Saturday, June 30, 2012

Llama Gets a New Leg

Makes you wonder if it can work for llamas, why not horses?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Disaster Preparation Tips

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There are wildfires out West; floods in Florida. Wild weather has become almost routine, until it happens to you.
Here are some great tips for you and your pet to be prepared, just in case.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Polly Needs An Agent

A singing parrot that will have you shouting Bravo! Truly amazing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Last of a Breed

This is Lonesome George in his "younger" days. He died on Monday at the ripe old age of 100 and was the last tortoise of its kind. Galapagos Park rangers may embalm his body and display in the museum there.

Not a bad run but no offspring, even though female tortoises were introduced into his living quarters back in the 90's. Lots of eggs, but no babies.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Detroit Dogs

I heard this story on NPR a few days ago about all the stray dogs in Detroit. The rapper, Hush, has created a shelter, Detroit Dog Shelter, to help save them. A very compelling story. He got the funds after he made the You Tube video above.

When communities die, dogs are frequently left behind. Hush seems to be picking up the pieces in Detroit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Show Me the Money

News from the I'll Have Another camp that the horse has been sold for stud duty in Japan. He will stand at Okada's Big Red Farm on the island of Hokkaido. Financial terms were confidential but Reddam revealed that the Japanese offer was way better than the ones he received from Kentucky farms.

“It was in the range we were looking for,” Reddam said. “Kentucky wasn’t anywhere close to where the Japanese were.

“Any rational person would have gone to the Big Red [offer] versus the Kentucky, even though we won’t get to breed to the horse because he will be so far away.

“It’s kind of sad. I would have liked to have had a lot of I’ll Have Anothers.”

While Reddam clearly made the best business decision for him, sentimental types would have loved to see I'll Have Another stay in the U. S. The Kentucky farm offers were low because I'll Have Another does not have the kind of pedigree that commands the big bucks. He also has some conformational issues, not to mention who knows what kind of substances bouncing around in his system.

All that aside, that outcropped pedigree, minus the drugs of course, is what the American bloodstock needs. Less of the same; more of something new. He probably will do well with the European and Japanese mares, but part of me hopes that someone, someday soon, will buy one of his offspring and reintroduce it into the American bloodstock pool.

Sayonara, I'll Have Another. You never really got the chance to prove what you're really worth.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Perfect Pitch?

So this is a pretty amazing video from Germany in which it is claimed that dogs have perfect pitch. It is a long video but up until about 5:10 the dog is playing the notes the instructor tells him/her to play. Then the instructor plays the notes on a flute and the dog plays it and then at about 10:50 the dog plays Old MacDonald Had a Farm by ear.

I am impressed but a little puzzled at the presence of a bird that seems to be hopping about on the keyboard, that has obviously been modified for dog use. The dogs seems oblivious which to me is even more amazing than the piano lesson!

I have no idea whether or not my dogs have perfect pitch, but I can report that while the video was playing (even through the sound of the high pitched whistle) they slept peacefully. This just might be a perfect pitch for private lessons!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Royal Animal Affection

And now for some royal animal affection. That's Prince William in both photos, speaking out against Rhino poaching and cuddling his adorable black cocker spaniel, Lupo.

For more on the Prince's effort to protect Rhinos from poachers, check out the interview here.

And for more on the puppy, well, what more is there to say about puppy love?

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Rules for Kentucky Derby

According to Bloodhorse, the old system of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby which was based on graded earnings, has been replaced by a new system, based on accumulating points. Races leading up to the Derby, both in a horse's two year old and three year old years, are given different point values. The top twenty point earners qualify for a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Of course, no one knows what that point amount is.

“Our primary driving motive is to create new fans for horse racing,” said CDI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Evans. “We’re implementing a more fan-friendly, cohesive and simplified system that should create compelling drama and appeal to a wider customer base. Fans, as well as the owners and trainers of the horses, will know exactly which races are included and what races matter the most based on a sliding scale of points.”

