Pet Photography Tips

World War II Museum Presents Animals of War

New Orleans - Smoky the Yorkshire terrier, Lady Astor the pigeon and a host of horses and mules whose individual stories are lost to history are among war heroes and heroines featured in the latest exhibit at the National World War II Museum.

“Loyal Force: Animals at War” will run July 22-Oct. 17, featuring the four kinds of animals most often brought into the war.

“There was a great love and loyalty between the soldiers and the animals they worked with,” said registrar Toni M. Kiser, who created the exhibit with archivist Lindsey Barnes.

The exhibit opener may seem odd to people used to thinking of the Coast Guard as offshore duty in cutters, patrol boats, helicopters and airplanes.

In the mezzanine, where a Sherman tank and a half-track represent the period’s most common cavalry, will be a figure of a Coast Guardsman on shore patrol with his horse. The shore patrols were set up after German saboteurs twice landed on American beaches.

Nearly 3,000 horses, provided by the Army Quartermaster Corps, let the shore patrol cover much more ground. “The U.S. Coast Guard used more horses than any other branch of the U.S. Military during WWII,” the title panel notes.

The first thing visitors will see in the special exhibits gallery is a German reconnaissance horse and soldier, representing the Europeans.

Germany’s 1st Cavalry Division pursued the Soviet Army through the northern marshes of the Soviet Union, but was disbanded and mechanized in November 1941, largely because horses needed extensive supplies and attention, and Adolf Hitler considered them outmoded.

But most supplies and a great deal of artillery were still horse-drawn, and a mounted infantry squadron patrolled about six miles in front of every German infantry division.

“These mounted patrol troops were referred to as the ‘eyes and ears of their units,’” an exhibit panel explains.

The museum’s artifacts were part of the reason for including the German horse, Barnes said. “We have a really great saddle” and a dagger from the infamous 8th SS Kavallerie Division Florian Geyer.

North Africa and the Mediterranean are represented by pigeons such as Lady Astor, which brought an urgent message to Allied forces from the front lines in North Africa in spite of pellet fire that broke one leg and took half the feathers from one wing.

An oral history from Hiram Boone, a muleskinner for the Army’s Mars Task Force, informs the China, Burma and India exhibit.

For the Pacific front, there are the dogs.

Smoky, found in a foxhole in New Guinea, was a mascot who became a war heroine when engineers needed to run 70 feet of telegraph wire through an 8-inch culvert under an airfield.

Cpl. William Wynne, who had adopted Smoky and taught her many tricks, tied one end of the wire to Smoky’s collar and had his buddies hold Smoky at one end of the culvert while he called her from the other.

Her story is among a half-dozen featured on a touch-screen display, as is that of Kurt, a Doberman Pinscher who alerted his handler to Japanese soldiers lying in wait above the Asan Point beachhead on Guam, but was killed by a mortar shell.

Bronze statues of Smoky in a “pot” helmet and Kurt, lying down but on the alert, also are part of the exhibit. Kurt’s statue is a replica of one at the United States Marine Corps War Dog Cemetery in Guam.

Sculptor Susan Bahary also put Barnes in touch with the widow of Lt. William Putney, commanding officer of the 3rd U.S. War Dog Platoon, who led 110 Marines and 72 dogs from Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton to Guadalcanal and Guam. His veterinarian’s kit, donated to the museum by Betsy Putney, is set up in the sort field hospital used for dogs.

“A lot of stuff they had was the same as for humans,” Barnes said. “It took a while for the Army to get around to having special supplies for dogs.”

There’s also a mascot slideshow and a narrated “slideshow movie” about servicemen’s encounters with exotic animals — playing with monkeys, riding on elephants and camels. One photo, from the Pacific, shows eight men holding the skin of a python. “The expressions on their faces are pretty telling — how foreign and exciting this was,” Barnes said.

They had to omit lots of stories, such as that of the bear that carried artillery ammunition during the battle of Monte Cassino (it had been enlisted into the Polish Army because the soldiers weren’t allowed to have mascots).

“We really wanted to concentrate on the animals that were used by the thousands to help the military,” Kiser said.

Luntik the Four-Eared Cat

In the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok, lives a unique feline name Luntik who at 3-months of age is drawing a lot of attention to his community.

Luntik is a stray cat who lives in an auto service station where he spends his days lounging around while motorist curiously come over to see his four ears.

The unique genetic traits are simply for viewing purposes only, because the vestigial ears do not contain an ear canal or anything else to make them functional.

The small pair of ears which are slightly in front of the main pair are somewhat of a blessing for an otherwise lonely cat.

Now with so much buzz going on about this adorable four eared cat, Luntik will be lucky if he gets any time to lay around by himself.

While the world gets to know Luntik, he is slowly becoming a celebrity with the British press is naming him the “Jedi Cat”, while others on the web speculate that Luntik’s conditions can be a genetic hangover from the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown of 1986.

But the reality is that Luntik is unique, not one of kind. In 2004 a German cat named Lilly made the press with her four ears and Yoda a cat from Chicago also became famous for his genetic trait in 2008.

Luxury Pet Resort Opening at Disney World

Pluto never had it so good: The next major attraction to open at Walt Disney World won't be for the kids - it will be for the dogs. Best Friends Pet Resort, scheduled to open Aug. 27, will offer not just boarding, but also bedtime stories and a water park for dogs.

The luxury facility will accommodate way more than 101 Dalmatians. With more than 50,000 square feet of space, half of it outdoors, it has room for 270 dogs, 30 cats and assorted other animals, including birds, potbellied pigs and small mammals like hamsters and guinea pigs. (Sorry, no turtles, snakes or lizards.)

Standard indoor boarding for dogs runs $37 nightly. Upgrades for dogs include vacation villas with outdoor patios and flat-screen TVs for watching videos like "Homeward Bound" ($59), or 226-square-foot luxury suites ($76) with private outdoor play yards and personal pet concierges.

Cats can choose between two- and four-story condos.

How to Bring Pets Along
on the Family Trip

Planning a family getaway is fun, but the mere thought of leaving behind our furry friends can be painful. Fortunately, pet-friendly lodging and restaurants are plentiful. You'll also find a slew of gear and other pet products making it easier than ever to take your cat or dog along. Here are tips:

1. Plan ahead. You may need to take a few extra steps to include your pets in the fun. Don't let that dissuade you from taking your pet. Let your children help make a list of the extra gear and supplies you will need as well as advance reservations you may require. Airlines can refuse your reservation if there are already too many pets scheduled for a flight, so let them know as soon as you decide to take a pet.

If you travel by car, pack your animal's food, litter, waste disposal bags, leashes, toys, beds, medications and pet carrier. To be on the safe side, include notes regarding your pet's medical history as well as your veterinarian's contact information.

2. Practice round. If your dog or cat isn't accustomed to car or plane travel, introduce him to the pet carrier well before your departure date. Toss a favorite toy or familiar object into the carrier and take a spin within familiar territory. Be sure the carrier is airline-compliant and sturdy enough to make the trip.

3. Keep moving. Just like humans, your pets need as much exercise away from home as they do in their own environment. On the road, make plenty of stops to allow every member of your family to stretch their legs and breathe fresh air. At your destination, include your pet in hikes, walks on pet-friendly beaches or visits to local parks.

4. Drink up. Make sure your pet has access to clean, fresh water throughout your travels. Just like our body, a pet's consists of 80 percent water. Proper hydration is key to good health at home and on the road.

5. Have fun. Enjoy this extra-special time with your family and pet. Take photos and include your cat or dog in your vacation photo album. Visit a local dog park. It's likely that your pet will introduce you to new friends on the way.


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Hints From Heloise

Pet Peculiarity

Dear Readers: If you find that your beloved pet is ACTING ODDLY, he or she may have eaten something toxic. Do not hesitate to call your vet or take your pet to an after-hours emergency clinic if you suspect that something is wrong. Keep these hints in mind for your pet's health and your peace of mind:

- Know your pet's normal behaviors, routines and habits.

- Observe the animal and write down unusual behavior.

- Feel the animal's belly. Is it bloated?

- Be a detective, or pretend you are an investigative reporter: Follow the trail of food or meds that your pet might have eaten.

- Note any vomiting that may have occurred -- time of, amount, anything recognizable in it.

- Bring packaging that your pet might have gotten into.

- Write down a timeline of events. When did your pet eat, and when did he or she begin acting erratically?

- Bring a blanket, pillow and toy for your pet in case there is an overnight stay.

- Always keep a copy of the animal's medical records handy.

- Take notes while you listen to the doctor.

- Consider pet insurance. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it runs between $300 and $400 a year, with a $100 deductible.

-- Heloise


Dear Readers: Dan and Shawn Thomas of Van Wert, Ohio, sent a photo of Spike, their 1-year-old bearded dragon, taking a bath. To see Spike, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: We have three very active dogs. Their feet are rarely clean when they come in the house, and using regular rugs did not do the trick. I bought a bunch of inexpensive comforters, and I fold one up and put it by the door. It is great -- it soaks up the mud and water from rain and helps keep the dirt to a minimum. I also use these comforters to cover the couches, put in their crates and even under their crates to keep them from scratching the floor. When they are dirty, I just pop them in the washer -- easy! We have a few so that we can rotate them when we need to. -- Penney, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I have a new addition to our family, Jewels. Jewels is the cutest kitten, with the best personality. She is constantly getting into and wanting to lick everything! This concerned me, because I don't want her to "taste" anything that would harm her. One of the ways I alleviated this is I switched to vinegar and water to clean my house. It is a great disinfectant, and I don't worry about her "tasting" anymore. -- Alexis Smith, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: When I brush my dog, I do it outside. There's no hair flying around the house, and I put the fur in a flowerpot for the birds to use in their nests. An old pot holds my supplies. -- J.S. in Indiana

