Pet License Plates

Pusuke, World's Oldest Dog, Dies In Japan At Age 26
The Huffington Post - Tara Kelly

The world's oldest dog passed away on Monday afternoon at his home in Sakura, Japan.

Pusuke, a male cross-breed, was recognized as the oldest dog in the world by Guinness Book of World Records in December last year, reports ABC News.

Pusuke was 26-years-old when he died, reports the Kyodo News. Born in March, 1985, the dog had just over three months to go until its next birthday.

That's somewhere between 118 to 185 human years.

Pusuke died Monday afternoon just five minutes after Ms Shinohara, his owner, had returned home from a walk.

According to MSN India, the 42-year-old housewife said, "I think [Pusuke] waited for me to come home."

MSNBC notes that a 28-year-old beagle from the U.S. had previously held the record for oldest dog in the world, though it died in 2003.

The oldest dog to have ever lived is reportedly a 29-year-old sheepdog who lived in Australia.

Military Dogs Suffer From
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Author: Madeline Bernstein -

Military dogs, like their human soldiers, can return home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And why are we surprised? The dogs are asked to locate mines, improvised explosives, search structures and even to assist in the capture of terrorists like Bin Laden. They experience the noises, sights and smells of active combat which in many cases affects their behavior and personalities in the field and upon returning home.

The New York Times reported that more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 deployed military dogs are developing some form of canine PTSD. According to the Times, the number of active duty dogs has increased to 2,700, from 1,800 in 2001.

Symptoms among dogs vary. Some develop hyper-vigilance, experience fear of certain places that remind them of the trauma or become uncharacteristically aggressive. Others can become withdrawn, timid or lethargic. It can become dangerous for the dogs and soldiers alike if the disorder interferes with the dog's ability to perform properly.

Dr. Walter F. Burghardt Jr., chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio has posted a series of videos to help train veterinarians to recognize canine PTSD. One features a dog trained to inspect the inside of a car who then refuses to go inside a bus or a building. Another "sits listlessly on a barrier wall, then after finally responding to its handler’s summons, runs away from a group of Afghan soldiers."

"Our biggest issue that we have with canines is canine PTSD," Army Lt. Col. Richard A. Vargus told the Military Times in September. "We've seen a significant issue with that because when you're standing 10 feet away from an explosion, the dog has emotions and the dog is affected as well." Vargus said that a dog experiencing fear reactions could bite its handler, run away and hide, or simply cower when its team is preparing to go on patrol. The Military Times further reported that according to United States Central Command 14 military working dogs have been killed in action, 6 have been wounded, and 3 are missing in action since May of 2010.

The treatment for dogs with PTSD can range from extra love and affection, specific training and conditioning to anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax. Some can return to work while others cannot.

Whether it is right or wrong we ask our dogs to do a lot for us. Dogs assist the disabled, patrol with police officers, search for cadavers at disaster sites and serve in the military. They are neither bulletproof nor free from fear and emotions. Let's remember that and do something compassionate and kind for a dog today.

Dog Shoots Utah Hunter in the Butt --
with His Own Gun

Some best friend: A Utah hunter was shot in the behind over the weekend by his buddy's hunting dog.

Adding insult to injury? He was shot with his own gun.

The fluke incident occurred when several duck hunters and their canine companion were preparing for a day on the water near the Bear River Bird Refuge north of Salt Lake City. One of the hunters left his loaded 12-gauge shotgun resting across the bow of the boat while he went to attend to some decoys in a marshy area, according to in Utah.

"The dog got excited, was jumping around inside the boat and then it jumped on the gun. It went off, shooting the [man] in the buttocks," Box Elder County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Kevin Potter told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

The victim was identified as Robert Cottingham but he didn't want to talk on camera, according to Fox 13 in Utah. (Probably because he was mortified.)

After the shooting, the hunters called 911 and walked to a nearby road to meet emergency workers. Cottingham was taken to a hospital where he had 27 shotgun pellets removed from his rear end, and was later released.

