Bomb-Sniffing Dog Retires

Veteran Reunited with Dogs Given Up for Adoption

SPOKANE, Wash. — A man who gave up his two pet beagles six years ago when he went into Navy is pleasantly stunned to have them back.

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane reports 24-year-old Raymond Behrens didn't expect to see Bullet and Trigger again. He had them since he was 16 but gave them up for adoption in 2004.

After serving as a Navy Seabee in Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan he's back home with a wife and son and went looking for another four-legged friend.

Behrens couldn't believe it when he saw photos of Bullet and Trigger. He got the dogs back from Second Chance Pet Rescue on Thursday for a slobbery reunion.

The dogs had been with a family who decided to give them up because they are moving.

Pet Tales: Cat Finds Entertainment in Strange Places
Garrett Trotter -

This story is about my cat. Her name is Scout. She is like a bouncing puma. You better buckle up, because this story is going to get weird.

When I play with my cat, I usually get a napkin. First, I wad up the napkin. Next, I flick the napkin. Then she runs after the napkin and brings it back.

Sometimes Scout sits on her butt. Her tail is sticking up in front of her. She starts to slap it with her paws. Sometimes she and her mom, whose name is Julia, get into fights.

One time I got out of bed just to look around. I saw the strangest thing. I saw Scout’s mom in her bed. You think that’s strange, I saw Scout lying on top of her mom. That’s what I call strange.

As you can see, that cat is weird. She is the strangest pet you can get. You better get one that isn’t so silly like mine. Do you have a strange pet?

Credit Mark Buehrle for Save After Dog’s Recovery

Debbie Bray of Chesterfield, Mo., watches as her children Jordan (left) and Haley play with Shelby, a Sheltie that was found with an arrow sticking out of her abdomen. | AP

A dog found wandering in the St. Louis area with an arrow sticking from her abdomen has a new home, thanks to the generosity of star White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle, who lives in St. Charles, Mo., volunteered to pay the veterinary bills of Shelby, the stricken Sheltie, after media reports of the pooch’s plight. The bill was almost $3,000.

Shelby’s story drew nearly 80 applications from people interested in taking in the dog whose well-being now rests with the family of Jeffrey Bray, a St. Louis hospital anesthesiologist who was moved by the dog’s ordeal.

Shelby, rescued Dec. 9, managed to bounce back after emergency surgery that fixed damage to her intestines.

After getting a Google e-mail update on Shelby’s recovery, Bray forwarded the photo to his wife, Debbie, and their three children, ages 26, 18, and 16. The middle child begged her mother to apply to adopt the dog, unaware the mom already had done just that.

“We were all thinking the same thing,” Debbie Bray said, noting that the family felt the time was right to take in another pet after their 14-year-old Siberian husky, Nikki, died last Christmas.
The Brays got the nod from Hope Animal Rescues of Alton, where Jackie Spiker said those reviewing the applications felt drawn to the fact that the Brays always had adopted from shelters and “understand the importance of rescues.”

Spiker invited the Brays to visit Shelby last weekend to see how the family and dog interacted. All five family members came.

“They all got down on the floor with her, loved her and gave her kisses,” she said.

Shelby got her new digs this week.

“We feel very fortunate to have Shelby in our family,” Debbie Bray said.

Bomb-Sniffing Dog Crazy Jack
Retiring from Duty at Mineta San Jose Airport
By Lisa Fernandez -

San Jose Police Officer Randy Changco, 50, and K-9 Labrador Crazy Jack,... ( Maria J. Avila Lopez )

All in the name of keeping the skies safe from terrorists, security czars have rolled out high-tech, full-body scans and aggressive passenger pat-downs. They've forced air travelers to strip off their belts, watches, jewelry and shoes -- and are now scrutinizing those insulated coffee cups.

Then, there's Crazy Jack.

He's the aging yellow Labrador retriever who patrols Mineta San Jose International Airport, sniffing unattended bags, luggage, overhead bins and, yes, even passengers' privates.

But after eight years of patrolling Silicon Valley's airport, the 11-year-old bomb-sniffing dog and his handler are calling it quits. They are retiring in less than a month.

And if you ask most passengers, the pair -- especially the furry one -- will be missed.

"I don't like the radiation, I don't like the frisks," Scott Manley of Sunnyvale said on his way to Tampa. "But the dogs? I like the dogs."

Jack, or "Crazy Jack" as he's been nicknamed, was the San Jose airport's first bomb-sniffing dog hired after the Sept. 11 attacks, paid for by the Transportation Security Administration.

Now, Crazy Jack works with three German shepherds, also paid for with TSA money, who are handled by San Jose police officers. His replacement has yet to be found. And it's hard to know whether the new K-9 will steal the hearts at the airport like Crazy Jack has.

On a recent visit to the airport, young and old bent to pet the furry bomb expert.

Crazy Jack even gets smiles and scratches from the normally straight-faced TSA agents who cheerfully shout, "Hi, Jack!" and "Hi, Jack's Dad!" to the dog's handler, San Jose Police Explosion Detection K-9 Officer Randy Changco. Both are set to retire just after New Year's.

