400 dogs seized from Wash. puppy mill

-----this comes from an AP news story-----KENNEWICK, Wash. - More than 400 dogs, including three newborn puppies, have been removed from a puppy mill that is being called “one of the worst cases” of animal abuse seen by animal groups and state officials.

“The conditions were not only shocking, but also heartbreaking to veteran deputies,” said Benton County Sheriff Larry Taylor, who led the raid Wednesday at the Sun Valley kennel of 66-year-old Ella Stewart.

Dogs were found living in wooden crates, shopping carts and other makeshift kennels caked with feces and soaked with urine, investigators said. Detectives wore gloves and put booties on their shoes before walking onto the 2-acre property

All the dogs will need medical care and some will require extensive treatment, Taylor said. Some dogs suffered from malnutrition while others had urine burns and overgrown nails.

Stewart was arrested May 12 after a deputy responded to an unrelated call at her neighbor’s home. Investigators said conditions at her kennel for breeding miniature American Eskimo dogs was deplorable.

Taylor said the dogs weren’t seized at the time because the county doesn’t have an animal control facility and had nowhere to house them. It also took time to find a licensed veterinarian and animal rescue groups to help, Taylor said.

The dogs will be placed in emergency kennels at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

Inga Gibson, state director with The Humane Society of the United States’ West Coast regional office, said it was “definitely one of the worst cases we have seen because of the conditions they were kept in.”

She also said the raid was “one of the largest in Washington state and close to one of the largest in the country.”

Stewart pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor count of second-degree animal cruelty in Benton County District Court. If convicted, she faces up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors reviewing the case said they may file additional charges.

A telephone call to Stewart’s residence Thursday by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

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Does Your Pet Have Allergies?


By Ruthie Bently

Did you know that dogs and cats can have allergies? Many people don’t realize that, just like people, their pets can be allergic to numerous things. Does your dog scratch at its ears a lot, even after you’ve ascertained they don’t have ear mites? Does it look like your dog has developed a case of acne or blackheads? This may not just be a dirty face; they could be allergic to their food bowl, or the food it contains. Allergies can also cause hot spots, skin rashes and hair loss. Your dog could actually have a case of irritable bowel syndrome, which can be attributed to a food allergy.

Most food allergies are caused by corn, soy and wheat products used in pet foods. By eliminating these items from your pet’s diet you can often relieve the symptoms of the allergies you are seeing. Even if you have been feeding the same food for several years, your pet can still develop an intolerance to what they are eating. CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods makes two grain free formulas for dogs, which are formulated with a ratio of 80% meat proteins to 20% fruits and vegetables. None of the CANIDAE dog and cat formulas are made with any corn, wheat or soy products, and can help animals that may be allergic to what they are eating.

Signs of allergies to plastic can be manifested in a case of “dog or kitty acne,” which looks like pimples or blackheads on your pet’s chin or lower face. If your pet is allergic to their plastic food bowl, change to a ceramic or stainless steel one, which has less chance of causing an allergy. I prefer the stainless steel bowls myself, as they are easy to keep clean, and they are usually unbreakable. If you choose to use a ceramic bowl, remember that they will break if dropped, so if your kids are helping fill the food or water dish, you may want to get one they can handle easily.

Another thing many people may not realize is that our pets are coming down with more environmental allergies than they used to. I had a client with two Labrador Retrievers, and after putting cedar closets in their house, they found out their Labs were allergic to them. Cedar is great for keeping insects away from clothing, and cedar shavings have been used for years in dog beds. However, if your dog begins sneezing or snorting and doesn’t want to use their bed, they may have developed an allergy to the cedar shavings inside if that is what you use to fill it with. What may smell pleasing to us may not be so pleasing to our pets, as their noses are so much closer to the source of the odor.

By considering our environment and how it affects our pet’s way of life, we can make it a more pleasant experience for us all. After all, as members of our families, don’t they deserve the best we can provide for them?

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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Why do Dogs Eat Grass?


I know Kelly is on a diet, but does she have to go grazing for greens in the backyard? In my house we're pushing the salads, so does Kelly think she has to eat one too?

The common thought is that dogs eat grass to settle their stomachs. According to Pet education.com, this isn't always true. Apparently, many dogs eat grass simply because they like the taste. Hmm, I thought dogs were carnivores. And, if they like the taste of grass, why do they often throw it up? I just had to clean up after Kelly, who came inside from her backyard "snack" and tossed it up on the living room rug. So I rushed her back outside where she, yup, started munching on grass again.

I'm not sure if Kelly enjoys the taste of grass, or if she eats it to settle her stomach. I tend to think both. I've noticed that she has two different ways of eating grass. Sometimes, she munches along like a contented cow. It seems like a pleasurable activity for her. Other times, she seems frantic, pulling up the grass and devouring madly. Maybe this is when she has a stomach ache. And when she tosses her cookies, this might also help get rid of whatever was bothering her tummy to begin with.

Pet education. com states, "In any case, grass eating is basically a normal behavior, and is not of concern unless your dog does it excessively."

What I Learned from My Dog: Salads are good!

Advice on Raising Your Pet: Take It, or Leave It?


By Julia Williams

People who wouldn’t dream of giving parents advice on how to raise their children often think nothing of doling out plentiful bits of their (apparent) pet-rearing wisdom to cat and dog owners. I’m not sure how this double standard came to be, but it does exist because I’ve seen it play out more times than I can count.

From my own experience, I believe that most of the time the advice is given with good intentions. The advice givers truly think they know how to solve a pet owner’s problem or help them with raising their cat or dog. In reality, sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

The challenge pet owners face is knowing when to listen to the advice and act upon it, and when to just tune it out. It can be hard for pet owners to know which advice is the “right” advice. Often, the advice comes from family members, which further complicates the matter. We may want to please or placate the advice giver, so we take their advice to heart even though our own intuition is telling us it’s not the right course of action.

I firmly believe that if every person listened to their intuition every time they were faced with a decision –not just with how to raise our pets but every life choice – we would never make a wrong decision, because our intuition is always right.

Human beings are always second guessing their intuition, which is something that animals never do. Animals trust their instincts because their survival depends upon it. Humans could really learn a lot by living as an animal for just one day. I imagine that we’d come back from the experience knowing a lot more about how to trust that gut feeling, and we’d know a lot more about when (and when not) to take advice on raising our pets.

One thing I know for certain is that you should never take someone’s advice just to humor them. This will never turn out good, and I offer my own recent experience as proof.

I moved myself and my three cats back to my home town so I could help out my elderly parents. They are not “pet people,” and although they don’t dislike animals, they’ve never shared their home with one. Consequently, they know next to nothing about how to raise pets or what to do in various circumstances.

Yet for some inexplicable reason, my mother thought she knew how to help my cats recover from the shock of being driven 1,000 miles to a strange new home. She told me they would hide in the closet less if I locked them in the garage and let them explore it. (I’m still laughing about that one). Next, she said they would be less fearful of the cars driving by if I forced them to spend time outdoors. But the “pièce de résistance” was when she said that if I made them walk around the yard on a leash and harness, they would enjoy it.

