ANIMAL RADIO® Network Newsletter
December 2007
Programming with a Purpose
In this issue:

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    Animal Radio® made possible by:  SIMPLE SOLUTION NATURAL
    Earth conscious consumers now have an eco-friendly choice in pet care. The Natural line of products by Simple Solution is completely, 100% all-natural. Simple Solution Natural is based on a way of life! Find Simple Solution at Petco, PetSmart or your local pet retailer.


    Animal Radio® is made possible by: GET SERiOUS!

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    Animal Radio® made possible by: FIDO FRIENDLY MAGAZINE
    Fido Friendly magazine lists accommodations where you can stay with your dog while traveling in the United States and Canada. Each quarter, our editorial includes hotel, city and state reviews.

    Don't miss Fido Friendly Travel Talk exclusively on Animal Radio®


    Animal Radio® made possible by: American Anti-Vivisection Society
    The FDA has moved biotech companies one step closer to being able to put milk and meat from cloned animals on your grocery store shelves-without labels. Cloning seriously threatens animal welfare, and you should have the choice to avoid these products! You can help by calling on the FDA to keep cloned foods off of grocery store shelves. Learn more at

    Just because we can clone animals for food, doesn't mean we should!


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    Enter to Win
    UrineOff's "Picture Yourself In Hollywood" Sweepstakes With Celebrity Pet Photographer, Christopher Ameruoso!

    Urine-Off, the number one vet recommended solution to pet odors and stains has paired up with Chris Ameruoso, Hollywood's #1 celebrity pet photographer to bring you the "Picture Yourself in Hollywood" Sweepstakes. The grand prize winner receives an all expense paid trip to Hollywood for 2 and their PET, plus a photo shoot with Christopher Ameruoso. Chris has been photographing celebrities with their pets since 1998, and his work has been featured in People Magazine, In Style, the New York Times, and countless others. His work can be seen in his weekly column in In Touch Magazine titled "Stars and Their Pets". Urine-Off is the leading veterinarian choice for stain and odor removal, and is committed to the well-being of pets and their owners.

    Each and every time you make any purchase at between 10/1/2007 and 12/31/2007 you are automatically entered for a chance to win. The more times you buy, the better your chance of winning. Visit to enter and for official rules.



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    Animal Radio® made possible by:  URINE OFF
    Did you know that Urine Off is the #1 Vet recommended Urine Odor and Stain Remover. In fact, for the last 3 years THOUSANDS of Vets nationwide have recommended Urine Off to their clients, solving their #1 Household problem, unsightly urine odors and stains. Urine Off's professional strength formula is designed to remove odors and stains ­ even old ones, by getting down to the source of the problem and removing it permanently. Endorsed by many of the leading animal organizations, and sworn on by our thousands of loyal customers, who after using it always say the same thing: "Thanks Urine Off, finally something that works."


    Animal Radio® Introduces Pet Headline News Module

    Animal Radio  News

    Animal Radio Network is pleased to announce up-to-the­minute animal news headlines direct from the Animal Radio® newsroom; displayed on a front-page module at

    Webmasters: offer your visitors up-to-the-minute news headlines direct from Animal Radio® - Put the Animal Radio® News Module on your website. Place the following code where you want the module to show up. It's really that simple!

    <p style="margin-top:10px; margin-bottom:0; padding-bottom:0; text-align:center; line-height:0"><a href="" TARGET="_blank"><img src="" alt="Animal Radio ¨ News" style="border:0"></a></p><p style="margin-top:5px; padding-top:0; font-size:x-small; text-align:center">


    MAGGIE LEAVES ALASKA - Maggie the Elephant is out of the cold.
    TOP 10 ITEMS SURGICALLY REMOVED FROM PETS- Hear what made the list.
    DOGS AND CATS CAN GET BREAST CANCER - Can this be prevented?
    FORECLOSURE CRISIS - Our pets are affected to.
    PETS AS GIFTS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON - 8 reasons not to surprise someone.
    FANCY PET GIFTS ABOUND FOR THE HOLIDAYS What are you getting Fido or Fluffy?
    DO YOU GET STRESSED OVER THE HOLIDAYS? Don't take it out on your pets!
    ARE HOMELESS HOUNDS HAPPIER? You will be surprised at the answer.
    Also in this issue:

    Kinky Friedman has the strangest bedfellows. He sleeps with a cat on his head and four dogs in the bed.

    David Frei is back for his third time on Animal Radio®. On the other 364 days he's devoting time to his pet project "Angel on a Leash."

    Listen to a LIVE STREAM of
    Animal Radio® Network's full-time animal channel while you read this newsletter. The above link will launch player. More listening options here.

    Animal Radio® with Hal & Judy
    Check Schedule for Airtimes

    ASPCA Applauds Strong Sentencing of Michael Vick's Co-Defendants:
    Justice Is Being Served
    NEW YORK- The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauded the strong sentences received by two co-defendants of NFL quarterback, Michael Vick, in the Federal investigation against them. Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips received sentences of 18 and 21 months respectively, which fall on the higher end of the Federal sentencing guidelines. In addition, they will each be on probation for an additional three years, during which time they cannot own or have any contact with dogs.
    "Today's sentencing by Judge Henry Hudson is an extremely significant moment in the history of the prosecution of animal cruelty," said Ed Sayres, president & CEO of the ASPCA. "His decision clearly reflects the outrage that many of us felt upon hearing details of the cruelty that had been inflicted upon these animals-the innocent victims in this terrible situation. We are deeply grateful that justice is being served."
    Earlier this year, the two men, along with Vick and a fourth co-defendant, Tony Taylor, pleaded guilty to Federal charges, which included conspiring to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities ("Travel Act"), and to sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture. Vick, who voluntarily surrendered himself on November 19 to begin serving his prison term early, will face sentencing on December 10.
    "The ASPCA has assisted Federal authorities with this investigation from its early stages, most recently having led a team of  animal behavior experts in evaluating the dogs seized from Vick's Virginia property by Federal officials," continued Mr. Sayres. "We are incredibly proud to have played such an instrumental role in this landmark case which, I believe, will change the way America regards and reacts to the cruel treatment of animals."
    The ASPCA continues to assist in the case and is working closely with the Guardian/Special Master of the dogs, Rebecca Huss, to further evaluate the dogs. Due to the sensitive nature of the evaluations and the ongoing criminal process, further details are not possible at this time. For more information on the ASPCA, or to learn more about staying alert to animal cruelty, please visit .

    Hear breaking news as it happens - Animal Radio® is streaming online 24/7  Listen LIVE Now!

    Kinky Friedman
    Do you know that Al Franken's dog Kirby eats poop but Al loves (and kisses) Kirby anyway; that Dave Barry really, really wants a dog; and that Kinky Friedman sleeps with his four dogs and a cat named lady (and a shot gun!)? Find out this and more in Howl, a Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit By the Editors of Bark.

    Kinky not only discusses his sleeping arrangements (his cat sleeps on his head, surrounded by four dogs) but talks about Dilly, his pet armadillo, and his run for governor of Texas.

    The son of a University of Texas professor who raised his children on the family ranch, Rio Duckworth, he was born Richard F. Friedman. He studied psychology in Texas and founded his first band while there. However, King Arthur & the Carrots -- a group that poked fun at surf music -- recorded only one single, in 1966. After graduation, Friedman served three years in the Peace Corps; he was stationed in Borneo, where he worked as an agricultural extension worker.

    Kinky runs the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, which is currently home to 60 dogs, 10 pigs, 3 donkeys, horses and cats, which are available for adoption.

    Hear Kinky on Animal Radio®

    From Show Dogs to Therapy Dogs
    David Frei, Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
    David Frei is one busy guy. Davis is gearing up for not only The National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day, but he will be co-hosting the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February. He is also the founder of Westminster's Angel On A Leash therapy dog program.

    Angel on a Leash champions the use of therapy dogs in health care facilities, schools, rehabilitation, hospice, extended care, correctional facilities and crisis intervention. Through advocacy, education, research and service, Angel on a Leash, promotes the role of the human-animal bond in enhancing human health and quality of life.

    Angel in a Leash began as a charitable activity at the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian for the Westminster Kennel Club less than five years ago. Beginning with a handful of teams, the program quickly grew to include nearly 30 teams.

    David also gives us some exciting news for Westminster. There will be four new breeds eligible for the first time at Westminster in 2008: the Plott (Hound Group), the Tibetan Mastiff (Working), the Swedish Vallhund (Herding) and the Beauceron (Herding). This is the first time in several years that new breeds will be judged.

