Pet Safety in Winter

The Thrill of a Lifetime

This is the Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria , Australia and only the hood of the car is inside the glass cage with lions.

The rest of the car is on the outside. Very interesting way of interacting with the lions.

A Thanksgiving Miracle:
New Book Highlights Inspiring Disabled Pet Stories

When author Mary Shafer adopted a rescued kitten, she had no idea it would change her career…and her whole life. But that’s just what happened, and she writes about the experience in “A Thanksgiving Miracle,” her essay in “Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them.”

The book is newly released from Enspirio House, an imprint of Bucks County, Pa., publisher Word Forge Books. The softcover book, an anthology of thought-provoking and inspirational stories by eleven writers from three countries, retails for .95. Contributors hail from American hometowns such as San Francisco, the Boston area, metro Baltimore and suburban Denver, as well as two Canadian provinces and a Greek island. Shafer also edited the collection, which she calls a pioneering title. “As far as I know,” she says, “it’s the only book on the market that’s solely devoted to stories of disabled pets.”

Shafer’s contribution is about Idgie, a tiny kitten born without eyes and left to die on a city sidewalk. Its title derives from the story’s improbable ending. “It’s a true story, as are all the pieces in this anthology,” Shafer says. “And it really did happen just days before Thanksgiving.”

“It” is the process by which Idgie beat the mean streets of Philadelphia to become the author’s constant companion and official mascot of Word Forge Books. “It’s the kind of story you almost can’t believe, yet you’re so very glad it’s true,” admits Shafer. It was the hope and inspiration embodied by Idgie’s story that led the author to invite other writers to submit their own stories to join hers in an anthology.

“As the owner of several disabled pets, I realized the innate courage these creatures display in simply living their everyday lives. I find it tremendously inspiring and wanted to share that with our readers. Having searched unsuccessfully for a book like this myself, I thought it was time we created one. We’re pleased to offer such a well-written and heartwarming collection in a time when hopeful messages are so needed.”

Readers of “Almost Perfect” will follow the lives of nearly a dozen amazing animals who–through birth or injury–have been rendered “less than perfect,” and of the humans who love and welcome them into their hearts and homes. These engaging stories pull readers in, allowing them to share the immeasurable rewards their subjects have found.

The book shares the courage of Colbi, a blind Alaskan Husky mix, who trades a hellish life in a puppy mill for the challenges of life on a wide-open farm. Inspiration comes from Ruby, the irrepressible Labrador-Doberman mix who adapts to a devastating muscle-eating disease by learning to literally roll with the punches. Cagney, a paraplegic rat, provides companionship and plays the muse to his human “mom” while she struggles through her Master’s thesis. Joyous and graceful Tux, a handsome black-and-white cat, navigates a life of almost complete paralysis, while showing his human friend what it means to be truly alive.

“‘Almost Perfect’ is the ideal book to remind us of the meaning of Thanksgiving,” Shafer says. “Readers can’t help but look at their own lives in contrast to those of the animals in these stories, and see how very much they have to be thankful for.” The book offers a hopeful look at relations between the species through true, uplifting stories of animals who have overcome physical handicaps to inspire their human companions.

Interested readers can learn more about the book at its website, Shafer blogs on the subject at The book is available from booksellers and through the publisher’s website at www,

High-resolution, print-ready photos of the book’s cover, the editor and other contributors are downloadable at

Dog Training Advice:
Here’s Some Holiday Advice

The site recently carried an item on holiday safety tips for pets, given the upcoming Thanksgiving and Hannukkah and Christmas seasons and all the ‘to-do’ that goes on with looking after your pets. The item raised issues raised by the American Kennel Club about keeping your dogs safe. For instance, don’t feed your dog turkey bones, and remember that poulty bones are hazardous to your pets’ health. Ensure your uneaten food is removed from the table and placed somewhere safely away from them.
As the article said: “Be sure pets have no access to kitchen garbage. — Resist the temptation to share holiday foods with your pets. Pies, stuffing, turkey, pastry or fancy hors d’oeuvres are not meant for pets, and eating them can lead to illness or to gastrointestinal upsets — having your pet vomit on your guest’s best shoes is not considered good hospitality. — If you like to eat by candlelight, be sure candles are located so that they cannot be knocked over by a jumping cat or a dog’s wagging tail. — Alcohol is toxic for dogs and cats, even in very small amounts. — If your are host or hostess this year, you might want to keep your pets out from underfoot, for their safety and the enjoyment of your guests. Even the best trained and socialized dog or cat may be overwhelmed by lots of guests, especially if children are present.”

