Thursday, December 30, 2010

Give a Dog a Bone cares for animals in custody

Give a Dog a Bone cares for animals in custodyPepper was an emaciated pit bull who arrived at San Francisco Animal Care and Control for the first time in 2007. The 9-year-old dog was held in city custody while her owner was investigated on charges of starving an animal. For 11 months, Pepper spent her days in a small kennel while waiting for the legal system to decide her fate. Ultimately, the district attorney lost the case and, because animals are still considered property in the eyes of the law, Pepper was returned to her abusive owner. As a volunteer at Give a Dog a Bone at San Francisco Animal Care and Control, Susie Leni sees dogs like Pepper all the time. Pepper is but one among thousands of dogs in similar situations throughout the country.

Custody dogs, as they're called, end up in shelters because their owners are hospitalized, have been jailed or evicted or, as in Pepper's case, face animal cruelty charges. While a shelter may have custody of the dog, often the owner wants it back.

Previously, custody dogs were not taken on walks and were not touched or even let out of their kennels to relieve themselves. Since the creation of Give a Dog a Bone, custody dogs receive quality-of-life enrichment, affection, attention and mental and physical stimulation. The program was founded in 1999 by Animal Care and Control volunteer Corinne Dowling. When she learned about custody dogs, her dedication became a full-time commitment to address the needs of dogs in long-term shelter care.

As a volunteer, I help attend to custody dogs, even those that may be too dangerous to take out of their kennels; these we touch with special devices designed to mimic human contact. All dogs get treat-driven puzzles to keep their brains stimulated, and enjoy loving attention until they can be released for adoption, returned to their owner, or, in some cases, euthanized. Volunteers provide custody dogs with compassion, even holding and stroking their heads and whispering lovingly to them as they die. We may not be able to save their lives, but we ease their pain with love and care, even if only for a few days or weeks.

In July, a gaunt Pepper was impounded once again. She arrived 20 pounds underweight, but at least was at a place where she could eat, play and receive love from her shelter family - things she never experienced with her owner. Despite her fragile state, Pepper showed promise, engaging with us, offering kisses and running for toys to bring back to us. It was obvious she had been deprived in many ways. Knowing that Pepper had spent many months in confinement at the shelter, we were determined to help turn her into the beautiful, well-fed dog she should have always been. Gradually, Pepper's energy and zest for life were restored. And this time her outcome was different.

Though the district attorney again failed to protect Pepper in its prosecution of her owner, Animal Care and Control managed to persuade the owner to surrender her to the city's custody, and had someone willing to adopt Pepper so she could live out her life with love, stimulation and food. Despite her many years of abuse and neglect, Pepper now lives peacefully with two other dogs and her human guardian. And I consider myself blessed to have worked with a dog like Pepper and to witness the happy ending that all dogs deserve.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coffee drinkers get a purr with their buzz in Seoul

Coffee drinkers get a purr with their buzz in SeoulSure, Oh Yoo-jin wanted a cup of coffee, but what the 24-year-old university student really wanted to do was commune with the residents of her tiny neighborhood cafe the cats. On a recent afternoon, Oh and her boyfriend shared the brightly lighted cafe with a dozen felines. There were cats lounging on the windowsills, curiously nosing customers' coffee cups or taking leisurely strolls past the register.

That's the point of Seoul's newest cat cafe: Why just caffeinate when you can indulge with a purring tabby or Russian gray on your lap? "Mom-and-pop cafes are everywhere and there's a Starbucks on just about every corner in Seoul, but this is different," Oh said as she petted a cat whose coloring matched her leopard-print blouse.

In South Korea's capital, which in recent years has felt the buzz of the coffeehouse craze, entrepreneurs know that it's not enough just to serve up drinks and scones. If you want to stay in business, you've got to separate yourself from the crowd.

So, many have turned to cafes that invite parents to relax while their children romp in supervised play areas, or where English, Mandarin or any other language but Korean is the requisite tongue.

There are cafes where customers can bake a cake, get their hair and nails done, have their fortunes read, or just marvel at hundreds of Barbie dolls.

Want a little unconditional love with your morning coffee and paper? You can head to cafes where dogs of all breeds and sizes are available for petting and friendship. At other coffeehouses, customers play board games such as Monopoly and Scrabble, compete in quiz contests and even dress up in costumes.

One university cafe features statues of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Woodstock.