    David currently is the guardian of two Brittanys, Teigh and Belle, who are therapy dogs that visit people in New York Hospitals every week.
    Hear David Frei on Animal Radio®

    Maggie Leaves Alaska
    Capt. Kelley Jeter
    How do you move an elephant from Alaska to California? You call in the Air Force! As no commercial airlines could carry the 8,000-pound elephant, the Air Force was called in who then used a C-17 military plane, which is normally used to transport tanks, to move Maggie out.

    This is not the first time the military has helped moved a large animal. Back in 1998, the Air Force moved Keiko, a killer whale, to Iceland from Oregon, also on a C-17.

    Maggie, Alaska's lone elephant, was moved to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California after many years of controversy. Many people felt Alaska was not the proper environment for an elephant, and when Maggie fell down twice this year and needed help to get up, it was realized that perhaps they were right.

    A large group of people came out to say their final goodbyes to Maggie, and as she boarded the plane, she trumpeted twice as if to say goodbye.

    After a 4 and 1/2 hour flight, Maggie landed safely in California. See Maggie Coverage
    Hear Capt. Jeter on Animal Radio®

    Top 10 Items Surgically Removed from Pets
    If you thought your dryer was eating your socks, guess again! It seems the number one item swallowed by dogs that had to be surgically removed are socks.

    The top 10 list is as follows:

    1. Socks
    2. Underwear
    3. Panty Hose
    4. Rocks
    5. Balls
    6. Chew Toys
    7. Corn Cobs
    8. Bones
    9. Hair Ties/Ribbons
    10. Sticks

    Other items that animals have ingested are nails, sewing needles and nipples from baby bottles. But let's not forget remote controls, pagers, hearing aids, drywall, snail bait, batteries, rubber bands, toy cars, and sand with bacon grease poured on it.

    Some of these items will pass through their digestive system naturally, but others can become lodged in their intestinal tracts resulting in pain, vomiting, or internal injury. In those cases, surgery may be a necessity.

    The best thing to do is to make sure these items are unavailable to our pets. Make sure there are plenty of items available for your pet to chew on. And, you can always spray something on the items to make them taste bed such as "Bitter Yuck No Chew" spray.
    Hear what other items dogs have swallowed on Animal Radio®

    Comedian Kip Addotta
    Kip discuss his cat "Harley," whom he says owns him, and is the longest relationship he has ever maintained with a female! Listen in as Kip talks about some great flea remedies he discovered, using only soap, water and a light bulb!

    Kip was born in Rockford, IL of Sicilian parents. His father, Frank, worked as a machinist his mother, Josephine, remains a mystery having left the home when Kip was two years old. Kip was put in an orphanage at the age of three and remained there until his Grandmother took fulltime custody when he was five. "I have always felt lucky to have been raised by a saintly woman. She spent a lot of time with me, teaching me the difference between right and wrong."

    His Grandmother, Don na Cicca, Francisca Addotta raised Kip in a strict religious environment, going to Mass every morning and saying the rosary and making The Stations Of The Cross every night. He was being groomed to be a priest.

    At the same time Kip was also being isolated from the influence of the outside world. His Grandmother, closely, screened his friends and he was only allowed to leave the house for a half hour a day. "Some might think that this was cruel but I knew that was done from love and that I was being treated as someone special. Someone, who was going to spend his life serving God. I didn't feel this about myself but I did go along with it out of respect for my Grandmother."

    His grandmother died when Kip was fifteen and all thoughts of the priesthood went the way of the wind. Kip, was placed in the charge of his father until he moved out on his own at sixteen.

    Kip Addotta has made over 32 guest appearances on "The Tonight Show," and is still entertaining crowds on the radio and at clubs.

    Hear Kip on Animal Radio®

    Legal Path Clear to Ban Declawing
    Merritt Clifton, Animal People
    California cities and counties may ban declawing cats. The California Supreme Court affirmed this on October 10, 2007, when it refused to hear an appeal filed by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) against a West Hollywood ordinance adopted in 2003. Tune in to find out why the CVMA is opposed to the ban ­ could it be a money thing?

    The West Hollywood ordinance is the only local anti-declawing law in California, but other communities are expected to adopt similar legislation now that the legal path is clear.

    Hear Merritt Clifton on Animal Radio®

    Meerkat Manor
    Pam Bennett-Wahlberg, Fellow Earthlings' Wildlife Center, Inc.
    Fellow Earthlings' Wildlife Center is a privately licensed 501(C)3 non-profit facility that specializes in caring for meerkats. The animals are provided a permanent home and come to us from accredited zoological parks.

    Meerkats are placed here for a variety of reasons: The animals may be orphaned, injured, sick, old, or the previous facility may simply be out of room and can no longer care for them. You and your guests can visit our Center and hand-feed the meerkats through our "Adopt" program.

    Fellow Earthlings' Wildlife Center is proud to be partnered with Animal Planet on their hit series Meerkat Manor. Our Director, Pam Bennett-Wahlberg, is the publicity spokesperson for the series.

    Adopt A Meerkat Program
    Our "Adopt a Meerkat Program" entitles you and up to three of your guests to enjoy a private, two-hour interactive experience with all of the meerkats at our Center. You will be able to feed, photograph, and play with our wee rascals. The meerkats will enjoy taking treats from your hand, sitting in your lap, untying your shoelaces, and peeking in your pockets.

    Your $100.00 tax-deductible donation to Fellow Earthlings' Wildlife Center, Inc., a 501(C)3 non-profit facility, will be used to provide the meerkats with food, veterinary care, housing, and toys.

    We are open, by appointment, to our Adoptive Parents and their guests on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the months of March through December.

    Our fully licensed Center is located 25 minutes from world-famous Palm Springs, California. Driving time from San Diego and Los Angeles is two hours. Magnificent Joshua Tree National Park is just 20 miles from our Center.

    Please note: While meerkats are adorable and captivating, they do not make good pets. Surprisingly, meerkats are one of the most strictly regulated animals in the world. They are illegal to own without the proper licenses and permits. Of course, all "adopted" meerkats remain living at Fellow Earthlings' Wildlife Center, Inc. THE MEERKATS THANK YOU!

    Hear Pam Bennett-Wahlberg on Animal Radio®


    Dogs, Cats Not Immune to Breast Cancer
    Dr. Gerald Post, Veterinary Oncology and Hematology Center
    We are hearing more and more about our pets getting some of the same diseases that humans get. Now, we find out that they can get breast cancer as well, known as mammary cancer. Cancer is now the No. 1 natural cause of death in older pets.

    Dr. Post states that mammary cancer is very common in unspayed female dogs and cats. He states it is very important to spay your pets before they have their first heat, which will greatly reduce the risk of mammary cancer.

    While about half of the mammary tumors found in dogs are usually non-cancerous, those found in cats have about a 90% chance of being cancerous.

    Because our animals have shorter lives than we do, cancer can be found in them sooner. And because environmental problems are the same for animals and people, we can use them as models, sort of like the "canary in the coal mine," warning us of risk factors that we should look out for as well.

    While a veterinarian should see your pet annually, you can also do a physical exam on your pet weekly or monthly. Have your pet lie on their side on the floor while you check for lumps, or have them sit in your lap while someone else checks them over.

    Some signs of mammary cancer are abnormal swellings that persist or grow larger; sores that won't heal; weight loss or loss of appetite and bleeding or discharge from any body opening.

    "Early detection and diagnosis is the key to great health," Ogilvie said, adding that if the cancer is detected early, animals have a good rate of survival. Then, they can continue to help amuse, annoy and comfort their human companions for many more years to come.
    Hear Dr. Gerald Post on Animal Radio®


    Foreclosure Crisis Claims Family Pets, Animal Shelters Overflow
    by Sharon Secor
    According to recent news reports, in areas of the nation where the foreclosure crisis is hitting hard, local animal shelters are seeing a sharp increase in the number of owners surrendering family pets, many citing the loss of their home as their reason. One news report quoted an official at the Escondido Humane Society, located in California, a state hard hit by the recent mortgage industry turmoil, as saying that the organization receives between 20 and 30 calls per day from people who are losing their homes to foreclosure and have no place for their pets.

    While, for some, losing the family pets may seem like the least of worries in a potential foreclosure situation, that is simply not the case for families with children who've grown up with the pets or for many elderly people, for whom these pets are near constant companions. Facing the loss of pets is akin to the heartbreak of losing family members, which is exactly what their pets are to them.

    Fighting Foreclosure

    For families with pets, fighting foreclosure is often the best bet when it comes to keeping their pets. Renting with pets is often very difficult, as restrictions can be very tough on the type, size and number of pets allowed. Fortunately for homeowners in trouble, as the mortgage crisis expands and the number of foreclosures increases, federal, state, and local government officials are scrambling to find solutions. Legislative bodies throughout the nation are coming together to see what they can do to slow the tide of displaced families and homeowners. Even some of the major players in the mortgage lending industry are stepping up to the plate to take their turn at seeing what can be done to prevent homeowners from foreclosure.

