How to Be a Better Pet Parent

Terrier That Saved Owners
from Coyote Named 'Hero Dog'

The wire fox terrier was bitten by the coyote, but he fought back and scared it away.

Ronnie the wire fox terrier gets a look at his new award in the yard of his Rossmoor home. (The OC Register)

LOS ANGELES -- A 9-year-old wire fox terrier named Ronnie has been named Hero Dog of the Year for chasing away a coyote that threatened his owners and a fellow canine.

Ronnie received the honor on Tuesday by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Los Angeles.

The brave pooch generally has a calm disposition, but showed unusual courage when the coyote jumped over a backyard fence on Aug. 1 and confronted owner Janis Christensen and her husband, Eric, along with another family dog, a Yorkie named Annie.

According to the spcaLA, Ronnie jumped between the animal and his family.

Ronnie was bitten in the process, but charged back and bit the coyote, which eventually ran away.

Ronnie's owners say the behavior was uncharacteristic for their typically laid-back pet.

"Ronnie has always been extremely timid," Janis Christensen said.

"Yesterday we had a repair person in our house and Annie was barking and growling and trying to get at him, and Ronald put his tail between his legs and ran."

In honor of being named the organization's 28th annual Hero Dog Award, Ronnie and his owners received a commemorative plaque.

"Ronnie's personality was such that you wouldn't think he would spring into action like he did," said spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein.

"This shows that treating your pet with love and respect can be returned by an amazing heroic act. Coyotes wandering into backyards looking for food is becoming more and more prevalent."

Ronnie and his owners also won a year's supply of California Natural brand pet food and a weekend getaway at Hotel Maya in Long Beach.

Man Marries Dying Pet Cat

Berlin: What can be termed as one of the strangest marriages ever, a 39-year-old German postman married his terminally ill pet cat after vets told him that his beloved cat is going to die soon, media reports said.

Uwe Mitzscherlich tied the knot with his overweight pet, Cecilia, who was suffering from asthma and was dying.

According to media reports, Mitzscherlich paid 300 euros to an actress to officiate a fake wedding ceremony, as marriage between an animal and human is illegal in Germany.

Talking about the unusual wedding, Mitzscherlich said that he wanted to marry his pet, who had been his companion for the last 10 years, before it dies from asthma.

"Cecilia is such a trusting creature. We cuddle all the time and she has always slept in my bed," he said.

The actress, Christin-Maria Lohri who officiated the marriage said that she thought that the request was a joke.

"At first I thought it was a joke. But for Mr Mitzscherlich it's a dream come true," she said.

Pets At Home Alone -
How You Can Help Them Stay Safe
by Linda Kemp at

The other day I was out in my neighborhood helping hand out garage sale flyers for our subdivision's upcoming community yard sale. I had a great time talking with people and meeting more of my neighbors. But the one thing that has stayed with me all week is a simple note that was affixed to the front door of my neighbor's home. The note read:


It is so simple and yet this simple note can mean the difference between life and death. It moved me so much that I felt that this information needed to be passed on to everyone reading this blog who loves their pets.

This is especially true when both owners work full time and the house is empty during the day. If there is a fire or any other type of emergency where the fire department needs to get into your home, they will be alerted to the fact that animals live there too! When there is a fire or other similar emergency it is not too unusual for pets to seek shelter under a bed or a piece of furniture. So flagging the fact that a dog or cat or any other animal is in the building will give firefighters a head up.

Animals are an important part of our families. Spread the word!

Ferrets: the New Celebrity Handbag Pets?
By Pete Wedderburn Health -

Ferrets - not everyone's choice of pet.

A report published recently suggested that ferret ownership is on the increase, especially amongst female owners, after Paris Hilton was spotted cuddling her pet ferret in public.

Ferrets are one of the new pets to emerge in recent decades. Although they’ve been domesticated by humans for thousands of years, for most of this time they’ve been utility animals, used to hunt rabbits and rodents, both as a pest control measure and as a sport. They’ve also been kept for fur production and for other reasons (for example, they’ve acted as cable-runners for telephone companies and in other industries). It’s only in the past twenty years that ferrets have become popular simply as pets. They’re small, easy to look after and they have entertaining personalities.