"I've done everything," Changco said. "SWAT. Undercover. Vice. Narcotics. This is absolutely my favorite job, though. My partner loves me. He doesn't talk back. He doesn't whine."

Then, Changco paused, and corrected himself: "Well, maybe a little to pat him."

The two work together 10 hours a day, checking to make sure the inside and the outside of the airport are safe. That means roaming the halls, the airplanes, the garbage bins, the bathrooms and the luggage areas looking for explosives. They've never found one. But Changco said they have to train all the time just in case.

He hides all types of dynamite, TNT and other bomb-making agents in warehouses, trucks, airplanes and bags, training Jack's uber-sensitive nose to these odors.

Jack gets excited, sometimes crazy excited (which is how he earned his nickname), when his nose has locked on an explosive smell. He sits when he's found the danger.

When he gets it right, Jack receives a "Good boy!" and is thrown a red, rubber chewy toy. When he's wrong, like the few times he's gone nuts over the smell of bacon or another doggy delicacy, Changco tells him "Phooey."

Changco depends on Jack's nose for guidance. The rest of the airport world depends on Changco's interpretations of his partner's behavior. Changco can usually tell when Jack has locked onto a food smell, or when it's really gunpowder.

Military planes routinely deliver mysterious, potentially explosive packages to San Jose, where Changco tries out new odors on Jack's olfactory nerves.

"No one knows what we do," Changco said. "Even my wife. She just thinks I walk around all day with the dog. But we train all the time. Just like a baseball player. Do you think they don't train on their days off?"

Changco said he feels fortunate there have been no real bombs found at the airport, even though once, several years ago, he was called to board a plane with Jack to sniff out the "weird" looking luggage of five men who checked in together but sat in different seats. Turned out the cases were holding musical instruments.

The pair are often called on outside the airport, too. There was the time in August 2009, when they raced to the San Mateo home of a former Hillsdale High School teenager who set off two explosions at the school. Later, Jack sniffed out more pipe bombs stashed in the teen's room. They were also enlisted to check out the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose to make sure it was safe for the arrivals of then Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Jack usually gets excited on these trips because there's so much gunpowder residue in the air left by the Secret Service agents.

When the Dalai Lama visited, Changco and Jack were part of a team to sweep the area to make sure it was safe. They were called out this fall to sniff out AT&T Park in San Francisco during the World Series, checking out the locker rooms, the bleachers and the media room, looking for bombs.

"I just want to be ready for that one time," Changco said.

Changco is leaving his job in January because he feels he's maxed out on the pension perks with the San Jose police after 25 years. A replacement handler already has been found, though a new dog has not yet been selected. For now, the father of four is not sure what he and Jack will do next -- at least Jack gets to spend his retirement years living at Changco's home.

All Changco knows now is that he's going to miss working at the airport, side by side with the best partner he's ever had.

"Everyone loves Jack," Changco said, as an endless stream of people stopped to pet the lab. "I'm really going to miss this."

DeGeneres 'Donates One Million Pet Meals'
By Jennifer Still,

Ellen DeGeneres has teamed up with Halo brand pet food to donate one million meals to shelter dogs.

The comedienne and talkshow host continued her efforts to raise awareness of pet adoption by working to make sure the animals have healthy food to eat while awaiting a new home.

Halo has now confirmed that it has "delivered" on the goal of one million meals, which was originally announced on Degeneres's show on March 17.

"At Halo we want to promote healthy living for pets and good food is a big part of that. So we agreed to donate one million meals of Halo to shelter pets," she said.

"I mean, imagine, an animal in a shelter, in a cage, lonely - a good meal is kinda all they have to look forward to, until you adopt them!"

Halo partnered on the campaign with non-profit organisations including Freekibble, The Humane Society of the US, ASPCA, Pets for Patriots and The National Canine Cancer Foundation.

Barking Dog Prompts Quick Response to Fire

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A neighbor's barking dog prompted a quick response by firefighters early this morning that prevented a two-alarm garage fire in San Jose from spreading to the attached home, a fire spokesman said.

San Jose fire Capt. Chuck Rangel said the fire on Purple Cliff Court was reported at 3:42 a.m. by residents who were awakened by their barking dog and saw smoke and fire coming from their neighbor's garage.

The woman who owns the house was visiting family members in Salinas, Rangel said.

He said firefighters were able to knock down the blaze by 4:17 a.m. and prevent it from spreading to the woman's house.

The woman rushed to the scene and "was very pleased that there was no damage to her home," Rangel said.

She shed tears of relief and exclaimed, "Thank God - now we'll have a merry Christmas!" he said.

The fire damaged the electrical panel for the garage and house, so the woman's gas and electricity were shut off, Rangel said.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The fire caused heavy damage to the garage and also caused some smoke damage to the first floor of the house, Rangel said.

Cat Missing for Four Years in Garstang is Found

Colin has now been reunited with his owners

A missing cat has been reunited with its owners in time for Christmas - four years after disappearing.

Colin the black cat disappeared shortly after Peter and Maria O'Neill moved from Middlesbrough to Garstang, Lancashire, in August 2006.

Despite attempts to locate the missing moggy the couple eventually gave up hope and moved back to Middlesbrough.

Colin was found in a garden in Garstang and taken to charity Cats Protection, which arranged a microchip scan.

The O'Neills, who originally found Colin as a feral kitten roaming around the Corus steelworks, had updated the charity with their new address in Ingleby Barwick, Middlesbrough.

He was found by a woman in Garstang earlier this month.

Mrs O'Neill said: "I couldn't believe it when I got a call to say Colin had been found. It was really the best Christmas present I could have hoped for.

"When I went to pick Colin up, he was quite nervous and cowering in the corner of a pen. I simply said his name and he instantly recognised me.

"He bounded up to me and stuck his head under my arm. It was just a magical moment and it left me close to tears."

'Made' Christmas

Jeanette Greaves, publicity volunteer at the charity's Preston branch, said: "Everyone at the branch is so thrilled that we were able to reunite Colin with his owners after all this time.

"It has really made our Christmas.

"This case certainly highlights the importance of microchipping and keeping details up to date, as it greatly increases the chances of a happy reunion should a cat ever go missing from his home."

Dog is Best Friend for a Cat in Trouble

Pit bull out for a walk in Troy helps find feline inside box in trash pile

TROY -- Phoebe the pit bull was just sniffing around on her regular morning walk when a meow coming from a pile of trash in an alley got her attention.

''I heard this little meow and walked over to the pile, but Phoebe got right in and then had her nose through a hole in a cardboard box,'' said the dog's caretaker, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Melissa. ''I looked through a little hole made when the kitten apparently tried to escape and saw him inside. I could not believe it.''

Melissa called police and Troy animal control took the small gray cat to the Troy Veterinary Hospital for treatment, said Capt. John Cooney, Troy police spokesman.

Cooney said the box was taped up so the cat could not escape and was put in the trash in the alley between 109th and 110th streets and Third and Fourth avenues for disposal.

''The kitten will most likely have a full recovery from exposure and related ill effects and will be held at the facility pending the results of the investigation,'' Cooney said, adding the kitten ''has been officially named Jack in the Box,'' Cooney said.

Melissa said it took awhile for her to realize someone was apparently trying to kill and dispose of the kitten.

''It was a sickening feeling,'' Melissa said. ''I was disgusted and shocked all at once. I'm glad we found him.''

Troy police detectives are conducting a criminal investigation and Cooney said they are hoping to gather information from the public.

Top 7 Tips For Having a Healthy, Happy Pet

Of course you love your pets and you want to give them the very best so that the live long and happy lives. Here are 7 good and easy tips to help you do just that:

1. Spay or neuter – These procedures will not only save you from unwanted puppies or kittens, but also help protect your beloved pet from cancers and infections.

2. Vaccinate – It’s as important to pets as it is to humans. And, yes, this means indoor dogs and cats, too.

3. Visit your Vet – Schedule regular checkups with your vet even if your pet is healthy. It never hurts to do preventive care.

4. Exercise – Keep them moving. They love it and it stimulates blood flow and keeps muscles and joints flexible and strong. So get out and walk with them. Let’s face it – Most of us can use a little more exercise, too.

5. Feed your dog dog food and your cat cat food – There is a good reason that the grocery aisle has two sections – one for dogs and one for cats – and that the bags are clearly marked. With pictures, even. Each animal has specific dietary needs and the best foods meet these needs. Add supplements to the food to promote breed specific issues such as joint and muscle pain. No candy or prohibited “people food.”

6. Beware of the elements – If it’s too cold or too hot for you to be comfortable, then it is too cold or hot for your pet. Their wild brethren may be able to stand the worst weather, but these are pets. Limit exposure to the worst conditions and watch them at home to see if they are shaking or panting.

7. Shower them with love – A happy pet is a healthy pet.

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Pets Need Special Care in Winter

MARION - Complaints and concerns about animals being outside in extreme temperatures peak during winter and summer.

Marion Area Humane Society co-manager John Severns, who also is a humane agent, said people call about dogs not being properly sheltered or being outside too long.

A second humane agent is soon to be sworn in, so Marion County will have two agents.

For now, Severns is charged with investigating alleged cases.

A dog needs at least a dog house, not a makeshift shelter like an overturned truck bed, he said.

"It has to be suitable for the animal. Not too large so it can hold in heat in the dog house. No bigger than for them to stand up, turn around, and stretch out," he said.

Further insulation such as straw or woodchip bedding is important as well.

"Never put hay down. It often has skin mites and they can be allergic," he said.

Bedding should be kept clean and dry. "If it's wet, it will suck out body heat," Severns aid.

When investigating a complaint, if the dog is a husky tied in the back yard running around, as opposed to a dog not suited for such climates, he isn't quite as concerned unless the dog has no shelter.

"A little Chihuahua or Maltese running around on a chain is a problem," he said. "But a husky still has to have access to shelter."

Dog owners should check pets' ears and feet for ice.

"Make sure they're not getting frostbite," Severns said.

Even a house dog that goes outside just to use the restroom should be have their ears and feet checked.

"If they're outside all the time or a large amount of time, make sure their house is away from the prevailing wind," he said.

In Marion County, that usually means the house should face south or east.

Plastic or wood housing is the best, and bowls should not be wood or metal, which tend to freeze a lot faster.

Large buckets of water still freeze if they're not insulated.

"Dig a hole. Put it down in the ground and insulate it a little bit especially with that ground temperature," Severns said.

"If at all possible, bring the dog inside. If you're working on crate training, keep it on a schedule for that," he said.

Grooming plays a big part in regulating a pet's body temperature, and keeping them groomed properly in the winter keeps the heat in, and in the summer lets the heat out.

Pets also burn more calories in the winter, especially if they're outside pets, he said.

"Up their food 30 percent of their calorie intake," Severns said. "Just so they're putting on enough to stay warm.

Complaints about a loose dog should be directed to the dog warden, but humane complaints such as improper shelter or not enough food or water should be directed to the humane society, at 740-389-6548. They also may directed to police or the sheriff.

25 Top iPhone Pet Apps
by Paw Nation Staff

Did Santa bring you an iPad, iPhone or iTouch for Christmas this year? You must've been a very good boy or girl! And, because just like Santa, we love to give give give, here are the pet-focused apps you just can't miss. Sure, we've mentioned some of them before, but now that you've gotten your shiny new toy, it's time to download. Though most of these apps are compatible with iPhones, iTouches and iPads, be sure to check before downloading to make sure the app is compatible with your device.

Paw Nation
Download this one first, as the truly dedicated animal lover needs up-to-date news about pets, daily doses of cute pictures, dispatches from the lives of other pet owners, roundups of pet stories from across the web and more. Our app is cute, easy to use and basically perfect. Free.

This screen cleaner is pure eye candy. It's a selection of eight animals that appear to be licking your screen clean from the inside. 99¢.

Game for Cats
If you are willing your share your iPad with your feline buds, this app lets cats chase lasers and mice by pawing at the screen. Free.

Pet Dossier
This pet lifestyle organizer not only helps you keep track of your dog or cat's key information, but also your favorite reptile or bird. You can even e-mail the info stored in it straight to your pet sitter, so that he or she stays up to date. $1.99; 25% goes to the ASPCA.

Dog Squeaky Toy
This app offers a small selection of basic squeaky toy sounds when you shake your phone. It's fun because -- trust us -- your dog is going to first look at you like you're nuts and then glance at your phone and wonder why it's not shaped like a ball. Free.

Cats HD
The enhanced version of the iKnow Cats app gives you more than 300 cat photos, a breed quiz, a breed guide and more. $2.99.

With the Petfinder app, you can search more than 290,000 pets from more than 13,000 shelters and rescue groups. Bookmark your favorites, share pet profiles on social networking sites and read adoption stories so heartwarming they might just inspire you to take the plunge with that puppy you've had your eye on. Free.

Zoo Sounds
This kid-friendly application allows you to surround yourself with the calls of the wild -- including lions, elephants, seals and more. 99¢.

Fido Factor
This app determines your location and tells you the closest restaurants, parks, pet stores, shops and even hotels that are dog friendly. The app allows you to log in via Facebook or create a Fido Factor account so you can save your favorite locations, add reviews and even post pooch pics. Free.

If you enjoyed the free squeak app mentioned above, iSqueek takes it further with 18 toys an 18 sounds -- and you see the toy being virtually squeezed. $1.99.

Rate My Puppy
This addictive, kid-friendly app lets you upload cute photos of your pet, rate other people's pets, enter contests and more. It's a "10." Just like your adorable new labradoodle. Free.

Dog Park Finder Plus
You're out somewhere with your canine companion and you see that look in his eye -- it's time to run around! But where? This app helps you find not only dog parks but also dog-friendly beaches and hiking areas. $1.99.

Pet Notebook
This app allows you to enter ID information such as birth date, microchip number, medications and rearrangable lists and photos. It even works for multiple pets. 99¢.

Talking Tom Cat
One of the iTunes app store's most popular downloads in 2010, this virtual pet repeats what you say, purrs when you pet him and shows his anger if you pull his tail. Though there is a free version, the additional features are worth the upgrade. 99¢.

All Pets Radio
So you love pets, eh? Do you really love pets? As in, you want to listen to news, tips and interesting tidbits on all types of pets at all hours of the day? Then this streaming radio station is for you. And your dog. And cat. And iguana. Free.

Shake & Bark
Pedigree's Shake & Bark is one of those apps you use to show non-iPhone users how cool your iPhone is. You upload your dog's photo and record its bark, and then when you shake your phone it barks! It's like having your pup in your pocket. Free.

Pet Acoustics
Anyone whose dog has ever raced from across the house at the slightest crinkle of a potato-chip bag knows that animals hear things differently from humans. That's why Pet Acoustics created music specifically for the hearing sensitivities of your pet, to calm and soothe your fur friend anytime, anywhere. This app includes music to relax your dog, cat or horse (yes, horse!) in the vet's office or wherever you need Snowdrop to chill out. $1.99.

Pet Playpen
In this cute Tamagotchi-like game, players adopt and care for virtual pets. You can choose a cat, dog, penguin, rabbit or rock. 99¢.

This app from the Humane Society of the United States delivers videos of pet rescues, news stories and more. Free.

Good Dog Training Clicker
Though you always forget to take your training clicker to the dog park, we bet you never forget to take your phone. That's why we love that you can put a training clicker on your iPhone. It also includes referenced information from basic training, to tricks, to reward/punishment and even harness and collar info. Free.

Show Dogs
If you loved our interview and gallery from the book "Show Dogs: a Photographic Breed Guide," by Kate Lacey, then check out this iPad app that gives you all 170 dogs from the book. $4.99.

Comic Touch
Everyone has taken a photo that warrants a silly caption. With this app, you can add thought bubbles to any pic, distort images with fun house-mirror effects and share them on various social-networking sites. It's loads of fun for dog and human photos alike. A free version allows you to try before you buy. $2.99.

DogBook is Facebook for dogs. Build your dog's profile, find its friends and post status updates like "Just dug a big hole in the backyard. Hope no one notices!" or "Itz hard 2 type wit deez big pawz." DogBook is free and links up with your Facebook profile, so you can brag about your pet on your own wall, too. Free.

Dog Translator
Have you ever wondered what your dog was trying to tell you when he barks? Dog Translator is a novelty app that attempts to do just what its name suggests: translate your dog's bark. Simply record your dog barking and the app interprets what he might be saying. Such bark translations include, "Five-second rule. If you're gone for five seconds, your food is mine" and "I may be cute, but I'm also ferocious!" Free.

Pet Puppy Lite
Pet Puppy Lite is the free version of Pet Puppy. We played this game until we were in danger of spending more time with our virtual dogs than our real ones! Pet Puppy is aimed at kids, but it's fun for adults as well. The full version has more accessories, toys and food you can obtain for your virtual pet, and you can link it to your Facebook profile to let everyone know how you and your dog are doing. With no levels to achieve or villains to face, Pet Puppy features a design that is simple, but nonetheless fun. Free.

Dog Gives Birth To 17 Puppies
by Ron Hogan -

Some dogs, like Ramona Wegemann’s Rhodesian Ridgeback Etana, are used to giving birth to large litters of puppies. Etana’s first pregnancy yielded eight puppies. However, no one was prepared for what happened with Etana’s second pregnancy. After a staggering 26 hours of labor, Etana the Rhodesian Ridgeback gave birth to a litter of 17 puppies, all of whom are healthy and happy. The dogs are currently eating their owners out of house and home in Ebereschenhof, Germany.

Such a large litter usually means that some of the puppies won’t live very long, but not Etana’s brood of eight boys and nine girls. Said the dog’s 32-year-old owner, “All of our puppies survived. This is incredible and wonderful. The birth of the puppies was very special. All puppies were born naturally, no cesarean was necessary.”

However, what has been necessary is an insane amount of work. To ease the strain on Etana, Wegemann and her husband have been assisting the dog with some bottle feeding. Wegemann has quit her job as a freelance animal psychologist, and her husband has used all of his vacation time to help care for the critters. Their hard work has paid off with a litter of healthy baby critters. Wegemann hopes to get $1300 per puppy, but on one condition: her dogs go to families, not breeders.

Tips To Buy The Right Toy For Your Pet
by seolinkvine -

If you’re a dog owner you probably want the best for your dog. To make playtime for your dog more enjoyable you might want to consider buying him/her a few toys. But what kinds of toys? Are there specific toys that you should have in mind when looking? Of course there isn’t one rule that you should be following when looking for dog toys. But there are a few considerations that you should make if you don’t want the toy that you bought to just be laying around in the corner playing with cobwebs and dust rather being played with your dog.

Here are some things to consider:

Choose the right sized toys: Choosing the size of the toy is important for your dog. Choosing a very big toy for a smaller dog can experience stress instead of fun and choosing a smaller sized toy for a bigger dog might induce throttling. Keep the size of your dog in mind when buying the toy. Many toys actually have sizes listed on the package, if you are not sure how to make sense of the specifications, just doing a visual comparison of the toy and the size of your dogs mouth will be enough.

Purpose: Most of the toys for dogs that you will be able to find have a purpose other than offering fun. Chew toys for example can be good for puppies since it will help them deal with their growing teeth, other toys like balls for example, are good for exercise. So consider the particular purpose of the toy before buying first.

Observe your dog: Dogs have various play styles. Some tend to enjoy chewing and others tend to enjoy chasing. Base the toy that you will be buying on the style of your dog. If your dog tends to enjoy chewing more pick long-lasting toys designed for chewing. On the other hand if your dog prefers to chase, choose bouncy throw toys instead.

Inspect the toy: You have to be sure that no matter how much the toy gets worn, no separate parts will come off. This is a choking risk for dogs. Also see how well the toy can be cleaned. For most part, the label will tell you all that you need to know, but if doesn’t you can ask your pet supply clerk.

Explore your options: While it is important that you get quality and safe products for your dog, it is also important that you be able to save as much as you can in return. Just because a toy is expensive it does not mean that there is no other toy like it somewhere else for a cheaper price. So shop around for a bit and you might be able to find the same brand or demand same toy, at a discount.

Ask Dog Lady:
Is it OK to Sleep with Your Dog?
By Monica Collins - GateHouse News Service

Dear Dog Lady,

I’ve heard that it’s not correct to have a dog sleep in the bed with you. But regardless of how many beds or blankets I give for my little one to sleep on while on the floor, when I wake up in the morning, she’s curled up beside me on the bed. Should I just cave in and let her sleep on the bed with me? Why aren’t dogs supposed to sleep on the bed?


A: What mutt manners guide tells you not to sleep with your dog? It’s doubtful there is such a heretical tome. Many pet keepers would be lost without darlings dozing beside them. A dog in the bed is one of the great pleasures of canine companionship – for humans and for these pack animals we bring into our homes and yearn to snuggle with and keep close.

Oh sure, some naysayers wag their fingers and tell you it’s not healthy to lie down with a dog, that you’re bringing all sorts of yucky germs into your bed. (Let’s not go there to imagine how many more germs you pick up from sleeping with stray humans). Also, canine behaviorists warn the practice can delude a dog into feeling entitled to the pillow land. The dog could become aggressive about guarding the territory. This is very true, but you can control behavior by “inviting” the dog on the bed and ordering the dog “off” if your pet shows any signs of possession. Remember, it’s your bed and you decide whether you want to let sleeping dogs lie.

Dear Dog Lady,

My boyfriend Chuck thinks it would be a neat idea to go to a trendy hotel for New Year’s with his dog Butch and me. Butch is this bullmastiff who’s the size of a farm animal. I’m wary of the dog, although I pretend to like him when Chuck’s around. Butch has never done anything except ignore me, but the beast looks very scary. I’m afraid he could turn on me in a second.

Apparently, the hotel is hosting a dog-friendly event on New Year’s Day. Chuck wants the three of us to go and celebrate. I gritted my teeth and told him it sounded like fun. I lied. I dread spending time with my boyfriend and the beast. Can you think of a good excuse to get out of it?


A: Sounds like you’re not too crazy about Chuck, either. If you were wild about the boy, no bullmastiff would ruin the party.

Dog Lady suggests a novel excuse: The truth. Tell Chuck you don’t want to put on the dog for New Year’s. See how he reacts. Your candor may open the way for the two of you to discuss the relationship because, really, at some point you’ve got to come clean about your feelings about Butch – and Chuck.

Even if you didn’t have a problem with the bullmastiff, it is probably best to avoid a trendy indoor mutt mixer because, if truth be told, dogs don’t know how to behave at these fetes. Tails and cocktails events usually disintegrate into a yippy-yappy bowser brawl. Canines are social creatures, but they’re not party animals. They become antsy when forced to engage in polite patter instead of following their instincts and roaming freely. Imagine if humans could do the same.

“And I heard her woof softly as she rode out of sight, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.” Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook.

Pets Have Immune Systems Too

BOULDER, Colo.-- When a pet gets ill, it can be a stressful, expensive ordeal for a family. What many don't know is that animals can get weakened immune systems and that many of the same approaches used by humans can be applied in order to prevent illness and quicken recovery time for their furry friends.

Animals are equipped with both innate and acquired immune systems that work to ward off both known and foreign invaders to the body. And, just like humans, stress, cold temperatures and injury can weaken animals' immune systems. This is especially important for young animals when building up immune systems, specifically those coming from shelters and puppy mills, which are known for having immune stress that can cause illnesses such as respiratory infections.

Steve Sanderlin, DVM, a Boulder, Colo. veterinarian who is trained in holistic animal practices, recommends the following to keep your companion safe and healthy this winter:

1.Avoid and identify Hypothermia: Even if your pet likes the cold and snow, Sanderlin recommends monitoring the amount of time they are outside during the winter and that pet owners should be on the watch for hypothermia in the nose and paws. Signs of hypothermia in a pet include blue extremities (if they are not covered in fur), shivering and lethargic or disoriented behavior. If you suspect hypothermia, bring your pet to a local animal clinic immediately.

2.Protect them outdoors: Protect your pet's paws in cold conditions. Snow and ice can cause cuts/lacerations, frostbite and painful accumulation on their toes. It is a good idea to either invest in booties for the pet if they are outside during the winter or check their paws for snow and ice each time they come inside. Lacerations and pain can help weaken your pet's immune system, making them more susceptible to illness during the winter.

3.Probiotic Immune Supplement: Many pets -- dogs, cats, rabbits and even horses -- respond well to taking the same probiotic immune supplements their humans take. Your veterinarian can tell you the proper dose for supplements such as Del-Immune V® that can be put into their food to support their immune system. Del-Immune V is particularly helpful when an animal has an ear infection, eye infection, respiratory infection or a skin condition and has been proven to significantly speed up recovery time.

"We have worked with several large and small pet veterinarians all over the country who have reported success in using Del-Immune to support pets' immune systems," said John Sichel, president of Pure Research Products, the makers of Del-Immune V. "From daily health maintenance to support on serious illnesses such as cancer, Del-Immune V has helped speed up recovery time and increase quality of life."

About Del-Immune

Del-Immune V®, manufactured by Lyoferm Inc (Indiana) and distributed by Boulder-based Pure Research Products LLC (PRP), is a probiotic-derived nutritional supplement that provides immediate immune system support. Del-Immune represents the culmination of 30 years of research originated by Cold War-era Soviet Bloc scientists and Russian military bio-warfare troop protection programs. PRP obtained exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute and market the unique Lactobacillus rhamnosus (DV strain) from its Russian partners in 2002. Del-Immune V is used by thousands and recommended by doctors around the world. For more information, please visit

My Pet World: You Can't Force Fido to Adore You
By Steve Dale -

Q: How can I get my puppy to be more attached to me? She's a mixed breed we adopted two months ago from a shelter. She's 9 months old. It's not like she dislikes our family but she doesn't seem madly in love with us like other dogs have been. I don't see Daisy standing in front of a train to give her life for us. — D.H., Cyberspace

A: "Give the honeymoon more time," says dog trainer Victoria Schade, author "Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer's Secrets for Building a Better Relationship." "Is the dog appreciating physical contact, or maybe you're making too much contact for this individual dog. I mean, you didn't even date first. Instead of trying too hard, let the dog come to you. And think about speaking softly and offering soft massages."

A great way to bond with a dog is an upbeat training class, adds Schade, of Bucks County, Pa.. You're having fun together and working for a common goal, even if that goal is simply walking without the pup pulling you. Speaking of fun, have a good time doing what your dog likes, be that playing fetch or pulling a wiggle toy.

"It's not likely, and unpopular to talk about, but it's possible you may not be the right family for Daisy," Schade adds. Some dogs can't tolerate young children. They may never be aggressive but they just don't like kids, no matter what you do. But, first, try to have fun, don't think too much, and give the relationship more time." My only additional advice: Be careful at train tracks.

Q: My 9-year-old Sheltie recently began to eat hymnals and novels. At first, I thought he was after the glue in the binding, but then Charley began to destroy sheet music. I took him to the vet to discuss the problem. The exam only revealed protein in Charley's urine. The vet didn't know what to do except give him steroids. Now, we've also caught our 4-year-old Sheltie in the act. Any advice? — C.W., Las Vegas

A: I doubt steroids would help much, and might not be a good idea given your dog's potential kidney problems. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, chair of the behavior clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Mass., says the protein in the urine may indicate kidney disease, which may go hand-in-glove with anemia, which may cause the dog's indiscriminate appetite. Speak to your vet about the suspected kidney issue, and see if treatment for this problem lessens Charley's appetite for paper.

It's unclear if the problem occurs both when you're home and when you're away. If it crops up solely when you're gone, it's likely due to separation anxiety. It may be your younger dog is becoming anxious because Charley is anxious, or more likely, the younger dog is simply mimicking the behavior.

If the paper chewing occurs only when you're in the room, this could be an attention-seeking behavior. Dogs can sometimes be easily "trained" to do the strangest things just because we offer attention, even if that's only reprimanding the pet.

Dodman says other possibilities to consider are physical causes, including digestion or bowel issues, and rarely, seizures. If your dogs are actually ingesting the paper, both could develop a gastrointestinal obstruction, so do your best to keep paper out of reach.

This might be a problem for a veterinary behaviorist, or member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior,

Q: I moved to Nevada from Illinois in July, bringing my 8-year-old cat with me. Rug never previously ventured outside, but he got out recently and is lost. I'm devastated. How can I best get the word out about my lost black cat? — S.S., North Las Vegas, Nev.

A: I received your e-mail about five days ago, and my hope is you've found your beloved cat. I also hope Rug is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped, which greatly enhances your chances of finding him. If Rug is chipped and also happens to be enrolled in the popular HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service (, call to report him lost and HomeAgain will issue alerts via email and the new HomeAgain iPhone app, which gets the word out to an army of volunteers nationwide.

Sadly, your situation is proof that indoor-only cats do get out. This happens more often after a move.

Don't just call all area shelters, but also visit them. Don't depend on a volunteer to identify your black cat out of many black cats in the shelter. Post lost cat notices with a recent photo of Rug and offer a reward. Put them up at local grocery stores, coffee shops, groomers, veterinary clinics and pet stores, even on no parking signs.

If you're on Twitter, send out persistent tweets. Set up a Facebook page for your lost pet. Check out HomeAgain's Guide to Find Lost Indoor Cats at

(Gary MacPhee, director of the HomeAgain Business Unit at Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, contributed to this answer.)

Q: My cat pulls out his fur in clumps and licks himself constantly. The result is a huge hairball problem. I've had him to three veterinarians, and each time prednisolone was prescribed. This helped some at first but is now totally ineffective. My cat is adorable, and I feel so bad for him. Can you help? — J.A., Clearwater, Fla.

A: If you haven't already done so, make sure that a fungal infection and parasites, especially fleas, have been ruled out as possible causes of the problem. Even indoor cats, especially where you live, can get fleas.

"Allergies could be the issue," says feline specialty veterinarian Dr. Drew Weigner, of Atlanta, GA. He suggests you see a feline veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist who might be able to pinpoint the allergy involved, or if your cat even has an allergy. An unlikely possibility is your cat is licking compulsively.

Also, ask your vet about treating the hairballs. While this won't solve your cat's underlying problem, making hairballs less frequent will help him feel more comfortable until you pinpoint the problem.

Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Steve at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.

The Day the White Wagtail Came to Florida
By RONNIE BLAIR | The Tampa Tribune

This white wagtail spotted at Moon Lake Park in Pasco County in 2007 was the 500th bird species recorded in Florida.Photo by David Faintich.

MOON LAKE - Really, they never should have stopped in Moon Lake Park.

The 7-acre park in west Pasco County didn't make the list of Florida birding sites that David Pierce, David Faintich and Dency Kahn of St. Louis used as their guide as they motored through the state on March 18, 2007, spotting snail kites, Bachman's sparrows and other birds along the way.

The trio decided to swing into the park anyway. Before the day ended, their decision would cause a stir in the Tampa Bay area birding community and make Florida birding history.

Almost at the moment they drove into the park, a bird flew onto the beach, its back to them.

While Pierce parked the car, Faintich and Kahn watched a minute or two before the bird turned to reveal a black bib.

It was a jaw-dropping moment.

"Wagtail," Faintich shouted.

The bird was a white wagtail, a species more at home in Europe and Asia than North America. Faintich knew the bird because he once saw one in Spain. Kahn saw one in Japan years ago. Pierce had never witnessed a white wagtail until that day.

Nearly four years later, Pierce is still mystified by its appearance.

"Somehow that bird made it across the Atlantic," he said last week from his home in Missouri.

Faintich, now deceased, took photographs and shot video. The birders knew instantly their sighting was significant.

They didn't know just how significant.

Until that day in Moon Lake Park, no one had ever seen a white wagtail in Florida.

Up to that point, 499 species of birds had been recorded in the Sunshine State. The white wagtail preening itself by the shores of Moon Lake was species No. 500.

"It was certainly a bird that was lost in its migration," said Ken Tracey, a former president of the West Pasco Audubon Society. "It was only off by a continent or two."

* * * * *
At this time of year, Tracey and other birders throughout the Tampa Bay area participate in the Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count. Different chapters hold the count on different days, but the count must fall between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

Audubon members record how many eagles, sparrows, egrets and other species they spot. They feed that information into an Audubon Society database.

Always there is hope to stumble across something rare.

Bill Pranty, a Bayonet Point resident who authored "A Birder's Guide to Florida," said eight Christmas Bird Counts happen in the Tampa Bay area. Some already took place. The West Pasco Audubon Society's count is scheduled Tuesday. One is planned Jan. 2 in Tampa.

While anything is possible, Pranty is doubtful anyone will spot anything to match the find Pierce, Faintich and Kahn made on a routine day in March nearly four years ago.

It was almost inevitable that, if any knowledgeable birders were going to stumble across that wagtail, they would be out-of-towners, he said.

"Local birders don't go to Moon Lake Park because there's nothing there," Pranty said.

The three Missourians knew they couldn't keep their find to themselves. They tracked down a birder named Murray Gardler, who agreed to meet them and review their photographs.

Gardler confirmed the identification and spread the word. Soon, about 15 to 20 birders headed to Moon Lake Park in hopes of viewing the bird.

The white wagtail was gone.

"Some of the folks, I think, thought we were nuts," Pierce said.

* * * * *
Still, there was the photographic and video evidence. Luckily for birders, and for the reputations of the three visitors from St. Louis, the wagtail showed up again the next day and again on March 22.

Pranty videotaped the wagtail and jotted down his observations. His video can be seen on YouTube. He wrote an article that appeared in the Florida Field Naturalist, detailing the bird's behavior as it foraged for food on the beach and plucked dragonflies from the air.

"It often uttered a two-note call, accented on the second syllable, that was reminiscent of an American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)," Pranty wrote. "Other behaviors observed included preening, scratching its head, resting, defecating and frequently scanning the sky, presumably for aerial predators."

It was happenstance that the white wagtail became Florida bird species No. 500. Earlier that month, species No. 499, a loggerhead kingbird, was seen at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West.

Today the number of verified species in Florida has inched up to 508.

The white wagtail didn't hang around long. Like a phantom, the bird put on its brief show and then disappeared.

Pierce suspects he knows what happened. Based on the advice of Tracey, the Missourians originally had gone to west Pasco in search of a short-tailed hawk. Other types of hawks also soar over the area.

"I think that bird got taken and killed by a predator," Pierce said.

The white wagtail spotting remains the highlight of Pierce's life as a birder. The Missouri birding group he hangs out with now calls itself the Wagtail Senior Birding Club.

Several Tampa Bay area birders who visited Moon Lake Park in the days following the initial sighting also caught glimpses and could add the bird to their life lists.

All because three Missourians happened to stop by the day the white wagtail came to Florida.

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