Does Your Pet Have 'Special Skills'?

Scottish Deerhound Top Dog at Westminster Show

Hickory, winner of the 2011 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.(CBSNews)

On Tuesday night, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show narrowed down the field of 2,500 competitors to just one.

Hickory, a 5-year-old Scottish deerhound, was named "Best in Show."

Hickory and her handler, Angela Lloyd, appeared on On the "Early Show" Wednesday with David Frei, who has been host of the Westminster show for more than 20 years.

Lloyd said the honor was the biggest in her handling career.

Was she nervous on the night of the competition?

"Amazingly not," Lloyd said.

She said Hickory was confident from the beginning of the show.

Lloyd said, "She went in the ring last night. That was the best she had ever shown for me in the whole two-and-a-half years that I've shown her, and she owned it."

"Early Show" co-anchor Jeff Glor noted, "She's so composed. We've been hanging out with her a little bit this morning behind the scenes here and she hasn't made a peep, she's so well behaved. Especially with everything she's been through here."

But that's not the end of the fun for Hickory.

Frei said her media tour will continue throughout New York City Wednesday.

He explained, "She goes from here to a couple of other stops. Eventually we get to the observation deck at the Empire State Building, where all the great champions go. From there, to Sardi's (restaurant), where they serve her sliced steak on a silver platter. And eventually, we're going to end up at the Ronald McDonald house and visit some pediatric oncology patients."

He added, "She's the world's newest single-name celebrity."

As for Hickory's win, Frei said she stood out because she had all the winning traits.

"Any time you come down to the final lineup, you've got seven great dogs, so to win it, and she did this, you have to own the ground you stand over. Whether you call it charisma or personality or showmanship, she had it all."

Frei said he had his eye on Hickory in competitions for years.

"Well, I raised Afghan hounds, so I have a good eye for sight hounds, as she is," he said. "I knew she was a great dog when I saw her a couple of years ago when she was first starting out. Under Angela's wonderful hand, she's done great things. Won 14 best in shows, now 15. Ready to retire."

Co-anchor Chris Wragge remarked, "Big dog. (Hickory's) like a pony."

Glor noted the dog weighs 85 pounds. He added, "You know what I like about Hickory. She's a country girl."

Lloyd said, "She is a country girl. She likes to go home and run on the farm."

"Pretty soon she'll be able to," Hill said. "But first the world tour. Congrats."

Dog Show Is 'Must See TV' For Redding Canine

REDDING, Calif. -- The Westminster Dog Show has a new top dog. The Giant Scottish Deerhound, named Hickory, won best in show during Tuesday night's competition.

If dogs count as viewers, they might boost the television ratings. Buster, a Boxer from Redding, was glued in front of the television last night. As soon as his owner, KRCR-TV news anchor Mike Mangas turned on the show, Buster couldn't take his eyes away from all the action on the screen.

He sat in rapt attention, checking out the different breeds.

One of his favorites was the very first dog shown, a Brittany named Tucker, who is also from Redding.

Tucker didn’t win the show, but Buster seemed to enjoy the program anyway.

The Cat Burglar Who's Actually a Cat

A klepto kitty named Dusty has stolen hundreds of items from his California neighbors over the last three years

Dusty, or "Klepto" as he is known in the neighborhood, has stolen about 600 items from nearby homes.

The video: A devious house cat in San Mateo, Calif., has committed a string of the cutest robberies imaginable. Dusty, a 6-year-old mixed breed feline, has pilfered about 600 items from neighbors' yards over the past three years, including towels, underwear, shoes (retrieved one at a time), and children's toys. In a local news report, Dusty's owners say that he typically goes on the prowl at night and returns in the morning with a pinched memento or two — in one memorable run, he stole 11 different items. His most common target: bathing suits drying outside.

The reaction: Dusty's burglaries "may seem benign," says The Huffington Post. But what if other neighborhood cats get the same idea? "You would have to call those cats something clever, something like 'cat mimics,' or 'cat copiers' or 'cats committing crimes similar to other cats'...we'll think of something."

Alex Balk at The Awl says that viewers of this news report should "be forewarned that this segment ends with the line, "It's a purr-fect night for a heist." Excepting that, "it is two minutes of pure American local news delight." Click here to watch an exposé on the (literal) cat burglar.

Driver's Dog Turns into Stool Pigeon

MORO, Ore. — An Oregon sheriff's deputy didn't need a drug dog to point out a stash during a recent traffic stop. The driver's dog did it for him.

