Pet News and Pet Advice

72-Year-Old Florida Man
Saves Pet Dog From Alligator Attack

A Florida dog owner launched a daring attack on a 6-foot alligator that had the man's canine companion between its jaws, The Palm Beach Post reports.

Gary Murphy, 72, was at his home in Palm City, about 80 miles north of Miami, on Thursday evening when he heard his West Highland terrier named "Doogie" making noise in the backyard.

Murphy found his beloved pet in the mouth of an alligator that had entered the yard from marshland behind the property, and launched a rescue bid by jumping on the reptile's backing and hitting it on the head.

"I had loafers on and I hit the back of that gator. It was like jumping on a pile of rocks," Murphy told the newspaper.

The alligator let go of Doogie, who needed veterinary treatment for deep gouges, lung injuries and liver damage, but was expected to make a full recovery.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warned it was alligator mating season -- making the reptiles more active -- and suggested pet owners keep their animals on a leash, especially around water.

Tuscaloosa Miracle:
Owner Finds Lost Cat 3 Weeks After Tornado

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — An Alabama woman thought she had lost nearly everything when a tornado tore her house apart. But miraculously — nearly one month later — she has been reunited with a beloved pet she feared was gone forever.

Judy pugh rushed to her hallway with her three cats when she saw debris spinning in the air. As the roof blew away, a wall fell on top of her.

"I tried to get to my hands and knees and I couldn't," Pugh said. "I heard the young men hollering, 'Miss Judy! Miss Judy! Are you in there?'"

Pugh escaped with black eyes. But she said she would have been sucked away by that tornado if weren't for that very wall.

Out of his remarkable story, her house is gone. She found a couple of keepsakes, including crystal bowls inside her kitchen cabinet that went completely untouched.

While two of her cats survived, one hadn't been seen since the tornado struck. But Pugh did not give up hope, looking every day for the last three weeks for her lost friend.

Unbelievably during our visit, Pugh's shaggy friend of 10 years emerged out of nowhere.

"Come see your mama! Oh God love it!" she said as she cuddled the dirty and hungry — but apparently healthy — pet. "Honey, you probably don't weigh two pounds. Oh honey! I have everything I want now. I have all three cats!"

Cadie made it through the tornado, heat and cold without food or water for nearly a month.

"I've got Cadie! I've got Cadie!" an elated Pugh told a friend on the phone. "I wish she could talk! She could tell me where she's been!"

Reunited once again, Judy Pugh is now ready to move on.

Family Cat Eats Anything
Alecia Warren -

Brandy Fletcher and her daughter Brea, 7, play with their nine-month-old Siamese cat named Hachi at their Hayden home Monday. Fletcher discovered her cat had ate a 2-inch-long sewing needle that it passed through it system seemingly without injury.

COEUR d'ALENE - Brandy Fletcher was worried on Sunday when she saw her cat dragging his body across the carpeting, his shape contorted in a way that something was bothering him.

She suspected what was wrong. She told her friend on the phone she had to go.

"I said, 'Oh, Millie, something's wrong with Hachi. I think he ate my hair again,'" the Hayden woman said.

She grabbed a napkin, she said, and wiped the Siamese cat's rump, figuring whatever he had passed was causing the problem.

It was.

When she glanced at the napkin, she saw thread, attached to her two-inch sewing needle.

"I was thinking, 'Oh my gosh,'" she said. "He ate a needle."

Apparently, it's not a dangerous dessert.

For this cat, anyway.

After eating and passing the pointy fare, the 1-year-old kitty was in no pain on Monday. He was running around, Fletcher said, eating (regular) food without a problem.

"There was no blood. Nothing," Fletcher said. "It doesn't look like he's hurt."

She's not surprised.

Hachiko, or "Hachi," is an adorable, furry vacuum.

The cat eats anything in front of him, Fletcher said. Grapes. Chips. Salsa. Hamburger. Bell peppers. Glazed blueberry doughnut.

And yeah, the cat loves to play with Fletcher's hair, which he licks and occasionally slides down his gullet.

