Monday, January 31, 2011

Ibuprofen Warning

This is Dexter, a beloved German Shepherd, who belongs to Dr. Randi Hutter Epstein. Dr. Epstein almost killed Dexter the week before Christmas and writes about it in the NY Times Blog, Well Pets.

The message is important enough for me to paraphrase. Do not give your dog human medicine without checking with your vet. Period. Even if you are a human doctor.

Dr. Epstein gave Dexter a few doses of human high-dose ibuprofen for his arthritis. I'll let the good doctor tell the story: "I had given Dexter three 600 milligram pills. He stopped limping but he also stopped eating and for the first time in his life, wet himself during the night. That's when I called the veterinarian."

Who called Epstein right back and said to get Dexter to an animal hospital immediately. "After a seven day stay in the intensive care unit, ultrasound exams and a big bottle of take-home medicine, I brought Dexter home, along with a $3000 vet bill," admits the good doctor.

Moral of the story: do not treat pets as people when it comes to administering human meds. Even if you are a doctor.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Phoebe's Knee Braces

In the continuing saga of the miraculous Miss Phoebe, I made the investment in two custom made knee braces from Mutt Knee Brace in Colorado. This involved me trying to get Phoebe's very detailed measurements with a tape measure--this at the time when she could not stand very well--an activity that took 2 days.

In any event, then I waited, after a very encouraging phone call from the owner of the company, who assured me that surgery should be put off for as long as possible. In fact, she told me, "Many of our dogs do so well with the braces, they never need surgery."

So in between laser treatments and major snowstorms, I held out hope for these knee braces. I was even told by a vet friend of mine that they are fabulous.

They arrived yesterday and after a bit of wrestling with the mechanics--actually not too much since they are held on by a very typical harness like the kind used for walking a dog, we gave it a whirl. And that's what I have--a whirling dog!! She RAN, yes ran, in the snow, dug her nose in, blew some up in the air and the tail never stopped wagging!!

SUCCESS--at least for now. At least enough for me not to worry about her in the now--since yet another storm is forecast. Keep your fingers crossed. WE are happy.

The first photo below is her from the rear--the only part of her I was seeing since she ran off!!

This is her from the side. Note wagging tail, nose in snow and the beautiful path that I have shoveled for her!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

It's a date--between Zenyatta and Bernardini that it. According to Bloodhorse, owners Jerry and Ann Moss have made a "match" between two Eclipse Award winners. That would be Zenyatta, Horse of the Year in 2011 and Bernardini, Champion Three Year Old male in 2006.

Lest anyone forget, Bernardini was the horse who won the Preakness after Barbaro's unfortunate breakdown. He is also the son of A. P. Indy and to date, has sired a grade I winner, A Z Warrior and Italian group 1 winner, Biondetti. His first crop of offspring raced in 2010 and Bernardini was the leading freshman sire based on the number of graded/group winners.

So what do the stars hold for the offspring of these two champions? Trust me, if everyone knew how to breed a Kentucky Derby winner, everyone would be doing it. One never knows how these things will turn out until they do turn out. Pedigree and luck seem to play equal parts.

No word yet on the official "date" but we will know if and when anything happens!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow Day

So how much snow did we get? Enough to stymie our plow operator! His truck couldn't even get into our driveway without the shoveling work of his crew!

A longer view so you can see that we didn't even seem to have a driveway before he managed to finally plow!

But a certain Sam was very content!!!!

These are all backyard view--hard to tell how deep it is but the snow covered the trunks of most trees.

It was deep, wet and very, very heavy. All in all we got about 18 inches on top of what we had which was the remnants of last weeks four inches.

Will it ever be Spring?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tucker the Singing Dog

We're having a snow day here--over a foot to shovel for the Divine Miss Phoebe to do her business, so listen to Tucker howl and you'll know how my back feels!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dog and the Elephant, Redux

I think I have written about this unlikely pair before but in the wake of the shootings in Tucson, the message of getting along with each other, no matter what species, color, size or shape, seems to resonate even more.

Plus the message of recovery, on the part of the dog, is very appealing as Phoebe limps around, getting a little stronger every day.