The incident was labeled a "fluke" by Sgt. Mitch Lane of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, who nonetheless noted that it was a good reminder of the need for gun safety at all times: “The direction your muzzle is pointing and all elements around add to whether accidents happen or not,” he told Reuters.

Another Dog Shoots Hunter, This Time in Florida
By staff

It's happened again: A hunting dog has shot its master.

This time, a man in Florida was hit in the thigh by a round from his Remington .308 on Saturday, reported.

The culprit was a bulldog named Eli. Authorities told that Billy E. Brown, 78, was driving to go deer hunting with a friend on a bumpy road in Pasco County near Tampa when Eli "got excited in the truck" and bumped the rifle. The gun discharged, the bullet hit Brown in the right thigh, and he was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, said Officer George Wells, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Brown's condition was not released.

Wells said Brown and the friend were about one-and-a-half miles into the woods when the accident -- if you're buying that the dog didn't mean to do that -- occurred.

The name of Brown's friend was not released. The two have been hunting together for more than 25 years, Wells told

This incident follows one Dec. 1 in which a hunter in Utah was hit in the buttocks by birdshot after his dog stepped on a shotgun laid across the bow of a boat. The Salt Lake City Tribune said the wounded hunter had 27 pellets removed from ... well, you know.

Statue of Priest’s Dog Joins
Mary and Joseph in
St Patrick’s Cathedral’s Christmas Manger
By CATHY HAYES,IrishCentral Staff Writer

Msgr. Robert Ritchie and the statue of his beloved dog, Lexington, in the Nativity scene alongside Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Photo by Jefferson Siegel

A monsignor at the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral has given a statue of his dog a new home in the Nativity scene, alongside Jesus.

Msgr. Robert Ritchie has placed the 25-inch statue beside the figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the sanctuary’s Christmas crèche, the New York Daily News reports.

Speaking about how a statue, which has a striking resemblance to his yellow lab puppy, Lexington, ended up in a nativity scene, the clergyman had an interesting explanation.

“Didn’t the shepherds have dogs to help herd the sheep?” the clergyman said.

Almost 15 years ago, the priest was devastated over the death of his previous dog and was adamant that he didn’t want to replace his pet, before a friend took him to a pet shop on Lexington Ave.

“I had just lost a dog who had been with me for 10 years and I swore I wouldn’t get another,” he recalled. “But my best friend dragged me to the store and said, ‘We’re getting you another.’"

“He licked my hand, and I was smitten,” the monsignor said. “He’s named after the street.”

In charge of the nativity scene in New York City’s famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Msgr. Ritchie felt something was missing from the scene for years.

“I was in two parishes before I came here where they had dogs in their crèches,” he said. “And when I was in Rome last January I was in two churches where they had dogs. So I said, ‘St. Patrick’s had to have a dog.’ ”

Ritchie then contacted the Demetz Art Studio in Ortisei, Italy, where the other figures had been carved out of wood. They happened to have a dog statue already carved, so it’s not an identical replica of Lexington.

“It was a golden retriever,” Ritchie said. “Lexington is a yellow Lab. But the man from the studio happened to be coming to New York and saw Lexington and liked his coloring.”

The new addition to the manger got mixed reviewers from Churchgoers.

“I was a little surprised to see a dog in there,” Emily Moore (28) of Manhattan told the Daily News. “I’ve never heard of a dog being in a Nativity scene before. Doesn’t really make sense.”

Ethan Furman (32), also of Manhattan, disagreed. “I think it makes sense,” she argued. “Jesus was a kind-hearted person, so why wouldn’t he have grown up with a golden retriever? It fits. It’s not like he would have had a Rottweiler.”

Pet License Plates Surge in Popularity
Written by Kyle Cabodi -

DENVER - There are dozens of specialized license plates in Colorado, but the Adopt-a-Shelter Pet License plate, which raises money for underserved animal shelters, has grown incredibly popular in recent months.