One day I decided to humor her, knowing full well this advice was pure hogwash (sorry Mom!). I had a made-for-cats leash and harness that I’d bought (and used) for my trip out, so I put it on Annabelle and carried my quivering cat outside. Almost as soon as I set Belle down on the ground in the garden, she bolted. I didn't have a good grip on the leash, and as Belle scurried across the yard to the door, I zigged and zagged along behind her, desperately trying not to fall on my face. When we reached the patio Belle darted under a lawn chair and I had to let go of the leash to keep from crashing into the chair. My foot kicked over the plastic tub of Felidae cat food I’d brought out to the patio to use as a treat for Belle. Naturally the lid was off, and kibble spilled everywhere. Meanwhile, my mother was laughing hysterically.

I told her, "Stop laughing and pick up all this kibble!" I went in to remove the harness and leash from Belle so she wouldn't hurt herself. When I came back, my mother hadn't picked up a single piece of cat food because she was still too busy laughing. Apparently the sight of Belle dragging me across the yard and the subsequent "kibble mishap" was a lot funnier from her end, because every time she tells the story to someone (which is often) she goes into fits of laughter! Suffice it to say, that was the first and last time I tried to take Belle outside on a leash. It was also the last time I let my well-meaning mother give me advice on how to raise my cats.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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Tips for Giving Pet Medication

--------Guest post -----
Pet Article courtesy of http://pet-articles.blogspot.com.

Having a sick pet at home is tough enough without the added stress of medication. Some dogs and cats take their medicine with ease while others need a little coercing.

No matter how difficult it may be to get your dog or cat to take medication, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully.

Pills or Capsules - Step-by-Step

PetFirst Tip
Ask your veterinarian if your pet’s medication can be given with food. If so, trying placing the pill in a small treat.

1. Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger.
2. Firmly grasp your pet’s upper jaw with your other hand tilting your pet’s head back gently.
3. Using your middle finger, slowly open the lower jaw.
4. Keep your middle finger over the small incisor teeth and deposit the pill as far back on the tongue as possible.
5. Close the mouth immediately while keeping your hand over the mouth.
6. Stroke the throat or blow gently into your pet’s nostrils. This will encourage your pet to swallow.

Liquids and Syrups - Step-by-Step

1. Fill the syringe or dropper with medication before beginning.
2. Insert the syringe or dropper between your pet’s teeth and cheek.
3. Close your pet’s mouth and tilt the head back slightly.
4. Gently release the medication from the syringe or dropper.
5. Keep the mouth closed and stroke the throat or blow gently into your pet’s nostrils.

Make sure you stay calm when you are administering medication. You pets can perceive your stress making them more nervous. Praise and a reward after your pet successfully takes their medicine is always a good idea.

Contributed by Pet First Health Care

Labels: cat articles, dog articles

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Does Your Dog Need a Raincoat?


By Ruthie Bently

We are now well into the spring season, and Skye hates to go outside when it is raining. She will go out in the middle of a blizzard, but won’t put a whisker outside when it’s raining. Is your dog the same way? Did you know you can purchase a raincoat for your dog along with booties if they are fussy about getting their feet wet?

Most pet shops carry raincoats and boots year round, and they are available for most sized dogs. If your dog needs a raincoat, it’s a good idea to take them into the store to try on their raincoats to see which one will fit the best. Some of the deeper chested breeds may be a bit hard to fit, but it can be done. Most raincoats are made of plastic and have a hole for your dog’s head along with a chest protector and a belt for around their middle to hold it in place around their body.

The raincoat should fit well but not too snugly, the dog should have room to move comfortably. If you can’t bring the dog into the store, ask the store personnel if you can bring it back if it doesn’t fit. Usually they will say to be sure to keep your receipt and try not to remove the tags from the coat. If this is the case and your dog is at home, you can still get a good idea of what size they will need.

The best way to fit a coat on your dog is to have the dog stand up while you are trying it on them; this will give you a truer picture of how the coat fits. Get your dog to stand and use a tape measure to measure down their back from the neck where their collar lies, and measure down to where their tail comes out of their rump. Most coats run in even sizes from 8 inch to about 36 inch. If your dog measures say 19 inches, buy an 18 inch coat. You would rather buy a bit smaller than too large, this will keep your dog from soiling the coat if he is a male and lifts his leg, or hanging too far off the back when they need to defecate. The chest piece should not be too binding and the belt should fit snugly around the dog’s middle.

Rain boots are just as easy to fit. Boots come in many kinds of materials, but the best for rain is either rubber or cordura nylon. I used to sell two good rain boots; one was cordura nylon with a Velcro® closure and the other was made of cordura nylon with an elastic closure. When fitting boots you also want to have your dog standing up. If you cannot take your dog with you, get the dog to stand up and take tracings of each foot. Make sure to include their toenails, as they will be on the inside of the boot and while these boots are tough, you don’t want them too tight, as your dog’s toenails may be tougher. Get the closest size to your tracing, and if you need to, go up a size to get the correct fit.

When fitting your dog for a coat, they may be uncomfortable for a bit because they are not used to having something on their back. Fitting your dog for boots may take a bit longer as you are buying them in sets of four, and you will probably be tempted to laugh the first time you see your dog with boots on their feet, but try not to. They may not understand that you are laughing at their perceived misery, but don’t let on because believe it or not your dog can get embarrassed. What I do when fitting a dog for a coat or boots, is have a Snap-Bit dog treat ready. They feel better if they know there is a cookie waiting at the end of their “ordeal.”

If your yard is “mud central” like ours has been, having boots for your dog isn’t such a crazy idea. I have a white tile kitchen floor and while I love the color, I don’t love the mud that Skye can bring in on her feet. Skye knows that she has to stop in the mudroom on the rug to have her leash and whatever else she has on removed. But if she comes in barefoot, even with the rug in the mudroom, my floors are still muddy. So on rainy days, Skye has to wait while I put her boots on before she goes out. She knows she gets a Snap-Bit at the end of it all, and she does love her cookie.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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About the CANIDAE Customer Support Team


By Diane Matsuura and Beth Morgan

We’re not “JUST” Customer Service here at CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods, we’re more than that. At CANIDAE, Customer Service has always been a top priority for us. We have a small staff of caring individuals, real people, who are passionate about pet food and pets. Among us, we have a wealth of pet care and nutrition experience to draw upon, and we are nice people too (maybe we’re biased, but it’s true).

At CANIDAE, we aren’t an answering service or receptionist who answers the phones and transfers calls to someone more qualified, as many companies do. We are a small, personable and caring company, and we make every effort to talk to every client in person, by email and via the new online chat feature. Yes, sometimes you will have to leave a message on our phone system, but that just means that we are on the line helping another valued customer and we will call you back as soon as possible.

A customer service representative at CANIDAE wears many hats. We have to know our entire product line from top to bottom and be able to answer any nutrition and ingredient questions you may have about our products. We can assist you with coupon requests, frequent buyer and breeder program information, store locations and send you a free sample. We can also connect you with your local CANIDAE Sales staff and wholesale order department or distributor. We also offer retail sales support. Sometimes we have to be detectives and help you figure out what formula would be best for your pet. Occasionally the answer may be CANIDAE is not the right food for your pet, and we will be honest and tell you so. But what we try to be the most is a friend, someone to listen to your problems with your pets, share happy memories and experiences with, share your excitement of adopting a new pet, or sharing your sorrow over one who has passed away, and someone who really understands how important your pet is to you and your family.

