ANIMAL RADIO® Network | May 3rd 2007 Newsletter
Programming with a Purpose
In this issue:
PARK - Gearing up for Dog Park season.
PET FOOD RECALL - OPEN SECRET IN CHINA - Melamine is nothing new.
THE CAT THAY PLAYS THE PIANO - Watch the video.
COOKING FOR YOUR PET AND OTHER ALTERNATIVES - Avoiding tainted food.
PRODUCT REVIEW Mega Tuffie BOOK REVIEW A Buffalo in the House
WHY DON'T WOODPECKERS GET HEADACHES? Bird questions you know you want to ask!
Workers in China openly admit that Melamine is routinely added to animal feed as a fake protein filler. See the latest in the pet food recall.
Betty White has been involved with the Morris Animal Foundation since 1971. Their current goal is trying to cure cancer in dogs, which is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of two. MAF is trying to raise $30 million dollars to aid in the research for dog cancer, which will also offer human cancer advances as well. Also this week, Patti Davis, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, grew up surrounded by animals. A self-devoted dog person, she tells how her first cat adopted her.
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Filler in Animal Feed Is Open Secret in China
The New York Times April 30,
ZHANGQIU, China, April 28 - As American food safety regulators head to China to investigate how a chemical made from coal found its way into pet food that killed dogs and cats in the United States, workers in this heavily polluted northern city openly admit that the substance is routinely added to animal feed as a fake protein.
For years, producers of animal feed all over China have secretly supplemented their feed with the substance, called melamine, a cheap additive that looks like protein in tests, even though it does not provide any nutritional benefits, according to melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.
"Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed," said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine. "I don't know if there's a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says 'don't do it,' so everyone's doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren't they? If there's no accident, there won't be any regulation."
Melamine is at the center of a recall of 60 million packages of pet food, after the chemical was found in wheat gluten linked this month to the deaths of at least 16 pets in the United States.
No one knows exactly how melamine (which is not believed to be particularly toxic) became so fatal in pet food, but its presence in any form of American food is illegal.
The link to China has set off concerns among critics of the Food and Drug Administration that ingredients in pet food as well as human food, which are increasingly coming from abroad, are not being adequately screened.
"They have fewer people inspecting product at the ports than ever before," says Caroline Smith DeWaal, the director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. "Until China gets programs in place to verify the safety of their products, they need to be inspected by U.S. inspectors. This open-door policy on food ingredients is an open invitation for an attack on the food supply, either intentional or unintentional."
Now, with evidence mounting that the tainted wheat gluten came from China, American regulators have been granted permission to visit the region to conduct inspections of food treatment facilities.
The Food and Drug Administration has already banned imports of wheat gluten from China after it received more than 14,000 reports of pets believed to have been sickened by packaged food. And last week, the agency opened a criminal investigation in the case and searched the offices of at least one pet food supplier.
The Department of Agriculture has also stepped in. On Thursday, the agency ordered more than 6,000 hogs to be quarantined or slaughtered after some of the pet food ingredients laced with melamine were accidentally sent to hog farms in eight states, including California.
Scientists are now trying to determine whether melamine could be harmful to humans.
The pet food case is also putting China's agricultural exports under greater scrutiny because the country has had a terrible food safety record.
In recent years, for instance, China's food safety scandals have involved everything from fake baby milk formulas and soy sauce made from human hair to instances where cuttlefish were soaked in calligraphy ink to improve their color and eels were fed contraceptive pills to make them grow long and slim.
For its part, Chinese officials dispute any suggestion that melamine from the country could have killed pets. But regulators here on Friday banned the use of melamine in vegetable proteins made for export or for use in domestic food supplies.
Yet what is clear from visiting this region of northeast China is that for years melamine has been quietly mixed into Chinese animal feed and then sold to unsuspecting farmers as protein-rich pig, poultry and fish feed.
Many animal feed operators here advertise on the Internet, seeking to purchase melamine scrap. The Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company, one of the companies that American regulators named as having shipped melamine-tainted wheat gluten to the United States, had posted such a notice on the Internet last March.
Here at the Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group factory, huge boiler vats are turning coal into melamine, which is then used to create plastics and fertilizer.
But the leftover melamine scrap, golf ball-size chunks of white rock, is sometimes being sold to local agricultural entrepreneurs, who say they mix a powdered form of the scrap into animal feed to deceive those who raise animals into thinking they are buying feed that is high in protein.
