Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

And now for the costume event of the season! This year for halloween, Sammy is a devil.

Phoebe is a flower.

And Amos, is Secretariat!!!!!

Please note that last costume required some handiwork on my part, affixing the jockey to Amos' coat (a.k.a. saddlecloth) but it works perfectly and he doesn't seem to mind!!

Hope your adventure is just as entertaining!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Merry Maid?

Proof that dogs are sometimes smarter than kids. Please note who is managing to put trash where it goes, close cabinet doors as well as load the dryer!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Vet Schools Are Important For Med Schools

About 100,000 dogs a year get Cushing's disease, a condition in which a tumor on the pituitary gland produces too much cortisol. Dogs gain weight, experience high blood pressure and their muscles atrophy.

Recently, the procedure used on humans to remove the tumor has become available to animals, thanks to the collaboration between a neurosurgeon and some veterinarians based in Los Angeles. While the procedure is rare in humans, it is much more common in pets, so this collaboration was a win-win for both species.

It was the human neurosurgeon who taught the procedure to the veterinarians. In return, he gained access to tissue sample from dogs with the disease--a veritable data bank for him. In fact, according to the New York Times, it is these tissues that are instrumental in the development of drugs to treat the disease in animals as well as humans.

It is, quite simply, another area in which veterinary medicine and human medicine can both learn from each other and help both species in the process. "We have a full loop," says Dr. Adam Mamelak, the LA neurosurgeon who taught the vets how to remove the tumor. "We're using a human procedure in animals, and using their tissue to study the disease."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Shakes

So the wet dog phenomenon is hardly news to anyone who has ever given a dog a bath or tried to dried one after a rain storm. They shake. But exactly how fast do they rid themselves of the unwanted water?

That is exactly the question that Andrew Dickerson, a graduate student at Georgia Tech set out to answer in a study recently published in the journal, Fluid Dynamics. Using a high speed camera, Dickerson and his team took footage of all sorts of animals, from bears to mice shaking themselves dry.

And what they found is that when it comes to getting dry, size does matter. A mouse has to shake much much faster than a bear to rid itself of water droplets clinging to its fur.

Not earth shattering, you might think but consider this. The real-world implications may be in new washing machine designs which essentially mimic the actions of animals. That is the focus of all of Dickerson's research: discovering mechanisms found in nature.

No word yet on his next topic of investigation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cavaletti Au Naturel

For those of you who are familiar with riding, you will recognize the above as a Cavaletti, a horse training device used in Dressage as well as when training a horse to jump. The general idea is to teach then to raise their legs over the rods. In Dressage, it is all about grace, height, form and timing. When teaching a horse how to jump, the bars are gradually raised until the horse has no choice but to jump over them, ideally without fear since he has been walking over them for a while.

In any event, Miss Phoebe has graduated to a Cavaletti in her rehab. When I drove into the parking lot of the facility this week, they had one all set up for her in the parking lot, complete with bars about two inches from the ground set into plastic cones. She walked over it beautifully, without knocking over a single bar, and I was told to work on this movement during the week.

Ack!! Where was I going to get a Cavaletti--especially one that wouldn't require setting up and taking down all the time (for the gardeners, who mow the grass and blow the leaves once a week) and that wouldn't become Sam's newest toy?

I first experimented with garden stakes on top of overturned small flowerpots, which worked well enough until Sam ran straight through them and then ran away with a stake. Plus I think Phoebe had a hard time seeing the green stakes on the green grass.

Then as I was walking through the dog park this morning, I noticed all the tree limbs and trunks that were strewn about. Perfect, I decided, but short of needing a chain saw, I was limited to those I could haul back to the car--and those that would fit into the car.

So began a slow but steady process of me dragging tree limbs and Sam thinking I was the greatest mother on the planet for taking home major sticks for him to play with! A few trips and a lot of dirt later, I had my stash, which I assembled in the driveway so I don't have to take it apart twice a day.

Here is my handiwork, which, by the way, works quite well, for the time being.

