Saturday, August 30, 2008


WOW, where has the summer gone? Even though the technical end of summer doesn't occur until later in September, for most of us it symbolically goes away on Labor Day weekend. To help our readers get into this mood of transition, Helpful Buckeye invites you to enjoy this "rite of passage" song by The Happenings, which peaked at #3 on the record charts in 1966:

Nonetheless, Labor Day is upon us not only as a reminder of summer's passage, but also serving to honor the working citizens of the USA. It was first observed in New York City in 1882 and became a federal holiday in 1894. Since the theme of this weekend is to give our workers a day off from their jobs and appreciate what they do for our country, Helpful Buckeye wants to include more "good time" stuff this week. We'll start out with a light-hearted celebration of our workers (and former workers, like yours truly)...all you have to do is sit back in your computer chair, push a few keys on your keyboard, listen to some good music, watch a few videos, and have a fun-filled 3-day weekend!

Jimmy Buffett leads off our "Labor Day Weekend Show" with his very first hit from 1974 (you all know he is one of Helpful Buckeye's favorite singers, but he is also a pretty good writer, being the only person to have a #1 best-seller on both the fiction and non-fiction NY Times lists):

Continue the celebration of our workers with (The Seven Dwarfs...twice, Dolly Parton, Huey Lewis & The News, The Spinners, Lee Dorsey, and the overall favorite work-week song, by Loverboy):

Now, on with the show....


1) From The USA Today, 27 August 2008:
Pet-food recall leads to 6,000 claims and counting

Almost 6,000 claims have been filed in a class-action settlement stemming from last year's massive pet-food recall. Menu Foods, other pet-food makers and retailers in May agreed to set up a $24 million cash fund to compensate pet owners whose cats and dogs became sick or died after eating food that had a contaminated ingredient from China. The filing period for claims began May 30 and will run until Nov. 24. "I expect that number (of claims) will go up a lot. There's quite a bit of time to go," says attorney Sherrie Savett of plaintiffs' law firm Berger & Montague.
The Food and Drug Administration never identified how many pets were affected, but it received more than 17,000 complaints. Once a claim is filed, it will be reviewed by an independent claims administrator. Claimants may receive a 100% cash payment for all documented expenses deemed reasonable, including veterinary bills and burial costs. They may receive up to $900 for undocumented expenses. Under the terms of the settlement, most claims are likely to be paid next year. To be eligible, claimants must have bought or fed their pets one of the recalled pet foods.
A federal judge in New Jersey gave the settlement preliminary approval in May. A hearing for final approval is scheduled for October. If the court approves the settlement as expected, it would resolve more than 100 lawsuits brought in the U.S. and a dozen in Canada. The $24 million is in addition to $8 million that pet-food makers have already paid to pet owners.
Legal fees and attorneys' expenses, which haven't been determined, will come out of the fund. Attorneys' fees cannot exceed 31% of the fund for the U.S. and Canadian attorneys combined, according to the settlement's terms.
The vast majority of the fund will go to pet owners whose pets were injured or died as a result of kidney failure, which was linked to the contaminant. The FDA determined that the pet-food ingredients, sold to pet-food makers as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate, were adulterated in China with the industrial chemical melamine to make them appear richer in protein than they actually were.
The recall was the largest ever for the pet-food industry. It began March 16, 2007, by Menu Foods, a large maker of wet pet food for many pet-food brands. The recall grew to involve 12 pet-food makers and 180 brands of pet food and treats. Along with Menu, other defendants include Hill's Pet Nutrition, Iams and retailers such as Wal-Mart. Menu Foods, which supplied most of the recalled foods, has pegged its recall costs at $55 million, some of which went to the settlement fund.
If there is money remaining after claims have been processed, it will go to charities that promote the well-being of pets, the settlement says.
A website has been set up at The claims administrator can be reached at 800-392-7785.

2) A British soldier, returning home from Afghanistan, had the unfortunate experience of bringing home a 6-inch long spider which proved deadly for his dog:

3) From New Jersey, comes this update on the 44-lb. cat, Prince Chunk:
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - Fame, fortune and paperwork are holding up the adoption of New Jersey's famous fat cat - who may not be as plump as previously believed.
The family chosen to adopt the 44-pound cat named Prince Chunk says the shelter that found the tubby tabby is having a lawyer draft a special contract for them to sign. Donna Damiani's family was chosen earlier this month from over 500 applicants to care for the cat, who was found lumbering around the town of Voorhees after his owner lost her home to foreclosure last month.
The fluffy white tabby's near-record weight put him in the national spotlight and he spent two days in New York appearing on several talk shows and the New York tabloid covers.
But Damiani now worries that the shelter that rescued Chunk may be taking advantage of the cat. "We had said, 'Absolutely, Chunk should be the little mascot for the shelter - but not to be exploited in any way,"' she said Thursday.
Jennifer Andersch, the director of the Camden County Animal Shelter that found Chunk, has said the shelter would make sure that donations on Chunk's behalf would benefit other pets in need of homes. But she told The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill that the family's public concern about the adoption terms could jeopardize the adoption. The article did not elaborate on what Andersch meant by the comment and shelter officials did not immediately return a call Thursday to The Associated Press.
Damiani said her family applied to adopt Chunk even before he became a media star. They knew about him early because her son, 17-year-old Vince, works at the shelter and has organized fundraisers for it. They took him home on Aug. 3 and say he's adjusted well - though a publicity appearance at a pet shop earlier this month seemed to stress him out.
"Prince Chunk is doing wonderful," Donna Damiani said. "He's awesome, he's doing great. We love him." But she says there's not as much to love as originally reported. On her family's scale (which we know are always accurate, right?), he weighed in at 22 pounds - only half the 44 pounds that the shelter originally said.
She says tensions have grown with the shelter concerning the terms of adoption; Damiani said she tried to sign adoption papers right away, but that shelter officials sent the forms back and insisted they be drafted by a lawyer.
It turns out that Chunk is not the only fat cat in Camden County. Shelter officials told The New York Daily News that they have taken in a 35-pound cat found in Camden this week.
Board president Catherine Harr says he's black and white and looks like a whale. "We named him Shamu," she said.

Seems like this story has grown legs of its own...big ones! And what are those cats in New Jersey eating???

4) As Hurricane Gustav builds strength and makes an apparent heading for the Louisiana coast, the state of Louisiana is making a plea for volunteer veterinarians and veterinary technicians. From the American Veterinary Medical Association:

The State of Louisiana is immediately seeking veterinarians and veterinary technicians who would like to volunteer their time and skills during evacuations and sheltering following Tropical Storm Gustav.
The state anticipates a need for six veterinarians and twelve veterinary technicians, who would be deployed into areas to work in emergency shelters beginning Saturday, August 30. Shelters have been set up in Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana.
Donations of supplies are not needed at this time. Monetary donations should be made to the Dr. Walter J. Ernst, Jr Veterinary Memorial Foundation. Further information is available at

We all remember the many lost and homeless pets that were cared for during the extreme flooding in Iowa a few months ago...hopefully, this won't be a repeat of that!