Most people who aren’t familiar with ferrets find them a little frightening. Their long slinky body, small beady eyes and sharp front teeth give them the appearance of an unpredictable predator who might attack at any moment. It is true that some ferrets can give a sharp nip, but like most pets, ferrets respond well to gentle care and consistent training. The late Phil Drabble, the “One Man and His Dog” star, knew a lot about ferrets, and he said “If a ferret bites you it is nearly always your own fault.

An ancient English “sport” called “ferret legging” has contributed to the myths about ferret behaviour. The contestant had to tie his trouser legs around the ankles, then place two ferrets down his trousers before tying the waist closed. The object was to be the person that keeps the ferrets in his trousers the longest. Many people only lasted a few minutes before the ferrets nipped them, causing them to release them in a panic. The poor creatures must have been terrified, and it is no wonder that contestants were often bitten. Fortunately, ferret-legging has waned in popularity as awareness of animal welfare has increased.

There are also myths about ferrets having a strong, skunk-like smell. While it’s true that male ferrets that rarely have their cage cleaned out can be whiffy, the strong smell is easily prevented. If ferrets are neutered, and if their bedding is changed frequently, the odour is a faint, inoffensive muskiness.

Ferrets tend to be healthy pets, as long as they’re kept in the right sort of environment, with the correct type of diet. A vaccine against Distemper is recommended if they are going to be out and about at all, but most ferrets are kept in the confinement of their owner’s homes and so the risk of picking up a viral infection is very low.

Ferrets aren’t an ideal pet for everyone, but if you want a quirky pet with a different personality to dogs, cats or rabbits, then maybe a ferret is the one for you.

Dr. Ernie's Pet Health Tips

The Tip-Off shows have everything you need for organizing your home, baking cakes, and looking good ... but what about your pets? Our favorite vet Dr. Ernie is back to serve up some practical advice for your pooches and feline friends!

• Moods: Before you head out the door for the day, leave soothing music playing to keep your dog calm. "Studies show that dog brain waves and human brain waves are about the same, so they respond to the same types of calming music that we do!" Dr. Ernie says. He suggests pieces by Brahms, Mozart or Bach with 50 to 60 beats per minute. "It kind of mimics your heartbeat and it soothes the dog."

• Oral Hygiene: "Eighty percent of all dogs and cats have periodontal disease and basically the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, so if you've got an infection in your mouth, and that's all this is, then you've got an infection in your blood. This can lead to heart valve problems, kidney problems and worse," Dr. Ernie says. He suggests brushing their teeth with pet toothpaste and a finger brushette that slips over your finger. "When it comes to brushing your dog's teeth, don't worry about scrubbing the whole surface of the tooth, just focus on the outer surfaces," he says. "It uses a different principal [than our toothpaste] these are enzymatic and so that means you just apply it and let it do the work!"

He also recommends adding a powdered supplement called Clenz-a-Dent to their food. "It actually contains a form of seaweed .... that seaweed helps break apart plaque and tartar!"

• Medication: If your pet is reluctant to take its medication, Dr. Ernie suggests trying a different form of the dosage to find the one it is most willing to ingest. "Almost all medications can be made in a liquid, so that makes your job easier. Some of my favorite flavors are tuna for kitty cats and beef for dogs ... the other thing you can do, especially for a cantankerous kitty cat, is get a trans-dermal form, that's simply a little bit of liquid that you rub inside their ear and that's absorbed in the skin." You can also get edible Dog Pill Pockets to encapsulate a pill so it is more appetizing for your dog.

• Nails: "While you're trimming their nails, make sure they've got a plate of goodies - of course I like vegetables for treats - but whatever it is, it's a distraction technique," he explains. If you're concerned you will cut your pooches paw, get a pen light and point it at their nail so you can see clearly where the nail ends and their skin begins. "After you do this, reward them with play or take them for a walk so they start to associate trimming their nails with something fun!"

Labradoodle Pioneer Regrets
Fashioning 'Designer Dog'
Caroline Overington From: The Australian

THE man who bred the first labradoodle - and in the process made the mutt a desirable accessory - says it's the great regret of his life. The coveted accessory has pushed out other breeds in terms of desirability.

