May 19, 2007

Rebecca Kolls, Rebecca's Garden, HGTV
Gardening With your Pet in Mind

Now that the warm weather is here, more and more people are out in their gardens. Which means, our pets are probably out there with us also.

When planning your summer garden, keep in mind a garden appropriate for your pets. So many times people complain that their dogs ruin their yard and gardens. A good hint is to watch your dog when he is in your yard. Dogs usually have a path that they follow around the yard - so, don't plant anything in their path. And if your dog digs, provide a special place for your dog. Get a kiddy pool and fill it with sand. You can even hide treats in it to encourage your dog to dig there. If you have cats that constantly come in your yard, plant some catnip. They will be attracted to that one area and leave the rest of your garden alone.

Do you have yellow spots in your yard from your dog? Try feeding him tomatoes or tomato juice. The acid in the tomatoes has a tendency to break down the urine, which in turn won't yellow your lawn.

And if you have slugs, remember they are hermaphrodites, which means they do not need a partner to multiply. If you have one slug, you will probably have 400 or more by the end of the season. Beer has been used frequently in keeping them away, and Heineken is their beer of choice.

There are organic products you can use on your lawn that won't harm your pets such as a product containing corn gluten. And, since you can't be sure what your neighbors have put on their lawns, after walking your dog remember to wash his paws.

Master Gardener Rebecca Kolls hosts the nationally syndicated Home & Garden Television Network (HGTV) series "Rebecca's Garden" and has served as the gardening and lifestyle contributor for ABC's "Good Morning America" since 1999. Her show has spawned several spin-off entities including the new gardening and lifestyle magazine "Seasons" and the book "Rebecca's Garden: Four Seasons to Grow On."


The Cat That Plays the Piano
Betsy Alexander, Ravens Wing Studio
Betsy Alexander is a composer and visual artist who also teaches the piano. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her artist/sound engineer husband, Burnell Yow! and their six cats - Miro, Gabby, Max, Clara, Rennie & Nora.

When Betsy brought Nora into her home, little did she know about Nora's talent. One day, Betsy and her husband heard the clinking of the piano keys. Believing one of their cats was walking across the piano keys, they got quite the surprise when they saw the actual culprit. There was Nora sitting there, in perfect posture, playing the piano. Ever since, Nora has been joining in on Betsy's teaching sessions with her students, playing alongside them.


Fighting the Losing Battle With Your Dog
Vladae, The Dog Wizard
If you are fighting a loosing battle with your dog, it is because you are making the usual common mistakes.

There are three things that a dog needs:

1. Physical = exercise
2. Mental = obedience training
3. Social Needs = being able to take your dog with you everywhere if he has both the proper physical and mental stimulation

The biggest mistakes people make with their dogs are:

1. Humanization = treat your dog like family and he will treat you like a dog
2. Democracy = while it is great for people, you need to be a leader with your dog
3. Talking to Your Dog in English = you need to speak "Doglish"
4. Allowing your dog to pull you on leash and bark in your home = this is giving your dog permission to growl and bark whenever and wherever he wants

It is important to train your dog properly no matter what age or how he behaves now. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Vladae has a DVD "Obedience for Life" a dog-training program available on two interactive DVDs. You can quickly and easily teach your dog how to obey you with the affective methods that deliver astonishing results.


Is it a Poodle or a Lamb?
Britt Savage
A company in Japan has been selling sheep as poodles. A Japanese actress, Maiko Kawakami, was one of these unfortunate people who bought a sheep thinking she was getting a poodle. But, after proudly showing pictures of her "dog" she was told that it was in fact a lamb. She should have known, as her "poodle" did not bark and refused to eat dog food, and he had hooves instead of paws.

Maiko, unfortunately, is not the only one who was duped. Hundreds of woman fell for the same scam. Perhaps up to 2,000 people have been conned. Sheep are not very common in Japan, so many people had no idea what they looked like.

The Japanese police have subsequently shut down the online company that has been selling the sheep. Poodles are well known as a status symbol and they were charging up to $1,200 for these "dogs."

People who unwittingly purchased these "poodles" have since donated them to zoos and farms.


Pet Proofing
Dr. Jim Humphries, Veterinary News Network
The most common pet emergencies veterinarians see are fractures, intestinal blockages, ingestion of household chemicals, lacerations and soft tissue trauma, all of which can result from accidents at home. Pet proofing your home is a simple and an inexpensive way to keep your furry family members safe and happy. Listen in as Dr. Humphries explains some of the things you can do to pet proof your home.


Fido Friendly Travel Talk
Susan Sims, Fido Friendly Magazine
It's time for a vacation...why leave your dog at home?

