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Archive for January, 2011

Cat intentionally set on fire in Baltimore

January 31, 2011 1 comment

Mittens - lucky to be alive

Staff at Baltimore Area Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) are currently looking after a cat that was maliciously set on fire and, as a result, is suffering from third degree burns.

The cat, named ‘Mittens’ and her litter of kittens were confiscated and placed in the care of BARCS so Mittens can safely recover from her ordeal.

Witnesses of the event claim that the cat was thrown in a crate by her young owner, doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. The cat jumped out and extinguished herself. Being a recent mother of kittens she returned to the house to take care of her litter.

BARCS staff have stated that two people have been arrested in connection with this shocking crime, however the police have yet to confirm this either way.

Mittens is recovering and will stay at BARCS for the foreseeable future, until she is well enough for her and her kittens to go to a BARCS approved foster home. It is said her hair may not grow back in places where the burns were more severe. Once she has fully recovered, she will be available for adoption.

Clinton Young, a pet owner who lives near where the incident occurred, was appalled by the cruel act. “I just can’t see how kids do that, but they do it,” he said. “I really don’t understand why they’d do something like that. A cat or a dog is a lovable animal.”

Donations are being accepted through the BARCS website or at the shelter located at 301 Stockholm Street in South Baltimore.

More on this story can be found on the WBAL website

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American Kennel Club Announces Most Popular Dogs of 2010

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

This week, the American Kennel Club announced their annual most popular breeds of dogs for 2010. Unsurprisingly, the Labrador Retriever reigns supreme for the 20th year running. In this post, we will show the top 10 including pictures and a short description of the breed.

Number 1 – the Labrador Retriever

Labradors are medium-large sized dogs with a sturdy, muscular build. Labs are known for their intelligence, fine character and good temperament. They are excellent with children, loyal and playful. As they were bred to be working dogs originally, they do require a reasonable amount of exercise to keep them happy.

Number 2 – the German Shepherd

German Shepherds are renown for being the best military and police service dog, yet they also make great pets. Strong, athletic and intelligent, with the correct training they make good guard dogs as well as family pets, if introduced to children from a young age. The German Shepherd is a large dog that requires a lot of exercise, mental stimulation and regular grooming.

Number 3 – the Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terriers are the most popular of the Toy Breed category. They are adaptable little dogs, making them suitable for in the city or country. They travel well and make suitable pets for many homes. Due to their small size, they aren’t recommended for homes with small children as they are delicate little breeds who know how to defend themselves. They require limited exercise, but being a lap-dog means they require daily interaction with humans and regular brushing to keep their hair in good condition.

Number 4 – the Beagle

The Beagle is a short and sturdy medium sized dog with relatively easy care requirements. The coat requires little brushing, they need an average amount of physical exercise but as they have been bred to be a hunting dog, they do require mental stimulation before following their nose gets them into trouble! Great with kids, can be quite independent but always the happy-go-lucky comedian.

Number 5 – the Golden Retriever

With an eager to please, enthusiastic attitude; these dogs are energetic, playful and require a moderately active home. Their water-repellent long coat sheds each season so they require regular grooming for comfort. Great with children and other animals.

Number 6 – the Bulldog

An easily distinguishable breed, the Bulldog could be seen as an acquired taste but proving to be very popular in America in recent years. Bulldogs make great family pets, they are gentle and tend to form strong bonds with children. The medium sized stocky breed requires minimal grooming and exercise.

Number 7 – the Boxer dog

This medium to large sized dog with a strong, muscular body was originally bred for fighting, though in recent decades it is now suitable for anything but! One of the breed’s characteristics is its desire human affection and praise. They are patient and seem to have an affinity with children. They can be quite boisterous as puppies but mellow as they age. The Boxer requires little grooming, but needs daily exercise.

Number 8 – the Dachshund

The Dachshund, meaning ‘Badger Dog’ in German, is a solid-built small dog with a lively, friendly personality. They are versatile, smart and require moderate exercise. The short haired variety require minimal grooming, however the long haired variety does require care to keep the dog tangle-free a comfortable.