Sherman County sheriff's Sgt. John Terrel was pulling over a pickup truck Feb. 9 when he saw a sock fly out the window. It turned out to be stuffed with marijuana and hashish.

The driver told Terrel he was trying to hide the sock, but his pit bull mix grabbed it and wouldn't let go, enjoying a tug-of-war game.

Pet Detective Quits Search
By Damian Inwood, The Province

Heartbroken Burnaby couple pay sleuth $1,000 to find Luna

Robin and Lisa Hoare of Burnaby were so heartbroken when their tabby cat Luna went missing they paid Washington State pet detective Harry Oakes more than $1,000 to try to find her.

Oakes and Willow, his border collie tracking dog, followed Luna's scent more than 10 kilometres to New Westminster before giving up last week.

"We got our two cats, Luna and Bear, around the time we got engaged in January 2010," said Hoare Wednesday. "We figure they were born, we always say, on the day I proposed to my wife. They're sister and brother and were found in a Dumpster."

The indoor cats got out on the evening of Feb. 4 from the couple's Berkley Street home, a block from Canada Way and Imperial Street, but only Bear returned.

The couple searched the neighbourhood, put up posters and contacted animal shelters.

Oakes, who runs International K-9 Search and Rescue Services in Longview, Wash., brought Willow up last Thursday and immediately found Luna's trail, which led through a nearby school, up Canada Way to New Westminster Quay and along the railway tracks, said Hoare.

He said the search was called off when it got too expensive.

"Our best guess is that it was a transient who picked her up and put her in his cart," added Hoare.

"For the first week, Bear is not eating much at all, just wandering around the house crying a lot. He'll sniff around the spot where Luna used to sleep, cry a bit and fall asleep right there."

Oakes said that whoever took the cat knew the city and took short cuts around schools and across railway tracks.

Anyone with information on Luna's whereabouts should call 778-996-2959

S.F. Dog Walkers
 Could be Required to Get Permits
Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer

Angela Gardner, from All About Paws, gives treats to her afternoon group of six dogs at Crissy Field. Federal authorities are looking to expand restrictions on dogs on Golden Gate National Recreation Area lands.

Professional dog walkers in San Francisco may soon need a permit to take their four-legged clients to city parks.

The suggestion, unleashed Tuesday by Supervisor Scott Wiener, comes as federal authorities are looking to significantly expand restrictions on dogs on Golden Gate National Recreation Area property, which city officials fear could dramatically increase the number of pooches visiting San Francisco's public parks.

"You're going to see increased tension, increased maintenance requirements and increased needs for enforcement," said Wiener, who after just 1 1/2 months on the job is stepping into one of San Francisco's most politically charged issues - dogs. At this stage, Wiener is gathering information to include in possible legislation.

He is not the first supervisor to look into the feasibility of requiring permits for professional dog walkers. Supervisor Amos Brown, irked about the proliferation of dog poop in parks that he said was left by inattentive caretakers, proposed the idea in 1999, but it went nowhere. The city's Animal Control and Welfare Commission later took up the cause, but it, too, was shelved.

Backing of dog people
This time, however, Wiener has the backing of some of the most vocal dog advocates, who realize that if their right to run Rover untethered on federal parkland is banned outright in more areas or further curtailed in others, the battle over dogs will move to city parks, which have been the center of impassioned clashes over canines in the past.

"The GGNRA has been an important safety valve for our city parks," said Sally Stephens, chairwoman of San Francisco Dog Owners Group. If that safety valve is narrowed, she said, "it's going to exacerbate an already difficult situation with people vying for the same limited space."

Regulating commercial dog walkers, she said, would help better assure that they are good stewards of the parks, keep the dogs under control and pick up after them.

Angela Gardner, a representative of the San Francisco Professional Dog Walkers Association, also supports the concept of permits. The reputable ones, she said, already have a city business license, carry insurance and make sure their charges are well-behaved and their waste is disposed of properly.

Barbara Werger puts herself in that category. On Tuesday, she was with eight dogs - big and small - at the city's enclosed dog run area at Walter Haas Park in Diamond Heights.

"Everybody's looking to cooperate and pitch in," she said. "Dogs are not going to go away."

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, which offers off-leash areas in 27 parks, already is considering enacting a permit program for professional dog walkers, in part to bring in extra revenue, said agency spokesman Elton Pon. The park code, he noted, requires permitting for commercial activity.