Why Should You Groom Your Dog?
by Richard Perkins -

Most people who own dogs always create time to groom them and will give you reasons for doing this. For some, grooming is about making sure the dog looks good, others do it to ensure the dog stays healthy while others are motivated by a desire to bond with the dog. On the opposite extreme are those who do not groom their dogs either because they are busy, or do not see the need for doing it, or any other reason. So, why it is important to groom your dog?

Let us start by defining what dog grooming is. Dog grooming basically refers to the process of cleaning and making the dog tidy. This includes all activities that you do to remove dirt, and improve the appearance of the dog in general. Why is this process important? The most important reason why you should groom your dog is the fact that it helps keep the dog healthy. Ask any veterinarian and you will be told that your dog needs to be bathed regularly to stay healthy. Bathing helps remove dirt but more than that, it prevents the dog from developing skin infection.

When a dog goes without bathing for a while, the dirt will cause it to start itching and scratching which in turn leads to skin abrasions that can become septic. And if a dog has infection such as thrush for instance, it is easier to prevent further infection if it is clean than if it is dirty.

Besides bathing, other grooming activities are also quiet beneficial. Brushing and combing for instance makes a dog look more attractive. This again is not the only reason why you should brush or comb it. When a dog is not brushed especially if it has long hair/fur, the fibers get intertwined, a condition commonly known as matting. Matting would not have been much of an issue had it not been that it creates its own problems. One of such is that it locks dirt in and increase chances of your dog itching. It is also quiet hard to wash a dog when there is matting.

You are probably asking, suppose my dog already has matting, what should I do? Brushing will help if the tangles are not very tight. However, if matting has gone on for a while without remedial action, then you will only hurt the dog as you attempt to brush or comb. The solution in this case is to undertake a different grooming activity: hair clipping.

Hair clipping is the best option when your dog’s hair/ fur is very tightly intertwined. But clipping has other benefits including making it easier to clean the dog and improving the looks of your dog. There are hair clippers specifically designed for dogs. Besides clipping of hair/fur, it is also recommended that you trim the nails. Long nails when unchecked will curve inwards and may result in injury as the dog walks by piercing into its feed pads.

Finally, nothing will bond your dog and you than grooming. The prolonged, massage like touch will increase the faithfulness of your faithful friend!

The Disappearance Of Princess Tia
By Tricia Deininger -

My precious Chinese Shar-Pei, Tia, is one of those irresistible “wrinkle dogs” who melts my heart at the sight of her. The sweetest of the litter when I found her, I knew she’d be a true love bucket. Unlike the other pups, she wasn’t shy. To my delight, she trailed the breeder’s toddler, licking his hands and feet. Tia was certainly worth the six-hour trip to bring her home.
I’ve always been a fool for animals, once adopting an orphaned cat and her entire litter. So, I am naturally pet friendly, though not particularly God friendly, considering the untimely loss of my only child. I suppose I was angry with God, whoever I thought Him to be.

Such reasoning would be challenged one afternoon when Tia slyly slipped through a door left ajar, sprinting toward a busy boulevard.

I panicked, of course. My stomach churned and my head spun, much like a sucker-punched fighter. Dreading a horrific ending, I raced out in a mad effort to find her.

Chasing her on foot is futile, I’ve learned. After the first unheeded command, it’s useless to try anymore. Petite for the breed, she is a lean, well-muscled mass of rich sable wrinkles, and a two-time award winner for obedience.

But Sister, let me tell you! Off the leash, she’s a headstrong problem child and absolutely schizophrenic if given the chance to run free. Yet, on the leash, Tia is an angelic icon of obedience—gifted, alert and smart. Sadly, she has a dark side–an even greater gift for escape.

This escape marked the first away from home in busy traffic where she’d gained a substantial lead. Immediately abandoning the foot chase, I drove toward a neighborhood of suburban homes near the boulevard and aimlessly turned one corner after another.

Then I spotted her! Yup, there she was hanging with the “wrong kind”— the roaming neighborhood mutts. How could I possibly beat such fun? Expectantly, I resorted to the only thing in my bag of tricks. Since Tia is allergic to every common dog food or treat except mixed fish and potato, I always carry thawed, store-bought French fries as an inducement.

