Friday, December 31, 2010

From Key West: A New Years Eve Tradition

Did you catch the golden retriever looking out of the car and feeling very left out?

Here's hoping all your new year's resolutions last at least as long as these dogs!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Rose Bowl Floats

These dogs are auditioning for a spot on the Natural Balance Pet Food float in the Rose Bowl parade. You'll have to watch the parade to see which ones made it, although the Jack Russell at the start is a lock!

Imagine skim boarding while the float is moving! Quite a feat!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Love a Parade!

Mustang Alert!

Some of Madeleine Pickens' wild mustangs (along with wounded warriors, active military from all branches, native American tribes from around the nation and some of her Advisory Board members) will be marching in this years Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day. This group makes up numbers 82 and 83 in the parade lineup for those of you with a program.

If you want to show your support for this entourage, you can cast your vote for their float in the Viewer's Choice. You can do so by going to this link or by texting FLOAT 83 to 50649. You can vote up to 5 times for your favorite float but message and data rates may apply.

This is huge exposure for Pickens' effort to save these beautiful horses! Casting your vote for their float indicates the strength of her public support so if you can, do so!

And enjoy the parade. Check your local listings but the parade is televised live from 8 to 10 AM on New Year's Day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

They're Way Ahead of Us!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

There are times when words are superfluous! We clearly need to do an international edition of Lick Your Plate!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Barbaro Remembered

The following is from a wonderful blog post by Sarah Britten, entitled Falling Off. Writing from South Africa, she details her obsession with horses and how post-divorce, her mother told her, "Forget about men and get on the back of a horse."

Here is her take on why Barbaro influenced and inspired so many:

"Horses inspire love. Real, anguished love. When Barbaro, the beautiful unbeaten bay colt who won the 2007 Kentucky Derby, broke his leg and spent a year in rehabilitation, he inspired the kind of burning love that tightens the back of the throat and fills the chest. When he finally had to be put down, horse lovers across America wept, inconsolable. The Onion satirized the outpouring of grief, but certain special horses do seem to fulfill an urgent and particular national need, for every year the fans seek another Seabiscuit, another champion to love and cherish; another steed, one might say, to be the bearer of their dreams of what might be."

"Barbaro was a reminder that even the most dazzling of champions can die. In real life, horses are heartbreak. They break legs or succumb to colic. They are defeated. In the flesh, most of them do not embody what I imagine to be the nobility of courage, beauty and freedom. But even after all these years, I doodle them while I take notes in meetings and read the stories on American horseracing websites; I see hoofprints in the sand and I long to ride the animals that left them there. In this obsession, there’s a certain constancy (which is comforting)."

I think she has hit the nail on the head in a lot of respects--that continual search for a hero that inspires us every year to dream of a Triple Crown winner. As the calendar page turns and another year begins (in which all two year olds become three year olds on January 1), it's a good time to be reminded about the power of hope.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bosing Day

Today is Boxing Day, a holiday celebrated in England and many of its former colonies. Tradition has it that this is the day churches opened their Alms Boxes to share with the needy. Many merchants also "boxed up" holiday goodies and gave them to their workers.

In any event, why not put a modern spin on this tradition and donate one's time or surplus pet supplies to a local shelter? Many are in need of towels, blankets, dog food and/or treats, leashes, collars and anything that would warm the hearts of its residents.

Consider it a box of love.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


A merry and bright Christmas to you and yours from me and mine!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Night Before

'Twas the night before Christmas
And in the dreams of my pack,
Phoebe was munching a high calorie snack,
Amos was herding his ultimate flock,
And Sam was dancing to Jingle Bell Rock.

Their stockings were hung by the chimney with hope
That a bone or two from a cow would elope.
Would there be coal for stuffed animal destruction?
Or treats for (sometimes) following instructions?

The question to them was most certainly boring,
For all three were engaged in serious snoring.
Of course Santa would deliver--he always came through
Even if they had made a mistake or two.