"He's like a dog," she said. "He ate beets a couple weeks ago."

At this point, she doesn't worry when she sees the cat gorging. He has never had any problems from his omnivorous diet, she said.

"I just think, 'It's just Hachi,'" she said. "He's really hardy."

Fletcher doesn't know when the cat devoured the needle.

She had seen Hachi playing with it about a month ago, she said, so she put it on top of a Kleenex box in the bathroom, out of the cat's reach.

Apparently when her husband, Brett, cleaned the bathroom later, the needle ended up on the floor, and then in Hachi's stomach.

"I will never figure out how he got it down his throat," Fletcher said. "I think he was eating the thread, and the needle went down with it."

Dr. Bruce King with Lakewood Animal Hospital in Coeur d'Alene said it's very unusual for a cat to eat and pass a needle without it poking through its intestine or causing chronic vomiting.

"For every one cat that a needle successfully makes it through, there's probably 100 cats that it would cause them to be ill," King said.

It's dangerous for both dogs and cats to gobble up people food, he added.

Raisins and grapes can be toxic, for instance. A stick of gum with sugar substitute can put a pet into a coma, and onions and garlic can break down cats' red blood cells.

"They're safe for humans, but in animals, they can cause them to die," he said.

This cat has just been really lucky, is King's best explanation without examining the cat himself.

But larger portions of certain foods will be more harmful to animals, he cautioned.

"This cat, if it keeps doing what it's doing, some day will come across something that he will meet his match," King said.

Hachi has always been a survivor, Fletcher said.

The Fletchers adopted him after a neighbor found him wandering as a lone stray at just 5 weeks old, she said.

He had ringworm at the time, a fungal infection that required the cat be quarantined in one of their bathrooms.

"He had to be in there for 45 days, with no contact. We had to wash the floors with bleach," she said.

But Hachi pulled through.

"He is the most amazing cat," she said.

Hachi has been a blessing to the family, she added. Beloved by Fletcher's 9 and 7-year-old kids, Bryce and Brea, the cat has also been a source of comfort to Fletcher as she has dealt with multiple sclerosis.

He lays like a baby in her arms, she said. At night, he sleeps on her pillow.

"He has been like my little comforter," she said. "If I'm in pain, he's there to make me feel better."

The family is keeping an eye on Hachi to watch for any signs of injury, Fletcher said.

But she is convinced he's fine.

After all, it's Hachi.

"He's a weird cat," she said. "He's a miracle, is what he is."

A Feline Fracas:
Man Accused of Punching Vet
in the Face Over Cats

A Cape Coral man is accused of throwing fuss at a cat hospital and then punching the veterinarian in the face.

George Brian Middleton, 53, of the 100 block of Southeast 3rd Terrace, also was charged with criminal mischief causing more than $200 in damage after a shelf holding 12 ceramic figurines fell as he left the business with his cats.

According to a Lee County Sheriff’s Office report:

On Monday afternoon deputies were called to the Cat Hospital, 8841 College Parkway, Fort Myers, about a client who had “punched” the veterinarian in the face. Dr. Matthew Gatof and two employees said Middleton had come into the office with his two cats. While talking to an employee, Middleton became upset and used profanity.

Gatof told Middleton his behavior was not acceptable and he would no longer be a client. Gatof was then hit.

Middleton went to get his cats and Gatof left the room while employees called 911.

As Middleton left, the figurines, valued at $500, fell to the ground and shattered.

Deputies went to Middleton’s house and before a deputy finished his statement as to why they were there, Middleton said: “I never touched that man.” He also said the argument began while he discussed appointments with an employee: “I never missed a (expletive) appointment,” and “If I hit him, I would have knocked the holy (expletive) out of him.”

Middleton said he spends $400 a month on his cats and he loves them.

Artsy Patio Made for Cats
By Gerald M. Gay - Arizona Daily Star

Bella the cat lounges on the "catio" at Terese Dennison's home. Dennison wanted a safe outdoor place for her cats that she also could enjoy for activities such as entertaining and grading papers. PHOTO BY JILL TORRANCE / ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Terese Dennison was cool with moving into what she called "the smallest house in Tucson," an 824-square-foot adobe home just south of Reid Park.