I'm feeling quite clever and if I have to raise them up, I figure I will set them on those overturned flowerpots or maybe even dog food cans. Sam, however, has not forgiven me for not letting him have even one to play with! Miss Phoebe is feeling quite pleased with herself for walking over them perfectly, sometimes without even thinking about it! Plus she has lost a pound.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

To costume or not to costume, that seems to be the question floating around the animal lover's blogosphere these days. While I will not divulge the details of my own costume decisions (stay tuned), I will tell you that this is probably the first time in many years that I picked up an orange flyer at my vet's office with some Calming Halloween Fright tips for pets.

Have we gone overboard in our vigilance? I'm not sure. Perhaps we have gone overboard in our celebration of All Hallows Eve and there very well may be some frightening aspects of it for your pet.

Some of the tips are just plain common sense, like bring your dog indoors. Of course there will be ghosts and goblins wandering the streets and dogs left outside are going to bark and/or frighten the tots who are collecting their candy. A follow up to the suggestion to keep your pet indoors is the coda to keep him confined to a room well away from the front door. In my house that would be next to impossible unless I would like to have the paint scraped off a door. I will simply keep them with me, wearing collars, so if need be, I can corral them. Better yet, I may let them drag around their leashes. . .

As for candy, well you know the drill. No chocolate for dogs, or anything else in that haul. And please remind your kids NOT to leave the candy within dog sniffing or striking distance, i.e., off the floor. Ditto to keeping tails away from open flames, like candles. Better yet, substitute glow sticks for candles. Safer all around.

And as for costuming your pet, well, it is entirely up to you, but here's a great big caveat: don't put a mask on your pet or anything that he/she could trip over. And if they look miserable, take a quick photo and tie a cute bandana around their neck.

My group will be in costume--hopefully long enough for me to take a photo so stay tuned.

Monday, October 25, 2010


During the course of Miss Phoebe's rehab, I have investigated many, many products that are on the market to make life with a rehabbing dog easier. One of the best, is the little hock brace that I found at ortho-pet. It is not designed for her knee, but does protect her lower leg and ankle, both of which are taking more strain these days. It is a simple velcro wrap around compression sleeve that seems to be doing its job.

The problem with knee braces for dogs is the fact that they do not stay in place without an elaborate contraption that wraps around the dog's neck. This all seemed like much too much work for both Phoebe and me and I was not sure Phoebe would tolerate it, so we went for the easier approach. My vet says it is not hurting but she is not sure if it is helping!

Along the way, I purchased many other gizmos to make getting in and out of the car easier, etc. but I also came across a great company, with a great story, just in case you are ever in need of dog rehab products.

The company is Doggleggs and it is the brainchild of a graphic designer named Schon Gross whose large dog developed a fluid filled callous on his elbow. The vet really had no great solution for the treatment of the hygroma--fluid filled callous--and suggested she try to adapt some sort of sports kneepad to fit the dog.

Well that is what she did, combining it with a sleeve harness to keep the kneepad in place. By the second day of wearing his new kneepad contraption, the swelling in the hygroma was reduced by half and the dog was soon walking without a limp. When she took the dog, wearing his Doggleggs to the vet, he suggested she patent it at once.

Dogglegs Therapeutic Rehabilitative Products expects to have $500,000 in sales this year and there is now a complete line of rehabilitative products for horses as well as dogs. Unfortunately, there is still no ACL brace for dogs that does not require a harness to keep it in place around the dog's neck or a small fortune.

But she does have an interesting back leg brace that is a bit more substantial that Phoebe's but the same idea.

Schon Gross also does custom fittings so you never know. . .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Zenyatta's Newest Fan

This is Terrell Owens, a current member of the Cincinnati Bengals (wide receiver) who actually has a bit of history in Philadelphia since he once played for the Eagles. While he was here, he injured himself and famously rehabilitated himself super fast, using all sorts of technology including a hyperbaric chamber which he had installed in his home. In fact, one day when Phoebe was trotting along on the underwater treadmill, the doctor commented that this was the same model that T.O. (as he is known) used during his rehab.

