Cat Behaviorist Jackson Galaxy Gets inside the Feline Mind

By Julia Williams

Have you noticed that “cat guys” are everywhere these days? They’re turning up in funny YouTube videos and TV commercials. British animator Simon Tofield produces the very hilarious Simon’s Cat cartoons featuring a guy and his quirky kitty. A pet food company conducted a nationwide search for a cat correspondent, and chose a man from hundreds of thousands of applicants. A kitty-lovin’ man hosts the hit new series Must Love Cats on Animal Planet, and now their newest show – My Cat From Hell – features yet another “cat guy.” Apparently, real men do love cats, and they’re not afraid to admit it!

My Cat From Hell premiered on May 7. It showcases cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, who works with problem kitties and their owners to resolve serious issues that threaten to tear the family apart. From aggressive cats that scratch and bite, to skittish kitties that cower in fear, to curious cats prone to mischief and mayhem – Jackson has seen it all. In many cases, the families are on the verge of giving up their cats, and Jackson is their last hope. He uses his unique understanding of the feline mind to analyze their behavior, assess the situation and recommend some solutions.

I’ve watched three episodes, and I love everything about this show except the name. I hate the name because it implies that something is wrong with the cat. In reality, the bad behavior is nearly always a result of humans who just don’t understand feline nature. “We ask cats to co-exist with us in environments that don’t always support their natural instincts,” says Jackson. “I’ve devoted my life to teaching the cat’s eye view.”

Once he educates the humans on why their cat acts a certain way, Jackson gives them specific things they need to change and voila, their cat’s behavior changes too! I have to admit, though, that watching the anti-cat boyfriend rant about his dislike of all things feline, I would have proposed a much simpler solution. Get rid of the boyfriend – problem solved!

Jackson believes that cats are either bush dwellers or tree dwellers by nature. And a tree dweller stuck at ground level leads to one very frustrated feline. The solution is easy: satisfy their natural instinct to seek higher ground by providing tall perches, shelves that lead to catwalks, and other vertical spaces.

Jackson has been called a cat whisperer, but says he doesn’t like that term because it suggests he can do something other people can’t. He prefers to be called a “cat listener” and believes that everyone has the ability to do what he does, if they just take the time to tune into their cat.

Jackson Galaxy has been working with cats for 16 years, including eight years in a high stress cat shelter in Colorado. (That’s not his real last name by the way. I know…shocker!) His mission is to reduce the number of cats that end up in shelters or abandoned on the streets for reasons that are entirely preventable. Educating cat owners one-on- one certainly has an impact, but having a television show enables him to reach infinitely more people.

I think Jackson’s knowledge of cats and his insight into their behavior could benefit even those who don’t have “problem cats” with severe behavioral issues. I’ve had cats all my life, and although I do know quite a bit about feline behavior, I still learned things from watching this show. Sadly, I read that the three episodes I watched are all there is. I certainly hope they do decide to renew the show, and I’m betting they will because My Cat From Hell has gotten lots of good press and positive feedback.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Support for Weight Loss

My dog was fat.
So was I.

Then, as many of you know, we got healthy and fit together. That's what our forthcoming book is all about. As a place to get together and discuss the struggles of losing weight and maintaining weight loss, for both people AND pets (because often, they are so connected) I've created a new Dieting with my Dog Facebook page. Won't you drop by and "LIKE" it? And then, please come back and visit often, so we can talk about the book and your weight loss ideas and concerns, and support one another...and our pets! I hope you jump over and say "hi." We look forward to meeting with you there.
Peggy & Kelly

Garden Plants That Repel Ticks

By Linda Cole

Garden plants are a safe and natural way to control fleas and mosquitoes, but they can also be used to help repel ticks and keep tick carrying animals, like deer, out of your yard. I'd like to thank Frankie Furter, a very handsome black and tan dog, for inspiring this post. When I wrote my article on Garden Plants that Repel Fleas, Frankie asked if there were any plants that could help repel ticks. This article is especially for you, Frankie! I hope it gives you some ideas to help keep those nasty ticks out of your yard and your fur.

There hasn't been a lot of research done on ticks and garden plants, which is odd considering how much harm ticks can cause not only pets, but people too. Wild animals, especially deer, can carry ticks into your yard when they visit a garden for plants they are attracted to. Ticks can also be carried in the wind from a nearby grassy or wooded area, and they love moist and humid places. Finding just one tick, even on your pet, can give you that creepy feeling that something is crawling up your leg, into your hair.


There are many varieties of lavender. It's a perennial with a very nice smell that most people are familiar with. But as beautiful as this flower is, ticks, moths, mice, the pesky black fly, mosquitoes and fleas can all do without it.


Lemongrass is believed to be a plant that repels ticks. It's a good companion plant with lavender. You can eat lemongrass, and it's a popular ingredient in Vietnamese and Thai dishes. It does have a lemon smell, but depending on who you ask, the taste is a light hint of ginger for some or a mild lemon taste for others. It grows best in the southern U.S.; it can be grown up north, but will need to be taken inside during the winter.


Caution: All parts of this plant are toxic to dogs and cats. So if you have outside cats or have other cats that wander in your yard, it's best to not plant geraniums. Most dogs and cats will instinctively avoid plants that are toxic to them, but not all of them do. If you have a safe spot in your garden for geraniums, they are said to repel ticks. To help keep cats out of your garden, especially if you have plants that are toxic to them, you can plant rue. It's also a garden plant that repels fleas.

Members of the mint family

Catnip, sage and mints are all thought to help repel ticks from yards. The nice thing about catnip and all mints, like peppermint, chocolate mint or apple mint, is that they are perfectly safe to use around pets. They can be dried and spread in your pets’ bedding and around the house to help drive ticks and fleas out. If your pet eats part of the plant, it won't hurt them. Just remember, mints are invasive and will wander all over the yard if they aren't planted in pots, and you need to keep different varieties away from each other to keep them from cross pollinating.

Tips to help keep ticks out of your yard

Ticks like to hide in tall grass, so keeping your lawn mowed and tall grasses cut down around the areas where you and your pet like to hang out will help take away a tick's hiding spot. Creating a path of cedar chips around areas where your pet spends most of their time will stop ticks from getting in that area. Cedar chips are also good for repelling fleas, but they are toxic to pets, so if you use them, monitor your pet to make sure they aren't eating any chips. Planting catnip along the border of a cedar chip path is a perfect place for this plant, because it keeps it away from other garden plants that could be damaged if a cat decides to roll in the catnip. Lemongrass or any other of the above plants are also good border plants.

How to keep deer out of your yard

Not everyone wants a 10 foot fence around their yard just to keep deer out. However, planting the right plants in the right places can help keep deer at bay. They find their favorite food by smell, but you can place garden plants around the perimeter of your yard to help keep deer out. Good plants to use that repel deer include different varieties of sage, yarrow, oregano, lemon balm and black-eyed Susan. These plants have a strong odor that deer don't like, and they cover up the smell of garden plants deer like to eat. If they can't smell what they're looking for, deer will most likely avoid your yard. Keeping them out of your yard can help keep ticks out as well.

Photo: Audrey in the Garden, by Tapir Girl

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Summer Travel Tips offers these great tips:
Pre-Travel Preparation

Healthy Start: The last thing you need is a sick pet when traveling. This means a visit to the vet for a medical checkup and to ensure that your pet is up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations. The veterinarian can also issue a health certificate for your pet. If you and your pet will be traveling across state lines, you must obtain a recent health certificate and a certificate of rabies vaccination. If your plans include traveling with your pet from the United States to Canada, you will need to bring along a certificate issued by a veterinarian that clearly identifies the animal and certifies that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies during the preceding 36 month period. Be sure to contact the government of the province you plan to visit as each province has its own requirements.

Plan for Restraint: Have a plan for how you're going to properly restrain your pet in your vehicle. This is a crucial element of pet travel that is not taken seriously enough. The reality is that hundreds of pets are injured or even killed each year because they are allowed free reign in cars, trucks, RVs, and SUVs. Even more real is the toll in human life and property damage caused when an "enthusiastic" animal distracts a driver, leading to an accident. Vehicle pet barriers, pet seat belts, pet car seats, and pet travel crates are all excellent ways to keep your pet (and you) safe when traveling in your vehicle. It's important to familiarize your pet with the vehicle restraint of choice weeks or months before traveling so that they are comfortable.

Temporary ID Tag: In the unfortunate event that your pet runs off while you're traveling. A temporary identification tag, along with a photo of your pet will help ensure their safe return. Attach a temporary ID tag to your pet's collar in addition to their permanent tag. Include the address and phone number of where you'll be staying along with your cell phone number and perhaps your email address. This is one of the most important aspects of traveling with your pet, but also one of the most overlooked. In addition, bring along a current photo of your pet. A photograph will make it easier for others to help you find your lost pet.

Packing Essentials: When packing for your pet include an ample supply of your pet's food. Don't rely on stopping along the way to pick up their food or picking it up at your final destination. Their particular brand of food may not be readily available and it is not advisable to introduce your pet to a new brand of food while traveling. Other essentials to pack for your pet include collapsible travel food and water bowls, bedding, litter and litter box, leash, collar and tags, favorite toys, grooming supplies, a pet first-aid kit and any necessary medications. And of sure to always have an ample supply of water available for your pet.

Secure Pet Friendly Accommodations: If you're planning a long journey and will need to stay in pet friendly accommodations on the way to your final destination, be sure to secure these accommodations before you hit the road. Map out where you'll be spending the night and arrange for lodging along the way. Our Search By Route will allow you to find pet friendly lodging along your route by plugging in your origination location and final destination. Pet policies do change some times without notice and accommodations may be limited so it's recommended that you make reservations in advance.

Medical Records: In case of a medical emergency while traveling, it is advisable to bring along your pets medical records along with your vet's contact information should they be needed for consultation.

Hitting the Road

No Heads Out the Window: Although many pets find that sticking their head out the window is the best part of the road trip, it's not safe. Your pet can easily be injured by flying debris. This should go without saying, but NEVER travel with a pet in the back of a pickup truck. Some states have laws restricting such transport and it is always dangerous.

Frequent Pit Stops: Always provide frequent bathroom and exercise breaks. Most travel service areas have designated areas for walking your pet. Be sure to stay in this area particularly when you pet needs a potty break...and of course, bring along a bag to pick up after your pet. When outside your vehicle, make sure that your pet is always on a leash and wearing a collar with a permanent and temporary travel identification tag.

Proper Hydration: During your pit stops be sure to provide your pet with some fresh water to wet their whistle. Occasionally traveling can upset your pet's stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water.

Watch the Food Intake: It is recommended that you keep feeding to a minimum during travel. Be sure to feed them their regular pet food and resist the temptation to give them some of your fast food burger or fries (that never has a good ending).

Don't Leave Them Alone: Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle. On warm days, the temperature in your vehicle can rise to 120 degrees in minutes, even with the windows slightly open. In addition, an animal left alone in a vehicle is an open invitation to pet thieves.

Practice Restraint: Be sure that your pet is safely restrained in your vehicle. Utilizing a pet safety harness, travel kennel, vehicle pet barrier, or pet car seat are the best ways to keep your pet safe. They not only protect your pet from injury, but they help by keeping them from distracting you as you drive. A safety harness functions like a seatbelt. While most pets will not have a problem adjusting to it, you may want to let them wear the harness by itself a few times before using it in the vehicle. If your pet prefers a travel kennel, be sure it is well ventilated and stabilized. Many pet owners prefer vehicle barriers, particularly for larger pets. Vehicle barriers are best suited for SUVs. Smaller pets are best suited for pet car seats. The car seat is secured in the back seat using a seat belt and your pet is secured in the car seat with a safety harness. In addition to it's safety features, a pet car seat will prop up your smaller pet, allowing them to better look out the window. No matter what method you choose, back seat travel is always safer for your pet.

Safe and Comfortable: Whatever method you choose to properly restrain your pet in your vehicle, be sure to make their comfort a priority. Just as it's important for your "seat" to be comfortable for your long road trip, your pet's seat should be comfortable too. Typically their favorite blanket or travel bed will do the trick. There are also some safe and very cozy pet car seats available that your pet may find quite comfy.

Careful preparation is the key to ensuring that you and your pet have a happy and safe trip. To learn more visit

Proud to be an American Kelly

Paws for Thought:
And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me. -Lee Greenwood

New Haven man accused of stabbing 'Princess' the bulldog in Hamden

A dog owner was charged with cruelty to animals after stabbing his bulldog.

When police arrived at 1061 Dixwell Ave. at 12:30 Wednesday afternoon, police found an 8-month-old bulldog lying in blood in the driveway of the home, Sgt. Anthony Diaz said. Officers also found a silver-colored folding knife with a blade of about 3 inches with blood on it, lying just feet from the animal, Diaz said.

The owner of the dog, Alexander Bernard, 25, of 257 Sheffield Ave., New Haven, was arrested at the scene and charged with cruelty to animals.

Animal Control officers responded to the scene and transported the dog, named Princess, to the North Haven Animal Hospital to be treated for her injuries. She is listed in stable condition.

The reason for the stabbing could not immediately be determined

Flea and Tick Help from Doc Halligan

Today I welcome our guest, Karen "Doc" Halligan, Director of Veterinary Services at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles (spcaLA). Here she will answer some of our most important questions about fleas and ticks.

Q: Are some breeds of dogs more susceptible to getting fleas than others?

DH: All dogs are equally susceptible to getting fleas but smaller dogs are at risk of developing a life threatening anemia because of their size so a flea infestation can be more dangerous for them. Certain dogs do have allergic reactions to fleas, which is called Flea Allergy Dermatitis and it is the most common allergic skin disease of dogs and cats. Animals that have flea allergy can develop a severe allergic reaction to a protein in the saliva of certain fleas that is left behind from fleabites. This condition causes severe itching, rash, and more. In dogs, it leads to hair loss and infection, usually on the rear legs or at the base of the tail; cats get scabs around the head, neck, and body. Medical treatment is needed.

2. What parts of the country have the greatest incidence of fleas and tick problems, or is it equally prevalent?

DH: Fleas and ticks are prevalent throughout the country. The highest incidence of fleas and ticks occur in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Hawaii, but can be found almost anywhere. It’s important to remember that wildlife such as coyotes, foxes, bobcats, skunks, raccoons, opossums, and several rodent species, as well as other cats and dogs, can bring fleas and ticks into your yard. Pets and people can bring fleas into your home. More information on the geographic distribution of ticks can be found on the Center For Disease Control and Prevention website.

3. Are topical monthly flea and tick preventative treatments safe for pets?

DH: Fipronil-based products have been used safely on pets since 1997. As a responsible pet owner, you should always consult your veterinarian before starting your beloved pet on any type of medication. PetArmor™ Plus is a great solution for prevention and control of fleas and ticks, not to mention it costs significantly less than Frontline. The product has the number one veterinary-recommended active ingredients, in the same concentrations as the leading veterinary flea and tick brand.

4. What is the best thing we can do to keep our pets free of fleas and ticks?

DH: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is never truer than with fleas and ticks. The problem is that many pet owners wait until they see these creatures, have an infestation, or, worse, their pet becomes sick. And remember that ticks carry a number of diseases that can also be transmitted to people including Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The cost to treat illnesses related to fleas and ticks can be expensive, not to mention the unthinkable suffering of your pet. This is why prevention is so important. Because the length and severity of flea and tick season varies across the country and changes from year to year depending on the temperature fluctuations and humidity, I recommend using a high quality, safe and effective treatment such as PetArmor Plus every 30 days on all pets in the household all year long. At the very least, you should start flea and tick prevention in the spring before your pets get bitten and to head off an infestation because summer will be just around the corner. When using preventative medication, always read instructions prior to usage and never use on debilitated, very young, sick, or elderly animals without directions from your vet. Never use dog products on cats and vice versa.

Doc’s words of wisdom:
It’s important to realize that only 5% of the total flea population is in the form of adult fleas on your pet. The other 95% is in various stages: 50% eggs, 35% larvae, and 10% pupae that are not readily visible to the naked eye but are in your carpet, furniture, bedding, lawn, and anywhere else your pet walks or lies down. Learning more about fleas and their life cycle will help you understand why they become so prolific in such a short period of time and how to avoid an infestation. Although fleas thrive at 65 to 80 degrees F with humidity levels at approximately 80%, they have been known to survive indoors during the winter, even in cold climates. Fleas also travel—as much as one mile in an hour. They will hop inside through an open door or window and are often small enough to come through a window screen. Once inside your home, there’s no place a flea can’t go. Fleas can be miserable for you and your pet, and not just from the bites. They can bring about a host of serious problems such as: Flea Anemia, Tapeworms, and Flea Allergy Dermatitis. So the key to controlling fleas is to interrupt their life cycle at an immature stage so they don’t develop into adults. Again all pets in the household must be treated.

Doc Halligan is a a widely recognized national authority on animals. She has appeared on Regis and Kelly, the Today Show, the Mike and Juliet Show, iVillage Live, Fox and Friends, Animal Rescue 911, Dog Tales, Dogs 101 and Cats 101 and is a judge on Animal Planet's hit reality show "Groomer Has It". She is also regular contributor to PARADE magazine. Doc Halligan is the author of " What Every Pet Owner Should Know: Prescriptions for Happy, Healthy Cats and Dogs (HarperCollins, 2007).

She is currently the Director of Veterinary Services at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles (spcaLA), where she oversees the health and well being of all the shelter animals and routinely performs surgical procedures and other medical treatments. Doc has donated hundreds of hours of volunteer time to various animal-rescue groups and entertainment nonprofit.

Dogs are People Too!

By Suzanne Alicie

If you’re not a dog lover, then more than likely you are a little overwhelmed when you visit the home of someone who considers their dog a family member. I encounter this regularly. It’s almost funny to watch how other people react to how we treat our dog. Julia Williams has written a great post about being a Crazy Cat Lady, so I figured this would be a look at things from the doggie side of the fence.

Our dog truly thinks she is a person most of the time. When I chat on the phone with people and mention needing to run the vacuum again because Bear is shedding, I hear comments like “Dogs belong outside. How can you stand having all that hair everywhere?” or “Put her out until she stops shedding.” These people don’t understand that she’s never lived outside and she would be miserable if she wasn’t in the house with her people.

When I cook, she stands guard to make sure that no crumbs or tasty bits of our dinner hit the kitchen floor and yes, sometimes I drop a morsel here and there for her. Once the food is ready and we are all eating, she usually positions herself as close as she can get to me, often drooling on my leg while she waits for me to finish. She knows that I will save her the last bite and give her the plate to lick clean. Some people have serious issues with that too. It’s not something I even think about.

Our dog lives in the house with us, she sleeps in the bed with us when she wants to, she climbs into my lap when I watch TV – and yes, she eats off of people dishes. For some people this is just absolutely too much. When people are here to visit, I usually sequester her in the bedroom because she expects that everyone will let her lean her head on their leg while they eat. She also thinks that everyone should be swayed by those golden brown eyes and will pet her lovingly while slipping her CANIDAE TidNips™ treats for offering her paw over and over again.

Our dog is “a people” too as far as we are concerned. We talk to her, we play with her and we are used to her being close by at all times. I have a constant shadow wherever I go through the day. She curls up at my feet or on the other side of the sofa while I work, she follows me into the bathroom and when I take a bath she lays down beside the tub. If I’m doing laundry, I have a canine escort to the washer and dryer. If she happens to be napping and I leave the room, when she wakes up she will bark once kind of like asking “Hey, where are you momma?” When I answer her, she comes to my side wherever I am.

That’s right, I’m the Momma and my boyfriend is Daddy; our dog is not a pet, she’s another kid. We blame each other for spoiling her and giving in to her every whim. But to tell the truth we’re both guilty and the teenagers are just as bad about treating her like a person. They wake up in the mornings and call the dog so they get their “good morning” from her before anyone else sees them. They let her watch TV in their rooms and nap at their feet.

She is part of our family. She is loyal and trustworthy, she’s good company and she is a protective presence who defends our home against unwanted or unknown visitors. No one steps in our yard without her sounding the alarm, and no one comes through the door without one of us escorting them and telling her it’s okay.

In our family the dog is a lot more than a pet. She is a family member and she’ll never be shoved out the door because her shedding is a hassle; she won’t be shooed away because she wants a taste of our dinner. We’ll never callously be able to say, it’s just a dog. Because “it” is she, and she is Bear, and Bear is family.

Photo: Bear

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Natural Flea and Tick Repellent-- What's the Buzz?

Kwit Yer Itchin' Week continues with What's the Buzz-- a look at a natural insect repellent.
What if you could spritz your dog with something safe...and effective? Earthheart inc has created a natural insect repellent that claims to be just that. Buzz Guard is safe for both humans and dogs, and you can spray directly onto clothing, skin or fur. I tried Buzz Guard on Kelly and was pleased to find that a light spritzing wasn't heavy or messy. Outside, the mosquitoes and flies left us alone. It's more difficult to tell about fleas and ticks, since they are impossible to spot in the grass, and just as difficult to locate on Kelly's heavily furred body!

polysorbate 20
neem seed oil
pure essential oils of citronella, fir, geranium, rosewood, basil and myrrh
potassium sorbate

*Natural product
*Favorably field tested on a variety of dogs

*Treatment is effective for up to 5 hours. Would have to spray every day (or more) to protect against fleas and ticks all season.

Note: earthheart inc. provided me with a free sample of Buzz Guard in exchange for my honest opinion.

Pet Grooming Mistakes

By Julia Williams

We all want to take great care of our pets, because we love them. Our pets depend on us to do the things they’re unable to do for themselves. They count on us to make good decisions for their health and longevity. Choosing a nutritious pet food (like CANIDAE and FELIDAE, of course!) is one of the more obvious ways to contribute to your pet’s wellbeing. Another vital aspect of responsible pet ownership is grooming. Whether you have a dog or a cat, not paying careful attention to certain grooming needs can lead to more serious problems later.

Proper Coat Care

Regular brushing or combing is essential for all long-haired dogs and cats. However, short-haired pets benefit from brushing too, because it lets you examine their bodies for fleas, ticks, lumps and anything unusual. Brushing removes loose fur, dirt and irritants, and distributes natural oils throughout your pet’s coat. Regular brushing also reduces the likelihood of matting, which can cause pain and may lead to infection. Brushing long-haired cats helps to cut down on the formation of hairballs.

Depending on your pet’s breed and their coat type, regular brushing can mean anything from once a day to once a week. It’s up to you to determine the best schedule. It’s equally important to choose the right grooming tools. There are countless options available; which one is right for your pet’s coat is something you might want to discuss with your vet or a grooming professional.

Don't Forget the Feet

Both dogs and cats need regular nail trimming, typically about once a month but the frequency varies depending on how much time your pet spends outdoors and what surfaces they walk on. Aside from the damage that long nails can do to furniture, hardwood floors, carpeting and your skin, there are health-related reasons for keeping your pet’s nails trimmed. For dogs, long nails can split and become infected; long nails can also stress the joints in their paws and contribute to arthritis, splayed toes and discomfort when walking. Not trimming a cat’s curved claws may cause them to grow into the paw pad, which is painful at best and may cause a nasty abscess.

Although many pets don’t love having their feet messed with, it is something that needs to be done. Nail trimming is not overly difficult and can be done at home or by a professional groomer. See How to Give Your Pooch a Pedicure, and/or ask your vet to demonstrate the proper technique.

Don't Allow Pets to “Self Groom” Toxins

Dogs and cats that go outside can pick up all sorts of toxic substances on their paws – such as motor oil, antifreeze, chemical de-icers, road salt, fertilizers and pesticides. Instead of letting them lick these things off their paws, a quick cleaning with a nontoxic pet wipe when they come indoors will remove potential toxins. For dogs, you might also want to apply a natural paw balm that not only acts as a barrier to harmful substances and protects their feet from the elements, but helps heal cracked, dry foot pads too.

Pet Bathing Blunders

Some people assume that a gentle/natural shampoo made for humans is okay to use on their pet. However, because cats and dogs have different skin pH than we do, it’s essential to use only bath products that are made for pets. Other common pet bathing mistakes are not rinsing thoroughly, and bathing too often – both of these can contribution to skin irritation.

Don't Ignore the Ears

Floppy-eared dogs are not the only ones who benefit from regular ear cleaning. The ear canals of all dogs and cats provide a warm, moist environment that bacteria and yeast thrive in. Cats are also susceptible to ear mites which can cause redness and itching. Although the microscopic mites are not easy to see with the naked eye, they leave debris that resembles coffee grounds in the ear. A cat with ear mites will also shake its head and scratch at the ears. Regular cleaning of your dog or cat’s ears with a gentle antimicrobial ear wash guards against infection and helps reduce the buildup of wax. Dogs should also have their ears cleaned after spending time in the water. Just be sure to have your vet demonstrate the proper technique so you don’t injure their ear drum.

Hire a “Pro” When Needed

Although grooming is an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership, sometimes the task is better left to a professional. For example, some breeds have specific skin and coat requirements that need the expertise of an experienced groomer. Additionally, if you’re uncomfortable performing any grooming task or question your capability to do it safely and effectively, it’s better for you and your pet to enlist the aid of a professional.

Photo by C.A. Muller

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Disc Is It! A Look at a Natural Flea and Tick Remedy

Kwit Yer Itchin' Week continues with Disc Is It! A look at one natural alternative to repel fleas and ticks.
No one wants to put potentially harmful pesticides on their pet. But how do we combat those pesky flea and ticks? Are there effective natural remedies? What about an antiparsite disc? This is a small, gold colored lightweight aluminum disc "charged" with electromagnetic and scale waves that it claims to repel fleas and ticks. The literature states that the waves "create a protective field" and is "95% effective" on any cat or dog of any weight.

provided me with a free disc to try in exchange for my honest opinion. I tried the disc on Kelly. It is lightweight and attaches to her collar easily. Kelly generally does not get fleas, but we have a large problem with ticks in our area. Kelly wore the disc for 2 weeks.

Did the CatanDog antiparasite disc work?
To be honest, I'm not convinced. Even though I found no ticks on my dog after 2 weeks, to make a more accurate test I would have to try the disc for the entire season, and then if Kelly remains tick-free all season I might be less skeptical. Most importantly, I found no scientific evidence that this type of electromagnetic therapy works. As much as I may want to believe in something so safe and easy, it is difficult to put my faith in something like this without substantiation.

Here is what I can say for sure about the CatanDog antiparasite disc:
*The disc is free from chemicals and safe to handle.
*It is light and unobtrusive and your pet should have no problem wearing it.
*The disc is cost-effective compared to months/years of topical flea and tick treatments.
*Your pet most likely won't get any side effects from it.

*The treatment is not scientifically supported as being effective.

On The Job with Guido the Italian Kitty

My job has no formal Job Description – it’s just my job and I’m fortunate to just wing it at work. People are curious as a cat about what I do as an Animal Assisted Therapy Cat, so I’m gonna give you a real PURRsonal insight to my having fun on the job with the fantastic seniors at The ARC of San Francisco.

Commuting to my job on a San Francisco cable car is a good way to start my day, (of course I hum the Mice a Roni tune up and over the hills). Sometimes I visit little groups of 20 or a larger group of 55 seniors, all with mental or physical challenges. There’s so many meowvalous activities going on, and I purrticipate in them all!

When they sit in chairs at the activity tables, I purrfur to forego the chair to sit on their table, like the crafts table where I check out their balls of colorful yarns and great artwork they’re making. I might put my paw in the watercolor paints (I’ma an artisticat doing paw print paintings) or play hockey with their crayons.

Dominos at the game table are my favorito – just paw tap one and bamzatini they all go down! The clients giggle or say “Oh NO Guido!” Some days I join in card games – just putting my paw on the card they should select. So you see, my job can’t have a job description cuz I always changes what I do on the job.

Some clients are content with me just sitting close to them, and they massage me so nicely – makes me purr for sure, so going to my job is kind of like going to Spa for me. We ‘shake paws’ and some of them tickle my chin, and it all revs up my purr machine.

I started working as a therapy cat 3-1/2 years ago, and I’ve seen amazing things happen over the years while on the job working with these special people. It’s taught me that weeza all have challenges and weeza all really the same: just wanting to have a nice day.   Can I share some speshule moments on the job, with you?

One reclusive man never talked much – never shaked paws or pet me. After 2 years knowing him on the job, now he jumps up and heads like a bullet towards me and myself when we enter the room, and he also says my name and pats my head nice.   During a field trip with his group to the grocery store, he saw my momma in the aisle and ran to her giving her a peck on the cheekie and said loudly “Geedoe – Geedoe – where Geedoe?” This is purrcisely why I love my job.

When a client passed away, me and myself was invited to the funeral cuz I knew her (she always cupped my face in her hands and told me she loved me!). I was catnapping the day of the funeral so I sent a Flat Cat Guido with my Staff to the funeral home. When the Staff entered holding my life size paper cut-out self, a bunch of clients saw me and jumped up out of the pews and raced over and petted me and squealed and carried my flat cat self up to the coffin placing me upon it saying “Guido gonna guard her.” It was something, and the Priest almost fainted when he turned around to sprinkle the Holy water on the coffin and was facing me and my meowster self!