There are a few things that you can do to make your experience with CANIDAE more productive and helpful. If you have a concern about one of our products, please make sure you have all the date and batch code information handy when you call. All products come marked with this information either on the bag or box, either front or back, or on the bottom of the can. We also love to hear from our customers who love our products, too. Send us a photo of your pet and a testimonial letter about why you and your pets love CANIDAE and we’ll post it on our website. We welcome helpful suggestions about our products and how they might be improved. It was customer suggestions that led us to offer an improved bag design that uses a Velcro closure, and encouraged us to formulate pet foods made without any grain.

What our jobs at CANIDAE Customer Service mean to us is the chance to talk to so many diverse people about their pets, from not only the United States and Canada, but many other countries as well, whereever CANIDAE is sold. Each of our callers is a new opportunity for us to grow as a Customer Service representative and as a person. You introduce us to new breeds, interesting questions and descriptions about where you live, your families and the pets that share your life. Our job is rewarding, sometimes frustrating, but always fascinating and never boring. Call us anytime 8:00am to 4:30pm PST. We love to hear from you, and thank you for choosing CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods for your pets.

Freshwater Stingrays Not For The Beginner


On a recent trip to my local fish store, we came across what was labeled a "Teacup Stingray." It was by far a different, unique and fun fish to watch. But, as I often say, it is important to do your research before buying any new fish.

As it turns out, this little teacup stingray, which was only about 6 inches in diameter, grow to over a foot in diameter and need at least 125 gallon of water to swim around.

They tend to be a peaceful species, but will eat any fish smaller then its mouth, and has a barbel with venom. Although the venom usually won't kill a person in these small species, it can cause extreme pain and needs to be dealt with immediately. Therefore, it is important to use gloves when doing any water changes or any time sticking your hand in the tank. In addition, being a peaceful species, they aren't good with aggressive fish in their community.

A lively bottom-dweller, this fish does well with a smooth, soft substrate. They enjoy meaty foods such as blackworms, bloodworms, earthworms, krill, and beef heart. Some people even feed them raw shrimp from the supermarket.

These fish are sensitive to water-quality, so it's important to keep an eye on the your tank. Also, there are several states that ban home aquarium keepers from having a stingray.

Jack Black the Television Star


Well, by now, if you have ever even spoken to me in passing, you've probably gotten the link to the video of our television appearance on Channel Six in Tulsa a couple of weeks ago and our appearance on Fox 23 last week. Both were great experiences and a lot of fun. I've been on television before, both here and in Dallas, but this time was different. This time, I was on with Jack Black McNac. Jack is one of the most personable dogs I have ever had the privilege of sharing my home with. He is gentle with new people, affectionate without being demanding and a bit of a clown. That said, he carries a sense of dignity and quiet strength worthy of both his breeds, Labrador Retriever and Weimeraner. Knowing him like I do, Jack even impressed me by going to a television studio, greeting each person he encountered who showed interest and walking through cameras, bright lights and strange smells without a single mishap. So what, you might say? What's the big deal about that?

Well, you would have to know some of Jack's story to understand why he is truly a special dog. Jack belonged to one of our hospice patients, a Vietnam veteran with a gruff exterior, but a tender heart. When we first admitted Lloyd to hospice, we discovered that he had ten dogs running around his trailer and he was overwhelmed. One of his relatives had brought four adults to his home and had left them there. Soon, there were six puppies to go along with them. When we first met Lloyd, the pups were ten months old and he could barely afford to feed them, but he cared about them all, nonetheless. We helped him find homes for three of the four adults right away and planned to vaccinate the pups, but we were too late. When we went out to vaccinate them, we found all six of them had come down with distemper. They were terribly sick and it was too late to save them. Five of the six died. Only Jack and the lone adult were left.

I knew then that Jack was special. He had pneumonia, all right, but he still wagged his tail when I petted him and talked to him. Even then, he had a quiet strength about him that spoke straight to my heart. Later, when he had fully recovered, the patient grew more and more fond of him, often sitting outside in a wheelchair, just to spend time with both dogs. They didn't ask questions and they didn't care what he looked like or whether he wanted to talk or not. One of the best memories I have of a visit with Lloyd was sitting outside with the dogs, saying a few words from time to time, but mostly just sitting. If I've learned anything about being a chaplain, it's that being with people is the most important thing. Maybe that's why pets are so good at ministering to our spirits. They are always there, content with just our company and they never say the wrong thing.

I know Lloyd would be very proud of Jack. I am, too. He is a gift to me and to all who come in contact with him.

Little Baby Ducks



Everything's cuter when it's a baby. Except maybe Benjamin Button (If you caught that movie you know what I mean.)

Spring is my favorite time of year because there are so many opportunities to witness little baby animals, this new life. One of my favorite things to do is to watch the ducklings at my in-law's camp up in the mountains, on a small lake. This Memorial day weekend I patiently waited on the camp porch, and was rewarded with a visit from Mama Mallard and her brood of 11 fuzzy babies. They swam by, all in a row. Whenever one of the ducklings went astray, Mama would make a squawk and that baby would skedaddle back into line.

Mama Mallard kept alert for Kelly, too. The camp is a short hike up a hill from the waterfront, but nonetheless Mama was aware that Kelly was out and about, and always seemed to have one eye and one..uh, ear (I'm trying to picture a duck ear here!) directed toward camp activities.

Kelly, for the most part, was oblivious to the ducks. They sometimes came to dine underneath the bird feeder, and when Kelly saw them there, close to the cabin, she'd watch for a while and then let out a "woof" that sent them scattering. The babies never wandered up close to the cabin, however. Mama kept them safely in the reeds along the edge of the waterfront.


What I Learned From My Dog: Well, I was mostly watching ducks here, not my dog. But Kelly was also watching ducks some of the time, so what I learned from watching my dog watching ducks: Sometimes others are going to come under your feeder, and you might not want them there. If they aren't hurting anything, you should try to be sociable and friendly. That's what you should do.
Dogs don't always do this.

Norwegian Forest Cat: Ancient Breed Has Mythological Origins


By Lexiann Grant

The Norwegian Forest cat is, as its name indicates, a cat of Scandinavian descent. A breed believed to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old, the "Wegie" was the cat of the Vikings, living as a ratter on both farm and ship.

Breeders from Finland describe the cat as the "mystic wildcat of the fairy tales." Norse mythology tells that these cats were the favorites of Freyja (also spelled Freya, Freja, or Frejya), goddess of love, fertility and the hearth. Freyja traveled in a chariot drawn by either two white or gray Wegies.

Legend says that the goddess' presence passing through the countryside caused seeds to sprout and grow. Farmers that left out pans of milk for her divine cats were blessed with bountiful harvests.

Freyja also symbolized domesticity and was often portrayed with Norwegian Forest cats playing around her feet. Lovers wanting to marry asked the blessing of Freyja and her cats. Because of this custom, many superstitions about weddings and cats began. Some of these were:

* Girls who value cats will definitely marry
* Giving newlyweds a black cat as a gift represents good luck
* If someone steps on a cat's tail, that person will not marry for a year
* If a woman feeds a cat before she goes to her wedding, she will have a happy marriage
* Scandinavians believed that feeding a cat well would guarantee sunshine on the day of a wedding.

