Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Picking up the Poop

There is a hot debate on another site where I write, about pooper scooper laws. Here is my opinion on the topic.

All too often a dog's mess left behind by an irresponsible owner becomes someone elses problem. For this reason, and many others, requiring pet owners to clean up after their pets should be mandatory.

Besides a common courtesy to others, leaving behind dog poop could be hazardous to our health. Scientists have discovered that dog poop is a major cause of water pollution, and that such pollution poses a significant hazard to human health.
Canine waste contains lots of unhealthy bacteria with almost unpronounceable names: fecal streptococcus and fecal coliforms are just two examples. In sufficiently high amounts, these bacteria can make people sick.

Dog waste also contains other not-so-lovely disease-transmitting organisms such as roundworms. These parasites can cause their human victims to lose their vision temporarily, as well as trigger coughs and fevers.

As a dog owner, it always amazes me when people don't clean up after their pets when walking outside. The left over poop could be stepped in by other humans, kids, or animals, increasing the risk of spreading disease.
There continue to be public parks and walking trails looking to ban dogs. The main reason? Because of the mess dogs leave. The problem is, it's not the dog's fault, it's the owners. And now, responsible dog owners are suffering because others aren't cleaning up after their pets.

If a person doesn't want to clean up a little dog poop, why get the dog in the first place? That's one of the very simple responsibilities of having a pet. And for those of people who do clean up, they're stuck suffering the consequences of those who
leave a mess behind.

Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Diary of the Mad Pigeon, Blog @, The Amboy Times, Rosemary's Thoughts, The Random Yak, and Big Dog's Weblog, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Freshwater Angelfish

One my favorite freshwater fish is the angelfish. I've kept these semi-agressive fish for many years with no major problems. The fish is part of the cichlid family, who by nature can be territorial. They will also eat other fish that can fit in their mouths, so tank mates such as neon tetras won't last very long.

Angels should be kept in schools of 4-6 with plenty of room to swim. They generally prefer water a bit on the soft side with a slightly acidic PH (I keep my tank at 6- 6.5).

The great thing about angels is that there are so many strands and color varieties avaible in the hobby. Although most chain pet stores carry the basic colors, you can find more unique colors at speciality fish stores and at fish club auctions.

Here are some of the common varieties:

Gold angelfish have bodies that are a lustrous, light shade of yellow. The head of this beautiful variety of angelfish develops a brilliant shade of gold as it matures.

Silver angelfish have silver bodies, a tawny head, and black vertical markings. These markings can vary greatly. They can be dark, light, solid, or broken. Each Silver angelfish has its own unique pattern.

Koi angelfish (a picture of mine can be found on my homepage) are a stunning variety. These angelfish are white with patches of black and gold (resembling a koi fish).

Smoky angelfish are a unique variety. They are a beautiful shade of silver on their front half, and they are a dark gray or ebony on the back half. The distinct separation of color between the front and back looks almost as if it was painted on.

The marble colored angelfish are a mix of black with a white. Some strains almost appear to have more of a silver color then white.

Zebra angelfish have a black body with narrow stripes like that of a zebra. These striking fish are sometimes adorned with gold sparkles across the top. The details of this beautiful angelfish are simply amazing.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Joke of the Day

Quick pet joke.....what's the difference between a new dog, and a new spouse??

After a year, the dog is still happy to see you :-).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why Women Should Buy a Dog

If you want someone who will eat whatever you put in front of him and never says its not quite as good as his mother made it....
then buy a dog.

If you want someone always willing to go out, at any hour, for as long and wherever you want .. then buy a dog.

If you want someone who will never touch the remote, doesn't care about football, and can sit next to you as you watch romantic movies..... then buy a dog.

If you want someone who is content to get up on your bed just to warm your feet and whom you can push off if he snores..... then buy a dog.

If you want someone who never criticizes what you do, doesn't care if you are pretty or ugly, fat or thin, young or old, who acts as if every word you say is especially worthy of listening to, and loves you unconditionally, perpetually.....

then buy a dog.

