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Friday, August 11, 2006

Amazing Gracie Needs a Home

Isn't she georgeous? She's in South Florida and she needs a home ASAP. She's 4, and her human is leaving the country. She'll do better as an 'only dog.' If you're interested, call 305-467-0831.

Do Those Things Pick Up Animal Planet?

This is Buddy from Miami: part dog, part satelite dish.

If you'd like your little precious on the blog, e-mail a picture to, and we'll put it up.

Canine Concierge

I've been meaning to put this Boston Globe story up for weeks. It's about Catie, the canine concierge at a fancy Boston hotel. She's a favorite with guests who miss their own pooches, and vie for the chance to walk her. Now, THAT'S a lucky dog. Click here for the story.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Barbaro's Better

Having lived in Louisville for 12 years - and covered 11 Kentucky Derbies - I've kept up an interest in race horses. Like a lot of other folks, after Barbaro's spectacular win at Churchill Downs in May, I thought he'd go all the way to a Triple Crown.

Then, of course, he suffered a broken leg in one of the most heart-stopping and horrifying moments in racing history, during the Preakness. He's been on the mend but was threatened by a hoof inflammation. Now, it seems, he's making progress again and getting better. He's a real trouper.

Click here to read a story in the Baltimore Sun about Barbaro's recovery.

Interesting Cancer Study

Contagious canine cancer: Press released on a new study out of the UK.

The source of a cancer that affects dogs around the world has been traced by scientists and vets at UCL (University College London) to a single wolf or dog, which probably lived in China or Siberia more than 250 years ago. In canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT), the cells of the tumour itself are transmitted between dogs during sex. No equivalent form of contagious cancer exists in humans, but the new findings challenge current thinking about the nature of cancer.

Some human cancers such as cervical cancer may be considered to be 'catchable', as they are initiated by viruses transmitted between people - in the case of cervical cancer, by certain types of papilloma virus. What is unusual about CTVT in dogs, however, is that no virus is involved - the cancer itself is effectively passed on.

In a paper published in the journal Cell, veterinarian researcher Dr Claudio Murgia conducted forensic DNA tests on tumour tissues from 16 dogs affected by CTVT. The dogs were being treated for the cancer by vets in Italy, India and Kenya who provided the biopsies. He found that in all cases, the tumours were genetically different from the affected dog - in other words, the cancer had come from a different dog. A further analysis of 40 tumours archived in vet labs in five continents showed that the tumours were genetically almost identical and demonstrated that CTVT originally came from a single source and has since spread across the globe.

To trace this source, the UCL team worked with geneticists and computer experts in Chicago and compared the DNA in the tumours to that in specific dog breeds. They found that the cancer most likely first arose in either a wolf or an 'old' Asian dog breed such as a Husky or Shih Tzu. The number of mutations accumulated in the DNA also enabled the researchers to obtain a rough estimate the age of the disease, which came out at around 1,000 years and not less than 250 years old.

CTVT is a serious but seldom fatal disease. Unless the dogs are already in poor condition, the tumours usually regress three to nine months after their appearance, leaving the dogs immune to re-infection. But that leaves enough time for the dogs and bitches to pass the tumour on through further sexual encounters. The tumour is rarely seen in pedigree dogs because they are not allowed casual sex, but it is relatively common in strays. It does not occur in the UK, because quarantine regulations (for rabies) effectively screened it out.

Professor Robin Weiss of the UCL Division of Infection and Immunity, who led the research team, says: "It appears that man's best friend can be its own worst enemy. Our study shows that CTVT has become a parasite that has long outlived its original host.

"Our discovery is of much broader significance than simply a disease in dogs. Firstly, CTVT represents the longest-lived cancer 'clone' known to science. It contradicts the current view that cancer cells generate more and more mutations and inevitably become more aggressive if untreated.

"Secondly, recent research in Australia has revealed the existence of a newly emerged tumour in Tasmanian Devils that also appears to be caused by transmissible cancer cells, in this case by biting. Devils are an endangered marsupial species and there are fears that the new tumour might finally kill them off altogether. The methods used at UCL for dogs could help to determine whether the Devil tumour is also a 'parasitic' cancer.

"Thirdly, our findings also show that cancer cells can evade immune responses and CTVT is particularly smart in this regard. On rare occasions cancer cells have been transmitted from one human to another by hiding in organ transplants. Because the recipient is treated with immunosuppressants in order to prevent rejection, the transferred cancer cells can then grow into tumours just like CTVT. That is why people who have suffered from cancer should not become organ donors."

Giant Schnauzer Needs a Giant Favor

Like a new home. Her name is Helga and she was " neglected dog out of the West Virginia Kennel from which 27 giants were removed from," I'm told by an e-mailer.

Helga is spayed, "and is said to be a female that wants to please her human companions. She is a smart girl who will need time, patience, and attention. She should be a spoiled and pampered 'only' dog."

If you're interested, e-mail

Yappy Hour!

The Pet Net Young Profesionals Group of the Humane Society of Greater Miami is hosting a fundraiser on Thursday, Aug. 24, 6 p.m., at OLA Steak and Tapas Muddle Bar, 320 San Lorenzo Ave., Merrick Park in Coral Gables.

The $15 cover includes one free drink. Dogs are welcome, of course, but have to stay on the patio.

For more info about the Humane Society, visit

Another Pit Bull Dies

Click here to read about another pit bull shot by a police officer who says he feared a deadly attack, in Broward County, FL.

Attmept to Save Chinese Dogs: A $100,000 Offer

Animal rights groups protesting the brutal slaughter of Chinese dogs because of a rabies outbreak have offered $100,000 to the government to buy vaccines. That doesn't sound like much, in my opinion, but it's a start.

Click here to read the story in today's Herald.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Huskies Seeking a Ride Got One; Pix From the Trip

Click here. I love the sleepy dog picture!

Dogs and Technology: Interesting Development

From the press release:


Smithtown, NY August 7, 2006 – Imagine getting lost on a busy street. You panic until you see or recognize something familiar. For people who are blind or visually impaired getting lost and looking at signs to find their way back is no option. Fortunately, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. recently partnered with Trekker, a lightweight orientation aid that uses a global positioning system (GPS) and digital maps to help a person who is blind or visually impaired find his or her way.

The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. offers Trekker training to their graduates so they can explore new destinations and gain more independence.

“This new technology opens the door for people who are blind or have visual impairments,” said Wells B. Jones, CEO of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. “It allows them to travel to unfamiliar places safely and independently. For graduates of the Guide Dog Foundation, they are getting first hand experience on how this new system works.”

Heidi Vandewinckel of East Northport, Long Island and a Guide Dog Foundation graduate has been trained on Trekker with her Guide Dog, Bruno. Working at Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, her job requires her to travel on business. With the help of Trekker, Heidi will know what street she is on and what type of intersection she is approaching in an unfamiliar city. More importantly, Trekker takes away the vulnerability of having to ask a stranger where she is.

At just 3.5” x 5.25” x 1,” Trekker is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Just like a GPS used in many cars today, Trekker can pinpoint the exact location of the user and direct them to their desired destination.

A Braille keypad is activated by default. The user enters in the desired location and a speaker will voice the directions. The speaker can be attached to a strap and worn around the user’s neck or as close as possible to his or her ears. The user will direct the commands from the speaker to their guide dog getting them safely to their destination.

“Trekker in no way replaces guide dogs,” said Mr. Jones. “It simply accompanies a trained guide dog enabling the user to go to unknown places. Specific Trekker training is needed.”

Since 1946, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind has provided guide dogs free of charge to people who are blind and are seeking enhanced mobility and independence. For more information or to learn more about how you can contribute to the Guide Dog Foundation, call the Development Office at 866.282.8045 or 631.930.9050 or visit

Turmoil at Tri County

We don't cover much in Palm Beach County anymore, so I have to defer to our competition, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, for this story.

The Tri County Humane Society shelter, which many South Florida humane activists consider animal heaven, is under attack by one-time volunteers who are alleging filth, neglect, and other transgressions. Shelter director Jeanette Christos vehemently denies the changes.

Click here to read today's update, then check the previous stories.

Take These Three Kitties...Please!

From a rescuer friend, who's trying to place these guys: Tommy Cupcake, on the counter, and Mr. Muffin, below, "are a firmly bonded pair, probably littermates together since birth. I so hope they can find a good home together, since they adore each other and play together so well.

"They were indoor/outdoor cats, although they've been doing fine as indoor cats. They're immaculately clean. A safe indoor/outdoor home probably would be OK, as long as they continued to get the love and attention they crave."

They were among dozens of animals rescued from a condemned trailer park in Naranja, FL, from which, says my friend, "Many pet owners simply drove off, abandoning their cats and dogs to fend for themselves. Some of the animals literally died on the doorsteps, waiting for their former owners to return."

I wrote about it at the time.
"A few private citizens, like myself, stepped in to help the dogs and cats left behind. A wonderful animal shelter in Naples, Friends of Gummi, accepted a disabled and abused male cat that required surgery and the sister who cared for him, and a third cat that tested positive for FIV. All three have found permanent homes, thanks to Friends of Gummi. To date, to my knowledge, no other organization has come forward to assist with either the cats or the dogs."

These guys - including Naranja, the black cat - have been neutered, had rabies shots, have tested negative for feline leukemia and FIV, were dewormed and deflea-ed. They're no older than a year. If you're interested, e-mail

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Athena, Warrior Goddess, Needs a Home

She's mostly Rottweiller, perhaps with a smidge of shepherd, and she's waiting at Miami-Dade Animal Services for a new home.

When she came into the shelter, she had a collar embedded in her neck and needed surgery. She's fine now. Why people don't understand that puppies GROW, and that collars get too small, I can't imagine, it happens. And if the wound gets infected, you've got real trouble (and suffering).

She's about a year old and her ID# is 888673. Call Aileen at Animal Services, 305-805-1778 for more information.

Pets in Condos Fight Continues

The petition drive to get condos to permit pets needs more signatures. This issue affects thousands of people and animals. Beloved pets end up in shelters, often being put down, because their human companions move into buildings where they're forbidden. It's a bad situation and you can help fix it.

Click here to sign the petition.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sage Advice From Dogs

If a dog was the teacher you would learn the following:

-When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
-Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
-Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be
pure ecstasy.
-When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
-Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
-Take naps.
-Stretch before rising.
-Run, romp, and play daily.
-Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
-Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
-On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
-On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
-When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
-No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout! Run right back and make friends.
-Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
-Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
-Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
-If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
-When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

From Tammy McIntyre, who reports: "Between my three adult bichons and the six puppies, I am exhausted...but moments like these bring me so much joy!"

They look like little mice! They're the offspring of her dog Sugar, and they are too cute.

Susan Butcher Succumbs to Leukemia

The four-time Iditarod sled-dog race winner died Saturday at 51. How sad. To read an obit, click here.