International Garden Photographer of the Year

The finalists of the UK's International Garden Photographer of the Year award have just been announced.

Garden tiger moth close-up by Paul Keene

This picture of a garden tiger moth (Arctia caja) was taken in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. The caterpillars of this moth feed on nettles, so if you want these moths to be a feature in your garden, then keep a rough, uncultivated patch

(via Look at This)

Fursday Fun

from flickr, by annbananne

from funny pets

from randompictures

from Flickr, by Tambako the Jaguar

Adopting a Special Needs Pet

I live with a wonderful, happily “normal” American Staffordshire Terrier named Skye. But Skye has special needs, and adopting a pet with special needs is not for everyone. You need to do your homework and make sure this is a task you want to undertake, because no matter how much you love this animal, some days may feel like a chore to you. I have been very lucky and don’t feel that Skye is any burden at all, but some of the sites I did research on mention that a pet with special needs is just that. They mention that you may have emotional issues after adopting a pet with special needs. They also mention that you should remember to give yourself a pat on the back when you need one, because after all you have taken on an animal that may have issues, and you are to be congratulated for shouldering the responsibility.

Most of my dogs had special needs of one kind or another. My first dog lost a foot in a lawn mower accident. Smokey Bear had issues with a certain type of person after being beaten by his owner’s boyfriend. So your special needs pet may not have a medical problem; it could be emotional or psychological as well.

You need to make sure you are financially able to take care of their needs in addition to your own. If your special needs pet requires regular vet visits to monitor medication amounts in their blood, or tests to make sure their organs are functioning normally, you need to be able to cover any fees this entails. I will tell you now, there are a lot of pet insurance companies that will not cover pre-existing conditions. I found that out before I even adopted Skye. If your special needs pet must sleep in a crate at night or have a crate when traveling, can you afford it? If they need any special equipment to be able to move around, you need to consider the fees for purchasing the equipment. Will there have to be adjustments to that equipment as your special needs pet ages?

If you choose to travel with them, you need to make sure that your special pet is welcome where you are going. If they are on medication, you need to have enough for your trip and several extra days, in case your return home is delayed. The same thing goes for their food if they are on a special diet. Traveling with a pet with special needs can be like traveling with a human baby. Along with a regular leash and collar you need to have the food you are feeding, any medication they are on and an enclosure they can rest inside safely. If they are on other supplements or need special water, you need to have that with you too.

If you are unable to travel with your special needs pet, you need to find someone who can take care of your pet. The person you choose should be responsible and able to medicate your pet if they need any shots or special medications. They should also be able to get your pet to the vet in a timely manner if the need arises.

There are many joys associated with adopting a pet with special needs. While we have encountered some issues with Skye, they were not insurmountable. Someone recently asked me if I would adopt Skye again, if I were given the chance to go back. My answer was a resounding “Yes.”

Ruthie Bently


(via cute and cuter)

Skye, My Special Needs Dog

I have mentioned my American Staffordshire Terrier Skye in several of my articles. Some of you may know of her health issues, but I thought I would share them with you because dogs, cats and other animals with special needs need loving homes too.

I was not going to get another dog for a while after losing my last AmStaff Smokey Bear to old age at over 19 years old. I live in the country and have done so for over ten years now, with never a qualm of being in the “boonies,” as some of my friends call it. However, a violent crime a few miles from my house changed my thinking and after discussing it with my boyfriend, we began looking for another dog to share our lives with.

I found a breeder who had a retired AmStaff that needed a home; however, after discussing her with the breeder I found out that the dog’s handler wanted to adopt her, too. I didn’t feel right about taking her away from the only family she had ever known, and the breeder understood. The breeder mentioned she had another dog that needed a home, but she was hesitant because this dog (Skye) had special needs. Skye is a beautiful representation of the American Staffordshire breed. However, when she turned a year old and went into season for the first time, she began having idiopathic juvenile seizures.

What this means is that she began having seizures for no apparent reason. Skye was checked for epilepsy and did not have it, but that didn’t keep her from having seizures. The breeder had taken Skye to not only a regular vet, but a homeopath as well, and Skye had even been to the state university’s veterinary college to try and figure out what was wrong with her. Skye had grand mal seizures in clusters, which means that she had the most severe seizures and for hours at a time. The breeder mentioned that the seizures had gotten so bad, sometimes she would spend the night next to Skye’s crate to try and keep her calm. Some nights she would kiss Skye good night and say a prayer that Skye would still be here in the morning.

After hearing this story, I am sure you are saying “What were you thinking?” It may be hard to understand, but I had no other thought than to give this special girl a safe, caring, loving home of her own. Don’t get me wrong, I did lots of research into not only seizures but epilepsy as well, as that was the best information I could find that explained seizures and why they happen. I spoke with family and friends to get their opinions of whether or not they felt I was up to the task. I spoke with a trainer, who knows not only me but all the other AmStaffs I have lived with that had special training issues. I also spoke with a friend that said “Run like hell in the other direction,” so this story is not without its detractors.