    Naturally, few of these actions are the result of altruistic instincts. Politicians don't want thousands to lose their homes on their watch, as that could affect the way they are perceived by voters. Lenders and others involved in the real estate industry recognize that foreclosure is expensive. Not only does each foreclosure cost a great deal to complete, but in neighborhoods where there are several foreclosures, the empty homes do nothing good for the value of surrounding properties.

    Some common legislative steps include increasing the amount of help available to homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure. At the federal level, agencies are receiving funding to offer financial counseling to homeowners, helping them to renegotiate mortgage loans and conditions with their lenders. Legislation seeking to adjust regulations so that struggling homeowners may have a better chance at refinancing home loans are also part of the planned efforts geared towards keeping homeowners and their families in their homes.

    State and local governments are also working on passing legislation and changing regulations. While a great deal of effort is being put into preventing predatory lending, steps are being taken to address the situations of homeowners already in trouble. Some state and local governments are requesting a moratorium on foreclosures, though that step is unlikely to become official law.

    Big industry players, like Countrywide, are taking matters into their own hands, and taking steps to work with homeowners. That is because many are facing an inordinate amount of foreclosed properties that they have to deal with. It makes more sense for them to avoid becoming flooded with defaulted loans and properties. Some have decided to hold back on resetting adjustable rate mortgage interest rates temporarily, allowing homeowners to try to get prepared.

    If currently facing a foreclosure threat, don't give up right away. Take advantage of the programs that are designed to help and explore all options. You just may find that there is a solution that will keep your family and your pets together by avoiding foreclosure.

    If Foreclosure Is Unavoidable

    If it does turn out that foreclosure is unavoidable, surrendering pets may still be avoided. In many regions, the value of pet-ownership for the elderly is recognized and regulations require that a small pet be allowed in rental units designed for older people. With enough time, it is possible to find rentals that do allow pets, though there may be extra costs associated, either a higher security or an extra monthly fee. If time runs short, you may want to try to talk friends or family into accepting payment to care for your animals temporarily.

    For those who are not able to find a rental that allows pets in time, but are still unwilling to give up their four-legged family members, there is a down and dirty tactic that can be employed to buy time. Keep looking for the right rental, but take what you can at the moment and smuggle the pets in. Don't bother to unpack much, as you'll probably be getting evicted soon. But, at least you've bought a little more time to find the right place.

    If your situation doesn't allow for such tactics, and you really do have to surrender your pets, there are a couple of options to consider that will at least ensure that they are not killed. A no-kill shelter is the obvious choice, but recognize that you may have to travel, as many are filling up rapidly. If your pets are purebred, you may have the option of contacting a breed specific rescue organization for help. Many will take the pet and provide a foster home for it while looking for a permanent home.

    As recent news stories suggest, the toll that the mortgage and lending industry crisis is having is not only a human one. As families are displaced, so too are their pets. Often, the pets are just about as much a part of the family as the people are, making it quite tragic for all involved that a temporary financial setback can potentially result in the loss of a beloved family pet. Fortunately, this doesn't always have to be the case when facing foreclosure. There are options, particularly for those inspired to take the time and effort to find them or willing to engage in a bit of creativity.

    Sharon Secor writes for a variety of publications and websites, including Direct Lending Solutions and Lenders Mark. Her journey into freelance writing was inspired by Christine de Pisan (1364-1429), a widow and writer of social commentary who, in addition to being one of France's earliest well-known female authors, was able to support her children through her writing. Ms. Secor is working towards completing a double major in Journalism and Spanish ­ preparation for writing for both English and Spanish language markets about social and economic issues in Latin America, as influenced by increased industrialization and the global marketplace. As an anarchist and single parent, she also devotes her time to practicing resistance and raising revolutionaries.

    Coming Up on Animal Radio®:

    Ed Begley was inspired by the works of his Academy Award-winning father and became an actor. He first came to audiences' attention for his portrayal of Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the long-running hit television series, "St. Elsewhere," for which he received six Emmy nominations. Since then Begley has moved easily between feature, television and theatre projects.

    As environmental issues become more pressing, there are two possible responses: forget it and hope that government and corporations will figure it out, or take action yourself.

    In the "take action yourself" camp, a few individuals are leading the way. One such person in California is Ed Begley, Jr.

    Environmental lawyer and long-time friend, Bobby Kennedy, Jr. has said "Ed has a greater sense of social obligation than anyone I know. He's like a West Coast cadet who gets up every morning and says 'reporting for duty'".

    Wiggles, Wigs for Dogs. The day of emulating celebrity hairdos is now no longer reserved for fans or even humans!

    Wiggles is the brainchild of Ruth Regina, a master wig maker whose notoriety in her field spans a half a century. The lover of her art and the love of animals made an odd and unique coupling twenty years ago when a friend asked her to make a wig for her beagle. One order turned into many, one interview turned into a series of high profile engagements and Wiggle Dog Wigs was born.

    Ruth will be unveiling her new Christmas Line of dog wigs.


    Petmate® Pet Steps
    (rated 4 and 1/2 out of 5 paws)
    Sometimes it's hard for us to admit that our pets are not as young as they used to be. But as they age, we want to make sure that they can still reach their favorite places without harming themselves.

    While most pet steps only reach about 12 inches (which means your pet still has to jump the rest of the way) the Pets Steps from Petmate can reach 20 inches high. The steps are also very lightweight (about 4 lbs.) and come in a neutral color to match any decor.

    If you see your pet struggle to reach his favorite places, don't wait - get him the Pet Steps right away!

    Animal Minute on Animal Radio®
    with Britt Savage

    Santa Sues the Air Force
    In February, a Danish man who works as a part-time Santa Claus, filed a claim with the Danish Air Force saying that one of his reindeer had died of a heart attack after two fighter jets passed over his farm. The man said that the death of the reindeer, whose name was not disclosed, would leave him with only one to pull his sleigh next Christmas.

    After checking flight data and veterinary reports, the air force agreed that the planes had probably caused the death and said it would pay the claim. "We got a letter from Santa," said a spokesman, "and looked into it seriously."

    The air force will pay the cost of a new reindeer, plus the vet expenses.

    Bambi Caught Offshore
    What started out to be a slow fishing day for two fishermen, turned out to be the "catch of the day."

    Looking out over the water, the fisherman saw what they thought to be a seal. But realizing that seals weren't normally in this area, they kept a lookout. When they got closer, they realized it was a deer swimming desperately trying to keep afloat and having a difficult time at it. The deer then headed straight for their boat, possibly thinking it might be land. But when the deer reached the boat, it saw the fisherman and had second thoughts.

    The guys knew if the deer was to survive, they had to act fast. One of the fishermen grew up around cows and quickly lassoed the deer. They then got the deer in the boat but were afraid that he would start kicking. But luckily for the fisherman, the deer was too exhausted to do anything.

    They put the boat into high gear and rushed the deer to shore where he was released.

    Britt Savage is a regular Animal Radio® correspondent as well as an incredibly talented musician! She can be heard daily on Animal Radio Network.LISTEN TO ANIMAL RADIO NETWORK NOW

    Veterinary Minute on Animal Radio®
    with Dr. Jim Humphries

    Unexpected Pet Bills Lead to New Ways to Pay
    Pet owners love to spend money on their pets! But what happens when their dog is hit by a car or their cat needs emergency surgery? Advances in medical care for pets have made miracles possible, but they also come with a price. What are your options to help with these unexpected pet costs?

    Between the United States and Canada, pet owners will spend more than $45 billion on toys, foods, accessories and healthcare for their four-legged family members. But, despite this love for our pets, a single traumatic event or serious disease can devastate personal finances or potentially lead to heart-wrenching decisions. Fortunately, the availability of pet insurance, pet health savings plans and even credit for pets may help some pet owners keep their pets around longer. The problem consumer advocates don't think it's a good plan.

    Pet insurance is not a brand new idea and actually has been around for more than 25 years. In almost every case, pet insurance works as a reimbursement insurance. This means that you, the pet owner, pay the veterinarian for the services and then submit a claim to the company. After deductibles are applied, the insurance company will send out a check based on the type of plan you purchased for your pet. Although you won't get 100% of your money back, it can help to ease the financial burden in the event of serious disease or injury.

