Petless People: What Are They Thinking?

Cat Survives 12-Story Fall,
Lands on Feet in NYC

NEW YORK — It's true cats land on their feet.

At least it was true for Copper, a 9-month-old tabby who fell 12 stories in New York City and survived with just a broken paw.

Owner Angela Lang tells the New York Post that veterinarians who treated Copper were amazed she was alive.

Copper apparently slipped through a narrow opening in Lang's 14th-floor window and landed on top of a two-story garage next door.

The kitty spent nearly nine hours on the roof of the garage because there was no access and Lang couldn't get hold of anyone who could help.

Finally building service manager Juan Dominguez spotted the cat from the window of his own apartment 10 floors below Lang's. He used a ladder to reach Copper.

Yoda Wins World's Ugliest Dog Title

2-pound dog was found abandoned and initially mistaken for a rat

Yoda, winner of the 2011 World's Ugliest Dog Contest, in Petaluma, Calif. Friday, is put on display for the judges. The Associated Press

Yoda's short tufts of hair, protruding tongue, and long, seemingly hairless legs were enough to earn it the World's Ugliest Dog title at a Northern California fair.

The 14-year-old Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix won the honor Friday night at the 23rd annual contest at the Sonoma Marin Fair.

Owner Terry Schumacher of Hanford, Calif., said the 2-pound dog had come a long way since she was found abandoned behind an apartment building.

Schumacher said she first thought the pooch was a rat.

Yoda's distinction comes a year after a one-eyed Chihuahua named Princess Abby claimed victory.

A pedigree Chinese crested won in 2008 and another Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix was the ugliest in 2007.

In past years, the winner's owner has received a $1,000 check.

Pet Python Escapes His West Palm Beach Owner

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have charged a West Palm Beach man with two misdemeanors after his pet Burmese python escaped its enclosure Monday and wound up in a parking lot of a nearby multifamily home.

David T. Beckett was charged with illegal possession of a Burmese python without a permit and improper caging, allowing escape. One of the requirements of a permit calls for the owner to keep the reptile in a secure enclosure.

Because the lid of its aquarium was left unsecured, the 7-foot Burmese python pushed its way out. West Palm Beach police recovered it a short time later. The snake is now being kept at a permitted facility.

The Burmese python, once listed as a reptile of concern, is now one of eight nonnative reptiles listed as conditional species. Conditional reptiles may not be acquired as pets. People who owned a conditional species before July 1, 2010, may keep their animal for the remainder of its life. These pet owners must maintain a valid reptile-of-concern license for the animals.

Kelly Osbourne Puts Pet Pomeranian to Sleep

Kelly Osbourne is mourning the loss of her pet Pomeranian, Noodles.

"My poor baby girl Noodles is sick," the Dancing With the Stars alum tweeted Tuesday. "She had a seizure and they don't know why. I'm taking her to see a specialist two hours away for a brain scan."

Osbourne, who adopted Noodles in March, nicknamed the pooch "Noody Bear." Three months later, the puppy's health took a turn for the worse. "I can't even look at my baby girl without crying," Osbourne tweeted. "She just looks so sick and helpless."

A veterinarian performed a brain scan and delivered some bad news: Noodles was suffering from brain swelling.

"Noodles is not going to make it," Osbourne, 26, wrote. "She was born with a brain defect and I have to put her to sleep today. I'm devastated. I just can't believe it."

When one of Osbourne's followers criticized her for putting down her puppy, she defended her decision by saying: "She was not in peace. Her brain was swelling in her head. I don't play God! It was unfortunately necessary!"

Reese Witherspoon’s Noisy Pet Donkeys Upset Neighbours

Reese Witherspoon, who lives with her two pet donkeys, named Honky and Tonky on a ranch in Ojai, has been asked by her neighbours to silence her noisy pets.

The miniature donkeys are said to have upset the locals, who claimed that the asses are loud and disruptive.

"It's so bad that a few residents have sent her a letter," the Daily Express quoted a source as telling Us Weekly.

However, the neighbours do not want the Hollywood star to leave because she is 'beloved' in the area and a neighbour said that the busy star might not even know how noisy her pets are.

"I'm not even sure she know what's going on," one neighbour said.

Monson Man Finds Seven Missing Cats Alive

Michael D. Roescher of Monson found all seven of his cats, alive, who went missing after the June 1 tornado destroyed his house. On Sunday, Roescher's cat Rocky was found in the rubble. Roescher camped outside his house at 8 Washington St. during the day and searched for his pets at night.

Felix and Plumley emerged two days after the storm. Samson and Franky were rescued on June 4 and 5, respectively. Cujetta was found in a wall on June 5. Cosette followed before Rocky was liberated. The felines are okay. Roescher is happy. "I'm thrilled to death," he said. "Beyond belief, I am shocked. How did they survive?"

Roescher had no insurance and lost everything. He described the tornado as "being in a blender." His concern was for the pets, including his blind goldfish Silver who also lived. "They were the only thing that has mattered from the beginning," his stepdaughter Kelly McClure said. "We didn't care about the stuff."

Roescher used tuna fish to help lure them out. Two cats are in a Shelter for now.

Too Many Dogs — Even for a Motel 6

Showing up at a Motel 6 with a dog or two is usually no problem, as we repeatedly confirmed during our travels across America.

Show up with 15 and, as any fool could predict, there’s going to be trouble.

Police in Tewksbury, Mass., say one dog is dead and three more are fighting for their lives as a result of neglect and inhumane treatment at the hands of a 71-year-old Maine woman named Margaret Nickerson-Malpher.

Nickerson-Malpher was arrested at the Motel 6 in Tewksbury Tuesday, where, in addition to four dogs in her room, she had about a dozen more outside in her parked van.

She was scheduled to be arraigned in Lowell District Court today on 17 counts of animal cruelty, reported.

Nickerson-Malpher told police she had left her summer residence in Maine Monday night and was driving back home to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when she stopped at Motel 6 to get some sleep.

She checked into the motel around 7 a.m., apparently bringing some of the 15 dogs with her into her room. The rest remained in her van. Police say motel guests saw her carrying the body of a deceased dog from her van to her room that afternoon.

A motel employee went to her room, and after seeing the deceased dog and other dogs that appeared to be ill, called police.

Police say the officer who responded found inside her room one dead dog and three more in critical condition, due to suspected malnourishment and dehydration.

The surviving animals — 14 dogs and two cats –were taken initially to the Tewksbury Pound, then transferred to the Massachussetts SPCA facility in Methuen.

Police in Tewksbury said Nickerson-Malpher appeared to have been living in Maine for at least four years, despite the South Dakota plates on her van, and that state police investigating her for animal abuse there were preparing to seize her animals on Wednesday.

According to the Bangor Daily News, Nickerson-Malpher had been charged with animal cruelty in 2006, when 20 dogs and one cat were removed from her home. She was convicted in connection with that and, under the terms of her probation, restricted from owning more than two dogs.

Fur Flies Over Philippine Facebook Puppy Pegger

MANILA — Animal rights activists and thousands of members of the public expressed outrage Wednesday over a photo on Facebook showing a puppy pegged to a clothes line in the Philippines.

The photo was apparently posted by a young Filipino man on his Facebook account, where he initially ignored reprimands by pet lovers and boasted he would not be jailed for "washing" his dog.

The photo showed a small puppy hanging by five plastic pegs to a clothes line. After going viral on the Internet, the link was picked up by animal rights activists, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which launched an investigation.

"We hope that Philippine prosecutors will take action and prosecute this young man," PETA legal officer Agnes Tam told AFP.

"This is not child's play, this is blatant animal cruelty."

Tam said her organisation had asked police and their local counterparts to help search for the man, who according to his Facebook page lives in a suburban area south of Manila.

While she acknowledged that Internet pranks were common, Tam said she believed it was not a hoax.

The controversy also made national television news, and the man behind the Facebook site took down the offensive photos on Wednesday while offering an apology.

"I hope you could forgive me and I promise it would never happen again," he wrote on his Facebook site on Wednesday morning.

However, thousands of people within the Facebook community refused to forgive, signing up to a plethora of new pages dedicated to expressing their outrage against him.

"Forgive? Never," wrote Melvin John Girado, warning the puppy pegger that he was being hunted down by his college fraternity brothers.

A 1998 law bans cruelty to animals, which is punishable by up to two years in jail.

That law is seldom enforced to its full extent.

However a Manila court last month ordered a university student who tortured and killed a cat, then bragged about it on his online diary, to perform community service.

Elderly Couple Terrorize Neighbors
Following Cat Poop Dispute
By Jen Doll -

​A sweet old Pennsylvania couple, Harold and Ruth Rought, who are 83 and 89, respectively, became very upset when a neighbor got mad at them (allegedly) for feeding stray cats. Allegedly, this angry neighbor got back at them by dumping cat poop all over their yard. (Allegedly, the cats might have deposited the poop in the yard themselves.) What happened next? You'll never guess.

The darling Roughts told their neighbors they would shoot them if they kept up this cat poop harassment! The neighbors did not take kindly to this, and reported them to the cops, who charged the Roughts with terroristic threats and harassment.

Poop. Also: None of this is a recommended course of action for life.

Hot Tips to Keep Critters Cool
By Lisa Acho Remorenko -

With the official start of summer just around the corner, you may find yourself spending more time outdoors and planning family vacations. Many of these activities can be enjoyed with your pets in tow, but there are precautions that should be taken. Here are some tips on how you can safely participate in summer activities with your pets.

Hot Weather

· Never leave a pet in a car on a hot day. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes. According to veterinarians, a pet can only withstand a higher body temperature for a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage or even death. Cracking windows on a hot day isn’t enough to keep your pet cool.

· Be safe at the beach. Not only can dogs get overheated in hot cars, but also on steamy summer days. Make sure your pet stays cool outside by always providing shade and cool water. The ASPCA says you should be especially careful with dogs that have short, pushed-in faces (e.g., bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers), puppies, and elderly pets. Experts warn that you should be cautious of pets with light-colored noses, ears, or fur as they are especially vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing a sunscreen.

· Adjust your pet’s exercise routine. On very hot days, exercise should be limited to early morning or evening hours. Also, be aware that asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws.