While the jury is still out on this plan, the new system primarily focuses on 36 stake races for 3 year olds in the 10 week period leading up to the Derby. Many are the traditional preps like The Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, Woodward, etc. but many preps have been eliminated. In other words, you no longer can accumulate earnings anywhere in the country and qualify for the Kentucky Derby, you must accumulate points in the races that are part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby."

Two year old races are included in the system, including the Breeder's cups Juvenile, but winners are not awarded as many points as those that win three year old races.

“People understand that the Kentucky Derby is the Super Bowl of horse racing, but they don’t understand what the ‘league’ structure is and what the series is to get there,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “We think by simplifying this series with a point system, making it more cohesive and introducing the ‘Kentucky Derby Championship Series’ in the 10 weeks that precede the race can spark fan interest and engage the casual fan earlier. If there’s compelling drama and people have a better understanding of what it takes to get into the Derby, we think there’s a good chance they’ll become more interested in our sport.”

It is all a bit confusing so check out more details as well as the list of qualifying races here.

Only time will tell how this all plays out.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's About Time

Yesterday, the Maryland Racing Commission ruled that Secretariat's time in the 1973 Preakness was indeed two seconds faster than the one they had recorded for all these years. The Secretariat Team, headed by 90 year old Penny Chenery, detailed how they had analyzed, frame by frame, the replay of the 1973 Preakness, using modern technology to time the race. Their result was 1 minute, 53 seconds, two seconds faster than the recorded time of 1:55.

After hearing their case, the Commission decided to change the official time of the race to 1 minute 53 seconds. This means that Secretariat set and holds the record for each of the Triple Crown races that he won.

A well deserved honor, about 39 years in the making!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ludwig's Corner

Saturday was a beautiful day for a dog show and the Bryn Mawr Kennel club sponsored an awesome one at Ludwig's Corner, PA.

These cute Yorkies were all dressed up with someplace to go--the show ring!

And check out what was part of the Best in Show trophy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Romney's Horse Qualifies for the Olympics

Ann Romney's horse, Rafalca, qualified for the Olympic Dressage team, which may or may not be good news for the candidate. The pricey sport is not doing much to change Romney's elite reputation, but the horse is actually co-owned by Ann Romney and Jan Ebeling, who is Ann's longtime coach.

The sport, which does not involve jumping, is an incredibly complex series of precise, choreographed moves by horse and rider that are so much harder than they look. Ann Romney suffers from MS and has long credited horseback riding with keeping her symptoms at bay.

Steven Colbert has fun with the topic above.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rabbit Redux Redux

No your eyes are not deceiving you. the rabbits have returned, like the swallows, to nest chez Feldman. Three were discovered on Thursday night; by Friday morning only one remained. I scooped him over the fence away from the dogs, which is where he still was on Saturday morning.

We spotted what we thought was the mother in the vicinity of the nest so we returned the rabbit there on Saturday afternoon and constructed the "cage" you see above. Look carefully in the corner of that photo and you can see Sam trying to squeeze in.

It is Sunday afternoon as I type this and all is well. The mother came back during the night and covered him with grass and fur and every once and while he pokes his little nose out.

We removed the chairs and opened the fence before we went to bed last night and reconstructed the fort this AM. We will do the same thing tonight. At some point, Sam managed to get himself in there--by squeezing through the opening in the chair--which was the funniest thing I ever say. The rabbit made it through Sam's visit.

According to Google, when the rabbit no longer has the white blaze on his forehead, he is ready to flee the nest. Each day that blaze gets smaller and smaller and we are just hoping to keep him safe until he can fend for himself.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Paws on the Ground

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This pup shares a new lease on life with the dolphin who inspired the movie Dolphin Tale. Both were outfitted with their prosthetic limbs from the same manufacturers and both have adapted to their new lives beautifully. Click on the video above to hear Skip the pup's story of a prosthetic paw.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

First Paw on the Stump

More Bo trivia. No doubt who the first paw is voting for! The Obama camp has enlisted the services, or at least the likeness, of Bo, the first dog, in the presidential campaign. No word on whether or not cat lovers demand equal time!

