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 This Week From The Redbarn Studios

Animal Radio for April 24, 2021  

Kitten Rescues Soldier
Josh Marino & Scout

Josh Marino and ScoutA young soldier left the battlefield in Baghdad with traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a mortar attack. Right before he was to give up on life, a stray cat walked up to him, placed his paws on his leg and saved his life. Josh Marino is here to tell his story of Mutual Rescue. Watch the video.

Josh Marino's story goes back to the winter of 2008. He was deployed with the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2008. During this deployment in Iraq, Josh was wounded by an insurgent mortar attack, which left him with a traumatic brain injury. Spending the rest of his deployment in Iraq was also traumatic, leading to the development of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

When Josh returned to the states, he felt he brought the war home with him. He states that unfortunately this can be said about a lot of the guys returning from war. He claims they don't know what they are going to do with the experiences they've had. Some of the guys just never learn how to process it. Unfortunately, Josh was one of those guys, one who didn't know how to process it.

Josh dealt with a lot of people who told him to suck it up and drive on, while others told him it just wasn't something that they could see when they looked at Josh, therefore there wasn't anything wrong with him.

After dealing with this type of adversity for so long, it eventually wore Josh down and took him to the point where he was ready to take his own life.

Josh actually wrote a suicide letter on his computer. He then printed a copy out and left it on his desk. He also had prepared the method he would use. At that point, he decided to go outside and smoke one last cigarette and then go back inside and take care of it.

When Josh went outside, he sat down on the barracks in the rain with a cigarette in his mouth, thinking about the worst part of his life.

Drawing of Josh and ScoutWhile sitting there, Josh heard a little tiny meow underneath the bushes next to him.
The next thing he knew, out stepped this tiny black and white tuxedo kitten. It turns out this kitten was one of a litter of strays that were living underneath the barracks. However, this one little kitten would keep coming back to him. Josh ended up giving him food every day and the kitten would jump up on his lap and spend time with him.

Josh said it was like in the stroke of a second; all of a sudden his life was saved by the most unexpected source. He stopped thinking about all of his problems and started thinking about all of the kitten's problems. Josh now had a purpose again and a reason to keep on going.

A couple of months after first meeting this kitten, Josh was outside the barracks and he couldn't find the kitten anywhere. He then learned that the animal control officers had picked up all of the stray cats. Josh had no idea where they'd taken them.

All of this shook him up a bit, but during the months that he had taken care of this kitten, Josh gained the confidence to keep going and pursue what he needed to do.

One thing Josh did during this time was to strike up a conversation with a girl he knew from high school. One thing led to another and eventually they started dating.

On Memorial Day of 2009, this girl came out to visit him at the base. It was a hot day so they decided to go swimming, but first they needed to purchase bathing suits. On their way to do this, they noticed an adopt-a-thon going on. Josh's girlfriend had lost her cat a few years back and wanted to look at the cats. Josh didn't have a problem looking at the cats for his girlfriend, but stated he didn't get more than three feet down an aisle of carriers when a little black and white paw shot out and started hitting him in his arm.

Josh was so surprised when he looked in the carrier and saw that same little black and white kitten that he had befriended months earlier. Josh claims the odds are pretty stellar that he would ever see this kitten again. But some things were meant to be, and Josh pulled that little guy out of the carrier right then and there and demanded to adopt him.

On their way back to the barracks after doing all of the paperwork, Josh passed by a Calvary statue on base. He had thought about calling the kitten Ian Fleming because it looked like he was wearing a tuxedo just like James Bond. But after seeing the statute, he realized that the kitten was looking out for him and decided that the kitten was going to be his "Scout."

Josh feels that Scout had a pretty big "paw" in putting him on the path that he is on today. Josh recognizes that he had a very dark period in his life and he was able to get through it. He now sees his purpose is to help other veterans who are in dark places to see if they can get through it too. Josh claims he always recommends animals to help them through these times.

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It's Not Doggie Asthma - It's a Reverse Sneeze - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteWhat dog owner hasn't heard that frightening sound that dogs make - part cough, part sneeze and often described as a dog being unable to catch his breath. But it really isn't asthma, or some kind of bone stuck in your dog's throat - it's a reverse sneeze. So before you panic and run into the veterinary office on emergency, ensure you know what a reverse sneeze is.

