Sunday, May 31, 2009


In last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, we made mention of Memorial Day being in honor of all those who have died in military service to their country. Since Helpful Buckeye is on the road for a few weeks and won't be able to use up-to-date topics that our readers have enjoyed seeing, I thought you might appreciate a whole issue devoted to cemeteries and memorials for pets.

Now, stop right there, those of you who are thinking, "Here we go with another sequel to Pet Sematary." The best-seller novel by Stephen King and the subsequent movie definitely gave people "the willies" about cemeteries and dead pets.

However, there are more than 600 pet cemeteries in the USA and they are being used at an increasing rate by pet owners who want some type of memorial to their beloved deceased pet. For the purpose of telling a story about pet cemeteries in general, Helpful Buckeye will relate the history of what has been called "one of the best final resting places for a pet," the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, in Hartsdale, NY. Most of the following material was taken from the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery's web site, although I have re-arranged it so that it can be read like a short story. It won't be any longer than one of our regular weekly issues, so sit back with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the "Story of Hartsdale Pet Cemetery."


The ritualized burial of animals has been practiced in virtually every part of the world at some point in time. In many societies, it was (and still is) a means of honoring animals who endeared themselves to their human families. Such burials stand as enduring expressions of one's emotional affinity with nonhuman beings, and on a more expansive level, one's sense of spiritual kinship with the natural world at large. Funerary rites for animals celebrate the most enduring of human beliefs-that we share the "next life" with other creatures-just as we do this one. Of all the ancient societies to conduct funerals for animals, Egypt is the best known, thanks to the many elaborately mummified dogs, cats, monkeys and birds that have been recovered by archaeologists in recent times. As early as 1000 B.C., substantial parcels of land along the Nile were set aside expressly for the burial of animals, though it was equally acceptable to inter pets in tombs of their owners. Then, as now, wealthy pet owners spared no expense for their animals' funerals. When a royal guard dog named Abutiu ("With Pointed Ears") died in 2180 B.C., the grieving pharaoh ordered a sarcophagus made for the dog, and that "very much fine cloth, incense and scented oil" be used in the mummification process. It was decreed that Abutiu be interred in his own underground tomb, specially constructed by the royal stone masons, "so that he might become one of the Blessed."Among the most famous ancient dog lovers is Alexander the Great (336 B.C. - 323 B.C.), who owned a large Mastiff-like hound named Peritas. Upon her death, the conqueror led a formal funeral procession to the grave, erected a large stone monument on the site and ordered nearby residents to celebrate her memory in annual festivities. A city by the name still exists in this location.

After centuries of affiliation with the pagan gods of Egypt, Rome and Greece, many animals were subject to persecution in the new Christian era, starting around 700 A.D. Medieval dogs and cats often were accused of being the consorts of witches, or even worse, were Satan incarnate. There was little tolerance for people who cuddled or talked to animals, and even less for the notion of burying pets with the same pomp and ceremony accorded humans. Still, there were a courageous few who argued that animals were entitled to post mortem honors. As one French cleric arranged a formal Christian funeral for his little dog, news of the plan leaked to his supervising bishop, who demanded that he appear before a tribunal to answer charges of heresy. Amazingly, the priest pleaded his innocence and not only succeeded in getting all charges dropped, but humiliated his accuser as well. "You will understand, my Lord, that I was able to put this dog, who was worth much more than a good number of Christians, in a discreet position," he said to the council. "The dog gave me many instances of wisdom in life, and above all in its death! It even wished to leave me its will, at the head of which is the name of the bishop of this diocese, to whom it bequeaths 150 crowns, which I have here for you now.""His attachment was without selfishness, his playfulness without malice, his fidelity without deceit,” reads the epitaph of Dash the spaniel, the first and perhaps best-loved dog of Princess Victoria, who as Queen (1837-1901) campaigned aggressively for the establishment of a new humane ethic in English society. Over the course of her long life, vast grounds surrounding Windsor Castle became the final resting place for several beloved horses, one tiny finch, and many dogs, their likenesses immortalized in life-size bronze statues marking the graves.

But in the latter half of the nineteenth century, landless pet owners living in densely populated cities were confronted with two nightmarish options when an animal died: throwing it out with the trash or placing the body in a weighted sack and flinging it into a nearby river (in 1899 alone, three thousand such pets were pulled from the Seine by Paris sanitation crews). A few went so far as to sneak into human cemeteries to bury pets in plots reserved for themselves. One such clandestine funeral took place in 1898 in Columbus, Ohio for a dog named Diana, who laid out in a little white coffin decorated with silver trimmings. "We took carriages at night [to the cemetery], and at the grave recounted the fidelity and true nobility of our canine friend," recalled Mrs. A.J. Chevalier, Diana's owner, who orchestrated the illegal interment with the help of discreet friends. Little wonder then that the establishment of the first public pet cemeteries on the advent of the twentieth century was welcome news to thousands of animal lovers. Founded in 1899 by feminist Marguerite Durand, the dog cemetery at Asnieres lies on a forested river islet near Paris that was already a playground of the middle and professional working class, thereby smoothing its conversion into a charming garden-style resting place for animals. And, of course, there is the Hartsdale Canine Cemetery, the oldest and largest of its kind in America. With its beautifully manicured grounds and array of creatively crafted grave markers, Hartsdale is among the "crown jewels" of historic pet cemeteries.

Last rites for Victorian pets could be as formal as any concocted for humans. In 1899 a funeral was conducted at the Hartsdale Canine Cemetery for Major, a highly-trained spaniel said to "sing in three languages," according to his owner. After a period of lying in state wearing a solid gold collar, Major's satin-lined casket, complete with a crystal window in the lid, was draped in flowers and escorted to the cemetery. As a small crowd of friends sang a doxology, he was lowered into the grave. Some deceased pets were photographed on lace-covered pillows, posed as though they were in blissful slumber (it was customary to photograph deceased children in the same manner), and many owners kept locks of their animal's hair in gold lockets or specially designed rings. One English woman who interred her Pomeranian in a double-locked casket in Hyde Park retained and wore the keys on the chain for the duration of her own life.Bible verses, excerpts from Shakespearean plays, poetry by Lord Byron or a simple statement of the owner's own creation were popular epitaphs. "Not one of them is forgotten before God," many stones in Hyde Park solemnly declare. "Drowned in Old Windsor Looch," "Poisoned," "run over" and "pined for his mistress" were heart-wrenching commentaries on tragic ends. Many inscriptions are timeless commentaries on the constancy of animals as compared with people, such as the one found on an elaborate pedestal erected over the grave of a French dog around 1890, which reads "to the memory of my dear Emma--faithful and sole companion of my otherwise rootless and desolate life." On the threshold of the twenty-first century, there are now more than five hundred pet cemeteries in the United States alone. The traditional wooden casket and simple stone marker are still popular (although one Utah-based company now offers "Egyptian-style" mummification for both animals and people). That so many people choose to commemorate the lives of their pets is good news, for it signals a renewed sense of kinship with the natural world, largely inspired by the companion animals who aid and comfort us within the increasingly impersonal confines of our modern society."Who can say that this does not betoken the growth and spread of the humanitarian spirit, [especially] in times that try men's souls," remarked a spokesperson for the Massachusetts SPCA in 1900, upon noting the public's growing interest in funerals for pets. Indeed, that so many people choose to honor the lives of their animals in places like Hartsdale points to a revolution taking place in our concept of ourselves--that we are part of the larger world of animals, not above or separate from it--one pet and person at a time.Want to know more about pet cemeteries??? Written by Mary Thurston

Mary Thurston is a Texas based anthropologist who specializes in the shared history of people and pets. Her book, "The Lost History of the Canine Race: Our Fifteen-Thousand-Year Love Affair with Dogs," was published by Andrews and McMeel in the Fall of 1996. Call your local bookstore, or order directly from Andrews and McMeel (1-800-826-4216). You can contact Mary Thurston directly at

The bond between humans and pets has always been strong. For many of us, our pet is considered a member of the family. When that pet passes away we feel a profound sense of grief. To help alleviate this grief many people seek a meaningful way to memorialize their beloved pet.