· Watch for heat stroke. According to the American Red Cross, an overheated dog can suffer brain and organ damage after only 15 minutes. Some signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, bright-red tongue and gums, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and body temperature of 105-110 degrees. If your pet gets overheated, you can give immediate first aid by getting him out of the heat, laying him on cool shaded grass, and pouring cool water over him. You can also give small amounts of water or ice cubes. Call your veterinarian immediately.

Water Safety

Never leave pets unsupervised around a pool. Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are good swimmers. Make sure to introduce your pet to the water gradually. Keep in mind that supervision is required even for dogs who know how to swim, as they may jump in a pool and not know how to get out. This is especially true if you have a covered pool. Also, try not to let your dog drink pool water. Chlorine and other chemicals in swimming pools can cause an upset stomach.

· Practice safety on boats. Experts recommend that all pets wear flotation devices on boats. Additionally, dogs should be rinsed off after swimming in the ocean.

Backyard Safety

· Be cautious of chemicals in your backyard. People tend to fertilize their lawn during the summer months and certain fertilizers can be fatal if ingested by your pet. In addition, plant food and insecticides can be dangerous if your pet consumes them. Citronella candles may keep away pests, but they contain a chemical that could be harmful if swallowed.

· Don’t allow your pet to partake in parties. Just because you’re enjoying a backyard barbecue or party, doesn’t mean your pet should suffer. Human food and drink aren’t always fit for pets to consume. Alcoholic beverages can cause depression, comas, or even death. Certain foods such as avocados, chocolate, garlic, and onions can also be poisonous.

· Make sure your windows are secured. The ASPCA states that there is an increase in injured animals as a result of “high-rise syndrome,” which occurs when pets fall out of windows and are seriously injured. Since people tend to open windows more in warm weather, make sure to check all your window screens to ensure they are properly secured.

Riding in Cars

· Secure your pet while traveling by car. Pets should always be placed in a carrier while traveling in a vehicle. If this isn’t possible, harnesses can be purchased to ensure your pet stays safe while you drive.

· Don’t allow your dog to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. If you travel with your dog in the open bed of a pickup truck, not only are you putting your dog at risk, but you’re endangering the lives of other motorists. The State of California prohibits unsecured animals from traveling in an open truck. If you must travel with your dog in your pickup truck, you can secure him in a crate in the truck bed or secure him to a crosstie in the open truck bed so that the dog can’t reach the sides of the truck. It is my belief that if a dog doesn’t fit inside your car, they should stay at home.

Traveling with Your Pet

· If you decide to bring your pet with you on your travels, you will need all necessary supplies-food, treats, toys, bed, cold water, and bowls for the road. Make sure to check out hotels ahead of time to see if they allow pets. Here’s a great Web site to look for listings

· Make sure your pet is healthy. If your pet hasn’t had a health check recently, you may want to make an appointment with your veterinarian before you begin your journey. While you’re there, update your pet on any vaccinations that are needed.

· Don’t schedule air flights during peak hours. Peak periods typically mean delays and stopovers, which means your pet will be in a crate for a longer period of time. You should also try to choose early morning or evening flights when the sun isn’t as hot.

If you follow these tips, you can enjoy the summer months with family and friends along with your pet by your side.

Hints From Heloise: A Crabby Pet
By Heloise -

Dear Readers: Hermit crabs can make wonderful pets. Why? They require very little maintenance and are interesting to watch. Keep in mind, though, that hermit crabs are nocturnal (they are active at night).

Keep hermit crabs in a glass aquarium with sand from a pet shop. Hermit crabs are social, and they prefer to be with other hermit crabs.

You can feed a hermit crab fresh veggies and fruit, such as lettuce or grapes. Don’t let fresh food sit for more than a day in the cage, because the food can attract gnats, etc. A pet store also should carry special hermit crab food. The crabs also need a pool of water, and this should be changed every day.

What are some negatives about hermit crabs? They MIGHT pinch you, but gentle water will release them. They can get mites because of humidity in the cage. Carefully clean the cage with water and vinegar. Hermit crabs can live between five and 15 years, or longer. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: A reader in Hammond, Ind., sent a picture of her white-and-black cat, Maggie, letting out a BIG yawn after watching birds and squirrels all day. To see Maggie and our other Pet Pals, log on to www and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: There was a recent article in our daily paper regarding hedgehogs as pets. When my son was little, we had Sophie the hedgehog. I’d like to share a few more hints for those considering a hedgehog.

If you live in a colder climate, you need to provide a warming pad for your hedgehog. If hedgehogs get too cold, they could go into hibernation. Also, their nails need to be trimmed. -- Trisha in Wisconsin

Trisha, thanks for the added information. Hedgehogs should be kept at temperatures between 73 degrees and 76 degrees. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I feel that when traveling with your dog, you should carry bottled water with you. Water from a different city water system may be chemically different, or water from campsites may not be as clean as that to which the dog is accustomed. If the dog drinks water he’s not used to, it could pose a diarrhea risk. -- G.M. in California


Dear Heloise: I have discovered that my textured, rubber-sole sneakers can pick up pet hair on the carpet along the baseboards! Who knew? The hair just balls up, and I can suck it up with a vacuum. -- Betty in Texas


Dear Heloise: I work very hard to keep my animals “on schedule.” Every evening when I come home, I take my three dogs for a walk. Then we get home, rest a little bit, and they eat dinner. Then it’s time to go out, followed by bedtime. The dogs seem happier because they know how their days will unfold. -- S.J., via e-mail

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do
(Especially with Pets)
By John Delcos -

Pets often get tugged in divorces.

Who knows what went through the mind of the woman who walked into Ridgefield’s animal shelter that day with a puppy?

Already owning six dogs and going through a divorce, the woman told Allyson Dotson, director of Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue, or “R.O.A.R.,” she couldn’t care for the puppy any longer, primarily citing economics.

Dotson said R.O.A.R. has a screening protocol it goes through when an animal is dropped off at the facility. Preferably, the animal should be one that is easily adoptable.

“We were pretty sure we could adopt the puppy out, so we took it,” Dotson recalled, her antennae down at the time.

However, when the woman’s soon-to-be-ex wanted to adopt the puppy back, it raised a serious red flag.

“I knew something was up,” Dotson said. “It became too sticky for us when the husband called us and wanted the dog. They weren’t upfront with us.”

Did the woman use the puppy to get at her husband? Was she trying to hurt him with something he loved? If she was sincere and really couldn’t care for the puppy, why didn’t she at least ask her husband to take it?

Though for most outsiders thinking of divorce, custody battles center on children and asset division focuses on houses and other major items, lawyers and divorcees say the family dog often is at stake.

In this R.O.A.R. case, the woman eventually returned for the puppy and the couple is still splitting, presumably with a little more anger than before.

“The philosophy of let’s put the other guy through hell exists in some divorces. It can be children, dogs or your mother’s silverware,” said Christine O’Sullivan, a divorce attorney with offices in Westport and Norwalk. “I don’t know who said, ‘love is one step away from hate,’ but, when love goes sour it goes very sour. The hardest divorce of all is when you want to punish the other person.”

To many people, dogs are more than simply pets, and are definitely more than what the state of Connecticut decrees them to be, which are assets to split up like artwork, books or a CD collection.

“To some people, their dogs are their children,” said Eva DeFranco, a Danbury divorce lawyer. “You just can’t give them up.”

Typically the dog knows whom it would rather live with, but the animal can’t speak for itself and hopefully the parties will do the right thing, said Stamford divorce attorney David Scalzi.

“Usually, it is one party who is the primary caretaker of the pet,” Scalzi said. “Usually, one likes (the dog) more and the dog likes one more. Usually, they aren’t equal caretakers for the dog.”

Connecticut Statute 46b-82 can be used by a judge if an agreement can’t be worked out as it considers such factors as the length of the marriage, the causes for the dissolution of the marriage, and even the needs of each of the parties.

Who can best care for the dog? Who is more emotionally attached? All are weighed.

For example, if one party does considerable traveling for work, the judge might rule for the other person. Or, if one brought the pet into the marriage the judge could favor that person.

O’Sullivan recalled a case where the wife ran off with the kids and the dogs, and the husband said, “at least leave one of the dogs.’’

Emotions get rubbed raw during a divorce, and sometimes the best interest of the pet isn’t always considered.

“Some of it has to do with how much grief one is willing to put the other party through,” O’Sullivan said. “It is a heartbreaking thing when you’re deprived of something you love.

“A dog is a friend. A dog is a member of the family. These cases don’t come up often, but when they do it is very emotional. Your feelings about your animals are as strong as they are a member of your family.”

And, the breaking up of a family is never easy.

The changes wrought in divorce can be tough even when there is no tug-of-war. Trumbull resident Amanda Leo said her five cats suffered when she moved out of her house during her divorce.

"I know that they [suffered]," she said. "They would meow and whine and cuddle" when she visited them.

"They weren't being treated very well," Leo said. The cats were ultimately removed from the home by animal rescue volunteers at her request.

They were "very luckily" placed in a special area of the Milford animal shelter, at least one was adopted. Leo kept one of the cats, which she said helped her through the divorce.

"Divorce is a traumatic process and it affects every aspect of your life," she said. "The animals should not suffer because you can't get along."

Pet Safety for Fourth of July Festivities

Ritchie, a greyhound, is decked out in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July parade in Celebration in 2000. If pets aren't comfortable in crowds, it's best to let them stay home; but if they enjoy big groups, take them along. (Orlando Sentinel file photo)

When you make your plans to celebrate the Fourth of July, don’t forget your pets’ safety. Various parts of the festivities can present a risk for pets, especially those who don’t like big crowds and loud noises, such as fireworks.

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters offers these tips and recommendations for a healthy and safe day for pets.


—Never leave alcoholic beverages unattended around pets.

—Don’t let your pet wear or chew on glowing holiday ornaments such as popular glow-sticks or glow-necklaces. They may seem harmless, but ingestion can irritate or block intestines.

—Don’t let your pet eat burgers or hot dogs; you risk giving them indigestion.

—Don’t leave your pet outside for the grand finale on the Fourth of July. Loud fireworks can disturb your pets, and if close enough, the pyrotechnics could injure them. Keep pets indoors at home in a quiet area during fireworks ceremonies and consider leaving a TV or radio on to provide familiar noises while you’re out.


—Make sure pets are wearing identification tags or are microchipped so that if they get lost, they can be returned promptly.

—Make sure the sunscreen and insect repellant you use on your pet is “animal friendly.”

—Keep citronella candles or any other oils out of your pets’ reach; ingestion can irritate their stomach.

Pet Pyschic:
Cat Reveals Past Life as Roman General,
but Not in Her Dreams
By The Jersey Journal

Lotus may be a former Roman general, but she's not acting out her past life in her dreams. Courtesy of Scot Fortna.

The following is from the Pet Psychic column by Catherine Ferguson.

My 9-year-old cat Lotus lives the good life in that she sleeps and eats all day. My question for you is as follows: She tends to meow and twitch a lot when she sleeps. I’ve often wondered if she is reliving a previous life. Could this be the case?

Lotus tells me that you are very wise, in general. But, she is quick to add that you are way off base this time. She does admit to having a past life as a Roman general, but that’s not what she’s viewing when she sleeps.

Instead, she is frequently living scenes of great conquest in animal form. She is a tiger, or sometimes another big cat, stalking then pouncing on her prey. She is proud to wind up with hard-to-catch, but delicious fresh food.

Dreams are wonderful pastimes where she can achieve what is impossible in her daily life. Even if she were not a house cat, it would be impossible to have the success rate she is proud of in her dreams.

In her waking state, she often fantasizes about conquests. In her dream state, she is adept at manipulating the inner images to achieve a close to 99% rate of success.

Lotus would like for you to include more fresh food in her diet. That could include freshly cooked meals. For convenience, you can cook then freeze in small portions.

She would also be happy with a food puzzle, a toy where you hide small bits of food in the compartments of the puzzle and the pet will spend hours working to retrieve the treats. Just ask for food puzzles at your local pet store.

This lady does not intend to reveal any details of her life as a Roman general at this point. Perhaps you’d like to ask me about her past at some date in the future when she will be in the mood to share.

Contact pet psychic Catherine Ferguson at If you would like a published reading of your pet, send a photo of the animal, along with the pet’s name, age, sex, breed and questions to Waterfront Weekly, 30 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ 07306.

Ask Dog Lady:
Understanding Animal Psychics,
Rescue Groups
Ask Dog Lady -

I am a dog lover. But I'm not sure how I feel about communicating with them or other animals. A person we know just hired an animal psychic to talk to a cat who is terrorizing the neighbor lady. The cat told her he does it for fun. The psychic told the cat he cannot go over to the neighbor's house anymore. This psychic was also hired to talk to a horse with an issue. The second time she came, the horse refused to talk to her.

My question: Is someone here {the psychic or the client} smoking something illegal or am I just not open minded enough?

We must assume animal psychics have good intentions in their mysterious ways to make a living. But do they really talk to the animals better than you do - or Dog Lady, who fancies herself something of a mutt mentalist? Once, when an animal psychic gave a complimentary reading of Dog Lady's dog, the spiritualist came back with a pronouncement, "He says he likes chicken." Hmm. This chicken insight seemed the full extent of a total dog brain dump.

The cheeky cat and the taciturn horse could very well have been communicating with the psychic. The people who pay for the services of the self-proclaimed telepathic are the ones who decide if the messages are the medium.

A year after we lost our beloved aged Labrador, we decided to get another dog. I had a Samoyed when I was young so we contacted Samoyed Rescue to give a new home to an older dog. I spoke to a very pleasant woman who sent me a load of paperwork. After we sent it all back, the woman told us we would soon be contacted for a home visit. I was impressed they were so thorough.

A couple of weeks later, a rescue examiner from another state arrived. She went through our house and yard with a fine tooth comb. She commented on the hole in the fence and we assured her we would fix that before any dog arrived. She also wondered about the lack of carpeting on small areas of our wood floors. (Because of their joints, large Samoyeds cannot walk on shiny, hard floors). Again, we assured her we would fill in the carpet.

Weeks went by before we got a letter telling us we had been rejected. The reasons? The fence, the carpeting and many other nit-picks. My husband and I were shocked. It is easier to adopt a child internationally than a domestic dog. Do you think this rescue group was too fussy? What should we do now?

Volunteer rescue people have strict standards for re-homing dogs. Still, they should be more situational in their judgments. You want a Samoyed. And you understand the needs of Samoyeds. When there are so many orphan dogs in need of homes, a rescue group should be more elastic and less persnickety. After all, you didn't welcome the examiner with a shotgun salute and a gallon of moonshine.

If you're set on a Samoyed, Dog Lady advises you to re-contact the rescue group. Appeal the verdict. The examiner might have had a bad day. All that driving and the high gas prices made her cranky. There's no good reason for them to deny you if you promise to fix the fence, lay the carpet and attend to whatever else a Samoyed needs.

• • •
Pet perplexed? Visit or follow "Ask Dog Lady" on facebook. Listen to "Ask Dog Lady" on WGBH (89.7)

How to Make Your Dog's Days of Summer Safer

A dog’s coat is like insulation. Don’t give your dog a crew cut or such a close shave that it takes away that protection. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS) Animal groomer Ana Sondall gives her client Bodie a summer cut at Petco in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles. Dogs can get sunburn and skin cancer, so never cut fur shorter than an inch.

LOS ANGELES -- Ready for your dog's days of summer? Everybody seems to have a list of tips.

Most are no-brainers. Don't leave dogs in hot cars or let them walk on hot asphalt, play too hard or get too much sun. Apply flea and tick repellents, and if you're in a mosquito-prone area, talk to your vet about heartworm prevention pills. Take dogs on walks early or late to avoid heat and provide ample drinking water.

But there are other risks that come with heat, vacations and outdoor play. Here are some ways to keep dogs healthy and comfortable from veterinarian Louise Murray, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City.

Grooming: A dog's coat is like insulation, warding off cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Trim, but don't give your dog a crew cut or such a close shave that it takes away that protection.

Dogs get sunburn and skin cancer, so never cut fur shorter than an inch. (In some breeds, even an inch is too short.)

Food: No food will keep your dog cooler, but food helps keep body temperature up, so dogs may not need to eat as much in the summer.

If your dog stays at a dog-friendly hotel with you or at a kennel, consider bringing food from home. A change in diet can cause diarrhea.

Barbecues and picnics are a veterinarian's nightmare. Keep pets in the house or on a leash to prevent them from being fed or lapping up things that are bad for them, whether it's spilled alcohol or onion dip. Onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and chocolate are the most toxic foods for dogs.

Overheating: Recognize overheating if you see it -- excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, seizures, and elevated body temperatures over 104 degrees.

"A lot of dogs will just keep running until they drop because they have so much heart and so much energy," said Murray. "You have to be proactive."

Animals with flat faces are more susceptible to heat stroke since they
cannot pant as effectively.

Sponge the animal with lukewarm water and seek veterinary care if you suspect overheating.

Windows: Murray's clinic sees two or three pets a week that have fallen or jumped from apartment windows, roofs, balconies or fire escapes. Multiple limb fractures or potentially deadly injuries often result. Use window screens, open windows from the top instead of the bottom, consider child-safety window guards.

At Some Weddings,
Man's Best Friend Is Man's Best Man

At a wedding ceremony in Los Angeles this coming Saturday, poodle mixes Lily and Luna will walk down the aisle sporting pearl-white leather leashes and hand-crafted floral collars.

A wrought-iron feeder and stainless-steel water bowls will await them at the reception, before the dogs cap off the night at a pet-friendly hotel.

"They are family," says 32-year-old bride-to-be Sarah Royer, who shares ownership of the pooches with her fiancé, Jonas Koester, also 32. "They have to be in the wedding."

Even couples who invest in lavish weddings are incorporating pets into their nuptials. "You just have to be careful in how you handle them," says wedding designer Preston Bailey of New York. Shown, a client's dog at a 2010 wedding in Carmel, Calif.

Increasingly, man's best friend is sometimes also man's best man—if not a ring bearer, flower girl or simply a member of the wedding party.

To meet this growing demand, wedding planners, niche retailers and other businesses are offering new services and products geared toward helping pets fulfill their special roles.

Mostly dogs but also cats, pot belly pigs and birds are getting outfitted with ornate wedding gear, including miniature tuxedos, veils and top hats. Trainers are prepping them for top performance and sitters are standing by for when the job is done. saw a 28% increase in sales of wedding accessories for pets last year over 2009. Founder Deborah Weckesser says the Stoughton, Mass., Web retailer has so far this year sold more items in that category than in all of 2010.

Husband-and-wife team Dedi and Gary Wood of Plano, Texas, have been hired by six clients to oversee dogs in wedding ceremonies since launching Shadow & Marty's Pet Care Services in 2008. Another couple, Sheryl Bass and Neil Cline of Palatine, Ill., sell for $130 a petal-dispensing wooden cart that's hitched to a pooch to walk down the aisle. The pair invented the device so their Affenpinscher mix could be in their own wedding in 2006.

"When I found the (pet) petal-pull cart, that turned out to be perfect," says Sarah Dostal, a 26-year-old health-care worker in Ventura, Calif., who is getting married in July and will have her and her fiancé's two Shih Tzu take part in the ceremony.

Angel, a seven-pound, two-year-old, will serve as the flower girl, dispensing lavender rose petals. Hercules, an older Maltese-Shih Tzu mix, will act as ring bearer, carrying a $10 pillow she purchased at a crafts store on his back and fastened by a black ribbon with Velcro.

"It will be like having the spirit of my mom there," says Ms. Dostal of Hercules, whom she and fiancé, analyst James Darling, adopted from her mother after she died in 2009.

Some pet owners bringing their furry kin all the way to the altar are following the lead of celebrities such as singer Carrie Underwood and actress Tori Spelling, who included pets in their weddings. Others simply aim to personalize their nuptials.

"It brings in the personality of the bride and groom," similar to another growing trend of couples making donations to their favorite charities in lieu of party favors, says Anna Pohl, owner of Day Planners LLC, an event-planning business in Sarasota, Fla.

Five years ago Ms. Pohl says she hadn't planned any weddings with pets in them, but now she does about two out of 30 a year.

Even couples who invest in lavish weddings are incorporating pets into their nuptials. "You just have to be careful in how you handle them," says wedding designer Preston Bailey of New York, who charges rates for weddings with or without pets starting at $200,000. In the past 12 months, he designed three weddings with dogs in them for the first time, he says.

Accidents can happen even at well-planned ceremonies. Two summers ago, Nora Sheils watched in horror when nature called for a client's West Highland terrier moments before the bride was to come down the aisle at her parents' home in Portland, Ore. "There was a big gasp," says Ms. Shields, owner of Bridal Bliss LLC, who plans eight to 10 weddings with pets a year out of an average of 60.

Brides and grooms also run the risk of offending guests, and churches, synagogues and other venues often have a no-pets policy. Pets could also potentially upstage the bride on what is supposed to be her big day.

Making sure everything goes smoothly can be costly. Los Angeles animal trainer Colleen Paige, who readied pets to participate in 15 weddings last year, charges about $2,500 per event and more if multiple pets and travel are involved, or if an animal is especially badly behaved.

Though she mostly works with dogs, she has also prepped a pot belly pig, miniature horse and a goat for weddings, often setting up mock events for practice sessions. "It was a tug of war to get the pig down the aisle," she says. "It kept stopping to eat the flowers."

Write to Sarah Needleman at

Ask Martha:Protecting Your Pets from Summer Pests
By Martha Stewart -

Animals thrive during the summer months. Unfortunately, so do fleas, ticks, and other pests that can affect their health. The good news? There are many preventive options. “Pest control can involve a combination of approaches based on the pet, lifestyle of the pet and owner, and where the pet lives,’’ says Melinda Miller, hospital director of Smith Ridge Veterinary Center in South Salem, N.Y. She advises owners to use natural solutions whenever possible. “Chemicals were the easy prevention and treatment default for years, but they can take a toll on a pet’s health,’’ she says.

Feeding your cats and dogs well is one of the top things you can do. “Healthy animals can repel fleas and ticks naturally,’’ Miller says, adding that pets that eat balanced, high-quality diets seldom have pest problems. Ultra-premium canned food or a balanced home-cooked diet are among the best choices. Beyond that, follow these tips, and make sure to consult your vet for more specific advice.

Fleas and ticks

Fleas can hitch a ride indoors on your pet and make a home in your carpets, baseboards, and bedding (though fleas feed off a pet’s blood, most don’t live on their bodies). As for ticks, they climb tall grass and foliage. So when animals or humans walk by, ticks can crawl onto their skin and embed themselves. For many pets, flea bites cause only slight skin irritation. Other animals have a more severe reaction, which can include hair loss, lesions, and ulcers. A serious infestation can trigger anemia, especially in puppies and kittens. Fleas may also carry infectious diseases and parasites such as tapeworm. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease; Rocky Mountain spotted fever (rare in cats); and Ehrlichiosis, a disease that can attack white blood cells, the spleen, the liver, lymph nodes, and bone marrow.

Prevention: For flea control, vacuum daily (dispose of the vacuum bag or debris outside), wash pet bedding in hot water, and keep grass short. Consider adding beneficial nematodes (microscopic worms that feed on young fleas) to your yard. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth — a natural substance that causes fleas and ticks to dehydrate and die — indoors and out.

For fleas, a repellent spray made from herbal or food-based ingredients is one of the safest methods of direct intervention. Contact-kill sprays and shampoos aim to banish fleas (some target ticks) but require multiple applications, and many are chemically based. The most effective treatments are chemical insecticides, which you apply periodically to an animal’s skin. “These work against all life stages of fleas and ticks, but they’re also the most toxic,’’ says veterinarian Kenneth Fischer of Hillsdale Animal Hospital in Hillsdale, N.J. “Only use the minimum to get the job done.’’

If you find a tick, use tweezers to grab the head where it entered the skin (don’t squeeze the body), and pull it out gently but firmly. Then drown it in rubbing alcohol.


Itchy bites aren’t the issue for pets. Dogs and cats can get heartworms from an infected mosquito, resulting in heartworm disease. The serious condition affects a pet’s heart, lungs, and circulatory system.

Prevention: Have your pets tested annually for heartworms, reduce their exposure to mosquitoes, and use a monthly preventive as advised by your vet.

Ear mites

If your pet is scratching near its ears or shaking its head, these external parasites may be the culprit. Another indicator: An animal’s ear canal may look like it’s full of coffee grounds (it’s debris from the mites). This very contagious pest is easily passed from one animal to another (but not to humans). If left untreated, mites can damage the canal and the eardrum and cause permanent hearing loss.

Prevention: Don’t introduce a new pet to your household without having her checked for ear mites by a vet. If one pet in your home does get them, have her treated and any other pets examined right away.

Petless People: A Breed Apart?
Joan Liebmann-Smith -

When Tinkerbelle, our 17-year-old toy poodle, died, our family was distraught. I sent an email to our friends and family with the subject heading "Sad News" and got a tremendous outpouring of sympathy.

However, one of my oldest friends wrote back and said that when she received my email, she thought something awful had happened to someone in my family! Well, it had! Tinkerbelle was a beloved member of our family for 17 years. My friend, a very caring person, just didn't get it. The reason: she had never had a pet. That's when it occurred to me that petless people may indeed be a different breed. But are they?

Petless people have often been stereotyped as selfish, cold and uncaring. On the flip side, pet owners are sometimes pegged as socially awkward, excessively shy or downright antisocial, preferring animals to people. Although some pet owners and non-owners might fit these stereotypes, studies have failed to confirm them for most.

One thing is certain, however: petless people are definitely in the minority -- a shrinking minority. We're a pet-loving nation; about 62 percent of U.S. households have pets, an increase of over 12 percent since 2001, and most pet owners have more than one, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

There are more dog owners than cat owners, and a sizable number have both. Trailing behind are pet horses, birds, rabbits, fish, rodents, reptiles, and other exotic animals.

Even if petless people are in the minority, does it mean that they're a different kettle of fish? The AVMA survey did, in fact, find some demographic differences between owners and non-owners. In general, pet owners are more likely to:

•Be white

•Be married

•Have children

•Be employed full-time

•Have higher incomes

•Own a home

Researchers have uncovered other differences as well. A multitude of recent studies have discovered that pet owners may be healthier in some ways than non-owners, a subject I recently wrote about on The Huffington Post. Some of the health benefits of pet ownership include:

•Lower blood pressure

•Lower cholesterol

•Increased physical activity

•Better survival rates after a heart attack

Numerous studies also demonstrate some social and personality differences, starting in childhood. Compared with children not raised with pets, children who grow up with pets tend to:

•Be more empathic

•Have more self-esteem

•Have better social skills

•Have better nurturing abilities

In addition, children raised with pets are are more likely to be involved in sports, clubs, hobbies and other activities than kids without pets.

Some personality and social differences have been found to exist in grown-ups, as well. According to Barrie Gunter, author of "Pets and People: The Psychology of Pet Ownership," petless adults are less likely to feel a need for companionship and more likely to be more independent and self-sufficient than people with pets. They also tend to dislike long-term obligations; this may explain why they shy away from having pets, which can live for decades. Finally, according to Gunter, compared to people with pets, petless people are more inclined to place greater importance on keeping their homes very neat and tidy -- another reason they may choose not to have a pet.

Petless By Choice

People may choose not to have a pet for any number of reasons: they may have never had a pet and can't imagine having one, or they may have previously had a pet and didn't like the experience. They may like pets -- especially other people's pets -- but have no interest in having one of their own. Or they may dislike pets, believing that they are dirty, dangerous and disease-spreading. Whatever their reasons, they're probably happy with their decision -- or they would get a pet.

People who are petless by choice may, in fact, more accurately consider themselves "pet-free." Petless implies something is missing -- a deprivation. Rather than feeling like they're missing out on something, pet-free people are likely to feel free from the burden of raising a pet.

Petless By Chance Or Circumstance

Unlike people who are petless by choice, those who are petless by chance or circumstance may feel deprived or even depressed over their petless state. There are many reasons why they may be petless. (Interestingly, the most common ones are the same reasons that people who have pets relinquish them to shelters.) They include:

•Health problems: They can't have pets because of allergies or certain chronic conditions.

•Family issues: Someone in their household refuses to live with a pet.

•Financial concerns: They can't afford the cost of keeping a pet. Raising a pet can be expensive, especially in this economy.

•Housing issues: Their landlord or building might forbid residents to have pets, or there may be may not be adequate living space to house their preferred pet.

•Lifestyle issues: Long work hours or frequent traveling can make it impractical to have a pet.

Some people are petless because of the death or disappearance of their pet. It may take months or even years for them to even consider having another pet, if ever. When Tinkerbelle died, everyone told us we should get another dog. We just couldn't do it; we felt that no dog could ever take Tinkerbelle's place. Luckily, our daughter gave us a rescue cat that helped fill the void and ease our pain.

People who have never had a pet often have a hard time understanding the emotional intensity and attachment pet owners have to their pets. This is another way in which they are very different from pet owners and those who are petless by chance or circumstance.

Given the demographic, health and personality differences, I can't help but conclude that people who have never had a pet -- and never will -- are indeed a breed apart. And I can't help feeling sorry for hardcore pet-free people; they haven't experienced one of life's greatest pleasures: the human-pet bond. Yes, pets can be pests. But they also can provide us with endless hours of entertainment, companionship, physical affection and unconditional love. I also believe that if given the opportunity to interact with pets, some will join the ranks of pet owners -- or at least pet lovers.

If petless people are willing to give it a shot, they can reap the benefits of interacting with pets without the commitment of ownership. They can:

•Spend time with friends or neighbors who have pets

•Offer to pet sit for friends' pets when they go away

•Volunteer at a local ASPCA, Humane Society, animal shelter, pet adoption agency or other pet-related organizations.

If they then decide to get a pet of their own (hopefully after carefully weighing the pros and cons), they should strongly consider adopting a pet from a shelter. It's a win-win situation.

Groupers I Have Known
By: Cathy Church -

I have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful fish, and by telling about them, I hope you will come to a greater appreciation of a living fish, rather than one served on a platter.

Nassau Grouper
My favorite is the Nassau Grouper--the most curious fish of all. A few years ago, when we were still allowed to give them food, they would quickly allow you to pet them and even cuddle them. The younger ones watched the older ones having all the fun and they soon joined in. In Little Cayman they rush up to divers to help point out where the Lionfish are so that the diver can spear it and feed it to them. Our grouper at Sunset House greeted us on hundreds of dives. He posed for magazine covers with a golfer, and for advertisements of computers. No other fish species has their intelligent temperament, and they are a valuable resource to the Cayman Islands diving tourism industry.

Unfortunately, several years ago, the spawning sites were terribly over-fished, and our adult population plummeted. We never saw our Sunset House grouper again after the breeding season. With a new ban on fishing the spawning sites, the population is making a slow comeback, and I am overjoyed whenever I see a shy young one watching me.

Although divers are no longer allowed to feed them, maybe that restriction can be changed and we can once again interact with these dear fellows.

Goliath Grouper
The huge Goliath grouper, previously called the Jewfish, can also be tamed to allow divers to touch them.

My favorite one lived on the Oro Verde. For many months, my photo classes would gather around him to take photos. He (she?) was seen being illegally taken by a fisherman who boasted that he got it legally on the north wall. Our taming him to be a friend made him vulnerable to a law-breaking, greedy person too lazy to get a wild one, so he easily killed our pet. Although Goliaths are wary, these huge fish are great fun to see. I hope that everyone in Cayman learns that they are more valuable for divers to play with for years than to be eaten in a day.

Golden Coney
A student took a photo of me with a gentle Golden Coney that I knew for many months. The student won a major photo contest in the US and the photo went on tour throughout the country. The fish was there for my class on Monday. That evening I watched a fishing boat anchor over the Balboa. On the next day, this one and many others were gone. My class was sad to see fishing line draped over the wreck instead of the numerous fish we had the day before. There are, of course, still Golden Coneys to be found. They are lovely to photograph, and I hope to find another special one soon.

I am writing about these things to encourage everyone to stop eating all forms of grouper and other fish species whose numbers are crashing. Watch for restaurants that follow the Sea Sense guidelines of serving environmentally friendly fish. Also, I would like to applaud our government for the continued protection of the spawning grounds of the Nassau Grouper.

Why are grouper important to our reefs? Life in the sea has been going on for hundreds of millions of years. Its myriad forms have evolved as an intricate web with a constant give and take to maintain a wonderful equilibrium. There have been many major and minor mass extinctions; the last one was 36 million years ago. Today, we are seeing a much faster decline in coral and fish species than occurs in nature. It is possible, however, to slow this down.

When a species is suddenly added or removed, the delicate system of checks and balances is disrupted. For example, lionfish multiply without any predators stopping them. The grouper and the mutton snappers seem to be the only fish interested in eating them. Without groupers, we may lose a vast amount of our reef fish.

Also, without the groupers eating the Dusky Damselfish, the damsels’ numbers grow dramatically.

Damselfish create an algae farm on several types of corals, especially the Staghorn coral. The Damsels (along with other coral diseases) have recently killed so much of our Staghorn coral that it is now endangered and headed for extinction.

According to “Science,” one-third of the reef-building corals are threatened with extinction, compared to only 2 per cent a decade ago. At this rate, it will ALL be gone fairly soon unless we make some changes.

Just a simple thing like not eating grouper may save one stand of Staghorn coral from being killed by a Damselfish.

To photograph groupers, get close, but not so close that you scare them. Use a zoom lens to allow you to fill the frame without having to be too close. Look for groupers being cleaned by small cleaner fish or shrimp as they are more likely to stay still and let you get a little closer.

For help with any underwater photo needs, visit us at Cathy Church’s Photo Centre and Gallery, 390 S. Church St., Georgetown, Grand Cayman, 345-949-7415.

Can Your Dog Read Your Mind?

Three in Five Americans Own Pets,
Harris Poll Finds

More than three in five Americans (62 percent) own at least one pet, according to The Harris Poll, an online survey of 2,184 adults conducted by Harris Interactive between May 9 and May 16, 2011. The 62 percent figure matches the overall pet ownership statistic from the American Pet Products Association’s APPA National Pet Owners Survey 2011-2012.

Of the pet-owning respondents, 69 percent owned dogs, 51 percent owned cats, 11 percent reported owning fish, 7 percent reported owning one of more birds and 8 percent reported owning some other type of pet, Harris reported.

Of dog owners, 62 percent reported owning one dog, 25 percent reported owning two, 8 percent reported owning three, and 4 percent reported owning more than 4.

Of cat owners, 47 percent reported owning one cat, 30 percent owned two, 11 percent owned three, and 11 percent owned more than four.

Of bird owners, 61 percent reported owning one bird, 18 percent reported owing two, 8 percent reported owning three, 2 percent reported owning four and 10 percent reported owning more than six.

Not surprisingly, 32 percent of fish owners reported owning six or more fish, with 23 percent reporting owning one fish, 19 percent owning two fish and 26 percent owning between 3 and 5 fish.

The poll also asked about respondents about dogs in public places. The majority of respondents felt it was a good idea to have dogs in long-term care facilities (89 percent), hospitals (72 percent), and prisons (60 percent), but a bad idea to have dogs in professional offices (52 percent) and university libraries (55 percent). See table.

Among other findings, 91 percent of pet owners said they considered their pet to be a member of their family and 57 percent reported they frequently let their pet sleep in bed with them, compared to 23 percent who reported never allowing their pet to sleep with them.

Also, 60 percent of pet owners frequently or occasionally bought their pet a holiday present compared to 36 percent who frequently or occasionally bought their pet a birthday present.

Twelve percent reported frequently cooking especially for their pet and 13 percent occasionally cooked especially for their pet, Harris reported. Sixteen percent reported either frequently or occasionally dressing their pet in some sort of clothing.

Cat Coaxed from Pipe Following 7-Day Ordeal
By Brandon Smith-Hebson,

"Rooter" the kitten was stuck in a pipe for seven days before being rescued by Roto-Rooter at her owner's home on Grant Street. Staff photo by Marshall Gorby

SPRINGFIELD — An emaciated kitten emerged from a muddy hole after a week-long ordeal on Friday afternoon with the help of a company that usually unclogs commode drains.

“We just had the equipment,” said Shannon Doerner, a service technician with Roto-Rooter’s Dayton office.

Doerner and a colleague were ordered to Springfield at the insistence of the company’s dispatch network: A cat had been stuck in a pipe seven days, they said. Doerner doubted the animal was alive.

By then the cat’s owner, Angela Neal, was desperate. For most of those seven days — ever since she began to hear the cat’s yowls reverberate through all her house’s pipes — she had been trying to give the kitten food and water.

And Neal “got the run around” from several agencies and companies she called to help her get the cat out. They didn’t return her calls for days, she said, and then claimed to not have the proper equipment.

Doerner and Mark Allen, his supervisor, left with advice from managers: “Be as careful as possible” and “get there as quickly as you can.” Most importantly, their plumbing gear included a light and camera on the end of a long, flexible line.

On his way to Springfield, Doerner remembered that before he started with Roto-Rooter, he had seen a news story about one of their employees rescuing an animal from a drain. Ever since, he said, he had wanted to help someone in a similar way.

Neal explained the situation as she led the men to the basement, where she could hear the cat the loudest. None of the food she was throwing into an opening made it to the cat, she explained. The cat was down there somewhere, in a series of pipes in the old Grant Street home.

Seven feet deep, the cistern was originally meant to collect rainwater from the old house’s roof, Doerner said, before city water was connected to the residence. Doerner crawled under the porch and Allen manned the camera from outside.

“First we tried an ice cream bucket,” he said. “The cat wouldn’t jump all the way into the bucket.”

Neal then gave the men a wicker basket.

“If (Allen) didn’t have the idea of screwing the can of cat food into the wicker basket, we would have been done,” said Doerner. “If (the cat) had knocked the food out, we never would have gotten it into the basket.”

But up the cat came, after seven days with nothing to drink or eat but spiders, flies and maybe a little rain water.

Neal has taken the cat in. She briefly debated her name before choosing a fitting name: “Rooter.”

Pet Dog's Illness Takes Its Toll on Hilary Duff

Singer-actress Hilary Duff's dog is sick and she is so stressed out that she says she is having a nervous break down.

Duff's dog Lola was diagnosed with seizures this week, reports

"Hi, Please say prayers for my little pup Lola! She is having seizure over and over and I am basically having a nervous break down. This sucks," she posted on microblogging site twitter.

The 23-year-old has received encouraging messages, including a post from her friend Ashley Tisdale, who wrote, "Sending positive vibes ur (your) way for Lola!"

Multi-Millionaire Pooch Dies at Age 12
 (84 in Dog Years)

Leona Helmsley and her dog, Trouble, in 2003. The pampered Maltese inherited $12 million from his doting mistress. Jennifer Graylock / AP file

Trouble, the beloved Maltese of billionaire Leona Helmsley who became an international celebrity when Helmsley died and left him $12 million, has died. The pampered pooch was 12 — 84 in dog years.

And despite Helmsley’s request, Trouble will not be interred next to her. The late real estate mogul who reportedly once sniffed that “only the little people pay taxes” wanted the dog next to her in her cozy 12,000-square-foot family mausoleum in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery north of New York City, but a member of the cemetery’s board told the New York Daily News that regulations forbid it. Instead, the pooch has been cremated.

Despite his millions, Trouble had been troubled in his later years; the dog was blind and feeble when he died, sources told the Daily News. That's not to mention the dozens of death and kidnapping threats he received, according to a spokesman for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which receives the balance of the funds set aside for Trouble’s care. That care reportedly included $8,000 a year for grooming, $1,200 for food, and a full-time bodyguard.

Originally purchased at a Manhattan pet shop to console Helmsley after the death of her husband, Harry, the impeccably groomed and garbed Maltese was accustomed to traveling among his mistress’s many properties via stretch limousine and private jet. In contrast, Helmsley scorned two of her own grandchildren in her will.

After Helmsley’s death in 2007, the dog retired to Florida, where he was cared for by the manager of a Helmsley hotel in Sarasota, the Daily News reported.

Despite his millions, Trouble was not the richest dog in the world.

