Wednesday, July 7, 2010

To your (pet's) health...

Benny, my 10-year-old tabby, recently had thyroid surgery.

Did you know? Cats often have hyperthyroidism. This common disease is caused by an increase in the production of thyroid hormones from enlarged thyroid glands in the neck. The hormones affect nearly all of a cat’s organs, according to the Cornell University of Veterinary Science. An overactive thyroid can cause a cat’s heart to beat faster and work harder; it can also cause damage to the eyes, kidneys, heart and brain.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity.
What can you do? This disease is treated with medication, surgery and radioactive-iodine therapy.

AKC welcomes new breeds

(From top: Cane Corso, Leonberger and Icelandic Sheepdog)

The American Kennel Club has added three new dogs to its list of recognized breeds. The Icelandic Sheepdog is joining the herding group and the Leonberger and Cane Corso have joined the working group.
The fluffy Icelandic Sheepdog has a curled tail. It is Iceland’s only native dog. The Cane Corso is a native of Italy, and the Leonberger is often called the “nanny dog” because of its love of children.

Who says she's ugly?

A six-pound Chihuahua was recently named the World’s Ugliest Dog at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif. Princess Abby has some issues – she has one eye, mismatched legs, a floppy front foot and twisted tail. Owner Kathleen Francis says “I think she is beautiful through and through.”
Francis adopted the tiny dog five months ago; she was a stray that had been picked up by the humane society.
Princess Abby walked away from the competition with $2,600, a modeling contract, $1,000 worth of clothes and gear, a photo shoot, a media trip to New York City and a massive trophy.

BLM bans dogs - in California

Could this happen here? The Bureau of Land Management in Palm Desert, Calif., has banned all dogs except service dogs from most Palm Desert trails. The new law was designed to preserve habitat that is home to endangered and protected species, including the Peninsular bighorn sheep. As expected, the law has caused an uproar among dog owners and provoked bitter online feuds between dog-lovers and dog-haters. In Colorado, dog regulations vary, but there are no BLM lands closed to dogs, although dogs must be leashed and owners must follow the rules of any area they visit.
The same goes on Forest Service land. Other public lands in Colorado are tougher – most state parks and national parks prohibit dogs on trails.

Diving dogs?

This just in: A Russian scuba diver has outfitted his dog Boniface, a dachshund, with diving equipment including wiener dog-sized oxygen tanks, a dry suit, a Plexiglas helmet and weight belt. The owner, Sergei Gobrunov, says Boniface is learning to dive with the help of sausage treats. Strange? Yes. And many animal advocates has said he is being cruel and insensitive to his dog. But here’s the part of the story I could relate to: Gobrunov says he was inspired to invent a way for Boniface to dive with him because the little dog howled whenever he disappeared under the water. My dog, a beagle named Hunter S. Thompson (yes, he’s the beagle pictured in this blog’s title) will also do anything he can to be with me. Hunter watches me carefully each day, looking for clues that I might be leaving him. And when I’ve been gone and I return home, he lets me know just how horrible life was without me. So I understand, Mr. Gobrunov. The human-hound bond is a strong one, even underwater. (Check it out on YouTube.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yellow Lab Vs. Beagle

For 16 years, we shared our home with a yellow Labrador retriever. Waldo came from champion bird-dog stock, but somewhere, he missed the skills required for that specialty. He did know how to retrieve, however. Throw something, anything, and he would bring it back…until one of us dropped from exhaustion.
He loved tennis balls (what retriever doesn’t?), but also tried to return softballs at the park, interrupting games on the grassy fields. He would chase sticks and pinecones we threw for him in our yard, and he learned to capture a Frisbee in his mouth. He had his own football – a deflated full-sized leather ball. We couldn’t take him fishing, because he was adept at retrieving our bait.
Waldo was an important part of our family’s life, and when he grew old and we knew he wouldn’t be around much longer, we talked about finding another yellow. We couldn’t imagine life without that brave, loyal, sensitive creature who wanted nothing more than to please us and who could be crushed by a stern word.
So when Waldo died in 2007, we got Hunter… a beagle.
We called him the “anti-Lab.” He would retrieve when he felt like it. He was sensitive, but to his needs, not ours. Brave? Not so much. Loyal? As long as there wasn’t an intriguing scent to follow.
At first, we wondered if we had made a mistake. We could still get another Lab, we told ourselves. But then something happened – we started to understand beagles. We started to really like Hunter.
There were tradeoffs. We can never, ever let Hunter loose. He is controlled by his powerful nose, and will follow it anywhere. He was easy to housetrain, but difficult to train on a leash. Again, that nose thing. For months, I dragged him through the forest, his stubby feet leaving long skid marks on the pine needle-covered trails.
But we eventually realized he has a short-dog complex – he’s all bravado on the outside, but trembling on the inside. He has a complicated bark vocabulary – low and growly when he wants to warn off a threat; that classic beagle bay when he wants to be heard, and a soprano version of that howl when he reserves only for the squirrels that taunt him on our deck.
Now, Hunter is an important part of our family’s life. We are whole again – people, dogs and cats. And we are very, very noisy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How we came to acquire a beagle

It's kind of a long story, but it makes sense. Try to keep up. Our daughter's boyfriend (whom we really disliked) gave her a pitbull puppy he got from a woman standing outside a grocery store. Our daughter had just started looking for an apartment, and realized most of them allowed only small dogs.  We found the pitbull puppy a home, and our daughter found an apartment. "But I really want a dog to keep me company," she said.  "Of course," we said. We researched smallish breeds. "I'd love to have a beagle," she said. "Of course," we said. We found an ad in the newspaper and traveled two hours to a farm to look at a boisterous litter of beagle puppies. "I want this one," our daughter said. "Of course," we said.  "His name is Hunter," she said. "Of course," we said. We brought him home.  On the drive home, we realized Hunter wasn't an apartment dog. He was really, really loud, and really, So he came to live with us.  My husband and I love this dog - I love him the most.  Our daughter loves him, too.  She still calls him her dog, even though he's our dog (he's really my dog).  "He's my beagle," she says. "Of course," we say.