In 1896, a prominent New York City veterinarian, Dr. Samuel Johnson, offered his apple orchard in then-rural Hartsdale, New York, to serve as a burial plot for a bereaved friend's dog. That single compassionate act served as the cornerstone for what was to become America's first and most prestigious pet cemetery. Today, over a century later, this beautiful hillside location is the final resting place for nearly 70,000 pets continuing a long history of caring and excellence that is the hallmark of this serene and lovely pet burial ground. Features of Hartsdale include:

  • The oldest operating pet cemetery in the world

  • Home of the famous War Dog Memorial, the first memorial to pay tribute to the canines that served in our military (erected in 1923)

  • Deed restricted land

  • Irrevocable Perpetual Care and Tax Endowment Trust Funds

  • Historic, beautiful, clean and safe

  • Ranked as a Top Ten Cemetery in the World

  • Included in the Westchester County Office of tourism

  • Conveniently located just 30 minutes north of mid-town Manhattan

  • Family owned and operated for over thirty years

  • Compassionate and professional staff

  • Serving all religious denominations

  • A wide range of services and products are offered to meet all budgets

It so happened that Dr. Johnson had arranged for himself a style of life common to many people today - he worked in New York City where he maintained a flourishing practice, and he had a retreat in the country in the middle of an apple orchard in the hamlet of Hartsdale, in the town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York.

Besides his private practice, Dr. Johnson was Professor of Veterinary Surgery at New York University, and served as the first official veterinarian of the State of New York. He was also a pioneer in the field of animal welfare and was instrumental in founding the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Despite the doctor's highly successful career, today he is most remembered for something he had never really planned; the first - and finest - pet cemetery in the United States.

One day in 1896, a distressed client of Dr. Johnson's paid a call to his office with an urgent problem. Her dog had just died and she wanted to give it a proper burial; but there was no way for this to be accomplished legally in the city of New York. The woman had contemplated trying to find a vacant piece of ground in which to bury the dog, but this would have involved a great deal of subterfuge even if it had not been against health department laws. And besides, the land would most surely have been built on sooner or later, for the concrete and steel metropolis was burgeoning in all directions. After considering the problem, the compassionate doctor came up with a solution. If the woman wanted to make the trip up to Hartsdale, he would be pleased to allow her to bury the animal in his apple orchard. The distraught woman gratefully accepted, and made the sad journey to the little hamlet in Westchester. While the woman's name has been lost in the mists of time, and there are no records of the burial and no stone marks its location, we can be certain that her pet is still safe somewhere in the Peaceable Kingdom.

This burial was not intended to be the beginning of a pet cemetery, but a short time later Dr. Johnson innocently gave impetus to the idea. One day, while having lunch with a reporter friend, the doctor casually told the story of the woman's plight and the dog's burial. Within a few days, much to Dr. Johnson's surprise, the story appeared in print. And to his further surprise, he soon found himself being contacted by many people who were looking for a place to bury their beloved pets. It was almost as if he had found a cure for a dreaded disease; this was something people deeply wanted and needed - and greeted with great relief. Before long, Dr. Johnson had set aside a three-acre section of the apple orchard and it began to take the look of a cemetery, dotted with markers and flower arrangements identifying the graves of pets. By 1905, Dr. Johnson’s orchard had gained enough recognition to be written about in The New York Times. On September 3 of that year a feature story appeared in the paper under the headline “A Canine Cemetery of Three Acres in Which Scores of Pets Are Interred – Hundred of Dollars Spent on Graves and Graves by Their Sorrowing Owners.”

This article spoke of dogs being “laid away with deepest regret and strong affection.’ It also reported that, while the cemetery had started with the burial of dogs, and indeed had – and still has – the word “canine" as part of its name, it was actually open to cats and other animals.
On May 14, 1914, Dr. Johnson – to the great relief of those who had pets at Hartsdale – incorporated the Hartsdale Canine Cemetery. Until that time there were no guarantees that the cemetery would remain in existence, and whatever attention the graves got depended upon each individual owner. Incorporation meant that burial deeds were issued and perpetual care and the services of a full-time caretaker were provided. It meant that the land would be protected forever as a resting place for the nearly one thousand pets already there, and for the thousands that would join them in the future.

Today, over a century later, this beautiful hillside location, known as The Peaceable Kingdom, is the final resting place for nearly 70,000 pets including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and even a lion cub. And although some of the world’s most renowned people - from Diana Ross and Mariah Carey to the late Robert Merrill and Kate Smith - have their pets buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery - pet lovers from every station of life have had pets buried and cremated here, too. The common thread is that all were special and loved. Generations of pet owners have embraced these pet animals and made them part of their families.


Wandering through the cemetery is taking a journey through one hundred years of history. The monuments and stones vary in size and shape from the humble to the grand, the messages from one word to many in languages familiar and foreign but there is a universality that echoes throughout the ages. As we turn a path, climb a hill, or stand by the cemetery's clear running brook, we discover reflections of history and changing attitudes, affirmations of religious belief and statements of underlying love.

The Oldest Monument--The cemetery's oldest monument bears the date September 16, 1899. This headstone, placed here just three years after Dr. Johnson's apple orchard began its transformation, is to "Dotty, Beloved Pet of E.M. Dodge, who Died in Her Fourteenth Year."
The Walsh Mausoleum--Elaborate funerals and costly monuments have always been rare at Hartsdale. An exception is a monument built a few years before World War I by Mrs. M.F. Walsh, the wife of a wealthy New Yorker.
Interesting tidbits about this monument:

  • Cost $25,000 to build. If it were built today it would cost at least four times the original figure

  • Weighs fifty tons

  • The largest monument ever created at Hartsdale Pet Cemetery

  • Believed to be the first ever above-ground pet mausoleum

The inscription reads:
"My Dear Little True-Love Hearts, Who Would Lick the Hand That Had No Food To Offer."

Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial--Motivated by the heroic efforts of those who assisted in the search for survivors of the disastrous 1995 federal office building bombing in Oklahoma City, the directors and staff of the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery & Crematory installed a memorial marker located near the famous War Dog Memorial, lauding the canines and their trainers who participated in the rescue mission. New York City Police Officer Michael Berg and his German shepherd, Kane, were on hand to receive a plaque honoring their service during this tragedy. Both were involved in the rescue mission. The marker was dedicated on May 28, 1995 in conjunction with the cemetery's annual War Dog Memorial Celebration to honor all pets who have been of service to all humanity.

The monument reads as follows:


In their own ways many of Hartsdale's pets also "spoke". With skill and determination they entertained in theaters, on television and in motion pictures, and several earned recognition as champions. Hartsdale also has many heroes and heroines, as well as pets who performed extraordinary feats to help mankind.

"SIRIUS" The only canine to lose his life in the search-and-rescue efforts following the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center Terrorist attacks. Sirius, who was attached to the Port Authority Police Department, was interred here in conjunction with the 2002 War Dog Memorial Celebration.

"ROBBY" The inspiration for the first War Dog Retirement Law was laid to rest here following the 2001 Wag Dog Memorial Celebration. Robby symbolized those dogs who served this nation honorably only to be euthanized and disposed of by the military. The new law makes it possible for former handlers to adopt their former service canines and bring them into civilian life.

SERVICE & WAR DOGS There are many heroes and heroines resting at Hartsdale, and while most of them rarely made headlines their feats of courage command highest recognition and honor. These are the pets who, by instinct, through loyalty and, sometimes training, were prepared to make any sacrifice on our behalf.Dogs Of War--Someone once wrote that dogs have been used in the field of battle "almost since the beginning of wars, which date is only a few days later than the beginning of time".
Assyrian temple carvings depict great dogs straining at their leads during battle; ferocious dogs were at the siege of Corinth. During the Middle Ages, dogs dressed in coats of mail fought alongside men and by World War I, France was using dogs in action on a more sophisticated scale than ever before, training them to search for wounded men. Other nations followed France's lead. The British used dogs as messengers; the Italians, to deliver food to mountainous regions; and, by 1915, the Germans six thousand war dogs had rescued more than four thousand wounded men. From 1914 to 1918 more than seven thousand dogs were killed in action.
The United States began training dogs for combat shortly after Pearl Harbor. A civilian volunteer group called Dogs for Defense set up a reception and training center in Fort Royal, Virginia. This group was later to be come officially recognized by the military when it was incorporated into the Quartermaster Corps as the unofficially named "K-9 Corps." At the height of World War II more than ten thousand dogs from the United States, plus thousands of Red Cross dogs from many nations were in action and the history of courageous service and unstinting valor by dogs in battle continued through the war in Vietnam.

