Aboard Noah's Blog

News, information, and chatter about collectible items with animal themes, as well as some facts, figures and fun related to pets and wildlife.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dog Waste Converted into Power?

SAN FRANCISCO San Francisco officials are looking into using dog poop as a source of renewable energy.

Norcal Waste, the garbage hauling company that collects the city's trash, plans to begin a pilot program. It will put containers in some dog parks, allowing owners to deposit their pet's waste in biodegradable bags. The bags then will be dropped into a device called a methane digester where bacteria can feed on the feces for weeks, converting it into methane gas.

The methane could be piped to a gas stove, heater, turbine or anything else powered by natural gas. It also could be used as vehicle fuel and to generate electricity.

A Real Poo-Dunnit in the United Kingdom

By Jan Disely - jan.disley@mirror.co.uk

A NEW weapon has been unveiled in the war against dog mess - DNA testing.

Poo dumped in public will be scooped up and analysed. Results will be compared to DNA taken from the doggie suspect by police.

If there is a match, they will prosecute - with fines up to £1,000.

Trials of the DNA tests are being held on an estate on the Isle of Man where "you can't walk in a straight line" for mess. WPC Faith Cooper, who patrols Clagh Vane in Ballasalla, said: "It's a massive problem. It gets caught in pram wheels and trodden into shops."

Dave Barron, the local Commissioners' clerk, added: "We don't have to sit around waiting for the dog to do its business as the DNA equipment can match the dog and the poo.

The police have asked for tip-offs to be left on the Crimestoppers line.

Cheetah Escapes from San Antonio Zoo

Posted By: CyberBob
This story is available on your cell phone at mobile.woai.com.

‘Olivia’ the cheetah managed to get out of her cage Friday afternoon at the San Antonio Zoo. The facility was shut down and all visitors were put into buildings until the cheetah was tranquilized.

The cheetah climbed a portion of the fence that’s about ten feet high, climbed into a tree, and then jumped to the ground outside the enclosure.

The cheetah never left zoo property. She was out of her cage for about twenty minutes.

Zoo visitors were kept inside buildings until Olivia could be tranquilized. She's now recovering inside a holding cell.

“We were very, very fortunate,” said Campos.

The cheetah exhibit will stay empty until zoo officials can make changes to the cage.

Cheetah Lover Gifts

Cat saves owner in fire

By VIRGINIA GRANTIER - Bismarck Tribune

Bernice McDowall, 87, was taking a nap when Joey, her black cat, woke her up early Friday afternoon - and probably saved her life, she said.

"He was having a fit, running around the bedroom,"she said.

Joey - an abandoned cat, dumped off at a nearby mailbox awhile back who now has a home with the McDowalls - makes an occasional "meow" sound, usually. But this time he was meowing a lot and loudly.

"He really came in and sent the alarm," she said.

She said she saw smoke in the bedroom, got up and saw smoke coming from the basement.

About that time, the smoke detector started going off as well.

Both made it out OK.

And Bernice's furry hero was scheduled to get his favorite dinner, a gravy-style canned cat food. Other rewards include lots of cuddling, Bernice McDowall said. "He's a real good friend," she said. "When I sit down, he's up in my lap."

She said she's never thought of black cats as being unlucky.

And she might have some good proof of that, now.

(Reach reporter Virginia Grantier at 250-8254 or at virginia.grantier@;bismarcktribune.com.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cat gets its head stuck in a can of dog food

Apparently, a Pensacola cat couldn't read the label, "A-L-P-O."

The cat got its head stuck in a can of dog food was rescued by two Pensacola police officers Tuesday. One of them, Harry Barraclough, was on K-9 patrol.

Officer Mike Cornett was patroling when he saw the black and white cat having trouble breathing as its head was stuck in the can, police said.

Barraclough heard the radio chatter as he patrolled nearby and offered to help. He kept his K-9 in the car but brought the protective arm-sleeve to hold the cat while the officers tried to free it.
Cornett cut some holes in the can to help the cat breathe.

"At that point, the cat had just starting coming to and was swaying from side to side with the can on its head," Barraclough said.

The cat suddenly sprang to life and escaped, running across the street into a yard, barely avoiding an oncoming vehicle.

"The cat had used two of its nine lives by then," said Barraclough, who described it as a "heat-seeking missile" as it rampaged around the yard.

Finally, the officers recaptured the kitty and used the sleeve again. This time, Cornett used the pliers to remove the can. The cat jumped up and ran away, having survived its scrape with dog food.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Device Helps Pets with Diabetes

Dogs and cats get diabetes too. Now, Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories has come out with a product aimed at helping the afflicted pets: the AlphaTrak, a handheld blood glucose monitoring system designed specifically for diabetic cats and dogs. The device allows veterinarians and pet owners to test pets' blood sugar rapidly, conveniently and accurately using a small blood sample.
Until now, handheld blood glucose meters designed for humans were commonly used to test the blood glucose levels of pets outside of the laboratory. But due to physiological differences between human and animal blood, these meters can provide inaccurate information when measuring blood glucose levels in cats and dogs, says Abbott.