I even spoke with an animal communicator to see how Skye felt about leaving the only home she had ever known. Speaking through the animal communicator, Skye said she couldn’t understand why she was still at the breeder’s. She knew that other dogs had gone home with families and didn’t know why she hadn’t. I asked Skye if she knew why she had seizures and got a surprising response: Skye thought all dogs had them and thought it was normal, but couldn’t tell me why she had them. I asked the animal communicator to ask Skye if she had any questions for me. Skye did, and what she asked me made me cry. Skye wanted to know if she didn’t live very long if I could still love her as much as I would love another dog. I asked the animal communicator to please tell Skye that I would love her if she was with me for three days or twenty years, but that I was aiming for the twenty year range. I also asked Skye if she wanted to come and live with me and she answered “Yes.” This was important to me, because she was coming from a place with a huge back yard she could run in safely to a place where we had no dog fences yet and where she would have to be walked on a leash until we could remedy the situation.

The breeder had a few requirements for me as well. I had to go for an interview to see if I would be able to handle an AmStaff to her satisfaction. A handsome boy named Henry helped me with that one. Henry got nosy and I didn’t back up or walk away, I just pushed him back and treated him as I would have treated any of my other AmStaffs if they got bossy. I passed the test and after learning about Skye’s requirements I got to bring her home with me.

We go to Skye’s vet every six months for blood tests, so her medication levels can be checked. She also has blood tests to make sure that her kidney and liver functions are normal, because the medication she is on can affect that also. Skye is completely off of Phenobarbital now but is still on Sodium Bromide, which keeps her seizures in check. Actually, my sweet Skye is closing in on her year and a half anniversary of being seizure free, and we have been blessed to never have seen one.

I believe that with love and faith all things are possible, and I have been blessed with a dog that proves it to me every day.

Ruthie Bently

Today's awwww

(via ZooBorns)

What's that in your pants?

Rascal in my pants 2 by Ed Van Brunt

Cordless Mouse

(via Miss Cellania)

The four faces of the Bengal tiger

Displayed for the first time in a specially constructed studio in South Carolina, The Four Faces of the Bengal Tiger show the four varieties of Bengal tiger.

"There are only four distinct types of Bengal tiger in the world and they are all in this amazing photo shoot," says Dr Bhagavan Antle of The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S), who brought these majestic animals to the studio.

Dr Antle believes the images give away the characteristics of behaviour, age and personality of each tiger. "Like human photographs, you can see the difference in their age as some of them look a little more grizzled and haggard than others."

See all 18 photos

Photograph: Barry Bland/Barcroft Media

The Funny Things Cats Do

I love my cats for many different reasons. Number one would have to be because they are such amusing creatures who always make me laugh. There is seemingly no end to the funny things cats do. Then too, their curiously eccentric ways leave me shaking my head, wondering why they do the things they do. I think all cats must lie awake at night, dreaming up odd behaviors that we humans can’t possibly comprehend. To be sure, life with my three crazy cats is never dull. 
I’ve never understood why all my cats all come running at the sound of the can opener. I feed them Felidae cat food, and the can has a pull-tab lid. I’ve never opened a single can of cat food with the can opener, and yet somehow it became associated with cat food. I have gone outside to open a can of vegetables, because I don’t like explaining to my cats (yet again) that I don’t have any cat food and it isn’t time for their dinner. They simply don’t accept this explanation. All my cats must have super-sonic hearing though, because they still hear the can opener even when I use it outside. 
You’d think with a cat’s notorious dislike of water, the sink would be the last place you’d find them curled up for a snooze, but you’d be wrong. In fact, so many cats like to sit or lie in the sink, that there’s an entire website devoted to posting pictures of cats in sinks! And why do cats always follow you into the bathroom every time you go in there to do your business? Worse, they usually push the door wide open when you’re indisposed. Rocky also likes to come in and sit on the edge of the tub when I take a shower. When I’m drying off, he wants to help by licking my leg. Um... thanks anyway, Rocky. 
My cats also find the weirdest places to sleep, like the tiniest box that makes you wonder how they even wedged themselves into the box in the first place. They turn up their noses at the nice cat bed I got them and sleep in places that look (to me) like the most uncomfortable spot imaginable. Mickey will also open my kitchen drawer, dig out some of the dishcloths and towels, and sleep on the remainder of them in the drawer. Crazy cat! I’ve learned not to leave my bottom dresser drawer open even an inch, because he will reach in, hook each sock with his claws and fling them out onto the floor. Actually, I often leave my sock drawer open on purpose because it’s fun to watch him do this, and I get a kick out of seeing all my socks littering the bedroom floor. 
Of all the funny things cats do, the chasing of the tail is probably the most commonplace. All cats chase their tails, and no one really knows why. Round and round they go, and when they finally catch their tail, there’s that ever-brief pause and a look that says, “Now what?” before they let it go, only to chase it again. Huh? And why must kitties lie on top of your newspaper, magazine or book every time you try to read? These things are certifiable cat magnets! It doesn’t matter if you’ve just finished playing with them or petting them, the minute you try to read something your cat will be splayed all over it. Same goes for trying to use the computer. It’s impossible to type with a cat blocking your view of the screen. Worse, cats all know exactly where the “delete” key is, and they love to step on it the minute you’ve finished writing something important. Hmmm. If I could just teach Mickey how to type, I could go curl up in the kitchen drawer for a nap while he wrote my next blog.

How Spaying Helps Your Dog Stay Healthy

Here are some tips from the Dog Age website about the health factors in spaying your dog:

If you could do one thing to help your precious little Lucy stay healthy, you'd do it in a heartbeat, right? So if you haven't done so already, ask your vet about spaying your pet.