Matthew Torres, a professional dog walker who was with two dogs in Duboce Park Tuesday afternoon, said getting a permit would be just fine by him - but there's a catch.

"If the city wants us to play by the rules, then they should use the money to improve the dog areas," he said.

Permitting details still need to be worked out, including the cost and whether restrictions would be placed on the number of dogs allowed on each outing. Enforcement could be challenging because park staff is already stretched thin.

"If they're too strict, there are a lot of dog walkers who are going to go out of business," said Gardner. She estimated that there about 300 professional dog walkers in San Francisco. City officials have put the number of dogs living in town at about 100,000 - or about one for every eight human residents.

Wiener said he has yet to craft specific parameters and worries that if GGNRA implements its preferred alternative - a plan he opposes - there would be an even greater impact on city parks.

Limits at GGNRA
The GGNRA, in its preferred alternative plan released last month, recommends permits for anyone - not just professionals - who bring more than three dogs to its lands. In addition, each person would be limited to six dogs at a time. A price has yet to be attached to the proposed permits, said Howard Levitt, spokesman for the GGNRA.

The proposed dog management plan outlines rules for dog walking in 21 areas of the 75,000-acre national park that stretches across coastal areas in San Mateo, San Francisco and Marin counties. The area includes such popular dog-walking destinations as Forth Funston, Crissy Field and Ocean Beach. The GGNRA is still taking public comments on the proposal. The new rules, if adopted, wouldn't go into effect until next year.

Mike Tyson Started Fighting
 To Protect His Pet Birds

Boxing champ Mike Tyson has revealed his first fight was over a pet bird.

The fearsome sportsman and avid pigeon fancier will go public with his love for bird racing in new reality show Taking on Tyson, which premieres in America next month - and he insists he's always been a fan of his feathered friends.

And it was defending his passion as a child that first made him realize he was a fighter.

The Hangover star says, "I was nine or 10 years old, and I have 200 birds (sic). I showed the birds to people who I thought were my friends, and they got a bunch of guys to come and snatch my birds. One guy said, 'You want it?' There was blood on my face, and I tried to fight him. I was scared to death.

"I didn't really beat him up, but I hit him more than he hit me so I thought I won... That was the beginning of my fighting life."

California Gets a New First Dog:
 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Named Sutter
Joins Jerry Brown's Family

California has a new first dog in Sutter, a 7-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi recently adopted by Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown.

The Times' California state politics blog PolitiCal reported in early January that the corgi was being considered for a top spot in the governor's administration. The Browns' previous pet, a dog named Dharma, passed away in 2010.

Sutter had belonged to Gov. Brown's sister Kathleen, a Goldman Sachs executive and former state treasurer who recently moved to Chicago. The governor and first lady had been caring for Sutter since Kathleen Brown's departure.

"He finds all the extra food lying on the floor in the office," Gust Brown told the Sacramento Bee of Sutter's job duties. "He barks at anyone, he gives snuggles, he warms up the Republicans." Beyond Republican-warming, his hobbies include herding and accompanying the Browns on jogs.

The Humane Society of the United States was quick to praise the Browns' decision to adopt Sutter; Wayne Pacelle, the group's president and chief executive, wrote on his blog that "we're excited whenever the cause of companion animal adoption gets a boost."

"At the moment, Sacramento's leaders are making tough decisions about the state's budget, and Sutter's presence in the building is a welcome morale boost for everyone," said Jennifer Fearing, the Humane Society's California state director and the author of a book about dogs in the workplace.

Pembroke Welsh corgis and their cousins, Cardigan Welsh corgis, are small, sturdy herding dogs that specialized in keeping cattle in line in their native Wales. Queen Elizabeth II has a well-publicized love of the Pembroke and bred the dogs for many years; she has reportedly owned about 30 corgis and corgi mixes since she was given her first Pembroke, a female named Susan, as a gift for her 18th birthday.

Kevin Harvick Dishes on Dogs,
 a Roast and a Diamond Ring
By Harold Hinson -

Editor's note: NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick documented the weeks leading up to the Daytona 500 in an exclusive diary for USA TODAY. This is the final entry:

Nobody asked me if I wanted to get roasted Tuesday in Daytona Beach, but I got the last laugh, so that's all that matters. I had a great time at the event, which Speed is showing Saturday at 9 p.m. My wife, DeLana; Tony Stewart; Elliott Sadler; Ron Hornaday Jr., and a trio of comedians took turns giving me a hard time. I held the trump card as the last on stage.