"We offer the complete Peanuts experience," manager Hur Su-ji said, sniffing at the green Starbucks coffeehouse logo across the street. "And we do OK."

Unlike coffeehouses in other cultures, many of Seoul's themed caffeine cafes are bereft of customers in the morning. It's only in the evening that the crowds come out. But in Kwon Hyuk-jin's Cat Cafe, the customers come as soon as he opens his doors at 1 p.m. A cat lover, Kwon saw the success that a friend had introducing cats and coffee drinkers and opened his own business last month.

"Some customers come for the coffee, but most come for the cats," he said as one large tabby nosed a coffee grinder behind him. "A lot of women lead their boyfriends here by the hand."One woman, an artist, comes in each day to do paintings of the animals. Another is so fascinated by the concept that she often lingers until closing time, Kwon said.

Most tables include a lint roller. Customers are required to remove their shoes and pass through a safety door to guard against cat escapes. The Cat Cafe has rules: Don't wake up sleeping cats or grab a passing feline. You can't feed the residents, and the menu also politely asks, "Please don't tap the cats' behind.""This is a place where you can make friends with the cats," a sign reads. "However, cats are not toys."

Two friends sat on the floor and played with several rambunctious kittens. "I like Randall, the gray cat. He's a very special animal," college student Kim Joo-young said. Her friend, Choi Hee-eun, who lives with her parents, wants her own cat but her mother is against the idea. "In Korea, some of the old-timers still believe that cats bring bad luck," she said.

But there seems to be little bad karma at the Cat Cafe. At a window table, near a box that housed a sleeping kitten, Oh Yoo-jin and her boyfriend looked pretty much at peace. "I like this environment," said boyfriend Lee Ho, sneaking a glance at Oh. "And who knows, one day I could see myself actually proposing here."

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Horse racing losing patrons to casinos

The horses prick up their ears as a flamingo hue bleeds into the dawn sky. They chortle through their velvet nostrils. They nod their silky heads. The sun is rising at Calder racetrack and the horses are ready to run.

Eddie Plesa, trainer of thoroughbreds, moves around the barn with a brisk gait, from tack room, to office, to stalls. He talks to riders, grooms, jockey agents, a veterinarian and a blacksmith while overseeing a routine that never changes. There are poultices to be applied, flanks to be rubbed and a hopeless case named Malini, who runs like he's in quicksand, to be shipped to a farm.

In Calder's backside village, Barn 74 is the home of Edward Plesa Stables, symbolized by the black diamond P. Every day for 40 years his horses have run around the track and walked around the shedrow, generation after generation of winners and losers, round and round.

``How'd you go, Pete?'' he asked an exercise rider aboard To Heir Is Human. ``Real smooth, boss,'' Pete Shelton said after galloping the gelding through a workout. Plesa, 59, started hot-walking horses and filling bags of clover for 50 cents when he was 5 years old. His father was a jockey and one of the first trainers at Calder. His wife's father was a jockey, and her brothers are trainers.

Plesa's daughter, studying equine science at the University of Kentucky, longs to become a trainer. But he hopes she finds a different passion. His livelihood, and a way of life, is vanishing.


The sport of kings once had a regal atmosphere to match the magnificence of the animals. Presidents and playboys, moguls and movie stars came to tracks in jackets and ties and fancy dresses to watch Man O'War, Citation, Secretariat. They sat in their name-plated boxes and dined at the Turf Club. Aristocrats owned horses as a hobby.

These days, tracks across the country are in trouble. Maryland racing, which includes the Preakness Stakes, was ready to shut down Dec. 31 until the governor orchestrated a Dec. 22 deal that includes state bailout money. In South Florida, Hialeah, once a jewel, was closed for eight years; it's trying to revive with unfashionable quarter horse racing. Gulfstream's corporate owner, which also owns Santa Anita and Pimlico, was in bankruptcy and lost $23 million on racing last quarter.

At Calder, the motley crowds are as small as the prize purses. Maybe 2,000 spectators in T-shirts and baseball caps watch races that pay $12,000. The grandstand is empty except for a few senior citizens. The wagering clerks and food stand workers have a faraway gaze as they wait for a customer to place a bet or buy a slice of pizza. The silence is broken by gray-skinned bettors cursing at TV screens simulcasting races from other deserted tracks.