Wally Conran, 81, coined the term labradoodle in 1988, when he was the manager of the puppy program at the Royal Institute of the Blind.

He received a letter from a woman in Hawaii who needed a seeing eye dog, but her husband had allergies. She wanted a dog that would not shed hair.

Mr Conran crossed two popular pedigree dogs: a labrador from breeding stock at the institute and a poodle owned by his boss to create the labradoodle.

The puppies were supposed to have the best traits of both dogs: the affable, controllable nature of the labrador, and the curly, non-shedding coat of the poodle.

"But now when people ask me, `Did you breed the first one', I have to say, `Yes, I did, but it's not something I'm proud of'," Mr Conran said.

"I wish I could turn the clock back."

The labradoodle is now recognised as the first of the so-called "designer dogs", selling for more than $1000 a puppy. In essence, it is a mutt, or mongrel, yet it has raced ahead of pedigrees in terms of price and desirability.

Some pet shops report mongrels outselling pure-breds three to one, despite the high price of both.

As a result, labradoodles and their cutely named cousins -- spoodles, schnoodles, cavoodles, moodles, groodles and roodles -- are being pumped out across the nation, to meet demand

"I'm not at all proud of my involvement in it," Mr Conran said. "But the genie's out of the bottle, and you can't put it back."

His dismay isn't shared by breeders of the curly cross-breeds, who say they are merely meeting demand for a family-oriented, non-shedding dog of compact size, and happy temperament.

Nicolette Gallagos, of Australian Labradoodle Association, said: "Labradoodles are family-oriented dogs. They are perfect for families that want a dog that is good with children."

The association has set a breed standard for itself, and hopes the dog will soon be recognised as a breed by the Australian National Kennel Council.

The process may take 20 years. It has been so long since a new breed has been added to the Kennel Council's register that nobody can remember when it last happened.

Once recognised, the labradoodles will be able to enter shows, and win prizes.

The rise in popularity of the mutts angers pedigree breeders, who complain that cross-breeders are exploiting the fad for money, and forcing pedigree bitches to give birth to dozens of cross-bred pups every year.

Feline Food Tips:
Are Vegetarian Diets Safe for Cats?
By Gabrielle Jonas -

Though most vegetarians feed their pets meat or fish without flinching, some vegetarians abhor the idea of their animals eating other animals.

"A vegetarian diet for your companion animal is ethically consistent with animal rights philosophy," says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Though forcing pets to live by their owners' philosophy is unprecedented in the 15,000 years humans have been caring for pets, some vegetarians want even their pets' nutritional supplements to be plant-based.

"If vegetarians can feed their animal a healthy diet that is vegetarian, they feel more comfortable," says Kathy Guillermo, vice president of laboratory investigations at PETA.

But at the heart of PETA's support of vegetarian pet diets is its objection to meat-based pet food companies conducting research on animals. Vegetarian pet food does not involve animal testing, Guillermo said. "PETA’s primary concern regarding food for companion animals is the many currently available products which are needlessly tested on animals," she said.

But that very lack of testing is a sticking point with some veterinary experts, who argue that without such testing, the diets cannot be properly evaluated. Makers of vegetarian pet food should be willing to submit to the Association of American Feed Control Officials feeding trials for evaluation, they say.

Though vegetarian diets for dogs can be nutritionally complete, animal welfare advocates, and even some vegetarian groups, say feeding vegetarian diets to cats cannot be done correctly.

"At first, cats may appear to be doing satisfactorily on vegetarian or vegan diets," says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "But over time nutritional deficiencies may occur. When it comes to felines, it really is best to provide a diet that includes meat."

But James Peden, a leading proponent of vegetarian pet diets, and author of Vegetarian Cats & Dogs, says nutrients missing from vegetables can be added through dietary supplements — his, for instance.

Peden's company, Harbingers of a New Age, sells Vegepet supplements. Their nutrients are derived from plants to compensate for the nutrients plants lack. Its Vegecat KibbleMix uses vegetarian sources for the essential nutrient taurine found in mollusks, as well as for the vitamin A and arachidonic acid found in liver and fish oils.