She was more concerned for her two cats.

Dennison, a literature and history teacher at Green Fields Country Day School, kept her playful pets, Titus Andronicus and Bella, indoors, for fear that they might scamper into traffic or fall victim to dogs or any number of other Tucson critters.

"It went against every natural tendency a cat has," Dennison said. "I felt really bad for them."

Looking for some freedom for her furry felines, Dennison turned to friend, welder and artist David Voisard, for help.

His solution: An enclosed, steel-enforced "catio," geared toward giving the animals some much-needed space and relieving Dennison of any undue anxiety.

Over the course of four days, Voisard constructed the catio along the length of the west end of the house, using recycled steel T-posts, recycled aluminum panels and 2-inch steel panel grids that run from the gabled roof's edge to the corrugated tin fence that lines Dennison's backyard.

Voisard, 55, had some experience in creating enclosures. He built one for his own cats at his home in Tubac after two of the four were carried off by "aggressive" coyotes.

Voisard, who moved to Southern Arizona from Napa Valley, also witnessed a mountain lion attack on his Shar-Pei, Yogi.

"In two seconds, there were 137 stitches," he explained.

Voisard actively sought out materials for Dennison's catio that were both protective and inviting.

"We didn't want to make it look like a prison," he said. "We wanted the mesh that, once rusted, could blend in and not be ostentatious to the neighbors."

He equipped the catio with a series of creature comforts.

A doggy door leading into the house, allows Titus and Bella, and even Dennison's dog, a large mixed-breed named Niobe, access to come and go as they please throughout the day.

There is a tall tree post suitable for scratching and two large nylon shade screens that Bella likes to use as hammocks.

"She is usually up there when I get home, just watching for my car," Dennison said.

A small sculpted kitten, made from recycled steel, sits atop the catio entrance from the backyard, while another metal cat - this one about 3-feet high with a bright orange fish in its stomach - greets you as you walk in the door.

"There are always artistic elements to my jobs," Voisard said. "I'm in the service area, whether creating something for beauty or for function. So why not make it clean and beautiful, with some humor to it?"

Dennison has gotten just as much use out of the catio.

The space is furnished with several chairs and a decorated patio table where she likes to grade papers and entertain guests on the weekend.

"You are still in the elements," she said. "It rains in the catio. The birds can fly in and poop on the table. It is very open, which is what I wanted."

Catio by the numbers

• Time to complete: Four days.

• Labor: $1,800


• Recycled steel T-posts from Tucson Iron and Metal, 690 E. 36th St.: $135.

• Four recycled aluminum panels from Tucson Iron and Metal: $30 each.

• 2-inch steel panel grids from a wholesaler: $900.

• Fence-post concrete mix: $45.

About the artist

David Voisard, 55, moved to Tubac from Napa Valley nine years ago.

Voisard received his degree in education from Illinois State University but loved creating with his hands and eventually moved into woodworking.

He turned to metal in 1999 when he was offered $10,000 to build three ornate tasting tables for a Napa Valley winery.

He stuck with it after moving to Tubac.

"Arizona is so far from the rich wood resources that exist in California," he said. "Metal still has a freshness, a newness."

From his Southern Arizona studios, under the moniker David Voisard Designs, he creates art, as well as decorative doors, gates and fences for customers both locally and abroad.

His work can be seen at the Oracle Crossing Shopping Center in Oro Valley and at the Tucson International Airport as part of the "Tubac and Surrounding Area Artists" exhibit through Sept. 6.

For more information, visit

Keep Pets Safe

Bears. Bobcats. Coyotes.

We might live in the desert, but it's a jungle out there when it comes to keeping your pet safe from wildlife.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a few guidelines on keeping them out of harm's way:

• Feed your pets inside the house. If they do eat outside, feed them only what they can eat in one sitting and take in any leftovers.

• Avoid feeding any desert creatures.

• Eliminate garbage can odors by cleaning them with a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution. Put out the trash on the morning of pickup, not the night before.