Putting along, I finally pulled over as she caught sight of me. I opened the car door and waved French fries at her coaxing in my sweetest voice. Bounding to within two arm’s length of me, she stopped abruptly as if thinking it over. Obviously deciding the price of freedom to be much higher than a few measly fries, she bolted hard and fast. This time I lost all hope.

In the clinches, I’m easily given to hysterics and wild fears. “She’ll be run over and die. Someone will find her, keep her, but not give her needed medicine. I’ll never see her again! Oh no, I’m going to die!” This went on and on while blinding tears rolled down my cheeks. Frantically posting hand-scrawled signs and aimlessly looking everywhere, I finally stopped. Defeated, I pulled over and sobbed uncontrollably.

The shift in my spiritual values occurred at this—the second-most lowest moment in my life. Endless, utterly futile hours spent scouring neighborhoods only left me distraught, confused and at the end of my human resources. I’m not sure what came over me as the scales of spiritual resistance fell from my eyes. Humbled and broken, I looked to the sky and asked for help.

Suspending my disbelief, I pled with the God of my limited understanding, “Dear God! Please help me! I don’t know what to do anymore. This isn’t working. Please, please don’t let anything happen to my baby. Please tell me what to do next.”

Both dazed and amazed at my earnestness, I stayed behind the wheel feeling lost and useless. There was no burning bush, but something happened. In a still, small voice that I heard in my head, I was told to keep doing what I’d been doing–driving up and down neighborhood streets, stopping residents, grownups and kids, asking if they’ve seen a wrinkle dog. I took this instruction with a grain of cynicism, though more hopeful than ever.

Certainly, Tia was worth the exhaustive search as I followed the guidance, repeating everything as before for quite a while. Randomly, I turned down a street and saw a man standing in his yard.

“Are you going to ask every single person you see?” I asked myself. Intuitively it felt right, so I haphazardly stopped the car.

“I think you’re looking for something wrinkled,” he said, eyeing my stricken face.I must have mumbled something such as, “Oh my God….thank you!” He continued to explain.

“Yeah, she just came up and started playing with my kids. I figured she didn’t look like the kind of dog that should just be wandering around so I tied her up in my back yard. I’ve been trying to reach your home for about two hours.

Today, I no longer believe in happenstance or coincidences. I could have explained Tia’s rescue as an alignment of time or something mysterious. Instead, I know it to be Divine Intervention–an answer to prayer. What a landmark on my spiritual journey!

Nonetheless Tia, the predictable princess that she is, still has that rebellious streak. Through my gate she sneaks, streaking around the block from time to time. Tried and true, I just drive up and down streets asking strangers if they’ve seen a wrinkle dog, holding on to the faith that I’ll find her eventually. I’m delighted to report that I do every time.

Easy Tips To Economize On Bird Food

If you’re pet bird owner, it goes without saying that the bird food comes at quite a cost. It is simply ready to burning a hole in your pocket making you arrange your financial position now and then. However, it is not compulsory the bird food can cost a bomb always. There are a few measures that may help you maximize your savings all the while providing your bird with the right food. Let’s take a look at some of the measures that can help you with the same.

One of the best techniques by which you save on your bird food costs is by buying it in large quantities. Bulk buying is often more cost-effective, especially in the case of products like bird food. Most people tend to buy small packets of bird food when they need it. While this is undeniably more handy, bulk purchasing is more cost-effective. You can buy bird food in quantities from wholesale markets in your locality.

Bulk buying of bird food comes with its own share of flipsides too. One difficulty that bulk buying poses is the issue of easy storage. The most suitable option to store the bird food is the plastic boxes which come in the galvanized form. Also ensure that you use only the air tight and water proof containers. This can circumvent the moisture from entering the container and hence will not spoil the food in any way. Additionally store your food in a very dry and cool place.

Another effective option in this context is to make purchase online. All you need to do is to log in to the net and you can easily get in communication with 1 or 2 online vendors that will supply you with the very pocket friendly bird food options. Unlike the regular stores, the net sellers do not have to worry about the costs of a store. Here it is quite obvious that you need to foot in the bill of the shipping charges. However the overall cost still comes out to be really less. Do not settle in for any online seller. Research your option and keep the prices in consideration before you settle in for any specific online vendor selling bird food.

You may save money spend on bird food by curbing waste. Try and decide whether or not you are filling the feeders too frequently. Also, when birds are given food at too frequent intervals, they have an inclination to spill over the further portion. So do not fill the feeder for 1 or 2 days. This could inspire your bird to eat the extra food that has fallen inside the cage floor.

Another great way to save on bird food is to simply grow it. Try and grow sunflowers as they not only make your garden look beautiful but also provide you with affordable bird food. The head of the sunflower seed may be used as bird food. So while you economize, your bird gets to enjoy a great sunflower seed meal.