We should be looking for the ties that bind, not the ones that tear us apart.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Three New Breeds

So we are about a month away from the King of all dog shows: Westminster Kennel Club Dog show in New York City, slated for February 14 and 15. Just in time, the American Kennel Club recently announced the addition of three new breeds, to be judged this year for the first time.

Below is the Entlebucher Mountain Dog, a relative of the Bernese Mountain Dog and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, who like them, hails from Switzerland. This breed is a little smaller, more compact and very muscular. Historically they were used by farmers to move cows from pasture to pasture, so they are herding dogs and they love having jobs. In other words, they are pretty energetic and need a lot of exercise, but I must admit, they look absolutely adorable to me. Bernese Mountain Dogs are so prone to cancer that this might be a good alternative for those considering that breed.

This is a Norwegian Lundehund, a Spitz like breed that hails from remote islands off Norway and was originally used to wrestle and retrieve live Puffin birds from the cliffs. The Puffin bird became an endangered species in the 1800s so the breed died out and was saved from extinction by two concerned Norwegians. They are medium sized, smart and apparently easy to live with, although they can be wary of strangers.

And this one has the most interesting back story. It is called the Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee) or "Xolo" and is one of the world's oldest and rarest breeds. It's name is derived from the Aztec word for dog and it has a reputation as a healer. Apparently its warm skin is often used in remote Mexico and Central America to help heal rheumatism, asthma, toothaches and insomnia. Send him over!!

Now you have to watch Westminster to see how the standards of these breeds compare to your well known favorites!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oscar's Law Flashmob

You know what a Flashmob is. A group of people gather in Macys and start singing the Hallelujah Chorus to bring attention to opera. Or a group of people gather in Melbourne, Australia to show their support for Oscar's Law, a law that abolishes puppy farms in the entire country.

That's what's happening in the above video and the totally great part about it is that actions truly do sometimes speak louder than words.

Watch it and see what I mean.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

February Blues

We're dreaming of Spring around here--it seems we've hit that "blah" period when February looms large with gray skies, ice storms and that heavy wet snow that is a literal pain to shovel. Yuck.

Exercise is a great way to combat those blahs--both for you and your pet. We still do our daily hikes--though layered from head to toes--and we are starting to add afternoon walks when the weather permits. In the meantime, I've invested in a new exercise video, complete with ball and resistance bands to stave off those doldrums. I'm guessing I am going to have a few tails wagging in time to the beat as I sweat...

What do you do to beat those February blues?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snow People

These are some new friends that just popped up one day at the park and Amos and Sam were both fascinated and a little wary. Sam started out by barking and then gradually approached very slowly. Amos had to sniff things out for himself.

That's Sam's tail in the background--he has moved on to other scents, perhaps belonging to living creatures--but every day they forget they have made peace with these "invaders" and we have to start all over again!

And then one day, they will have simply disappeared and the dogs, no doubt, will sniff out their remains and wonder where their new buddies have gone!!

Such is life with the pack in the snow!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Secretariat Vox Populi Award

Here's an award after my own heart: the Secretariat Vox Populi Award created by Penny Chenery to be awarded February 5th to Zenyatta. On that day, she will be celebrated at Santa Anita as the inaugural recipient.

The award recognizes a horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year. Secretariat, as you know, filled those criteria and more.

"Horse racing already has established avenues to award outstanding accomplishments, and we certainly should honor superior performance," Chenery said. "But achievement can be measured in many ways, and fans occasionally feel a disconnect when the horses who most impacted the public are not recognized through the traditional equine awards. The industry is long overdue in annually acknowledging the star horse who brings the most excitement and attention to the sport. It is my hope that the Secretariat Vox Populi Award will achieve that purpose."

Bravo to Ms. Chenery who has probably done more to promote the sport of horse racing than anyone else in the last ten years, except of course, the horses. One question: Can we nominate Barbaro posthumously?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lick Your Plate is Onto Something Big!

Perhaps you saw yesterday's New York Times article (thanks to everyone who called, or emailed to bring it to my attention!) about home cooking for dogs and cats. The gist of the piece was that, surprise, people are cooking organic and healthy meals for their dogs! Of course, they are, and wait until you see what professional chefs whip up!