Before being sent overseas, dogs were stationed in army camps where they received an intensive twelve-week training period, usually as sentry and patrol "soldiers." Out of the thousands who were "signed up" for duty, seven breeds were found to be most suitable - Belgian shepherds, German shepherds, collies, Airedales, Dobermans, giant schnauzers and Rottweilers.
While the noblest instincts are expressed at Hartsdale through the love, respect and devotion we have for our pets, another side of our nature is also represented in The Peaceable Kingdom. We are reminded of it through the majestic War Dog Memorial and by inscriptions on headstones that mention battle in alien lands.

Many dogs who served our country are represented here at The Peaceable Kingdom. A special ceremony is conducted at the foot of the War Dog Memorial every Memorial Day weekend to pay tribute not only to military dogs, but to all pets of service including dogs who assisted in the in the rescue mission in conjunction with the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1994 as well as guide dogs and police dogs.

"Koehler" Among the dogs of war at Hartsdale is "Koehler" who was donated to the Red Cross at the beginning of World War I by the German family whose name he bore. Koehler served fearlessly in the front lines; his tail was shot off in battle, and he received a decoration for bravery. The plucky dog was returned to the Koehler family at the end of the war, but circumstances did not allow him to settle into his former life.
The change came about because Arthur D. Gerard, an officer of the United States occupation forces, was billeted in the Koehler home in Coblenz. As the scars of war lessened, the German family and American became friends and when Gerard's tour of duty came to an end, an extraordinary thing happened: the Koehlers, as a token of their esteem, presented Gerard with one of their dearest possessions-Koehler.
It could not have been easy for the family to part with their dog, but their love helped make the separation possible. They knew Koehler would have a better life in America; there would be no shortage of food, and he wouldn't have to put up with the hardships the destruction of war had dealt his homeland. And, of course, Koehler would be with someone that he and they cared for a great deal. So it must have been with a mixture of sadness and relief that they said goodbye to their pet and their friend as the two left for a place thousands of miles across the sea.
As many immigrants before had found, the journey to the New World was not an easy one for Koehler. Because of the vagaries of military rules and regulations, Gerard had to smuggle Koehler aboard a troopship in a cramped barrack's bag, and he had to keep Koehler confined and out of sight during the transatlantic crossing. Upon the ship's arrival in New York, Koehler had to face a tedious and frightening journey through customs before he was finally on the soil of his new land.
On these shores, Koehler had one more hurdle to clear before he could settle down. Arthur Gerard was single and had no proper home for the dog. Mrs. George Homer Martin of Tarrytown, New York, Gerard's favorite niece, came to the rescue. She happily accepted Koehler from her uncle and took him home to live amid well-earned tranquility and love for the rest of his life. The Martins remember those years more than half a century ago, and to this day they speak of the enrichment Koehler brought to them.When Koehler died at the age of twelve, Mr. and Mrs. Martin chose a place for him at Hartsdale that reminded them of the Koehler's original home, and they still visit him on the hillside under the majestic tree where he is buried.

"Joachim" Joachim, the most recent arrival at Hartsdale from the wars, was only seven weeks old when he was found in his war-torn country by an American lawyer who was serving in the Vietnam War. From the start the homeless puppy won the heart of the American.
Joachim's background was much different from Koehler's and Chips'. He hadn't come from a peaceful home and he hadn't been through formal training for war, but war was all he knew and he sensed what had to be done. A great lover of beer, he loved to toss down a few with the boys, but his head was always clear. One evening, despite the fact that he had been hitting the brew for hours, he sounded an alert moments before a sniper attack, and his quick act ion was credited with saving many lives.
When Joachim's owner was made a battalion commander they moved to another location with a refrigerator full of meat and one hundred pounds of high protein dog food.
After the war, Joachim and the commander prepared to go home to the States, but like Koehler years earlier, Joachim would have to sweat it out. When he arrived in this country, it was discovered that Joachim had an infectious disease and for awhile it was doubtful that he would be allowed in. However, the examining veterinarian relented after hearing about his heroism and after twenty seven hours in the air and those nerve-racking moments on the ground, Joachim reached his new home in Scarsdale, New York.
Life was a joy to Joachim in Westchester and he reverted to the puppy days that had been denied him. Away from the bombs and bloodshed of war, he was content to find his excitement in chewing on chairs and carpets.
Joachim showed his desire for peace when he tried to avoid a fight with a neighbor's dog who threatened him. Wishing not to fight, he turned toward home with a parting bark but never reached his destination. A speeding car ran him down.
Gentle, brave Joachim had survived the rigors of war, but man and machine claimed anyway.

A final headstone at the pet cemetery reads: "Sport: Born a dog, died a gentleman."

Helpful Buckeye expects that all of our readers share that final sentiment about their pets.

If you want to read more about the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, their web site is:

Helpful Buckeye would like to hear comments from any of you, especially those who might have buried your pet in a pet cemetery. You can send an e-mail to: or post a comment at the end of this issue.

Lastly, Questions On Dogs and Cats received the following comment after last week's issue on Heat Exhaustion and Traveling With Your Pets: Holly, from Pennsylvania, wrote...
"I wouldn't start my week without coming here first! You make my blog time worthwhile because I learn so very much. Thanks Doc...I know how much effort and time you put into making certain we are worthy of our pets."

Thank you, Holly, for the kind words!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Happy Memorial Day to all of our readers! This is the holiday set aside for us to honor all those who have died in military service to our country. Honor them in whatever manner seems appropriate to you, but be sure to do so.

Of course, Memorial Day weekend is also the unofficial beginning of our summer here in the USA, and summer brings its own considerations for our pets. Helpful Buckeye will address Heat Exhaustion and Your Pets, as well as Traveling With Your Pets a little later in this issue.

An interesting e-mail showed up this week from Connie, in Salt Lake City. Connie wrote " let you know that after following this blog for several months, I feel like I've been able to spend a day with my veterinarian each time I read a new issue. I've imagined that a day with my vet would allow us to cover a lot of topics, from my dog's problems to what's going on with pets in general." Connie has allowed her e-mail to be published...thanks, Connie, for your kind words! Helpful Buckeye may need to consider changing the name of this blog site from Questions On Dogs and Cats to "A Day With Your Veterinarian." As usual, any comments are welcome at:

Not very many of you responded to the poll question last week about which breed of cat you would choose for a pet. Either we don't have very many readers considering acquiring a cat or everybody with a cat already is happy with their status quo. Be sure to answer the polling question this week in the column to the left.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye are hitting the trail this week for parts East, South, and unknown. There will still be a new weekly issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats published late each Sunday evening, although the format will be a little different due to writing them earlier than normal. We will still be accessing e-mail while away, so be sure to maintain contact if you feel the urge.

Today, 24 May, a famous song-writer/singer is celebrating his 68th birthday. Listen to Olivia Newton-John's popular version of one of his songs, If Not For You, from the early 1970s: Even though this is really a love song, Helpful Buckeye will take a little literary license and say that, "if not for you" (all of our readers), this blog would not have enjoyed the success it has through our first year. Thanks a bunch!!!


The American Veterinary Medical Association has released a new pet food product recall message: This recall concerns select varieties of NUTRO® NATURAL CHOICE® COMPLETE CARE® Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO® MAX® Cat Dry Foods with "Best If Used By Dates" between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010. If you think one of these might be a product you have been giving to your cat, be sure to read the details of the news release.


