Halloween Pet Treats

World's Longest Cat — Stewie — Measures 4 Feet

RENO, Nev. – The world's longest cat measures more than 4 feet, stealing the record from another Maine Coon. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that 5-year-old Stewie was certified as the new Guinness World Record holder after measuring 48 1/2 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail bone. That's a little more than 4 feet long.

The record was previously held by another Maine Coon that measured 48 inches.

Stewie's owners, Robin Hendrickson and Erik Brandsness, say they decided to try for the record after hearing countless people say they were amazed by Stewie's length.

Hendrickson said Maine Coons are known as "the gentle giants" of the cat world.

Scientists Reveal How Fast
Dogs Must Shake To Dry Their Fur
by Bill Chappell - npr.org

If you've ever seen a dog trying to shake itself dry after taking a plunge into water — or perhaps while standing next to the person who just gave it a bath — you've probably noticed that the technique can throw off a shocking amount of water.

That's all part of nature's design, says Andrew Dickerson, a graduate student at Georgia Tech. Talking with NPR's Robert Siegel, Dickerson described his recent study of how fast different animals "oscillate their bodies to shed water droplets," as an abstract of his work states.

For his study called "The Wet-Dog Shake," which appeared in the journal Fluid Dynamics, Dickerson and his colleagues slowed down images of animals — dogs, a bear, even a mouse — shaking themselves dry. The footage was shot with a high-speed video camera.

The researchers found that both bears and dogs shake at a similar speed — around 4 Hz and 4-5 Hz, respectively. In this case, hertz refers to the frequency of skin oscillations per second. And it turns out that the smaller the animal, the faster it has to shake to dry. Thus, a cat can get by with shaking around 6 Hz. But its nemesis, the mouse, requires 27 Hz to dry off.

Dickerson says that his work focuses on discovering mechanisms found in nature. The research on how animals shake off water, he says, may have real-world applications in improving the design of washing machines.

But he does not recommend that any human try to duplicate what is, by many rights, a dog's trick.

"If you were to get down on all fours and try to shake off water after a shower," Dickerson says, "your efforts would be most unfruitful."

A Goldfish as Big as a (Big) Dog

This just in from the "strange but probably true" files. Fisherman Raphael Biagini reeled in what is believed to be a 30-pound koi carp in France, where the fish are quite popular. The fish, a vivid orange, looks a great deal like a giant goldfish.

However, it's important to remember that this guy only looks like a super-size version of every child's first pet. And, for the record, Mr. Biagini, who has caught many a giant carp in his day, returned the orange fish to the water after having his photo taken.

Of course, some people may look at the photo and scream, "Fake!" And, indeed, the Web is full of stories of altered photos. However, from what we can tell, a fish this size and this color is possible. According to Ken Peterson, communications director at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this isn't out of the realm of possibility. If a koi has the right amount of food and enough space to grow, he says, there's no telling how big they can get.

Indeed, koi carp have grown a lot bigger. John McCosker of the California Academy of Sciences points out that, according to FishBase.org, the largest koi on record weighed almost 90 pounds (like the orange fish, it was caught in France).

While it is a bit odd that the fish doesn't appear to be struggling, McCosker explains that this kind of fish isn't among the most wild. And the fish's color, while striking, isn't all that unique. Check out this photo from a Japanese garden in Long Beach, Calif.

Still, there are those who don't believe the photo is real. Many commenters to the Daily Mail story point out that the fish appears to weigh much more than 30 pounds. One doubter writes that the fisherman is holding the fish the way somebody would hold a 1-pound package.Â

‘Puppy Mill’ Proposition Divides State
By T.J. Greaney - Columbia Daily Tribune

Missouri has become a battleground over the issue of dog cruelty.

Mark Santo calls his Yorkshire terriers at his Millersburg kennel. Santo says supporters of Proposition B should be focused on unlicensed breeders instead of breeders who comply by current state regulations. Photo by Don Shrubshell

The ballot initiative is backed by the Humane Society of the United States, which says Missouri has become the “puppy mill” capital of the nation and the epicenter of bad breeding practices.

“We should not have to fight this fight. This is a battle that should have been settled a long time ago,” Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said while speaking at an event in Columbia last month. “Because these standards of care — if you can call them that — are inconsistent with the values of the people of the state of Missouri.”

Current law allows dogs to be kept in wire enclosures only slightly larger than their bodies and does not limit the number of dogs a breeder can own or the number of times a female can be bred without rest. Missouri is the source of 30 percent of the nation’s puppies, according to a report by the Better Business Bureau, and yet its Department of Agriculture employs only a small staff of inspectors.

But dog breeders and some veterinary groups are fighting back. In an effort supported by much more modest funding, a Chesterfield-based group called the Alliance for Truth has turned the focus back on the Humane Society of the United States, which they characterize as a radical environmental group with the goal to eliminate animal husbandry.

“If you walked into the ballot box and read that proposition for the first time you would say, ‘Who wouldn’t vote for this?’ ” said Alan Wessler, a veterinarian and vice president of MFA Inc. “But what we end up with here is more government intrusion dictated by an unfunded mandate, with misdemeanor crimes associated with it. And it’s all funded by a charity” which “stands to swell their bank account by raising money during the conflict.”

Breeders point to the 22 pages of regulations already on the books in Missouri known as the Missouri Animal Care Facilities Act. Proposition B does nothing to add funding to the overstretched Missouri Department of Agriculture, they say.

Mark Santo of Millersburg is a breeder of Yorkshire terriers. A walk through his kennel showed pristine conditions complete with heat controls and air purifiers and ample yard space. Santo is one of 10 kennels in the state recognized by the Department of Agriculture as a “Blue Ribbon Kennel,” meaning owners agree to abide by standards stricter than the law. Although he will be unaffected by many of the provisions, Santo said he will have to stop using wire enclosures for his newborn pups that he keeps in his kitchen and spend more money on veterinary visits. Meanwhile, he said, unlicensed breeders pose the real problem.

“They’re trying to target all the licensed breeders,” Santo said. “And the only reason they’re targeting us is that they can find us. It’s like gun control, the criminals are going to have them but they’ll attack all the people who are willing to comply.”

Advocates say these complaints are a smokescreen. Since the 1980s, Bob Baker has visited more than 1,000 kennels and documented hundreds of instances of dog abuse. Baker, the executive director for the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, said he has seen dogs kept in metal barrels and dogs with hair so matted that they couldn’t move.

Baker scoffs at the breeders organization, the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, which calls for more enforcement now but opposed the implementation of the current laws when they were being debated in 1992. The group also lobbied against a move by the Agriculture Department last year to increase kennel licensing fees in order to hire more inspectors, said Baker.

“From my perspective, you need two things: You need good laws and you need good enforcement,” Baker said. “One without the other doesn’t work. Otherwise it would be like the state police saying they want to stop highway deaths, but the speed limit is 100 mph.”

The most controversial element of Proposition B is a provision that would not allow breeders to keep more than 50 intact dogs for the purpose of breeding. Dog owners say this will put good breeders out of business and cause the price of dogs in the state to skyrocket.

Wessler said during his time practicing veterinary medicine in southwest Missouri, he regularly visited good, clean kennels with more than 50 intact dogs. For these rural breeders, this is one of the few careers open to them and they count on the income to survive.

“If you’re a good operator and you’ve played by the rules, this will put you out of business,” Wessler said.

But Baker disagrees. He says under the new rules a breeder could sell 350 puppies a year and make more than $100,000.

“We’re not against them making money, we’re not against them breeding dogs,” he said. “We’re just asking that they take really, really good care of their animals.”

NUMBERS: Proposition B says a kennel can have no more than 50 dogs for the purpose of breeding. Current regulations don’t establish a number.

VETERINARY CARE: Proposition B requires dogs to receive an exam once a year and to receive prompt treatment of any illness or injury. Current regulations say kennel owners must develop and follow a program of care with a veterinarian.

ENCLOSURES: Proposition B says indoor enclosures must have solid floors and cannot be stacked. Waste must be cleaned once per day and the temperature must be between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Current regulations say enclosures must be structurally sound, in good repair and with no sharp edges. It must have floors that protect the animals’ feet and legs from injury. All surfaces in contact with animals must be able to be readily cleaned and sanitized when worn or soiled. Bedding must be provided when temperatures drop below 50 degrees and ambient temperature can not dip below 45 degrees or rise above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

BREEDING: Proposition B says female dogs cannot be bred to produce more than two litters in any 18-month period. Current regulations say female dogs may be bred between the ages of six months and 10 years.

Sources: Proposition B ballot, Missouri Animal Care Facilities Act
Supporters of Proposition B, dubbed the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,” have poured more than $3 million into the state to launch a campaign that includes heartrending advertisements and celebrity endorsements.

Reach T.J. Greaney at 573-815-1719 or e-mail tjgreaney@columbiatribune.com.

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Halloween Pumpkin Dog Treats Recipe

Halloween is the time for pumpkin carving and indulging our sweettooth. If you want to treat your dog to some trick or treats this Halloween we have a simple dog treat recipe for you. You need to try our boo-tastic homemade pumpkin dog treats. If you are looking for a delicious & healthy snack for your dog this Howl-o-ween these are a must to hand out to those furry trick or treaters. Pumpkin is full of fiber, beta carotene and vitamins E and C.


1½ cups whole wheat or white flour
3 tbsp. applesauce
2 eggs
3/4 cup pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 tbsp. molasses
¼ cup water


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease the cookie sheet.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a large-sized bowl, then mix together. The mixed batter should resemble the consistency of cookie dough.

3. Depending on how big you want the cookies to be, use a teaspoon or tablespoon to drop the dough onto the greased cookie sheet. Drop them approximately 1 inch apart. If you want to go the artistic route you could use a bone or pumpkin shape cookie cutter.

4. Bake for 14 minutes or until the cookies are firm.

5. For crunchier cookies, turn the oven off and leave the cookies in the oven to cool for one to two hours. This recipe makes approximately two dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them.

For freshness, store dog treats in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Tails of Marin:
Halloween Can Be a Real Scare for Pets
By Carrie Harrington - Marin Humane Society

HALLOWEEN IS FULL of food, frights and festivities for families to enjoy, but for our pets, it can be a stressful and even dangerous time. Pets rely on the comfort and security of their daily routine and can behave uncharacteristically when their schedule is disrupted by holiday activities.