"It just saves money if you add melamine scrap," said the manager of an animal feed factory here.
Last Friday here in Zhangqiu, a fast-growing industrial city southeast of Beijing, two animal feed producers explained in great detail how they purchase low-grade wheat, corn, soybean or other proteins and then mix in small portions of nitrogen-rich melamine scrap, whose chemical properties help the feed register an inflated protein level.
Melamine is the new scam of choice, they say, because urea - another nitrogen-rich chemical - is illegal for use in pig and poultry feed and can be easily detected in China as well as in the United States.
"People use melamine scrap to boost nitrogen levels for the tests," said the manager of the animal feed factory. "If you add it in small quantities, it won't hurt the animals."
The manager, who works at a small animal feed operation here that consists of a handful of storage and mixing areas, said he has mixed melamine scrap into animal feed for years.
He said he was not currently using melamine. But he then pulled out a plastic bag containing what he said was melamine powder and said he could dye it any color to match the right feed stock.
He said that melamine used in pet food would probably not be harmful. "Pets are not like pigs or chickens," he said casually, explaining that they can afford to eat less protein. "They don't need to grow fast."
The resulting melamine-tainted feed would be weak in protein, he acknowledged, which means the feed is less nutritious.
But, by using the melamine additive, the feed seller makes a heftier profit because melamine scrap is much cheaper than soy, wheat or corn protein.
"It's true you can make a lot more profit by putting melamine in," said another animal feed seller here in Zhangqiu. "Melamine will cost you about $1.20 for each protein count per ton whereas real protein costs you about $6, so you can see the difference."
Feed producers who use melamine here say the tainted feed is often shipped to feed mills in the Yangtze River Delta, near Shanghai, or down to Guangdong Province, near Hong Kong. They also said they knew that some melamine-laced feed had been exported to other parts of Asia, including South Korea, North Korea, Indonesia and Thailand.
Evidence is mounting that Chinese protein exports have been tainted with melamine and that its use in agricultural regions like this one is widespread. But the government has issued no recall of any food or feed product here in China.
Indeed, few people outside the agriculture business know about the use of melamine scrap. The Chinese news media - which is strictly censored - has not reported much about the country's ties to the pet food recall in the United States. And few in agriculture here do not see any harm in using melamine in small doses; they simply see it as cheating a little on protein, not harming animals or pets.
As for the sale of melamine scrap, it is increasingly popular as a fake ingredient in feed, traders and workers here say.
At the Hebei Haixing Insect Net Factory in nearby Hebei Province, which makes animal feed, a manager named Guo Qingyin said: "In the past melamine scrap was free, but the price has been going up in the past few years. Consumption of melamine scrap is probably bigger than that of urea in the animal feed industry now."
And so melamine producers like the ones here in Zhangqiu are busy.
A man named Jing, who works in the sales department at the Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group factory here, said on Friday that prices have been rising, but he said that he had no idea how the company's melamine scrap is used.
"We have an auction for melamine scrap every three months," he said. "I haven't heard of it being added to animal feed. It's not for animal feed."
David Barboza reported from
Zhangqiu and Alexei Barrionuevo reported from Chicago. Rujun
Shen also contributed reporting from Zhangqiu.
Betty White on the Morris Animal Foundation's Canine Cancer Campaign
On the part of dogs of every size, shape and breed, Morris Animal Foundation sincerely appreciates a donation of any size. But since their goal of raising $30 million over five years is a big one, they're offering the following idea on how you can help truly make it happen. Consider this. What if just 1% of the 44 million dog-owning households in the US contribute $50? That would equal $22 million. What if 2% gave, or if the 1% gave each year for five years? All of these scenarios would be very beneficial in the battle to cure canine cancer.
Around the world, we're asking
dog lovers to give in the name of your present pet dog, dogs
you've loved in the past or in the name of a puppy yet to be
born. Be a proud pet parent helping cure canine cancer.
Patti, a self-avowed dog person, didn't really adopt Aretha, her first cat. Aretha adopted Patti. When her second cat, Skeeter, moved in, Patti came to realize that she was now officially in thrall to two very demanding little felines. Fortunate for her, her brother Ron is sort of a "cat expert" and was "on call" for Pattie's many requests asking for assistance.