Here are the ways it could help your pup's well-being and give you some peace of mind:

* No worries about reproductive cancers. Since the ovaries and uterus are surgically removed, there's no chance of tumors growing in the reproductive tract.
* Your dog won't be in heat. "Heat," or estrus, is a female dog's mating period. During this time, which occurs every 3 to 6 months and lasts up to 4 weeks, dogs will have vaginal bleeding -- that's something you'll have to deal with. And because your pet wants a ready-and-willing male, she may wander off in the neighborhood to find one. If the thought of your pooch on the prowl makes you squirm, picture frisky hounds howling at your door!
* A much lower risk of breast cancer. Animals spayed before their first heat cycle (usually at 6 to 9 months of age) have substantially lower odds of developing breast cancer.
* No uterine infections. Spaying a dog at any age eliminates infections of the uterus, which can be quite serious.

Spaying also helps to reduce pet overpopulation.

Kelly's Spring Walk

Kelly and I went out to see what was growing around the neighborhood. The weather was unseasonably warm, 85 degrees, for April. I think she's ready for her summer trim!
Kelly's tongue got a workout!
This tree is such a pretty pink.

I love the symbolism of a bold dandelion growing in the pavement cracks.

Paws for Reflection: Nature's beauty can be found in the city. Sometimes we just have to hunt a little harder.

Zelda and Pet Peace of Mind

This is the famous "Zelda" of "Zelda Wisdom," a series of wonderfully wise sayings and "adorabull" photos found nearly anywhere greeting cards are sold. I found out that the real Zelda is actually from the Portland, Oregon area where the Banfield Charitable Trust is based. According to the Trust's Director, their Pet Peace of Mind grant program will be the recipient of gifts given to Zelda in honor of her birthday! Her thirteenth birthday was last Friday, so wish Zelda a Happy Birthday with me and thank her (and you!) for supporting Pet Peace of Mind! I guess you could say she's our celebrity spokesdog...

Great News about Pet Peace of Mind!!

Finally, I can let the "cat out of the bag," to coin a phrase. If you've read some of my earlier blog entries, you know that I finished a manual for the Pet Peace of Mind program several weeks ago for a mysterious project. Well, as of yesterday, I can finally let you know what has been in the works for these past few months. Last April, we sent a grant application in to the Banfield Charitable Trust in Portland, Oregon. Banfield Corporation owns the pet hospitals in all the PetSmarts around the country, all 700+ of them. The Banfield Charitable Trust (BCT) offers funding to a variety of pet-friendly projects. Last fall, the Director of the BCT called us and told us that they had been considering a program to support hospice patients and their pets. They realized that what they had in mind was a program just like ours. They asked us if they could use our model to start a nationwide Pet Peace of Mind program in non-profit hospices around the country. In other words, the Pet Peace of Mind program is going nationwide!! The logo was designed by the BCT and I love it.

Perhaps the most exciting part for me is that I will continue to be involved with Pet Peace of Mind as it expands. I wrote the manual and have been asked to serve on the grant approval committee. I also have the privilege of helping train hospice staff to implement the program in their area. It has always been my hope that Pet Peace of Mind would help lots of patients and pets, not just ours. We sent out a press release to the local media here in Tulsa today and we are mentioned on the BCT website under programs. They plan to debut their program May 1st. I will keep you updated as things continue to unfold.

Is there one in your walls?

Hundreds of years ago cats were put into walls to ward-off "bad luck".

A 400-year-old mummified cat has been found in the walls of a house that was being renovated in Devon. The remains of the creature were found in one of the bathrooms at the house in Ugborough.

The owner of the house said the cat would be put back where it was found when the renovation is completed.


How to Travel With Cats

Unlike dogs, cats usually don’t like riding in cars. Whereas many dogs adapt easily to traveling and can go on road trip vacations with you, cats are usually much better off left at home. In fact, most cat owners usually only take their kitty for a car ride when it’s absolutely necessary, such as for visits to the vet. There are, however, times when traveling with cats is unavoidable. I experienced such a time when I moved to another state a few years ago. I put my belongings on a truck, loaded my three cats in carriers and into the back seat of my car, and away we went. From this road trip, I learned firsthand what to do, and what not to do, when faced with the need to travel with cats. 
Careful planning is essential if you are to have any hope of a good experience when traveling with cats. As early as possible before your trip, make a list of supplies you’ll need to obtain, purchase them, and put them in a safe place. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute for supplies, nor do you want to discover mid-trip that you forgot something indispensable. A sturdy cat carrier is a must, because cats do not travel well in cars and can get under your feet, claw your legs or otherwise become a dangerous distraction. I prefer the heavy-duty plastic cat carriers that have open-weave metal doors for air circulation. When traveling with cats for long distances, you need a cat carrier that allows some fresh air into it. I like to put a soft towel on the bottom for cushioning. 
You will also need to bring food and water, bowls, kitty litter, scooper, plastic bags for waste, and a litter pan. They sell small litter pans made for kittens, which are perfect for travel. I poured some kitty litter into a gallon milk jug, which was more convenient than lugging along a big, heavy container of litter. You might also want to pack one or two of their favorite cat toys. This will provide something familiar with their scent, and give them something to play with in the motel. Your cat may or may not feel like playing, but at least they will have the option. 
I learned the hard way that it’s probably not a good idea to give your cat very much food before you set out on your travels. I was cruising merrily down the highway, singing along with the three-cat harmony coming from the back seat, when suddenly I smelled something awful. My worst fear had become reality; Rocky had diarrhea in his carrier. Suffice it to say, I fed him very, very little for the remainder of this two day trip. Some cat’s digestive systems are highly sensitive, and stress combined with the movement of the car can wreak havoc on their stomachs. Hence, it’s wise to just feed them very small amounts of food until you arrive at your destination.
The one thing I debated about buying and bringing along is a leash and body harness. Cats are notoriously anti-leash creatures, but I now realize this is an essential supply when traveling with cats. Further, you should practice putting it on your cat and taking it off before your trip, so you will be familiar with how to use it – because there’s a good chance you will need it. I had to stop at a rest area after Rocky had his “accident.” This rest area didn’t have a lock on the door, so I put the harness and leash on Rocky, and tied the leash to the sink while I cleaned out his carrier, and then him. If he had been running loose in the room and someone opened the door, I likely would have never seen him again. 
If you find yourself faced with the need to travel with cats, I hope these tips will help you have a smooth and safe trip.

