Monday, January 3, 2011


Human nature being what it is, most of us tend to want to leave "things" behind when one year is ending and to pick up or change to other "things" as the new year begins.  Helpful Buckeye supposes this arises from our inclination to look back over the preceding year, evaluating things that happened and imagining what we can do to improve on the "things" that didn't go as expected...thus, the necessity for New Years' resolutions.  But, here's a novel thought...instead of packaging our lives into parcels one year long, why not conduct a personal inventory more often, say daily or weekly, toward the goal of bettering ourselves on a more frequent basis?  Why wait until the beginning of the next year to make a resolution that would benefit you right now?  Sounds like it might just be a good idea for all of us, doesn't it?  More on resolutions a little later in this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

2010 has been a year of several memorable events for Desperado and Helpful Buckeye, most of them good.  On the negative side, my mother passed away back in March.  Mom was the first really close person to me to die in almost 30 years and it took a lot of emotional energy to deal with that.  On the plus side, Desperado played a vital part in saving one of Flagstaff's important historical landmarks, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, which had been slated for closure due to the woeful condition of Arizona's state budget.  Jointly, we not only got to tour Biosphere 2, but also by chance, got to meet one of the original eight Biospherians.  The other experience that has radiated through our conversation many times since was our visit to Little Big Horn National Monument in central Montana.  One of the park rangers did an hour long recounting of the battle as if he had been there in 1876, while we sat at the foot of the slope where that final battle took place.  Some things just seem more real than others, don't they?  And those things seem to remain in our psyches over time.

About half of our readers had never before seen a Rhodesian Ridgeback and several of you sent e-mails remarking about how interesting this breed is, having been trained to hunt lions.  Also, just about half of you have been scratched badly enough by a cat to be concerned about "cat scratch fever."  A few of you sent an e-mail saying that you had actually been treated by a doctor for the disease.  Lastly, every reader who has had a dog reported that their dog appeared to be dreaming at some point in their life.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Since Helpful Buckeye received so many e-mails this week declaring that you enjoyed the lighter side of the "potpourri" of dog and cat matters of interest, it is only appropriate to offer one more week of further potpourri for your reading pleasure.  For the purpose of convenience, Helpful Buckeye will present these features in groupings of 4 topics...Pet Gifts, Dogs In Trouble, Resolutions, and Interesting Stuff.


1) Still looking for the perfect gift for your favorite pet or pet parent? Even though most of these are a bit pricey, here are much-adored beds, organizers, speakers and more for fluffy friends and those who love them:

Check out this dog bed cushion, for only $120....
2) For those of you caught up in the digital revolution of applications, consider this Pet Notebook for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in which you can compile all of your pet's records, vital statistics, and photos.  The ultimate organizer for all your pets!  Professional grade app to store all pictures and information for each of your pets:

3) "THE PET APP THAT GIVES BACK!" 25% of the sale price directly supports ASPCA.  From iTunes comes Pet Dossier, a digital organizer for your dog, cat, bird, fish, critter and other animals’ information!

Pet Dossier allows you to have your pet’s essential information available at your fingertips. Keep track of your pet’s history, medications, and appointments and be able to email the information directly to your pet’s caregivers. You can also customize your pets information to fit your needs. You have the flexibility to edit, add new fields and notes throughout the application.

Here are some of the capabilities Pet Dossier has to offer:
• Input one or multiple pets
• Unlimited amount of ID numbers
• Lifestyle
- dietary requirement: food and treats
- emphasize likes and dislikes for your pet’s caregiver
- add your own categories and notes
• Health
- Categories: medications, supplements, vaccinations, vet, groomer, weight, exercise, allergies, injuries, and add multiple new fields to create your own
- input type of treatment, dosage (for medications and supplements), frequency, start date, end date, alerts with push notification and notes
- set date and time for vet and groomer appointments with push notification alerts and notes
- list weight with date and notes; multiple exercise activity with duration and frequency; allergies and injuries
- customize the order of information within each category
- edit any inputted information
- choose the information you want to email to your sitter, vet, etc.
- email list is organized and separated by pet and categories
• Contacts
- create new contact, choose from iPhone contacts or existing contact that you have already inputted in the app
- assign corresponding pet(s) for each contact
- view a list of contacts either consolidated or individualized by each pet
- search for nearby vets and pet hospitals from the emergency contacts by simply tapping Local Results.
• Photos
- add from your library or take new photos
- when adding photos from My Pets list, choose which pet(s) is(are) in the photo
-view each pet’s individual photo album from their own page or a consolidated album of all pets from My Pets list.