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General Information

The origin of the canine can be traced back with some certainty to the Eocene Miacids that existed nearly 55 million years ago. The modern day dog evolved from the Canoidea line (a coyote type of dog) that existed around 38 million years ago, which again evolved into a fox-like animal (the Leptocyon) and then into a wolf-like animal (the Tomarctus) about 10 million years ago. The Tomarctus was apparently native to the North American continent, and from there began expanding throughout the various parts of the world. The dog like Tomarctus was a dog-like carnivore that eventually evolved into the modern day dog.

Modern day evidence suggests that the dog is the closest relative to the wolf – experts have deduced this information based on genetics and behavior patterns.

These wolf like animals became domesticated as humans began raising the wolf pups as tame and social animals. Humans probably interacted more with these animals because of the shared interest in the same types of prey and habitats. Eventually these pups became dependent on the humans for food and adapted to living with humans. The modern day domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a descendent of these early wolf-pup domestications beginning around 10,000 BC.

DOG Scientific Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus
Subspecies: C.l. familiaris

DOG Character Information

The dog has long been considered as “Man’s best friend.” When dogs are properly cared for from the time they are puppies, they will grow to live a good healthy life. Proper care and attention will earn you undying loyalty from your canine friend.

Dogs are primarily different from other household pets for two main reasons: social attachment to humans, and physical temperament

Dogs are social creatures – they bond they form with humans is uncommon to other domesticated animals. Their friendly and protective natures make them ideal companions to humans.

Dogs are varied in their temperaments and have been bred to enhance specific characteristics. Because of their varied physical sizes and temperaments, it is very common for a pet owner to find a type dog that meets their emotional needs – there is pretty much a dog for any type of personality out there.


General Information

Cats are believed to have first been domesticated by the ancient Egpytians around the year 4500 BC, although some evidence suggests that cats were part of Egyptian culture as early as 7500 BC. The Egyptians used cats to defend their grain storage from rats and mice and eventually began to revere the cats. The Egyptian goddess of love and fertility, Bastet, resembled a cat. Throughout time, cats have also been revered by the Vietnamese, Japanese and Islamic cultures.

During the 15th century in Europe cats were considered evil and cat owners were persecuted by declaration of the Pope. Cat lovers were accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Because of this belief, the European cat population decreased causing an increase in the number of rats – it is believed that this increase in the rat population contributed to the rapid spread of the bubonic plague – also known as Black Death.

Cats today are considered playful, loving companions and are well adapted to home life.

CAT Scientific Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felis
Species: F. Silvestris
Subspecies: F. s. catus

CAT Character Information

Cats can be described as loving, playful, highly intelligent and extremely observant. Cats learn quickly and can be very curious about new or exciting things around the home. When provided with lots of love and good care, cats can become loyal companions throughout their life.

While lovable and playful, cats can at times be described as moody, schizophrenic, and even downright strange. It is important to remember that cats like to spend a lot of time on their own. Although they can form strong social bonds with their pet owner and other cats, they can be completely happy on their own. Because cats come from a species that is largely solitary and highly territorial they prefer to have their own space and territory. Cats, from time to time, will scratch, spray urine or rub their fur on things to mark their territory. Pet owners will notice that cats will become more active in “marking their territory” when the cat feels insecure or threatened in its living space – this type of behavior will be especially noticeable when other cats come around.

Cats like to nap throughout the day causing pet owners to think that cats are inherently lazy. In reality, cats rest during the time when the pet owners are awake and are more active when the pet owners are resting. Cats are active during their hunting time – evenings and mornings – when their prey (probably rodents) are most active. Because of this late to bed and early to rise schedule, cat’s prefer to sleep during the day.


General Information

Some experts speculate that horses were first domesticated almost 10,000 years ago. Throughout time, these sturdy and resilient animals have been used for transportation, to transport cargo, and sometimes for food. Around 2000 BC, historical records indicate that horses were used by many different cultures and societies.

Once domesticated, horses began to be bred for their specific abilities and characteristics. As humans began to find various uses for these animals they began to breed certain horses for pulling plows and wagons, for riding (with and without saddles), and as mentioned before, some cultures used horses as a source of meat and milk. Modern day horses are used mainly for recreation, although in some areas of the world horses are still used for work.

HORSE Scientific Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Species: E. caballus

HORSE Character Information

Depending on the breed, horses’ behaviors and characteristics vary from being subdued to very spirited animals. Horses are very intelligent can be taught to obey and perform specific tasks when trained to do so. If you have any experience in riding or working with horses, you can attest to the fact that at times they can also be very stubborn animals.

Horses require special attention and care and should be taught to trust their caretaker. Horses that are neglected or not well cared for can become wild and unruly creating an unsafe environment for anyone in this large animal’s vicinity.