Remember that even a dog that is well trained and highly socialized will often find it difficult to be around a great number of guests who may upset him or her. Keep them safely looked after during the party time.

Making Antifreeze Unpalatable  to Cats
by Michael -

Making antifreeze unpalatable to cats would save many thousands of cat's lives and prevent hundreds of crimes. News on the subject of cats contain on at least a weekly basis one incident of antifreeze poisoning.

These poisoning are either accidental or deliberate and they most often kill the cat, period. It is the most common cause of poisoning of cats and dogs in the USA (source).

It is the major component of car antifreeze, ethylene glycol, that kills cats. A small sip is enough. The chemical is used in engine coolant and other products such as brake fluids and hydraulic fluids.

The problem is simple. Cats like the taste of antifreeze. And it is being left lying around or it leaks out of cars. Or as mentioned, it is put down deliberately judging by the comments on my blogger site (see Cat Poison).

Ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed by the cat and within 30 minutes the cat shows signs of poisoning (as if drunk). There is a period of what seems like remission but it is not. The cat converts the ethylene glycol into other chemicals that damage its body (kidneys and central nervous system) permanently.

Other symptoms are:

--Drinking excessively
--Urinate excessively

Symptoms are similar to a cat with kidney disease a not uncommon disease in modern cats (due to dry cat food it is claimed).

Treatment should be rapid and includes:

--Making the cat drunk (alcohol apparently reduces the effects)
--Flushing the chemical from the stomach
--Flushing the chemical from the cat's body by inducing increased urination

OK enough....The point I want to make is that all this would be unnecessary if the manufacturers of antifreeze and other car products made it unpalatable by adding a small amount of another chemical that made the taste bitter. The chemical that has been used successfully is Denatonium Benzoate (DB). Sounds simple to me. But is it simple to get the manufacturers to do it? No - afraid not.

I have just learned that Humane Society of the United States is working with an organization called CSPA (Consumer Specialty Products Association) to develop legislation for adoption by state legislators. Why can't the car part manufacturers just do it rather than be forced to do it?

At Feb 2010, as far as I know the following states have enacted such laws: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State (source).

I wonder if we can some how push this along a bit? A petition? Some angry voices! It is time that making antifreeze unpalatable to cats was made obligatory. The trouble is the cat is well down the list of priorities in a stretched government agenda.

Cat Owners Follow Similar Careers

Survey reveals what pet choice says about career selection.

We’ve all heard people claim to be either a dog person or a cat person, and this pet preference is supposed to provide insight into their personality. But does the type of animal you own say anything about your career path? According to nationwide survey released last week by, it does.

The online survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, looked at dog, cat and other pet ownership in relation to a person’s chosen profession, compensation and job satisfaction. More than 2,300 U.S. workers with cats, dogs and other pets were polled for the survey.

It found that workers with dogs were more likely to hold senior management positions, such as a CEO or senior vice president. Workers with snakes or other reptiles were more likely to earn six figures, and bird owners were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, according to the survey.

In terms of career paths, the survey found that owners of certain pets were more likely to report being drawn to certain professions. Specifically:

• Dog owners were more likely to be professors, nurses, information technology professionals, military professionals and entertainers;

• Cat owners were more likely to be physicians, real estate agents, lab technicians, machine operators and personal caretakers;

• Fish owners were more likely to be human resources professionals, financial professionals, hotel and leisure professionals, farming/fishing/forestry professionals and transportation professionals;

• Bird owners were more likely to be advertising professionals, sales reps, construction workers and administrative professionals; and

• Reptile owners were more likely to be engineers, social workers, marketing and public relations professionals, editors or writers and police officers.

