Sunday, February 15, 2009


DARWIN AND LINCOLN....Twin Peaks: Their shared birth date is an intriguing coincidence, but what truly unites Darwin and Lincoln is how they shaped the modern world....

This is the title of an excellent article in Smithsonian Magazine, February 2009, written by Adam Gopnik. The article begins with this paragraph: "We are all pebbles dropped in the sea of history, where the splash strikes one way and the big tides run another, and though what we feel is the splash, the splash takes place only within those tides. In almost every case, the incoming current drowns the splash; once in a while the drop of the pebble changes the way the ocean runs. On February 12, 1809, two boys were born within a few hours of each other on either side of the Atlantic. One entered life in a comfortable family home, nicely called the Mount, that still stands in the leafy English countryside of Shrewsbury, Shropshire; the other opened his eyes for the first time in a nameless, long-lost log cabin in the Kentucky woods."

For the rest of this fascinating article, go to: and you can probably still find this issue at your favorite bookstore if you'd like a hard copy for your own library.

Our "old friend," Mark Twain, had a few views and opinions on Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

"I believe our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey."- Mark Twain in Eruption

"It now seems plain to me that that theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one...the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals."-Mark Twain in "The Lowest Animal"

Apparently, this was Twain's effort at humor, since Darwin postulated the "Ascent" of Man from the "Lower Animals."

Helpful Buckeye received a nice comment this week from Tom, in Muncie (I am assuming the one in Indiana): Say "Happy Birthday" to Desperado for birthday was on the same day! Luv the blog and have shared it with several friends! Great info on dental stuff...I really should have been looking closer at Ginger's mouth!
Tom, Muncie

A second comment from Greg, in western Pennsylvania, about an issue in our archives, 21 Sept 2008, titled "You've Got A Friend....," which was authored by Desperado: "What a great article, and so much information!" To review this issue, look under "Labels" to the left and click on Service Animals. Thanks a bunch for the kind words, Greg! Greg suggested that Susquehanna Service Dogs at: could use a little publicity for their services.

Another feature of Questions On Dogs and Cats that allows you to share each issue of this blog with your friends can be found at the very end of each week's issue. Right after: Posted by Helpful Buckeye at 10:00 PM...Comments, there is an envelope with a black arrow on it. Simply click on the envelope and follow the instructions that will allow you to send this issue of the blog to 10 of your friends. Thanks for sharing!!!

Secondly, be sure to answer this week's poll question in the left column. In last week's poll, all those who responded were pleased with the format currently being used in the blog. So, away we go!


1) It appears that this spot will be reserved for a while, at least, for the latest recall of pet food/snack products that are associated with contaminated peanut butter. The American Veterinary Medical Association has released a list of the latest products to be recalled during the past week:

Product recalls related to the peanut butter-related Salmonella investigation include:
Western Trade Group, Inc. Recalls Roasted Peanuts Because of Possible Salmonella Health Risk (10 Feb 2009)

American Nutrition, Inc. Announces a Voluntary Recall of Baked Dog Treats (10 Feb 2009)

Hialeah Products, Inc. d/b/a New Urban Farms Conducts Nationwide Recall of Various Snack Products Because of Possible Health Risk (09 Feb 2009)

Stay tuned!

2) The American Kennel Club has announced its congratulations to "Stump," the Sussex Spaniel that won the Westminster Dog Show "Best in Show" award this past week:

The American Kennel Club®, a non-profit organization whose rules govern more than 20,000 canine competitions each year including the famed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, is pleased to congratulate Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, a 10-year-old Sussex Spaniel who goes by the name "Stump." Owned by Cecilia Ruggles, Beth Dowd and his handler Scott Sommer, Stump is the first Sussex Spaniel to win Westminster. The breed originated in England in the 1800s and was among the original nine breeds in AKC’s registry 125 years ago.