ANY COMMENTS, please send an e-mail:


In a previous issue, Helpful Buckeye has discussed the need and recommendations for regular vaccinations for dogs and cats (15 June 2008). We then presented a review of the disease Rabies, in the 22 June 2008 issue. Now, it would be appropriate to cover the two diseases that incorporate the word, Distemper.

1) Canine Distemper, from an AVMA brochure:

Q: What is Canine Distemper?
A: Canine distemper is a highly contagious and serious disease caused by a paramyxovirus (closely related to the Measles virus) that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and, often, the nervous systems of puppies and dogs. The virus also infects wild canids (e.g. foxes, wolves, coyotes), as well as raccoons, skunks, and ferrets.

Q: How is Canine Distemper virus spread?
A: Puppies and dogs usually become infected through airborne exposure to the virus contained in respiratory secretions of an infected dog or wild animal. Outbreaks of distemper tend to be sporadic. Because canine distemper also affects wildlife populations, contact between wild and domestic canids may facilitate spread of the virus.

Q: What dogs are at risk?
A: All dogs are at risk but puppies younger than four months old and dogs that have not been vaccinated against canine distemper are at increased risk of acquiring the disease.

Q: What are some signs of Canine Distemper?
A: The first sign of distemper is eye discharge that may appear watery to pus-like. Subsequently, dogs develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. In later stages, the virus may attack the nervous system, bringing about seizures, twitching, or partial or complete paralysis (thus, the name...Distemper). Occasionally, the virus may cause footpads to harden. Distemper is often fatal. Even if a dog does not die from the disease, canine distemper virus can cause irreparable damage to a dog's nervous system, in some cases causing seizures years later. Distemper is so serious and the signs so varied that any sick dog should be taken to a veterinarian for an examination and diagnosis.

Q: How is Canine Distemper diagnosed and treated?
A: Veterinarians diagnose canine distemper on the basis of clinical appearance and laboratory tests. No specific drug is available that will kill the virus in infected dogs. Treatment consists primarily of efforts to prevent secondary infections; control vomiting, diarrhea, or neurologic symptoms; and combat dehydration through administration of fluids. Ill dogs should be kept warm, receive good nursing care, and be separated from other dogs.

Q: How is Canine Distemper prevented?
A: Vaccination and avoiding contact with infected animals are key elements of canine distemper prevention.
Vaccination is important. Young puppies are very susceptible to infection, particularly because the natural immunity provided in their mothers' milk may wear off before the puppies' own immune systems are mature enough to fight off infection. If a puppy is exposed to canine distemper virus during this gap in protection, it may become ill. An additional concern is that immunity provided by a mother's milk may interfere with an effective response to vaccination. This means even vaccinated puppies may occasionally succumb to distemper. To narrow gaps in protection and optimally defend against canine distemper during the first few months of life, a series of vaccinations is administered.
Until a puppy has received its complete series of vaccinations, pet owners should use caution when taking their pet to places where young puppies congregate (e.g. pet shops, parks, puppy classes, obedience classes, doggy daycare, and grooming establishments). Reputable establishments and training programs reduce exposure risk by requiring vaccinations, health examinations, good hygiene, and isolation of ill puppies and dogs.
To protect their adult dogs, pet owners should be sure that their dog's distemper vaccination is up-to-date. Ask your veterinarian about a recommended vaccination program for your canine companion.
Contact with known infected dogs should always be avoided. Similarly, contact with raccoons, foxes, skunks, and other potentially infected wildlife should be discouraged.

2) Feline Distemper (more appropriately, Feline Panleukopenia), from an AVMA brochure:

Q: What is feline panleukopenia?
A: Feline panleukopenia (FP) is a highly contagious viral disease of cats caused by the feline parvovirus. Over the years, FP has been known by a variety of names including feline distemper, feline infectious enteritis, cat fever and cat typhoid. Feline distemper should not be confused with canine distemper—although their names are similar, they are caused by different viruses. The feline parvovirus infects and kills cells that are rapidly dividing, such as those in the bone marrow, intestines, and the developing fetus. Infected cats usually develop bloody diarrhea. Because red blood cells and white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, infected cats develop anemia (due to loss of red blood cells) and are more likely to be infected with other illness (due to the loss of white blood cells, which play critical roles in the immune system). People cannot develop FP if they come in contact with an infected cat because the virus does not infect people.

Q: How can you tell if a cat has FP?
A: The signs of FP can vary and may be similar to other illnesses such as Salmonella or Campylobacter infection, pancreatitis, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection, or feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection. Infected cats may even show signs that resemble those seen when a cat has been poisoned or has swallowed a foreign object. The first visible signs an owner might notice include generalized depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration. Sick cats may sit for long periods of time in front of their water bowls but not drink much water. Normally, the sickness may go on for three or four days after the first fever. In some cats, the fever will come and go during the illness and abruptly fall to lower-than-normal levels shortly before death. Cats are very good at hiding disease and by the time a cat displays the signs of illness, it may be severely ill. Therefore, if any abnormal behaviors or signs of illness are observed, it is important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. FP may be suspected based on a history of exposure to an infected cat, lack of vaccination, and the visible signs of illness. FP is confirmed when the feline parvovirus is found in the blood or stool.

Q: How do cats become infected with the virus that causes FP?
A: Infection occurs when cats come in contact with the blood, urine, stool, nasal secretions, or even the fleas from infected cats. A cat can also become infected without ever coming in direct contact with an infected cat. Bedding, cages, food dishes and the hands or clothing of people who handle the infected cat may harbor the virus and transmit it to other cats. It is, therefore, very important to isolate infected cats. Any materials used on or for infected cats should not be used or allowed to come in contact with other cats, and people handling infected cats should practice proper hygiene to prevent spreading the infection. The virus that causes FP is difficult to destroy and resistant to many disinfectants. At room temperatures, virus present in a cats' environment can still infect other cats for up to one year. Ideally, unvaccinated cats should not be allowed into an area where an infected cat has been — even if the area has been disinfected.
Pregnant female cats that are infected with the virus and become ill (even if they do not appear seriously ill) may give birth to kittens with severe brain damage. In most cases, if a cat recovers from FP, it will not infect other cats through direct contact.

Q: Which cats are susceptible to the virus?
A: While cats of any age may be infected with the feline parvovirus that causes FP, young kittens, sick cats, and unvaccinated cats are most susceptible. It is most commonly seen in cats 3-5 months of age with about 75% of kittens less than 16 weeks of age likely to die if infected.
The virus has appeared in all parts of the United States and most countries of the world. Kennels, pet shops, animal shelters, unvaccinated feral cat colonies, and other areas where groups of cats are housed together appear to be the main reservoirs of FP. During the warm months, urban areas are likely to see outbreaks of FP because cats are more likely to come in contact with other cats.

Q: How is FP treated?
A: The likelihood of recovery from FP for infected kittens less than eight weeks old is poor. Older cats have a greater chance of survival if adequate treatment is provided early. Since there are no medications capable of killing the virus, treatment is limited to supporting the cat's health with medications and fluids until its own body and immune system can fight off the virus. Without such supportive care, up to 90% of cats with FP may die. Once a cat is diagnosed with FP, treatment may be required to correct dehydration, provide nutrients, and prevent secondary infection. If the cat survives for 48 hours, its chances for recovery are greatly improved. Once home, the area where the infected cat is kept should be warm, free of drafts, and very clean. Strict isolation from other cats in the home is essential to prevent spread of the virus. Other cats that may have been in contact with the infected cat, or in contact with objects or people who were in close contact with the ill cat, should be carefully monitored for any visible signs of illness. Sadly, some cats may lose the will to live when they are very sick, so frequent petting, hand feeding, and good nursing care are essential to promote healing.

