Sunday, October 12, 2008


No, that's Columbus, Ohio! Or so goes the joke from the old TV commercial. Anyway, Columbus, Ohio is the largest city named for the "discoverer" of the Americas...Christopher Columbus, who the USA honors by celebrating Columbus Day on the 2nd Monday of October. Yes, on 12 October 1492, Columbus is credited for landing on a small island in The Bahamas, thinking that he had reached India...his GPS was just a little off (no satellites back then!)....

Christopher Columbus (the Anglicized form) was also known as Christophorus Columbus (Latin), Cristoforo Colombo (Italian), Cristovao Colombo (Portuguese), and Cristobal Colon (Spanish) depending on who was writing about him. Regardless of his name, he was truly an intrepid explorer willing to venture into the unknown, sailing with 3 ships, the largest of which, the Santa Maria (Hello to Tippy's folks, Marilyn and Terry!), was only 75 ft. long and 25 ft. wide:

None of these ships, the Nina, the Pinta, nor the Santa Maria, were considered sea-worthy enough for a long voyage, but Columbus was either smart enough or crazy enough (probably a little of both) to attempt the voyage of discovery.

From the ship's log, kept by Columbus, we know that he and his crew did find dogs in the New World: "In one of them (a small village) he found a [kind of] dog that never barked, There are here mastiffs and small dogs,"....

To help you make the transition from the history lesson into the main part of Questions On Dogs and Cats, let's go back to 1969 and see if you remember this hit song by The Association...Goodbye Columbus:


1) October is designated as National Pet Wellness Month, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Fort Dodge Animal Health, with the goal of increasing the awareness of pet owners for the health and welfare of their pets. The web site for this program is full of interesting information and suggestions for helping you to help your pet (much the same as our stated goal at the top of this blog):

2) During the last month, there have been several articles in the news media concerning the possibility of contracting Salmonellosis from reptiles and other "exotic" pets. The Salmonella bacteria group has received a lot of attention this year, mainly due to the contamination of vegetables, which Questions On Dogs and Cats has addressed in 3 separate issues. The AVMA has released a report on their suggested approach to this potential problem:

Veterinarians say good hygiene, common sense key to healthy pets and families...AVMA responds to news reports claiming exotic pets are a health risk to young children

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. , October 7, 2008
— In light of recent news reports focusing on the potential health risks to children less than 5 years of age from nontraditional pets, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is reminding the public that no matter what your age and no matter what species your pet, good hygiene practices greatly reduce the spread of disease and lead to happier and healthier relationships between people and their pets.
The AVMA is also stressing that, under no circumstances, should people abandon pets or turn them loose in the wild due to the fear of diseases that spread between animals and people, also known as zoonotic diseases. If a pet must be relinquished, pet owners need to find it a new and suitable home.
"Pets have so much to offer our children and can be valuable additions to our households," said Dr. James Cook, president of the AVMA. "It would be a shame if recent newspaper articles scare people away from pet ownership, or cause them to abandon pets they already have. Pets bring our children joy and companionship and teach them about animal welfare and responsibility. If anything, these reports should remind people about the importance of washing their hands and other sanitary measures they can take when in contact with any animal."

A thorough question and answer news release was also provided by the AVMA:
Frequently Asked Questions about Pets and Zoonotic Diseases

Updated: October 7, 2008

Can animals carry diseases I can catch?

Yes, they can. Diseases passed from animals to humans are called "zoonotic" (pronounced "zoe-oh-NOT-ick") diseases.
Are these diseases deadly?

Some, such as rabies, are deadly. Many others are not, but can still make you sick.
What is the risk that I or my children will become infected?

The risk is low, if you use common sense and good hygiene and keep your pet healthy.
Are certain people more likely to catch these diseases and become sick?

Yes. People whose immune systems aren't working normally are at higher risk of catching these diseases and becoming sick because their immune systems can't fight off infections as well as healthy people. Very young or very old people, people with diseases such as cancer or HIV infection, and people who are receiving medical therapy or medications (such as chemotherapy or steroids) that can affect their immune systems should be especially careful around animals.
Are certain animals more likely to carry these diseases?

Yes, but any animal (or pet) can carry disease if they become infected. For example, birds (including chicks) and certain species of reptiles and rodents may be more likely to carry Salmonella, a type of bacteria that can cause intestinal problems and other infections. Salmonella can also be carried by other animals (including dogs, cats, and horses) and people. Hamsters can carry a virus that can cause nervous system disease. Cats can infect people with an organism that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease that can cause problems for pregnant women or people with poorly functioning immune systems. Dog roundworms can infect people and cause skin problems, blindness, or organ damage. Healthy pets of any species are less likely to be infected and pass the infection to you.
Should I even get a pet, if there's any risk it could give me a disease?