My job izza the mostest impurrtant job I’ve ever had, and the pay is super high: unlimited overtime purrs galore! Now that I’m getting older, I’m not gonna slow down, but I’m gonna speed up at work to keep up with the fabulous seniors at The ARC of San Francisco. It’s my meowvalous birthday month, and I’m turning 5 on May 26th. You can give me the happiest birthday gift ever by helping me help PAWS, which stands for “Pets Are Wonderful Support.” And you don’t even have to wrap up this present!

Photo: Mark Rogers Photography

Don't Rub It In?

Kwit Yer Itchin' Week Day 2-- Don't Rub It In?

When it comes to flea and tick prevention, my veterinarian can't stress strongly enough the importance of topical flea and tick treatments. However potential side effects, and news reports of a link between such treatments and serious health problems, some fatal, have me concerned. The Center for Public Integrity released a report on the perils of pesticides in 2008. Here's what I found out about Flea and Tick products from the New York Times report:
*Some people report side effects: from minor such as itching and loss of hair at the contact spot, to serious, such as heart rate changes, nausea and vomiting, and convulsions.

*According to, the EPA logged about 600 pet deaths and 44,000 reports of harmful reactions to flea and tick treatments.

*There have been reported some counterfeit products out there, stealing brand names such as Frontline and Advantage.

*The ingredient fipronil, used in some treatments, is classified as a carcinogen, as it has been known to produce malignant tumors in laboratory tests.

*Topical treatments are generally considered safe for healthy pets other than young puppies, pregnant or nursing moms, and very senior dogs.

*Most animals do not have an adverse reaction to topical flea formulas, if used as directed.

*Topical treatments are an effective way to keep fleas and ticks off of pets.

And now, our own con and pro:
Con: Kelly has had seizures a couple times. I don't remember exactly how long after flea and tick treatment application they occurred. No cause for her seizures has been determined. Were they related to flea and tick treatments? Who knows for sure. (It hasn't happened every time she was treated, however.)

Pro: When I stopped using the treatments, Kelly immediately got a tick and got Lyme disease, which is prevalent in our own back yard. This disease, if not properly treated, can be fatal. And, the testing and medication is expensive. Fortunately, Kelly recovered well. The flea and tick treatment, however, is effective in keeping off ticks which carry this serious disease.

What is your experience with topical flea and tick treatments?

A Pit Bull and a Man on a Journey of Discovery

By Linda Cole

We never know from where or when a friend will come. And sometimes that friend has four legs and needs a friend of his own. Seven years ago, Ara Gureghian lost his 26 year old son, his only child, to cancer. And that crossroad is where a grieving father and a broken down dog named Spirit found each other. Spirit was as much in need of a friend as Ara was. Together, they began a journey of healing and discovery.

When life throws challenges at us, we deal with them in our own ways. For many of us, our pets play a role in helping us get through an emotional or tough period in our lives. Their unconditional love is always constant, and we know our pets won't judge us unfairly. In our time of need, a pet can be the most stable thing in our lives. Ara didn't have a pet until a year after his son's death. He was down to his last $1,000 after spending his life savings trying to heal his son, Lance. We know we have to move on after a devastating loss, but it's not always easy. For Ara, dealing with his loss set him on a path to try to make sense of things and rediscover what was important to him.

Ara's chosen profession is as a Gourmet Chef, and after graduating from a culinary school in Switzerland, he immigrated to America to follow his passion for food, cooking and adventure. Life was good until his son died. To heal his broken heart, Ara knew the best way for him to make sense of what had happened was on the open road, so he began to prepare to hit the road with his best friend, Spirit, at his side.

Spirit's story is one of an abused dog who found himself in an animal shelter. According to Ara, “He was beat up pretty badly...very, very badly. He was skin and bones – almost lost his soul. I mean there was nothing left of him.” As soon as Ara saw him curled up in a corner and they made eye contact, he knew this dog needed him as badly as he needed Spirit. It was Ara who named him Spirit.

Ara's motorcycle, Old Faithful, is equipped with a sidecar. After helping Spirit learn how to trust a human again and develop a bond with Ara, he took Spirit on a test drive with him. It's almost as if the sidecar and Spirit were made for each other. He has his own helmet that says “Bite Me” on it, red goggles and necessary and responsible safety precautions to make sure Spirit stays safely in the sidecar.

Because Spirit is a Pit Bull, Ara sought advice from other owners of the breed about his decision to take Spirit with him on a cross country motorcycle journey. Everyone said he was crazy to take a Pit Bull with him. And as we all do when it comes to advice – we have to make the ultimate decision ourselves. So Ara and Spirit climbed on Old Faithful and hit the road, discovering the beauty of this great nation in the land and the people they met along the way.

Even though he had asked for other Pit Bull owner's advice, Ara knew in his heart that Spirit would be his traveling companion. He isn't shy in admitting that Spirit is his therapy. This abused shelter dog no one wanted – until Ara came along – is now certified as a therapy dog.

Ara and Spirit's journey is still ongoing. You can follow their adventures on Ara's website that continues to grow more popular every day. In fact, his journey is being followed by so many people, a movie is in the works. Through his eyes, you can see this beautiful country in a way most of us never get the chance to see. His website is a journal of his life on the road with his best friend. You can watch YouTube videos, track them with SPOT (a GPS tracking system used by backpackers, sailors, pilots and others who spend time in remote locations), and learn more about Chef Ara.

It's been almost five years since Ara and Spirit began their adventure. Like any soul searching and healing quest, it's not the destination – it's the journey and discoveries along the way that are the most important. Only they will know when and if they've arrived at the end of the trail.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Kwit Yer Itchin'

Flea and tick season is here, and I wanted to learn everything I can about these critters and how to keep them off my pets. So, this week, during Kwit Yer Itchin' Week, we'll do just that!

First, here are some facts about fleas and ticks from webMD:

*there are 2,200 kinds of fleas
*ticks can lie in the grass without feeding for more than a year, just waiting to jump on your pet's leg (or your own leg!) as you pass by.
*fleas can jump 10,000 times in a row
*fleas and ticks are blood suckers (yuck!)

How your pet contracts fleas:
*neighbor dogs or cats
*infected rugs or bedding
*wildlife (even in urban areas). Your pet doesn't have to come in contact with wildlife, they can leave behind fleas and flea eggs just by walking through your yard.

Visit again tomorrow and we'll begin discussing some preventatives and treatments. Bring your questions, too!

Kelly says, smell the flowers

Saturday Pet Blogger Hop Paws for Thought:

Today, on this Saturday pet blogger hop day, Kelly would like to remind you to take time to stop and smell the tulips!

Diary of a Bad Housecat

By Rocky Williams

I would be the first to admit that I’m a bad, bad cat. Apparently when I was made, they were all out of the “good” attributes like self-control, willpower and obedience. All attempts by the Warden to train me have been futile, and I pretty much do what I want, with WHATEVER I want. I just can’t help it. Yeah, that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it.

When I see something I covet, I go after it with no thought to the consequences. Usually, what I want is the Warden’s food. It perplexes her, and she says things like “Rocky, I feed you two square meals a day, plus a handful of those scrumptious TidNips™ treats at bedtime – why do you always act like you’re starving?” Well…allow me to explain.