For as packs go, this one can't be beat
Even if my legs cramp when they sleep on my feet,
They take care of each other and sometimes even me,
Exactly the way a family should be.

So from our home to yours, with love and licks
And few hopes of teaching old dogs new tricks,
We wish you a holiday that's truly great
And begin the countdown to Lick Your Plate!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rabbits a la Berlin

This is the trailer for a new short documentary that has been nominated for an Academy Award that is called Rabbits a la Berlin. It is the story of a colony of rabbits that lived in the meadow between a 120 kilometer section of the Berlin Wall in which there were actually two walls that ran parallel to each other. The space between them was commonly referred to as a "death zone"--a free-fire zone in which any human seen crossing was usually shot.

The space, however, was also home to a large colony of rabbits that continued to exist, ironically protected from all the things that previously threatened their existence. They were safe from humans, natural predators and free to do what rabbits do anyway, procreate extensively, in the lush meadow.

In an unusual twist, the narrator of the film turns this freedom metaphor on its head. The rabbits, while free from danger, lose their "edge." They become passive, overfed and apathetic, much like the East German workers.

When the Wall comes down, the rabbits, like the humans find themselves "free" along with all the insecurities that come with it. Sounds amazing and well worth seeing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Some Important Tips

Courtesy of an abc news affiliate, this is information about the dangers of human drugs even simple ones like Tylenol, if ingested by dogs or cats.

Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of veterinary services at the Pet Poison Hotline, says 50 percent of the approximately 150,000 annual calls the hotline gets are about pets swallowing human medications. Recently, the hotline came out with a review of the call data, which revealed the top 10 offenders.

10. Cholesterol Drugs
Called "statins," these popular drugs treat a problem that dogs typically don't have. The good news is that serious effects in dogs only occur from chronic ingestion.

9. Thyroid Drugs
Hypothyroidism can be common in dogs, and the dose required tends to be 10 times stronger than for a person, says Lee. For this reason, accidental ingestions are usually not a problem, unless a dog eats an extremely large amount.

8. Beta-blockers
Used to treat high blood pressure in people, beta-blockers can have serious effects in dogs, lowering their blood pressure and heart rate to dangerous levels. "It has a very narrow margin of safety," says Dr. Ahna Brutlag of the Pet Poison Hotline. "It may not take very many to cause lethal side effects."

7. ACE Inhibitors
Another group of blood pressure medications, ACE inhibitors can cause problems similar to beta-blockers, but with less severe effects. Still, heart medications should never be within a dog's reach, says Lee.

6. Birth Control Pills
"The containers are colorful, plastic and may make a rattling noise," says Lee. "Dogs seem to find them irresistible." Thankfully, most canines aren't affected by accidental ingestions, but non-spayed female dogs are at risk of side effects. High doses can also lead to serious bone marrow problems.

5. Benzodiazepines and Sleep Aids
They're designed to reduce anxiety or improve sleep, but many dogs instead become agitated rather than sedated. Lee says such medications are commonly left on a bedside table. "Putting them there helps people remember to take them," says Lee. "But curious animals often get to them first."

4. ADHD Medication
Even minimal ingestion of these drugs can be deadly to dogs. Tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems can result. Brutlag says it's important to educate children taking these pills: "Make sure your children know how dangerous the pills are for the pets."

3. Antidepressants
It's true that antidepressants are prescribed to pets, but Lee says the veterinary versions have a different makeup. The human version can actually lead to agitation in dogs.

2. Acetaminophen
This over-the-counter pain medication can be devastating to pets. And ingestion often isn't accidental. "Pet owners think because it's over the counter that it's safe," Lee says. Acetaminophen ingestion by dogs, however, can lead to liver failure or, in large doses, red blood cell damage.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are another pain medication. Just one or two pills can lead to serious stomach or kidney ulcers, or kidney failure. "The only pain pill we ever recommend is aspirin," says Lee. "People think aspirin is the same as Tylenol or Advil, but it's not."

Lee and Brutlag offer tips to help prevent accidental ingestions, based on the most common stories they get from hotline callers:

Keep human and dog drugs in different locations. It's easy to grab the wrong bottle if they're next to each other on the shelf.

If you carry drugs in your bag or purse, place it someplace high when you're home.

If you use a seven-day pill container, store it out of reach. Dogs often think it's a toy.

Don't assume children's medicine is safe. Species' differences are significant enough that medications safe for children can still harm dogs.

When you travel, be vigilant about safely packing your pills.

Be safe!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Looking for a Gift Idea for Your Pooch?

Most pet owners will buy their dog or cat a new toy this holiday season. Ever think of this one? Only if you don't mind scratches or slobber on the screen. . .

For the record, mine is off limits to my pack.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dog-gone Page Turners

For those of you still finishing up those holiday shopping lists, I bring you some of the suggestions from the editors of Bark magazine, who also noted that "dog books are getting better and smarter." Just wait until next year--October to be exact. . .

Here's what they like:

Dog Walks Man by John Zeaman, musings while walking the dog

Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell, a memoir of the author's friendship with the late Carole Knapp, author of Pack of Two. I haven't read this one but I have read Knapp's wonderful book(s) so this might be my next Kindle download.

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant, Sports Illustrated scribe documents what happens to some of the dogs rescued from the Michael Vick dog fighting operation

The Love That Dog Training program by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, Bo Obama's trainer's methodology

A Modern Dog's Life: Discover How to Do the Best for Your Dog by Paul McGreevey. How to be a "life coach" for your pooch.

One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Heimand by Pen Farthing. A British Royal marine Sargent saves dogs in Afghanistan

Do you have any you want to add to the list?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sugarbush Dog Groomers

That's "grooming" as in "grooming the trails" which these two labs are doing if you like yours wide and smooth! The look like seals sliding down those mountain slopes!

And they look like they are having a wonderful time! Don't tell Phoebe such an option exists--she would choose sliding over walking anytime!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Power of Three

Here's a great story about an unusual trio: a goat, a Great Dane and a three-legged retriever. It begins in Dallas, where a goat and a Great Dane were found lounging on the grounds of a Dallas chapel. The pair was taken to a local pet orphanage called the East Lake Pet Orphanage.

It was there, their togetherness was duly noted by resident vet, Dr. Karen Fling. "They act like a married couple. . .They eat together, sleep together, huddle around in a little ball and sleep together. It is very sweet," she said.

It was all fine and well until the Dallas County Sheriff's office got wind of the presence of the goat, Minnelli. It turns out it is illegal in Texas to harbor stray livestock and there was the possibility that the goat could be sold at a livestock auction.

Needless to say, that did not happen. The owners of the goat and Great Dane surfaced, reunited them with the third member of the pack (the three legged retriever) and eventually all three were adopted by a loving human couple.

"They're doing great and they'll be happy here for the rest of their lives," says one of the new owners. "They walk around like a little troop; where one goes, the others go. They capture your heart."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Michael Vick Wants a Dog

So the big news in Philly--and perhaps elsewhere--is that Michael Vick, the quarterback of our professional football team, told a group of school kids on Tuesday that he "wished he could have a dog right now, more than anything in the world."

The animal rights groups were all over this one, as you can well imagine, but not to worry. The federal judge overseeing his case has banned Vick from owning dogs, until he says so.

The comment came while Vick was speaking to a group of school kids at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark. "Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle noted that these appearances are voluntary and not part of any parole. "He's said he will do this for many years," Pacelle noted.

For those of you who don't know the back story, Vick served two years in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, for raising, training and fighting pit bulls on his property in Virginia.

When Vick does talk to kids (this is the sixth time he has done so since his release from prison), he is not one to run away from his past. He told the kids to use him "as an example for you not to do the things that would lead you down the wrong path."