As many as one in every 200 dogs and one in every 400 cats suffer from diabetes mellitus, according to Abbott, which displayed the AlphaTrak on Tuesday at the 78th Annual Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. Like humans, these animals are susceptible to both Type I diabetes, or the inability to produce insulin, and Type II diabetes, an insensitivity to insulin. Type I is more prevalent among dogs and Type II is more common in cats, but regardless of type, pets with these diseases typically require daily injections of insulin to metabolize dietary glucose.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is one of the biggest health risks facing diabetic pets, said Dr. Susan Sallee, a veterinarian at Grayslake Animal Hospital in Grayslake, Ill., one of the participating AlphaTrak clinical trial sites. "Determining your diabetic pets' blood glucose profile is a common way to gauge the effects of insulin treatment, diet, and exercise," she said. "However, these factors are constantly fluctuating in a pet, making accurate blood glucose monitoring absolutely essential."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pets have their piece of cake

If you think the average American pet's life is a piece of cake, you may be on to something.

According to a recent survey of more than 260,000 policyholders with Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation's oldest and largest provider of health insurance for pets, almost 58 percent of those who responded said they have hosted a birthday party for their pet.

For those pet owners who do throw their pet a birthday bash complete with cake, party hats and visits from their four-legged friends, they're not alone. Between 40 million and 70 million Americans attend pet birthday parties, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

At Three Dog Bakery in Newport Beach, Calif., store owner Sandy Deem says the popular pet baked goods shop receives many requests for pet birthday cakes.

"Throwing our pets a birthday party is a great way for us to show them how much they mean to us and that they really are an integral part of our family," says Brian D. Iannessa, Veterinary Pet Insurance spokesman. "Just as we would throw our own family members a party complete with friends, food and fun, animal lovers enjoy showing the same appreciation and love for their pets."

Are you planning a birthday party for your pet? Contact Critters Editor Nancy Romanenko or e-mail nancyr@app.com.

Cancer-sniffing dog inducted into hall of fame

Canadian Press

WAVERLEY, N.S., Canada -- A cancer-sniffing dog from Nova Scotia is getting a gold star.

Georgina Bramwell's Pomeranian is earning a spot in the Purina Animal Hall of Fame after the dog's constant pawing led her to find a cancerous lump in her breast about a year ago.

"I thought Teddy Bear was crazy when he was digging at me," said the 76-year-old from Waverley, N.S.

"The night when he jumped on me, that's when I realized, because I didn't know (my breast) was painful until then."

Bramwell went to the doctor and soon after was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within a week, a cancer specialist successfully performed a mastectomy on her right breast.

"I wouldn't have known," said Bramwell. "He saved my life."

Since the operation, two-year-old Teddy Bear no longer paws or digs Bramwell.

After a routine mammogram last week, Bramwell discovered she is cancer free.

"I'm so proud," Bramwell said of her dog.

This isn't the first case of a dog sniffing out cancer.

There have been numerous cases of cancer-sniffing pets documented since 1989. Medical researchers are studying a dog's ability to sniff out lung, breast, prostate and skin cancer at an early stage.

Results so far are promising. When urine from bladder-cancer patients was set among samples from healthy people or those with other diseases, pet dogs were able to sniff out the cancer patient's urine almost three times more often.

A dog's sense of smell is generally 10,000 to 100,000 times better than a human's.

Teddy Bear will be inducted at the 38th annual awards ceremony in April.

Purina says its hall of fame, established in Canada in 1978, is the only recognition program of its kind.

There are currently 126 inductees, all chosen for their exceptional loyalty, courage and bravery in saving human life.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Humane Society Dog Saves Cat from Freezing to Death

By: Matt Goerzen, http://www.brandonsun.com

Not all heroic souls fight fires or arrest crooks. Some don’t even wear pants.

Cleo, the furry black and white canine who greets visitors at the Brandon Humane Society, is being hailed as a hero after finding a freezing cat that was dumped at the shelter’s doorstep.

One of the shelter’s new volunteers was out walking Cleo Wednesday afternoon when the dog started barking and ran up to a little lump curled up by a fence.

“She went right up to it,” said shelter manager Tracy Munn. There’s no way (the volunteer) would have seen the cat.”

Cleo, Hero Border Collie

When it was found, the black and brown tabby had a frozen back leg and parts of its ears were freezing off.

“You could see the blood at the edge of both of them, poor little thing. It wouldn’t have lasted out in the cold. It was already curling itself up.

“He was crying, so we wrapped him in a blanket and waited for animal control to come.”

The cat was rushed to the Brandon Veterinary Clinic, and will be staying there for the next few days for treatment.

Munn said a lot of people drop off animals at the shelter in the middle of the cold weather, expecting the shelter to take care of them.

Some of them simply dump the animals off in a box on the doorstep — something that makes Munn absolutely furious, especially when the weather is below zero.

“People are idiots,” Munn said. “It’s very common to see frostbitten animals. It bothered me horribly when I saw the cat.”

With 270 animals on a waiting list to get into the shelter, dropping animals off on the doorstep won’t help an animal jump the queue.

Luckily for the nearly frozen feline, the new volunteer, who was in tears after the incident, is interested in adopting the animal when it leaves the vet.

Cleo, who received a nice piece of salmon for her heroics, has become a permanent fixture of the shelter.

The Border Collie-Blue Healer cross has lived in the shelter for seven years, and Munn says Cleo considers it her job to protect all the animals in it — even the cats.