Pets provide many benefits for people, including companionship and protection, and pet ownership is a very rewarding experience. Many pet owners consider their pets to be members of their families. The decision to get a pet is a personal decision, and should be based on a number of factors, including your family's lifestyle, living arrangements, and others. Although the possibility of disease is an important factor to think about, the risk is low and often considered to be outweighed by the benefits of pet ownership. Additionally, there are many simple things you can do to minimize your risk.
How can I prevent my pet from making me sick?

There are many simple steps you can take to prevent your pet and your family from getting sick.
First of all, healthy pets are much less likely to carry diseases that can infect you. Taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular check-ups, vaccinations, and deworming is a simple way to keep them healthy. Keeping your pets free of fleas and ticks is also important. If you are buying a pet, don't purchase a pet that looks ill or unhealthy.
Don't handle your pet's stool or urine. Wear disposable gloves (or gloves that can easily be disinfected) when cleaning the cat's litter box, and use a scooper or something to cover your hand when picking up after your dog.
Clean up after your pet. Keep your cat's litter box clean, and keep your yard free of dog waste.
After handling your pet, or its food or bedding, or cleaning up after your pet (even if you were wearing gloves), thoroughly wash your hands. This is especially important before you eat anything. Make sure children know to wash their hands after contact with any animal, or wash your children's hands for them if they are not able to do it.
Don't let your pets (or children, for that matter) come in contact with stray or wild animals. These animals are much more likely to have diseases that can infect your pet and possibly infect you.
Don't let your pets lick you in the mouth, and teach children not to put their mouths on animals or put any part of the animal's body in their mouth.
Keep your family healthy. If the people in the family are healthy, they are less likely to be infected, even if the pet becomes infected, because their immune systems are healthy.
I just read a news article that says families with children under 5 years of age shouldn't own pets like hamsters, lizards, turtles, hedgehogs, etc. We already have one of these as a pet. Should we get rid of it?

Although that decision is up to you, we encourage you to discuss it with your veterinarian. Often, there are simple things you can do, such as following the guidelines listed above, that will keep your family safe and allow you to keep your pet. If you decide that you cannot keep your pet, please find your pet a suitable home. Turning a pet loose outside is not good for the animal or the environment. Even though many species kept as pets were originally wild animals, they no longer have the instincts that allow them to survive in the wild. Your veterinarian's office, local animal shelter, pet rescue, or other organization can help you find a new home for your pet.
I'm thinking of getting a pet, but I have young children. What's the best pet to get? Should I get a pet at all?

Getting a pet is not a decision that should be made lightly. It is a big responsibility. It is very important to get a pet that best fits your family's lifestyle and needs. In some cases, the best decision is to postpone getting a pet until the children are older. However, many families have young children and pets and have not had any difficulties. Veterinarians are very good source of information on pet selection. In addition, the AVMA has a number of brochures about pet selection: they can be viewed at
What are "nontraditional" pets?

Many people consider domestic cats and dogs to be traditional pets; any other species kept as a pet is considered nontraditional. Examples include amphibians (frogs, toads, etc.), fish, reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, etc.), birds, ferrets, rabbits, rodents (rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchilla, hedgehogs, etc.).
Do "nontraditional" pets make good pets?

They certainly can make good, even great, pets for responsible pet owners. Some of these animals require special care or housing, so it's important to thoroughly research any animal you consider getting for a pet—this includes cats and dogs, too. Some people have allergies to cats and/or dogs, and nontraditional pets offer these people options for having a pet that doesn't trigger their allergies. In addition, many of these nontraditional pets can form strong bonds with their owners, and owning a nontraditional pet can be very rewarding.
What animals do not make good pets?

Wild animals are not good pets; they can be dangerous and are more likely to carry diseases. Skunks, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, coyotes, wild birds and other wild animals should be left in the wild; if they are injured, they should be cared for by licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Zoo animals (including lions and tigers) are not good pets, either; these animals require special care and diets, and can be dangerous. Nonhuman primates (monkeys, chimpanzees, etc.) are not good pets because they can be dangerous and are more likely to carry diseases that can infect you and your family.
I have questions about a specific type of pet. Where should I go?

Your veterinarian is the best source of information about pets.
What about the animal kept in my child's classroom? Should I tell my child not to handle it? Should I tell the school to get rid of the animal?