This was a fun event to kick off the season and fun for fans to watch on TV. A lot of people don't get to see this side of us and the goofy things we do.

It's been a busy week for us. One of our three dogs, Endy, had surgery to relieve a bulging disk. He's one of our two German shepherds; the other is named Bebe. We also have a Chihuahua named Lo (short for Little One).

Lo is the only one who travels with us. Endy's gotten too old at 12. We got him in 2001 because of everything that happened after Dale Earnhardt died. We had people figuring out where we lived, wandering through our driveway and knocking on the door. So instead of buying a gun, we bought Endy. He was fully trained in obedience and protection. DeLana felt a lot better about staying home because there were a lot of weird things happening.

But he's gotten old, and he can't get up and down in the motor home anymore, so he stays home. The other dog, Bebe, is just hyperactive. She'd be all over the place all the time.

Richard Childress and Dale had protection dogs, too, so we got them from the same breeder in Charlotte. DeLana had shepherds before, but I always had mutts. I about fell over when they told me how much we had to pay for a dog. I always thought dogs were free because we went to the pound and got them.

He's way better than any gun you can buy. He knows when something's wrong. When we moved into our new house, the front doors blew open one night, and the alarm went off. The dog popped up and knew what to do. When we first got him, the breeder would train him by acting like an intruder. The guy wore a special suit, and Endy absolutely would attack it until his teeth would bleed. So he could handle the business. As he's gotten older, he's gotten softer, though. He's a great pet.

Click here to continue reading.

Yo Quiero Bite You!

There were a record number of dog bites in the city last year -- with pint-sized Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus surprisingly among the top five culprits, The Post has learned.

The city's most vicious dog -- measured by the number of bites on humans reported last year -- was the pit bull, with 815 reported chompings. That's nearly a quarter of the 3,609 bites recorded in 2010, the highest annual number in the data provided by the Health Department.

The pit was followed by the Rottweiler, Shih Tzu, Chihuahua and standard poodle.

A Shih Tzu -

The aggression by little dogs can sometimes be blamed on the way fashionable New Yorkers choose to cart them around while going shopping or running errands.

"Small dogs may frequently be put in situations that are more provocative than, say, a Labrador is exposed to," said Dr. E'Lise Christensen, a vet-behaviorist at NYC Veterinary Specialists.

"For example, most people don't take their Labradors to Bloomingdale's," she said.

"We call it the 'poor little rich dog' effect, where people take their small dogs to department stores and all the sales people touch them. Owners get bitten, and stranger aggression is really a problem in dogs."

Anthony Jerone, who runs a dog-training school in Queens, said that in the dogs' minds, size doesn't matter.

"Dogs don't know how big they are," he said. "Whether they are a 5-pound Chihuahua or a 100-pound Lab, they act out of instinct."

Joy Oriol, 38, who was walking her pet pit bull on the Upper West Side, defended it as "playful."

"They're yippy and loud, and they have the Napoleon complex," she said. "It's just a given that when those kinds of dogs walk by, they're going to be aggressive and act like, 'You're big, but I'm going to get you.' "

Staten Island dog trainer Amanda Quattrocchi said she was surprised that Shih Tzus were only five bites behind Rottweilers on the list.

"I know they are nippy but they don't really bite that much. I have never worked with a Shih Tzu that is ferocious."

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Premiums
When Costly Veterinary Bills Arise?
By: Sunny Freeman, The Canadian Press

- Silver tabby, male, neutered, vaccinated, lame leg and tilted head.

Among all the sweet-looking kittens and cats at Toronto Cat Rescue, we chose this one; although perhaps it would be more apt to say — as pet owners often do — that he chose us.
Some caveats to consider when comparing Canadian pet insurance plans The head tilt that inspired our cat's name was caused by an untreated ear infection that ruptured his ear drum and permanently threw off his balance.

When Tilt was in for his preliminary vet visit, an X-ray revealed the cat had also been shot, with two BB gun pellets still lodged in a fleshy part of his stomach.

Tilt's vet said the problems should not lead to higher health-care costs, but with a medical history like this, my boyfriend and I were worried about how to prepare our finances for an emergency.

We were given six weeks of free pet insurance through Petsecure, an option that I had never thought about, but seemed a logical consideration for a cat that came with a head tilt and two bullets.