"Within 10 months, it has more than 2,700 plates on the street," Mark Couch, with the Colorado Department of Revenue, said.

He said that is an impressive statistic considering the dozens of special license plates that people can buy.

"We have the full gamut of plates that don't sell very well and plates that sell incredibly well," Couch said.

Couch said only two other specialty plates have been beating the Adopt-a-Shelter Pet plates in sales: one in support of breast cancer awareness, and the other, the Broncos.

"In the first six months alone this generated $36,000 dollars, "Ralph Johnson, with the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund, said.

Johnson said the next step of the campaign is the construction of billboards around the metro area urging people to buy the plates and raising awareness for homeless pets in Colorado.

"We're trying to heighten their adoptability by making sure they are sterilized and aren't going to contribute further to the pet overpopulation problem," Johnson said.

Johnson said many shelters across the state are forced to terminate pets they don't have the resources to care for.

"30,000 homeless animals are euthanized in a typical year," he said.

But he said that can change if the license plates keep selling.

The plates are available at the Department of Motor Vehicles and cost $80. Out of that cost, $30 goes to the Pet Overpopulation Fund.

Around the Web: Hotel Search Engine
By Jen Leo - Los Angeles Times

WHAT: pairs pet-friendly advice and travel deals with a hotel database tailored for those who travel with the furry members of the family. This search engine includes upscale lodgings you might not know accept pets.

HITS: I was pleasantly surprised by the number of hotels that I like that accept dogs: Trump International in Las Vegas, the Peninsula Chicago, Hotel Teatro in Denver and Le Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans.

Make sure you select the star rating you prefer before you start your search, or click to sort by "Rating" after you get your search results.

MISSES: The booking process has a few distractions. I got seriously sidetracked when I used the widget that allowed me to search for adoptable pets in my area. Not such a bad thing after all.

Dog Lost in Virginia 8 Years Ago
Found in California Animal Shelter

A stray dog brought to a Northern California animal shelter turned out to have been reported missing in Virginia eight years ago.

Now, officials are planning a reunion between the long-lost dog and her grateful owners.

Around Thanksgiving in 2003, Petunia, then 3 years old, walked away from her family’s farm in Virginia. The family conducted a large search, but never found her.

Petunia somehow ended up in Yuba County, north of Sacramento, at the Animal Care Services Shelter.

After a physical exam, the stray was scanned for a microchip.

The chip contained information about a veterinarian clinic in Virginia. The clinic was able to confirm the chip was registered to an American Staffordshire terrier, and contacted the owners.

Workers at the Yuba County Animal Care Services Shelter talked with Petunia’s owner, and after a photographic match, are working to get her home in time for Christmas.

--Sam Cohen, Fox 40 Sacramento

In The Company of Dogs

During the holidays we often have company over who may or may not be “dog people.” This holiday season, help keep the peace with these useful tips to ensure both two-legged and four-legged family members have a good holiday.

1. Training refresher. Before the company gets to your house, remind your dog of his manners. Often, we teach our dog good manners and then, when we are home alone, we relax on the rules. Whether you have taught him in the past to not jump on company at the door, to sit while being petted, or to not get up on people’s laps, now is the time to remind him of his dog training.

2. New toys. There is nothing like a new toy to occupy a dog. Buy her a couple Christmas toys and break them out when the company comes. This is especially good for dogs with anxiety towards people because it gives them something to focus on other than the strangers in the room.

3. Treats. Treats can be a great way to get a nervous dog to accept a new person. Give your guests treats to feed your dog. This will also help avoid guests giving your dog food which may be harmful for them.

4. Barriers. If you have company coming that have allergies or are not fond of dogs, you may want to partition off your house so that your guests have a “dog free zone.” This can also come in handy when you want to sit down for your nice holiday dinner without a beggar underfoot. Baby and pet gates are perfect for this.