• Never leave your pet by itself. If you do, make sure they are in a secure enclosure with a strong roof.

Pets are 'Family' for Life on the Streets

Elizabeth White, 18, and her dog Virginia have been in the Tampa Bay area since Thanksgiving. ALESA COMMEDORE/ USF MMJ

David Pitts and his 50-pound American Pit Bull Terrier and American Bull dog mix, Porky.

TAMPA -- David Pitts loves waking up to his two companions, Porky and Amigo. Porky follows Pitts around everywhere, and Amigo lies comfortably on Pitts' shoulders.

There is a lot of love in this family.

But when the day is over, Pitts, 44, and his companions spend the night under a bridge at Interstate 75 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. They are homeless.

Porky is a friendly, 1-year-old, 50-pound pit bull-bull dog mix. He was 5 weeks old when Pitts got him. Amigo, is an 11-month-old black, white and copper-colored cat.

About 10 percent of the 3.5 million homeless Americans have pets, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Critics say it's a hard life for an animal, that people living on the streets shouldn't subject animals to that difficult lifestyle.

But Pitts and Elizabeth White, a homeless woman whose constant companion is her German shepherd-chow mix, say that's not true. White said her dog, Virginia, gets food and water every day, and some sort of shelter each night – just like any other pet.

"I feed them first before me," Pitts said. "They're dependent on me and I'm their daddy."

Pitts, who has been out of work and homeless for about a month, doesn't go to shelters because he knows he won't be able to get in. Most Bay area homeless shelters don't accept pets, so he sleeps on the street.

White saves up money so she, Virginia and White's boyfriend can spend a few nights in a motel.

There are many reasons most shelters can't allow pets, said Ed Brant, executive director of Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project, 1339 Park St. in Clearwater.

"If a pet were to urinate or defecate and someone stepped in it, we would be open to a lot of problems," he said.

If pets were allowed, there would have to be someone to clean up after them and someone to ensure they were being properly supervised – all likely paid staff. The shelters also would have to pay more for liability insurance.

Pitts said he wants to work again, and he said he's willing to do any type of work — as long as his animals are welcome there, too.

"It's hard to do it with a cat and a dog because I don't have a place to put them," he said.

So he spends his days in front of Wal-Mart at 11720 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. in Seffner. He doesn't hold a sign asking for help and he doesn't beg.

"I don't ask anybody for money because I believe God will give it to me," he said.

But he does get more attention because of his pets, he added.

"People come to me and say, 'Wow, that's a pretty dog.' They always stop and give us food.

Owning a pet is good for most people, said Brenda Ernest, a veterinarian at Animal Diagnostic and Wellness Center in Temple Terrace.

"Owning a pet in just a general situation lowers your blood pressure," she said.

But for homeless people it does even more.

"It gives them something to focus on besides their plight. I think having a pet helps their self-esteem," she said. "Something loves them even if they think the rest of the world doesn't."

Basic pet care is not that expensive, she said. Most people spend about $400 a year for a dog and $250 a year for a cat for food, flea and heartworm medication, and distemper and rabies vaccines.

Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project, like many other shelters, will not turn away people who want to change their lives, Brant said. If a person has an emergency, the shelter will make temporary accommodations. For example, a person can keep a pet chained outside until a good home can be found for the animal.

Homeless people and others struggling to care for their pets can find help at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa. It offers low-income people free pet food services such as an affordable wellness clinic. The organization also provides free distemper and rabies shots twice a year.

Such services make living on the street with a pet a bit easier.

Pitts is determined to keep Amigo and Porky.

"I got my animals and they're all I need, besides a home," he said. "I love them. They're my family."

My Pet World:
 Forcing Cat to Spend Night Outside
Could Spell Its Doom
By Steve Dale -

Q. I just got married, and my husband wants to let my cat out at night. That's because his mom did that when he was a kid. (By the way, my husband is 69.) Bella doesn't really want to go out at night, although she sometimes goes outside during the day. What can I do?