General Information

Modern pet birds were first domesticated thousands of years ago, with some species being domesticated as pets within the last several hundred years. Canaries were first bred into captivity in the early 1600s, while the parakeet, with its varied and diverse classes, is believed to have been domesticated for thousands of years.

Birds have had an enormous impact in human life serving as a primary source of food and also in performing important tasks. As a source of food, recent estimates indicate that every year more than 9.8 billion birds are raised, slaughtered and consumed for human consumption in the United States alone. In addition to food, birds have performs such tasks as carrying communications (Homing pigeons), hunting (falcons), scientific research (chickens and pigeons), and protecting miners from poisonous gasses (canaries).

Pet birds provide lively, constant companions that can fill a home with relaxing chirps and singing. Additionally they can bring vivid color and life into quiet corners of the home. Some species of birds can live well into their 60s and 70s creating a life long bond with their owner.

BIRD Scientific Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cordata
Subphylum: Verebrata
Class: Aves

BIRD Character Information

Birds are wonderful pets that can liven up any home or apartment with their high energy and beautiful songs and can add a wide array of color to any environment they live in. Birds are intelligent creatures that are easily trained and are relatively easy to care for. They can be extremely social and can live long, healthy lives providing years and years of companionships.

For the budget conscious, birds are not expensive to feed and can live in a small inexpensive cage. When considering becoming a bird owner, it is important to think about your current living condition, whether as a renter you can have such a pet, and about how long you are willing to have the bird as part of your home. Some types of birds can live well into their 70s if well cared for. But whatever your motivation, you can expect to have the happy sounds and colors of your bird brighten your home every day.


General Information

The modern day pet hamster was first discovered in Syria in 1830. An Israeli Zoologist working in the Syrian desert brought the hamster back to his lab and was successful in breeding them. Later, in 1839 a British zoologist named George Waterhouse gave them their modern day name – the Golden Hamster. All common household pet hamsters are descendents of the Syrian desert hamsters.

Hamsters were shipped all over the world arriving in the United Kingdom in 1931 and later in the United States in 1938 for use in lab research. Hamsters are healthy, disease free animals and have the potential to have a new litter of babies nearly every month.

HAMSTER Scientific Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Myomorpha
Superfamily: Muroidea
Family: Cricetidae
Subfamily: Cricetinae

HAMSTER Character Information

The Golden Hamster is a nocturnal animal, but occasionally will be active during the day. Pet hamsters can be very tame, but should always be handled with care – if frightened, they can become very aggressive. Although they are domesticated, hamsters are adept at chewing on and escaping from their cages. Once they escape they will not readily return to their home and must be trapped to be put back in their cage.

Hamsters enjoy exercise, especially wheel running. In fact, pregnant females have been known to run up to 5 miles per day!

Female hamsters are known to be more aggressive than males, and depending on her sexual cycle may attack new males that are introduced into her cage. Additionally, females will readily defend her young. If the mother feels threatened she will either attack the intruder or hide her babies in her mouth in her cheek pouches. Female hamsters with new litters should be disturbed as little as possible.


General Information

The history of domesticated rabbits began about 3000 years ago in Spain – in fact the word Spain is derived from the Latin word “Hispania” which is the Latin translation for the word “i-shephan-im” or literally “the land of the rabbits.” Rabbits were brought to this area in Europe by the Phoenicians and were later further domesticated by French Catholic Monks.

Throughout the known history of rabbits they have been associated with bringing good luck, fertility, and folklore (the Easter Bunny). The term “bunny”, referring to young or small rabbits, is believed to have its origins from the Gaelic word for “root” or “stump”. The “ny” is a diminutive suffix that means small and cute. The use of the word “bunny” first appeared in the English language around the year 1700.

Modern day pet rabbits or “European Rabbits” are descendents of these first domesticated rabbits from Spain. Rabbits and humans have a diverse history as rabbits have been used to control pests, for furs and other clothing accessories, for food, or as household pets. Rabbit waste, both feces and urine have proven useful as nitrogen-fixing fertilizers for gardening.

RABBIT Scientific Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Lagomorpha
Family: Leporidae

RABBIT Character Information

Rabbits are increasing in popularity as household pets because of their quiet and unassuming behavior. They are generally easy to care for, can be litter box trained, and are healthy and disease free for most of their lives. Because of their easy going temperament rabbits fit well in multi-pet homes as they tend to get along well with both cats and dogs. The average life expectancy of a pet rabbit is about 10 years.

Rabbits that are kept indoors, rather than in outdoor cages, will become more social and will be better protected from predators and disease. Rabbits are naturally curious and love to chew on anything that looks appealing – it is important that if you let your rabbit roam your home that you keep a close eye on them to prevent them from nibbling on electrical chords or toxic household plants.

