Saturday, July 31, 2010

Haskell on Sunday

Sunday, August 1 is the one million dollar Haskell Invitational to be run as the 12th race at Monmouth Park. In my viewing area, ABC is carrying the race at 5:00 PM and it looks like it will be a great one.

Here are the entries:

12th (5:43)

Izod Haskell Invitational S. (G1)

1 1/8 Miles | Open | 3 Year Olds Stakes | Purse: $1,000,000

Post # Horse Jockey Weight Claim Price Equip. Med.
1 Lookin At Lucky Garcia M 122 L
2 Afleet Again Bravo J 118 L
3 Ice Box Lezcano J 120 L
4 First Dude Dominguez R A 118 L
5 Our Dark Knight Trujillo E 118 L
6 Super Saver Borel C H 122 L
7 Uptowncharlybrown Maragh R 118 L
8 Trappe Shot Garcia Alan 118

It really could be anyone's race with a fine field of three year olds entered. I love Ice Box, but the distance might not be long enough for him to make his characteristic come from behind move down the stretch.

Lookin at Lucky will probably go off the favorite but with that comes high weight. Don't rule out First Dude, with a low weight and an impressive second place finish in the Belmont.

One thing we can bet on is that Super Saver will try to hug the rail with Borel on board and Afleet Again may just surprise everyone.

And then there is the back story of Uptowncharleybrown that gets me every time. The ashes of his late trainer, Alan Seewald, were scattered at the finish line at Monmouth and his last wish was for the horse to run in the Haskell.

Hey, Chelsea Clinton is getting married this weekend and her dad was indeed First Dude. Did you know that Bill Clinton's mom used to love to bet on the "ponies?" Reason alone, perhaps, to put $2 on First Dude's nose.

The weather forecast is for a 50% chance of showers but a high of 80 degrees which should be a pleasant change from our oppressive heat and humidity. If it does rain, it will probably pour.

Nobody said it would be easy to pick a winner but it should be great fun to watch one emerge! Enjoy.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Trigger Point

So did you hear that Trigger, Roy Rogers' stuffed horse, was auctioned off by Christie's last week for the amazing sum of $265,500? Or that Buttermilk, the stuffed horse that belonged to his wife, Dale Evans, fetched $25,000? Their singing German Shepherd, Bullet, by the way went for $35,000. That's a lot of money for taxidermy.

At least that's what Everett Wilkenson, the man who preserved Trigger back in the day, believes. Wilkenson, who is 89, worked for Bischoff's Taxidermy & Animal FX, one of the largest animal prop businesses on the West Coast.

According to owner Gary Bischoff, the cost of mounting Trigger was about $10,000-$12,000 and since foam core was not mass produced back then, Wilkenson had to make his own. Bischoff believes Trigger "belongs in a museum" and that is just what buyer RFD-TV is hoping will happen. They plan to build a Western Museum around Trigger.

Comanche, the only horse to survive Custer's Last Stand is another marvel of taxidermy. He resides in the Museum of the University of Kansas and still attracts a steady stream of visitors. Closer to my home the Civil War Museum boasts the stuffed head of Robert E. Lee's horse.

Meanwhile business at Bischoff's has never been better. They manufacture animal props for movies, television and advertising, some of which you would certainly recognize like Frank, the pug, from Men in Black, the Taco Bell chicken or the Aflac duck.

One thing they don't do: human bodies or body parts.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Caprine Chronicles

My brother actually runs a golf club where llamas are caddies. But this course in North Dakota has gone a step farther. They use goats as lawn mowers.

Hawktree Golf course in Bismark, North Dakota has employed five goats to keep the course weed free (they are joined in this task by a human crew of seventeen) and so far, the response to the goats has been quite positive. "I think they will help us be better stewards of the environment by helping us reduce our carbon footprint and dependence on herbacides," notes Eric Stromstad, course superintendent.

According to Stromstad, the goats can eat about three percent of their body weight in weeds, each day. That's a lot of crunching because the goats weigh, on average, fifty pounds.

To keep the goats safe, they are contained in a 1,000 square foot movable pen, that is moved every few days to an area that is filled with weeds. The goats seem to have an insatiable appetite for weeds, according to Stromstad. "Outside a handful of crushed corn, they'd rather eat weeds than anything," said Stromstad.

One side effect: many members are bringing their grandchildren to the course to see the goats, not to play golf!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Joan Rivers On and Off the Stage

I have interviewed Joan Rivers for a magazine article and found her completely and utterly unlike the persona she projects on stage. In short, she is a very nice lady who works very, very hard. In fact, she is known as the hardest working actor in show business. But she is also a mother, grandmother and animal lover.

If you have a chance to see the documentary about her life that is floating around the art movie theater circuit, do so. Because I think it does a wonderful job of portraying her as the caring and sensitive person she actually is.

Now about that animal lover. When I interviewed her she was making one of her appearances at QVC, the shopping channel on which she sells her jewelery and skin care products. And sure enough, she had a dog in tow.