Pet Photography:
Q &A with Izumi Tanaka

Izumi Tanaka worked in documentary television and film for years. During that time, she was always photographing various subjects, but when she realized her passion for photographing animals, she started to focus on what she enjoys most. Here are her thoughts on pet photography.

How long have you been photographing pets and how did you get started?
I’ve been shooting for 30 years and have always been shooting my own cats. Since I began to shoot professionally in the last few years, my focus was commercial but it was taking a long time for me to establish myself. Meanwhile, I was posting photos of my cats on my blog and Facebook often, and some my friends overwhelmingly supported me to do pet photography as well. First, I went to a couple of friends to see if I can photograph their cats and dogs as well as I can with my own cats. This was earlier this year (2010), and I’ve been having a blast! I am based in Santa Monica, California.

What kind of pet photography do you do? Do you have a specialty?
I do cats and dogs, but by far, I have a very special connection with cats! And my specialty is that I shoot them in their own natural environment where they’re in their element. I don’t create the scenes, and I just let them show me how they want me to capture them by allowing them to just be who they are.

Do you do anything special to prepare for a photo shoot with a cat?
Usually, I take a few minutes to get to know the cats or hang out in their environment without pointing the camera so they get used to my presence in their space. Once they trust me, there is a synergy between the cat and myself.

What was the most challenging cat photo shoot you have done? Any funny stories?
The only one that I was challenged was with a kitty who kept going behind a chair where I couldn’t shoot, not because he was shy but because that’s where he loved to hang out. Also, when the rooms are dark, it can be challenging because I only use natural and available light.

Do you have any tips for readers about how to take great photos of their cats?
Cats are definitely harder to shoot than dogs because they are more independent. I would never try to make them pose for you or do something they’re not in the mood for. If you can connect with them at the soul level, they tend to show off their essence to you.

For the more technically inclined readers, can you please tell us what equipment you use? (camera, lens, lighting, filters, etc.)
I don’t use any fancy equipment. I have my Canon (I use the Rebel for pet shoot as it’s small and light) with 17~40 mm Zoom. The simpler the better for me to give me the mobility and flexibility.

Do's and Don'ts for Keeping
 Your Dog Safe This Winter

Responsible dog owners need to take special precautions to keep their dogs safe and warm as the temperatures drop. The American Kennel Club offers the following tips to have a safe winter season with your pup.

-Don't let your pup outside by herself during the winter. Always accompany her to warm her ear flaps between your hands and check her paws to make sure snow and ice do not collect between her toes. Snow and ice can cause cuts and cracked pads. A small amount of petroleum jelly may help soften and soothe paw pads. You can even use booties to help keep your dog's paws warm and dry.

-Do limit time outside during the cold weather. Dogs can get frostbite or hypothermia when the temperatures drop.

-Don't leave your pup alone in the car on cold days. Just as the car gets extremely hot in the summer, it gets extremely cold in the winter.

-Do rinse and dry your dog's paws after a walk. Rock salt that is used to melt ice on sidewalks can irritate paw pads.

-Do watch out for spilled antifreeze on driveways. While it smells and tastes good to dogs, it is actually lethal to them.

For more tips on responsible dog ownership, visit

The Frugal Traveler: Extreme Pet Travel

Hammock in Paradise blogger Lisa Overman made a cross-country drive with a 120-pound dog and two elderly cats. Challenges included feline medication, a vehicle breakdown and mid-summer heat. As the only human in the car, her solo strategy included the creative use of drive-up windows. When her carsick cat blew through used the remaining paper towels and baby wipes, Overman pulled up to the prescription drive-through of a national pharmacy chain. Supplies were purchased through the window to avoid leaving three animals in a heated car.

Here are other creative solutions for handling or avoiding challenging situations when you are traveling with pets:

Research: Not every border is pet-friendly. Track down the rules before you hit the road. England, for example, immediately welcomes properly documented dogs, cats or ferrets from a list of approved countries. Otherwise, there's a six-month quarantine. has additional information about international pet travel, including documentation and detailed questions to ask your airline.

