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Animal Radio® for November 17, 2012  

Thanksgiving Tradition
John O'Hurley, National Dog Show

John O'Hurley dancing with a dogJohn O'Hurley, best known as "J. Peterman" on Seinfeld and the first winner of Dancing With The Stars, once again hosts the annual National Dog Show with David Frei, the "Dean of Dog Show Commentators." This is their 11th year of doing this together.

Today, almost 20 million people gather for the holiday; at home in front of the television before football takes over; rooting for their favorite breed along with the doggie on the couch next to them.

This year, the National Dog Show airs on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd, on NBC immediately following the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade™" More than 2,000 purebred canines, representing over 187 breeds, will compete in a "ladder" elimination format for Best in Breed, Best in Group and Best in Show honors. Back in 1990, there were only 143 breeds competing.

John tells us that these dogs are all very well behaved, before he immediately retracted his statement and told us about an incident eight years ago. There was a Doberman in the Best of Show category who, when walking around the ring with his handler, stopped in front of the NBC booth where David and himself were sitting, looked at both of them and almost as though it was a critical comment, "He squatted down and left us a Great Dane sized mound!"

Unlike the Westminster Dog Show, which takes place over three days, the National Dog Show has to provide an entertainment vehicle for two hours on a day, "When everyone is sitting around the television but they've got to get the turkey done, they've got other things to do."

There will be two new breeds eligible for the first time, one of which is the Russell Terrier. What we originally knew as a Jack Russell Terrier, the one with short legs, is now called the Russell Terrier. The second one is the Treeing Walker Coonhound, which looks a little bit like the American Fox Hound. They are called "Treeing" because they tree the raccoons for the hunters and "Walker" because of the family that started the breed years ago. John says that, "The Treeeing Walker Coonhound looks like a Beagle that got the extra long legs!"

Joey asks John for an inside scoop and asks where you would put the smart money on picking the Best in Show? John tells him, "You're asking the wrong guy. In eleven years I picked the Irish Setter two years ago correctly, and that's the first time I've even come close!"

John's own two dogs, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Sadie and a Havanese named Lucy, are going to be stars of their own show this year. They will be participating in a pilot on Celebrity Dogs.

John also tells us about Purina's new program, Making Your Business More Dog Friendly Purina itself allows dogs at work, so when you walk into their headquarters, you will see 400 or 500 people accompanied by 200 or 300 dogs. John likes the way this changes the demeanor of the workplace, and everyone is happier. This may not work for all work places, but for the ones it does, the people there are calmer, gentler and they are at the best when they are around their dogs.

More businesses and even airlines are becoming pet friendly. John adds that, "My wife just had me certified as a service husband and I am now able to sit with her [on an airplane]."

Zoonotic Threats
David Quammen, Spillover

Spillover book coverThe emergence of strange new diseases is a frightening problem that seems to be getting worse. In this age of speedy travel, it threatens a worldwide pandemic. We hear news reports of Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and something called Hendra killing horses and people in Australia, but those reports miss the big truth that such phenomena are part of a single pattern.

The bugs that transmit these diseases share one thing: they originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover.

A zoonosis is an animal infection that, through a simple twist of fate, becomes transmissible to humans. Maybe that twist is a needle prick, or contact with an exotic animal or hiking downwind of the wrong farm.

Ebola and bubonic plague are zoonoses. AIDS, that destroyer of 30 million people, is also of zoonotic origin. It is now known that AIDS was passed form a single chimpanzee into a single human, in the southeast corner of Cameroon in Central Africa as far back as 1908. This was probably form blood-to-blood contact in the course of a human killing and butchering a chimpanzee for food. Perhaps the hunter cut himself while he was doing this, and got chimpanzee blood into his cut.

David Quammen tracks this subject around the world. He recounts adventures in the field, netting bats in China, trapping monkeys in Bangladesh, stalking gorillas in the Congo, with the world's leading disease scientists.

While David is not an expert on the probability of zoonoses, he talks to experts in the field and in their laboratories, who tell him that yes, it is very possible that there could be, or even probable that there will be, a new pandemic that emerges from wildlife. If so, it will probably be a virus. They can even say that it will most likely be an RNA virus. An RNA virus makes more mistakes when it copies itself, therefore with that higher mutation rate, it changes more quickly and evolves faster. These RNA viruses are capable of adapting to a new species of hosts and flourishing at catastrophic levels.

Should we be worried about our own pets? David tells us that while most diseases start with wild animals, there are cases where diseases have started with domestic pets. But if your pet is well taken care of and it has its vaccinations that your veterinarian recommends, then you don't need to worry about that as much as the possibility that someone will bring a new influenza to you by way of an airplane.

"Will the Next Big One come out of a rain forest or a market in southern China?" he asks. "Will the Next Big One kill" 30 million or 40 million people? He makes you dread that sneeze at the back of the bus or on that airplane!

The Dogfather's Grooming Tip with Joey Villani

Joey VillaniWinterize Your Pet
For Daylight Savings Time we turn our clocks back in the winter and forward in the spring. This is an easy way to also remember to "winterize" your pets. This is important because your dog needs a healthy coat in order for him to stay warm in the winter on those walks.