Here are some tips from the Marin Humane Society for keeping your animal companions safe and stress-free this Halloween.

Keep pets indoors

Make sure pets can't escape during the commotion of frequent visits to your home by trick-or-treaters. The sound of a knock or doorbell can easily alarm dogs; many react with an alert bark and rush to the door.

Also, unaccustomed sights and sounds can be frightening for animals, and people in costume may seem especially menacing. A nervous dog might feel threatened and growl or lunge. Pets will be happier -- and safer -- in a quiet room as far away from the front entrance as possible. Despite best efforts, accidental escapes do happen, so make sure that your pet is microchipped and/or fitted with a collar and ID tag.

Outdoor cats, especially black cats, should be brought inside for this occasion. Unfortunately, black cats have been implicated in many beliefs and superstitions for centuries.

The association of black cats with Halloween can be traced to the Druids of ancient Britain. Today, black cats are still the victims of vicious pranksters who tease, abuse or even kill. This is one night to make sure that your cat is brought indoors.

Treats can be toxic

Place the candy bowls out of paw's reach and explain to well-meaning children that even though a dog or cat may beg for candy, it's important not to share with them.

Halloween candy is not good for pets and chocolate, in particular, could prove deadly for canines because it contains a potent toxin called theobromine. Chocolate is also poisonous to cats, but since they are usually picky eaters, it's seldom a problem.

If your pet ingests chocolate, consult a veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) immediately. The first signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination and rapid heartbeat.

Also caution family members not to leave candy wrappers on the floor. Wrappers can get stuck in animals' digestive tracts and make them ill, or cause choking or death.

Dangerous decorations

Remember to keep holiday decorations out of harm's way. Curious pets (and wagging tails) are at risk for getting burned or singed from candle flames, and may cause a fire by knocking over jack-o'-lanterns or other ornaments. Electrical wires are potentially hazardous; pets risk shock by chewing on wires or can become tangled and injured by dangling cords.

Some decorations may cause stomach upset or may even be toxic if consumed. Fake cobwebs have been known to cause intestinal damage in cats and can be especially hazardous to small birds that can easily become entangled in the webbing.

Costume care

Holiday pet parades and events have become increasingly popular, especially in the pet-loving Bay Area. While some animals do enjoy playing dress-up, others are downright miserable in costume.

If your pets do like to dress up, make sure that the costumes don't constrict their movement or ability to see, hear and breathe.

Check that the costumes are flame retardant and nontoxic, and remove any small or dangling accessories that can be chewed and swallowed. Costumed pets should never be left unattended. And if they hate it -- take it off! Don't cause your pet any undue discomfort or stress.

Carrie Harrington is the director of communications at the Marin Humane Society, which contributes Tails of Marin articles. Visit MarinHumaneSociety.org.

Vaccines Important to a Pet's Health
Dr. Marty Becker - DailyGleaner.com

Q: I don't believe in vaccinations, and I am struggling to find a veterinarian who agrees with me. My dog is healthy and I simply won't risk putting disease in her. I know I have to vaccinate for rabies by law, but I just won't do the others. How can I find a veterinarian who won't argue with me?

- Via email

A: I think you're going to have a hard time finding that veterinarian because we're trained to prevent and cure disease, not give bad advice. And never giving vaccinations - not even the critical puppy series - is bad advice.

But just as in human medicine, there's a sizable camp of people who are convinced that vaccines cause more disease than they prevent.

Some of them refuse to vaccinate their pets at all, ever, counting on the health and vaccination status of other pets - so-called "herd immunity" - in order to protect their animals from the small risk of vaccines.

I believe a tailored vaccination program is key to your dog's health. Just as in human medicine, contagious diseases used to sweep through regularly, causing misery and death by the millions.
Vaccines are one of the true success stories of modern medicine, a livesaving measure of near-miraculous importance.

Manage this risk with your veterinarian's help, vaccinate no more than you need to and no more often than you need to, and you'll be doing what's best for your dog - and by extension helping all the other pets in your community.

I remember when I first started practicing as a veterinarian - dare I say it, 30 years ago - we robotically gave every pet who came in for "annual shots" exactly the same thing. No more.

Now we carefully evaluate each patient and look at breed or mix, life stage, lifestyle and emerging risks to determine exactly what vaccines and other preventive health care measures are recommended.

We call this a "personalized pet health protocol."

Fewer, less frequent, more targeted vaccines are the norm now, but no vaccines at all?

As a veterinarian, I shudder at the suffering that could mean. And I'm guessing almost all of my colleagues would, too.

- Dr. Marty Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to petconnection@gmail.com.

Report: Bad Teeth, Skin Issues Dog Our Pets

Americans spend millions of dollars every year on health care for their furry companions. Surgeries for skin, teeth and joints are leading treatments for pets as they age alongside us.

Policyholders with Veterinary Pet Insurance spent more than $30 million in 2009 on surgical treatments for their dogs and cats.

The Brea-based company has analyzed data from 485,000 insured pets to cobble two lists of the most common health conditions requiring surgery last year.

It might not surprise dog owners to see skin masses top the list of Fido's health woes. His feline nemesis is dogged by tooth decay, with dental extractions leading the list.

The most common surgical claim for dogs on the list, benign skin mass, cost VPI policyholders an average of $999 per claim. The least common, auricular hematoma, cost an average of $296 per claim.

For cats, the average per claim for tooth extraction was $924, while cancer of the nasal cavity cost an average of $927.xxxx

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Denver Residents Credit Dog
with Alerting Them to Apartment Fire
By Kieran Nicholson - The Denver Post

Patrick Vigil and his wife were awakened by his dog, Kook's, when a fire broke out in his apartment complex in Denver. (THE DENVER POST JOHN PRIETO)

An 8-month-old pug named Kook's rattled his cage early this morning, causing enough racket to wake up his owners just in time to escape an apartment fire.

Patrick Vigil and Gail Martinez credit the dog with saving their lives and perhaps the lives of other residents at their multi-family building in northwest Denver.

"I'm a pretty sound sleeper," Vigil said. "We would have slept right through it more than likely."
But after Kook's raised the alarm, Martinez smelled smoked and Vigil stepped outside his garden-level unit to see the apartment above engulfed in flames.

"When I went out, there were flames shooting everywhere," Vigil said.

The fire broke out at about 4 a.m. at 3860 Irving St., said Lt. Phil Champagne, a Denver Fire Department spokesman.

About 36 firefighters fought the blaze for about 40 minutes, containing it for the most part to the one unit, which was gutted. The resident of the unit that burned was not home at the time.

Vigil and Martinez can't return to their unit until investigators determine how much structural damage was done directly above.

Four other families returned to their homes in the six-unit building this morning. There were no injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Meanwhile, Kook's is getting lots of praise today and he's likely in line for a treat or two.

Vigil said: "I think he deserves a little piece of steak or something."

Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822 or knicholson@denverpost.com.

Dog Name Tips For Your Pet
Denise Baptiste - oneindia.in

Having a pet is the most wonderful thing in a home. They are lovable and caring beings. When you welcome a pet into a home the first thing the owner will do is to give their pet dog or cat a name.

It is true that one finds it hard to name their pet. So here below are easy ways to help you find the most suitable name for your pet.

1.Make a list of names you have in mind for your pet dog. Separate the male and female list.

2.It is said that animals respond to one or two syllable. So, make sure that you think of a name which will help your pet dog recognize.

3.Do not pick out names that sound close to commands. For example, don't give your pet dog a name called Joe as it is close to the command 'no'. This will help prevent any confusion when you are trying to communicate with your dog.

4.Take some time to look at your pet. Notice if they have any strange marks or colors on their body which will help you think of a unique name. For example, if your pet dog has a tinge of gold hair, you can call her goldie.

5.Do not rush in to getting a name for your pet dog. For a week, get to know the dog's personality and name him or her accordingly. For example, if you find him naughty you can call him Frisky.

6.Keep in mind the gender of your pet dog. Even though the name wont matter to the dog, it will keep people wondering why you named a female dog Tom or a male dog Tina.

You can also take help from family and friends to give your pet dog the best name he desires.

After you have decided a name for your pet dog, do not forget to try it out. Go to the park and call him or her and see if it sounds nice. In no time, when you get the perfect name , both of you will love it.

Pet Dogs May Help Children with Autism

A new study has indicated that specially trained pet dogs can be beneficial to the emotional and mental health of children with autism syndrome disorders (ASDs).

Work undertaken at the University of Montreal measured the incidence of cortisol awakening response (CAR) present in the saliva of 42 youngsters with ASDs. This is a hormone produced by the body in relation to stress and was monitored regularly, while the children were each introduced to a canine taught to respond to them.

The parents of the little ones were asked to fill in a questionnaire regarding their offspring's emotional behaviour before, during and after the study, and, together with the other results, scientists collated a paper that states the pooches helped minimise emotional distress in their new masters.

"Until now, no study has measured the physiological impact. Our results lend support to the potential behavioural benefits of service dogs for autistic children," Sonia Lupien, senior researcher and a professor at the university's Department of Psychiatry and director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress at Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital, said.

People with autism are often thought to be affected positively by the presence of animals and many different creatures - including horses - are used in therapy.

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Jennifer Aniston Takes Pooch to a Shrink

The star’s pet is said to be suicidal – yes, really

Jennifer Aniston loves dogs

She's been linked to more men than we've had hot dinners, but at least Jennifer Aniston's always had one steady male presence in her life: her pet pooch Norman.

So it's with a heavy heart that we report that Norm hasn't been himself recently.

The 15-year-old dog, who recovered from a life-threatening digestive disease last year, went missing overnight while Jen was shooting her new film Wanderlust in Atlanta.

When he was found, all was not well. Now he rarely wants to go for long walks and he doesn't respond to Jen, 41, like he used to. So, in an oh-so-Hollywood twist, Jen took Norman to see a doggy doctor, who diagnosed him as ‘depressed and suicidal'.

‘Jen became seriously worried about Norman's mental health after his disappearance,' says a source close to the actress.