Friday, June 15, 2012

100 Cars for Good

2 Million Dogs is a finalist in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good program . Please vote for them on June 20 at this link.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Data Base To Help Avoid Equine Injuries

Here's some promising news from the Jockey Club regarding horse safety. Yesterday, they announced plans to develop a statistics based data base of horses that are at risk for injury. This data base would notify track officials and vets when an at-risk horse was entered in a race. The project is expected to be completed this August.

“This project provides us with an exciting opportunity to identify the top risk profiles and focus our interventions on the horses that fit those profiles,” said Dr. Parkin.

The Dr. Parkin in question is an epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow who has done research on thoroughbreds in the UK. The data will be able to identify, for example, a horse that had made numerous starts in a set time period as one indicator of how injury-prone the horse might be.

“This development has the potential to be among the most significant advances in the safety of our equine and human athletes,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, in a statement. “It is only possible because of the excellent participation by racetracks in the Equine Injury Database, which now contains approximately 37,000 injury reports from 86 tracks, representing more than 92 percent of North American racing days.”

Let's hope it is up and running by the end of the summer and let's hope it works!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Woofstock, Canada

I met Marlene Cook, the organizer of this event at the Pet Writer's conference in February. She is looking to do a similar event in the US. Any takers?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Puppy Up!

The latest from the 2 Million dogs organization about plans for Puppy Up walks across the country.
Want to organize a walk in your neck of the woods? Go to

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Monday After

"He gets the mount anyway," says Matz in the video above, referring to the fact that he wanted Johnny V all along for Union Rags. Sometimes what is meant to be, happens.

Racing may have lost a Triple Crown but it gained a champion, in all respects.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Union Rags Wins Belmont

It doesn't get old, watching that replay. What a race and what a ride. For those of you who forget, Johnny V was Matz's original choice to ride Union Rags in the Derby but he was committed to ride Animal Kingdom in Dubai. One can only wonder what would have happened if Union Rags had a different rider on Derby Day.

But hindsight, as they say, is 20-20. Regardless of the bad luck Union Rags had in both Derbys--the Florida one and the Kentucky one, he redeemed himself in incredible form today, running a perfect race. And Matz himself has won two legs of the Triple Crown--the Derby with Barbaro and the Belmont with Union Rags. He just needs to get that Preakness bug off his back and go back there and conquer those demons. One can only hope.

To say I am thrilled with the outcome is putting it mildly. All the connections of this horse deserved this victory and to have won it in such a fashion is even more thrilling.

One last thought on the trainer's job, which is to get the horse to the starting gate. Guess who did theirs yesterday?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Belmont Thoughts

My local NPR station, WHYY for those of you in the Philly area, had a fabulous interview this morning with Dick Jeradi, columnist for the Daily News and Walt Bogdanitch, author of the recent series in the NY Times about horse racing. If you want to listen to a podcast, click here and then scroll through the archives for June 7, hour 1.

What was especially interesting to me was the fact that both of these writers, although fully aware of the situation in horse racing, especially the dicey past of trainer Doug O'Neill (he trains I'll Have Another who could win the Triple Crown on Saturday), they both plan on watching the Belmont as well as other horse races. When asked if knowing all they knew could they still watch, they both said yes, they loved the sport.

Which is about where I am. I would love to see another Triple Crown winner but I am totally ambivalent about this particular contender. I do not like the background of either the trainer or the owner (Paul Reddam, who is rumored to have a few shady business dealings) but you cannot hold that against the horse. This is a legit horse and the moral of the story may just be if the horse has the talent to win the Triple Crown, training may be irrelevant.

As for the gods of the sport--well if they have any sense of ethics, I'll Have Another will be upset. But given where the sport is these days, ethics may also be irrelevant. We'll just have to wait and see and yes, you know I will be watching.

Questions and No Answers

What a shame that we won't see a Triple Crown--I am sure NBC is still scrambling for some filler video--but the larger question is whether or not this is a career ending injury and whether or not the cause of this injury is the medication that I'll Have Another may have been taking.

