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Animal Radio® Show #480 February 14, 2009


Dr. Irene Pepperberg – Alex & Me

Alex is known as one of the most famous African Grey parrots in history, pioneering new avenues in avian intelligence.  Over Alex’s lifetime, he learned to identify about fifty different objects; seven colors; five shapes; quantities up to eight; he understood concepts such as bigger and smaller; and same and different.  His vocalizations were intentional, so if he said he wanted a grape and you gave him a banana, you would be wearing that banana!

While Alex had the kind of training that no other bird has ever received, the species is capable of this type of behavior.

Alex’s personality was very evident in his everyday life. He was “in charge” of his home and relished ordering “his” humans to perform various tasks for him. He also acted as a coach and cheerleader to his fellow birds, Wart and Griffin, alternately encouraging or admonishing them during their lessons. His favorite toys were cardboard boxes, key chains and corks.

Alex was purchased from a Chicago pet store in June 1977 when he was 12 to 13 months old. Alex came from humble beginnings.   His accomplishments proved that all African Grey parrots have an intelligence far beyond what was previously thought before his decades-long work with Dr. Pepperberg. 

Sadly, Alex passed way on September 6, 2007, dying of unknown causes. He was 31 years old.   The book, Alex & Me, is a tribute that covers the struggles, triumphs, setbacks and the unexpected and often stunning achievements during a groundbreaking scientific endeavor spent uncovering the cognitive abilities in Alex.


Vladae, The "World Famous" Russian Dog Wizard

English Pointer Sometimes Destroys House & Yard

It turns out this dog has separation anxiety.   With a dog that has separation anxiety, you should not talk to them for about 15 minutes before you leave the house, and don’t greet them immediately upon returning.  While this lady does not do those things with her dog, it turns out her husband does.  Vladae tells her that they have to get on the same page with their dog and offers some advice on how to do that.

4-Month-Old Golden Retriever Jumps on People

It doesn’t matter what you say to your dog (in this case he is told “down”), it is what you do.  You need to show this dog that you are displeased.  You also need to invade his space before he invades yours and Vladae tells you how.


Vinnie Penn, Animal Radio's Resident Party Animal

Billboard Rabbit

I wanted to talk about something that I spotted in my neck of the woods in recent days, my neck of the woods being Connecticut.   Actually, where I see this is right where you enter into New York.  It’s an enormous billboard that I think has been up before Easter, and basically it has a picture of the most adorable little bunny rabbit that you have ever seen in your life.   It also has the words “We’re not just Easter presents, we’re a lifelong commitment.”

Now the only thing missing is a billboard about 100 feet after that one, with the word, “Duh!” written on it.  What idiot parents out there are bringing a bunny home for their little boy or little girl for Easter morning and regarding it as no different than a goldfish?  Give it a name, treat it like you would a toy, and if it happens to die, we’ll bury it in the backyard and have a really touching ceremony that we will film on the camcorder and we will watch at your wedding, “Oh look, this is when dad eulogized Hugo, my beautiful pet rabbit that I stopped playing with three days after Easter.”

Isn’t it a given not to give a living creature flippantly to a little child?  Never mind the fact that rabbits aren’t the easiest pet to maintain in the first place.   I mean you can’t just put them on a wheel like you would a hamster.   There’s a certain diet there.  You don’t know how many people I know who have done this, and within a week of having this brand new adorable bunny in their backyard, they throw it in a cardboard box in the backyard, and are shocked when a fox has eaten it overnight.  Nothing like an eleven-year-old girl coming out to see her brand new bunny and screaming in horror to find it chewed up, chomped up, spit out, with a few bones left in the box. 

Parents have to start using their heads and realizing what is an appropriate gift and what isn’t.  A Furbee is an appropriate Easter gift, not a bunny.  But the fact of the matter is that stores shouldn’t be selling these in the first place.   You shouldn’t be able to look in a newspaper and see “Bunnies for Sale,” unless the word “play” is before it and the number to call has a name attached to it that reads “Hugh Hefner.”  Everybody should know – who’s to blame?  The blame is on the parents and the blame is on the seller.  Feel free to give a call in – am I wrong?  Everybody should know bunnies are not gifts unless their name is Kendra and you are buying it from a man with a pipe in his mouth. 

Valentine’s Day Cards - For Animals!

Valentines Day – we’re all excited about Valentines Day!  Well, that’s lie.   You can tell that I riff when I do these.   Really, I’m not excited.  I’m really not excited about it at all.  

But the funny thing I wanted to tell you is I actually saw greeting cards, Valentine’s Day cards, for your dog or your cat.  Um, did I miss the prime time live special, did I miss the breaking news that you can now teach your dog or cat to read? 