Rabbits are typically not aggressive animals and at times will run and hide rather than engage in a fight. If your rabbit feels threatened, expect a fast and agile escape to a safe place out of the way of the danger. It should be noted that rabbits can become aggressive if they become upset.


General Information

The Guinea Pig has its origins in the high mountains of South America. Natives of modern day Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador domesticated the Guinea Pig for use as food. To this day, Guinea Pigs are still raised for food in certain areas of South America.

In the 1600s Spanish sailors were the first to adopt Guinea Pigs as pets and brought them back to Europe from South America. Since that time, Guinea Pigs have been bred to produce a wide variety of types of Guinea Pigs.

These small furry creatures came to be known as “pigs” because of the squeaking noises they make – Guinea Pigs are not related to pigs. The name “Guinea” is believed to have been derived from the route that was traveled to bring these furry animals to Europe – by way of Guinea. Many other cultures throughout the world have also adopted a derivation of the “pig” name for these animals. The scientific name for the Guinea Pig is Cavia porcellus – translated in Latin to mean “little pig.”

GUINEA PIG Scientific Information

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Caviidae
Genus: Cavia

GUINEA PIG Character Information

Guinea Pigs are nosey, friendly characters that are easily frightened and always rummaging around for something to nibble on. These furry companions generally weigh between 1 and 3 pounds and can grow up to as big as 15 inches long. The average life span is between 4 and 8 years. Unlike other rodents, Guinea Pigs find a mating partner and stick with that partner throughout their lives.

Guinea Pigs are not as agile as other members of the rodent family – they shy away from jumping, climbing and heights. When they get excited, they will “popcorn” – do little jumps up and down. When necessary, Guinea Pigs will do limited climbing such as going up and down stairs.


General Information

Whether as pets or unwanted pests, mice and rats have lived with humans for thousands of years. These small furry creatures have survived throughout the ages because of their ability to adapt to almost any condition and their incredible ability to reproduce – one pair of mice and their descendents can produce over a million offspring in just two short years!

Mice and rats have an extended history of use in laboratory experiments and are considered a great test for chemicals and substances that may eventually be used on humans.

These rodents are adept hunters, spending most of their lives in the wild searching for and capturing food. Mice and rats are mostly nocturnal, gathering food during the night and showing signs of activity at varying times of the day.

MICE & RAT Scientific Information


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Superfamily: Muroidea
Family: Muridae
Subfamily: Murinae
Genus: Mus


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Superfamily: Muroidea
Family: Muridae
Subfamily: Murinae
Genus: Rattus

MICE & RAT Character Information

Mice are social creatures that are well adapted to handling by both adults and children. As social as mice can be, they can be very timid and if scared or handled roughly can become aggressive and territorial. When handling a pet mouse or rat, children should always be supervised by an adult.

Mice are small rodents, measuring only 3 ½ inches from head to bottom (tails can vary in length), weigh only an ounce and typically live to be one to four years old. While white is the most popular pet color, mice and rats come in a variety of coat colors and hair lengths.

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Tips for Taking Terrific Photos of Your Pets
Karen Steinrock -

Getting the perfect shot of Fido and Fluffy has become an obsession, whether for pet photo contests or local media-sharing sites.

I should know. After 18 years of agonizing over the annual Christmas pet photo, I've learned a few tricks -- though the digital revolution threw me a curve. I'm a lot better with pets than cameras.

In the old days, I'd run back and forth to have film developed five or six times before making a final choice. I always pitied the guy who ran the shop. He had this look of ''Oh no, not you again'' in his eyes.

One year I took four rolls of the three dogs sitting at the keyboard of the baby grand as though they were singing. This required rotating the piano 180 degrees to get it near a window. No easy chore. It weighs a ton. I even borrowed lights from a pro, but none of the 60-plus photos was any good. I stink at indoor photography.

Nowadays I upload photos onto my computer with high hopes. But when the images come up I'm usually disappointed and start over. Shutter delay and red eye are the big enemies. Many newer cameras have corrected these issues, but I'm still learning how to use this one.

Like most amateurs, I've never advanced from the point-and-shoot club, so my main expertise lies in getting the pets to cooperate. The only technical tip I offer is to use natural lighting whenever possible. Flashes can really screw things up. That's my excuse anyway.

When it comes to posing, some pets are born hams. I've been blessed to own several who almost fought for time in front of the camera, to the point of shoving each other out of the frame. But there are those who get spooked, simply won't sit still, or try to pummel the photographer. Look at it from their perspective: ''Why are you pointing that thing at me?''

Hence trick No. 1. Make photo time ''happy time.'' When you pick up the camera, they should greet it with the same enthusiasm as a leash. Keep your camera handy at all times to capture that perfect moment.