Besides the Norwegian Forest cat's role in transporting Freyja about the countryside, they drove her into battle against the Aesirs (or Asers), the gods of the dark side. They also pulled her chariot to the funeral of Balder, the god of beauty and kindness.

Called Norsk Skogkatts or Skaukatts in their native Norway, these cats were originally thought of as fairy cats. A naturally large breed, Forest cats were said to be so huge that not even the gods could lift them. One tale relates how Thor, the strongest of the gods, lost a contest of strength to Jormungand, who was disguised as a Forest cat. (Jormungand was the serpent son of Loki, god of mischief and deceit.)

Old though the breed is, their mythology continues into the present. Stories as recent as the 1930s spin mythological narratives about Wegies turning into trolls, and trolls turning into Wegies. Today's breeders still name their catteries after ancient Norse myths.

For more information about Norwegian Forest cats, visit the websites of The Cat Fancier’s Association or The International Cat Association.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

Separation Anxiety: Theirs, not Yours


By Ruthie Bently

I just got back from a vacation shortened by weather. But I was pining even the week before I left – I was already missing Skye and she hadn’t gone anywhere yet. You see, she was going to spend her time at the breeders, as I could not take her with me. I was having separation anxiety before the fact. Did you know that animals can also have issues with separation anxiety? Not only that, I discovered after this recent trip, that there can be separation anxiety issues between animal species.

I had a client, “Mrs. Jones,” whose daughter went away to college, and their Golden Retriever began to misbehave. Mrs. Jones came in and asked what she should do because she was baffled. This was a dog that had gone through obedience classes and was a wonderfully behaved dog. So what was going on, why was her superbly trained dog misbehaving? Any time anyone comes in to see me about a specific issue, whatever it is related to, I always ask what has changed in the pet’s environment. We don’t necessarily see changes in our households as major changes, but our pets can and often may. Any changes we make in our lives can affect our pet’s lives as well.

Mrs. Jones mentioned that her daughter had gone off to college, but was home recently for the Thanksgiving break and to do laundry. The dog followed her daughter all around the house and would not stop. If they crated the dog, she whined the whole time. It took me a bit of time to figure it out but I did; the dog loved the whole family, but had apparently bonded to the daughter. Her owner asked me what I thought she should do. “Laundry” was the key word for me. I asked Mrs. Jones if her daughter came home with laundry on a regular basis. “No” was the answer, so I suggested she give the dog a pair of her daughter’s dirty socks and see what happened. That solved the problem, because since the dog had grown up with their daughter and she went away to school, the dog was pining for her. All pets can suffer from separation anxiety, though some may have more issues with it than others.

Some obvious signs of separation anxiety are pets following you around the house or yard and not wanting to let you out of their sight. Our animals are smart enough to know that something is going on; they just don’t have the particulars yet. Your pets may want to go outside and then want to come right back in, because of their fear that you might leave and not let them in again. Sometimes the same pet will stay outside so you can’t leave, because they realize that if they delay your time of leaving that gives them more time to spend with you. (These issues can arise either before or after you actually take your trip.) Your pet may start pacing around the house or yard; they may start whining and crying for no apparent reason.

I explained to Skye before I left why she could not go with me, and told her when I would be back to get her. The last time Skye went to the breeders, one of her cousins was an agitator and would get Skye going. But Skye did fine – I was the basket case!

Some things you can do if you are leaving your dog in a kennel while you are gone are to take a few of their favorite toys or a favorite blanket from home to help them settle in better. Some kennels offer extra exercise for a fee, which can help keep your dog’s mind off your absence. You could also speak with a homeopath about using an herbal remedy for calming your pet while you are away.

I even learned something new after I got home – the cats missed Skye as well. How do I know? They wouldn’t let Skye out of their sight, and followed her around the house whether she was inside or outside. Two of them, Munchkin and Mouse, actually put their front paws around her neck and began kneading her fur, and then they began giving her love bites. Munchkin even spent the first night we were all home together sleeping on Skye’s back with her front paws wrapped around Skye’s neck to prevent her from moving without Munchkin knowing. Skye being the long suffering dog she is, took it all in stride.

The most important thing to remember is that your pets love you and can’t always understand why they can’t go along. Have patience when dealing with their “acting out” and try to be a bit more understanding of their possibly odd behavior after you get home; it will pass in time.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Pet Expos Way to Save on Products

For those that haven't been to a pet expo, you're missing out! Various states have fairs and expos catered especially to pets. And many retailers are coming out as vendors at these expos and offering various coupons and specials, as well as free samples.

As retailers (both store, online and mom&pop) are competing for sales, one way to garner exposure is to purchase a booth these expos. Most of the time they'll give out lots of free samples, coupons, while you learn about new products that may (or may not) benefit your pet.

A lot of these expos are either free, donation based, or relatively inexpensive, depending on who is running the event. Not only is a great time to learn about new products, but it is a great day out for any pet lovers. Usually you can bring your pets with you (some require registration/rabies tags) and meet other pet owners and unique dogs. And if you're looking to adopt a dog, many of the expos have adoption centers in attendance....plus you can learn more about specific breeds you may be interested in by talking to both the adoption centers and to other pet owners.

If you've never been to a pet fair or expo, you might be missing out on same fantastic products and deals.

Cats are at Risk for Heartworm Disease, Too


By Lexiann Grant

Mosquito season is beginning, and it's time to protect your cat from heartworm disease. Yes, cats get heartworms too – even indoor cats are at risk since mosquitoes can enter a home when a door is open.

The life cycle of heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) starts when a mosquito bites an infected animal. As the mosquito feeds on the animal's blood, it ingests the microfilariae which are the immature form of the heartworm. Inside the mosquito the microfilariae develop into larvae. Then, when the mosquito bites an uninfected pet, the larvae are transmitted into that animal's bloodstream.

The larvae migrate through the pet's body to the heart where they develop into mature worms and reproduce. Heartworms commonly live in the right side of a pet's heart and can grow up to 12 inches in length. Infestation with heartworm causes cardiovascular disease in dogs and cats.

Although the parasite is more common in dogs, heartworm infection in a feline can be just as deadly. Research indicates that cats may have the potential for a more severe reaction to heartworms than dogs.

Occasionally an affected cat will show no signs of disease but others experience acute respiratory distress and can even die suddenly. The usual symptoms shown by an infected cat include coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, fainting, lethargy, weight loss or vomiting.

Since these symptoms also can be caused by other diseases, a heartworm-infected cat can often be misdiagnosed. Cats may have 25 or fewer worms present when infected. Because of this, heartworms may be difficult to detect in a cat. Testing for both antigens and antibodies to heartworms is advised in felines.

Veterinarians may recommend chest x-rays for cats suspected of having heartworms. A positive radiograph shows enlargement of the right side of the heart as well as possible damage to portions of the lungs. Blood tests may show slightly elevated levels of eosinophiles (a type of white blood cell that is normally present when the body fights infestation by parasites).

For cats that do have heartworm disease, there is currently no approved treatment. However, because of the lower numbers for worms typically present in cats, a spontaneous cure can occur so that no treatment is necessary.

Some cats may experience ''crises'' such as elevated blood pressure, allergic-type reactions or even shock, when a worm dies. These symptoms can respond to the use of corticosteroids. Affected cats should also have their physical activity restricted.