Really!  Who came up with this?  Who’s the lunatic that came up with this?  Who’s the lunatic that’s going to buy it?  And then they’re going to read it to the dog by bending over and saying, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I love my dog and he loves me too!” 

What is going on?  Valentines Day cards for your pet!  I mean, I understand.  My dog Cruiser, may he rest in peace, I remember once I got him a heart shaped snack biscuit for Valentines Day, but I don’t know that I would get him a card, even if it was a scratch n’ sniff of another’s dog butt!


Dr. Jim Humphries - Veterinary Minute

Thin Pets Live Longer

America’s weight control crisis is now affecting our pets.  About 50% of all pets are overweight.  If you keep your pets thin, studies show that they will live 15% longer.  That’s about 2 extra years on average. 

Why are they overweight?   Well, they eat the wrong food.  There is only one type of food your pet should eat, and your veterinarian can help you figure that out, based on your pet’s breed, age, lifestyle and health risks.   Another reason is they eat too much food.  Pet owners underestimate how much their pets are eating especially as it relates to how many calories they are burning everyday.  And finally, they eat too many treats.  Nobody wants to stop giving their pets treats, but you should limit their treats to no more than 10% of the pet’s caloric intake. 

So how do you downsize your dog?    Well, to get rid of the extra weight, feed the food your doctor recommends, which may be a special weight reducing diet.   Don’t feed “free choice,” which means there’s food available all of the time and your pet eats whenever it wants.  Instead, take the amount of food your doctor recommends and divide it up into two or three meals per day.  Limit the snacks and access to other foods, just as you would in a human diet.  Start a walking program.  If your overweight pet is really out of shape, don’t push it too hard.  Start with one block, or about 300 yards, every 10 pounds of body weight and do it twice a day.  Early morning and late evening are best so you can avoid the scorching hot sidewalks, heat and humidity.

The Cutting Edge…Laser Surgery for Pets!

Whether it's used for correcting vision or removing unwanted tattoos, people are very familiar with the use of lasers in human medicine. Few people, however, may know that lasers also have a place in helping keep our pets comfortable and safe during surgical procedures. Veterinarians across the country are finding out the benefits of providing this innovative service and pet owners are learning how much faster their pet recovers.


Animal Minute With Britt Savage

Shooting Over Dogs at Wedding

A disagreement about dogs at a wedding left four people shot, including the bride and groom!  Although 50 people attended the outdoor Arkansas wedding, the details are still sketchy. 

Authorities said the shooting happened moments after Melissa Smith and Mike Beavers took their vows along Piney Creek in rural Poke County.  Smith the bride, said the shooting began after Patrick Paul DuVall’s dog started fighting with her dog, who was a guest at the wedding.  DuVall was not a guest and didn’t know the couple. 

The dogfight started a human fight, which ended up with 29-year-old DuVall shooting the bride and groom, plus two other guests.   Three of the guests were driven to the police station in the back of a pickup truck while the police found a fourth victim at the site of the wedding. 

Patrick Paul DuVall now faces 4 counts of first-degree felony battery, each of which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $15,000 fine. 


Animal Radio® News with Bobbie Hill
Rapper Special Guest of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The rapper who calls himself DMX will be the special guest of Sheriff Joe Arpaio for the next 90 days.  Earl Simmons was sentenced to three months in jail for convictions of theft, drug possession and animal cruelty charges; three of those convictions were felonies.  The Maricopa County Superior Court also placed Earl on 18 months supervised probation.  The animal cruelty charges were from a raid on Simmon’s Cave Creek home in August 2007 where sheriff’s deputies discovered three dead dogs that were determined to have been abused.

Winter Give Cats & Dogs Dry Skin

Is your dog or cat a little more flaky than usual?  It might be their skin health not their little brains.  Dogs and cats can develop more flaky skin in winter because of heated homes and reduced humidity. Dogs can develop dandruff if they’re on a low fat diet.  Vets asked, said the condition can be corrected with proper nutrition.  High quality pet foods contain essential fatty acids needed for a pet’s diet.  If the condition persists a trip to the vet for a closer look might be needed.

Special Valentine’s Day Wedding

The state of Maryland is allowing an untraditional wedding to take place this Valentine’s Day.  The Humane Society of Baltimore County will perform a cat wedding, Saturday, February 14th at 3 p.m. with a reception to follow the non-denominational ceremony. The stunt is a 2 for 1 cat adoption promotion with the shelter hoping to find homes for about 50 cats and kittens. There’s even a bridal registry that includes dog and cat toys, unscented cat litter, cat blankets and stainless steel bowls.  You can find out more at

Cloning Prices Slashed

The South Korean biotech firm noted for it’s canine cloning techniques announced last week that the cost of cloning just got cheaper.  RNL Bio said it’s cut the cost of genetic duplication by 50 percent thanks to new technology.  Of course pet owners wishing to zerox their favorite fido will still have to come up with close to 50-thousand dollars and wait in line behind working dogs.  The company is giving priority to cloning sniffer dogs used at airports.    