Outside, the patchy grass of the once-lush paddock is ringed by wilting impatiens. Worthless tickets skitter in the breeze. The bugler's tune echoes across the finish line. ``It's a dying sport,'' Plesa said. He closes his eyes for a second, and tries not to sound wistful. ``It hurts to see how this place has deteriorated.''

But stroll 50 yards away from the racetrack into the year-old Calder Casino and it's like leaving a dilapidated amusement park and entering a swanky nightclub. The floors are lined with thick, colorful carpet. The lighting is soft and low. Pop music is pumped throughout the warehouse-sized room. There are free soft drink stations, plus the Twin Spires Tavern and Front Runners Café. Employees are attentive, perky.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pet Adoptions In Full Swing For Holidays

It was one of the Humane Society's busiest times of the year. Dozens of prospective pet owners were in search for the perfect addition to their family for this holiday season. In order to help find these animals a new home the humane society reduced the price of adoptions to 50% off for dogs six months or older. It was the final day to name your own price for the adoption of cats.

"There's a lot of unwanted pets and its sad so today this is our way of contributing," said Amy Killion. The Humane Society provides every adopted animal with health tests and also recommends inserting microchips into your pets necks before the holidays. "With the fireworks going off throughout the new year, the animals freak out with all the noise and they tend to run away," Adoption Supervisor Violet Iuta said.

A micro-chip contains the contact information of the pet's owner. In the case that a pet gets lost, the microchip can help insure that every lost pet can be returned to its owner. Micro-chips cost on average anywhere from $15 to $30 dollars. The humane society offers the placement of microchips for $5 dollars if you adopt an animal from their facility.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Pit Bull Attacks Toddler

A toddler in Riverside suffered injuries to her face and head after being attacked by the family pit bull. Riverside County Animal Services Captain Tammie Belmonte said officers responded to a call Wednesday night involving an attack. Officers and emergency responders with the city of Riverside initially handled the 911 call from the residence in the 9500 block of Arlington Avenue.

Animal Control Officer Lorena Barron made contact with the victim's parents at Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center in Riverside. Due to the severity of the injuries, the victim was later transferred to the Loma Linda University Medical Center.

The parents were not home when the attack occurred, but their 2-year-old daughter was under the supervision of a grandmother and aunt. Tonka, a 3-year-old male American bull dog mix, was looking "oddly" at the toddler immediately before the attack, the aunt told Officer Barron.

Tonka attacked the girl and pinned her against a television. The aunt jumped up to separate the dog from her niece, according to Officer Barron's report. The aunt pulled the dog away and shielded her niece. Tonka then attacked her, biting her right calf.

Although the attack was apparently unprovoked, a second dog at the residence, a 5-year-old female Australian shepherd named Coby, was believed to be in heat, Captain Belmonte said. The American bull dog's behavior could have been more unpredictable due to the female dog's fertility signals, Belmonte said.

The parents signed over both dogs for euthanasia. Neither pet had been sterilized, vaccinated or licensed. The American bull dog mix will be sent to a lab to test him for rabies.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dog 'cooked to death' in hot car

A dog left muzzled and restrained in a car on a Christchurch rooftop car park on a sunny day probably "cooked to death" in the heat, the Canterbury SPCA says. The SPCA is investigating the incident and says the owners could be fined up to $75,000 or jailed for up to three years if found responsible for the death.

SPCA manager Geoff Sutton said the little pomeranian, which had been harnessed to a seatbelt and tightly muzzled, was already dead by the time staff arrived at the car park in Shirley on Saturday afternoon. A dog or any animal trapped in a hot car would literally "cook" to death, he said.

"It cooks really, from the brain, the blood, every part of it. A dog doesn't sweat like you and I do. A dog can only cool itself down through panting."A dog also needed access to plenty of water and be in cool, fresh air to moderate its temperature.

He was reluctant to comment on the case until post-mortem results were returned and an official investigation was completed. However, the cause of the pomeranian's death was likely to be heart failure brought on by "severe heat stress".

Mr Sutton said that keeping a dog in a car while doing activities such as shopping, visiting friends or going to the beach was irresponsible. "This sort of behaviour is all too frequent and whenever it happens it is quite frankly stupid," he said.

"It's completely avoidable, it's completely unnecessary... a dog should only be transported in a car when it's going somewhere for the dog."However, putting a dog in a car was not an offence and the SPCA could only take action once the dog was in distress or pain.

"Nobody can really take preventative action other than the owner not taking it out in the first place. We will always respond if the dog is showing signs of distress but sometimes that's too late."