    But some consumer advocate groups don't agree. Consumer Reports® has stated that insurance is only beneficial if something catastrophic happens to your pet. They recommend placing your premium payments into a savings account instead. Saving just $30 per month (a typical premium for pet insurance) in an account that generates 5% interest will create $6,000 over the lifetime of the pet, according to their calculations.

    And, veterinarians, as a whole, have not been overly receptive of pet insurance. Many fear becoming part of a managed care system and some fear being disappointed by the insurance company. Dr. Thomas Beall of Iowa feels strongly about helping pet owners plan for unexpected events. His website,, encourages owners to set up a pet health savings plan. Beall says that packages on his site will help. "This will be set up for them as a automatic withdrawal and will help "weak willed" savers. Just like is done for retirement plans. If you don't see the money, you don't miss it."

    Jack Stephens, founder of Pets Best Pet Insurance has a different view of savings plans. He says, "Medical problems don't wait until you have saved enough and then stay within the savings you have accumulated." He further describes the story of Abby, a young lab mix puppy who needed more than $7,000 worth of veterinary care. Pets Best paid about 80% of the total bills even though less than $100 of premiums had been paid. "If they had a pet savings account, they would have had $30-60", says Stephens. It is quite possible that Abby could have been put to sleep if her owners had not opted for pet insurance.

    With less than 1% of American pet owners and only about 9% of Canadian owners utilizing any sort of pet insurance or savings plan, what other options are available? Most veterinarians cannot offer any sort of billing plan and many owners have their cash and credit cards tied up with other purchases. Fortunately, for some pet owners, CareCredit ( may be a solution. CareCredit offers several flexible payment options that allow clients to make payments over a period of several months. But, like other lines of credit, interest rates can skyrocket if the balance is not paid within a specified time frame.

    The advances in veterinary medicine over the past few decades have been absolutely amazing. Our pets are living longer due to the skills and dedication of their veterinarians. But, there are costs associated with the life-saving skills and high-tech equipment. If your pet suffers a traumatic injury or serious illness, make sure that you understand the costs as well as the procedures. Talk with your veterinarian about the options that are available to you and, above all, be proactive in planning for your pet's healthcare. Visit to learn more about how unexpected pet health costs can affect you.

    Dr. Humphries is a veterinarian in Colorado Springs and the National News Director for Veterinary News Network. Hear the Veterinary Minute exclusively on Animal Radio®-LISTEN TO ANIMAL RADIO NETWORK NOW


    Ask the Cat Coach with Marilyn Krieger

    Is My Cat Lonely?

    Dear Cat Coach,
    I have a 10 year old male cat named Andy who has always lived with me since he was 4 months old. He is a wonderful cat, loves for me to play and groom him whenever possible. There have never been any other dogs or cats living with us. He's my little buddy, is always with me when I'm home. Lately I've been worried that he might be lonely since I've been working longer hours then usual. Do you think it would be a good idea to adopt another cat for him to play with? If so, should it be a kitten or an older cat? I want to make sure that my Andy is happy and isn't lonely when I go to work.

    Dear Tony,
    Andy is better off with no other pets in the household. You and he have always been a team of two with no other players. Andy has been your little buddy since he was a kitten and most likely won't welcome another animal into his home. Odds are that bringing in a new cat will stress him out and make him very unhappy. Instead of entertaining thoughts of another cat, provide environmental enrichment for him when you are away from home. Turn on the television, or provide him with CD or tapes made especially for cats. Kitty Catnip and the Cat Sitter are two that come to mind. They are filled with the sights and sounds of birds, fish, insects and other fascinating creatures. Andy would also appreciate a tall cat tree with lots of wide shelves located next to a secure window. Other enrichment activities include toys such as puzzle boxes that you can hide treats and toys in. Make him work a little bit for his food by hiding treats in boxes and bags.

    It is also important to provide Andy with quality time when you are home. Every day have regular scheduled play, grooming and cuddle sessions with him. Andy will also appreciate a reminder of you when he's alone during the day. Before going to work, put your sleeping attire from the night before in his favorite daytime napping spots.

    Marilyn Krieger, CCBC is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant. She can be reached for phone and on-site consultations to help solve cat behavior problems either by e-mail or by phone: 650 780 9485. Marilyn is the Cat Behaviorist for the Cat Channel, Cat Fancy Magazine's web presence. Additionally, Marilyn teaches cat behavior classes and is available for speaking engagements. You can find out more about The Cat Coach at Copyright 2007 Marilyn Krieger, CCBC All Rights Reserved.


    Don't Abuse Your Pets or Other Animals When You're Stressed
    By Stanley Popovich
    Everybody deals with stress and anxiety, however some people sometimes take it out on their pets. Instead of taking your problems and frustrations out on your pets or other animals, here is a list of techniques that a person can use to help manage their stress, anxieties, and fears.

    When facing a current or upcoming task that overwhelms you with anxiety, the first thing you can do is to break the task into a series of smaller steps. For example, changing careers can be a stressful situation. In order to help manage this task, try to divide this goal into a series of smaller steps and do each of these tasks one at a time. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success. This is a lot more effective then taking your frustrations out on your pet.

    Sometimes, we get stressed when everything happens all at once. Instead of taking it out on your dog or cat, a person should take a deep breathe and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get your mind off of the problem. A person could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. This mental timeout can help you refocus on your current situation.

    In dealing with your anxieties, a person should learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of focusing on exaggerated assumptions that may or may not happen, focus on the present and take it one day at a time.

    Sometimes, it helps to be able to talk to someone about our stressful situations. Talking to a trusted friend, counselor, or clergyman can not only make us feel better, but they might be able to give you additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. This is a lot more effective than yelling at your dog or cat.

    It is not easy to deal with our stressful problems, however taking our frustrations out on your pets or other people will not make the problem go away. When things are not going right, try to remember to treat your pet in the way you would want to be treated.

    Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:


    Fancy Pet Gifts Abound for Holidays
    y Dave Carpenter AP Business Writer Chicago
    Coco's Christmas was doggone good last year.

    The 5-year-old Shih Tzu got a stocking full of treats and found a pink wool sweater, pink mohair sweater, black fur-trimmed parka and hiking boots waiting under the tree last December. This year, her owner is eyeing a $120 set of pearls with a sterling silver bone clasp along with plenty of edible goodies for the pooch who has almost everything.

    "It's an expression of love," said Shannon Fay, a 38-year-old Chicagoan. "She's part of the family."

    Pets rule at the holidays, especially dogs, and that helps keep many retailers' registers ringing.

    U.S. retail sales may be weak, energy prices way up and housing prices way down, but experts say pets largely defy such economic indicators. Caring owners are no more likely to stiff their beloved animals for the holidays than Santa is to leave rocks in every stocking.

    Overall, Americans are expected to spend an estimated $48.7 billion on their pets in 2007, nearly twice the amount of a decade ago and growing at more than 7 percent a year, according to Packaged Facts, a consumer research company in Rockville, Md. Already, spending exceeds the gross domestic product of about 120 nations.

    In other words, whatever Fido wants, Fido gets - and then some, particularly in upscale areas.

    "It's kind of recession-resistant where we're at," said Steve Coghlan, co-owner of Spoiled Rotten Pets in Chicago's posh Lincoln Park neighborhood. "People are going to spend on their pets no matter what. They're not going to cheat their dogs."

    That's especially true when it comes to the holidays. Fifty-six percent of dog owners and 42 percent of cat owners bought holiday gifts for their pets last year, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

    Doug Poindexter, president of the World Wide Pet Industry Association, another trade group, says the gift-giving trend reflects the growing humanization of pets in this country.

    "If you're going to do it for your child, you're probably going to do it for your pet as well," he said.

    Buying Christmas or Hanukkah gifts for the kids - the furry kind - isn't what it used to be. Walk the aisles of a well-stocked pet store at the holidays or cruise Web sites and there is abundant evidence of how enterprising American businesses are trying to part pet lovers from their cash.

    High-end, luxury items are increasingly popular. A prospective pet pamperer can find everything from organic cookies and doggie basketball jerseys and jackets to $70 treat jars, $399 temperature-controlled pet carriers and $499 cashmere pet beds.

    At Barker & Meowsky, a particularly creative Chicago pet store, the range of products could cheer up any sour puss: Catnip cigars, dog antlers, elf outfits, faux fur cat sleeping bags, plush-toy musical Menorahs, Christmas scarves and even some real bling: a $250 crystal-encrusted dog collar made from python skins with a matching $190 leash.

    Pet owners love to indulge in fun products for their four-legged family members, according to owner Alice Lerman.

    "A sense of humor is so important," she said. "And it's got to be wrapped, it's got to be sealed, it's got to be just like you were giving it to a person. That's a really common request that we get."