5. Post the rules. With so many new guests in the house, it will be easy for your dog to take advantage of the situation and get things he or she may not normally get, like sitting on the sofa, table scraps, etc. It can be a health hazard if, for example, your dog has allergies and your guests do not know it or they let the dog outside by himself. Posting the rules on the refrigerator so that everyone sees them, along with allergies and emergency vet contact information, will ensure a safe and happy holiday for everyone.

Tips for Taking Your Pet to See Santa
By Mallory Vough -

Five tips to think about before heading to the mall with Fido in tow, courtesy of someone who's been there, done that.

The editor of Nazareth Patch is forced to sit with Santa after her pain-in-the-butt Rottweiler decided she didn't like the man in the big red suit. Credit

I took my 80-pound Rottweiler, Allie, to get her picture taken with Santa on Nov. 28, and I could have been better prepared. So, before you start the primping, here are five tips to think about before heading to the mall with Fido in tow.

5. Go with a friend or family member. Unless you have a four-pound Chihuahua, I recommend bringing a fellow human along for the ride. I brought my best friend -- who Allie loves to pieces -- just in case I went for a drag through the mall and needed some assistance. Luckily, Allie couldn’t get much traction on the linoleum floor. You’ll also need help when signing standard paperwork, which is made so much more difficult when your dog is trying to make friends with the puppy 10 feet away.

4. Do your hair and dress nice -- just in case. I didn’t plan on making an appearance in the photo with Allie and Santa. As you can see from the picture located to the right, my pain-in-the-butt Rottweiler had other plans. I wish I had worn a nice shirt and didn’t have my hair in the always-favorite ponytail. Allie sat very pretty next to the camera station as if to say, “Go ahead, Ma! You look great!” It took a good five minutes to coax her toward Santa. Thank goodness for treats and squeaky toys…

3. Speaking of treats, don’t forget to bring a bag of Scooby Snacks. Allie is allergic to the world, so I made sure to bring a small bag of her magical dog food. No matter how well behaved your dog is at home, all of that training flies out the window when you’re in public… with other dogs around. This bodes true for Allie. However, the second I showed Allie a “treat,” which she never gets at home, she sat down and stayed -- for about 30 seconds. She got a lot of treats. Who's the trained one!? The treats were also useful when it was our turn with Santa. It’s amazing what a dog will do for a treat, even if it means getting close to the man in the big red suit.

2. Know what freaks your dog out. I knew Allie wasn’t going to be a fan of bigger dogs -- she’s used to being the biggest pup in the neighborhood. So when I saw two mastiffs walk in, I was prepared for her to hide behind me and plot her escape. The one thing I didn’t think about? Allie gets upset when she can’t see your hands. She’ll bite at your hands if you hide them in your sleeves, bark and growl if you cross your arms in front of you, and will try to pull off your gloves. What was Santa wearing? Gloves. Did I think to ask Santa to take them off? No. Someone mentioned his gloves after our picture session, and I immediately said, “DUH! I should have known better.” The session probably would have gone a tiny bit better if I had remembered that one thing.

1. Don’t bring your dog if it doesn’t play well with others. I know this one is kind of debatable, especially if your dog is lovely when at home. But it’s rather unnerving for everyone present when a dog snarls, growls and barks as if they’d attack if not on a leash. Barking is to be expected -- there were two noisy dachshunds in front of us. But snarling and growling? Eh, I’d keep that pup at home, plop ‘em in front of the Christmas tree, and take a perfect -- and free -- holiday photo.

Kandi Stevens:
Winterize Your Pets
Written by Kandi Stevens - Valley Oak SPCA

Fall marks the inevitable onset of winter and the time to prepare — we haul out the winter clothes, insulate our homes, gather up the boots and tune up our cars.