I believe in second chances but I don't believe six public appearances qualify Vick for dog ownership. Besides which, he needs to volunteer at a local animal shelter for a long while before I would consider handing him a leash with anything alive on the other end.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Paws

Face it, you knew it was coming....especially with those adorable golden retrievers. I just might have to order this video.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

White House Christmas Features Bo

That's Bo (above) made of chocolate in front of a marzipan White House, one of the beautiful and magical Christmas decorations that are decking the halls of the White House this year. Bo seems to be everywhere!

That's edible Bo, (also above) in the form of a delectable Christmas cookie courtesy of those White House elves. Admit it. Aren't there times you would just love to bite the head off your pooch?

And this is the piece de resistance--Bo made of pipe cleaners that greets guests as they enter the White House.
Seems like the first pooch has truly moved in!

Monday, December 13, 2010

From Sunday's Times

Anybody read yesterday's New York Times and catch the article about Eli Zabar in the Metropolitan section? If you did, you would learn that the first thing every morning he walks his dogs, goes for a run and then eats at one of his East side eateries, including The Vinegar Factory where he grows his own tomatoes in the rooftop greenhouses.

I tell you all of this because, Eli Zabar and his adorable dogs, Toby and Minny, are in our book and Sabina says her photos are better than the ones shown here!

Just saying. . .

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cracking Down on all the Michael Vick's Out There

Courtesy of a loyal reader comes news that the ASPCA has established the country's first criminal dogfighting database. Located at the University of California Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab, the Canine CODIS (as it is known) will be used to help prosecute dogfighting operations across the U.S.

The data base contains DNA profiles from dogs that have been seized during dogfighting investigations. The original 400 samples in the database were used by the Humane Society of Missouri's Animal Task Force during an investigation back in July 2009 that resulted in the largest dogfighting seizure ever made in the U. S.

The DNA analysis helps law enforcement officers establish scientific connections between breeders, trainers and ringleaders of dogfighting operations, across multiple states. Using this evidence, prosecutors can help convince a jury that specific dogs and fighters were involved in dogfighting operations, especially in cases where dogs look similar. Photographs are often inconclusive in distinguishing one dog from another.

As more and more samples are entered into the CODIS, by investigating animal welfare officers from around the country, it will become harder and harder to hide these cruel and inhumane practices.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What's Under Your Tree?

Some fun facts to consider as you finish up those holiday lists, brought to you by the fine folks at Pet Supplies Plus, courtesy of one of their customer surveys:

56% of pet owners will spend more on their pets than on their in-laws

58% of pets will unwrap their gifts themselves

49% of people will sing holiday songs to their pets

63% or people will make holiday treats for their pets

19% of pets will have new Year's resolutions made for them by their owners

For the record, my three get bones (don't tell them!) in their stockings from Santa, and this year, it will be a low calorie bone for Miss Phoebe. No songs, no unwrapping and absolutely no resolutions. Those they make on their own.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lord of Misrule

There was a big upset in the National Book Awards fiction category this year (no Jonathan Franzen, for one) and the winning book is about horse racing! Written by Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule, explores the world of claiming races at a small time track, Indian Mound Downs in Wheeling, West Virginia.

I am about a third of the way in and the book is mesmerizing. Not so much for the plot--which is page turning--but for the characters and the magical writing. Gordon is sparse with words and big on dialect--it takes a while to get the hang of whether or not characters are thinking or speaking--and often big events (like someone dying) get lost in the language (you have to ask yourself if the person is really dead or just looking that way), but the entire effect is to draw you into the world of small time claimers, where everyone is out to make a buck in any way possible.

Underneath it all is some beautiful writing about the female character and her affinity for horses, which must be somewhat autobiographical because it rings so true, and some deep insight into the often forgotten world of grooms and hotwalkers, especially at small time tracks.

It is not offered on Kindle, but the hardcover is worth a read if you want to know how and why a small time press (McPherson & Company) blew the big boys out of the water. Good for them and very good for her.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mike Smith Honored

Jockey Mike Smith won the big Sport of Turfdom award for the second straight year and dedicated the prize to Zenyatta. "She's definitely one of the greatest--if not the greatest--horses of all time," Smith said. "Without her I wouldn't have been up here (receiving the award) either year. I'd like to dedicate this to her. She has done so much for the game."