Meet the Reverse Sneeze
A reverse sneeze is a respiratory sound in a category all its own. Also known as a pharyngeal gag reflex or backwards sneeze, the reverse sneeze is a commonly observed respiratory sound in dogs, and less commonly in cats. While a true sneeze occurs on the exhale, the reverse sneeze occurs as the dog inhales. The result is a reverberating snorting, wheezing, episodic sound that lasts for a few seconds to a minute or two. A reverse sneeze is a completely harmless sound and dogs do not suffer any immediate health threat from these episodes.
How can you tell it's a reverse sneeze?

There is no easy explanation of the sound - you just have to hear it and you'll recognize it. Click to see and hear an example of a dog's reverse sneeze episode.

Part of my enjoyment on the weekly national radio program, Animal Radio, is describing the peculiar smells, sounds and essences of veterinary medicine with our listeners. On many an occasion when speaking to callers, I have re-created the sounds of reverse sneezing. I'm no Rich Little, but I do take pride in my impersonation of a canine reverse sneeze, which is admittedly better in person with the visuals to complement the throaty sound.

Characteristics of a dog displaying a reverse sneeze include:

- Vibrational coughing/wheezing sound
- Stiff, extended neck
- Facial grimace
- No discharge from nose
- Not followed by coughing or vomiting up material
- Not involving collapse episodes
- Animal is completely normal after event

What causes a reverse sneeze?
Some reverse sneeze episodes occur when a dog gets very excited or pulls against a leash. Brachycephalic breeds (short faced breeds) like Pugs and Boston terriers commonly display reverse sneezing due to their upper airway conformation.

ChihuahuaAllergies, respiratory infections, nasal mites, inhaled foreign bodies and masses can also trigger reverse sneezing. Dogs with inflammatory conditions such as lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis can also display bouts of reverse sneezing. And sometimes reverse sneezing occurs in the wee hours of the night, while a dog is sleeping, for no apparent reason. In fact, many veterinarians receive panicked phone calls at 2am from pet owners, concerned of impending asthma attacks or respiratory arrest, only to have it turn out just to be a typical case of reverse sneezing.

What to Do?
There is no required treatment for a reverse sneeze episode. However, I recommend stroking a dog's throat while gently speaking to him in a calm manner until the episode subsides. Some advocate closing/pinching the nostrils off, which forces a dog to swallow and curtails the reverse sneeze episode. Whatever the approach, reverse sneezing episodes are over within minutes, so no emergency treatment is indicated. Antihistamines may be prescribed to minimize reverse sneezing episodes.

When to Worry?
If all of a sudden your dog is having repeated bouts of reverse sneezing, evaluation by your veterinarian is indicated. Consult with your veterinarian if your dog is reverse sneezing along with other symptoms such as facial rubbing, nasal bleeding, nasal discharge, coughing, or significant sneezing episodes.

Nasal mites are a common cause of reverse sneezing and may be noted after a recent boarding visit, especially if multiple dogs in a household are involved. Nasal mite treatment is easily pursued with anti-parasite injections of ivermectin (or in collie breeds - the alternative Milbemycin.) If reverse sneezing is excessive and prolonged, the nasal and pharyngeal areas should be evaluated by a veterinarian through rhinoscopy - a procedure performed under anesthesia in which the nasal passages and pharyngeal areas are visualized with an endoscope, a micro camera. This is how foreign objects and masses are typically identified. In other cases, further tests may be needed including a CT scan or with biopsy samples from sinus passages.

Final Thought
The good news is that most of reverse sneezing episodes are harmless, and do not indicate any serious illness. Arm yourself with information by learning what a reverse sneeze looks like and you may save yourself an unwanted emergency veterinary visit over this peculiar but non-life threatening occurrence.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearEmployers Offer Pet Insurance
There is a new and fast-growing trend for employees being offered by generous companies. It's employer-sponsored benefit plans that insure the family pet, dogs, cats, ferrets, birds or potbellied pig against accidents and illness. Some 5,000 companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Xerox and Hewlett-Packard, now offer pet insurance, sometimes covering part or all of the cost, in an effort to lure talent but also to recognize the strong emotional bonds between people and pets. Luckily for animal lovers, the nation's largest pet insurer says it is a side of the insurance industry that is growing rapidly. Only a small fraction of pet owners in the United States carry pet insurance. An estimated 1 to 2-percent of the nation's nearly 90 million pet dogs and more than 94 million pet cats are insured.