Even Cesar Milan got his two cents in (hmm....wonder if he would write a cover blurb for us?): "The dog has always been a mirror of the human style of life," he said. "Organic has become a new fashion a new style of living. And if the human becomes aware, if he eats organic, he wants everyone around him to be healthy too, especially the one that is always there for you."

Of course, the decision to cook for you pets comes with some caveats as the article points out, but it is not our intention in the book to get into that discussion. As we say in the Introduction, the meals are meant to be special ones, much like the ones you might have at a restaurant, and the recipes are just that, suggestions.

Even Cesar is on board with that. "One of the ingredients missing from pet food is the love and energy you put in by cooking it," he comments. "It's that essence that you can't purchase anywhere in the world."

Hmmm...maybe we'll just reproduce that one for the back cover!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Queen Rules!

What can I say? Once again she beat them all and got another standing ovation!! On Monday night, at the Eclipse Award dinner in Miami, Zenyatta was named North America's Horse of the Year. In the final tally, she beat Blame, the one horse to beat her, by 26 votes.

Her owners, the Mosses, could not wait to go back to their room and call their horse to tell her. In fact, they revealed that they speak to her every day! Apparently they put the phone up to Zenyatta's muzzle so they can hear her reply.

This is unabashed love, folks. And it all adds to Zenyatta's appeal. How right is Jerry Moss to point this out to the racing industry honchos? "I come from an industry that sued its fans when they started stealing music through Napster," he said. "There is sentiment in this business and you have to play to it. It is true in show business and it is true in racing. If you have a horse who gets people in the heart, then they want to come see them and get to know more about them, and you have the Beatles again."

In other words, its time for the industry as a whole to build on the momentum that Zenyatta started by making the sport more fan friendly, dare we even say, populist? The Beatles come around once in a lifetime. Let's hope Zenyatta's name does not fade with the next crop of three year olds.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Phoebe's Knee

So in the continuing saga of Phoebe, things are not looking as promising as they were with the knee situation. About 2 weeks ago, she lost the stability of her right knee, the good knee, and she has now torn her second ACL.

Through the miracle of pain meds. and anti-inflammatories, she is managing to get around, but barely. Going outside is a major procedure and requires me, the sherpa, to support her. I think Miss Phoebe has no choice but to get at least one knee repaired, probably the one most recently torn.

So we're off to Penn again for another recheck but this time she may be checking in. . .

An ice storm here has forced me to cancel the appointment which actually may be a good thing since the miraculous Miss Phoebe is putting weight on both legs and walking, sometimes even running, almost like her old self. I attribute all of this recovery to the laser treatments she has been receiving at my vet.

It is a class four canine assisted therapy laser and if your vet has one, do not hesitate to let him/her use it on everything from muscle tears, sprains, arthritis, to gum disease and anything that seems to need healing. Let's put it this way: my vet told me she injured her big toe pretty badly and it turned black and blue. She used the laser on it and by the second day, the toe had returned to its normal color!

The proof is in Miss Phoebe who is getting around in what seems to be nothing short of a miracle. The treatments take about four minutes per leg, during which time the tech rubs the laser wand up and down her back legs. No pain--it feels warm and Phoebe loves it.

I want one!

Monday, January 17, 2011

National Train Your Dog Month

These are such great suggestions, I thought I'd share them with you, verbatim, right from the Dogster site. I don't usually do this but this is a great explanation of positive reinforcement and a great start to training or re-training your dog! Are you listening,Sam?

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers hopes that “train my dog this year” is on every dog owner’s list of New Year’s resolution. In an effort to encourage pet owners in this direction, January has been established as National Train Your Dog month.

The APDT offers a couple of great contests (one for professionals, one for everyone!) this month to promote dog training as a way to build and improve relationships between dogs and their people. If you’d be interested in entering. click here for details.

This month, I will try to provide our readers with great resources that can help them start training today. Blog contributions from leading industry professionals, some of my favorite tutorials to give you ideas on what to work on at home, questions and answers based on your training goals and concerns.

You can get started for under $20 – all you need is a bait pouch or bag (which does not have to be manufactured for dog treats, get creative! Nail aprons, vests with pockets, or a “fanny pouch”), some treats and toys your dog loves, and perhaps a clicker (usually available for under $3). The clicker is optional – if you’re not sure of how to use it, you can just use a verbal word “yes!” or other verbal marker.