Police Office Goes Above Call of “Doody”

A police officer in Kalama, Washington went above and beyond the call of duty...when he reached into a sewage tank to rescue a Labrador retriever.  Officer Jeff Skeie was able to grab the sinking chocolate lab by the ear and pull it out by the scruff of the neck after the stray jumped into the sewage treatment plant’s digester.  The officer’s uniform sleeves were the only part coated with the foamy liquid.... that is until the dog gave a vigorous shake.  Officer Skeie reportedly showered off and the bathed Labrador was adopted later that day by a lady who named it Hershey.

Man Arrested for Drunken-Horse-Driving

Remember the Roger Miller lyrics - you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd?  Here’s a verse that could be from that song - you can’t ride a white horse when you’re drunk in a blizzard.  That’s what police in Cody Wyoming arrested 28-year-old Benjamin Daniels for, after getting calls from motorists who couldn’t see the slow moving white horse in the recent snowstorm.  Officers who stopped Daniels noticed he was intoxicated; he was detained overnight with an invitation to return to face a municipal judge.  A friend of the alleged drunk riding cowboy picked up the horse and safely trailered it home.

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Your Vet Questions Answered with Dr. Debbie

Can You Neuter a Stray?

This guardian has a Beagle that was potty trained, but since he brought in a stray Chihuahua that he found, she has started peeing in the house.  Dr. Debbie finds out that the female has not been spayed nor has the male been neutered.   She thinks that they are both marking their territories. The guardian is worried about neutering the male, as he is a rescue that showed up on his doorstep.  What would happen if his original guardian showed up and found his dog neutered?

Dog Licks Everything!

Fourteen-year-old silky terrier licks everything from carpeting to cement.   Often times small dogs have an oral fixation.   This is usually from anxiety and is an obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Just make sure that you don’t reward this behavior, only give rewards when the dog is being calm and quiet.  Also, see what gets the dog licking, and removing those items from the dog’s reach.

What Are Symptoms For Hip Dysplasia?

While this fifteen-year-old dog doesn’t seem to be in pain, she is much less steady on her feet.   She also rides in a truck most of the time, and when she gets out she seems to wobble a little bit.  She has just started doing this in the last year.  Could it be because she doesn’t have her “land legs” yet?   Dr. Debbie feels that this is more related to osteoarthritis than hip dysplasia, because hip dysplasia is only one part of the body that can have problems, and this dog has problems in many areas.

Dog Is Still Congested After Visiting Vet Several Times

This Shih Tzu is 7-years-old and has been having congestion.   He was examined by a veterinarian and had a thorough exam, including x-rays.  He was sent home with medication but has not improved.    He went back to the vet for more tests and more medication, but nothing is working.   He is still having a hard time breathing.    Dr. Debbie worries that this could be pneumonia. 

Dog Lives With Extended Family And Doesn’t Know Who His Guardian Is

This 5-year-old dog was recently adopted from an animal shelter and seems to be confused as to who his real guardian is.   He was adopted by a woman who lives with her husband.  But now her daughter is also living there with her son-in-law, just temporarily.  When she is home alone, the dog follows her around, but when her son-in-law comes home, the dog clings to him and won’t come to the woman when she calls him.   This could be more than who is the “head dog” of the house, and while the woman is the main caregiver of the dog, the son-in-law is in charge of playtime.   Dr. Debbie doesn’t feel that this is a case of the dog forgetting who his guardian is, but the dog getting his needs fulfilled by several people.

Guardian Wants Rescued Greyhound To Be A Watchdog

This rescued greyhound is a lap dog and his guardian wants to turn him into a watchdog.   The dog is spoiled rotten and feels she is the queen of the house.  She spends most of her time alone with the wife, and the guardian would like her to be more protective.   Dr. Debbie feels that the guardian picked the wrong breed as a guard dog.  Greyhounds are not known for having a strong protective instinct and a lot of greyhounds can be submissive and a little fearful.  If she is well adjusted and likes people coming to the home, it will be hard to change her behavior and make her into a more aggressive dog.  However, she can be encouraged to have an alertness to things like doorbell sounds by teaching her to bark, but this might be difficult.


Talk With Your Animals with Joy Turner

Joy speaks with Ladybug, Animal Radio’s stunt Chihuahua. Ladybug is current at the vet's office, where she is undergoing a recently spay surgery.  Her guardian originally tried to explain to her that she would be gone for two nights, but according to Ladybug, it wasn’t explained to her properly and she isn’t sure what is going on.  Now, all Ladybug wants is for her guardian to come pick her up and hurry!


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