Anyway, apparently T.O. has a thing for the horses as evidenced by this item from In California during the Bengal's bye week (last week), T. O. dropped by Zenyatta's barn at Hollywood Park. It seems that the superstar athlete has attended the Kentucky Derby, visited Three chimney Farm and was dying to meet the 6 year old, undefeated Zenyatta.

When they led her out, he commented, "Man, she's big!"

When told that Zenyatta was a pussycat in the barn but a tiger on the racetrack, T.O. couldn't resist the comparison: "So he's like me: kind off the field, but somebody who shows a lot of passion on it."

I'm not touching that one. . .

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Anit Lo Photo Shoot

After the shoot in Central Park on Thursday morning, we hightailed it to Greenwich Village to photograph Anita Lo and her adorable dogs outside her restaurant.

Here is Sabina capturing Anita in action on her bike with her adorable pooches in the basket.

Anita's restaurant is Annisa and you might recognize her from Season 1 of Top Chef Masters where she took on Art Smith (Oprah's former chef) and others. She did not prevail but made quite a great showing and her restaurant is amazing!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Row Row Row Your Boat!

Yesterday was our last photo shoot for the book in New York City and what a great day it turned out to be! We started in Central Park at the Boathouse where Chef Kerry Heffernan and his adorable dog, Benny, were game enough to venture onto the lake in a rowboat.

Please note that the logistics of this shoot were a bit complicated--requiring two rowboats--thanks to our intrepid assistant, Eric, who rowed Sabina.

Benny even had his own life vest!

The best part--no one jumped in!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Turn that Frown Upside Down

We know that attitude can have a serious impact on everything, from enjoying things to dreading them to getting through them. A positive attitude is often beneficial in most endeavors.

Turns out, that the same thing applies to dogs. A recent study, reported in the New York Times, found that dogs can either be optimistic or pessimistic and those that see the glass half empty may, in fact, need treatment.

This downward turn of the smile may not be so easy to spot in dog, since many of them seem perfectly happy to run around or learn tricks. The time that it is most apparent is when you leave them. And it turns out that those with separation anxiety may be prone to seeing the world through less than rose colored glasses.

Scientists tested twenty four shelter dogs in Britain by placing them in isolation and observing them. As predicted, some were not too thrilled: they ran around, barked, scratched. You know the drill. Then they placed feeding bowls in two rooms. Some were full and some were empty and they were placed in different locations each time they were introduced.

The dogs that raced to the locations where the bowls were placed were seen as optimistic. They never knew if the bowls would be full or empty, but they were hopeful. The others who took their times finding the bowls, probably figuring they would be empty anyway, were deemed pessimistic.

And here's the rub: the more separation anxiety a dog exhibited, the more likely he was to be pessimistic.

Moral of the story: if your dog exhibits separation anxiety, seek professional treatment. He may truly be one unhappy camper in more ways than one.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Goes Around. . .

We'll take a little break from Phoebe's rehab (actually it feels more like my rehab) to report on the following story from the Wall Street Journal that touched my heart.

The photo above is Gunner, a bomb sniffing dog who was discharged from the Marines for post-traumatic stress disorder. Apparently he has found a new home with the parents of a marine who died in Iraq while protecting the men next to him. It has been a win-win situation for all concerned.

The heartbreaking story of the loss of Cpl. Jason Dunham, Deb and Dan Dunham's son, is one I will let you read for yourself. Though Gunner could never fill that space in their hearts, his presence has been beneficial for him as well as for the Dunhams. As Deb says, "My Marine never came home. I have a place for a Marine."

Slowly but surely Gunner is learning to deal with his emotional scars (predominantly a fear of loud noises) and the tender loving and consistent care dished out by the Dunhams is helping. "I think Gunner will overcome," says Dan. "Everybody's resilient--human and dog."

And here's a great example of man helping dog help man, according to Dan: "We get up each day and find a new way to get through the day realizing that Jason's not here. We have to pass that on to Gunner."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Photo Shoot in Philadelphia

These are some shots of Sabina in action at one of our last photo shoots for the book yesterday. There are actually differing deadlines for the manuscript and the "art" portions of the book and Sabina has until November 1 to get her photos in order and submitted. We are finishing up three chefs this week.

The first was right in our own backyard: Chef Guillermo Tellez at Square 1682 in Philadelphia. His adorable dog Milee--a Morkie (Maltese and Yorky mix) is only seven months old and quite a fearless little thing!

One of the first things Sabina establishes is whether or not the dog is afraid of the camera. Some are, but Milee was absolutely NOT!

It was a beautiful day and Milee had a great time chasing squirrels and playing with everybody in Rittenhouse Square during the lunch hour! Should make for a great spread in the book and Chef Tellez's recipe is equally endearing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Publishing Is not Dead

I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon at a local Writer's Conference, where I focused on the marketing seminars, in preparation for the debut of Lick Your Plate! in October 2011. 2011, you might ask? Aren't you a bit premature? Turns out that I am actually a bit behind, if you can believe it or not!

I've had several good conversations with the publicity person at our publisher and they are very amenable to all my suggestions, but as I learned Saturday, they are also very overworked. We have a 45-90 day window of opportunity right before and when the book actually comes out to make a huge and lasting impression on our readers. So it behooves us to have a many pieces in place NOW so we are literally good to go, next summer.

So, if you have not taken a peek at my website:, I urge you to do so and while you are there to join our Facebook page for Lick Your Plate! The link is at the top of my web site; just click and you should go there. That way you can follow all the progress of the book (and us) as we enter the land of PR!

In the meantime, the video above is the ultimate take away from the conference. Publishing is most certainly not dead, just changing, and it is up to us to take advantage of the opportunities these changes represent.

It's all in how you look at it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lentenor Finished Seventh

Here is Lentenor's disappointing race from Keeneland yesterday. He finished 7th after breaking from the 11 hole. He had a bad start--looked like he veered out at the beginning but settled in nicely although went six wide into the first turn.

He looked like he settled nicely along the back stretch and pretty much stayed in position--within striking distance of the leader certainly and he looked like he was going to make a strong move coming into the top of the stretch.

But then he had nothing left coming down the stretch-in fact he went backwards as other horses passed him. It was actually a good learning race because I think for the first time he looked like he understood what being rated meant. Its just that he had nothing left at the end.

Perhaps a shorter distance, and certainly the large field was difficult. But all in all, I don't think anyone should be discouraged. He just needs to get some racing luck.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Go Phillies!

In case you are not a baseball fan, I interrupt this blog to announce that the Phillies open the National League Championship series tonight against the San Francisco Giants in what may be one of the great pitching duels of all time.

Enough said. I don't want to jinx anything. The game is televised on Fox so check your local listings and wear a little red for good luck!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lentnor Races on Saturday

Lentenor is entered in the 8th Race at Keeneland on Saturday on the all weather track. Here is the field:

8th (4:52)

1 1/8 Miles (All Weather Track) | Open | 3 Year Olds And Up Allowance | Purse: $49,000

Post # Horse Jockey
1 Running Tempo, Montalvo C
2 Brave Prospect, Baze M C
3 Spartan King, Mena M
4 Indianapolis (BRZ), Borel C H
5 Heart Butte, Velazquez J R
6 Bull Hole, Dominguez R A
7 Palatine Hill, Kuntzweiler G
8 Alcomatch, Leparoux J R
9 Yankee Scholar, Rosario J
10 Guys Reward, Lanerie C J
11 Lentenor, Albarado R J

On paper, it looks like a good spot for Lennie, although the far outside post will be interesting. If he breaks well, can go to an early lead and stay there, he should fare well on the synthetic surface at Keeneland.

Watch for some strong competition from Heart Butte (strange name), trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Johnny Velazquez. He has a win against Drosselmeyer under his belt. And one should never rule out Calvin Borel, who no doubt will be hugging the rail.

Morning line has Lennie as 3 to 1. Crowd may likely make him the favorite.

Wishing everyone a safe trip.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Good Eye

Ever wonder how Jess Jackson, owner of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, selects his horse flesh? Well look no farther than the October 11 edition of Forbes magazine in which there is an article about the man who advises Jackson on that selection process, John Moynihan.