Good training relies on a few critical skills. Some of them are mechanical or physical skills, like how and when you deliver treats to your dog. But perhaps the most important skill of all for any trainer is observation – knowing what behaviors are worthy of reinforcement and seeing them as they occur. The task that I’m giving you is the first task I ask of my students; simply, spend some time watching your dog.

For this task you will need materials you already have in your home, a pen or pencil and a notebook.

The first exercise is to write down all the things your dog naturally does that you like. These behaviors do not (yet) have to be on cue, just things that your dog does on her own without prompting. The behaviors can be cute or useful, but do not have to be both. Your list may include lying down, sitting, voluntarily getting into a crate, giving eye contact, coming to check in with you when you are in another room of the house, walking politely by your side, lying down on a favorite mat, chair, or blanket, a cute tilt of the head, a paw lift, quietly relaxing with a favorite chew toy, or taking tension off the leash on a walk, even for an instant.

For the next three days, you will have your list available when you are with your dog. Each time you see the behavior in question, make a check mark next to the item. After three days, review your list. How frequently did you see each behavior? Which behaviors were offered most frequently? If you have been looking carefully, you will see hundreds of great behaviors your dog offers every day.

Now that you have some starter data, you can start “armchair training.” Instead of feeding your dog his meal from a food dish, split his kibble into portions for use as “training treats.” You will keep kibble in your pocket, but should also have some sealed Tupperware type containers throughout the house so that it is always easy to get to a treat if your pockets happen to be empty. For the next few days, simply give your dog a piece of his kibble for those behaviors which earned checkmarks. If he lies down, give him a treat. If he sits, give him a treat. If you are upstairs folding laundry and he comes up to investigate and see what you’re doing, give him a treat.

Soon your dog will learn two critical factors: a) that you are interesting and b) that his behavior can earn reinforcement. These are the first steps of great training.

After a few days of reinforcing your dog for his desirable behaviors, make a clean copy of your list and repeat your observation trials – are you seeing the behaviors you want more frequently? You should already see an increase in the behaviors you have been reinforcing already, all without a single structured training session! See how easy it can be to fit training into your life?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

America's Most Literate Cities

Here's a little tidbit pertaining to the intellectual life of cities. Or at least according to Central Connecticut State University. In this year's list of America's Most Literate cities, Washington, D. C. topped the list.

The choices were made, by the way, based on the rankings of American cities with a population of 250,000 or more, in six categories: bookstores, educational attainment, internet resources, literary resources, newspaper circulation, and periodical publication.

Seattle, Washington, which topped the list last year, came in second and for those who care, New York City came in 26th and Philadelphia came in 31.5. One sad note, according to Connecticut State University University President, Dr. John Miller, "At the beginning of this survey, in 2003, newspapers in America's larger cities had a weekly circulation equivalent to 55% of the population of the cities; Sunday circulation was 75%. Now on average, less than one third read a weekday paper and less than half read a Sunday paper."

On a personal note, I am delighted that Washington, D.C., which is represented in our book, as well as San Francisco (6th), Boston (12th) and Chicago (28th) are all considered "literary." Surely that has to be good for sales!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

German Eggs Contaminated with Dioxin

Just the other morning I heard Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, announce some new regulations that went into effect January 1 to ensure the safety of the food we import from overseas. She even made a remark about guaranteeing that the sea bass we import from Chile would be as safe as the lobsters we get off the shores of Maine.

Well, if I were you, I wouldn't eat any chicken that comes from Germany. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, German investigators have found excessive levels of dioxin in chickens that apparently been fed tainted feed. Apparently the investigators caught the problem before anyone actually ate the chicken, and eggs, containing excessive levels of the contaminant were pulled from the shelves.

The problem can be traced back to the fat found in the chicken feed. Fat that is produced for use in chicken feed pellets was reported to have contained more than 77 times the amount of dioxin approved for commercial use. Dare I wonder if any of that fat stemmed from rendered horsemeat?

In any event, the ban has spread across parts of Europe to include products made with German eggs, including quiche, cakes and other baked goods.