‘He came back dazed and lacklustre and often doesn't seem to recognise her. She's concerned this could be it for him and she's devastated. The dog therapist said
Norman was depressed and that's what was causing him to act oddly.'

Since the diagnosis, Jen's been inconsolable. The therapist prescribed antidepressants, but Jen didn't want Norman to be on drugs.

‘She's hoping she can coax him out of it herself,' adds an insider.

'People may laugh at her, but Norman really is her best friend. She can't bear to see him like this, but he's very old and she's starting to accept he might be on his last legs.'

Poor Norm - and poor Jen!

Pet Tales: New PG Feature -- Ask a Vet
By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Every pet should have its own vet, and pets shouldn't just go when they are sick. Dogs and cats and every other pet should have regularly scheduled checkups with a veterinarian.

But don't you have a lot of questions, especially when pet-related topics hit the news? I'm talking about things such as pet food recalls, Lyme disease, canine influenza outbreaks, adverse reactions to flea medications and announcements about new vaccines.

Good veterinarians are very busy, so we shouldn't call them every time we have a question. But now animal lovers can e-mail questions to the Post-Gazette and the answers will come from the five doctors at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic.

Starting on Nov. 13, questions will be answered in a new column called Pet Points, which will run every other Saturday in the Home & Garden section along with Pet Tales. Send your questions to petpoints@post-gazette.com.

Pet Points is not the place to go to get a diagnosis or treatment for a pet; you need to see your veterinarian for that. But the column will address issues that affect many pets, perhaps including the animal you love.

Dr. Lawrence Gerson with his dogs, Pitzy, a Maltese (on his lap); and Millie, a Bernese mountain dog. Dr. Gerson will answer readers' questions in Pet Points, a new feature in the Post-Gazette. Photo by Ashley Rose.

Lawrence Gerson founded the clinic in 1976, but he's quick to note that this column isn't just about him. He says he'll be tapping the expertise of his staff and other local veterinarians, including his daughter, Stephanie Berger, a 2009 graduate of Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Gerson, a 1975 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, is president of the Allegheny Abused Animal Relief Fund and chairman of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association. He is a past president of the Western Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and the state association. He also hosted a local television show called Pet Talk on WQEX in the 1980s and '90s.

Dr. Gerson's personal pets are Millie, a Bernese mountain dog, and Pitzy, a Maltese whose name means "tiny" in Yiddish.

Black cats beware
Halloween is just around the corner, so if you own a black cat, keep it inside on Oct. 31 and for a least two days before the holiday. This tip comes from a very nice lady who said she once had a black cat that "was tortured on Halloween."

I wanted to know more, but her voicemail message did not include her name or telephone number. She said her current cat is a very dark shade of brown, so she's keeping him inside, too, to be on the safe side.

I get similar tips around this time every year from animal rights and animal welfare organizations. They say black cats are tortured, injured and even killed during the Halloween season.

Though I've interviewed many police officers and humane agents about animal cruelty cases, none of them have involved black cats at Halloween. But I'm passing on the black cat tip -- just to be on the safe side.

Barktoberfest today
This is very short notice, but if you're one of those people who like to dress dogs in costumes, there's a parade in Pittsburgh for people like you.

Barktoberfest will be held in the Strip District from noon to 2 p.m today, rain or shine, at Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., Strip District. There will be prizes for the best-dressed dogs who march -- on leashes -- in the parade. The first 50 people who register will get doggie bags with "pet-themed giveaways," according to event sponsor Neighbors in the Strip (www.neghborsinthestrip.com).

WDO Photography will take pet photos, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania. The shelter also will have a pet adoption fair.

Here's a very long-in-advance notice: For the past four years Mullaney's has allowed dogs to dine with owners on the back deck, twice a week, during what they call their Dog Days of Summer.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064. Got a question for a vet? Send your questions to petpoints@post-gazette.com

Why Don’t Woodpeckers Take Baths?
By Mike O'Connor - Cape Codder

CAPE COD — Dear Bird Folks,

Several different species of woodpeckers regularly come to the feeders in our yard. We have downy and hairy woodpeckers, plus red-bellies and flickers. However, I’ve never seen a single one of them use our birdbath. Other birds bathe frequently, but not woodpeckers. Do they ever take baths?

– Jennifer, Eastham, MA

Perfect, Jennifer,

A few years ago I wrote a book entitled, “Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches?” It was a huge hit and became the best selling book of all time, with that exact title. Since then, I have been thinking about writing a sequel, but I couldn’t come up with a good name for it… until now. “Why Don’t Woodpeckers Take Baths?” is perfect. It could lead to a whole series of books. There could be “Why Don’t Woodpeckers Watch TV?,” followed by “Why Don’t Woodpeckers Use Public Transportation?” and “Why Don’t Woodpeckers Shop at the GAP?” Not only are these great titles, but I think people everywhere really want to know the answers. Forget The Hardy Boys and those silly vampire books; woodpecker mania is about the sweep to country, thanks to you.

When it comes to bathing, not all birds behave the same. Just as it is with people, some birds are constantly washing themselves while others don’t do it nearly as much as we wish they would. Take robins, for example. There isn’t a birdbath anywhere that they won’t stop and use. I don’t know what robins did in a former life, but there is clearly something bad they are trying to wash away. Starlings must have a bit of Japanese culture in them because the entire flock often bathes at the same time. But unlike the Japanese, a starling communal bath isn’t a peaceful, relaxing affair. When a flock of starlings hit a birdbath, water splashes everywhere, looking like a blender with the cover off.

Birds of prey are more human-like in their bathing habits. Hawks will often walk into a pool of water and just soak for a few minutes before getting on with the actual washing. Some of the more sophisticated hawks will light a few candles, put on soft music and pour a glass of wine before they bathe, but those birds are mostly from Europe. Swallows and swifts do just the opposite. They have no time in their busy schedule to be floating around in water, so they bathe on the wing. Swallows will skim over a pond, flying just low enough to allow the water to splash on them as they go.

Other birds seem to have a touch of hydrophobia. They want to take a bath but hate getting into the water. Instead, they will take a “leaf bath.” No, they don’t roll around in a big pile of leaves. (That behavior is exclusive to ten-year-old children.) After a storm, or when there is a lot of morning dew, many warblers will flutter in wet foliage and bathe that way. Other birds are content to let the bath come to them. If it rains, they’ll readily take advantage of the falling water to clean themselves. If it doesn’t rain, they don’t get cleaned, just like ten-year-old children.

Woodpeckers probably use a combination of the above methods to maintain their feathers. If you punch up YouTube on your computer, you should find several video clips of downies and flickers, as well as other woodpeckers, splashing in birdbaths. (There’s also a fun clip of Woody Woodpecker trying to fish a dime out of a bathtub drain. It has nothing to do with your question, but you should watch it anyway.) Woodpeckers will not only use birdbaths, but they will also take the aforementioned rain baths; in the winter they will take snow baths, which are exactly as the name implies.

Woodpeckers have also been known to take dust baths. It’s seems like a major contradiction for birds to clean themselves by rolling around in dirt, but they do it. Experts aren’t sure what the birds gain from fluffing in filth, but their best guess is that it has something to do with parasite control. It is thought that the fine dust blocks the parasites’ breathing holes, which forces them to drop off the bird. Hmm. I’m going to have to try that. I’ll let you know how it works.

No matter which type of bath the woodpeckers participate in, their next move is always the same. They find a quiet spot where they can do some serious preening. During preening the birds physically remove any mites or parasites. They also repair any damaged feathers by “zipping” them up again. The most important thing they do during preening is apply oil to their feathers. The birds squeeze a bit of oil from their oil gland and apply it to their feathers. It once was thought that the oil provided waterproofing, but for the most part the oil is a conditioner that prevents the feathers from becoming dry and brittle, or from getting split ends.

After further review, I don’t think I can call my next book “Why Don’t Woodpeckers Take Baths?,” Jennifer. They probably bathe more than you realize. I’d like to write more on this subject, but I want to get back to watching that Woody Woodpecker clip on YouTube. I can’t wait to see if he finally gets the dime out of the tub drain. It’s exciting stuff.

This column is written by Mike O’Connor and the staff at the Bird Watcher’s General Store in Orleans. Original artwork is supplied by Cathy Clark. If you have a question for the bird experts, please e-mail it to bwgs.capecod@verizon.net or call 508-255-6974.

Big Horn Sheep on The Buffalo Bill Dam
on the Shoshoni River at Cody Wyoming....
Thanks to Kathy in BHC, Az

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Stupid Pet Tricks: Audition Stories

Dog Gets New Leash on Life After Euthanasia Flub
The Associated Press

In this Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 photo, Matt Olivarez, 27, pets his 11-year-old Rottweiler, Mia, at his home in Redford Township, Mich. Olivarez had euthanized Mia, who suffers from a spinal problem, on Saturday evening, only to find on Sunday morning that she was alive and had moved from the spot where he had laid her in the garage. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, Robin Buckson) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT (Robin Buckson - AP) Network NewsX Profile

REDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A suburban Detroit man whose Rottweiler was given a new leash on life after surviving a botched euthanasia said he has neither the heart nor the money to try the procedure again.

Redford Township resident Matt Olivarez, 27, said he's in a tough spot: facing possible home foreclosure while at the same time trying to do right by Mia, an 11-year-old pooch that he feeds by hand, partly because of her spinal problem that makes walking difficult.

Olivarez said he took Mia to the Westcott Veterinary Care Center in Detroit on Saturday to alleviate her suffering. He said Westcott officials speculated afterward that the drug dosage wasn't strong enough or had been watered down.

He now shudders at the thought of almost burying his beloved pet alive.

"I don't know if I could do it a second time," Olivarez told The Detroit News for a story published Wednesday.

Olivarez said he returned to his garage Sunday morning and noticed Mia missing from where he'd placed her on a pile of hay the day before. He'd planned to bury her in his grandfather's backyard.

Instead, he turned to find her standing on all fours, staring at him.

"Are you still my dog?" he said, saying he felt like he was living a scene from one of the scary movies he enjoys. "It was like a scene from 'Pet Sematary.'"

Olivarez purchased Mia, the only member of her litter to survive, around the time his first child was born. She was intended to be a companion for his sons, now 8 and 9. Olivarez tried to explain Mia's resurrection to them Tuesday night.