Though cats are unable to convert the beta-carotene in plants into vitamin A, they can from Vegepet supplements, according to Harbingers. "The vitamin A that we use is the synthetic acetate form is easily assimilated," Peden said.

Research into whether cats can thrive on vegetarian diets has been contradictory.

A 2006 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association study found that all the cats fed a vegetarian diet had adequate Vitamin B12 concentrations, and most had adequate taurine levels.

And yet another study published in the journal two years earlier found that both Vegecat KibbleMix and another vegetarian pet food had multiple nutritional inadequacies, particularly taurine.

Harbingers attributed the test results to manufacturing error during mixing as well as to an inaccurate nutrient profile of a food yeast, and corrected the problem.

"We've never had a recurrence of that incident, which most likely only affected 14 pounds of supplement, caused by operator error," Peden said.

The oldest vegetarian organization in the world, The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, advises caution when feeding dogs a vegetarian diet, and downright warns against feeding vegetarian diets to cats.

The high fiber content of vegetarian cat food can be filling but not adequately nutritious, the society says. The polyunsaturated fatty acids in the vegetable oils can cause a vitamin E deficiency related illness, as well, it says.

"Consider carefully before changing your cat to a vegetarian diet, says The Vegetarian Society. "Cats require certain nutrients that cannot be obtained in sufficient amounts from plants."

When it comes to feeding pets — especially cats — a vegetarian diet, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration puts it more plainly: "They simply are not intended to eat only plants."

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Top 10 Most Beautiful And Colorful Fish
by bugy220 -

The mesmerizing feeling of warm sun rays leaning down into tropical waters, and breaking back through the water’s vivid facade as it rebounds off the glistening scales of a rare fish provides an experience that stays in one’s memory for a lifetime. I thought I’d share some of the most beautiful species that I know in the waters. There are in the order i consider them the most vibrant and beautiful, since, beauty is, ofcourse, in the eye of the beholder.

The Mandarinfish or Mandarin dragonet , is a small, brightly-colored member of the dragonet family, which is popular in the saltwater aquarium trade. The mandarinfish is native to the Pacific, ranging approximately from the Ryukyu Islands south to Australia.

2.Juvenile Emporer Angel Fish
The emperor angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator, is a species of marine angelfish. It is a reef-associated fish, native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, from the Red Sea to Hawaii and the Austral Islands.

A Lionfish is any of several species of venomous marine fish in the genera Pterois, Parapterois, Brachypterois, Ebosia or Dendrochirus, of the family Scorpaenidae. The lionfish is also known as the Turkey Fish, Scorpion or Fire Fish. They are notable for their extremely long and separated spines, and have a generally striped appearance, red, green, navy green, brown, orange, yellow, black, maroon, or white.

4.Clown Trigger Fish
The clown triggerfish, Balistoides conspicillum, is a triggerfish from the order Tetraodontiformes. This reef-associated fish is commonly found in the tropical Indo-Pacific.

A nudibranch is a member of what is now a taxonomic clade, and what was previously a suborder, of soft-bodied, shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks, which are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms. The clade Nudibranchia is the largest clade within the heterobranchs, with more than 3,000 described species.

Symphysodon are a genus of three species of cichlid freshwater fishes native to the Amazon River basin. Discus are popular as aquarium fish and their aquaculture in several countries in Asia is a major industry.

7.Mantis Shrimp
Mantis shrimp or stomatopods are marine crustaceans, the members of the order Stomatopoda. They are neither shrimp nor mantids, but receive their name purely from the physical resemblance to both the terrestrial praying mantis and the shrimp. They may reach 30 centimetres (12 in) in length, although exceptional cases of up to 38 cm (15 in) have been recorded. The carapace of mantis shrimp covers only the rear part of the head and the first three segments of the thorax. Mantis shrimp appear in a variety of colours, from shades of browns to bright neon colours. Although they are common animals and among the most important predators in many shallow, tropical and sub-tropical marine habitats they are poorly understood as many species spend most of their life tucked away in burrows and holes.

8.Moorish Idol
The moorish idol, Zanclus cornutus, is a small marine fish species, the sole representative of the the Family Zanclidae in order Perciform. A common inhabitant of tropical to subtropical reefs and lagoons, the moorish idol is notable for its wide distribution throughout the Indo-Pacific. A number of butterflyfishes closely resemble the moorish idol.