Dioxins are contaminants that have been shown to cause cancer, if exposed to them a high levels. So far, all indications are that the amounts found in the eggs are low levels, but still higher than permitted by law.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Unusual Animal Friends

A collie and a golden retriever have nothing on this duo. National Geographic aired this great special on unusual animals friends on January 7. See if you can catch a replay.

If only people could get along this well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Laminitis Does Not Discriminate

Laminitis does not discriminate. Penn Vet Extra has the story of Alexandra Vinck, who lost her beloved horse, Dude, who carried her to the reserve championship in the walk-trot division and the championship in trails at the International Arabian Horse Show, to the dreaded disease.

"He was the sweetest, most loving horse, and would do anything you asked of him," said Alex.

Alex lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and that is where her horse was treated and ultimately euthanized when it spread to all four feet. "My mom and I loved him so much, that we would have done anything to save him, but there was nothing left to do," she said.

After the death of her beloved horse, Alex did some research on laminitis and learned about Penn Vet's effort to eradicate the disease. She was so impressed by their dedication that she and her girlfriend decided to ask their friends to substitute donations to Penn Vet's Laminitis Institute for gifts at their joint sweet sixteen party.

The two girls raised $1500. "My friends had seen how Dude's death affected me, and they were extremely generous," she said. In all, Alex has pledged $5000 to Penn Vet's Laminitis Institute.

Somewhere, we know that Barbaro is smiling.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moose on the Loose!

You don't get an email like this every day so I had to share:

You don't see a baby moose every day. A baby moose was in distress in a creek. A man got him out of the creek; tried to find the mother and send him on his way, but eventually the moose stumbled back into the creek and was rescued again.

The baby moose followed the man home. The man has only a small cabin so he took the moose to another neighbor, who took these photos. They took the moose the next day to a woman who looks after wild animals and she put it in a pen with a rescued fawn.

These photos, which came with the email are too cute. How much would you love a baby moose to follow you around in the kitchen!!!???

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mustang Parade Results

Update from Madeleine Pickens on the Mustang float in the Rose Bowl:

"This was the best New Year's ever!!!! We have been receiving email after email and comments about our foundations efforts to save the mustangs. We have had so many kind words of support in just days after the parade. This was a huge success for the wild ones!"

Plus, the Mustang Monument float was the winner of the Past President's Trophy for the Most Innovative Use of Floral and Non-Floral!!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who watched, voted and cheered on Ms. Picken's efforts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dubious Distinction for State of PA

We once had a dog named George who went head to head with a raccoon and lived to show off his scars. He also spent a few months in quarantine at the vet because the raccoon was rabid. We had to send the head away to be tested since we reported the incident to the Animal Control unit of our Township. George, by the way, was up to date on all his vaccinations. Our vet was just being super cautious since we had small children at the time.

I am reminded of George's raccoon encounter when I read recently that Pennsylvania is on track to lead the United States in the incidence of pet rabies. Through November of 2010, the state reported 70 cases of rabies in domestic animals. In 2009, the number of cases was 65.

The leading culprits for the spread of this disease are, you guessed it, raccoons, with feral cats coming in second. To combat the problem, USDA Wildlife Services began dropping an oral vaccine to raccoons in packets of food. The program, started in 2001, extends from Maine to Alabama and seems to be working.

"Everything east of that line [where we drop the packets], we have raccoon rabies; everything west, there is not a documented case," said Harris Glass, director of USDA Wildlife Services in Pennsylvania. Since 1975, the CDC reports that about 80% of reported cases of rabies, occur in wild animals.

Bottom line: keep your pets vaccinated and under supervision on your property. Lock up your trash in a shed and should your pet have an unfortunate encounter with a raccoon, report it immediately to your local authorities and seek medical attention. Rabies is nearly always fatal if it is untreated.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's Raining Birds

On New Year's Eve, thousands of blackbirds fell down from the sky and died in the town of Beebe, Arkansas (population, 5,000). If that is not some kind of omen, I don't know what is.

According to ABC News, at least 2,000 carcasses of the birds were collected by officials from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to investigate the cause of this unusual occurrence. "There were multiple thunderstorms that night and for several days that week," said Dr. George Badley, state veterinarian for the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission. "Red-winged blackbirds fly in large groups and if they got pulled into a thunderstorm, likely lightning struck them. That would be my best guess."

