Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A True Story

I read this in The Washington Post on August 12, 2010 but it can also be found on Dr. Fox's website. He is a syndicated columnist.
A remarkable story that just shows you how very much dogs do "know."

Dear Dr. Fox — I'm writing in response to your recent column about how a "dog's devotion to master can lead to the grave." It is similar to what occurred with our golden retriever more than 20 years ago when my husband died at 46 after a four-year battle with cancer. During my husband's illness, Friday laid beside his bed, provided support when my husband walked, and never left his side. He obviously knew something was wrong and was devoted to his master.
Before my husband was ill, he was a senior sports-and-news cameraman for a major TV station. Owing to the nature of his assignments, my husband's work hours were unpredictable. Regardless of the hour, Friday always knew when my husband was headed home and ran to the front door, wagging his tail and sitting patiently until my husband's car pulled into the driveway.
After my husband's death (in the hospital), Friday sat at the front door all day, every day, whining and waiting for my husband's return. He stopped eating and wouldn't leave the front hallway. He refused to play with our children whom he loved because "guard duty" was his only purpose. He left his post only when he needed to be waked. My heart was breaking for this dog.
After one week of watching Friday's vigil, I decided to help him understand what happened. Hesitantly, Friday left his post and got into the car with me. His car behavior was unusual: He paced from window to window, looking everywhere for my husband. I drove to the cemetery, and we walked together toward my husband's gravesite. As we got closer, Friday pulled away from me and ran directly to my husband's grave. He lay down on the grave, closed his eyes, and just stayed there, quietly. I didn't try to talk to Friday or to disturb him — he needed to grieve, too. After an hour, Friday got up and walked over to me, using his mouth to hand me his leash. He was ready to go home.
On the way back home, Friday laid down quietly in the backseat. After we arrived home, he kept kissing my hands as if to say "thank you" and never again sat by the front door waiting for my husband to return home. He now understood. Although obviously sad, his behavior returned to normal around the children and he began eating again. In time, he healed as we did. — L.B.J., Lake Worth, Fla.
Dear L.B.J. — Many readers will join me in thanking you for this remarkable example of giving a dog closure with regard to your husband whom Friday thought was perhaps still alive. Your devoted dog clearly advances our understanding of how much some dogs really do know and feel. We should never underestimate their ability to comprehend and make every effort, as you did, during such difficult times of bereavement to help them when they are grieving.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Persistently Beats Rachel Alexandra

In yet another exciting stretch run at Saratoga yesterday, Persistently wore down Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign Stakes. Rachel was two lengths ahead down the stretch but Persistently hung tough, winning by a clear head at the wire.

This was Rachel's first try at the classic mile and 1/4 distance and the last quarter made all the difference. She tired down the stretch as Calvin Borel tried to urge her on. The longer distance is not to her liking and ironically, Persistently is trained by the same trainer who trained Personal Ensign after whom the race is named.

It was those familiar Phipps colors--black with a scarlet cap--at the wire in a huge upset. Just goes to show you, anything can happen in horse racing!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What a Travers!

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that my sister called me from Saratoga yesterday on her way to the Director's room after their horse won the Travers!!

So here is a replay of one of the most exciting races I have seen in a long time and congratulations all around to the Gainesway connections. Please note that there were three Alfeet Alex offspring in this race and that Afleet Alex stands at Gainesway, so they have lots of reasons to feel very proud!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Read Me a Story

Great story from ABC News about the positive influence that dogs have on children learning to read. In fact, research suggests that dogs can actually help children learn to read!

The key is the fact that dogs do not pass judgment; they merely sit and listen. "Kids have to practice, practice, practice to be good readers," said Francine Alexander, chief academic officer at Scholastic, the publisher of many children's books. "And yet, when you're practicing, if you make a mistake, it can feel risky and uncomfortable. But if you're practicing with a dog, you don't mind making the mistake."

In fact, a study from the University of California, Davis, found that children who do read to a dog actually improved their reading skills by 12 percent over ten weeks. Children who did not read to a dog did not show similar improvement.