Glen Highland Farm in Morris, NY: Escape to the country for an adventure vacation with your dog! 175 acres of gorgeous trails through quiet hemlock forests; winding along side a babbling stream and around a huge spring fed pond...throw sticks for your dog, let your dog cool off with a quick swim or just soak in the sun while your dog plays with other camp's a dog lover's paradise and it's all yours for a week! Your dog can run freely off leash through private trails, meadows, fields and forests and even better, can play everywhere on the farm off's doggie freedom like no other place you go! 2007 Camp dates are July 8-13 and July 20-25.

Dog Paddling Adventures, Ontario, CANADA: All Dog Paddling Adventures include camping accommodation, delicious meals, all equipment, park permits, lifejackets and backpacks for both people and dogs, and services of a wilderness guide. No previous experience needed for most of our trips!

A typical 3-day weekend trip is a wonderful way to get out of the city and really immerse you and your dog into nature! We begin with a full paddling lesson to help you and your pooch get used to the boats and paddling. We then set out on the open lake and enjoy a wonderful paddle to our destination. We stop a few times to let the dogs get some play time and swimming time in and to have a quick snack as well. Once we arrive at our campsite we unpack, help you set up your tents and get you and your pooch all settled. The rest of the day is free time to enjoy swimming, relaxing and deliciously prepared meals. Our evenings are spent with a glass of wine by the campfire enjoying the company of fellow dog lovers and our very sleepy pups under the stars.

Fido Friendly Magazine:
The Travel Magazine For You & Your Dog, a complete guide to Fido-friendly accommodations across the United States and Canada. "Fido Friendly is the only magazine dedicated to the travel lifestyle of man's best friend, and the one magazine your dog will thank you for." And don't forget to join the Fido Friendly Travel Club.


Frustration Over Recent Dog Bites
Mike Fry, Animal Ark Animal Shelter and Host of Animal Wise Radio
I could not help posting this photo of Twyla and her "vicious" "pit bull", Dewey.

Recent sensational headlines of dog attacks in Minnesota have focused much attention on the breeds often referred to as "pit bulls". I have found the situation to be very frustrating. The first level of frustration comes about because of stupid owners who do not train their animals, or worse, owners who train dogs to be aggressive.

People prone to this sort of irresponsible dog ownership tend to be attracted to whatever the "cool breed" of the year is. Currently, that means that too many people are acquiring Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Bull Terriers (the breeds most often referred to as "pit bulls") for the wrong reasons. But, before the bully breeds were considered the "tough" dogs, these folks were getting Rottweilers. Before that, the "cool" dogs were Dobermans. Before that, it was German Shepherds.

Now the dog du jour is a "pit" and a handful of pets owned by morons have attacked people. So people are all freaked out about "pits". And Dobermans, Rottweilers and Shepherds are all off the hook, which is ironic because Rottweilers and German Shepherds are both responsible for more fatal attacks on people than are the "pit" breeds combined.

Completely. Totally. Frustrating.

So why are so many people freaked out about the bully breeds?

I think it is because our culture is awash in ignorance and stupidity when it comes to dogs in general, and "pit bulls" specifically. I know that may sound harsh, but I think it is accurate.

Our culture is filled with all sorts of myths about "pit bulls". People believe all sorts of crazy things about these breeds; like that they have a locking mechanism in their jaws, or that they are the strongest breed. A pile of urban legends have been spread based on these myths. Because people believe these myths and legends, there is an unfounded mystique around these dogs that only serves to perpetuate the wrong people wanting them. The more stupid dog owners who have pits the more problems there are with them. It is like a self-fulfilling stupidity loop that we need to put a stop to.

When a "pit" gets out of its yard and barks at someone, it is reported as an "attack". If a "pit" bites someone, it is called a "mauling". If a dog of unknown breed attacks, people call it a "pit", even if it isn't one, because calling an attacking dog a "pit bull" makes the story that much more dramatic.

All of this is frustrating. But, even more frustrating is when the ignorance and stupidity comes from within the animal welfare community that is supposed to be working to turn this ignorance around.

Take this quote from an article in the Pioneer Press:

"There is such a thing as bad owners," she said. "When situations like this happen, people tend to blame the wrong end of the leash. ... It's owner accountability. I don't think it's a pit bull problem, it's a social problem."

Keith Streff, director for investigations for the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, disagrees.

"To say that there are no bad pit bulls, I think is an injustice to public safety," he said. "The breed is innately hard-wired to be able to perform at peak capacity when it attacks."

There are so many problems with Mr. Streff's statements that they cannot all be covered in this short blog. Most importantly, I know of no one who has suggested there are no "bad pits". There are "bad pits", just like there are "bad dogs" of every breed. No one has suggested otherwise. In reality, it is almost always the case that people have made the dogs bad. That is the point Streff seems to be missing.