Bloodstock agent Moynihan counts Jackson among a handful of clients, some of the wealthiest names in horse racing. According to Forbes, Moynihan has purchased about 50 horses since 2006 for these deep pockets. While that may not seem like a lot, consider that Curlin and Rachel Alexandra were among those purchases.

Moynihan has a computer science degree from Kentucky State and was all set to trade securities after graduation until the racing bug bit, big time. He started out as an apprentice as Fasig-Tipton, the auction house, and learned and studied the business from the bottom up. He formed his own bloodstock agency in 1994 and acquired Bob Lewis as a client. One of Moynihan's early purchases for the Lewis stable was Charismatic, winner of the Derby and the Preakness. Not bad for a beginner, so to speak.

So what does Moynihan look for? An undefined "engineering" that includes strong legs, a good pedigree and the ability to pass a veterinary inspection that includes x-rays and an endoscopic exam. In the end, looks, or rather his definition of "looks" play a big part: "the better-looking the horse, the more chance it has of racing success," he says.

And what does Moynihan get for his "good eye?" At least 5% of the purchase price. You do the math: in a year in which the buyers of Rachel Alexandra signed a confidentiality agreement, its safe to say Moynihan is doing pretty nicely.

If you love horses and are good at spotting that special something, it's not a bad way to make a living!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Today is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Trust me, I couldn't make it up. On this holiday, created by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), participating veterinary clinics across the nation (about 1,000) provide APOP with data to makes its case.

Essentially APOP is conducting an ongoing study of pet obesity in the United States and the holiday updates their data. The ongoing study suggests that this trend is absolutely nothing to scoff at.

According to APOP, last year's study revealed that 45% of dogs and 58% of cats were classified as obese. This translates into an astonishing 90 million pets who are at risk for developing a bevy of diseases, and possible joint and limb injures. Trust me, I am a convert.

Along with her physical therapy program, Miss Phoebe is currently on a veterinary supervised diet, which actually has increased the amount of protein in her diet and truly made her less of a chow hound. Impossible, you say? Well, so far, so good.

Just to emphasize the need for serious weight loss among pets, VPI, the insurance company, says its pays out over $14 million in weigh-related claims each year, and these include the ACL injuries that Phoebe sustained.

For the record, the day after her underwater treadmill adventure found Miss Phoebe putting an astonishing amount of weight on her injured leg. We went for a careful, slow 6 minute leash walk, did our stretches (me stretching her leg, she reclining and giving me a disdainful look), and kept to our diet.

If you want more information on the topic, click here. And remember that you can never be too rich or too thin!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Phoebe Does Rehab

In the continuing saga of Miss Phoebe, yesterday was her first walk on the underwater treadmill. Aside from actually opening the door twice, while the water was filling up (never before happened, according to the doctor), Phoebe had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed herself, as you can see from this video.

Yesterday was actually the first day that I allowed myself to believe she might be getting better. If nothing else, she and I have reached an understanding which consists of her actually behaving and allowing me to help her, at least sometimes.

This is huge, in terms of getting her to cooperate, and can only help both of us in the long run, whatever happens. Let's hope our truce holds and she continues to make progress!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday in the Park with Penn Vet

So how did you spend your Sunday? I spent part of mine walking 5 miles in the Making Strides Against Cancer Walk with about thirty supporters of the Penn Vet Mammary Tumor Program. We had many dogs walk with us, most of them wearing matching tee shirts. And everyone made it home!

It was a beautiful day and a wonderful way to raise funds for cancer research as well as awareness of the wonderful work Penn vet is doing to provide care for dogs with mammary tumors.

For more information about the Penn program, click here. I'd like to think that in the very near future we will have made enough strides against cancer to make these kinds of walks a thing of the past.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vick Making Ammends?

So you knew it had to happen. Michael Vick would go from being the back-up quarterback to the starter and from being the ex-con to the anti-dog fighting spokesperson for the Humane Society. Somehow it all has happened, but not without significant work on the part of Vick, or his publicist.

Just recently Vick spoke to the students of the Imhotep Charter School in Philadelphia, where the field next door was once an arena for dog fighting. When Vick asked the kids in attendance how many of them had ever seen a dogfight, about 80 raised their hands.