How to eat a peanut


Cute or not? Baby wombat

found at Wombat Country

A dog-friendly car from Honda

Now, at a time when much of the auto industry is going to the dogs, Honda is actively chasing dogs. The company has designed a Dog Friendly version of its Element, a vehicle that was shown at this month's New York Auto Show. Honda says the vehicle will go on sale this fall. The special package likely will contain:

  • A cushioned pet bed in the cargo area on an elevated platform.

  • An extendable loading ramp. (Did you ever try and lift a Shepherd into an SUV?)

  • A 12-volt rear ventilation fan.

  • Second row seat covers in a dog-pattern that matches the pet bed fabric.

  • A spill-resistant bowl and all-season rubber mats with a bone pattern.

  • Special Edition emblems.


Spotting Signs of Animal Abuse

I came across this article and was intrigued. Often times you don't think of the fact that animals can and are being abused in some instances. Although the abuse is hard to spot, this article The Pet Place Website outlines the spectrum of abuse in animals.

Although the non-pet loves may wonder why it is such a big deal (are there really non pet lovers?), there is reason to be concerned....Animal abuse is often a stepping stone to violence toward people. Studies show that those who were cruel toward animals as children are drastically more likely to commit violent crimes toward people.

Not only does animal abuse sound an alarm regarding a child's violent tendencies, an abused pet should also be a red flag for child and domestic abuse. In a home where pets are mistreated, there are often people who are being physically and emotionally harmed.

Therefore, not only should their be concern about the pets being abused, but also about the people living in the house with the pets.

Caturday funnies

from Miezenkatzen

from horklog(some entries here NSFW)

from Dilidoo

from I have seen the whole of the internet

Adopting Older Dogs and Cats

Older dogs and cats are often overlooked as pets when you enter into a shelter. But, the truth is, they are often the best bet when it comes to adoptions! Enjoying the company of a dog costs nothing. You don't have to pay each time you spend time with your dog, you don't have to drive anywhere - it is wonderful pleasure right there in your own home.
Take a look at an older dog or cat on your next trip in. Then remember that they:
  • They are already house-trained. No more mopping floors five times a day or going through frustrating crate training. 
  • They are focused. You will have their full attention when it comes to training. 
  • They are easier to settle into a pack: Often the older dogs and cats are much calmer and have an inherent sense of pack. 
  • Your dog doesn't care that you lost your job or your savings. He loves you no matter what.
  • Dogs and cats are relatively inexpensive to feed, you can bathe your dog with a hose in the backyard, and if you adopt a mutt, you may have fewer veterinary bills.
  • If you can't afford to travel, the "I am gone too much" excuse is no longer valid.
  • Frisbees and balls are cheap, and if you videotape them, you might just win $10k on America’s Funniest Videos.
  • Petting a dog lowers blood pressure, thus saving on medical bills.
  • Your dog or cat doesn't need a fancy vacation to be happy- she is satisfied with a walk in the park or lying on your lap as you read a book. 
Please consider adopting an older dog or cat - so many are being turned in to the shelter due to "cost" or "lost our home and had to move into an apartment".
We especially need adopters for the older dogs who have been in a family environment for their whole lives and find themselves scared and confused in a kennel in the shelter. These old souls are the sweetest and the best! Seniors are by far my favorites.
For more reasons on why “Seniors Rock!”, visit

Video: Racoon Thief

Watch video

(via hanuman)

Video: Cat Ambush!