“This is her shelter. She knows we’re full. But she doesn’t care. She still wants to save another.

“I love that dog.”

Friday, February 17, 2006

Yipping pets save the day in Oklahoma Fire

By Molly Payne
Lifestyles Editor for The Cushing Daily Citizen

Neighbors in Cushing awoke to the sound of destruction early Thursday.

At 3:17 a.m. calls came in to the Fire Department reporting a fire in the 800 block of E. Third. The one-story, brick home of Margie Roe was extensively damaged, and the 1999 Chevy Malibu parked in front of the house was destroyed. Firefighters said they were on the scene for more than two hours.

One neighbor who lives a couple of blocks over was said to have heard the car explode.

Neighbor Jackie Mattison said her dogs woke her, and when she looked outside, "It looked like the whole world was on fire."

Margie Roe wasn't home when the fire broke out, but her son and his girlfriend were asleep in the back room. "If it weren't for my dogs, Maggie and Duchess, they might not have had time to escape," said Roe.

Her son, Paul, and his girlfriend, were the only ones in the house at the time of the fire. "I've complained about Paul sleeping with those dogs, but I may never complain again," she said.

Awakening to the yipping of the dogs, Paul Roe opened the bedroom door, only to see a huge fireball. He quickly woke his girlfriend, grabbed the dogs and they all escaped through a back window.

The house had recently been remodeled, Margie Roe said. What was once a newly tiled kitchen is now nothing but charred remains. Remarkably, the only thing unharmed in the living room was the table holding Grandma's open Bible.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Brent Kerr, the total loss is estimated at $120,000. The fire was still under investigation late Thursday.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Do your pets eat beaks? Feathers? It's Possible.

Source: Knight Ridder

Do your pets eat beaks? Feathers? Entrails? The mental images are terrible. At best, the majority of low-end and premium commercial pet foods are lacking in the basic nutrients to sustain health, say experts. At worst, they include garbage and are a source of death and disease.

Pet food quality has been in the news recently with the FDA investigating the deaths of more than 100 dogs attributed to aflatoxin-tainted food manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods. Aflatoxin causes lethal liver disease in animals and had exceeded the maximum allowable levels. Although the poisoning was accidental, it brings to light a serious issue regarding dog food quality.

"Half of all dogs over 10 years old are expected to get some form of cancer," writes Tracie Hotcher, author of "The Dog Bible, Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know" (Gotham Books, $20). "My personal inclination is to think that the danger to our dogs resides inside the bags of dog food: They are full of mysterious and possibly dangerous ingredients, often the bottom of the barrel from processing the discards of a food industry that is filled with carcinogens and chemicals."

Take, for example, the common ingredients listed as byproducts. "Byproducts are anything under the sun - wood shavings.

"It's pretty gross and disgusting," said Lin Croskey, co-owner of In Good Health, a natural foods pet supply. "Byproducts can be beaks, feet and heads. ... Chemical preservatives have been proven to cause cancer in animals and people as well."

Ingredients in low-end and even premium pet food typically include meat and poultry byproducts, powdered cellulose, preservatives, fillers, crude protein, sweeteners, flavor enhancers and artificial color. These ingredients are regulated by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which requires "that pet foods, like human foods, be pure and wholesome, safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled," according to the Food and Drug Administration at (www.fda.gov/cvm/petfoods.htm). The devil is in the details.

We recommend that you purchase all natural, human-grade food with no byproducts, no chemical preservatives and no fillers, the same things you should be eating, said Croskey. If you don't immediately recognize the ingredients on the label, don't serve it to your pet.

"It's the same as the basic human principle, you are what you eat," said Rodger Robertson, a sales consultant for RJ Matthews, the parent company of PBS Animal Health in Massillon. "You can have the word `natural' in the name, but not have one natural product in there."

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine "explains" the regulations behind pet food labels in six agonizing pages on the Internet at www.fda.gov/cvm/petlabel.htm. While the ingredients are listed on the bag or box in order of predominance by weight, a number of complex rules govern their descriptors. In something labeled "Beef Dinner for Dogs," for example, the beef should comprise an alarming 25 percent of the dry or canned product, not counting the water used in processing, but manufacturers use terms such as platter, entree, nuggets and formula to get around it.

"Chicken meal" is better than "poultry meal." 'Poultry' is anything with feathers," said Robertson. "Protein sources described as 'meat' or 'bone meal' could be roadkill."

California has a law forbidding the use of dead, dying, diseased and disabled (sick) animals in feed, but no such laws govern other states, he said.

Veterinarian Nan Decker of Northfield, Ill., steers her clients away from mainstream fare. "I prefer more holistic diets than are found at supermarkets. ... If a label says "meat" or "chicken byproducts," that's usually not a good sign. You don't really know it's quality protein."

She also shuns corn, wheat and gluten-containing grain, dairy and soy - foods most likely to set off allergic reactions with continued use. Unusual combinations in dog food such as duck, trout, sweet potatoes and salmon are healthful alternatives designed to vary the diet and alleviate symptoms.

"If your pets are scratching, it could be something they're eating," said Burlson. "We don't get fresh veggies anymore - everything sits. It's the same with dog food. ... People are saying better food has made a difference in their animals. People think of their animals as their children. I have one cat (Lucky), and I feed him the best."

Consider: If you wouldn't put it on your plate, don't buy it - and take a second look at what you're eating. The shortest list of ingredients is the best list.
Here are some things to avoid from "The Dog Bible:"

  • Meat or poultry byproducts - indicate lower food quality.
  • Fats or proteins from unknown sources. "Animal fat" could mean old restaurant grease.
  • Dedicated fiber sources - results of the food manufacturing process.
  • Crude protein - beaks, hooves, tendons, etc., can't be processed by the body.
  • Powdered cellulose - essentially sawdust.
  • Artificial colors - chemicals with long-term health consequences.
  • Sugar and sweeteners - aggravate health problems.
  • Food fragments - what's left after the nutrition is removed.
  • Flavor and texture enhancers - good food doesn't need them.

Queen Mary 2 Offers Luxury for Pets, Too

Long accustomed to cosseting travelers in the lap of luxury, Cunard is now extending its expertise to the four-legged friends of its Queen Mary 2 guests. Recognizing the growing trend toward traveling with pets, the cruise line has made noteworthy enhancements to its "Pets on Deck" program, including adding a range of pet-friendly services and amenities such as fresh-baked biscuits at turn-down; a choice of beds and blankets; and even a QM2-logoed coat.

Queen Mary 2's kennel program is overseen by a full-time Kennel Master who takes care of daily pet care responsibilities such as feeding, walking and cleaning the ship's 12 spacious kennels.

As part of the enhanced program, traveling dogs and cats also receive a complimentary gift pack featuring a QM2-logoed coat, Frisbee, name tag, food dish and scoop; a complimentary portrait with pet owners; a crossing certificate and personalized cruise card. Other pet perks include:

  • extra comfortable pet beds in two sizes

  • healthy gourmet cookies for dogs and cats baked fresh daily and offered at bedtime

  • fleece blankets

  • assortment of dog and cat toys

  • cat posts and scratchers

  • selection of premium pet foods from top brands.
"For some Cunard guests, transporting their pets safely and comfortably is a top priority, and having them cross the Atlantic onboard QM2 is far more desirable than flying them between continents," said Carol Marlow, president and managing director of Cunard Line. "And now our guests' pets can truly travel in real style."

The kennels and adjacent indoor and outdoor walking areas are open throughout the day, enabling guests to spend significant time with their pet. Reservations for the kennels may be made at time of booking, and are based on space availability. The kennel fee ranges from $300 to $500.

Taking good care of its guests' beloved pets is a long and illustrious Cunard tradition. The line's friendly pet policy dates back to the maiden voyage of the Britannia in 1840, when three cats were on board. Since then, circus elephants, canaries, a monkey and even a boa constrictor have traveled Cunard.

Widely considered the line-of-choice by generations of celebrities, Cunard has also transported a surprising number of notable pets. Mr. Ramshaw, the world's only trained golden eagle, made at least 21 transatlantic crossings on mid 20th-century liners; Rin-Tin-Tin, star of 36 silent films, traveled on the Berengaria; and Tom Mix and Tony, stars of the 1930's western series "Miracle Rider," regularly trotted up the gangway. (Tony's hooves were even fitted with special rubber shoes to prevent the horse from slipping.)

In the 1950s, Elizabeth Taylor brought her pampered puppies on board the original Queen Mary and exercised them regularly on the ship's sports deck. She even ordered special meals for them from the fish chef. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor also traveled with a beloved pup and, at the Duke's behest, Cunard installed a lamp post beside the kennels.

Queen Mary 2 is the grandest ocean liner ever built. There are 1,310 suites and cabins available in degrees of style and comfort ranging from pampered elegance to almost unimaginable luxury in the ship's famed Grill-level accommodations. Queen Mary 2 brings together like-minded travelers who relish the Cunard hallmarks of impeccable White Star ServiceSM, fine dining, sophisticated adventure and legacy of historic voyages and transatlantic travel.

For more information about Cunard, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or go to www.cunard.com

Pets Getting 'Family Funerals'


LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - Animal-loving Brits are giving their deceased pets the perfect send-off - with family-style funerals.

Choosing a coffin, ordering flowers, playing a favourite song and reading poetry are all part of the typical ceremony today - for dogs.

And three-quarters of owners who held funerals (74 per cent) say the service for their four-legged friends was just as important as family ones, a Direct Line Pet Insurance survey shows.

Meanwhile, one-in-five who have buried their dog make time to visit its grave on a daily basis, with 29 per cent paying weekly homage.

Common features of pet funerals include talking about the deceased dog's life and character (53 per cent), prayers (47 per cent) and laying flowers (29 per cent). The ceremonies often involve readings (12 per cent) and playing a favourite song (nine per cent).

But giving a pet a proper send off does not come cheaply. A fifth of dog owners spend more than £100 after their dog has passed away, with one in 20 spending more than £200.

Almost half of all dog owners who held a funeral (47 per cent) admit to loving their late dog more than members of their extended family and meanwhile, a third use funerals as a way to introduce their children to issues surrounding death (32 per cent).