Q: How can FP be prevented?
A: Cats that survive an infection develop immunity that protects them for the rest of their lives. Mild cases that go unnoticed will also produce immunity from future infection. It is also possible for kittens to receive temporary immunity through the transfer of antibodies in the colostrum — the first milk produced by the mother. How long this passive immunity protects the kittens from infection depends upon the levels of protective antibodies produced by the mother. It rarely lasts longer than 12 weeks. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" definitely rings true for FP—preventing infection is more effective than treating an infected cat. Today, there are vaccines that offer the best protection from feline parvovirus infection. The vaccines stimulate the cat's body to produce protective antibodies. Later, if the vaccinated cat comes in contact with an infected cat, its body will fight off the infection because of those same antibodies produced in response to the vaccine. The vaccines are effective for prevention of FP but they cannot treat or cure an unvaccinated cat once it becomes ill. Vaccines must be given before the cat is exposed and infected. Most young kittens receive their first vaccination between six and eight weeks of age and follow-up vaccines are given until the kitten is around 16 weeks of age. Adult vaccination schedules vary with the age and health of the cat, as well as the risk of FP in the area. Cat owners should consult a veterinarian for advice on a vaccination schedule appropriate for their cats.

With the widespread use of vaccines for each of these diseases, they are far less prevalent than they used to be. However, with the large numbers of stray dogs and cats, there is still a large enough reservoir to keep these diseases, PREVENTION BY VACCINATION should be your mantra.

ANY COMMENTS, please send an e-mail:


A very common problem with dogs is their tendency to bark, sometimes to excess. Since barking is a natural form of expression and communication for dogs, it is very difficult to totally eliminate from their behavior. As illustrated in this cartoon from The New Yorker, some barking is not only expected from a dog, but can also be beneficial in the right circumstances:

However, the matter of Excessive Barking can be not only a distressing annoyance for the owner but also a problem for any neighbors.

How to Curb Excessive Barking, By Brent Goodman (currently the Senior Copywriter at Drs. Foster & Smith Pet Supplies...
Don't let excessive or chronic barking disturb the peace in your home. There are many ways to help control undesirable or excessive barking. Dogs bark for many reasons. It is a natural behavior and primary method of communication. They bark to warn others or defend a territory, to seek attention or play, to identify themselves to another dog, or as a response to boredom, excitement, being startled, loneliness, anxiety, or teasing. Four proven methods to help you stop unwanted barking behaviors include:

  • First, avoid the temptation to reinforce your dog's bark. Do not give verbal reassurance, a treat, or physical attention to a barking dog.

  • Minimize your dog's barking with proper and consistent training. In addition, try using a calming pheromone spray in your pet's environment.

  • Train your pet to respond to a one-word command, such as "Enough." During training, divert his attention from the barking and sternly say "Enough." If he stops barking, reward him with a great treat. Only give the treat if your dog stops barking.

  • Along with these other behavior modification techniques, you may try a bark collar, a training tool designed specifically to address habitual chronic barking. It gives your pet a warning tingle or mild static correction when he barks, which quickly trains your pet to avoid the behavior that initiates the correction. Bark control is important in developing a dog that is obedient and able to relax. Your success in this area will create a more harmonious home and neighborhood.

There are many products on the market which address this last suggestion. Two that look like they offer the most help for the least amount of discomfort to the dog are: which is fairly inexpensive and which is more expensive, but it offers the added benefit of also working on your neighbor's dog from a distance of up to 50 ft.

2) Dogs are not the only pets that are sometimes in need of having their undesirable behavior curbed. Yes, cats sometimes need to be schooled in what is or is not acceptable.

Don't reinforce negative behavior. A common mistake many people make when trying to train their cats is to reward the actual behavior they're trying to correct. Here are some examples. If your cat is showing aggression and you attempt to soothe it by petting, the message it receives is that its behavior is acceptable because it received positive reinforcement.

Use your voice to calm your cat or if possible, remove it from the situation (safely, of course), but don't fall into the trap of cooing, petting, and holding it in a way that says its behavior is acceptable.

Your cat wakes you up at the crack of dawn to get a jump-start on breakfast. To quiet it, you drag yourself out of bed and put food in its bowl so you can get a few more hours of sleep. That extra sleep will cost you though, because you've just taught your cat that the way to get what it wants is to repeat that exact behavior every morning. Your cat may love strolling on the kitchen counter or other surfaces where you'd prefer it not go. As you pick it up, you might give it kisses, pet it, continue holding her, or talk sweetly to it before placing it back down on the floor. What's the message kitty received? Being on the counter means it's going to get lots of attention. If you want to remove it from the area, do so in a way that is unceremonious -- just pick it up and gently put it down.

Look at how you respond to your cat's behavior because you might be unknowingly reinforcing undesirable behavior through attention.

ANY COMMENTS, please send an e-mail:


Helpful Buckeye has recounted a few anecdotes from his experience as a practicing veterinarian. There will be more to come from time to time; however, taken in their entirety, they will surely pale in comparison to the stories told by James Herriot, the Scottish veterinary surgeon. James Herriot, the pen name of James Alfred Wight, became famous for his best-selling string of tales in:

  • All Creatures Great and Small (1972)

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (1974)

  • All Things Wise and Wonderful (1977)

  • The Lord God Made Them All (1981)

These books became the basis for two movies and the long-running BBC series, All Creatures Great and Small, the tales of a veterinary surgeon in the Yorkshire Dales.

Dr. Wight died in 1995, at the age of 78, leaving a legacy of wonderful stories of the practice of veterinary medicine that have been adored by readers and viewers everywhere. Helpful Buckeye was fortunate to have met Dr. Wight in the early 1970s when he was touring the United States on a book promotion tour and visited the College of Veterinary Medicine of The Ohio State University in Columbus. He was a very enjoyable man!

In the spirit of kicking back and taking it easy this holiday weekend, Helpful Buckeye suggests that you might want to either re-read one of James Herriot's books or borrow some of the DVDs of the BBC series, which are available at most public libraries. I know they are available in Flagstaff because I have two sets at home right now! If you should want to add to your own DVD collection or perhaps give a nice present to an animal lover, the whole series of DVDs from the BBC series is available through

Labor Day is a fitting tribute to Dr. Wight, "James Herriot," because he truly enjoyed the works he accomplished in his veterinary practice. Dr. Wight and his office in the Yorkshire Dales:


In last week's issue, Helpful Buckeye gave you a little quiz about a breed of dog. The invasive, non-native wildflower, coming from the snapdragon family and also known as Butter and Eggs, originated from the same part of the world as our dog breed. The flower was this:

and the region of the world is the eastern border of the Adriatic Sea, comprised of Croatia and parts of Bosnia.

Yes, Grasshopper, this is...Dalmatia, the home of Dalmatian Toadflax, Linaria dalmatica and the Dalmatian dog (from Ben Hur Images) : ....just one of the 101 Dalmatians!

The familiar dapper black & white spotted dog of Disney fame, the Dalmatian is a symmetrical, muscular medium-sized dog with superior endurance. A picture of elegance, the Dalmatian has the lean, clean lines of the pointer, to which it may be related. It has a short, hard, dense coat of pure white with black or liver colored spots randomly splashed over it. Puppies are born completely white and the spots develop later.

Dalmatians were bred to run under or along-side of horse-drawn carriages and therefore have a vast amount of stamina and energy. They do not like to just sit around all day with nothing to do. The Dalmatian needs human companionship, without which it is likely to become depressed. For this reason they do not make good yard dogs. Some can be aggressive if not properly raised. Fifty percent of people who adopt a Dalmatian puppy do not keep them past the first year.

Deafness affects 10-12% of Dalmatian puppies. Every Dalmatian puppy should be BAER-tested for deafness (available at many private clinics and university veterinary hospitals across the USA), and totally deaf puppies should be spayed or neutered. They should be checked as a puppy at about 6 weeks old. Deaf dogs are very difficult to raise and often become aggressive and snappish from fear.

Urinary stones and skin allergies (especially to synthetic fibers in carpets and upholstery) are also sometimes inherited. Uric acid levels in Dalmatians are higher than in any other breed, sometimes causing urinary blockage.

Helpful Buckeye is not trying to make a geographer or historian out of every reader, but knowing a little about the origins of species can be interesting and instructive.


1) When we talked about Beagles several weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye wanted to include another connection to the story. The pictures I wanted weren't available at the time, but they are now. Charles Darwin, the author of The Origin of Species, and renowned biologist, made his famous trip around the world onboard HMS Beagle. The voyage lasted just short of five years (1831-1836) and provided Darwin with all the specimens and experiences he needed to formulate his Theory of Evolution. The Beagle in the harbor and under sail:

2) For a little tongue-in-cheek enjoyment, watch and listen to this catchy tune by Norma Tanega from the Flower-Power era of 1966 (some of you should remember this one):

3) With the 3-day weekend and people and their pets still trying to beat the heat, these dogs have found the secret:

4) For those of you with an interest in cooking, Anthony Bourdain has a TV special on Labor Day on the Travel Channel depicting some of his international experiences with cooking. Bourdain has hit the book market with two really interesting books on his experiences in cooking, Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour, both of which Helpful Buckeye highly recommends. They are not cook books, with recipes, but rather stories about a chef/cook. For more information on the TV show, go to:

5) Wisconsin Public Radio has a weekly show named "Calling All Pets," featuring zoologist Patricia McConnell and co-host Larry Meiller, who team up to help listeners bring out the best in their pets. Get down-to-earth advice about pet problems, big and small, and fascinating information about wildlife, too. You can either find this program on your local NPR station or listen to the weekly show on their web site (click on "Listen to Show"):

6) Some of our dog readers have complained about cats and their catnip. This cartoon from The New Yorker pretty well sums up their opinion:

7) Sometimes pet owners do stupid things and sometimes they do cute things. This video qualifies as one of the cute things...enjoy this Lullaby for Puppies (but don't fall asleep yourself!):

ZZZZZZZZ..........oops, excuse me, I nodded off there for a minute!


1) The Ohio State Buckeyes beat Youngstown State today, 43-0, to open the season in Columbus.

2) More university team mascots that are cats:

  • Northwestern Wildcats

  • Ohio University Bobcats

  • Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Pitt Panthers

  • Washington State Cougars


1) For the past week, the local Farmers Market has been roasting Hatch chilis in their parking lot. Helpful Buckeye regularly goes to the Farmers Market at least once a week and, this time of the year, I find myself gravitating toward the chili roaster and the wonderful, spicy, pepper aroma it produces!

If you have one of the ultra-new "scratch and sniff" monitors, you can reach up and scratch your screen...and savor the aroma along with me!

2) Helpful Buckeye has always liked the summer months, but Labor Day means that my two favorite months of September and October are coming up! Labor Day weekend will be good for Helpful Buckeye...I got a 40-mile bike ride in on Friday, will play racquetball on Saturday and Sunday, followed by a cook-out Sunday evening, and culminating with an outdoor concert on Monday by the Flagstaff Symphony. I'll leave you with the sounds of the Beach Boys singing, "All Summer Long,": and a view of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Pismo Beach, CA, to signify the symbolic end of our summer:

ANY COMMENTS, please send an e-mail:

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

Sunday, August 24, 2008


...DRUGS? I mean, hard drugs, like...CATNIP? I think we all remember the TV ad campaign from years ago that started out with, "This is your brain..."

...and this is your brain on drugs."

Well, Helpful Buckeye's campaign starts out with, "This is your cat..."

...and this is your cat on Catnip!"

Helpful Buckeye will address this insidious, euphoria-inducing drug further down the page.


September 1, 2008
Influenza continues to affect dogs
An outbreak of canine influenza in dogs in a Chicago veterinary clinic serves as a reminder that the disease continues to spread throughout the United States. The outbreak marks the first time the disease was confirmed in dogs in Illinois. Approximately 60 dogs were infected at the clinic in June. Five of the dogs developed pneumonia requiring hospitalization, but there were no fatalities.
Canine influenza was first identified in racing Greyhounds in 2004 at a track in Florida. Then in 2005, the virus was found in dogs in shelters, boarding facilities, and veterinary clinics in several areas of the state. The number of dogs infected with canine influenza has increased in New Jersey. Several dogs were infected in one kennel in May, resulting in one fatality from pneumonia, and more than 100 dogs were infected in a boarding facility in July, according to Dr. Cynda Crawford, a veterinary immunologist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Crawford was among the group of researchers who first identified the virus. She is currently studying canine influenza in dogs in shelters as part of a Morris Animal Foundation study that is partially funded by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
Since the 2005 outbreak, Dr. Crawford said, canine influenza has been confirmed in Greyhounds and other dogs in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The disease is endemic in northern Colorado, southern Florida, New York City, Pennsylvania, and southern Wyoming.
At this time, no vaccine is available to protect against canine influenza. The AVMA Executive Board approved a policy in November 2006 that states: "The AVMA believes there is urgent need for an effective canine influenza virus vaccine to improve the health and welfare of animals and reduce the financial impacts of canine influenza."

Just one more thing for dog owners to worry about, huh? More on this disease as information becomes available....


1) Disk disease in dogs--Intervertebral disk disease is a major neurologic problem affecting both canines and humans. Both species can be affected with cervical (neck) disk disease with similarities in the symptoms and outcome. However, in the thoracolumbar (mid-back) area, unique species differences alter the symptoms and outcome of canine versus human disk disease. The major neuroanatomic difference is at which vertebra the end of the spinal cord lies. In humans, the end of the spinal cord lies approximately inside the second lumbar (L2) vertebra (mid-back). Nerves exiting the spinal cord then descend inside the remaining lumbar and sacral (pelvis) vertebral segments. In comparison, the spinal cord in dogs ends at approximately the sixth lumbar (L6) vertebra (low-back area) and nerves descend through the last lumbar, sacral and coccygeal (tail) vertebral segments.
Why is this knowledge so important in determining the differences we see in canine versus human disk disease? The most common site of disk herniation in the back of dogs is this lumbar area where the spinal cord is present and is secondarily compressed by herniated disk material. Thus the clinical presentation of thoracolumbar disk herniation in dogs can be far worse than just shooting pains down the legs, as for humans. It is common for dogs to show profound paralysis of their hind limbs from the resulting spinal cord damage.
(This description was written for The Dachshund Club of America, Inc. by Patricia J. Luttgen, DVM, MS)

This difference in the anatomy of the spine and spinal cord is why it is so important for a dog owner to seek help right away if their dog has difficulty walking on their rear legs or simply goes completely down in the rear end and cannot walk. If a herniated disk is indeed the reason, then corrective procedures must be implemented as soon as possible in order to remove the pressure on the spinal cord. Surgery on the spine may be the only way to keep your dog from being paralyzed. Dachshunds are notorious for this disorder, but it can be seen in most breeds at any time. Following are pictures of a dachshund with rear leg paralysis and an X-Ray (myelogram) showing the compression of the spinal cord in the front part of the lumbar region, which would account for the paralysis (can you see the compression?):

Helpful Buckeye will present more on this topic in future issues of the blog.

2) We've all seen the pictures of an adorable kitten playing with a ball of string, twine or yarn. Whatever the type of string, it can be much more than fun for your cat: It can be fatal. The strings are so irresistible for cats, they can't help but want to play with them, especially if they can get the string moving. They will chase and chew, chase and eat, chase and swallow. They can't get the string back up and out of the esophagus, so they swallow more. The more string they swallow, the more life threatening the situation is.

Cats are naturally curious animals anyway, and they can get into things placed high on furniture surfaces. So if you have a feline friend in your home, extra precautions are needed to keep them safe. Common household items such as embroidery floss, spools of sewing thread, rubber bands and even dental floss can be life threatening for a cat. Sometimes the thread or string can pass through the cat's digestive tract without serious injury if it's small enough. Unfortunately that is not always the case, especially if the cat swallows a large amount of string, twine or thread. Just imagine how much sewing thread a cat can swallow from even a miniature size spool of thread. The string or thread can get wrapped around the tongue and if swallowed can wrap around inside the intestines and cause the cat to become very ill and can lead to serious complications or possibly death. The thread can even cut into the intestines. Surgery will sometimes be the only chance of survival and that isn't always successful. If you suspect your cat has gotten into some type of thread or string, be alert for the first sign of problems. If your cat begins vomiting abnormally, (more than the usual hairball) diarrhea, or constipation, lethargy or any erratic or unusual behavior, take it to the veterinarian quickly and assume she swallowed the string. The longer you put it off, the less chance the cat has for survival.


Ah, yes...catnip! Nepeta is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants. The members of this group are known as catnip or catmint because of their famed effect on cats—Nepeta pleasantly stimulates cats' pheromonic receptors, typically resulting in the animal temporarily exhibiting behaviors indicative of being in an induced, euphorically giddy sort of state.

Catnip and catmints are mainly known for the behavioral effects they have on cats, particularly domestic cats. When cats sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip, they may roll over it, paw at it, chew it, lick it, leap about and purr, often salivating copiously. Some cats will also growl and meow. This reaction only lasts for a few minutes before the cat loses interest. It takes up to two hours for the cat to "reset" after which it can come back to the catnip and have the same response as before. Young kittens and older cats are less likely to react to catnip.

The picture is of: Nepeta cataria

Watch and listen to a cat enjoying an experience with catnip:

Catnip is one of the more common ingredients in cat toys and other things that involve cats. Its minty scent is enough to get the majority of cats and other pets all riled up for a short time. One of the web sites referred to frequently on this blog has some nice catnip-infused toys available for your cat:


There have been two new words used this week and one new word that has a bearing on one of our topics.

1) Endemic--adjective; natural to or characteristic of a particular place.

2) Pheromone--noun; any chemical substance released by an animal that serves to influence the physiology or behavior.

3) Paresis--noun; partial motor paralysis; not as severe as paralysis.


Dog breeds--Dachshund

The dachshund, or "badger dog," is a short-legged, elongated dog breed of the hound family initially developed in Germany to scent, chase, and hunt hole-dwelling animals. Due to the long, narrow build, they are sometimes referred to as a wiener dog, hot dog, or sausage dog. Dachshunds are playful, fun dogs, known to be strong-headed or stubborn, making them a challenge to train. However, dachshunds are a breed extremely loyal to their owners with a temperament and body language which give the impression that they don't know about their relatively small and comical stature. They're known for their deep, soulful eyes and complex and telling facial expressions. Dachshunds are one of the most popular breeds according to AKC Registration Statistics, coming in three different coat varieties (Smooth, Wirehaired or Longhaired) and can be miniature or standard size.

Dog breeds--??? This wildflower comes from the same part of the world as our second dog breed of the week. If you can correctly identify this invasive, non-native wildflower, you will know the name of the dog breed.


1) From the American Veterinary Medical Association: "Obesity in dogs, April 2008,"
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity has increased dramatically in the United States during the past 20 years. While the CDC data describe the human population, other studies indicate that a substantial proportion of American pets also have become obese. Obesity has been reported to be the most common nutritional disorder in dogs, with an estimated prevalence of approximately 25%.
As obesity in dogs becomes more commonly encountered in practice, veterinarians are increasingly challenged to apply the most effective methods available for identification, treatment, and prevention. Articles in this collection have been selected on the basis of their relevance to clinical assessment and management of obesity in dogs and its health consequences.

You know this has become a major issue when the late-night TV hosts are commenting on it:

"U.S. officials have now approved the first anti-obesity drug for dogs. I'm no veterinarian, but if your dog is over eating, try putting a little less food in the bowl! Do we really need to give him a pill? Is the dog taking your car keys and driving to McDonalds?"--Jay Leno

Makes sense to me....

2) There has been a 4-eared cat seen in Chicago:
Yoda was just a kitten when a Chicago couple saw him being passed around a bar, where patrons were amazed by his extra ears. The four-eared feline gained fame after he was featured in an Aug. 19 newspaper article.

I realize that a picture these days isn't always what it seems to be...however, this does look like the real deal, doesn't it? Sort of an "eerie" cat!

3) One of our readers, Kelly from Phoenix, sent in a web site that might be of interest to our cat lovers. Go to "Cat Galaxy," an Internet radio and TV station specifically for cats to listen to and also watch:

Try it's free...and let us know if you like it.

4) With dog lovers taking their pets on the road with them more and more, we are starting to hear of various locations that are trying to make dogs welcome. From the dog friendly wineries in Napa Valley, CA, comes this invitation: Don't leave your best pal at home this summer. They want to have fun too! Besides, who can resist that hopeful, then sad look they give you everytime you walk out the door...without them. There are a host of wineries in Napa Valley that are more than happy to welcome your dog with open arms. Napa Vintners provides a list of dog friendly wineries:

The following web sites provide further opportunities for the dog lover/wine lover:

Dog Lover Wine

Dog Winery

Your Dog Immortalized on a Wine Label!

Dog Gone Wine!