Watch video

(via The Grip)

Brian eats a daffodil

from Flickr, by Mrs B (aka Chi)

(via A Welsh View)

A “Coat” of Many Colors…

Tabby, Calico, Gray – okay, well gray is kind of easy, but you get the idea. What kinds of colors are available for cats? And how do you know what you have? We have the answers for you.
Interesting Fact
Tri colored cats are almost always female. About 1 in 3000 are males, but they are almost always sterile. This is due to the genetic factors required to create the color pattern. It’s no reason to avoid neutering your cat though!
Typical “solids” are just that – one solid color. There are really four basic colors, but they can vary in shades. The colors are white, blue (which is really gray), black and “red” which is the official term for “orange”. 
Tabbies are one of the oldest, and most common, patterns. They can become complex though.
  • Striped: Striped tabbies look similar to tigers, but are often called “Mackeral Tabbies”. 
  • Classic: These cats have a round color pattern, similar to a target. They are one of the most common patterns. 
  • Spotted: These cats have spots that resemble a cheetah, but are more commonly found in breeds like the Ocicat and American Bobtail.
  • Tuxedo: These are the kitties with glossy black coats and white socks or white bib. 
  • Other Bi-colors: There are other bi-colored cats that may include gray and white or red and white, or even brown and white colors. 
  • Points:
  • “Points” are darker shades at the ears, tail, and/or feet of a cat. The Siamese is known for this type of marking. A white cat with brown “points” is known as a sealpoint.
  • Calico: These cats have separate solid color blocks. They may be “diluted” which results in a very angelic looking kitty or could be in blocks similar to a tabby, which creates a very colorful cat. 
  • Tortoiseshell (aka Torties): These tri-colored cats have several shades of color that are all blended together in an intricate, muted pattern.

Smile, it's Friday!

Being Your Pet’s Advocate

As pet owners, we are responsible for our pet’s care and feeding. This includes veterinary care as well. While we don’t actually provide the care itself, we are responsible for making sure our pets have regular vet visits, that their vaccinations are up to date and that their overall health is good. You don’t need to use the most expensive vet you can find, but you need to make sure the vet you pick understands your pet and their specific individual needs. 
If you have children, you probably looked long and hard to find a pediatrician to fit their needs. You should look at your pet’s veterinarian in the same light. For example, will the office hours fit in with your schedule? Do they have emergency hours or are they open on Saturdays? Are they open to alternative forms of treatment, if that is what you are interested in? Will they listen to your explanations or will they expect you to follow what they want you to do?
On Easter Sunday evening I found a lump the size of a medium sized egg under Skye’s jaw. I was flabbergasted as I had just put a new collar on her four days before and there was no lump there then. After calming myself down, I immediately called the breeder to discuss the situation. The breeder felt that it was probably an enlarged lymph node. We discussed the options, as Skye’s regular vet is about an hour an a half away. So we decided that I would call the local vet I had used for my other dogs and see if he could see Skye on Monday morning. 
Here is where being your dog’s advocate comes in. I kept Skye’s original vet because they knew her history and when I had an initial interview with my local vet about Skye when she first came to live with me, he was questioning why she was not on more modern drug therapies for her seizure issues. The local vet felt that Skye would be better served if she was on a more modern drug and not one that had been used since the turn of the twentieth century. I felt that you use what works and if an older drug was keeping her from having seizures, I was not going to play with her medications. So I personally felt more comfortable with going back to the original vet Skye had and we go back to him every six months for her blood tests.
I was able to get Skye in to see my local vet on Monday afternoon. I have gotten to know Skye’s body language pretty well and she was uncomfortable about being at the local vet’s office. While we were waiting to see him, Skye began pacing around the exam room like a tiger in a cage at the zoo. Not only that, she began to shed profusely, not just a few hairs here and there but lots of hair. It looked like I had never brushed her at all. Pacing and shedding are both signs of stress, so Skye my normally calm, people loving dog was not having a good time; and we hadn’t even seen the vet yet.
When we got to see the vet, he aspirated the lump under Skye’s jaw and after looking at a slide determined that it was not a lymph node, but an encapsulated abscess with no draining tracts, as he found pus in the sample. In laymen’s terms, Skye had gotten something under her skin and her body trying to protect itself, walled the foreign body off much like an oyster with a grain of sand in itself does. I was told that it had probably been there for two to three weeks. I found this hard to imagine and explained about the new collar and the fact that I would have notice something to the vet but he felt that I could have missed it.
Now I am having doubts about my care of this wonderful dog and how could I have not seen something? I asked the vet what he would suggest and he felt that the lump should be removed. The vet put Skye on amoxicillin for the infection. So I scheduled Skye for surgery for two days later and went home with her. I called the breeder as soon as I got home to discuss what the vet had mentioned. I discussed my misgivings and feelings and she said she would call the vet that Skye had been seeing and would get back to me.
Please remember this: As your pet’s advocate you are entitled to a second, even a third or fourth opinion, whatever it takes to get and keep your pet healthy. Don’t stop at just one if you are having doubts or issues with what you are being told. The hardest part is that you have to get past your own emotions and do what is best for your pet, and if you are not happy with the first diagnosis or have questions, get a second opinion. As your pet’s advocate you have this right, and this is the most important thing to remember.
This story has a happy ending. I was able to get Skye in to see her regular vet. It was not an abscess, it was an enlarged lymph node and Skye did not have to go under anesthesia, which could have sent her into a seizure, though I did not know that at the time. We still don’t know what caused the infection, but now my little girl is just as sassy and demanding as she was before she got sick, and I learned first hand what being your pet’s advocate means.