Technically that distinction belongs to Gunther IV, a German dog left $372 million by his owner, reports Business Insider. Other mogul mutts include Miss Charlie Brown, an English cocker spaniel in South Dakota who stands to inherit $130 million from her mineral magnate owners.

In addition, Oprah Winfrey’s will is rumored to have earmarked $30 million for the care of her pups.

Cat Found In Air Filter Alive

WPTZ reports that a mechanic in Springfield, Vt. discovered a kitten in the air filter.

"I brought in a car for service, opened up the hood, went to check the air filter, and saw a big ball of fur in the air filter. And it was breathing," mechanic Jim Perry said, according to KITV.

Perry said he's found mice in air filters before, but never a cat. "That's nothing I ever expected to find," he said.

The fortunate bundle of fur likely got trapped when the car's owner was on a trip to Connecticut.

One of the mechanics at the shop decided to adopt the pet and give it to his daughter.

"She's in first grade and her birthday's coming up," Josh Webster said. "This is what she's getting."

In This Recession,
Even a Police Dog Got Laid Off
By: Everett Rosenfeld -

A police dog like this one was recently let go in East Haven, CT.
Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Cheryl Ertelt

A harsh economic climate has negatively affected cities and municipal services across the country. But the downturn hit home for a five-year-old German Shepherd named Daro earlier this month.

Daro, a police dog for the East Haven Police Department in Connecticut, was forcibly retired after the town council cut his budget. As the only police dog in the EHPD, Daro's early retirement has angered the town's police union and some citizens, according to the New Haven Register.

“My concern is why it's not being funded anymore,” Sgt. John Miller, police union president told the Register. “It's a valuable tool. It's been a proven success ... It's a valuable tool for police work these days.”

Miller said that by his calculations, it costs the town just $3,500 a year to keep Daro in service, and that his dismissal is only the latest in a series of cuts to important police programs in the past three and a half years.

Paul Hongo Jr., deputy director of town affairs, said, however, that the costs are higher than $3,500. Two years ago, the town spent $7,000 on dental work for the dog, and the town also spent an estimated $2,200 in payroll costs for early dismissal and overtime costs to care for the Daro.

Deputy Chief John Mannion told the Register that the department's K9 unit was eliminated because, “the chief just decided, upon reviewing the budget, that there wasn't enough money to sustain the program.”

But East Haven's Town Hall is fighting back against these allegations. In an email to the public, Mayor April Capone fought off reports that she disliked dogs and denied any monetary connection to Daro's dismissal.

“First I would like to say that I have always been not only a supporter of the K9 program but a true ‘dog person' myself. I remember meeting Daro when he was a puppy in some of his first days on the force and feeling lucky to have him,” she said in the email. “Unfortunately, the situation has changed in ways that have less to do with our budget and more to do with factors beyond my control.”

Instead of a budgetary link to the K9 cuts, Capone claimed that the decision was partially influenced by Daro's handler, Officer Dave Cari, insisting on a midnight shift when a dog unit is not at its most effective. Whatever the cause of the dismissal, East Haven residents have taken to Facebook and the New Haven Register's website to voice their dissatisfaction with the decision.

Daro would probably have served three more years on the force if not for his dismissal, Cari told the Register.

Canine Telepathy:
Can Your Dog Read Your Mind?
The Huffington Post - Catherine Pearson

That was the question posed in a recent study published in the journal Learning and Behavior about canine behavior. The answer, apparently, is both a little bit yes and also, a little bit no.

Researchers at the University of Florida set out to better understand the origins of exactly how it is that dogs respond to human gestures, focusing specifically on what the study's lead author, Monique Udell, called "attentional states."

To do that, they set up several different experiments. Dogs from both domesticated situations and shelters were given the choice to beg for food from a person with her face or eyes concealed, versus one whose attention was fixed on the dogs. The same experiments were also conducted with wolves -- the idea being that it would show whether or not they have some kind of genetic barrier that prevents them from responding to cues of attention in the same way dogs can, as previous studies have suggested.

What the researchers found is that both the dogs and the wolves were less likely to beg for food from the experimenters who had their backs to them, which indicates a "capacity to behave in accordance with a human's attentional state," the authors wrote. In other words, most of the canines and wolves displayed some kind of ability -- perhaps inherent -- to sense how people were acting, regardless of whether or not they grew up in contact with humans.

But the researchers also found that, generally speaking, the dogs raised as pets rather than in shelters were more likely to respond to cues when they had a human's attention. Which indicates that in the course of living with, and being cared for by humans, they'd learned to better understand their cues.

"What this shows is that it's not a question of nature versus nurture," explained Udell. "It's always going to be a combination to the two that informs a dog's responsiveness to humans."

In other words, Fido does have some natural ability to sense when he's got your attention, but he hones that sense through a lifetime of experience, too.

Udell added that people could take this information and use it to help train the dog of their dreams.

"Dogs aren't born being man's best friend," she said. "The experiences they have and the type of environment they live in -- these influence their behavior. If you want a dog that's very responsive to humans, that does take work."

5 Things to Know About Protecting Pets
from Summer's Heat

Just like people, pets can suffer heatstroke at any hour of the day -- even in the shade.

Summer’s swelter has arrived, and Hillsborough County Animal Services reminds pet owners about the dangers of Florida weather. Just like people, pets can suffer heatstroke at any hour of the day -- even in the shade.

According to a press release from Hillsborough County Animal Services, defenseless animals cannot call for help, and many pet owners fail to recognize the signs of distress and heatstroke. Symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, weakness, disorientation and seizures. It is not uncommon for an animal in heatstroke to refuse water.

While Florida felines are also at risk, dogs are the more likely to suffer heatstroke due to their activity level, breed characteristics and modes of confinement. Hillsborough County Animal Services offers the following tips for protecting pets from Florida’s dangerous heat:

1. Make shade and fresh water available and plentiful at all times.

2. Use caution when exercising dogs, even in off-peak temperature hours.

3. Reduce risks to very active dogs that don’t know their own limitations.

4. Limit outdoor exposure of older pets, heavy-coated (fur) breeds and brachycephalic dogs (those with pushed-in noses), such as bull dogs, pugs, Pekingese, Boston and Yorkshire terriers, to name a few.

5. Ask boarding facilities and pet-sitters about exercise procedures.

Like humans, pets suffering from heatstroke require immediate first-aid:
1. Lower the body temperature by submerging in cool (not icy) water, or by running a hose over its body.

2. Cool the head and neck areas first.

3. Place the victim in an air-conditioned space.

4. Do not attempt to force a heatstroke victim to drink water.

5. Seek immediate medical attention and evaluation for any victim of heatstroke.

It is best to keep the family veterinarian’s phone number handy at all times.

As with children, local and state statutes also forbid leaving animals inside vehicles -- even with windows cracked or during evening hours. Violators risk both civil and criminal penalties. When the temperature outside is 85 degrees, the inside of a vehicle can reach 102 in just 10 minutes -- 120 degrees in 30 minutes. Animals left in closed vehicles will develop heatstroke, and may suffer pain, injury or even death.

Citizens who witness animal cruelty or see a pet confined inside a vehicle should notify law enforcement or Hillsborough County Animal Services immediately. For more information, call (813) 744-5660 or log on

"Excuse Me, Did You Lose A Cat?"

Tips for Take Your Dog to Work Day
American Kennel Club -

This June 24 is Take Your Dog to Work Day. While many might think a dog in the office would be distracting, studies have proven that having pets in the workplace creates a more productive work environment, lowers stress, and actually decreases employee absenteeism.

To help make your dog's office debut more productive, the American Kennel Club offers the following tips for those planning to take their dog to work.

- Survey the scene. Before bringing your dog to the office, take a look around and pet-proof your space. Secure all cabinets and trash cans that contain food. Remove anything smaller than a tennis ball or items within your pet's reach that have sharp edges or could be a choking hazard. Cover any exposed electrical cords or outlets to prevent burns and electrocution as the result of chewing.

- Behavior. You should only take well-trained and housebroken dogs to work with you. Make sure your dog is socialized and safe around strangers. If your dog is unnerved by changes in environment or social situations, the attention and strange noises associated with an office may cause your dog undue stress.

- Health. You would stay home from work if you were sick and so should your dog. If your pup has a contagious condition, it is best he stay at home. It is also very important to make sure he is up to date on all of his vaccinations.

- Hygiene. Make sure your dog is clean and well-groomed before you take him to the office. A dirty dog might cause co-workers to complain.

- Bring the necessities. Make sure you bring the necessities your dog needs with you, such as bowls, food, quiet chew toys, treats, clean up bags and a leash.

- Supervise! Keep an eye on your dog at all times. Be mindful of those who might be afraid of your dog and people who are allergic to him.

Additional tips can be found on the American Kennel Club Web site at

Living with Pets May Protect Infants from Allergies
By Amanda Gardner, -

Growing up around a dog reduced the risk of dog allergies for boys, but not for girls -- a finding that mystified researchers.

( -- Children who live with dogs and cats are less likely to develop allergies to those animals later in life, but only if the pet is under the same roof while the child is still an infant, a new study suggests.

Compared to babies born into cat-free homes, those who grew up with cats were roughly half as likely to be allergic to them as teenagers, the study found.

Growing up around a dog reduced the risk of dog allergies by about the same amount for boys, but not for girls -- a finding that mystified researchers.

Being exposed to pets anytime after the first year of life appeared to have no effect on allergy risk, however, which indicates that timing may be everything when it comes to preventing allergies.

Though they can't say for sure, the researchers suspect that early exposure to pet allergens and pet-related bacteria strengthens the immune system, accustoms the body to allergens, and helps the child build up a natural immunity.

"Dirt is good," says lead researcher Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D., summing up the theory. "Your immune system, if it's busy with exposures early on, stays away from the allergic immune profile."

This isn't the first study to find that having a household pet may protect kids from allergies, but it is the first to follow children until they were 18 years old.

Previous studies have had mixed results -- some have even linked pet exposure during infancy to an increased risk of allergy -- so it's too early to recommend getting a dog or cat just to ward off allergies in your infant, says David Nash, M.D., clinical director of allergy and immunology at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

"In the end, we'll probably find out that there are periods of opportunity when exposure to allergens, for some people, is going to have a protective effect," says Dr. Nash, who was not involved with the new study. "But we're a long way from figuring out who it's protective for and when that optimal period is."