Find this application at:

4) Most dog and cat owners consider their canine and feline friends full-fledged members of the family. That means when birthdays, major holidays or other celebrations roll around, dogs and cats get gifts too -- and lots of them.  However, without proper diligence on your part, you might end up giving your pet a dangerous toy.

Potential hazards include:
- Sharp pieces or edges, such as torn plastic toys, internal parts, squeakers, splintered bones
- Long strings, cords, ribbons, or unraveled fabrics
- Small parts, stuffing, or other items that pets might swallow

Don't just look at the product exterior. Figure out what's inside that could become a hazard if exposed.  Imagine your pet pulling the new toy apart...what's inside might be more interesting to your pet.

For more valuable information on what to be aware of, go to:


1) Perhaps you've seen this photo of the puppy that got his head stuck in a hole in a concrete block wall? 

Read about the 30-minute effort to release this pup from his unfortunate experience: 

2) Just so none of you ever thinks that dog distemper is a disease of the past and you don't have to be concerned with it, think again.  Read this short account of about 1200 dogs being "put to sleep" in Kansas in order to minimize the further spread of this still very serious disease:

3) Winter is actually a pretty good time for animals. They're out less -- which means less injuries and less illness. But there are still serious incidents of cold-weather-related health problems in pets that can and should be avoided:
  • Space heaters. 
  • Temperatures below 45 degrees. 
  • Leaving pets alone outside, in the car or in the garage.
  • Salty sidewalks and driveways. 
  • Antifreeze. 
  • Bodies of water. 
  • Going off-leash in the snow.
For a more in depth description of each of these 7 winter risks to avoid, go to:

4) Last year, there were more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the United States. Many of these were caused by substances you probably have in your home, substances that may seem perfectly harmless to you. But just because something is safe for people doesn't mean it won't hurt pets. Some of the most dangerous dog poisons are foods and medications.

The "Top 10" dog poisons for 2010

No. 1: Medications for People
No. 2: Flea and Tick Products
No. 3: People Food
No. 4: Rat and Mouse Poison
No. 5: Pet Medications
No. 6: Household Plants
No. 7: Chemical Hazards
No. 8: Household Cleaners
No. 9: Heavy Metals
No. 10: Fertilizer

For specific information on each of these categories and helpful advice for what to do if your pet gets into any of these, read:
5) For those readers who sent e-mails about the X-rays shown in last week's issue, wondering if they had actually happened, here is a case in point.  Although they do make bath time lots of fun, rubber duckies do not make good chew toys.  Jasmine the Staffordshire terrier and her owner learned the hard way after a veterinarian in Scotland discovered a 4-inch rubber duck blocking the pup's small intestine.  Read this short account and then you'll get to see what the "rubber ducky" looks like in the dog's intestine:


2011 weight loss resolutions for your pet....

OK, so you purchased new running shoes, joined a gym, and are ready for a fit and healthy 2011. But while getting in shape and losing weight is an admirable New Year's resolution for you and your family, it's important to remember that people aren't the only ones who might need to shed a few pounds. The number of overweight pets in America continues to rise. Nearly half (45 percent) of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese (at least 20 percent above ideal weight), according to a recent survey of veterinarians by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

Resolution 1: Make an appointment with your veterinarian. Just as people need expert guidance and a physician's supervision when attempting to lose weight and/or improve their fitness level, veterinarians have the knowledge to help pet owners achieve sensible, lasting weight loss for their pets.

Resolution 2: Set realistic, measurable exercise and weight loss goals. Your veterinarian can help you rule out any medical reasons for excess weight and help you plan a fitness and nutrition program that takes your pet's age, size and breed into account.

Resolution 3: Discipline yourself to make exercise a priority for you and your pet. Sure, our lives are getting busier and we have less time to exercise, but even setting aside time each day for short walks with your pet will help both of you.

Resolution 4: Control portions. Just as limiting intake is important to your own weight loss goals, ensuring a daily volume of allowed food for your pet will be key to success. Your veterinarian can tell you the exact amount of food to feed your pet each day to achieve a healthy weight, so you don't have to guess. He or she also will remind you not to say "I love you" with food.