Number 9 – the Poodle

It is a common misconception that these dogs are the ‘beauty without the brain’, the Poodle is an exceptionally smart dog and rated one of the top three most intelligent dogs along with the Labrador and Border Collie. These dogs have a hypo-allergenic coat that may make them more suitable for those who suffer with allergies to dog hair but still want a pooch. They require an active home and regular professional grooming.

Number 10 – the Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu’s are great companion dogs that love attention. They require minimal exercise but plenty of grooming to keep their coat looking healthy and tangle-free.

Ask A Vet Question Of The Month Winner of December

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment
Lady, the Labrador Retriever

Lady, the Labrador Retriever

Congratulations to Cathy Goolsby who won our $100 prize question of the month in December.

Cathy asked
“Is there a safe product to give dogs to calm them when it is storming? Lady is terrified – she walks every step with me, jumps on the bed if it is night, and shivers. Thank you for your help.”

Our In-House Vet answered
“Your dog suffers from noise phobia which means she expresses an intense response to loud noises like the ones from storms. To treat this kind of problems you have to be very patient. There are several groups of medicines which can help…”

Read more of our vet’s answer here

Question of the Month Prize

As the winner of our monthly competition, Cathy wins a $100 prize. If you have a question that you would like our veterinary surgeon to answer, get in touch and ask your pet-related question today.

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Border Collie taught over 1000 words!

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment
Chase the Border Collie

Chase and some of her many toys!

A border collie in Spartanburg, North Carolina, has been reported to have the largest vocabulary of any known dog. Chaser, owned by psychologist Dr John W. Pilley, knows over 1,000 different nouns taught to her by Dr Pilley over a period of three years.

After Dr Pilley retired in 2004, he read a report in ‘Science’ journal about Rico, a border collie from Germany whose owners had taught him to recognize 200 items. Dr. Pilley decided to repeat the experiment using his background in psychology and his own training methods.

Chaser was bought by Dr Pilley as a puppy in 2004 from a local breeder and started training her right away. The training sessions were 4 – 5 hours a day and he would show her an object and repeat the chosen name up to 40 times. Dr Pilley would then hide the object and ask her to find it, while repeating the name throughout the locating process. She was taught one or two new names a day on average, with monthly tests and he would retrain her for any of the names she had forgotten.

One of Dr. Pilley’s goals was to see if he could teach Chaser to respond appropriately to a larger vocabulary than Rico acquired. As the vocabulary taught to Chaser was noun-based, he found himself running out of items quickly to teach her new words, as every vocal cue or ‘name’ had to be different. Dr. Pilley found himself visiting Salvation Army stores and purchasing large quantities of used children’s toys to serve as vocabulary fodder. He found it hard to remember all the exact names Chaser had been taught for individual items, so he wrote the name on each toy with marker. In these three years, Chaser’s vocabulary included 800 plushie/cloth toys, 116 balls, 26 Frisbees and a medley of plastic items.

Studies show that children learn new words every day until, by the time they reach eighteen years of age, they know approximately 60,000 words. Chaser faced a harder task as each sound was new, completely separate and she had nothing to relate it to. Whereas children learn words within context that makes association and remembrance easier e.g. a cooker, refrigerator, microwave oven and kettle are found in the same place, meaning links of association are created.

One of the questions raised by the Rico study was that of what was the dog thinking as he located the item. Did the dog understand the cue “fetch” separately from its object, as a verb, as people do? Dr. Pilley took this into consideration by teaching Chaser three different verbs and the correct response to them: pawing, nosing and fetching an object. He then performed an experiment, asking Chaser to respond to each of the three cues on three different items. “That experiment demonstrates conclusively that Chaser understood that the verb had a meaning,” Dr. Pilley said.

Dr. Pilley is unsure as to how large a vocabulary Chaser could master. When she reached 1,000 items, he grew tired of teaching words and moved to teaching her to comprehend grammar. “She still demands four to five hours a day,” Dr. Pilley said. “I’m 82, and I have to go to bed to get away from her.”