"It's crazy," he said. "It's not something I planned for."

Meanwhile, Olivarez is seeking a new owner who can give Mia proper care.

"I'll keep her until I figure something out," he said.

Stories 'Grossly Inaccurate'
That Federal Employees Can Insure Pets
but Not Their Domestic Partners

Statement by U.S. Office of Personnel Management Regarding the Claim that the FEHB Offers Pet Insurance:

"Stories claiming that the federal government offers pet insurance to federal employees, and juxtaposing that benefit with the fact that the federal government cannot under current law provide health insurance benefits to federal employees' domestic partners are grossly inaccurate. While Aetna is a participating carrier in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the pet insurance product offered by Aetna is not a federal benefit, nor has it been listed as a benefit in any OPM prepared or reviewed materials. Aetna, on its own initiative, offers a variety of discount products to its members, including gym memberships, weight loss programs, eyewear, vitamins, etc. Pet insurance is one of these products."

National Feral Cat Day
By Lori Durst - Record-Bee.com

Friday was National Feral Cat Day, a day to reflect about the outdoor cats in our neighborhoods. These cats are found behind grocery stores, fast food restaurants or even sunning themselves in our backyards. Many people spend their own money feeding these cats. Where do these cats come from and what can we do to help?

According to the Web site, Alley Cat Allies, feral cats exist in every community. These cats are the same species as domestic cats, but are not socialized to humans and cannot be adopted into homes. Instead, they live healthy and content lives in family groups called colonies.

The most humane way to help a feral cat is through a program called Trap-Neuter-Return. This ends the breeding cycle and helps cats and people co-exist peacefully.

Please visit Alley Cat Allies Web site at www.alleycat.org for helpful information on how to trap, neuter and return these cats, the importance of spaying and neutering all cats and also interesting information on why trapping and killing these cats create a vacuum effect that never fully takes care of the feral cat challenge.

Lori Durst


Some Dogs Are Just Too Smart for Our Own Good
By John Kelly - WashingtonPost.com

That old admonition to never work with children or animals doesn't apply to newspaper columnists. There's nothing but gold there, especially animals, especially dogs. My column last week about the occasional untruthfulness of my black Lab, Charlie, prompted readers to share their own dog tales.

Arlington's Chris Coughlin said he was once a stepdad to his fiancee's yellow Lab, Chloe. "As a puppy, when Chloe was 'bad,' my fiancee would put her in the bathroom with the door closed for a short period," Chris wrote. "Despite this solitary confinement, Chloe continually found the house garbage to be simply irresistible. No device built by man could stop her from getting to our delightful discards."

Chris wrote that a strange thing happened when Chloe grew out of puppyhood: She would punish herself.

"On certain occasions, when we walked into the house, instead of a happy Lab there to greet us, there was silence. We would call out her name, but she would not respond. A quick look at the kitchen floor would show trash littered everywhere. And then a quick look down the hall would show Chloe sitting in the bathroom, head a little bowed, eyes pleading.

"Chloe did the crime and she did the time -- all on her own. It never ceased to amaze me."

Dogs can bring out the best in us, a sort of forbearance we might not extend to members of our own species. Ed Law of New Market, Md., once had a "very good 'bad' dog" named Ginger. Ginger wasn't allowed on the furniture, but she thought the rule applied only when Ed and the rest of the family were home.

Wrote Ed: "Near the end, when she was sick, I used to jiggle the keys before I came in the house to give her time to get off the sofa. Eventually, she couldn't, and we just used to pick her up and let her lay on the sofa.

"There are many other stories, but then there always are with dogs."

Dogs are talented insinuators. Every owner has probably wondered how a seeming solid -- a dog -- can turn into something approaching a liquid, as the dog pours itself into a lap or flows across the floor toward a treat. With the online version of my column, "Jmietus" posted a comment about his dog, Fred. Fred knew that he was not allowed in his masters' bed but sometimes couldn't resist testing the limits of what "on the bed" actually meant. As Jmietus and his wife relaxed under the covers, reading a book or watching TV, Fred was curled up on the floor at the foot of the bed.

Fred's first maneuver: "The dog would lift his head off the floor and put his head -- innocently -- on the blanket at the end of the bed. Fred would watch us carefully for a minute or so. When he noticed that we did not object, he would edge his head up three inches, say, so that his head and his neck were now on the bed. He would watch us carefully for another minute for any sign of resistance.

"When he saw that we had not raised any objection, he edged up further, so that his head, his neck and his shoulder were now on the bed -- although his feet were still on the floor -- contorted to a startling degree."

The "stealth dog" would watch carefully, convinced that if his owners really objected, they would let him know. His owners were usually trying to suppress giggles.

"These sessions would usually end when my wife and I burst into laughter, and Fred came bounding up onto the bed, uncertain why we were laughing so hard, but pleased to see that, at least temporarily, there were no restrictions on his joining us on the bed."

There was a lesson even in this. Jmietus wrote that he works downtown "in the vast American bureaucracy. I learned from these episodes with Fred that it sometimes makes sense to allow my rival bureaucrats to poach on my turf and not to challenge them until their invasion was clear and indisputable. Like Fred, they assumed that silence means assent. It was sometimes effective to allow the incursion to occur -- and then to complain about it only when the incursion was clear and indisputable."

Finally, Alexandria's Susan Bird Charnley offered this: "My golden retriever taught me about life for 14 years. He was smarter, more patient and had better manners than most people. In the end, he taught me about death and dignity. R.I.P., Max."

Dog Adopts Kitten

Atlanta, GA (NBC) - A "meow" outside the door of an Atlanta home has turned into a labor of love for a dog.

Camille and Mari Ryan Heschmeyer say their dog, Ellie, has taken "ownership" of a little kitten they found abandoned outside their home last week.

Although she has never had puppies, Ellie has become very much a mother to this baby feline.

"It's been a very interesting situation." says Mari Ryan Heschmeyer, one of Ellie's owners. "We didn't expect more than a little curiosity and scooping up'(and she said) thank you very much, it's mine now" was really, really cute."

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Tips to Make Your House Cat Proof
By JACQUE ESTES, PET PROJECT/News-JournalOnline.com

Curiosity killed the cat. The proverb is attributed to Ben Jonson, a British playwright who used the expression in his 1598 play "Every Man in His Humor."

As anyone who has ever shared a home with a cat knows, the phrase is accurate. Cats are extremely curious and tend to amaze their owners at their proclivity to get into trouble.

While some of these activities are cute and may make you smile, they can also be quite harmful to your feline.

Have you ever noticed that medicine bottles are labeled "childproof" not "cat proof?" Why? Because with a little perseverance your cat can easily chew off the lid without having to worry about squeezing the lid together, pushing and twisting and all of the other instructions the rest of us have to follow just to get rid of a headache.

Securing medications, over the counter and prescriptions, is just one example of how a feline-occupied home should be made "cat proof."

Another typical household hazard an inquisitive cat may harm themselves with are poisonous plants. Cats enjoy chewing grass. There are even specially designed pots of grass that you can grow for your indoor kitty, but other plants, even those that are nonpoisonous, can, at the very least, give them an upset stomach. Plants should be kept out of reach of your pet, a task that is not always easily accomplished. Cats jump, which makes few areas "out of reach."

Your little ones may have grown out of the need for child-proof latches on the cabinets, but if there's an inquisitive cat in the house, you might not want to remove them. Cats love going into seclusion and hiding among your cleaning supplies, not to mention your cookware. The cleaning products aren't safe for them, and you probably don't want hair on your pots and pans.
Cats are graceful; well, most are. They love to jump up on tables and bookshelves to investigate anything from a flying bug to a reflection of light. And graceful or not, there are those moments when they might make a less-than perfect landing and knock off a favorite vase. Keep the really special items in a china or display cabinet. Remember, higher is not out of reach, the item will just fall farther before it breaks.

Cords of any kind, electrical and curtain, should be secured from the cat that likes to chew. Electrical cords should be checked on a regular basis for wear, especially if you have noticed your cat spending a lot of time in the area.

Fall, or our version of it, has come to Florida, and many are enjoying the opportunity to open windows and let the fresh air in. As you open these windows, take a minute to check and see that the screens are secure and there are no rips. Screen doors should have a secure latch. A small paw can easily open a door that is not securely latched and let the cat out into a world of dangers he never imagined.

Take time to play with your cat on different levels in your home, from the floor to the couch, and look at your house through his eyes. You might be amazed at what you find, and if you don't find any hazards, great! You and your can will have had a good time together.

Tips for Dog Grooming This Winter

What many people don't realize is that a major part of a dog's health is maintained and can be monitored by regular dog grooming. Dog grooming not only keeps your dog smelling good, but improves the condition of their skin, keeps their nails in trim, helps keep eyes and ears healthy and helps to spot problems, especially parasites and injuries, before they become a major health risk.

Over the past five centuries, dozens of different specialized breeds have been developed, all with unique coat care needs. The result is that dogs of today no longer have the natural ability to take care of their own hygienic needs. They need to be bathed, brushed and clipped. They need to have their ears plucked and their anal glands purged. They need their nails cut. A wolf or a dingo in the wild can forego this pampering because their grooming needs are vastly different from domesticated breeds of dogs. No matter what kind of dog you have, it will require some degree of dog grooming on a regular basis to keep it healthy and happy.

It is easy to think that your dog doesn't need dog grooming over the winter and that they are better off with a nice thick warm coat. However this can often be a mistake as this is the time of year where their coat needs even more work. Winter can be cruel to a dog's coat, especially while out dog walking and it can become severely matted and over grown. This can then take hours to rectify in the dog groomers in the spring. Also an integral part of going to the dog groomers is to get a closer eye at the overall health of your dog without going to the vets. The groomer can check the skin and see if there are any growths, ticks etc. Also they will trim the nails and clean out the eyes, ears and anal glands. If you are too busy to get to the dog groomers this winter, there are pet services which run a pet taxi to transport your dog to the groomers (www.thedogwalkeruk.com).