In Two Cats and the Woman
They Own, Patti recounts how her life was changed for the
better by living with and learning from her cat companions. In
"The Mouse That Got Away" Patti learns a valuable lesson
about hope, and in "The Little Scoundrel" she realizes
just how wrong a first impression can be. Davis closes each charming
vignette with a "Life Lesson."
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 along. View the video.
RECENT Animal Radio® PODCASTS:
Podcast GARDENING WITH YOUR DOGS IN MIND HGTV's Rebecca Kolls (1 hour abridged version.)
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." http://www.RebeccaKolls.com
the Truth About Pet Food Production
Strolling along the pet food aisle in a large pet food retail outlet is an amazing event. Playful puppies and adorable kittens almost seem to jump out of the colorful packages, beckoning the pet owner to choose their very special brand of food. Large pallets containing bags of dry food, stacks of orderly cans, and rows of moist pouches often leave a pet owner literally dazed and confused with the overwhelming selection.
In the past half-century, the production and marketing of pet foods has grown into an $11 billion dollar a year industry with more than 3,000 manufacturers producing over 15,000 separate brands of dog and cat food alone. Marketing ideas leap off the products claiming "more protein", "rich, meaty taste", and "real wholesome ingredients". All of these speak to us as ways to provide the very best for our family members. But, in light of pet food recalls and concerns about pet food manufacturing, how can a pet owner really know that they are truly providing the best?
Although feeding dry kibble to dogs is an idea that was born more than 150 years ago, the latter half of the 20th century saw many advances in the pet food production industry. Not only was dry food advancing, but canned diets and the newly created "semi-moist" diets began to find a loyal following among pet owners as well. Food safety and hygiene were becoming more highly developed as the concern for the health and well-being of the pets continued to grow among pet lovers. Here in the United States, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine oversees the safety of pet food ingredients
The process of creating and producing a pet food begins with the selection of appropriate ingredients. Huge train cars and tractor trailers haul in the enormous amounts of grains and meat meals that are used in producing a commercial diet. Many high quality pet food companies use inspectors at the rail yards and shipping terminals to scrutinize the raw ingredients before it ever enters the food plant. Diets such as Hill's Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba, and others will use human quality meats and grains to insure an optimal balance of the nutrients needed for the pet's good health.
According to the 4th Edition of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition (Hand, et al), one of the most important steps is the compounding and mixing of the ingredients. It is important for the diet to contain an equal distribution of essential nutrients and unequal compounding may lead to a lack of key ingredients in the diet. Harmful microorganisms and potentially destructive hydrolytic enzymes are then destroyed by a thorough cooking process.
Many pet owners are concerned with the safety and adequacy of the foods that they buy their pets. According to Dr. Andrea Fascetti, a nutrition professor at the University of California Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine, pet owners should feel very comfortable with commercial diets. "People should realize that this (pet food recall) is not a common occurrence. Over the history of commercial pet foods, they have been very safe and a very good way to feed animals to ensure that they're meeting their nutritional requirements."
Additionally, all pet food companies are required to meet guidelines that are set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials for the nutritional adequacy of their foods. Many companies will go beyond requirements and actually have inspectors from the human food industry come and examine production facilities as a means of insuring the best product for the animal consumers. The Pet Food Institute (www.petfoodinstitute.org) has stated that pet foods are one of the most highly regulated food products. In fact, pet foods require more information on their labels than human foods.
Still, many pet owners are turning to home-cooked meals or organic substitutes for the more common commercial diets. Proponents of home cooked meals feel that a pet's health can be better managed than with commercial diets. Pet owners are urged to speak with their family veterinarian who may then recommend a veterinary nutritionist. Many home-made diets do not meet the nutritional needs of the pet. Says Fascetti, "We are frequently asked by owners or their vets to evaluate something they've found and we frequently find problems, often deficiencies, sometimes excesses. I would say it is difficult if not impossible for pet owners to do this right. It is also very time consuming and expensive."
It is extremely easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged with the sheer numbers of pet foods and the reports of potential concerns with the diets. However, remember that your family veterinarian is a great source for dietary recommendations for your pet. He or she understands your pet's needs, as well as your own concerns much better than any source online. To learn more about how pet foods are produced, visit www.MyVNN.com and watch the pet food video.
If you wish to try a home cooked
diet, it is recommended that you visit www.balanceit.com or www.petdiets.com.