Unfortunately, hot weather can present some problems for your pets that you need to be aware of...ahead of time. Most mammals can keep their body temperature pretty well under control until confronted with extremes in their surrounding temperature. The main way of eliminating excess heat is by way of thousands of sweat glands distributed all over the body. When these sweat glands are called upon to perform, they produce small quantities of water on the skin, which then evaporate. During this evaporation process, small quantities of heat from the body are carried away by the disappearing water, resulting in a stable body temperature. Rates of evaporation will be directly proportional to the surrounding low humidity, evaporation occurs quicker; in high humidity, evaporation takes longer (which then slows down the natural cooling process). However, dogs have been short-changed in the sweat gland department...their sweat glands are only found on their nose and in the pads of their feet. Dogs can compensate, up to a point, for this shortage in sweat glands by panting. Panting involves the repetitive passage of air back-and-forth over the tongue, which also helps to eliminate some excess body heat. An important consideration right here would the short-faced dogs (known as brachycephalics), such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, etc...the much shortened muzzle provides a lot less area for respiratory evaporation to occur.
Now that we are getting into our summer activities, we frequently include our dogs in our plans...picnics in the park (throw on an extra hot dog for the Helpful Buckeye!), hiking, traveling, and just plain taking it easy in the back yard. As the temperature and the humidity increase, your dog will be come less efficient at cooling itself when engaged in activity or spending prolonged periods in the sun. It doesn't take very long in the sun or very much activity to start elevating a dog's body temperature, which is normally about 101 degrees F. As the body temperature starts to climb, your dog will show:

  • labored breathing,

  • probably more vigorous panting,

  • extreme drying of the tongue,

  • walking erratically,

  • and a desire to lay flat-down.

When the body temperature reaches 105 degrees, your dog will most likely collapse and might lose consciousness. Survival at this point becomes questionable and, by the time the body temperature gets to 108-110 degrees, massive organ failure takes place and survival is even less likely. Your dog is now experiencing heat exhaustion...what do you do?

OK, it's time to take one step back from this scenario and talk briefly about one of the variables in the equation of keeping your pet healthy. As the keeper and care-giver of your pet, you are the one who sees your pet in all of its moods, ups and downs, and behavior patterns. In other words, you know how your pet appears when it is "acting normal," right? Veterinarians and physicians spent their early years in school learning what "normal" looked really helps when trying to identify an "abnormal" situation. Remember this piece of will hear it again and again from Helpful Buckeye...Become familiar with your pet!

You now are confronted with what appears to be a dog that is vigorously panting, its tongue is very dry, breathing patterns are labored, and it doesn't want to move. You know this isn't normal, right? Considering what has been going on preceding this, your conclusion can now be...probable heat exhaustion. Your first step is to immediately cease whatever activity has been going on; move the dog to a cooler, shady location, encourage the dog to drink some water. Cooling your dog's whole body with cool water (pour it on, from a hose, or submersion into a pool) will increase the removal of body heat as the water evaporates. Also, putting your dog in front of a blowing fan will aid in this evaporation. This may be all it takes to return your dog to "normal." In more severe cases, you might need to apply ice packs to the head and neck region to achieve a response. Since all of this occurs in a very short period of time (usually just minutes), you need to try all of these suggestions right NOT waste this valuable time by trying to get your dog to your veterinarian. Once these measures have quieted the dog, it is breathing more regularly, and acting more normally, then a visit to your veterinarian is advisable. Then, it can be determined if any organ damage has occurred and treatment can be initiated.

By now, I'm sure your big question is this: "How can I prevent this from happening?" Well, the good news is that the prevention is probably a lot easier than the treatment!

  • Avoid any running or excessive exercise on hot, humid days.

  • When your dog is outside, be sure it has plenty of water and easily accessible shade.

  • If your dog is not short-haired, keep the hair well-brushed to avoid matting.

  • Especially be careful with the short-faced breeds.

  • Don't EVER leave your pet in a closed vehicle...extreme temperatures are reached in minutes, even with the windows cracked open.

A product that we first described last year has proven to be very helpful in dealing with over-heating in your pets. The Cool 'N Dry Pet Shammy works like this: When applied wet to your pet's body, it helps to remove built-up body heat by the evaporation principle mentioned above. It can also be used to dry your pet nicely after a both. To learn more about this product, go to: Helpful Buckeye even carries one of these damp Cool 'N Drys on all bike rides to help with sweat. Look at these photos of some dogs being cooled with the "Shammy" and perhaps you'll feel the benefit of getting one for your dog:

If any of you have a story of heat exhaustion and one of your pets to share with us, please send an e-mail or comment describing the incident. Actual accounts of problems can be very instructive for everyone. As Helpful Buckeye reminded everyone last summer, the only "hot" dogs we want to hear about are these:


Some of you might be planning a summer trip that will include one or all of your pets. If so, you will have many considerations facing you, including the mode of transportation. Believe it or not, there is now an air transportation company that carries ONLY pets, NOT people! Pet Airways offers this promise:

We promise to transport your pet with lots of love, care, safety, and comfort in the main cabin.
Pet Airways is the first airline exclusively dedicated to pets - no humans please - and we take the job of providing a comfortable experience for pets very seriously. We'll do everything in our power to make sure your pets get the best care during their journey because we're committed to taking care of our pet "pawsengers" as if they were our own.

Read more about this unique service at their web site: There are several sites for further information on their home page and I found it interesting even though I have no need for the service at this time.

Most of the regular-scheduled commercial airline companies still offer pet transportation as well. Your best bet for information on that would be to contact the company directly, as well as your veterinarian so that you will be certain of necessary precautions well ahead of time.

Traveling with a pet can, and should be, a positive experience for the whole family. Who can forget the Griswold family, in National Lampoon's Vacation, as they vacationed across America. At a rest stop, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) ties the family dog, Dinky, to the rear bumper of the car...forgets that he has done so, drives away, and you can guess the rest. At this point, you should take a moment to reflect and watch the animated video of the theme song, Holiday Road, from the movie, as sung by Lindsay Buckingham:

If your pets will be traveling with you, check out pet-friendly lodging, RV parks, campgrounds, national parks, and outdoor restaurants at the following web sites:

These web sites have numerous categories of interest to choose from as you plan your stops along the road.

Don't forget to pack enough water for your pet and a drinking bowl. Travel induced panting, excitement, and anxiety can lead to evaporation of body fluid and then to dehydration. You might want to consider packing a few of the Cool 'N Dry Shammy products, from: , to help with the cooling-off process on those hot afternoons heading into the sun. The humans on-board will also really appreciate the cooling effect of the Sammy Cool 'N Dry Towel, available at the same web site.

Remember to have with you all of your pet's proof of vaccinations and any pertinent medical history, especially if an ongoing treatment is involved. And, as Clark Griswold found out, be very careful at rest stops and any areas that might be unfamiliar to your pet...always have them on a leash (but not tied to the bumper!)...a pet running loose in an unfamiliar area is likely to become a lost pet!

Wherever you are traveling this summer with your pet, it can be a positive experience for all involved, but especially if you've done your homework ahead of time. Helpful Buckeye wishes you safe travels, with or without your pet, this summer. If any of you are traveling with your pet, share with us the story of your travels...I'm sure all our readers would enjoy hearing about your travel experiences. To help you get into a travel mood, enjoy this video of the Nat King Cole version of Get Your Kicks (On Rt. 66): ...the pictures of the old buildings along old Rt. 66 are pretty interesting!


1) A few weeks ago, Questions On Dogs and Cats discussed the problem of thunderstorms and your pets. As it turns out, even police dogs can be affected by thunderstorms. Read this interesting account of a police dog that went "missing" during a recent thunderstorm in Chicago:

2) For a little light entertainment this holiday weekend, enjoy these pets as they are caught in some funny poses:

3) Most of our regular readers will recall the news stories on the "ugliest dog in the world" contests that are held each summer. Here is an interview with one of the winner's owners: Almost all of these recent winners have been Chinese any of you see a Chinese Crested in your future?

4) OK, the birthday guy is Robert Zimmerman...better known as Bob Dylan. Like him or not, he has written a slew of songs and your favorite singer has most likely sung a few of them.


The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to have the best record in baseball. Our first inter-league series was this weekend against the LA Angels, who have always acted like the "poor sisters" of Los Angeles. They have beaten us more than we have beaten them...and, this series was no different. The Angels took 2 of the 3 games, courtesy of our bullpen weakness.