Only one or two per cent of Canadian pet owners have pet insurance, but it is becoming more popular as veterinary medicine becomes more advanced and expensive.

Many vet offices have brochures that claim the security of insurance can reduce stress when emotional and expensive decisions arise.

However, some pet owners — unhappy with premium increases, rejected claims or reduced coverage — say they'd rather self-insure by tucking away money each month with the guarantee that when the time comes, they'll be covered.

After speaking with vets and pet owners, I'm weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each investment approach given the unique medical history of our Tilt.

There are several pet insurers in Canada from various animal-care societies to PC Financial, each of which offers several intricate plans ranging from accident-only to unlimited plans that include annual check ups (most do not).

Randy Valpy, president and CEO of Petsecure, Canada's largest pet insurer, assured me that the investment is worth the money for every pet — even a cat like Tilt, whose pre-existing conditions exclude him from coverage for the medical issues I'm concerned about.

"Insurance for pets is no different from home or auto or anything else. It's there to protect you and provide you with peace of mind," he says.

Valpy reminds me that there are a host of medical conditions — most of which cost a lot more than treatment for an ear infection — that can arise in seemingly healthy pets. Cancer treatments for example can cost over $10,000.

His assessment of the illnesses that Tilt's plan would not cover is vague, but seems to include any ear or stomach issues that result from the pre-existing conditions — a determination that would be made by the vet treating him.

"We don't get a lot like him," Valpy says.

When I call the hotline to inquire about Tilt's pre-existing conditions, the sympathetic customer service representative is not much more helpful in pin pointing specific exclusions. It's only possible to ascertain once you've signed up and your pet's medical records are submitted, she says.

Lacking specifics makes my choice more difficult, so I call veterinarian David Kerr at North Hill Animal Hospital in Bolton, Ont., who warns me there's probably nothing a vet could say to the insurance company that would convince it to insure Tilt for those areas.

"If you're expecting your kitty to have problems because of the bullet, then the insurance probably isn't any good," he says.

"But having all these other potential things that can happen with cats, insurance would help you allay the costs of those medical expenses."

Kerr says he always recommends coverage because most Canadians are unaware of how much pet health care costs. In Kerr's experience, insurers have been willing to accept claims and he's seen it save owners thousands of dollars.

"You're buying insurance because you're gambling that your pet is going to get sick, and the company is giving you insurance and gambling that your pet is not going to get sick, so really it's who wins the gamble," Kerr says.

But I'm still worried that given Tilt's exclusions, an insurance plan might be risky.

I've heard from pet owners who bought insurance and regret it, and also from those who have gone into debt to pay astronomical bills and wish they had been covered.

When I seek out the advice of a dog owner named Victoria, she tells me that she cancelled her policy in favour of an emergency savings account.

Victoria took out a policy the day she adopted her Dalmatian but became fed up with rising premiums — which started at around $60 per month but increased to around $88 per month in four years — even as her insurer began to reject her claims.

"We were paying them thousands and we were paying thousands in vet bills that they wouldn't cover... for $88 a month, you should be able to claim whatever."

When her dog was around three, Victoria decided to invest that money through a payroll savings bond that is deducted from her paycheque automatically.

It was enough to pay off a "colossal" vet bill near the end of the Dalmatian's life — $7,000 for a spinal cord injury.

For Tilt, the average mid-range cat insurance plan that covers 80 per cent of costs and up to about $2,500 per claim works out to about $300 a year, plus a $200 annual deductible.

Vet bills for our young and healthy, if lop-sided cat, aren't likely to cost $500 a year. But if I opt to put the money aside myself I must be diligent enough to commit to monthly payments and dedicated enough to ignore the money if some other household emergency comes up.

Either way, I've learned that investing in Tilt's health now—whether it be through personal savings or a pet insurance policy — acts as protection against a potentially heart-wrenching decision if he ever needs a $5,000 surgery.

Time to Make Rude Pet Owners Feel Like Poop for Fouling Sidewalks and Not Cleaning Up
Michael Daly -

Monaster/News - Jordan Kaplan cleans up after Monte during a walk in this file photo. The melting snow has provided copious evidence of the number of pet-owning New Yorkers who aren't as considerate. The melting snow reveals the accumulated proof of how many lazy creeps don't clean up after their dogs.

Unscooped poops that have been adding up since before Christmas now litter the pavement as the last remnants of the two big storms vanish.

