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 -

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 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 -

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

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 (

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 -

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 -

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 ( 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

Disabilities No Longer a Death Sentence for Pets

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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