Clownfish or anemonefish are fishes from the subfamily Amphiprioninae in the family Pomacentridae. About twenty-nine species are recognized, one in the genus Premnas, while the remaining are in the genus Amphiprion. In the wild they all form symbiotic mutualisms with sea anemones. Depending on species, clownfish are overall yellow, orange, reddish, or blackish, and many show white bars or patches. The largest reach a length of 18 centimetres (7.1 in), while the smallest barely reach 10 centimetres.

10.Rainbow Parrot Fish
Named Parrot fish because of their calcareous bird-like beaks. Parrot fish use these beaks to crush and eat the small invertebrates that live in coral. Much of the sand and sea floor of coral reefs are actually remains of meals from the parrot fish, they chew the coral, eat the invertebrates and spit out the leftover calcium. In most species, the initial phase is dull red, brown or grey, while the terminal phase is vividly green or blue with bright pink or yellow patches. The remarkably different terminal and initial phases were first described as separate species in several cases, but there are also some species where the phases are similar.

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Pet Sounds:
4 Animals That Could Really Talk
by Rob Lammle -

There’s no need to page Doctor Doolittle for this case. Here are the amazing, true stories of four animals that could speak for themselves.

1. Hoover the Seal
In 1971, George and Alice Swallow found a baby seal just off the coast of Maine. The little guy appeared to be orphaned, so they took him home and kept him in their bathtub. For the first few days, they tried to feed him ground mackerel, but he refused to eat. Once he trusted his new parents, though, he began eating so voraciously they compared him to a Hoover vacuum cleaner and the name stuck.

When he got too big for the tub, Hoover was moved to a small pond behind the Swallows’ house. After only a few months, Hoover was eating more fish than his human caretakers were able to provide, so they contacted the New England Aquarium in Boston, hoping the facility had room for him. When introducing the seal to the aquarium, George mentioned that Hoover could talk. Of course no one believed him at the time. A few years later, though, researchers at the aquarium noticed that Hoover’s guttural sounds really did seem to be forming words and phrases. He was often telling people to “Get outta here!” or asking, “How are ya?” He could say his name and a few other phrases, all with a thick Bostonian accent. Once the word got out that the Aquarium had a talking seal, he became a media sensation, making appearances in Reader’s Digest, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and even on Good Morning America.

Sadly, Hoover died of natural causes in July 1985 at the ripe old age of 14. He was so admired that he received his own obituary in the Boston Globe. He left behind several offspring, but none possessed his unique gift for gab.

2. Blackie the Cat
Search YouTube for “Talking Cat” and you’ll find thousands of videos of fluent felines. But in 1981, a talking cat was a bit harder to come by. So when Carl Miles of Augusta, Georgia, trained his cat Blackie to say, “I love you” and “I want my mama,” they took their act on the road. Throughout the early 1980s, Blackie made paid appearances on local TV and radio programs, and even hit the big time with a spot on the network TV show That’s Incredible. However, as the novelty wore off, Carl and Blackie ended up performing on street corners, asking for donations from passersby. After some complaints from locals, police informed Carl that he would need to get a business license in order to keep up Blackie’s street show. Carl paid the $50 fee for a license, but something about it rubbed him the wrong way.

So Carl sued the City of Augusta, under the pretense that the city’s business license code mentions many types of occupations that require a license, but a talking cat show was not one of them. But that wasn’t the only issue Carl had—he also claimed the city was infringing on Blackie’s First Amendment Right to Free Speech. Carl lost his case, but he appealed the ruling until it came before a federal court. The argument was finally closed when three presiding judges declared that the business license ordinance allowed for other, unspecified types of businesses to require a license, which would encompass a talking cat performer. As for the First Amendment violation, the courts said the law did not apply because Blackie was not human, and therefore not protected under the Bill of Rights. Furthermore, there seemed no good cause for Carl Miles to be the one to bring the suit in the first place. If Blackie felt his rights were being violated, as a talking cat, he should have been the one to say something.