The other point is thank heavens O'Neill had the good sense to scratch the horse. What if something terrible had happened with millions watching? The industry would NEVER recover.

And one more question, if you feel heat in your horse's leg on Thursday, why do you gallop him on Friday? I'm not a horse trainer, but this seems counter intuitive. Here's what the NY times had to say:

"But it was on Thursday that O’Neill first detected a potential problem, according to people associated with the trainer. He felt a little heat in I’ll Have Another’s left front leg, which can often be a sign of a physical ailment.

Then on Friday, O’Neill changed routines, perhaps because of his concern. I’ll Have Another was on the track at 5:30 a.m., three or so hours earlier than usual.

At 7:30 a.m., the horse underwent an ultrasound examination, which confirmed a problem."

My money is on Union Rags but it would have been nice for him to be the spoiler. Maybe there are racing gods after all...

Safe trip for all.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Belmont Post Positions

Here are the post positions for the Belmont on Saturday. For starters, Union Rags has once again drawn an inside post; Dullahan is perfectly positioned and I'll Have Another will come out of the 11 hole. The question, of course, is will he indeed have another win and claim the Triple Crown for the first time in 34 years?

The post positions in the Belmont are not as important as in the Derby where an inside post with a 20 horse field means you are likely to have the trip that Union Rags did unless your horse has wings. An inside post in a 12 horse 1 1/2 mile race is not as detrimental--I actually don't think the jocks are going to be gunning for Union Rags as much as they are for I'll Have Another.

Speaking of which, his outside post is absolutely perfect in terms of staying out of traffic. And Dullahan is nicely positioned as well. Look for a potential spoiler in Paynter or some horse we have all overlooked like Five Sixteen. The Belmont is just that kind of a race.

Here's the thing--so many Belmonts have been lost down the endless stretch when jockeys make their moves too early. Either you are way out in front like Secretariat and then continue to pull away or you have a jockey who knows his horse and knows the track and times the stretch move perfectly.

To me, both Union Rags and Dullahan look like spoilers on paper but I truly wouldn't throw out any horse in this race. It's just the way the Belmont is--two turns, an endless stretch and there are no guarantees of anything.

Weather forecast is for sunny and warm. NBC will carry the events live beginning at 2:30 PM. Will history be made?

Belmont Park - June 9, 2012

Race 11 - 6:40 PM

Belmont S. (Grade I)

Purse $1,000,000. For Three Year Olds.. One And One Half Miles.
PP Horse Virtual
Stable A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer
1 Street Life (KY) 3/C L J Lezcano 126 C C Brown
2 Unstoppable U (KY) 3/C L J Alvarado 126 K G McPeek
3 Union Rags (KY) 3/C L J R Velazquez 126 M R Matz
4 Atigun (KY) 3/C L J R Leparoux 126 K G McPeek
5 Dullahan (KY) 3/C L J Castellano 126 D L Romans
6 Ravelo's Boy (KY) 3/C A O Solis 126 M J Azpurua
7 Five Sixteen (KY) 3/G L R Napravnik 126 D A Schettino
8 Guyana Star Dweej (KY) 3/C L K J Desormeaux 126 D Shivmangal
9 Paynter (KY) 3/C L M E Smith 126 B Baffert
10 Optimizer (KY) 3/C L C S Nakatani 126 D W Lukas
11 I'll Have Another (KY) 3/C L M Gutierrez 126 D F O'Neill
12 My Adonis (KY) 3/C L R A Dominguez 126 K J Breen

Owners: 1 - Magnolia Racing Stable LLC and Hidden Brook Farm ; 2 - Magdalena Racing (Susan McPeek) and Mojallali Stables, Inc. ; 3 - Chadds Ford Stable ; 4 - Shortleaf Stable, Inc. ; 5 - Donegal Racing ; 6 - Korina Stable ; 7 - MeB Racing Stables LLC ; 8 - Shivmangal Racing Stable, LLC ; 9 - Zayat Stables, LLC ; 10 - Bluegrass Hall LLC ; 11 - Reddam Racing LLC ; 12 - George and Lori Hall

