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.

Save 5% On 1st Order at Only Natural Pet Store

Click on banner to visit the Only Natural Pet Store

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

FREE Shipping On Orders Over $35 At PetCareRx

Click on banner to visit PetCareRX

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.

Shop www.Pet-Source.com
Click on banner to visit Pet-Source.com

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

Click here for "Dating Tips, Relationship Advice and Intimacy"

Click here to visit The EZ Online
Shopping Network of Stores

No comments: