World's Tallest Cat

Blind Dog, Lost Last Month
and Thought Dead, Makes It Back
to San Antonio Family for Christmas

(San Antonio Express-News, Helen L. Montoya/Associated Press) - In this Dec. 23, 2011 photo, Belinda Gutierrez sits with her blind dog, Stevie Oedipus Wonder, in San Antonio, after the two were reunited after a volunteer at the city’s animal shelter found a Craigslist ad from Gutierrez’s daughter looking for the dog. The cairn terrier mix pup disappeared from his home nearly a month ago, was reported dead and had almost overstayed his welcome at the shelter this week when his owner found him.

SAN ANTONIO — A blind dog that was lost and believed to be dead is reunited with his San Antonio family for Christmas, thanks to Craigslist, a school teacher and an animal care agency.

Nearly a month after Stevie Oedipus Wonder disappeared — and was reported dead — the cairn terrier mix puppy is home for the holiday, the San Antonio Express-News reported Saturday ( .)

“This is my Christmas miracle,” Stevie’s owner Belinda Gutierrez said. “I actually thought I was going to have a sad end of the year and a sad Christmas.”

Stevie, a dog born without eyes and apparently abused by a previous owner, was found early in 2011 by Gutierrez’s daughter as he wandered near a city duck pond. Instantly, the dog became a part of the family, responding to their voices and dragging Gutierrez out for exercise.

Days after Thanksgiving, though, Stevie escaped — disappearing from the family’s home. Days later, Gutierrez’s landlord told her the dog was dead.

On Dec. 11, Stevie showed up at Animal Care Services. A collar and tag kept him alive for five days, Jeanne Saadi, the agency’s live release coordinator, said. But with outdated information, the agency failed to find his owners and prepared to euthanize him.

That’s when Brooke Orr, a high school teacher, saw the agency’s ad seeking a home for the blind dog. She agreed to care for Stevie over the holidays, buying him a few more days.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez’s distraught daughter posted a lost dog notice on Craigslist, hoping someone would see it and return Stevie.

Orr noticed the tag dangling on the dog’s neck.

“I thought that he must belong to someone. So I went to Craigslist and went to lost and found and I put in ‘blind dog,’ and there he was,” she said.

She contacted Gutierrez, who arrived at the Animal Care Services on Thursday uncertain the dog would be able to recognize her.

“All he had to do was hear my voice,” she said. “I stood at the entrance of the kennel building and called out ‘Stevie, Stevie.’ And he started barking all over the place.”

Now back at home, Stevie will awake Christmas morning to a stocking stuffed with doggy treats, rawhide chew toys and carrots, one of his favorites.

Cat Stuck in Engine, Survives 200-Mile Trip

The cat, Eclipse, survived a 200 mile road trip, while riding under the hood of a car. (Source: WJW/CNN)

MEDINA, OH - A cat may have used several of his nine lives during a recent road trip after being found stuck inside of a car engine.

Last Sunday, Wayne Polk left Xenia, OH for Cleveland for business. Driving nearly 200 miles for several hours, he stopped at a rest area on Interstate 71 in Medina and noticed a smell coming from under his hood.

"I was patrolling the northbound rest area on Interstate 71, I approached a parking area and there was a gentleman with his car and his hood was open and he had a cat stuck in it," said Trooper Aleksander Tot. "The cat was pretty calm, seemed really scared and he had burns on his right side."

Once the cat was removed, Tot called the Medina SPCA, and someone arrived in minutes to rescue the cat.

"When I got there, the cat was a large cat and I'm looking at this little small Eclipse that he was in and I said, 'how did he get in there?'" asked Mike Bombaris.

"He's a good cat and as you can see, he's feeling pretty good," said veterinarian Linda Randall. "He has some major singeing of his coat and he also has some burns."

The cat will undergo surgery to remove any dead tissue from its body and is expected to recover completely.

"He loves to play and I think he's going to be fine," Randall said.

Walnut Grove Cat Certified as World's Tallest
By Carlos Alcalá The Sacramento Bee

Debby Maraspini of Walnut Grove shows off Trouble, her 3-year-old hybrid certified by Guinness World Records as the planet's tallest cat. Marasapini bred the Savannah cat, which is part African serval, accounting for the exotic appearance. "I was lucky to get a big guy," she said. Guinness in November certified Trouble as being about an inch taller than the previous record holder.

Trouble looks like trouble.

Trouble is the Guinness-certified world's tallest cat, and he looks like something you wouldn't want to come across on the Serengeti.

In fact, the Walnut Grove feline is part African but acts much like your basic domestic house kitty – although he looks about twice as big.

"He's just a relaxed, indoor animal," said John Maraspina, whose wife, Debby, bred the Savannah cat, a recognized hybrid of house cats and African serval cats.

Maraspina bred Trouble three years ago. That he wound up so big was a bit of a surprise.

"I was lucky to get a big guy," she said.

She enjoyed the size but wasn't focused on it until a friend – who runs a Reno cat show and owns the world's longest cat, Stewie, a Maine coon – suggested they have Trouble measured at the show.

After mailing videos and affidavits, Debby Maraspina got a 4 a.m. call from London in November, confirming that Trouble – 19 inches, paw to shoulder – officially beat out the previous tallest by about an inch.

He's only 20 pounds, so he's not likely to do real damage to a human, and he rarely goes outside, so the wildlife on Ryer Island where he lives is pretty safe.

Trouble may not stalk prey, but he doesn't subsist on 9 Lives, either. He's pickier than Morris.

According to Maraspina, Trouble goes for rabbit meat and beef.

"He expects me to get his food out, warm it up and cut it into chunks – off the bone," she sad.

When not eating or dozing, he'll play normal cat games with a feather dangled on a line at the end of a stick or go watch the fish in the aquarium.

"He has a spot on the end of the big tank where he sits and watches them," she said. "That's Trouble's Christmas present."

Savannahs like Trouble can vary greatly in the percentage of wild cat in the hybrid.

The hybrid breed was created only 25 years ago and recognized about 10 years ago.

Debby Maraspina wanted something exotic, but she couldn't get an African serval, because they're illegal in California.

She started breeding the hybrids, who have the exotic appearance.

The cats are tricky to breed because the males are sterile if they're more than 5 to 6 percent wild and the females can be picky about which males they'll accept.

Trouble, at 25 percent serval, will not be able to breed, but he's still a good show cat.

He'll be at the Jazzy Cats show at Sacramento's Doubletree Hotel in January, and he's going to travel to shows as far away as Portland and San Diego.

He's in more demand now that he's achieved the Guinness certification.

"Setting a record, it's a draw for us," said Robin Hendrickson, who runs the Reno show.

Cat shows are "a huge fundraiser," she said. "The money goes to feline welfare organizations."

She will travel to the Portland show with Maraspina, where Stewie and Trouble will share a room, even though the world's longest and world's tallest don't always get along.

Pet Tortoise, Nearly a Century Old,
Survives Massive Livermore Garage Fire
By Paul Thissen - Contra Costa Times

A Mojave Desert tortoise, Pokey, in Livermore, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. Pokey survived.

The fire in Livermore destroyed the garage, collapsing its roof and reducing large garbage bins to plastic pancakes. Combing through the wreckage, firefighters came across the shell of a tortoise and were sure it was dead.

Then Pokey stuck his leg out.

"We were starting to look for the source of how the fire started," said Battalion Chief Jeff Peters. "We really didn't expect to find a live tortoise."

Pokey, a Mojave Desert tortoise, is probably about 90 years old, but no one really knows his age, said Fred Frink, who owns the tortoise and the burned home on Aberdeen Avenue.

"I've owned him since 1962, and he wasn't young then," Frink said.

Frink lived in Hayward when Pokey came into his life. One day a group of neighborhood children showed up at his door with the tortoise, saying they could not find who owned it. Frink took him in and has had him since.

Normally, Pokey hibernates from the first week of November through the last week of March. The rest of the year, he roams part of Frink's backyard, eating clover, and occasionally rosebuds, grape leaves and grapes.

After firefighters pulled Pokey from the rubble, he was taken to an emergency veterinarian in Dublin, where a tiny oxygen mask was placed over his face, Frink said.

The Dec. 3 fire started in the garage, where Pokey was in a box hibernating, Peters said.

"It was a very hot garage fire," Peters said. A few firefighters went to a hospital after a bleach bottle in the garage exploded. Others suffered minor burns.

When the fire broke out, Frink rushed back into the house to get his dog and a large cat. Neighbors saw two other cats escape out a door, though one, a 6-month-old kitten with gray and white stripes, has not reappeared.

But Frink did not hold out hope for Pokey, who was in the middle of the fire. When firefighters approached holding the shell, Frink thought for sure Pokey was dead. But aside from a few singes on his shell and legs, the old reptile escaped unscathed.

Tortoises can survive all sorts of harsh conditions, especially when they are hibernating, said Ginger Wilfong of Castro Valley-based Bay Area Turtle and Tortoise Rescue. One tortoise in her care survived the Oakland hills fire of 1991.

Mojave Desert tortoises are listed as a threatened species. It is illegal to take one from the wild, but it is legal to have them, Wilfong said. And they were easy to come by in the early 1960s, when Frink got his, she said.

"Woolworth's (drugstore) was selling them for $1.98 a piece," Wilfong said.

Pokey is awake now, and it's the first time he has been awake in December, Frink said.

"He's just very happy to be here," he said.

Contact Paul Thissen at 925-847-2122. Follow him at

Tips for Training the Christmas Puppy
Dr. Dara Johns -

And what did you find under your Christmas tree? Was it a new puppy? The Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp” forever characterized the new puppy in the home at Christmas time. If you are one of the very fortunate ones who have decided to start the New Year with a dog, today we will go over some housebreaking tips to hopefully ease the training process.

First of all, remember to be consistent. Just when you think the dog is trained, it will have an accident. Correct him and keep going with the positive reinforcement. With time he will figure this out.

A puppy has a small bladder. Ideally he should be taken out every two to four hours. If you are not giving him one on one attention, he should be sitting in a kennel. If you are on the computer or washing dishes and he has the opportunity to wander away from you then he can have an accident. He should only have free roaming privileges when you are there to watch for signs of needing to go out.

Keeping him in a kennel or pet carrier when you cannot be one-on-one with him is known as crate training. The carrier should be just a little larger than he is so that he can comfortably stand and turn around and lay down. Put newspaper in the bottom so that if he has an accident it does not get too messy. If he has an accident in the crate, this is punishment enough, so you do not have to discipline him. Just take him out and clean it up.

Bedtime is a good time to put him in the carrier. If you use the crate consistently, your dog will come to love it as a safe place. When you are at work, the carrier is also helpful, but you must come home and let him out at lunch time. He should not spend more than four hours in the carrier at a stretch unless it is bedtime.

While training, it helps to feed him on a schedule. Then you can take him out right after he eats and walk him for at least 15 to 30 minutes. This is the optimum length of time for the ingested food to stimulate a bowel movement. When he has a BM in the grass, leave it there and praise him so that he knows this is where he is supposed to go. If he has an accident inside, scold him and pick up the stool and carry it outside. Place it in the grass and show him so he will know this is where he is supposed to be going.

Always verbally praise him when you see him go outside in the grass. Often, pet owners supplement this with a small treat. This is very helpful, but keep in mind that treats tend to get out of hand and before we know it our pets are overweight. Once they get the housebreaking down, you can back off on treats. Being properly housebroken is a reward in itself for the pet. The pet will be happier and experience much less conflict if properly trained as a puppy.

Got a question for Dr. Johns? E-mail her at Write to Pet Peeves, P.O. Box 224, Valparaiso,, FL 32580. Johns is a Niceville veterinarian.

Don't Feed Him Holiday Leftovers:
Diets For Dogs, Tips For Softhearted Owners
By Maria Huber - DIE WELT/Worldcrunch

Do you give Fido a treat every time he's been a good boy? Watch out: canines put on weight fast. But rationing what they eat isn’t enough: here’s how to keep a dog’s weight in check or knock off excess pounds.

Don't give in to temptation (GabrielaP93)

BERLIN -- You just can’t resist giving him a little extra dinner – he’s been such a good boy, and he's just such a cutie...!

Those pet owners who have no will power whatsoever when it comes to their dog can set off a vicious circle. When a dog puts on weight, it moves less – which only makes the situation worse. But there are strategies to get things back on track.

“Coffee can eat whatever she wants, but Kandis just has to look at food and she gets fat,” says Anna Matyssek. For 14 years, she has been training dogs for TV work and making sure they stay in shape.

“I only feed dogs once a day. Since I’m teaching them tricks, I want them to feel hungry for the little treats they get when they do something right,” she says. She regularly palps the dogs’ ribs – the best way to tell if they are getting fat. “You should be able to feel the ribs right away, without having to go searching around.”

Jürgen Zentek, Professor at the Institute for Animal Nutrition at Berlin’s Free University, also recommends this. “You should be able to feel the spine and ribs, but not see them,” he says. A clearly-defined waistline should also be visible when one looks down at the dog.

If you suspect your dog is too fat, some behavioral rules will help to resist when you find yourself at the receiving end of one of those heartrending looks that make you want to reach for just a little extra. “The main thing to remember is: no radical diets. A dog has to be fed regularly,” says Emily Darab.

The vet practice where she works offers a feeding advice service. “‘Light’ dog food can be a solution, but one can also just reduce the amount of daily food the dog gets,” she says.

Calorie bombs

But mostly it’s not the dog food that’s making the animal fat – it’s the extra treats. “They are calorie bombs, and should be counted in the dog’s daily total intake,” Darab says.

Jürgen Zentek, who leads studies on dog nutrition, observes that many owners, although they mean well, can’t bring themselves to feed their dog less.

“Psychologically, it’s not easy for the owner to do that,” he says. So he recommends cheating a little by adding loads of vegetables to the reduced ration. “That way, the bowl is full.”

“Biologically Adequate Raw Food” (BARF) is currently all the fashion in dog food, and according to Zentek offers one possibility among many others to keep a dog healthy and trim.

But under no circumstances should it be perceived as a panacea, says Zentek. What it means is that the dog is being fed the way a wolf would feed: on raw meat, bones and vegetables.

“What’s good about it is that it’s easily digestible and it leaves the dog feeling full. And because it’s high in protein, the animal produces more heat and burns up fat,” he says.

Dogs are especially susceptible to putting on weight right after they’ve been neutered – so this is a time to keep a particularly sharp eye on exactly how much they are fed, according to Ulrike Falbesaner, who heads the German Federal Chamber of Veterinarians‘ (BTK) committee that deals with matters relating to dog ownership.

But castration and bad diet are just two possible reasons for why a dog puts on weight. As with people, various problems such as diabetes or an underactive thyroid can also be the cause.

The potential gravity of such problems should not be underestimated, says Zendek. “More serious conditions can move in very quickly, like heart or circulation problems, or a fatty liver.”

However, he advises against trying to get too much weight off too fast. “The result is the same yoyo effect you see in people, and the animal is likely to put the weight on again just as quickly.”

Particularly if illnesses resulting from overweight have already set in, a visit to the vet is a must. For extreme cases, weight-loss medication is available.

Studies conducted by Professor Zentek have revealed that the most important key to success in getting pounds off dogs is activity.

If the dog is already too fat, one should slowly build up longer walks and more energetic games. Getting the dog to run alongside your bicycle is a no-no. “Under no circumstances should one overdo it,” says dog nutrition expert Darab. “The very best thing is swimming, it increases fitness and is easy on the joints.”

Difference Between Ick and Ich

Ick vs Ich

We all love pets. Who doesn’t? Pets make us feel good and keeps our stress away. They can sometimes protect us in times of danger or even sacrifice their lives when in need such as stories of dogs saving their owners from death or accidents.

Some households own fish as their pets as it is very relaxing to see fish swim. Koi’s are one of the more famous and more expensive types of fish pets that can be taken care of. However, when dealing with aquatic pets, we must educate ourselves with the potential diseases that they can get while they are in an artificial vessel such as the aquarium.

One of the most common causes of death of these fishes is what you call Ick or Ich. Is there a difference between the two? Let us find out.

Ich has no difference with Ick as the pronunciation of it is with the latter word. “Ich” or “Ick” stands for Ichthyophthiriasis, and the causative agent for it is Ichthyophthirius multifilis. It is a protozoan that thrives in fresh water but it is more common in aquariums. This protozoan is the main cause of fish deaths among aquariums and water tanks. Ick or Ich is also known as the White Spot disease.

Ick or Ich affects a fish whenever it has a low immune system which is caused by stress. Fish become stressed in some factors such as temperature of the water, the inhabitants, shipping of the fish, and a lot more. Since it is White Spot disease, the appearance of it is like a white spot over the gills and scales of your pet fish. This will cause an irritation and itchiness to the fish for the coming days. The fish will die because of respiratory distress, severe agitation, and suppression of appetite.

For owners to control Ick or Ich, they must raise the temperature of their aquariums up to 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 days. This will kill the freshwater Ich. Formalin and Malachite Green are also effective in eliminating this protozoan.


1. Ich has no difference with Ick as the pronunciation of it is with the latter word.

2. Ich or Ick, a protozoan, stands for Ichthyophthiriasis and the causative agent for it is Ichthyophthirius multifilis.

3. Ick or Ich affects a fish whenever it has a low immune system which is caused by stress and may eventually cause death to your pet fish.

4. For owners to control Ick or Ich, they must raise the temperature of their aquariums up to 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 days.

5. Formalin and Malachite Green are also effective in eliminating this protozoan.

Cesar Millan Gives 15 Tips
for Pet-Friendly Travel
Lena Katz - Sr. Travel Correspondent | JustLuxe

Photo Courtesy of Cesars Way

Planning to take your four-legged family members along on your holiday adventures this year? If so, here are 15 pointers from Cesar Millan, covering everything from air travel etiquette to off-leash practices to dealing with a potty accident in a hotel lobby.

Just like nobody likes a screaming baby on a plane, nobody wants to deal with an out-of-control pooch at a party, so follow the Dog Whisperer’s advice and make sure the roads, rooms and skies stay pet-friendly.

1. If you and your dog are flying, crate the dog before entering the terminal, because inside, you may become distracted by the check-in process.

2. You definitely don’t want your dog flying with a full bladder or stomach. "I myself like to let Junior [his frequent-flying pitbull] fast a little, control the water intake a little, and definitely let him relieve himself one more time before going in the terminal."

3. When flying with a dog small enough to go under the seat in a crate, it is acceptable to bring the crate out from under the seat as long as it doesn’t bother your neighbors. Be respectful and always ask people nearby first.

4. However, taking a dog out of its crate during flight is not safe for the dog or, potentially, for yourself and your neighbors. Think very carefully before you do this and make sure the flight attendant is aware and has given you permission.

5. When a dog is very scared, the scent of lavender oil rubbed into one’s hands may calm it.

6. Also try a deep tissue massage beginning on the spine. The pelvis of the dog normally carries the tension, as does behind the cranium. Just make sure that you yourself are calm and centered first. You should never try to help your dog when you feel bad about how he is feeling.

7. The more you go away from the city, the more you go into different settings for your dog. Remember there could be deer, squirrels or any sort of unknown wildlife, so be mindful about the dog getting distracted. People could also be throwing food on the floor that you may not see at first glance but your dog will smell and try to eat, so make sure you always keep an eye on the environment.

8. Even in cold weather you can’t ask a dog to stay in a parked car for more than two hours. You always need to keep a window cracked to allow in fresh air.

9. When you stop midway through a driving day, let your dog out to pee, play with him if he has energy, but there is no need to feed him. Motion sickness for dogs is very different than for humans and this means that he would rather wait until you’re not moving anymore to be fed. If it has been a long trip you can give little pieces of chicken or mini snacks, but space them out. He should get protein to be satisfied, but not a whole plate that will make him sick.

10. Rescue Remedy can help a carsick dog feel better.

11. If you’re checking into your accommodations and your dog has an accident, don’t be embarrassed. People understand it is a dog. Let him finish, don’t interrupt; then ask the staff for cleaning things and apologize by cleaning up.

12. If your dog growls at strangers in a new environment, he’s nervous, not aggressive. It’s nothing for you to be concerned about. When a dog growls, it is just communication, not the beginning of an attack. He is just saying, "Those people are too close, too excited or giving eye contact and I don’t know how to handle it." Redirect with a little bit of food, or don’t move and wait for the humans to move. If you back away, it confirms his fear. Don’t nurture the behavior by saying, "It’s ok," and petting him. Just stay quiet and relaxed, let him feel your calmness, and he will understand that is how he should react. Once you have defused the situation with the dog, you can apologize to the human.

13. Similarly, if your dog takes to howling or barking in your hotel room, he is probably nervous and just trying to communicate. Do not reward the behavior by giving him affection or sympathy. Use your calm assertive leadership to show that you have the situation under control. If it is not nervous, but nuisance barking and howling, the problem may be a lack of exercise. Take your dog out for a good long walk to drain his energy.

14. Rules of thumb when considering bringing a dog to a holiday fair, a sledding hill, or any other open-air festivity: Do not take an unexercised dog into a crowded or excited situation. After a long walk, a well-socialized dog is usually welcome, but bear in mind that some states have laws regarding dogs being in places where food is served. Do your research before you head out.

15. Yes, owners of "toy" dogs, these rules apply to your pets, too. It is important to remember that just because a dog is small it doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous if it is not well socialized. Almost all dog problems in modern society come from two things: lack of exercise and lack of leadership. Additionally, especially in America, owners tend to give affection, affection, and more affection, when what the dog really needs is exercise, discipline and then affection. It’s very important that we honor the identity of a dog so he can find his life force with us.

And make sure you always, always have poop bags with you. I often take my Cesar Millan DOOG walking belt with me on vacations to ensure I have everything I need to hand. It is a belt that holds poop bags, wipes, has a pocket for keys and even allows you to clip the leash to your belt so you can walk around and enjoy the scenery hands-free. To get more great information or a DOOG belt of your own, visit

Pet Q&A:
A Cat Up a Tree Might
Need Help to Get Down
Dr. Marty Becker -

When cats get stuck up a tree, are they really stranded? Seems to me if they got up there, they can get themselves back down.

Not easily, they can't. Cat claws are designed to move a cat in a forward direction. And if that direction is up a tree, it's difficult to head back down. The gracefully powerful movement of a cat heading up a tree is counterbalanced by the crashing and (if he's lucky) controlled free-fall he'll use to get down.

Most cats do find their way back down, of course, which is a good thing these days. With municipal budgets being what they are, few fire departments are allowed to respond to cat-in-tree calls anymore.

At our Almost Heaven ranch we have "barn cats" – typically, former ferals who just wouldn't be happy inside and aren't comfortable being cuddled. We provide food, shelter and top-notch care, and in return they keep our barn free of vermin.

The deal has gone pretty well over the years, but twice a barn cat has gotten stuck up a tree, most likely chased there by a coyote or wolf (we see both up here in Idaho). Both times I've had to help the cats descend: Once by cutting the tree down and more recently by paying for a bucket truck. Both cats survived, although both were pretty hungry when they got back down to earth.

If you decide to get out a ladder for a cat stuck in a tree, be very careful. The chance of you getting seriously hurt while reaching for a scared cat is pretty good. Scared cats aren't safe to handle, even if they're yours, so wear heavy gloves if you are going to attend a rescue.
You may be able to whet his appetite by opening a can of tuna, salmon or mackerel and letting the wonderful fishy smell drift upward. I've had it work more times than not.
– Dr. Marty Becker

Dogs can catch a yawn from us

• Yawning is contagious among people, and researchers from the School of Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London have shown for the first time what pet lovers have known all along – that dogs can also catch our yawns. Researchers said the presence of contagious yawning in dogs suggests that dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy.

• Not all cats like catnip. The ability to appreciate the herb is genetic, with slightly more cats in the fan club than not. These hard-wired preferences aren't immediately apparent, though, since kittens under the age of 3 months don't react to catnip at all.

– Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker

Top Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe
and Satisfied at the Dining Table
By Timothy Boyer -

To help pet owners make safe choices in what scraps to feed to their pets and which ones not to, Lucy Postins, founder of The Honest Kitchen - a private, family owned pet food company that specializes in fresh, uncooked, home-made pet-food consisting of “people-food” ingredients - provides the following top tips to keep your pets safe and satisfied at the dining table.

The holiday season is particularly trying on the cook in the kitchen as friends, relatives and family members beg for your attention and snacks while you are preparing a holiday meal that everyone will enjoy. However, another individual in the kitchen begging not just for your attention, but for scraps too, is your beloved pet. While the temptation to toss a scrap from your overly-filled, busy counter top or dining table is great, the risk to your pet’s health is even greater. Toss the wrong scraps and you may be tossing your pet’s life away.

Listed below are Lucy Postins' top tips to keep your pets safe, and a recipe for a tasty pet treat.

Food Scraps Safe for Your Pet

• Turkey, Ham, Prime Rib and other meats. These can all be added in moderation; the key thing to remember is to never feed pets any type of cooked bones because they can splinter and damage the GI tract. Also avoid too much fat and gristle, which can potentially be dangerous. Whenever possible, choose free-range, natural and grass-fed meats, which are healthier for you and your pets.

• Green Bean Casserole. Most pets love the sweet taste of green bean casserole, just do not include the onion topping and serve to pets in small amounts. As an alternative, you can share fresh, raw or cooked green beans to your pets as well.

• Sweet Potatoes. These are an excellent source of beta carotene and make a highly nutritious meal addition for dogs. Steamed or baked sweet potatoes are ideal, especially since raw root vegetables can be difficult to digest. Avoid giving your pet the holiday-themed sweet potato side dishes that contain marshmallows, syrup or nuts.

• Cranberries. These are a great addition to your pets’ meals any time of the year, but be wary of the sauce and jelly side dishes. Cranberries contain natural compounds that can help prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, so they are an excellent choice for cats and dogs that are prone to urinary tract infections.

• Winter Vegetables. Winter vegetables like pumpkin, squash, chard and kale are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, and are great gently cooked for pets. Avoid serving your pets large amounts of vegetables, however, that contain added salt, wine, soy sauce or butter.

Food Scraps NOT Safe for Your Pet

• Stuffing and Corn Pudding. These products tend to contain onions and raisins, as well as bread and cornmeal, which can lead to ear infections and skin problems.

• Desserts and Cheeses. When eaten in excess, these can cause stomach problems for pets.

• Relishes, Pickles and Sauces. These condiments tend to contain heavy spices, sugar, onion and other ingredients that can cause disruption in their GI tract.

Food Ingredients TOXIC to Your Pet (and should not be fed to pets in any form):

• Onions

• Chocolate

• Macadamia nuts

• Grapes

• Raisins

• Artificial candies containing xylitol


Butternut bites are easy to make and taste delicious! The cranberries also are well suited for pets that are prone to urinary tract infections.


• 1 cup boiled and mashed butternut squash (You can substitute mashed pumpkin or sweet potatoes if you don’t have butternut squash available.)

• 1½ cups uncooked oatmeal

• ¼ cup dried cranberries

• 1 tsp. nutritional yeast

• 1 tbsp. honey

Cooking Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 370°F and butter a large cookie sheet.

2. Combine the cooked, mashed butternut squash with the oatmeal, cranberries, yeast and honey.

3. Mix well so that all the ingredients are very thoroughly combined.

4. Using a teaspoon, scoop small balls onto the buttered cookie sheet.

5. Make sure they are evenly spaced out about 1 inch apart and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Allow the bites to cool, and then add these nutritious goodies to your dog’s usual meal or serve them as individual treats!

Military Dogs

Top 10 Animal News Stories of 2011

Camp Bow Wow, a dog day- and overnight-camp with locations throughout the United States and Canada, compiled the following Top 10 breaking animal news stories of 2011.

--The Animal Rescue Team of the Humane Society saved 1,673 dogs from puppy mills in 2011.

--A fallen soldier's family brought a dog they named "Hero" from Iraq to their home in Michigan. A social worker in Michigan went to great lengths to get her brother's two pet dogs out of Iraq after he died in December 2008. He had saved the stray Labrador and her pup in Baghdad.

--When illness forced vets in the United Kingdom to remove a Great Dane's eyes, her canine pal Maddison, also a Great Dane, stepped in and became a guide dog. The pair have been inseparable for years but were looking for a new home together after their owner could no longer care for them. When the Daily Mail featured the heartwarming tale of the dogs, more than 2,000 dog lovers offered to take them. The dogs now live with a couple in Cheshire.

--Jack the Cat was found after he went missing for more than seven weeks in the American Airlines baggage check area at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Jack the Cat's whereabouts became a social-media phenomenon. Sadly, the cat died nearly two weeks later, a result of malnutrition that occurred while he was lost.

--Willow, a cat, disappeared from her home in Boulder, Colo., five years ago. She turned up recently in Manhattan, 1,800 miles from where she was last seen. A microchip implanted when she was a kitten helped track down her owners.

--When Louie York, a French bulldog, flew cross-country on Sept. 15, from New York to Los Angeles, his 18-hour travel route included stops in Chicago, Omaha, Denver and Phoenix, followed by a seven-hour drive home to the San Francisco Bay Area. French bulldogs have been banned from most commercial airlines -- not for their bark or bite but because so many have died in flight.

--Dozens of animals were killed after they had been freed from their cages at a 73-acre private reserve in Ohio.

--Insurance fraud has reached a new low in the United Kingdom, where authorities discovered a rise in claims on pet insurance policies. According to the Association of British Insurers, last year, $3 million was collected in pet insurance compared to $667,842 in 2009.

--More than 150 diamondback terrapins crossed an active runway recently, disrupting air traffic at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York so that they could continue their mating season.

--A dog lost in the tsunami was found alive three weeks later floating on a roof at sea near Japan.

Drug-Sniffing 'Tebow' the Dog
Catches Cocaine Smuggler
By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY

Tebow-mania continued over the weekend even though Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

A drug-sniffing dog named "Tebow" helped cops catch a cocaine smuggler at Orlando International Airport.

The crime-fighting canine sniffed out out a kilo of cocaine that was secretly stuffed inside a children's toy, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Details:

Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation agents told the paper the dog, named for the Denver Broncos quarterback, sniffed out what turned out to be a cocaine-stuffed toy in a bag picked up by Morales Castro, 20, on Dec. 8. Castro initially claimed the suitcase was not his, though he later told police he was paid to take it to someone, according to the report. He faces a federal charge of selling or distributing a controlled substance, according to the paper.

Pet Owners Happy with New Rule Allowing
- Again - Burying Human Ashes
with Beloved Animals

HARTSDALE, N.Y. — Life is good again — and death is looking better — for animal lovers in New York who want to be buried with their Persians, Pomeranians or potbellied pigs.

The state Division of Cemeteries has issued regulations that once again permit pet owners to have their ashes interred with their beloved animals in pet cemeteries.

In this Jan.19, 2011 file photo, headstones marking the graves of pets are spread throughout the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y. The New York State Cemetery Board has proposed regulations that will once again permit pet owners to have their ashes interred with their beloved animals in pet cemeteries.

“My wish has been granted and I will be able to be with my furry family forever,” said Rhona Levy of the Bronx, who has planned for years to have her ashes buried with her dog and four cats at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in the New York City suburbs.

“This was one of the best moments of my life,” she added.

Under the new rules, approved Thursday in Albany, the interment of human ashes at pet cemeteries is permitted under certain conditions.

The pet cemetery must not advertise that it takes human ashes, and may not charge a fee for doing so. The cemetery also must tell customers who ask about human interment that they would be giving up some protections, such as mandatory record-keeping and restrictions on removal.

The 115-year-old Hartsdale cemetery has been adding human ashes to pet plots since 1925, and an estimated 700 people have joined the 70,000 animals there. But on Feb. 8, the cemetery division ordered a halt to the practice. Three days earlier, Hartsdale, 20 miles north of Manhattan, had been featured in an Associated Press story about the increase in human burials in pet cemeteries around the country.

The ban was issued statewide in April. The state said then that only not-for-profit corporations can take in human remains, even if cremated, and charging a fee violated not-for-profit law.

The state’s declaration angered some animal lovers, especially those who had prearranged their burials at pet cemeteries.

“Suddenly I’m not at peace anymore,” Levy said at the time.

Hartsdale asked the state for permission to at least accommodate those who had prepaid.

Taylor York, an attorney and law professor at Keuka College in Penn Yan, went further. She undertook to persuade the Cemetery Division that since pet cemeteries are private, they’re not covered by nonprofit corporation law.

York’s uncle, Thomas Ryan, had died in April. He had arranged — and prepaid — to join his wife and their two dogs, B.J. I and B.J. II, at Hartsdale. But the state ruling prevented that, and Ryan’s ashes remained in a wooden box at the home of his sister, York’s mother.

The Cemetery Division’s new ruling means Ryan can finally be buried, and York said a ceremony is scheduled for Friday.

“This new compromise gets my mother what she wants and my uncle what he intended,” she said. “It’s a Christmas gift of a kind, but this was agonizing and it’s a real shame that the state leaped before they looked.”

Just as the Hartsdale cemetery was the first to be told it couldn’t accommodate humans, it’s the first to get permission to resume the practice. The state and the cemetery signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” that permits the immediate burial of human ashes at Hartsdale. The cemetery resumed human interments Friday.

Ed Martin Jr., president and director of the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, said Monday he has no qualms about the restrictions. He said the cemetery dropped the $235 fee it used to charge to open an animal’s grave for its owner’s ashes.

“It’s not that it was a big moneymaker. It was a courtesy more than anything else,” he said.

York said she took some satisfaction that during the meeting last week, Cemetery Board Chairman Dan Shapiro acknowledged using private property as a cemetery himself.

“I spread my uncle’s ashes under a peach tree in my backyard,” Shapiro said.

Lost Dog Will Be Home for Christmas

TAMPA, Fla. -- No one knows how exactly how Addison the dachshund got from Kansas City to Florida recently, but at least she'll be home for Christmas.
When the affectionate, plump wiener dog arrived at animal services in Tampa this month, workers suspected she'd come from a loving home. A scan of her implanted microchip revealed she belongs to a family in Kansas City.
Local dachshund lovers stepped in to help get her home. An elementary school teacher donated her frequent-flier miles and bought a seat on an airplane for the dog and herself. They flew out Monday.

Addison's family adopted her when she was a puppy. No one seems to know how she got to Florida, but animal services workers suspect she was living with someone here until she got lost.

As we close out 2011, there is so much to be thankful for. We are thankful for you and the compassion you have shown the animals at Keepers of the Wild. I am writing you today to tell you about some of the lives you have helped change this year. Please take a moment to hear what your support has done.

Thanks to the help of committed supporters like you, over 175 animals call Keepers of the Wild home. Most of these innocent animals were rescued from lives of neglect and abuse but can now live the remainder of their lives being cherished and well cared for.

New arrivals and longtime residents all benefit from quality care on a daily basis. We ensured all animals on our grounds have had fresh water, nourishing food and supplements, medical care, enrichment toys, comfortable shelters and spacious natural habitats-- and their contentment shows!

Your support also enabled us to rescue twenty-three animals this year and eleven indigenous wild animals were rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Most of what I described above couldn’t happen without gifts of time and money from supporters like you.

Thank you and we wish you all a happy, healthy holiday season!

Your on-going support is crucial to maintaining the animals at Keepers of the Wild. If possible, we hope you and your family will make your best year-end gift to ensure KOTW can continue our life-saving mission.

Every gift is appreciated and every gift makes a difference.

Please send your check or money order to:
Keepers of the Wild
13441 E. Highway 66
Valentine, AZ 86437

Veterinary Q&A: Itchy Skin and Hair Loss in Cats
Posted by Neena Pellegrini -

Dr. Stephen White, a professor of dermatology at the University of Califorina, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, answers this week's question.

Question: My cat has been losing hair in abnormal amounts for six months. She either tugs at it or licks it. I changed her dry food to grain free, but it hasn't seemed to make a difference. It isn't fleas. What can I do to provide her some relief?

Answer: There are a number of reasons why a cat is uncomfortable enough to pull out its own hair.

This may be caused by allergies (flea, food or environmental, such as allergies to house dust mites or pollens) or to certain parasites or fungi.

The most common cause of this discomfort (the medical term is pruritus, or the sensation of 'itch') is a flea allergy -- the more allergic a pet is to fleas, the LESS likely the owner is to see fleas on the pet; only a small number of fleas biting the animal will continue the allergy (which is from the proteins in the flea's saliva, injected in to the pet while feeding).

However, if we assume that either fleas are not the problem or that the owner has the cat on good quality flea control, then the next step is twofold:

-- Have the veterinarian scrape your cat's skin for parasites and perform a fungal culture to rule out a dermatophyte ('ringworm') infection.

-- Start a hypoallergenic diet trial. Unfortunately, there is no intrinsic value of the 'grain free' diets.

A hypoallergenic diet must be performed using a protein source the pet has not eaten before. These diets are best obtained through a veterinarian's office; most of the diets marketed for allergic pets in pet stores or supermarkets contain a number of different proteins.

Such a diet should be the only thing fed (plus water) for two months, without any treats, chewable medications, flavored toothpastes or flavored toys.

It is important in cats to monitor the palatability of the diet, as cats that refuse a new diet for several days can become seriously ill.

To avoid these problems, the old diet can be mixed in with the new one for the first week. After two months, the pet should be fed its old diet again. If the itching/pulling out of the hair decreases on the hypoallergenic diet, and becomes worse on being fed the original diet, than the pet has a food allergy.

If not, and if all skin scrapings and fungal cultures have proved to be negative, most likely the cat has environmental allergies and should be referred to a specialist for further evaluation.

--Dr. Stephen White

Dog Days: Bo's Whereabouts Spark
 Latest White House Controversy
By Peter Nicholas -

President Obama shops for Christmas presents with his dog, Bo, at PetSmart in Alexandria, Va. (Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images / December 21, 2011)

Reporting from Honolulu—

We live in a world of conspiracy theories -- where nothing is as it seems, where even a politician's benign photo op might have a titillating back story.

Which brings us to the Obama family dog, Bo.

Bo was last seen in the company of the president, who took him to PetSmart in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday as part of a holiday shopping excursion.

So far, so good.

The rest of the Obama family, as we know, has already started vacationing and is in Hawaii awaiting the president's arrival.

Was Bo with them?

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Sunday that a neighbor spotted Bo on a walk in the tony neighborhood where the Obama family is staying.

Is it possible? Could the image-meisters at the White House really have insisted that Bo be flown back to Washington for a quick photo-op with the home-alone president?

That would raise pretty valid questions about whether taxpayers paid for the flight.

We asked First Lady Michelle Obama's office and quickly got an answer:

"Bo has been in D.C. this whole time."

Dog with Three Legs Captures Hearts
By Rob Klindt -

Recovered from a severe injury, lost dog gets a new home and second chance

Humane Society Silicon Valley officials are celebrating the adoption of a special dog this week. Brownie is a young Miniature Pinscher that has just three legs.

He came to the facility’s Milpitas campus earlier this fall in bad shape. He had a severely injured leg and foot, most likely from being hit by a car.

After extensive evaluation, veterinarians working with the Humane Society decided to amputate Brownie’s injured left rear leg. The decision was partially based on past experience staff members have had in other cases where dogs did quite well with just three limbs. And Brownie, otherwise healthy and with a good disposition, seemed to be a good candidate for the procedure.

The decision paid off.

Staff members were amazed to see Brownie bounce back from the surgery in just 36 hours. They reported that less than a week later he was playing, running and jumping in the on-campus dog park.

Brownie even starred in a Humane Society Silicon Valley YouTube video that showed him energetically playing with volunteer staff members who eventually let him off-leash to chase balls and run free in the grassy dog park.

Soon Brownie was greeting visitors and meeting potential adoptive families at the center. It wasn’t long before the right match was made and Brownie found a new home.

While Brownie is a unique animal, Humane Society workers say his success story is not. Staff members credit success stories like this to the strong support, commitment and financial donations the center receives from the community. The donations allow the staff to care for animals like Brownie without hesitation and offer them a second chance at a full life.

The Humane Society Silicon Valley operates its Animal Community Center at 901 Ames Ave., Milpitas. The facility includes animal care services, community education, adoptive services, a dog park and pet store. Adoptions are available every day. For details, visit their website at

Are Americans Crazy for Treating Our Pets Like Kids?
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY

Stocking stuffers: Teacher Susan Sallee shops with her basset hound, Gerdi, during one of their routine visits to IncrediPet Select pet store in Lexington, Ky. David Stephenson, for USA TODAY

The season of giving inevitably prompts pet lovers (53% of dog owners and 38% of cat owners) to gift their animals, often lavishly, says a survey by the American Pet Products Association.

Obsessed with pets: When is it a problem?

Are some people over-the-top — in an unhealthy way — about their animals? Probably, says Waco, Texas, psychologist Julia Becker. But the number, she believes, is extremely small.

There may be a problem if a person:

-Perpetually neglects other relationships to give excessive time and attention to pets.

-Uses pets as an excuse to get out of doing other activities.

The most common issue:

People who insist on taking badly behaved or ill-trained pets to inappropriate places where they’re not welcome. But that’s not generally a sign of mania; that’s self-absorption, probably evident in non-pet-related actions. “It’s always unfortunate when people aren’t respectful of others,” says Becker, especially when it might fuel negative stereotypes about pet owners.

It also prompts the question: Is there something, well, weird about that?

According to a Kelton Research survey commissioned by Milo's Kitchen pet treats:

•81% regard their pets as full members of the family.

•58% call themselves their pets' "mommy" or "daddy."

•77% buy pets birthday gifts.

•More than half say they talk about pets more than politics or sex.

Well, grinches, here's what mental health professionals have to say about all this pet-loving goofiness: The blatant puppy love much of America is displaying does not spell the end of society as we know it, and the pet-obsessed are not pathetically off-kilter humans in need of intense therapy.

"What's the harm?" says Stanley Coren, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia and a Psychology Today columnist on human-pet interactions. "Someone may go spend $20 on a rhinestone collar. That's pretty much the worst that will happen."

"Most people recognize, whatever endearments they use or actions they might take, that their pets are not furry humans," he concludes. But emotionally healthy humans have the "need to nurture," and pets are the perfect recipient. They return the favor of all the love, care and baby talk with their innate ability, proven in scientific studies, to reduce stress, speed healing, and improve humans' fitness and social-interaction levels.

It must further be noted, Coren says, that people's relationships with their pets generally have none of the "conflict that probably exists" in their relationships with humans. "Who can't use more of that sometimes?" he adds.

Although many think treating pets as family is brand new, it's centuries old, Coren says. In the 1700s, Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, was deeply devoted to his dogs, and when his greyhound Biche died, he wrote wrenchingly of his heartache: "It is best to be too sensitive than too hard." Playwright Eugene O'Neill didn't get along with his kids but adored his Dalmation Blemie, who had an Hermes raincoat and a four-poster bed. In Julius Caesar's time, women toting small bejeweled dogs about Rome was quite the rage.

"We tend as a society to be very contemporary-centric," believing the current population has invented every pattern of thought and deed, Coren says. The way he sees it, this magnificent obsession "is not a sea change, it's merely a trend."

Treating pets like family is "especially pervasive … among empty nesters, singles and/or childless, and the homebound," says Waco, Texas, psychologist Julia Becker. Those groups are growing because we're living longer, and also because so many people aren't having children. Her feeling about pet obsessions: "It's fun for the people who do it. There's nothing wrong with it."

Lexington, Ky., teacher Susan Sallee is unapologetic about her affection for her basset hound, Gerdi. She threw a party for Gerdi's first birthday in January, sends her to doggie daycare when she works late, and displays puppy photos at work. "Some people may think that's ridiculous," she says with the lack of defensiveness of a person confident in her choices.

Athough Sallee has a rich, full life, she's warmed by Gerdi's presence. She'll gift her at Christmas — probably new squeaky toys, gourmet holiday doggie cookies and possibly a new bed.

"It's my responsibility," Sallee says, "to give her a good life." And if what Gerdi has is beyond merely a "good life," Sallee sees that as tit for tat. "Gerdi gives so very much."

Military Dogs:
Yuma Proving Ground Trains Dogs for Deployment
By Mara Knaub -

Capt. Emily Pieracci, left, checks the vital signs of Liam, a 1-year-old Belgium Malinois, during a check up and physical exam at the Yuma Proving Grounds veterinary clinic in Yuma, Ariz. Liam and his handler Sgt. Tudor Lundreth, right, are part of the Tactical Explosive Detection Dog unit that will be deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months.

YUMA, Ariz. — Aster, a 1-year-old long-haired Labrador Chesapeake, had an upset stomach and threw up in the examining room of the Yuma Proving Ground’s veterinarian clinic.

The dog is one of several dozens that just arrived from Indiana, where they embarked on a military working dog training program. At YPG’s Mine Detection School, the dogs will train in detecting explosives in buildings, vehicles, buried in the roadway or somewhere in the field, probably in Afghanistan.

Aster is a “spare,” a standby dog in case one of the others doesn’t pass the medical exam or training. If the playful and energetic dog passes the medical exams, it will take part in “rigorous training” as they learn to sniff out mines and explosives.

“A lot of the teams don’t make it. They’re cut,” said Mark Schauer, public affairs specialist at YPG.

Capt. Emily Pieracci, veterinarian officer in charge, gave Aster an antibiotic. “They can get the travel bug, just like people do,” she explained.

On Thursday YPG veterinarians conducted the physical exams and laboratory tests.

“The dogs will be examined to make sure they are healthy and medically fit to start training,” Pieracci said.

“Just like us, if we don’t feel good, if we have the flu, we don’t work as good as we could. It’s their job to keep the handlers alive and the handlers’ job is to keep the unit safe.”

The dogs already spent four weeks training in Indiana. After their training at YPG, they will be deployed to Afghanistan in early January.

Each year YPG prepares hundreds of dogs and handlers for deployment overseas, as well as trains K-9 units for civilian law enforcement agencies, according to Schauer.

YPG has eight different programs from multiple branches of the military, each managed separately and with a unique mission.

Schauer pointed out that in Afghanistan, “American forces have to contend with an estimated 10 million legacy mines from past conflicts, as well as new devices placed by insurgents. YPG has the expertise, facilities and geographical features working dog units need to train realistically.”

Sgt. 1st Class Harry Franco, non-commissioned officer in charge of the program, pointed out that YPG’s environment is the closest to Afghanistan’s available in the continental United States.

“A standard combat engineer would take hours to extract a casualty from this minefield,” Franco said. “We train these teams to do it in 45 minutes.”

“Dogs are able to detect odors nearly 100 million times faster than humans can, a feat that the soldiers are counting on to save them from danger,” Schauer said.

The dogs are rewarded with a tennis ball and praise whenever they find hidden explosives.

Going off into the field, the work is life and death, Schauer noted.

Outside the clinic, Spc. Ryan Denton and Koma, a 1½-year-old German shepherd, awaited their turn for an exam. Denton said he chose to enter the working dog program because he loves dogs and wants to be an asset to the Army.

He’s already bonded with the dog. “They don’t like to be out of our sight,” he said.

Also waiting for their turn were handler PV2 Thurwin Lane and his partner, Bartje, a 1½-year-old Belgium Malinois.

“They gave me the option. I said yes. It’s an opportunity to try something new,” Lane said when asked why he’s participating in the program.

He pointed out that he also likes dogs. “I actually have a couple of sheepdog back home (in Rock Point, Ariz.).”

For Staff Sgt. Matthew Satterlee, who works with Satan (he pointed out the dog was named before working together), a 1½-year-old German shepherd, working with these dogs means “being able to find explosives and save lives.”

Satterlee noted that Satan stays in a kennel until it’s time to work. “They’re not pets. But you do build a bond, and that’s what gets the dog to work for you.

“It’s fun for them, it’s a game. Their reward is a tennis ball if they do their job.”

Merry Christmas
 and Happy Holidays !!

Pet Heroes

Cat Inherits 10mil Empire
After Owner Dies at 94...
and Becomes Third Richest Pet in the World
By Nick Pisa -

From rags to riches: Millionaire Maria Assunta left her fortune to a stray cat she rescued.

An Italian cat has become the third richest animal in the world after inheriting almost £10 million after his wealthy owner died and left him the entire family fortune.

Maria Assunta died last month aged 94 years old and according to lawyers entrusted with her estate left the fortune in property to Tommasino, a stray cat she had found and looked after because of her love for animals.

Ms Assunta had a large property portfolio with homes and villas across the country, as well as several bulging bank accounts and share portfolios but no living relatives.

Lawyers Anna Orecchioni and Giacinto Canzona who are representing her say that she left the fortune to Tommasino in a will she wrote and deposited with them in their office in Rome in October 2009.

Mrs Orecchioni explained that under Italian law Tommassino is not entitled to inherit the money directly and the will also asked for the money to be given to a 'worthy animal association, if one could be found.'

A website dedicated to this most pampered of mutts shows him living in true Playboy mansion style: there are pictures of Gunther surrounded by bronzed girls in gold dresses and gorgeous men in glaring white jeans, as well as splashing about in a blue swimming pool while girls in string bikinis look on adoringly.

She added:'We had requests from several organisations but in the end we did not find any that we thought were suitable.

'Then earlier this year Maria told us about her nurse called Stefania who looked after her and who like her had a love of animals and in particular cats. We also could find no living relatives of her at all anywhere.

'In the end we decided that Stefania was the most suitable person to administer the money that Maria had left in her will.

'To be honest he doesn't need all that money he is happy with a saucer of milk and some biscuits.'

Stefania herself said:'I had no idea that she was worth so much money.'

The world's richest animal is thought to be Gunter, a German shepherd who received more than £90 million after his wealthy and slightly barking heiress owner Karlotta Liebenstien died and left him her fortune.

In 1988 British recluse Ben Rea left his fortune of £9 million to his cat Blackie.

Top 25 Pet Names of 2011

Is your Dog’s name on the list?

Banfield Pet Hospital has compiled the top 50 pet names of 2011, similar to the BabyCenter list of baby names that was released a few days ago. As the world’s largest veterinary practice, Banfield has a patient database with over 780 hospitals across the country.

Due to space, I am posting the top 25 dog names of the 50 sent to me.

1. Bella
2. Max
3. Buddy
4. Daisy
5. Bailey
6. Lucy
7. Molly
8. Coco
9. Charlie
10. Rocky
11. Chloe
12. Maggie
13. Sadie
14. Princess
15. Sophie
16. Lucky
17. Roxy
18. Jack
19. Lola
20. Harley
21. Toby
22. Bear
23. Sasha
24. Jake
25. Ginger

Woof by any other name is still a woof!

Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

With Blagojevich Heading to Prison,
Convicted Ill. Governor’s Family
Welcomes New Dog

CHICAGO — The family of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is getting a new dog.

The Chicago Tribune reports ( that the Blagojevich family adopted a Maltese-poodle mix from a Chicago shelter Friday. The dog is a former stray taken in by the shelter, PAWS Chicago.

The family got its first dog, Skittles, to help his two daughters cope with the stress after Blagojevich was arrested three years ago.

Blagojevich would later joke in an Associated Press interview that he told his daughters if he ever went to prison, “You can get another dog and call him, ‘Daddy.’”

The shelter’s director says the family is considering another candy-themed name for their new dog: Twix.

The 54-year-old Blagojevich was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for his conviction on corruption charges.

Mummified Cat Walled Up
in 17th Century 'Witch's Cottage'
By Bryony Jones, CNN

Hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft during witch hunts in the 17th century, most famously in Salem, Massachusetts.

London -- Engineers have uncovered the haunting remains of a mummified cat bricked up inside the wall of a cottage near the site of one of Britain's most infamous witch trials.

Workers made the startling discovery during routine maintenance on a reservoir in the shadow of Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England's "witching country."

They called in archaeologists, who unearthed a cottage believed to date from the 17th century buried beneath a grassy mound. Inside, they found a sealed room where the cat had been walled up.

The area is famous for the Pendle witch trials, which saw 10 women and two men accused of using witchcraft to murder people in the 1600s.

It is thought the unfortunate feline may have been buried alive by the cottage's superstitious inhabitants, in an attempt to protect them from evil spirits.

"It's not often you come across a fairytale cottage complete with witch's cat," said Carl Sanders, project manager for water company United Utilities. "The building is in remarkable condition. You can walk through it and get a real sense that you're peering into the past.

Whoever consigned this cat to such a horrible fate was clearly seeking protection from evil spirits

Simon Entwhistle"Pendle Hill has a real aura about it -- it's hard not to be affected by the place. Even before we discovered the building, there were lots of jokes from the lads about broomsticks and black cats. The find has really stunned us all."

Simon Entwhistle, an expert on the Pendle witches, likened the find -- which he said could be the Malkin Tower, site of a notorious meeting of the "coven" on Good Friday, 1612 -- to "discovering Tutankhamun's tomb."

"We are just a few months away from the 400th anniversary of the Pendle witch trials, and here we have an incredibly rare find, right in the heart of witching country.

"Cats feature prominently in folklore about witches," said Entwhistle. "Whoever consigned this cat to such a horrible fate was clearly seeking protection from evil spirits. It's an absolutely spellbinding discovery."

"It's like discovering your own little Pompei," said Frank Giecco of NP Archaeology, who led the team which excavated the building. "We rarely get the opportunity to work with something so well preserved.

"As soon as we started digging we found the tops of doors and knew we were onto something special.

"The building is a microcosm for the rise and fall of this area, from the time of the Pendle witches to the industrial age -- there are layers of local history right before your eyes."

Archaeologists also uncovered a host of other artifacts in and around the cottage -- including a 19th century kitchen range, tin bath, bedstead and items of crockery.

10 Pet Heroes to the Rescue Part 1
By Donna Banks, Ann Carrns, Michael Morella -

Everybody loves a good-news story of friend helping friend, neighbor assisting neighbor, stranger saving stranger—of people who step forward in a moment of crisis to offer a selfless hand. Sometimes, that hand is a paw or a hoof. Here are the stories of 10 heroic animals that stepped up to protect their favorite humans, often at risk to themselves:

Freckles, smoke detector

Velma Leger remembers clearly the morning in October 1987 when she discovered her youngest child could barely see. When Leger held up a rattle for Sarah, then 6 months old, the baby reached for it and missed. Many doctors and tests later, it was confirmed that Sarah had bilateral retinoblastoma, a hereditary form of cancer that had caused tumors in both eyes. She received radiation treatment and was cured of the cancer, but developed into a shy young girl and teenager, utterly dependent on her mother and sister. “I used my cane,” she says, “but I was always running into things, and I couldn’t get where I needed to go without help.” (Wearing corrective lenses, she can make out shapes and very large print, but she is legally blind.)

Sarah’s world began to open up dramatically last year when she was partnered with Freckles, a small goldador guide dog—a cross between a golden retriever and a Labrador. “I could do so much more because of Freckles,” says Sarah, now a sophomore at Louisiana State University–Eunice. “It was easier to make friends, because I could get around by myself, and I wasn’t afraid.”

In January, while she was home in Leonville, La., on winter break, Sarah found out that Freckles is a lifesaver in other ways, too. One night, after Sarah had said goodnight to her family and headed to bed, Freckles stopped abruptly at the threshold to the computer room connected to her bedroom, blocked her entry, and wouldn’t budge. Sarah was forced to call out for help. The mystery was solved when an odd smell alerted her dad, a firefighter, that the computer monitor was smoldering. Though he grabbed it and took it outside, Freckles refused to settle down until she couldn’t pick up even a whiff, which meant the family was up until 3 a.m. airing out the house.