Britons' plans to mark their dogs' lives are also revealing, according to the survey of 1,139 dog owners. Twenty nine per cent would have their dog cremated and its ashes scattered somewhere special, and one in 10 (nine per cent) would commission a work of art. A dedicated one per cent of all dog owners would have their faithful companion stuffed.

Direct Line Pet Insurance head Chris Price said: "Many people see their dog as one of the family, which explains why 82 per cent of the dog owners who held a funeral said a proper service to mark their passing is the least they deserve after a lifetime of devotion.

"Coping with the death of a much loved dog can be difficult so those struggling with bereavement should take comfort from appropriate counselling services.

"To help pet owners come to terms with the loss of their pet, Direct Line Pet Insurance has set up a pet bereavement helpline for its policyholders. We have helped hundreds of pet owners talk through their loss.

"These callers need a great deal of understanding and compassion shown to them and often call back on more than one occasion, even many weeks after their loss."

A Matchmaker for Parrots?

United Kingdom - Dating agencies are in plentiful supply these days but a German matchmaker has a rather different clientele - lonely parrots.

Rita Ohnhaeuser brought together 100 desperate feathered clients knowing they will never split up because parrots mate for life.

Her unique lonely hearts club started off with one lost bird desperate for a mate and now she has 150 parrots on her books who are "getting acquainted".

But Rita admits even birds can't rush finding Mr or Mrs Right. She said: "We have groups of grey parrots, macaws and amazon parrots.

"The parrot comes to us, and then all one can do is to wait until they find their partner.

"Sometimes this works very quickly- love at first sight, so to speak. Sometimes it takes two to five weeks or three or four months. The right one has to be here."

Find your new parrot here

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dick Cheney Joins other Politicians with Embarassing Animal Stories

Scripps Howard News Service
February 14, 2006

WASHINGTON - Jimmy Carter fought off a killer bunny. Ronald Reagan was almost flogged by a turkey. And Andrew Jackson's potty-mouthed parrot was barred from his funeral.

Vice President Dick Cheney may be a national laughingstock after shooting a fellow hunter while aiming for a flock of quail. But he's hardly the first politician who has suffered an embarrassing and potentially disastrous run-in with nature's creatures.

History is filled with stories of animals that have caused political humiliation, scandal and even death. Think of Cleopatra's suicide by serpent.

To this day, Carter is still sometimes ridiculed for his confrontation with the infamous swamp rabbit.

The tale began in April 1979 when the president was fishing in Plains, Ga., and spotted the amphibious animal swimming straight for his canoe. Gnashing its teeth and hissing menacingly, the four-legged beast seemed angry and ready to climb into the presidential boat.

The commander-in-chief did what anyone else under attack might do. He picked up a paddle and whacked the demented bunny in self-defense. (Carter later claimed he merely splashed water at the rabbit and shooed it away.)

The story might have ended there if Carter's press secretary, Jody Powell, hadn't innocently shared it with a reporter over a cup of tea. Editorial cartoonists had a field day, and Carter was asked to explain his behavior at town hall meetings and press conferences. The bunny episode became a metaphor for what some saw as Carter's weakness as a leader.

Adding insult to injury, a White House photographer captured the scene on film, and the Reagan administration later made the picture public, giving the hairy tale a visual and a whole new life.

Reagan had a few animal mishaps of his own. He was nearly flogged by a turkey when a photo op went comically awry in 1981. The Gipper was supposed to "pardon" the gobbler, thus saving the bird from the Thanksgiving dinner table. The turkey got nervous, however, and started flapping its wings uncontrollably, startling the president.

A few years later, Reagan was thrown from a horse in Mexico, struck his head and had to be evacuated by helicopter to Arizona for medical treatment. Clearly embarrassed, the macho president asked his handlers to make sure "people know that I was thrown from the horse. I did not fall."

Prince Charles has had his share of embarrassing falls from the saddle. The Prince of Wales broke his shoulder when he fell off a horse during a foxhunt in 2001. Later that year, he took a nasty spill from a polo pony and was knocked unconscious.

Bill Clinton, a man known for feeling others' pain, was probably empathizing with an American bald eagle on July 4, 1996. Clinton released the ailing but rehabilitated bird into the Chesapeake Bay, only to see it get attacked and knocked down by two ospreys. The Coast Guard had to rescue the poor animal as the press corps looked on.

Presidential pets have figured prominently in several administrations, sometimes becoming the butt of jokes or, even worse, causing a national scandal.

Jackson's talking Green Parrot, named Pol, was placed in the president's room after his death and was to remain at his side until burial. But the bilingual bird, which could curse in English and Spanish, spewed obscenities and caused such a fuss that it had to be removed.

Dwight Eisenhower brought along two dogs - a Weimeraner named Heidi and a Scottie named Spunky - when he moved into the White House. Heidi's stay at the presidential mansion was short-lived: She soiled a rug in the Diplomatic room and was sent off to the farm.

An indignant Franklin Roosevelt came to the defense of his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala, when rumors started swirling that he'd sent an entire battle fleet to retrieve the pooch from Alaska.

Vice presidential candidate Richard Nixon, accused of benefiting from a secret slush fund, went on television in 1952 and swore that the only political gift he'd ever received was a cocker spaniel named Checkers. Nixon kept the dog, and his famous "Checkers Speech" is credited with saving his political hide.