A monthly preventative for feline heartworm is available through veterinarians. In endemic areas, such prevention may be the best remedy. Because indoor cats can have less resistance to such pests, a preventive may be more important for them.

There are currently four different preventatives available for cats. Two of these products are oral and two for topical application. All are administered once monthly. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends asking your veterinarian to help you decide if your cat should be placed on heartworm preventative.

Additional information on Feline Heartworm Disease can be found on the American Heartworm Society website.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

Caturday funnies



found at (It's about my e-mail naming habits.)

Before and After









Some people asked for before and after pictures, side by side, so here you are! What do you think?!

What I Learned from My Dog: A good haircut can make you look younger!

Coping With the Emotions of a Sick Pet

Over two years ago my son and I were driving home from work. In the middle of a busy 4 way stop intersection was a little silver patch of hair limping across the street nearly being struck by careless drivers. I immediately pulled into the intersection and yelled at my son to grab that dog before she gets hit. My son opened the passenger door and a frail little Shitzu came to the door and lifted up her little paw. My son grabbed her and she immediately fell asleep on his lap for the 5 minute ride home.

We arrived home to be greeted by my wife who took one look at the dog and said, "Oh my gosh, what are we going to do with her?" The little dog was flea ridden, lost most of her hair, could barely walk and had a toe nail so long it curled all the way around and was imbedded into her tiny paw. I should also mention the smell was so tremendous we could hardly hold her. We bathed her in the bath tub to wash off some of the grime and started the long road of recovery including vet visits, medication, and the introduction of dog food which she apparently had never received before.

We put up signs and an ad in the paper trying to find the owners, but after several days re-thought that idea as anybody who neglected a dog this badly doesn't deserve one, so I went and took the signs down. I called my parents, who hadn't owned a dog in years, and told them I had the perfect little companion for them. They were excited over the idea however I wanted to get her healthy before I turned her over to them. My parents didn't need the emotional burden of dealing with a sick dog as they hadn't owned for years due to the pain of losing our family Dachshund Duke to cancer many years ago.

We named the little dog Lady because she reminded us of a little bag lady wandering the streets. She later received the nick name Lady Bird. The road to recovery was a little longer than expected and those big black eyes took a toll on me. I fell in love with a little tiny homeless dog like no other love I have had for any other pet. She went everywhere with me including going to work every day. Needless to say my parents never got the dog. I later made up for it by giving them a tiny puppy to raise and love on their own. 

I write this story as tears roll down my face as my little Lady Bird clings on to life in an emergency vet hospital. Just over a week ago she was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and valve that is no longer working properly. She has been in and out of the vet 4 times trying to control her heart with medication. Last night she started having troubles breathing so my wife and I once again rushed her to emergency. She has fluid around her enlarged heart and I am terrified awaiting the results.

I understand the pain and emotion of dealing with a sick pet we fall so deeply in love with. I also understand the desire to find fault or blame to help with the pain. However I am also a realist. The facts are Lady is approximately 14 years old and has an enlarged heart. There's no one to blame. I have done everything I can for that little dog and I only pray she pulls through this.

Looking for help on how to deal with my emotions I started surfing the web. To my surprise "blame" is a normal human emotion in a situation like this. Here are a few sites I found that might help you out as well.


by Scott Whipple – CANIDAE Pet Foods

Part Three--AFTER



Well, here she is, all trimmed and groomed!
The groomer from TransFURmations arrived in her mobile grooming van. She made friends with Kelly right away. Kelly loves her!
When I clipped on her leash, Kelly thought she was taking a walk, so she preferred the idea of strolling the neighborhood than getting into the big van. Next time I'll take her on a nice walk before the grooming session, that way she'll have the reward of a romp and she'll be tired out before the groom.
I sat on the floor of the van while Melissa worked. Kelly tried to get away repeatedly, but she wasn't overly stressed. In the past--at a different grooming place-- she'd been stressed to the point of bursting the blood vessels in her eyes, so this was a wonderful relief!
Melissa is efficient and extremely capable. I loved watching her work the clippers. She brushed and stripped the hair for nearly an hour, I think, while piles of soft tan hair fell to the floor. Although Kelly is mostly sable and brown on top, all the undercoat is tan. Then she worked on those Clydesdale legs, with some electric clippers. I love the way Kelly's legs looked when Melissa was done! After some snips here and there, clipping the toenails, shaping the long fur on the tail, etc. Kelly was transFURmed!
After a couple of previous bad experiences with other grooming places, this experience is a total joy! Grooming Kelly had always been a problem, and now Melissa is a happy solution.
She has given me faith that there are nice people out there, who care about the job they do, who do a good job at a fair price, who want to help dogs and their owners out of a pure true love for animals.
What I Learned From My Dog: We can tolerate uncomfortable situations. And sometimes, we even come out the better for it.

Smile, it's Friday!

How to Teach Your Cat to Perform Tricks


By Julia Williams

In yesterday’s post I explained that, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to train your cat to do tricks. Yes, you really can teach your cat to sit, shake, give you a "high five," and fetch on command. You can even train your cat to use a regular bathroom toilet, although I'm not sure this qualifies as a "trick."

I’m not saying it won’t take a lot of patience and determination to train your cat – it definitely will, and anyone who’s familiar with the independent nature of cats knows why. Then again, if it was too easy the thrill of victory wouldn’t be half as sweet! But let’s move on to the “how.”

One of the keys to success in training a cat to perform tricks is understanding what motivates them. Cats typically don’t possess a strong desire to please, unless there is something in it for them. For most felines, a food reward is highly motivating, so stock up on cat treats if you want to try teaching your cat to do tricks.

For the greatest chance of success, use the cat treats they find most enticing. My normally docile housecats turn into ferocious jungle beasts when given a piece of cooked chicken or turkey, but any cat treat your kitty loves will work. If you let them “free feed” dry food, consider switching to two feedings a day and remove the 24-hour kibble buffet. Then, you can try training your cat to do tricks before their scheduled meal time, which makes the food reward even more motivational.

Another important aspect of the trick training is that you have to coax the cat to do what you want it to do, such as “sit” or “shake.” When they do, say the command loudly and clearly, and immediately give them their food reward. You can also praise them lavishly and pet them, although this is not nearly as effective as the cat treat.

If you don’t succeed in training your cat to do tricks after a few days (and it’s almost a given that you won’t), don’t get discouraged. Remember the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The same applies to teaching a cat to do tricks. Simply keep trying. Trust me, it can be done.

How to teach your cat to sit

Step One: call your cat over to you, luring them with the treats if needed.
Step Two: when your cat approaches and stands before you, say “Sit.”
Step Three: put light pressure on their rump to naturally induce the sit position.
Step Four: when the cat sits, give them the treat immediately.
Step Five: repeat steps one through four as often as necessary to get your cat to sit on command.

After you’ve mastered the “sit” command, you can move on to the next trick.

How to teach your cat to shake

Step One: get your cat to sit, and reward them with a treat
Step Two: put your hand behind their right front leg and touch their paw.
Step Three: say “Shake.” A cat will often lift its foot when you touch it. If they do, take their paw in your hand and give it a gentle shake.
Step Four: Immediately give them a treat and a pet.
Step Five: repeat as needed.