I Want to Train My Dog to Use My Cat's Litter Box
Dear Cat Coach,
It is not a good idea to have a communal interspecies poop box. Your poodle might not have a problem with it, but odds are Sammie will not be happy with the arrangement. Instead of decreasing the cleanup tasks, most likely you will increase them, since Sammie will probably prefer eliminating outside of the box.
Cats are fastidious and need to have a very clean, fume-free bathroom that has clear views and easy escape routes. Perhaps the need for a clean cat box is due to cats occupying both the predator and prey niche in the natural world. By being fastidious in their bathroom habits, a predator is less likely to identify a cat's location by the smell of their excrement. Conversely, a cat does not want to scare away any potential prey either. It's a theory.
A cat is vulnerable when using
the facilities. It is important for them to see who's approaching
the box and it's important for them to not feel trapped. Covered
boxes do not allow a cat a good escape route, nor do they allow
a cat to see who or what may be approaching the box.
Compounding the problem is the fact that sometimes Sammie and the poodle don't see eye-to-eye. To Sammie this translates into the possibility of being trapped inside of the box by the poodle with no way out. Also, it could lead to resource guarding, where either Sammie or the poodle lies down in front of the box, keeping the other from using it.
Instead of sharing a box, why not have a separate box, located in another area of the house for the poodle. There are litter boxes and litter especially formulated for dogs. Darlene Arden, who authors the monthly column "Ask the Dog Expert" for Animal Radio would know more about the special litter box and litters formulated for small dogs. Additionally, she can probably provide hints on how to litter-box train your poodle.
Marilyn Krieger, CCBC is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant. She can be reached for phone or on-site consultations to help solve cat behavior problems either by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 650 780 9485. Additionally, Marilyn teaches cat behavior classes and is available for speaking engagements. You can find out more about The Cat Coach at http://www.thecatcoach.com Marilyn is certified through The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Copyright May 2007 Marilyn Krieger.
Camping with Pets
So whether you and your pet
plan to travel by land or air, take a hike together, or go on
a weekend camping trip, the bottom line is to be prepared. Having
the right equipment and attitude will help make the experience
of traveling with your pet very rewarding. Most of all, have
Tom James is founder and
president of PetTravelCenter.com,
an Internet company and online community serving the pet travel
industry and pet lovers everywhere. Information and resources
about pet-friendly hotels and destinations, RV parks, dog parks,
campgrounds, tips for traveling with pets using various modes
of transportation, recreational activities with pets, articles
by pet experts, a photo gallery, and special features, including
a monthly newsletter for PTC Club members. PetTravelCenter.com also offers an online
store of pet travel products to make the experience of traveling
with pets "fun and easy.
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No hierarchy on any level for
any reason is simply Unilateral Equality. It acknowledges the
animals' equality to us in all areas. It says they have their
own mind, they have their own rights, they can have a say in
what they want their lives to be like. This would mean that when
there is a disagreement between the human and the animal that
both would listen to the other and reach a compromise. I suggest
that people think of what they would feel like if someone treated
them the way they are treating their animal kids. If it would
make you feel good, continue doing it. If you wouldn't like it,
stop doing it with your animal kids. Once you start living from
this place, I believe you will come to love it as much as I do.
It feels so completely right to treat everything and everyone
as your equal. (And, I still find places of hierarchy in myself.
Maybe we always will, but we can at least try to remove it.)
We have 30 Days to Raise
$6K to Help Shut Down a Puppy Mill
Photo: Rows of wire cages at a puppy mill Gary McDuffee owned with his ex-wife, Wanda. This kennel had a 5-year history of USDA violations that were not disclosed in McDuffee's application for a permit to run his new facility.
On Thursday, April 5, 2007, when the Morrison County Board voted unanimously to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to Gary McDuffee, they told the press that they had no other choice. They said that, because the permit was a land use permit, they could only look at land use issues when considering the permit, and, therefore, they had no grounds for refusing McDuffee a permit.
But a closer review of this case suggests otherwise: that the Commissioners had ample opportunity, and legal justification, to refuse McDuffee's permit.
Legal justifications for refusing the permit include the following:
* Along with McDuffee's original permit application, he provided a letter written by veterinarian Dr. Charles Extrand stating that McDuffee's previous kennel was clean, well-run, and that it had always been in compliance with USDA regulations. However, documents were uncovered showing a 5-year history of USDA violations when McDuffee operated that facility. The violations included: cages that were too small, cages that had not been property cleaned, cages that were deteriorating and composed of sharp and dangerous materials, selling puppies that were too young, use of expired medications, failing to label animals being shipped as "live cargo", and other serious violations.