Each unscoop is a violation of Section 1310 of the New York State Health Code and Section 161.03 of the New York City Health Code, the latter carrying a $250 fine.

The lead agency in enforcing the law is the Department of Sanitation, which has a special plainclothes canine task force.

Somehow, its 32 members issued just 508 summonses in all of last year.

That is an average of not even two summonses a month for each member, less than two a day for the whole unit.

Okay, the law is difficult to enforce because the agent must actually see the violator walk off without scooping.

Even so, not even two summonses a day?

At least there is no quota.

I can hear Fran Lee Weiss howling from her grave. She was the "eminence of effluence" who got New York to enact the nation's first pooper scooper law in 1978.

She hoped that "poodle maids" would be deployed like meter maids, but all we have are the Sanit 32.

The mayor of the Israeli town of Petah Tikva experienced similar frustration enforcing its pooper scooper law. He then embarked on building a DNA database of the town's dogs. Unscooped poop was tested and the owner identified. The cost of a test was more than covered by the resulting fine.

Even the City of New York might be able to perpetuate such a program. And not even the ACLU is likely to argue that a doggie DNA database would violate canine civil rights.

At the very least, we should change the punishment for the one or two creeps a week who are caught to include a considerable period of community service cleaning up the poops other creeps failed to scoop.

A violator should have to wear a vest marked POOPER SCOOPER. The verbal abuse he would surely suffer might prove to be an actual deterrent.

In the meantime, let's praise Giovanna Gould of Brooklyn, who goes beyond the obligation to clean up after her own dog, Luna. She also scoops what others fail to scoop, even when it is frozen to the pavement.

"I have to kick it hard," she said.

The prevailing view is one she happened to overhear yesterday.

"I heard people this morning saying, 'I'm never going to pick up other people's poop,'" she said.

Gould deserves to call New York her city because she treats it as her city, as where she raises her kids and walks her dog, not just where you leave a mess because the person who made it failed to clean it up.

"I pick it up because it's so disgusting," she said.

Where unscooped poops testify to the creeps among us, Gould shows there are also decent souls by stooping to scoop it.

And, in doing so, she further proves that beauty can arise in this city even from what is indeed so disgusting.

Debarking and Declawing Pets Under Fire
Rick Boone -

SACRAMENTO — Nearly 60% of pet owners say it’s okay to have a cat declawed, but only 8% approve of having a dog’s vocal chords removed. But PETA wants all the procedures stopped altogether.

The agency is calling for operations to halt immediately. The group says the operations are crippling animals and are just outdated.

PETA believes adjusting a dog's voice for human convenience is downright mutilation and declawing can cause medical problems they will live with for the rest of their lives, since doctors have to cut off parts of their paws for the operation.

While most pet owner aren’t on-board with PETA all of the time, they do believe that animals have certain rights, just like humans.

“Yeah come on, it’s like giving my wife a breast enlargement operation without her consent,” says pet owner Paul Suave, who thinks most pet owners just need to chill and think twice before changing the family pet, even if the barking might be aggravation to neighbors.

Another option to debarking your dog could be fitting them with a special debarking collar which you’ll find at most pet stores.

Sadie's Seizures Point to Epilepsy
By JEFF KAHLER, D.V.M. - McClatchy Newspapers

Witnessing a seizure in a pet, especially for the first time, can be quite dramatic. With no way to assist while the dog convulses, one feels truly helpless.

This scenario was thrust upon Melissa as she watched Sadie, her 3-year-old Shih-tzu, convulsing on the floor.

Melissa could point to nothing that might have set off this episode, which seemed to go on for 11/2 hours, though it probably lasted only a few minutes. After the seizure, and after Sadie had a chance to rest, she appeared to return entirely to normal.

Everything was fine until the next seizure. This time, it lasted longer and Sadie lost control of her bowel and bladder. Melissa has made an appointment for Sadie with her veterinarian. In the meantime, she is looking for possible causes for Sadie's seizures.

Seizures can be scary to witness. They are not painful, but can be exhausting. Trauma can occur if, during a seizure, a dog falls or otherwise injures its body while convulsing. It is important to try to prevent this if your dog is seizuring. However, do not get near the canine's mouth, as it may inadvertently clamp down with its jaws.

In simple terms, think of a seizure as an uncontrolled discharge of signals from a particular focus in the brain. The body then sets about convulsing in response and, depending on how severe the discharge becomes, the seizure can be anywhere from very subtle tremors (petite mal) to massive convulsions, including loss of bowel and urine control (grand mal.) Sadie is now showing grand mal seizures.

