Sunday, July 10, 2011


Hope all of you had a great 4th of July travels, good food, time with friends, and a lot of fun with your pets.  For those of you with school-age children, summer is now just about half over.  Still, though, there's plenty of time remaining to take a short trip or two for everyone.

Helpful Buckeye was amazed at the number of e-mails sent about the series of issues on purebreed dogs and genetic diseases.  Most of our readers expressed an interest in learning more about purebreeds and some of the potential health problems some breeds face.  It was reassuring that none of the e-mails said anything about shying away from a purebreed dog.  Again, most of you felt that doing the right kind of research and due diligence would help minimize the chances of running into a genetic problem.  There are always some champions of mixed-breeds (mutts) but they chose not to gloat over this issue.

One of our respondents remarked that she felt like she "had been to school" the last four weeks.  She appreciated the opportunity to learn more about a topic that really is of interest to most dog owners.  With her comment in mind, Helpful Buckeye decided to pursue a much lighter topic this week.  You won't have to feel like you're memorizing anything this week, nor reading something twice just to be sure you have it.  This will be one of those issues that deals with the weird side of dogs and cats...and, sometimes, their owners.  So, sit back and enjoy this leisurely walk through...


Dogs Likely Born With Canine Telepathy

Dogs are so in tune with us that they can read our minds, according to a new Learning & Behavior study that also determined canines are probably born with the ability.

Practice makes perfect, however, so the more a dog hangs around humans, the better he or she becomes at "canine telepathy," which actually relies upon hyperawareness of the senses.

Those of us who have owned or been around dogs for any period of time know how well they often "get" us, sensing tiredness, depression, headaches or other maladies before we consciously exhibit any major outward signs of distress. Dogs can even detect when a person has cancer. They also seem to sense our joy and good health.

Monique Udell and her team from the University of Florida wondered why dogs are so clever at reading us, and how they accomplish this feat. Are dogs born with the ability to sense our mental states, or do canines learn from experience?

To explore these questions and more, Udell and her team carried out two experiments involving both wolves and dogs. In the experiments, the two sets of animals were given the opportunity to beg for food, either from an attentive person or from a person unable to see the potential beggar.

The researchers showed for the first time that wolves, like domestic dogs, are capable of begging successfully for food by approaching the attentive human. This demonstrates that both species - domesticated and non-domesticated - have the capacity to behave in accordance with a human's attentional state. They are therefore likely born with the ability, since wolves would not have had much practice, which the typical pet dog gains by begging for treats during dinner and at other times.

Some dogs were better at reading people than others were, however. Shelter dogs were not nearly as good as pampered house pooches, demonstrating that exposure to humans allows dogs to hone their natural people-reading skills more.

According to the researchers, "These results suggest that dogs' ability to follow human actions stems from a willingness to accept humans as social companions, combined with conditioning to follow the limbs and actions of humans to acquire reinforcement. The type of attentional cues, the context in which the command is presented, and previous experience are all important."

Sound like any dogs you know???

Going from a dog knowing things about people to a dog that doesn't know that he is missing both of his front legs may seem like a stretch you will see, this Jack Russell Terrier is every bit as happy as a dog with four legs.  Helpful Buckeye's Aunt Cathy, in Florida, sent this video last week:
Imagine a dog with such a need being fortunate enough to end up with this family...a caring and giving family that also was willing to experiment with ways to help the dog get around. 
Right about now, Helpful Buckeye is feeling "telepathic" signals from cat owners who are wondering if their pets will figure into this discussion in any way.  Actually, this next item should not only make cat owners feel involved but also understand why this study might be beneficial.  Most cat owners will freely tell you that they hate taking their cat to the veterinarian...and for good reason.  Cats don't seem to like being taken into a veterinary hospital waiting room in a carrier, to then find themselves surrounded by barking dogs and other screaming cats.  This study being undertaken at Colorado State University may provide some information on how to help alleviate this problem. 

Can Classical Music Calm Cats?

CSU Researchers Look For Stress-Reducing Benefits Of Music Therapy

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- A Colorado State University veterinarian and psychologist are studying whether playing music in the waiting room will calm both cats and their owners at the vet.

CSU veterinarian Dr. Narda Robinson and fellow researcher Lori Kogan, a psychologist with CSU who specializes in veterinary and animal issues, said the reason cats are taken to the vet less often than dogs may boil down to the fact that it’s too stressful.

And that may lead to less regular medical attention for cats, Robinson said.

In their study, they’ve found not every form of classical music works. They need music specifically designed to meet the needs of cats.

In addition to the potential stress-reducing benefits, relaxed cats are easier for vets to examine.

“Music therapy research has shown that the simpler, slower, sounds in a moderate to lower range of tone, is more relaxing,” Robinson said.

Robinson and Kogan are looking to enroll 50 cats and their owners in this study.

The cats will visit the Veterinary Teaching Hospital two times to be randomly exposed to one of two different soundscapes of either no music, slow music or classical music.

The 15-minute wait will be videotaped and behavior will be noted through an observation window by independent observers who will not know if music is playing in the exam room.

The caretaker will also fill out surveys about their own as well as their cat’s stress levels before and after the session.

An appointment with a veterinarian is not necessary, and cats enrolled in the study will not be examined by a veterinarian as part of the study.

To participate in the study, cats must be able to hear and meet some minimal health requirements, while caretakers must be able to bring cats to the VTH during afternoon, evening, or weekends for two visits at least two days apart.

Participants who finish the study will receive a CD with music selections from a specially designed music therapy series for animals.

CSU has said that this study is funded by outside sponsor funds designated for research.

To sign up, cat owners can email Robinson at or call the VTH (970) 297-5000 and ask for Robinson.

Adapted from:

From a previous issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, our readers know what kind of a problem bedbugs can be.  A lot of techniques have been employed for the finding and eradication of bedbugs, frequently with little success.  Now, there's a dog in New Mexico that has been specially trained in the art of bedbug locating and, apparently, his handler is staying quite busy:
New bed bug sniffing dog makes his home in NM

A very special dog is now calling New Mexico home and his sense of smell could get rid of disgusting bed bugs for good in someone’s home.

Captain Dale is a black lab that is 99 percent accurate at tracking down nasty bed bugs.

His handler, Patriot Pest Control owner, David Swanson spoke highly of the dog’s snout.

"The talent that this dog has, he could have been a drug detection dog, he could have been a bomb dog but they chose to make him a bed bug dog,” Swanson said.

Swanson paid big bucks to bring Dale to New Mexico and says the treatment he uses to get rid of bed bugs works, but his business partner takes things to another level.

"Before this you are basically hoping the chemicals are going to do it but there's no real guarantee that you've gotten all the bed bugs," Swanson said.

That’s where Captain Dale comes in as he is trained to sniff out bed bug odor and when he finds his target he gets a reward.

Captain Dale and Swanson bonded over six days of training in Austin, Texas at the Southern Star Ranch, which is the same place where dogs are trained for the U.S. Border Patrol, DEA and police departments around the country to sniff out drugs, bombs and in this case, bed bugs.

"My respect for Dale and all dogs has gone up and I really hope to share that with people,” Swanson tells KOB Eyewitness News 4.

This summer Swanson and Captain Dale will be doing free tests for all the homes he's checked for bed bugs in the past.

Adapted from:  be sure to watch the video at the beginning of this web site.

Why not???

Through the benefit of high speed film and cameras, we are now able to watch things that normally happen quite quickly in a much slower mode.  Enjoy this puppy as it shakes water off its 1000 frames per second.

The agility of a cat and its ability to apparently always land on its feet have constantly fascinated cat owners.  Now, there is some evidence as to why this is the case:

Kitty Falls - How Cats Land on Their Feet

Legends and myths sometimes arise out of a misunderstood truth, and kitty-correct four-paw landings are one such behavior. Yes, cats have an uncanny ability to fall safely from sometimes death-defying heights and land on their feet, which perhaps gave birth to the "nine lives" legend. But do cats always land on their feet? And how do they do it?

How Cats Land on Their Feet

Paw-perfect landings result from the cat's intricate balance sense. The vestibular organ deep inside s cat's ears keeps it informed about which way is up or down, even if you try to confuse and make him dizzy first. This specialized organ also allows the cat to instantly determine acceleration as she falls.

The vestibular organ contains tiny fluid filled tubes and structures called the semicircular canals, utricle and saccule, each lined with millions of microscopic hairs. Fluid in the utricle and saccule also contain tiny particles of chalk that float and move with every motion. Whenever the cat's head moves, the fluid and chalk moves against the hairs. The hair movement, like teeny kitty antennae, relay information to the brain about body position, and speed of movement.

The balance mechanism can't do it alone, though. Once partnered with the yoga-like muscle control of a Houdini master contortionist, the cat twists from side to side during a fall, to right itself.

Do Cats Ever Miss?

Ear infections can affect the cat's balance so she misjudges height or positioning. Tiny kittens can be injured in falls that might not hurt an adult cat, so kitten-proofing balconies and keeping baby cats "grounded" can help keep them safe.

Falls from short distances-like from a child's arms-may not allow enough time for the righting mechanism to work. Landing on its feet does not prevent a cat from sustaining serious injuries during falls.

High Rise Syndrome

High rise syndrome refers to cats who fall great distances out of windows, balconies or open doors. Often the cat lounges on a favorite windowsill, and accidentally pushes window screens out and falls.

Falls from the first through fourth floors are least dangerous because the cat can "right" itself and doesn't have time to reach top speed of 60 miles per hour-terminal velocity. She won't fall any faster, no matter the distance. This speed is reached during any fall from higher than the fifth floor.

Falls from the fifth through ninth floor are the most dangerous and result in the worst injuries. The cat falls with legs braced in front of him, and lands rigid. His legs hit first, then his head, and both can suffer terrible bone-shattering injury.

Cats survive falls from higher than nine stories with fewer injuries. Falls from these heights apparently allow the cat time to relax, empty the bladder and "parachute" the legs outward so that the wind catches the loose skin in the thighs and armpits and slows the fall. Landing spread-eagle allows the chest and abdomen to absorb most of the shock, rather than the head and legs.

Keep open windows and balconies off limits to cats. Remember that screens are designed to keep bugs out, not keep cats inside. So protect your cats and windows with secured screens or pet-safe barriers.

Adapted from:

Granted, this next story probably won't make it on CSI...but, it does revolve around some of the same scientific principles you see on TV:

Apartments use DNA to nab poop-scoop scofflaws

LEBANON, N.H. (AP) — Here's the scoop: Some apartment complexes are using DNA testing on dog doo to find out who's not cleaning up after their pets.

The Timberwood Commons in Lebanon, N.H., opened this year and already has had problems with some residents who aren't cleaning up messes their dogs leave.  So manager Debbie Violette is going to use commercially available DNA sampling kits to check the DNA that dogs leave behind when they go.  "We've tried doing the warning letters. We've tried all sorts of things," she said Friday. "It's always a problem. It's just that the majority of people are responsible pet owners and there are a few who are not."

She said residents have been told they must submit samples from their dogs so DNA profiles can be put on file.  "I want people to know that we're serious about this," she said. More than 30 dogs call the 252-unit complex home.

Violette just received the kits from a Knoxville, Tenn., company called PooPrints, a subsidiary of BioPet Vet Lab. Jim Simpson, president of the lab, said about 20 properties in the country have been using the kits.  For testing samples, the company provides a feces collection kit. A small amount is put in a solution and mailed back to the lab. DNA is extracted from the feces. The lab then checks to see if it matches any of the profiles listed for the apartment complex.

"It's one of the coolest things I've ever done as a property manager," said Debbie Logan, who manages the Twin Ponds Development in Nashua, which has identified some problem pet owners through the tests.

Violette said that she hasn't decided what to do if she catches a pet owner not cleaning up after their dog but that they'll probably be fined. Language about the DNA testing will be included in a lease addendum addressing pet issues, she said.

So far, Violette said, she has gotten a positive response from dog owners.

Adapted from:

Somehow, Helpful Buckeye senses a court case looming in the future of this method of detection. 

You've all most likely seen the Bulldog that wins all those surfing contests.  Well, it seems those Bulldogs can do more than just surf:

Remember in the mid-to-late '90s when everything was "extreme?" The X Games gripped the attentions of the country's boys and young men, giving us a thirst for all things intense, which we quenched without actually risking profound damage to our bodies by using products like deodorant and toothpaste that had the word "extreme"--or even better, "Xtreme"--on their labels.

But that wasn't extreme. You know what's extreme? A bulldog who surfs, sandboards, snowboards, and skateboards. You know what you don't do? Even a single one of those things, probably. I definitely don't. When I was 9, I got on my friend's skateboard, wobbling and falling on my butt almost instantly. That was the last time I dabbled in extreme sports. I didn't and still don't have the coordination or physical talent of a bulldog, one of the clumsiest looking and purportedly laziest breeds of dogs around. But dang if this pooch doesn't have a thing or two to say about those stereotypes.

Watch (and listen to) this video to gain some new respect for at least a few Bulldogs:

Apparently, this cat and dog never heard that they weren't supposed to get along with each other:

"Forbidden love is the best kind of love, isn't it? Everyone says it's wrong. They say a cat shouldn't love a dog. But it feels so, so right. They say it's unnatural. They say we're supposed to hate each other, that we're meant to be locked in eternal struggle. But baby, I just can't make myself feel hate for you. I just want to hold you and kiss all day long. When I look into those big, bug eyes of yours, I just swoon." 

Watch the video, accompanied by Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand:

Adapted from:

Just so you don't think the only strange and unusual "Tails" of dogs and cats are just about dogs and cats, PetMD recently surveyed 1500 pet owners about their opinions on pet owner loyalty.  Here are the results of that survey:

Dating, politics and friendships are influenced by pets and pet ownership.The survey found 90 percent of pet owners would choose their pets over money in a divorce and 66 percent would reject a presidential candidate who is perceived not to like pets.

Pet owners are extremely loyal to companies that support animals. 15 percent said they’d automatically buy products of a company that supports a pet charity over products from a company that doesn’t. 65 percent said they’d buy from a company that doesn’t support animal charities if product quality and prices are the same.

In romantic relationships, 90 percent of pet owners said they’d fight more passionately for their pets than they would money in a divorce. 60 percent of pet owners would be totally turned off and decline a second date if a date didn’t like pets. 30 percent would try to change the potential mate’s mind about pets before dumping him or her. 10 percent said they’d date the non-pet lover a second time.

In what are hopefully platonic relationships, 73 percent of pet owners surveyed said they’d choose their pet over a human if they could have only one best friend.

90 percent of pet owners overwhelmingly feel it is important for children to grow up around pets. Overwhelmingly, pet owners feel that their pets are family members. Oddly and interestingly, 25 percent of pet owners reported having tasted their pet’s food, perhaps in a similar manner to the way a parent tastes baby food.

12 percent of pet owners worry about veterinarian expenses. 25 percent, however, are concerned that their pet will get sick. The survey revealed that most of the participants are actively involved in their animals’ lives. 22 percent of those interviewed said their pets spend too much time at home while 20 percent fear that their pet is truly unhappy.

Pet health and wellness are among pet owners’ top worries, but education, many feel is a priority in maintaining pet health. 34 percent said they have excellent knowledge of what’s best for their pets.

The survey found that pets aren’t perfect and indeed share the trait of imperfection with humans. 53 percent of pet owners wish their pets could clean up after they go #2. And 3 percent wish their pets would feed themselves, but 50 percent of pet owners wish their pets could brush their own teeth.

With regards to scratching and shedding, a whopping 53 percent of pet owners said that scratching and shedding drive them most crazy about their pets. But on the other hand, the tolerance of pet’s scratching and shedding are the primary reasons pet owners have formed a community of their own. Not many are willing to make such sacrifices to accommodate the lives of animals.

Adapted from:

Yes, pet owners will always be a part of the circle of "strange" that applies to our dogs and cats!

Even though my LA DODGERS still have one of the worst records in Major League Baseball, this is All-Star week coming up and Desperado and Helpful Buckeye, being the baseball fans that we are, will be watching the Home Run Derby and the All-Star game.  We'll be right there in front of the TV, with our "ballpark" hot dogs, nachos, soft pretzels, and peanuts, cheering for the National League.


Helpful Buckeye had to postpone the upcoming 2nd event of the Quadathlon 2011, scheduled for this week in the Rocky Mountains, near Vail, Colorado, due to several things that all seemed to come together at the same time.  Mind you, I said, "postponed," rather than, "cancelled".  This event will take place at some point...I'm just not sure when.

Almost decided to not plant any flowers this summer...but, the urge was too strong.  Even though I got a late start due to my time in Pennsylvania, Desperado encouraged me to at least put a few flowers out in my pots.  Did that over the weekend and it felt good to get my hands in the dirt!

~~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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