You see, I absolutely love my FELIDAE cat food, and those TidNips are the tastiest treats I’ve eaten in all my 8 years of cathood. But those things are for CATS, and I want what the Warden is having because it’s for people and thus, it’s forbidden. We all know that when something is forbidden, it becomes infinitely more desirable. It doesn’t matter what the Warden is eating, really; I stop at nothing to get my paws on it.

And that, my friends, is what led to the fateful day the Warden screamed the most awful sentence at me. “Rocky!! I don't want to EVER see your face again!” she yelled. Oh my. I was in big trouble.

To say that the Warden was angry at me would be quite an understatement. Unfortunately, I deserved her wrath – I was a bad, bad kitty!! As I attempted to snag the muffin on her desk, I knocked over her freshly made Grande Latte before she'd taken even one tiny sip. The brown liquid flowed across her desk, and what wasn't taken up by all her work papers spilled over the side, soaking into the brand new carpet. Oops.

I watched helplessly as the Warden scrambled for rags in a desperate attempt to mitigate the damage. I should've gone straightaway into hiding, because when she saw me she gave chase, flailing her arms. That's when she screamed that horrible sentence at me. Did she mean it? Would I ever be able to come out of hiding?

The Warden spent nearly an hour cleaning up my unintended mess. She then stormed out of the house, but not before saying loving goodbyes to the other feline inmates, and ignoring me. Ouch, that hurt my feelings! When she came home hours later, I cautiously crept from my hiding spot and sat where she could see me, but where I'd be able to get away if she chased after me again. I admit I was afraid, because I’d never seen her as angry as she’d been earlier.

She walked up to me slowly, her hand outstretched. When she reached me, she bent down and gently stroked my fur. “Rocky, I didn't mean what I said. I’m so sorry,” she whispered. Tears slipped down her face and landed on my fur. “I will always love you, even when you’re a bad kitty.” 

I knew then that I could unpack my bag. I didn't need to run away and become Hobo Cat after all, because the Warden's soft heart had forgiven me once again. And if there’s a moral to this little tale, it would be this: from now on, leave the Warden’s food alone!! (Yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen).

To be continued…

Read more articles by Rocky Williams



Meet Emma Zen, Fundraising Canine for Pet Oxygen Masks

Editor’s note: Emma Zen is the newest canine to be welcomed into the CANIDAE Special Achievers, a sponsorship program created to support exemplary pets and their responsible owners.

How does a dog become a fundraiser? Well, this dog seems to have been born with what it takes. She has a story, a unique trait, and a dream! Emma Zen is a fire survivor; the Labrador Retriever was found running out of the hills near Santiago Canyon in October of 2007. Fire fighters turned the lost old soul into the Orange County Animal Shelter. Three days later, she met her human! Together and inseparable, Emma Zen and Debra Jo Chiapuzio began a long list of training regimens.

Obedience, Agility, Trick, Tracking, CGC, Therapy, Stage & Film, and Service... Emma Zen seemed to be a dog capable of doing it all. Yet it was when she sat in her Harley Davidson Sidecar that she shined! She personally doesn’t act as if this is a unique trait – if you ever saw her you would just think it’s her thing. Trademarked as “the Canine Ambassador for Biker Dogs,” Emma Zen now hosts a yearly Biker Dog Rally in, of all places, South Dakota during Sturgis Rally Week. And with her “why think small” attitude, the biker dog turned all the attention she was receiving into a full size fundraising adventure. Her dream is now a reality; what started as personal social and media attention is now used as a tool for bringing public awareness to household animals and their safety!

So what does Emma Zen do? As the mascot for Team O2™, she host fundraisers and then uses 100% of the contributions to purchase pet oxygen masks. On behalf of cities, individuals and companies, the pet oxygen masks are donated to fire departments and other first responders. This ensures that they have the right equipment on their trucks and engines to properly resuscitate animals in case of emergency such as smoke inhalation. Pet oxygen masks are specifically designed to fit muzzles and snouts of dogs, cats and other household pets. “Far too many pets die every year due to breathing difficulties such as smoke asphyxiation. We are trying to change the number of successful attempts at saving our pets lives,” said Debra Jo.

Emma Zen has recently become a part of the CANIDAE Special Achievers Program. She wanted to say thank you the only way she knew how, so she made a donation of oxygen masks to the Norco Fire Department in the name of CANIDAE Pet Foods. Emma Zen and Debra Jo were met by eager receivers: the Battalion Chief De Boer, the firefighters of station 21, Diane Matsuura of CANIDAE and her dog Breezie, and Rich Linton, a columnist with the Press Enterprise. Debra Jo presented the department with the lifesaving equipment and gave them some information on pet CPR. “I love the Norco Fire Department,” said Debra Jo. “They were excited about the ability to provide a consent flow of clean oxygen to pets in emergency situations. So much so, that since this ‘thank you’ was presented they have now asked for enough kits to supply all vehicles at both stations, which means the pets in Norco will now have a better chance of survival during emergencies like home fires and other natural disasters.”

If you live in Norco, this October at the Firefighters yearly pancake breakfast you will find a fundraising booth for Emma Zen and maybe even get to meet her. Your contributions make a difference in your pets’ safety and the protection of the pets in our neighborhoods. Emergency preparedness is a key to successful survival not only for humans, but for our pets as well. And that’s what responsible pet ownership is all about!

This canine has a story, she has a purpose and she is definitely unique. For more information, please visit her website, or her Facebook page.


Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) & a Special Kitty

By Suzanne Alicie

If you’re a pet lover, you’ve more than likely heard of Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS). This fantastic organization provides for the needs of companion animals to low income people with HIV/AIDS, other disabling illnesses and senior citizens. Volunteers provide essential support, educate the community and advocate for disabled individuals to have the right to keep service animals. PAWS is not just support for the health and well being of animals though; the organization also contributes to improving the quality of life for disabled individuals and their furry companions.

Thanks to the wonderful mom of Guido the Italian Kitty, we were able to get the inside scoop on some exciting news from the PAWS camp. Guido is a certified “Animal Assisted Therapy Meowster,” and PAWS is one of his very favorite organizations. Before I share their big news, I want to tell you a bit about the PAWS program and the work they do. I was lucky enough to be able to discuss PAWS with the President of the San Francisco organization, John Lipp, who filled me in on the details of PAWS and its presence across the country. 

PAWS provides the core services of food and veterinary care to the companion pets of disabled, senior and low income pet owners. Anyone who has ever had to give up a pet knows just how much a pet can benefit your life and how much you would miss them if you couldn’t have them anymore. PAWS keeps people from losing their beloved pets. While the San Francisco headquarters is the main and first PAWS program, there are now 24 other PAWS across the country. They are all independent programs, but are founded on the model of the S.F. program.  The S.F. PAWS assists roughly 750 clients with their pet needs.

You can find out more about PAWS and the services they provide by visiting their website. While you’re there, be sure to check out their upcoming events and sign up for their newsletter featuring the latest happenings at PAWS. If you’re in need of the services of PAWS, you’ll love the friendly people who will help you get into the program. When the PAWS President was willing to email and call me personally just to answer a few questions, I knew that this organization is involved in their services and gives their clients real personal attention. Everyone at PAWS is not only a pet lover, but they are truly devoted to helping their fellow man.