Poisoning was ruled out since their stomachs were empty. The birds all died from multiple internal hemorrhages consistent with trauma of some sort. To add to the mystery, it is very unusual for red-wing blackbirds to fly after dark since they have poor vision.

The final verdict: fireworks. It seems that fireworks frightened the birds into a flying lower than they normally do and they started crashing into things they would normally avoid. There was little light at the time of the fireworks and many believe the birds lost their bearings.

Just be glad you weren't hit by a falling bird carcass. That would not be a very nice way to start a new year.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New year, New Horses

So Zenyatta and Rachel may be making babies, but this wonderful video gives us a look at some of the likely stars of racing in this new year. Uncle Mo as an early favorite for the Derby and the possibility of Goldikova making her fourth start in the Breeder's Cup Turf Mile are enough to get my juices flowing.

As we all know, it is a long way from now to then--so let's hope all these stars stay healthy and that the stars align for a fantastic racing season.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The King's Speech

Here's the thing about a great movie--it tells a great story. Although the movie I am going to tell you about is not about dogs or horses or even animals, it is a great true story. And I think it will win Best Picture.

If you haven't seen it, go and see The King's Speech. It is the story of the very reluctant King George VI, who took over the throne when his brother King Edward II (also known as David to his family), abdicated for the women he loved, Wallis Simpson.

Poor George--a.k.a. "Bertie." He never wanted to be King, nor did he think he would ever be King. But King he was in one of England's most darkest times, World War II. Add to the stress of war with Germany, the fact that poor Bertie had a childhood stammer, and you get to the heart of the story.

A King must overcome his stammer to address the nation and rally the troops, in every way, and he must walk and talk like a King. How he does so, why he stammers in the first place and how hard it is for him to overcome it are issues at the core of this movie.

Go see it. In many ways it is the story of anyone who rises to the occasion, with or without the weight of a country on his/her shoulders, and soldiers on, because it is the right thing to do.

And let me know if you think my prediction is true. Best picture, hands down.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eclipse for Finley

All you have to do is watch yesterday's video of Zenyatta romping around her new paddock under the careful eyes of grooms at every corner, to realize how modern thoroughbred racehorses are pampered. From the moment they are born, these expensive animals are treated like the "investments" that many people consider them to be. They are worth lots of money so it behooves them to stay healthy.

All of which is an oxymoron if you are a horse. Trust me, even if you put them in a padded paddock, some horses would find a way to get into trouble. That's just the nature of the beast.

Some people wonder if all this coddling is actually doing damage to the breed. Bill Finley, in fact, a veteran reported, recently won an Eclipse Award for his excellent investigation of this very subject in the Thoroughbred Daily News. It is a wonderful piece of journalism, well researched and written, and you owe it to yourself to take a look at it.

And then perhaps someone can explain to me the biggest paradox of all: Why, if "black type" (stakes winners) race horses are worth so much money, would any trainer inject any type of performance enhancing substance, legal or illegal, into them, considering the long term implications for the breed? Money, of course, is the reason, but the true money in the industry is made in the breeding shed, not on the track.

That high stud fee, based on "black type", is not going to last when none of the offspring can run. Trust me, it's happening more and more.

It will be most interesting to see how the offspring of both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta perform over the long haul. I would like to believe that a healthy horse begets other healthy horses, but its getting harder and harder to tell where to start.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Splash Has Gone to Greener Pastures Filled with Tennis Balls

If there is a doggie heaven, and I'm pretty sure there is, Ted Kennedy's beloved Portugese water dog named Splash is there and has been reunited with his late Master. "I like to think that he and his Master are playing tennis ball fetch again tonight," Vicki Kennedy said in an email announcing the 13 year old dog's death on Christmas Eve. According to the UPI report, Kennedy and his beloved dogs could often be spotted in Washington parks playing the tennis ball game.

Splash was one of three Portugese Water dogs owned by Kennedy and the inspiration for the Obamas to get the same breed when they chose a dog for their family.

Splash was a honorary member of the Senate Democratic caucus, made so by Senator Paul Sarbanes after he witnessed Splash barking at Joe Biden and Paul Wellstone when they didn't stop talking during a meeting.

