Sunday, March 22, 2009


Spring has finally sprung this past Friday, the 20th. Remembering last week's opening quote, get from winter's dream to summer's magic..., we must first experience spring. Helpful Buckeye's good friend, Link, from Schwenksville, PA, sent this quote last week from Albert Camus, French author, about winter: "In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." Even so, one must still feel the interim pleasure of spring. This final quote from Emily Dickinson will get us started in the right direction: "A little Madness in the Spring, Is wholesome even for the King." Clearly, Ms. Dickinson must have been a college basketball fan, as indicated by her use of the term "Madness," as in "March Madness," Helpful Buckeye presumes. More on March Madness farther down the page under SPORTS NEWS.

One of the outstanding harbingers of spring is the daffodil. Daffodils are Helpful Buckeye's favorite flower.

To paraphrase the lyrics of a popular song, when the daffodil blossoms are in bloom, "It surely must be spring!" Enjoy that song, the Academy Award winner for best song in 1945's State Fair, presented here by Shirley Jones:

Our poll last week asked which of the "Irish" breeds you would have for a pet and our readers were pretty evenly divided among the Irish Setter, the Irish Wolf Hound, and the Kerry Blue Terrier. Remember to answer this week's poll question in the column to your left.

There were 3 interesting comments sent in to last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. In case you missed them, here they are:

  • Holly said...
    As always, I come here on a Monday and my noggin gets filled with fun and weighty stuff. So, thanks. I want you to take a peek at my blog,, for the posting entitled, I Feel So Safe Now, most particularly the comments after I re-read the story of the couch living calico...since your from this area, I think the entry will give you a laugh.And, it was a toss up as to which Irish breed I'd own. I said the Wolfhound because who doesn't stand respectfully when you encounter such a gentle giant...but I should have said the Kerry Blue.I had severe breathing issues when I was a kid, they thought it may be Cystic Fibrosis. Luckily it wasn't or we wouldn't be having this any rate, when I was graduating from high school, my Dad decided I had been devoid of a dog for way too long so he set out to find a no shed, hair dog for me to love. He researched and learned that the Blue is such a one.Off he went to buy one, and well, not having the AKC info readily at hand, he didn't remember the spelling of the name, and that's how he came home with McKeever, the first of my five CAIRN Terriers! What a diff in size, huh? I've loved all five of my Cairns. Great dogs. And they got me mentally ready to handle these two Scotties of mine...but no one and nothing can really have one prepared for life with Scotties.

  • Mike V said...
    I just checked out the Morris Animal Foundation page. Lots of good info on there. Thanks!

  • Donna said...
    I have a beautiful Irish Setter name Rusty. Ok, so not very original...I know. He's actually our fourth Irish Setter, he's the most funniest animal in the world. My husband and I would love to retire to Ireland and take our Rusty back home.

Thanks to all three of you for your pertinent anecdotes and comments! All of our readers are encouraged to submit comments while reading each issue. Your comments provide subjects and questions for future topics, offer critique (both good and otherwise), and generally supply valuable feedback. To post a comment, you should go to the very end of each issue and click on the word "comment." Then, follow the instructions, either sign in or write as anonymous, and post your comment. To read the comments from each issue, again click on "comments" and they will appear. If you'd rather simply send an e-mail to Helpful Buckeye for inclusion as a comment, send your message to:


1) Our readers will recall a previous posting about the state of California considering adding a tax on veterinary medical services as a way to help balance their state budget. Opponents of the bill argued that this additional expense would make it more difficult for animal owners to afford proper veterinary medical care. Well, the apparently very vocal opponents of the bill have succeeded in getting the bill squashed:

2) The American Kennel Club has announced plans for sponsoring the "World's Largest Showcase of Cat & Dog Breeds" to be Held in October in New York City. Meet the Breeds is a showcase of over 160 AKC registered dog breeds and 41 CFA registered cat breeds and will be the first stand-alone event of its kind in the world. Read more about this event at:

Helpful Buckeye has always recommended that anyone interested in getting a new dog or cat try to attend a dog or cat show in their area, mainly for the purpose of seeing all of the various breeds available. You don't have to go to NYC if you don't want to...there are plenty of dog and cat shows near most of you. It's a fairly inexpensive and enjoyable way to educate yourself on dogs or cats. If you have children, it's a great way to introduce them to the joys of diversity in the dog and cat worlds.