Smith was presented with the award on December 7 at a luncheon that was part of the University of Arizona Symposium on Gaming and Racing. The award is given each year by the turf publicists of America.

Smith also thanked Zenyatta's connections, owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs, for letting him ride her in most of her 20 career starts. Zenyatta has begun her new career as a broodmare in Lexington, Kentucky at Lane's End farm as of Monday evening, Dec. 6.

The end of an era for an amazing horse but the beginning of a new chapter for the guy who sat on her back.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Zenyatta at Keeneland

It was freezing in Lexington, Kentucky on Monday when Zenyatta finally landed (2 hours late due to some de-icing of her plane) to begin her new life as a mama. Before she arrived at Lane's End, she made a tour of the outdoor walking ring at Keeneland, where her adoring fans were no doubt warmed by her glow.

One major question, however. Everyone else seems to be dressed appropriately. Why no blanket for the mare who was coming from sunny California? I know her new digs will be appropriately heated but why risk the chance of her getting a chill?

Just asking.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Canine Cancer Awareness

Recently Dr. Karin Sorenmo, Head of the Oncology Department at Matthew J. Ryan Vet Hospital at Penn appeared on a local news show and talked about cancer in pets and some of the warning signs. If you want to hear it from one of the best in the business, click on the link below.

Remember, knowledge is power so even though it is a difficult subject, it is always better to know more. Canine Cancer Awareness Month may have come and gone (it was November), but unfortunately, the disease doesn't adhere to a calendar.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Be Careful Where Belly Rubs May Lead

Sometimes in life you just have to go where it leads you. When a friend of mine sent me an email saying that she had met the director of the Animal Cancer Foundation while waiting in line for a towel at the beach club (where she was over Thanksgiving), I knew that this was a person I was supposed to meet. So I sent her (the director) my web site info and a few days ago, we exchanged a nearly two hour phone call.

We have many connections, not the least of which is our mutual friend, but also golden retrievers (she is the former Director of Golden Retriever Rescue on Long Island) and of course, cancer in dogs. We are not sure where this new relationship is going--I do maintain that there is a dog cancer book in me still begging to get out--but I am passing on her recommendation for the book highlighted in the above video.

Apparently this very good writer met a woman who was all about dogs and they ended up moving to New Mexico and starting a sanctuary for small dog with special needs. I am not sure how many dogs he currently shares his life with, but I am told that it is a considerable number. Considerable enough to constitute a pack and that is what is book is about. Living with a pack as a member of the pack.

It is also the inside story of animal rescue from an experienced journalist and some very eye opening insights into dogs as quasi-humans. I pass on the video because I am struck by his last line about how he got where he is today: "I walked through a door marked rub belly frequently and never looked back."

Sounds like the beginning of a worthwhile endeavor.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Looking for Spokesdog

The Philadelphia Water Department is looking for a spokes-dog. Yes, you read that correctly. The issue to be addressed is poop and the problem is that left behind, it has the potential to run into the water supply, especially in hilly neighborhoods where the contest is being conducted.

"You wouldn't let your dog poop in your pool," said Joanne Dahme, spokeswoman for the Water Department. "But if you don't pick up after your dog, after the next rain it could wind up in the river."

It turns out that in the "spokes-dog" neighborhoods, (Roxborough, Manayunk and East Falls for those in the region), unlike the rest of the city, the sewer pipes are separated. Household waste goes directly to the sewage treatment plant; storm water--and everything in its path--goes right to the river.

While the Water Department dumps many chemicals into that water to guarantee that it is safe to drink, it only does so to the water that passes through the treatment plant. Which leaves a whole lot of potentially contaminated river for those who row, fish or just walk along it.

So for the benefit of everyone, pick up after your pooch or better yet, if you live in the qualifying region, enter your pooch to win a $200 gift certificate to a doggy supply shop as well as the right to bark at all offenders.