The process of training your cat to use a toilet is a bit more complicated. Difficult but not impossible, as evidenced by the photo of Panther above, photographed by Robert Ward. According to Robert, Panther has been using the toilet to do his business since he was six months old. If you’d like to train your cat to use the toilet, you might want to get a copy of Trisha Yeager Menke’s humorous book, Potty Talk by Toast, which is available on Amazon.com.

I hope you find these tips for training your cat useful. Let me know if you succeed!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Part Two-The Bath


I recently wrote an article about tips for your dog to become a Canine Good Citizen. One of the requirements involves "welcoming being groomed"-- and, while the dog isn't tested on this specifically, that would probably include cooperating when bathing. Kelly still has some ways to go in this department.

The last time Kelly was groomed in TransFURmations mobile grooming, she struggled in the large, unfamiliar tub, trying to climb out repeatedly. Melissa, the groomer, gently coaxed Kelly along. She is gentle and calm with stressed dogs, which made me, and Kelly, feel a lot better. She ended up splashed and soaked but got the job done. Then, came the blow dryer. Kelly objected to the noise, nipped at the air coming out of the hose, and struggled the whole time. Again, Melissa was a calm, cool professional.

This time, I came up with an idea that I thought would help Kelly's stress level. We'd achieved relative level of comfort bathing her at home. If we filled up the tub first, while she was out of the room, the sound of the rushing water didn't frighten her. She'd improved greatly and tolerated the bath fairly well. I asked Melissa if she'd mind if we bathed Kelly ahead of time at home. She said sure. Again, her willingness to be adaptable to our needs made me feel like she was putting the dog's best interest above all else. I appreciated that!

So I filled up the tub with nice warm water, then my husband Mike led Kelly into the bathroom. She wasn't crazy about the idea, but didn't fight too much when he lifted her in. We used two cups to pour over her, and my husband took one side while I took the other. She tried to climb out numerous times, but otherwise cooperated.

After, we dried her with towels, combed her out, and let her air dry. This avoided the blow dryer issues too. She is so frisky and happy after her bath! She runs around the house and is so playful!

Tomorrow: Part Three, The Results!

What I Learned from My Dog: Sometimes we have to bear unpleasant procedures gracefully--or, as gracefully as we can. Also, cleansliness is not negotiable.

Fursday Fun

Photo: cheriperry

(via we're living in a den of thieves)

America's Most Popular Pet

There are twice as many pet fish in the United States then there are dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association. In fact, research suggests that pet fish can actually make us smarter and more relaxed by lowering our blood pressure.

Aquariums are increasingly popular because as lifestyles change and become more demanding, it is difficult to give a cat or dog the special attention it needs. And with advances in technology and the amount of products available, having an aquarium is becoming easier. This makes fish ideal for the family pet.

The Haircut--Before



In the past, we hadn't been successful in having Kelly groomed. She was anxious and frightened by the noises, and hated being left alone in the grooming shop.
Then, enter Melissa from TransFURmations. She not only transFURmed Kelly, but also transFURmed our grooming experience!

Melissa pulled into the driveway with her fully-loaded mobile grooming van. She made friends with Kelly, earned her trust and ours, and did a fantastic job.

But first-- the before pictures. Kelly has long, messy hair but we're blessed that it is soft and silky, and rarely gets matted. Still, she looks like a forest beast! And, in the summer, that fur coat gets uncomfortably hot. I try to keep up with it on my own as best I can, but it was time for a professional. An appointment was made. Melissa agreed to let us bathe Kelly at home, which helped alleviate the stress of the unfamiliar tub and the noise of the blow dryer.

Come back tomorrow for : The Bath
What I Learned from My Dog: Sometimes we're fearful of things that others seem to handle effortlessly. When I feel anxiety about some new thing, I try to find alternate ways to deal with the situation. Like Kelly, I can learn to tolerate unfamiliar and uncomfortable encounters, especially if others around me are understanding.

Can You Train a Cat to Do Tricks?


By Julia Williams

The short answer to the question is yes, you can. But (and this is a BIG but) it won’t be easy. If you want to teach your cat to do tricks, then you must have a wealth of four things: patience, determination, time, and cat treats.

Although many people believe it’s impossible to train a cat to perform on command, this simply isn’t true. I have not done it myself, largely because patience is not one of my virtues. I have, however, watched my friend train his cat, and have seen the cat perform a few different tricks. I’ve also seen countless other performing cats. For instance, at a cat show I watched in awe as a whole troupe of cats put on a mesmerizing performance of circus-type acts for more than fifteen minutes. The level of training and the complexity of the tricks were remarkable, particularly since it wasn’t just one or two cats performing the tricks, but dozens of them.

There are also many amazing videos on YouTube about the Moscow Cats Theatre, a famous, long-running show that features agile felines walking a tightrope, rolling on top of a ball, jumping through hoops, twirling batons with their feet, doing handstands and other impressive feats. And on Animal Planet’s Pet Star television show, I’ve seen a few people who were able to get their cats to do tricks. They had to dole out cat treats every step of the way, but still.

And finally, the very funny movie Meet the Parents featured a toilet-trained cat named Jinxy who nearly upstaged his co-stars (Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller) with his flawless performance on the loo. I’ve also watched other videos on the internet of ordinary housecats (i.e., not film star felines) that were trained to use the toilet – although apparently you can’t teach them to flush, which would certainly make this “trick” more appealing.

So if you really can train a cat to perform tricks, why is it far more common to see dogs doing them? It’s because dogs are far easier to train than cats, and many people simply don’t have the patience it takes to get cats to do tricks on command. Contrary to what some people believe, this has nothing to do with intelligence. Dogs by nature are much more eager to please their owners, who they regard as the pack leader. Although cats might love their human companions very much, their independent nature means that this leadership role doesn’t have much power. Cats have no masters, and they tend to listen to humans on their own terms.

If you’re intrigued by the thought of training your cat to do tricks, and think you have the perseverance and patience to succeed, I’ll give you some tips and step-by-step directions in tomorrow’s post.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Today's awwww





(via &&&)

Sunday Tulsa World Article about "Mr. Brown" and "Max"

In case you didn't get to read it for yourself, here is the link to the wonderful front page article written by a Tulsa World reporter named Michael Overall. Now that we have permission to use the patient's name, this story has many of the elements of "Mr. Brown" and "Max" from my previous posts a few weeks ago. You may want to reread them to understand how we got involved with this patient and his beloved dog and the seriousness of the situation when we first took Max to the vet. When you put all of the components of this story together, it really represents the heart and soul of Pet Peace of Mind. The article refers to the significant losses in Mr. Springer's life and how losing his dog of 15 years would only add to his grief.

The response to this story has been very touching and at times, overwhelming. We found out Monday that it also appeared in the Oklahoma City paper and we hope it gets picked up by AP. Several pet lovers have come forward, ready to volunteer in a variety of ways. Tomorrow, I have an interview with a writer from Dog Fancy Magazine!! At the same time, viewers and readers have also called looking for low cost veterinary care for pets after having been laid off. One lady called from Houston, looking for a home for an incontinent 13 year old Airedale she could no longer care for. There are so many needs and so few resources. How I would love to help them all.

For those of you who read this blog, thank you for spreading the word about our program and for your support. I so appreciate your words of encouragement and your belief in Pet Peace of Mind. Stay tuned!