By the same token, don't give away your beloved family pet because you're concerned the critter will provoke allergies.

"I would not get rid of my dog if I was having a child," says Wegienka, an epidemiologist in the department of public health sciences at Henry Ford Hospital, in Detroit. "There's no evidence that you should get rid of a dog or a cat."

Moreover, it's possible that factors other than having a dog or cat in the house influenced the study participants' risk of allergy.

For instance, although the researchers took into account whether the children's parents were allergic to animals, they didn't ask about a broader family history of allergies or other health problems. So it could be that children who are genetically predisposed to animal allergies simply are less likely to grow up in homes with pets.

In the study, which appears in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy, Wegienka and her colleagues collected information from 566 children and their parents about the kids' exposure to indoor pets and their history of allergies.

In addition, when the kids turned 18, the researchers took blood samples and tested them for certain immune-system proteins (known as antibodies) that fight off cat and dog allergens.

The teenagers who lived with a cat during their first year of life had a 48 percent lower risk of cat allergy than their peers, and the teen boys who lived with a dog had a 50 percent lower risk of allergy.

The authors suggest that infant girls may not develop the same immunity as boys because they may interact differently with dogs than infant boys, but that's only a guess.

Ask Dog Lady: It's OK for Dogs to Catnap
Dog Lady - The Eagle Tribune

Dickens, our 4-year-old bichon frise/shih tzu, runs with me three days a week, 4 to 5 miles per run, plus he gets a 10 to 20 minute walk three times every day. He sees a veterinarian regularly, weighs an appropriate 15 pounds, eats well, has good digestion, and is a perpetual delight. But sometimes he just plops down at home as if he's exhausted. Is it possible to exhaust a 4-year-old dog? Is too much exercise making him old early? We're counting on Dickens being around for a decade or more.

Phew, you exhaust (and delight) Dog Lady by describing Dickens' aerobics routine. For a 15- pound dog, he's going for the burn and running with the hounds. Vigorous exercise is good for any dog. Still, you must cut him some slack.

A friend once used a charming way to describe his own small dog's need for snoozing: "Oscar is nothing without his 22 hours of beauty sleep." Dogs sack out. This is what they do. They need their shuteye, especially younger dogs. Is it any wonder the dog bed industry is booming?

Do not worry that Dickens wears out early. Check with your veterinarian, of course. Yet, Dog Lady believes all the exercise you provide primes your dog to endure for a good long time. The workouts give strength to his muscles and sanity to his behavior. So does sleep, which he needs in abundance because it restores and nurtures him. Leave Dickens alone when he plops down. He's just doing what comes naturally.

I recently acquired a 5-year-old collie mix. She is a very loving and good natured dog except when someone opens the door to our house. She barks incessantly and is hard to calm down. I don't know what to do to stop this behavior. I don't know if she is being protective or if she is scared. I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

Your collie acts out of instinct — either protection or fear or both — when visitors are afoot. Yours is a new home for the dog and she is learning the ways of the world from you. So are your guests.

Start a campaign of silence with visitors. Warn them beforehand not to ring the doorbell, not to knock, and to enter your house quietly with no fuss, muss and fanfare. This means, of course, that you know who's coming to dinner — as well you should in this day and age.

As for your collie, teach her to sit and say — for treats — so you divert her. If you keep her distracted, she won't go ballistic. When company is expected, put her in another room if you don't want to continually train her to sit and be silent. Handle all of this in as quiet a manner as you can muster. Yelling on top of barking never solves anything.

My dog, Milkyway is a terrier beagle mixed. He sniffs out everything and not only chews it but swallows things. Paper, tree sticks, grandkids' small toys, anything he can. I watch him constantly. He is a year old. Is he bored? He has chew toys and bones but still does this. Help!

Basically, there's no magic retort except you owe more to your dog. You've got to keep Milkyway better contained in a crate, a room, or behind a gate.
You can't let him roam and eat whatever he wants because he might ingest something that will rip apart his insides. Yes, he's bored and yes he needs better from you. Walk him more. Keep him on a leash in the house and don't let him wander away. If you can't watch him every minute, put him in a safe place where he can hang out. Training a young dog not to chew is like asking the sun not to shine. Training a dog to chew appropriately is all up to you. Go to the dog store and buy Kongs (indestructible dog toys). Stuff these with peanut butter, and give to Milkway. The chomp toys will keep him occupied. Your pet is a dependent domestic dog. He needs you to help him become successful at living with you. Just do it.

4 Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Coat Healthy
By Lauren Johnson -

Anyone with a furry friend can tell you that keeping up with a dog’s shedding is a full-time job. And some dogs can grow 100 feet of fur per day -- that’s adding up all the new strands covering the entire animal end-to-end, including the fluff between your dog’s toes -- so it’s easy to see why taking care of your dog’s coat can sometimes seem overwhelming. But all that fluff’s got real substance! You may not know it, but your dog’s fur:

•Is eight times warmer than wool

•Is fire-resistant

•Wards off dirt

•Repels static

•Protects from parasites

So how do you keep your dog’s coat healthy and handsome? Use these tips and tricks from the experts to keep Fido’s coat glowing -- and growing.

A Healthy Diet
Like humans, dogs are only as healthy as what they eat, says Michael Weiss, a veterinarian at All Creatures Veterinary Care Center in Sewell, N.J. Two things to look for in your dog’s food:

•Protein. If your dog lacks this vital nutrient, its body will dedicate protein to muscle first, leaving its fur and skin dry and dull. Make sure your dog’s food is rich in protein.

•Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These essential building blocks keep your dog’s coat healthy, thick and lustrous. They may also help reduce itching, dandruff and allergy-related skin problems. On the ingredients panel, look for fish oil, fish meal or flax, all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Exercise not only keeps your dog slim, it may also help keep her fur in top condition. Weiss says regular exercise benefits your dog’s overall health -- and a healthy dog is more likely to have a healthy, shiny coat.

The fact is you can’t keep your dog from shedding. But with a few key products and techniques, you can easily take great care of your dog’s coat at home to keep it looking its best:

•Brush at least once a week. In order to keep your dog’s mane manageable, give the fur one good brush each week with a de-shedding brush to get out the undercoat, says New York City-based groomer Lisa Caputo from the dog service company Biscuits and Bath. Part the hair and brush from the skin out to avoid matting, moisture and heat build-up, which can cause yeast and bacteria. For an even slicker look, give your dog a quick brush every day.

•Bathe with gentle shampoos and conditioners. If your dog has sensitive skin, try a hypoallergenic or oatmeal shampoo. Caputo recommends washing your pooch every four weeks.

Medical Checkups
If you notice your dog has consistently itchy, uncomfortable skin or is shedding more than usual, your best bet is to take him to a veterinarian. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and each dog is different,” says Weiss. “It could be something as small as a food allergy to a more serious problem, like ringworm.”

Adopting an Extra Cat Adds Fun
and Another Furry Friend to Your Home

People are social and we all highly value our interactions with friends and family. While you might not think the same of cats, people who have more than one can attest that having multiple cats can make everyone in the household - two-legged and four-legged - a little happier.

"Cats need stimulation, friendship, companionship, play and exercise, and these are all things that a second cat can help provide," explains Dr. Jane Brunt, a veterinarian and executive director of the CATalyst Council. "That's why the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Humane Association, Petfinder and the CATalyst Council are partnering to remind people that adopting two cats can be twice the fun."

Emily Armitage, spokesperson for the Anti-Cruelty Society, estimates that cats are surrendered to shelters at up to twice the rate as dogs, depending on the time of year. That's why it's appropriate that the theme for this June's Adopt-A-Cat month celebration is "Adopt Another Cat." More litters of cats are born in the summer, so shelter staff must work even harder to find each kitten a "forever" home.

There are a lot of good reasons to adopt two cats. While cats are often misunderstood as solitary beings, cats are extremely social. They get lonely when left by themselves, and cat owners often report that a cat will mourn the loss of a feline friend.

But before you add a new pet to any home, you need to be prepared. Take a minute to make sure you and your family are ready. The AVMA offers this countdown of the top 10 things you should consider before you adopt a cat:

10. Scratching is a healthy form of exercise for cats. When you adopt a cat, pick up a scratching post, or other items, to give your new pet a healthy place to "work out."

9. Visit your veterinarian to get advice on parasite controls for fleas and ticks. Prevention is the best cure.

8. Make sure everyone in your house is prepared for the new pet. In fact, make the visit to the shelter a family affair, so that all members of the family can help pick an appropriate cat - or cats. Everyone needs to be on board to provide the best quality of care.

7. Make a cat-care budget. Litter, cat food, scratching posts, veterinary care, perhaps a little catnip - add this all up and you'll see that cats are far from expensive pets, but these are costs for which you should be prepared.

6. Stock up on supplies before you bring the cat home. This will help your cat feel at home from the first moment they arrive. In addition to a scratching post, you'll need a litter box (be sure to show your new kitty where it is), cat litter, food and water bowls, cat food, toys, perhaps a cat bed and grooming tools like a brush, toothbrush and nail clippers.

5. Cat-proof your home. Did you know that cats can swallow loose string or tinsel, and that they can cause stomach or bowel obstructions? Cats are sometimes attracted to power cords and will chew on them - resulting in a powerful shock. Kittens have also been known to swallow paper clips. For more information, visit

4. Call your veterinarian to ask for health tips. A quick consultation with your veterinarian before the cat arrives and a visit soon after you adopt the cat will give you the information you'll need to keep your cat healthy.

3. Include your cat in your home emergency plan. If there is a fire, flood, storm or other disaster, your new pet needs you to be a hero. For a video or brochure on keeping pets and other animals safe in an emergency, look for the "Saving the Whole Family" brochure and video on and

2. Pick a cat with a personality that matches your own. According to animal behaviorists, round-faced, long-haired cats are often more mellow in personality, while short-haired cats with triangular faces can be a bit more active and fun, although there are always exceptions to this rule. Take the time to get to know a cat to make sure it will be a good fit.

