Monday, December 26, 2011


The idea of "Holiday Rambling" was received with such positive response after Helpful Buckeye tried it for Thanksgiving weekend that we'll give it a go for Christmas and New Year's weekends.  If our readers actually have some free time during which to read both issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye would like to keep the topics diverse, interesting, and entertaining.  Hope you enjoy both issues....

Let's get started with some general informational tidbits...what you might call trivia, about cats and dogs.  I think you'll find this stuff pretty interesting.

How many times have you used a phrase in conversation and then wondered how that particular phrase come to be?  Here are some cat-related phrases for your enjoyment:

Cat-related idioms, their meanings, and histories
  • Cat got your tongue - "Why aren't you talking?"  The phrase probably comes from a custom in the Mideast hundreds of years ago, when it was common to punish a thief by cutting off their right hand, and a liar by ripping out their tongue. These severed body parts were given to the king's pet cats as their daily food.  Sounds a little gruesome to helpful Buckeye....
  • Cat's cradle - "A string game played by children...."  In early Europe, people believed a cat could increase the chances of fertility in a young married couple. A month after the wedding, a fertility rite was performed, where a cat was secured in a cradle, and the cradle was then carried into the newlyweds' house and was then rocked back and forth. This ensured an early pregnancy. The string game creates what looks loosely like a cradle, and over time it was called a 'cat's cradle.'
  • Cat's meow - "Something considered to be outstanding...."  Coined by American cartoonist Thomas a. Dorgan (1877-1929) whose work appears in many American newspapers
  • Catwalk - "A narrow walkway...."  Termed as such because of a cat's ability to balance in very narrow places
  • Clowder of cats - "a group of cats"  There is a 15th century reference to clouder and later crowder in the book of St Alban. It meant a variety of things but mainly a crowd, or cluster, clotting, coagulating. It appears to be a word which predates the Mayflower pilgrims who sailed from Plymouth by a couple of hundred years.
  • Dead cat bounce - "An automatic recovery in a financial market"  Refers to the lore that a cat 'bounces back' from death many times.  This phrase must seem offensive to cat owners....
  • Fat cat - "A wealthy and privileged person"  Cats that are well-fed and cared for are seldom skinny; hence, a person living the good life is a fat cat.
  • The cat's out of the bag - "To pass along a secret"  In medieval England, piglets were sold in the open marketplace. The seller usually kept the pig in a bag, so it would be easier for the buyer to take it home. But shady sellers often tried to trick their buyers by putting a large cat in the bag. If a shrewd shopper looked in the bag - then the cat was literally out of the bag.
Adapted from:

Even if you've had dogs for a long time, I'll bet there is something on this list that you didn't know:

Dog Facts – How Much Do You Know About Dogs?

1. How many bones do dogs have in their body?

Dogs have an average of 319 bones in their bodies.

2. Can dogs be sunburned?

Yes they can – and light-colored dogs are especially susceptible.

3. What is the average lifespan of a small breed dog?

The average lifespan of a small breed dog is anywhere from 12 to 18 years.

4. What is the average lifespan of a large breed dog?

The average lifespan of a large breed dog is 7 to 12 years. As a general rule, the larger the breed, the shorter the lifespan.

5. What is the normal temperature of a dog?

Normal body temperature for a dog ranges between 100.5 degrees F to 101.5 degrees F. Normal human temperature is 98.6 degrees F.

6. What is the normal heart rate of a dog? How does that compare to a human heart rate?

The normal heart rate of a dog is anywhere from 80 to 120 beats per minute (depending on the breed/size of the dog). Most humans have a heart rate of approximately 60 to 80 beats per minute. A dog's heart beats twice as fast as a human heart.

7. How many vocal sounds can a dog make and how does that compare to a cat?

Dogs can only make 10 vocal sounds – as compared to a cat that can make about 100 vocal sounds.

8. How old was the oldest living dog?

The oldest living dog on record lived in Australia. He was an Australian Cattle dog named Bluey who worked among cattle and sheep for nearly twenty years. Bluey lived to the age of 29 years, 5 months.

9. How does a dog's sense of smell compare to ours?

Dogs have over 200 million scent receptors in their nasal folds compared to our 5 million.

10. Of all the dog senses, which one does he trust least?

Dogs trust their sense of sight the least.

11. Can dogs see in color?

Dogs do see in color – but mostly in shades of gray. They cannot distinguish between red, orange, yellow or green. They can see some shades of blue but blues are often seen as shades of gray.