The dogs, who are trained therapy dogs, are accompanied by their handlers. They must be able to sit still and listen. There is a very successful program in place at the East Norwalk Library in East Norwalk, Connecticut, where one participant explained the secret behind the success: "I'm relaxing when I'm reading to [the dog]," he explained. "It's just you and the dog."

Sounds like a formula that might work for a lot of things!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dreaming Big

For those of you interested in such publishing matters as income, Forbes has released its list of the top ten highest paid authors. The list certainly contains no surprises (other than perhaps the amount of money these writers actually do make), and goes a long way to explain why everyone seems to want to write the great American novel.

In any event, for those of us about a year away from a published title (read: me), the list stands as evidence that people do indeed make money from books. While we are hoping that Lick Your Plate! does make us at least our advance, we can always dream...

Here's the list:

James Patterson (who has a stable of writers working on his books) $70 million
Stephanie Meyer (Vampire Twilight series) $40 million
Stephen King $34 million
Danielle Steel $32 million
Ken Follet (nice boost from Oprah) $20 million
Dean Koontz $18 million
Janet Evanovich $16 million
John Grisham $15 million
Nicholas Sparks $14 million
J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter fame) $10 million

It is important to note that none of these writers are to be confused with Shakespeare or Hemingway, which goes a long way to explaining why they make so much money. Nothing esoteric--just good stories written in plain language.

All of which sounds like there just might be room for Lick Your Plate! on a popular reading list! We can dream can't we?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nicanor Tires; Ready Set Wins

Here is Nicanor's race from yesterday and while he didn't win, the second half of the entry, owned by Lael Farm, did. Ready Set was impressive catching front runner Hugo at the wire. It was a valiant effort and an excellent win for the colt, formerly trained by Michael Matz.

As for Nicanor, well, I think he got tired by the blazing fractions set by Hugo, who thought he was a sprinter. Nicanor hung gamely until the top of the stretch, when the two Lael entries were actually side by side, and then just didn't have anything left.

So as they say, you win some, you lose some. Lucky for the Jacksons, the day was not a washout! Both brothers got some good racing experience and they should come back strong for the Fall racing season.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lenny Takes Third

Lentenor finished third in his race yesterday, about 1 1/2 lengths behind the leader. In my opinion, he broke extremely well and was laying in what the announcer called "perfect second" as they turned for home. He just didn't "fire" when asked.

I think there were a few issues. First, Lenny did not respond well to being "asked" to kick into a higher gear at the top of the stretch. I suspect he had trouble changing leads around the turn and that set him up to veer into the lane a bit down the stretch. At the moment that Inauguration (the eventual winner) passed him, his head was back as if he was trying to figure out what to do first, change leads or go faster.

But then the good news, he got it, albeit a bit late to hit the wire first, but he definitely re-settled and made a nice move at the end. That was actually impressive and indicated that if he can get the lead change issue resolved, he will be in fine shape. He has a nice long stride and truly made up ground at the end. Maybe a longer distance or maybe just a lot of practice around turns.

I am disappointed but encouraged. The fractions were fast and the race turned out to be more impressive than I had anticipated. Remember also that this is his first time back on the track in 5 months so I think it is significant that he did not tire, as indicated by his late surge.

Lenny needs a few more races under his belt. He will get it--it just may take some time.

All of which reminds us, once again, how truly remarkable Barbaro really was.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nicanor to Run on Weds!

Can it get any better than this? The Jackson boys running back to back! Lenny today; Nicky tomorrow. Both at Delaware Park!

Here are the details about Nicky's race, a stakes race on the turf at a mile and 70 yards.

August 25--Delaware Park
Race 8 - 4:24 PM Daily Double (Races 8-9) / Exacta / Trifecta / Superfecta (10-cent min.)