Classroom pets provide very valuable learning experiences for children, and keeping the pet healthy is just as important for classroom pets as it is for family pets. Children should be taught how to handle the pet(s) and taught proper hygiene (such as washing their hands after handling the pet). If you have concerns about the classroom animals, you should discuss them with the school and a veterinarian.
Should I keep my child away from petting zoos or any other activities that involve animals until they are older?

This decision is up to you and your family to decide. Please keep in mind that animals offer valuable educational opportunities. Animals offer companionship and teach children responsibility and respect for all living things, and stimulate their curiosity and interest in learning. If you choose to allow your young children to participate in these activities, adult supervision is necessary to ensure that the children are exposed to the animals in a safe manner and good hygiene practices are followed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also have compiled a short list of recommendations for pet owners and those who may be handling animals other than the traditional dogs and cats:

Helpful Buckeye has devoted a lot of space to this topic because there not only appears to be an increase in the frequency of contamination-type infections, but also a greater coverage of these outbreaks by the media. The path to understanding depends on knowledge and awareness, and an informed public will be a healthier public. Take the time to read this stuff....

3) The AVMA has announced that it intends to lobby Congress for the right of consumers to choose pet health insurance as one of the benefits available from employers:

October 15, 2008
Pet health insurance as an employee benefit? AVMA hopes so

Pet health insurance will one day be among the pretax benefits available to the nation's employees if the AVMA has its way.
The Association intends on asking Congress to pass legislation amending Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to include pet health insurance as an option offered in so-called cafeteria plans.
Participants in cafeteria plans can choose to receive certain benefits on a pretax basis. Depending on what an employer offers, benefits can include group term life, medical, accident, and disability insurance, and adoption assistance.
The AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee proposed having the AVMA Governmental Relations Division lobby Congress to add pet health insurance to the code before the close of the congressional session this year. The recommendation does not name a particular pet health insurance policy or provider, only that it be included as an employee benefit.
Board members supported the proposal because they believe it is consistent with the AVMA's policy on pet health insurance. The policy states, in part, that, "The AVMA endorses the concept of companion animal health insurance that provides coverage to help defray the cost of veterinary medical care."
Dr. Larry Kornegay believes offering pet health insurance as an employee benefit would resonate with millions of pet-owning Americans. "I can see where the option of using pretax dollars for pet health care would be popular when we have 60 percent of U.S. households with pets," he said.
Also helping the bill's chances is its subject matter: pets, a topic most legislators tend to look on favorably, Dr. Kornegay added.
One of the challenges to be faced, however, is convincing legislators that the benefits of allowing pet owners to dedicate a portion of their pretax salaries to pet health insurance outweigh the financial costs to the federal government.
"We're in very difficult budgetary times, and this proposal would reduce the amount of taxes taken in by the federal Treasury," Dr. Mark Lutschaunig explained, "Congress will require cuts in other parts of the federal budget to offset the income lost by this proposal."
Even if the pet-owner friendly legislation isn't introduced in the 110th Congress, the AVMA will be looking for lawmakers to sponsor the provision when the next session convenes in 2009.

This proposal appears to have some merit, in light of how many pet owners there are in the USA. However, it may have some difficulty in getting positive attention due to the certainty of upcoming budget constraints that will be needed as our country deals with the current economic disaster. (Pet health insurance will be further addressed below in the Non-Medical Concerns section)

4) Helpful Buckeye would like to know, "How far would you go for your dog?" Consider this picture of a huge python beginning to swallow a small dog recently in Australia:

...and then, read this account of a dog rescue in Malaysia:

KUCHING, Malaysia, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A Kuching, Malaysia, man said he killed a 19-foot python by clubbing it with a piece of wood and dragging it after it tried to kill his dog.
Aleson Mangga said he, his young sons and his dog were tapping rubber Sunday when he heard the canine barking wildly after running into a bush, The Borneo Post reported Monday.
Mangga said he ran to the bush and grabbed a piece of wood after seeing the massive snake beginning to coil itself around the dog. He said he clubbed the snake repeatedly on its head until it gave up its grip on the dog, then Mangga and his sons tied rattan strips around the snake's neck and dragged it more than a mile back to their home, where it soon died from its injuries.
Mangga said he plans to sell the python carcass to a friend.

I don't know about all of you, but Helpful Buckeye is impressed by this dog owner's fortitude!

There is an old cowboy saying that goes: "If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there." I hope I haven't lost any of you with the grisliness of this python I'll look back right now to see if you're all still with me...

OK, some of you are standing there and some of you are running...

So, Helpful Buckeye will assume that all of you are at least still with me (some more eager than others after the snake story).


Ah, many times have you been around someone who starts hacking/coughing only to be heckled with shouts of, "Hairball, hairball!" from nearby unsympathetic bystanders? This response, of course, has arisen from the classic sounds made by a cat as it tries to get rid of what has been described, for lack of a better term, as a hairball.

Nothing is quite so alarming as hearing the "hack-hack-hack" of a cat trying to cough up a hairball. And almost nothing is as disgusting as seeing one on the floor, unless it is stepping on it at night in bare feet.

Ughh! Seriously though, although hairballs may be the topics of jokes among thoughtless humans, they are a source of discomfort or worse, for cats. Hairballs pose a potential danger by blocking the passage of digested food through the intestines, causing an impaction. Hairballs are formed when a cat grooms itself excessively and swallows the hairs.

Since hair is not easily digested, it can compact with undigested food in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Obviously, longer-haired cats will be more likely to experience this problem than those with short hair. Impactions are serious business, and sometimes must be removed surgically. In lesser cases they can cause painful constipation, something no concerned caregiver wants to wish on their cat.

How to Recognize Hairball Problems:

  • Cylindrical (cigar-shaped) masses on the floor or furniture. Once you've seen one, you'll never forget!

  • Constipation, or hard stools with hair showing,

  • Dry, matted hair coat,

  • Frequent dry coughing or hacking, particularly after meals,

  • Lack of interest in eating,

  • Depression or lethargy.

It would be wise not to wait until these symptoms appear, as hairballs can be so easily prevented. The number one way to avoid hairballs on the floor and in your cat is: Brushing! Most cats enjoy being brushed, and the bonding that develops between cat and human during these brushing times is an added bonus. Regular brushing (1-3 times per week, depending on hair length) should be started when your cat is still a kitten so that it will be a part of the routine. Remember, the hair you see on your cat brush is hair that won't be swallowed. The second part of prevention is the proper usage of one of the available lubricant/laxatives compounded specifically for this purpose. Your veterinarian will help you in determining which combination is the best for you and your cat.


1) Pet Health Insurance has been around for more than 20 years in the USA and it has been the source of a lot of questions from pet owners. Veterinary medical care for your pets has been becoming more expensive, in much the same way as human health care costs have escalated. If the costs of wellness exams, regular vaccinations, medical/surgical treatments, and emergency care have begun to exceed what you, as a conscientious pet owner, can budget for, then perhaps it is time for you to consider if some type of pet health insurance plan is right for you and your dog and/or cat.

As Pet Insurance Review (an independent source of pet health insurance information) presents it:

Pet Insurance 101

Pet insurance has been increasing in popularity recently, due in large part to the advances of veterinary science. Vets today can offer treatments and procedures that were unheard of just a few years ago, such as radiation therapy, transplants, and MRIs. However, these new treatments are not cheap; veterinary costs have risen over 70% in the past five years, to over $19 billion last year. Pet health policies are similar to human insurance policies: annual premiums, deductibles, and various coverages based upon what the owner chooses. Most plans also have co-pays and caps that limit how much will be paid out anually. Items to be aware of:
Some policies won't cover older pets
Certain breeds are excluded from coverage
Pre-existing conditions are normally excluded
Most insurers offer a multi-pet discount policy

Costs vary widely, depending on the animal and the different packages that the owner can choose. Some packages are comprehensive, including such things as annual checkups and vaccinations, spaying/neutering, death benefits and even reimbursement for offering a reward for lost pets. Other plans cover only accidents and illness.

Pet Insurance Review can be found at: and, at this site, the left-side panel of the home page has several categories of interest to an insurance "shopper," including a list of 12 major pet insurance companies in the USA.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) International also provides a nice description of the principles of pet health insurance om their web site:

....10 Things You Need to Know Before Purchasing a Policy
To be competitive and give you more choices, each pet insurance company offers slightly different plans. And that's the single biggest reason that you need to carefully compare the options to make an educated decision.
To help you decide, here are the most important things you'll need to consider.

1. Which Deductible Should You Choose? Choosing a higher deductible will lower your monthly premium, but your out-of-pocket will be higher each time your pet requires medical treatment. Choosing a lower deductible will increase your monthly premium, but your out-of-pocket costs will be lower.
Also, is there a penalty for changing plans and deductibles? You should be able to make those changes to maintain your pet's coverage in times of financial hardship.

2. What Are the Policy Limits? Modern veterinary medicine can be sophisticated and extensive, which can make low per-incident limits (or low lifetime limits) unrealistic. Choose a plan that covers the true costs of unexpected illnesses and accidents.

3. What Does the Policy Cover? What Are the Available Options?Look for plans that cover illnesses, accidents and optional routine care.
· Illnesses. Any illness and accident plan should automatically cover common ailments, but what about chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes? Are they covered as well? For how much?