3) The SPCA International has issued this public service bulletin for those of us who may encounter wildlife as spring makes its appearance:

By SPCA International Staff
As parts of the country begin to thaw out from the winter cold and people venture back outside to enjoy the beginning of spring, they will undoubtedly encounter wildlife. During the upcoming months wild birds and mammals will be born along park trails, in backyard bird houses and maybe in the tree outside your office window. Many of these creatures will grow and eventually venture out on their own, never encountering or needing the help of human beings. Some however, will not be as fortunate.
Throughout the spring wildlife rehabilitation centers receive desperate phone calls from people who have found baby wildlife in need. These creatures may or may not survive, depending in part on what you do if you are the first person to encounter them.
Here’s a checklist of information you should know and refer to if you come across the path of what you think might be injured or orphaned wildlife: (SPCA International developed this informative list with the help of Shelter of the Week recipient
Sierra Wildlife Rescue.)
- Is there a visible injury? Is the animal unable to walk or fly? Do you see blood? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, call your local wildlife facility or animal control for further information on caring for the animal. - If no injury is apparent, be sure that the animal is truly alone. Many times a baby animal is not truly alone; the parent is usually not too far away. The parent may be afraid to approach the baby if they think there is any danger. Unless the baby is in some kind of imminent danger, it is best for you to step back and observe them for a while from a distance. In many cases you will be relieved to see the mother return to care for her youngster. - Do not remove a baby animal unless you know the mother is dead or the baby is in any immediate danger. Well-intentioned people often “kidnap” young animals.Example: Mother rabbits only feed their babies a couple times a day. In between feedings they are off looking for food and doing the other parts of their daily routine. During the mom’s absence the bunnies are fine, but if a person comes across a nest they may think they have been abandoned. - If a baby bird has fallen from their nest, put them back in it if you can do it safely. The mother bird will not reject them. - If you have decided that the animal needs to be rescued, keep it away from children, pets and curious people. Unnecessary handling and observation can cause the animal to die from stress. - Put small birds in a paper bag with tissue on the bottom. Put small mammals or large birds in a box lined with a towel or cloth. Keep the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place, out of direct sunlight until you get in touch with your local wildlife facility or animal control. Do not offer food or water as this could actually cause more harm than good. - Do not handle mammals or raptors. They can injure you and some carry serious diseases. Instead, call your local wildlife facility or animal control as quickly as possible.
Taking the time now to identify who you would call if you had a wildlife emergency could save the life of a bird or mammal you find, so look in your local phone book and make note of any wildlife care resources in your community.
SPCA International also recommends finding out if there are any wildlife care workshops offered in your area. Taking such a course will provide you with basic skills to care for baby birds and mammals until you can hand them over to the experts. And, in the spring wildlife rehabilitation centers are always in need of volunteers, so you may decide you want to spend some time helping feed orphaned hummingbirds or offering small morsels of food to a baby squirrel. Observing wildlife in their environment can be a very enjoyable thing to do this spring. Just do it from a distance, do not offer them your sandwich left over from lunch and leave as little impact as possible on their habitat. But if they do need your help be wise and handle them gently.

4) The American SPCA has designated April as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Helpful Buckeye will present more information on this effort in next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Stay tuned....


Strychnine poisoning is not a topic that you would expect to hear being discussed every day by veterinarians. It just isn't that common in the USA. However, as the following newspaper article proves, when it does happen, it gets a pet owner's attention. This article from the Arizona Republic recounts what happened in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa:

Strychnine is mainly used as a pesticide to help control rats, moles, prairie dogs, gophers, and coyotes. It is available as a commercial bait in pelleted form and is usually dyed red or green. It is highly toxic to most domestic animals. Poisoning by strychnine, whether malicious or accidental, occurs mainly in small animals, especially dogs and less frequently cats. Dogs in very urban settings are not as likely to be exposed to this danger as are dogs in suburban or rural areas.

The onset of strychnine poisoning is very fast. After swallowing the bait, a dog may show clinical signs within 15-60 minutes. These signs could include apprehension, nervousness, stiffness, and severe seizures. These seizures can be initiated by any external stimulus, such as touch, sound, or bright light. Seizures are soon replaced by an extreme rigidity, with the dog appearing to have all four legs rigidly extended. This extreme muscle activity quickly leads to exhaustion and death if not treated immediately. Obviously, strychnine poisoning is an emergency and treatment must be initiated swiftly. The problem is that frequently the dog owner has no idea that there has been an exposure to strychnine. Once the signs of illness appear, an immediate trip to a veterinary hospital or emergency clinic is a must.

Diagnosis of strychnine poisoning is based on a history of possible exposure and the classical signs shown by the dog. Analysis of stomach contents and kidney or liver tissue would provide a definitive diagnosis. This photo is of the stomach contents, with the visible pellets, from one of the dogs in Mesa:


Most dogs and cats will at some point in their lives be confronted with the discomfort that is caused by external parasites. Fleas would be the most common of these and have been discussed at length in a previous issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. You can access that discussion by clicking on "Fleas" under the "Labels" column on the left. The remaining external parasites are several species of ticks, ear mites, Sarcoptic mange mites, and Demodectic mange mites.