Eight Thirty Stakes

Purse $50,000. For Three Year Olds And Upward. Free Nomination, $200 to enter and $300 start. Supplemental nominations of $1,000 will be accepted at time of entry which shall include all fees. $50,000 Guaranteed, of which $30,000 to the winner, $10,000 to second, $5,500 to third, $3,000 to fourth and $1,500 to fifth. Weight: Three year olds: 119 Lbs., Older: 124 Lbs. Non-winners of $30,000 on the turf since May 25th 2010 allowed 2 Lbs., Non-winners of $25,000 on the turf since April 25th, 2010 5Lbs., Non-winners of $20,000 on the turf since March 25th, 2010, allowed 8Lbs. (Maiden, claiming and starter races not considered in estimating allowances.) Field limited to 14 starters. Preference to horses that have accumulated the highest total turf earnings in 2009-2010. . One Mile And Seventy Yards. (Turf) (Rail at 15 Feet)
PP Horse Jockey Weight Trainer

1Crow's Nest (PA) Antongeorgi III 124 P J Graham
2Tybalt (KY) A R Napravnik 116 M Stidham
3Ready Set (KY) B J Hernandez, Jr.116 R W Werner
4Rogue Victory (KY) J Bravo 124 G Weaver
5Pick Six (KY) R B Homeister, Jr.116 E M Oare
6Sheila's Magic (MD) J C Caraballo 122 M J Trombetta
7I Know Why (VA) E D Rodriguez 116 D Capuano
8Cristobal (KY) R Alvarado, Jr. 122 R Vega
9Crimson Comic (KY) 116 M Shuman
10Grand Sensation (KY) T J Thompson 119 S Hobby
11Nicanor (KY) J Valdivia, Jr. 119 M R Matz
12Hugo (VA) J Rose 119 H A Smith
13Marilyn's Guy (KY) 116 K P McLaughlin
A - Coupled Entries - Ready Set, Nicanor

Owners: 1 - Ivy Dell Stud; 2 - Darley Stable; 3 - Lael Stables; 4 - R. A. Hill Stable; 5 - EMO Stables; 6 - Joan P. Everett; 7 - Patricia Schuler; 8 - Gavin-Ty Racing LLC, Barbara Armstrong and Bob Feinberg; 9 - Premier Stables Unlimited; 10 - Alex and JoAnn Lieblong; 11 - Lael Stables; 12 - Franklin G. Smith, Sr.; 13 - Haynes, Alvin D., Barry, James J. and McLaughlin, Kiaran P.

Breeders: 1 - Ivy Dell Stud; 2 - Stonerside Stable; 3 - Rancho San Peasea S. A.; 4 - Runnymede Farm, Inc. &Catesby W. Clay Investment LLC; 5 - Phipps Stable; 6 - Dale Everett & Joan Everett; 7 - Foxcroft Farm; 8 - Abbott Properties; 9 - WinStar Farm, LLC; 10 - Twin Hopes Farm, Inc.; 11 - Mr. & Mrs. M. Roy Jackson; 12 - Morgan's Ford Farm; 13 - Chesapeake Farm & Mary R. Odom

Equipment Changes: 5 - Pick Six - Blinkers On

Note that Nicanor is coupled with another Jackson horse, Ready, Set, who is breaking from the 3 post. Ready, Set is a nice horse. It should make for interesting viewing--trying to determine which blue and green silks belong to which horse. In fact, it may well be reminiscent of Barbaro's KY Derby in which he and Showing Up were sitting one behind the other going into the backstretch.

It is shaping up to be a nice stakes race. Don't rule out either 2 or 5. I think Nick may have drawn the tougher of the two assignments.

Here's hoping that undefeated turf record stays intact!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lenny's Back!!

Big news! Lentenor is entered in the eighth race at Delaware Park on Tuesday, August 24th! The race is a optional claiming race (rest assured that Lenny will never be claimed!) at seven and one half furlongs, on the turf.

The turf, in fact specifically the Delaware Park turf, is where older brother Nicanor is undefeated and it is safe to say that Lenny will be looking to continue the family tradition. Lenny's last start was in the Florida Derby, way back in March (he finished fourth by the way) and he has enjoyed a five month hiatus, growing into his now strapping body.

Jose Valdivia, Jr., who rode brother Nicky to victory in his last outing, will get the mount and Lenny has drawn post position number five.

Post time for the race is 4:24 pm, EST, and I know there will be a large contingent of FOBs in attendance to cheer him on, hopefully to victory.

Let's hope those Barbaro Brothers keep that turf record intact!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How Do You Say Dog in Italian?