5) A family physician in Tempe, AZ, has undertaken a novel approach to providing care for homeless animals. Phyllis Popp began making her Labor of Love Pet Beds a year ago and to date she's made close to 900 for kennels at the Arizona Humane Society, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control and Finding Fido of Phoenix. To read the whole story, go to this Arizona Republic web site:

6) This past Thursday, the 21st of August, was the 54th birthday of Archie Griffin, the only 2-time winner of the Heisman Trophy. He, of course, was a Buckeye at Ohio State, and Helpful Buckeye feels really fortunate to have been able to see every one of Archie's home games. The QB at Florida has a chance to duplicate this feat this year...but it won't be very easy to do.

7) Also, on the 21st of August, Buddy Harman passed away in Nashville. Who was Buddy Harman, you say? Buddy Harman, whose percussion work on more than 18,000 recordings established him as country music's best-known and most-recorded drummer, was 79. The native Nashvillian, born Murrey Mizell Harman Jr., is memorialized by his distinctive percussion work on such classics as Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman,' Patsy Cline's 'Crazy,'Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire,' Tammy Wynette's 'Stand By Your Man,' Loretta Lynn's 'Coal Miner's Daughter' and Elvis Presley's 'Little Sister.' Harman was also the first staff drummer on the Grand Ole Opry. Listen to Buddy Harman's drum beat on "Pretty Woman" from the movie of the same name:

8) Since our country is now getting into the more intense portion of the Presidential race, Helpful Buckeye will leave you with this cartoon from The New Yorker:


1) Just when you, the sports fan, think you have heard it all, this story shows up:

Wrigley Fields to throw out first pitch
CHICAGO (AP) -- Even years before 7-year-old Wrigley was born, his father Jerry Fields says he'd already decided what he'd do. Coming from a family of Cubs fans and with his particular last name, he decided to name his first son after the Friendly Confines (of Wrigley Field).
Little Wrigley Fields of Lockport, IL, will meet his destiny on August 29th at a Cubs' home game against the Philadelphia Phillies when he'll throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field.
His mother Kathy says she mentioned Wrigley's name in front of a former Cubs official, who promised her Wrigley would get to throw out the first pitch.
Kathy says when Jerry first told her he wanted to name his first son Wrigley, she initially thought he was joking. But Jerry later stood firm when they found out they were having a boy.

2) Helpful Buckeye promises no more blathering about how the LA Dodgers are keeping up with the Diamondbacks...mainly because they aren't! Nope...and to put it all in perspective, I'll leave you with a musical tribute along the lines of how Don Meredith saluted a team that was sure to be the loser on Monday Night Football years ago:
3) The Buckeyes start their season this coming Saturday...yeah, I know, it's against Youngstown State...a classic patsy. All the big schools do this at the beginning of their season, plus Coach Tressel coached there in the past and this will provide some big $$$ for Youngstown State. Go Buckeyes!!!


Count Basie's birthday (his first name was William) was also on the 21st of August, and he left us with two quotes that Helpful Buckeye will use to close this week's issue of the blog:

  • "If you play a tune and a person don't tap their feet, don't play the tune." And,

  • "I'm saying: to be continued, until we meet again. Meanwhile, keep on listening and tapping your feet."

Count Basie and his orchestra play their theme song, "One O'clock Jump:"

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The probable source of "raining cats and dogs" is the prosaic fact that, in the filthy streets of 17th/18th century England, heavy rain would occasionally carry along dead animals and other debris. The animals didn't fall from the sky, but the sight of dead cats and dogs floating by in storms could well have caused the coining of this colourful phrase. Jonathan Swift described such an event in his satirical poem 'A Description of a City Shower,' first published in the 1710 collection of the Tatler magazine. The poem was a denunciation of contemporary London society and its meaning has been much debated. While the poem is metaphorical and doesn't describe a specific flood, it seems that, in describing water-borne animal corpses, Swift was referring to an occurrence that his readers would have been well familiar with:
Now in contiguous Drops the Flood comes down, Threat'ning with Deluge this devoted Town....Now from all Parts the swelling Kennels flow, And bear their Trophies with them as they go: Filth of all Hues and Odours seem to tell What Street they sail'd from, by their Sight and Smell. They, as each Torrent drives, with rapid Force, From Smithfield or St. Pulchre's shape their Course, And in huge Confluent join'd at Snow-Hill Ridge, Fall from the Conduit, prone to Holbourn-Bridge. Sweeping from Butchers Stalls, Dung, Guts, and Blood, Drown'd Puppies, stinking Sprats, all drench'd in Mud, Dead Cats and Turnip-Tops come tumbling down the Flood.

WOW, did Helpful Buckeye get everyone's attention last week! Our "all cat" issue definitely aroused some comments. Most of your comments were positive, but a few came through with a slightly negative tone. A complimentary response from Charlie, in Indiana, read: "Thanks, Helpful Buckeye, for all the neat cat stuff. Most of it was new to me and very interesting!" Meanwhile, from an anonymous reader, came this: "OK...enough Cat stuff all ready...Time to get some more real animal stuff in the on DOGS!" What was that famous quotation about not being able to please ALL the people ALL the time...?

Helpful Buckeye is back this week with a potpourri of tales...and not just from cats!


1) This unsettling news report comes from the AP: ST. LOUIS (Aug. 13) -- More than 360 domestic and farm animals, many of them emaciated, injured and suffering from mange and parasites, were rescued Tuesday from a filthy southwest Missouri property where they were hoarded and bred, authorities said.
The owner of the property was charged with child endangerment because six children, ages 1 to 11, also had been living in what authorities described as an unbelievable scene: 12 to 15 house trailers stacked to the ceilings with junk, trash and debris, crawling with cockroaches. The only water source was a bunch of garden hoses strung together.

"These homes are not fit for anyone to live in," human or animal, Polk County Sheriff Steve Bruce said. The 363 animals include more than 70 dogs and more than three dozen cats, plus donkeys, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and exotic fish. The Humane Society of Missouri and Polk County also found 12 to 15 dead rabbits, dogs, cats, and poultry.

It's really unfortunate that we continue to hear this kind of story from just about anywhere in the USA. It would be nice to think that we, as a culture, have risen above this type of abuse to animals, but it doesn't seem likely to happen. If any of our readers have any knowledge of this type of behavior, please do the right thing and report it to the proper local authorities. For more reading on this story from Missouri, go to:

2) Speaking of "our culture," there are cultural differences around the world that might seem a bit unusual to us, while being perfectly normal where they are observed. Such a story comes to us recently from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Capital Bans Dog-walking by Men, By Donna Abu-Nasr, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Every single man knows: Walking a dog in the park is a sure babe magnet. Saudi Arabia's Islamic religious police, in their zeal to keep the sexes apart, want to make sure the technique doesn't catch on here.
The solution: Ban selling dogs and cats as pets, as well as walking them in public. The prohibition went into effect yesterday in the capital, Riyadh, and authorities in the city say they will strictly enforce it -- unlike previous bans in the cities of Mecca and Jiddah, which have been ignored and failed to stop pet sales.
Violators found outside with their pets will have their beloved poodles and other furry companions confiscated by agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the official name of the religious police, tasked with enforcing Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code. The commission's general manager, Othman al-Othman, said the ban was ordered because of what he called "the rising of phenomenon of men using cats and dogs to make passes at women and pester families" as well as "violating proper behavior in public squares and malls."
"If a man is caught with a pet, the pet will be immediately confiscated and the man will be forced to sign a document pledging not to repeat the act," al-Othman told the Al-Hayat newspaper. "If he does, he will be referred to authorities." The ban does not address women.
The Saudi-owned Al-Hayat announced the ban yesterday, saying it was ordered by the acting governor of Riyadh province, Prince Sattam, based on an edict from the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars and several religious police reports of pet owners harassing women and families. Commission authorities often do not formally announce to the public new rules that they intend to implement. Officials from the commission and Riyadh city government could not be reached for comment today, which is a weekend day in Saudi Arabia. The English-language Arab News reported on the ban today.
So far, the prohibition did not appear to have any effect in Riyadh. It's extremely rare, anyway, to see anyone in the capital walking a dog -- much less carrying a cat in public -- despite the authorities' claims of flirtatious young men luring girls with their pets in malls.
Salesmen at a couple of Riyadh pet stores said today they did not receive any orders from the commission banning the sale of pets. Cats and dogs were still on display.
"I didn't hear of the ban," said Yasser al-Abdullah, a 28-year-old Saudi nurse, who was at one pet store with his 3-month-old collie, Joe. Al-Abdullah, who also owns an 8-month-old Labrador, said a couple of Western friends had been told to get off the streets by the religious police for walking their dogs. "I won't allow the commission to take my dogs from me," he said.
There was no word whether commission authorities intend to expand the dog and cat ban beyond the capital. The prohibition may be more of an attempt to curb the owning of pets, which conservative Saudis view as a sign of corrupting Western influence, like the fast food, shorts, jeans and pop music that have become more common in the kingdom.
Although it has never been common to own pets in the Arab world, it's becoming increasingly fashionable among the upper class in Saudi Arabia and other countries such as Egypt.
In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean and dangerous, though they are kept for hunting and guarding. In large cities around the Middle East, stray dogs are considered pests.
The ban on cats is more puzzling, since there's no similar disdain for them in Islamic tradition.
One of the Prophet Muhammad's closest companions was given the name Abu Huraira, Arabic for "the father of the kitten," because he always carried a kitten with him, and a number of traditional stories of the prophet show Muhammad encouraging people to treat cats well.

You can draw your own conclusions about this report, but there is no doubt about the "socialization" benefits enjoyed by dog walkers in the USA.

3) There has been another pet food recall. This week, August 13, Mars Petcare US voluntarily recalled a limited number of 52-pound PEDIGREE® Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites bags from limited Costco stores in Northern California and Nevada only, due to potential Salmonella contamination. Costco has notified all of its customers in Northern California and Nevada about this issue directly. Additionally, one hundred of the 20-pound bags of PEDIGREE® Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites sold in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada, Albertsons locations were also recalled.

This problem with Salmonella contamination, first with tomatoes, then serrano peppers, now with dog food, has occupied our news headlines for most of the summer. Food-borne pathogens will be a topic for an upcoming issue of our blog.

4) Vote Now! Poodle and Wheaten Terrier Neck-and-Neck in Race for White House (OK, now that I have your attention, here's a news item that is somewhat on the humorous side of the news spectrum...what we call light, or fluff, news). Enjoy this report from the American Kennel Club, that delves into the "dog" aspects of the upcoming Presidential election: Less Than Two-Weeks Left to Cast Your Vote for The Best "Canine Candidate" for the Obama Family @
The American Kennel Club® (AKC) reports a tight race between the Poodle and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier in their poll to determine America's breed of choice for the Obama family. Preliminary results indicate that the Poodle is up by a (dog) hair, with just a few hundred votes separating the top two contenders. But, with 13 days until the polls officially close, the Miniature Schnauzer and Bichon Frise are still in the running. Cast your vote at before August 19, 2008.
AKC Midway Mark Polling Results On A Dog for Obama, August 6th, 2008Based on voting since site launch on July 2nd:
Candidate %
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Miniature Schnauzer
Bichon Frise
Chinese Crested
The AKC launched after reports that – win or lose – the Obamas promised their two daughters a dog after the presidential election. "With 158 breeds registered by the AKC – each with its own unique temperament, coat type, size, energy level and appearance – we felt the Obamas' interest in getting a dog was an opportunity to underscore the many factors that go into deciding whether to acquire a dog, and into determining what characteristics match your lifestyle so that a successful match can be made," said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokesperson. "Every family is unique, but for the Obamas who have a daughter with allergies, a hypoallergenic breed with a very consistent and predictable coat is crucial. This factor informed our choices first and foremost but we also chose dogs that have affable temperaments."
Once the Obama family is ready, the AKC can assist them in responsibly acquiring a dog. The AKC's puppy buyer resource page at offers links to responsible breeders who are members of AKC clubs as well as to affiliated breed rescue groups. For instance, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and Poodle National Breed Club web sites can be located at and
The Obama family may be adding a dog to their household for the first time, but Republican nominee John McCain is ahead of the pack with 24 pets, including four dogs. Therefore, animal lovers may be ready to help him "fetch" the election. According to a recent Associated Press survey,"pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42 percent to 37 percent, with dog owners particularly in McCain's corner."
"It's no surprise that presidents and other politicians love their dogs. Dogs give unconditional love and can even help reduce stress levels," added Lisa Peterson. "And, from an image standpoint, nothing humanizes a candidate more than seeing him lovingly dote on his pet."
Place your ballot online at before August 19, 2008. Check back on the site after August 25 for the announcement of the winning breed.

After reading this report and, perhaps, checking out the web sites listed, our readers can determine how important this issue will be for the upcoming election. In a future issue of the blog, Helpful Buckeye will provide a list of former "Presidential" pets.


A medical condition that has been receiving a lot of justified attention lately is Methicillin-Resistant Staph aureus, more commonly known as "MRSA." It is normally associated with humans, antibiotic usage, and hospital settings. However, there are some valid concerns for pet owners as well. The disease associated with this resistance is caused by a form of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which is pictured below. Note the structure appears like a cluster of grapes, hence the prefix, "Staphyl," which is Greek for "bunch of grapes."

Some advice for pet owners about how to avoid any confrontation with this disease comes from the Delta Society at:

MRSA Informational: FAQs
By Gregg K. Takashima, DVM

What is MRSA:
This stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Typically causes skin and soft tissue infections (flesh eating bacteria), but can cause pneumonia and “toxic shock syndromes” too
Important because it is becoming more common

How does this affect you?
Important since there is now evidence that MRSA infections can affect animal species.
Only a very small percentage of animals ever show signs of illness

Tell me about transmission of this pathogen.
MRSA is generally carried on all body surfaces, but mainly the nose and gastrointestinal tract.
Animal to animal, animal to human, human to animal, and human to human transmissions are possible

What are the best treatment and preventation strategies for pets?
Stringent control: avoid contact with known MRSA individuals (humans)
Most pets exposed to a MRSA patient, if kept in a clean environment, will eradicate the infection on their own.
Most common disinfectants kill MRSA
Do NOT use antibiotics unless advised to by your veterinarian….

What is the single most effective prevention and control measures for humans and animals?
Washing hands between all pet and human contact
Keeping counters, sinks, tabletops cleaned and disinfected
Food areas kept clean
Keeping your pet bathed routinely.


Cat Breeds--Exotic Shorthair

The Exotic Shorthair came into existence in 1960 when breeders crossed the American Shorthair with the Persian creating what is essentially a shorthaired Persian. Curious and playful, they are friendly to other cats and dogs with a gentle and calm personality reminiscent of the Persian, but livelier and more playful. Their calm and steady nature can make them ideal apartment cats for city dwellers. Unlike the high-maintenance Persian, the Exotic is able to keep its own fur tidy, though weekly brushing is always recommended. As with all flat-faced animals, the Exotic's tears are prone to overflowing the nasolacrimal duct, dampening and staining the face, so periodic cleaning is necessary.

Cat Breeds--???

Last week, Helpful Buckeye asked you to identify a "mystery" cat. A few of you sent in guesses, but none of them were the correct answer. To refresh your memory, here it is again:

This is Felis silvestris, which is an African wildcat (Helpful Buckeye discussed this cat last week in the "Interesting facts about cats" portion of the blog). Looks pretty much like one of our domestic cats, doesn't it?


1) A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that 5 clones of a Pit Bull dog were produced in South Korea. "An American woman received five puppies Tuesday that were cloned from her beloved late pitbull, becoming the inaugural customer of a South Korean company that says it is the world's first successful commercial canine cloning service." Read the rest of the story for the details at:

Helpful Buckeye knows that some of our readers are already stating the obvious, "yeah, just what this world needs is 5 more Pit Bulls...." However, the important part of this story, if it is true, is that the cloning was successful.

Then, after digesting all the facts of this story, check out this further news item about the owner of the Pit Bull clones. Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to be recognized in public! If this part of the story also turns out to be true, this is why people say that truth is stranger than fiction.

2) Trying to control feral cats has become a major task for most localities in the USA. Feral cats produce a lot of kittens, which only adds to the already existing burden of way too many homeless cats in our country. A regular contributor to the Arizona Republic, Jim Burns, has addressed this problem from the perspective of a birdwatcher:

Read his column, which makes some interesting points and suggestions, then read the column by Clay Thompson, from the same newspaper for his take on how to start solving this problem:

3) If your pet is leaving too much odor around the house despite your best efforts to vacuum and groom, Fresh Wave, maker of odor-neutralizing products, eliminates the odor without leaving any telltale chemical or artificial odor. Their products are available at certain hardware stores and also online at:

4) Several weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye discussed the fun of trimming your pet's nails. From time to time, new ways of doing this appear on the market. Most of these "newer & better" techniques quickly disappear because they really aren't any better. Nonetheless, this new product appears to provide a different approach to this sometimes difficult to deal with art of pet nail trimming. Check it out at:

The Pedi-Paw nail trimmer is a little more expensive than the conventional trimming instruments but, if it works better and is easier to use, the extra expense might seem negligible.

5) For those readers of Questions on Dogs and Cats who enjoy a little diversion from time to time, Helpful Buckeye suggests you try the "Suburban Cat Herder" game. Go to this web site and spend a few minutes trying to herd cats, which everybody knows is not easy to do:

6) A new book was reviewed recently in the New Yorker magazine that would be of interest to many of our readers. The title is New York's Poop Scoop Law: Dogs, the Dirt, and Due Process, by Michael Brandow, and it details the wide ranging history and ramifications of this law requiring pet owners to clean up after their dogs. The review sounds pretty positive for the book...Helpful Buckeye intends to read it! This subject brings to mind an earlier issue of this blog dealing with being a good pet neighbor. Isn't it interesting how this topic keeps coming around? Here is a photo of a perfect illustration for this subject:

7) Bearing the reported incident at Roswell, New Mexico, 1947, in mind, this news story also brings an unusual happening to the land of "believe it or not."

STOLEN CERAMIC LAWN DOG These people with way too much time on their hands kidnapped a ceramic dog from a Portland, Ore. woman's yard. Edwina Cramer-Norris said she had assumed the dog was gone for good when it disappeared last month, but then she began receiving postcards addressed "To Master" from "Lucky Dog." Cramer-Norris said she saw a blue van leave her driveway Sunday and when she went outside to investigate, she found her missing lawn decoration sitting in a makeshift dog house alongside a photo album documenting its adventures. She said the pictures depict the dog with a family at locations including Disneyworld, Graceland, the Mississippi River and New Orleans. She said a note accompanying the pictures explained that the dog had needed a vacation from Oregon because the weather was too rainy. "It's a strange thing," she said. "We're happy to have him back and it gives us something to share with others. It's some kind of a strange story." Cramer-Norris said the missing dog returned with two new additions to the family--a pair of ceramic puppies. Uh, right...let me get this straight...this little guy disappears, then mysteriously returns, along with 2 new puppies?

8) Just when you think you've seen the last "all-in-one" tool advertisement, here is an item that might interest you. For just $2.99 or less, this little gem of a multi-tool just might come in handy when you're out for a long walk with your dog in the woods or on a remote trail. The compact Adventure Plus Tool has a small light for map-reading in the dark and a floating-dial compass should you need to get back on course. A thermometer, safety mirror, whistle, and dry storage for matches give you tools to use in an emergency. Bottom Line: This little item does it all... it gives you lighting and safety tools for any adventure! And at this low price you'll want to pick up a few... they make wonderful gifts. Both kids and adults love 'em. Check out the Adventure Plus Tool at:

9) Just 2 days ago, on 15 August, was the 39th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in 1969 on Max Yasgur's farm, in Woodstock, NY. This was a seminal event in the history of Rock and Roll music, including many musical performers who became legends. Enjoy Matthews Southern Comfort as the story is retold:

10) On 16 August, 1948, baseball legend Babe Ruth died of cancer at the age of 53.

11) Also, on 16 August, 1977, Elvis Presley died in Memphis at the age of 42. Enjoy this video tribute to the King of Rock and Roll (Helpful Buckeye's favorite Elvis tune):


The LA DODGERS pulled out an extra-inning win today to remain in a tie for 1st place with the Diamondbacks. Manny Ramirez remains hot as a firecracker at the plate! Walt Whitman, the beloved American poet, wrote of baseball: "Baseball will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us." Stoicism refers to the repression of emotion and indifference to pleasure or, Helpful Buckeye has to assume that Walt Whitman never has watched the Dodgers play baseball!


1) Helpful Buckeye just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, a NY Times best-seller in 2006. For an intriguing account of why we eat what we eat, this book is a gem and qualifies as one of the best books I've ever read! From the US poet, Carolyn Wells, comes this verse: "To make a library. It takes two volumes, And a fire. Two volumes and a fire, And interest. The interest alone will do. If logs are few."

There was plenty of interest when reading this book!

2) Let's close this issue with another quote, this one from that famous philosopher, Mae West: "An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises." Helpful Buckeye hopes that you have found many "ounces of performance" in the issues of our weekly blog and that you will continue to anticipate "pounds of promises."

I'm tired and I need to get some sleep...