China Switches From One Child to One-Dog Policy
China may have scrapped its one-child policy, but the city of Qingdao has a one-dog policy. Those who own more than one pooch would be required to surrender their furry friends to an adoption agency. The policy also bans a number of what they term to be "ferocious" dog breeds, among them Dobermans, Pit Bulls, and Tibetan Mastiffs. Owners are required to register their pets with authorities and anyone who violates the rules would be fined the equivalent of $60 US dollars. According to one report in The Guardian, the controls were implemented because more and more people are breeding and raising dogs, which has led to and increasing number of dogs disturbing residents. The number of dogs as pets in China has soared. Dogs in China used to be mostly kept for jobs, like guards, herding or even meat. Now, pet pups are considered a status symbol.

DexterNervous Students Practice Speeches in Front of "Audience Dog"
Devon Wallick had written nine drafts of his commencement speech and recited it for his professor, delivered it to his roommate and practiced it in front a mirror, but at that point, the 22-year-old who was about to finish a master's degree in accounting, had not yet rehearsed in front of Dexter. Dexter is an English Springer Spaniel with giant white paws; soulful brown eyes and floppy ears that are great at listening to students give speeches. He's one of eight DC area dogs on the American University business school's roster of "audience dogs," a volunteer group of dogs whose main duties are to be attentive and nonjudgmental towards university students nervous about public speaking and their presentations. Any AU student with a presentation to deliver can book a 30-minute session with a dog, but must sign a waiver acknowledging the "inherent risks in being near, handling, walking or petting any animals."

Don't Use Your Pet's Name As Password
When it comes to choosing a password, hopefully you do NOT pick a special date and a pet's name, because that's easy to hack. A behavioral biometrics company did some research and says the answer to finding a secure password is naming your pet a weird name, something incredibly unique after you do some research of your own. If your password is Max7$, after your cat, you aren't alone, but you are putting yourself at risk of identify theft and other cyber crimes. Using special dates, names of children, or pets, can make it easier for hackers and snoopers to get a hold of your online accounts. In order to promote the behavior of choosing a more secure password than your average pet name, behavioral biometrics company BehavioSec teamed up with an animal charity to give five adoptable pets hacker-proof names that are easy to remember. The names are inspired by "historical, religious and mythological sources from cultures around the world, that are both hard to hack and easy for kids to shorten." Some suggestions their experts came up with include Skallagrimsson who is called "Skalla" and is named after a Viking warrior-poet. Another dog was named after a 15th Century Aztec king.

Guinea PigsSwitzerland Enacts Landmark Legislation for Animals
Switzerland is a fairly small country, but it stills boasts an estimated seven million pets living there, not including farm animals. The Swiss have a long history of improving the working and living conditions for animals including landmark legislation in 1992 when it became the first country to include animal rights in their constitution. Then, in 2008, Switzerland introduced a bevy of new animal rights regulations that went even further. With that in mind, here are some of the more interesting laws that Switzerland has put in place to improve the lives of animals in their midst and a few of the reasons it's great to be an animal in Switzerland:
- Guinea pigs must live with other guinea pigs or have regular play dates with another of their species.
- If a cat doesn't have a feline companion at home, it must be able to go outside to socialize or at the very least, be able to see other cats from home.
- Parrots and goldfish are believed to be social creatures and cannot live without a mate.
- Dogs have to be exercised daily, according to what they need, off leash.
- Dogs that are tied up must be able to run around freely for at least five hours a day, (and the rest of the time must be able to move around in at least 200 square feet of open space).
- Clipping the ears or tails of pets is not allowed.
- Before bringing a dog into a new home, a person must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating that they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they've already had a dog, though, they're off the hook.

GavelDog Fails Training - Now Works for Government
Gavel, a young German shepherd, may have failed police dog training school, but he found a role more suited to his talents with the Australian government instead. Gavel did not display the necessary aptitude for a life on the front line, because he loved making friends with the new people he met rather than treating them like potentially law-breaking criminals. Gavel was just too friendly. Still, handlers knew he was special and wanted to put his social skills to good use in another capacity. That's when the Governor of Queensland agreed to take him in at the Government House and Gavel became the Vice-Regal Dog. His duties are to greet the governor's guests and pose for photo opportunities. The staff loves him.

EarListen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1116)

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