Animal neglect made him angry, he said. "Animals can't talk - they rely on us to provide them with all the things they need to have a safe and happy life."He pleaded with the public to look after their pets responsibly. "If the trip is not for the dog - don't take it. I don't know a simpler way of saying it," he said.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trap costs dog a leg (Video)

Laila, a boxer-mix, loves to chase squirrels and rabbits. Her owner expects the dog will be back on the trail before long, even though she had a leg amputated Monday after getting caught in an illegal steel wildlife trap.

“It will slow her down for a couple weeks,'' said Fred Frasure. “I'm sure she'll be back at it soon enough.”The Nebraska Humane Society received a call Monday about an injured dog near 84th Street and the Papillion Parkway. Human Society officers spotted Laila running near the Papillion Creek with trap still attached to her leg. Officers captured Laila, removed the trap and contacted her owners.

Mark Langan, spokesman for the Humane Society, said dogs that lose a leg often can get around just fine with three legs. Layla had been missing since Oct. 26, and Frasure had made numerous attempts to find her.

Frasure said Laila got loose after he put her in the fenced backyard at his home. The fence's gate may not have been latched all the way, he said. Langan said that setting traps like the one that caught Laila is illegal in the city limits. He said it's rare for a pet to get caught in one of the traps. Langan said he's concerned that there may be more of the traps set near the creek. The traps also would be dangerous for people, particularly children, he said.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Dog-friendly winter destinations

As the holiday travel season hits high gear, leisure industry insiders predict that more people will be traveling with their dogs to winter destinations in 2010 than in previous years. “There are fantastic deals for pet-friendly vacations offering travelers rates at least a third cheaper than the usual standard rates at this time of the year,” said Victor Owens, Vice President North America of “We’re predicting this to be the best season since 2007.”

The website, which offers vacation seekers more than 90,000 hotel options to choose from, is paying close attention to popular pet-friendly destinations. Owens says that while various cities across America in states such as Colorado and Vermont have a well-earned reputation for being pet-friendly, people traveling with dogs are broadening their horizons and looking to vacation in more “undiscovered” locations such as Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bismarck, N.D., and Pierre, S.D.

“We have people scouting these areas and adding information to our website on a regular basis,” says Owens. “These are definitely destinations to watch in the future.”

Owens says another state putting out the welcome mat for pets is Montana.

“Granted it's cold, but many people like the idea of big open spaces to enjoy snow activities with their pets.”

Winter sports activities
Popular winter activities for people with pets include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing on pet-designated trails and the popular sport of skijoring, in which a dog equipped with a harness pulls a cross-country skier across the trails.

Every year, the dog travel magazine Fido Friendly publishes its top 10 ski destinations for powder hounds.

“I think Park City, Utah, is another upcoming Fido-friendly destination,” says Susan Sims, the magazine’s publisher. “There’s been a huge increase in the number of properties in Deer Valley that welcome furry guests. Choices include private homes, renovated historic mining cabins and luxurious hotels like the Montage in Deer Valley.”

In addition to dog-friendly trails, Sims says Park City also offers excellent dog-sitting amenities such as Doginhaus, where dogs can enjoy canine fun with other pooches while their owners negotiate serious slopes.

Lake Placid, N.Y., is another destination that Sims recommends. At the Lake Placid Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains, the general manager’s golden retriever, Maggie, is happy to show people around and guide them back the lodge. The area also offers excellent opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing with pets.

Red River, N.M., is known as the Ski Town of the Southwest and offers a good selection of pet-friendly activities and accommodations. The Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Area has three miles of trails designated for people to ski or snowshoe with their dogs and hosts "Dog Days" at the end of the season, where the entire area is open for dogs to frolic and have fun. Dogs are also welcome in any of the shops on Main Street.

Dog-friendly Aspen
Aspen, Colo., has a longstanding reputation for being pet-friendly. The city’s original dog-friendly hotel, the Limelight Hotel, is across the street from dog-friendly Wagner Park and continues to host many regular doggie guests. This popular ski resort offers miles of hiking and walking trails, including the beginner-level Rio Grande Trail, the popular Smuggler/Hunter Creek Trail, and the challenging Ute Trail.

Today the city boasts numerous upscale pet-friendly resorts, including the trendy Sky Hotel. Dogs stay free, and the hotel has a dog-walking service for pet owners who want a little alone time. For budget-conscious travelers, the conveniently located Aspen Mountain Lodge also is friendly to Fido.