3. Alex the Parrot
Alex, an African gray parrot, was purchased from a Chicago pet store in 1977. Dr. Irene Pepperberg bought the one-year-old bird to see if she could teach a parrot to understand language in a similar manner to chimpanzees and gorillas that had been taught American Sign Language. At the time, it was believed that a large brain, like a primate’s, was necessary to acquire language. By comparison, a parrot’s brain is about the size of a walnut, so it was believed that mimicry was the best we could hope for. Instead, the work of Pepperberg and Alex (an acronym for Avian Learning EXperiment) before his sudden death in 2007, has changed the perceptions of many in the scientific community.

According to Dr. Pepperberg’s research, this avian Einstein could identify 50 different objects, knew seven colors and shapes, and many different kinds of materials like wool, paper, and wood. For example, hold up a blue block of wood and Alex could tell you the shape, the color, and even what it was made of. However, he also grasped more complex concepts that required a higher level of thought and understanding. Put a handful of red and yellow blocks on a tray and ask him how many were yellow, he could tell you the correct answer. If you then asked him how many of those same blocks were green, he would say “none.” Furthermore, hold up two blocks of different colors and different sizes and he could tell you which was bigger. Maybe the term “birdbrained” isn’t such an insult after all.

Despite the loss of Alex, the Avian Learning Experiment goes on. Dr. Pepperberg’s latest feathered pupil is Griffin, another African Gray, that was born in 1995. In 2007, Animal Planet tested Griffin against kids at a Boston preschool on the basics of object recognition, colors, and shapes. It was determined that Griffin was about as smart as a three-and-a-half year old human. Not bad for having a brain the size of a walnut.

4. Lucy the Chimp
When she was only two days old, Lucy, a chimpanzee, was purchased by the University of Oklahoma and sent to live with Dr. Maurice Temerlin, a noted psychologist, who, along with his wife, raised the little chimp as if she were their own human child. Lucy was taught how to eat normal meals at the table using silverware. She could dress herself, often choosing to wear skirts just like her “mother” did. She could even make tea for her “parents” and the team of researchers who trained and cared for her. Dr. Robert Fouts, one of the groundbreaking psychologists who taught American Sign Language (ASL) to Washoe the chimp in 1967, helped Lucy learn to communicate using around 250 ASL signs. Lucy could not only give the signs for objects like airplane, ball, and food, but she could also express her emotions with her hands, often “saying” when she was hungry, happy, or sad. Lucy had become so close to human in most every way that she only found human men, not male chimpanzees, sexually attractive. It was pretty clear that, in her mind anyway, she was the same as her parents.

It’s a sad fact that once a captive chimp has reached about four or five years old, their immense strength can become a danger to their human caretakers. Often they need to be placed in a zoo, a lab, or some other facility better equipped to handle primates. In this case, the Temerlins raised Lucy as their daughter until 1977, when she was almost 12 years old, before they finally felt like they had to find her a new home. After much deliberation, they decided upon a nature preserve in Gambia on the west coast of Africa. They, along with research assistant Janis Carter, flew with Lucy to her new home to help ease the chimp into the wild. However, it was not going to be as simple as they’d hoped.

At the preserve, Lucy was put in a cage at night to protect her from predators. She had only ever slept in a bed inside a nice, quiet, suburban home, so the jungle was a completely new and frightening environment for her. She was also scared of the other chimps, strange creatures she had only encountered a few times before in her life, preferring to stay close to her parents and Janis whenever she could. She wasn’t eating because her food had always been delivered to her on a plate; she didn’t even understand the concept of foraging. When her parents suddenly became distant and weren’t providing her with the life she had always known, Lucy became confused and sad. She would often use the sign for “hurt.” And she lost much of her hair due to the stress of her new situation. Realizing that Lucy would never move on if they stayed, her parents left her behind after three weeks. Janis agreed to stay for a few weeks longer, but it was soon clear that Lucy couldn’t change who she was.

And so, Janis never left.