A decade later, one of Lyndon Johnson's pet beagles nearly destroyed his career. Johnson grabbed the animal by the ears and lifted it up on its hind legs while photographers recorded the scene. Animal lovers were outraged, and Johnson's popularity plummeted.

Even political spouses have been unwittingly caught off guard by the animal kingdom.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush once came face to face with an unexpected guest - a giant rat - during a swim in the White House pool.

"It went by right in front of me," she later recalled. "I mean, it was enormous. Fortunately, George Bush was there and drowned the beast. It was horrible."

From then on, the first lady asked the White House guards to check the pool for wayward rodents before she waded in.

(Contact Michael Collins at CollinsM@shns.com)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cat alerts woman to fire, home destroyed

Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona - An unattended candle caused a fire that destroyed a North Side home Sunday night.

The woman who lived at the home was showering when the fire began and was alerted to it first by her cat, which was meowing loudly in an unusual way, and then by her smoke detector, said Katy Heiden, Fire/Rescue spokeswoman.

A couch and the surrounding area was on fire when the woman took her cat, went outside and called 911 from a cell phone, Heiden said.

When firefighters arrived, flames already had engulfed half of the house, a single-wide mobile home, Heiden said. Damage is estimated at $50,000. The woman, who was not identified, is staying with family, Heiden said.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kansas Senate panel works on cruelty to animals bill

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Senate Judiciary Committee is working on a bill to make cruelty to animals a felony.

Supporters of the idea have long argued that keeping the crime a misdemeanor sends the wrong message to people who torture, maim or kill pets and note that violent criminals often have a history of abusing animals.

But legislators have rejected a proposed "Scruffy's Law" over the past nine years because probation is the presumed penalty for low-level felonies. The idea was named for a Yorkshire terrier burned and tortured to death in Wyandotte County in 1997.
The Judiciary Committee is considering a proposed "Magnum's Law," after a mixed-breed puppy found last year injured and burned in a recycling bin in Wichita.

It would make cruelty to animals a felony and require jail time of at least 30 days and a fine of at least $1,500. Offenders would be housed in county jails rather than state prisons.

On Tuesday, committee members added an amendment to have the state reimburse counties for confining such offenders. Lawmakers have no estimate of how much the payments would be.

The committee could continue its review of the bill Wednesday

Dog calls 911, saves diabetic owner's life

Ocoee, Florida - You would think the circus is in town after hearing this story.

Recently in suburban Ocoee, Belle the Wonder Dog called 911 and saved her owner's neck.

This smart beagle belongs to a very grateful Kevin Weaver.

The 34-year old Weaver says he doesn't go anywhere without Belle, and one morning this week, he needed her dearly.

Weaver, a diabetic, is thankful Belle remembered her recent service training and swung into action when he made that life saving call.

Not only can Belle smell her owner's blood sugar levels, the other part of her training is to find Kevin's cell phone, bite and hold down the number 9.

You can even see the bite marks she made.

Beagles like Belle are targeted for this sort of service training to detect seizures in its owner, mainly for their noses.

They can smell between 600 and 1,000 times more than we as individuals can smell.

It cost a bundle, a little over $8,000, for the great training to get a canine ready and in Kevin Weaver's case he can never put a price on life.

Belle goes back for a service refresher course in May.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Doggie Howser: Woman says dog detected her cancer

By Elizabeth Cohen

SAN ANSELMO, California (CNN) -- Nancy Best is sure her dog Mia saved her life.

Six years ago, Nancy was napping on her couch at home in Garberville, California, when Mia pounced and buried her nose in her right breast. Nancy thought nothing of it -- until over the next few days Mia did it three more times in the exact same spot.

The third time, Mia plunged with such force it hurt. Nancy reached to the spot Mia kept nosing at and felt a lump. She went to her doctor, and the biopsy came back positive: Stage II breast cancer.

Nancy underwent surgery and chemotherapy, and says she is alive today because of Mia.

This isn't the first time there've been reports of dogs smelling cancer. In 1989, an article in the respected British medical journal The Lancet reported that a dog kept sniffing a mole on his owner's leg, and the mole turned out to be melanoma.

Then in 2004, the prestigious British Medical Journal published a study where dogs managed to pick out urine samples from patients with bladder cancer set next to samples from healthy patients.

The 36 dogs didn't always pick out the cancer every time -- in fact, only 41 percent of the time -- but it was better than the 14 percent expected by chance alone.

What specifically did these dogs smell? Some scientists theorize there are certain "biomarkers" in cancer -- proteins, perhaps -- that might be unique to cancer and smelly to a dog's sensitive nose but undetectable to ours.

If this is true, it makes some sense that dogs could smell a tumor on the skin's surface (or, in Nancy Bests's case, near the surface) or in urine when the cancer was in the bladder.

But Michael Broffman and Michael McCulloch wanted to know if cancer could be smelled on a person's breath. The two work at the Pine Street Foundation, an alternative medicine center outside San Francisco.

They took breath samples from patients with breast and lung cancer, and from people who were cancer-free. They took the cancer samples, and repeatedly over a three week period stuck them under the noses of five ordinary household dogs. When the dogs smelled cancer, they got a treat. When they smelled the healthy samples, they got nothing.