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

From The New York Times

Sometimes all I can do is nod my head in agreement. This from the June 2 Editorial pages of The New York Times:

What’s at Stake in the Belmont
Published: June 2, 2012

The horse racing industry should be deeply shamed that extraordinary security measures had to be ordered to guard horses in next Saturday’s Belmont Stakes from the doping abuses engulfing thoroughbred racing. The horses will be kept in an isolated barn with visitors limited, feed and hay bales checked for drugs, and veterinarians and trainers under daily watch to ensure there is no manipulation of food or medication.

If anyone thinks this is an overreaction, they should take a look at the record of Doug O’Neill. He is the trainer of I’ll Have Another, the horse primed for the chance to be a Triple Crown champion after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Mr. O’Neill has a long history of racing sanctions and penalties for administering illegal and dangerous performance-enhancing concoctions. He isn’t an outlier. Of racing’s top 20 trainers, only two have never been cited for abusing medications.

For all the pageantry of the Belmont, the race should be heard by the industry as a blaring call to reform its practices with more forceful anti-doping measures and penalties, including a lifetime ban on trainers who are multiple offenders. This is being urged by the Jockey Club, the respected thoroughbred racing registry long dedicated to protecting the breed. It is the standard in Europe, where the sport is cleaner and the fatality rate for horses far lower than at American tracks, where horses increasingly have to be destroyed after being medicated beyond their limits.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month replaced the quasipublic New York Racing Association with a special panel of appointees directed to put into place stronger anticorruption protections. The change is long overdue. The association’s lax, trainer-friendly oversight has been clear across decades of scandal, bankruptcy and racehorse fatalities. Racing in other states suffers similar mismanagement, and they must either join to enact effective reform or face the prospect of federal control of the racing industry.

Mr. O’Neill denies ever doping racehorses. But late last month he received a 45-day suspension by California’s racing association for using an enhancer to improve a horse’s performance. The regulators’ commitment to clean racing has clear and cynical limits: they also postponed Mr. O’Neill’s suspension until after the Belmont Stakes.

Anyone listening?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Belmont Update

Yesterday, as you can see from the above video, was a quiet day at Belmont as most of the contenders in the Belmont Stakes this Saturday had worked on Sunday and were taking the day off. Apparently, Dullahan put in a killer workout on Sunday as did Union Rags at Fair Hill. One has to wonder whether or not Union Rags will adjust to the depth of the Belmont track after training on the polytrack at Fair Hill. Many, however, consider polytrack the closest thing there is to turf, and you know what they say about horses coming off the turf and running on the dirt: watch out.

Wednesday is the day all contenders will be stabled in the "Security Barn" but don't watch for many more strong workouts before the race--just some light gallops and perhaps some paddock schooling.

Should be an interesting week.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meanwhile Back at Fair Hill

Just to make things interesting, Johnny Velasquez traveled to Fair Hill, Maryland after the races at Belmont on Saturday night to work a horse early for Graham Motion and then to sit on the back of Union Rags. All things went very well for the duo, according to the Daily Racing Form.

“Very nice, very impressive,” Velazquez said. “Thankfully, I didn’t let him out too soon. He would’ve gone by the horse very easy. I waited with him till the quarter pole, eased out a little bit from behind him, and at the eighth pole I just gave him his head and he was gone. I didn’t have to ask him for anything. He did it by himself.”

Union Rags ran impressive quarters in 23 seconds and change and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12:38. When it was all over, he felt pretty good, evidenced by the fact that he reared up twice while on his way back to the barn after his bath.

Shaking his head, Matz said, “Maybe we ought to do that again.”