1. Mark your calendar to visit your veterinarian twice a year for a wellness checkup. Cats are often perceived as self-sustaining. But, as Dr. Brunt explains, many cats do not show obvious signs of pain, discomfort and other symptoms when they are ill, so you may not realize you have a sick cat at home until it's too late.

Bottom line? Two cats will bring you twice the fun, but it's up to you to make their lives healthy, safe and happy. For lots of great information about cats and how to keep them healthy, visit

Pet Vet: Ear Problems in Pets

Many pets scratch their ears, but it’s not always normal; itchy ears can have many causes. 16 Saturday Morning’s Pet Vet, Dr. David Visser, has tips on what you can do about it.

Itchy ears are very common. In fact, the largest pet insurance company, VPI, researched and reported the top reasons that pets went to the veterinarian. The 8th most common reason for cats to see the vet was ear infections. For dogs, ear issues topped the annual list.

While there are pets that have just an innocent itch, there are also several ways that pets show more intense itchiness and are likely to have a bigger problem going on.

•Most pets with ear problems will intensely scratch one or both ears.

•Sometimes, especially pets that don’t reach their ears well will shake their head or run their face and ear along the furniture or floor.

•Pets show ear discomfort by walking with one ear tilted down or with their entire head tilted to the side.

Sometimes pet owners may gently rub the ear, causing their dog to lean in and moan, or get their foot tapping because of the itchiness.

Odor can also indicate a potential problem. While there is a typical mild odor that can come from a dog’s ear, but most of the time it isn’t very noticeable; so any strong odor is one of several signs that indicate a more significant problem with the ears.

•In addition to strong odor, the ear openings or canals may be bright red and irritated.

•They may be ulcerated and raw.

•Discharge may be many different colors and consistency from dry crusty material to more liquidy fluid.

•And, if a pet has been intensely scratching, they can cause some bleeding either in or around the ears.

A more serious consequence of itchy ears and head shaking is something called a hematoma. The ear flap is really like a cartilage sandwich between two layers of skin. If head shaking or scratching causes a blood vessel to break inside the flap, it can distend out like a balloon. This often requires an operation to drain the fluid out, in addition to treating the underlying cause of the itchiness.

There are several causes for ear problems. Most people are familiar with ear mites, which is an insect that prefers to live in the ear canal. Mites are most commonly a problem in young cats and some puppies, but it isn’t very common in adult pets.

The more common causes of ear problems in dogs and cats include allergies to inhaled pollens, dust and molds or even reaction to certain types of food proteins. When looking at ear discharge under the microscope, we can also identify bacteria or yeast organisms, which are true infections, but these infections usually develop secondary to moisture or water in the ears (like after swimming or baths), or narrow ear canals and floppy ears that don’t allow a lot of ventilation in the ear canals.

But pet owners shouldn’t worry too much; ear conditions are manageable. Ear mites, for instance are easily controlled by prescription ear mite drops, or the heartworm preventative called Revolution. If the infection is related to mild bacteria or yeast, specific eardrops and ear flushing solutions can provide comfort and cure.

More severe infections, particularly those that have torn the eardrum require internal antibiotics, and avoiding ear drops altogether since some medications in the ears can damage hearing.

This is the main reason that an exam by your veterinarian is so important – to know if the eardrum is ok and to determine what specifically is causing the ear problem so the right treatment can be prescribed. It’s easy to think that all ear infections are the same and that one ear product can take care of anything, but the only safe approach is to have it checked out first.

If you want to contact the Pet Vet, Dr. David Visser, you can reach him at the Roseland Animal Hospital by calling 574-272-6100 or at the Center for Animal Health by calling 888-PETS-VETS.

You can also shoot him an email at

Hints From Heloise:
Color-Coded Pets
By Heloise,

Dear Heloise: With four dogs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with their toys, blankets, etc. I came up with an easy way to stay organized: color-coded stickers! These can be found in the office-supply section of most stores.

Each dog, and even the cat, has its own color. This makes things much easier when I go away and have someone else housesit and watch my pets. -- Shelly in Texas


Dear Readers: Do you spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking, hunting, boating, etc., with your dog? Be aware of the possibility of coming in contact with snakes! And in warm weather, snakes are about.

If your pet is bitten by any snake, even a nonvenomous one, get to the veterinarian immediately! Don’t do anything yourself.

Know the snakes that are in your area. If your dog is bitten, don’t try to kill or find the snake -- you’re wasting valuable time for your pet’s care.


Dear Readers: Nina R. of Ventura, Calif., sent a picture of her 10-year-old white dog, Phoebe, smiling and standing next to a tie-dyed T-shirt. To see Phoebe and our other Pet Pals, log on to and click on “Pets.”


Dear Heloise: One day, I was in a bind and needed to get my cat to the vet, but I didn’t have my cat carrier handy. My sister suggested taking one laundry basket, putting a towel in the bottom and using twist-ties to secure a second laundry basket to the top. Worked like a charm! -- A Reader, Fort Wayne, Ind.


Hi, Heloise: I read your article on traveling with pets in crates. This is the only safe way to transport an animal in a vehicle. In addition being safer, we have our dogs’ information in a clear envelope attached to the outside of the crate. On one side it says, “In Case of Emergency,” and the other side has the names and phone numbers of two people who would take our dogs in case we are unable to speak or are taken to the hospital. Also included is the name and phone number of our vet’s office. -- Kathy, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I have many birds, and providing them with water was a never-ending chore! I made it a bit easier by purchasing a self-watering container meant for cats and dogs. Refilling it is much less time-consuming than constantly refilling the small cups that are intended for birds. They now never run out of fresh, clean water. -- A Bird Friend, via e-mail

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

Kandi Stevens:
 A Basic Guide to Keeping Your Pet Bird Happy

Are you thinking of getting a new bird as a pet? Birds are very interesting animals — each unique and wonderful in its own way with some species living as long as 80 years.

The following are some general guidelines that apply to all birds, but be sure to do additional research on each species to find one that fits your lifestyle. A good place to start after you’ve done some research is to check out any local rescue groups, there are many birds out there in need of a home.

Be sure the bird you choose is healthy. A sick bird is no bargain no matter what the price. If a bird appears droopy, ruffled, tired, or hides his head under his wing, if he sneezes, sits on the bottom of the cage, has droppings stuck to his tail feathers, or a discharge above his nostrils, there may be a big problem. Too often, by the time a bird shows any symptoms of disease or illness, it has become quite advanced. Signs of a healthy bird include clean shiny feathers, good appetite, lots of energy and bright eyes.

If you have other birds, make sure to place the new bird in an isolated room (many birds harbor contagious, disease-causing organisms). Check with your avian vet for advice on safely introducing new birds to each other.

Housing requirements
Get the largest cage you can easily manage in your home, making sure the bird can not slip his head between the bars. There will need to be room enough for the bird to have some movement like spreading and flapping its wings without hitting anything.

The perches should preferably be natural wood of varying sizes to allow for exercise and aides them in trimming their beaks (Manzanita, Madrona, and Eucalyptus are all safe woods for birds to chew). An aviary is another housing option. This allows for freedom to move and fly around freely with fewer restrictions.

Because bird’s diets vary so greatly from one species to another, a good rule of thumb is that no more than 30 percent of a bird’s diet should be seeds and nuts. The remaining 30 percent should be vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of cheese, lean cooked meats, and boiled eggs. The last 40 percent should be a good quality pellet food. Of course, fresh water daily is essential!

Moms Talk: Losing the Family Pet –
The Aftermath
By Kat Stremlau -

How to Mom-Up during one of the worst times of your life.

Nate and Greta on her last day. Credit Kat Stremlau

A few weeks back, Moms Talk covered the issue of dealing with the loss of the family pet. This week, I’m sad to report that I had to take my own advice. One thing I learned is that situations like these require us women to totally Mom Up.

What does Mom Up mean you ask? Mom Up means that you put aside your own feelings and do what is right for your children, your marriage and, in this case, your family pet.

On Monday, the wonderful staff at Your At Home Vet came to my house and euthanized our 14-year-old boxer mix, Greta. Talking about the decision to put an animal down is always difficult, but it obviously needs to be said, especially from a mom’s perspective.

While losing our pet was a totally horrible experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, I knew that as a mom, I had to Mom Up and do what was right for the entire family.

Obviously, my husband and I knew that the end was near for our dog. She was just about to bridge that divide from being an old cranky dog to an old suffering dog. Sadly, I had to be the one to Mom Up and make the decision to call around for someone to come to our house. While we typically take Greta to Banfield, the vets within Petsmart downtown, but we just didn’t have the heart to have her life end in an exam room. And, to be perfectly frank, I couldn’t imagine running into 10 people I know crying like an idiot.

The personal service is expensive but worth every penny. I can’t think of a time I was treated with such gentle compassion, even when my own mother passed away last year. The woman who answered my call scheduled a time that worked for our family and I hung up the phone feeling sorry for her…for having to deal with the likes of me, us weepy women, barely holding on, while trying to schedule such awful things around a play date, a husband’s lunch hour and my own crazy grief.

Since I’m in this not-often-seen emotional state, I will fully admit that I goofed on my last article. In it, I suggested that you take an impression of your pet’s paw print…and I totally biffed it. I fully intended on doing it (the vet even offered to leave me with the impression so my son could put his own hand print next to it and later bake in the oven) but I realized that it would not be the impression, no pun intended, I wanted to leave with my son.

Upon further reflection, I feel it would be wrong for our family to have a memento of such a terrible day. We have a few of our son’s handprints, even some of my husband’s, and they are used to commemorate special dates and ages in our life together, not sad ones. Instead, we have pictures of Nate feeding Greta an entire rotisserie chicken.

My last bit of advice on this matter is the importances of letting your child lead the way. Part of the Mom Up strategy is to let your child naturally come to you with questions. We are not bringing up the dog again…unless he asks first. When I told my son, who was at a play date, what happened, he was 100 percent OK with it.

We had a lot of conversations about the dog being ill and that she would die soon and that likely the doctor/vet would come to our house and take her away after she stopped breathing. It’s been a day and he hasn’t asked anything except whether or not he will ever see her body. I explained that the doctor took her body and left her collar with us.

In all, it was an awful experience, but one tempered by the gentle comforts of a wonderful vet, a supportive husband and a son who got to feed some chicken to a pup one last time.