The researchers then arranged four healthy and one cancer sample in a line, and the dogs picked out the cancer with amazing accuracy: 88 percent with the breast cancer samples, and 99 percent with lung cancers.

When we visited with our cameras, one of the dogs, Kobi, re-created the study for us. Time and again, Kobi picked out the cancer sample, no matter where along the line they placed it.

So is the point to eventually have a dog in every doctor's office?

No. The researchers at the Pine Street Foundation are hoping someone will figure out what the dogs smell and then develop a test -- an electronic nose, if you will -- to detect it in breath, urine, or something else.

But there are skeptics. Dr. Donald Berry, head of biostatistics at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, suspects that the dogs' astounding accuracy has something to do with the way the test was done -- for example, the way the samples were collected.

"It may be true," he said, "but I would be astounded if it were true."

Another skeptic is Dr. Larry Myers, a renowned veterinarian and dog trainer at Auburn University in Alabama.

Myers said it takes him 13 weeks to train a dog to sniff bombs, and doubts anyone could train a dog to sniff cancer in just three weeks.

Dog's Barking Alerts Woman to Fire


UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - A little dog is turning out to be a big hero after alerting its owner that the house was on fire.

Prince George's County Fire officials say the batteries in the smoke detector were dead, so it never sounded in the home on Melwood Road in Upper Marlboro when a fire broke out early Monday.

But the family's Dachshund began barking and scratching at his owner's door. That woke her up, and she opened the door to find thick smoke. She brought the dog into the bedroom and called 911.

When firefighters arrived, some began fighting the flames on the first floor, while others put a ladder up to the second-floor window to rescue the woman and her dog.

The animal is fine, and the woman was treated at a local hospital.

Praise for little dog who saved her owner from blaze


A TWO-YEAR OLD dog has been hailed a hero after raising the alarm when fire spread through kennels in Dalkeith.

Seven animals were killed when the blaze ripped through the Dalkeith Cattery on Lauder Road.

But owner Evelyn Smail was saved from the blaze after being awoken by her Pomeranian dog Cleo.

Staff at the cattery say that the actions of the dog saved the lives of the owner and 19 other animals.

Cleo is one of 20 showdogs owned by Ms Smail, who was awoken by the sound of the dog's barking in the early hours of yesterday morning.

As a result of the noise, she discovered the blaze, which was tearing through a new extension to the cattery and approaching her own home.

She then risked her own safety by saving five of the seven cats that were boarding at the cattery.

Firefighters told her that the blaze appeared to have been burning for some time and was within 15 minutes of spreading to the roof of her home.

Although Ms Smail was too upset to talk today, Sheila Grey, a volunteer at the cattery, said: "She was awoken when one of the show dogs started barking madly. Ms Smail got out of bed at 1.55am, thinking the dog needed to go to the toilet.

"She looked out her back window to find that the building was acutely ablaze and immediately called the fire brigade.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

'Psychic' Animals Make Super Bowl Picks

(WCCO) Take a psychic pachyderm and an omniscient orangutan, and what do you get?

The winner of this year's Super Bowl, of course.

Inji, an orangutan from Portland, Ore., made her pick just by putting on a T-shirt.

Given the choice between a Seattle Seahawks T-shirt and a Pittsburgh Steelers tee, Inji donned the Seahawks' duds.

Inji got a vote of confidence from Rasha, an elephant in Fort Worth, Texas.

The predicting pachyderm faced a board emblazoned with each team's logo and touched Seattle's with her trunk.

Perhaps the Steelers logo just isn't animal-friendly enough.


Dog overboard found 3km offshore


A FISHERMAN will be reunited with his dog, which was rescued today after it fell overboard 3km off the coast in Port Phillip bay.

Victorian police today said the Coast Guard had sent a search and rescue team to look for the Jack Russell after receiving a call for help from its fisherman owner, earlier this morning.
The dog, Bundy, was later rescued by a group of recreational boaters who found it swimming about 3km from land.

The dog and its owner will be reunited at St Kilda marina later today.

The healing power of pets can't be ignored

By Lisa Simmons, CONTRIBUTOR

ANIMALS THAT help people through adversity most dramatically represent the depth of the bond we share with our companion animals. Every day we can read a news story about how an animal has helped a human: the boy who came out of a coma when licked on the face by the family's beloved dog, the young woman who regained the ability to speak after her cat was allowed to visit her in the hospital.
Although we recognize the healing power of animals, this gift is all too often denied to those who would appreciate it most — the critically ill or those with compromised immune systems.

A dear friend who was diagnosed with bone cancer was advised by her doctors to get rid of all of her pets because she would be at greater risk of developing infections if they remained in the home. She worked from home and her dog and cat had kept her company for 12 years, following her around the house and even accompanying her on her walks around the neighborhood.

Her treatment was long and painful, and she constantly talked about her pets and how much she missed them. Her husband continued working while she went through her treatment, and even though she had friends and a home health nurse who checked on her every day, her loneliness without her beloved pets was quite apparent. Her husband has since told me that if he had it to do all over again, he would definitely keep their pets where they belonged, by her side.

Research has proved that pets reduce our stress levels and that having pets can actually help increase our self esteem and confidence, all of which results in an enhanced immune system. Pets can help ease the loneliness, pain and sorrow often experienced during an illness through their unconditional love and acceptance.