Animals as Healers


By Julia Williams

Dogs are often called “man’s best friend,” but given the proven healing power of pets, I think all animals qualify for the title. Any human who’s ever shared a close bond with an animal has undoubtedly witnessed their natural healing abilities firsthand. Be it physical, mental or emotional healing, our pets can greatly improve our lives.

There have been many reports in recent years of these remarkable healing agents — of dogs who can “smell” cancer before any medical diagnosis has been made; dogs who can alert their owners to seizures before they happen; horses who help handicapped riders develop balance, strength, and confidence.

Cats and dogs are frequently used as “therapy animals” for seniors in nursing homes because they provide love and attention to those who might be feeling lonely, sad or forgotten. Many prisons now have dog training programs, which gives the inmates a sense of purpose, and helps them deal with the depression, anxiety and tension caused by their incarceration.

The Many Health Benefits of Pets

These natural healers with wagging tails and furry coats enhance our lives in so many ways, whether we are conscious of it or not. The peaceful purring of a cat or the friendly nuzzle from a canine can calm our frazzled nerves. Stroking their soft fur is therapeutic for both body and soul; it can lower blood pressure and reduce stress, while helping us to open our hearts to love. Walking the dog and playing games with our pets provides beneficial exercise for our bodies; it also lifts our spirits, and provides a much-needed respite from the stress and strain of busy lives.

Pets can improve the quality of our life and positively influence us in so many ways. They inspire optimistic thoughts in those who are disheartened, and gently remind us how important it is to nurture not only ourselves, but others. In his book, The Healing Power of Pets, Dr. Marty Becker writes, "Our beloved pets are life vitamins fortifying us against invisible threats: like seat belts cradling against life's crashes; like alarm systems giving us a sense of security. Taken together, the healing power of pets is powerful medicine indeed."

Our pets also seem to have an uncanny ability to recognize when we are suffering, whether it’s with a physical ailment or emotional distress. They also seem able to know exactly where we hurt and may concentrate their healing attention to that part of the body.

I’ll never forget one particular healing experience I had with my own three cats. I was incapacitated by a stomach flu so brutal that at times I almost wanted death to release me from my pain. I somehow managed to fall asleep, and when I awoke the first thing I saw was Annabelle. She wasn’t lying down nor was she asleep; she was sitting on my pillow, gazing at me intently. Mickey and Rocky were lying close to my body, one on each side. Now, these cats almost never sleep on my bed during the day, yet here they were, and I keenly felt that they were keeping watch over me. I smiled at Bella weakly through my pain; I knew then that I would fight to live, if for no other reason than to be with these earth-bound angels for one more day.

It’s not just our family pets who have this innate healing ability, either –virtually any animal can serve as a healer to human beings. Both wild and domesticated animals can sense changes in the human body and the mind. People who have encounters with wild animals –such as dolphins and manatees –have experienced amazing, life-changing healing. Watching the silly antics of a wild squirrel in the park can provide gentle healing through laughter. Observing the industrious nature of ants and bees can heal through inspiration. And seeing a butterfly or hummingbird float gracefully through the garden can remind us to slow down, relax and enjoy the simple pleasures life brings.

Animals truly are the most remarkable healers, and they ask so little of us in return. I am honored by their presence in my world, because I know they make it a much better place to be.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The secret life of penguins revealed

PARIS (AFP) – Famous for its cuteness and comic gait on land, the penguin also has an enigmatic life at sea, sometimes spending months foraging in the ocean before returning to its breeding grounds.

Zoologists have long wondered where the flightless seabird goes during these long spells away from land -- and now French scientists, in a study published in Wednesday, believe they can supply the answer.

A team from National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) attached monitoring devices to a dozen male and female macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) at the onset of winter on the French Indian Ocean territory of the Kerguelen Islands.

Weighing just six grammes (a fifth of an ounce) each, the gadgets were attached to the penguins' legs by a harmless plastic strap.

The tufty-headed birds headed out to sea a few days later for their annual forage and the tiny recorders logged the location, ambient light and water temperature wherever they went.

The following spring, roughly six months later, the penguins returned to Kerguelen to breed.

The scientists recovered the devices and downloaded the data, and also took blood samples to get a chemical signature of what the birds had been eating.

Once at sea, the birds swiftly swam away from Kerguelen, heading eastwards into the southern Indian Ocean, the investigators found.

They dispersed widely, spending more than 80 percent of their time in a long geographical band between 47 and 49 degrees latitude south.

The rest of the time was spent farther south, closer to the fringes of the Southern Ocean. They did not cross this limit, though, nor did they forage in pack ice.

The birds swam astonishing distances, clocking up 10,430 kilometres (8,930 miles) on average during their six months away. The most adventurous swam up to 2,400 kms (1,500 miles) from Kerguelen.

In the final weeks of the migration, the birds rushed to get home, covering a massive 1,743 kms (1,108 miles) in just one month.

Foodwise, the blood test showed that the penguins had gorged on crustaceans during their time at sea.

Contrary to expectations, they had not tucked into the major species of Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, which only occurs farther south in colder waters.

The study is important as it pinpoints the penguins' key feeding grounds in the sub-Antarctic Indian Ocean, and thus helps conservation efforts, say the authors, led by Charles-Andre Bost.

Macaroni penguins are the most numerous penguin species, but their population is thought to have declined over the last two decades.

Climate change also poses a threat, as warmer waters and shifting ocean currents will affect food availability.

The paper appears in Biology Letters, a journal of the Royal Society, which is Britain's de-facto academy of sciences.

Top Dog--Charlie


Meet Charlie, best friend of Sarah, from Vermont!


Charlie is a would-be supermodel with his long, long legs. But really he's a 4 1/2 year old Rotweiller-mix.

As you can see, Charlie loves the Vermont outdoors. He loves to run, hike, and jump off of docks and swim.

His favorite toy is a blue rubber bone that smells like mint, and it is one of the few toys he cannot destroy. His goal in life is to eat everything and destroy everything possible!

Sarah says, "He pretty much never gets punished because he is so cute and is the most perfect boy ever!"

What I Learned From Sarah's Dog: Looking at Charlie, I'm reminded to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Looks like Charlie does! I'm a native Vermonter myself, and love the beautiful Green Mountains. But even though I live in the city now, I can find nature's beauty in parks, on drives into the country, in window boxes, in cracks along the sidewalks, and even around the houses and buildings in my neighborhood. Thanks, Charlie!

Which Cat Litter is the Best?


By Julia Williams

While there are many pleasurable aspects of feline companionship, dealing with the litter box is not one of them. Thankfully, there have been vast improvements in kitty litter in the last decade or so. These new types of cat litter are infinitely better at odor control and absorbency than the original non-clumping clay litter developed in the late 40s. Frankly, you couldn’t pay me to use the non-clumping clay litter, which requires dumping the entire litter box contents every week unless you want your house to have that “eau de cat” smell.

Clumping litter, in my opinion, was the best pet invention ever. This type of litter forms solid “clumps” when wet, which can be easily scooped out of the cat box while the rest of the litter stays relatively fresh. You just add more kitty litter to the box a few times a week, and clean the entire litter box once a month or so. The first clumping cat litter came on the market in the 80s; it was made from granulated bentonite clay, and is still used many cat owners today. If you like the clumping aspect but prefer a more natural alternative, there are now clumping cat litters made from corn, wheat, sawdust, newspaper and pine pellets.