In the midst of all this preparation, don't forget that it's equally important to winterize your pet, especially if it stays outdoors throughout the winter months. Moisture, wind, extreme cold, inadequate intake of food or water are all hazardous conditions that can cause illness and in some cases death of our pets.

Winter is also an easier time for pets to get lost, stolen or hurt. Keep your cat inside during winter months; don't let your dog stray far from home. Cats can easily freeze outdoors in decreasing temperatures, and dogs can lose their scent in extreme temps and get lost. Identification is imperative. Your pet should always wear identification tags or you can write on the inside of his collar your name and phone number. Valley Oak SPCA offers microchips for your pets for $35 each; this is a permanent form of identification that could get your pet back to you in the event he is missing.

If you allow your pet to come into the garage during winter, make sure they don't have access to any dangerous substances. During the winter months, antifreeze and rodenticide poisonings increase as pet owners allow their pets into garages without realizing the dangers they are exposed to.

Just like us, our pets get dry skin in the wintertime. This may cause your pet to scratch or perhaps when you touch your animal, you receive a little electrical shock. This is a result of the heater running regularly thus drying out the air in our homes. You can help combat dry skin by using a humidifier in your home and routinely brushing your animal, this helps to redistribute oils to its coat.

Regular exercise is essential for our pets and shouldn't stop because it's cold outside. Indoor pets should be monitored carefully when they're out because they generally have not had the chance to build up a thick winter coat and get cold very quickly. Therefore, dressing your pet is perfectly acceptable. It may need a sweater or some booties for its feet to keep it warm when you let it outside. Knit sweaters or coats made out of cotton, fleece and nylon are available at local pet stores in various sizes and colors along with a host of other winter accessories (including essential collars and identification tags that they should be wearing always) to keep your pooch nice and toasty.

Older pets or pets with health conditions need extra care this time of year. The cold can leave their joints stiff or tender and they might move slower or more awkwardly. Make sure your pet has a soft, warm bed, and keep a closer eye on them when they're outside playing.

Also, when traveling with your pet, just as you wouldn't leave them in a car during hot weather because it could have dire consequences; the same is true of cold/frigid temperatures. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, causing the animal to freeze to death.

If your pet is housed outside, make sure that adequate shelter is provided, one that ensures your furry friend is comfortable and able to escape the elements. Do not use a heat lamp or other type of home heater, this is dangerous, and has resulted in many fires. Several pet and feed stores carry safe heated floor mats or non-electric warm bedding. Deeply bedded straw is another good insulator. Change the straw when it gets wet; moldy straw can cause serious skin irritations and respiratory problems.

Prevent drinking water from freezing; pets need to have fresh water at all times. Since most animals do not know how to break the ice to get water, heated pet bowls are a solution for frigid temperatures.

To escape winter elements, cats have been known to sleep under the hood of a car. Before starting your ignition, be sure to bang loudly on the hood and sides of the car to scare him away if he is in there.

ª Kandi Stevens is volunteer supervisor for the Valley Oak SPCA. Her column appears twice a month in Living.

Hollywood's Top Dog:
 'The Artist' Star Uggie

The career of a 9-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Uggie was almost over when he bit a goat. But now he’s the hottest pooch in town, thanks to one of the most memorable performances of the year, in The Artist. Ramin Setoodeh explores the mutt’s Method acting.

The list of this year’s breakout movie stars includes: Elizabeth Olsen of Martha Marcy May Marlene; Felicity Jones from Like Crazy; and Pariah’s Adepero Oduye. And then there is Uggie.

Uggie isn’t a starlet. He’s a 9-year-old Jack Russell Terrier who steals the show in The Artist, a film most Oscar pundits consider a frontrunner in the 2011 Academy Awards race. The movie is a throwback to classic Hollywood, shot in black and white, with no sound. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent-screen legend. He flirts with a female co-star, Peppy (Berenice Bejo), but the real love of his life is his dog. Uggie accompanies him everywhere, wags his tail adorably, and in one pivotal scene, saves him from a burning building.

