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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for September 3, 2022  

Actress, Comedian Debra Wilson

Debra WilsonDebra Wilson was a cast member of MADtv for eight seasons and was the longest running female cast member. She was known for her impressions of Whitney Houston and Oprah Winfrey. Now, she is a huge animal advocate and hosts various animal charities.

Debra currently lives in Los Angeles with her 20-year-old cat "Nala" and her Columbian Tegu Lizard, named "Lizard." Debra says her lizard has a face like a velociraptor, legs of a frog and the body of an alligator or crocodile and is about 2 feet long. Debra doesn't currently take Lizard out in public, who is a little skittish and will charge at you. He is a meat eater, eats hardboiled eggs and loves Pedigree dog food! Debra states, "I'm used to large breed snakes, but this is my first endeavor into lizards and I've got the battle scars to prove it!"

While Debra states she loves dogs, she says she also loves cats, but she says, "I just can't eat a whole one by myself!"

Debra has been involved in animal causes since moving to Los Angeles and has hosted Nuts For Mutts for many years. New Leash On Life Animal Rescue has been putting on Nuts for Mutts for years, which involves a walk and a dog show and is a great fun-filled family fundraiser. It is primarily a dog show where you can register your dogs online for various contests.

One of those contests is Best Kisser. Debra states, "I was a hit with a Labrador Retriever for the best kisser. We exchanged numbers, of course, but the bottom line was I had my time and I guess I was just being used and I felt dirty!"

New Leash on Life, was founded in 1997, and has been responsible for the spaying and neutering of thousands of pets and the rescuing and placement of over 5,000 dogs. In addition, they provide free educational seminars at local shelters and schools, set shelter rescue priorities on "hard to place" animals requiring medical or special care, founded the Lend A Paw Program which rescues dogs from shelters, rehabilitates them and transforms them into Assistance and Therapy dogs, founded the P.E.T.'s program (Pet Educational Trainers) and co-founded Partners for Life, which saved hundreds at the East Valley Animal Shelter.

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First Dog With Four Bionic Legs
Christie Pace, Naki'o

NakioNaki'o (which means puddles in Hawaiian) is a special needs dog. As a very young puppy he was left in an abandoned home in the harsh Nebraska winter. Not only was he malnourished and had mange but he was frozen into a puddle. He had severe frostbite that took all his toes, part of his tail and nose.

From Nebraska, Naki'o went to a rescue on Fort Collins, Colorado. Even though he had some severe issues, they saw something in him. He seemed to have a lot of life in him.

At 8 weeks of age, Christie stumbled upon Naki'o's story and instantly fell in love with him! She adopted him and was ready to take on the ups and downs of having a special needs pet, without feet.

In the beginning, Naki'o was only four pounds and very light. This let him move around very well despite his disabilities. However, as Naki'o got older and heavier his nubs had a harder time supporting him and he begun limping on one of his legs.

Christie knew he needed help if he were to lead a quality lifestyle. She went down the route of prosthesis for all 4 of his legs.

Each leg was a different length because of the frostbite. Christie never thought about a wheelchair for Naki'o and felt that if they could work on his worst leg, he might be able to get around on his own.

NakioChristie then went to Orthopets in Denver, Colorado, thinking that they only needed a prosthetic on one leg to help him around. However, she was told that it was very important for Naki'o to have all four prosthetics to balance him out and give him the best quality of life.

The four prosthetics made a dramatic difference in his lifestyle. In the beginning, Naki'o had exaggerated movements with the prosthetics, as he had to learn where his paws were. Picture putting shoes or socks on your pet. They walk funny and pick their legs up really high before they get used to it. But now, Naki'o can run and chase the ball with the best of them!

One prosthetic leg for a dog isn't cheap so you imagine the cost of four! Christie was able to raise the money for the first prosthetic. Since this was the first time a dog had all four prosthetic legs and was an experiment, Orthopets covered the costs of the remaining three.

Christie is happy to say that Naki'o not only brightened her life but also inspired her to help other animals with disabilities just like him.

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Life's Most Unique Relationships
Jon Katz, Dancing Dogs: Stories

Dancing Dogs Book CoverIn Dancing Dogs, Jon Katz shares sixteen stories about one of life's most unique relationships. While the book is mostly about dogs, there are stories about a barn cat and even a donkey.