This is probably why Guido’s Mom, Judi Basolo, has launched a fundraiser in honor of Guido’s birthday! Guido the Italian Kitty will be five years old on May 26th, and is celebrating all month long! You can visit the “Happy Birthday Guido” page on PAWS website, or Guido’s Facebook page to find out more about the campaign to raise funds for PAWS, enabling them to provide more support and core services. The fundraising goal is to donate $5000 to the PAWS organization from Guido and his friends. All donations are 100% tax deductible and will be used to support PAWS services. Guido wants you to know that if you’re unable to tend to your pet, PAWS will bring volunteer dog walkers, free food, toys and accessories, bathe your pooch, and even take your cat or dog to the vet.

Also, PAWS President John Lipp has given me a special message to pass on to Guido:

As one of Guido’s biggest fans (I still haven’t washed the part of my face where he touched me with his paw!), I’m deeply honored that he decided to make his 5th birthday a celebration of  PAWS and our work to keep people and their beloved pets together. Happy Birthday, Guido. You make 5 look like the new 3!” – John L. Lipp, President/CEO of Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS)

Happy Birthday Guido!! And thanks to Guido’s Mom, Judi Basolo, for putting together such a giving and wonderful birthday celebration!

There are lots of other ways you can help PAWS too, which in turn will help PAWS clients and their pets continue to stay together. PAWS is always in need of pet supplies, especially good quality cat food and dog food (like CANIDAE!), leashes, cat litter and cat scratching posts. PAWS also has an online store with t-shirts, sweatshirts, baseballs caps, books and other fun stuff – so you can buy some goodies for yourself or for gifts, and support PAWS at the same time!

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

America's Favorite Animal Shelter Contest

Kelly and I are participating in “America’s Favorite Animal Shelter” contest sponsored by Care2, ASPCA and Adopt-a-Pet. Whether you are a dog and cat lover, animal right advocate or community member, you can help your favorite animal shelter win $15,000! The more votes your shelter gets, the better your shelter’s chances of winning.

I cast my vote for Homeward Bound Dog Rescue, a busy rescue shelter near me. I know some great bloggers volunteer for this rescue. And, some of their dogs will be featured in my upcoming video book trailer!

To join me in voting for Homeward Bound, simply click here:
America's Favorite Animal Shelter Contest - help your animal shelter win $15,000 - vote today!

And, if you want to participate in the contest and nominate your favorite shelter, here's all you do:

1. Find your favorite shelter

2. Vote!

3. Recruit friends to vote for your shelter:

Send an email
to your friends and networks asking them to vote for your shelter.

Spread the word on your website, blog, Facebook or MySpace pages and/or Twitter. (Be creative and get the word out that your shelter could win $15,000!)

Post a flyer at your work, school,library, anywhere!

Send a press release to your local media telling them about your efforts.

Download additional material such as flyers, press releases and letter templates!

Let's all join the efforts to help shelters!

Here's a list of top shelters so far. Maybe we can get Homeward Bound on the list!

A Six-toed Puffin Retriever

Kelly wanted to introduce you today to a special breed of dog, newly recognized by the American Kennel Club...the six-toed Norwegian Lundehund!

According to the American Kennel Club, this dog is:
*medium sized
*black-tipped fur
*able to fold close its ears
*able to turn its head 180 degrees, so that it's chin touches its spine!
*able to turn its feet out sideways (to hunt Puffins, of course)
*oh yeah, has 6 toes on each foot


Angel PAWS is going to get its very own charity kit for digital scrapbooking!  WOW!

Many, MANY thanks to Angel of Angel Baby Scraps for coming up with the idea, and many, many, MANY thanks to the designers (both regular designers for ABS as well as others who are joining in) for agreeing to participate.

I am SO excited, ladies, thank you soooo much!

For those who don't know (and if you know me personally or through ScrapbookFlair, you know this is near and dear to my heart), Angel PAWS, located in Colonia, NJ, is a 501(c)3 charity dedicated to relieving suffering of and finding permanent homes for stray, abandoned and homeless animals. There is great need for what Angel PAWS does, taking in these poor creatures who, through no fault of their own, find themselves on the streets just trying to survive.

Because Angel PAWS runs entirely on volunteer help in maintaining a no-kill shelter and entirely on private donations, we have great need for bodies to help out and money, food, litter and the like for the animals.  I'm so thrilled that "Second Chance" (the name of the kit) is being created for that purpose.  The colors are luscious and the kit will have a shabby feel to it.  It won't be a pet-themed kit (though some elements will be pet-related) so it will have a universal appeal.  Here's the color palette:

At the moment, there's a designer call, so if you're a digi-scrapbook kit designer, check it out.  The kit will be released mid-June.

Keeping Pets & Patients Together--Even When They Are Apart

L to R Cookie, Lela and BooBoo
This month, our hospice story has some personal connections for me. Hospice of Green Country (HGC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma was the very first hospice to pilot Pet Peace of Mind, paving the way for it to become a national program helping hospice patients and pets all over the country. As a hospice chaplain, I had the privilege of working with the dedicated staff and volunteers that still support the program today. Amy Pulliam, the PPOM Coordinator at HGC, shares a story in their Passages Newsletter about a patient and her two dogs, Boo-Boo and Cookie.
    "On a daily basis, Lela told our hospice how much her dogs meant to her. 'They are my life. I love having them here with me, they keep me company and they make me feel better.' Lela had some financial challenges with bills, so we enlisted the Pet Peace of Mind program to help her with pet food, grooming and veterinary care costs. And, as her health declined and it was harder for daughter Jan to care for both Lela and the dogs, PPOM volunteers stepped in. One volunteer drove the 30 miles from Tulsa to Claremore to pick up the dogs for a veterinary appointment. Other volunteers helped by taking the dogs to grooming appointments. When Lela moved to a hospice home in Tulsa, our PPOM volunteers made sure the dogs had foster care in loving homes and took them for frequent visits to see their 'Mom.' Lela could be having a difficult day, but the minute Boo-Boo and Cookie walked in, she was delighted to see them."
    Many patients are forced to give up a pet when they are transferred to a facility for additional care because there is no one to help with pet care or willing to bring pets to visit. Pet Peace of Mind provides opportunities for hospice volunteers to help maintain the relationship between pet and patient at a time when the patient needs them most. I mentioned that this story was personal for me. As it turns out, I was the chaplain for Lela and her husband when he was a patient and we first met Cookie and BooBoo. I am so glad to know that Pet Peace of Mind kept Lela with her beloved dogs.

The cutest thing you'll see today


Tips for Preventing Dog Bites

By Julia Williams

Since this is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, we thought this would be a good time to discuss why dogs bite and offer some tips to avoid getting bitten. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, and one in five dog bite injuries require medical attention.

One very important part of responsible pet ownership is doing everything you can to make sure that you, your family, visitors to your home and strangers on the street are all safe in the presence of your dog. Although there is no way to guarantee that your dog will never bite someone, there are things you can do to lessen the probability. First and foremost, it’s vital to arm yourself with knowledge about dog behavior.

Learn to “Speak Dog”

A good place to start is the educational website Doggone Safe, which has a wealth of information about dog bite prevention, including recognizing signs of anxiety, arousal, aggression, signs that a bite is imminent, and signs that a dog is happy. The site also has photos and a slideshow of different canine body language signals, which can be a very useful teaching tool for parents. Since dogs can’t verbalize how they feel, they use their body language to tell us whether they want attention or to be left alone. Learning to recognize signs of aggression will help prevent dog bites.