The top cause for seizuring in dogs is epilepsy. Other possible causes include certain metabolic diseases, especially ones that affect the liver or kidneys. If either of these organ systems is compromised, certain chemicals can build up in the bloodstream and affect the brain, causing seizures. Blood work can help rule out these possibilities.

A brain tumor can also cause a seizure, but it is unlikely Sadie has a brain mass; she is a young dog. There are many other possible causes, but the overwhelming odds are that Sadie is an epileptic dog.

The key in dealing with seizures is prevention. Once seizures begin, it can become easier and easier for them to occur. That said, there are cases where a dog will seizure once and never again. Still, have your dog examined after a seizure, get blood work done to rule out a metabolic cause and then wait to see if another seizure occurs within a certain time period. This period is arbitrary; I use a month. If a seizure recurs, then it is time to treat.

Treatment for epilepsy - because I am assuming Sadie has epilepsy - would include anti-seizure medication. There are several, Phenobarbital being the most common. Sometimes we have to use a combination therapy with more than one drug to suppress the seizure focus. Dogs with brain masses need a far more involved course of therapy.

Each seizure case has its own nuances. I hope Sadie can be treated as an epileptic and, as a result, live a perfectly normal, seizure-free life.

(Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto, Calif. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto CA 95352.)

AC Pup:
More Tips to Prevent You
from Losing Your Pets

I’m working so hard to reduce the number of animals that come into Macon Bibb County Animal Control shelter each year.

One of the best ways to do this is to decrease the number of animals that are at the shelter simply because they’re lost and we have no way to find their families.

Obviously they’re not able to tell us where they live, so they must rely on their parents to make sure they’re not lost in the first place.

Losing a beloved pet and not being able to find him can totally shake your life. It’s very upsetting not to know if he’s safe, hungry, hurt or scared because he can’t find his way back home. This emotional trauma is preventable if you take some simple precautions.

In last week’s column, I mentioned having a legible ID tag, microchipping and keeping them confined inside during fireworks and thunderstorms. But there are more things that can be done to keep everyone safe and sound.

First, keep them on a leash when walking outside of a fenced area. There are many people who are heartbroken today because they’re missing a dog they thought would walk with them under voice command. All it takes is for the dog to see a squirrel or bunny to chase, and away they go. So please keep them on a leash.

Now, it’s important to look at what the leash is attached to. Please, please, please when you take them for a walk, attach the leash to either a harness or a non-slip collar. Dogs and cats -- yes there are cats that walk on leashes -- can easily pull out of a collar that is non-slip, and you may end up holding an empty leash if your pet is spooked during your walk.

Let’s talk about when you attach the leash. Don’t laugh at me for stating the obvious, but if I hadn’t spent a lot of time looking for people’s pets because of this I wouldn’t mention it. Attach the leash before you ever open the door.

Yes, attach the leash before you open the door to your house or car, not after the pet is exposed to the open outdoors.

Once that door is open, he may be so excited he may not wait around for you to attach the leash. It’s that simple.

Finally, the biggest way to keep your pet at home is to have him or her neutered or spayed.

This one action will prevent a multitude of problems such as wandering, overpopulation and future health issues. I can’t emphasize enough how important spaying and neutering really is.

See, it’s pretty easy to help me keep more animals out of the shelter.

Send questions for AC Pup to AC Pup is the mascot for Central Georgia CARES and Macon Animal Control. Visit his website at or his Facebook page.

Woman Reunited with Lost Pet Snake

BOSTON (CNN) - Nearly a month after it slithered away on a Massachusetts train, a woman's pet snake has been found in the same place it vanished.

The snake, named Penelope, got lost in January while Melissa Moorhouse was riding the train.

The Transportation Authority took the train out of service, but there was no sign of the reptile until Thursday, when the snake re-surfaced.

The train's conductor, a snake owner herself, managed to catch her.

"It's a little surreal I think. It doesn't, it seems unbelievable," said Moorhouse.

Moorhouse knew the snake could survive for awhile. Her breed can go months without eating, but they do need heat.

"Currently, we keep the trains warm at night. The trains are constantly warm so the snake had a heat source," said Bill McClellan with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. "I'm so glad we found her because it was becoming folklore that there was a snake on our trains."

Moorhouse is happy to have her beloved pet back where she belongs.