So cooking for dogs, eating with dogs and traveling with dogs is big. I mean big enough for the Philadelphia Inquirer to devote 2 pages to Four Legged Italians in a recent Sunday Travel Section.

Have a look at the dogs of Italy! They look remarkably like the ones we have here, proving once again that dog lovers all speak the same language!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Driving Miss Maddie

So it was a bit ironic that while we were on our recent road trip to Connecticut, with Sabina's dog, Maddie in tow, the following headline appeared in USA Today: Driving with dogs breeds danger. Mind you as Sabina read this to me, Maddie was curled up in half of the front seat with Sabina squeezed into the other half.

According to USA Today, we were doing everything wrong. Maddie should have been restrained in the back seat, much like a child, and should never travel on anyone's lap or in the front seat.

Hmmm....tell that to Miss Maddie who clearly had another agenda, notably being as close to her owner as possible at all times.

However, the statistics are alarming. According to USA Today, nearly 60 percent of all dog owners have driven while distracted by their pets. And while there are no statistics as to whether or not this distraction ultimately leads to incidents, it is clearly not a great idea to be distracted while driving.

The ASPCA recommend dog restraints of some type--either crates or harnesses. "Our dogs are traveling with us so much more this day and age, says Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, manager of traffic safety programs at AAA. "They really have become part of our family. We want to make sure we're buckling up our dogs but also keeping our focus on the road."

Hear that Maddie...buckle up!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Last Middleburg Post

"Something there this that doesn't love a wall...." With apologies to Robert Frost in case I am misquoting him, these handmade stone walls were one of the true gems of Virginia's horse country. They separate fields and farms and are meticulously arranged without cement. Some have crumbled but most are at least a century or so old. I love their charm.

The stone motif continues in most of the residences. Some are old brick but most are charming, stone farmhouses. This was the cottage where I stayed on a beautiful working farm/estate.

And these were my neighbors! Two riding horses kept behind, you guessed it, a stone wall and a higher fence. I'm not sure these guys had any desire to roam beyond their lush meadows!

My research in the National Sporting Library was equally as productive and I uncovered books from the 1600's, 1700's and 1800's with actual recipes for dogs! All of which will make the introduction a little bit more historical and give some justification to the fact that it is not merely a self-indulgent cookbook for dogs! Believe it or not, as far back as the 1700's owners of dogs, especially fox hounds, were recording what they fed their dogs for optimum health. You might be surprised to learn that oatmeal was an important ingredient 300 years ago!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Crepes In Connecticut!

Sabina and I are just back from an overnight photo shoot in Connecticut for Lick Your Plate! Celebrity Chefs Cook for Their Dogs and Yours. These are some shots from the shoot in Greenwich where we ate the most wonderful, light and even gluten free crepes from Chef Marc Prevenne, owner of Meli-Melo (hodge-podge in French).

If you are passing through Greenwich, or even traversing 95 en route to points north or south, do yourself a favor and jump off at Exit 3, turn right on Ash and right again on Greenwich Ave. You will not be disappointed!

The crepes were amazing--be forewarned that there is a line out the door from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM so get there early!

His dog, by the way, which was originally his daughter's dog but is now clearly the apple of his eye, is named Rex and is absolutely adorable! The woman in the striped shirt in the photos is Evelyn his wife and Sabina is taking the photos, as always. You might catch a glimpse of our traveling companion on this jaunt, Sabina's dog, Maddie, who also enjoyed the crepes!

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More on Middleburg

How can you not love a town where this is the sign for the Police Department? hand painted, depicting a foxhound because Middleburg is deep in the heart of fox hunting country. The Middleburg Hunt is one of the oldest continuous Hunts in the country and these people take this sport very seriously.

The haze by the way is from the heat. It was extremely hot the first day I was there--easily 100 degrees with stifling humidity and truly only mad dogs, Englishmen and tourists were out on the street!

How can you also not love a town with a restaurant so named? And yes, there is indeed a French Hound, although he is a Jack Russell fond of sunning himself in the aforementioned heat! The food there, by the way, is outstanding and the homey bistro is a favorite of the locals, a sure sign it is good. By the second day I was in Middleburg, I felt like a local since I knew a bunch of people in the restaurant!