The last pooch this heroic on the big-screen was Lassie, or perhaps Benji. Uggie won the Palm Dog Prize after this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and he’d be a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, if not for an old Academy rule that prevents animals from being honored. According to Hollywood legend, at the first Oscars in 1929, Rin Tin Tin scored the most votes, but the award for best actor went to Emil Jannings instead. Still, that hasn’t stopped Movieline from launching a campaign on Uggie’s behalf (#ConsiderUggie). Although Uggie does not speak English or use a phone, he does have his own Twitter account.

Last month, Uggie attended the premiere of The Artist and he walked the red carpet in a bowtie, but he didn’t receive the full celebrity treatment. He wasn’t allowed to sit with the rest of the cast and watch the movie. An employee at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood explains that dogs aren’t permitted inside--unless they are seeing-eye dogs. *

Uggie comes from a humble background. At 7 months, he was living with a family that was going to send him to the pound after he did something no dog should ever do. “He had bitten a goat in the garden,”* says Omar von Muller, Uggie’s current owner, who adopted him when he heard the story. “Most of the time, when there’s a nice dog with a lot of potential energy, I hate for them to go to the pound. I groomed him to be a performing dog.” *

Uggie’s film credits include the straight-to-DVD romantic comedy Mr. Fix It with David Boreanaz, and Water for Elephants, opposite Robert Pattinson. Uggie also is a member of an international dog show that features him doing stunts like riding a skateboard, a trick he performs in downtown Santa Monica.

Uggie landed his role in The Artist at the recommendation of his trainer, Sarah Clifford. ”When I got the script, they were like, we need a good Jack Russell for this French movie, and I thought, ‘I’ve got the dog from this role!’“ says Clifford, who runs Animal Savvy, a company that provides animals for movies. In the script, there’s a lot of live-action performance. There’s a lot of playing and running and the spy -movie stuff--the movie within a movie that George Valentin is starring in. ”Uggie has so much energy and he’s such a showman. He does really cool things that are similar to his character.“*

She adds: “A lot of dogs in the film business are over-trained. They have a repertoire of 100 tricks. Uggie has just 20 tricks. He doesn’t have all the things that movie dogs have, which is why he’s so natural. *”

After he was cast, he was such a Method actor, he went to live with one of his costars for three days. Dujardin took him for regular walks and ate lunch with him. He learned the cues to get him to speak, sit and beg, and he also learned Uggie’s secret obsession: hot dogs. “Jean said he had to go into the sausage business because he had so many on him to keep Uggie’s interest, *” says the actor James Cromwell, who plays the chauffer, Clifton, in the movie. “If you don’t have sausages, you are no more interesting to Uggie than a lamppost. “*

Did he carry sausages? “I did not,”* Cromewell says. “If I did, we’d have a different relationship.”

On the set of The Artist, Uggie slept in crates since he didn’t have his own trailer. The role of Uggie actually is played by three dogs, but Uggie performed 95 percent of the scenes because he so outshone his understudies, Dash and Dude. To get Uggie to look like the other two dogs, handlers bathed him in a dye that turned his coat white for several months. He also had to undergo one other physical alteration.

In the movie, you can see Uggie has three little spots next to his butt, * says Muller. “That’s totally made up. One of the other dogs had it, so we had to put it on him, too. *”

Despite all the critical acclaim, Uggie is facing retirement. At 9, he doesn’t have any other gigs lined up, and he spends most of his days lounging by the pool or playing with Muller’s 6-year-old daughter. “His health is good, but he has a bit of a shaking syndrome that white dogs get, *”Muller says. “People will think he’s nervous or cold, but it’s a neurological thing.”

“If you don’t have sausages, you are no more interesting to Uggie than a lamppost.”

While he won’t be at the Oscars as a nominee, Uggie could still be invited as a guest or a presenter. Maybe he’ll even get the chance to mingle with Cosmo, the other hot Jack Russell Terrier of the year, from the Christopher Plummer dramedy Beginners.