However if you do decide to forego going to the dog groomers and getting your dog a haircut during the winter months, still make sure you keep up the other aspects of dog grooming. A regular schedule of brushing and combing as well as a bi-weekly ear cleaning and monthly nail clipping is vital. It is best to brush the coat first with a slicker or pin brush and then follow up with a steel combe to make sure there are no tangles in the coat. A great tool for this is a rubber tipped brush called the Zoom Groom. To reduce the chance of illness, make sure you dry your dog thoroughly after bathing.

As you can see, depending on the breed, you can reduce the amount of dog grooming during the winter months, but do not neglect it all together. Your dog will be much healthier and happier with a regular dog grooming schedule, either by owner or dog groomer.

3 Pet Dental Care Tips
By Lucia Raatma - ReadersDigest.ca

Your pet’s bad breath may be more than just an annoyance, warns Alexander Reiter, DVM, of the American Veterinary Dental College. “Ninety-five percent of the time, a dog’s or cat’s bad breath is due to periodontal disease.” The condition can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to many diseases.

Worried about your pet’s breath? Here are three tips to help maintain your cat or dog’s oral heath.

1. Ensure Your Pet Receives the Proper Treatment
Treats and rinses in pet stores that claim to help bad breath seldom do. They just mask the symptoms. If your groomer offers dental services, make sure he uses a brush, not a sharp tool, to clean teeth. Only a vet should do dental surgery.

2. See Your Vet
He may recommend a cleaning, under general anesthesia, to remove tartar and plaque, and repair teeth.

3. Get Out the Brush
Yes, you really need to brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth. Your vet can show you how. Don’t use human toothpaste with baking soda or fluoride as swallowing these ingredients may be harmful.

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Bad Economy Hits Pets
By Malarie Dauginikas - wboy.com

As people are forced to budget, many pets end up in shelters.

FAIRMONT -- Every dog has his day, and that's what the folks at the Marion County Humane Society are hoping for the more than 200 animals in foster homes and at the shelter.

"We've actually seen a lot of animals coming in just because of the economy and the way things are going right now," Bobby Brock, vice president of operations at the Marion County Humane Society, said.

Families are bringing in pets because they are having trouble putting food on the table, while others are working longer hours or are moving into apartments that do not allow pets.

The shelter has also seen an increase in the amount of strays brought to the shelter.

"It's harder sometimes, I think, for people to bring in their pet and as wrong as it is, I think it's sometime easier just to let their pet go," Brock said.

If a family faces hard times, the shelter staff do offer help, whenever possible.

"If we can keep the pet at home, instead of bringing them into the shelter, we will provide them with food for a short tenure of time, just to try to help them through the rough spots," Brock said.

To keep up with growing demands, the shelter is adding a larger adoption location on Morgantown Avenue in East Fairmont. Once the new location is complete, the old location will be used only as an in-take facility.

As work continues on the new building, the shelter will be holding fundraisers to support the project. On Nov. 7 the humane society will hold a Magical Evening at Meadowbrook Mall, all tickets sold to this event will benefit the shelter. The shelter will host a chili cook off on Nov. 12, and later a wine tasting at Joe Mama's in Fairmont.

Pet Risks Can Be Greatly Minimized

Q: I don't expect you people to admit it, but pets can make you sick. I honestly don't understand why anyone would want one, but keep your filthy animal away from me. Why don't you tell the truth?

A: To each his own, of course, and there's a reason why people have had companion animals for thousands of years - they make us feel good.

Even back in the days when cats were expected to hunt vermin and dogs were expected to do a variety of jobs, animals also served as companions, as is well documented by writings and paintings over the centuries.

Modern research has backed up what our forebearers instinctively knew: The companionship of animals is good for us. Well, most of us, anyway, and since it seems you're not such a person, well, you'll just have to get along with the rest of us pet lovers. We will do the same for you.

But you are right on the disease front, and tips on being safe around pets is, in fact, something we communicate routinely.

It's pretty mind-boggling how many diseases and parasites can be passed from pets to humans. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control helpfully supplies a pretty scary list of them. The CDC's Healthy Pets, Healthy People website (www.cdc.gov/healthypets) offers an in-depth examination of these so-called "zoonotic" health risks, and it includes special advice for people at higher risk, including those with immune-system weaknesses and those whose jobs involve working with animals.

At the top of the list of concerns would likely be rabies, a deadly disease more common in wildlife than in pets, thanks to decades of aggressive vaccination laws. Other worries are bacterial, with pets capable of transmitting salmonella, leptospirosis and campylobacteriosis, to name a nasty trio. Diseases caused by parasites include tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm, Lyme disease and giardia. And there's even ringworm, which is really a fungus.

Toxoplasmosis is a special concern for people sharing their lives with cats. Birds and reptiles can transmit salmonella, and pet rodents can transmit any number of diseases, such as rat fever.

To be informed is to be prepared, and simple precautions such as keeping pets healthy and parasite-free greatly minimize the risks, as does frequent hand-washing, which everyone should be doing anyway, pets or no pets.

It's important to note that pets are not the only source for many of these diseases - in many cases, improper food handling is a bigger risk for illness for most people. We prefer to tell people: "Reduce the risk and keep the pet," because on balance, pets are still proven to be good medicine for people, and we support that.

- Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori

Do you have a pet question? Send it to petconnection@gmail.com.

Disabilities No Longer a Death Sentence for Pets
By TOM BREEN - yahoo.com

RALEIGH, N.C. – When Beverly Tucker's dog Tobi ruptured a disc in his back, the veterinarian gave her a stark choice: expensive surgery with little chance of success, or euthanasia.

Like a growing number of pet owners, Tucker opted for a third choice thanks to medical advances and shifting attitudes about animal care. She bought a wheeled cart specially fitted for Tobi's hind legs, restoring mobility to her paralyzed pooch.

"I would never have my dog put down," Tucker said. "Our option was the wheels, and we're going strong ever since."

Pets with disabilities ranging from spinal injuries to deafness still struggle more than healthy counterparts, but their futures are no longer as grim as before. An industry catering to owners of disabled pets has sprung up, offering everything from carts to chiropractors specializing in canine spines.

Even in an economic slump, people are willing to pamper their pets.

Total spending on pets has grown each year since the recession began, rising from $41.2 billion in 2007 to an estimated $47.7 billion this year, according to the American Pet Products Association.

"The pet business has evolved greatly, especially over the last five years," said Leslie May, founder of industry consultant Pawsible Marketing. "When people think of pets as family members, they look for resources to meet their pets' needs."

Animal health specialists, rescue volunteers and medical supply makers all say they've seen a growing willingness in the American public to adopt or care for pets with ailments that once would have met with certain euthanization.

Dianne Dunning, director of the Animal Welfare, Ethics and Public Policy Program at N.C. State University, said that shift has shadowed breakthroughs in veterinary medicine.

"You're seeing in many cases now that pets are equivalent in status to children within a family," she said.

It was much different 21 years ago, when Buddha, a Doberman owned by Ed and Leslie Grinnell, awoke one morning unable to use her hind legs.

There were no online support groups, no doggy physical therapists. The only options offered by the vet were $5,000 back surgery with a 50-50 shot at recovery — or immediate euthanasia.

Instead, Ed Grinnell put his skills to work as a mechanical engineer and designed a wheeled cart for Buddha, who lived three more years. Ten years later, vets were referring so many people to the Grinnells that they went into canine cart manufacturing full-time.

Since 1999, Eddie's Wheels has expanded to 14 workers at their facility in Shelburne Falls, Mass., and now ships its carts worldwide for dogs, cats, bunnies, goats, sheep — even alpacas.

"I don't think people felt any differently about their animals 20 or 30 years ago," Leslie Grinnell said. "It's just the culture didn't support the view that this is an important member of the family."

That isolation the Grinnells felt was similar to what Joyce Darrell and her husband, Mike Dickerson, experienced when their dog Duke severed his spinal cord in an accident in 1999. Instead of euthanizing Duke, the Grinnells got him a wheeled cart.

They've since adopted another dog with paralyzed legs.

Those adoptions have since grown into a full-time rescue operation called Pets With Disabilities, which Darrell runs from his home in Prince Frederick, Md. The program rescues between 50 and 70 dogs a year, finding permanent homes for most.

He said disabled dogs often bond tighter with people than able-bodied dogs "because they need humans for more things." Still, there are more challenges in caring for disabled animals, including higher medical costs.

"Folks typically shy away from animals that are going to require medical care and cost is usually the No. 1 issue," said Gail Buchwald at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Adoptions Center in New York.

Mary Dow, a volunteer with Independent Animal Rescue in Durham, rescued a cat named Daisy and paid $2,300 for surgery on its broken leg. She raised more than $1,800 to offset the tab.

"It's not necessarily a foregone conclusion that all people shy away from disabled animals," she said, however. "We've found homes for quite a few who would have been euthanized."

That second chance isn't just for the animals, Leslie Grinnell said, but for humans who stand to learn a lot from their disabled pets.

"These animals don't feel sorry for themselves one little bit," she said. "They really have a lot to teach us."

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Protect Your Pets this Halloween

Halloween should be fun for you and your pets. Here are a couple of safety tips to think about this Halloween season.

So, now that you've got your pet's Halloween costume prepared, it's time to focus on the safety of your animal.

Halloween is a fun holiday for everyone from the costumes to the candy to the decorations, but there are also elements of Halloween that can by harmful to your little one.

With that in mind, here are some things to watch out for this time of year.

1) Candy, candy, candy!

I love candy, and I have a feeling some of you might as well. But candy can be very harmful and sometimes deadly for your pet. I sometimes put together a bowl of candy to sit out during the Halloween season, but it's imperative that the bowl is outside of your animal's reach.

Most of us have heard that chocolate is poisonous for dogs, but it's not just chocolate you have to watch out for. The artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous for your animal. And of course, candy wrappers, if swallowed, can be a real chocking hazard for your pet.

2) Trick or Treat!

Trick or treating is the time honored tradition of Halloween, but it can also be really scary for your pet. If you're a popular house on the block and your doorbell is constantly ringing, your pet can get really stressed out.

If you think your pet may be scared by all of the visitors, make a fun space for him/her in your home – a place where they can take a nap, or play with their toys, or chew on a bone, away from the noise of the doorbell, knocks on the door, and the eager "Trick or Treat!" cheer.

