish to keep fit and vigorous.

It is easy to underestimate those endearing little fish in the fish store. The specimens available at the pet shops are not fully grown. Angelfish normally grow to six inches in length. They can be housed in a fish tank as little as 10 gallons although 20 gallons and is ideal.

Angelfish are docile fish. They make excellent additions to a multi-species aquarium. Angels will, however, deem smaller varieties of fish as a food source. It is advisable not to house them with species like minnows, glofish and fancy guppies. It is also ill advisable mixing angels with species like barbs and tetras. Both are fin nippers by nature. An angelfish’s full, billowing fins are scrumptious morsel, prime for snacking on.

This is an omnivorous species. Their diet should be comprised of both plant and animal matter. You will want to make sure to choose a fish food developed for omnivores as their main staple. A good quality flake food is all you will need to keep your angelfish fit and full of vigor. Many fish keepers prefer to provide a variety of nutritional choices in addition to the main staple. Although this is not strictly mandatory, it is a good practice. Would you want to have the exact same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of your life? A diverse diet will help to guarantee optimum health. Dried seaweed sheets are an excellent dietary supplement for omnivores. Protein based dietary additives like brine shrimp, tubifex and bloodworms are great alternatives to common fish food. Frozen and freeze dried preparations are readily available and make an excellent substitute for live food.

These fish inhabit South America. They are accustomed to water on the acidic side of the pH scale. A pH factor of 6.8 and temperatures between 72-86 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal environment. In a pristine environment an angelfish may live in excess of 10 years.

In regards to parenting, freshwater fish can be divided into two basic categories. There are those fish that will abandon their unborn eggs or even eat them with no regard to parental obligations. Then there are the fish that express varying amounts of brooding instinct. All cichlids fall in the latter category. Angelfish are most often referred to as open brooders. This simply means that they will prepare a flat surface such as a rock or piece of wood in order to deposit their eggs on. Brooders will exhibit custodial obligations by standing guard over and tending to their eggs until they hatch. Typically the male adopts the role as the protector by standing guard while the female becomes the eggs’ caregiver. After they are hatched, both parents will take an active role in tending their offspring.

Housing any certain species of fish in a volume of water that is not large enough could result in seriously adverse health issues and facilitate its death. You wouldn’t think about trying to raise an angelfish an ultra-thin wall mounted aquarium. To get more information about freshwater aquarium fish visit our online fish guide.

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