· Accidents. Cuts and broken legs are common and should be covered. In an accident-only plan, look for surgical coverages that include removal of swallowed objects and treatment of hernias.

· Routine Care. These optional coverages may include such preventive measures as annual exams, vaccinations, teeth cleaning, and diagnostics such as blood panels and urine testing.

4. How Is Your Reimbursement Calculated When You File a Claim? This may be the most misunderstood and most important part of your pet insurance coverage.
Reimbursement is calculated in one of two basic ways:
a) As a fair and straightforward percentage of your veterinarian's bill.
b) As a percentage of a benefit schedule which limits the amount the insurance company is willing to pay.
The actual reimbursement as a percentage of a benefit schedule can be as little as 30% of your vet bill. Avoid surprises by knowing what you're buying.

5. Can You Choose Any Vet or Are You Restricted to a Network? Look for plans that allow you to visit:
· The Veterinarian You Choose. Don't buy a policy that requires you to select a doctor you don't know from a list. Be sure you're allowed to visit any licensed veterinarian.

· After-Hours Emergency Care. Illnesses and accidents sometimes happen after normal business hours. Does your policy cover emergency care at 2 a.m.? You'll also want to be sure your use of an emergency clinic doesn't reduce the amount of coverage allowed for follow-up care.

· Specialists. When your pet needs treatment by a veterinary ophthalmologist (eye care) or a veterinary oncologist (cancer), you'll want to be sure your policy covers specialist care.

6. Who Determines Your Pet's Treatment? You and your veterinarian should determine the best course of treatment for your pet. Choose a plan that doesn't limit your choices with a complicated fee schedule or benefit schedule.

7. What Is Excluded? Amazingly, there are pet insurance companies who will not list treatments and conditions that are not covered by their policies. Be sure you ask for specifics about what is and is not covered by your policy so that you know which treatments are available for your pet.

8. Does Your Veterinarian Recommend the Pet Insurance Company? Your vet's staff members have heard all the news, good and bad, from other policy holders. Ask which one they recommend.

9. Is the Pet Insurance Company Licensed in Your State? You'll have the coverage you need when you choose a pet insurance company that's regulated by your state government. Choose a company that's licensed in your state.

10. What Experience Can You Expect? When you have a problem, or you need help with a claim, a pet insurance company who employs pet lovers who care, and who understand pets, can make all the difference.

We hope that these ten suggestions leave you better prepared to make an educated choice in your pet insurance company and policy. We encourage you to shop around and find the pet insurance company that's right for you and your pet. Here are some of the major American companies:
Pets Best Insurance· PetCare and ShelterCare Pet Insurance Programs· Petshealth Care Plan by The Hartford Group· PetFirst HealthCare· Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI)· Embrace Pet Insurance

When reading and evaluating this information from the SPCA International, our readers need to take into consideration that the ASPCA has a pet health insurance of its own...although, that being said, Helpful Buckeye feels that this information has been presented an unbiased manner and, therefore, is valid and beneficial.

Helpful Buckeye suggests that any of our readers, who might have concluded that they can benefit from pet health insurance, should talk to any of their friends/acquaintances who already have pet insurance for their experience with their insurance company. The next source of information would be your present veterinarian to find out her/his experiences with the various companies and if your veterinary hospital accepts the particular plan you are considering.

2) "The bond that we form with animals is unique. The loss of an animal can have an impact on you that is as great or even greater than the loss of a family member or friend. This bond is what makes our interactions with animals rich and rewarding, but also what makes the grief process so complicated." This excerpt is from the AVMA brochure, Understanding Your Feelings of Loss When Your Animal Dies.... and it continues with: "After your animal has died or been lost, it is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow. Although grief is an internal and private response, there are certain stages of grief that most people experience. By understanding the process, you will be better prepared to manage your grief and to help other family members and friends who share your sense of loss."

Whether your pet has disappeared, died naturally from old age, died as a result of a disease or accident, or has to be "put to sleep" by euthanasia, your sense of loss can be immense and quite difficult for you to process. Professionals who deal with issues of grief categorize grief into several stages (although not everybody experiences them all or in the same order):

  • Denial

  • Anger

  • Guilt

  • Depression

  • Acceptance

  • Resolution

Although the stages of grief apply fairly universally, grieving is always a personal process. Some people take longer than others to come to terms with these stages and each loss is different. If you understand that these are normal reactions, you will be better prepared to cope with your feelings and to help others face theirs.

The last situation mentioned involving the loss of a pet, that of euthanasia, presents a very difficult circumstance for both the pet owner and the veterinarian. Borrowing from another AVMA brochure, How Do I Know It Is Time? Pet Euthanasia:

"Perhaps the kindest thing you can do for a pet that is extremely ill or so severely injured that it will never be able to resume a life of good quality is to have your veterinarian induce its death quietly and humanely through euthanasia. Your decision to have your pet euthanatized is a serious one, and is seldom easy to make.
What should I do? Your relationship with your pet is special, and you are responsible for your pet's care and welfare. Eventually, many owners are faced with making life-or-death decisions for their pets. Such a decision may become necessary for the welfare of the pet and your family.
A decision concerning euthanasia may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make for your pet. Although a personal decision, it need not be a solitary one. Your veterinarian and your family and close friends can help you make the right decision. Consider not only what is best for your pet, but also what is best for you and your family. Quality of life is important for pets and people alike.
How will I know when? If your pet can no longer experience the things it once enjoyed, cannot respond to you in its usual ways, or appears to be experiencing more pain than pleasure, you may need to consider euthanasia. Likewise, if your pet is terminally ill or critically injured, or if the financial or emotional cost of treatment is beyond your means, euthanasia may be a valid option.
Your veterinarian understands human attachment to pets, and can examine and evaluate your pet's condition, estimate its chances for recovery, and discuss its potential disabilities and long-term problems. He or she can explain medical and surgical options and possible outcomes. Because your veterinarian cannot make the euthanasia decision for you, it is important that you fully understand your pet's condition. If there is any part of the diagnosis or the implications for your pet's future that you don't understand, ask to have it explained again. Rarely will the situation require an immediate decision and usually you will have some time to review the facts before making one.
Once the decision for euthanasia has been made, you may wish to discuss the care of the remains of your pet's body with your veterinarian and your family. Your veterinarian can provide information about burial, cremation, and other alternatives.
What if the animal is healthy? Euthanasia might be necessary if a pet has become vicious, dangerous, or unmanageable. Some undesirable and abnormal behavior can be changed, so it is important to discuss these situations with your veterinarian.
Economic, emotional, and space limitations or changes in lifestyle also may cause an owner to consider euthanasia for their pet. Sometimes it is possible to find another home for the pet and that option should be pursued prior to opting for euthanasia. Euthanasia should be considered only when alternatives are not available.
How do I tell my family? Family members usually are already aware of a pet's problems. However, you should review with them the information you have received from your veterinarian. Long-term medical care can be a burden that you and your family may be unable to bear emotionally or financially, and this should be discussed openly and honestly. Encourage family members to express their thoughts and feelings. Even if you have reached a decision, it is important that family members, especially children, have their thoughts and feelings considered.
Children have special relationships with their pets. Excluding or protecting children from this decision-making process, because they are thought to be too young to understand may only complicate and prolong their grief process. Children respect straightforward, truthful, and simple answers. If they are prepared adequately, children usually are able to accept a pet's death.
Will it be painless? Euthanasia is most often accomplished for pets by injection of a death-inducing drug. Your veterinarian may administer a tranquilizer first to relax your pet. Following injection of the euthanasia drug, your pet will immediately become deeply and irreversibly unconscious. Death will be quick and painless.
How can I say goodbye? The act of saying goodbye is an important step in managing the natural and healthy feelings of grief, sorrow, and loss. Your pet is an important part of your life and it is natural to feel you are losing a friend or companion, because you are.
Once the euthanasia decision has been made, you and other family members may want to say goodbye to your pet. A last evening with your pet at home or a visit to the pet at the hospital may be appropriate. Family members who want to be alone with the pet should be allowed to do so. Farewells are always difficult.
How can I face the loss? After your pet has died, it is natural and normal to feel grief and sorrow. For some people, spending some time with the pet after euthanasia is helpful. The grieving process includes accepting the reality of your loss, accepting that the loss and accompanying feelings are painful, and adjusting to your new life that no longer includes your pet. By understanding the grieving process, you will be better prepared to manage your grief and to help others in the family who share this loss.

They may not understand Sometimes well-meaning family and friends may not realize how important your pet was to you or the intensity of your grief. Comments they make may seem cruel and uncaring. Be honest with yourself and others about how you feel. If despair mounts, talk to someone who will listen to your feelings about the loss of your pet. Talk about your sorrow, but also about the fun times you and the pet spent together, the activities you enjoyed, and the memories that are meaningful.
I cannot forget If you or a family member have great difficulty in accepting your pet's death and cannot resolve feelings of grief and sorrow, you may want to discuss those feelings with a person who is trained to understand the grieving process, such as a grief counselor, clergyman, social worker, physician, or psychologist. Your veterinarian certainly understands the relationship you have lost and may be able to direct you to community resources, such as a support group or hot line.
Should I get another pet? The death of a pet can upset you emotionally, especially when euthanasia is involved. Some people may feel they would never want another pet. For others, a new pet may help them recover from their loss more quickly. Just as grief is a personal experience, the decision of when, if ever, to bring a new pet into your home is also a personal one. If a family member is having difficulty accepting the pet's death, getting a new animal before that person has resolved his or her grief may imply that the life of the deceased pet was unworthy of the grief that that is still being felt. Family members should agree on the appropriate time to acquire a new pet. Although you can never replace the pet you lost, you can obtain another one to share your life.
Remembering your pet The period from birth to old age is much shorter for pets than for people. Death is part of the lifecycle. It cannot be avoided, but understanding and compassion can help you, your family, and your friends manage the grief associated with it. Try to recall and treasure the good times you spent with your pet. You may also wish to establish a memorial of some type or contribute to a charity in honor of your pet."

The first sentence of this section, "The bond that we form with animals is unique," is a very powerful and meaningful statement. Many writers have tried to capture this feeling in words or music. A very popular song, released in 1976, and sung by Henry Gross, has retained its popularity to this day because of its poignant lyrics (also by Henry Gross) and haunting melody. There are several versions of the origin of this song, but they all seem to agree that it was written in memory of the death of a dog owned by Carl Wilson, one of the Beach Boys. The lyrics to "Shannon":

Another day is at end...Mama says she's tired again...No one can even begin to tell her...I hardly know what to say...But maybe it's better that way...If Papa were here I'm sure he'd tell her.

Shannon is gone I heard...She's drifting out to sea...She always loved to swim away...Maybe she'll find an island...With a shaded tree...Just like the one in our backyard.

Mama tries hard to pretend...That things will get better again...Somehow she's keepin' it all inside her...But finally the tears fill our eyes...And I know that somewhere tonight...She knows how much we really miss her.

Shannon is gone I heard...She's drifting out to sea...She always loved to swim away...Maybe she'll find an island...With a shaded tree...Just like the one in our back yard...Just like the one in our back yard....

And now, for the song:


Trichobezoar--noun; a compact mass of hair formed in the stomach especially of a shedding animal (as a cat) that cleanses its coat by licking; more commonly known as a...hairball! Don't worry...I won't show you another picture!


The pet this week will be the protagonist of the following story:

Three handsome male dogs are walking down the street when they see a beautiful, enticing, female Poodle. The three male dogs fall all over themselves in an effort to be the one to reach her first, but end up arriving in front of her at the same time. The males are speechless before her beauty, slobbering on themselves and hoping for just a glance from her in return. Aware of her charms and her obvious effect on the three suitors, she decides to be kind and tells them, "The first one who can use the words 'liver' and 'cheese' together in an imaginative, intelligent sentence can go out with me." The sturdy, muscular black Lab speaks up quickly and says, "I love liver and cheese.'' "Oh, how childish," said the Poodle. "That shows no imagination or intelligence whatsoever." She turns to the tall, shiny Golden Retriever and says "How well can you do?'' "Um. I HATE liver and cheese," blurts the Golden Retriever. "My, my," said the Poodle, "I guess it's hopeless. That's just as dumb as the Lab's sentence." She then turns to the last of the three dogs and says, "How about you, little guy?" The last of the three, tiny in stature but big in fame and finesse, is the Taco Bell / Chihuahua. He gives her a smile, a sly wink, turns to the Golden Retriever and the Lab and says....
Liver alone. Cheese mine!!!

A big thanks to Sara, in Richmond, VA for that one....especially since Chihuahuas are one of her favorite breeds!


1) October has been designated as National Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month by the ASPCA. The ASPCA does a remarkable job of adopting homeless dogs and cats and their web site lists the "Top Ten Reasons to Adopt an Older Dog" as:

1. What You See Is What You Get Older dogs are open books—from the start, you’ll know important things like their full-grown size, personality and grooming requirements. All this information makes it easier to pick the right dog and forge that instant love connection that will last a lifetime. If you’re not so into surprises, an older dog is for you!
2. Easy to Train Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hogwash! Older dogs are great at focusing on you—and on the task at hand—because they’re calmer than youngsters. Plus, all those years of experience reading humans can help them quickly figure out how to do what you’re asking.
3. Seniors are Super-Loving The stories you submitted about your senior dogs were wonderfully varied, but they all contained beautiful, heartfelt descriptions of the love your dogs give you—and those of you who adopted older dogs told us how devoted and grateful they are. It's an instant bond that cannot be topped!
4. They’re Not a 24-7 Job Grownup dogs don’t require the constant monitoring puppies do, leaving you with more freedom to do your own thing. If you have young children, or just value your “me time,” this is definitely a bonus.
5. They Settle in Quickly Older dogs have been around the block and already learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack. They’ll be part of the family in no time!
6. Fewer Messes Your floors, shoes and furniture will thank you for adopting a senior pooch! Older dogs are likely to already be housetrained—and even if they’re not, they have the physical and mental abilities to pick it up really fast (unlike puppies). With their teething years far behind them, seniors also are much less likely to be destructive chewers.
7. You Won’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew There are those who yearn for a doggie friend of their own, but hold back because they worry what might happen in their lives in the years to come. And they are wise to do so—a puppy or young dog can be anywhere from an eight- to 20-year responsibility, which is not appropriate for the very elderly or those with certain long-term future plans. Providing a loving home for a dog in her golden years is not a less serious commitment, but it can be a shorter one.
8. They Enjoy Easy Livin’ Couch potato, know thyself! Please consider a canine retiree rather than a high-energy young dog who will run you ragged. Not that older dogs don’t require any exercise—they do—but they’re not going to need, or want, to run a marathon every day.
9. Save a Life, Be a Hero Older dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized at shelters. Saving an animal’s life offers an unparalleled emotional return on your investment, and you’ll feel the rewards every day you spend together. There’s nothing like that twinkling in an older dog’s eyes when he finally gets adopted and realizes that after a lifetime of searching, he’s home.
10. They’re CUTE! Need we say more?

2) If you're wondering how and why so many animals end up at the various animal shelters, the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy lists these reasons:

Landlord issues
Cost of pet maintenance
No time for pet
Inadequate facilities
Too many pets in home
Pet illness (es)
Personal problems
No homes for littermates


Too many in house
Cost of pet maintenance
Landlord issues
No homes for littermates
House soiling
Personal problems
Inadequate facilities
Doesn't get along with other pets

3) To whet your appetite a little more in relation to pets and the upcoming Presidential election, Helpful Buckeye has this little quiz for you about Presidential pets. From the web site of : "U.S. presidents and their families have typically liked animals. Creatures from mice to bears have made a home at the White House and its grounds." See if you can re-arrange these Presidential pets to match them with their master :

George Washington--------Cat (Socks), Labrador (Buddy)

John Tyler----------------Siamese Cat (Misty Malarky Ying Yang)

Ulysses Grant-------------Cocker Spaniel (Checkers)

Teddy Roosevelt----------Cat (Tom Kitten)

Franklin D. Roosevelt------Newfoundland

Dwight Eisenhower--------Scottish Terrier

John F. Kennedy----------36 Hounds

Lyndon Johnson-----------Greyhound

Richard Nixon------------Siamese Cat (Chan)

Gerald Ford--------------Springer Spaniel

Jimmy Carter------------Weimaraner

Ronald Reagan-----------Chesapeake Bay Retriever

George H. W. Bush-------Beagles (named Him & Her)

Bill Clinton---------------Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Send your answers to and Helpful Buckeye will name the winner next week!

4) Helpful Buckeye recently saw these interesting climate-controlled pet carriers advertised by KomfortPets at: . As described, these carriers have a certain amount of self-contained cooling and heating provided for a dog or cat riding inside. After you've read about the product, visit the company's Home Page for further information.

5) Today was the birthday of the U.S. Navy, founded in 1775. Here's a patriotic shout-out to my good friend and Naval Academy grad, David, here in Flagstaff! No, that's not David...that is John Paul Jones, America's first well-known naval hero.

6) Helpful Buckeye is still getting positive comments about Desperado's contribution of the issue on Service and Therapy animals, the most recent from Dianne, in Chico, CA. We do appreciate all the feedback. As a follow-up on that issue, several of our readers have mentioned the charitable organizations listed, in addition to several others. As a word to the wise for potential donors, a recent article in the USA Today deals with some of today's concerns with fraud and mis-use of funds by charities:


The LA Dodgers didn't look very good in the first 2 games against the Phillies but we took a big step forward with a huge win in LA tonight. The next 2 games are in LA and we have a really good record at home. By this time next week, we'll either be going to the World Series or cleaning out the lockers!

The Ohio State Buckeyes beat Purdue yesterday. Since the number of undefeated teams is dwindling weekly, the Buckeyes aren't looking so bad after all. There may still be some hope for ....

The Pittsburgh Steelers had the week off and it came at a perfect time, with so many of our starters being injured. We play at Cincinnati next Sunday.


This reminder that the name, "Fido," comes from the Latin for "fidelity"...a fitting name for "man's/woman's best friend"....

~~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.~~

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