Jon was trying to capture the point of connection between people and their animals and to show how much animals mean to people. The stories in the book are fiction, however people he has met, as well as his own life on a farm with animals, inspired them.

The stories are meant as a challenge for people to look at life through an animal's eyes. One story is about a dog who's left alone all day. People are always worried about how their dog can survive being left alone all day. The story starts out by the dog being sad when his guardians leave, and showing them his sad face. But when they're gone, the dog goes around sniffing up pizza crumbs, chasing the cat and having conversations with other dogs in the neighborhood about how hard it is to train the people in their lives!

Other stories you will find in his book are:

In "Puppy Commando," a shy grade-school outcast forges an instant connection with a beagle puppy she meets at a shelter—and risks everything to keep him.

"Gracie's Last Walk" features a woman who must find a way to say goodbye to her beloved golden retriever—but ends up saying hello to someone unexpected.

"The Dog Who Kept Men Away" shows that not all humans pass the "sniff" test when it comes to canines, who possess an excellent judge of character.

And in "Guardian Angel," a widower going through a painful transition finds the greatest comfort in the unlikeliest of sources—a funny-looking pug named Gus.

If you choose to get Jon's book, he asks that you feel free to make some noise for it, in whatever way makes you comfortable - reviews, sharing, recommending - as books need help to make their way in the world these days!

Jon Katz has written 21 books: 8 novels; one collection of short stories; and 12 works of non-fiction.

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Dr. Debbie WhiteDizzy Old Dogs - Diagnosing Idiopathic Vestibular Disease -Dr. Debbie

I came running when I heard the crashing paw steps of my 12 year old Labrador, Magnum as he flopped and tumbled in a nervous frenzy. With head crooked to the right, Magnum's dizzy, wobbly movements resembled a carnival lover's exit from the tilt-a-whirl ride. His eyes darted back in forth in an uncontrollable movement. Many might assume Magnum suffered a stroke, and figured it was time to put the old guy to sleep. But fortunately there was hope - Magnum developed a typical case of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease.

What is Idiopathic Vestibular Disease?
Idiopathic Vestibular Disease, also known as Old Dog Vestibular Disease, is a condition commonly diagnosed in senior dogs, but also seen in cats. The term idiopathic basically means the cause is unknown. This condition affects the vestibular system and the pet's sense of balance, typically with a rapid onset of symptoms. In Magnum's case he literally was fine at the start of a television program, and was wobbly just one hour later.

Symptoms of Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome include a wobbly gait, head tilt, anxiety, panting, and an abnormal eye movement called nystagmus, a condition in which the eyes dart rapidly back-and-forth or up-and-down. In addition to mobility problems, the topsy-turvy sensation leads to nausea, vomiting, and an inability to eat or drink. Thankfully my sturdy stomached Labrador barely missed a meal during his bout.

The cause of idiopathic vestibular vestibular syndrome isn't completely known, but fortunately most dogs recovery from symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks. In some cases dogs may suffer from future bouts months to years later. Some dogs may retain a slight head tilt or unsteadiness at times.

What Can Be Done?
A veterinary examination is important to identify suspected cases of vestibular disease. Other possible causes of these symptoms could include an infectious or inflammatory condition, inner ear infection, cancer, or a brain vascular episode - a stroke-like episode. In order to rule out these potential causes, more detailed testing is needed and may include tests like a CT, MRI, and CSF tap.

Magnum With Head TiltThere isn't a cure for a vestibular episode, and some pets recover without any treatment. But other animals require supportive care including anti-nausea medications, intravenous fluid therapy, hand feeding, and physical assistance to walk and protect from household hazards.

Caring for a frightened, disoriented, wobbly, nauseated dog can be difficult. My 80 pound Labrador needed physical support to get up, walk outside and required hand feeding at times. He couldn't be left home alone without risk of injury. And because of all the hoisting, blocking collisions with furniture, and guiding away from the depths of the pool, I injured my back during his rehab time. The reality is that home care of a small or toy breed with vestibular disease is much easier than the physical demands of a assisting a large or giant breed dog.

Lessons Learned
I have seen many a patient come to my veterinary office for euthanasia after developing similar vestibular symptoms. Some pet owners assume that the severe symptoms and rapid onset mean that there is no hope and euthanasia is the only choice. I'll admit that vestibular symptoms are scary and affected pets are tough to care for at home, but if given the tincture of time, many senior dogs will eventually improve. Perhaps Magnum's story will help other pet owner's opt to pursue treatment or testing, and give time a chance to heal.