This tells you two things: one, that dog fighting, as reprehensible as it seems to most people, still exists and that two: Vick is actually taking his message to the right places. It also tells you that his words may actually carry some validity as far as the kids are concerned, since his athletic star is once again on the rise. In fact, he mentioned to the kids that he would like to be remembered as a good father and maybe even, a Super Bowl champion.

In many ways it is a remarkable story about second chances. Vick makes no bones about the fact that he realizes this is his and he has no intention of blowing it. We can only hope he is sincere.

"Every day you walk out of the house with a responsibility, and its to do the right thing," he told the kids. "All it takes is all you got. You got to make it happen."

Has he learned his lesson? We can only hope. Should we continue to hold his past mistakes against his future promises? Maybe, at least until we can figure out if he is truly serious about the things he says.

Yes, the Eagles are playing better football than anyone ever expected, with Vick at the helm in a very surprise move. But I'm not convinced that one thing should influence the other. In other words, regardless of Vick's prowess on the field, he still needs to walk the walk when he's not playing.

On that, I believe, the jury is still out.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Puppy Dreams

On the day on which I learned that Phoebe needs cruciate ligament surgery, my darling daughter sent me this reminder of younger, happier days.

I'll keep you posted on the consult. Never a dull moment.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Zenyatta and Secretariat

Everyone and his brother are jumping onto the Secretariat bandwagon, now that the movie is opening nationwide (October 8--check your local listings). The latest is one George Mallet, who actually used to be a reporter here for the local news and has since moved to Wisconsin. Mallet caught the racing bug big time when he was covering Smarty Jones, Alfeet Alex and of course Barbaro.

His post relates the tale of how he came to buy a grandson of Secretariat and how riding this former race horse was an adventure he didn't quite bargain for--five broken ribs later.

What amazes me about the Secretariat tale is why Zenyatta's remarkable accomplishments have not caught the public's fervor like those of Secretariat. Both stories, to me, are all about greatness and winning--not overcoming tragedies in the form of physical setbacks or illness--just pure and simple power, strength and incredible physical prowess. In so many ways, Zenyatta seems like the incarnation of Secretariat and yet she has not made it off the sports pages.

Either way, you can be sure I will be catching this movie on opening day!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Low Intensity Laser

This blurry photo (sorry it was hard to hold her and take a picture at the same time) is Miss Phoebe wearing her eye protection, in advance of her first low intensity laser treatment which took place yesterday at my vet's office. It was quite a scene. It took two of us to get the agile Miss P to cooperate but once she was blindfolded, all went well.

The vet tech and I also donned protective eye wear and then she cranked up the machine. Basically the entire process took about four minutes and consisted of the vet tech running the laser over Phoebe's sore haunch and knee. She had to stand for the treatment but I can assure you she loved every minute of it! It just feels warm and apparently the laser helps healing.

Perhaps Miss Phoebe thought she was getting some sort of state of the art beauty treatment because she truly did calm down and seemed to relax. The most amazing thing however was when she walked out, the dog was walking perfectly--no limp. And just to make sure you don't think I was seeing things, it was Emma, the vet tech who pointed it out.

So now, we do this for three consecutive days and then one or two times next week. Driving Miss Phoebe is going to turn into a full time occupation but so far, so good.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Eat Your Veggies

Someone is clearly trying to tell me something--big time. I went to hear Mark Bitman speak at the Free Library last night and he impressed upon his audience the message of his book, Food Matters. Eat less meat; add more vegetables to your diet because our present diet is both unhealthy and unsustainable for the planet.

OK. Fair enough, I made the transition to less meat, more veggies (organic and locally grown) a while ago so I get it but lately with book deadlines, the cooking aspect of my life has taken a back seat. Yes, bad habits have slipped back in and its time to get back on the veggie wagon, so to speak.

Then today I spent the better part of my afternoon with Miss Phoebe at Penn Vet School where I met with an orthopedist about her torn ACL. Yes, it is torn, but remarkably the stubborn Miss Phoebe is actually putting weight on it. They were floored. So we are going to try a 6 week regime of PT, acupuncture, low intensity laser and yes, you got it, a serious diet. She needs to add vegetables to her diet!