The best shots are often impromptu. Of the hundreds of Barney photos taken in four years, the most adorable was spontaneous. He was just 3 months old, heckling Hannah out in the snow, when she'd had enough and stuffed his head in it. His snow-covered muzzle and woeful puppy expression said it all. I got lucky … that one time.

Happiness Is Giving
An Adopted Dog A Good Home
by Gina Meyer -

Regardless of the presence of many animal shelters and pet rescue groups, many pet owners still buy their dogs from pet shops, not knowing that adopting a dog from a shelter is a better option. Why would you pick your pet from an animal shelter? Here are the top reasons:

You're helping the canine community.

Dogs are homeless for many different reasons. Some are not wanted by their families, others were left to stray the streets. Regardless of the reason, these poor creatures deserve homes that can provide them a loving environment and a caring family.

You are giving a dog a second chance to live a good life.

Even dogs deserve a second chance. Dogs are often left in the streets for faults they did not commit. Their previous owners, for example, have no time to take care of their dogs or are moving to another city. There are also dogs that were left because their owners died and no one is left to care of them. Other owners can't handle the financial expense of owning a dog, and thus surrender them to shelters. Sure, some dogs are guilty of misbehaving, but that does not make them deserve being homeless. By giving a homeless dog another chance, you are also giving them another shot at being loved, and for yourself, a chance at being loved unconditionally.

You're assisting the shelter.

Even if they want to take care of all dogs in the street, they only have resources for a limited number of stray dogs. Help them out by extending your hand to one of their dogs. Whenever you adopt from a pet shelter, it's as if you are giving the shelter extra bed, food, and medical supplies.

You get a dog at a bargain price.

Dogs can cost as much as several hundred dollars. Getting a dog from dog shelter, on the other hand, can only cost you as much as $100. This fee covers for the maintenance cost of the dog, for spaying or neutering fee, and for other expenses. There are, in fact, plenty of animal shelters that are happy to give their dogs for free. Though it is not always advisable to take a dog home for free.

You can also save on training expenses because most dogs in animal animal shelters have been housebroken and trained. There are, in fact, dogs in animal animal shelters that have been trained for specific functions. If you need an assistance dog such as a guide dog, a service dog or a hearing dog, you can begin your search in animal shelters.

You can save the life of a poor dog.

Because of overpopulation, some pet shelters euthanize their dogs - mostly senior and adult dogs. They do not want to do this but it is often necessary to give a possibility to younger dogs. Save a dog's life by adopting one.

You are bringing home a new friend.

Dogs understand and forgive you even when others cannot. If you want a constant companion that is trained, has received the necessary medical attention, and is old enough not to cause you problems, you can adopt a dog from an dog shelter.

Good Tips For Feeding Pet Snakes

There are some things that it is best to know in case you are a brand new pet snake owner about how ideally to feed your snake. There are just a few tips and tricks that will make life loads easier. Once you understand them, it would make feeding time a whole lot simpler.

As a way to have a healthy snake, they need to have an excellent diet plan, similar to humans. They should have a good food supply and be be given food on a frequent basis. The exact necessities are going to be specific to the type of reptile you own. But it doesn’t matter what breed of snake, there are some common issues it’s good to know.

One of the crucial frequent debates is whether or not it’s better to feed your snake live or frozen rodents. Some folks believe it is better to make use of live prey as a result of it is more life like to what would occur in nature. Nonetheless the ease, comfort, cost effectiveness of frozen prey often wins out. If correctly raised there is no distinction in the health and nutritional worth between the two.

One of the first tips is to make use of a separate feeding space than your snakes predominant habitat. It may fluctuate relying on the dimensions and breed of your snake. With child snakes you’ll be able to often just use a cardboard box. This serves the purpose of conditioning your snake to solely assume it is feeding time when it’s moved. This helps prevent unwanted bites if you put your hand within the cage and he thinks it’s his next meal.

Another good concept to keep your fingers secure at feeding time is to use feeding tongs. These are lengthy steel tongs that you should utilize to drop your snakes meals into the feeding area. Once again, it helps stop your reptile from delivering an undesirable bite if you happen to have been attempting to feed it by hand.

One other thing that you simply need to be aware of is how snakes feed in the wild. They take their pray in head first. This is due to the truth that if ingested from the tail up, the mice’s legs can spread out and trigger problems or injury swallowing the prey. Snakes will often regurgitate the mouse and then eat them once more head first. It is good technique to hold your frozen pinkie mice by the hind quarters and display it to your pet head first.

These are just some of the ideas that a new pet snake owner must be taught before they go to feed their reptile. They’re really easy to implement, and might cease injuries from happening to both you and your pet. It’s always a good suggestion to learn as much as attainable in case you are a new pet owner, as well as getting recommendation from your vet or breeder.

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