When Ms. Rivers is in the house, you can be sure that the red carpet is rolled out at QVC, and we chatted in the hair and makeup studio where she was not in the least bit adverse to a reporter seeing her before and after. And on her lap was her pooch, who had his own cape and was also getting beautified.

You might think it a bit over the top, but those dogs are true sources of affection for Rivers, especially after her husband committed suicide and she became estranged from her daughter Melissa. As the documentary reveals, hers can be a very lonely life and those dogs sometimes seem like her only friends.

My point here is that pets don't care if you have makeup on or if your face has wrinkles. They love you for who you really are and sometimes they are the best camera lenses.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Psychic or Profitable?

Well the economy may be hurting but pet owners are still spending like crazy. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent a total of $45.5 billion in 2009, up 5.4% from 2008.

And some of that spending might surprise you. According to Newsweek magazine, pet communicators, those who "speak" to animals psychically, have seen their businesses boom in recent months. Newsweek cites one such psychic, Lisa Greene, from Houston, who reports receiving anywhere from 15-40 calls during a busy week.

Recently those inquiries have included cowboys who have started to call with questions about their horses. And according to Greene, horses are among the most "chattiest" of the animals with whom she routinely chats.

Veterinarian Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine says vets are communicating with their patients all the time, trying to pick up the animal's own signals about what might be bothering it.

"Animals are communicating through pheromones," she notes. "Veterinarians can use their sense of smell--we use our eyes and ears, our sense of touch. Animals are communicating a lot of the time but we can't speak their language."

In other words, the general idea is to try and communicate with the animal by interpreting its own signals, spoken in its own language, rather than try and get the animals to speak to us in our language. She finds the attempts to "translate" animal thoughts into "human" ones, a bit problematic, especially when the psychics claim they can "speak" to the animals without seeing them.

Buyer beware. Spending on pets is one thing. Spending wisely may be another.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The "Tinkle" of the Ice Cream Truck May Never Sound the Same!

In the "Why didn't we think of that?" category, the worlds first ice cream truck for dogs made its debut last weekend in London's Regent's Park. According to Reuters, it was a barking success, especially considering the heatwave that has been rolling through the city.

The K99 Truck serves two flavors of canine-friendly frozen treats: "Dog Eat Hog World"--a chicken and bacon sorbet--and "Canine Cookie Crunch"--a vanilla-type ice cream laden with dog biscuits.

The truck rolled out as part of the Boomerang Pets Party which took place in the park and according to organizer, Sally Bezant, a team of pet nutritionists were consulted to formulate the frozen treats and determine which flavors would be most successful. But the ice cream comes with an added scoop: it is safe for human consumption!

"It's safe for humans. . . I've tried it myself," she noted, adding that it tasted a bit "different" than the human grade stuff.

Two questions: can we get the American franchise? And can we put the chefs in our book even though they are in London? Maybe Volume 2!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recipe for Summer Fun

On the topic of recipes, just couldn't resist this Draw the Dog.
Go to for July 21 and let me know if you think we should include this one in our book!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Move Over Martha

Martha Stewart has gotten into the pet business in a big way. Pet Smart carries her full line of new pet products--in the interest of full disclosure, Pet Smart will also be carrying our book when it comes out in the Fall of 2011--and they range from clothes to bowls to grooming products and leashes.

I actually am impressed by her bowl with a removable cover--a clever idea for the pet who does not finish everything at one sitting.

Poke around the website and you will also discover a recipe for dog biscuits, complete with a bone shaped cookie cutter and a cute jar to store them in. I have to admit it is cute but the recipe is no where as delicious as some of the ones our chefs are submitting.

Just today I got a recipe for salmon burgers with yogurt dressing that sound absolutely good enough to serve for a dinner party. And yesterday's submissions included a blue fish filet that sounded amazing.

What I really mean is that we are going to give Ms. Martha a run for her money.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zenyatta, the Great

So who is the best athlete in the world? LeBron James, whose recent defection to the Miami Heat, put the entire sporting world on hold, Raphael Nadal who wins major tennis tournaments as routinely as we brush our teeth, the goalie on the Spanish soccer team that recently won the World Cup?

Well, NPR recently made a very convincing case for Zenyatta. The interview and transcript are here. And you will love the fact that the person making the case is none other than Lauren Hilllenbrand, author of Secretariat.

Read and enjoy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pets Are Also Victims of Oil Spill

We have all heard about the wildlife victims of the oil spill in the Gulf, the pelicans, turtles, fish and dolphins. But it turns out that there are other victims as well, as reported by the Inquirer.

Because of the impact the oil spill is having on the local economy, owners are dropping off their dogs in shelters because they suddenly do not have the money to take care of them. Last month, according to Beth Brewster, director of the shelter in Violet, Louisiana, 117 owners surrendered their pets. In May, the same shelter took in 288 pets.