    Some humans, perhaps sniffing a possible promotion, even get Secret Santa gifts for the boss' dog.

    Elsewhere, there are all manner of gifts - themed gifts such as rawhide canes and cat stockings; healthy gifts such as dog energy nutrition bars; gifts for the socially conscious such as organic cotton leashes with proceeds supporting African refugee camps; eco-friendly gifts such as biodegradable poop-pickup bags, and gifts for weak-armed dog owners such as tennis-ball slingshots.

    Doctors Foster and Smith, a well-known pet supplier, features 16 pages of gift products in its fall catalog. Even Dr. Marty Smith, co-founder of the Rhinelander, Wis.-based business, marvels at how gift-giving has taken off - and how some people "go through our catalog and seem to get one of everything."

    "For a dog that hasn't had a rawhide bone in awhile and gets one, this is a good Christmas," he said. "One or two gifts is more than enough for every pet."

    Derrick Carter knows that, but he can't help overdoing it for his four dogs at the holidays.

    "They give me a really, really incredible amount of love and companionship," the 38-year-old music producer said. "So, they give me something, I give them something."

    Carter got reindeer clothes for the dogs - referred to alternately as the kids, the monkeys or the monsters - last December and likes to make sure they are warmly and stylishly garbed for Chicago winters. His two miniature pinschers, French bulldog and Brussels Griffon get pampered at both Christmas and Hanukkah, since his boyfriend is Jewish.

    "I'm sure they don't really care about the Gucci sweaters or the fancy collars or the shoes and all that," he said. "But the fact that Daddy brought them something, they seem to like that part."

    For Pet's Sake with Karen Lee Stevens

    Are Homeless Hounds Happier?
    This may come as a surprise to you, but I've long believed that dogs who belong to homeless people are among the happiest of hounds. Sound farfetched? Perhaps, but let me explain my theory. Most of the pampered pooches I know are accustomed to lavish lifestyles: they live in nice homes, romp in big backyards, play with plenty of toys, and enjoy good food and quality veterinary care. Even with the abundance of accoutrements, however, most dogs spend their days home alone, which consists of taking long naps (sounds pretty good to me, but I digress..), barking at the postal carrier, and casting sad eyes out the window as they watch the world go by. By the time we arrive home at the end of the day, our doggie dynamo is rested and raring to go, but we're dog-tired and all we want to do is flop down in front of the TV. Being the good dog guardians that we are, though, we muster up enough oomph to take our four-legged friend for a 5-10 minute stroll around the block and assume that's enough. But wait a minute. If the shoe were on the other paw, er, foot, would we be content sitting inside all day and then being led around on a leash twice a day to do our business? Probably not.

    I'm not the only one who thinks that forlorn Fido is getting a bum rap. Cesar Millan, the author of Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems and the host of National Geographic Channel's The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, made this observation in his best-selling book: "I think that dogs that live with homeless people often have the most fulfilling, balanced lives. Watch a homeless person walking with a dog and you will witness a good example of a pack leader-pack follower body language. The dog follows either beside the human or just behind him. The dog is migrating with his pack leader, the way nature has ingrained in him." Cesar goes on to explain that, for a dog, walking all day in a "pack," seeking out food, and then finding a warm place to sleep at night is akin to winning the lottery. The homeless dog gets to meander for miles with his human companion and then goes to bed tired. The coddled canine, on the other hand, may sleep on plush pillows and feast on gourmet foods, but his world is often limited to the house, the car, and perhaps the occasional trip to the park or the groomer. Boring! He goes to bed every night with another day's worth of pent-up energy and frustration. And we wonder why our dogs exhibit so many behavioral problems.

    If your lonely Lab or bored Boxer is feeling down in the dumps, you might consider hiring a neighborhood teenager to walk him every afternoon, sign up for doggie daycare, or even adopt another pup so your dog has a buddy to play with.

    Sure, our dogs love their toys and treats but, in truth, they don't care whether we live on Park Lane or in a park; they just want to spend time with us. So, let's get up off the couch and take our dog for a long walk.

    Happy trails.

    When Karen (Founder and President of All For Animals, Inc.) is not writing her column, she's busy handing out food to destitute dogs and their human companions. Send her a message at

    Talk With Your Animals on Animal Radio Network
    hosted by Joy Turner Check Schedule for Airtimes

    Traveling with Our Animal Kids and the Holiday Season
    This time of year many of us are traveling. If we have human children, we try to meet their needs regarding the trip. To keep them entertained, we bring games, books to read or listen to on CD players and now portable DVD players for them to watch movies. We remember snacks and water. Perhaps their favorite toy or blanket is packed. We talk to them about how long the trip and the visit is; who is going to be at our destination and what we might do at our destination and also the purpose of the trip.

    Do you ever think to talk with your animal kid(s) regarding your trip? Are they going or staying behind? Why? They like to know about it and what to expect. Do you plan your trip in regard to their feelings and needs? Like you would for the humans involved. If you're taking your animal kids, is the trip laid out for just your convenience and that of the other humans you may be visiting, or is it laid out with the well-being of your animal kids as your first concern. (See some of the stories below.) My personal opinion is that we should always take the well-being of our animal kids into consideration before the likes or dislikes of visited humans. But then, you all know that I am the advocate for the animals.

    As we learn to communicate and respect our animals, the bond with our animal kids continues to deepen. A wonderful example of this was Martha's (my Coordinator and, of course, she learned to talk with her animal kids) trip with her dog, Crystal. During the 14 hour road trip to California in one day, there were the usual stops at the rest areas. Everyone got to use the facilities and get something to drink. When they stopped for food, Crystal got to place her order. Her favorite foods in this order are hamburgers and then chicken nuggets.

    What was different was the depth of their conversation. As they drove, Crystal told Martha what her plans were when she passed. She wanted her ashes spread at her favorite places. Crystal also explained when and why she would be leaving her body. She shared her plans to come back to be with Martha because she loves her mom so much.

    Also, when Martha and her husband were talking about going home, Crystal let Martha know that she wanted to go home to be with her kitties. She missed them and felt that she and her mom and dad had been gone too long! By the way, everyone was so happy to be back together.

    Another person contacted me while on a road trip with her cat. She had loaded him and all her stuff up and was on her way to move from Seattle to Phoenix then to Florida. He knew what was going on and the approximate amount of time it would take to get to Phoenix. This is where their understanding started to part ways. The woman's idea was to get there as soon as possible which meant they would drive many long hours each day and stop only long enough to sleep then be back in the truck and drive more until the next time to sleep. Her cat has his own ideas. He wanted to enjoy the trip. He wanted to stop and get out and "smell the flowers". Being his usually great cat self, every time she stopped at a hotel, he would get out of the car, wonder around and then go with her into the hotel. This went on for 3 days. Then the proverbial stuff hit the fan. He got out of the car and ran away from her not to return. This is when I got the call for help. He relayed that he had enough of being in the car with his mom making all the decisions about the trip. He told her how he wanted to travel and that he wanted to stay where he was for 3 days (a time equal to the amount of time he was cooped up in the car driving). This did not set well with his mom and they had a very difficult time for several days. Finally, she gave up wanting things her way, and he came out to continue traveling. Until the next time she stopped, that is. Her mind had gone back to the same mind set and he did his same response - ran away not to return. Eventually, he did return after much discussion between him and his mom via me. The long and short of his story is that he wanted to be considered an equal partner (as his person so often told him they were partners) and decided that tolerating being overlooked in the decision making process was not going to continue. Once mom got the message and had a change of heart (and mind), so did he. They were reunited and are living happily if Florida.

    For those of you who are not in the habit of listening to your animal kids, here are some messages from some dogs who wanted their voices to be heard for others. Maybe someone you know might recognize some similarities.

    "Please explain to me, "Why after a 5 hour road trip, you have tied up me to the bumper of your truck while you and my family are inside a warm house, eating your Thanksgiving meal?" Did you ever think I would like to participate in the festivities? Besides that it is cold out here. I want my warm bed. I don't care if the relatives don't like animals in their house. Stand up for me, please and let me in the house!"

    "One night is OK. But I am tired of being here! Maybe leaving me at the maintenance shack with the resident dog is your idea of taking care of me while you are off celebrating. It's not to me! I am unhappy. Enough is enough! Do you hear me barking? Everyone else does. I am calling you to come get me now."

    If you do recognize similarities, the fix is very simple. Put yourself in the place you have your animal kid and see how you would feel. Chances are they feel the same. If your routine changes, try to keep theirs as much like home as possible. We think you'll love what it does for your relationship.