The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers visited President Obama at the White House this week...Helpful Buckeye would like for this to be a more regular occasion!


Elsa Maxwell (1883-1963) U.S. writer and hostess said this, "Someone said that life is a party. You join in after it's started and leave before it's finished." If reading Questions On Dogs and Cats is your idea of having fun, then you are welcome to join in and leave at your desire...all we ask is that you do show up each week!

~~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, May 17, 2009


The American Veterinary Medical Association has joined with several other organizations and professional associations in proclaiming this next seven days, May 17-23, 2009, as National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Whether you own a dog or not, this problem could affect you and/or your family. If you're the dog owner, you are ultimately responsible for the actions of your pet canine and any conscientious dog owner wouldn't tolerate their dog biting someone. Meanwhile, if you are the one being bitten by a dog, you perhaps will suffer the pain and trauma (mental and physical) that can accompany a bad bite. This topic will be addressed in full later in this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

From the results of last week's polling question, it is evident that most of our readers have been fortunate enough to not have to experience some of the more severe reactions of pets to thunderstorms. Most of you reported that your pets either hide in the house or go through the barking, yelping, and whining routine. Upon first impression, it appears that either most of you don't live in areas with a lot of thunderstorms or else you have been able to encourage your pet to tolerate these storms. Don't forget to answer this week's polling question in the column to the left.

Some of our readers have been having some difficulty submitting comments. This week, Helpful Buckeye has changed a few of the comment settings in order to allow easier access to the system. This may allow SPAM-type comments to show up and cause another problem, but we'll deal with that if it happens. So, be brave...submit a comment this week. You can either do it anonymously or sign your name. The place to submit a comment is at the end of each issue where it says, "Posted by Helpful Buckeye," followed by "comments." Just click on the word, "comments," and follow the simple steps.


This past week, on 15 May 2009, marked the 200th anniversary of Lord Thomas Erskine's impassioned speech before the British Parliament in 1809 on cruelty to animals. Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, has written this message in commemoration of the event:
Before His Time: Lord Erskine in 1809
On Friday (May 15, 2009) of this week, we’ll mark the 200th anniversary of Lord Thomas Erskine’s speech on cruelty to animals in the House of Lords in the United Kingdom. Although his specific goal failed—to pass an “Act to Prevent Malicious and Wanton Cruelty to Animals”—you can draw a straight line from his speech to the passage of the first nationwide anti-cruelty law in the U.K. more than a decade later. It is a stirring piece of rhetoric, and a remarkable speechmaking artifact. I’m delighted to say that it’s
available online, and to be able to share a new profile of Erskine on The HSUS website.
For me, it’s simply extraordinary to contemplate the lines of reasoning Erskine advanced, both for his prescience, and also because I know all too well how this debate is still not settled, though the weight of popular opinion has moved decidedly in favor of these principles in all industrialized western nations. Our political opponents quarrel with the application of anti-cruelty principles, but typically not with the basic tenets of the value system.
An intellectual pioneer of the animal protection movement, Erskine was trying to address the abuse of animals at a time in history when not a single organization had been formed to advocate for animals. He understood that the status of animals as “property” would be a significant impediment to securing legal protection. Nevertheless, he assured his colleagues, he thought it feasible to provide basic safeguards for animals without infringement upon the rights of property. The property right, he asserted, is limited to use, not abuse. On the foundation of such thinking, great progress has been made in the years since Erskine’s speech and there is a robust debate about whether animals should be treated as mere property.
He also addressed the question of how the law might be enforced by courts and magistrates, “without investing them with a new and arbitrary discretion.” Reasoning from analogy with cases of cruelty to servants, Erskine pointed out that judges and juries alike had rarely had trouble distinguishing between appropriate treatment and abject cruelty. Any viable indictment before a magistrate, he predicted, “must charge the offense to be committed maliciously and with wanton cruelty, and the proof must correspond with the charge.”
Erskine was greatly concerned that owners could elude responsibility for the cruelty by instructing hirelings to carry it out. This dilemma confounds us today in cases of institutional cruelty, like those involving factory farms or slaughter plants. Just as Erskine foresaw, the owner or manager of a facility can shift the blame for cruelties onto lower-level employees,
as we saw with our investigation of the Hallmark/Westland slaughter facility in Chino, Calif.
Most of the specific cruelties Erskine mentioned are no longer around, but he built the case for his bill upon concepts familiar and in currency today: the responsibilities of human dominion, the demoralizing effect of cruelty upon the perpetrator, and the offense of animal mistreatment on the larger community, and the strong self-interest of humans in establishing high standards of animal care and welfare. Today, two centuries later, it’s common to find legislators at every level of government
speaking up for animals, and pressing the case for their legal protection. But someone had to be first, and it’s a blessing to the cause that it turned out to be an individual capable of delivering a speech for the ages.

Lord Thomas Erskine--

Lord Erskine's speech itself doesn't qualify as "Current News of Interest" but the concept of prevention of animal cruelty is a very timely topic.


Many of our readers have already been working on your yards and gardens this spring and the rest of you will most likely be doing so in the next few weeks. This spring, deep-country and urban gardeners alike are pruning the greenery with pets by their sides. But beware, pet parents—elements in your lush, flowery nooks can be dangerous to animal companions. Says Dana Farbman, pet poison prevention expert for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), “Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you’ve stepped outside—protecting your pet from potential hazards in the yard is just as critical.” Last year, the APCC fielded 60,000 calls by pet parents whose animal companions had come into contact with fertilizers, insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants. While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal companions.

ASPCA experts have provided the following guidelines for making your yard and garden experience safer for your pets:

  • Poisonous Plants--When designing and planting your green space, it's a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and dogs. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family as well as mushrooms can cause liver failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. Please visit our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden.

  • Fertilizer--Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can give your pet a good case of stomach upset and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Be sure to follow instructions carefully and observe the appropriate waiting period before letting your pet run wild outside.

  • Cocoa Mulch--Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. Depending on the amount involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a less-toxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious canines in yards where mulch is spread.

  • Insecticides--Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage and storage.

  • Compost--You're doing the right thing for your garden and Mother Earth—you're composting! Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil, but depending on what you're tossing in the compost bin, they can also pose problems for our pets. Coffee, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats, so read up on people foods to avoid feeding your pet.

  • Fleas and Ticks--Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall brush and grasses, it's important to keep those lawns mowed and trim. Fleas can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms as well as anemia from blood loss in both cats and dogs. Ticks can cause similar effects and lead to a variety of complications from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesia.

  • Garden Tools--Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet's body. Rusty, sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. While cats don't appear to be as susceptible as dogs to tetanus, care should be taken by storing all unused tools in a safe area, not haphazardly strewn on the ground.

  • Allergy-Causing Flora--Ah-choo! Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even plants. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock if the reaction is severe. If you do suspect your pet has an allergy, please don't give him any medication that isn't prescribed by a veterinarian. It's also smart to keep your pet out of other people's yards, especially if you're unsure of what kinds of plants or flowers lurk there. Keeping your pet off the lawn of others will make for healthy pets and happy neighbors.