Even the best-cared-for pet is not guaranteed to remain free of disease, but by working closely with your veterinarian, you can follow some preventive guidelines to keep your pet as healthy as possible. Have your pet tested for parasites and any other medical problems and get them treated right away. Keep them indoors to reduce their risk of contracting any illness or disease, and make sure they are kept up to date on their vaccinations and annual check-ups.

For someone with a compromised immune system, just taking some simple precautions can reduce the risk of infection or disease and allow the pets to stay in the home.

Frequent hand washing after handling a pet and wearing gloves when changing litter boxes or cleaning up after a pet will go a long way in preventing an ill person from contracting a disease or infection. Keeping your dog or cat's nails clipped short will help minimize the risk of being scratched.

Sometimes, certain conditions can make caring for a pet on a daily basis impossible for someone who is ill. Friends, neighbors or relatives may be able to help with that daily care so the pet can remain in the home.

If you don't have someone close who could help take care of your pet, there are many nonprofit organizations today that will gladly lend a hand. They help ill pet owners by providing everything from dog walking and grooming to fostering and even litter box cleaning.

Pet people know how much pets enrich our lives. Working closely with your doctor and veterinarian can enable you to keep your pets with you when you need them the most.

Lisa Simmons is executive director of Pets In Need. Write to Info@PetsInNeed.org or visit http://www.PetsInNeed.org.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Together forever with your pet - It's possible!

By Mary Tregget

Till death to us part has become obsolete for those pet owners living in Chicago who choose to spend eternity with their beloved pets.

The city of Chicago is currently the first city to offer this service, with two of its funeral facilities offering joint plots for pet and owner. The move is in result to a growing interest conveyed by pet owners to be able to be buried with their pets upon their passing away.

Lou Rago of Memorial Traditions, states that as of late, a lot of people have inquired at their funeral homes, about the possibility of being buried alongside their pets.

As word of this new way of spending a life time and beyond spreads, one can only say that this trend will become more and more prominant. Married couples will purchase joint burial plots in order to spend eternity together, it was only a matter of time before the pet owner population jumped onboard.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

New Beef Label to Support Cheetah

Efforts to conserve one of the world’s endangered species, the cheetah, have led to an initiative that will see Namibia export beef under a new label - the Cheetah Country Beef.

Started three years ago, the initiative of the Cheetah Conservation Fund and its partners, the Conservancies Association of Namibia, Meatco and the Meat Board to export an eco label of meat for Namibian farmers is still in its pilot phase.

It aims at finding a niche market for the beef, which is a way of helping farmers to fight for the survival of the endangered animal.

By end June this year, which also marks the end of the pilot project, a pilot consignment of Cheetah Country Beef would have been exported to test the logistics of the initiative, according to Andre Mouton, Meatco’s Marketing Manager.

Farmers who export the beef will be certified Cheetah Country Farmers and will be monitored as practising cheetah-friendly livestock management.

In return for being good stewards to the land and wildlife on their farms, Cheetah Country Farmers will be paid a premium for the best beef they sell, while consumers in Europe, which Namibia feels is the niche market, will pay slightly more for this beef that is raised without harm to the endangered animal.

Although the project is unique in that Namibia does not have experience, Mouton believes that having cheetah ambassadors for conservation can help.

Last December, the project appointed a consultant to investigate the market for the product, whose report is expected in March.

The premium for the farmers is yet to be determined, said Mouton, adding that he was optimistic and saw it as a niche market.

Some of the benefits of Cheetah Country Beef are that it is healthy, good for the environment and predator friendly. For farmers to be certified Cheetah Country Farmers, they will have to sign an agreement that they will implement non-lethal predator control to avoid harming or killing cheetahs on their farmland.

Namibia is home to the largest number of free ranging cheetahs and it holds 20 percent of the world’s population. About 95 percent of these cheetahs live on commercial farmland.

"The survival of the cheetah is in the hands of Namibian farmers. By supporting Cheetah Country Beef, you are helping these farmers fight for the survival of this endangered animal," says the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

Cheetah Country Beef will give farmers who care for the environment a financial benefit while helping them to be stewards of the land when they practice livestock management that will not harm cheetahs.

With this initiative, Cheetah Country Farmers are setting a standard for all cattle producers not only in Namibia but worldwide. Namibia’s main beef exporter, Meatco, acts as an example for other businesses in putting the needs of the environment first.

"Conservancies Association of Namibia is actively showing the world that farming and conservation go hand in hand. Cheetah Conservation Fund illustrates that there are many ways to save the lives of endangered animals," says CCF.

Cheetah Country Beef is but one of the many conservation economic initiatives that CCF has embarked on to save the life of the Cheetah in Namibia. Among other initiatives are Bushblok and Livestock guarding dogs. Bushbloks are smokeless, long lasting fuel logs that burn at super hot temperatures and produce very little ash. Early this year, the Bushblok project in Otji-warongo exported hundreds of tonnes of the eco log to the United Kingdom.

CCF was early this year awarded the Forest Stewardship Council certification, an international green label for wood products. The certificate is awarded by an international certification agency, to organisations whose products are environmentally approved.

Source: New Era and an ANDnetwork Journalist