It's a shame--Sam would be great at that last part.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A New Tour of Duty

This is Buzz Miller, a dog and cat's best friend. Really. Sorry the photo is small but trust me, his heart is large.

Not only does he own an amazing "department store for pets" near my home (Buzzy's Bow Wow Meow--check it out on line) but he is constantly sponsoring pet related seminars, taking kids to visit animal shelter s for service projects, collecting supplies for shelters, you name it Buzzy does it. In the past two years, he has facilitated the adoption of 400 animals through the store.

Now he and his wife Judi have started a non-profit organization called PACT (People/Animals Companions Together)to take their passion even farther. One of the group's first initiatives is to recruit local foster families to care for the dogs of service men and women while they are deployed. The fostering may be as long as an 18 month commitment.

They already have a bunch of families willing to take on the job. One of Buzzy's unique twists on this concept is the notion that the foster families will not only correspond with the soldier while they are deployed, sending pictures of the dog and updates on his/her activities, he also promises that foster families will be able to continue the relationship with the pet once the owner returns.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I am a member of the Board of Directors of PACT, and couldn't be prouder to be associated with such a wonderful organization.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Miraculous Eli

This is the most remarkable story, courtesy of Thoroughbred Times, about a donkey, Eli, who after being treated with stem cells, was able to stand even though he had been completely paralyzed! The video above is of Eli getting to his feet himself.

The drama begins when Eli, a pet donkey, was attacked inexplicably by his long time companion, Watson, and had his spinal cord traumatized. Watson apparently grabbed Eli by the scruff of his neck and shook him furiously.

In any event, the donkey rapidly began to decline, ultimately losing the ability to urinate, defecate and stand. As you might know, the equine's ability to survive is completely tied to his being able to stand. The donkey was rushed to Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos, California, where the owner opted to try an experimental stem cell treatment, figuring she and Eli had nothing to lose.

Eli was injected with the first of three stem cell treatments on May 25. He responded by improving within 48 hours, and was actually able to stand in his stall on June 8 with the help of two vet techs. He relapsed, as is common after the first treatment, and on June 11, received his second treatment. He continued to improve until about twelve days later when he began to relapse again and received his third treatment.

On July 2, Eli was able to roll onto his sternum, unassisted and the video above was made on July 31 when he was able to stand by himself. Eli has since been released to his owner and continues to improve!

Needless to say, this development is incredibly exciting not only for equines but because of the implications for human spinal trauma. Stem cell therapy has not been tried in humans. One important piece of info that comes from Eli's case is the knowledge that adult stem cells, (even from donors, which Eli's were) do not cause adverse reactions.

Just something to remember when you are choosing political candidates in the future. Please do not stand in the way of this exciting and important field of research.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I saw Secretariat last weekend and loved it. OK the story has been completely Disney-ized and racing sequences are a bit forced, but the general idea that a horse can take us all to places where we like to be is one that I heartily endorse. Diane Lane was great and it was a nice touch to have the real Penny Chenery appear in some crowd shots.

Of course, they tie it all up rather neatly in a Triple Crown package, but you did get the sense of pressure that every owner, trainer and jockey is under when they race at that level. Although it seems like the whole world is watching--in Secretariat's case they were--it usually is just the horse world that is so focused on your every move.

And there really is a Belmont Ball, the night before--I have been there--but it is held in the city and Belmont track is not exactly a hop skip and jump away so the scene where Diane Lane contemplates the track in her ball gown is a bit over the top. But who knows? Maybe she stayed track side and make the trek to the city not vice versa.

In any event, it got me thinking about the potential of a Barbaro film and I don't think it is going to fly at this point because of the lack of happy ending. What we need for it to fall into a Disney like package is for one of his siblings to redeem him and then what a story that is.

Until that happens, however, there are too many unknowns in the story. It is hard to make a movie about a horse that could have won the Triple Crown when it took twenty years to make one about a horse that did.

In any event, go see it. I don't think you will be disappointed.