Fursday Fun

Photo credit: Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune


Earth Day is April 22, 2009

Earth Day is upon us and CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods is committed not only to pets, but to our environment as well. So, what’s all the ruckus about? Well, to keep it simple – Earth Day was designed to bring awareness of our world into our living room. The protection of our animals, as well as our pets, comes down to our commitment in saving our environment.
Did You Know?
  • The patron Saint of ecologists is St. Francis, who also happens to be the patron saint of animals.
  • Earth Day is celebrated in more than 175 countries.
  • After Christmas and Halloween, Earth Day is the largest celebrated holiday in schools.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to watch TV for three hours –the equivalent of a half gallon of gasoline.
  • More than 20 million Hershey's Kisses are wrapped each day – 133 square miles of tinfoil. All that foil is recyclable.
  • The Peace Bell, made from coins donated by school-children to further peace on our planet, is rang every Earth Day at the United Nations.
  • More than 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away each year in the U.S., the equivalent of dumping 12 million barrels of oil. More than 1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from them.
  • If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, we would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion per year.
  • Plastic doesn’t biodegrade so it can persist for centuries. All the plastic that has ever been made on earth is still around and will exist long after we’re gone.
  • In 2007, 56 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling — an all-time high. That’s nearly 360 pounds of paper for each man, woman, and child.
Find out where the nearest Earth Day celebration is to you and learn what you can do to help the environment that we all count on!  Visit the Earth Day website today.

Humans Aren’t the Only Ones with Weight Issues

Humans aren’t the only ones with weight issues these days. Our companion animals are fighting obesity too, but with proper feeding, exercise and the right food they can lose weight too.    
This is the success story of Rubie a medium sized lab/chow mix that had a weight problem. She should weigh between 65 to 70 pounds according to her owner, Shari. In November of 2006 during a vet visit, Rubie stepped on the scale and weighed a whopping 105 pounds. 
When Rubie joined Shari’s household she was a four month old stray that had been dumped after Christmas of 1998. There were two other dogs in the household that Shari was free feeding and as that seemed to work for them, she continued doing it for Rubie too. After two moves and adding a few more dogs, Rubie’s weight kept climbing steadily. Shari jokes about catching her older brother feeding Rubie a sandwich and wanting to blame him for Rubie’s weight gain. Every time her brother had a sandwich he felt the need to give Rubie one also. Shari’s heart would break when friends would come over and comment on how heavy Rubie was.
The breaking point came in 2006 after her chart topping 105 pounds. Rubie now had arthritis, and struggled with walking up stairs, standing and just reaching around to clean herself. Shari knew she had to take a hand in Rubie’s weight loss if she wanted to have Rubie around for a while. The vet at the clinic put Rubie on a prescription diet and told Shari that she had to stop free feeding and feed only twice a day. In December of 2006 Rubie was down to 102.6 pounds, but Shari had expected to see better results than she did. The problem 
was that Rubie was the only dog on the prescription diet and she would try and bully the other dogs away from their bowls so she could have what they were eating. So Shari had to watch her like a hawk to make sure that didn’t happen. By February of 2007, Rubie was down to 97.8 and then in August she was at 96.6 pounds. However that was only a weight loss of 8.4 pounds and Shari felt that something else had to be done.
So Shari contacted her local pet shop Paw Prints, to have them help her research different foods to see if she could change Rubie’s situation. Shari wanted a food that she could feed all the dogs that would promote good health for all of them and one that they would all like. Shari decided to try feeding CANIDAE Platinum. She was feeling bad about having to cut down Rubie’s ration of food to 1 cup in the morning and 1 cup in the evening, so she added green beans to add fiber and try to fill Rubie up. Rubie loved the green beans and thought she was getting special treatment. According to Shari, Rubie has a lot to say when it is time to be fed. 
Shari continued to feed the CANIDAE Platinum and began to notice a difference. Rubie’s weight began to drop, not only that her energy level increased and Shari also noticed that Rubie along with getting healthier was feeling better. Instead of looking like a walking shelf, Rubie now had hips again and her skin and coat improved too.
When Shari took Rubie back to the vet’s office on October 3, 2008 and Rubie got on the scale, she was down to 71 pounds, a weight loss of 34 pounds. Shari and the vet were amazed and very excited. The vet praised Shari and told her that it was her efforts on Rubie’s behalf that made the difference. Rubie was back to the vet for another weigh in on January 17, 2009 and she is now down to 67.2 pounds, which is a total weight loss of 37.8 pounds. 
There have been other benefits for Rubie as well. She is now playing with her ball like a soccer player, can climb stairs with ease and running and playing like the puppy she used to be. Shari feels that because of Rubie’s weight loss, Rubie has gained back several years of her life. Not only that, Shari feels that CANIDAE Platinum has helped her other dogs as well. The vet has told Shari that she can now level off Rubie’s food, as her weight is perfect now. 
And Shari has a few words for the rest of us, “I just have to say to all of you out there that think you are depriving your family’s pets, because you think you are starving them, GET OVER IT. I did, and it paid off big. We as pet owners really need to take a better look at whet we are feeding our animals and whether we are doing what is in their best interest. Rubie is truly a success story for our family and we wanted to share our story with you.”

Today's awwww

Study of a small girl with a prize Scottish terrier dog, c. 1935 / by Sam Hood from State Library of New South Wales collection at Flickr

Bo on the New Yorker

New Yorker magazine cover, April 27, 2009. Illustration by Bob Staake.

How many books do you think we're going to see about Presidential pup Bo? The pets of famous people always attract interest, especially those of the leader of our country, and even more so when involving children in the White House.