Janis helped found a chimpanzee sanctuary on an abandoned island in the middle of the Gambia River. She took Lucy and other chimps that had been raised in captivity and lived with them on the island, teaching them skills they would need in the wild, like finding food and climbing trees. For most, the new lifestyle quickly became second nature. But for nearly eight years, Lucy refused to give up her human ways. She wanted human food, human interaction, and to be loved by, what she considered, one of her own kind. It wasn’t until Janis stopped living on the island that Lucy was finally able to accept her new life and joined a troupe of chimps. Whenever Janis visited the island, Lucy was still affectionate, still used sign language, but thankfully, she always went back with the chimps into the forest.

Sadly, Lucy’s decomposed body was discovered in 1987. Her exact cause of death is unknown, though some believe she was killed by poachers. Others say it was probably something less spectacular, like an attack by a dominant male or an illness. There’s one thing that no one who knew her wonders about, though, and that’s the fact that Lucy never really believed she was anything less than human.

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Tips for Traveling with Cats

It may not be a regular occurrence, but there comes a time in every cat’s life when he, or she, will need to take a trip in the car. Whether it is to visit the veterinarian or if you plan to include your cat in family vacations, it is wise to prepare yourself for the journey. Understandably, some cats are very nervous about traveling, but with a few helpful hints and a little patience, you can desensitize your reluctant passenger.

1. The first step to a successful car journey is to ensure that you have the correct equipment.

It is crucial that every cat has a suitable travel carrier. Even if your cat is very tame and calm, he, or she, should never be allowed to remain loose in the car. Principle, this poses a danger in the form of possible distractions for the driver, but it could also entail the risk of serious injury to the animal.

2. A travel carrier should be large enough for your cat to comfortable turn around, stand up and lie down. Depending on the length of the journey and the possibility for breaks, you may like to consider placing a water bottle in your ca’s travel carrier.

A bottle is preferable, because a bowl could easily spill and cause your cat distress.

3. If your cat suffers from severe anxiety while traveling, you might like to consider paying a visit to your veterinarian who may be able to prescribe an oral medication that will help to ease your cat’s nerves.

4. Like some humans, cats can suffer from motion sickness and vertigo when traveling by car. There is a range of medication that is intended to reduce these symptoms. The oral medication can be administered to the cat in its drinking water shortly before travel.

5. Before taking your cat on a lengthy car journey, it is wise to allow the animal to become accustomed to traveling over smaller journeys. Therefore, you may like to begin with, pet, a 5 to 10 minute trip, then work your way up to 20 to 30 minute trips and so on. If your cat appears particularly anxious, you may wish to begin by sitting in the car, but not actually going anywhere.

6. During a particularly long car trip, it may be necessary to make an overnight stop. Some owners find that once a cat has become comfortable in a hotel or motel he, or she, is unwilling to leave.

Often cats, particularly nervous ones, will hide under furniture and be reluctant to immerge. Therefore, it is wise for cat owners to wake up early to give themselves time to coax the cat from its hiding place.

7. Obviously, traveling with a cat does not require the frequent stops that traveling with a dog would. In fact, if your travel carrier is large enough, you can place a small litter tray inside it.

8. If your cat is anxious or motion sick, you may find it helpful to take a few breaks in your journey.

However, when letting the cat out of a carrier it is important to ensure that he, or she, is not able to run away. A cat leash, which can be purchased from pet stores, may be useful in this instance.

9. Well before the date of travel it is advisable to acclimatize your cat to any new equipment you plan to use, including leashes, carriers, water bottles and litter trays.

10. Be prepared to take baby steps with your cat. Some cats are more highly strung than others, and it may take some time and patience before your feline friend is ready for a long car journey.
Samantha Markham is a professional freelance writer, based in the UK.

Garden Tips on the Cheap
By Tara McAlister -

A garden is a great way to save on the grocery bill. Here are a few tips on how to save money when actually planting the garden:

Dryer lint: Use dryer lint when lining new pots. To avoid possible contamination, be sure the lint is collected from loads of clothes where dryer sheets were not used. If you are concerned about possible fabric softener or detergent residue, rinse the lint and then add. Dryer lint at the bottom of a container prevents soil from leaking out and holds moisture better. (Another great use: Dryer lint as a fire starter in your grill or next campfire.)

Pet hair: Use all that shedding pet hair to keep pests out of your garden. Pet hair and hair clippings around your garden can deter skunks, rats, rabbits, deer and raccoons. Pet hair is also biodegradable and acts as mulch in the gardening bed.

