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.~~


  1. And, it's also important to remember what else tequila can quote the great song, "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off!"

    My holdiay more than met my expectations too! But, I've come home really sick with what I hope is only a nasty cold.

    However, I have to tell you, despite that, I had a great time, most especially my life changing moment when I swam with the sting rays! Oh, my, they were wonderful!!!!

  2. Hey, Helpful Buckeye,
    I've never been a cat person, but this Birman dude looks interesting. Maybe I'll look into it?
    San Antonio