3) Here, Kitty, Kitty…

Unfortunately, Halloween can be a dangerous time for cats. Not everyone is a pet lover, and some people actually want to cause animals harm. Although statistics are sparse, each year numerous crimes involving the torture of cats are reported. Some pet stores and adoption agencies choose not to adopt or sell cats, particularly black cats, during the Halloween season.

Keep an eye on your cat and make sure he/she stays either inside or around your house. It's never a good idea to let your cat run loose, but during the Halloween season your cat could face real harm if put into the wrong hands.

4) Watch out for the pumpkin!

Jack-o-lanterns are another time-honored tradition for Halloween. But if you use a real candle inside your pumpkin, make sure you keep it away from your pet. The happy wagging tail of your dog could easily knock over a smaller jack-o-lantern, sparking a flame in your home. Or your curious cat could definitely decide to investigate the jack-o-lantern, burning the cat's paws or again, knocking over the candle and potentially sparking a flame.

Halloween should be a fun time for you, your family, and your pet. So make sure to keep these tips in mind, and you should have a happy and safe Halloween season

Puppy Care: 5 Things New Dog Owners Should Know

Are you a new dog owner with absolutely no experience in puppy care? You are not alone. Many owners have gone through the same thing. There is so much to know yet it is not that difficult for you to learn.

You probably are aware that puppies have needs that can be compared to children's needs. For instance, they need health care, hygienic living conditions, nutritious food and training. If you're just starting out however, you probably are not sure exactly what that means to your puppy.

Health care

Your puppy needs regular vaccinations that will continue throughout his life to protect him from several serious diseases, some that can actually take his life. The first thing on your list is to find a good veterinarian who you trust.

Hygienic living conditions

While you might think that dogs have stronger constitutions than humans, this is not really true. They are just as susceptible to becoming ill from poor living conditions. If your puppy's bedding is filthy, for instance, he can become infested with fleas and ticks which steal his blood and cause severe skin infections.

Nutritious food

If your puppy does not get quality puppy food from the very beginning, she can suffer some very serious growth, health and developmental problems. Puppies need certain nutrients for building bones, healthy connective tissues, healthy organs, well-developed brains and maintaining robust energy. Improper feeding can cause severe problems now and throughout your dog's life.


You might not think that training belongs under the heading of puppy care, but it is training that would help determine your puppy's happiness and his overall feelings about himself. Proper training and plenty of praise will boost your puppy's confidence. A confident puppy who has been given the proper care from the beginning will grow into a healthy, energetic and obedient adult.

Puppies Will Be Puppies

Just remember that puppies will be puppies. As humans, we tend to exaggerate the extent of puppies' unwanted behavior. If your puppy chews your favorite shoes or damages your carpet, you are quite likely to see this as a major crime.

If this is your first puppy, understand that digging, chewing, barking and jumping are all natural. These activities are not wrong from your puppy's point of view. Don't get angry. It is your job to teach her that this is unacceptable behavior.

Puppy care doesn't have to be difficult. It is all about how you approach being a new dog owner.

Pets Vie for Spot on
David Letterman's Signature
'Stupid Pet Tricks' Segment
BY Corinne Letsch and Larry Mcshane - DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Adorable Lola (l.), Munchie (c.) and Tuffy relax after Tuffy’s audition for 'Stupid Pet Tricks' in Central Park Saturday. Tuffy basically stood on her hind legs, but hey, everyone’s a winner.

Tuffy, a 5-year-old Chihauhua-poodle mix, looked pretty stupid even before doing his trick.

The diminutive dog sported a blue and orange mohawk, complemented by a black cape with skull and crossbones, for his shot at a spot opposite David Letterman.

Tuffy was one of a dozen pooches vying in Central Park Saturday for an appearance on Letterman's signature "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment.

And yes, the stunts were as advertised.

There was Rex, the 2-year-old terrier who did a death swoon. Tuckett the Shih Tzu performed his best fist-bump. And Baxter the Yorkie sneezed on command.

"Is it flu season?" asked his owner, 53-year-old Lynn Consovoy of Paramus, N.J. "Sit. Sneeze!"

Upper West Side couple Al and Tanya Percival brought Bailey Bear, a Wheaton Terrier, to show off his spin moves. As Tanya spun her finger above the pet's head, Bailey refused to follow.

"Bailey, concentrate, boy!" Tanya encouraged him. "He's got stage fright."

The strangely outfitted Tuffy did little more than stand on his hind legs - but that was good enough for owner Lourdes Lebron, 56, of Yonkers.

"He's got my personality," she said. "We do everything. My whole life consists of going to parties so he can come with me."

Tuffy was challenged for best-dressed by Tommi T, a 5-pound break-dancing Chihuahua who wore a black hoodie with orange-and-silver high-top sneakers.

Letterman talent coordinator Ryan Williams had a good word for one and all - although he wouldn't say who the top dogs were. The best in show will appear in February.

"We saw a lot of really fun tricks," Williams said. "They haven't made my jaw drop, but they were funny. Everyone's a winner on 'Stupid Pet Tricks.'"

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What's the Best Water for Your Pet?

Size Does Matter
By LANA BERKOWITZ - Houston Chronicle

Big dogs have barks that command respect. But it's easier to find cute outfits for small dogs.

Photographer Barbara Karant's latest book, Small Dog, Big Dog (Gallery Books, 128 pp., $25), celebrates dogs' diverse sizes, which vary more than any other domestic species'.

But before you acquire a dog from either end of the canine size spectrum, consider these issues.
Big-dog concerns
Large dogs require more of everything, including food and space.

Boarding a large dog can be more expensive than boarding a small one.

Medical expenses are higher for big dogs; they require larger doses of medication, and hospitalization is more costly.

Traveling is more difficult with a large dog; many hotels allow only small dogs, and most transit systems allow dogs only in carriers.

Some big dogs are more prone to disorders such as hip dysplasia and heart failure.

They produce more waste.

Tiny-dog worries
Small dogs are often corrected by force. Instead of relying on control through obedience training, owners find it easier to push or pull little dogs, lift them and carry them. Manhandling often makes little dogs aggressive or sensitive to touch.

Little dogs are more prone to injury from jumping off furniture, leaping out of a person's arms, playing with children or larger dogs, and getting stepped on.

Most small dogs are more sensitive to outdoor sensations than large dogs. Prickly weeds, rocks and stiff grass can be uncomfortable.

Small dogs lose body heat more quickly than large dogs, so they are more susceptible to cold and rain. They should be dressed appropriately in inclement weather.

They have small bladders. Tiny pets may need to go out more frequently than larger dogs, especially when they are puppies.

Source: www.aspca.org

Teen Rescues Pet Cat,
Firefighters Revive Two Others
By John Branton - Columbian.com

Dryer lint fire causes $350,000 damage near Hazel Dell

Two pet cats that were trapped in a burning home east of Hazel Dell on Friday afternoon were in bad shape when firefighters carried them outside — one mostly unconscious and the other listless from the smoke and heat.

But members of the Vancouver Fire Department and Fire District 6 used pet resuscitation masks, giving the felines extra oxygen and helping them breathe.

“After about 15 minutes of that, both cats sparked up and they’re doing fine,” said Jim Flaherty, firefighter-spokesman with the Vancouver Fire Department.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday, firefighters with the two departments were called to a dryer fire at 4007 N.E. 94th St., just west of St. Johns Road.

The first crew arrived in eight minutes to find the home’s interior in flames that were spreading rapidly throughout the home and producing heavy smoke. A battalion chief quickly called for crews with more engines and a ladder-truck, Flaherty said. Twenty-four firefighters worked at the scene.

A 16-year-old boy had grabbed one family cat as he exited his home but had to leave two cats behind.

And in an attempt to give the remaining two cats a way to escape, the 16-year-old opened some windows and doors as he left.

“That really allowed the fire to get a substantial head start,” Flaherty said.

But the boy and a friend who’d been there were safely outside and no humans were reported injured. Firefighters worked for 20 minutes before the flames were under control.

Firefighters then found the two cats, carried them outside and resuscitated them.

In the end, the inside of the home was extensively damaged, but the outside appeared mostly intact. Damage was estimated at $350,000.

Dryer lint
A deputy fire marshal said dryer lint buildup caused the blaze.

Firefighters say dryer lint traps should be cleaned each time the machine is used, and it’s wise to keep the area around the appliance clean and free of combustibles as well.

The home’s owners are listed in county records as Charles and Elaine Atkinson.

When someone leaves a burning home, firefighters say, the most important thing is for people to get out. Only if it can be done safely, Flaherty said, folks should close doors as they leave. That deprives flames of oxygen and slows their progress.

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.

There IS A Treatment Now For Distemper
Houston Pets

First, you MUST be very careful--EVEN if your dog is fully vaccinated. Distemper mutates AND it is very contagious. Keep your animals out of public places, don't pet other animals (at least without sterilizing your hands afterward), leave your shoes outside of the house, buy 91 percent alcohol and spray your dog's feet (and your hands) after walks or dunk them in a bucket to disinfect...

Make sure your animals are vaccinated. Get educated. Start by asking your vet if he/she will listen to a new idea--a treatment for distemper designed by Dr. Alson Sears.

Euthanasia is no longer the answer to distemper. There is HOPE--and a treatment.

Caring for Diabetic Pets Helps Humans Get Healthier
By Jenifer Goodwin - BusinessWeek.com

Owners learn more about the disease and how to prevent it, study finds

Daniela Trnka had been living with type 1 diabetes for almost 20 years when she noticed telltale signs of the disease in her Siberian Husky, Cooper. He was thirsty, urinating often and at times, lethargic.

So she took out her blood sugar test kit, opened a fresh lancet and took a drop of his blood. Cooper's blood glucose levels were too high. A veterinarian confirmed it: Cooper had diabetes.

Now, the two are coping with the condition together. Trnka monitors Cooper's blood sugar levels and gives him insulin injections. Caring for her pet, Trnka says, has helped her pay better attention to her own health.

"Every time I think to check his sugar, I'm checking mine," Trnka said. "I think I'm more on top of managing my diabetes since I started taking care of him."

Trnka recently participated in a new Canadian study focused on pets with diabetes, which found that caring for a sick pet may improve the pet owner's health as well.