As a final piece of advice, keep this phone number handy: Animal Poison Control Center 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435


As mentioned in our lead-in for this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, this is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The AVMA released this press notice detailing the importance of the observance:

National Dog Bite Prevention Week—prevention is the best cure for dog bites
Schaumburg, IL
— It's estimated that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Fortunately, most dog bites are preventable through appropriate pet selection, proper training, responsible approaches to animal control, and education of dog owners and potential victims.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has joined with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), and The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS) to celebrate National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 17-23, 2009. Children are the most common victims of dog bites, followed by the elderly and USPS employees.
"Approximately half of the 800,000 Americans who receive medical attention for dog bites each year are children. And when a dog bites a child, the victim's small size makes the bite more likely to result in a severe injury," says Dr. James O. Cook, AVMA president.
Most dog bite injuries in young children occur during everyday activities interacting with familiar dogs. With the safety of children in mind, this year the AVMA is introducing The Blue Dog Parent Guide and CD, an educational tool aimed at teaching children, 3 to 6 years old, and their parents how to avoid dog bite injuries. Interested in this:
"Research and professional experience tell us these incidents are largely preventable," Dr. Cook says. "That's why National Dog Bite Prevention Week and programs like The Blue Dog are so important. Teaching people how to communicate with and properly behave around dogs is the best cure for dog bites."
"Pediatricians treat children with dog bites every day, and some are quite serious. These incidents can be dramatically reduced if children and parents know what to do," says AAP president David T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP.
Dr. Cinnamon Dixon, a pediatrician specializing in pediatric emergency medicine, sees the life changing fear and trauma daily.
"There are over three times as many dog bites as traumatic brain injuries each year. Despite these statistics, a major deficiency in dog bite prevention education and research exists," Dr. Dixon says.
Someone who knows just how traumatic dog bites can be is 17 year-old Kelly Voigt. Kelly was severely injured 10 years ago when a neighbor's dog attacked her. She received more than 100 stitches in her face and throat and was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Unfortunately, Kelly's injuries are not unusual.
"Children are frequently bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection or scarring," said ASPS President John Canady, MD. "Plastic surgeons, who have the training to preserve and rearrange skin and tissue, performed more than 16,000 reconstructive surgeries after dog bites last year. Following these dog bite prevention tips and educating the public will help prevent attacks."
One year after her injuries Kelly began teaching other children how to stay safe around dogs. She developed programs for schools and founded the nonprofit organization, "Prevent the Bite."
"Being attacked by a dog wasn't a fun experience, but it allowed me to discover a strong desire to help others," Kelly said. "It doesn't matter how old you are; if you care about others, you can change the world."
To kick off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a press conference was held at the Whittier, California post office. Representatives from each of the partnering organizations participated in the event which included a demonstration on how to properly approach and interact with dogs. "Laddie" the ninth descendant of the dog that played "Lassie" in films and on TV was the star pupil.
"Employee and customer safety are always our number-one concern," said Postal Service Vice President and Consumer Advocate Delores J. Killette. "National Dog Bite Prevention Week is one of our most important campaigns to help our employees and customers remain safe when they come in contact with man's best friend."
As part of its comprehensive approach, the AVMA has developed a brochure, "What you should know about dog bite prevention," which offers tips on how to avoid being bitten, as well as what to do if you are bitten by a dog or your dog bites someone. Also offered by the AVMA is "A community approach to dog bite prevention," a report intended to help state and local leaders develop effective dog bite prevention programs in their communities. For more information on National Dog Bite Prevention Week and to access the brochure and community guidelines online, visit

Important dog bite injury prevention tips include:

  • When selecting a pet, choose a dog that is good match for your family and lifestyle. Consult your veterinarian for assistance.

  • Socialize your pet. Gradually expose your puppy to a variety of people and other animals so it feels at ease in different situations; continue this exposure as your dog gets older. Don't put your dog in a situation where it feels threatened or teased.

  • Train your dog. Obedience training helps dogs understand what is expected of them and builds a bond of trust between dogs and owner. Avoid playing aggressive games with your dog, such as wrestling and tug-of-war.

  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and to provide mental stimulation.

  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.

  • Keep your dog healthy. Vaccinate your dog against rabies and other preventable infectious diseases. Health care is important because how your dog feels affects how it behaves.

  • Neuter your pet. Science suggests neutered dogs may be less likely to bite.

  • If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates are secured.

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog. Teach your child to ask a dog owner for permission before petting any dog. Let a strange dog sniff you or your child before touching it, and pet it gently, avoiding the face and tail. Be alert for potentially dangerous situations.

  • Never bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

  • Do not run past a dog. If a dog threatens you, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still or back away slowly until the dog leaves. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your arms and fists.

  • If bitten, request proof of rabies vaccination from the dog's owner, get the owner's name and contact information, and contact the dog's veterinarian to check vaccination records. Then immediately consult your doctor. Clean bite wound(s) with soap and water as soon as possible.

The AVMA has also provided these additional web sites for further information. Spend a few minutes looking at these...they are nicely done and very interesting:

American Academy of Pediatrics – A Lesson in Dog Safety Can Help Prevent Bites
United States Postal Service – Dog Bite Awareness
American Society of Plastic Surgeons – Dog Bite Information
American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons
American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery


The Birman cat is believed to have originated in Burma, where it was considered sacred, the companion cat of the Kittah priests. There is a legend as to how the Birmans developed the colors they are today: “Originally, the guardians of the Temple of LaoTsun were yellow-eyed white cats with long hair. The golden goddess of the temple, Tsun-Kyan-Kse, had deep blue eyes. The head priest, Mun-Ha, had as his companion a beautiful cat named Sinh. One day the temple was attacked and Mun-Ha was killed. At the moment of his death, Sinh placed his feet on his master and faced the goddess. The cat’s white fur took on a golden cast, his eyes turned as blue as the eyes of the goddess, and his face, legs and tail became the color of earth. However, his paws, where they touched the priest, remained white as a symbol of purity. All the other temple cats became similarly colored.

The modern history of the Birman is almost as shrouded in mystery as its legendary origin. What is known for certain is that, probably around 1919, a pair of Birman cats were clandestinely shipped from Burma to France. The male cat did not survive the arduous conditions of the long voyage, but the female, Sita, did survive, and happily, was pregnant.
From this small foundation the Birman was established in the western world. The French cat registry recognized the Birman as a separate breed in 1925. By the end of WW II, only two Birmans were left alive in Europe, and a program of outcrossing was necessary to reestablish the breed. Most cat registries require at least five generations of pure breeding after outcrossings to fully accredit a breed for championship competition. Birmans were recognized by England in 1966 and by The Cat Fanciers’ Association in 1967.

The ideal Birman is a large, long stocky cat. It has long silky hair, not as thick as that of the Persian, and is of a texture that doesn’t mat. The color of the coat is light, preferably with a golden cast, as if misted with gold. The “points” - face, legs and tail - are darker, similar to the Siamese and colorpointed Persian color patterns of seal point, blue point, chocolate point and lilac point. The almost round eyes are blue, set in a strong face with heavy jaws, full chin and Roman nose with nostrils set low. The very distinctive white feet are ideally symmetrical. The gloves on the front feet, if perfect, go across in an even line, and on the back feet end in a point up the back of the leg, called laces. It is very difficult to breed a cat with four perfect white gloves.
The Birman personality is marvelous - gentle, active, playful, but quiet and unobtrusive if you are busy with other things.

Tell me this cat doesn't have "Paul Newman" eyes....


Helpful Buckeye is happy to report that a lot of our readers are pretty sharp when it comes to deciphering an obscure phrase! Many of you responded by e-mail about last week's mystery phrase, "It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a super-annuated canine with innovative maneuvers," with the correct answer of "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Congrats to all of you! A couple of cartoons from The New Yorker illustrate certain aspects of this concept:


This product is a little pricey, but...if you live in a mosquito infested area, it just might pay big dividends for your back yard, patio, or camping area. Read about this product that supposedly succeeds due to carbon dioxide, which attracts the mosquitoes:

1) Ken, from Flagstaff, sent in these photos of the newest in security systems. As the advertisement goes, "For security in your back yard or shop, groom your dog like this."

2) The world's tallest dog, a Great Dane, has lost a leg due to bone cancer. Bone cancers are much more common in the larger breeds of dog and this Great Dane stands a whopping 42.2 the shoulder! Check out the story at:

3) A few weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye ran a story of how service dogs are being used in the Flagstaff area to help youngsters practice their reading skills. Well, it seems that this is being tried elsewhere in the USA also. A team from the American Kennel Club has done the same thing in North Carolina:

4) Perhaps you've wondered where your puppy really came from, or wish there was a way to check out a breeder's record. Maybe you just want to learn more about a specific breeding kennel in your neighborhood. Well, now you can! Puppy Facts Database is a program offered by the online by the ASPCA. Simply, go to their web site, follow the easy instructions, and you're on your way!

5) Today, 17 May, is the birthday (1749) of English physician Edward Jenner, the developer of the small pox vaccine.


The Los Angeles Dodgers have finally decided that they can play and win without Manny Ramirez in the lineup. We took 2 out of 3 in Philly and 2 out of 3 from the Marlins, teams which have beaten us often in the past.


A quote from Charlotte Bronte was proven wrong this week! Our hike along the West Fork of Oak Creek was the disprover. Ms. Bronte's quote was: "Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation." Charlene, Ken, Desperado, and Helpful Buckeye are here to tell you that the hike exceeded all expectations!

Thanks to the progress of computers, the Internet, and Google, Helpful Buckeye is able to bring you this blog...even though there have been some mistakes along the way. An anonymous observer had this to say about computers: "Computers let you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila."

For the upcoming weekend, remember to allow for some time to think about Memorial Day and what it means to our country.

~~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, May 10, 2009


The last couple of weeks have provided all of us with lessons on virus infections, virus epidemiology, virus treatments, and virus vaccinations. The swine flu outbreak in Mexico and its subsequent spread to many countries around the world has shown us just how globally-connected disease processes can be. Some people have questioned the necessity of all the news coverage of this disease, saying the hype was not justified. The big problem with that point of view is that any influenza outbreak can have the potential of becoming a really bad pandemic. The influenza virus is constantly going through genetic changes and mutations...that's why the flu vaccination you get each year contains different versions of the virus, depending on what's expected for that flu season. Most of these variations are still just the "regular" type of flu, no worse than what we experience each year. However, when the genetic changes involve components from different species, the results can be devastating. My feeling is that publicity helps people stay informed, and informed people should be able to make better decisions concerning this type of outbreak. The above photo of the swine flu virus makes the virus appear to be a simple particle, but if the right combination of swine, avian, and human genetic information had been incorporated this time, the outbreak could have been much worse.

There are now some virus medications available, for both prevention and treatment of influenza. An additional use of technology for this outbreak was the installation of thermal-imaging devices in international airports. These scanners were used to detect anyone with a higher than normal body temperature going through the airport.

Questions about swine flu and your pets will be addressed later in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

Wow, it's hard to believe that it has been a whole year since the beginning of this blog! That's right...May 16, 2008 marked the introduction of Helpful Buckeye and Questions On Dogs and Cats, when we said, "Play Ball!"

Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch painter, said: "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." The jury is still out on whether this blog has become a "great thing," but it definitely has been the result of small things coming together. This first year has been an evolutionary process, trying new ideas, different formats, and responding to our readers' preferences. It has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for Helpful Buckeye, and sidekick Desperado, and we hope it has been the same for all of you! Thanks for your interest and support. Onward to the second year!

The polling question last week on pet characteristics you treasure the most prompted a lot of responses. All of the listed characteristics were mentioned, but "Everyday Companionship" was chosen by every respondent. Makes sense to me! Be sure to answer this week's polling question in the column to the left.


1) The Cat Fanciers' Association has released their annual list of the most popular cat breeds, based on kittens registered each year. Persians, the breed that took the top spot in 2008, have been the most registered breed for decades. The Exotic, which many describe as "the lazy man's Persian," overtook the Maine Coon to move into the #2 spot. Rounding out the top ten breeds are Maine Coon, Siamese, Abyssinian, Ragdoll, Sphynx, American Shorthair, Birman, and Oriental. More information on these and other breeds is available at their web site: Exotics resemble the Persian without the long hair issues. A Persian and an Exotic are shown below.

2) The American Veterinary Medical Association has revised their stance on the question of mandatory spay/neuter laws that are showing up all over the country. Their research has shown that some pet owners will avoid having proper veterinary care for their dogs and cats in an effort to hide the fact that they haven't been spayed/neutered. For the whole opinion, go to: If this is truly the case, then more publicity of the benefits of spaying/neutering might be necessary.

3) Stories about lost pets being reunited with their owners have become fairly regular in the news, most likely as a direct result of pet owners making greater use of micro-chip technology. The best story this week comes from Texas and is about a dog that was missing for 8 years:

AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas family said they have been reunited with their long-lost pet dog, but they do not know where the animal has been for the past eight years. Alison Murphy of Austin said she and her family offered a $500 reward for the return of their dog, Dancer, after the dog went missing eight years ago, but they received no word of the beloved pet until the Humane Society in New Braunfels, Texas, called last week, KVUE-TV, Austin, reported. The Humane Society told Murphy that a musician found the dog wandering the streets of New Braunfels, Texas, last week and brought it to the group's office, where workers used the dog's microchip to track down its owners. Murphy said the dog, which now answers to the name Fern, does not appear to have lived on the streets for very long. "Her teeth are in great shape," she said. "She just doesn't look like she's been on the streets for 11 years. Somebody's been taking care of her." "It's just wonderful to have her back," Murphy said. "She's older now and she's a little more mellow than she was, of course, as a younger dog but she still likes to go for walks first thing in the morning. And she likes to cuddle at night. She's still the same old girl."

One of Helpful Buckeye's columns on Micro-Chips in Pets has been published this week on the All About Dogs and Cats web site at: If you missed this column the first time around, check it out.


The AVMA has put together a nice set of questions and answers about the Swine flu outbreak and it ramifications for pets. Take a few minutes to go over this list and, if you still have questions, send them in an e-mail to: or post them as a comment at the end of this issue.