The famous Little Nell’s Petiquette Program offers doggie-sized portions of the hotel's room-service menu, including such dishes as beef tenderloin with scrambled eggs and brown rice. The same amenities are available at the newly opened Residences at the Little Nell. The resort’s 'Living Room' and 'Terrace Bar' invite dogs to join their human companions for five-star dining.

For anyone looking to adopt a new dog, the Aspen Animal Shelter allows potential pet parents to take pets back to their hotel for a trial sleepover. The successful program helps ensure that potential owners have found the right pet before proceeding with adoption.

Another Colorado destination, Telluride, boasts more dog residents than people — and the numbers increase further during the holiday season. Pets are allowed in select cabins on the free gondola that connects Telluride with Mountain Village. They are also allowed on the Galloping Goose, the town’s free shuttle bus.

More favorites
Websites such as and offer an excellent selection of pet-friendly destinations around the country. "Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook" is a handy publication that also lists pet-friendly places catering to every price range and every paw.

Grayling, Mich., is another upcoming destination looking to entertain pet owners during the winter season.

“It’s a great place to avoid crowds,” says Ilene Wilson, spokesperson for the Grayling Visitors Bureau. “About 70 percent of this Michigan county is owned by the state and federal government, so there are lots of wide-open spaces for vacationers to take their dogs snowshoeing or backcountry skiing.

“While Grayling doesn’t have any pet-friendly restaurants, but there are numerous very affordable motels in the area that allow pets.”

For pet owners looking to pamper their pooches, the Gunflint Lodge on the Gunflint Trail just north of Grand Marais, in northern Minnesota, hosts special dog lover’s weekends. The next one, called the Woofda Uffda, is scheduled for Jan. 21-23.

“The program includes dog sledding, skijoring, trick training for dogs, and special doggie socials,” says Lisa Sellman, who also arranges special Tellington Touch sessions to relax and sooth canines after a day of fun in the snow.

Another popular winter favorite for the pet set is South Lake Tahoe.

“We have regulars that return every year,” says Robin Eichenfield, owner of the Deerfield Lodge at Heavenly in this popular year-round resort. “In fact, people with pets are the majority of our business. Our canine guests love to romp in the snowy courtyard while their families build snowmen. It’s always such fun to watch the longer-haired breeds get covered in snow until they look like huge snowballs.” Mammoth Mountain is another world-renowned ski destination with a pet-friendly reputation. Apart from typical winter activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, dogs also get to enjoy snowball chases. Hotels such as the Westin Monache, located at the base of Mammoth Mountain, cater to canine snow enthusiasts, as do many restaurants in the village, including the Side Door Bistro and Gomez’s Restaurant and Cantina.

“It’s a pooch paradise,” says Westin Monache spokesperson Natasha Bourlin. “From doggie bakeries to super pet boutiques, it’s a destination that caters specifically for the four-legged travelers.”

Sandy Robins is an award-winning pet lifestyle writer. She is the recent recipient of the Humane Society of the United States' Pets for Life Award. Her work appears in many national and international publications.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pets as presents not recommended

Almost Home Humane Society Executive Director Michelle Warren said giving the gift of a puppy this holiday season is not recommended. "We are on the position of not doing it. Just because the holidays are so stressful, and transition for a pet at that time is not ideal," said Warren.

Warren said the surprise of a new pet is the biggest issue, it means the owner and pet don't have time to figure out if they are compatible. "The actual person that's going to have care of the animal, be responsible for the animal, needs to pick it out. Actually make sure that's what they're looking for. Not all cats are the same, not all dogs are the same," said Warren.

Warren said bringing a pet home as a present for the holidays can be stressful for both the owner and the animal. "A lot of people have, you know company coming over. There are things in the house like Christmas trees and decorations in the house that aren't normally around. transitioning an animal from a shelter, or anywhere, they need the most calm introduction into the family possible," said Warren.

New pets aren't the only ones to worry about during the holidays. Warren said old pets need special attention over the holiday season as well.

"You just want to be very careful with the decorations you have out, the plants that are out. And than feeding off the table also can cause major stomach issues, especially if they're not used to it," said Warren.

Warren encourages people set on giving a pet a home this year to come in to Almost Home Humane Society, and purchase a gift certificate.