* It was also learned that McDuffee has been operating for about a year at his new facility without being in compliance with Minnesota State Animal Cruelty Statutes. These statutes require McDuffee to provide dogs a minimum of 20 minutes of free-choice exercise outside of their cages daily. McDuffee has neither the facilities or the staff to comply with this law. This fact was not contested by McDuffee, his attorneys, or any of his staff.
Not only did the County fail to consider valid, legal issues when considering McDuffee's CUP, they actually by-passed State law when they granted the permit. Minnesota Statutes require the completion of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) before granting a CUP. Morrison County has now granted McDuffee this CUP twice, without ever completing an EAW. They have, therefore, failed to take into consideration an unknown number of land-use issues that could arise if an EAW were to be completed.
To be very clear: While Morrison County is claiming they HAD to give McDuffee a permit because this is a land-use issue, they have failed to follow legal procedure for reviewing and granting land-use permits.
Animal Ark, and others teamed up to fund an appeal of McDuffee's original CUP. That case ended up going to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, where they ruled that Morrison County was "arbitrary and capricious" in granting McDuffee his permit. They threw out McDuffee's original permit, and demanded that Morrison County take another look at this case.
We believe it is time to appeal this new CUP. The legal fees and other expenses related to that appeal are expected to be around $60,000. The appeal needs to be filed within 60 days of the new CUP. That gives us 60 days to raise $60k.
Minnesotans need to stand up and put an end to this unregulated, dirty industry, and hold officials accountable when they support or enable it to continue.
Please DONATE TODAY!
Contact Morrison County
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Escaped Orangutan Frightens Children
During a routine animal escape drill, which is done to train for real animal escapes at a zoo in Tokyo, an employee donned an orangutan costume.
The "orang utan" then escaped from his enclosure, ran through the crowd and eventually kidnapped a zoo employee.
The "orang utan" was then shot with a tranquilizer gun but the eventual capture of the "orang utan" didn't go over too well with the kids, who cried after their fun day at the zoo ended with an animal being shot.
Britt Savage is a regular Animal Radio® correspondent. She can be heard daily. LISTEN TO ANIMAL RADIO NETWORK NOW
Birdsong: Spring's Soundtrack
Birds bring spring with them when they migrate thousands of miles back to us after spending winter in warmer climates. The robins are usually among the first to arrive. It is said that Robin's distinctive red breast came about either when he was scorched bringing fire to humankind, or when he gallantly plucked the thorns from the body of Christ. Over a century ago, settlers cultivating the virgin earth of the plains and prairies brought earthworms to the surface, which in turn brought the robins. A baby robin can eat 14 feet of earthworms a day those mother robins must have been thrilled to see the sight of a plow. The full moon of March is often called the Full Worm Moon since the earth becomes soft enough for worms to appear, thus heralding the arrival of the robins. And although we like to think of the robin's song as lovely and distinctive and indicative of spring, what he is really doing is tunefully warning any rivals away from his territory.
The bats returned a few weeks ago arriving with soft squeaky cries under cover of darkness their silhouettes inky black against a twilight sky. Many birds do migrate at night; they can avoid predators and also spend daylight hours finding food. A favorite spring ritual for birders is to count the number of birds migrating as they pass across a full moon.
When the Says Phoebe arrives, with her distinctive Phoebe call, it is time to tread carefully around the front porch where she will build her nest on a high beam and teach her babies to fly. I will spend several weeks going out of my way to enter the house through the back door to avoid disturbing her.
The bluebirds, with their cheerful chirp and the color of sky on their wings, will nest in their special boxes. It is fun to place soft drier lint and fur from the cats' brushes in strategically located areas where the bluebirds are sure to find it it must be tough to spend the day looking for cozy material to line a nest.
The band-tailed pigeons arrived two days ago. They are shy at the birdfeeder and will explode in a flurry of wings and fly into the pines when I go out to give them cracked corn, but they will stand their ground with the wild turkeys for this treat.