— B.C., Cyberspace

A. Keep Bella inside and put your husband out. Having an indoor/outdoor cat is one thing, although I'm not a fan of this. Worse is forcing a cat out at night. That's cruel.

I wonder if your husband wants the worst to happen to your cat, because the worst could easily happen. While cats do have exceptional night vision, they're most at risk at night.

Despite what many people seem to think, cats are hit by cars. Other dangers include stray dogs, coyotes and other predators. Where the weather gets cold, temperatures drop lowest at night. Cats seeking shelter may slink under a warm car hood. When an unknowing driver starts the car, the cat is mangled. The list of hazards goes on.

What's more, Bella might use a neighbor's garden as a litter box. She could kill songbirds or other wildlife. Our pets don't belong unsupervised outside.

While I have similar concerns about cats outside during the day, at night life truly is more dangerous. Please show your new husband this column. My hope is he'll change his mind, demonstrate empathy and kindness and honor your love for Bella.

Q. Both our dogs have fleas. We bought a flea-control product at the store, yet before that, our dogs had no fleas. Can flea products attract fleas?
— B.A., Belle Glade, Fla.

A. Flea products don't attract fleas. You need to consider other factors that may be affecting your situation.

"To be frank, some flea products aren't consistency efficacious, and in Florida, or anywhere really, it's no surprise that the fleas are picked up outside and then reproduce inside," says Dr. Michael Dryden, veterinary parasitologist at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

"This is exactly why advice from a veterinary professional is critically important. That's so you know you're purchasing a proven product, the right product for your pet and your pet's lifestyle and also to ensure you know how to use the product."

Even if you buy the best flea-busting product on the planet, you must protect all the pets in your home. For example, if you have a cat in addition to those two dogs, the cat also needs flea protection.

If you seek professional advice from a veterinarian, - and, if the problem is bad enough, an exterminator - your home should soon be flea-free, Dryden says.

Q. I have a cat diagnosed with FIP (feline infectious peritonitis). My vet recommended a FIP test. The results were 1:5000. What do the numbers mean?

— J.C., Louisville, Ky.

A. You're referring to a blood test to determine if your cat has a positive titer (concentration of protective antibodies) fighting the feline enteric corona virus. The numbers you quote are a potential cause for concern, but different labs use different scales of measurement.

Besides, those numbers don't mean all that much, according to Dr. Melissa Kennedy, director of the clinical virology laboratory at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine-Knoxville, who researched the value of these titer tests to diagnose FIP.

"There is absolutely no single test to determine if a kitten has FIP," she says. "Brick by brick, you're building a diagnostic wall, and perhaps one criterion is an elevated antibody level."

Backing up a step, the feline enteric corona virus is very common in cats and always benign. Sometimes, it's so benign that there are no symptoms.

When symptoms do occur (such an upset tummy, lack of appetite or just not acting "right"), they typically dissipate in a day or two. Feline veterinarian Dr. Susan Little, past president of the Winn Feline Foundation, says it's thought that only around 2 to 5 percent of cats with the corona virus wind up with the fatal immune-mediated disease called FIP. Somehow, in these cats, the corona virus transforms into FIP.

Little, of Ottawa, Canada, describes symptoms of FIP. Many on the list may be present or just one or two:

--A fever, often waxing and waning

--Weight loss

--Decreased appetite

--Enlarged abdomen (or scrotum)

--Changes in the eyes

--Neurological abnormalities, including seizures or difficulty with balance

--General depression, decreased energy

There are two types of FIP. For one type (dry FIP), Dr. Al Legendre of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, seems to have found a potential treatment.

If your cat does have dry FIP, your vet can contact Legendre to determine if the cat can be included in his study.

Legendre will present the results of his work at the Winn Feline Foundation Annual Symposium on June 23 in Reston, Va. Dr. Niels Pedersen, another longtime FIP researcher, will also present findings of his research at the event.

Learn more at winnfeline

Q. Several months ago, you wrote that yawning is a sign of stress in dogs. Well, my 9-year-old bassett hound must be the most stressed dog on earth. He yawns a lot, especially in the morning when he gets up. Any advice?