Cromwell for one thinks the Academy should revise its rules to recognize non-human performers. “I wish there was an award, whether it was an Oscar or not, that demonstrated the contributions that animals make in the telling of a story,” * he says. “In the Q&A’s we have, everyone says, ‘Where did you get that extraordinary dog?’”

Boxer and Boy Loved to Play Rough
Eric Williams -

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a great story about pets and people, and that’s too bad because they are often the kinds of stories who can make people laugh, cry or feel a little more human. One of the great love stories I’ve seen unfold in my lifetime was between a dog and a little boy.

My older brother Randy had a Boxer named Derby. Boxers are generally strong and energetic canines, but Derby was much taller and thicker than the approved breed standard. He weighed about 100 pounds, most of it tightly-bunched ready-to-spring muscle. The dog had a ferocious glare, a mouth that could engulf a three pound roast, and an inexplicable obsession and hatred of all things feline. The mere whisper of the word “cat” would rouse Derby from a sound slumber into a state of high alert with his ears erect and ominous sounds emanating from his massive chest and throat. He had a don’t-mess-with-me persona instantly recognizable in the animal kingdom. Once while I was pet sitting, I took Derby for a walk.

A small German Shepherd mix sprang from between two houses, running at me and barking. The unleashed, unfenced dog did this to every pedestrian who walked by, every day. This time there was a refreshing twist. Derby, who had been as far ahead of me as his leash would allow, suddenly reversed direction and growled. The other dog stopped short, turned, ran then crawled beneath a sedan. He didn’t come out until we were out of sight.

Derby’s devotion to my brother was incredible. A construction foreman, Randy would sometimes have to leave town to work on a project for weeks at a time. When he would return Derby would jump for joy, repeatedly springing so high that he could bring himself to look into my brother’s face at eye level. Randy is over six feet tall.

My nephew Sam, now grown, always displayed incredible affection and affinity for domesticated animals and the undomesticated ones he could get his hands on. Small for his age, Sam was rough, tough, sturdy and courageous. Unfortunately, the cats and small dogs in his immediate surrounds were often too fragile or too irritable to put up with the sort of energetic play the five-year-old preferred. The instant he and Derby looked upon one another it was love at first sight. Sam ran to pet Derby and the big dog reciprocated by licking Sam’s entire face with a single swipe of his broad tongue.

Both Sam and Derby loved to wrestle, though when Sam and Derby wrestled it was not exactly a competitive sport. Derby would jump and put his massive paws on Sam’s shoulders. The energy of the leap would have put a strong man on the ground. Derby would then hold Sam down, licking and slobbering all over the child’s face. When Sam would try to get up or get away, Derby would pounce like a lion on a gazelle, repeatedly knocking him back into the turf. To me, the interaction looked frighteningly close to child abuse. Such rough play with such a big and athletic dog would cause many little ones to scream in terror. Not Sam. Sam loved it.

To this day, I still can’t figure out how Derby knew Sam was having fun and like getting knocked down and slobbered on. Derby was around children all the time, but he only wrestled energetically with people the size of my brother and I or when he played with Sam.

There’s no question in my mind that Derby loved Sam, though they would see one another only rarely at random family gatherings. In a room or a yard with a dozen or more people on hand, all of whom had befriended Derby at one point or another, Derby’s eyes and his attention would be only on Sam. The big dog would ignore everyone except my brother to spend time with his favorite playmate. Derby has passed on and Sam has graduated from college, but the memory of watching those two wrestle on the lawn can bring a smile to my face every time it crosses my mind.