“She definitely was not trained to do what she did,” says Jennifer Gerrity, who worked with Freckles at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Fla. “Guide dogs are trained to navigate obstacles, not fires. And they do not perform body blocks.”

Falstaff, the next best thing to 911

Richard Schulenberg, 70, was gardening one beautiful Saturday morning last October when he began to sweat profusely, his arms went numb, and he felt like he had a constrictive band across his chest. Fearing a heart attack, the entertainment lawyer and producer started down a hillside toward his Beverly Hills home, stopping to rest every few feet. Certain that his partner, Arlene Winnick, had left the house to run errands, he knew he’d have to figure out another way to get help. While he assessed his options, one of his English setters, the elegant Lady Rosalind, wandered by, licked his hand, and continued her stroll through the grounds.

It wasn’t long, though, before rescue came. Falstaff, also an English setter, seemed to have sensed that something wasn’t quite right. When he found Schulenberg sitting on the hillside, the usually mellow dog began to bark fiercely and wouldn’t calm down. Nor would he leave Schulenberg’s side.

As luck would have it, Winnick was climbing into her car and heard the commotion. Why hasn’t Richard stopped the dog from barking? she wondered, going to investigate. She helped Schulenberg down to the house, where, in denial, he decided he wanted a shower. Once Winnick heard about the symptoms and realized he hadn’t simply fallen down, however, they went to the ER pronto. Within 90 minutes of discovering that Schulenberg’s left artery was 100 percent blocked, he had a stent snaked through his wrist and up his arm.

“My doctor told me I was very lucky,” says Schulenberg. “Another 30 minutes, he said, and I would have died.” Since October, Schulenberg has dropped 35 pounds, and Falstaff now carefully patrols the yard.

Pet Q&A: Housing a Wary Outdoor Cat

Q: One of our neighbors has departed, leaving her outdoor cats to fend for themselves. One has started to hang out at our house. We have been feeding him, but he does not allow any close contact. We are interested in getting him an outdoor cat house for the winter. We would place it on our ground-level deck. We see many on the Internet at many prices and wanted your opinion on the best type to use.

A: This is always a bit of a quandary for me. It seems that every time I put a cat house outside for any feral cats, I find the cats end up sleeping under my car, and there is always a bleary-eyed raccoon or possum in the cat house.

Any cat house needs to be dry and protected from the wind. I use large Styrofoam boxes that I fill with straw. I cover them with black plastic garbage bags sealed with duct tape to make them more waterproof. The issue is in the placement. Many cats see them as traps and do not want to be in them if they are not in a safe place, so you may have to move the cat house around your yard a bit until you get it in a spot where the cat feels secure.

Q: We have a busy bird feeder in our back yard that gets frequented by our neighbor's cat every day. I spoke to her about how her cat is harming the birds, and she put a bell on the cat's collar that makes lots of noise, but the cat is still killing birds. Why do the birds not associate the jingling with the obvious danger?

A: The world is full of bells and other noises and the wild birds in our area have learned to ignore them. Your neighbor's cat is perfectly still right before it pounces on the birds and thus there is no noise immediately before the danger. When the cat does grab a bird, there is too much panic for the others to realize what is happening. So the only fix here is to keep the cat indoors, where all pet cats should be kept.

Contact Marc Morrone:

Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays
By Ron Richter -

Keeping your pets safe during the holidays can form quite a formidable task at times, especially considering the abundance of decorations and food that are common this time of year. Couple that with the traffic of friends and family and you could end up with a sick or stressed out pet. Veterinarian Dr. Laura Wold says that keeping decorative holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoe out of reach of from your pets is a good start. Keeping an eye on the food is also a good way to keep your pets healthy, as much of the rich fattening foods we consume during the holidays can be extremely bad for your pets digestive system.

Many of us with pets like to spoil them during the holidays with toys and what not, but Dr. Wold says that there are some toys that can do more harm than good.

Dr. Wold said that soft toys are better for cats than they are for dogs, as dogs tend to shred the small soft toys which could present a choking hazard for the animal or small children.

Getting a Snake as a Pet?
Get Ready for a Whole New Ball Game
Dr. Dara Johns -

Dear Readers: Snakes are pets too. Sometimes I forget to mention snakes because they are not as common as dogs and cats, but quite a few people have snakes for pets.

I think the first piece of advice I would give someone thinking about getting a snake would be to make sure they know what they are getting into.

We are not inherently knowledgeable about caring for snakes because they are cold-blooded. This makes their whole system completely foreign to us. It becomes easy to miscue on how they should be raised. For instance, they do not maintain their own body temperature so they are dependent on their surroundings. When a snake is not warm enough, its metabolism is slowed and it is more prone to infections.

Boa constrictors and pythons require a cage temperature of 77 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Indigenous snakes such as garters require temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature can be monitored with a terrarium thermometer.

Humidity in the cage must stay around 50 percent to 70 percent. If it is not moist enough, the snake’s skin will dry out and it will not be able to shed its skin properly. Keeping a wide mouth bowl that is not easily tipped over full of water in the cage will help maintain humidity. The heat in the cage will cause constant water evaporation.

Bedding substrates vary, but what works best is newspaper or indoor outdoor carpet. If you use corncob or wood shavings you run the risk of ingestion and subsequent blockage. Bedding should be changed and cleaned frequently. If you use indoor outdoor carpet, having several pieces cut to the size of the cage allows you to change them out and wash them.

Having large limbs in the cage create a three dimensional area for the snake to move in. It gets him up off the floor and effectively multiplies the available moving space in the cage.

Most snakes eat small mammals. The choice and frequency is based on the size and type of snake you have. You may start with pinkies, which are baby mice, and go up to rats and even rabbits. Some snakes prefer frogs and small reptiles. Most snakes eat every two to four weeks when they are adults. They eat more frequently when they are babies. The food selection and frequency are best determined by discussing this with knowledgeable snake owners.

As you can see, a snake is a whole different ball game from dogs and cats. Be very sure you want to embark on this undertaking. Do a lot of research and consulting before you take the plunge.

Dear readers: If you have any comments or questions, I can be contacted at or you can write me at Dr. Dara Johns, P.O. Box 224, Valparaiso, FL 32580.

Pets Stolen For Quick Cash

BALTIMORE -- Some people looking to make quick cash in the tough economy are stealing pets in what has become a booming and disturbing industry in Maryland.

In early November, Joe Thompson had his 3-year-old Toy Shih-Tzu, Diva, in his hands during a routine midnight stroll in the 2800 block of Erdman Avenue in northeast Baltimore.

"I cry every time I see these fliers. I want my dog. I don't want to press no charges or nothing. Just give me my dog back. That's all I want is my dog."
- Joe Thompson

"Me and my dog (are) just strolling. The next thing I know, he had put his hand on me and pulled me toward him and I'm talking to him, 'Man, back up I don't know you,'" Thompson explained.

Thompson told the WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team and Baltimore City police detectives that the assailant grabbed Diva and fled on foot. Thompson said he gave chase until he became too winded.

"He said, 'Diva's been stolen.' And, I'm like, 'Are you joking?'" said Thompson's wife, Michelle Rayner-Thompson.

The couple plastered fliers all over the neighborhood and contacted veterinarians and dog groomers. They also spread the word via social media. To the Thompsons, Diva is worth much more than the $1,300 toy Shih-Tzus can fetch.

"I cry every time I see these fliers. I want my dog," Thompson said. "I don't want to press no charges or nothing. Just give me my dog back. That's all I want is my dog."

"I just broke down and started sobbing and I said, 'They've stolen my baby,'" Rayner-Thompson said.

Kennel Club: Pet Thefts On Rise

Police do not track the incidences of stolen pets, but there's good indication pet theft is on the rise, WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team reporter David Collins reported. Baltimore police said they aren't able to specify how many pets are stolen because the animals are considered property, so the crime is recorded as a robbery or larceny, which is not broken down by what was taken.

For the first seven months of last year, the American Kennel Club received 150 reports of stolen pets. For the same time period this year, the club received 224 reports -- a 67 percent increase. Reports indicate pets are stolen during home invasions, from parked cars and from owners like Thompson who may be out for a walk.

For the first time this year, the club said it has seen a new trend of dogs stolen from shelters and adoption events.

Ines de Pablo, co-founder of pet safety company Wag'N Enterprises, said stolen pets are often resold on the Internet for an easy buck.

"It's quick money," de Pablo said.

Perhaps more disturbing is how they are often used in the Baltimore area -- as bait for dogfighting rings.

"Unfortunately, it's a really sick thing to say, but they always need prey dogs for the fighting dogs to learn their killing skills on or the attack skills. So, they need bait, and they will pay for some of those bait dogs," de Pablo said.

Last November, Baltimore City police broke up a pit bull ring on Payson Street, where city animal control officials said they believe some of the rescued puppies were being used as bait.

Some Pets Held For Ransom

Experts have warned that pets are also stolen and held for ransom. A puppy named Scrappy, along with his older brother, Scooby, escaped from their back yard, after which Jajie Shabay Walker, 21, called the dogs' owner, Gloria Chicas, saying he found the dogs but wanted money for their return, according to officials.

Chicas said Walker told her, "You have to give me $200."

The ransom was only for one animal, and during the time the dogs were held, Scooby was accidentally struck by a car and killed. Walker has since pleaded guilty to extortion, but he was not prosecuted for theft. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail and paid $65 in restitution for the loss of Scooby.

