Friday, December 28, 2012

Some of 2012's Pet-Related Trends

In some ways it seems as if 2012 has just begun.  Wasn't it just New Year's Eve?  Well, no, but it soon will be again and as we look forward to 2013 it's time to look back, too.

We're not the only ones reflecting on the past year when pet food recalls and jerky made in China scared pet owners, with good cause.  The website decided to look at the pet trends in 2012.

I find it particularly interesting that at the top of their list is the trend that small dogs dominated dog shows this year.  I had predicted a rise in small dog interest and ownership about fourteen years ago.  I could see the baby boomers growing older, downsizing, becoming empty-nesters but thought they'd still want to own a dog, one that could easily go everywhere with them. A small dog seemed the obvious choice. No long afterward I wrote my first book, "The Irrepressible Toy Dog."  It was just about three years ago that I updated, expanded and revised that book and brought it out under a new and more appropriate title: "Small Dogs, Big Hearts."

The start of another trend, perhaps, is that Los Angeles  became the first city where the selling of cats and dogs in pet stores is illegal.  We can only hope that the ban will cut down on the number of dogs and cats bred in mills, by backyard breeders and commercial breeders.  Anyone who wants a purebred should go to either a responsible, ethical hobby breeder who shows their dogs and cats and does all possible pre-breeding tests for genetic diseases.

Oddly enough, groomers are now doing washable tattoos for pets for about $10.  No, I can't explain why anyone would want to do that.  Prior to this, all tattooing of pets had to do with a number that was registered so the owner could be notified if the dog got lost and was found by someone who checked for a tattoo.

Happily, Pit Bulls found their way into books bringing them some positive attention for a change.  They used to be much-loved but drug dealers and those who train dogs for illegal fighting managed to ruin their reputation. Blame the Deed, Not the Breed.

Even as Breed Specific Legislation was being fought, Lennox, a "Pit Bull-like" dog in Belfast, Ireland was put to death. Despite please to save him, even from those who are known for their dog knowledge, in the end it meant nothing to those determined to kill this family pet.  Happily, Massachusetts repealed their BSL ban and Ohio changed the language of their dangerous dog law to remove breed specific mention.

Dog clothing is nothing new but heads turned when Bret Michaels of the rock band, Poison, came out with a line of rock and roll dog clothes. No, I can't explain it.  

2012 was the year when many dogs got sick and many died from dog jerky treats made in China. Hopefully, this has resulted in more owners reading labels before purchasing treats for the pets.

A study in "Pediatrics" magazine showed that babies living with cats or dogs were 30% less likely to suffer from respiratory infection symptoms like coughing, wheezing, runny or stuffy nose, and fever and about half as likely to get ear infections. The study also found that babies living with dogs needed fewer courses of antibiotics than those living in pet-free homes.

Okay, this one isn't really news: cats love to play with mouse toys.  That's a continuing trend in toy sales.

Neither is this one: you should know that it's not safe to give your dog real wishbones.

And their list wraps up with movies starring animals and about animals being another trend in 2012.

What can we expect in 2013?  That's an excellent question.  We'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Shopping for Your Cat

When it comes to the holidays, our pets are part of the family and are becoming more commonly part of the gift-giving experience. Frankly, I've always done this, when I a dog owner and now with my cat. You can see a photo of my girl here for the first time. Although she's on my website, this is my cat's first appearance on my blog. Aimee is a 13-year-old Chartreux and she's my little angel girl.  How could I not include her in holiday celebrations?!

Whether she's getting toys, treats or perhaps a piece of kitty furniture like a scratching post or a kitty hammock chair, she gets a gift.
Photo Copyright: Veronique Schejtman

In a survey done this year by TEMPTATIONS treats for cats, nearly half of all cat owners (46%) reported that they were going to shop for their pet for the holidays. The gift is either a toy or treats but  the owners think their cats would prefer treats even though 84.9% of cat owners will opt to purchase a toy. Obviously, both are good gifts.

It's no secret that treats can be overdone. You don't want kitty to gain weight. But kitty, like us, needs to have something special. You just need to be aware of how many treats your cat gets each day, working in that amount with the amount of food kitty gets for the day so that you're not overfeeding your cat. 

Treats are a great reward when you train your cat. Some cats work for treats, some for a favorite toy and some for affection. Using operant conditioning (clicker training) you can train your cat to do anything a dog can do. And treats and clicker training are also a great way to train shelter cats which makes their life more interesting and makes them more adoptable. And did you know that your cat can do agility? (http://http://www.catagility.comYes, there is cat agility and whether or not you enter a competition, you can have fun practicing at home.

It doesn't take long for your cat to learn, and one word that quickly becomes part of a cat's vocabulary is "treat."  Aimee comes running when I ask her if she wants a treat. Hers go on levels of her cat tree when we're not doing some training, so she has to climb and get some exercise.

According to the TEMPTATIONS survey, women (48.7%) are more likely than men (42.6%) to consider their cat when shopping for holiday gifts. But, interestingly, the majority of gift-buying men (38.3%) will spend from $11 - $20 on their cat while the majority of gift-buying women (38.3%) estimate that they spend between $6 - $10 on their kitty.

Cat training obviously helps build the bond between kitty and person. Adding a treat can enhance the experience.

We have a special contest thanks to the nice people at TEMPTATIONS. Your can win a pet stocking filled with treats and toys! To enter, send me a message via my website (  The winner will be announced this Thursday, December 20th. Hopefully, that will be enough time to get the stocking to the winner in time for Christmas.  I know your kitty will love it whenever it arrives!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Judah Maccabee - Chanukah Blog Crawl

This is my day for the Chanukah Blog Crawl.  We share the day with Catself: and we encourage you to surf there when you've finished reading this post.

You’ve already read that Chanukah is celebrated because oil that was meant to last for one day, lasted for eight.  The backstory is rooted in one family, The Maccabees, and specifically one Maccabee son, Judah.

The story goes back to the 2nd Century BCE, when the Syrian-Greek army came to conquer the Jewish people. They didn’t just want their land, they wanted to destroy their very culture. They ordered Jewish people to eat pork, to sacrifice pigs to Greek gods. If a Jewish mother wanted her infant son to be circumcised both she and her baby were killed. The Syrian-Greeks wanted the Jewish people to think like them, worship like them, to become exactly like them. Jewish brides were forced to sleep with Syrian-Greek officers before they could sleep with their husbands. And teaching the Torah, the very heart of the Jewish religion, became a capital crime. The Greeks wanted total assimilation of Jews. And there were “Hellenic Jews” who aligned themselves with them.

Sages and their students went into hiding to preserve the Torah. The religious Jewish people did everything they could to remain Jewish, including holding weddings in secret. Many Jewish people were tortured and then murdered when they were discovered. There was tremendous suffering for the Jewish people of Israel.

The religious Jews would not give up their religion and their culture, realizing that while Jewish people love peace, there comes a time when one must fight and that time had come.

One Hasmonean family of five sons stood up to the Syrian-Greeks. The Maccabees, led by the patriarch Mattisyahu, started a rebellion but Mattisyahu died before he could see the rebellion become a full out war.

Leadership passed to his son, Judah, who changed the course of Jewish history. Brilliant as a leader on the battlefield, as well as inspiring thousands of Jewish people to take up arms and fight. Judah devised ways for the much smaller band of Jews to outwit and out maneuver the much larger and better equipped Syrian-Greek Army. One Jewish family is at the heart of saving the Jewish religion and culture.

When the Jewish people captured Jerusalem they had to rededicate the Temple, which had been fouled.  It was then that they lit a wooden Menorah with the one small amount of untainted oil they could find. It was enough oil to last for one day but it lasted for eight days. It was a great miracle that happened in Jerusalem.  The name, Chanukah, comes from the Hebrew word for Education.  The Jews who fought for their religion were Torah scholars and to preserve the religion one must educate themselves and the children.

Interestingly, there would be no Christianity or Islam if this war hadn’t happened because both Religions came into being in the post-Greek period.

Today, as we light our menorahs in our homes, we are not only united with Jewish people around the world but with the seven branched golden menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  

My Chanukah wish is that every dog and cat finds a loving home where he or she lives as a true member of the family.

Happy Chanukah!

Please remember to surf over to Cat Wisdom 101 tomorrow for the final Chanukah Crawl Blog Post:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why You Should NEVER Give a Pet As a Gift

First let me remind you that we're part of the Chanukah Blog Crawl. Here's the link to the entire schedule:

If you've been reading my work for any amount of time, you already know how I feel about pets as gifts at any time of year but this is an especially vulnerable time for people, puppies and kittens. Most kids are begging for a pet and many people are loathe to refuse.  I'm not saying that every family shouldn't have a pet. What I am saying is that there's a lot to consider and even then, the new pet shouldn't arrive for the holidays.

Is your family ready for the lifetime commitment of having a pet? A dog or cat shouldn't be thrown outside. If you want to plant something outside, buy a tree. A pet is not a television or refrigerator that sits in the corner.  A pet is an interactive family member who needs attention, training, food, fresh water, veterinary care and appropriate toys. If you get a cat you will also need a sturdy cat tree, a sturdy scratching post and two litterboxes because the rule of them is one for each cat and one for the house. 

You cannot expect the child to take care of the pet although the child (or children) can help with age-appropriate pet chores and everyone can learn clicker training which can be done with both a dog and a cat.  

If you've decided to get a pet for your family and you are ready for the responsibility, including who will take care of the pet while everyone is out of the house at work and school, decide which type of pet is best for your family and your lifestyle. Most people put more time into choosing a new car or kitchen appliance than they do into a new family member.  If you want a purebred dog or pedigreed cat, go to a reputable breeder and if you have to go on a waiting list, so be it. It's worth it the wait for a healthy, well socialized pet. Or you can go to breed rescue and adopt a purebred who has lost his or her home through no fault of their own. You can also go to your local shelter and save a life. But be sure to ask why the cat or dog was brought to the shelter, as well as the pet's activity level to see if it matches that of your family and will fit in with other pets you might have.  

Whatever you do, do NOT go to a pet shop.  Pet shop puppies come from puppy mills where they are bred without thought, usually in crowded, cruel conditions where they live on paper, sleep and eat on paper, defecate on paper and are more difficult to housetrain and often have both health and socialization problems.  They are then gathered together by a "bunters" when they are entirely too young to leave mom and littermates and are trucked to pet shops and put on display for higher prices than you would pay to a responsible, ethical breeder whose male and female are health checked before breeding, the puppies or kittens are well-socialized, and don't leave their mom and littermates until their about 12 weeks old and have had a chance to learn to play and interact with others of their own species. 

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has a wonderful campaign: Puppies Are Not Toys. Please take a minute to watch their wonderful video:

Instead of giving the pet, give a Puppy or Kitten "layette," with an appropriate book on care of your newcomer, a breed specific book if you're opting for a purebred or pedigreed family member, appropriate toys, a bed, food and water bowls, etc.  Look for a veterinarian and be sure to make an appointment within 72 hours after your new pet comes home (but not in the first 24 hours) to be sure the newcomer is healthy. 

Also bringing a pet home during the holidays when people are in and out, everyone is busy and there's too much activity - enough to confuse even an established family pet is not a very nice thing to do to your new companion.

Waiting to bring home the pet will allow the family has time to prepare for the newcomer.

Our friends at the ASPCA ( are offering one of my readers a wonderful holiday gift that contains:

-    Smidge cat toy
-    Paw stockings
-    ASPCA orange tote
-    ASPCA magnet
-    ASPCA orange wristband

How can you win?  E-mail me through my website ( between now and Monday, December 17th.  One winner will be chosen.  Good luck! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Holidays and Your Pets

Where has the year gone? The Holidays are here again and sharing them with our pets is part of the fun. However, there are potential dangers for your beloved companions.

If you are decorating the house remember that many plants are poisonous to dogs and cats including ivy, lilies, poinsettia, holly and mistletoe. While poinsettia may not kill your cat or dog it will at the least make your pet very sick. It's better to err on the side of caution.

If you're putting up a Christmas Tree don't put it close to the wall or near furniture because it's too easy for your cat to climb up and topple it and get hurt. Pets can also easily break ornaments. The shards of glass will be dangerous to pets and anyone walking barefoot. Use unbreakable ornaments. Or, if your pet won't be able to access the top of the tree or tip the tree over, put breakable ornaments nearer the top of the tree. Don't use tinsel! If your pet swallows tinsel it can cause internal damage requiring surgery. It can also cause internal bleeding. 

Remember that chocolate is dangerous to pets. The smaller your pet the more likely it is that she or he will get very sick. Keep food out of reach. 

If you're hosting a party either confine your pets to one room with food, water, litterbox for felines, and some toys. People coming and going can accidentally allow your pets to escape your home. They can also step on your pets, give them food and/or beverages they shouldn't have and if there are small children in attendance they can easily injure your pet by picking him up or pulling tails, ears, poking, etc. Children can also drop small dogs or children's shiny jewelry that your pet could swallow. The noise of a party, with or without children, can also be confusing and upsetting to some pets. It is often better to board  your pet(s) overnight to be assured of safety.

For those who celebrate Chanukah, unless you can supervise until the candles burn down, it's better to replace your Menorah with an electric one. It might not be as traditional but it will certainly be safer for your pets!

Don't forget to have fun with your pets, give them some extra attention if you find yourself busier than usual, which is common this time of year. And I'm sure your pets will appreciate a new toy or two, and a treat! When choosing toys for your pets remember that there is no regulatory agency for pet toys, the industry is expected to regulate itself.  Choose toys for your pets as you would choose toys for children. Be sure there are no parts to come off and be swallowed, no squeakers that can be removed, be sure toys are sturdy and always supervise your pets when you first give them a new toy. Also, beware of treat and toys made in China. Toys are often poorly constructed and treats from China have often been recalled. Better safe than sorry! Do not get cat teasers with mylar. While it looks shiny to you it can be dangerous to your cats because it can cause the equivalent of paper cuts around the cat's mouth. Ouch! Safety first!

Happy Holidays to you and those you love. 

Note: We'll be participating in this year's Chanukah Crawl!  Click on the link below the Badge to see the complete Chanukah Crawl schedule and find links to each post.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review: The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie

The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie is a charming novel that captures the reader's attention from the very first page as the cat recounts how life has brought her to the Dalai Lama's home with the stunning view of the Himalayas and how life is a series of experiences from which to learn.

Not one of those sickeningly sweet books where the cat talks, the cat serves as narrator and observer whose literary voice is more that of an adult human than an animal's and yet, her references as a feline are accurate. The feline attitude is never far away, nor are the feline characteristics with which the cat is imbued.

A tiny kitten who, along with her littermates is stolen by children determined to sell them, the kittens are much too young to leave their mother. The tiny kitten is the last one left and is nearly killed by the cruel children. As fate would have it, the Dalai Lama is just returning from a lecture tour and his car is stopped in traffic right across the street from where the children are about to kill the last kitten, the one they have injured. The Dalai Lama sends one of his people to buy the kitten; its uncertain survival now in the hands of The Dalai Lama who, along with his staff, nurses the kitten back to health.

Her new life brings her in contact with Buddhist masters, famous philanthropists, Hollywood stars, Ivy League professors and other people both famous and common. And from each situation the little cat grows emotionally as well as physically and learns much about life that we humans would do well to apply to ourselves.  Change, we learn, begins from within us.

Michie has captured the culture, the pace and the beauty of the setting while his little cat captures the reader's heart.  

This is a book that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.

Published by Hay House you can The Dalai Lama's Cat at your local bookstore or online.  Here's a link that will take you to it:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Fun with Hartz

The holidays are upon us and once again, Hartz has a new line of four unique Angry Birds dog toys. We know how much fun pets had with them last year but this year there's some added fun for the owner - a contest on Facebook!

Here's the way it works. First, go to: 

You'll find the Facebook game there. 

Each of the new dog toys will be shown in four different holiday locations. The locations will be slowly revealed during the course of four weeks.

Each week - Monday through Sunday - a photo of one of the toys in a distinct setting will be featured on the Facebook page but only a small amount of the photo will be visible.

As the week goes on, more of the photo will be visible each day and will be fully revealed on Sunday.

You'll be able to submit your guesses about the location where the toy is hiding out as many times as you like throughout each week for a chance to win your own limited edition set of all four characters.

The contest starts today, November 26th, 2012 so hurry on over and join in the fun.

Also, if you want to win a toy for your dog, here's a second chance offering: write to me via my website:

Tell me why you think your dog needs a set of Angry Birds limited edition toys for the holidays!

Good luck and have fun!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Paw Tracks

Sometimes a book comes along that captivates you in a very special way.  Such a book is Paw Tracks, A Childhood Memoir by Denis O'Connor. O'Connor, now retired, was a psychologist and teacher who was published in academic journals. How he got past his childhood and has had such a successful life is the miracle of this story.

Denis was raised in Northumberland where woods and riverbanks became his salvation, his escape from a brutal, unloving father. Verbal abuse or physical abuse would each be bad enough but the young Denis suffered them both with no real defense by his mother. He found loving people in his grandmother and a couple who owned a nearby farm.

What really saved him were the animals in his life. He found a way to communicate and work with his neighbor's aggressive dog, he gentled an untamed horse who had a similar background of abuse, a white cat that he had to say was his mother's in order to keep it. And worst of all, his beloved dog was put down by his father. Why?  Because Denis loved the dog and the dog loved him.

O'Connor describes his childhood and surroundings in clear and vivid detail, including the enchantment of nature and how it came to mean so much to him. While many would not survive such a childhood, O'Connor was determined to better his life and get away from his father, the father who could never be proud of him.  He knew that freedom would come through education and so he worked exceptionally hard to assure that he would go to university.

Paw Tracks is not a very lengthy book, only 214 pages that seem to fly as one moves along through Denis O'Connor's childhood and it leaves the reader wanting more.

Published by Constable & Robinson in London, the book is available on Amazon:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: Drop Dead on Recall

When non-fiction dog writer, Sheila Webster Boneham turned her talents to fiction I wondered how she'd make the cross-over to a new genre. She did it with skill and produced her first novel, the page-turner, Drop Dead on Recall.

The protagonist, Janet MacPhail, is a dog photographer with a love of Obedience Trials and all things dog, especially her Australian Shepherd, Jay.  A divorcee, her family is rounded out by Leo, her charming orange tabby.  As the story opens, Janet is at an obedience trial where one of the best competitors in the country keels over in the ring in the middle of working her Border Collie. She dies not long afterwards.

The book is full of vivid descriptions of everything from scenery to people, bringing both alive for the reader. And what would any novel be without a little romance? Janet finds that in Tom, a fellow obedience trial lover with a Labrador Retriever. 

As romance starts to bloom and bodies keep appearing, all from within the obedience trial community, Janet becomes a target. Will she be the next victim?

A subplot in the book deals with Janet's mother who has suddenly developed dementia. This difficult family issue is written with sympathy and understanding and allows for the added information about therapy dog work.

This is a book anyone would love. Boneham explains enough about the dog fancy, breeding and obedience trials for any reader to feel comfortable. For those who are already immersed in those topics, it's a bonus. She even works in the title of one of her non-fiction books. And when MacPhail decides her cat will be an indoor-only feline, it's a bonus of lesson learned for the character and the reader.

I was sorry to see the book end and hope this is the beginning of a series. You will, too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dr. R.K. Anderson - Farewell

It's with a heavy heart that I write. I wanted to blog for the last couple of days but couldn't seem to find a way to do it. But do it I must. 

On October 18th the world lost a wonderful man, a pioneer in veterinary behavior whose inventions, The Gentle Leader (co-created with Ruth Foster and named by the Smithsonian as one of the world's 100 Best Inventions) and Easy Walk Harness have improved life for countless dogs and their owners. I did the first major interview with R.K. about the Gentle Leader halter system and he told me later that he nearly had to put in another phone line for all of the orders.  We had met earlier at a Morris Animal Foundation meeting in 1990. His warmth and lack of any ego, his interest in everything around him and his quick, sharp mind instantly impressed me. A friendship began to grow, a bond of mutual respect and trust.

Born and raised in Colorado, R.K. became the Director of Veterinary Public Health in Denver after his stint in the Navy which had followed his graduation from veterinary school. Even in those early days he was positive, training shelter dogs with food instead of punishment. Such a gentle, caring man could do no less, especially one who had been raised around cows and horses; you can't put a choke collar on either of those animals.

Relocating to Minnesota in 1954 to become the University's first Director of Veterinary Public Health Program at the School of Public Health, he was also a researcher into such diseases as Brucellosis. 

By 1980 he was ready for even more knowledge and took a sabbatical. He went to University of California, Davis to study Animal Behavior and Psychology. 

One of the founders of the Delta Society, now called Pet Partners, he was a long-time proponent of the human-animal bond. He founded The Animal Behavior Resources Institute.

R.K. received many honors in his lifetime and there will, no doubt, be posthumous honors for this very special man. 

I remember R.K. telling me, at the very first meeting of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants that he came because he was told that I was there. Whether true or not, and I've never known R.K. to tell anything but the truth, I was deeply humbled and honored by his words.  He was honored there as well.  

He leaves behind family, a long-time companion, and many friends, colleagues and countless admirers. The world has lost a great man. Animals have lost a real hero who made life so much better for so many of them. And my heart hurts. 

Do some research about the man, learn more about his life, his work. He would never brag about it. And say a little prayer of thanks that he lived such a full, rich life and made such a tremendous impact on the world of people and animals.

Rest well, my friend.

Monday, October 8, 2012

AMAZON CARES' Historic Victory in Peru

Amazon CARES, the not-for-profit animal organization has secured a conviction in the Iquitos area of Peru. The victory is a case in which a woman was charged with poisoning a 5-month-old puppy.

After seven months, this landmark verdict was recently handed down, setting a legal precedent for all of Peru, and an example for many Third World nations.

“In this particular case, 
Amazon Cares, in partnership with the Iquitos Bar Association, had been working with legislative officials to enforce and/or strengthen animal cruelty laws,” Amazon CARES’ Founder and Executive Director, Molly Mednikow, shares. “This case, of a  neighbor intentionally poisoning and killing her neighbor's puppy, is the first case we have brought to trial.”

Sandra Milagros Padilla Alvis, never imagined that an attempt on the life of Arthas, a 5-month-old puppy, owned by Alfredo Martín Díaz García, would result in being charged for a crime.  In the 3rd Counsel Magistrates Court, Padilla Alvis was sentenced for offenses against morality under an Animal Abuse and Cruelty Code and will pay fines of 2000 Peruvian Nuevo Soles, which will cost her one-fourth of her income for nearly seven months.

Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (Amazon CARES) remains the only charity in the entire Peruvian Amazon region dedicated to the protection of domestic animals and wildlife. Programs extend far beyond animal health, and Amazon CARES is recognized for humane education, assisted animal therapy, and volunteer driven travel to areas with no access to veterinary care.

Alfredo Diaz tells the story, remembering what happened to his puppy and saying that it was time to have justice for the life of Arthas.  His speaking up is a sign of progress for Amazon CARES AMAZON Cares, which continually advocates that people should not remain silent about these abuses.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Molly Mednikow received her MBA and began working in her family’s jewelry business. Though successful, she began traveling to the Peruvian Amazon to deliver school supplies to remote jungle villages. By 2004, her interests in Peru had grown to the extent that she made a life-altering decision. She stepped away from her jewelry business to spend a year in the Amazon. In 2005, she finalized her decision and made her move official, selling her business back to family members. Mednikow lived in the Peruvian Amazon until 2008, when she returned to the United States to open an office from which her charity could grow. Mednikow divides her time between Peru and the United States.

Brava to this courageous woman who is making a real difference in the lives of companion animals in Peru.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Review: "Lost and Found," by Amy Shojai

As a confirmed book-a-holic I've found myself doing book reviews on this blog. When the opportunity appeared to read an advance review copy of prolific pet writer Amy Shojai's first mystery, well, how could I resist? The copy arrived as a .pdf. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the formatting but the .pdf kept scrolling up and down by itself so rapidly that it was hard to stay on page and that was something of a distraction. I read every single word but it took longer to read than it normally would.

In the interest of full-disclosure I will admit that I have known the author for more years than she and I are likely to admit. This means that in the beginning of the book and a few other points in the manuscript I found myself recognizing characteristics and references that were only too familiar to me, including the protagonist, September Day's first name, borrowed with permission from dog writer September Morn.

Lost and Found takes place during a rare Texas blizzard. September, a dog trainer, is urgently asked by her sister, April, to search for April's autistic son who has disappeared along with the young German Shepherd service dog September has been training for her nephew. Murder and Mayhem ensue when April, too, disappears and the body count keeps piling up. September has just 24 hours in which to save her sister and nephew. The dog plays a key role in the story with a cat playing a lesser role. 

If it were Summer, I'd recommend this as a beach read because you will keep turning pages until you reach the satisfying ending.  Any season is a good time for a fast-paced read.

Lost and Found is published by Cool Gus Publishing and will be released on September 20, 2012.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Review: "Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat"

I recently finished reading a review copy of Cathy Unruh's first book, Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat.  Unruh, an Emmy Award winning television journalist with a passion for animal advocacy, tells the story of little island kitten Lucy Miracle through Lucy's thoughts. 

The tiny kitten and her mother are hungry and in peril, her littermates have gone off on their own to scrape out whatever life they can on the island. Ultimately caught by concerned island homeowners, they are trapped, neutered and released (TNR) but it is here that Lucy and her mother are separated. Lucy is too small and malnourished to be spayed so she goes home with Darcie who has a husband and two male cats at their vacation home on the island.  

With some fiction license Unruh's Lucy is in constant search of her mother after her recovery, and Unruh's two housecats share one litter box which is, of course, unrealistic: rule of thumb is one box for each cat plus one.  Two cats would mean three boxes, but that wouldn't progress her story when Lucy must learn to use the indoor facilities.

Lucy Miracle's story will give you a new perspective on feral cats and kittens. With patience and love, some can become wonderful housecats

Unruh's Lucy is a wonderful protagonist. Because she tells the story through the kitten's thoughts, there is none of the treacly talking cat in this book.  You will be captivated by Lucy and her story which includes the requisite cat-hating villain and a very happy ending.

You'll cry, you'll laugh and you will love Lucy.

Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat is due for release on October 16, 2012 (National Feral Cat Day), by Collage Books.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Buddy Butch - Book Review

I often use Summer as catch-up time. I read incessantly but some books fall through the cracks, even with the best of intentions. And so I found myself reading the four-year-old, "My Buddy Butch, Confessions of a New Dog Dad," by Jeff Marginean, over the past couple of weeks. It took courage to write this book, to admit to the new dog owner mistakes, things that made this reader cringe, like the fact that his father bred Butch - a pure backyard breeding that produced this Boston Terrier pup with one blue eye and one brown. He did some things right, like going to training classes. 

Throughout the book, Marginean talks about the deep and abiding love he has for this new little family member, the responsibility and unabashedly wears his heart on his sleeve, which is utterly endearing.

The toughest part of this book was reading about his using an electronic fence and not understanding what is innately wrong with it. He doesn't seem to think the jolt to the pup is that bad but what he misses completely is the fact that when most dogs break out of them, they are not likely to come back and can easily be hit by a car in that dash for freedom. Dogs in an electronic fence are also vulnerable to all other animals who are not wearing the electronic collar and can easily injure or kill the dog in the yard, this includes wildlife, birds of prey who will carry off small dogs and cats.  That aside, he makes a wonderful case for dog ownership for the right person at the right time.

Marginean talks about all of the concerns of dog ownership and all of the responsibilities involved and compares it to being a single parent because he is, in effect, parenting this pup.

Their bond and relationship are obvious.  Marginean and Butch love each other, their special bond formed from the time Butch was whelped.

I recommend this book for its love story and sense of responsibility but remember, Marginean was learning to be a good dog owner and put it out warts and all.  You can learn what to do and what not to do, remember to train positively and build a bond like theirs.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I'm Honored - Literally - by The Winn Feline Foundation

I'm a huge fan of the Winn Feline Foundation, which helps all cats through health studies into the various health problems that plague our feline companions. Even though there are more pet cats than dogs, cats have been sorely neglected in the area of health research. Winn has been working hard to help cats of all ages to lead longer, healthier lives. Those of us who write about cats, and/or discuss them on radio, tv, social networking etc. have an obligation to get the word out about Winn.

Telling the public about Winn is something I have done with great pleasure. What I never expected was for Winn to notice what I had been doing. I am just a little cog in the wheel of life, trying my best to inform pet owners. And then, on Thursday, June 28. 2012, I received a phone call from Steve Dale who was at their annual meeting. He put his cell phone on Speaker Phone and let me listen to his presentation of this year's Media award - to me!

Here is Steve's column regarding this event:

Thank you to everyone who made this award possible. And for those of you who hadn't previously known about Winn, please check it out:

Monday, June 18, 2012

June is Adopt a Cat Month

We're in the middle of Adopt a Cat month and I hope those of you who can afford the commitment will seriously consider adding a rescue cat to your family.  Whether you go to your local shelter or a breed rescue group, giving a new home to a kitty will also add happiness to your life.

If you opt for a shelter kitty you can be sure that you're saving a life.  Many cats and kittens are on "death row" every single day.  You can't save them all but you can save one or two.  If you work outside the home, consider adopting two cats, perhaps a bonded pair or two kittens to keep each other company.

I hope you'll give serious consideration to adopting an older kitty.  Cats can live up to 20 years or more and you don't need a kitten - a cat will bond to you and you'll have many happy years together. Kittens grow up fast and get into all sorts of mischief, some of which might not be appreciated by the owner. An adult cat is a known quantity; size, temperament and activity level are already established. 

Cats lose their homes for a variety of reasons and, in today's economy, too many are losing their homes because their owners can no longer afford to keep them. There's no reason for cats to die if they can get a new, loving forever home.

Go to your local shelter and look around, get acquainted. There's someone waiting there for you....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wounded Warrior Project

The Wounded Warrior Project, to honor our wounded servicemen and women, has been taken up by the Hartz Mountain Corporation. Among those wounded warriors are military dogs. They, too, are heroes and it's interesting to see a pet supply company taking such a stand. Hartz has once again partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project, giving aid to wounded soldiers and their caregivers. This program is set up to nurture the mind, body, spirit and to encourage economic empowerment. Certainly a worthy endeavor.

 For each of Hartz's Military Dog Toys sold, one dollar is donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. Those dollars can quickly add up. In their first two years of partnership, Hartz was able to donate $265,000. to the project. It makes perfect sense to buy a toy or two for your own dog or for a friend's canine companion and help Hartz Mountain help the Wounded Warrior Project. Make playtime with your dog even more special. For more information you can go to either or

Sunday, May 20, 2012

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Today, May 20th, is the start of National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Actually, this should be every day of every week. Most people don't read dog body language well, if at all. Never look a dog, especially one you don't know, in the eye, never loom over a dog. Don't rush up to any dog and hug him. These are simple, basic rules that so many people ignore. Hold your closed hand with your knuckles up and allow the dog to sniff after you've asked the owner's permission. Look away from the dog, let him make the approach after sniffing your knuckles, then you can gently begin to stroke him under the chin. Never bring your hand down on the dog's head to pat him. Children are noisy, move fast and dogs don't understand what they could have done to initiate that sort of behavior from a little human. Supervise all children around dogs. Babies crying can sound like a wounded animal to a dog, children can scare a dog, or poke it and hurt it and the dog has no choice but to clamp down in pain. Whose fault is this? Yours and the child's if you weren't watching carefully enough. It's foolish to leave a dog and child alone together. It's also irresponsible. Don't even think about doing it. Your dog isn't a babysitter and your dog isn't Lassie. Even Lassie has a trainer on the set giving signals behind the camera. If a loose dog runs up to you, freeze. Stand where you are, let the dog sniff and move on. A little common sense will go a long way in preventing dog bites.