12. How does a dog's sense of taste compare to ours?

Humans have six times as many taste buds as dogs. Most of a dog's taste buds are located only on the tip of the tongue. Dogs can detect sweet, sour, bitter and salty tastes. A dog smells rather than tastes.

13. What percentage of dogs are thought to be obese in the United States?

 Approximately 25 to 40% of all American household pets are obese or overweight.

Adapted from:

Some new light has been shed on the historic development of the relationship between humans and dogs:
Prehistoric Dog Lived, Died Among Humans

Burial remains of a dog that lived over 7,000 years ago in Siberia suggest the male Husky-like animal probably lived and died similar to how humans did at that time and place, eating the same food, sustaining work injuries, and getting a human-like burial.

"Based on how northern indigenous people understood animals in historic times, I think the people burying this particular dog saw it as a thinking, social being, perhaps on par with humans in many ways," said Robert Losey, lead author of a study about the dog burial, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

"I think the act of treating it as a human upon its death indicates that people knew it had a soul, and that the mortuary rites it received were meant to ensure that this soul was properly cared for," added Losey, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta.

"Just like the humans in the cemetery, the dog was buried with other items, (such as) a long spoon made of antler," Losey said.

The dog was carefully laid to rest lying on his right side in a grave pit that, at other levels, also contained five partial human skeletons.

DNA and stable isotope analysis determined the animal was indeed a dog and that he ate exactly what humans at the site consumed: fish, freshwater seal meat, deer, small mammals, and some plant foods.

The canine's life, as well as that of the people, wasn't easy, though.

"The dog's skeleton, particularly its vertebrate spines, suggests that it was repeatedly used to transport loads," Losey explained. "This could have included carrying gear on its back that was used in daily activities like hunting, fishing, and gathering plant foods and firewood. The dog also could have been used to transport gear for the purposes of relocating settlements on a seasonal basis."

Additional fractures suggest the dog suffered numerous blows during its lifetime, possibly from the feet of red deer during hunting outings. The researchers cannot rule out that humans hit the dog, but its older age at burial, food provisions, and more suggest otherwise.

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Going back even further in time, this study provides a probable site of birth for the first dog:

Even Your Pet Dog Was First 'Made in China'

Genetic tests confirm that the Asian region south of the Yangtze River is where people most likely began domesticating wolves.

PROBLEM: Scientists who study genetics, morphology, and behavior agree that dogs are descended from wolves. There's no such consensus, however, on where these canines were first domesticated.

METHODOLOGY: Peter Savolainen and Mattias Oskarsson, scientists at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology, along with several Chinese researchers analyzed DNA from male dogs around the world, including specimens from the Asian region south of the Yangtze River (ASY).

RESULTS: About half of the canine gene pool was universally shared everywhere in the world, and only the ASY region had the entire range of genetic diversity.

CONCLUSION: The DNA of dogs from all over the world can be traced back to the ASY region.

IMPLICATION: Previous studies that have pointed to the Middle East as the area where people began domesticating wolves may be mistaken. As Savolainen says in a statement: "Our results confirm that Asia south of the Yangtze River was the most important -- and probably the only -- region for wolf domestication."

SOURCE: The full study, "Origins of Domestic Dog in Southern East Asia is Supported by Analysis of Y-Chromosome DNA," is published in the journal Heredity.

Adapted from:    

Moving back to pets of the current times, here are some interesting, and sometimes funny, accounts of how pet owners have been scared by their pets:

Pets That Scare People – Real Stories

We asked people in a poll, "Has your pet ever scared you?" Almost 80% said yes and about half of them say they were scared badly. They wrote several stories that we would like to share with you. Some are VERY funny. WE hope you enjoy.

Mary wrote:

"This happened many years ago when I was about 14 or 15. My mom and I were alone in the house sometime in the wee hours and all of a sudden the piano began to play disjointed notes - very loud!

I jumped out of bed and met my mother in the hallway. Both of our eyes were wild - who was in the house and why were they playing the piano?!

We went to the living room and there was Pinadee, our cat, standing on the keys of the piano. She had obviously been running back and forth on the keyboard, playing music.

We put her on the floor and went back to bed, although it was some time before our hearts were beating normally enough to go to sleep. The next morning there was a dead mouse on the floor underneath the piano!"

Kim wrote:

"My scare came with my dog Allis. We had gone to church one Sunday morning, and left her alone. She has a little separation anxiety but she usually is very good and doesn't get into trouble.

We had thought that we picked up everything that was food that she may get into, but my family forgot to shut a door to the bedroom where they had stored some baking supplies. Well Allis, went investigating while we were gone and found some baker's chocolate. Now at the time she weighed about 89 pounds. When we got home we walked into the kitchen and she was acting like she was in trouble, not excited like she normally would be. She normally will put herself in a corner when she does something wrong. So we checked all over the house and finally went into the bedroom and saw an assortment of wrappers, and chocolate powder all over the place.

I called our local vet immediately. We knew that it only had been maybe an hour or so since she had ingested it. The vet asked how much she had eaten and I said probably close to 16 oz. Now chocolate is very toxic to dogs, and sometimes if they consume just a little they can reach toxic levels. The vet figured that she was near toxic levels so asked us to bring her in immediately. So we packed her up and rushed to the vet.

She was brought immediately in and taken to the back room so they could make her vomit the chocolate out. They started her on IV's to keep her hydrated. After a few hours of sitting back there with her and absolutely panicking, they said that she was right on the edge of chocolate toxicity and that if she weighed any less she probably would be in serious trouble. The veterinarian was trying to keep me relaxed by saying that because she was a chocolate lab she liked chocolate. That wasn't helping. All I kept thinking was that I can't lose her, she's my little girl. We were very fortunate.

She hasn't touched chocolate since. It was very traumatic for her to be made sick to get it out of her system. We were sent home with her and told to watch her for any symptoms of her having a problem with the chocolate still in her system, but she was fine - just a little more hyper than normal, which is a symptom but not as bad as the rest. We were always told that she was over weight, and we'd been working on helping her lose some weight. But that day it was good that she weighed 89 lbs because if she weighed any less she wouldn't be here. Since that day we've worked on her to get down to her ideal weight of 67 lbs."

Christi wrote:

"I heard what I thought was someone in my utility room which has the back door. I got out of bed, creeping through the living room when I saw this huge shadow of what I thought was a person, coming down the hall. As I watched with my heart in my throat, my 12-pound cat appears looking very small compared to that shadow. The hall nightlight cast her shadow. WHEW!"

Keri wrote:

"I haven't had my cat too long. She came to us as a kitten in February when the weather was bad and it was about to snow. So, we gave her a home and were so glad we did. She's turned out to be a great addition to our household. 

I would have to say the only thing thus far she has done to really scare me is when I'm napping or lying in bed engrossed in a movie, etc. and she jumps clear out of nowhere on top of me! We rarely let her in our room at night because she likes to do that or simply make me her bed. We love her dearly though and enjoy her daily antics!"

Margaret wrote:

"Our Papillon, Bronco, has given me the chills on several occasions. Sometimes at night when we are in the den watching TV he will growl and stare at something in the dining room. There is nothing to be seen, but I wonder if there is a presence there that he makes me somewhat unnerved and there are times when my husband isn't home that I won't go into that room. Ghosts??"

Meghen wrote:

"My cat is old but I love her to death. When she is cold she'll go into our room and take a catnap under the covers.

One day I couldn't find her (don't laugh, she is like my daughter), so I went to my room because that's where she goes sometimes. I sat down on the bed and felt around in the covers (she is skinny). I found her but she didn't move. I wiggled her again - nothing. My heart was racing, tears swelling up in my eyes. Just as I was about to call my hubby....WAM!!!! She jumped up and started rubbing on me. I almost went into cardiac arrest. I'm serious.

She still has those DEEP naps and I still get worried...AHHH!!!!!"

Cate wrote:

"One night my fiancé and I were sound asleep when all of a sudden I awoke to a loud banging noise that sounded exactly like someone hitting our door. My heart was pounding as I waited and a few seconds later the pounding happened again.

Just as I turned to wake my fiancé he looked at me and put his finger to his lips indicating I should be quiet. He slowly got up and grabbed the shotgun he keeps next the bed. Just then the pounding noise sounded again exactly like someone was trying to break down our back door.

As he slowly crept into the living room I sat up so I could see what was going on, my heart still pounding. Just as he got into the living room where he could see the backdoor, a car came down the hill flashing into the living room a brief light and leaving a bunch of shadows on the wall. As the shadows moved down the wall our black female cat jumped as hard as she could against the walling room I sat up so I could see what was going on, my heart still pounding. Just as he got into the living room where he could see the backdoor, a car came down the hill flashing into the living room a brief light and leaving a bunch of shadows on the wall. As the shadows moved down the wall our black female cat jumped as hard as she could against the wall paneling, which proceeded to make a very loud banging just like someone trying to break in our door.

My fiancé lowered his gun shaking his head and telling Izzi (our cat) just how much she had scared mommy and daddy and to stop chasing shadows. To this day we still call her the Shadow hunter and laugh about our door being 'broken down'..."

Adapted from: 

Helpful Buckeye knows that many of our readers have similar stories to's just that way when you have a dog or a cat.

For those of you with an indoor cat, it's not always accidental that they are extremely happy.  Here are some ideas that lead to "happy":

5 Secrets of Supremely Happy Indoor Cats

You don't have to open the door to the great outdoors to give your cat a more interesting life. In fact, by just looking at your home from a pet's point of view and adding a few environmental enrichments, your cat can be both safe and happy indoors. Here are five easy ways to get going:

1. Think Vertical

Cats love to climb, so give them the opportunity. Cat trees mounted floor-to-ceiling, wrapped with sisal rope and studded with platforms for perching will give your cat the opportunity to look down on the rest of the world. This is especially satisfying if there are dogs in the household. What cat wouldn't like the chance to finally look down on the dog?

2. Add Toys

The cat with the most toys wins. Every indoor cat should have toys for batting around, toys for chasing, toys to hide inside and toys for interactive play. And don't forget that some of those toys ought to have catnip in them. While not all cats can enjoy the fragrant herb, those who do find it extremely blissful. If your cat is a catnip junkie, indulge him frequently. Rub fresh catnip onto cat trees or scratching posts, or stuff it into toys. It's perfectly safe for your cat to enjoy the buzz.

Some of the most enjoyable toys for both people and cats are the interactive ones. Every cat lover should have a "kitty tease" toy, typically a flexible rod with a line that ends in something furry or feathery to engage a cat's prey drive. Other interactive toys include gloves with goodies dangling from the fingertips, or laser pointers that offer cats a spot of light to chase. (Just be careful not to aim the beam into your cat's eyes).

3. Provide Rooms with Views

Whatever the size of the house, your indoor cat will know every one of its sights and sounds within just a few days. Provide a little visual stimulation by putting a bird feeder outside a window fitted with a cat-sized ledge that allows for comfortable viewing.

Be aware, though, that the view of the world isn't always going to work for your cat. If your yard is attracting other cats from the neighborhood, your own cat may become frustrated by the sight (he can even turn that frustration into attacks on people in the house!). Blocking visiting cats from your yard or discouraging them with sprinklers may solve the problem. Otherwise, you may have to make certain windows off-limits to your own cat.

If a window view isn't going to work, try a TV. A few companies offer DVDs for cats. Pop one of these in, and it will entertain your cat with a lively mix of feline-friendly images and sounds, including those of birds and rodents.

4. Go Green

Cats love nibbling on plants. Any decent feline reference book will provide a list of plants which should not be in a pet-friendly house. You can also visit the Animal Poison Control Center for information on dangerous plants.

After you get the unsafe ones out of the way, protect your decorative houseplants by hanging them up or otherwise placing them out of reach. Keep cats from digging in your decorative pots by putting a layer of small, rough stones over the dirt. You can then add a collection of accessible plants (such as grass shoots) for him to rub.

5. Give Face Time

Of course, one of the best things you can do for your indoor cat is to spend time with him. Playing, grooming, petting or just plain hanging out -- it's all good. Your cat loves you and loves spending time with you.

Keeping a cat inside is one of the best ways to ensure a long and healthy life, but it won't be a very happy existence unless you're going to add some intrigue to the surroundings. It doesn't take much in the way of time or effort, so get going. Your cat will thank you!

Adapted from:

You'll remember the term, "Fat cat," from the list of idioms.  Here is a story of what might be the ultimate "Fat cat":

Italian cat inherits €10m fortune

Tommaso, a four-year-old, one-time stray from Rome, is thought to have become the world's richest cat.

Since the death of his 94-year-old mistress last month, he has become a property magnate with flats and houses worth an estimated €10m scattered from Milan in the north to Calabria in the south. This symbol is for British pounds...with a conversion factor of approximately 1 pound=$1.56.

In a handwritten will, signed on 26 November, 2009, Tommaso's mistress — the childless widow of a successful builder — gave her lawyers the task of identifying "the animal welfare body or association to which to leave the inheritance and the task of looking after the cat Tommaso".

One of the lawyers, Anna Orecchioni, told the Rome daily Il Messaggero they considered several organisations without getting adequate guarantees of the cat's future comfort and welfare. In the meantime, the old lady met a fellow cat-lover – named only as Stefania – in a park. "Sometimes I'd go to her house so my cat could play with Tommaso," Stefania said.

As the old lady became increasingly frail, Stefania, a nurse, began to take care of her.

"She needed someone to help her move around, shower and eat. I looked after until the end," she said.

Under Italian law, animals cannot inherit directly. But they can be beneficiaries if a suitable trustee is found. The elderly widow decided to entrust the cat – and his fortune – to Stefania.

Tommaso's trustee, who is now looking after him at an undisclosed address outside Rome, said: "I had no idea the signora had such wealth."

But the fortune pales by comparison with that of Gunther IV, an Alsatian dog who inherited from his father Gunther III, the pet of a German countess. According to the Pet Gazette, he is worth around $372m.

The richest cat was previously thought to be Blackie, who was left £9m by his reclusive British owner in 1988.

Adapted from:

Yes, this could be the ultimate "Fat cat"...and, Stefania most likely has had a bunch of "friends" come out of the woodwork!

It seems that people with children and pets have been told forever that Poinsettias are toxic if ingested or contacted.  Now, some new information debunks that idea:

Poinsettia's Pretty Poison is Another Merry Myth

The most popular flowering potted plant in America sells more than 61 million in six weeks!

The iconic poinsettia is an easy and inexpensive way to instantly add a dash of color to any setting. However, the same foliage that is chosen for its cheerfulness is also feared for its alleged toxicity.

But pronouncements by public health officials disputing the common misconception has done little to dispel what could be the season's second biggest myth.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Web MD, and a 1996 study published in the "American Journal of Emergency Medicine," the poinsettia plant is not toxic, fatal or a public health threat.

"You would have to eat a truckload of leaves to have any kind of reaction," said horticulturist Hollis Malone.

Malone is Gaylord Opryland Resort's manager of horticulture and pest control and oversees the purchasing and placement of the attraction's 15,000 poinsettias each holiday season. That includes the 800 six-inch plants that are used to create an 18 foot poinsettia tree displayed for guests in one of the facility's three atriums.

Another study at Ohio State University showed that a 50 pound child who ate 500 of the plant's showy leaves might have a slight stomach ache. And the American Veterinary Medicine Association of America does not list the poinsettia on its list of plants that are dangerous to animals.

Regardless of the numerous published reports, Malone said there is still a lot of old information circulating about the milky white sap from the leaves. Just like anything else, some people with skin and other sensitivities may have allergic reactions to the sap, "but there are a heck of a lot more things around the house more dangerous to kids and animals than poinsettias," Malone said.

Historically, the dreaded sap was actually used in healing rituals, according to University of Illinois' Extension website, The Poinsetta Pages. The milky substance was used to control fevers and the bracts (leaves) were used to make a reddish dye during the 14th through 16th centuries.

Native to Mexico and brought to the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett, poinsettias contribute upwards of $250,000,000 to the U.S. economy—at the wholesale level—and are the best selling potted plant in the U.S. and Canada, according the Poinsettia Day website.

Today, poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states, and California is the top poinsettia producing state. The Poinsettia Day website says that 99 percent of all the flowering poinsettias in the world get their start in California.

Each year, growers and cultivators develop new hybrids of the plant to introduce brighter, showier bracts, or leaves, into the market.

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Helpful Buckeye hopes you all have a good week between Christmas and New Year's.  Be sure to get right back here next week for the next installment of "Holiday Rambling"....

The Pittsburgh Steelers stubbed their toes last week in the Monday night game and missed a great opportunity to take the divisional lead away from the Ravens.  However, as is frequently the case in sports, they still have a chance to win it if Cincinnati can beat Baltimore this coming weekend.  The gods of football giveth and they also taketh away....

Ohio State continues to be the #2 team in the country in basketball.


This has been a difficult year, on several levels, for Helpful Buckeye.  I had always felt that plenty of effort and a lot of thought would help me get things done the way that would do the most good for everyone concerned.  However, that theory was in dispute this year, big time.  For more than half of the year, I felt like I was living the words of Bob Seger's song, Against The Wind:

Against the wind
I'm still runnin' against the wind
I'm older now but still runnin' against the wind
Well I'm older now and still runnin'
Against the wind
Against the wind
Against the wind.

Nonetheless, with a renewed desire for moving ahead, Helpful Buckeye is eagerly awaiting 2012 and the much-improved prospects for accomplishments, better health, and happiness.  Desperado concurs...we look forward to runnin' WITH the wind!

~~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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