Resolution 5: Use treats correctly. It's OK to reward your pet with a treat for a successfully completed task. Just remember that these calories need to be subtracted from the total calories allotted for the day, and they shouldn't exceed 10 percent of that allotment. Consider low-calorie treats, or break treats into smaller pieces for more rewards with the same amount of calories

Take a couple of minutes and listen to this podcast from the American Veterinary Medical Association on "Exercising with your pet":

"People don't really know what a fit dog looks like anymore," says Carol Helfer, a sports medicine and physical rehabilitation veterinarian at Canine Peak Performance. "There are so many overweight and obese dogs anymore, people think it's normal."  Fido should be getting some sort of exercise three to five times a week for 20 to 30 minutes, most experts say. Consult with your pet's vet to determine a safe workout routine, keeping in mind dogs shouldn't start working too hard until about 14 months old.  The rest of this very informative article on dog exercise is available at:

Only by realizing that you might have a problem with an overweight pet can you then make a plan for resolving it.  Make it your #1 (pet) resolution for 2011.


1) OK, Helpful Buckeye knows you've all been waiting for this list of the Top Pet Names of 2010:

2010's Top 10 Most Popular Dog Names

1. Buddy
2. Max
3. Daisy
4. Bella
5. Lucy
6. Jack
7. Molly
8. Charlie
9. Sadie
10. Rocky

2010's Top 10 Most Popular Cat Names

1. Lucy
2. Midnight
3. Bella
4. Molly
5. Smokey
6. Tiger
7. Oreo
8. Max
9. Princess
10. Charlie

It appears that Max, Bella, Lucy, Molly, and Charlie are quite popular....

2) The myth: A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's mouth

The origin: Dog saliva was once believed to be antiseptic, and some people still believe it has healing properties. The basis for this belief is not known.

The truth: A dog’s mouth is not “cleaner” than a person’s mouth. Dog saliva can be toxic to some bacteria, but it carries its own population of bacteria and other infectious organisms. That population is just different from the assortment of bacteria and other “germs” in the human mouth, based largely upon differences in diet. There is a reason for the term, “dog breath.” People with weakened immune systems and young children probably should not have direct contact with dog or cat saliva.

3) Walk into psychiatrist Drew Ramsey's office in Manhattan and you'll likely be greeted by Gus, a four-year-old shih tzu. After escorting you through the waiting room, he may hop onto the ottoman and go to sleep or sit beside you on the couch.

Therapists use 'canine assistants' to comfort and cheer up their patients.  Some patients pat Gus while they talk to Dr. Ramsey. A few talk to Gus instead. And if they get emotional, Gus provides physical comfort that therapists can't offer. "We can't hug patients, but patients can hug Gus," says Dr. Ramsey, who began bringing his dog to his office two years ago. Now, he says, "I think about Gus the way a cowboy thinks of his horse—he's part of the job."

A small but growing number of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and other therapists are bringing their dogs to work in their private practices, where they help calm patients down, cheer them up and offer a happy distraction with a wagging tail. The job is similar to what therapy dogs do when they visit at hospitals or nursing homes, but these "canine therapy-assistants" often work full days and get to know the patients just as well as the doctors.

Learn more about this developing trend among medical doctors in this very interesting article:

4) Have you traveled recently with your pets?  Did you stay with relatives or friends?  Did they also have pets?  Family gatherings are a big part of the holidays, and pets can double the fun, as well as the stress. Cats hate strange environments, so a pet sitter is usually the best choice for kitty. Dogs, however, love new places, so how do you keep the fur from flying when the visiting dog meets the “host” dog?

Follow these eight tips to keep pets happy and safe -- and help you stay on speaking terms with your relatives. Pet introductions can take days, weeks or sometimes months to be successful, so don't expect overnight miracles. Be patient. How would you like a stranger sleeping in your bed, eating from your plate or, ahem, using your toilet?

Rules of the House

1) The resident pet "owns" the home and yard.
2) Confine the guest pet in one room at first.
3) Create good associations.
4) Use temporary baby gates.
5) Leash the guest dog.
6) "Potty" dogs separately.
7) Create supervised yard dates.
8) Don't force interactions

For a complete explanation of each of these rules, go to:

5) With all the talk about illegal aliens in the USA and the need for proper ID, i.e., a birth certificate, see what you think about this proposal coming out of New York City.  Just in time for Christmas—the holiday that puts plenty of pups in present boxes—City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is trying to cut down on puppy mills by pushing for "puppy birth certificates." The certificate would include breed, birthplace, and fur color, and the proposed bill would mandate that each dog have one (kind of like Pound Puppies!). Crowley explained at a press conference yesterday, "If you're going to bring a dog into your family, you should know where this dog is coming from."

The rest of this story is at:  

6) Beyond the usual words like, "walk, outside, ball, treat," how many other words do you think your dog actually remembers?  If you thought Rover or Sparky was smart, think again: Chaser just took him to school.

A border collie named Chaser has learned the names of 1,022 individual items -- more than any other animal, even the legendary Alex the parrot. But it's all in a day's work for these researchers.  Psychologists Alliston Reid and John Pilley of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., wanted to test if there was a limit to the amount of words a border collie could learn, so they taught Chaser the names of hundreds of toys, one by one, slowly and patiently, for three years.

To read more about Chaser and watch a video of him performing, go to:

7) OK, since the name, "Fido," is regularly used as a default name for a typical dog, how many of you know where the name came from?  Well, according to Clay Thompson, columnist for The Arizona Republic:

What is the origin of the general use of the name "Fido" for a dog?

Does anybody name their dog Fido anymore? I checked a few most-popular-names lists and didn't find any Fidos, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not around at all.

However, I think maybe it is more of a generic thing.

Fido comes from Latin and means, "I am faithful"' or "Trustworthy"' or words to that effect.

And what better qualities to look for in a dog? Well, that and not barfing on the couch. I wonder what the Latin for that is.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln had a dog named Fido? He acquired the animal before he was president, and it died after Lincoln was assassinated.

You can read Clay Thompson's column at:

The Pittsburgh Steelers took care of business today by whupping the Cleveland Browns, assuring them the #2 seed in the AFC and a bye for the first round of the playoffs.  There are a few injured players that will benefit from the week off.  Even so, we'll still need some help during the playoffs since we can't seem to be able to beat the Patriots.  Perhaps the Colts, Ravens, or Jets can help us with that.

Helpful Buckeye finished 2010 with a new personal record for miles biking in a year.  I rode 5204 miles in 2010, beating my previous best of 5025 miles in 2009.  95 of those miles were part of my Quadathlon of Northern Arizona, which actually generated a fair amount of interest amongst my friends.  I'm already putting together a new Quadathlon for 2011 (thanks to several of you who have contributed ideas) and I pretty much have 3 of the events firmed up. At least one of the events will be out-of-state, so I might have to change the name to "...of the Southwest."  The 4th event is still to be chosen from several options.

One of the Holiday greeting cards Helpful Buckeye received this year was from Harold Betters, the popular 82-year old jazz trombonist from western Pennsylvania (Connellsville).  The first jazz LP album I remember listening to back in the early 1960s was Harold's "Do Anything You Wanna".  I was fortunate to meet Harold a few years ago and chat with him about his music...what a special treat for me!  I now have 8 of his CDs and listen to them regularly.  You're a good guy, Harold!

Helpful Buckeye has worked on just a few resolutions for 2011.  The shorter the list, the more likely you'll be happy with your results, right?  The first item on my list is to be able to move beyond the feeling of "What might have been".  Whittier's sentiment could wear you down if you dwell on its darker side for too long.  My answer is that there will probably be other avenues of pursuit and I need to be ready when they appear.  The 2nd resolution includes Desperado...we are making the commitment to see more of Arizona this year.  We have already scheduled a few short trips to parts of the state and have several other exciting locations in mind as well.  The 3rd, and last, resolution involves "change".  Last week, the quote "It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory," aroused some good responses from our readers.  We all agree that certain types of change are not only good for you, they will also contribute toward your survival.  One change Helpful Buckeye has already initiated is the appearance of my beard.  It's subtle but I think I like it....

Henry Ward Beecher, noted clergyman, social reformer, and author, leaves us with this quote: “It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.”   I originally wanted to use this quote for the part about taking short trips around Arizona since there will be a lot of hills, buttes, mesas, and mountains on our itinerary; however, I realized that it is much more appropriate as a general view of life.

Hope your 2011 is rewarding on all levels!!!

~~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.~~

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