I've written several articles about presidential dogs; from FDR's Scottish Terrier Fala, to LBJ's beagles Him and Her, to Gerald Ford's Golden Retriever Liberty. Then there was George HW Bush's Springer Spaniel Millie who "wrote" her own autobiography.

One new book that should be popping up on the bookstore shelves soon is author and illustrator Bob Staake's "The First Pup; The Unofficial Story of How Sasha and Malia's Dad Got the Presidency-- and How They Got a Dog."

This book explores the excitement leading up to the selection of the First Dog, and shows illustrations of poodles, schnauzers and other dogs vying for the spot, until the end reveals the Portuguese Water Dog on his way to the White House!

According to, however, at this point Staake's manuscript has not yet found a publisher.

Staake also created this month's cute New Yorker magazine cover, stating his illustration "also works as a metaphor for Obama."


Found here

Pets and the Economy

Let’s face it, the economy isn’t just hard on the human population these days. Many animals are being left behind or abandoned on the streets or given up at shelters because their owners can no longer afford to take care of them. This is a sad fact of life. However there is a bright spot for our unfortunate animal friends, there are places like Cat Adoption Team. In October of 2008, CANIDAE Pet Foods donated several hundred pounds of dog and cat food to the Cat Adoption Team for their shelter.
Cat Adoption Team has a monthly Cat Food Bank for cat owners who find themselves in need. Since the food bank began in June of 2008, CAT has distributed 4,500 pounds of food according to Kim Christiansen who is CAT’s Development Manager. She goes on to mention, that amount of food feeds an average of 69 cats per month. The lines at their food bank every month is evidence that the financial downturn is affecting pet owners.
Even despite a snow storm that shut down the shelter for four days, CAT was able to make their adoption goal of 3,250 cats. Not only that, by being able to team with donors, more cats can stay at home with their owners, and costs in the shelter are kept down with food donations and the fact that they are able to assist the pet owners in their community. By performing almost 3,000 spay/neuter surgeries CAT is also serving the community, as there are less feral cats on the streets and less kittens taken to shelters, because their owners can’t support them.
If you are an animal lover like me, you can contact your local shelter to see if they need volunteers. If you have extra space in your heart and home, you might even ask them if they have a foster program you can get involved in. Sometimes even a donation of old towels you don’t use any more can make a difference. The point I am trying to make is that no matter what you have, whatever you can give can help, even if it is just cuddling a little bundle of fur that needs a hug.
If you would like to donate to Cat Adoption Team, or would like more information about them, visit their website at

Hearing Slated For Nonnative Species Ban

A Congressional subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for legislation that could effectively ban ownership of thousands of nonnative species in the United States, including most birds, reptiles, fish and several mammals (hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and ferrets) commonly kept as pets.

The legislation currently exempts dogs, cats, horses, goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) and a variety of farm animals, all of which are also not native to the United States.

The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife has scheduled a hearing on House Resolution 669 for April 23, 2009.

Essentially, the legislation would require the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to create lists of approved and non-approved species of nonnative wildlife (species not naturally found in the United States) based on risk assessments of the species’ potential likelihood to “cause economic or environmental harm or harm to another animal species’ health or human health.”

Currently, species are banned under the Lacey Act only when they’re determined to be an actual threat.

Proponents of the bill include animal rights organizations and some environmental groups.

Opponents have raised concerns that the legislation is too simplistic and too rigid to deal with a complex issue such as invasive species. It could also have a significant financial impact on several industries, including the pet industry.

One concern is that the legislation would seek risk assessments of all nonnative species, including the thousands that have already been in the pet trade in the United States for decades or more. It would require proving a nonnative species could not pose a threat of establishing a wild population anywhere in the United States, according to opponents. For example, the legislation would ban a species that could be a threat in Hawaiian waters, but not likely in Kansas or Arizona throughout the United States.

Also, the opponents say the Fish and Wildlife Service does not have the resources to conduct risk assessments under the legislation’s timetables (37 months from the bill’s enactment to assess all non-native species compared to an average of four years to find a species harmful under the current Lacey Act).

The Fish & Wildlife Service also could determine it has insufficient scientific and commercial information to determine a species is either approved or unapproved, effectively banning trade and ownership of that species.

That is because the legislation prohibits import into or export from the United States, and interstate transportation of, any species not specifically listed on the approved list.

It also bans the possession or trade, breeding and release into the wild of such species. Pet owners who owned their pets prior to the risk assessment’s beginning would be allowed to keep their pets, under the proposed legislation.

Species that might be harmful but are already “so widespread in the United States that it is clear to the Secretary that any import prohibitions or restrictions would have no practical utility” would also be included on the approved list.


"Brownie" was a wild mixed breed dog who had lived a survivor's life. She lived in a wooded area of Osage County and foraged for food to survive. We first saw her from afar when we visited the home of a cancer patient whose sister was caregiver for him and their bedbound mother. Lena, the sister, had taken a liking to the dog and had tried to befriend her. After a lot of patience and coaxing on Lena's part, they had forged a real, but fragile bond over the years. "Brownie" had given birth to 36 puppies over her lifetime, despite Lena's attempts to catch her and have her spayed. Instead, the wise old dog would eventually lead her to her puppies, let Lena tame them, vaccinate them and give them away. Now, as caregiver for two family members, Lena was overwhelmed with "Brownie" and two other dogs and she asked for our help. First, we provided food for all three dogs and had volunteers and staff deliver it to them out in the country on a regular basis. Then, we devised a plan for Brownie. I lent her a large cage to start feeding her in and after several weeks, Brownie went to her spay appointment (inside the cage) to a hospital that was prepared for any surgical complications. After surgery, "Brownie" recovered at home inside the cage and inside the kitchen of her master's home. The dog was transformed by the experience and she began to truly trust this woman who cared for her throughout her recovery process. Now, "Brownie" is a house dog and is living the life she always deserved.