— N.S., Las Vegas

A. Yes, yawning is a sign of stress in dogs. However, it's all about context.

If there's no explanation for stress, your dog my simply be tired. Dogs, and people, often yawn as they're waking up or when their body is saying, "I need sleep."

Write to Steve Dale at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207. Send e-mail to Include your name, city and state.

Florida Travel with Pets:
These Hotels Welcome Fido
By Georgina Cruz -

Travelers who can't bear to leave their furry friends behind when they go on vacation, can bring them along to these Florida hotels without fear of finding a "no dogs allowed" sign. Some of them not only allow pets, but they pamper them as well with special treats. Here is a list of pet-friendly accommodations in a half-dozen popular Florida destinations.

-- Jupiter Beach -- The Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa rolls out the red carpet for dogs with its Pampered Pups pet-friendly program. Canine companions 25 pounds or less and with proper vaccinations can tag along to enjoy a relaxing stay at the beach. Several pup-friendly areas have been designated to help guests maximize pet play time, including areas on the resort's private stretch of sand, Juno Beach's public beach, and the pup walking zone. Guests can also head out for an entire doggy day out on the water taxi from Singer Island to Peanut Island, and at six local pet-friendly restaurants. Pup wash stations on property allow for quick rinsing after a romp in the sand, and each guest room is outfitted with a deluxe pet bed, and food and water bowls. A $25 per day, per pup fee covers their stay, with 10 percent of each daily charge donated to Palm Beach County's Safe Harbor Animal Rescue. And this program can be applied to any package or rate special. Visit

-- Key West -- Would Spike enjoy a nice comfy bed on his travels? He will find it at The Westin Key West Resort & Marina. The resort allows dogs up to 40 pounds. There is no fee for the furry friend, but owner must sign a waiver at check-in. And Spike gets a Westin Heavenly Dog Bed is complimentary upon request. Visit

-- Longboat Key -- The Hilton Longboat Key features Hilton Hotels pet program, welcoming up to two pets per room, maximum 75 pounds, and gives them such amenities as a travel tote with treats, bio-degradable waste bags, pet pillow, pet bowls and a placemat. The resort charges a one-time fee of $75. Visit

-- Orlando -- The three onsite Universal Orlando AAA Four Diamond resorts are pet-friendly, beyond the complimentary water bowl and dish each pet receives. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort both offer the "Loews Loves Pets" program whereby owners of pouches and kitties can order from a pet room service menu with such items as Bow Wow Tenderloin and Kitty Salmon Supreme. All recipes are veterinarian-approved. Additionally, the hotels give a pet I.D. tag to all four-legged guests as well as a pet treat. The Hard Rock Hotel, the third onsite resort at Universal Orlando, offers a similar program for four-legged guests. There are designated dog-walking areas at each of the three hotels. And pet owners are provided with a list of pet services in the area including pet stores, veterinarians, groomers, parks, etc. Rooms designated for travelers with pets receive extra thorough cleaning. Loews Hotels charges a one-time $25 fee per stay. Log on to

-- Sarasota -- The Lido Beach Resort, on Sarasota's Lido Key, allows dogs and gives them a bone-shaped treat upon check-in. Rules and regulations include a maximum weight of 25 pounds for dogs and they must be at least nine months old, well-groomed and well-mannered. Proof of vaccinations must be submitted and dogs must be flea and tick free. Dogs cannot be bathed in the room. A non-refundable fee of $100 per dog (up to two dogs are allowed per room) is charged to the owner's account (this covers stays of up to seven days; after seven days, another $100 is charged. Dogs must be kept on a leash and disposable doggie poop bags are provided. Visit

-- Vero Beach -- The Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, a Kimpton Hotel, boasts Oliver, a cute Lhasa Apso who is the property's Director of Pet Relations. Amenities at the pet-friendly resort include welcome treats in the lobby, VIP (Very Important Pet) amenity in the room, food and water bowl in the room, doggie bed, and list of nearby veterinarians upon request. The hotel imposes no restrictions as to the number and size of pets and charges no fees for them. Visit

 Stolen Dog Returned to Owner
Jessica Hume -

UPDATE 9:42: A dog stolen Monday evening from the Bathurst and St. Clair area has been returned to its owner.