Four weeks later and Magnum was back to playing with toys and energetically bounding on walks. He still retained a slight head tilt to the right, his badge of courage as I see it. I'm thankful for his recovery and adore his charming, lovable tilted perspective of the world.

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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The Dogfather's Grooming Tip with Joey Villani

Best Treatment For Fleas
Rosemary OilJoey has received a lot of email from people asking how to help their dogs and cats with fleas. In the northeast, there has been a lot of rain recently, causing a really strong flea season.

If you are having a problem where you are finding about 3 to 4 fleas on your pet at a time, you have a serious problem. If you look at your pet and don't actually see any fleas, but you see something that looks like black pepper in their coat, that is flea droppings and your pet has fleas.

Anything less than that is not a serious problem and you can probably take care of it yourself with homemade herbal sprays. Essential oils like citronella, rosemary and pepper oil all work well on their own. Just mix one of the oils in a pint sized spray with water, by adding 10 to 20 drops of the oil. These oils are not harmful to your pets, but you still don't want them to ingest it. Just spray it on your pet. This is a deterrent for fleas and in some cases will kill them.

If you do have 3 or more fleas on your pet, you will want to use a topical product on your dog. Be sure when buying these products, that you get a reputable one, from a pet store. You might pay more for these, but anything that you will find at other stores may be cheaper, but they are usually more toxic and can be harmful to your pet. If you are not sure what to buy, talk to your veterinarian or groomer.

While these topical products work very well, the problem is not just your pet. Your yard can be infested with fleas from other animals, both wild and domesticated, and your pet can repeatedly be exposed to them. Strangely enough even birds that fly into your yard have fleas. Also be careful when washing your pet. While these products are not supposed to wash off, they sometimes do.

You need to not only treat your pet, but you have to treat the yard, the bedding and even the car. You have to treat everywhere your pet goes.

Be aware that some pets are allergic to fleabites and still may continue to scratch after the fleas are gone.

Animal Radio News with Stacey Cohen

Sheep ShoppingShopping Sheep Caused Massive Damage
Patrons at a sports store in Austria were shocked when they found themselves shopping alongside a flock of sheep. About 80 four-legged sports fans found their way inside the Intersport shop in the St. Anton ski resort. The owner of the store said they believed one of the animals saw her reflection in a mirror and "came in to investigate." The rest of the flock was apparently curious as well and ultimately caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Bear Stole iPad
A Southern California man said a bear ran off with his iPad during a fishing trip. The man was fishing at a lake in San Bernardino, California when a bear snuck up from behind, grabbed a backpack with the pricey tablet inside and ran off with the backpack in its mouth. His fellow fishermen were giving him grief over the incident, saying they were pretty sure the insurance company wasn't going to believe his excuse that a bear stole his iPad. It's believed a granola bar in the backpack might have lured the animal to the site.

Alligator SwimKids Swam With The Alligators!
A Florida company offered children unique pool parties the kids would likely never forget. The folks who ran the attraction offered live alligators that swam with the children at area pool parties. The company owner said putting the reptiles in the water with children was perfectly safe, since the alligators' mouths were taped shut. Children also got a lesson in alligator safety before they were put in the water.

Man Blamed Squirrel For DUI
A DUI suspect pulled over in Clay County, Florida said he was driving erratically because a squirrel was biting him. The man was pulled over after he almost hit a car in his pick-up truck and was seen swerving and weaving onto the grass. Turns out, there really was a squirrel in his shirt and there were signs it was biting him. He still failed a field sobriety test, but his girlfriend came and recovered the pet squirrel.

Skinny"Skinny" The Fat Cat
Employees at an animal shelter in Richardson, Texas were looking for a new home for an ironically named cat called skinny. Skinny was a 41-pound stray found in a local's backyard and was brought to the shelter by animal services. But veterinarians say Skinny needed to be taken to a different location where she could safely shed more than a few pounds. The tabby was so big she couldn't even fit into a normal litter box, but they still received hundreds of phone calls from interested adopters. However, most of those callers were just interested in the novelty of Skinny's size.

EarListen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1187)

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