His comment about "pits" being "hard-wired" to perform at peak capacity when attacking suggests a severe lack of knowledge of all dogs. As predators, canines are all physically designed to hunt and kill prey, and are all performing at "peak capacity" when doing so. That is why training a dog to be aggressive, be it a shepherd, rotty, dobie, pit or Chihuahua, is a very bad thing to do.

You may laugh at Chihuahuas making the list. However, it is worth noting that I know of at least one fatal dog attack on a human from a Pomeranian. Dog attacks on people are hardly unique to the various breeds referred to as "pit bulls". All dogs are predators. All dogs have some level of prey drive. And, all dogs are capable of being trained to be aggressive and dangerous.

The good news is that, in spite of recent media hysterics around pit bulls, dog bites and serious dog attacks are actually on the decline, even as the popularity of "pit bulls" as family pets is growing. However, THAT fact does not make for sensational headlines.

Another fact that rarely ever makes news is that Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Bull Terriers consistently rate at the top of temperament testing charts. In other words, these breeds, by their nature, are LESS likely to cause problems than most other breeds.

Currently, "pits" are some of the most common breeds in our society. Some people choose to keep these breeds because they are loving, affectionate, loyal and very intelligent. Unfortunately, other people choose them because they think they are "tough" and "cool" - and therein lies the problem. . .

Those of us working to solve this problem should be working to demystify pit bulls, not to spread more stupidity that only increases their demand.

For more information on "pits", check out the links on the front page of the Animal Ark web site.


Talk With Your Animals
Joy Turner
Joy speaks with Casey, a cat who passed away over a year ago and still visits her guardian.


Youtube Not Just for People Anymore
Tracyann Mains, Pets911
Local animal shelters across the country are taking advantage of the latest internet trend by posting video of pets available for adoption on Pets 911 has updated its site to allow any shelter or rescue that has a pet available for adoption to include video of that pet using YouTube technology on
"This new option of advertising available pets will be an indispensable resource for animal shelters and for individuals in search of a pet to adopt," says Dr. Rodrigo Silva, Executive Director Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, in Phoenix, AZ. "If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth a million when it comes to showing the true character of a dog or cat up for adoption."

Pets 911 is a national organization designed to provide local pet-related resources and information to its users. Individuals and animal rescues, shelters, and animal control agencies around the country feed regular updates into the Pets 911 database. These updates allow the site to include current listings of pets available for adoption, contact information for veterinarians, and lost and found pet information. Pets 911 is easily accessible via , 480-889-2640 or


Does Your Cat Have Star Quality?
Alan Cook, ScoopFree Video Contest
Attention cat lovers! Does your cat have that certain "star" quality? Have you ever wanted to direct your own film? Here's your chance. The "Who's the next ScoopFree Star?" contest from Lucky Litter and Animal Radio.

ScoopFree the self-cleaning litter box you leave alone for weeks at a time without any scooping or cleaning. It absorbs liquids and automatically rakes solids into a sealed off trap ­ the ultimate in odor control.

In the "Who's the next ScoopFree Star?" contest, you could produce their next commercial! Get out your camera and start writing your script. Just come up with a creative way to advertise ScoopFree, film it, submit it!

Go to for more info. There's artwork, music and clips for you to download. See you in the movies at Good luck and get ready for your close up! The deadline is June 30, 2007. Winners will be announced on July 17th.


Steve Irwin Wildlife Adventure Series
Kim Hammerman, Wild Republic
Steve Irwin is remembered as a Wildlife Warrior, who dedicated his life to bringing a love of wildlife and enthusiasm for environmental conservation to people throughout the world.

In February, Wild Republic presented its special line of play items based on Steve Irwin. Wild Republic, a global brand which has been successfully marketing Australia Zoo product in Australia and other markets internationally for nearly two years, offers the new toys to the U.S. market as part of the international company's agreement with Australia Zoo to continue Irwin's passion and noble pursuit for nature conservation and education. As part of the agreement, royalties received will go directly to endangered species programs, including Wildlife Warriors, an organization founded by Steve Irwin.

Steve Irwin once said he considered conservation to be the most important part of his work: "I consider myself a wildlife warrior. My mission is to save the world's endangered species."

The Steve Irwin Wildlife Adventure Series consists of 35 different items, including the interactive talking action figure, plush, and playsets. The product line join Wild Republic's other successful toy lines, which include the famous Hanging Plush Monkeys, MagnaMorphs, Stretcheez, Cuddlekins, Blanket Pillow Buddies, Audubon Birds, Paws & Claws Domestic Animal toys, Know & Grow Development toys, Adventure Box Sets, wooden puzzles, wind-ups, wall walkers, and puppets, among other items.

For a list of stores, Wild Republic offers access by clicking on the Steve Irwin link on the company website at


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