Vinegar: A mix of vinegar and water can kill weeds. Vinegar will also keep cats out of your garden.

Plant bug repellent: Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing soap with 1 cup cooking oil. Using a ratio of 3 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water, put in a spray bottle and mist leaves.

Fertilizer: Create your own compost with coffee grounds (nitrogen) and crushed dried eggshells (calcium) as a slow-release fertilizer.

How to Be a Better Pet Parent

We jumped on the bandwagon and want to promote responsible pet ownership. We dug up some ideas on how you can be a better parent to your pet.

Don't get a pet just to have one or because you hope it will fill a void. Dogs, cats, hamsters, birds...all require a lot of time, money, care and love. If you can't commit to a pet, then don't get one until you can promise those things.

Take care of your animal's coat and nails with proper grooming and at-home attention. Trim nails, and wash and brush fur often. If you aren't comfortable doing those things or need help on what to do, talk to your veterinarian's office for a groomer recommendation.

Vet Visits
There's a reason God created veterinarians. Your pets can't always tell you when they need medical attention. Regular vet check-ups are important for vaccinations and preventative care like fleas and heartworm. This goes for all pets, not just dogs.

ID Your Pet
Things happen...but registering and making sure your dog or cat has ID tags is super important. Oh, and also make sure that your pet wears them. Lost owners cannot be found if an animal's tags are sitting on the kitchen counter.

It's true what they say, training a dog takes time, but it's also true that a trained dog is a happy dog. Training a dog to obey simple commands sets boundaries and ensures a less-frustrated human-animal relationship. You don't have to shell out lots of money to train your dog, there are reasonable training options, or you can always get some books at the library. If you need a recommendation, ask your vet's office or doggy daycare.

All animals need exercise. Exercise not only gives animals a way to use their energy, it also helps create a well-rounded, healthy and happy dog or cat. Exercise doesn't have to mean just walking, think of other fun ways to exercise, like games to exercise the mind or alternative activities like swimming (mostly applies to dogs, but I applaud anyone who can get a cat to swim).

Animals like to protect their owners from harm, and as a pet parent, you have a responsibility to protect your animal is ways that they cannot protect themselves. Everything listed above helps you protect your pet.

Now that all the serious stuff has been mentioned, I happen to think that spoiling your pet is an important part of being a pet parent. Shower them with hugs, kisses, toys, gifts, treats and all that fun stuff.

Give love
Remember you are your pet's world. Give them back all the love they give you and then some!

Tips for Trimming Your Pet's Extra Pounds
by Karen Hutchins - Denver Pet Examiner

Overweight is more than aesthetics; it can increase the risk to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory distress, and lower urinary tract diseases. Carrying that extra weight also takes a toll on their joints.

In a dog or cat with an ideal body weight, the ribs should be felt easily and the waist should be seen easily when the pet is viewed from above. In dogs, there will be a tuck in the abdomen which raises upward toward the legs. In cats, there will be a minimal fat pad over the abdomen.

The most common cause for weight gain is overeating. Their nutritional needs vary according to their life stage. As they age, their metabolism slows down, so even eating the same kind of food and the same amounts they are used to will end up expanding their waistline. It is also important - and many times overviewed by the owners- to count the calories in the treats.

It is important to consult a veterinarian before putting a dog or cat on a diet, and rule out weight gain due to diseases, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease. Losing weight too quickly can trigger hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) in cats, and this is potentially deadly. Cats are not candidates for The Biggest Loser. It is advisable to control a cat's access to food by providing several small servings throughout the day instead of free feeding. Sometimes they eat out of boredom, so increasing their activity with a little more exercise (playing time) is a good idea, and a great opportunity for bonding.

Dog owners can try substituting a portion their meal with green beans. There are also great commercial diets lower in calories, especially formulated to help pets feel full while losing weight. These changes in their diets should be introduced progressively, mixing increasing amounts of the new food with decreasing amounts of the old food over a 7-day period, so they don't get digestive issues (they have a sensitive gastrointestinal system).

They key to a successful weight loss plan is consistency and patience.

Click here to view all of Karen Hutchin's Pet articles

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