Frequently Asked Questions About 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus
Updated May 4, 2009
The recent outbreak of a new strain of H1N1 influenza among people in North America has heightened awareness of this type of influenza commonly called "swine flu," and has raised fears of a 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic or even a pandemic. These questions and answers are based on what is currently known about the virus, and will be updated as we get new information.
Q:What is swine flu?
A:Swine flu is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. The "classical" swine flu virus (an influenza type A H1N1 virus) was first isolated from a pig in 1930. Swine flu viruses cause illness in pigs, but the death rates are low. This new virus, although it is being called "swine flu," is not the same virus.
Q:How does this virus differ from bird flu?
A:The 2009 H1N1 flu virus is an entirely different virus than the bird flu you've been hearing about in the news. Among these differences is that humans infected with bird flu were infected by direct contact with sick birds, and this new virus is not spread by contact with animals. In addition, the highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus that causes the bird flu in the news has not been reported in North America.
Q:Did this flu come from pigs? Can I catch it from pigs?
A:Although this new influenza was originally labeled as a "swine flu," it is being spread from person to person, not from pigs to people. None of the U.S. cases had contact with pigs. In addition, no U.S. pigs have been found to be infected with this flu strain.
No U.S. pigs have been found to be infected with this flu strain. However, on May 2, Canadian authorities announced 2009 H1N1 infection in a herd of pigs in Alberta. Based on the evidence to date, the pigs were likely infected by a farm worker who had been infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus during a recent trip to Mexico. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is investigating the situation. For updates, go to the
CFIA's Web site.
At this time, we don't know exactly where the virus came from. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are investigating the cases.
Q:What is known about the 2009 H1N1 virus?
A:This new virus was first reported in late March/early April in central Mexico and the border states of California and Texas. Experts predict that the virus has the potential to spread worldwide, and has been reported in other countries outside North America.
The symptoms are very similar to human respiratory flu, with possible additional gastrointestinal side effects such as vomiting, stomach ache and diarrhea. In the United States, the cases so far have had self-limiting flu-like symptoms—just as with the "normal" seasonal flu, they are ill for a few days and then recover. In severe cases, pneumonia can develop.
The information is rapidly changing because this is an emerging situation. For up-to-date information, the
CDC H1N1 Flu site is a good resource.
Q:How did the new virus develop? Where did it come from?
A:In general, influenza viruses commonly stick to one species when it comes to infection; for example, dogs and cats don't get seasonal flu from their owners. However, under the right conditions, influenza viruses from different species are capable of mixing and swapping DNA (this is called reassortment), resulting in a new virus. Swine flu can merge with other influenza viruses, such as avian or human flu, to produce new strains. The 2009 H1N1 flu virus consists of North American swine influenza viruses, North American avian influenza viruses, human influenza viruses and swine influenza viruses found in both Asia and Europe.
Q:Can my pet get the 2009 H1N1 virus?
A:To date, there is no evidence that pets are susceptible to this new strain of influenza; it appears to be transmitted only from person to person or from human to swine. There still is not enough information yet for us to know for sure if the virus can be transmitted to other animals. The best advice is to always follow common sense guidelines when dealing with animals (eg, washing your hands). In addition, it's more important than ever that pet owners keep a good eye on their pet's health and consult a veterinarian if their pet is showing any signs of illness. Keeping your pets healthy reduces their risk of becoming ill.
Q:Can my pot-bellied pig get the 2009 H1N1 virus and give it to me?
A:To date, the 2009 H1N1 virus has not been reported in pot-bellied pigs. However, the recent report of probable human-to-pig transmission of the virus warrants extra caution by pig owners. After all, pot-bellied pigs are considered swine, and therefore may be susceptible to the virus. For the time being, a cautious approach would include all contact between your pig and anyone who is ill or has recently been exposed to an ill person. Remember that pot-bellied pigs can become ill from a number of causes, and keeping your pig healthy and free of disease helps protect your pig as well as you. If you have a pet pig and it appears ill, consult a veterinarian immediately.
Q:There are feral pigs in my area. Can they spread the 2009 H1N1 virus?
A: To date, the 2009 H1N1 virus has not been reported in feral pigs. However, the likely infection of a swine herd in Alberta, Canada by an infected worker means caution is recommended. Remember that feral pigs can spread other diseases, and it is best to avoid contact with them—this goes for you and your animals. Feral pigs are best left to the proper authorities to handle, so contact your local animal control office if you need to report a feral pig problem.
Q:I keep hearing the words "pandemic" and "epidemic." What do they mean, and what is the difference?
A:An epidemic is a marked rise in disease in an area. This new virus is certainly causing an epidemic. This is not unusual for a new virus—because people have not been exposed to the virus before, their immune systems aren't ready to fight it off, and more people become ill. The SARS epidemic of 2003 is an example.
A pandemic is like an epidemic that's expanded to a larger area. In most cases, "pandemic" is used to describe a world-wide epidemic of disease. The 1918 Spanish flu and the Black Plague are extreme examples of pandemics. Keep in mind, though, that a pandemic doesn't necessarily mean millions of deaths—it means a widespread epidemic.
Q:Will this become a pandemic?
A:That remains to be seen. The appropriate responses are caution and increased awareness, not panic.
Q:I've heard news reports of a swine herd in Canada that has 2009 H1N1 flu. How does this change the situation?
A:Keep in mind this is an ongoing investigation, and there is still much to be learned from it. The most important thing learned from this is that people can pass the infection to pigs. Swine farms and veterinarians are continuing their surveillance and biosecurity programs to protect our nation's herds and our public health. Otherwise, the situation really hasn't changed for most of us. Caution and common sense are still important, and pork products are still safe to eat.
Q: How should I protect myself from getting the 2009 H1N1 virus?
A:Common sense is always the best guideline. According to the CDC, the following precautions should be taken at all times to promote good health:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the tissue—flu and cold germs are spread mainly by person-to-person contact and the coughing or sneezing of infected people.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as these are the primary places germs can enter your body.
Have limited contact with people who are obviously sick.
If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others.
Q:Can I get the 2009 H1N1 virus from eating pork?
A:No. There are no reported cases of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in people from eating pork. This new virus is not a food-borne disease. However, good food hygiene is always recommended to protect yourself and your family from disease.
As always, when consuming meat products safe food practices should be followed. You can consult the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Be Food Safe site at for tips on the cleaning, preparation and safe cooking temperatures for pork, as well as other meat and poultry products.
Q:I think I might be sick with the new virus, and I want to get a prescription for an antiviral. Can I get that from my veterinarian?
A:No. It is illegal for a veterinarian to prescribe medications for people. It is also unethical and illegal for a veterinarian to write a false prescription for a pet so the pet’s owner can obtain the medication for themselves.
Q:What if my pet needs an antiviral drug? Will my veterinarian be able to get the drugs?
A:This new H1N1 virus is spreading by human-to-human contact, and there is no evidence to date that it can infect animals. Keep in mind that pandemic planning, by necessity, must place a priority on treating infection in people—for that reason, antiviral medication supplies will be closely guarded and there may be strict guidelines in place that will determine how they are dispensed. Availability of antivirals may be low for non-pandemic response use. We encourage veterinarians to use their clinical judgment and weigh these factors when considering the necessity of an antiviral drug for a client’s pet. The use of antiviral medications in food animals is strictly regulated—and is prohibited in some species—and food supply veterinarians are already aware of these regulations.


Now that we are getting back into the time of year when thunderstorms and other violent weather patterns make their appearance, it would be a good time to review some of our pets' phobias related to the weather. The AVMA has produced this very interesting podcast on Storm Phobias:

After listening to this podcast, you might also want to go back and review 2 of Helpful Buckeye's columns on thunderstorms at: There are actually 2 separate issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats referenced at this site...simply cursor down to find each reference.


You came home and saw gouges on your front door the size of claw marks. Then you saw the puddle, again. Wasn't your fault traffic was at a standstill and you were twenty minutes late getting home. Or, you are dead tired and just want to veg out on the couch, but it seems every fifteen minutes or so, Fido or Fluffy wants out…again! You need to install a pet door!!

So goes the advertisement for The Pet Door Site, at: After reading over the information available at this site, a pet owner will almost feel a little guilty about not having one of these installed for their dog or cat. Click into each of the categories and you will find a model for just about every situation.


OK, tell Helpful Buckeye, in plain English, what this phrase means: "It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a super-annuated canine with innovative maneuvers." Send your answer to: or submit a comment at the end of this issue.


1) Archaeologists at the University of Pennsylvania have used a CT scan to determine that the small mummified bundle found with a mummified human in an Egyptian tomb is that of a puppy. This discovery was considered to be a bit unusual because Egyptians of 2300 years ago usually only buried birds or cats with their owners. The whole story is at:

2) For those of you who have to leave a dog at home unattended during the work day, you might want to consider this set-up for a diversionary activity for your dog: Watch "Jerry Dog" as he entertains himself....

3) Domestic cats purr at about 26 cycles per second, the same frequency as an idling diesel engine. A domestic cat hears frequencies up to about 65 kHz, humans up to 20 kHz. Its sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than that of humans.

4) We've all played Simon Says at some point in our lives and remember how easy it was to be tricked into doing something at the wrong time. Well, watch this dog playing the game (with your speakers turned on) and determine for yourself if you could beat him:

5) Helpful Buckeye's former business partner (yeah, he's a Buckeye too!) sent this interesting web site along for inclusion in the blog. IDEXX, a company that produces a lot of the laboratory tests available in veterinary medicine, has put together a really nice and informative site about the various tick-borne diseases at: In addition to information on tick-borne diseases, dog owner tips, and Frequently Asked Questions, you also have the option of selecting your state (and even your county) to find the incidence of the various tick-borne diseases:

6) This past week, a dog in southern California helped save his owners from an attack by a mountain lion on a trail. The dog, named Hoagie, surely lived up to its name and became a "Hero"....(which is also another name for a hoagie). This canine hero had to have several hours of surgery to take care of its wounds, but is expected to survive:


In addition to learning a lot about viruses this past week, we also had the opportunity to learn a lot more about human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), courtesy of Manny Ramirez. Unfortunately, Manny didn't learn enough about HCG and it cost him a 50-game suspension. It will be interesting to find out how well the Los Angeles Dodgers will be able to adjust to life without Manny.


From time to time, Helpful Buckeye has used quotes about optimism and/or pessimism, mainly because those two concepts have so much to do with how we get through our day. Rene Descartes, French philosopher and mathematician, had this contribution: "An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?"...while President Harry Truman said this: "A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties."

In part, as an observation of our first anniversary of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye and Desperado, joined by the two Cowpokes, will be making an attempt to conquer the West Fork of Oak Creek this Thursday. This is considered to be one of the best hikes in the state of Arizona and the weather looks like it will be perfect! Two of us are true-blue optimists (I wonder if it could be the Pisces effect?) and two of us are confirmed pessimists. Whatever goes, it seems to make for an interesting combination when we're together!

I just went over 1800 miles on my bike this week, from the 1st of January....

~~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.~~