    We'd like to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! And, of course, from our perspective, please include your animal family as well in your thanks and celebration. Our animals are our greatest blessings and loving teachers. At this very special time of year, our blessings go out to everyone for a life blessed with love, happiness and the greatest fulfillment.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Love to you all!
    Joy, Braveheart, Amira, Venus, Mercury, Ala, Dream Weaver, Deleite, Diego, Sing, Song and Martha, Ron, Lemonade, Sidney, Crystal, Annie

    Until next time, I'm Joy reminding you, you can never love your animal companions too much. You can only love them, hopefully, enough.

    If you would like to schedule a private session with Joy, call 425-867-1779 or go to If you are interested in being a caller on Talk with your Animals, please email to make arrangements. Joy Turner is a regular Animal Radio® correspondent. She can be heard daily on Animal Radio Network. LISTEN TO ANIMAL RADIO NETWORK NOW

    Public Events:

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    Holiday Window Adoption
    Macy's, San Francisco
    Now Thru January 1st

    The San Francisco SPCA is excited to be partnering once again with Macy's on the presentation of the 21st Annual Holiday Windows Adoption Outreach event. From November 16 through January 1, 2008 adorable cats and dogs, kittens and puppies seeking loving homes take up residence in their very own magical pet place in the windows of Macy's Union Square store, Stockton and O'Farrell Streets.

    This year, Holiday Windows at Macy's will feature six, five-foot diameter snow globes set within a panorama of San Francisco landmarks, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge, from the Ferry Building to Twin Peaks. The globes will house The SF/SPCA shelter dogs and cats within a setting that salutes other San Francisco holiday traditions, including A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, Beach Blanket Babylon, and the tree lighting in Union Square. The centerpiece of the windows will be an animated ice rink complete with skating dogs and cats.

    Last year's Holiday Windows inspired the adoption of 200 cats and dogs and over $25,000 in donations for The SF/SPCA. The delightful windows provide all the "creature comforts" for the animals, including temperature control, hidden litter boxes, and comfy spots for those quick catnaps. Every cat and dog offered for adoption at Holiday Windows is vaccinated, spayed or neutered, microchipped and screened for medical or behavioral issues. Each animal comes with a 30-day medical assistance plan, gift collar and ID tag (for dogs), a new leash or carrier, and an "adoption kit," courtesy of our sponsors, filled with coupons and tips on raising your new pet. SF/SPCA staff and volunteers will provide information about cats and dogs, and guide adopters through every step of the adoption process.

    Watch the animals live now in the windows at Macy at the webcam.

    Rover, Get Off Her Leg! with Darlene Arden

    ASK "THE DOG EXPERT" - by Darlene Arden, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant

    Q. Dear Darlene,
    My neighbor's German Shepherd is always chasing cars. This doesn't seem like a good idea. Can you please tell me what I can say to my neighbor to stop this behavior? I'm afraid I'm going to accidentally hit the dog and, frankly, I'm scared.

    A. Dear Amelia,
    You have every reason to be scared. I wish your neighbor were as concerned about his dog as you! You can explain to your neighbor that it is dangerous for the dog to be loose, that dogs don't need "freedom," which is usually the excuse of the uneducated pet owner. An adult dog has no more mental development than a human toddler, nor can he read street signs. It is for his safety that the owner should walk him on leash. This will not only give the dog and owner exercise but will promote the human-animal bond.

    If this isn't enough to convince your neighbor that his dog can get hit by a car, you might also remind him that along with a veterinary bill or a dead dog, he is also responsible for any injuries caused to the driver, passenger(s) and car of the person who hits his dog, or swerves to avoid hitting the dog and has an accident, even if it's a minor fender-bender such as hitting a trash can or mailbox. However, injuries can be far worse than that.

    If you are not the only neighbor who is concerned, then several of you might approach him at one time. Try to keep it friendly and concerned because you still have to live near this person and you will have to say it carefully so that you don't create animosity but do show concern for the neighbor and the dog as well as the innocent driver who might hurt the dog or be injured trying to avoid hitting the dog.

    Good luck with educating your neighbor!

    "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), and the newly released, "Rover, Get Off Her Leg!" Further information may also be found on her website: Copyright 2007 by Darlene Arden. All Rights Reserved.


    \(rated 5 out of 5 paws)

    Planet Cat by Sandra Choron, Harry Choron and Arden Moore
    Paperback: 424 pages
    Publisher: Houghton Miller (Nov 2007)
    ISBN-10: 0618812598
    ISBN-13: 978-0618812592
    Reviewed by Hal Abrams

    Don't plan on putting Planet Cat on the bookshelf anytime soon. It's full of tasty tidbits and momentous morsels for the short attention span. It truly is the epitome of cat-erature for the feline fanatic!
    Hear Arden Moore on Animal Radio®

    \(rated 4 out of 5 paws)

    Cat Yoga Fitness and Flexibility for the Modern Feline by Rick Tillotson
    Hardcover: 128 pages
    Publisher: Clarkson Potter (Oct 2007)
    ISBN-10: 0307352544
    ISBN-13: 978-0307352545
    Reviewed by Judy Francis

    Yoga is a system or set of breathing exercises and postures derived from or based on Hindu yoga. It improves physical, mental and emotional health in humans, so why shouldn't our felines benefit too?

    You probably have already witnessed your cat doing some yoga positions as he wakes from a nap. In this book, you will find 60 color photos of cats in various yoga positions, from the Warrior Pose (ideal for strengthening the legs and back) to the Gatyatmak Meru Vakrasana (designed for kitties who need to lose a few pounds). These agile cats have unlocked the power of yoga to obtain improve balance, a slimmer waistline, mental clarity, and of course, fuller whiskers.

    Cat Yoga is a hilarious tongue-in-cheek "guidebook" for kitty yogis-to-be. And, just like in humans, check with your veterinarian before your kitty begins any new exercise program.And even if you don't have an aspiring Cat Yogi, the pictures will bring a smile to your face!
    Hear Rick Tillotson on Animal Radio®

    See other reviews at Send books and literature for review on-air and in this newsletter to: Animal Radio Network™ Book Reviews, 233 East 330 North, Kanab, Utah 84741. Product may not be returned. Allow 5 weeks for review.

    Too Much Chocolate Can Kill Fido!
    By Dr. Debbie White
    During the holidays, we may put out different types of goodies for our guests, including chocolate. Dr. Debbie White gives us the lowdown on chocolate and our pets.

    Is it true chocolate can kill my dog?

    Yes, ingestion of excessive amounts of chocolate can cause a dog to become severely ill and even lead to death.

    What is in chocolate that is so dangerous?

    Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which has stimulatory effects on the heart, nervous tissue and other tissues.

    What toxic signs will be seen?

    Restlessness and hyperactivity
    Abdominal pain
    Increase heart rate and arrhythmias
    Increased urination
    Muscle stiffness with occasional twitching
    Death due to cardiac and respiratory arrest

    How is chocolate toxicity diagnosed?

    Most frequently chocolate toxicity is diagnosed based on the history and the clinical signs seen. Usually the pet owner reports seeing the dog eat large quantities of chocolate or finding the empty package of chocolate.

    A test called high performance liquid chromatography may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. This test measures levels of theobromine in blood, urine, tissue or stomach contents. This test is not available at the average veterinary clinic however. It is performed mostly at universities and research institutions.

    Are all forms of chocolate equally toxic?

    No. The amount of theobromine varies with different forms of chocolate. A brief comparison of some of the different types of chocolate is shown below.

    Type of Chocolate - Amounts of Theobromine (mg)

    Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 oz) 393
    Semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz) 138
    Hot cocoa (6 oz cup) 75
    Milk chocolate (1 oz) 44-56
    White chocolate (1 oz) 0.25

    A single four-ounce milk chocolate candy bar can contain approximately 240 mg of theobromine. Unsweetened baking chocolate has over eight times the amount of theobromine as regular milk chocolate and therefore poses a greater threat of inducing toxicity. It is vital to know what kind of chocolate was eaten so that the veterinarian can effectively assess the condition.

    How much chocolate is dangerous to my dog?

    The reported lethal range of theobromine is 100-200 mg for every kilogram of the dog's weight. Adverse side effects can be noted with lower doses. Consider the situation of the average sized 25-pound dog. Should this dog eat a single candy bar it would probably not produce any significant clinical effects. It would take a total ingested amount of 1134 mg of theobromine in order to cause death. This means that a 25-pound dog would have to eat a total of 3 ounces of baking chocolate or approximately five bars of milk chocolate for it to be a lethal ingestion.

    So, for the average sized dog, a single milk chocolate candy bar will probably not lead to any significant effects. The problem is encountered when excessive amounts of chocolate are ingested. Owners should be aware of possible toxic effects of chocolate especially at times when chocolate is plentiful: Halloween, Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas.

