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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Some Pix of My Guys

Just got some film developed (hey- I'm a Luddite. Don't have a digital camera), and wanted to share some shots of my guys and a puppy we were dogsitting a couple of weeks ago.

His name is Teddy, he's mostly poodle, about five months old, and approximately the size of my 5 1/2 shoes. Maybe three pounds. And here he was with five large to extra-large dogs, running after them, constantly getting underfoot (and hence, getting stepped on regularly).

Apparently the little guy has a BIG ego, or delusions of grandeur, because his favorite target for harassment - biting the nose, grabbing the tail, etc. - was Harley, the 120-pound wolf hybrid (who's an extremely gentle soul, fortunately, and who endured it with weary good grace).
Send your pet photos to, and I'll put them up here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Why DO They Drink Out of the Toilet?

This burning pet-related question and many others are soon to be answered by Gina Spadafori, critter maven, in one of two new books: Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet: 101 of the Most Perplexing Questions Answered About Feline Unfathomables, Medical Mysteries & Befuddling Behaviors, and Why Do Dogs Drink Out of the Toilet: 101 of the Most Perplexing Questions Answered About Canine Conundrums, Medical Mysteries & Befuddling Behavior.

In my household, we refer to the toilets as "punch bowls." Certain canines seem to prefer the punch bowls to actual water dishes, which makes me wonder if there is, indeed, a more nuanced explanation than: "It's water, and I'm thirsty." (I'll have to get the book and find out).

Gina is a syndicated pet-care columnist who authored Dogs For Dummies, Cats For Dummies, and Birds For Dummies. Her co-author for these latest books is Dr. Marty Becker, "Good Morning, America's" veterinary correspondent.

Gina's also a friend of my close friend Elaine, in Sacramento, who yesterday looped me into their e-mail exchange about the upcoming publications. Gina said Becker was "a joy to have as a writing partner. We've had a blast putting these books together."

She's also got a great blog, called Dogma. To visit, click here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Take Your Dog to Work Day: June 23

If you're lucky enough to have an employer who'll allow it, you can participate in International Take Your Dog to Work Day, on June 23 (pictured: some of last year's participants).

I, sadly, won't be able to enjoy the company of my own and colleagues' canines, as The Miami Herald refuses to permit dogs in the workplace (except service dogs).

Mine, although they perform many much-needed services for me, such as emptying the kitchen garbage can (all over the floor), digging post holes (in the flower garden), and warming the bed (even when it's 95 degrees), don't meet the official definition.

To which I say: Bah, humbug!

If you're not familiar with the "day," it was launched eight years ago by Pet Sitters International, a professional organization, as a way of acknowledging the vital role that dogs play in our lives and of bringing attention to shelter pets.

To learn more about the orgnization and its special day, click here.

Now, go nag your boss to let you bring your dog to work!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

In Memory of Lincoln (with a warning to all dog lovers)

Bloat. The word itself sounds disgusting. The condition is even worse; it's deadly. And last week, it killed this beautiful and beloved dog, whose humans are deeply mourning his "terrific energy, mischievous playfulness, and loving nature."

His name was Lincoln, and he belonged to the relatives of one of my newsroom colleagues. Matt and Erika Bierman of Hollywood, CA, were so heartbroken by his sudden, unexpected, and preventable death, that they want to help educate people about what caused it.

Lincoln had some jaw pain, so to rule out a tumor, the Biermans took him to the vet for an x-ray. He also had his teeth cleaned. They asked whether they should feed him that day, given possible nausea from the anesthesia, and the vet said to go ahead.

Said Matt:

Lincoln, in his usual communicative fashion, asked to be fed...Shortly thereafter, he began to throw-up a white, foamy vomit...We decided to wait and see if he would pass whatever he needed to pass. That was a crucial mistake. Unbeknownst to us, Lincoln had bloat and stomach torsion, whereby the stomach twists over on itself, and begins to be denied access to his bloodstream.

By the time we got Lincoln to the vet in the morning, we were told to rush him to the emergency hospital for surgery...but too much dmage had been done to his stomach and spleen, and he never regained blood-pressure. Lincoln died late Saturday

In their grief, they began to research bloat and torsion, discovering that it's the second leading cause of death among large dogs.

Matt warns: If you see symptoms of it, you have between 1-2 hours to get your dog to surgery. The foamy vomit is one of the sure signs. Moreover, many cases of bloat manifest themselves particulalry after tooth-cleanings. The agent used to clean dogs' teeth adds to gas in their stomachs, and can be harmful. This gas should be released before they eat.

Finally, if you have a big dog, make sure that your primary vet is equipped to do the torsion surgery. Many are not, and the moments that you lose by going first to your vet can mean all the difference in your pet's life.

We miss Lincoln terribly and wish our vet had told us about the danger and signs of bloat in general, and the possibility of Lincoln's stomach being more susceptible after surgery. For now, all we can do is grieve the loss of a great and wonderful dog.

To read more about bloat, click here.

Cruelty Case Settled With Five-Figure Jury Award

It's wasn't the $1.625 million that an Estacada, Oregon, family sought in a civil suit to compensate for the loss of their beloved dog Grizz, under the theory that loss of companionship of a pet is just as valid as loss of a human being's companionship, but it was something.

A Clackamas County jury has awarded the Greenup family $56,400 in the death of Grizz, a 14-year-old cocker/Lab mix.

Raymond E. Weaver, a neighbor, must pay $50,000 in punitive damages, $6,000 for emotional distress, and $400 for the value of their dog.

Weaver intentinally ran over the dog four times in November 2004 - as his own daughters screamed for him to stop - amazingling not killing him on the spot. But Grizz ultimately couldn't be saved.

Weaver was subseqently convicted of first-degree animal abuse and sentenced to 90 days in jail.

To read more about the case, click here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sugar and Bear

These little fluffballs (Sugar has the toy) belong to Tammy McIntyre, who got them to help ease the pain of losing her beloved Malo, also a bichon.

Malo, who never went outside, disappeared after Hurricane Wilma. My colleague, Joan Fleischman, did an item about it in her column (Tammy was offering a $500 reward which, alas, failed to yield any leads).

But a woman called and offered to sell the two bichons she had. Tammy writes that they were in bad shape so she took them to save them.

"A couple of thousand dollars later, weeks with cones on their heads, medications, and plenty of home cooking and TLC, here they are today. They also got new names, and as you can see, are utterly spoiled! We never found Malo, but now have two million dollar babies!"

Send pictures of your pets to

Pet Plans in an Emergency

The Department of Homeland Security has a new brochure out dealing with taking care of pets in a crisis. You can download it from the department's site. To go there, click here.

Animal Lover Writes a Big Check

The University of Miami has announced that Arnold Grevior, a 1955 law school alum, has donated $100,000 to establish an animal advocacy program.

"As an alumnus, I wanted to do something for the law school and also find a way to educate our future legislators, judges, and prosecutors about the importance of animal advocacy," he said. "I hope others who feel as I do, will support this endeavor."

The endowment fund that the contribution establishes will be "dedicated to promoting awareness of legal issues related to animals," according to the university. "The gift will help create a classroom curriculum devoted to animal advocacy. Students will have an opportunity to see how all facets of the law whether it is probate, contract, negligence or criminal (animal cruelty), affect or are affected by the welfare of animals.

"This endowment will also fund a fellowship program for students to provide pro bono services outside of the classroom dealing with animals such as work at an animal shelter."

Grevior, of Fort Lauderdale, has been practicing law for more than 50 years. He's involved with the Humane Society of Broward County and other animal welfare groups.

More of Your Pet Pix

Here's Bailey at work, in the studio of his "dad," well-known Miami portrait/events photographer Morris Wolf. Bailey's "mom," Janie, is a computer specialist in the school system. He's 6 months old and too cute for words.

If you'd like your pet - dog, cat, bird, reptile, whatever - to appear on the blog, send photos to