For those with pets, the Almost Home Humane Society will hold their holiday open house on Sunday December 12. The event gives pets and owners the opportunity to take photos with Santa.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Dog care facility opens

As the end of December approaches, some people may be heading out of town for the holiday season. While making sure that every family member is safe, secure and jolly throughout Christmas, one member may tend to be forgotten. Dave Carr and Paula Russello have that special member in mind. Carr and Russello are owners and head trainers at Complete Canine, a 9,500 square-foot dog care facility that provides a dog day care, boarding, private training, grooming and pet portraits. Their goal is to provide dogs with a relaxing, stress-free environment.

The state of the art facility, newly opened on Dec. 1, is located at 6746 Martin St. in Rome. The building houses a reception area, indoor and outdoor play area and kennel. This may sound like a typical canine kennel but the philosophy that Carr and Russello have instituted at Complete Canine is what stands out in the dog-eat-dog world of canine care.

"We believe in training dogs with structure," says Russello.

"We run a very regimented program. We teach dogs leadership skills, stress socialization with other dogs and animals and we also conduct in home behavior modification that focuses on home problems such as playing too rough, barking, etc."

This, combined with approximately 15 years of experience and life-long passions for dogs, explains why Complete Canine has garnered attention.

Russello and Carr both dreamed of creating this haven for dogs back when they started Complete Canine in 2006. Training out of their backyard, the two planned for a move into an actual facility that featured an indoor area. After a year of preparations, they decided on the Martin Street location. Russello, a self-proclaimed "germophobe," took over from there.

"Being a mother and dog owner myself I wanted a place that would be safe and clean for dog and child alike," Russello says. "The material that covers the ground and up the walls of this facility is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. The dog's waste is immediately cleaned up whether playing or in the kennel area. If I find any sign of waste, dirt, etc. left unattended, someone is going to be in trouble. That is how serious I am."

Dogs and their owners are pleased and impressed at the setup and protocol of the indoor play area. The room is divided into two sections. A little dog area that can fit 25 dogs and a big dog area that can maintain up to 50 dogs comfortably. The room is replete with innocuous toys and obstacles that allow the dog to let loose while still remaining safe. The dog toys are rubber and hard in order to maintain the anti-bacterial environment that Russello strives for. The outdoor play area, just outside of the indoor area, is concrete as opposed to grass in order to make it more difficult for the dogs to contract any bacteria or viruses.

The kennel section contains dozens of custom-built boarding cells that provide a dog of any size the space to sleep and relax comfortably. Privacy is stressed and exhibited by the fact that each cell is walled on three sides with a gate that deters the dog from feeling boxed in. Above each cell is a panel hung down from the ceiling. These panels are designed to absorb sound, such as the echoing bark of a dog, to relieve the dogs of unneeded stress. When asked why the couple has gone to such lengths to cater to the animals, Russello has flashbacks.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to care for your dog in winters

Dog is a man's best friend. As winters are approaching, here's how you should take care of your most trusting friend.

1 Get it checked: Take your pet for a check-up before winter kicks in, to be doubly sure that they don’t have any medical problems that will make them more
vulnerable to the cold.

2 Warmth is the key: Keep your pet indoors as much as you can when the mercury drops. Staying warm requires extra calories. Your pet may require more food or a change in diet. Consult your vet.

3 Clothe them up: Some dogs especially short haired dogs get very cold and may require a dog jacket to keep them warm. However, this doesn’t keep them entirely warm as pets lose most of their body heat from under their feet, ears and respiratory tract. Booties and ear puffs will help keep them warm.

4 Blow dry: If your dog gets wet, then towel or blow dry them to get them dry as soon as possible or else they will catch a cold easily.

5 Treat stiffness: Be particularly gentle with elderly and arthritic pets during the winter. The cold can leave their joints extremely stiff and tender. Make sure they have a thick, soft bed in a warm room for the chilly nights.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

How to Keep Your Pets Safe This Winter

While people merely need to put on a coat and gloves to stay warm in the cold, pets need us to protect them from old man winter. All outdoor pets should have shelter from the wind, rain, and snow. When the temperature outside drops below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), we should provide adequate protection from the elements for our pets. When the outside temperature and/or wind chill drops below zero, then our pets should have access to shelter that has heat! Young pets don't regulate their body temperature as well as adults, so bring them inside when it gets cold. Also, older pets, or pets with illness are especially susceptible to the cold. Keep them inside with you.