The all important bar area was especially packed--could this have been a comment on one of the favorite past times of serious fox hunters--the post hunt libations! (Come to think of it, this was in anticipation of the hunt--still a few weeks away!)

In any event, the trip was fabulous. I signed up two chefs for Volume 2 (did I mention we are doing a sequel?) and made some great new friend, canine and otherwise. In fact, I do not think that there was a single car that drove through Middleburg without a dog in it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lives of Dogs

For those of you in the Washington, D.C./Virgina area, a visit to the National Sporting Museum in Middleberg, Virgina, is a wonderful day trip. I recently spent 4 days there doing research and fell in love with the area as well as the amazing collection of sporting art and manuscripts housed in the Museum. I went to re-think my Barbaro project and came away with a bevy of ideas.

The current exhibit is well worth the trip. Lives of Dogs Viewed Through Literature, Art and Ephemera features books and objects that span four centuries, detailing our longstanding relationship with canines, especially the sporting breeds.

The photo above is a Dutch dog collar from 1793--solid brass. Quite an impressive halter don't you think? A 1576 book, Turberville's Book of Hunting, gives detailed advice on the care and training of hounds, including dispensing treats. Other collars in the collection express the sentiment owners felt for their pets.

So even in the days when dogs slept in the dog house, there was a bond between dogs and their owners that went beyond the working relationship. It certainly makes me feel like a cookbook for dogs is not that much of a stretch when you consider the workmanship that went into that collar!

The exhibit is there through mid-December.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Need for Linkers

Sometimes when I am working on the book, I wonder if I am actually creating a dinosaur. After all, in July, Amazon.com announced that in the previous three months (April, May, June), it had sold more ebooks than hardcover ones.

All of which indicates that with the advent of the i-pad and the new cheaper versions of the Kindle and Nook, the era of the electronic book is upon us. Do you blame me for wondering if I am creating something that may be extinct before it even comes out?

I heard Jennifer Weiner interviewed on the radio the other day about her new novel, Fly Away Home, which is in the top ten on the NY Times bestseller list, and she joked that when her kids grew up, they would make fun of her for doing something so obsolete as working with words on paper. What's paper they may well wonder?

For those of you who are concerned about my book, rest assured that we have pounced on the publisher about an electronic version. The truth of the matter is that when it comes to epublishing, the technology hasn't quite caught up with the demand. Photos still look better when reproduced on paper, at least until the publishers invest in the technology that will make them catch up to the rest of the world.

In the meantime, consider the true future--something called integrated books, in which you press a link and you can hear the song a character was humming to herself, or see the magazine ad which inspired her to buy a certain dress or better yet, buy the same dress yourself.

We won't be known as authors--just linkers--because every plot twist will be linked to the one that took you in the other direction and every word will come with a definition and/or translation to Chinese.

Wow--not sure I can handle that. But what a career for those kids who grew up multi-tasking. A linker will surely become just as valuable as an editor if not more so and will be the new go-to publishing assistant.

Attention all English majors and generalists. There is a market for your fountain of knowledge. It just hasn't been invented yet but stay tuned. We should need you in about a week.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heading for the Hills

We are about halfway through the book and on target for our October 1 deadline. As the summer winds down, Sabina is headed out to the West Coast, where we have tons of very talented and famous California chefs on board. We are both going to Connecticut before she leaves to shoot two great chefs and their pooches.

Before any of that, however, I am heading for the hills for a few days to recharge. It has been a long, hot summer and I need some downtime before I face the demands of the Fall.

In case you were wondering, I am not headed to Walt Disney World, where I could have checked in with all three of my furry critters, thanks to the opening on August 27 of Best Friends Pet Resort, where "Pluto never had it so good."

For dogs, cats, birds, potbellied pigs and small mammals like hamsters and guinea pigs, the luxury facility is not for humans--but designed to board your pet overnight or during the day while you enjoy Disney World.

Best of all: lots of perks for those staying there like bedtime stories and a water park.

Please do NOT tell Sam about this last item or there will be no living with him. We sometimes turn the sprinklers on at my parents house and that is all the water park he knows or needs!!