Union Rags is clearly feeling ready to take on all contenders and it seems his new jockey feels the same way.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Belmont Goes All Out With Security Measures

Belmont park and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board have upped the ante for security at the Belmont. Beginning June 6, all horses entered in the race (June 9) will have to be stabled in a "stakes" barn and all personnel going in and out will have to record their comings and goings in a log. The list of regulations is quite specific and includes the requirement that all horses have their blood tested upon arrival at the barn in what is known as an out-of-competition blood test.

These are some of the other protocols according to Bloodhorse:

-Administrative searches and checks of all equipment, feed, hay, bales, etc.

--Limited and controlled veterinary access/monitoring of veterinary approach to an entered horse. All veterinarians will be logged in and escorted.

--Guards will be placed at each open doorway and doors will be kept closed with one entry point only.

--NYRA will assign additional security guards to the stakes barn at all times beginning June 6 through the running of the race.

--Thoroughbred Racing Protecting Bureau (TRPB) will provide investigators June 7, remaining on site through the running of the Belmont Stakes.

--No food and beverage for human consumption will be allowed in or around stall space

--Horses will be identified upon arrival and assigned to a specific (numbered) stall.

--Lasix administration will take place in designated stalls only by a NYRA veterinarian.

And here's the biggies:

--On June 8, no vets will treat horses without first making an appointment with RWB investigators. On June 9, treatment will only be permitted for emergency or by agreement with the Stewards.

We all know why they are doing this: to make sure that if a Triple Crown is attained, no one will cry foul, especially in lieu of trainer Doug O'Neill's recent 45 day suspension for drug violations.

But other trainers, like Dale Romans (Dullahan) and Michael Matz (Union Rags) are less thrilled with the prospect of keeping all the entrants together. "They are not cars that you can just go and move from one garage to the next,'' Romans said. ``These are creatures of habit. They like being where they are.

``The biggest problem we have in our game is the disconnect between the regulators of the game and the reality of what goes on on the backside (barn area).''

The problem for Matz seems to be more logistical. He wanted to make sure Union Rags' training was not interrupted on track at Fair Hill in Maryland and that he could get his horse to Belmont by the noon deadline on June 6. According to Bloodhorse, Matz plans to train Union Rags early at Fair Hill on June 6 (5:30 AM) and have him cooled out and on the van by 7:00, hoping to avoid too much rush hour traffic.

This extra tight security and detention protocol for three days before a race is a first and hopefully a last since I think it is going to be prove to be more of a PR move than anything else. But it does remind trainers that a lot of eyes are going to be on their every move, whether they like it or deserve it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rhoden on the Triple Crown

William Rhoden has been a sports columnist for the NY Times since 1983 and covered most major horse races for decades. In my opinion, his is one of the most eloquent voices in the sport. When he writes, I pay attention.

His column in last Sunday's NY times was one such example. He is not sure that a Triple Crown would redeem a sport he has renounced.

"Racing still lacks accountability," he writes. "The problem that existed in 2008 exists today: racing is a sprawling, disjointed industry with no central leadership. It is untamed and will remain so until the federal government forces this renegade industry to establish a central governing body. Until then, the blood sport will continue to be the province of a handful of powerful people — others in the industry whom Porter calls self-appointed commissioners — who resist uniform, meaningful reform."

The Porter he refers to is Rick Porter, owner of Eight Belles, who was euthanized on the track after almost beating Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby. Since then Porter has pushed for the reforms that would bring enforceable rules and regulations to a sport that has run the animals on which the industry is based, into the ground.

"Four years ago, Rick Porter seriously considered getting out of the game, but he found that racing, despite the loss of Eight Belles, was in his blood," continues Rhoden. "Moments like this one with I’ll Have Another, with the excitement generated by a possible Triple Crown, rekindle the fire and remind Porter why he didn’t leave."

"Will thoroughbred racing have its historic moment?" Rhoden wonders.

"The more appropriate question is, does the industry really deserve one?"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fork it Over

This product is actually entered in the "On the Shelf" contest being sponsored by Wal-mart, in which people enter products they think should be in Wal-mart. No arguments from me. It would be great on the shelf, right next to The Culinary Canine.