"It comes down to feeding your family or feeding you dog. That's the decision they have to make," said Colleen Bosley of Catholic Charities of New Orleans.

And the town of Violet is not alone. Several coastal shelters have reported the same trend. "Its more than we can handle," said animal control officer, Shannon Asevedo. "We have way more coming in than going out."

The coastal shelters are so overwhelmed that animal are being transported to other shelters in other states and a recent grant from the ASPCA for free veterinary care in some coastal parishes may help keep some animals in their homes.

Many of the dogs being surrendered are highly adoptable, purebreds and mixed breeds that have been well cared for. Here's hoping they find new homes quickly or that somehow they find their way back to the homes they once knew.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wild Ponies of New Bolton

The summer issue of The Hunt magazine features the herd of wild ponies in residence at New Bolton Center on its cover. The feral herd, about 70 in all, roam 40 acres on the New Bolton campus and are the living laboratory of Dr. Sue McDonnell.

Dr. McDonnell has studied many aspects of the feral life and for the most part rarely interferes with the herd. The astounding fact is that they very rarely need intervention for medical situations. In fact, they are "portraits of health." "We've had none of the diseases that are so common among domestically managed horses," notes McDonnell. "The lack of respiratory disease is likely because the animals are always out in the fresh air rather than in dusty barns, arenas and trailers. It is also a closed herd, meaning no new animals to introduce disease."

The only training is with positive reinforcement-based human animal interaction and revolves around minimal procedures like drawing blood or counting noses. When you drive out in the field to visit with the ponies they come over to the cart because of their natural curiosity. They are rarely hand fed treats.

And here's the most astounding fact of all. "They get no foot care, yet have none of the nagging foot problems of domestically managed horses," says McDonnell. She attributes this to many factors including the ponies' near continuous ingestion of forage as well as their near continuous motion. "Besides fitness, it's important to their digestive system," says McDonnell. "Horses are grazing animals so they should be moving all the time." In addition, the movement helps build and reinforce the skeletal structures of growing foals.

It seems that even the racing industry is paying attention to McDonnell's findings. "Two or three years ago, it was all about protecting the very young racehorses," notes McDonnell. "Today, breeders are paying attention and trying to return to as much pasture exercise as possible."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Editors of Dog Fancy magazine (full disclosure: Dog Fancy is owned by the publishers of my book, Lick Your Plate! Celebrity Chefs Cook for Their Dogs and Yours due out in Fall 2011), have named the Top 10 Dog cities in the U.S. and my house is not on the list--maybe because it is not a city?

Anyway, the winning city is Provincetown, MA, (on Cape Cod) which is very interesting because it is not among the cities they asked us to include in the book. Anyway, the criteria used to select the winners include things like the prevalence of dog-friendly open spaces, events about and for dogs, vet care, pet services etc.

The runners ups are:

Carmel, California
Madison, Wisconsin
Benicia, California
Fort Bragg, California
Lincoln, City, Oregon
San Diego, California
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Sioux Falls. South Dakota
Salem, Oregon

Not a single one of these cities is in our book so clearly the criteria did not include chefs who cook for their dogs! Also most of these cities are west of the Mississippi which is intriguing since I think there are more Eastern cities that could give these a run for their money.

Anyway, the full list is available in the September issue of Dog Fancy if you are intrigued.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Welcome 3 New AKC Breeds!

Three Breeds Gain Full AKC Recognition

The American Kennel Club is pleased to welcome the Cane Corso, Icelandic Sheepdog and Leonberger as the 165th, 166th, and 167th AKC recognized breeds. The new breeds became eligible for AKC registration on June 1, 2010.

The Cane Corso is a muscular and large-boned breed and is distinguished by his noble, majestic and powerful presence. The Cane Corso is easily trained, and affectionate to his owner and family.

The only native dog of Iceland, and indispensable to the Icelandic people, the Icelandic Sheepdog is playful, inquisitive, hardy and agile. The Icelandic Sheepdog adapted its working style to Iceland's local terrain and farming techniques since its arrival to the country in AD 874 – 930.

The Leonberger is a calm, graceful, non–aggressive breed, originally bred as a family, farm and draft dog. Today the breed's most important task is being a reliable family companion. In fact, Leonbergers are often called the "nanny" dog because of their affinity for children.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Training Dogs is Really Training Owners

I recently received my issue of the magazine Montgomery Living. The cover story is about a boxer named Buster, who apparently received his "last chance" for survival at a heavily advertised Canine Center run by a local dog trainer. Obviously the dog survives because he seems very much alive and well on the cover staring intently into his new owner's eyes.

I am always a bit suspicious of success stories that are featured in a magazine heavily populated by ads (both inside covers, front and back) for the dog trainer in question. That's number one. But number two is the fact that the story really does not explain how exactly this trainer "saved" Buster's life--just that he was aggressive, had bitten five people and was deposited on his doorstep as a last chance before the owners euthanized him.

The problem, explains dog trainer Dave Cugno, was not the dog but the owners. The dog was insecure and he was reacting to signals from owners who were not sure how to handle him. All of this resulted in an aggressive dog and the dog trainer's job was to "rewrite the script." Sounds good, but there is probably more going on here than just mixed signals.

I agree with the premise that most dog training issues result from poor communication between owner and pet, but I suspect that these people did a little bit more than just confuse the dog by mixed signals. It takes great patience to rewrite the script and I credit Cugno for doing that but I think it would have been better to explain exactly how he did it rather than promise that he will use the knowledge gained in the process to train your pet.

The idea is not rocket science. A happy human animal pack is at the center of all good pet relationships but I'd like to know just how Cugno proposes he achieve this harmony.

We all know that most aggressive dogs result from aggressive owners and with patience and proper reinforcement can be retrained--witness Michael Vick's pit bulls saved by the good folks at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. But none of this is a trade secret, nor dependent on just one person to enact the magic.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

La Ville Rouge in Foal to Dynaformer

Direct from

La Ville Rouge is back in foal to Dynaformer after having slipped a foal in late 2009. Apparently Dynaformer, at age 25, is still going strong and that he was bred to 54 mares!

This is the 20th crop of foals for the father of Barbaro, Lentenor, Nicanor and Margano and Three chimneys reports that they plan to limit his book to 50 mares next season. No plans for retirement as yet.

"As long as his health and fertility remain in good order, Three Chimneys plans to offer his services to breeders again in 2011," the farm reported.

As Bloodhorse reports: "Dynaformer has been represented by 15 millionaires, 18 grade/group I winners and progeny that have earned more than $93 million.

Other mares of note who are reported to be in-foal to Dynaformer include multiple grade I winner Pussycat Doll, Santaria (dam of stallions Medallist and Air Commander), Be Fruitful (full sister to Corinthian), Ladue (dam of grade I winner Lucifer's Stone), Somerset West (half to multiple grade I winner Dynaforce, by Dynaformer), grade I winner Passing Shot (Grade 1 winner), Snow Forest (dam of grade I winner Snow Ridge), Catchascatchacan (grade I winner, dam of grade II winner and stallion Antonius Pius), grade I winner Silvester Lady, and Zuri Ridge (half to multiple grade I winner Voodoo Dancer)."

Let's all hope for that much coveted filly this time around and a safe, full-term pregnancy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Research News From Penn Vet

Big news from Penn Vet School, where Dr. Ralph Meyer, assistant professor of Developmental Biology, has received a much coveted grant to develop a non-surgical sterilant/technology for use in both male and female cats and dogs. The grant was awarded by Found Animals and it is for three years.

"I am thrilled to be part of this opportunity," said Meyer. "It is well known that over-population in our shelters is a problem that often ends with euthanizing dogs and cats that need homes. It is my hope--as well as the hope of Found Animals--to find a non-surgical, safe and effective sterilization method for animals that is cost effective and widely available to help put a stop to our pet over-population problem."

Found Animals Foundation is a privately funded non-profit, based in Los Angeles, that is dedicated to animal welfare issues. Since January 2009, they have reviewed over one hundred proposals and funded three grants, totaling $1.5 million. Four others are under consideration.

Certainly Dr. Meyer's work in the field caught the eye of the funders and he is delighted and honored to have been chosen as a grant recipient. With all the bad news surrounding funding issues at the Vet School these days, it is heartening to hear of such a prestigious honor, especially one that has such potential for all animals in general.

Just think. An animal birth control vaccine could be right around the corner.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Honk for Help!

I'm sure you know the warnings about never ever leaving your dog in a parked car in the heat but just recently, two situations of dogs in cars caught my eye. The first happened at my local Staples where I was buying a printer cartridge. The second was forwarded to me by a friend.

At Staples, a gentleman came in carrying his dog, a small terrier of some sort. The cashier told him it was store policy to prohibit dogs in the store. Instead of asking if he could simply run in and get some paper and not leave his dog in a hot car, he took his dog out and returned for his paper. Naturally the line to check out was long and he was getting worried, mentioning then that his dog was in the car, due to the cashier's insistence.

The people in front of him let him go ahead and he made it back to the car fairly quickly. It was not a terribly hot day so I am sure the dog was OK (he might have left the engine running and A/C on for all I know), but I was impressed that the customers were more understanding than the clerk.

In other words, she might have let him get away with it, just this once, considering there was no sign posted about the policy.

The second incident concerned Max, pictured above. Apparently Max's owner inadvertently forgot him in the car when she came home after running a few errands. She went inside and heard the horn honk. When she came out there was no one there. A little while later she heard the horn honk again and found Max sitting in the driver's seat.

He had saved his own life. The distraught owner cooled down the pooch and got him to the vet where he was reported to be a little weak but essentially OK.

Smart dog. And one very contrite owner who will never ever forget him again.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mustang Deaths in Roundup at Owyhee

Big News courtesy of Madeleine Pickens; direct from her website

Madeleine Pickens & wild horse coalition call for suspension of all summer roundups, full transparency in agency operations

(July 13, 2010) Philanthropist and businesswoman Madeleine Pickens was joined today by the million-member ASPCA, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, and many other organizations expressing their outrage over the deaths of at least seven mustangs in a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup conducted Saturday in the Owyhee Complex in northeastern Nevada. The wild horses died of dehydration-related causes—including brain swelling, colic and acute water intoxication – as a result of being stampeded by helicopters for up to eight miles in 90+ degree desert heat.

In a sign on letter addressed to President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Mrs. Pickens and the groups also harshly criticized the agency for cracking down on public access to observe and videotape roundup operations. The advocates released footage of a BLM representative stating publicly that public video of a prior roundup caused the agency to have “a really hard time trying to explain what’s happening.”

“The BLM simply does not want the American people to see what its wrongheaded policies are doing to our mustangs,” said Mrs. Pickens. “The horrific deaths of Owyhee horses recall the tragedy earlier this year in Nevada’s Calico Complex, where over 100 wild horses lost their lives and dozens of mares spontaneously aborted their late term foals in another deadly roundup.”

“We are calling on the President and Secretary Salazar to immediately instruct the BLM to suspend all summer roundups to avoid a repeat of the tragedy at Owyhee,” Mrs. Pickens continued. “The entire wild horse program must be fundamentally reformed. America’s mustangs are still waiting for change.”

Over the next four months, the BLM intends to capture and remove 6,000 wild horse and burros from six Western states. At least half of these roundups are scheduled to take place in desert environments in the hot summer months. Public access to observe the roundup operations will be severely limited to a handful of staged opportunities, with broader access given to small number of handpicked “experts.”

The crackdown on public observation comes in the wake of public outrage and international media coverage of the Calico roundup, which ended in February. The controversy was fueled by release of photographs and video showing of wild horses, including young foals, heavily pregnant mares and older horses, being forcefully driven by helicopter out of the mountains of Nevada and into BLM trap pens.

“The BLM’s crackdown on public observation of roundup activities is unacceptable, and makes a mockery of President Obama’s stated commitment to open government and transparency in government operations,” added Suzanne Roy, Campaign Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, whose grassroots efforts are endorsed by a coalition of more than 40 horse advocacy, animal welfare, conservation and historic preservation organizations.

Other coalition supporters signing the letter include Mrs. Pickens’ Saving America’s Mustangs Foundation, The Cloud Foundation, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary, Animal Welfare Institute, and In Defense of Animals.

The BLM wild horse program has been harshly criticized for its lack of fiscal sustainability. The agency now stockpiles more wild horses in government holding pens and pastures (36,000+) than are left on the range (less than 33,000). The cost to taxpayers for this program is expected to exceed $70 million next fiscal year.

Wild horses comprise a small fraction of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by livestock nearly 50 to 1.

# # #

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bid Dogs in Big Cities

I was in New York last week to settle Son #2 in his new digs (he will be attending Grad School in the Fall) and as we wandered the streets looking for various apartment accessories as well as sustenance, I couldn't help but notice that the city is literally overrun with dogs. I do not think I am making this up. It seemed like every other person was walking at least one dog.

And I am not just talking about the small apartment types. Big dogs, like Great Pyrennes and Rottweilers were in abundance as were labs and golden retrievers. I cannot imagine having a big dog in NYC--it was really hot and the sidewalk must have been blistering in the sun--but obviously people do it.

Yes, there were the very talented dog walkers with five or six leashes in hand (I don't know how they do it either) and all sorts of dogs trailing very obediently behind them, all of them looking very happy, I might add.

Personally, after living a life with three big canines in the country where they can and do run free, I cannot imagine they would ever adapt to being walked four or five times a day but I suppose it's all what you are used to. Trust me, none of these dogs seemed any worse for the wear, but there will always be a part of me that thinks it is not fair to a dog to raise it in the city.

There is the matter of doing ones business on the pavement since green spaces are few and far between, but once again, none of this seems to be an issue and people are incredibly obedient when it comes to pooper scooper laws.

If I did have a pet in the city, I would opt for a small dog that might be able to be trained to go in a litter box, just to save myself the hassle of elevator dashes in the middle of the night, but once again, New York is the city that never sleeps. And what a market for our book!!!

What about you? Have you ever raised a dog in a city? It is easier than it looks?

Monday, July 12, 2010

We're Having a Heat Wave

In case you don't know it we have been having some insufferably hot conditions on the East coast and at this rate it is going to be a long hot summer. Although I rarely do this, the following advice from is so good about protecting your pet from heatstroke that I printed it as written.

Stay cool!

The summer months can be brutal to your dog. Dogs are much more susceptible to heatstroke than humans. One reason for this is, your dog wears his fur coat all year round. And while dogs do have sweat glands on their feet, they do not have them on the rest of their body. They rely on panting, a method of breathing out excess heat, to cool down their bodies. This method is not as affective as sweating.

Some breeds are much more susceptible to the heat then others. Dogs with thick, double-coats have a harder time beating the heat. Also dogs with pushed back faces, such as Bulldogs, Pugs and Boxers, have smaller airways, and therefore have less of an ability to blow out hot air.

The major cause of heatstroke in dogs is leaving a dog in a parked car. Even with the windows cracked on a 70° F (22° C) to 80° F (26° C) day, while it may feel comfortable outside, the inside of your car can heat up to over 100° F (38° C) in minutes! As you can imagine, with that fur coat on, your dog's body temperature rises very quickly.

Exercising in hot weather is another common way heatstroke can occur. As with humans, older dogs, over-weight dogs and or dogs with heart or lung ailments, are much more likely to suffer from heatstroke than younger dogs that are more in shape. Do not push your dog to exercise on very hot or humid days.

Suspecting Heatstroke

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, cool him down as quickly as you can and call your vet immediately. Some of the are;

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs

Rapid heavy panting
Petechiae (pinpoint, deep-red hemorrhages on gums/ skin)
Bright red mucous membranes on the gums and conjunctiva of the eyes
Hyperventilation (gasping for air)
Salivation early then dry gums as heat prostration sets in
Glassy eyes
Anxious expression
Refusal to obey commands
Warm, dry skin
Rapid heartbeat

In some extreme cases seizures, diarrhea and vomiting can occur. Cooling your dog's body temperature down quickly is very important. The fastest way to do this is by using cool water. Do not use ice water, as a dramatic change in temperature can be dangerous. You can put your dog in a bathtub, sink or kiddie pool filled with cool water. A very good way to cool down a dog is to put water on their chest. Also a lot of heat exits the dog's body through his feet, so having the dog stand in cool water will also help. Another way is to put cool wet towels around your dog's body, while he is standing in something cool. It is important to cool off the chest and feet. Be sure to refresh the towels in cool water every few minutes, as the towels will quickly reach the same temperature as your dog's body. Spraying your dog with the hose, dumping buckets of water on your dog, or placing your dog directly in front of an air conditioner are a few more ways you can cool down your dog's body temperature. Offer your dog a drink and be sure to contact your vet right away.

And Never, Ever, Ever leave a dog in a parked car for even ten seconds. Just imagine sitting in your parked car wearing a fur coat. Forget about it Ever.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nicanor Three out of Four in Sussex

Well it was pouring yesterday and while it was great news for the flowers, trees and grass that were very thirsty, it was not such great news for Nicanor. As a result of the heavy rain most of the day, the tenth race at Delaware yesterday was moved from the turf to the dirt which resulted in a four horse field.

To his credit, Nicanor, did very well in the slop, all things considered. He led for most of the race, which was very smart since I don't think he would have liked having mud kicked in his face. As they came around the final turn you could see the jockey urging him into another gear (or maybe urging him to change leads a little more quickly)and Nick gave it a valiant effort.

Still in front at the top of the stretch, he would eventually be overtaken by Pickapocket about a length shy of the wire. A photo for second between Nicanor and Bullsbay with Bullsbay taking the honors. Nick finished a game third by a length and a half, having faded in the stretch.

It was tough going in tough conditions and I think it was great he got another race in and took away a little something to show for his efforts. It is a shame that the conditions were not different and that the field was so diminished, but clearly Nicky needed this race or Matz would have scratched him as well.

In my opinion, we should see him back on the turf at the same distance at Saratoga this summer.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Big Day of Racing at Delaware for FOBs

On the same day as the Barbaro Stakes, named in honor of his brother, Nicanor will run today in the Sussex Stakes at Delaware Park, his favorite track (so it seems).

Assigned post position number seven, a weight of 119 and his winning jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr., Nicanor seems perfectly positioned to make a good showing. Let's hope the heat, which has forced local tracks including Delaware Park and Philadelphia Park, to cancel racing earlier this week, will be a little more bearable and that the thunder storms, which are forecast, hold off until after the post time of 5:18 p.m.

I predict lots of wearing of the blue and green and hopefully a nice trip to the winner's circle in honor of big brother and all those who continue to follow his legacy. What a fitting tribute that would be!

Delaware Park - July 10, 2010

Race 10 - 5:18 PM Daily Double (Races 10-11) / Exacta / Trifecta / Superfecta (10-cent min.)

Sussex S.

Purse $100,000. For Three Year Olds And Upward. No nomination fee; $500 to enter and $750 to start. Supplemental nominations of $2,000 will be accepted at time of entry which shall include all fees. $100,000 Guaranteed, of which $60,000 to the winner, $20,000 to second, $11,000 to third, $6,000 to fourth and $3,000 to fifth. Weight: Three year olds: 117 Lbs. Older: 123 Lbs. Non-Winners of $45,000 at a mile or over on the turf since May 10, allowed 2 Lbs. $25,000 at a mile or over on the turf since April 10, 4 Lbs. $18,000 at a mile or over on the turf since Feburary 10, 6 Lbs. (Maiden,claiming and starter races not considered in estimating allowances). Starters to pass the entry box by the usual time of closing. Preference to horses that have accumulated the highesttotal earnings on the turf in 2009 - 2010. Trophy to the winning owner. (If deemed inadvisable by management not to run this race over the turf course, it will be run on the main track at One Mile and One Sixteenth). One And One Sixteenth Miles. (Turf)

PP Horse
Jockey Wgt Trainer
1 Pick Six (KY) 6/H LA* T J Thompson 117 E M Oare
2 Nownownow (KY) 5/H L J Rosario 117 P L Biancone
3 Bullsbay (KY) 6/H LA* J Bravo 117 H G Motion
4 Tybalt (KY) 6/H LA* A R Napravnik 119 M Stidham
5 Pickapocket (FL) 6/G LA* B J Hernandez, Jr.121 S Margolis
6 Leading On (KY) 6/G L J Shepherd 117 J A Dodgen
7 Nicanor (KY) 4/C LA J Valdivia, Jr. 119 M R Matz
8 Minnie Punt (NY) 4/G L G Saez 123 M Miceli
9 Saco River (PA) 6/G LA* J L Flores 117 T B Houghton
10 Vanquisher (FL) 6/G LA* J Rose 117 G A Griffith
11 Pleasant Strike (VA) 6/H LA* F Jara 117 T A Pletcher

Run like the wind Nicky and come home safe.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Daring Rescue

From the Today Show Archive, Juy 2. Click on link to see video.

A puppy trapped in a remote Arizona canyon is getting a second chance thanks to rock climber Zak Anderegg. 'Today' correspondent Kristen Welker chronicles the daring rescue of the dog, now affectionately known as "Puppy." On a weekend hike through the canyons along the Arizona-Utah border, Anderegg was shocked to find the dog at the bottom of a narrow 350 foot deep canyon, "emaciated, all alone, and scared."

An animal lover at heart, Anderegg sprung into action. "Borrowing a cat carrier from a local animal hospital, and attaching it to his ropes, Anderegg was able to lift the dog from the depths of the cavern all by himself," Welker explains. With the help of a local vet, Anderegg was able nurse the miracle pup back to health. Puppy is temporarily living with Zak and his wife while they search for a permanent home.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Secretariat's Triple Crown Victories

I went to the movies over the weekend and saw the trailer for the movie Secretariat on the big screen. It does promise to be a great movie, told in that Disney style that may skimp a little on the truth, but makes up for it in the emotions department.

For those of you who never saw Secretariat's actual races, I dug up this very good video that shows him winning the Triple Crown in 1973. That Belmont race still gives me goosebumps.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A License to Exist?

A new hotly contested law in Vienna requires those who own breeds of dogs known as "fight" dogs to carry a license that proves that they can keep their dogs under control. These breeds include rottweilers, pit bull terriers, mastiffs and others have been, in effect, "branded" and as you can well imagine, many owners are up in arms.

According to Alexander Willer, a spokesperson for Vienna's main animal shelter, the list of breeds that require additional licensing was compiled at random and has made it very difficult for breeds on the list that are currently in shelters to find new homes. In addition, shelters have seen increases in the numbers of breeds on the list being abandoned.

"The image of these dogs has hit rock bottom," he said. "The majority of people who own these kinds of dogs are normal--they aren't psychopaths." Nonetheless, according to Valentina Simic, whose son was attacked by a rottweiler, some of these dogs are dangerous.

"Dogs are cute and all, but if people can't handle them properly then they shouldn't be allowed to own them," she said. It is interesting that this law puts the onus on owners, which is as it should be, but is doing so in a way that is ultimately harmful to certain breeds of dogs.

Not that we hear about attack poodles, mind you, but according to City Councilor, Ulli Sima, the law is not about vilifying certain breeds. "The animal doesn't have to know any tricks, fetch the paper or do a double back flip--all the owner has to do is show that he has it under control in a city setting," he remarked.

Elsewhere in Europe, notably the Slovak capital of Bratislavia, a similar law was repealed after about a year of protesting from owners of breeds on the list. One wonders if the same fate awaits the Viennese bill and/or whether strict leash laws would serve the same purpose.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Garden Toxins

While sitting at the vet this week (for a change), I noticed the very informative flyer put out by VPI Health Insurance about the dangers of garden toxins. Did you know the following are toxic to pets: Autumn crocus, Azaleas, cyclamen, hyacinth/tulip bulbs, kalanchoe, oleander, sago palm, lilies and daffodil bulbs?

I must confess I had no idea that there were so many dangers planted in my garden. Thankfully none of my dogs have ever had any interest in tulip or daffodil bulbs (only the squirrels seem to dig these up)nor has anyone eaten any azalea leaves. But I can report that lilies are absolutely not toxic to rabbits since every year my beautiful stargazer lily bulbs are nibbled leaf by leaf by my rabbits.

I am sure you are aware of the dangers of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. When in doubt, leave them out is my mantra. No Round Up or chemical lawn food around here--both are known carcinogens. And please be careful of mulch. Many stories circulated around the Internet a while back about the dangers of "cocoa" bark mulch if ingested by pets. It apparently contains chocolate which we all know is toxic to dogs in large amounts.

Bottom line: If you suspect one of your pets has ingested any part of the above list, call your vet. Most will cause vomiting and/or diarrhea but some like sago palm can actually lead to sever liver failure and death.

By the way, Sam was as the vet with very early stage lyme disease (I caught it Day 2 when he started limping on a different leg than he was favoring the day before) and after one dose of the antibiotics I can report he is as good as new. 30 days of meds, however to make sure he builds up antibodies, but he will forever test positive for the disease. I have been warned that if he ever shows symptoms again, they will treat him without testing.

The outdoors can be dangerous to pets in more ways than one.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meet Holli

This is Holli, the alpaca, who brings hope and inspiration to everyone she visits, especially the elderly in nursing homes and children of all ages. Holli, you see, has been through many trials of her own. Born prematurely on a farm in St. Louis, she was rescued by Michele Zumwalt, who raises alpacas at her farm, The Alpaca Patch.

To complicate matters, Holli was spooked by a young dog and injured her spine. Zumwalt chose to try and rehab Holli, and as a result, the young alpaca travels in her own, custom built wheelchair. It makes for some interesting bonding with people who are also confined to moving chairs.

Because she is literally at the same level as people in wheel chairs, she can roll right up to them. The result, explains Zumwalt, is that the people can reach out and really touch and handle her. Holli, "is very patient and very energetic and enthusiastic to interact with them," she continues. "She seems to really encourage them because she has never given up."

Holli's rehabilitation has been quite an expensive and lengthy trial for Zumwalt (the alpaca requires daily physical therapy and muscle stimulation) but contributions from those who have been inspired by Holli's persistence have helped ease the financial strain. In fact, one of those animal lovers, Valerie Smith of Topeka, Kansas,even contributed $700 to have her custom wheelchair created.

"When I heard about Holli, I know it's just like a baby with multiple physical handicaps," said Smith. Smith was also instrumental in having Holli seen by Dr. David Anderson, a professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University, who was amazed at Holli's persistence. "At this point, I would have to speculate that Holli has every chance of living a high quality life," he said. "Based on her response to the therapy she has received, she may even have the opportunity to walk again. her ready adaption of the wheelchair is a testament to her desire to get up and going."

What's that Seabiscuit's owner said? Something along the lines of "You don't give up on people or animals just because they are a little beat up." Surely this story proves his point.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July!

If your pet is frightened of the loud noises associated with fireworks, try playing classical music like the kind found on the CD, Through A Dog's Ear, that has been proven to calm them. You can also try confining them to a room without windows and if all else fails, resort to tranquilizers, with your vet's approval, of course.

We used to have a pug that barked incessantly at fireworks. The good news: They are usually fairly short lived.

Hope your holiday is safe and happy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


This is Charlie, a border collie with a very important job at Aronimink Golf Club, the site of this week's PGA tour. Charlie (a female by the way) is in charge of chasing geese and other wildlife from the course, which this week will see Tiger Woods play through.

This environmentally friendly critter control has apparently been very successful and is a big hit with the members. "She's just prepared to chase anything that moves," assistant superintendent Ben Little told the Philly Inquirer, that reported this story. "Never actually caught anything but she has fun with it."

Charlie's official job is to deter anything that might interfere with the golfers and that can include wildlife from geese, to hawks, to rabbits, deer, foxes and squirrels. Geese, of course, are the especially troublesome because of what they leave behind.

Since Charlie has been on the job (four years now), the geese have been deterred from leaving their footprints and other reminders of their presence on the golf course. And the best part: no geese are injured or harmed.

Charlie patrols during the evenings when golfers have left the course. Otherwise they might not find her footprints in their bunkers especially endearing. But they love what she leaves in her wake: no goose droppings.

Best part: Charlie couldn't be happier. As everyone knows, border collies "need" a job and she certainly has found the perfect one!

Friday, July 2, 2010

And I Thought I Had Shadows

Tina and Chandi from the Semi finals of Britain's Got Talent give a whole new meaning to the term "shadow." Very, very impressive! And Chandi is a rescue dog!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Splish! Splash!

So we're having a heat wave here which only means one thing: swimming in the park with dogs! (Sorry, Mr. Sondheim)

Yes that's Amos as deep as he can be and note the upturned tail. He is one happy boy to cool off from the oppressive heat and humidity.

That blur is Phoebe chasing a friend down stream. These days its a veritable dog beach!

The best part: tired, happy and (after a good hosing with a little shampoo), relatively clean dogs.

Wish the same could be said for my car.