Kids N' Pets Part 1 (Photos)

The Amazing Bionic Dog
By Tyrus Cukavac -

Meet the world’s first dog with four artificial paws

Naki’o uses his mechanical paws to jump and play like other dogs. (Christie Tomlinson /

Check out Naki’o—he can run, jump, and play catch! Since Naki’o is a dog, that may not seem remarkable. But Naki’o lost all four paws as a puppy. Now, with four artificial limbs created by a veterinary company in Colorado, he can move and play like any other dog. He is the first dog ever to have four artificial paws.

Naki’o’s first human family abandoned him as a puppy when they left their home. During the winter, his paws froze in a puddle of water. Frostbite, or damage to the skin from extreme cold, left only stubs at the end of his legs.

A veterinary surgeon named Christie Tomlinson found Naki’o in a Colorado animal shelter and adopted him. As a puppy, he was able to play and walk around. But as he grew bigger and heavier, his damaged feet could not support his weight. He had to slide around on his belly to move.

Then Tomlinson learned about OrthoPets. OrthoPets is a company that creates prosthetics, or artificial limbs, for animals. Martin Kaufmann, one of the founders, used to make prosthetics for humans.

Nakio’s new paws are designed to “replicate [copy] the muscle and bone structure of the dog’s natural limbs, and so allow him to do everything a normal dog would be able to do,” OrthoPets said in a statement.

Tomlinson raised money to give Naki’o two new back paws. OrthoPets was so impressed by Naki’o’s adjustment to his new limbs that they built his front paws for free. “An animal is a much better patient than a human,” says Kaufmann. “They have drive, determination, and they just won't quit.”

Now, Naki’o runs and jumps with all the other dogs. Tomlinson is happy to see him on his paws again. “Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!” she says.

Utah Pet Found 750 Miles
From Home Eight Months
After Disappearing

SALT LAKE CITY – Eight months after disappearing from her Salt Lake City home, two-year-old Miniature Pinscher Fadidle was Saturday reunited with her owner, after being found 750 miles (1,200km) away.

The beloved pet was found in San Diego, the Deseret News reported, but thanks to a microchip the dog's owner, Sharalyn Cooper, was tracked down and they were reunited.

Cooper said Fadidle vanished last October, and after months of scouring the neighborhood, posting fliers and diligently checking animal shelters, she had given up hope of seeing the small brown dog again.

Athena Davis, an employee at the San Diego Humane Society, said the dog was brought to them by a Good Samaritan and was at first believed to be a stray.

Davis said that the microchip made all the difference and recommended that everyone with a pet get one. In this case, it led to the "happy ending."

Given the distance involved Cooper believes Fadidle was probably stolen.

"I would love to hear what she has to say about this whole thing," Cooper said.

Dog Thefts on the Rise Across the Nation

Dognappings have risen 49 percent in the country in the past year, Lisa Peterson, communications director for the American Kennel Club, told "Good Morning America."

Dogs have been stolen from pet stores, from breeders and from right under their owners' noses at home. Some of the brazen thefts have even been caught on tape.

John Husky and Dina Martinez of Venice, Calif., felt the effects of this growing trend firsthand.

The couple were devastated when their 4-month-old dog, Mr. James Brown, went missing.

"We were really concerned this wasn't going to end well," Husky said.

The pair decided to hire a detective – Annalisa Berns of the California-based pet search company Pet Search and Rescue – to recover their beloved pet. Berns brought in a search dog, which followed Mr. James Brown's scent to the fence, after which the trail vanished.

This story had a happy ending. A reward was offered and the dog was returned, but not every case ends so well.

"Most people, over 80, 90 percent, they can get their pets back on their own if they know what to do, they don't need the search dogs," Berns said. "The biggest prevention tip is a collar and tags, hands down it's the easiest, simplest, most inexpensive thing that you can do and really have that increase your chances of getting your dog back safe."

Protect Your Pet
The American Kennel Club also recommends that dog owners have their pets fitted with microchip. It's a simple procedure in which a tiny chip programmed with an ID number is embedded just below the animal's skin. The ID number corresponds to a database containing pet owners' contact information.

Most vets and shelters have equipment to scan a dog for microchips.

China's 'Cat Army' Fights Rats
VOA News

A cat plays on a discarded sofa in a dump in Shenyang in northern China's Liaoning province (file photo).

A remote west China city is rounding up stray cats and putting them to work catching rats that infest pasture lands.

China's official Xinhua news agency says around 150 strays, dubbed by the media as the "cat army," were turned loose on the range lands outside the city of Bole in May to fight what the local government called a plague of rats.

The local government said in late June that rat holes had decreased by more than half.

Rodents and other pests have grown more numerous as a result of overgrazing and killing off natural predators like foxes.

What Can I Do About Someone
Publicly Abusing Their Pet?

Q: Hello,
I want to know if I see somebody abusing their pet, like beating or pushing the animal by force, somewhere like in the subway, street, what can I do for the poor animal? Even if I know somebody that is abusing their pet what can I do?!? It is very bad to see and have no right to do anything.

A: Cruelty to animals is against the law. Contact the Ontario SPCA if you are aware of cruelty to an animal. You can also contact your local police department. People who observe an animal (or person for that matter) being injured in their presence, often get involved to stop the abuse.

Submitted by Sanaz, Ontario, Canada
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

London Riots:
Police Dog Suffered Fractured Skull

A Metropolitan Police dog is recovering after suffering a fractured skull when rioters pelted officers with missiles in north London.

Obi, a three-year-old German shepherd, was on frontline duties in Tottenham on 6 August when he was injured.

His handler, PC Phil Wells, said they came under "heavy bombardment" with bottles, bricks and petrol bombs being thrown, and a brick hit Obi.

PC Wells said Obi had been signed off until he fully recovers.

Riot officers were called to Tottenham High Road when trouble flared following a peaceful march in protest at the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan.

Bleeding nostril

PC Wells said: "We were on a stationary point when we came under heavy bombardment.

"There were lots of missiles coming at us, bottles, bricks, petrol bombs, street furniture, too many to count and one hit Obi on the top of the head."

PC Wells checked the dog over, who he said seemed fine, and they stayed on duty for several hours.

But afterwards it became clear he needed veterinary treatment.

"He was lethargic and was bleeding from the left nostril which could be a sign of head trauma so he was taken to the vets and assessed," said PC Wells.

Best friend

He was transferred to The Queen's Veterinary School Hospital in Cambridge for a CT scan which showed he had a fractured skull above the left eye socket.

Obi has lived in Surrey with PC Wells, his wife Laura and two children since he was a puppy.

The officer said it was very emotional to see him lying injured at the vets.

"Although he is not a pet - he is a working dog - when he is at home it is family time and he is part of our family.

"To see your best friend and work colleague get injured while at work is difficult but he is getting a lot support from everyone and he will be back fighting fit."

He said all eight dogs in his unit on duty in Tottenham High Road that night suffered cut paw pads from broken glass and debris and some suffered cuts and broken teeth.

Back to School:
10 Worst Classroom Pets
by Anissa Ford -

It's back to school time and teachers looking for creative ways to keep kids entertained and educated on the circle of life should avoid these classroom pets.

For back to school tips, PetMD compiled a list of the top ten pets that should be kept out of any classroom.

10. Snakes
They don't shed, aren't noisy and, if you keep their habitat clean, don't emit a strong odor either. So, why don't snakes make good classroom pets? Their unpredictable temperament (especially when molting) can result in aggressive behavior towards inquisitive children. Most importantly, being reptiles, snakes have been known to transmit salmonella.

9. Ferrets
These carnivorous members of the weasel family fall under the category of exotic (read: more expensive to care for) pets. Plus, they have a strong odor even after their musk glands have been removed. Generally, ferrets have excitable and aggressive dispositions. Even well-trained, they have a tendency to nip when they feel threatened. Overall, ferrets and small children are not a good combination.

8. Birds
If children in your classroom suffer from allergies, you might think a bird would be a good fit -- but birds shed dander. They're also messy and noisy. Birds bite if handled too much, especially if they're not being handled gently. Also, all that classroom noise and activity isn't very peaceful; a nerve-wracked bird will pluck out its feathers. Finally, they can transmit bird diseases like parrot fever and salmonella.

7. Rabbits
It is a myth that children and rabbits go well together. Rabbits don't like kids. Thinking pet rabbits are safe for young children is one of the biggest mistakes teachers make when picking a classroom pet. Rabbits don't like to be handled and retaliate by biting or scratching with their strong hind legs. The House Rabbit Society has a downloadable PDF listing the criteria for keeping a rabbit as a classroom pet. Unfortunately, many don't meet the standard, especially in providing a peaceful environment.

6. Frogs
Raising a frog to adulthood from the tadpole stage, or keeping an adult frog in a class full of young children is appealing but misguided. Why don't frogs make good classroom pets? Younger children will want to handle and pet the amphibian and that poses a considerable risk for transmission of salmonella.

5. Hamsters
They're low maintenance and take up virtually no room, which makes this "starter pet" a top choice for teachers in the pet store. But hamsters are nocturnal rodents. This means disappointed children won't get to observe or interact with it at all and it's hard for children to resist the temptation to wake the animal during play and observation time. Also, the end result of a rattling the cage to wake up and play with "Harry the Hamster" is usually a bite.

4. Hedgehogs
It's probably better to get a poster of Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends rather than bring a real hedgehog to class. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they won't be in a good mood if they're woken up and will likely bite as a result. Falling under the "exotic" category, hedgehogs have very specific environmental needs, and their quills can be very irritating to young children.

3. Chinchillas
Like hedgehogs and ferrets, chinchillas are nocturnal, excitable, and don't like to be handled. This pet needs to stay in constantly cool temperatures (under 85 degrees Fahrenheit) and to be set free daily so they can roam. Even considering taking a pet chinchilla to class for one day is considered a bad idea.

2. Turtles
Their patience, hard shell and ease of care make turtles a seemingly perfect fit for the classroom. But like frogs and snakes, turtles commonly carry the disease salmonella, which is highly infectious and transmittable to humans. In addition, turtles are not as docile as people think.

1. Iguanas
Iguanas are, in many ways, the least ideal pet to keep in a classroom. Like most reptiles, iguanas don't like to be handled. And because iguanas can grow to over six feet in length, a tail "lashing" can be quite dangerous to young children. Iguanas also have unique dietary needs and cannot subsist on greens alone.

Teachers are exemplary models of compassion, nurture and care in terms of caring for pets in the classroom. Interactions between a teacher and a classroom pet are learning examples that children imitate. The teacher must always provide care (food, water, clean environment) for the classroom pet. And teachers must establish boundaries between the students and the pet or pets. Teachers must teach children how to gently care for and handle the chosen pet, if the pet is an animal that can be picked up and removed from its cage or living habitat.

Teachers should also explain that although the pet is the classroom pet, it's also the teacher's pet. This prevents the awkward moment when students want to take the pet home for the summer or home during holiday breaks.

PetMD referred to the Humane Society's list of "social creatures" "best bets for the classroom." Healthy pet rodents, such as rats, gerbils, and guinea pigs present less disease risk and the animals are fairly social. The Humane Society recommends however, that these animals be given a companion of the same species to prevent boredom and stress that accompanies captivity.

Although birds don't make good classroom pets, it's a good idea to help students set up birdhouses, feeding stations and birdbaths around their schoolyard. Then arrange schedules for students to observe the animals.

The Humane Society noted that Goldfish are also an excellent choice for students who may suffer from allergies. They are relatively low-maintenance to care for and feed, and most importantly, they aren't disruptive to a healthy learning environment.

Kids N' Pets Part 1
Thanks to Bob in BHC, AZ

Parker Woman:
Insurance Co. 'Totaled' My Dog
By Lance Hernandez, 7NEWS Reporter

Black Lab Mix Covered As 'Property' In Insurance Terms

PARKER, Colo. -- Marcia Pinkstaff said she couldn’t believe it when her dog was hit by a minivan last week and the driver’s insurance company told her they’d pay for one or two trips to the vet and would then “total out” her dog.

“I don’t see how you could total out a family pet,” she said.

Pinkstaff was walking west in the crosswalk at Canterberry Parkway and East Idyllwilde Drive, in Parker, when an eastbound minivan made a left turn striking Sasha, a 9-year-old Lab mix.

“She didn’t see us and she hit Sasha very, very hard,” Pinkstaff said. “Sasha has tears in her lungs, a tear in her diaphragm and liver damage.”

Farmers’ Insurance sent Pinkstaff a letter stating it would reimburse her for the initial trip to the vet and would consider paying for a follow up exam, but nothing more.

“I was horrified,” Pinkstaff told 7NEWS. “They said they were totaling out my dog. It broke my heart because she is like a child to me.”

“I’d never heard of anybody totaling out a dog before,” she added. “I think it’s horrible.”

An insurance industry source told 7NEWS that dogs are not covered the same way humans are.

“If a human is injured, they can be reimbursed for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical care,” the source said.

“A dog is considered property and is covered by the property damage part of a policy,” the source added.

In Pinkstaff’s case, the adjuster told her they were limiting how much they’d pay for property damage.

A spokesman for Farmers’ said the phrase “totaling out” is industry jargon and refers to the property damage part of a policy.

“I’m very sorry about the circumstances,” said Farmers’ Vice President of Media, Jerry Davies. “I have a dog, too.”

He said, “We have issued reimbursement of payment for the initial expenses and will continue to work with her on payment of those bills.”

Pinkstaff said she’s grateful that she wasn’t hit and is grateful that Sasha survived.

She told 7NEWS that Sasha has another appointment with the vet on Aug. 16.

“She has to have more blood tests and more x-rays,” Pinkstaff said. “The vet will determine whether her injuries are healing or if she needs surgery.”

Pinkstaff said some of her friends have delayed paying their mortgage to help her with her vet bills.

“I would like to see the driver’s insurance company take care of the bills,” she said. “And if the insurance won’t, I would like the driver to take care of it.”

Pet Rail: Answering Readers' Questions

Question: My 3-month-old chocolate Labradoodle has some nails that are clear and some that are black. The breeder told me to cut her nails every week so that she grows up just thinking that having her nails trimmed is not an issue. However, I cannot see the blood line in the black nails like I can in the clear nails. How do I know where the bloodline is with those dark-colored nails?

Answer: Some dogs have all clear nails, some have all dark nails and some have both depending on their skin pigmentation. The blood line - or quick - in the dark nails is the same length as it is in the clear nails, so just use the clear nails as a guide. Use a sharp pair of trimmers and just clip the absolute tip of the nail on a diagonal going away from the toe itself - sort of the way that you cut the stem of a flower. If you do hit the quick in one of the dark nails by accident, do not panic - it is not good for the dog. No dog ever died from blood loss by clipping the nail a bit too far and a pinch of Kwik Stop powder squeezed onto the bleeding end will stop it before the dog can track it all over the house.


Q: I've had parakeets for as long as I can remember. Eventually all go to parakeet heaven from one cause or another. My last one was fine and happy in the morning and when I came home she was on the bottom of the cage, so she obviously had passed on earlier in the day. Since she had not been ill at all, I was wondering if birds had heart attacks? She was 6 years old. I am wondering how long parakeets can live.

A: Only a vet's post-mortem could determine exactly why your bird died, so at this point it is only speculation. But birds can, indeed, suffer heart attacks and strokes just as humans can. I have seen some birds suffer a stroke, become paralyzed and yet regain their movement over the course of time under veterinary care.

Parakeets are sexually mature at 6 months of age. Any creature that grows that quickly cannot live for a very long time. But I was told by an experienced bird vet in Germany who studied longevity in parakeets in a controlled laboratory situation for a major European bird food company that if a parakeet lives past 3 years of age, it will usually make it to 6 or 7. If it lives past 6 or 7, then it can live to a very old age - even 15 or better. I've had a few live to be 13 and I know a few bird keepers who have 16-year-old birds.


Q: I noticed fleas on my 6-month-old ferret yesterday. How he got them I do not know as he never goes outside. I washed out his cage and threw away the bedding and gave him a flea bath with a flea shampoo that I bought from the pet store. I was wondering how he got them and if I can put the Frontline on him like I do with my cats?

A: Ferrets are right next to the ground all the time, and if fleas hitchhiked into your house, then the ferret is a prime target for fleas looking for a new home. Many ferret keepers use Advantage and Frontline on their ferrets for flea control and thus far there does not seem to be any issues with the situation.

However, neither of the companies that make the products advertises that they can be used for ferrets, so I am a bit reluctant to use them on mine. . Marshall Pet Products manufactures flea sprays and shampoos specifically for ferrets, so I play it safe and use those products.



The other day I saw a birdcage from the '60s at a garage sale. I bought it for old times' sake. It is amazing that pet birds survived in those cages. If you needed a cage for a larger parrot, you were out of luck unless you were handy and could jury-rig something together.

I remember I kept my first large parrot in a refurbished shopping cart. Now there are all sorts of nice birdcages available. When choosing one, look for the following features to be sure that your bird will have a happy and healthy life in it.

1. Many cages are manufactured in countries with no quality control. Be sure the manufacturer guarantees that there is no zinc in the metal used to build the cage. Zinc can be toxic to birds.

2. Be sure that the cage has an easily removed grate on the bottom to separate the bird from its droppings. The easier it is to remove, the easier it is to keep clean.

3. Look for cups that can be taken out of the cage from the outside. Some birds get possessive about hands going into their cages. If the cups can be removed from the outside, then when you go on holiday and ask a family member to care for your bird, it can be done without anybody getting bitten.

A New Addition to the Family
by Trish Feldt -

My kids want a pet. Let me clarify that one wants a dog and the other wants fish. My husband and I are just not “pet” people. I enjoy other people’s animals, but when it comes to the responsibility of having a pet of my own, I’m just not ready for all that entails.

My youngest son, Andrew, has been asking for a goldfish for months. Both my husband and I thought this would be a fleeting thought, but much to our surprise Andrew’s desire for a fish kept getting stronger. We finally agreed that if he wanted, Andrew could get a goldfish for his birthday.

Well, after months of anticipation, it was “goldfish day.” With great excitement, we headed to Petco as soon as the store opened. Unbeknownst to me, goldfish require slightly more care than a bowl full of water. As it turns out, goldfish are best suited for an aquarium with a water pump and filter to keep the environment suitable. Also, goldfish can grow to be up to a foot long and 5-6” in diameter. In order for the fish to be healthy and happy, it is best for them to live in a 10 gallon tank. That is for only ONE fish. If you want more than one fish, you need an even larger tank.

I attempted to talk Andrew out of getting a goldfish and get something smaller that could live in a nice little fish bowl. He wanted nothing to do with my suggestion, so the next thing I knew; I was leaving Petco with a 10 gallon starter aquarium.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take our new pet home just yet. Our awesome salesman, Brendon, recommended we wait about 24 hours before bringing our fish home, but Andrew would have nothing to do with that recommendation. Brendon could see the disappointment in Andrew’s face, so he suggested that we get our tank set up and let the water pump run for a few hours. We could bring Goldy home later in the day, as goldfish are pretty hardy fish and adapt to new conditions easily.

After doing as Brendon suggested and bringing a sample of our water to be tested, it was deemed safe for Goldy to come home with us. Andrew was over the moon! After Goldy got situated in his new tank, Andrew sat in front of the tank for hours watching him swim. I even caught him talking to him which was so cute!

Later that night we headed out to the Cardinal’s game. During the entire game Andrew talked about Goldy non-stop. He was anxious to get home to his new pet. Unfortunately, our arrival home came with some tragedy. Goldy was dead. Andrew was devastated. The whole situation was just awful. As a parent, it was so hard to witness. Watching a child’s heart break is just gut wrenching. I quickly promised Andrew we would return first thing in the morning to Petco and get a new Goldy.

Upon our return to Petco, we found out that we probably didn’t do anything wrong with Goldy, but rather he was probably in shock or maybe even injured. Goldy had arrived into the store earlier in the day that we brought him home and getting used to two new tanks in one day just might have been too much for him.

After some browsing the tanks, Andrew decided he didn’t want a goldfish this time. “No one can replace Goldy,” he told me. So we ended up with three new, much smaller fish. I was quite nervous to get three fish at once as I don’t think I could handle any more heartbreak and fish funerals.

Well, I’m happy to report it has been a week and all three fish are still alive! Andrew enjoys sitting in front of the tank and watching his fish swim around. If all goes well, we plan to add a couple more fish to our tank in a few months. Until then, we are just going to focus on keeping these three alive.

Life Can Be a Beach for Some Dogs

What you need to know before heading to a beach with your dog.

Dog-friendly beaches and resorts that cater to canines have grown in popularity in the past few years and can be found around the country. Here's few tips to help ensure a fun outing.

If you planning to visit a public beach, check with state or local governments to make sure dogs are welcome. For example, dogs are prohibited on public beaches in Seattle. Look for signs posted at area parks such a Green Lake. Fido's little dip in the water can cost you a hefty fine.

If you're headed to a dog-friendly hotel or resort, find out in advance what the rules are so you and the pooch don't get kicked out or hit with extra costs.

For beaches that allow dogs, remember to bring a leash, poop pick-up bags, fresh drinking water and a bowl.

Be aware that the biggest risk for a dog at the beach is salt poisoning from the water, said Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director for the Animal Poison Control Center run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Urbana, Ill.

"Dogs who like to retrieve balls and other objects out of the water can ingest enough water to make them sick," she said. In fresh water, the games are the same but the problem can be drinking too much water, or water intoxication.

"The most common treatment of salt poisoning or water intoxication is intravenous fluid therapy," the veterinarian said.

Other things dog-owners should watch for:

"Dogs can get sick from eating dead fish, crabs, or even bird feces," Wismer said. "If a dog ingests dead animals, or feces found on the beach, they may need fluids and antibiotics, depending on what and how much was ingested."

In some areas, jellyfish can show up in the water. Their stings can be very painful for both dogs and humans. "If a dog is stung by a jellyfish, pain medication could be necessary," Wismer said. Some sea stars are also poisonous and can cause severe vomiting and drooling in a dog.

Don't assume your dog can swim or even likes the idea of swimming. Some dogs are happy to just wade at the water's edge.

Make sure there is shade near by so you and the pooch can take break out of the sun.

Check the paws, prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand can cause burns.

Also avoid overexertion in hot weather. Try walking or playing early in the morning or late in the evening when it's usually cooler.

Pet Business Tips from a Pro
By Alissa Wolf,

The 'Pet Industry Guru' Offers Priceless Advice

While I have frequently offered what I believe to be sound pet business tips, it’s always a good idea to get “second opinions” from other pros.

To that end, I spoke with Howard London, a sales and marketing pro who’s a veteran of the pet business, who provided some excellent business tips for those who are in, or want to get into the critter business.

The self-styled "Pet Industry Guru,” who is now the national sales and marketing director for Pet Kings Brand, Inc. and columnist for Pet Business Magazine, has been in the pet business in one form or another for more than 25 years.

Without further ado, here’s are some of his top pet business tips.

Pet Business Tip # One: Do Your Homework

“Even if you have a lot of money, don’t just jump into it (the pet business),” he said. “If you’re able to work for a company for six months to a year to get your feet wet, it’s not a bad thing. See what works and what doesn’t. It’s a little investment of time, but in the end, it’s not going to hurt. If it’s a perfectly run store, it’s a good model; if it’s horrible, it’s a good model. You will learn something either way.”

Pet Business Tip # Two: Research the Competition

“Like the saying goes, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ PetSmart and Petco are not going away. But figure out how to compete. Talk to them; go visit them."

Pet Business Tip # 3: Offer Something the Big Box Stores Don’t

London and I are very much on the same page when it comes to this crucial pet business tip…

Above and beyond customer service is worth its weight in gold!

“Offer something the big guys don’t or can’t,” he said. “You can’t compete with their prices. They, however, cannot beat the independents in customer service. Their employees are like little robots. It’s hard to find a person on the floor because they’re doing stock.”

Pet Business Tip # 4: Avoid Bad Business Pitfalls

This is something that drives me crazy, which I weighed in on before.

“When someone goes into a pet store, there’s no one to be found, or they’re ignoring you, or two employees are talking to each other and ignoring you. Or they don’t know where the product you are looking for is, or they’re out of it. I get if it’s a hard to find item that they sell one of every three months. But if it’s a bag of pet treats I use every week, then I won’t go there again.”

Pet Business Tip # 5: Take Full Advantage of Social Media

Here’s where the independent pet shops may actually have an advantage over the big guys.

“Petco and PetSmart have Facebook pages that are national. They (the independents) should have a Facebook page, as well as a presence on Twitter and foursquare, where they can offer specials. These sites really are built for the local businesses. The big guys are so big that they can only speak nationally, not locally. The smaller businesses need to engage the local community.”

Some Other Important Pet Business Tips

There are some other crucial skills and traits one must possess to successfully run and operate a pet business, or any business, for that matter:

•Being good at sales, or hiring someone who is

•Knowing how to effectively market your business

•The ability to manage finances and profit and loss statements


The latter is extremely important. As I always say, if you really believe in the products and services you offer, and have a passion for this pursuit, you already have a “paw up” on the competition.

A Parting Pet Business Tip

Don’t let fear hold you back.

“I just think that, even though we are in this recession, it’s the best time to start or run a successful business,” London advised.

“The standards for products and services have increased 10-fold in this recession. This has actually opened the door for great products and services. If you can deliver it, you can be successful. Don’t believe what the government tells you, that you have to cut back. So many successful businesses were started during a recession or the Depression. Personally, people might be hurting. But for business, it’s a great time.”

Hints From Heloise:
The Joys of Pet Toys
By Heloise,

Dear Readers: Pet toys are wonderful and provide bonding time with your pet. Plus, playing with toys can help keep dogs from destructive chewing on furniture, shoes, drywall (!), etc.

It is better to have toys specifically designed for dogs, since toys for children usually are not “chewproof” and may have small parts that can break off and be ingested.

Does your dog like squeaky toys? Lots of them do! Supervise play so the dog won’t eat the squeaker.

Keeping toys clean is important. Rinse rubber chew toys in a mild chlorine-bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 quart of water). Mix just enough to use in one or two days. Or wash the toys with mild dishwashing soap. Would you like some more simple, time-tested cleaning hints? I have compiled a pamphlet of my favorite, easy-to-use homemade cleaning solutions. If you would like to receive one, send $5 and a business-size, stamped (64 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Heloise/Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Every little dog and cat deserves the cleanest toys. Take extra care with your pet’s favorite toy. How many toys is too many? Cabbie, our mini schnauzer, has at least 20 -- not counting ones hidden out of sight! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Speaking of pet toys, Sharon in San Antonio e-mailed a picture of her rescued Chihuahua, Daisy, taking a snooze with her favorite toy, her Pink Pig, which is a rather dingy shade of pink from being played with so much! To see Daisy and her Pink Pig, as well as our other Pet Pals, go to and click on “Pets.” Do you have a picture of your pet playing with a favorite toy? Send it to us: Heloise/Pets, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: We have a bay window with two chairs and a table with a lamp on it. When our two Jack Russell terriers see a squirrel in the back yard, they run excitedly between the chairs and the windows. On several occasions, they have pulled over the lamp when they got tangled in the cord. I tried wrapping the cord around a leg of the table, leaving just enough cord to reach the socket, and there hasn’t been a lamp accident since! -- Betty Peterson, Keller, Tex.


Dear Heloise: Need to give your pup a pill? You can wrap the pill in lunchmeat. The trick is to keep the dog looking upward at you while he swallows the pill. Hold a second piece in your other hand high above your dog’s head as you are giving him the pill-laced meat. Your dog will focus on what is in the air, and the pill will slide effortlessly down his throat! Then reward him with the second treat. -- Sharon from West Virginia

Check with your vet to see if it’s okay for your dog to eat lunchmeat. -- Heloise

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.

Pet Vet: Odd Behaviors

Dogs and cats are popular pets, not only because of how social they are, but how smart they are, too. You may wonder then why pets often behave in ways that do not make any sense.

Pet Vet, Dr. David Visser, explains some of these odd behaviors and how to understand them a little more.

There are several behaviors that pet owners can find unusual.

Eating Rabbit Droppings
For example, some people notice their dogs eating rabbit droppings. Believe it or not, there is actually a flavor to the pellets that some dogs like; maybe because the protein or B-vitamin is very high.

Sporting dog breeds may do this as part of tracking or hunting behavior, too.

So is it bad for dogs to do? There’s no doubt it can upset their digestive tract if a large amount is eaten. Additionally, pets can get certain parasites from these droppings.

The best advice is to keep the yard clean with a rake, water-in the droppings or at least try to keep your dog away from these unfortunate rabbit gifts.

Sometimes, dog owners will see their pets drag their rear end on the floor. This behavior is called scooting.

When they do this, dogs are basically scratching an itch. You may notice that it’s the more portly dogs that do this, and that’s probably because they can’t reach to scratch the itch by chewing.

The most common cause of this itching is a pair of fluid-filled glands that are similar to skunk glands. These glands get distended and it itches like crazy. So to try to get them to drain, they do this little itchy dance.

Allergies can also cause itchiness of the backside, but contrary to popular opinion, “worms” are not a common cause of scooting.

Reverse Sneezes
Another common, yet sometimes alarming, behavior is a reverse sneeze.

Dogs will clear their respiratory passage in three different ways:

•When there is irritation in the front or nasal part of the upper airway, an out-through-the-nose sneeze occurs.

•When the irritation is in the windpipe, the result is an out-through-the-mouth cough.

•But irritation in the area in between, like the post-nasal-drip area, creates this inward snort, which is actually a way to slap the soft palate at the itchy back of the throat.

Now, as serious as this sounds, and many people think their dog is struggling to breathe, it is often just a little irritation or mild allergy response. But there are cases where pets have growths or polyps in the back of the throat that cause those signs, too.

Odd Behaviors
It’s interesting to see how pets have become part of our families, almost like our children, and yet they retain many of their natural tendencies.

The important take-home message is that if there doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation, and the behavior doesn’t stop on its own, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian.

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

Q&A: Cats and Cat Allergies on a Plane
By Harriet Baskas,

Some airlines allow pets in the cabin, but Christopher Ambler wants to know what the options are for a traveler who has allergies. David Mcnew / Getty Images file

Overhead Bin recently answered a reader’s question about taking pets on planes, but Christopher Ambler of Seattle sent in a flip-side question: What if you’re allergic to cats?

“If I have an allergy attack, it manifests as asthma that could not only cause a trip to the hospital, at best, but also typically means I will be recovering for days after receiving treatment,” wrote Ambler.

He tries to call ahead to see if there might be cats in the cabin, but “I’m often told that I have no recourse. They have said that I should ask for a seat change, but with re-circulated air, no seat is safe. Travel insurance also doesn’t cover this, as it’s a foreseeable circumstance.”

Rebooking on another flight sometimes solves the conflict, but then he’s often hit with an airline’s change fee, Ambler said.

Ambler is not alone. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), about 10 percent of people with allergies are allergic to pets.

“It can be tough,” said Todd Rambasek, an AAAI fellow and a doctor with E.N.T. & Allergy Health Services in Cleveland, Ohio. “You can try avoidance measures and ask to be moved to another part of the plane. But even if there’s no pet in the cabin or near where you’re seated, remember that a lot of people carry pet dander on their clothes.”

Rambasek said asthma sufferers on airplanes might consider pre-medicating or wearing a face mask, such as those worn by some travelers during flu season.

Ambler has his own suggestion: During the booking process, he’d like airlines to alert a passenger if a pet is already booked on the flight. “If so, I would gladly say, ‘Hey, they booked first, I’ll take a different flight.’ But if someone with a pet allergy books first, pets should be disallowed on that flight. First to book should win,” said Ambler.

Overhead Bin ran that idea past a few airlines. American Airlines told us such a plan would be too complex, too time-consuming and too unreliable to administer.

“Just as with our policy for peanut allergies, we simply cannot assure customers that our aircraft are free of allergens, even if there is no pet onboard,” said American Airlines spokesperson Andrea Huguely. “We cannot guarantee our flights to be allergy-free, and customers should consult their physician as to the best way to medically deal with that issue.” (American does not serve peanuts, but allows up to seven booked pets per flight.)

But here’s another strategy that may help. Many pet-friendly organizations list airline pet-policies on their websites. Studying those will tell you how much each airline charges for an in-cabin pet (some airline pet fares can top $100 each way) and how many pets each airline allows in the cabin. Frontier Airlines, for example, allows up to 10 pets aboard each flight.

Travelers seeking to avoid flying with other people’s pets might choose an airline that either limits the number of pets in the cabin or charges a high fee for passengers to bring their pets along.

Ask Dog Lady:
Be Careful About Giving Dog as a Gift
The Eagle Tribune

I am 11-years-old. I have a Basset hound named Scooby and I have some questions about getting a new dog. My mom's birthday is coming in two weeks and my grandma is going to get her a small dog or puppy but she had questions. I believe that you can help us. We want to know what small breeds are good with children. I have two other sisters, age 5 and 14, and what breeds do not shed or are hypoallergenic. Grandma and I greatly appreciate your answers.

Your grandma should think it over and do more research before she gives your mom a dog. First of all, does your mom really want a dog? To give a dog as a gift is not such a great idea because sometimes the person who receives the dog as a present might feel trapped into accepting the living creature. This can lead to resentment, which is no way for a new dog owner to feel. Maybe your grandma can give your mom a funny birthday card with a made-up certificate good for a one dog. She and your mom can look for the dog together. They should go visit an animal shelter to find out about small dogs that are hypoallergenic (you spelled this word correctly, congratulations!). Basically all dogs shed a little, but those that shed least are any poodle or poodle mix. These mutts are generally adorable. You know them because they have a "poo" or "doodle" in their breed titles, such as shih-poo or Malti-poo or Labradoodle. These mixes are also generally good with kids but grandma and mom should ask their own questions.

My 12-year-old "Boomer" has recently decided he was an outdoor dog. For the last 12 years he has been king of the house, master of his little kingdom. But about a month ago, he started refusing to come in the house, at all. I have to bribe him with cheese, late in the evening, to get him to come in.

About a month ago, we had a ton of thunder/lightening storms. He was so afraid. We held him as he shook with fear from the storm. One day, during a storm, he started to hit the door to go out and ran around the house. I finally let him out. Ever since, he won't come in the house. He'll stay on the porch if it rains, crying, but won't come in. It's so sad. I comfort and pet him at night.

Boomer could be having a senior moment. Or the storms spooked him into a new outdoor lifestyle. First of all, you should always remain calm around your dog. Don't be overemotional about holding too tight or comforting too much. Also, the latest thinking about dogs and thunderstorms is that static electricity in the air causes hyper-sentient dogs to become frenzied. One solution untested by Dog Lady but recommended by others is to rub down your dog with a dryer sheet when a thunderstorm approaches. This quells the static clinginess. Because conventional dryer sheets contain toxic ingredients, organic dryer sheets are recommended. Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena is one brand but there are others. Be advised these are more expensive than regular dryer sheets but they don't contain harmful chemicals.

Also unproven by Dog Lady but highly touted by others is Thundershirt, a garment that, supposedly, holds in a dog's anxiety — literally. Go to to read all about this. Such a remedy might be just the trick to lull Boomer inside.

But here's the most important proviso: Whenever your dog exhibits a marked change in behavior, there could be a medical cause even if you don't think your pet seems ill. It's always wise to have a veterinarian rule out any health problems.

• • •
Pet perplexed? Visit to ask a question or make a comment. Visit "Ask Dog Lady" on Facebook.

Beau the Montana Math Dog

Rattlesnake Bites Dog in Boat on Tiber Reservoir

Crockett recovers from a swollen face after suffering a rattlesnake bite on Monday on Tiber Reservoir.

Christi Fisher of Great Falls inadvertently landed a lunker rattlesnake while fishing for walleye in Tiber Reservoir southeast of Shelby on Monday.

With her back turned, the big snake, without rattling, slithered aboard her boat and subsequently bit her dog in the face, nearly killing it.

Fisher, who called the incident "crazy," says she never would have known the snake was in the boat and could have been bitten herself, had it not been for the dog, a 4-year-old golden retriever named Crockett.

She credits the dog for "taking one for the team."

"Thank God she was back there and paying attention," she said.

As of Tuesday, the dog, its face still swollen, was on painkillers but "doing OK" and expected to recover.

The 44-year-old Fisher had camped near Tiber on Sunday to get an early start fishing Monday.

At about 8:30 a.m., she was trolling in her 18-foot boat for walleye 100 yards from shore, in 15 feet of water, on the Marias River arm of the 17,500-acre reservoir. Crockett was in the back. Another dog, a labradoodle named Maggie, was in the front.

Fisher heard commotion and turned in time to see the rattler wiggling into the back of the boat by the motor.

"It was huge," Fisher said.

Crockett, named after Davy, let out a yelp and ran to the front of the boat. Fisher didn't know it then, but the snake had sunk its venomous fangs below the dog's left eye.

Fisher grabbed a 3-foot-long aluminum pole with a light on it, used during night-time fishing, and went after the snake, which was coiled around the motor's gas line.

"It was striking the stick," she said.

Finally, she flipped the snake into the water.

Fisher, a civil engineer with the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, initially planned to keep fishing. She had two lines in the water and had landed a couple of fish before the snake snuck aboard.

Then she spotted the snake swimming toward the boat again and thought otherwise. About the same time, she noticed Crockett's face and head were becoming huge. The snake's venom was causing them to swell.

Fisher rushed back to the campsite, loaded her things and set off on the 85-mile drive to a Great Falls to get the dog treatment from a veterinarian.

Crockett was drooling and Fisher didn't think the dog would make it.

At the vet, Crockett received an anti-venom IV treatment and some pain pills. The dog began eating again Tuesday.

"Who would think there would be a rattlesnake in the middle of the lake?" Fisher said.

In fact, a snake swimming in a lake is not unusual, especially 100 yards from shore, said Bruce Auchly, a spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

"Snakes are very good swimmers," he said.

In 1993, two FWP game wardens were patrolling Tiber when they pulled alongside two men in a 16-foot fishing boat, Auchly said. One of the wardens asked a man in the rear of the boat for his license and when he reached down to grab it he found a 2-foot rattlesnake. Auchly remembers because he wrote the news release about the unusual incident, which was headlined, "A Strange Fishing Companion."

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Karl Puckett at 406-791-1471, 800-438-6600 or

3 People & Cat Treated for Carbon Monoxide Fumes
By Sunde Farquhar -

The female siamese-mix cat was found unconscious in the home, firefighters treated her with a pet oxygen mask. Credit Sunde Farquhar Photos

Three people were rushed to local hospitals after they were exposed to carbon monoxide fumes thought to have come from a car left running in a garage.

A spokesperson for Palm Harbor Fire Rescue says it happened at 6:16 p.m. Monday at a home at 156 Steeplechase Lane.

Two guests were visiting the homeowner when one guest started to feel light-headed and went outside for fresh air. While outside, the guest heard the car running inside the garage. She then went back inside to get the two people out of the home. She also turned off the running car.

The 60 year-old homeowner was taken by ambulance to Mease Countryside Hospital. Her two guests were taken by ambulance to Mease Dunedin Hospital. All three were reported to be in stable condition.

A woman who lives next door was evacuated from her home because of a high carbon monoxide reading. She refused to be treated.

Firefighters also found a female cat unconscious inside the home. They treated it with a pet oxygen mask and transported the cat to Animal Emergency and Urgent Care in Palm Harbor.

"They were giving her oxygen by mask up until they got her here," said Veterinarian Jean McKnight, "Then we gave her oxygen in the mask and put her in the incubator."

The siamese-mix cat will stay in the incubator -which has oxygen pumped into it- until she improves.

McKnight says she and her staff have treated pets who've been overcome by smoke, but this was a first at the emergency clinic, "I don't think' I've ever had a carbon monoxide poisoning before," she said.

The names of those treated have not been released. The veterinarian was not told the name of the cat.

McDonald's Manager Accused of Punching Customer
 with Service Dog
By Casey Glynn -

(CBS/AP) ATLANTA - Authorities say a McDonald's manager is accused of punching a mother who was at the Atlanta restaurant with her autistic children and a service dog.

Tiffany Denise Allen is reportedly charged with simple battery, simple assault and disorderly conduct for attacking Jennifer Schwenker.

The victim entered the McDonald's in Marietta on July 12 with her twins and service dog. Allen became angry that the dog was inside the restaurant, followed the mother around the restaurant and then punched her in the face in the parking lot, according to authorities.

Surveillance video shows McDonald's employees trying to restrain their co-worker, according to police.

J.M. and Jan Owens, who operate the store, said they're cooperating with police.

"At our McDonald's restaurant, we respect and value our customers. Their safety and well-being is always a top priority," they said in a statement to The Associated Press.

"We strive to comply with all applicable laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act," they said. "It is our policy to make our restaurants accessible to all customers, including those with disabilities and special needs, whether or not they need the assistance of service animals."

Dog Treat Recall: Salmonella

One lot of Merrick “Doggie Wishbone” dog treats — 248 cases — have been recalled due to Salmonella contamination. The dangerous bacteria were detected during a routine FDA inspection.

No other Merrick Pet Care products are included in the recall.

Salmonella can infect pets, and can also infect humans who handle the contaminated pet products.

Pets with Salmonella food poisoning tend to be lethargic and feverish. They may develop diarrhea — sometimes bloody diarrhea — and or vomiting. Pets with only mild Salmonella infecftions may simply have decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain.

Pets who have consumed the recalled product, and who have any of these symptoms, should immediately be taken to a veterinarian.

The potentially contaminated treats were shipped to distributors in 10 states, which then shipped the products to retailers and other distributors throughout the U.S.

No illnesses, either in humans or in pets, have been reported so far.

The recalled product is: Doggie Wishbone pet treat (ITEM # 2280829050, Lot 11031 Best By 30 Jan 2013).

Recalled products may be returned to the point of purchase for a refund. Customers with questions may call Merrick from 8am to 5pm Central time, Monday through Friday, at 800-664-7387.

It's Good To Be Big:
World's Tallest Dog Gets a Book Deal
By: Kai Ma -

Meet man's best—and biggest—friend. Erin Barnes / Simon & Schuster

When Dave and Christie Nasser chose their blue Great Dane pup from a litter of 13, they had no idea the “cowering ball of fuzzy fur” would break a Guinness record. They just knew the breed made for great family pets. When the bewildered puppy appeared at his new Arizona digs, the Nassers did notice that his paws looked large, but “it didn't really register,” according to Dave. “All we saw was this cute puppy.”

Five months later, George was already the size of a full-grown Labrador. Five years later, at 7'3" from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, he is the Guinness World Record holder for the tallest living dog and tallest dog ever.

George's growth spurt and significant poundage (245 lbs!) is all chronicled in Giant George, a new memoir penned by Nasser that comes out August 4.

According to the book, life wasn't always easy for the high-reaching pup. Before fame came knocking, George was bullied out of the local park's puppy section because other owners feared he would harm the other dogs. Turned out, George was the fearful one. “Our enormous puppy was a big softie,” wrote Nasser. “Besides his terror of being left alone, he had a fear of water.” (He's also afraid of Chihuahuas.)

Today, the Tucson-based George, who has a lustrous grey coat and gentle face, is a canine celebrity. He's appeared on Oprah and has his own fan club. His Facebook page alone boasts 70,000 fans. George also sleeps alone in a queen size bed, consumes 110 pounds of food each month and sits on a chair like a human.

Hopefully, the book doesn't sugarcoat the experience of raising an animal that is often mistaken for a pony. George is cute, but he surely comes with colossal poop bags and a heavy paw. You also have to wonder: How did the owner's newborn fall into the mix? Read this excerpt to find out.

Kai Ma is a contributor at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kai_ma or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME's Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

Pet Detective On The Hunt For Missing Pooch

Clifton Residents Hoping He Will Find Their Yorkie, Mackenzie

CINCINNATI -- The Tri-State's own "Ace Ventura" is on the hunt for a missing pet in Clifton. Only he's not a movie character. He's getting real results. A University of Cincinnati staff member by day, Jim Berns' passion is tracking down missing animals.

Berns and his hounds are well-trained. He is one of only a handful of people in the country who does this kind of work. Thursday, he was looking for Mackenzie, a 10-year-old Westie who disappeared from her Clifton home.

"She just grabbed everyone's hearts. She's on pictures for dog food and lots of other products because she's an irresistible, loving, sweet dog," owner Cindy Collins said.

Once Berns gets the frantic call for help, he gets to work making signs and then uses his own tools to post them all over the neighborhood. Then his dogs get to work, tracking the missing animal's scent.

In this case, Berns' dogs found a clump of Mackenzie's hair but not the dog herself.

"We're not a silver bullet. We don't find every pet, but we do increase the chances we'll get a favorable outcome. Many times we do, and other times we deliver bad news and it's sad for the client, and it's sad for me, too," Berns said.

Sadly for the Collins family, there's still no sign of Mackenzie, but they're not giving up their search. Neither is the pet detective, who said he has a more than 50 percent success rate.

Montana Math Dog Beau Goes Viral

Beau, a black Labrador retriever, answers a math question for Dave Madsen and his son Matt last week at Finley Point. Beau has an aptitude for math, barking out the answers to questions from not just the Madsens, but anyone with a reward for his work. TOM BAUER/Missoulian

Beau, a 12-year-old black lab, has a unique talent for math. Dave and Patti Madsen and their son Matt share ownership of Beau with their daughter Melissa Canady of Augusta, Georgia. Dave taught Beau math when he was a puppy and Beau now spends summers on Flathead Lake with the Madsens. He spends most of his time fishing, but occasionally entertains guests with his math skills.

Here's one question you don't want to ask Beau, the canine calculator whose uncanny ability to bark out answers to math questions was featured in the Missoulian earlier this summer:

How many miles is it to New York City?

The barking would go on for hours.

A potential trip to New York was just one of the unexpected consequences of the July 31 Missoulian story about the 12-year-old Labrador retriever, who can add, subtract, multiply and divide.

Beau's co-owners, Dave and Patti Madsen, turned down the offer from CBS Sports to fly Dave and his dog to New York to help the network kick off its college football coverage over Labor Day weekend.

"They wanted him to predict the point spread of the Georgia-Boise State game on Sept. 3," Patti says. "He's smart, but I don't know if he can see into a crystal ball - I don't know if he can do predictions."

But it was concerns over summer temperatures in the cargo hold of a commercial airliner, not Beau's ability to see into the future, that led them to decline.

"Even when we fly up here from Atlanta earlier in the year, we always book the earliest flight of the day so it's not too hot for Beau," Patti says. Dave Madsen, who is originally from Missoula, is retired in Atlanta from a career with AT&T, but he and Patti spend summers at the family property on Flathead Lake's Finley Point.

That's also when they have custody of Beau, who so loves Montana he'll happily leap into his pet carrier when he's in Georgia in case it means a plane trip to Missoula, but go to any length to avoid getting into it in Montana for fear it means his summer at the lake is over.

While in Georgia, Beau lives with the Madsens' daughter, Melissa, and her husband, Brad Canady. Melissa was a student at Georgia Southern University when she found Beau, then a 3-month-old puppy, on her doorstep a dozen years ago.


Beau's 15 minutes of fame have spread far beyond the Missoulian readership since the story first appeared.

He was featured in a London newspaper, the Daily Mail. A New Zealand radio station wanted to do an interview. posted a link to a video of Beau doing math produced by Missoulian intern Leidy Wagener. featured Beau in its pets section.

"One of the things that happened after the story hit was that Reuters news service picked it up," Dave says, "and a lot of newspapers must have seen it. Beau's been in the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Vancouver Star."

Taught by Dave to count dog bones and bark out the correct number when he was much younger, Beau's math skills have grown to a point over the years that they're almost unbelievable.

Yes, he can add two and two ("Arf arf arf arf," he'll say) or subtract two from 10 ("Arf arf arf arf arf arf arf arf").

But he can also multiply. Divide. Do square roots. Algebra. Answer math problems written on a piece of paper. Answer math problems posed in Spanish.

"We do try to keep the answers at 10 or below," Madsen said earlier this summer, "because otherwise, it's a lot of barking."

It's given the Madsens a lot of laughs this August. A friend, Rick Dyess - publisher of Sierra Heritage Magazine - helped the Madsens scour the Internet for any and all references to Beau after the Missoulian story came out.

He found mentions in India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Macedonia, the Philippines, South Africa.

"Some of the blogs are pretty funny," Dyess says. "Some say we should send Beau to Congress to solve the budget crisis because he can count better than they can."

"He showed me one that said they should replace Ben Bernanke (chairman of the Federal Reserve Board) with Beau," Dave Madsen says.


It would be easy to dismiss Beau as an elaborate trick - surely the Madsens must signal him how many times to bark, or when to stop barking - except for one thing.

They can leave you entirely alone with Beau, and as long as you've got treats in hand - Beau doesn't work for free - the dog will answer most any mathematical problem you pose to him yourself.

He's not always right - Dave estimates he gets 85 percent of his answers correct - and you can stump him by asking a question where the answer is zero.

Do that, and Beau just starts barking.

But he'll bark exactly seven times if you tell him you're playing golf, and ask him what you shot if you got a double-bogey on a par-5.

It was Beau's knowledge of football that caught the eye of CBS Sports. He knows how many points you get for a touchdown, field goal or safety.

"If I score a field goal and a safety, how many points do I have?" Madsen asked the dog earlier this summer.

"Arf arf arf arf arf," Beau replied.

In lieu of the trip to New York City, Beau has accepted a gig to appear in front of the Polson Rotary Club on Tuesday to show off his math skills.

"It's been a lot of fun," Patti Madsen says. "We're having a good time with it."

Indeed, the Madsens started a Facebook page for Beau, under "Beau Canady Madsen," a couple of days ago.

"It takes two weeks for me to get two friends," Dave says. "Beau had more than 80 in two days."

It's worth checking out the page just for Beau's photograph. In addition to doing math, Beau can apparently drive, too.

He's pictured behind the wheel of a convertible.

The Facebook page also notes Beau is single - in case you know any girls out there who go for the genius types.

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at

Tips to Keep Your Pet Calm in the Storm
By: Denise Naughton -

The thunder rolls, and the lightening strikes, when the monsoon comes in with a vengence it sometimes sends our pets scurrying for cover.

You may have heard that pets can sometimes sense when a storm is coming. Bella Vasta, from Bella's House and Pet Sitting says pets are very intuitive, and you can watch your pets behavior for warning signs. Vasta says you can watch for include:

1. clingier than normal

2. ears back

3. eyes wide open

4. looking at the windows and doors more often

So what can you do to calm their little furry nerves? Vasta has a few suggestions to keep your little fur babies calm cool and collected when the storm hits.

1. Close all doggie doors

2. Secure all gates

3. Make sure your pets are indoors, and move them to an interior location in the home

4. Close the blinds so your pets don't see the lightening

5. Turn on the tv or radio to drown out the noise from the storm

If you still need more help calming their anxiety, Vasta suggests back flower remedy, a holistic treatment. She says you can rub it in their ear or on their nose 30 minutes before the storm hits. Vasta advises you check with your veterinarian before using any other form of medication on your pet.

A Birth Control Pill... for Dogs?

Scientists are developing a chemical means of curbing the unwanted consequences of puppy love

It's nearly universally agreed upon that spaying or neutering your dog is a responsible part of pet ownership. But those surgical procedures are costly, and require pets to be put under anesthesia, which always bears some risk. To make controlling the pet population easier and cheaper, scientists in Arizona are developing a contraceptive for female dogs that can be administered orally or by injection. Here, a brief guide:

There's birth control for dogs?

It's in the works. Along with SenesTech, a biotech company that specializes in "humane animal population management," Arizona scientist Dr. Loretta Mayer has developed Chemspay, a doggy contraceptive that is administered once orally or via injection, and induces menopause in an animal. In trials conducted between 2004 and 2008, the drug significantly reduced the number of eggs in test dogs, thus rendering them unable to have puppies.

What's next for this canine pill?

Mayer is taking her research to India, where she's working on a project to curb the country's feral dog population. "This technology, if successful, will really have a huge impact on unwanted dog populations," she says. "The biggest impact will be where dogs are reservoirs for human diseases, like in India." Stateside, it could dramatically decrease the number of unwanted dogs that are euthanized, says Maria Parece at Gather.

So when can American dogs get in on this?

In three years or so, Mayer plans to begin FDA trials at an animal rescue center in Flagstaff, Ariz. It will take a total of six to nine years for Chemspay to gain FDA approval. "There is a very long timeline in this project," Mayer says. "Each and every one of our products takes years to develop."

Has man's best friend had contraceptive options before?

Yes. For male dogs, there was a sterilizing injection called Neutersol. It gained FDA approval in 2003, but was taken off the market in 2005 following manufacturing issues. It is now commercially available under the name Esterilsol in Mexico, Colombia, and Bolivia. It also has regulatory approval in Panama, and its makers hope to gain approval throughout Latin America. Studies are also reportedly underway to try using GonaCon, a contraceptive used to control deer populations, in dogs.

Are there any disadvantages to these products?

For Chemspay, time — and FDA trials — will tell. But Neutersol/Esterilsol doesn't completely shut down testosterone production, leaving male dogs more vulnerable to testicular cancer and prostate disease than those who have their testicles surgically removed.

Are there other birth control options for animals?

Yes. Mayer and SenesTech are also developing ContraPest, a drug that sterilizes female mice and rats, known to terrorize Indonesia's rice fields and wreak havoc on the food supply. The drug is thought of as a more humane alternative to poisoning rodents. "I would really like to see us do things that improve our environment and are compassionate to other beings," Mayer says. "My passion, without question, is to stop killing animals, however we might do that."

Las Vegas Hotels Warming Up to Pets as Guests
By Liz Benston -

Martha Ramirez of San Diego stands with her Yorkie, Bella, in the lobby of the Flamingo on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. Caesars Entertainment has launched a PetStay program across its Las Vegas resorts that includes dog-friendly rooms, doggy treats and relief areas. Photo by Justin M. Bowen

When Mike Valles travels to Las Vegas for business several times a year, he brings his four buddies — Ivy, Harley, Honey and Cosby — with him.

Although small and well-behaved, they’re not welcomed at many Las Vegas hotels. That’s why Valles, who owns a chain of high-end furniture stores in Los Angeles, stays at the pet-friendly Rumor hotel.

“I was thrilled when I found out,” said Valles, who — because his pets can come with him — is coming more often to Las Vegas. “I’m always thinking of my kids, my dogs, when planning for my trips.”

Rumor, which hosts dog-friendly parties that combine DJs and cocktails with doggy costume contests and other canine performances, is among more than a dozen hotels in Las Vegas that began accommodating dogs in the past year, following a national trend among hotels to allow pets. These include the eight major resorts owned by Caesars Entertainment — cavernous, high-traffic buildings that have figured out creative ways to allow pets in rooms closest to outdoor “relief areas.”

Most of Las Vegas’ dog-friendly hotel policies are relatively new — and largely unadvertised.

Travelers can expect to see more dogs populating area hotels in the coming years, said Terri Baptiste, owner of Cupid’s Pet Service in Las Vegas.

“This will take awhile to catch on. But as people find out, it’s going to be huge,” said Baptiste, who employs on-call dog sitters and walkers that work with area hotels.

The cost of bringing a pet to Las Vegas starts with the daily fees most hotels charge, usually at least $25. Many hotels also charge one-time cleaning fees of $100 to deep clean rooms, including shampooing carpets and furniture.

But hotels say welcoming pets is a matter of necessity, not the chance for more revenue.

The Travel Industry Association of America estimates at least 30 million people travel with their pets each year — a big market many hotels can’t afford to ignore.

Rumor’s owner, the Siegel Group, has adopted pet-friendly policies at all of the smaller hotels it has acquired in the valley, including the off-Strip hipster hangout Artisan and Gold Spike.

At Caesars Entertainment, the decision to welcome dogs came from a management strategy session, where higher-ups saw it as the sensible thing to do. Still, the idea didn’t go down easy.

“People were nervous about what was going to happen,” said Kevin Donnelly, director of hotel operations at Caesars Palace. “Would there be chaos? Would dogs be tearing up the furniture?”

Such concerns were overblown, as the dogs who stay with Caesars tend to be well-behaved and have not disrupted other guests, Donnelly said.

Dogs are welcome in some of the company’s nicest rooms. Pet-friendly rooms are clustered together for ease of housekeeping and because people with pets seem more tolerant of others’ animals. The pet-friendly rooms are located as close as possible to exits to avoid the need for pet owners to traipse through the casino with their dogs.

At Caesars Palace, pets can relieve themselves on a plot of artificial grass tucked to the side of the Augustus Tower valet, a short walk from hotel elevators and steps from luxury cars and VIPs. Across the street at Flamingo, pet owners can walk from hotel elevators to a large, outdoor courtyard with walking paths and a relief area that will soon feature a doggy water fountain.

The company’s in-room amenities for dogs — dog bowls, a bag of dog biscuits and a carrying case filled with doggy bags — still look out of place, as do doggy door hangers and signs near elevators informing guests of the possible presence of dogs. And there’s something askew about the sight of a dog walking through the marble lobby of Caesars Palace and down a carpeted hallway lined with chandeliers and topiaries. The carnival of Las Vegas, after all, is a human one.

After a few months with the pet policy, employees and customers are no longer fazed, Donnelly said.

“You walk by a dog, and you don’t bat an eyelash,” he said.

Caesars Entertainment properties require customers to sign a two-page “dog waiver” of do’s and don’ts as well as provide emergency contact information. (Dogs may be left unattended in rooms so long as their owners can be reached by cellphone and their pets are in kennels that are available for rent.)

Such risks appear to be paying off. In Las Vegas, the company is booking about 1,200 room nights a month for guests with pets.

Not all hotels are embracing the pet trend. Station Casinos’ Green Valley Ranch Resort and Red Rock Resort discontinued a pet-friendly policy two years ago because of customer complaints ranging from barking dogs left in rooms to the unwelcome sight of dogs padding through well-appointed lobbies and other public areas.

Having dogs on site was “very disruptive,” Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson said. “When you’re paying a little more for a luxury resort you want the whole experience that comes with it.”

For a $100 cleaning fee per trip, the company’s other hotels around town accommodate pets — but only because most of those customers have friends or family in Las Vegas — homes where visitors can drop off their pets so they’re not cooped up in a hotel room, Nelson said.

The Hotel, a luxury hotel tower attached to Mandalay Bay, is the only Las Vegas property owned by MGM Resorts International that allows dogs.

It offers a room service menu for dogs (“Backyard Delight” features hamburger, potatoes, zucchini, carrots and apples), kennels of various sizes for rent and a policy that allows for up to two dogs weighing up to 100 pounds combined.

The property’s layout, with a short distance between hotel rooms and a side exit to an outdoor dog run, makes it easier to accommodate dogs than the company’s other Las Vegas resorts, MGM Resorts spokeswoman Yvette Monet said.

Four Seasons has allowed pets up to 25 pounds since the property’s opening on the Strip 12 years ago, Marketing Director Kim Hoffman said.

But the cost can run up quickly: Guests who leave pets unattended in rooms are charged $50 per hour, an effective deterrent to barking dogs, she said.

Jim Kerr:
When Do You End a Pet's Suffering?
by Jim Kerr -

From the moment you suffered a seizure in June, I knew our family was starting down a path that wouldn't end well.

Small dogs have seizures for various reasons, we were told. Keep an eye on her, the vet advised, and write down any changes in her health or behavior.

But soon your gait became stiff and awkward. Your already-poor eyesight grew worse. You slept more than usual, and your back legs wobbled and sometimes gave out, causing you to stumble or fall.

Watching your decline made me think back to 2007 when we found you huddled in the kennel at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County - a white Maltese mix, cowering a bit, not sure what to make of all the people gawking at you.

We wondered about your age, which shelter workers estimated at about 5 years. After a walk around the grounds and some playtime with the kids, we decided to "rescue" you and take you home.

Except for a heart murmur, you were in pretty good health. You didn't have the energy of other dogs, but you relished our affection and eagerly gave yours right back.

Just four years later, here we were, pondering questions nearly every pet owner eventually faces: When is the right time to put you down? When does it become the humane thing to do?

If for one second we thought you were in pain, any pain at all, the choice would be easy. But you didn't show that.

We sought advice from the vet, but, without saying so, the doctor let us know the decision was ours alone. We were asked to consider your quality of life.

Were you eating well? Did you play anymore? Were your habits and personality changing? Were you living or merely existing?

Think also about the stress on the family. Do we worry about you to the point it's affecting our daily lives? Do we spend our hours away from home wondering if you're OK, fearing you might die alone?

Maybe we were selfish, but we didn't want to end your life prematurely.

In the end, you died your way. You went to sleep one night at the foot or our teenage son's bed and just didn't wake up. We pray now that our longing to keep you here didn't cause you to suffer.

And just as we rescued you from the shelter, we like to think that your final gift was to rescue us from a decision we didn't have the heart to make.

Contact Jim Kerr: 610-371-5019 or

Keep an Eye on Your Pets' Daily Habits
By Eric Kane, DVM -

Keep a close eye on your pet's drinking and urination habits, as an increase in these daily activities may indicate a real problem.

The Pet Doc is our column for pet owners and pet lovers alike. Each week, Dr. Kane will discuss health and environmental issues that affect your pet. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Kane by clicking "email the author," and he will try to answer them right here in this column.

The amount of water your pet drinks each day, and the amount they urinate, are very important clues regarding the health of your pet. While hydration is critical to your pet's survival, and seeing your pet drink a lot may appear to be a good thing, excessive drinking can be a sign of an underlying disease. And while a good, clear, long stream of urine may seem like a sign of health, too clear for too long can also be a sign of an underlying disease.

Excessive drinking (polydipsia or PD) and excessive urinating (polyuria or PU) go hand-in-hand (commonly termed PU/PD). In most cases, the underlying disease leads to excessive urination, which dehydrates your pet and stimulates them to drink excessively to compensate. In some cases, your pet drinks a lot as the primary issue, which leads to a lot of urination. Until the disease causing the signs is diagnosed, do not restrict water availability to your pet, as this can quickly, and possibly fatally, dehydrate them.

The easiest way to know if your pet is PU/PD is to observe these behaviors on a daily basis, starting early in life, and watching the water levels in their bowls. If a disease that causes these signs develops, you will likely notice a dramatic increase in drinking just by noting how far down the water bowl is or how often you have to fill it. If you watch them drinking, they seem to be lapping up water for quite a while or seeking out places of water other than their bowl (sinks, toilets, showers, pools).

And you'll also likely notice how long your pet seems to be taking to finish that urine stream or how many times they have to go out to urinate large amounts. You may catch your pet posturing and urinating inside and/or find large urine puddles on the floor (to be differentiated from bladder sphincter urinary incontinence in which your pet is sleeping/laying and unaware when urine leaks out). Larger litter clumps, and more frequent litter changes help signal too much urination in cats.

The most accurate way to know if your pet is PU/PD is to measure their intake and output. While some grey areas exist, you can be pretty sure your pet is indeed drinking and urinating too much if they drink roughly more than two cups of water for every 10 pounds of pet in a 24 hour period, and urinate roughly more than one cup of urine for every 10 pounds of pet in a 24 hour period, on a consistent, persistent basis.

If you think your pet is, indeed, PU/PD, it is very important to see your veterinarian right away. If caught early, most of the diseases that cause these signs can variably be managed and/or cured, whereas if not attended to soon enough, can lead to debilitating, quality of life concerns with more rapid decline and death. It really is imperative to watch for these signs and look into them as soon as possible.

Your veterinarian will take several steps to determine the cause of your pets' problem, including urine analysis and a full blood panel. There are several common diseases/disorders that lead to these signs

Chronic Kidney Disease is common in older cats and, occasionally, in dogs. The earliest sign of this long- term, progressive deterioration of the kidneys is PU/PD, which later progresses to muscle loss/weight loss, appetite loss, nausea, high blood pressure, poor quality of life

Diabetes Mellitus is relatively common in middle-aged to older dogs and cats. Obvious signs of this insulin-deficiency disease include PU/PD, big appetite, lethargy, weight loss, weak hind end in cats, especially. It progresses to possible cataracts and blindness in dogs, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure and overall rapid decline in dogs and cats if left untreated.

Hyperthyroidism is predominant in cats, highly unusual in dogs. Signs of this over-active thyroid disease include PU/PD, big appetite, weight loss, high activity/energy, possibly aggression, vomiting, high blood pressure and heart disease. It can be successfully treated with medications, surgery or radiation therapy

Cushing's Disease is prevalent in dogs, much less so in cats. Obvious signs of this excessive cortisol disease (hyperadrenocorticism) include PU/PD, great appetite, poor hair coat/hair loss, large hanging belly, thin skin/newly darkened skin, high blood pressure and prone to infections. While a common natural disease (the body itself is making the excess cortisol), it can also be caused if your pet is taking any steroid medication, topical or systemic. It can be difficult to diagnose but variably treated, many times with good results.

Liver disease (common in cats and dogs) can lead to PU/PD but also look for lack of appetite, nausea and yellow discoloration (jaundice).

Certain cancers can lead to PU/PD through secondary mechanisms and other signs related to the cancer itself. Lymphoma is a common cancer in dogs and cats and often leads to hypercalcemia (high blood calcium), which leads to PU/PD.

Certain medications (steroids, anticonvulsants, diuretics) and diets (low protein, high salt) can lead to PU/PD. While not diseases per se, they are quite common reasons for PU/PD and are included for that purpose. This condition is usually benign if water is always available and you can tolerate occasional mishaps inside.

There are other less common conditions that lead to PU/PD, but your best course of action when suspecting a problem with your pet is to immediately seek help from your veterinarian. Early intervention usually means happier, healthier pets (and owners).

Five Things You Need to Know About Black Cats
By John Patten -

Despite the lore, black cats can be wonderful pets—and purr-fect accessories at Halloween.

Skittles is a large male short hair cat ready for adoption through St. Hubert's. Credit Courtesyof St.Hubert's.

It seems the black cat has always suffered from a bad reputation, but ignore the superstitions and you may find a wonderfully loving pet.

Here are some things you may not know about black cats:

1. The whole "bad luck" thing dates to the Middle Ages: Black cats were thought to be the favorites of witches, and so were unwelcome in any decent home. But that's OK—black cats are considered good luck in much of Asia and theUnited Kingdom.

2. Dreaming of black cats is good: Even though having one cross your path was thought to be a bad omen, having a dream of black cats is supposed to be a lucky omen. Go figure...

3. Don' yee be pushin' the cat off the step: The Scottish say to find a strange black cat on your porch is a wee bit of good luck.

4. Ancient Egyptians worshipped the black cats' form: The benevolent Egyptian goddess Bastet was represented by a short haired black cat. Bastet is not the only black cat godhead: the Greek goddess Hectate and the Norse goddess Freya were represented by black cats.

5. The are many black cats waiting for new homes in Somerset County: Actually, there are many cats, so if you're still hinky about the whole bad luck thing, you can still find a cat to adopt.

But we checked these agencies for adoptable black (and one white) cat for you:

St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center has a shelter in Branchburg at 3201 Route 22 East in North Branch. Call 908-526-3330 for more information on any of the cats available for adoption.

The Cat Adoption and Pet Information Center in Raritan can be rached at 908-393-2007, or by email to

The Somerset Regional Animal Shelter is located at 100 Commons Way in Bridgewater. Call 908-725-0308 for information on their adoptable cats.

Lifeline Animal Rescue Inc., in Warren, can be reached at 908-507-3900.

First Fish, Then a Dog
By Sarah Smiley -

Lindell desperately wants a dog, so last week we bought him a fish. He’s still too young to realize this doesn’t add up. And anyway, the excitement of a new pet — any kind of pet — is enough.

At the pet store, however, we met several obstacles.

“You have to cycle the tank first,” the fish expert told us. “The water has to build bacteria for a week before you can put a fish in it.”

“But I promised my son a fish today.”

“Then I guess this is a good time to teach him patience.”

I must have looked like a lunatic mother. In fact, I hadn’t had a chance to comb my hair that morning and I was wearing the same clothes from the day before.

“I’ve been trying to teach him that for four years!” I said.

The clean-cut, 20-something boy looked scared. He backed away from me and glanced over his left and right shoulders. “Might I suggest a betta fish,” he said.

A betta-what?

Apparently betta fish can come to the surface and breathe oxygen, so high levels of ammonia and nitrites do not put them at risk during the tank’s initial “startup cycle.” But betta fish are kind of sleepy and boring looking. They live in plastic containers the size of a tub of butter. They have nothing on the see-through glass catfish or the the miniature shark fish my kids were eyeing.

So we bought a pink betta and decided it would be mine. In other words, I took one for the team. In a week, once the pH levels in the water have settled, the boys, and in particular Lindell, could pick out something cool like a bumblebee fish.

“Now you need a heater, filter, substrate and perhaps some live plants,” the expert said. All to keep the water in balance, of course.

I was beginning to think a dog might have been easier. Then I remembered the border collie we used to own. She once dug up a small tree in our front yard and ran down the street with it clenched between her teeth. Sometimes sleepy is good.

“Maybe we could get two betta fish,” one of the boys suggested.

That’s when the expert told us that multiple betta fish will attack and kill each other.

Note: Do not tell three boys that two incompatible fish will fight each other if your intent is to decrease their enthusiasm.

The five of us spent the next two hours at home setting up our new aquarium. Here are a few things I learned:

• Position the tank first; fill it with water second.

• Ten gallons is a lot of water to spill on the floor.

• A 4-year-old can’t carry a pitcher full of water.

• Betta fish get lively when they are out of the tub-of-butter container.

Next, Lindell named the betta fish, which was really my fish, but which I lent to Lindell until he can get a different fish. He named her Puffy Fluffy.

One by one, the boys carefully placed the ornaments they had selected for the aquarium into the substrate (fancy name for rocks). Ford’s was a piece of driftwood with a live plant growing on it. Owen’s was a tiki head that for some reason caused the children to erupt into a song: hoo, haa, hee, tiki, tiki. And the last ornament was Lindell’s: a bright yellow pineapple house and a tiny SpongeBob SquarePants figurine (it was like watching a touchdown in the Super Bowl when Puffy Fluffy finally, days later, swam through the holes of the pineapple house).

Everyone dreamed about what kind of fish they would get in a week. Ford wanted a glass catfish. Owen liked the lionfish but, unfortunately, it is suitable only for salt water. Lindell wanted the mysterious “skeleton fish” that no one else had actually seen at the pet store. I saw more tears in my future.

“I guess I’ll get a bottom feeder,” Dustin said. “Because someone has to.”

Dustin, taking the next one for the team. I wonder whether he will let Lindell name his fish, too. And I wonder whether Lindell will name it something like “Dave.” If he names it “Skinny Minny,” I might be offended.

That first night, all three boys fell asleep watching the fish tank. After we carried them to their beds, Dustin and I watched it, too. I remembered the fullness of having a family pet. Even if it is a fish. And then I remembered the heartache of watching our past pets leave us. I wondered, why do we set ourselves up like this. Why do we bring animals into our lives when we know someday we will have to say goodbye or, um, flush them down the toilet?

Well, I decided that we do it because a boy needs a dog — to take to camp, to chase in the backyard, to sleep at the foot of his bed. And according to Dad, the boy has to start with a fish. We are off to a good start.

Maine author and columnist Sarah Smiley’s writing is syndicated weekly to publications across the country. She and her husband, Dustin, live with their three sons in Bangor. She may be reached at

Dogs Helping Ease
Children's Trauma of Testifying
By Emilie Lounsberry -

Tension filled the hall outside a Bucks County courtroom as three young boys waited to talk to a judge about some serious family problems. They sat on a bench, quiet and anxious, looking frightfully small.

Then along came Maggie, a miniature poodle that dances on command. She wagged her tail, did her jig, and parked herself in front of the brothers for a petting.

The grownups watched the impossible happen: The children began smiling.

Similar scenes are playing out in courthouses across the nation as highly skilled dogs are being called upon to calm victims and witnesses - especially children - facing the ordeal of testifying about often hellish matters.

In Philadelphia, the District Attorney's Office has a puppy-in-training. Dogs already are fixtures in certain courthouses in Washington, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Michigan, and New Mexico. Houston's program, specifically for domestic-abuse cases, is called Paw and Order SDU (Special Dog Unit).

The presence of a dog "can't help but lighten the mood," said Linda McCrillis, Maggie's owner and handler.

In concert with Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert J. Mellon, McCrillis has developed a program using therapy dogs to calm the nerves of children summoned to court after being removed from parental custody, usually because of abuse or neglect. Since May, a half-dozen dogs - the poodle, two golden retrievers, a German shepherd, a schnauzer, and a terrier - have been working the third-floor rotunda where Dependency Court participants wait their turn before the judge.

On rare occasions, when a child is severely stressed, the dog is allowed to go along to the witness box.

Easing the trauma of testifying has always been a challenge for those who work in the justice system. But it has become more vexing since 2004, when the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed defendants' right to directly confront their accusers in court rather than through videotaped testimony or closed-circuit TV.

In addition, in a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that took effect July 1, children who have been removed from parental custody must appear in court at least once a year so a judge can monitor their well-being.

Victims can risk further emotional damage by reliving their attacks in the sterile, adversarial atmosphere of a courtroom, said David Crenshaw. As clinical director at the Children's Home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., he has seen the impact a furry friend can have on a child.

"I see the courthouse dog as leveling the playing field somewhat," he said.

Some, however, contend that a dog can tip the balance.

Last spring, for the first time in New York state, a victim was accompanied to the witness stand by a dog. Rosie, a golden retriever, sat with a 15-year-old girl - occasionally giving her a comforting nuzzle - as she testified that her father had raped and impregnated her.

Rosie now is at the center of the convicted defendant's appeal, and a burgeoning legal debate about courtroom dogs in general. His lawyers argue that a dog can give the alleged victim the appearance of truthfulness and tug at the hearts of pet-loving jurors.

The dogs-in-court concept goes back to at least 2003, when Seattle Juvenile Court prosecutor Ellen O'Neill-Stephens started to bring her son's service dog, Jeeter, to the office. She thought a dog might provide emotional support to young delinquents in a "high-stress environment."

O'Neill-Stephens soon cofounded Courthouse Dogs, an organization that promotes the use of service dogs in court settings.

The dogs, which undergo six to 10 months of training, are taught primarily to lie passively beside a witness, to provide unobtrusive comfort during interviews by police and prosecutors and during questioning on the stand.

"The dogs are for everybody in the criminal justice system," O'Neill-Stephens said.

In Centre County, near State College, Pa., a yellow Lab named Princess has been working as a courthouse stress-buster for nearly two years.

Princess has not yet made it to the witness box during a jury trial because defendants have pleaded guilty, said Faith Burger, victim-witness coordinator for the Centre County District Attorney's Office. But Princess regularly accompanies adults and children to the stand for other court proceedings.

"She's made a tremendous difference," Burger said.

In Doylestown, Judge Mellon has nothing but praise for the dogs, which are from Roxy Reading, a Doylestown therapy-dog group. He quickly discontinued what had begun as a pilot program and declared the dogs a courthouse fixture.

"It just defuses the tension and it's wonderful," Mellon's tipstaff, Mary Ellen Roche, said as the dogs rotated through the waiting area recently.

After meeting with the three young boys, the judge asked the eldest, 7, what he thought.

"I hope the dogs made you feel better while you were waiting," Mellon said.

The boy left the courthouse still smiling.

Watch the Bucks County therapy dogs in action at

My Pet World:
Don't Choose 'Dr. Google' Over a Real Vet
By Steve Dale -

ST. LOUIS — Sad news for our pets was announced at a press conference titled, "Houston, We Have a Problem," during the 2011 American Veterinary Medical Assn. Convention July 18. The problem has been a steady decline in our pets' health.

"This decline has been going on for over a decade, despite an increased pet population," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, executive vice president and chief executive of the AVMA.

For example, more flea infestations are being reported, even though such problems are preventable. Internal parasites are up 13% percent in cats and 30% percent in dogs since 2006, according to the Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2011 report. Potentially, this is a public health issue because some of these parasites can also affect people.

Diabetes is up 16% in cats and 32% in dogs, according to the Banfield report. Ear infections are up 34% in cats and 9% in dogs. Dental disease has risen 10% in cats and 12% in dogs.

This is confusing because, no doubt, veterinary medicine is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was even a decade ago. If a heart murmur is a concern, veterinary cardiologists can perform an ultrasound with equipment and technology identical to that used for people. Veterinary neurologists can do brain surgery; cancer treatments can extend lives. In fact, using dogs as models, human medicine has in recent years benefited from what veterinarians have learned.

So what's gone wrong?

"People simply aren't seeing their veterinarians as often, particularly for wellness exams," said Dr. Michael Moyer, president of the American Animal Hospital Assn. (AAHA). According to the AVMA, cat visits to a veterinarian have dropped a whopping 30% since 2006; dog visits are down 21%.

Some of the data offered during the press conference was astounding. It turns out that the overwhelming majority of pet owners don't value preventative care. Before seeking advice from a vet, many now go onto the Internet and may never contact a vet at all, simply accepting the advice of "Dr. Google."

In fact, according to the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study (surveying pet owners and veterinary professionals about their views on veterinary medicine and pet health) 15% of owners said that by using the Internet, they believe they have less need to rely on a vet.

"While all pets are being affected by the notable downturn in veterinary visits, cats are most vulnerable," DeHaven said. "While there are 13 percent more cats than dogs, cats are actually the minority (of patients) in most practices."

There are lots of reasons for this, beginning with the challenge of getting cats to a clinic in the first place. According to the Bayer study, nearly 40% of cat owners say just thinking about a vet visit is stressful. And nearly 60% ay their cats "hate" going to a vet.

Also, as Americans are increasingly keeping their cats indoors only, many seem to think indoor cats don't get sick. Waiting for signs of illness isn't a good idea with any pet, because — as in people — early diagnosis can be life-saving, may involve less treatment, and potentially save money.

For cats, an argument can be made that wellness exams to catch illness early are especially important. Cats are adept at masking illness. Waiting until a cat is obviously ill might mean a disease has become significant.

Overall, according to the Bayer Usage Study, nearly half of all pet owners didn't seem to believe regular wellness exams were important.

DeHaven noted that the slide in veterinary care began before the economy tanked. Still, there's little doubt that the slump has made matters worse. The Bayer study found "sticker shock," or perceived overpricing, to be a significant issue.

To address the problem, the AVMA and AAHA have teamed up with industry and other allies to create the Partnership for Preventative Healthcare.

"Our mission is to ensure that pets receive the preventative healthcare they deserve through regular visits to a veterinarian," Moyer said.

DeHaven conceded, "We need to do something. After all, the health of our pets is at risk. It's also an opportunity to demonstrate to the public that veterinarians are the best source of information, and providers of vital preventative care."

Learn more at

STEVE DALE welcomes questions/comments from readers. Send email to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is

My Pet World:
Give 'Mouthy' Dog Something
to Hold Besides Your Hand
By Steve Dale -

Experts from around the world attended the Symposium of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists ( Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior ( last month in St. Louis in conjunction with the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention. Here, attendees answer some of your questions:

Q. Our 3-year-old poodle always wants to hold one of our hands or something, anything, in her mouth. She softly mouths but doesn't bite. Is this a display of affection or a demand to be petted?

— R.L., Las Vegas

A. "We call this affiliative behavior," says Dr. Sophia Yin, a San Francisco-based applied animal behaviorist and author of "Perfect Puppy in 7 Days" (CattleDog Publishing, 2011). "It's about seeking attention. Also, of course, many dogs just like to carry things in their mouths.

"It's not because your dog means harm, but I am concerned," says Yin. "Even if she doesn't bite down, a senior citizen's thin skin might be torn, or a child might be scared thinking that the dog will bite. These days, you could even set yourself up for a lawsuit. So, give the dog something else to put in her mouth, like a squeaky plush toy, that she can walk around with. Give her attention for carrying around something she would like. Don't give her any attention for mouthing your hand, and attempt to not give her the opportunity to do that in the first place."

Yin's ebook, and a free puppy socialization download, can be found at

Q. My 15-year-old cat has been grooming himself forever, pulling out his own hair and eating it. His fur has gotten so thin. The veterinarian calls this "barbering" but doesn't know why the cat is doing it. Any ideas?

— D.T., Gloucester, Va.

A. "We conducted a study which demonstrated that for most cats who over-groom themselves, there's a medical explanation, at least in great part," says veterinary behaviorist Dr. Gary Landsberg, of Thornhill, Ontario. "It may be a flea allergy, inhalant allergy, food allergy or a combination. Other possibilities include a hyperthyroid or a response to intestinal pain."

I will assume that your cat has been examined for parasites and has had a thorough physical exam. Landsberg explains that cats with an allergy usually respond to steroids. However, placing a 15-year old cat on a steroid might be problematic. Another option is to begin a novel food trial, feeding your cat only a prescription hypoallergenic diet for several months.

If your cat's "barbering" turns out to a behavioral problem, a sort of compulsion, ultimately it may make sense to see a veterinary behaviorist or AVSAB member veterinarian. For cats who lick themselves compulsively, an anti-anxiety drug may be recommended.

Increasing the indoor enrichment for your cat is one thing you can do that won't cost a penny. Offer a varying array of toys. For example, one day provide an empty box. The next day, cut a mouse hole in the box so your cat can poke through for a treat. The day after that, sprinkle catnip in the box. Instead of tossing out wine corks or plastic bottle caps, turn them into cat toys. Consider feeding your cat at least a portion (or even all) of his meals from food puzzles or food-dispensing toys scattered around the house, so he has to "hunt" for his food.

Learn more about enrichment for cats from Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine at

Q. Can you modify a bird's behavior? I'm a stay-at-home mom with a 4-year-old cockatiel I've had since he was weaned. He's never liked women and won't come anywhere near me. When the men in our house are at work or school, the bird becomes increasingly obnoxious; he paces on his perch and screeches, sometimes for hours at a time. My nerves are shot. He has toys to keep him occupied, but I'm ready to wring his neck. Any advice?

— S.C., Richmond, Va.

A. Yes, you can modify a bird's behavior, particularly that of parrots. However, veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lynne Seibert of Atlanta wonders - for starters - if this is really a cockatiel. What you describe sounds more like the behavior of a larger parrot, such as a cockatoo.

"When parrots scream at us, we have a tendency to scream back," Seibert says. "For a parrot, that's fun. It's what they do; they scream back and forth at one another. So, don't offer a screaming parrot attention - unless you want a screaming parrot."

It's understood, from your bird's perspective, that you're a part of the problem. Who knows what the issue is, but it may be fixable if you're associated with some treats (such as pine nuts) and verbal praise. Once you can get close enough, teaching your bird can help establish a relationship. A target stick is useful as a teaching tool. You can buy one or simply use a chopstick. For more on how to specifically train and teach birds, there are various websites and books.

"In my experience, parrots often don't get enough uninterrupted sleep; they need about 12 hours (per day)," Seibert adds. "Sleep deprivation can affect a parrot's mood."

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

Keeping Your Exotic Pet Healthy:
By North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association

When it comes to exotic pets like ferrets, there are many things to keep in mind. Ferrets can be quite different from cats and dogs, so use our tips to take the best care of your new pet.

If you have children, remember that ferrets are known to bite if they are handled too roughly. Temperaments vary among ferrets, so always supervise your children when they are playing with the animal.

Allergies must be considered as well. Ferrets have dander just like dogs and cats, so if you’re allergic to these pets, there is a good chance you are allergic to ferrets.


Ferrets should be kept in cages – two-level cages are recommended. Look for cages specifically designed for ferrets, since mesh flooring is bad for their feet. The larger the cage, the more sleeping areas they will need. Purchase two hammocks per ferret. Feline pine litter or old newspapers work best, because cat litter can get in their eyes.

Ferrets are very social creatures, and unless you have time to keep the ferret out of his/her cage longer than the ferret is in the cage, you should consider purchasing another ferret to keep it company. Most of the time, ferrets will get along with each other. Introduce them to each other in a supervised environment until they get acclimated to each other. Make sure they have plenty of hammocks so they don’t have to sleep with each other. Even taking these steps, there are times when some ferrets just don’t get along and will have to have separate cages.

Always supervise your ferrets during playtime, because they can get into very small spaces and chew on wires.


General daily, weekly and monthly care is required to maintain hygiene and a healthy environment for both owner and pet. Plan on changing its litter box twice a day, and provide fresh food and water daily.

Ferrets are very smelly animals because they release a musky oil from glands on their body. Bathing once a month is fine, but bathing too frequently will cause the glands to release more oil, which can cause the ferrets to have blocked pores and smell worse. Nails need to be trimmed at least twice a month to keep them from getting their nails snagged in their bedding.

Their cage needs to be taken apart once monthly and thoroughly cleaned. Use soap and water to clean the cage and avoid using any harsh chemicals.

Common Problems

Diseases most common in ferrets include diseases of the adrenal gland, severe inflammation of the stomach and intestines, intestinal obstruction or blockage in the stomach, heatstroke and dehydration, adrenal and pancreatic tumors, heart failure, aleutian disease, bronchial pneumonia, viral infections (human influenza), and cancer.

If your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, seek the advice of your veterinarian: diarrhea, vomiting, hair loss, lethargy, decreased appetite, green or black stool, and weight loss.

Visit your veterinarian to discuss which vaccines your new ferret will need. They can provide you with a detailed care and vaccination plan to keep your pet healthy.

The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCVMA) is a professional organization of veterinarians dedicated to compassionate animal care and quality medicine. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter at @NCVMA, or call 800-446-2862 or 919-851-5850.

Ten Tips On Pet Safety For RV Travel

Many of us love to take our pets when we travel in our RVs. Some people buy RVs so that they can travel with their pets! It's great to be able to go hiking with your dog or relax in the shade with your cat by your side! If your pet isn't used to traveling, take him or her on several short rides in a secured carrier, gradually lengthening the time spent driving. We want to make sure our beloved pets are safe and healthy when we travel, so here are some helpful tips.

1. Be ready for emergencies.
Ask your veterinarian to give you a brief history of your pet's vaccinations and major illnesses, and take it with you. Also bring your pet's medications and a pet first-aid kit. Try to locate the closest 24 hour animal hospital before arriving at your destination. Hopefully you'll never need it, but if you do, you won't have to waste time finding out where to take your pet in an emergency.

2. Vaccinate.
We should always keep our pets' vaccinations up to date, whether or not they are traveling. When you are planning a trip, talk with your veterinarian about whether additional vaccinations will be necessary. They may be recommended depending on your destination and if your pet might be in contact with other animals. Have this conversation as far in advance of your trip as possible, since some vaccines require a series of injections to be effective. Bring proof of rabies vaccination as some states require it.

3. Implant a microchip.
Of course, your pet should always wear a collar and ID tag with your contact information. Your cell phone number should be on the tag, and you can even have a tag made with your destination information. Having a microchip inserted under your pet's skin greatly increases the likelihood that you'll find your pet should he or she become lost. The chip holds a number that is associated with your contact information. If your pet ends up in an animal shelter or animal hospital, the staff will scan the pet to retrieve the pet's number. The number is in a national database which they can access to find your information.

4. Use a secured carrier or safety harness.
Your pet should be in a well-ventilated carrier or safety harness attached to a seat belt when you are driving. There are many types of carriers available but whatever you choose, it should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around. Harnesses are okay if the pet is secured by a seatbelt and in the back seat of your vehicle or away from the driver's compartment of a motorhome. If you have to stop suddenly, you don't want your pet flying through the windshield!

5. Protect from parasites.
Use broad-spectrum parasite-prevention products that control fleas, ticks and other parasites for your dogs and cats. If you're traveling to a warm climate, this is especially important.

6. Don't allow your pet to ride with its head out the window.
He or she could be injured by anything flying off the road or another vehicle.

7. Never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle.
In hot weather, even if your windows are open, the vehicle can become like a furnace in a short time. And in cold weather, a vehicle can hold in the cold like a refrigerator. Either situation can be deadly to your pet.

8. Bring familiar food and water.
Don't expect that your pet's food will be available everywhere. Bring food and treats that he or she is used to eating to avoid stomach upset while away from home. And, bring tap water stored in plastic jugs or bottled water. Drinking water from a new area could also upset your pet's stomach. Offer water to your pet frequently.

9. Don't feed your pet in a moving vehicle.
Three to four hours before leaving on your trip, feed your pet a light meal. Even if you will be driving a long distance, don't feed your pet until you stop.

10. Avoid toxic plants.
Learn what plants are toxic to dogs and cats. For instance, eating a Lily can cause a cat to die. Lilies are extremely toxic to a cat's kidneys and can cause irreversible damage. Dogs must not eat Azaleas, Milkweeds and Mushrooms, which can cause vomiting or mouth irritation. If you think your pet may have eaten a toxic plant, call an animal hospital or poison control hotline immediately.

Hints From Heloise:
Emergency Pet Info
by Heloise -

Dear Heloise: I want to let you know that I have followed your column for years. I am sending you a copy of a book that I had made up with phone numbers, pictures and emergency information in case of an accident. I have a service dog that goes everywhere with me, so I felt it was important to have information that is readily available. I have showed other people who also take their dog with them, and they love the idea.

I keep mine in the car on the seat, where it is visible in case of an accident. This doesn’t necessarily have to be only if you have a dog; it can be used for any type of emergency information. -- Ruth in Salem, Ore.

Ruth, we love your hint, and this is one that folks who travel with their dogs should consider. I’m sure Brandy, your Shetland sheepdog, is a wonderful help to you. Woof! Woof! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Bobbi McMillin of Florida sent in a picture of her black toy poodle, Whoozie, resting comfortably on the couch. She adopted Whoozie from the shelter. Bobbie says Whoozie is very good and loves everyone, and Bobbi encourages everyone to consider adopting a shelter dog! To see Whoozie and our other Pet Pals, go to and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Sometimes my dog scoots his bottom across the carpet. Why does he do this? It’s embarrassing, especially in front of company! -- Sandy in Texas

Sandy, here are a couple of scenarios of what could be going on:

* Dogs, like skunks, have anal scent glands. The glands can become clogged, which can irritate the dog. This usually will require a trip to your vet to express the glands.

* Watch your dog’s bowel habits. If the dog has had diarrhea, he may need extra cleaning.

Talk to your veterinarian. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My terrier had a skin rash, and I didn’t know what was causing it. I showed the rash to my vet, and he did some tests.

I researched a bit also, and found that dog food containing corn can cause allergies. It seems some dogs may be allergic to corn or wheat in their food. We found a dog food that is free of corn products, and the dog’s skin cleared up right away. -- J.H. in San Antonio


Dear Readers: When you bring a new fish home, introducing him into his aquarium is very important. The fish needs to acclimate to the water correctly.

Keep the fish in his original bag from the pet store and have him float on top of the tank water for about 30 to 60 minutes.

The bag will slowly reach the temperature of the aquarium water, and the fish will not be “shocked” by a water temperature change. -- Heloise

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.