If you have a longhaired dog that doesn't shed too much, you need to take him to the groomer now. They will remove all of the knots and tangles. By doing this, you will preserve the coat and keep them warm. This is their protection. If you do have to cut their coat down, you will need to think about purchasing a sweater or coat to keep them warm.

Dog wearing hat in the snowPeople don't understand that their dogs can get frostbite. They can tolerate the cold a little better than we can, but their skin still shows the affects of the cold like ours will.

If you do have to buy sweater or coat and want your dog to be stylish, faux fur and prints are in style right now.

If your dog sheds a lot, it is time to de-shed your dog. If you're de-shedding for winter, leave some of the undercoat in. Do not remove all of it. This will help protect them and keep them warm. They will also be more comfortable in the house, by allowing some of the heat to escape their bodies. Do this for the active dog that is perhaps jogging with you in the cold and snow and then coming in the house. You will also want to leave the hair in their footpads to protect them from the salt and debris and ice. This will also keep their feet warm and from packing up with snow. However, you will want to keep it in control and not let it matt up. When this foot hair gets matted, it can almost feel to your pet like they are walking on rocks.

But if your dog stays in the house most of the time, go ahead and remove all of the undercoat. This will keep their de-shedding to a minimum.

Animal Radio® News with Stacey Cohen

Justin, the horse, paintingHorse Makes His Own "Hay"
An Indiana painter is making an unexpected amount of hay with some of his abstract pieces. Adonna Combs tells WDBR-TV her nine-year-old horse Justin has been painting for the past couple of years, and his work has been selling for as much as $2,500 to collectors as far away as Australia. Combs says she first discovered Justin's hidden talent when she noticed him using a riding whip to draw in the sand. So one day she attached a brush to the end of the whip and put him in front of a canvas. Combs says Justin has even painted a self-portrait. She admits that people are usually skeptical when she tells them that, but they're quickly convinced when they see the red, horse-shaped splotches.

MidgeDog Auctioned For $13,500
A pedigree sheepdog sold for a howlingly high price at auction. According to "The Mirror," shepherd Eddie Thornalley of Suffolk, England bought the dog named Midge from Shaun Richards for $13,500. The dog's new owner says the record-breaking price was well worth it. He's bought three other dogs from Richards, and says they are all "fantastic." Richards admits that even though he knows Midge has "lovely temperament," he was "gobsmacked" by the outrageous price. He added that Midge is hopefully headed for a life of stardom in the competition world, and he expects her to do "extremely well."

Gila MonsterThief Steals Deadly Lizard
A pet storeowner in Colorado is still looking for a thief who apparently isn't afraid to take risks with deadly animals. Ron Beall tells he has surveillance video of a man walking into his Scales and Trails store in Lakewood, taking a venomous Gila monster out of a tank, and stuffing it under his shirt. The suspect then proceeds to pay for a couple of other items, although the total likely didn't come anywhere close to the $1,200 Beall says Grumpy the lizard is worth. The owner adds that the thief could end up in the hospital if bitten by the Gila monster, but says he's actually more worried about Grumpy. Beall explains that the lizard is sick and can't eat on his own.

Deer Accidents Expensive
As any suburbanite knows, there are more deer than ever, and this simple fact is creating a traffic hazard. State Farm Insurance says the number of accidents involving deer is up nearly eight percent over last year. These are not inexpensive accidents. The average damage is $3,300, and that's not counting the deer.

Sign memorializing fishPETA Wants Highway Sign to Memorialize Dead Fish
The lives of 1,600 sea bass killed last year in a Southern California car crash should be remembered with a sign at the crash site. That's the view of a PETA volunteer. A truck carrying a load of live saltwater bass to a market was involved in the three-vehicle crash on October 11th. The large tank holding the fish cracked, causing the fish to suffocate. Dina Kourda wrote to the Irvine Public Works Department asking for the memorial sign to be erected at the crash site to recognize the suffering of the fish. A city spokesman tells the "Los Angeles Times" they have no plans to do so.

FoxFox Steals Purse – Then Returns It
A British man says he and his wife recently ran into a thieving fox who apparently couldn't handle the guilt. Jeremy Clark tells Brighton's "Argus" newspaper they were getting out of their car in a parking lot when the fox walked up to them. Clark says the animal let out a "feeble yelp" and then grabbed his wife's purse and ran off into the bushes with all of her possessions hanging from his mouth. Clark started to run after the fox, but eventually realized it was useless to try to catch up with him. However, the furry thief soon came slinking back to Clark, dropped the bag at his feet, and disappeared into the bushes again.

Pet Industry Rakes In A Whopping $53 Billion
The U.S. pet industry is set to rake in a record $53 billion this year, despite sluggish overall consumer demand, according to a report by brokerage firm ConvergEx. Spending on pets stood at $37.3 billion in 2001 and has grown steadily since. This year, sales of pet products and services are expected to total $52.9 billion, a 42 increase over 2001. According to the report, the total lifetime cost of owning a small to medium-sized dog ranges from $7,240 to $12,700, and the lifetime cost of a cat ranges from $8,620 to $11,275. The report points out that since 2008, in particular, the cost of keeping a pet has surged above the rate of inflation. "While the price of pets themselves, as well as supplies and accessories are getting comparatively cheaper, the prices of vet and other pet services, and pet food, are all rising at a pace greater than the rate of inflation," the strategists said.

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