Turnkey: will move any pet to and from any location in the world. The service coordinates pet hotels and potty breaks for long flight layovers and handles paperwork. Additionally, Pet Relocation will serve as your liaison with customs officials in your destination country, and arrange shuttle pickup for your animal's departure flight. You want to move a poisonous dart frog from Zurich to Houston? No problem. Pet Relocation even managed a move from Seattle to Amsterdam for Francesco, a Siamese fighting fish with adoring owners.

Resources: Pawsengers on Pet Airways enjoy air-conditioned flights for as low as $99, with comfort checks every 15 minutes by cabin staff. has listings of pet-friendly parks in all 50 states and abroad, including Australia, Israel and England. lists pet-friendly hotels in cities around the world, including Amman, Jordan and Bolzano, Italy.

Gear: The term "creature comforts" takes on new meaning when you're traveling with pets. Toys, portable treats, lightweight blankets and extra leashes are vital for long-distance trips. Familiar equipment provides layers of comfort and avoids unnecessary replacement costs. And don't forget your pet's medical records. Depending on the destination, you may need proof that your pet is current on vaccinations. One affordable pet daycare center in Miami, for instance, requires medical records before accepting new customers. Clearly labeling Max's crate with his name will enable flight crew to call him by name during the journey, reducing the stress of being among strangers.

Rosenberg and Theriault are co-authors of the best-selling book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founders of Theriault is founder of, a travel website, and, a website for teachers. Rosenberg is the author of "The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money."

'Music My Pet' Soothes Stressed Cats and Dogs

"If you're listening to something and it's calming you, it'll probably be calming to your pet," says Tom Nazziola. "Pets respond similarly to humans in terms of music." That thinking is the basis for Music My Pet, a series of two CDs curated by Nazziola that take the most soothing parts of classical songs and spin them into easy listening for cats and dogs.

"Being a composer, I know what music to look for," Nazziola tells "I chose pieces that would achieve the [calming] effect, then edited them. There's some classical music out there that can be agitating. So it's not just a matter of throwing some classical music on for your pet, but [choosing] something relaxing."

Nazziola, a pet lover who performed on Disney's Baby Einstein series, tested his first CD, Classic Cuts ($13.99), on some furry listeners. "We gave copies out to people, and our engineer had his dog by his side the whole time he was mixing, so he could gage his reaction," Nazziola says. "We tried to keep pets involved the whole way through."

So far, the composer has received positive feedback from many pet owners, who've noticed the calming effects of Classic Cuts when taking their anxious animals for rides in the car, or before leaving them for work in the morning. He has distributed several to New York City shelters, too, to help soothe animals waiting for adoption.

The latest CD in the series, Holiday Treats ($11.99, visit to order both titles), was just released, and features quiet arrangements of favorites like We Wish You a Merry Christmas and O Holy Night. "It was a long process," Nazziola says. "But it's a nice departure from the classical thing. And something different for the owner to listen to, too."

Peach the Chihuahua, Japan’s Newest Police Dog Meet Japan’s newest police dog - all 3 kg (6.6 lb) of her.

In what is a first for Japan and perhaps the world, a long-haired Chihuahua named Momo - Peach - passed exams to become a police dog in the western Japanese prefecture of Nara.

Momo was one of 32 successful candidates out of 70 dogs

The brown-and-white, perky Momo was one of 32 successful candidates out of 70 dogs, passing a search and rescue test by finding a person in five minutes after merely sniffing their cap.

“Any breed of dog can be entered to become a police dog in the search and rescue division,” said a Nara police spokesman.

But he admitted that news a Chihuahua had been entered may still come as a surprise to many.

“It’s quite unusual,” he said. Television footage showed the seven-year-old Momo bounding across grass or sitting proudly, long hair blowing in the breeze.

Momo will be used for rescue operations in case of disasters, in the hope that she may be able to squeeze her tiny frame into places too narrow for more usual rescue dogs, which tend to be German Shepherds.

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