I want to be a more entertaining writer and I need your help. Amazing love stories unfold. People who were sickly are healed regaining strength and vigor. Animals perform amazing service to humans and humans exhibit admirable love and devotion to favorite pets. Almost everybody knows of a great human interest story going on somewhere in the terrific community of Castle Hills and they ought to tell us so we can share it with others. Send your story ideas with contact information to

My Pet World:
Cats Express Their Excitement
with a Good Scratch
By Steve Dale -

Q: Whenever certain people are on TV, our cat, Lilly, runs to the TV and begins to scratch at the set. This happens when certain music comes on. Recently, when Justin Bieber appeared on TV, the cat went crazy. Lilly doesn't have her claws anymore, so there's no damage to the TV, but what is this scratching all about?

- S.U., Pasadena, Calif.

A: Cats often express their excitement with a good scratch. Even cats without claws go through the same motions. I can't explain why certain music is more exciting to your cat, who apparently enjoys Bieber.

Q: I'm concerned that the vaccine to protect cats against rhinotracheitis and the calici virus causes the (viral infections) and helps destroy a cat's immune system. I know two cats whose deaths directly resulted from the feline leukemia vaccine. Can you please tell people not to use these vaccines?

- A.A., Cyberspace

A: I'm afraid I can't help because you're wrong. Feline herpes virus (rhinotracheitis) is the most common cause of upper respiratory disease in cats. Calici virus often causes inflammation in the mouth, oral ulcers and/or limping and can be very serious. Both infections occur most often in kittens, cats in stressed or overcrowded environments like animal shelters and those in multicat households.

Once infected, there may be chronic flare-ups throughout a cat's life.

Feline veterinarian Dr. Susan Little, of Ottawa, Canada, says, "The vaccine for the feline herpes virus and for the calici virus were never intended to prevent infection. Vaccination does in some cases prevent symptoms, or at least lessens their severity, so cats don't die."

As for your claim about the feline leukemia vaccine, it's simply not true, says Little, a past president of the Winn Feline Foundation. Most veterinarians do agree that not all cats should be vaccinated for feline leukemia. This has nothing to do with the vaccines but instead is about the lifestyle of individual cats. For example, indoor-only cats are unlikely to be exposed to the disease and may not require the vaccine.

Certainly, here and there cats do have reactions to vaccines; the most feared of all may be vaccine-associated feline sarcoma at the vaccination site. Some researchers have suggested this aggressive cancer may be associated with some feline leukemia vaccines (those with an adjuvant), but it's not proven and is very rare. If you're concerned, ask about the non-adjuvanted vaccine for feline leukemia.

Q: I take my dog to visit a hospice once a week. I wish I could describe what a difference this has made for the patients. For our border collie, Lucy, the emotional outlet and work has been wonderful. I was sure I'd be sad working in a hospice, but I haven't felt that way at all. Instead, I have a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. I'm writing in hopes you can convey how programs like this make a difference.

- S.C., Marietta, Ga.

A: For 10 years, my wife and I were privileged to take our Lucy to visit patients at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago as a certified animal-assisted therapy dog. Therapy dogs are sometimes able to wiggle their way into hearts and minds where medical science cannot.

Science has repeatedly documented what such dogs can do. I talked with my friend David Frei, who participates in animal-assisted therapy with his dog through a program he founded called Angel on a Leash.

No one knows how these dogs are able to achieve the miracles they do. Frei and I agree that while they are patients in hospitals, rehab facilities and hospices, people are living like our dogs live - in the moment. This creates a special connection. And, of course, dogs don't care how patients look or their diagnoses; they love everyone unconditionally.

After our beloved Lucy passed away in 2011, we set up a fund in her honor with the American Humane Association to support the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards for animal-assisted therapy:

Write to Steve Dale at

WARNING: Bear Attack in Manitoba , Canada

These are pictures of an actual polar bear attacking a man.

The pictures were taken while people watched and could do nothing to stop the attack!

Reports from the local newspaper say that the victim will make a full recovery.

See pictures below: (Keep away from young children)

May your troubles always be smaller
than your imagination!

Thanks to Kathy in BHC, AZ

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