"I think she's starting to get into her snake teenage years and getting a little bit more adventurous than she used to be," she joked.

Do Pets Have a Sixth Sense?

Many of the pet owners who visit your veterinary clinic just might think so.

No, we’re not talking about seeing dead people. A new survey reveals that pet owners think their pets have special skills. Two-thirds of pet owners think their pets have a sixth sense about bad weather and 43 percent say their pets have a sixth sense about bad news, according to an Associate poll. Seventy-two percent of dog owners said they’ve gotten weather warnings from their pets, compared with 66 percent of cat owners. For bad news, 47 percent of dog owners and 41 percent of cat owners said their pets have alerted them to urgent situations.

The reasons for pet owners’ views are hard to know. A sixth sense is something we can’t explain but we tend to trust—it’s a matter of belief. Scientists have suggested that animals sense bad weather because of changes in barometric pressure or other factors. Dogs anticipate seizures, low blood sugar, or other medical problems because of hormonal changes. But scientists haven’t figured out what alerts pets to earthquakes, bad news, or other events—or if it’s just in the eyes of their owners.

When honing in on their sixth sense, 64 percent of those polled said their pets tried to hide in a safe place, 56 percent said they whined or cried, 52 percent said they became hyperactive, erratic, or made unpredictable movements, and 36 percent said they barked or meowed persistently. Often, the pets use more than one form of communication.

Gary Bogue: Ailing Pets:
Making Arrangements for a Dying Cat
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

the star -- the rabbit

prefers Chinese dim sum

not Easter eggs!

-- Nona Mock Wyman, Haikuyun, Walnut Creek

Happy Chinese New Year: Year of the Rabbit!

Dear Gary:

When it is "time."

The Wednesday letter from Y.M. about her cat hit home.

On January 2010, my cat, Mr. Spock, was diagnosed with lung disease. I did not know what to expect, but thanks to a great vet, we have had one very good year together.

Three weeks ago, he started dropping weight.

He still eats a little and is mobile, but I knew that it was time for "the discussion."

We met with the vet Tuesday, and I came away with medications to make Mr. Spock comfortable and the telephone numbers of three vets who will come to the house at the "time."

This is not easy, but I keep telling myself it is about Mr. Spock and not me. I hope that it helps Y.M. to know that he/she is not alone.

Connie Chapman,


Dear Connie:

You're right: When you're trying to decide if it's time to put an ailing pet to sleep, it is about the pet.

You need to ask yourself the question: "Am I keeping my pet alive for itself, or for me?"

If you're keeping your pet alive just for you, then maybe it's time to have that talk with your veterinarian.

You have obviously asked that question, contacted your vet, made Mr. Spock comfortable, and have arranged for another veterinarian to be available to come to your house when it's time.

No, it is not easy, but you are doing what needs to be done and have arranged to make it as painless as possible for both of you.

Thanks for letting Y.M. know he/she is not alone at this difficult time.

Neither are you.

Dear Gary:

My wife and I have heard that feeding geese and ducks bread is not recommended. Is there something else that is recommended?

Howard Folkman,


Dear Howard:

You are correct. If waterfowl eat a lot of bread and then drink water, the bread can turn into a hard lump, like plaster of Paris, and it's hard to digest.

Best food is "chicken scratch," a mix of large grains, cracked corn, etc., you can buy at feed stores. Go to and search for Bay Area feed stores. There are lots.

Found cat

Orange and brown cat found two weeks ago near Orinda Country Club. Very friendly and appears to be an indoor cat. Is it yours? Call Laurie, 925-283-7856.

Dear Gary:

Most interesting spectacle in our backyard the other day ... 14 robins all at once. I figure the "pack" came by on their way north to greener pastures.

Jim Dickie, Livermore

Dear Jim:

Probably looking for ripe pyracantha berries.

A final note

Gary: Re Y.M. letter and struggle with old kitty. Oh my, it's one of the hardest decisions a pet owner has to make. We just had to say goodbye to Clancy. He would have been 19 the next week. Poor old guy looked pretty awful, too, and he was so tired.

They trust you to decide. Cry, cherish the memories. She had a wonderful life with you and your kindness shows.

Aside note: We had the doggies "sniff and kiss" Clancy goodbye. When we returned from the vet with an empty blanket they went nuts. One cried all day and the other just kept her head on my husband's lap the whole day. Animals do "know," and feel your sorrow, too. (Brenda P., cyberspace)

No comments: