Sunday, September 5, 2010


Most of us will enjoy at least a part of the Labor Day weekend kicking back and relaxing.  Labor Day was established as a holiday to recognize all American workers and their contribution to our nation's accomplishments.  Of course, there are workers who are classified as "essential" and they may be working over the weekend so that "essential" services are not interrupted. 

Another type of "worker" that almost never catches a break is the Service Dog.  Service Dogs will most likely be working all three days of this holiday weekend, taking care of their human friends in many ways.  Follow this heart-warming story of Billy Ma as he meets his Service Dog:

On a sweltering morning in July, the service dogs are pacing in their cages while the lucky dozen children who have made it off the assistance dog waiting list were making their way to the first day of training camp. Some with wheelchairs or walkers, others leaning on their parents, the kids have traveled from as far as California to the Canine Assistants headquarters north of Atlanta.  One of the younger recipients is 11-year-old Billy Ma, a smiling boy with glasses from Columbus, Ohio. He was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a devastating genetic disease that causes progressive muscle deterioration. Doctors say he will stop walking in a couple of years, and the disease will eventually attack his heart and lungs so a service dog will become increasingly helpful -- and necessary -- in his life.

Read the rest of this first installment during which Billy is making progress toward when he will meet his own personal Service Dog: 
Helpful Buckeye will keep readers updated as Billy meets his dog and the training begins.  In the meantime, you can read more about Canine Assistants at:

Half of our readers report that they have at least 1 cat in their household.  Of those cat owners, about 2/3 say their cat stays indoors.  The other half of households not having a cat say that 1/3 might consider getting one.  Remember to answer all of this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


1) A couple of weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye presented a long list of Questions & Answers about Salmonella and the national concerns over contamination resulting from these bacteria.  The American Veterinary Medical Association (which originated that list) has also released this podcast with some further information on staying safe from Salmonella:

2) The ASPCA is concerned about your pet's "Back To School Blues".  This can easily happen after the family pet has spent most of every day over the summer with the children and then is left alone when school starts.  See what the ASPCA has to say about this problem:

Conquering Your Pet’s Back-to-School Blues

As the summer light fades into fall, pets across the country are adjusting to new routines as their family members go back to work or school. What were once carefree days cruising around the park or swimming in the creek are now spent sitting by the front door waiting for busy pet parents to come home.

But what if your pet doesn’t adjust peacefully to this new reality? It’s not an uncommon problem—after all, cats and dogs are particularly vulnerable to any change in their schedules, and they thrive on stimulation. With nothing to do, pets are forced to find ways to entertain themselves, which may include excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.
Here are some common signs that your pet may be having a hard time saying goodbye to summer:

- Urinating and defecating in the house
- Incessant barking and howling
- Chewing and digging
- Attempting to escape the house or yard
- Pacing without pause

But all is not lost! Our behaviorists have some great advice for keeping your pet’s "back-to-school blues" at bay:
- Start small by desensitizing your pooch to the cause of his anxiety. Introduce several short periods of separation, and then gradually increase time spent apart.
- Help your dog associate being alone with something good such as a tasty treat. Every time you leave the house, give your dog a food-dispensing toy—the Kong is one of our favorites, but there are plenty of others.
- Please don’t scold your dog if he doesn’t adjust quickly. If you punish him, he may become more upset and the problem could get worse.
- Be patient, and work with your pet until he feels comfortable and enjoys spending time alone.

3) The Humane Society of the United States is maintaining an up-to-date web site that keeps track of pet food and treats recalls.  You might want to earmark this site as one of your "favorites": 


Pet Medicine - Is It Safe To Order Online?

In an age where all of your pet's necessities can be purchased online, it only seems natural that its medication should be available through the click of a mouse. While a multitude of online pharmacies provide a convenient and often inexpensive way to obtain prescriptions you'd normally purchase at the vet's office, many veterinarians warn against using them.

Risk #1: Pharmacy Could be Selling Counterfeit or Inferior Medicine

A major concern for most veterinarians is the source of the medications sold by online pharmacies. "Many online pharmacies are not well regulated," said Dr. Michael Farber, Practice Owner and Chief of Staff at West Chelsea Veterinary. "Not all of these sites are licensed to sell drugs. Some sites are not based within the United States, so many of the medications they're selling are foreign-made or bootleg, and may not be exactly what has been prescribed by the vet."

Counterfeit products, expired products, and "products replaced with lesser products under the same name or category" may put your pet's health at risk, warned Farber.

Risk #2: Even High Quality Products Can Degrade During Shipping

Quality control also worries many veterinarians when their clients purchase medication from online sources. "There is no real quality control that I'm aware of with most online pharmacies," said Dr. Alan Stewart, Internal Medicine Specialist at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. "When medications are shipped under the correct conditions, they're safe to use, but medicines shipped improperly in extreme hot or extreme cold may become damaged."

Smarter Bargain Hunting

If you still want to buy online -- either for convenience or price -- there are ways to help protect yourself. "Make sure [the online pharmacy] is U.S.-based," said Farber. "You should also be sure that the pharmacy is willing to honor the manufacturer's guarantee. If the pharmacy is only willing to guarantee the product themselves, and not through the manufacturer, they may not be selling the drug legally."
Though professionals advise against using most online pharmacies for prescription medication, flea and tick medications, as well as heartworm medications may be safer to purchase online than other prescriptions, according to Stewart.
You can also consider seeking out alternative local providers. For example, rare medications, or those not regularly stocked by veterinarians can be obtained by specialized pet pharmacies, like Best Pet Rx in New York City, suggests Farber.

Pet owners looking for better prices may opt to purchase their pet's medications from places like Costco or Walgreen's. "I'm usually comfortable [with sending patients] to these places for medication," said Stewart. "They usually have some sort of deal." Another important factor to consider, says Stewart, is that the majority of medication prescribed to pets is made for humans. These medications may be obtained from any trusted pharmacy and may also offer more competitive pricing.


1) Cats are the most popular pet in the United States, outnumbering dogs 82 million to 72 million. Yet cats are only half as likely as their canine counterparts to visit the veterinarian. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that cats are better at hiding illness or injury than dogs. Another reason is that cats can make visits to the veterinarian downright unpleasant. But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Listen to this podcast, provided by the AVMA, for some helpful suggestions on how to make your cat's visit to your veterinarian a little more tolerable: 

Cats aren't the only pets to be reluctant to see the veterinarian.  Check out this dog:

2) OK, be honest, how many of you allow your dogs to sleep with you in your bed?  Read some of the pros and cons for allowing this to happen:

In the darkest hours of Bruce Sallan's divorce when he didn't want to get out of bed, his two dogs were there jumping on the mattress and licking his face. And when his worries kept him awake at night, the big black German Shepherd mix and the Pointer mix with brown and white spots were there then too, lying beside him on top of the covers.  "Petting one of my dogs was almost like a way I'd calm myself down and fall asleep," says Sallan, a writer and radio host in California. But then he met and married Debbie, who had a dog of her own but suffered from allergies and liked her furniture free of dirt and hair. She was adamant: "No dogs in bed."  "He would have his dog on the bed and there would be dog hair on my pillow and I'd be sneezing," Debbie says. The solution? She spent several hundred dollars on plush beds for all three dogs and ultimately, everyone was happy.

The Stats

Some pet owners may be sheepish to admit it, but Sallan is far from alone. A 2007 survey of more than 2,500 pet owners by the American Pet Products Association found 43 percent of dogs slept in a person's bed at night, a steady increase from 34 percent a decade ago.  So is there anything wrong with pets in the bed? Like Bruce and Debbie, vets and animal trainers have strong opinions on the subject.

The Pros

Sleeping in the same bed has strong emotional benefits for you and your pooch.

1. It's comforting to both the owners and the animals. The company of pets have been proven to lower blood pressure, stress and reduce feelings of loneliness. According to veterinarian Ira Roth, director of the Community Practice Clinic at University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, having them close to you at night only magnifies those benefits, whether the animal is at the foot of the bed or under the covers.

Illinois dog owner Jamie Hand agrees with that assessment. "Rocky likes to cuddle, and he always has to be right next to me," referring to her Jack Russell Terrier mix who is very content sleeping in his owner's bed. "If I roll away from him, he scoots over so he's right next to my torso again. This doesn't disrupt my sleep at all. In fact, it's quite comforting to feel him snuggling up against me."

2. It can deepen the bond between dog and owner. New York City dog trainer Sarah Westcott, owner of Doggie Academy, always gave her dogs their own beds. But then she adopted Hank, a lab who kept to himself.   "Out of the blue one day, I put him in bed and he curled up next to me," Westcott says. Everything changed after that. "Whatever he's doing, even when he's a hyper maniac, if I invite him in bed he settles right down."

3. It can give nervous dogs more confidence. Sherry Bedard, an animal trainer and behaviorist in Montreal and author of "Sherry's Secret Dictionary, A Guide to your Dog" believes that the assurance boost of sharing the bed with their owners can "help the dog cope with everyday functions such as going out for a walk in public or meeting strangers."

The Cons

From health reasons to relationships concerns, there are strong arguments against sharing the bed.

1. It can intensify allergies. Your airways are more susceptible to irritants at night, partly because when you're lying down, you're closer to the ground, where particles settle. Multiply that by plus or minus 8 hours and that's a lot of exposure, says Frank S. Virant, MD, an allergy and asthma specialist in Seattle. Plus, pet dander and fur stays on the pillow long after the animal has left the room. If you find yourself sniffling or wheezing, the pet should leave the bedroom, Virant says.

2. It can amp up human/canine power struggles. Orlando dog trainer Todd Langston, owner of Pack Life K-9 Behavior Solutions believes that giving the dog the highest, most comfortable spot in the house sends the message that he is the leader of the pack. "Many of these dogs will even growl at their owners if they wake them in the middle of the night or snap at them if they try to get them off the bed," says Langston.

Westcott realized that she had this problem on her hands when her dog Hank began growling at her boyfriend Vinny, when he tried to get in bed. "Immediately I said OK, we can't have that. First and foremost this is mine and Vinny's bed. Hank was no longer allowed in bed until I had some time to work with him," Westcott tells Paw Nation. "I would invite him on the bed and say 'Up' and I'd give him chicken, and I'd say 'Off' and give him chicken. After working with him and really teaching him that it's not a terrible thing to be told to get off the bed, he willingly got off."

3. Noisy or pushy dogs can keep you from getting a good night's rest. In a 2001 study by the Mayo Clinic, more than half of pet owners seeking treatment for sleep disorders said their pets disturbed their sleep every night because of snoring, needing to go outside or hogging the bed.   "Having a pet that constantly moves around in bed or prevents you from sleeping in your preferred position can diminish the quality of your sleep affecting your daytime mood, focus, memory and concentration," says New York dog trainer Sheryl Matthys, author of "Leashes and Lovers: What Your Dog Can Teach You About Love, Life, and Happiness."

Matthys speaks from experience. She and her husband used to fight for bed space with two greyhounds, leading to many nights of "trying to shift around the long furry bodies in the middle of our bed." Ultimately she opted for comfy dog beds. "Although I do miss cuddling with our dogs, I have to admit I'm more refreshed in the morning," Matthys says.

4. It can cause arguments between couples. "I can tell you stories about fighting with a German Shepherd for room on my ex-boyfriend's full-size bed," says Christie Hyde, a public relations professional from Daytona Beach. "Apparently I was expected to sleep curled in a ball at the top of the bed."

Hyde's concerns weren't only about her discomfort but also about what bringing the dog into the bed meant to her relationship. When the long-distance boyfriend came to stay at her house, Hyde kept her pit-bull mix, Amber, out of the bedroom. "When he started inviting Amber to join us in bed -- and she would crawl right in between us -- I knew our relationship was heading in the wrong direction. We got to spend so little time together, I didn't care to share that much of it with our dogs," Hyde says.