Sussex Spaniel:

Wow, I guess that would be like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, huh? Not only was Stump the first Sussex Spaniel ever to win the coveted award, but he also was the oldest dog to ever win it. Enjoy a few pictures of Stump being lavished with attention:

Also, enjoy a short video of pooches getting pampered before a big dog show:


1) Helpful Buckeye has received a lot of e-mails about our continuing series of articles on dental health care of dogs and cats. Most of you have become more aware of how widespread dental problems can be. There are still two weeks remaining in National Pet Dental Health Month and there are just enough questions and answers from Dr. Brook Niemiec left to take care of the next two issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Dr. Niemiec, you will recall, is the board-certified veterinary dentist, in San Diego. Here is the second portion of those questions:

Why is it important to have my pet's teeth cleaned regularly?

ANSWER: There are two main reasons for routine cleanings. First, they help prevent periodontal disease. Second, and possibly more importantly, a cleaning allows for a COMPLETE oral examination. Only with general anesthesia can most oral health problems be noted. This includes screening for oral cancer, broken teeth, cavities, and in cats, tooth resorption. Finally, general anesthesia is required for periodontal probing, which is the method of diagnosis of periodontal pockets.

My dog eats hard food. Isn’t that like brushing his teeth?

ANSWER: NO! This is a myth, which came about from the surface of the teeth being slightly cleaner in pets fed dry food. Typical dry food does not protect against periodontal disease. This relates to the root cause of periodontal disease, which is subgingival plaque (plaque below the gumline). Supragingival (above the gumline) plaque accumulates and causes local changes in the gum tissue that allow attachment and growth of subgingival bacteria, however after this has occurred; supragingival plaque has little to no effect on periodontal disease. Traditional dry foods break apart at the tip of the tooth and have little to no dental benefit. There are specially formulated and processed dental foods that effectively clean a pet’s teeth as the pet chews and are an excellent adjunct to routine tooth brushing. Look for the VOHC Seal of Acceptance on the dental food you choose.

How do I brush my pet’s teeth?

ANSWER: Start with a soft toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste. The malt flavor from Virbac appears to be the favorite of my dog and cat patients. Do not use human toothpaste, as it contains detergents that may cause stomach upset. Go slowly and be very positive, using food treats if necessary. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gumline. Brush in a circular motion, with a firm stroke away from the tooth. Try to reach all tooth surfaces, but concentrate on the outside surface.The hardest part is getting started. It’s best to start young, because the earlier you introduce brushing, the easier it will be for your pet to accept it. I recommend handling your pet’s mouth from the time you bring him home. For puppies and kittens, introduce the brush at around 6-7 months. Be consistent; animals like routines, so if you make it a habit it will be easier on both of you.

My veterinarian has recommended a dental cleaning. What is involved?

ANSWER: The first step is to place the patient under general anesthesia. Anesthesia-free dentistry is NOT recommended (see below, Why does a dental cleaning have to be done under anesthesia?), and is even illegal in some states. Don’t be fooled by “sedation” dentistry. In my opinion, sedation dentistry is more dangerous than general anesthesia for two main reasons. First, in sedation dentistry (or any other anesthesia-free dentistry), the trachea (windpipe), and therefore the lungs, are not protected from the particles generated during a dental cleaning. These particles are full of bacteria and, if inhaled, can result in pneumonia. The other difference between anesthesia and sedation is the length of effect. Most practices today employ relatively short-acting agents to put the patient under anesthesia, and then a gas to keep the patient under anesthesia. If a problem occurs under anesthesia, the veterinarian can turn off the gas and the patient will recover quickly. But under sedation, the effects generally do not go away until the drug is cleared by the system, which can take too long. General anesthesia is very safe today, thanks to advances in anesthetic drugs, training and monitoring equipment.A true dental prophylaxis consists of several steps, some more critical than others. The required steps that must be performed include:
Supragingival scaling: This is the removal of the plaque and calculus above the gumline (what you can see).
Subgingival scaling: This is the thorough cleaning of the area under the gumline to remove disease-causing bacteria. It is typically performed by hand and is time consuming, but it is the most important step of a dental prophylaxis.
Polishing: Scaling slightly roughens the teeth. This promotes plaque and calculus attachment and reduces the lasting effect of the cleaning, so the teeth are polished afterward. There has been some controversy about this in human dentistry, due to the loss of enamel with many cleanings over time. However, in veterinary dentistry, with relatively fewer cleanings in an animal’s life, this is not a concern.
Sulcal Lavage: Cleaning and polishing results in debris being caught under the gumline, which must be thoroughly rinsed out.
Oral exam, periodontal probing and dental charting: This is a critical and often misunderstood part of the dental prophylaxis. There are teeth that cannot be thoroughly examined in a pet who is awake, when periodontal probing is not possible. With the patient under anesthesia, the mouth is thoroughly and systematically examined, and all findings are noted on a dental chart. Any diseased teeth or tissues are then properly treated.