Lead study author Melanie Rock, an investigator at the Population Health Intervention Research Center, and a colleague interviewed 16 pet owners as well as veterinarians, a mental health counselor and a pharmacist about what it takes to take care of dogs and cats with the disease. About 1 in 500 dogs and 1 in 250 cats in developed nations are treated for diabetes, according to background information in the study in the May 17 issue of Anthrozoos.

Some participants said they had learned so much about the condition they felt better equipped to take care of a person with diabetes should they need to. Others, like Trnka, became more diligent about exercising daily for their pets' sake. "On a cold, windy day, [my dog] gets me outside in the fresh air because I know the exercise is good for him. And that's good for me too," she told the researchers.

"What we observed was that people take the care of their pet very seriously, and in doing so, they blur the lines between their own health and their pets' health," said Rock. "Being responsible for a dog may get people up and out of the house on a rainy day."

In addition, many pet owners get a crash course in diabetes, a disease linked to obesity, heart disease, kidney problems and a host of other ills.

Those lessons may have important implications for people, Rock noted. "Taking care of a diabetic pet may mean adhering to a schedule of injections and meals, or perhaps going for more walks to keep a diabetic dog healthy. Previous research has shown those types of routines and the opportunity for physical activity can be very important for people, particularly as they age."

Studies stretching back three decades suggest that owning or interacting with companion animals can be good for health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, decreasing stress and improving cardiovascular function. Other research shows the company of pets can ease loneliness, anxiety and maybe even depression.

And the two-way health benefits of pet ownership even extend to feathered friends. One 2005 study cited by the researchers found some parrot owners giving up smoking so they didn't harm their pets with secondhand smoke, while a 2003 study found that owners began eating more fruits and vegetables , initially purchased for their parrots.

"Until now, we haven't looked at the link between veterinary care and people's own health," Rock said. "Pets are such powerful parts of people's lives. We need to find ways to leverage that as a cultural trend for the sake of public health. Vets are playing a significant role in diabetes education."

Trnka, an investor relations and corporate communications consultant, was a freshman in college when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. "At the time, I didn't even know what diabetes was," she said.

She learned to test her blood sugar, watch her food intake and give herself insulin injections. Eventually, she started using an insulin pump, which delivers insulin throughout the day through a tiny catheter.

Taking care of Cooper hasn't been easy. Even before the Husky was diagnosed with diabetes, he'd had seven knee surgeries and couldn't walk on his hind legs, so Trnka had to cart him around in a wheelchair.

"Everyone has challenges in life," Trnka said. "My friend said, 'Maybe he has diabetes to help you carry your burden.' If he's there to make me think, 'Life is not so bad, let's just get on it with it,' then it's working. He has such a good temperament. He makes people smile. I look at him and I can't complain that I have this condition."

More information:

The American Diabetes Association has more on Type 1 diabetes.

SOURCES: Melanie Rock, Ph.D., investigator, Population Health Intervention Research Center, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Daniel Trnka, pet owner; Anthrozoos

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Not Our Dog
By Robin Dearing - GJSentinel.com

This is not our dog.

It is, however, the dog that I bought over the weekend in the seedier part of town. I guess that was my first mistake.

I saw an ad for a 1/2 lab — 1/2 Warmerainer pup for sale and thought it would be a great dog for our family. A designer mix with a decent price tag. Marty wanted to teach it to hunt ducks and I wanted a dog that would just be a great pal to hike and camp with. One that wouldn't shed too much or bite my kids.

The boys wanted any dog that wasn't a sea monkey.

The dog was awesome although we decided as a family that he needed a new name. We named him Dax, after the blue Power Ranger on Operation Overdrive, of course.

We started training him to drop the stick when he fetched and forced him to lay down in a designated puppy spot in front of the fireplace.

He chose, instead, to spend the night right next to Soren, with his head snuggled into the little boy belly. Although a puppy, he was taller than Soren, kept smacking him with his tail, but regardless, Soren liked him.

Everyone had 24 hours to get their heads around having a huge rambunctios new pet.

But then, the puke that sold him to me showed up at my door wanting him back. He was nice enough not to have the conversation in front of my kids, but he said the dog was probably sick and he'd better take it back. Yeah, he got a call from the vet on a Sunday for a dog he'd just sold. Uh-huh.

So, what was I supposed to do? He wanted his dog back. Because I'm not a total puke, I gave it back to him.

Soren cried and cried. Then he got mad me, trying to hit me if I came near him because this whole situation was all my fault and in the end all it did was break his little heart.

I guess I deserve that because I never should have bought a dog off the street. But, I really never intended for it to turn out this way. It just sucks.

Is Pet Assurance Higher Than Pet Insurance Coverage?
A Way To Select The Best One For Your Pet

Even though insurance for pets has been breathing for additional than two decades, most pet owners still do not perceive the concept of pet health insurance. While it is encouraging that pet homeowners are presented with numerous coverage plans, the supply of such varied choice additionally makes the pet owners wonder whether or not these plans are capable of minimizing their pet care expenses. Recent studies on pet insurance show that the majority pet homeowners notice it terribly laborious to choose an insurance plan that is both economical and right for his or her needs. Lets take a transient take a look at pet assurance and insurance plans.

Pet Assurance

In comparison to pet insurance, assurance plans offer a number of attractive options that embrace coverage for any pet, irrespective of its age or any pre-existing medical conditions. With assurance plans there’s no necessity to fill any claim forms and the waiting amount is usually terribly minimal. The most effective half of assurance plans is that it will not have any deductibles the least bit and it does not specify any limit for getting most coverage.

Assurance plans also offer a large coverage for routine medical expenses as well as spays or neuter care. Pet assurance plans even cover specialty treatments for conditions like cancer. It additionally covers expenses for hospitalization while not any additional charges. The most important disadvantage of assurance plans is {that the} veterinarian you choose should be within the network space specified by the assurance company of your choice.

Pet Insurance

On the opposite hand, pet insurance plans are comparatively expensive with several options like advantages, deductibles and claims which will vary considerably depending on your choice of coverage plan. With most insurance plans, the waiting amount is concerning two weeks and concerning 80% of the eligible expenses need to be incurred by the pet owner solely when filing a claim form. Typically, most insurances plans have deductibles, that is regarding $50 per incident.

As far as medical expenses are involved, pet house owners can claim their expenses solely if they meet the eligibility criteria. Coverage for specialty cases like cancers is extremely restricted in most insurance plans and most often a further deposit of regarding $ninety nine has to be created annually even for routine treatments. In case of spay or neuter routine, pet owners will claim reimbursement for concerning sixty five%, depending on their coverage plan. The utmost coverage limit varies relying on whether or not it is for lifetime, annual or per incident category. With most insurance plans you can choose any registered veterinarian.

A way to Choose the Right Set up

After you compare pet health insurance plans with assurance plans, the latter can positively look additional favorable and a better choice of the two. However, if you take a nearer look you may find that generally, no explicit set up will be the proper choice for all pet owners as the wants of each pet and pet owner is unique. The simplest means to form the proper alternative is to check varied features of different coverage plans like benefits and actual cost. Comparison charts are accessible in most pet insurance websites for your convenience.

Whether or not your selection is insurance or an assurance arrange, bear in mind that the correct alternative is that the one that suits your explicit needs.

Grady the Cat's Gloomy Puss May Be from Dental Pain
By Jeff Kahler, D.V.M. • McClatchy Newspapers

Grady spends his days patrolling his two-story house.

It's a big job, and it seems to be taking a toll on him, because the 4-year-old feline is resting more than usual.

Raul and Sonya say Grady also has changed his eating habits and has begun to refuse dry food.

When he does eat, he chews very carefully. Sonya says it appears as if his mouth hurts. She has attempted to look in his mouth, but Grady won't allow it. She did, however, notice Grady's breath smells bad.

How many of you are thinking Grady might have a tooth problem?

I am raising my hand. Dental disease is a distinct possibility. A tooth abscess can be painful. If Grady is reluctant to allow his veterinarian to examine his mouth, he may need sedation or anesthesia.

Another possibility could be severe gingivitis. We call it ulcerative gingivitis.

This disease in its primary state can be painful. Primary gingivitis is primarily seen in cats. It is caused by the immune system sending inflammatory cells into the gum tissue. It is considered an autoimmune disease, meaning the cat's immune system is attacking its own body, in this case, the gums. The result is highly inflamed and painful gums. When seen, the gums appear swollen and extremely bright red. It is almost as if you can see the pain.

There has been much research into this disease, but no cure. Medications can depress the immune response, which is causing the gingivitis, but it commonly will recur after treatment.

Dental disease and ulcerative gingivitis are but two possible causes for Grady's mouth pain. There are others. Hopefully, his caretakers have already received a diagnosis from Grady's veterinarian and he is on his way to recovery.

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Dogs Might Help Protect Kids from Allergy Symptoms
By PEGGY O'FARRELL • The Cincinnati Enquirer

The family dog might fetch some youngsters protection against allergy symptoms, new research finds.

Children who tested positive for dog allergies were less likely to develop eczema by age 4 if they had lived with a dog before their first birthday, according to a study released Thursday by the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

On the other hand, kids with dog allergies who didn't have dogs while they were infants were four times more likely to develop eczema, a chronic skin condition marked by extreme dryness and irritation.

It's possible dogs might act as four-legged allergy shots to protect allergic children, said Tolly Epstein, a UC allergist and corresponding author of the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

“Dog ownership seemed to have a protective effect,” she said. “It's one hypothesis that it's a kind of natural immunotherapy for these children.”

She hopes parents can use the information to help choose a family pet.

Cat ownership didn't offer any protection against eczema, the researchers found.

In fact, children with cat allergies who lived with cats before their first birthday were 13 times more likely to develop eczema by age 4 than allergic children who didn't have cats.

Cats in general are considered to cause more allergy symptoms than dogs.

The current study only looked at eczema, she said, but previously published research has shown children who lived with dogs were less likely to develop wheezing later in life. But that research didn't distinguish between children with and without dog allergies, she said.

Epstein and her colleagues reviewed data from the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study, a long-term study looking at the effects of environmental particulates on childhood respiratory health and allergy development.

The study is following 636 children considered to be at high risk for developing allergies because their parents had allergies.

Epstein said 14 percent of the children in the study had eczema symptoms.