Use A Heated Water Bowl

Pets need access to fresh, unfrozen water at all times. It is better to use a heavy plastic water bowl in the winter instead of metal. Metal lose heat quickly and the water will freeze faster. Plus there is a chance the dog's tongue could get stuck to the bowl. A heated bowl is best for outside dogs.

Layer With Sweaters and Booties

When you take your dog for her daily walk, put a sweater on dogs with short or thin hair.

Dogs that should wear a sweater: older (geriatric) dogs, short-haired dogs (like Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Boxers, Boston Terriers), and dogs that are sick.

Ice balls can form around your dog's feet or between the toes. These can be painful and very uncomfortable. Clipping the hair around the feet will help reduce this. Plus, try apply a little Vaseline or cooking spray to the bottom of the feet before a walk to keep ice and snow from sticking. Make sure to wipe the dog's feet when she comes back inside.

Keep Pets Away from Rock Salt and Antifreeze

Salted roads and sidewalks can be irritating to the dog. If their footpads are cracked from the cold weather, the salt will be like "salt in a wound". Not fun. Plus you don't want your dog licking all that salt and swallowing it. Be sure to wipe off your dog's feet when she comes in from a walk. Booties are very helpful in keeping the dog's feet dry, and clean of salt and other chemicals. Of course, it may take some time to teach your dog to wear them!

Antifreeze poisoning is a big risk during the cold months. This is a life-threatening medical emergency. If your dog or cat ingests antifreeze and receives no medical attention, they could die in less than a day. Signs of antifreeze poisoning: depression, lack of coordination, diarrhea, thirst, and seizures (ethylene glycol is the toxic agent. Antizol-vet can be given to stop the effect of the ethylene glycol). There is a safer antifreeze that is made with propylene glycol that doesn't damage the kidneys but it is still toxic and can damage the nervous system.

Be Aware of Pine Needles

Make sure your tree is well-secured. If you have a tree-climbing cat or large dog that likes to wag its tail, anchor the top of the tree to the wall using a strong cord or rope to prevent pets from knocking it over. Other potential hazards from the tree itself include pine needles. If ingested, sharp pine needles can puncture your pet's intestines. So, check around trees and boughs frequently.

Keep Tinsel and Lights Out of Reach
String objects: many pets -- especially cats -- also like to chew on string objects, such as tinsel and ribbon. If ingested, they can wrap around intestines or ball up in the stomach, so they should be kept out of reach and safeguarded at all costs.

Electrical lights and cords: holiday lights (both on and off the tree) mean more electrical cords, and many pets -- especially puppies and kittens -- like to chew on them, which means they could get electrocuted. So, be sure they are secured and out of the way.

Holiday Plants Are Poisonous To Pets

Other holiday plants: holly and mistletoe (especially the berries) are extremely poisonous to your pets if eaten. And, while poinsettias may not be truly poisonous, their leaves and sap can cause gastric distress. With so many hybrid varieties out there these days, it's probably best to keep all holiday plants out of your pet's reach.

Never Leave Lit Candles Unattended

Candles: you should always use caution when burning candles around the house, especially if you have pets. Never leave lighted candles unattended, and be sure they are securely anchored so they won't be dislodged by the swat of a paw or tail. If you can, use only candles with domes or cylinders that enclose the flame.

Keep Pets Away from Leftovers

Human food: don't feed your pets scraps from the table! High-fat foods, which are typically found on holiday menus, can upset your pet's stomach. Instead, keep your pet's favorite treats on hand and offer them when the rest of the family is enjoying their meal. The following foods are commonly found around many homes during the holidays, and can be especially hazardous to your pet:

• Bones: The holiday turkey or chicken will provide lots of tantalizing bones, but don't feed them to your pet. Small bones or bone chips can lodge in their throat, stomach, and intestinal track. Beware of steak bones, and ham bones, too.

• Onion and garlic: These contain sulfides, which can cause the destruction of red blood cells, and are toxic to animals. Foods spiced with onion and/or garlic should not be given to pets.

• Raisins: Many people use them while baking during the holiday season. But, they could pose a choking hazard, so keep them out of reach. Raisins are particularly problematic for cats.

• Chocolate: What would the holidays be without boxes of chocolate and warm cocoa? And, though it may be tempting to sneak your pet a little piece...don't! It can be toxic, or even fatal, to dogs and cats (chocolate poisoning occurs most frequently in dogs, but other animals are susceptible, too).

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