But, on the other hand, if you want someone who will never come when you call, ignores you totally when you come home, leaves hair all over the place, walks all over you, runs around all night and only comes home to eat and sleep, and acts as if your entire existence is solely to ensure his happiness ...

then buy a cat!

Now be honest, you thought I was going to say.... then marry a 'man,' didn't you!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Fun Pet Quotes

"I've met many thinkers and many cats, but the wisdom of cats is infinitely superior."

"If there is no heaven for dogs, then I want to go where they go when I die."

"As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat."

"The phrase 'domestic cat' is an oxymoron."
-George Will

"Every dog may have his day, buy it's the puppies that have the weakends."

"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."

"If dogs could talk, perhaps we would find it as hard to get along with them as we do with people."

"Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about little puppies."

"If your dog doesn't like someone you probably shouldn't either."

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear."
-Dave Barry

"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful."
-Ann Landers

"Acquiring a dog, may be the only time a person gets to choose a relative."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wal-Mart Quietly Pulled Dog Treats

By now most of you have heard about the newest Wal-Mart "recall." I found this interesting article on how Wal-Mart went about pulling the items from the shelves. More products from China...shouldn't we know by now to be more careful of any edible products from China?

I can understand Wal-Mart's PR concern of wanting to have more information before announcing what was wrong with the items they pulled, but wouldn't it have been nice to inform the general public so that others who might be using these jerky strips could stop feeding them to their dogs?? To me that would be the more responsible thing to do.

Anyway, here's the article:

The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; 1:45 AM

LITTLE ROCK -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. quietly stopped selling two brands of dog treats in July, after customers voiced concerns that the Chinese products may have caused their pets to fall ill, but no recall has been announced, a company spokeswoman confirmed.

The world's largest retailer started pulling Chicken Jerky Strips from Import-Pingyang Pet Product Co. and Chicken Jerky from Shanghai Bestro Trading on July 26, spokeswoman Deisha Galberth said late Monday.

Wal-Mart also placed a computerized block on all cash registers to prevent workers from selling the products, Galberth said.

"When we took it off shelves at the end of July, we pulled it based on the customer feedback so we could do testing prior to announcing anything publicly," Galberth said. "That's why did not make a public announcement _ it was still going through the testing process."

Wal-Mart's action follows a massive pet food recall in March, when retailers began pulling products made in China that included the chemical melamine _ a contaminant that's a byproduct of several pesticides.

Galberth said she did not know what the specific customer complaints were about the dog treats, nor when the testing would be complete.

Galberth said she did not immediately know if the treats were sold at every Wal-Mart store.

"We are diligently testing this product," she said.

Philadelphia television station WPVI reported last week that a woman claimed her 2-year-old Chihuahua died after eating Bestro Chicken Jerky Strips. The station reported that an autopsy found the dog died of an infection caused by toxic bacteria.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cat avoids house fire by wedging into couch

Another example of a cat having "9 lives."

WEST ORANGE, N.J. - A New Jersey cat may have only eight lives left after it survived a house fire by hiding in the couch.

Firefighters initially thought the feline, who belonged to one of the tenants in the two-story house, had been killed by flames and smoke Saturday night. But after putting out the blaze and surveying the damage, they found the cat wedged into the couch.

“To our amazement, it had survived,” Fire Chief Peter Smeraldo told The Star-Ledger of Newark. “They should change that cat’s name to Lucky.”

No one was injured, and the cat’s owner, who was ecstatic to have the animal back, took the cat to stay at a relative’s house.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Try This At Home

With the growth of the pet industry, there have been plenty of "experts" in the field of dog training and behavior. While training classes for dogs are plentiful, a select few get their own TV shows.

The shows are entertaining and the work the trainers do are in some ways nothing short of amazing. Most shows provide great tips for training your dog and keeping them from destroying your home.

However, as the disclaimers say, these trainers are professionals who have been doing this work for years. Their methods work for them, and their techniques are proven to be safe when they are using them to train. Trying to mimic these techniques on your own dogs may not be the safest thing to do.

Professionals know exactly what type of leash to use and how to hold it properly to train the dog. This is not something that can be learned just from watching a TV show. In fact, on the website of one such shown the trainer sells a product that is made to mimic the type of collar he uses when he trains dogs. However, the website comes with a disclaimer: "The tips in this section are for information use only. We recommend seeking the assistance of a canine professional for further improving the relationship between you and your dog."

Now I know about the legalities of having a disclaimer, but I still feel this is smart advice.

Trackposted to The Bullwinkle Blog, A Blog For All, Public Domain Clip Art, The World According to Carl, and Pursuing Holiness, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Spending On Pets To Top $40 Billion

United States pet owners will likely spend more than $40 billion in 2007 on pet-related expenses, including food, accessories, veterinary care and gifts, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

The survey estimated that 15 percent of dog owners, 10 percent of cat owners, 7 percent of bird owners and 18 percent of horse owners planned to purchase a “pet-related” item in the next 12 months.

These items include pet scrapbooks, pet portraits and other products with the pet’s picture.

In addition, 6 percent of dog owners and 3 percent reported holding holiday or birthday parties for their pets and nearly one-half of dog and cat owners and one-third of bird owners reported buying pet-themed (no cartoons) gift merchandise, including calendars, jewelry, and T-shirts, for themselves or others.

The survey also revealed continued strength in the gift-for-pets market, with more than 70 percent of dog, cat and bird owners reporting they had bought a gift for their pet in the past 12 months.

Pet owners were most likely to give their pets a gift for no particular reason, followed closely by Christmas.

A distant third most common gift-giving occasion was the pet’s birthday. These trends held steady regardless of type of pet.

Dog owners gave the most gifts per year, with the 78 percent of dog owners who gave their dogs gifts averaging seven gifts per year. Bird owners averaged five gifts per year; cat owners, four.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Giardia infection in pets

With a new dog in our life, comes new health issues. When we first took our new dog in, he had bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. At first we figured it was just stress of the move to a new home, but unfortunately it was something more. A stool sample tested by the vet revealed an infection of Giardia.

Giardia are actually protozoans (single celled organisms) and are commonly found in the intestines of many animals, including dogs. This microscopic parasite clings to the surface of the intestine. A few percent of dogs and cats will carry Giardia organisms and not show any signs of disease. ((graphic description alert!)) Actual diarrhea, bloody or mucous stool often accompanied by gas production is seen most often in affected puppies and kittens. Giardia can have a significant impact on the health status of malnourished and stressed pups and kittens.

Giardia is transmitted from one dog to another through the ingestion of cysts in contaminated feed, drinking water or feces. Cysts may also be found in streams or other water sources, and can live for long periods of time in the water. Surveys have shown that about 14% of the adult dog population and over 30% of dogs under one year of age were infected.

The cysts are fairly resistant, and can survive for several months outside the animal as long as sufficient moisture is present. Mature cysts are usually found in the feces of infected animals. Animals become infected by ingesting these cysts. The ingested cysts then break open in the new host's intestine to release the motile feeding stage (trophozoite). Giardia reproduce by a process of cell division (called binary fission).

Giardia can infect humans. They symptoms are similar of those for dogs. However, there are still questions as to whether or not the strand that infects humans is the same that infects dogs. The significance pets play as a source of infection for humans is still under study.

Luckily, the treatment for my dog was oral medication. After only one day on the antibiotics, Kelso stopped vomiting, and his excretions became more normal. He’s been a much happier puppy and becoming easier to house train. Also, big brother Rocco didn't show any symptoms, but was put on medications just to be sure.

Just another day in the life of adopting a puppy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fat Cats Face Higher Diabetes Risk

Looks like humans aren't the only ones with an increased risk of diabetes due to being overweight. Here is an article about a study done on cats.......

Overweight cats are three times more likely to develop condition.

LONDON - Overweight cats who spend more time sleeping on the sofa than chasing mice face a growing risk of developing diabetes, researchers in Scotland said on Tuesday.

Pampered fat cats are three times more likely to develop the potentially fatal condition than cats of a normal weight, according to a study by the University of Edinburgh.

“The lifestyle of cats, just like their owners, is changing,” said Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore, from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

“They are tending to eat too much, gain weight and take less exercise.”

Many cats are housebound because they live in flats or because their owners think it is too dangerous to let them out, she added.

“They have little to do all day but eat, sleep and gain weight,” she said. “Unfortunately, just like people, cats will overeat if they are offered too much tasty food, particularly if they are bored.”

One in 230 pet cats in Britain is diabetic, with male, neutered or overweight animals at greatest risk, the researchers said.

The number of diabetic cats in Britain is now nearly five times higher than the figure recorded in a similar U.S. study in the 1970s, the research found.

The study, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, was based on an analysis of more than 14,000 cats and 760 questionnaires completed by owners.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Doggie Play Dates

Dogs are naturally pack animals and fare better from being with their own species. If you only have one dog at home, you may want to set-up a doggie play-date. Although I don’t know of any dating services for dogs, it’s not always that difficult to find a canine play-mate. If you don’t have any friends or family with a similar sized dog to play with, considered looking for local dog parks where you can bring your dog for free. Usually there are other dogs running around looking for one of their own kind to run with.

If that is not feasible, check the yellow pages for dog day-care centers or grooming locations. Some of these places offer play time for a small fee. One such groomer/kennel in my area charges a nominal fee to bring the dogs in their “obstacle course” for a couple of hours. It’s a fun time not only for the dog to meet other pups, but also for people to socialize and talk about their furry friends.

Here are some reasons to have play-dates for your dog:
-Tires the dog out, so that they aren’t as hyper
-socializes them at a young age. Dogs who are exposed to many different people and pets at a young age are less likely to be aggressive or fearful in unfamiliar places which will lead to fewer behavioral problems.
-allows them to be a dog – to run, jump, dig, chew. These are the dogs natural instincts…all things humans don’t want them to do!
-great exercise for a longer, healthier life.
- The exercise releases the dogs stress and energy.
- A bored dog can become a “bad-dog” where as an exercised dog leads to a well-behaved dog.

Friday, August 3, 2007

New Job Offer Stressful on Pets

A friend of mine called me with some exciting news – he’d just been offered a managerial job with good benefits. “Congrats,” I tell him. One problem, though…he has to go out of state for training for two months. He lives alone with his two large dogs and now has to figure out how to get care for his canine roommates.

Unfortunately, his options aren’t that great. Finding someone to take in two large dogs for two months is not an easy task. Finding someone who can housesit for two months is also not an easy sell.

Other options include breaking the dogs up for two months, sending them to different family members to watch. However, you still need to find two homes for two months. And the dogs will certainly miss each other.

Another option is to house the dogs in a kennel. The costs will be high and you run the risks of the dogs not getting the same love and attention they would have in his care. My friend also doesn’t like the idea since his dogs were rescued from a pound and now in some ways he feels like the dogs will feel they are back at the pound and may have anxiety issues.

What about hiring a pet sitting service to come over? He’s exploring that path, but it’s so hard to trust people you don’t know.

Hopefully things will work out for him. Some co-workers may help him out. The option that may work out the best is to basically have shifts of people he knows coming in for a few days at a time. It will confuse the dogs a bit, but at least the dogs won’t have to leave their home and will still have top notch care.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dog Housebreaking Blues

I’m the youngest of two kids, and my mom always told me that I was so high maintenance that if I was born first, she probably wouldn’t have had a second child. I’m starting to feel that way with my puppies. Our first dog, Rocco, was a breeze to housetrain. He picked up on things fast and had very few accidents in the house. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with Kelso.

I think the main reason is that Rocco was only 4 months old when we got him. He went from the Breeder, to a store, to our home. He hadn’t developed many bad habits yet and caught on right away with our dog litter box training methods.

Kelso, however, has had a different life. He’s 7 months old, and has gone from breeder, to pet store, to his first home (where he was somewhat neglected), to a second home (where he wasn’t compatible with the other pets) and finally to our home. Along his travels, I’m sure he was housetrained a different way in each home. He’s a confused little pup and he doesn’t know what is OK. He has this habit of only doing “his business” on the rug when no one is looking, which leads me to believe he was punished in some way for going on the rug, which is why he basically tries to hide when he has to “go.”

Over the last week, he has shown some improvements. He’s getting more comfortable living in our home, but still has his share of accidents. The most frustrating thing is that he really doesn’t signal before he has to go. With our first dog, Rocco, there is a whole routine he goes through when he needs to relieve himself. He runs wild, sniffs, and circles. Plenty of time for us to know his intentions. Plenty of time during training where we could bring him to where it was OK to “get busy.” Kelso, on the other hand, just stops and “flops.” No barking, no running, no sniffing, no circling. No advance notice.

However frustrating it has been, he’s come a long way in the last week and starting to run over to the litter box on his own first thing in the morning. The evening, on the hand, is a totally different story. So, we just take a deep breath, get out the stain remover and the carpet steamer, and clean the mess. Just part of the housetraining blues.

Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Pirate's Cove, Stuck On Stupid, The Random Yak, Allie Is Wired, and Big Dog's Weblog, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Silver Dollar" Fish Pic

This fish is commonly referred to as a silver dollar due to its shape and color.
I have two of them in my community tank.

About the Silver Dollar:
Silver dollars prefer subdued lighting, dark substrate, plenty of room to move about as well as some good hiding places. Because they will eat live plants, it’s advisable to use plastic plants, or very sturdy live plants. Although not fussy about water conditions, they do best in soft moderately acidic water.

These fish are mostly vegetarians. Among their favored foods are vegetable flakes such as spirulina, lettuce, watercress, and cooked romaine or spinach. They will also eat cooked vegetables such as peas and squash. When feeing any fresh food, take extra care to remove any uneaten portions promptly, as it will foul the water.

Even though the Silver Dollar prefers a vegetarian diet, they will eat meaty foods as treats. They are especially fond of bloodworms, mosquito larvae (glass worms), and brine shrimp. If the Silver Dollar is in a community tank, watch them at feeding time to ensure that more active and aggressive fish don’t get all the food. Silver Dollars can be rather timid in a crowd, and can end up underfed as a result.

Zebrafish study may point way to blindness cure

....Tropical fish have been studied for various reasons, many of which are to explain why they behave the way they do. This study may lead to health benefits for humans....

LONDON (Reuters) - The ability of zebrafish to regenerate damaged retinas has given scientists a clue about restoring human vision and could lead to an experimental treatment for blindness within five years.

British researchers said on Wednesday they had successfully grown in the laboratory a type of adult stem cell found in the eyes of both fish and mammals that develops into neurons in the retina.

In future, these cells could be injected into the eye as a treatment for diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetes-related blindness, according to Astrid Limb of University College London's (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology.

Damage to the retina -- the part of the eye that sends messages to the brain -- is responsible for most cases of sight loss.

"Our findings have enormous potential," Limb said. "It could help in all diseases where the neurons are damaged, which is basically nearly every disease of the eye."

Limb and her colleagues studied so-called Mueller glial cells in the eyes of people aged from 18 months to 91 years and found they were able to develop them into all types of neurons found in the retina.

They were also able to grow them easily in the lab, they reported in the journal Stem Cells.

The cells have already been tested in rats with diseased retinas, where they successfully migrated into the retina and took on the characteristics of the surrounding neurons. Now the team is working on the same approach in humans.

"We very much hope that we could do autologous transplants within five years," Limb told Reuters.

Autologous transplants, initially on a trial basis, will involve manipulating cells and injecting them back into an individual's own eye. Eventually, Limb hopes it will also be possible to transfer the cells between different people.

"Because they are so easy to grow, we could make stem cell banks and have cell lines available to the general population, subject to typing as with blood transfusions," she said.

Just why zebrafish have an abundant supply of adult stem cells to regenerate their retinas, while they are rare in mammals, remains a mystery but Limb suspects it is because mammals have a limiting system to stop proliferation.

The new work on Mueller glial cells is the latest example of researchers exploring the potential of different kinds of stem cells in treating eye disease. Another team from UCL and Moorfield's Eye Hospital said in June they aimed to repair damaged retinas with cells derived from embryonic stem cells.