So which type of cat litter is the best then? For cat owners, there is no definitive answer to the question. The best cat litter for one person may not be the right choice for another. Cost, absorbency, odor control, biodegradability, tracking and texture all factor into the equation. But the ultimate thing that determines which type of cat litter is the best for your household, is that your cat likes it. Some cats will use virtually any kind of kitty litter you put in the box. Others have definite preferences and will very clearly let you they don’t like their litter, by having “accidents” outside the cat box. If you have a finicky feline, then your choices are a bit more limited. Trust me, if your cat doesn’t like a particular litter, nothing else matters.

I used the clumping clay cat litter for many, many years and was quite happy with it. I switched to a natural cat litter made from finely ground corn, for several reasons. There have been claims that clumping clay cat litter can be harmful to cats if ingested, because it swells up and might cause intestinal blockages. Although there is no confirmed scientific evidence of that happening, I decided to err on the safe side. Clumping clay cat litters also typically contain silica dust, which asthmatic cats (and their human caretakers) should avoid. After I replaced my cats’ open litter box with a covered style (which I absolutely love), I didn’t think it would be good for them to breathe in the dust that’s kicked up when they scratch in the litter.

On the plus side, natural cat litter is safer, biodegradable, chemical free, and better for the environment. However, it does tend to be more expensive than clumping clay litter. The manufacturers of natural cat litter claim that the same size bag lasts longer than clay-based litters, but I haven’t found this to be true with the types I have tried. I personally think the corn-based natural cat litter I’m using offers enough advantages to compensate for the increased cost, but it’s an individual decision that every pet owner needs to make for themselves.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Good Hygiene Important to Pet Ownership

Your dog's mouth, coat and paws may not be as clean as you think.

In fact, your dog could easily be carrying infectious bacteria that can make you and your family sick. Just think about these tidbits from ThePetPlace.com

Dogs love to roll around in the dirt and grass but when they do, they can pick up some infectious diseases that can be passed along to you. These are called zoonotic diseases.

Here are just 4 examples:

1. Parasite eggs - Your dog can ingest parasite eggs or pick them up on his paws and coat whenever he comes in contact with infected garden soil or sand. When you touch your dog, that infection can be transmitted to you.

2. Bird droppings - Inhaling the dust from dried bird droppings can cause a bacterial disease called psittacosis. If your dog sniffs dried bird droppings, he will inhale the dust. If he walks through the dried bird droppings or rolls around in them, the dust gets on his paws and in his coat. When you pet him or hug him, you can inhale the dust and become infected.

3. Dog urine - Coming into contact with infected dog urine causes a bacterial infection called leptospirosis. Infected urine can easily get on your dog's paws or coat. If you touch him (or anything that has come into contact with the infected dog urine), you can also become infected.

4. Ringworm - This disease has nothing to do with worms. It is a contagious fungal infection that be passed from your dog to you through contact.

So what can you do to protect your dog, your family and yourself?

Good hygiene is the key ... for both of you.

Caturday funnies

from Cute with Chris

(via Fropki)



from randompictures

Stunning



More on Kevin Richardson, the "Lion Whisperer"

and

Watch Kevin Richardson swim with a lioness

Can You Get Swine Flu From Your Dog or Cat?


By Stacy Mantle

There are a few things to worry about getting from your pets these days, but according to the CDC, Swine flu (H1N1) is not one of them. Dogs are susceptible to the “canine influenza virus” - a specific Type A influenza virus known as the H3N8 influenza virus. This is NOT something that humans can come down with as it is a species-specific virus.

Cats Flu is a name used to identify a group of viruses, which affect the upper respiratory tract in cats. Felines are known to obtain Upper Respiratory Infections (URI’s), which is most commonly caused by the Feline Herpes Virus-1 (FHV-1), or Feline Calicivirus (FCV).

Most diseases and viruses are “species-specific,” with only a few exceptions. Visit the CDC website to see a complete list of “diseases that people and pets can transmit.”

Dr. Michael Watts says it best, “The current ‘swine’ flu outbreak is not technically a “pig virus.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has determined that the new influenza A (H1N1) strain contains genetic material from four different viruses. One is a swine influenza commonly found in North America. The others are a human influenza virus, a North American avian influenza virus, and another pig influenza more typically found in Europe and Asia.”

Bird Flu
As far as the Bird Flu goes, the CDC has this to say on the subject, “Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on two proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). There are 16 different hemagglutinin subtypes and 9 different neuraminidase subtypes, all of which have been found among influenza A viruses in wild birds. Wild birds are the primary natural reservoir for all subtypes of influenza A viruses and are thought to be the source of influenza A viruses in all other animals. Most influenza viruses cause asymptomatic or mild infection in birds; however, the range of symptoms in birds varies greatly depending on the strain of virus. Infection with certain avian influenza A viruses (for example, some strains of H5 and H7 viruses) can cause widespread disease and death among some species of wild and especially domestic birds such as chickens and turkeys.”

No Reason to Worry
Bottom line is that with the current outbreak of H1N1, neither your dogs or cats can get it or be carriers of the virus. Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t ever worry. Part of the panic with the H1N1 virus is that it appears to have the ability to mutate. It still could. It probably won’t, but really you’re far more likely to get hit by a meteorite than to pick up the H1N1 virus from your pet.

Read more articles by Stacy Mantle

Baby Falcons


The baby birds have hatched!
(Note: The above picture changes every time you open it. Keep checking back for more views of the falcons!)
Every year, rare Peregrine Falcons nest in a box under a busy highway bridge in my city. Ordinarily, I'd only be able to get a glimpse of these beautiful birds, recently making a comeback in the United States, swooping in and out of the nesting box. Luckily, the Department of Environmental Conservation set up a web cam, so we can all take a peek into the falcon's private lives as they prepare to welcome a new brood.

For weeks I watched as Mama Falcon perched in the nesting box. Once in a while she'd leave the nest, revealing four tiny speckled egg. Sometimes Papa Falcon appeared in the nest at her side. Then last week, tiny fuzzy cotton ball babies appeared! Although there were four eggs, it appears only two hatched. It's hard to tell, since they huddle so close together and are rarely left exposed. Mama Falcon covers them with her body most of the day. Today I happened to catch a glimpse of the babies at a rare moment when Mama had flown off for a bit. There I could clearly see the babies, and at least one tiny round little egg nestled up beside one of the fuzzy chicks. Mama had been sitting on it all this time. Maybe she was hoping that it would still some day hatch. I wanted to cry looking at that little unhatched egg.

I'm compelled to check in on these little guys on and off throughout the day, much like a proud grandma. The sad part is, I know that a time will come very soon when they'll grow up and fly away.

Last year I watched the Mama Falcon and her babies, and felt a strong connection as I prepared to watch my son graduate from high school and fly the nest, off to college. The babies had been stretching their wings and taking practice flights. They flew off on the day of my son's graduation. Here is a story I wrote about it, Message of the Falcon, published in Angels on Earth magazine.

Click here
to watch the babies grow!

What I Learned From My Dog: Kelly has never been a mommy, but she has an innate understanding of nurturing, and is always gentle with puppies and other tiny critters. She's taught me that being a good mom often involves gentle patience.