If you miss me while I'm gone, you can always log on to my upcoming website to see if it indeed up and coming. If it isn't, you'll understand just one of my reasons for a hiatus.

Be back in about a week unless something is so pressing, I'll blog about it from my hideout.

Otherwise, stay cool!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Staying on Track

Way to go Zenyatta! 18 in a row in dramatic fashion on the polytrack at Del Mar. She won the Hirsch by a head and sealed the deal, as they say. Who else could possibly be horse of the year?

While the Breeder's Cup is still on the horizon for both Rachel and Alexandra, no word yet as to whether or not they will ultimately meet.

As they say, and as the picture indicates, you never know when you're going to get blindsided.

Here's hoping both equine divas drive straight and stay on track for their potential November 6 showdown because what a race that would be.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Promises, Promises

Those who doubt the importance of "dog friendly" in selling condominiums need only read about the recent case of residents of the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia (they have condo units) who were promised a dog park on the premises. "The park meant a lot to me, and to be able to sit there with Louie and listen to the fountain in the center of the city, was heaven," said resident Helen Laman.

Indeed it was a selling point for the developer whose promotional material touted the presence of an on-site dog park. But just recently, due to some unscrupulous behavior of some dog owners, the park has been closed to dogs. And the developer has been heard to say that there ever was a dog park.

What about the poor residents, like Laman, who bought their place because of the existence of the dog park. Well they are forced to go elsewhere, which is nowhere as convenient as going right downstairs.

Which brings me to the issue of dogs in condos. Every building has its own set of rules. Some pertain to size, some to weight and there usually is a ban on more than a certain number of dogs. Private buildings are permitted to establish whatever rules they want, but they should not establish some rules and then pretend they never existed.

At the root of the dispute is the age old dispute over cleaning up after oneself and most dog owners are vigilant about complying with pooper scooper mandates, especially if they know their presence in the park is at stake.

Bottom line: research leases carefully. And hold your landlords to their contractual obligations.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pet Stop

With all the recent press about the dangers of dogs flying in the cargo hold (especially those with pushed in noses, like pugs), more and more owners are opting to carry on their pooches, if they fit into carriers that can be placed under the seat. For those travelers, a new perk at Philadelphia International Airport is much appreciated: "pet ports."

These are seven specific outdoor areas where dogs can go to the bathroom between flights. They are conveniently located within walking distance of the terminals and are between 250 and 600 square feet, depending on the location. Each features a 4 inch mulch surface, a bench, a faux fire hydrant, biodegradable waste bags and a concrete dog paw. Each area is enclosed with a fence that can be latched closed.

"The feedback we've gotten so far is complimentary on the number, distribution and locations of these pet ports," said Victoria Lupica, a spokesperson for Philly International. "Our customers, whether they have service animals, pets, or are part of our security canine unit, are happy they are here."

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, more than two million pets and other animals fly each year in the United States. A federal rule took effect in May 2009 that required airports to provide areas where service animals could relieve themselves.

Philadelphia's areas were actually good to go a year ahead of schedule. Now if they could only do the same thing for all the flights. . . .

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fly Away Home

It is the beginning of football training camp and as the Eagles report to theirs at Lehigh University, there has been much talk about Michael Vick's future with the team, in light of the incident at his 30th birthday party at which a gun shot was fired.

Vick assures the public and the press that he had nothing to do with the random act of violence and he is having a private meeting with the commissioner sometime this week to plead his case. But so far, all the Eagle's coaching staff continues to support Vick. The head coach called him a "nice guy" on television the other night.

I am more than a little concerned in light of the recent New York Times article on the animal-cruelty syndrome. As Charles Seibert (one of the best animal writers around) indicates, there is "a mounting body of evidence about the link between such act [cruelty to animals] and serious crimes of more narrowly human concern, including illegal firearms possession, drug trafficking, gambling, spousal abuse, rape and homicide."

In other words, people who hurt dogs usually do the same thing to people. "In an October 2005 paper published in Journal of Community Health, a team of researchers conducting a study over seven years in 11 metropolitan areas determined that pet abuse was one of five factors that predicted who would begin other abusive behaviors."

This is not to say that Michael Vick fired that shot or even had anything to do with it. But the very fact that one of the guests at his party did, is reason enough to question his choice of friends and lack of judgment.