What's that in your pants?

(via Miezekatzen)

Spring Flowers and Sick Animals

Spring is in the air and for many of us - it’s planting season. What type of flower garden is the best for you and your pets? 
Many flowers are toxic to our favorite felines and canines, and it is important to be informed on which plants to avoid when you have pets. 
Spring Flowers
During this time of the year, you really want to avoid common Easter plants such as lilies, chrysanthemums, crocus and tulips. These plants can cause severe abdominal pain, excessive drooling, and even death. Crocus and amaryllis are two more to avoid this year.
You’ll want to avoid Castor bean plants, which produce a toxin known as Ricin and can be life-threatening. Kalanchoe is another no-no around pets, and those beautiful Oleander trees are toxic as well. Oleander can even cause heart problems, hypothermia and death. The Sago Palm, one of my personal favorites, is also toxic to dogs and cats, causing liver failure, depression and seizures.
Indoors or Out!
Azaleas or flowers of the Rhododendron family contain grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system, so stay away from those. Cyclamen has a similar effect. Schefflera, Pothos and Brassaia actinophylla are toxic as well, so stay away from those too.
What can you grow safely around pets? 
Stay tuned for the next update and we’ll share the ten best plants for pets and families.

Dieting Slump

Kelly was in a dieting slump lately. She refused to eat her baby carrots. This led to me offering her dog biscuits as treats again. How quickly we fall into our old habits! Of course, she loved the doggy treats. But I realized her weight was starting to come back again. Was that a waddle when she walked? Yup, we'd better get back on track. I tried other healthy snacks--celery, apples, green beans. Not so much. One day at the grocery store I saw a bag of carrots sliced into little coin sized discs. I decided to try them and, success! Just the different shape renewed her interest. And, with the nice weather now, we've been able to increase our walking time and distance. So that should help.

Like Kelly, I've recently hit a dieting slump too. I was excited to have joined a gym. At first we couldn't wait to go. I bought a new gym outfit, laced up my sneaks, filled my water bottle, and off we went. I was working out 200% (random arbitrary statistic) more than I'd been doing at home. At least 30 minutes on the treadmill, and then a circuit of weight machines. I was sore and sweaty, so that must mean I worked hard right? But day after day, week after week, no difference on the scale. So frustrating!

Then I made a logical decision: I figured since I wasn't losing any weight doing things the right way, I might as well eat whatever I wanted. My husband and I used an awesome coupon for Buy One Get One Free burritos and ordered these monstrosities with steak, cheese, fried onions, peppers and mushrooms, oh yeah and more cheese. They were huge! And we ate them with abandon. About 20 minutes later my stomach turned on me. I still feel that burrito rolling around in there today. I felt nauseous from all that grease. Whatever losses I might have eventually seen on the scale had now been altered by the increased calories and fat I'd consumed in one meal, which was probably more than I should have had in two days (I'm afraid to calculate it!) Plus, it tasted great at the time, but felt awful afterward.

Did I learn a lesson? I hope so. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. After all, most all of us have diet slip ups. But for snacks today, I'm going to go join Kelly in some carrot coins.

Paws for Reflection: Convoluted logic to give yourself permission to do what you know you shouldn't do just doesn't work!

Cute or not? jumping spider

This new jumping spider species, Orthrus sp., was found in a Papua-New Guinea rainforest during the 2008 expedition.
(Conservation International/© Wayne Maddison )

New, Pet Friendly Car

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Dog-crazy Americans will soon be able to buy a pet-friendly car with a cushioned dog bed in the trunk, fitted with a built-in water bowl and fan and a ramp to help less agile dogs climb in.

With the help of a rescue dog named Sammy, Japanese car maker Honda Motor Co unveiled the pet friendly version of its Element utility vehicle at the New York Auto Show.

It features easy-wash seat covers, a fitted dog bed with restraints to keep Sammy safe in the event of a crash, and a paw logo on the side. Honda said the car would go on sale across the United States from the fall of this year.

Honda spokesman Sage Marie said it was designed with both safety and comfort in mind. "(It's) a car we think is of interest to many of today's dog-crazy consumers," he said.

Senior product planner James Jenkins said Americans spend $41 billion a year on their pets, a figure forecast to rise to $52 billion in two years, indicating a big market for the car.

"Pets have become more like family, more important to households than ever before," Jenkins said.The current model of the Element starts at a little over $20,000 and Honda has yet to determine how much the pet friendly features will add on to the price tag, Jenkins said.

Sammy's owner, Heather Cammisa of the Humane Society of the United States, said she had borrowed the car for two weeks and found the ramp especially useful.

"Sammy actually needs a ramp. Before I adopted him he ended up at a shelter having been hit by a car and he needs that ramp," she said. "Otherwise I lift him to get into my car."