The results are based on skin tests, as well as questionnaires completed by parents.

Doctors are seeing an increase in the number of children with allergic eczema, but they don't know why, she said.

“It's becoming very common,” she said, adding 10 percent to 30 percent of children experience it. Estimates of adults with allergic eczema range from 2 percent to 10 percent.

For the ongoing allergy and air pollution study, children were tested annually for 17 different allergies - including foods, airborne allergens like pollen and mold and environmental exposures like diesel particulates.

What Kinds of Pet Photos Do You Carry Around?
SUE MANNING,Associated Press Writer/Citizen.com

The next time someone reaches for photos and offers: "Let me show you some pictures of my little darlings," you might be surprised who's mugging for the camera.

According to a recent Associated Press-Petside.com poll, nearly half (45 percent) of all pet owners say they carry around photos of their pets — in wallets, purses, cell phones, laptops, iPods, iPads and other mobile devices.

Dog owners (48 percent) are a bit more likely than cat owners (37 percent) to carry pet pictures with them, and women (52 percent) are more likely than men (36 percent).

Over half of those under age 50 say they carry pet pictures, but the number diminishes with age. Just under a quarter of those age 65 and up still carry such photos.

Tigger, a 6-year-old Persian cat, is such a fashion plate and so agreeable that Larry Beal of Newburyport, Mass., can't help but take photos. "Plus we love him," the 66-year-old former teacher said.

"He will do anything you ask him to. My wife dresses him in all kinds of doll clothing and stuff. He wears costumes for Easter and Thanksgiving and Halloween and Christmas and all sorts of things," Beal said.

Beal carries most of the photos in his cell phone because he doesn't use a wallet. But he does carry a portrait of Tigger in a plastic sleeve in his pocket secretary. Refrigerator magnets and framed photos of the cat are all around his house. He's only too happy to share pictures of Tigger with friends and acquaintances.

"Usually someone else starts it," he said. "Then after they tell me about theirs, I say, 'Well, look at what we have.'"

But Tigger and his four-legged friends are still on the outside looking in, according to the poll conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media.

Almost all women — 90 percent — say they carry pictures of their children, as do 80 percent of men, including David Jeter, 51, of Los Angeles.

Jeter is married with two sons, ages 9 and 13, and a 6-year-old yellow Lab named Lucky. He has uploaded lots of photos from his digital camera to his global Blackberry, but Lucky didn't make the cut.

Because he travels all over the world and sometimes doesn't see people for six or 12 months at a time, he carries the boys' pictures so he can update them.

"The only people who have ever shown me pictures of their animals were people without kids. That recently happened in a business meeting. Everyone started showing pictures of their kids and there was one guy who didn't have kids but he was talking about his dogs," Jeter said.

There are family photos on Jeter's refrigerator, on his computer screensaver and in frames around the house. His favorite is one of everyone (except Lucky) on vacation in Bhutan in the Himalayas.

Jeter said he's not likely to take out his phone and start looking at pictures when he's traveling. "It makes me homesick. I try to avoid it because then I start remembering where I am not at."

Jamie Veitch, 42, of Oklahoma City, Okla., carries a few photos of her dogs, Sister, 16, and Pappy, 9, in her cell phone. She keeps lots more in her laptop.

"It's important because I don't have children and they are my babies," she said. Her favorite photo was taken about three years ago when she had five small dogs (three have since died) and she took them to a pet store for a photo with Santa Claus. That picture still holds a special place on her refrigerator.

About a year ago, she had a double organ transplant (kidney and pancreas) and was hospitalized out of state for six weeks. She didn't look at pictures.

"I had my phone but I was mostly on drugs," Veitch said. Thinking about her pets help more than pictures, and talking to the people who were taking care of them helped even more, she said. "They didn't like it when Mama was gone."

Marie Camenzind, 45, of San Carlos, Calif., carries iPhone photos of her daughters, 8 and 10, Blackjack Meow, the family's 16-year-old cat, the kids' guinea pigs and lots of fish.

"We're a picture family. That's how we are. My husband more than me, he's always pulling out the camera. We like to share them. When the kids are young, you want to capture everything," Camenzind said.

She said her daughters are always grabbing her phone to shoot pictures of the pets, so the animals are well represented, but she worries about losing her phone and all the photos in it.

Camenzind said she uses her photos for screensavers and, "I've always been a big refrigerator person." But her wallet doesn't have a plastic photo holder, so she doesn't have a collection of paper photos.

"The plastic picture holders are things of the past. I am going to start collecting them because they'll probably be worth money someday," she joked.

She's right about the plastic sleeves being so yesterday.

"With the digital age upon us, many of our customers do carry photos and pics of their kids or loved ones on their phones, BlackBerries, iPhones, etc., so the demand for specific 'picture holders' has dropped significantly over the past few years," said Francine Della Badia, North America senior vice president of merchandising, planning and allocations for Coach.

On the other hand, a picture frame keyfob sold so well around Mother's Day, Coach had to take it off their website because inventories got too low, she said.

The AP-Petside.com Poll was conducted April 7-12, 2010, and involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,112 pet owners nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

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What Water's Best?
By PATRICIA HEALEY - Press-Republican


Since My Pet Place is just setting up shop, there hasn't been time for questions to come my way. So today, I'll address an issue of my own choice: distilled water.

Should you fill your dog's water bowl with it? Is it the right choice for an aquarium? It's a highly debatable subject.

What is distilled water? It's pure water, meaning it contains no contaminants or minerals such as calcium and iron. Aquarium enthusiasts do use it in their saltwater tanks. However, they must add supplements in order for the fish to survive. Not only does it become costly, distilled water is also highly acidic, with a pH level of between 5.5 and 5.8. It can corrode the container it is stored in, and the particles end up in the water. Be careful when using this water with copper fittings, tubing, etc. Copper is deadly to fish.

A normal pH level on a scale of 1 to 14 is 7.0. In general for mammals, it's about 6.8 to 7.8; saltwater fish, 7.9 to 8.5; freshwater fish, 6.5 to 8.0.; reptiles, 7.5 to 7.7; birds, 7.3 to 7.4.

Sudden drastic changes in pH levels will also cause illness and possible deaths. This is why a perfectly healthy fish from the pet store can be brought home and be dead by the next day. It's important to know about your pet's requirements for water, food and temperature before taking it home.

My recommendation is to stay away from distilled water.


So should you use tap water, which usually has a pH of between 7.2 and 8.0? Some tap water contains chlorine, which is lethal to fish. KH (carbonated hardness) is also important to check. But tap water also contains fluoride, which is good for teeth and bones for other pets. My advice is to check out the existing water that's available to you and your pet. Buy a water test kit from your local pet store, where staff will most likely help you with what you are trying to accomplish. If your water comes from a public system (as opposed to a private well) you can also call your local municipality to access the information.

Once you know what you are working with, select a filtration system, not a water purifier, and set it up accordingly for a healthier pet and a healthier you. Natural spring water is good for many pets and people as well. The concerns about spring water are the living organisms. An ultraviolet light can be used to kill organisms in the water.

My Pet Place is written by Patricia Healey, an Animal Behavior certified dog trainer with additional studies in psychology/sociology and animal behavior. A lifetime lover/owner of many pets, her experience comes as well from working in a pet store and as an animal-shelter volunteer. She lives in Chateaugay. E-mail questions to: features@pressrepublican.com or mail them to: My Pet Place, c/o The Press-Republican, P.O. Box 459, Plattsburgh NY 12901.

Pessimistic Dogs See the Bowl Half Empty
By Jennifer Viegas - Discovery.com

Does your dog seem anxious and misbehave when left alone? It may be due to an underlying pessimistic state of mind.

Optimists and pessimists don't only inhabit the human world, dogs may also see the glass -- or, in this case, bowl -- as half full or half empty, determined new research.

The findings suggest that dogs, and probably other animals too, have underlying states of mind, which can affect their judgments and behavior. Pessimistic dogs are more likely to engage in unwanted activities, such as barking, destruction, and toileting when and where they shouldn't.

"In humans, at least, research shows that 'optimistic' or 'pessimistic' decisions are useful indicators of an individual's emotional state," project leader Michael Mendl told Discovery News. "Happy people tend to be more optimistic. This may also be the case in animals, including dogs."

Mendl, who is head of the Animal Welfare and Behavior research group at Bristol University's School of Clinical Veterinary Science, and his team came to this conclusion after putting 24 male and female dogs, representing different ages, through a few tests.

For the first test, each dog was taken to a room where a researcher interacted with it for 20 minutes. The next day, the researcher did the same thing, but left after just five minutes of interaction. The scientists documented how the dog, when left alone, acted. Some dogs, for example, happily awaited the person's return, while others barked and became anxious.

Next, the researchers trained the dogs to understand that a bowl on one side of a room was full of yummy food, while a bowl on the other side was empty. The researchers then placed bowls at ambiguous places and observed how quickly the dogs would go to the bowls.

"Dogs that ran fast to these ambiguous locations, as if expecting the positive food reward, were classed as making relatively optimistic decisions," explained Mendl. "Interestingly, these dogs tended to be the ones who also showed least anxiety-like behavior when left alone for a short time."

The findings are published in the latest issue of Current Biology.

Prior work by this team and others suggests that sheep, monkeys, pigs and a bird (the starling) also appear to either be optimists or pessimists. Since genetics may be involved, it's possible that, for dogs, certain breeds are more prone to judging events more pessimistically than others, but more research is needed to identify those breeds.

According to Samantha Gaines, deputy head of the Companion Animals Department from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, "Many dogs are relinquished each year because they show separation-related behavior."

She added, "Some owners think that dogs showing anxious behavior in response to separation are fine, and do not seek treatment for their pets.

This research suggests that at least some of these dogs may have underlying negative emotional states.

Mendl points out that many dog owners probably don't even realize that their pet may be suffering from the blues.

This condition could be similar to human depression. Probable causes range from genetic predisposition to life experiences and other factors. Even if owners do recognize such a problem in their dogs, Mendl thinks they may be unaware that help is available.

Therapy "might involve teaching dogs to be less dependent on owner attention, and getting them progressively more relaxed about being left by their owners," he said. "Some severe cases may also need drug therapy in addition to behavior therapy."

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