As for the Thompsons, they believe Diva has been sold.

"(We're) not giving up. Even through we are getting another dog, we want Diva to come home. We'll just have two," Rayner-Thompson said.

In response to the pet theft trend, dog advocates have advised against buying a pet through the online classified website Craigslist. They also warn against telling people how much you paid for a specific breed. Finally, they recommend inserting a microchip or getting a tattoo on your pet's inside thigh.

Advocates also advise against leaving pets unattended in a vehicle or yard.

Cat with 26 Toes Saves Animal Shelter
by Tim Wening -

In an odd twist of fate, a once unwanted cat has come to the rescue of an animal shelter in need of a new home.

But this is no typical cat, this orange and white tabby named Daniel is a very special kitty. He has a near-record 26 toes, a phenomenon that is helping the nonprofit Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center raise money to relocate to a new building.

Normal cats have 18 toes, but Daniel has two extra on each foot due to a genetic mutation called polydactylism.

Officials at the center found out their rent at a Milwaukee area mall was being doubled on Jan. 1. So, the shelter is buying a new building and is seeking small donations of $26 or $1 per toe. They've collected enough so far to secure the financing with about $80,000 raised since Oct. 24, but they hope to raise $120,000 by Dec. 23 so they can become even more financially stable. About $50,000 of the money raised has come from $26 donations.

"I've always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and this is definitely the case," said Amy Rowell, owner of Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center in Greendale. She found Daniel in October at animal control when she went to pick up another cat. As she bent down to that cat's cage, Daniel stuck his paw out and poked her head. "He was very clearly saying, 'I need to be rescued, I'd like to be your friend, please pay attention to me,'" she said. "And when a sign is that obvious, we tend to not ignore it."

Daniel was originally going to be adopted out, but Rowell has decided to keep him as a shelter mascot. Daniel's 26 toes--two shy of the Guinness World Records number--don't seem to affect his cat activities. "He runs and he plays and he climbs, he uses a scratching post. He seems to be not bothered by it at all," Rowell said.

Pet Advice: Dog Likely Will Outgrow Ills

Q. My whippet puppy, Spanky, is 11 months old. At 8 months, he came down with an eye infection. He was on antibiotic drops which helped, but the eye began looking bad as soon as the drops stopped. We went through two rounds of this eye drop unsuccessfully.

We went to an ophthalmologist who said my dog had follicular conjunctivitis. He prescribed more drops this time with a steroid. It did help but after three weeks on the drops his eye started getting gooey again.

In the meantime, Spanky broke out with pimples (which looked just like acne) on his chin, nose, and the sides of his head. He was put on an oral antibiotic and his eye cleared up.

A few weeks after finishing the antibiotic, Spanky broke out with a new pimple the exact same day the eye started up again.

I am told the two problems are not related, but I'm not so sure. Any suggestions as to what may be causing these problems?

A: The type of conjunctivitis your whippet puppy has is very common in younger dogs. Follicular conjunctivitis is a type of eye inflammation that occurs most commonly in the fall and spring but some animals experience eye discharge throughout the year.

Most young dogs "outgrow" this condition. The small follicles which form on the inside the eyelid allows extra mucus to form, thus the red eyes and increased eye discharge is present. This condition is not contagious to other pets or people and in most dogs; the clinical signs will decrease as the puppy matures. In some dogs, the clinical signs persist for months to several years.

Symptomatic therapy with a topical steroid/antibiotic drop or ointment allows sufficient medical control for most patients. In severe cases, additional topical or oral anti-inflammatory medication is necessary. Keep your dog's eyes clean with moist cotton and apply the medication as directed.

Yes, it sometimes reoccurs days to weeks after you complete the therapy. I often try to taper the therapy from twice daily to once daily and then every other day, whatever regimen will keep it under control. The condition should be rechecked by your veterinarian or the veterinary ophthalmologist while using the therapy as it allows the doctor to assess the degree of improvement and help design the appropriate therapy taper regimen.

The coincidence with the small skin "bumps/pimples" also is common as those are often related to an immature or juvenile immune system. Most dogs often also outgrow the skin problem.

— Michael H. Brown, DVM, MS

Blind Horses, Dogs Find Sweet Life on Farm
By MIKE DI PAOLA - Bloomberg News

The Great North Woods were ablaze with color when I visited the Rolling Dog Farm in Lancaster, N.H. Too bad most of its horses and dogs are blind.

Alayne Marker, co-founder of Rolling Dog Farm, holds blind and deaf dogs, Spencer and Katie, at the Lancaster, N.H., animal sanctuary. Dogs with two disabilities are the most misunderstood animals at the farm, and can be difficult to adopt out.

When I first heard of a sanctuary for disabled animals, I wondered whether it crossed a line, going beyond compassion. The animals, many rescued from shelters across the United States, are blind or deaf or have orthopedic and neurological problems.

"Many times, the day an animal arrives here is the same day it was supposed to be euthanized," said Alayne Marker, who co-founded Rolling Dog with her husband, Steve Smith.

Part of me was thinking that ending an animal's suffering might be more humane. Such thoughts are erased within a minute of meeting the animals. For one thing, there is no discernible suffering.

In the paddock, six horses are munching on apples fallen from trees outside the fence. When we enter, the braver ones amble over with an odd gait, heads turned slightly sideways, as they tend to lead with their ears.

"People think of a 1,000-pound animal that can't see as a train wreck waiting to happen," Smith says. "With most horses, if you give them enough time in a safe environment, they can adapt to blindness and have a wonderful quality of life, as you can see."

The horses may not fully appreciate their idyllic setting, but they seem happy and healthy.

Lena is a pure-bred quarter-horse who went blind from what sounds like abuse. Her trainer had tried to correct her propensity to rear by making her tip over, conditioning her to associate rearing with falling. Repeated blows to her head during this "training" destroyed her optic nerve.

Lena is now a mentor to younger newcomers, teaching them social skills essential for members of a herd. "The blind leading the blind" is a standard joke here.

Marker and Smith founded the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Montana in 2000, and moved the operation to New Hampshire last year, changing "ranch" to "farm" to reflect regional nomenclature. Compared with Montana's vast spaces, the New England site is much closer to essential services, such as vets and grocery stores, saving time and fuel.

They have seven horses and about 30 dogs on their 132-acre farm, plus one full-time staffer to help with the endless chores. Last year their operating costs ran about $500,000, all raised through donations. Many of the animals are up for adoption via, and the farmers spread the word through their website,, Facebook and a quarterly newsletter.

Other residents include some barn cats, a brood of laying hens and 20 Holsteins that graze placidly on the verdant hillside behind the house. The cattle aren't pampered pets, however, but future food for the dogs.

The Holsteins were purchased from a local dairy farmer who had no use for bull calves. Smith and Marker rescued the animals, which would have otherwise had a short and cramped existence before being processed as veal. Instead, they are raised with tender care in an open paddock overlooking the White Mountains. They are even given names.

"Our view is, what's the alternative?" Smith says. "What's better than raising them yourself and knowing exactly how they were treated, that you did everything possible to give them as humane a life as possible?"

Smith and Marker say the most misunderstood animals here are the ones that are both blind and deaf. Most people can't imagine that a life in darkness and silence can be worth living, so they are difficult to get adopted.

I meet Spencer and Katie, an inseparable pair of lively deaf and blind dachshunds, but I don't think I would have been aware of either disability if I hadn't been told. They seem happy, and why not? With a diet of grass-fed beef and fresh eggs, they're eating better than most Americans.

"We always tell people, just give them a chance, all they want to be is a dog or a horse and just get on with life, and love and be loved," says Marker. "That's really what it's all about, and we give them that chance here."

How Can You Stop Dogs
from Growling over Food, Toys?
By Patrick Tate -

Each week, Dr. Patrick Tate, chief of the veterinary staff and a general practitioner at Webster Groves Animal Hospital, answers reader questions about pets. This week's question comes from reader Mary Anne McCarthy.

Question: How do I stop my 3-year-old cocker spaniel from growling over her food and toys?

Answer: Unfortunately, growling over food, toys, rawhides, bedding and other “resources” is a common problem among family dogs. This type of behavior is known as “resource guarding” and usually becomes worse if not addressed. It is important for the owner to develop a plan of action before growling turns into biting (especially if there are young children in the home).

There are two methods that a pet owner can use to help alleviate the problem.

The first is to isolate the dog during feeding times, and remove ALL objects (toys, chews, bedding, etc.) that have been “guarded.” This method does not change the negative behavior, but it does prevent a biting incident and may keep the problem from getting worse.

The second method is to utilize behavior modification techniques (desensitization, counter-conditioning, etc.) to help the dog understand that the approach of a human to the canine’s food, toys and space, etc. is a positive thing. It is best to start these techniques when the dog is a puppy, but they can be successful with an older pet. A helpful source of information is Jean Donaldson's book called "Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs" (available at

If the problem is mild, a pet owner may be able to improve or correct the behavior without professional help. However, for more serious resource guarding issues (or if young children are present), it is wise to consult an animal behavior specialist.

To find qualified specialists, talk with a veterinarian and/or see recommendations by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists at and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) at

Do you have a question for Dr. Tate? Email your questions to Webster Groves Patch Editor Sheri Gassaway. Be sure to attach a photo of your pet, and we'll feature it along with your question!

About this column: Dr. Patrick Tate, chief of the veterinary staff and a general practitioner at Webster Groves Animal Hospital, answers reader questions about pets.