Police responded to a call shortly after 8 p.m. Monday that 26-year-old Amber McMain’s dog was taken after she had tied it up outside a shop. Video surveillance in the area showed a man approach the animal moments after it was left alone. The suspect began to pet the dog before picking it up and walking away with it, heading west along St. Clair Ave. toward Bathurst St. Police said tips from the community helped lead to the return of the four-year-old Maltese mix.

Though the dognapper has been identified by police, no charges have been laid and police said in a press release there are “no grounds to prove any intent to commit a criminal offence.”

Original story follows:Police have released the photo of a suspected dognapper, who removed an animal from outside a grocery store in the Bathurst and St. Clair Ave. area Monday evening.

Police responded to a call shortly after 8 p.m. Monday that 26-year-old Amber McMain’s dog was stolen after she had tied it up outside a shop. Video surveillance in the area showed a man approach the dog moments after it was left alone. The suspect began to pet the dog before picking it up and walking away with the animal. He headed west along St. Clair Ave. toward Bathurst St.

Detective Constable Erick O’Neill said police will likely release a description of the suspect by tomorrow. Though he added that police are pleased with the investigation thus far, he also said it is difficult to assess the likelihood of finding the animal.

“Stuff like this often doesn’t get reported, so it’s difficult to say, from a statistical point of view, how likely it is we’ll find the dog,” he said. “But things are going well.”

Police are canvassing with photos of the suspect and Det. Const. O’Neill said tips have been coming in.

Anyone with information is urged to contact police.

Top 10 Man-and-Dog Workouts
By Shannon Clark -

If you're tired of hitting the gym for your regular (read: dull) workout routine, we have something that will transform your usual workouts and get you in the best shape ever. Recent research published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health suggests that dog owners are far more likely to perform daily physical activity than non-dog owners; in fact, the chances that they will get at least 150 minutes of activity per week goes up by 34 percent.

This is a great discovery for those who want to promote overall health and wellness, but what about those of you who want to kick things up a notch and really take your fitness and strength to a new level? And what can you do to build more interest than just a regular walk in the park?

If you want to take your fitness to the next level (and get your pet involved), these 10 man-and-dog workouts may be just the thing.

Play Frisbee
If there's one thing that every dog loves to do, it's play catch. Grab a Frisbee and head outdoors. Pass it over to your dog and then run with him as he goes to retrieve it. Once it's back in your hand, throw it another 20 to 30 feet away and both of you can begin chasing after it again.

Run Together
Want a real cardiovascular challenge? Try and beat your dog at a run. Most dogs are incredibly competitive by nature, so if you start running beside yours, you can be guaranteed that he'll be speeding up to challenge you on. This makes for a great man-and-dog workout.

Swim Together
When you first take a dog out into the water, he may be slightly timid, but give it a few hours, and he'll be a swimming champ in no time. Jumping into the water yourself and going for a swim in the lake on a hot summer's day is the perfect way to spend some time with your dog, stay in shape and enjoy the heat all at once.

If you're a man who loves to go camping, taking your dog for a hike will be one of your favorite ways to spend an afternoon. Hiking is a great cardiovascular workout routine and will really challenge the glute, hamstring and quad muscles. Find a hilly path in your area, pack some high-energy snacks, and head out for three or four hours. An afternoon spent hiking is an easy way to burn off well over 1,000 calories and will help you get lean quickly. Pretty good for a man-and-dog workout, right?

Play tug-of-war
If your dog is in a playful mood and is a larger, heavier breed, then a game of tug-of-war is another way to get in some activity (and have more fun) than a simple walk around the block. Get a rope of medium length and pass one end over to your dog. He'll instantly know what to do with it (that's the great thing about manly dogs).

Another great outdoor summertime activity with which to challenge your cardiovascular level is rollerblading. Rollerblading is comparable in calorie burn and intensity to running when performed at a higher speed. Thus, this can easily replace any of your regular running cardio sessions. Having your dog run alongside you as you rollerblade will make it more fun.