"He hated squirrels, but he loved to chase them. He also loved to sail. And he could bark with the best of them, especially if you were a Republican or even a Democrat (other than his Master) who talked too loudly or too long," Vicki Kennedy recalled.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

So This is What Retirement Looks Like

Posted on December 20, this a video of the Queen, Zenyatta, romping around her new paddock at Lane's End Farm. Note that there are field hands stationed all around that paddock, and note how acclimated to humans, she is. She romps and then comes to a dead halt right in front of a person posted there to make sure she doesn't hurt herself, as if to say, "I can still stop on a dime!"

Kudos to Lane's End for letting her run "free" (so to speak) and giving her time to adjust to being a horse.

Just wondering why they don't put a blanket on her. She couldn't have a grown a winter coat that quickly! But all in all, it looks like the Queen is enjoying her new digs. And why not?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some fun in the Sun (Don't Hate Me)

So don't hate me but these are some shots that look very good right about now as we settle into the January freeze. At the end of December we took the family to Key Biscayne for some R & R and we were incredibly lucky with the weather, arriving after one cold snap and before another. We also made it home before the East Coast storm that paralyzed air travel for a few days so no complaints on this end. Especially since this was my view most mornings on my walks.

Thee were my early morning companions.

As well as this guy who is waiting for some crumbs from an early bird family!

And these guys who made a lot of noise.

I did manage to sneak in a little work, meeting finally with Dr. Patty Khuly, who hails from Miami and who wrote the Introduction to Lick Your Plate! She also wrote the Introduction to Homer's Odyssey, the best seller about the blind cat. In fact, she was the vet who saved the cat's life, even though she did so by taking out his eyes. It was great to put a face and a voice together with her great writing style.

We also dined at some amazing South Beach restaurants, a few of which we hope to include in Book 2. Don't you know the chef/owner of the fabulous Ola, Daniel Rodriguez, was sitting at the next table with his family and don't you know he has a dog that he cooks for?! Also the chef from the very exclusive Fisher Island, where we lunched with friends, has a dog he "treats like a child."

But mostly, it was this view.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Enough About Michael Vick and the President

So even though I don't want to give Michael Vick any more publicity, I feel that I have to comment on the Twitter escapade being played out in many forms of social media. You know the one in which Obama supposedly called Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie, to commend him on giving ex-con Michael Vick a second chance.

Who knows what Obama said or if he even called Lurie. The Eagles are keeping lids on the story as well they should. It's not exactly sports news. But I guess it is news to some who feel that Obama should not be meddling in or with sports, or owners of sports teams. And even greater news to those who feel that Vick has not paid his dues.

I personally think (for whatever its worth) that Obama probably did call Jeffrey Lurie, most likely because Lurie is a significant (or in a position to become a significant) contributor to the Democratic party. And Obama is going to be filling those coffers in the very near future as he embarks on his re-election campaign.

So, as White House spokesperson, Bill Burton suggested, if the call contained discussion of windmills, solar panels and other energy saving initiatives the Eagles are taking at Lincoln Financial Field, so much the better when it comes time to ask for a generous contribution. Priming the pump, so to speak.

If then, the call digressed to a chat about how well the Eagles are currently playing--and why wouldn't it considering their ESPN highlights worthy win over the Giants two weeks ago, then maybe Obabma said it was nice Lurie gave Vick a second chance. But I sincerely doubt it was the primary reason for the call, on a lot of fronts.

I truly maintain that especially in politics, everything is ultimately about power and money, and in this case Obama, the one in power, was after some of Lurie's money. If he had to comment on how he made some of that money, so be it.

My take. And only that. But I am sick of hearing about nothing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolutions From Our House to Yours

Phoebe is resolved to lose five pounds and maintain her girlish figure. She is also resolved NOT to chase any deer and risk damaging her fragile ACL. (Did you hear that, Phoebe?)

Amos resolves to wag more and bark less, especially at NOTHING. (OK Amos?)

And Sammy resolves NOT to bark at every object that might have drifted out of place (like a book or sweater) and to NOT torture Phoebe, especially on the stairs. (Get it, Sam?)

And I resolve to keep the blog going for another year and then find a way to link it to one about Lick Your Plate!

Happy 2011--hard to believe!