Yes, the Penn vet told me to add 1 cup of string beans to about 1/2 less of her food and see how it goes. Apparently the beans fill her up and provide her with the fiber she needs. I told you the planets were trying to tell me something.

Well I came home and found no string beans in the house, but we did have carrots. So Miss Phoebe and her brothers got about a tablespoon of carrots added to their food--and less of the food. Believe it or not, they ate it!

So Miss Phoebe and I are going to go the veggie route for an intense 6 weeks and see how we feel. If she can avoid surgery, I think I know how I am going to feel--unbelievably happy!! (and maybe a few pounds lighter...)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Department of Homeland Security to Take Shelter Dogs

Taking a cue from the Penn doctors who rescue shelter dogs with mammary tumors, perform the surgery and help adopt them out to human breast cancer survivors and others, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will start accepting homeless shelter dogs into its canine program.

The decision came at the urging of PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, who urged Janet Napolitano to consider using dogs who needed a home, if they were of the breeds used in homeland security. The Department of Homeland Security is now urging shelters to submit applications for eligible dogs, making it a win win situation for the dogs and for the taxpayers.

Breeds that are requested included Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, German shepherds and other large dogs that are people-friendly, intelligent and alert. In addition the shelter dogs must be at between 12 and 36 months of age, alert, active, outgoing and confident and able to pass a series of tests for courage and toughness.

It is a wonderful opportunity for shelter dogs who meet the requirements to get a literal new lease on life, complete with a job. Please spread the word to your local shelter(s).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just Another Perfect Day for the Queen

These are the comments from my sister who had the privilege of watching this amazing race live.

"When you see her run in person, it is something you never forget. It looks so improbable and you think she is never going to get there and then she does it--with these amazingly huge strides that leave everyone else in the dust. It is sheer perfection and I get tears in my eyes every time I see her run. She makes it look easy, but not too easy--just enough to make it look almost impossible and easy at the same time."

What can I say? Perfection knows no other name than Zenyatta and it is a mystery to me why she has not made the leap from the sports pages to the front pages of every major daily. It is no small coincidence that she accomplished this 19th perfect race the weekend before the Secretariat movie is to open.

Sheer poetry and no more thrilling two minutes in sports.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No Charge for Love

The following is an email I received that was just too good not to pass on. An aside: Phoebe was the runt of the liter and you would NEVER know it today!!!!

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell.
He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups and
set about nailing it to a post on the edge of
his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the
post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked
down into the eyes of a little boy.

"Mister," he said, "I want to buy one of your

"Well," said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat
off the back of his neck, "These puppies come
from fine parents and cost a good deal of money."

The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then
reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a
handful of change and held it up to the farmer.

"I've got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take
a look?"

"Sure," said the farmer. And with that he let out
a whistle. "Here, Dolly!" he called.

Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran
Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.

The little boy pressed his face against the chain
link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the
dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy
noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse.

Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably
smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat
awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward
the others, doing its best to catch up...

"I want that one," the little boy said, pointing to the
Runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy's side and said,
"Son, you don't want that puppy. He will never be able
to run and play with you like these other dogs would."

With that the little boy stepped back from the fence,
reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his

In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down
both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made

Looking back up at the farmer, he said, "You see sir,
I don't run too well myself, and he will need someone
who understands."

With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and
picked up the little pup.

Holding it carefully he handed it to the little boy.

"How much?" asked the little boy... "No charge,"
answered the farmer, "There's no charge for love."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Inside Information

Maybe I have been living under a bush--well actually I have been pretty busy for the past 8 months or so crafting Lick Your Plate!--but somehow I missed this and I think it has been around for a while. In any event, for those of you who want to rehash the whole thing, the seven minutes are very well done.

I don't know what the motion picture is, however, that the narrator mentions in the opening. Any clues? Have I really been that much in the dark?

Friday, October 1, 2010

White Knuckles

This is a great music video by the British Group OK Go. Please note who is barking at the end--in rhythm of course. None other than the Sammy look-alike.