    Is there a treatment for chocolate toxicity?

    There is no specific antidote available to counteract the effects of theobromine. Immediate veterinary care is indicated in cases of suspected chocolate toxicity. A variety of drugs and treatment procedures may be utilized depending on how long it has been since ingestion of the chocolate. Once at the veterinarian's office, the dog may be given drugs to induce vomiting, decrease the drug's absorption, increase the speed of drug elimination from the body and control seizures or arrhythmias. If there is any doubt regarding the quantity of chocolate ingested, seek veterinary care.

    What is the prognosis once chocolate toxicity is diagnosed?

    If treatment ensues within a few hours of ingestion, the prognosis is good to excellent. Once the toxicity progresses to seizures, the prognosis becomes worse.

    Can my cat be affected by chocolate toxicity as well?

    There have never been any documented cases of a feline chocolate toxicity. It is unlikely for a cat to suffer form chocolate toxicity due to its eating habits. Cats do not usually gorge themselves on large quantities of food, but instead they eat small quantities of food at a time.

    Dr. Debbie White, the Lone Mountain Animal Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the official veterinarian for the Animal Radio® four studio cats.
    Hear Dr. White on Animal Radio®


    Giving Pets as Gifts this Holiday Season
    The holiday season is upon us. Following the thoughts of 'good cheer' and 'good will', come the thoughts of 'good gifts'. What should I give to " insert name" this year?

    It is tempting to pick up a cute puppy, kitten, or other pet for a family member. You think, "Hey! They'll love it ­ they've got kids!" or "Grandma needs a companion now that she is on her own." Or "He loves to jog and now he'll have a jogging buddy".

    While we applaud your intentions, we ask you to rethink them. Yes, our purpose is to help find homes for homeless pets but we want to find them their "forever" home. Too many pets given during the holidays with good intentions get returned or, worse, are neglected.

    Great Ways To Give the Gift of a Pet:
    If you want to give a pet for the holidays, we suggest purchasing a gift card (ex. visa) ­ or create your own gift certificate - that will cover the cost of adoption and perhaps any items necessary to make a home pet friendly to welcome the new family member such as bowls, crates, toys, food, etc. (Please encourage them to use their gift card to adopt a new pet. From pure breeds to mutts, from large to small, from active to lazy, there is sure to be the perfect companion match!).

    We also suggest that you encourage the soon-to-be pet owner to select a pet after the holidays are over. This way, the pet will receive all the attention it needs and can bond much easier with its new family!

    Join in the fun! Ask to be a part of the process and go along with them while they look for their new family member. Another great reason to adopt a pet is that shelter and rescue workers know their adoptable pets. They can help match the family with the perfect companion!

    Another option is to sponsor a shelter pet in the name of a friend or family member. Many shelters and rescues offer this feature on their sites. It is a great way to give a gift that is always the right size, gives your friends or family a good feeling, and makes a difference in the life of a shelter pet.

    8 Reasons Why We Suggest You Don't Surprise Someone With a Pet:

    • Pets are a 10 to 20 year commitment. They are not toys that can put in the corner when the thrill is gone. Living creatures all have needs ­ including the need to be loved, nourished, trained, and treated well.
    • The holiday season is hectic for humans. Relatives come and go. Family members spend more time away from home. Strange decorations fill the home ­ candles, trees, and an abundance of electric cords. This is not a good time to introduce a new family member to your household. The new pet will need lots of attention ­ something most people don't have to spare around the holidays. Your new little pet has no idea where she is now living. Where should I go potty? Who are these strange people? What am I allowed to do?
    • Pets cost money to upkeep. When you buy a shirt for someone, there's not a lot of added expense. Pets need food, toys, vet appointments, grooming, etc. Maybe Grandma is living on a limited income and can't afford the added expense.
    • Pets are individuals. Just like people, pets have their own personalities. You may pick a dog that requires lots of exercise but your Uncle Joe's family consists of all couch potatoes. All members of a family ­ 2 legged and 4 legged ­ should meet a new pet before a decision is made.
    • Allergies, asthma, and other medical conditions. Many pets are returned because little Susie or Dad have severe allergies to pets. You may not be aware of health issues relating to having a pet. Or, for older adults, smaller pets may get under their feet and trip them.
    • You may love pets, but not everyone else does. Or, perhaps they love pets but aren't educated enough about being a responsible pet owner. You may want to consider giving them a book on this topic.
    • Not all animal lovers want puppies or kittens. You may find them adorable, but a more mature pet may be a better fit.
    • Many puppies and kittens given as gifts end up in shelters for adoption or are euthanized for "behavior issues". Most of these returns could be avoided with adequate training, attention to the pet, and the proper initial selection of the pet.

    So, this holiday season, please do encourage pet adoptions. Provide a gift card or gift certificate for a family member or friend to purchase a pet after the craziness of the holiday season is over. Go along with all the members of the household for the selection process. Then, have a great time with the new family member.

    Animal Radio® is a proud partner with Pets911! Hear about the latest Pets911 activities on-air on Animal Radio®

    Pet Talk Radio! on Animal Radio Network
    with Brian and Kaye Pickering Check Schedule for Airtimes

    G'day from down under!
    As pet owners the hardest decision we ever have to make is when and whether to humanely say goodbye to an aged, infirm or injured animal.

    But how hard must it be to voluntarily decide to euthanize your pet, simply because it 'broke our rules' ­ ie; don't bite or attack anyone, especially young kids!

    This month ­ particularly as families start to gather for the holiday season - we thought we would share with you part of a letter from one of our Aussie listeners. (The entire letter is here)

    This letter is a timely reminder to NEVER leave a dog (of any size) alone with a child under about 8 years of age.

    Colleen has her fair share of problems. A son with Asperger's syndrome (a form of autism) ­ a sister who does not enjoy good health and Colleen herself who got her dog Harry in 2003 after suffering a stroke. Colleen and Harry were great buddies spending countless hours on her bed laughing and playing silly games.

    They were the best of friends ­ which makes this story even more sad.

    Colleen writes:

    On Sunday the 7th October, I had my grandson Cameron, who is 17 months old, come to stay with me, while his parents had a day out. We had scrambled eggs for breakfast, and afterwards, I let Harry back into the room.

    As I was walking towards the kitchen Harry went for Cameron (attacked him), and my first instinct was to pick Harry up and remove him from the room. If I had picked Cameron up, Harry might have still have gone for him.

    Harry has been around Cameron since Cameron was born, and there had never been an issue between the two of them, so this incident was totally unexpected. I found out from my daughter Mary-Anne that night that Cameron had a few scratch marks on his chest.

    I had no choice but to have Harry euthanased, which broke my heart, but I felt that there was no other choice, as a child's life is not worth ANY risk, and I love my grandson more than anyone can imagine.

    Harry went to Dog Heaven on Tuesday the 9th of October, one of the saddest days of my life, as he was my little mate, and even now, writing this, the tears are streaming down my face.

    My sister Anne, who weighs just 43kg, took me with Harry to the vet, but we waited until that afternoon to bury him in my back yard, as I was too upset to do it. Anne's husband Neil, came over around 2.30pm to help lay Harry to rest.

    We all had a hug and cry together.

    The only reason I can come up with for Harry's change in behaviour is because he must have felt threatened by Cameron going near him, as Harry was sniffing around the floor looking for food scraps after we had finished breakfast.

    The thing that gets me though, Brian and Kaye, is that this scenario has happened umpteen times before, but Harry hasn't done anything.

    Anyway, it has been almost three weeks since my little mate physically left me, but I can feel him following me around the house, and right now he must be wondering why I'm crying again.

    I say good morning and good night to Harry every day, and I'll attach some photos for you to peruse, as well as a letter I wrote about Harry to help me through the grief.

    I still miss all my pets who have gone on, but Harry's passing has hit me the hardest, as he was therapy for me as well, after having my stroke.

    He was just what the doctor ordered. We both enjoyed going for walks in our neighbourhood, and there wasn't a thing I couldn't talk to Harry about, and not have to worry about anyone else finding out about it.

    We won't be having any more pets, as it is too sad saying good-bye to them, but I am considering getting a couple of fish, as they are calming and we don't get so emotionally or physically attached to them as we do with dogs and cats."
    (reprinted with permission)


    A reminder to NEVER leave a child under 8 years of age and a dog alone - even if 'nothing has ever happened' before.

    This 'normal behaviour' for a dog - probably just protecting his food scraps - could have had tragic consequences for young Cameron which Colleen bravely acknowledges through her obviously difficult decision to have Harry euthanased.