A dog that bites is not necessarily a mean dog or a bad dog. All dogs – even a docile family pet – can bite if they are frightened or feel threatened. “It’s not the breed of the dog that causes the bite, but rather how well the dog is trained and controlled,” says Victoria Stilwell, a well known dog trainer featured on the Animal Planet series, It’s Me or the Dog.

Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

● Socialize your dog from the start. Dogs that are not socialized may feel nervous when meeting strangers, and might bite out of fear.

● One of the most important basic commands to teach your dog is “drop it,” which keeps you from having to reach into his mouth to retrieve the ball or toy. Other commands they should know are come, sit, stay, no, and down (or off).

● Be cautious and alert when introducing your dog to new situations. At the first sign that your dog feels uncomfortable, remove him from the situation.

● Don't disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or chewing on a toy. 

● A mother dog will naturally be protective around her puppies; use caution when interacting with her or the pups.

● Never leave small children alone with a dog. Teach children to always ask permission before petting someone’s dog.

● When you encounter a dog in a fenced yard, keep your hands and face away from the fence. A dog considers the yard its personal property, and may bite to protect it. Always assume that a dog who doesn't know you may view you as an intruder or a threat.

● Avoid direct eye contact with a dog, which will be seen as a challenge.

● Before you adopt a dog, be sure to carefully research which breed will be the best fit for your family.

If a strange dog approaches you:

Don’t scream or make loud noises, and don’t turn your back on the dog and run away because a dog's natural instinct will be to chase you. Instead, remain motionless (“be still like a tree”), leave your arms at your sides or cross them over your chest, and look away from the dog.

If the dog does attack, give him your coat, purse, book or any other object that you can put between you. If you get knocked to the ground, curl into a ball and “be still like a log.”

The above is not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial on how to prevent dog bites, but it is a good place to start. You might also want to read Linda Cole’s “The Body Language of Dogs,” and “Teaching Kids How to Approach an Unfamiliar Dog.” Although these two articles are not specifically about preventing dog bites, they do include information that will help you in that regard.

Photo by Jeffrey Beall

Read more articles by Julia Williams


(via Cats and Stuff)

Introducing Dandy Lion!

Just a month old and with a nasty cold, Dandy Lion is the sweetest little boy and he's got a terrific, playful purrsonality!

Is he not just the cutest thing going?  He's gonna be a little devil when he starts getting into everything, though!!  (the pictures aren't the best - he wouldn't stop moving!)

The scrapbook kit I used is Angel Baby Scraps' Playful.  Very appropriate for this little squirt!

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

By Linda Cole

The APDT is an organization made up of professional trainers who are dedicated to educating dog trainers on how they can be better trainers. Most of us who own dogs understand the importance of training them. For those of us who take on the job of teaching our dogs basic commands, a good supply of CANIDAE TidNips™ treats, positive reinforcement and plenty of love can help our dogs learn what we want them to know. Sometimes, however, a dog owner may not have the time or knowhow to teach a dog, and that's where the Association of Pet Dog Trainers can be of service. If you are looking for a qualified dog trainer, the APDT is a good organization to start your search with.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers is the brainchild of Ian Dunbar, a well known veterinarian, animal behaviorist, dog trainer and writer. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers was founded in 1993 with a goal of helping dog trainers learn how to do their job better with continual education. If you are a dog trainer, APDT can help you build contacts and improve your dog training business by associating with other professional dog trainers you can network with. They also conduct seminars and conferences where trainers can share ideas and learn from each other. Membership in the organization is worldwide, and their mission statement is: “To represent and advance the dog training profession through education and advocacy.”

The APDT dog trainers understand and believe in nurturing and building a lifelong relationship with your dog by training them using dog friendly training techniques (positive reinforcement). That's the best way to earn a dog's trust whether you hire someone to train your dog or take on the task yourself. Trying to bully, intimidate or force a dog to bend to your will doesn't work. But as the dog's owner, we are still responsible for making sure we can control our dogs, and that's why dogs should be taught to respond to basic commands.

Before 2001, most dog trainers were certified according to a specific program they were trained in. A school's certification system wasn't wrong and the dog trainers who obtained their credentials from the school are qualified and professional trainers. In 2001, the APDT created a standardized certification process to test a trainer’s knowledge about dogs and dog friendly training techniques. The Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT) is the only national professional testing program that certifies dog trainers. The purpose of the CCPDT is to make sure a dog trainer has the proper knowledge and skills to train household pets and gives the dog's owner confidence in knowing their dog will be trained by someone who will teach the dog using positive reinforcement and love.

Trainers who have been certified with CCPDT keep their credentials by continuing their education or by retaking the certification exam every three years. A dog trainer with “CPDT-KA” after their name has been certified by the CCPDT. CPDT-KA stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed. Although the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers was conceived and implemented by the APDT, the two organizations are now separate from each other. For more information about CCPDT, please visit their website.

Not all dog trainers use positive reinforcement training techniques, so it's important to check them out before training begins. Dog trainers don't need to be certified in order to train dogs and if you don't agree with a trainer's technique, it's good to know that in advance so you don't subject your dog to harsh techniques that can actually do more harm than good. Don't be afraid to ask a trainer for their credentials and references and follow up by checking them out. You should do as much research, interviewing and verifying references for your dog trainer as you would in interviewing and checking references for a potential daycare or babysitter for your child.

The majority of dog trainers, whether they have received certification or not, are qualified and professional trainers. They work with dogs because they love what they do. If you are a dog trainer, or know someone who is, the APDT website gives you all the information you need to join a group of professional trainers. This will allow you to network with other professional dog trainers that can help you increase your knowledge about dogs and dog friendly training techniques, and build your dog training business. The website also provides a way for dog owners to search for a qualified trainer, along with helpful information on how to choose a good dog trainer.

Photo: dogsbylori

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How to Get Rid of Snakes

This is what Kelly does to snakes.
We have snakes in our yard. Lots. And a very small back yard. They're called ribbon snakes and if you ask me, they are about 8 foot long and as thick as a flag pole, but my husband contends they are about 2 foot long at best.

I don't like snakes. They skeeve me out. Some people tell me to leave the snakes alone, they eat bugs and rodents and which would you rather have?
Me: bugs and rodents.
Some people even like snakes.
Me: ????

Ribbon snakes are said to eat frogs and slugs and I do notice that we no longer have any frogs and slugs around. Frogs are actually kind of cute, and slugs are slimy but at least not scary. So, I want to get rid of the snakes. They might bite Kelly. They might bite me. They slither. 'Nuff said.

Here are some ways to repel or discourage snakes:
1. keep your grass trimmed (as you can tell by the following photos, we were overdue for a mowing.)
2. remove piles of wood or stones where snakes can hide
3. get rid of their food source
4. try mothballs
5. hire a professional snake handler to remove the beasts

All I have is a snake-hunting dog who thinks that snakes are playthings or interesting stuffies, and swings them about like a cowboy. Here is Kelly with her friend.

me running away

So, my questions are:
* Will Ribbon snakes bite Kelly?
* What ways have you found successful to get rid of snakes?
* Is there a way to repel them without them getting the idea in their snaky brains that they should find a crack in our 100 yr old house and come on inside?
* Should I try to get rid of the snakes, or learn to live peacefully together?