And the hummingbirds, those hovering ornaments of delight- I heard the soprano-pitched trill before I spotted the broad-tails at the feeder this morninga sound that elicits a moment of pure joy. The sugar water had been out for a week to welcome them back after their long journey from Central America but they were a few days late this year was it due to the unusually strong snow storm that surprised everyone? How did the hummingbirds know to delay their return until the weather would accommodate them? Apparently the wind plays a big role in determining when conditions are just right for migration birds do not want to battle a headwind and spend precious reserves of energy flapping wings, instead they wait for winds that take them in the direction they wish to go - soaring gliding, and riding the thermals, their songs alerting us to their presence high in the heavens above.
Whichever way the wind blows,
Spring brings us feathered joy and delight and the songs
of the season.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
All proceeds from the event will benefit the Glendale Humane Society's Second Chance Program, through which homeless dogs and cats are rescued and given a second chance at life in our no-kill shelter.
Sunday, May 6th
ASK "THE DOG EXPERT" - by Darlene Arden, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant
Q. My dog pulls me down the street whenever I take him for a walk? What can I do? I want him to walk nicely with me but he doesn't seem to get the idea. Help!
A. There are some solutions to your problem. First, you can practice walking indoors by tapping your thigh, and rewarding your dog with a treat that he enjoys (food tidbit, special game or a pat). If you are using clicker training, click when he is in position beside you, then treat. Use a happy tone of voice when talking to him and be sure to praise him. If your dog is an older, larger puppy, or an adult who can pull you off balance, there is still hope for you with special training tools. You can use either the Gentle Leader halter (but be sure you are properly trained to use it), or, the Easy Walk Harness, which is fitted snugly and will help you teach your dog exactly what you want. You will still praise and treat him, of course, for a job well done! This is particularly helpful for an older or more fragile person who needs immediate help as either of these tools can help communicate the message to the dog rather quickly. Personally, I prefer a harness on all dogs rather than a collar so that you are not putting any pressure on your dog's trachea.
Good luck with you dog and may you enjoy years of happy walks together! And don't forget to take time to smell the flowers along the way!
"Ask the Dog Expert" is a regular column by Darlene Arden. This month's column features information found in her book, "The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs," (McGraw-Hill), which helps you, in concert with your veterinarian, design a wellness program based on your dog, your lifestyle and the place where you live, and "Small Dogs, Big Hearts," (Howell Book House). ). Further information may also be found on her website: www.darlenearden.com. Copyright 2007 by Darlene Arden. All Rights Reserved.
Gearing Up for Dog Park Season - Sarah Hodgson
More than a choice meeting
spot for dogs, a dog park can be a great place to meet like-minded
people as you relax your vigilant leash-walking responsibility
and let your dog play. Of course, no view of paradise is without
its own dose of reality. Dogfights can erupt, dogs can overheat,
and you'll need to be mindful of where you tread! Here are a
few tips to keep in mind this dog park season:
With these thoughts in mind and a pocketful of your dog's favorite snacks, go out and enjoy a romp in the dog park. Muddy paws and dog slobber -- what better way to herald the coming of spring?
Sarah Hodgson (Katonah,
NY) has taught dog training for 20 years and is the author of
seven dog training books, including Puppies For Dummies®,
Miss Sarah's Guide to Etiquette for Dogs & Their People,
DogPerfect, PuppyPerfect, and Teach Yourself VISUALLY Dog
Training. She has appeared on national television and radio programs
to promote her training methods and has served as a columnist
for the New York Times. The owner of Simply Sarah, a dog training
school and supply catalog based in Westchester, New York, she
also has a website, www.dogperfect.com.
Hodgson has a degree in psychology and animal behavior from the
State University of New York.
Dear Bird Folks, do woodpeckers ever get headaches?
Sandy, grade 7
Although I've never thought about it, all that banging could give woodpeckers headaches. That would explain the suet-flavored aspirin I saw at CVS last week. You'd think they would get headaches from the way they pound on trees, but luckily for them, they have evolved a rather tough head. Much like a soccer player or a tall coal miner.
Actually, you are not the only one concerned about woodpecker migraines. One day, Dr. Ivan Schwab was so worried about the woodpeckers that he researched and wrote an extensive paper about this very topic. And, believe it or not, the good doctor received an IG Nobel Prize for his efforts. If you don't know what that is, Sandy, don't sweat it; nobody else does either. The IG Nobels are awards given for research done on topics that are so strange only university professors and seventh graders have enough time on their hands to worry about them.
Woodpeckers are among our most common backyard birds, yet they have features that are totally different than other feeder birds. Woodpeckers have developed a much larger brain case, which prevents the birds from getting a concussion every time they have to chop out lunch. They also have different muscle and bone structure at the base of the bill, which acts like a shock absorber to help cushion the blows. And the woodpecker's stiff, strong tail serves as a kickstand to prop the bird up, allowing it to lean back and smack the tree. Even woodpeckers' feet are different. Most feeder birds have three toes in the front and one in the back; however, most woodpeckers have two in the front and two in the back, giving the birds a better grip on the trunk of the tree. They even have special feathers that cover their nostrils to keep out flying woodchips and other assorted debris.
I know this is a little dull to read, Sandy, but you asked, and it's not about to get any better. The tongue of a woodpecker is it's most unusual feature. Its extra-long tongue wraps around inside the back of the woodpecker's head. When the bird wants to reach deep into a tree for a tasty insect treat, it shoots out its tongue like one of those annoying party favors. The tongue is also barbed and sticky so it can grab on to bugs and yank them out of their hiding places. This useful tongue saves the bird a lot of work by allowing it to pull out food without having to chisel deeper into the tree. Hey, Sandy, a tongue like that would come in handy for stealing French fries from your friends at lunch. Think of the money you'd save.
Woodpeckers may not get headaches, but they sure can cause a few. Not a day goes by that I don't have to listen to someone complain about a woodpecker banging on his or her house. So, it was a nice change to get your question of concern about woodpeckers and possible headaches. Wait a minute, Sandy! Was this a question of concern or did I just do your seventh grade science project for you? If it is for your science project and we get an A, I want to know about it. It would be my first A and, boy, will my parents be proud.
Mike O'Connor is the owner
of the Bird Watcher's General Store on Cape Cod, which opened
in 1983 as one of the first stores in the United States dedictaed
solely to birding. His column, Ask the Bird Folks, appears weekly
in The Cape Codder, The Register, The Harwich Oracle, and The
Upper Cape Codder newspapers, and his writing was included in
the Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004. Copyright
2007 by Mike O'Connor. All Rights Reserved.
G'day from Downunder...
recently had a look at some of the videos on the Animal Radio
website Sylvester the cat who plays dead is a classic!...
At the other end of the scale here in Australia, we've heard reports that a family took their 9 week old puppy to the vet recently BECAUSE IT WOULDN'T SIT! Unbelievable but true, and we are appalled. How can people be allowed to even buy an animal in the first place when they have not got a single clue about about anything!
In case there are new readers or wannabe newbie pet owners reading this for the first time, we should just say simply that 'dogs and cats don't come pre-trained' it is up to the owner to socialize the animal from as early an age as possible, go to puppy classes in the case of a dog and for cats put them on a lead and start walking them as kittens. The interaction with people will ensure a well balanced puppy & kitty and one that won't be skittish and like Sylvester the cat in the video mentioned above can be trained to do just about anything.
We're just about to MC (master of ceremonies) a local event here in Sydney "Attacking The Dangerous Dog Dilemma" in researching some facts to try and get our point across that there are more dangerous people than dangerous dogs, we stumbled across the fact that there are approximately the same number of dogs in the state of NSW (New South Wales) as there are cars.
No points for guessing the percentage of deaths by motor vehicle compared with 'deaths by dogs' is wildly different no doubt about it, but can we safely assume that 'cars are killers'?
To back up this statement a local university study showed 98% of motor vehicle deaths were caused by human error (e.g.: not faulty brakes, not blown tires etc) there are no such figures for dog attacks as far as we can find right now, but we're ready to bet that nearly 100% of dog attacks were because of 'human error' so 'dogs are dangerous' is not strictly a true statement.
In both cases 'people are a problem' is probably more accurate!
With minor exceptions due to intentional breeding as fighters, attack training or mistreatment the majority of dogs are simply not aggressive, vindictive, jealous or 'out for revenge.' They are not politically or religiously motivated and couldn't care less if you speak Spanish, Italian, French, and Chinese or if you are black, white, red or a pale shade of green!
Compare that with what we humans inflict upon each other every day. (Virginia Tech, Columbine, 911 etc)
So a quick note to ALL pet owners PLEASE socialize, socialize, socialize, socialize, socialize your pet.
Animals are unpredictable but always show their true colors (e.g.; a growl = back off etc) but by learning about their behavior and more importantly - teaching non or new pet owners some of the absolute basics, we'll not only save human lives, but also just as importantly, we'll save our precious animal's lives too.
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