During the colder winter months, get out and go snowshoeing with your dog. Most dogs love playing in the snow, and the added resistance it'll provide you with will make for a terrific leg-strengthening cardio workout. Snowshoeing is one of the most intense forms of activities you can do, so if you put in a good effort, it'll easily take your fitness up a notch.

Another great man-and-dog workout for when you're both in a playful mood is wrestling. This will really get your heart rate up and work all the main muscles in the body. Most dogs will get great enjoyment from a good wrestling session with their owner, and with you constantly twisting and turning as you try and keep him down to the ground, you'll be getting a fantastic core and upper body workout as well.

Another outdoor cardio activity that you will enjoy with your dog is biking. If you bike at a faster speed, your dog will run alongside you at a much speedier pace than he normally would when you're running, so this is ideal way to get him into shape quickly.

Cross-country ski
A man-and-dog workout that is perfect for burning winter fat is cross-country skiing. Cross-country skiing is going to target your legs, arms and core, while also increasing your cardiovascular endurance. Your dog will benefit right along with you from the extra resistance of running in the snow.

So the next time your dog comes to you with his leash in hand begging for a walk, save yourself a trip to the gym and do one of these activities instead.

Hair Today, Bling Tomorrow:
It’s Jewelry Made from Cat Fur

Feline-loving designer has added jewelry fashioned from fur to her cat-alog

Designer and silversmith Heidi Abrahamson shapes cat hair into beads and incorporates them into jewelry.By Rick Schindler -

Look what the cat dragged in: jewelry.

Specifically, it’s modern jewelry pairing precious metal with the most mundane of materials: cat hair. And, says its designer, “It’s gone totally viral.”

“This has just gone crazy,” designer and silversmith Heidi Abrahamson told of the fur-vor greeting the cat-hair bling that is by no means the only modern jewelry she offers at her Phoenix, Arizona-based studio. Though she admits to being a cat fancier (“When I was a kid, I never played with dolls — I played with my cats”), she is also a highly educated collector and designer who has done merchandising for I. Magnin, The Bon Marche and Burberrys of London and has exhibited her work in Paris. “I’ve been a silversmith and collector of mid-century modern and Scandinavian jewelry for 40 years,” she said.

So Abrahamson can be forgiven for being a bit surprised that it took cat hair to really put her on the map. “I never expected this — being Googled with ‘hairball’ after my name.”

Designer Heidi Abrahamson says cat hair is “not at all hard” to work with as a medium: “You kind of pinch it together and roll it in your hand.” It all started with her friend and fellow Phoenix resident Kate Benjamin, who runs, a website that spotlights design-oriented products for cat lovers. Looking for a way to mark National Hairball Awareness Day (yes, there really is such a thing, sponsored by the National Museum of Health and Medicine — hairballs are a significant health hazard for cats and other animals), “she came up with the idea of sculpting cat hair into jewelry,” Abrahamson said.

The idea is not quite as outrageous as it may sound at first. According to the popular science website, hairballs were cherished during the Middle Ages, and set with gold and jewelry. (On the other hand, in the Middle Ages people also spent time burning witches and trying to turn lead into gold.)

Benjamin supplied the raw materials by thoroughly grooming several of her cats. Abrahamson said that cat hair is “not at all hard” to shape into beads that can be incorporated into jewelry: “You kind of pinch it together and roll it in your hand.”

Even when strung with silver, the resulting felted beads do not dazzle the eye with color: “It’s pretty muted,” Abrahamson admits. On the other hand, she points out, “the colors are neutral, so you can wear it everything.”

There is a potential downside, of course: If you’re allergic to cat hair, you’re likely allergic to cat-hair jewelry, too. Still, whether it’s due to passion for fashion or love of cats, the response to Abrahamson’s fur-iffic creations has been dramatic, and if the demand continues, she expects she’ll add more of them to her cat-alog.

“I’m loving it,” she told “The two great passions of my life have collided, and it’s great.”

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