Hosting a tick is the price dogs, or less commonly, cats, may pay for investigating shrubbery, underbrush, or basically any area of uncared-for vegetation. Tick exposure may be seasonal, depending on your geographic location. Ticks are most often found around your dog's neck, in the ears, in the folds of skin between the legs and the body, and between the toes. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face. Tick bites can cause skin irritation and heavier infestations can cause anemia or paralysis in pets. Ticks are also capable of spreading serious infectious diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis to your pets or to you.

Ticks need to be attached to your pet for a while before they can adequately transfer their package of infection. Ticks that are just crawling through the hair or on the skin are not infecting your pet yet. Checking your pet thoroughly at regular short intervals can assist in removal of these ticks before they become attached. Pets at risk for tick infestation should be treated during the tick season with one of the tick preventive medicines that are available from your veterinarian. If your pet picks up ticks in your yard, trimming bushes and removing excess brush and vegetation may help reduce the exposure to tick habitats.

For any of you who have found your dog covered with ticks, you will easily relate to the "dark" humor in this video and empathize with this dog owner:

Ticks are arachnids, having 8 legs, not insects, which have 6 legs. They are close relatives of spiders and mites. The 3 most common ticks in the USA to infest dogs and cats are:

Brown Dog Tick (Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis) American Dog Tick (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)
Deer Tick (Lyme Disease)
The Brown Dog Tick and the American Dog Tick are several times larger than the Deer Tick. In next week's issue, Helpful Buckeye will discuss these tick-borne diseases; then, in following weeks, the diseases associated with the mites will be covered.


1) OK, let's loosen you up a bit. An enterprising cat owner has filmed their cats trying to accustom themselves to a moving treadmill. Fortunately, since these cats are quite agile, the results were only humorous rather than devastating. Enjoy:

2) Jay Leno had this quote earlier this week about the news that President Obama's family had finally decided on a choice for their dog: "The Obamas are expecting the arrival of the first dog in April. Actually, this will be the Obamas' second choice of a dog. The first dog had some tax problems."

3) The ASPCA is offering a free Pet Safety Pack to any pet owner who requests one. This safety pack includes a pet rescue window decal and an ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center magnet. Simply fill out their request form online at:

4) Sometimes we feel that an observation is true but there aren't any studies to back it up. Such is the case with feeling that there are more dog bites of humans during the warmer months. Granted, it almost seems intuitive that this would be the case, but....

Now, a study has been completed on this very subject and it concludes that:

5) For our readers who remember the picture of the python swallowing the dog several months ago, who then sent in comments saying that it was unbelievable, here's what could almost be an instant replay. This story and photo from Australia aren't quite as graphic, but:

6) Many of you had a chuckle last week about the woman who bought a used sofa, only to find out later that she had received an unexpected bonus.....a calico cat! Comedians had a field day with this story and Helpful Buckeye especially liked this quote from Jimmy Fallon: "In Washington, a woman who bought a used couch found a live cat in its cushions. This should serve as a reminder to everyone: please, have your couches spayed or neutered." Don't you just love his concern for the exploding sofa population problem?

7) This past week would have been the 90th birthday of Nat King Cole, born 3/17/1919. Helpful Buckeye is fairly certain that all of our readers can think of several of Nat's big hits, but this song (from 1955) is appropriate for the season and the blossoms of the daffodils:

8) Then, on 20 March 1916, Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity. Einstein, ever the funny guy, was later heard to say (when everyone was making such a fuss about his theory): "When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But, let him sit on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems longer than any hour. That’s relativity!"


Manny Ramirez has strained one of his $12.5 million hamstrings and has not been able to play. The LA Dodgers know they are a decent team without him, but a seriously contending team with him.

The Ohio State Buckeyes bowed out in double overtime to Siena in the first round of March Madness...too many underclassmen in the lineup. Perhaps next year?

The Pitt Panthers probably took their first 2 opponents too lightly. It has been said that the really good teams will find a way to win, even when they're not playing their best. However, starting this Thursday, when we play Xavier, there are no more cupcakes. It's time for the real game face!


As a way of tying together last week's sentiment about pessimists and optimists with this week's approach to spring, comes this quote from Susan Bissonette: "An optimist is the human personification of spring."

For those of you who just finished eating that great-tasting Snickers bar comes this information from the FDA: The average chocolate bar has 8 insect legs in it!

Just to see how many of you are reading this issue the whole way to the end, here's a quote from William Jennings Bryan, an American political leader, orator, and attorney in the early 20th century: "Do not compute the totality of your poultry population until all the manifestations of incubation have been entirely completed." Now, for the test...translate this quote into everyday language and send your answer to: or post it in the comment section just below this.

~~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. Candy bars with legs?! EWWWWWW!!!!

  2. Don't count your eggs before they hatch.

    I read quickly, but you did not get me on a technicality with that one.

    I noticed that you had asked about Sola's injury in a comment on my blog.

    Here is a quick summary:

    Something tells me you have seen that a million times. I hate that stick.