Any comments, please send an e-mail to: or register a comment at the end of this issue.

2) Possibly related to all the attention the 10-year old Sussex Spaniel got in winning at Westminster, the AVMA has released a very comprehensive list of questions and answers about the proper way to deal with aging pets:

Frequently Asked Questions about caring for an older pet

Due to improved veterinary care and dietary habits, pets are living longer now than they ever have before. One consequence of this is that pets, along with their owners and veterinarians, are faced with a whole new set of age-related conditions. In recent years there has been extensive research on the problems facing older pets and how their owners and veterinarians can best handle their special needs.

The AVMA has posed the following questions:

  • When does a pet become "old"?

  • What kinds of health problems can affect older pets?

  • How do I help my pet stay happy and healthy for as long as possible?

  • My older pet is exhibiting changes in behavior. What's going on?

  • Is my pet becoming senile?

  • What are the common signs of disease in an older pet?

  • How common is cancer in older pets?

  • My pet seems to be in pain and isn't as active as they should be. What should I do?

  • When should we euthanize a pet? How will we know it's the right time?

The answers to all of these questions may be found at: In addition, readers can find answers in Questions On Dogs and Cats previous issues that cover Cancer, Euthanasia, and Feline Dementia, by looking in the "Labels" column to the left.

Any comments, please send an e-mail to: or register a comment at the end of this issue.


SPCA International would like to remind all of us that: Winter Isn't Over Yet!

By SPCA International Staff
Although spring weather is on its way, cold weather is still lingering. Your pets are as vulnerable to cold temperatures as humans. Even though it may feel like spring is here one day don’t leave your animals out for extended periods yet because the temperature can still drop rapidly this month, especially in northern states and countries.
Many pet parents don’t understand that dogs and cats are as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia as humans are. SPCA International recommends you always keep your animals indoors during extreme cold and only let them outside for short periods of supervised time. Cats and short haired dogs are especially at risk to harm during harsh cold periods. If you live in extreme cold weather for months out of the year, we recommend every dog parent purchase paw boots to protect your dog’s feet from sharp ice, frostbite or road salt creeping into open cuts during long walks.
SPCA International always recommends that all your pets are kept inside during the winter, but if you choose to leave your dog outside you must provide them adequate shelter and frequently check their water to be sure it hasn’t frozen. All outdoor shelters should include quality insulation and should not have an open doorway that lets the cold air in. We highly recommend that you consult a local shelter or pet supply store for their tips on outfitting a winterized dog house in your backyard.
SPCA International also always encourages cat parents to keep cats indoors year-round, but that is especially the case in the winter. Cats are too small to go outside during the winter for more than a few minutes. If you have an outdoor cat, please set up a little box and bring them inside for the winter.
If you tend to turn down the heat in your home while you are away during the day or cozy in bed at night, be sure your pet has a cozy place to cuddle up on thick blankets or a comfortable dog bed too. Another surprising tip, most pet parents know not to leave a dog or cat in a car during hot weather, but the same goes for extreme colds. Your car is not a safe place to keep your animals while you run errands in winter. Not only will your pets face rapidly decreasing temperatures inside the car, they are also in danger of being stolen or let loose should a car thief come along.


Sussex Spaniel-- Sussex Spaniel Breed Standard (from the AKC)

The Sussex Spaniel was among the first ten breeds to be recognized and admitted to the Stud Book when the American Kennel Club was formed in 1884, but it has existed as a distinct breed for much longer. As its name implies, it derives its origin from the county of Sussex, England, and it was used there since the eighteenth century as a field dog. During the late 1800’s the reputation of the Sussex Spaniel as an excellent hunting companion was well known among the estates surrounding Sussex County. Its short legs, massive build, long body, and habit of giving tongue when on scent made the breed ideally suited to penetrating the dense undergrowth and flushing game within range of the gun. Strength, maneuverability, and desire were essential for this purpose. Although it has never gained great popularity in numbers, the Sussex Spaniel continues today essentially unchanged in character and general appearance from those 19th century sporting dogs.
The Sussex Spaniel presents a long and low, rectangular and rather massive appearance coupled with free movements and nice tail action. The breed has a somber and serious expression. The rich golden liver color is unique to the breed.


1) Next Sunday evening, 22 FEB, the Academy Awards will be presented. Helpful Buckeye would like all of you to think about some of the movies you have seen over the years that involved dogs. Some of Helpful Buckeye's favorites are Cujo (St. Bernard), As Good As It Gets (Brussels Griffon), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Bulldog), Michael (Jack Russell Terrier), and Must Love Dogs (the borrowed Terrier that plays "dead"). Send an e-mail with your favorite movie/dog combinations to: and we'll post those next week.

2) The Westminster Dog Show has even gotten the interest of some of the late night talk shows. Craig Ferguson was heard to quip: "Westminster Dog Show is the granddaddy of them all. It is the Oscars of dog shows. It's just like the Oscars, except the speeches are shorter and slightly less butt-sniffing."

3) In trying to close a $41 billion budget gap, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to tax a number of services — including veterinary care. The idea has both pet owners and veterinarians up in arms.
Many fear the proposed 9 percent tax will put a financial strain on pet owners and result in more animals being abandoned or euthanized.
For the rest of this news item, go to: As states across the country try to get a better handle on their budget shortfalls, this type of a tax may be part of the solution. Most of us are aware that California is frequently the trend-setter for the rest of the USA....

4) According to a just-released study, cat owners are less like to suffer the slings and arrows of seasonal depression (e.g. the winter blues) than those in a cat-less house. Seasonal depression strikes hardest in January and February when the weather is the coldest and people spend more time inside, in the northern hemisphere anyway. For the rest of the study, see:

5) Helpful Buckeye came across this interesting story about some cats that found a sanctuary in the heart of some ancient Roman temples: "Nelson the One-Eyed King" set up a pretty good establishment, wouldn't you say?

6) For the kittens dashing and tumbling around the room, the Washington Humane Society's first Kittengarten class is all about the playtime. But for the humans and the shelter there's a bigger goal: making sure that cats are healthy and happy in their adoptive homes — and that they stay there. Kittengarten is just like what it sounds, a class for kittens and their owners. This story comes to us from Salt Lake City and sounds like it might catch on elsewhere:,5143,705281961,00.html?pg=1

7) My Aunt Cathy, in Florida, sent this video for those of us who need to clean our computer monitor screens:

8) In addition to the birthdays this past week of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, the scientific world also observed the birthday of Galileo Galilei, on 15 February (1564-1642). Galileo, an Italian astronomer and physicist, has been referred to as the "father of modern observational astronomy," the "father of modern physics," the "father of science," and "the father of modern science."

9) To leave our readers with a lighter note, enjoy this submitted joke from Connie, in Seattle: A man goes into a pet store and asks the clerk, "Do you have any dogs that go cheap?" The salesman says, "No, we have birds that go cheep. Our dogs go BARK!"


The Los Angeles Dodgers' pitchers and catchers are reporting today to spring training, down in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix. Helpful Buckeye is eagerly awaiting the beginning of spring training games, on the 1st of March!


Since Desperado celebrated a birthday this past Monday, Helpful Buckeye found this quote that perhaps might ease Desperado's transition: “Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese.” by Billie Burke. (1884-1970), Oscar-nominated American actress remembered for her role in the musical film The Wizard of Oz.

Helpful Buckeye offers this quote from Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, as a final reminder of the long-term perseverance of Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and Galileo:
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Until next week, don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves, put on your overalls, and do a little hard work...and be ready for an opportunity!

~~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.~~

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the SSD post, did you get my emails?