So the dog stayed, and the boyfriend went.

This report was adapted from: 

Then, you read a review of a particular dog breed, such as this one about Italian Greyhounds:

Personality: "Italian Greyhounds are homebodies and bed warmers first," says Lynette Coyner, corresponding secretary of the Italian Greyhound Club of America, "but do enjoy car rides, outings and even hiking.

...and it's easy to see that even informative breed facts can be an influence.  This Italian Greyhound information comes from: 


1) Not only do professional dog trainers recommend giving your dog his own crate, but many of us find that crating our dogs gives us peace of mind and keeps our dogs calm and secure when we're gone. There's just one big downfall: They can be so unattractive!  Fortunately, there are plenty of options on the market that merge function and fashion in a way that perfectly suits our sensibilities. Which one would look best in your home?  The folks at Paw Nation offer some interesting choices at:   Click on the arrow to view all 9 crate models.

Some of these crates are pretty fancy and...quite expensive.

2) Another pet product for the pet owner with a few extra dollars to spend would be an elevated pet feeder.  Some dogs and cats have difficulty bending downward to a dish as they get older and arthritic joints start acting up.  These elevated pet feeders would help eliminate that problem in addition to being a stylistic modification to the standard couple of bowls:  Click on the arrow to view all 10 of the options.

Again, most of these are in the expensive range.


1) A new pet resort is now open beside Disney World in Florida.  From its description, it must be among the largest pet boarding facilities in the USA.  As with the accessories listed above, the prices listed aren't cheap but the convenience for pet owners just might make it a success.  Read all about it at: 

2) A 10-year old Pomeranian whose owner became incapacitated enjoyed the experience of an "extreme" makeover.  Check out the before and after photos: 

3) For those of you with a little time on your hands, skim through the "Top 100 Dog photos of 2009" advertised by this web site: 

Some of them are pretty cool...while others are sort of ho-hum....

4) Since we're dealing with numbers, what would you add to a list of "Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds?"  A popular dog trainer was asked that question and here is his answer: 

From The New Yorker:
5) For those of you who have sent e-mails asking about guidelines for how to cut your dog's nails, here is a nice series of photos illustrating the proper technique: 

The Ohio State Buckeyes got off to a good start for the season with an impressive performance by our QB, a Heisman Trophy contender.  The action shifts into high gear this week as the Miami Hurricanes visit the "Horseshoe" in Columbus.  Miami also won big this past week and is looking to improve their national ranking with an upset of the Buckeyes.  Helpful Buckeye tried to negotiate a repeat of a friendly bet before the season started...but the other side "chickened-out" even though the terms were the same as last year's when his team was actually ranked higher than the Buckeyes in the pre-season.  Something about big belt buckles and a cowboy shirt that was too tight around the throat....

Say it isn't so, Cowpoke....

The Pittsburgh Steelers are down to QBs #3 and #4 for the start of their season.  We've had to rely on our defense in the past...and this will have to be more of the same.


Our good friends Barbara and Don, back in Richmond, VA, lost their 14-year old dog, Angus, a week ago.  Our sentiments go out cross-country to the Old Dominion. 

Helpful Buckeye usually sees a lot of tarantula spiders (males) crossing the paths of my bike routes during the first 2 weeks of October.  Well, the news is that I saw 2 of them this past Thursday, the 2nd of September!  Whether this has any meaning for our weather patterns this fall and winter remains to be seen.

With the Labor Day weekend being the "unofficial" end of summer, relax to the sounds of the Beach Boys and one of their all-time summer classics: 

~~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. I really enjoyed your article about service dogs! I'm actually starting the process over again and looking at a replacement later this month.

    It looks like the University of Pittsburgh's football team is starting off great. Hope you have a great day, take care.


  2. How do you know who will be a good site for you?
    I have never needed the services of one as of yet, but I have always been curious what makes a good about it.I would say about my topics.
    Talk about something out of the part.

    orlando Dog anxiety separation training