    I hope we haven't made you feel too sad this month but these things are very important to be reminded about.

    If you are visiting or have relatives or friends over this holiday season and there are animals (dogs especially) and young kids ­ just remember Colleen's story about her little dog Harry.

    Hugs for your pets Brian & Kaye

    PS: We are 'coming to America' in December January and hope to catch up with Hal & Judy from Animal Radio ­ why not write them and see if they'll let us on the show !!!

    Hear Pet Talk Radio! on Animal Radio Network - LISTEN TO ANIMAL RADIO NETWORK NOW - Check schedule for showtimes.

    Voice of the Animal on Animal Radio®
    Rae Ann Kumelos Ph.D.

    Flying Reindeer: Not Just a Christmas Fable
    You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen. But what do you know about that most famous reindeer of all?

    For some, the television appearance of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer marks the true beginning of the holiday season. Written in 1964 as a Christmas promotion for the Montgomery Ward department stores, the story of Rudolph and his flying reindeer friends is the longest running special on television. But do you know that behind this beloved stop-motion animated T.V. show is a true story of flying reindeer?

    It makes perfect sense that reindeer would be Santa's animal of choice. Reindeer live exclusively in the north. Their thick coats and wide feet are perfect for the sub-zero cold of Scandinavia, Russian Europe, and Asia, where 5000 years ago, reindeer were the first large animals to be domesticated. In Greenland, Iceland, Canada, and Alaska, reindeer are wild, and more popularly known as caribou. Reindeer became extinct in Scotland in the tenth century, but somewhere in the psyche of the hearty Scots they were necessary, for they were re-introduced to that country in 1952. Laplanders use reindeer to pull sleighs, and so does the postman in Wales, Alaska.

    For centuries, reindeer herding has been a way of life along the mountain forests of the Russian Mongolian border. Though threatened by economic, government, and cultural changes, just as their ancestors did, these northern indigenous people still raise reindeer for packing, riding, and milk. Since female reindeer are the only deer species to grow antlers, they consider a reindeer -doe the mother of the universe and a symbol for feminine strength.

    For these northern cultures, Reindeer is revered as a totem power animal, one that can fly through the world of spirit to commune with the high gods. Reindeer is the sacred animal that carries the Arctic shaman to the Otherworld. In fact, the relationship between reindeer and shaman holds special significance for Rudolph and Santa. During mid-winter ceremonies, the shamans of the far north would partake of the hallucinogenic fly agraric mushroom °© the bright red mushroom with red spots that we see associated with fairy tales and Christmas decorations °© to achieve an altered state that would allow the shaman to travel into otherworldly realms. In ceremonies held to honor the December 21 winter solstice, the local shaman would enter a yurt through the smoke hole at the top, bringing with him a bag of the colorful mushrooms, departing again through the smoke hole after the festivities. This entry and departure through the ceiling led people to believe the shaman could fly, and since reindeer also consider the hallucinogenic colorful red mushroom a delicious delicacy, they were believed to fly with him. Hmmm, a blessed man who carries a bag full of special red and white gifts down a chimney, lives in the far north, and flies with reindeer. Sound familiar?

    In ancient Norse myth, Thor, the god of thunder and lightening (words which in old German are donner and blitzen), also lived in the far north and was associated with the color red. Thor fought the gods of snow and ice to conquer cold and bring spring °© and he did it while riding in a golden flying chariot pulled by two flying goats, Gnasher and Cracker.

    During this holiday season, when you see a shiny red-nosed Rudolph adorning a lawn, store window, or parade float, remember this reindeer carries in his sleigh a legacy of Arctic shamans, flying goats, and the god of thunder and lightening; certainly reason enough he should go down in history.

    Visit us at to hear more stories and to order CD's of Voice of the Animal programs. Copyright ­ 2007 ­ Voice of the Animal. Rae Ann Kumelos is a regular Animal Radio® correspondent. She can be heard daily on Animal Radio Network. LISTEN TO ANIMAL RADIO NETWORK NOW

    Ask the Bird Folks with Mike O'Connor

    Dear Bird Folks,
    I'm thinking about building a few birdhouses as Christmas gifts. My problem is that I can't seem to find a basic set of plans. I have purchased several books but they all feature houses that are way too fancy for my birds and too difficult for my skills. Do you have any suggestions where I might find some simple birdhouse plans?
    - Katie, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    I know what you mean, Katie,
    It is almost impossible to find a book on buildable birdhouses. For some reason publishers feel that they need to print books with plans that are not only impossible for the average person to build, but would totally scare the birds if someone did build them. The birds in Canada certainly don't want a house that looks like the Chateau Frontenac or the SkyDome. (Yes, I know they have changed the name of the SkyDome to the "Rogers Centre," but everybody knows that was a mistake.) Birds are simple folk. They don't use condiments on their food and they don't need an architect to design their homes. A simple rectangular box may seem dull to us, but it's a welcome sight for a bird looking to build a nest.

    Before you look for birdhouse plans, you need to decide which species of bird you want to build a house for. The larger the bird, the larger the box needs to be. (It's amazing the stuff I know.) If you are going to make only one kind of box, a bluebird box would be a good choice. Not only might you get a family of bluebirds, but you could also attract some smaller birds like nuthatches, chickadees or wrens. The smaller birds are happy to use a large box built for bluebirds. However, the larger bluebird can't use a smaller bird's box. So, if you hate bluebirds, build a box for wrens or chickadees and that will keep them out. I don't usually recommend discrimination in any form, but this isn't government housing. If you don't like bluebirds, nobody will stop you from building a box that is only sized for chickadees. It's your call. Do you feel the power?

    There are several features that your birdhouse should have. One is proper ventilation. It gets hot during the nesting season, even in Canada. Baby birds could roast without a way for trapped heat to escape. A small gap at the top of the two sides, just below the roof, will not only provide the birds with fresh air, but it will also provide you with a good excuse when you don't cut the wood straight. Next, drill a couple of holes in the bottom of the box. More than one nest of baby birds has been lost when driving spring rain turned their nesting cavity into an indoor swimming pool.

    The inside of the box needs little help from us. We don't have to add windows, curtains, wallpaper or paint...especially paint. Never paint or stain the inside of the nest box. Baby birds have enough problems with live worms being stuffed down their throats all day without having to deal with paint fumes, too. However, the little birds could use some help getting out of the box when it is ultimately time for them to leave. Scuff up the inside of the front of the box or tack a piece of plastic screening just below the hole to give the young birds something their little claws can grasp when they finally exit the box for the first and only time.

    It's also a good idea to assemble the box with screws instead of nails. Screws allow for easy repair after a hole is chewed in the side by squirrels, woodpeckers or arboreal beavers. More importantly screws makes it easier to remove a side or top for cleaning. A nest box should be cleaned a few times a year to dump out soiled nests, broken eggs, mice, wasps or various other unwanted houseguests who may have moved in. Too bad dumping our own unwanted houseguests wasn't as easy.

    As I mentioned earlier, the key to a successful nest box is to build it the proper size; in particular making the entrance hole the correct size. I could give you these sizes and dimensions, Katie, but I only know inches and you Canadians use those weird metric measurements such as "mm," "cm" or "CCM." But I think I know just the book that will take you the rest of the way.

    The book that has the best basic plans is the Birdhouse Book, by Donald and Lillian Stokes, that cute couple who write books on every conceivable bird topic. This book is just what you need. It has nothing but dull, plain birdhouses in it, just the kind of boxes birds love. If you follow their plans you will end up with a good, functional birdhouse and not some lame thing that looks like the SkyDome. And the best part is you won't have to worry about some bonehead ever changing the name of your birdhouse to the Rogers Centre.

    Besides being a frequent guest on Animal Radio® - 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 dedicated 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.

    Child Raises Over $30,000 for the Animals
    Kyle Orent
    Kyle Orent is a 9-year-old from Northport, New York who raised more than $20,000 selling lemonade.

    His next endeavor was to auction off celebrity-autographed dog collars (donated by Bamboo). Some of the celebrities that autographed those collars were Leslie Nielson, Betty White, Sheena Easton, Joe Namath, Donald Trump, Billy Joel and Dean Koontz (whose collars collected the highest bid) to name a few. He raised over $5,000 for his collars and was matched by a generous donation from someone who wished to remain anonymous, raising the total to $10,300.

    Kyle then donated it all, $30,300, to Canine Companions for Independence. When asked why he chose this charity, Kyle says he is a big animal lover and likes how these animals have been trained to assist their humans and wants to help.

    It was a pleasure working with this child whose love for the animals is so obvious. We only hope to be involved in his next endeavor. Cheers to you Kyle!



    We Wish You and Your Pets a Safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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