I sincerely hope the NFL read the same article.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Iams/Eukanuba Recall

An important notice from Proctor and Gamble that they have recalled several types of Iams/Eukanuba dog and cat food for possible salmonella contamination. The recalled brands include:

Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas

Eukanuba Naturally wild

Eukanuba Pure

Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin

More information can be found on the Iams website or by calling Proctor and Gamble toll free at 877-340-8823.

People who have handled these foods are also at risk for developing salmonella. You should discard any of these foods, scrub down any areas of your kitchen than have come into contact with them with a disinfecting solution (Clorox based) and contact your doctor if you develop fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea and/or vomiting.

Owners of pets who might have consumed these foods should contact their veterinarians.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ginger Finds a New Home

This is Ginger. She is a 17 year old Chestnut mare who is enjoying a second lease on life thanks to the work of Pam Brighton, also shown in the photo, president of Oasis Animal Sanctuary in Atlantic County, New Jersey. The details are sketchy regarding Ginger's former life, so we'll just say that she was willingly surrendered to the good folks at Oasis. We'll also just say that when this happened she was a literal shadow of her current self.

Oasis, a sanctuary for "throw-aways" is one of the hundreds of animal rescues that pick up what others discard. Currently there are ten horses, a lot of cats and dogs and one pot bellied pig in residence.

While many blame the economy for the increase in animal abandonment, more often than not it is the reality of caring for (i. e. paying for) their animals that causes owners to walk away from their obligations. In Ginger's case, a 50 pound bag of feed costs about $15 and Ginger can eat 14 pounds a day. Add in the never ending vet bills, and the cost of owning a horse is minimally several thousand dollars a year.

Not everyone realizes this when their daughter goes through the "I want a pony" stage but it doesn't take long for the bills to pile up.

Thanks heavens for people like the volunteers at Oasis who pick up the pieces, but their coffers are not exactly overflowing. If you feel like sponsoring Ginger or any of the animals at Oasis, you can visit their website and volunteer your services.

"Anyone who does rescue will tell you that rescued animals know they've been rescued," says Brighton. "And they give you so much as a thank you."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pieces of the Dream

The Sales pavilion at Saratoga has gotten a remake as these photos indicate. New interior with stadium seating, complete with cup holders and paneled walls and a new look on the outside as well.

The round Humphrey Finney Sales Pavilion is where all the action is going to be August 2 and 3rd when the yearling sales get under way. Expectations are high--they are always high--as buyers hover to see if they can purchase a piece of the dream.

Listen carefully to the hype. Every horse "turns a good foot" or has "that look in his eye." Most are "strong and sure footed;" some are "graceful," others "powerful." Most have inherited only the best traits of their mother or father--usually their father--and all have "great promise."

It is a foolish consignor who would argue with a potential customer. If a buyer says "powerful rear quarters," you can bet the consignor will rattle off why the progeny is reminiscent of his/her father who had the same distinguishing trait.

Nobody is talking about a bargain. All are preaching the "you get what you pay for" philosophy. There are few places where "buyer beware" is more apropos than a yearling sale. They all look beautiful. They all stand regally. They all radiate promise.

And they all have food bills and vet bills and farrier bills and dental bills and many will never make it to the track.

And only one will win the Kentucky Derby in two years and might not even be sold in the ring.

Saratoga is a fascinating place to visit during the yearling sales but do yourself a favor and leave your checkbook at home.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Send a Message to Murphy

In what has to be one of the most cruel and unusual twists of fate, Murphy, one of Luke Robinson's dogs who walked with him from Austin to Boston to raise awareness for canine cancer, has recently been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. The image above is of his tumor.

You can read all the details on Luke's blog, but here are the basics. Murphy is being treated at Colorado State University and the course of treatment is radiation. The tumor is large and has eaten through his septum but has not touched the brain.

Please say a prayer for Murphy and if you feel so inclined send Luke a note om his blog.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Just to Whet Your Appetite

Thought you might like to see how the Haskell played out last year. You just might recognize the name of the winner.

Here's hoping we get as exciting a race today and that everyone comes home safely.