Border collies are working dogs. They are reputed to be the most intelligent breed of dog, followed closely by Labrador retrievers and Poodles. A highly motivated and energetic dog, they are bred to herd sheep all day long with 100% precision without any fatigue. If these dogs are kept as companion animals, it is necessary that they are provided not only physical exercise but also require mental stimulation. If they are not kept occupied, like a bored child, they often start showing undesirable behaviours.

Dr. Pilley said that most border collies, with intensive training, could achieve such results. When he told Chaser’s breeder of her achievements, “he wasn’t surprised about the dog’s ability, just that I had had the patience to teach her,” Dr. Pilley said. One of Science’s advisers, Dr. Horowitz agreed: “It is not necessarily Chaser or Rico who is exceptional; it is the attention that is lavished on them,” she said.

‘Science’ journal rejected an article of the experiment as the experiment’s relevance to language is likely to be a matter of dispute. However an experiment of this calibre certainly has proved that a canine’s intelligence reach further depths than humans have anticipated previously.

A video of Chaser doing what she does best.

More on this story can be found on the NY Times.

Picture credit: Cass Sapir/Nova Science Now

Should I Neuter/Spay My Pet?

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

spaying or neutering your petOwning a dog or cat is a huge responsibility and an important thing to consider is whether you should neuter or spay your pet. Spaying/neutering is a wise choice and beneficial to their health. If your animal is purely a companion to your family and not to be used specifically for breeding, our resident vet recommends the animal should be neutered/spayed. Sterilizing your animal provides the following health benefits:

Lessens the risk of cancer – Sterilization prevents ovarian, uterine, and testicular cancer in pets and lessens the chance of mammary gland cancer.
Prevents urinary tract infections – This is particularly important for cats as urinary tract disease can be very serious and even fatal for your feline friend.
Can reduce undesirable behavior – Male dogs can have a tendency to roam for a mate, this results in dogs running at large which can be hit by cars or picked up as strays. In dogs, it can also lessen barking and particularly urine marking as they will feel less of a need to defend their territory. Male cats will also be less likely to urine mark their territory and spaying female cats should stop them from yowling, which is their mating call when they’re in heat.
Eradicates female canine menstruation – Female dogs are in heat approximately every six months, which is a messy business as female dogs that are not spayed have a bloody discharge.

Not having your pet sterilized can affect society as well, it is an unfortunate truth that there are hundreds of thousands of animals that are in animal shelters across the world that are in desparate need of a good home. Often these animals are surrendered to the shelter or abandoned because they were bred without a thought spared for their long-term future. Dogs live for around 10-15 years on average and cats live for even longer. Bringing more life into the world is not a decision to be taken lightly when these things are taken to account.

Your dog or cats behavior won’t change in any undesirable way once they are neutered or spayed. He or she will still be the same pet, a little calmer if anything, and once sterilized they will be a happier and healthier member of your family for many years to come.

Over $8,600 raised for a 2 year old boy in desperate need of a service dog

January 6, 2011 1 comment

Community donations of more than $8,649 have made it possible for a 2-year-old boy with a rare movement disorder to get the service dog he needed.

Wesley Logston, from Washington, has been diagnosed with Dystonia, a rare movement disorder that causes his muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. Symptoms of the incurable chronic disorder surfaced in May when the left side of Wesley’s face sagged intermittently, he dragged his left side, bumped into things, and choked while drinking. Wesley often has what looks to be seizure-like episodes, as if Wesley has a Charley horse of the entire body, as described by his family.

Wesley, who has been flown to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma twice in recent months, had stopped breathing on one occasion and had to be resuscitated. At this point Wesley’s parents, Breanna and Steven, were told their son needed a service dog. The service dog would need to be trained to detect low blood-sugar levels and how to alert someone if Wesley stopped breathing or had one of his seizure-like episodes. This training could potentially save his life.

The Logston family thought they had found their service dog that had already been trained to detect low blood-sugar levels and alert someone if their owner stopped breathing. The additional training needed would cost around $4,000 to get their potential service dog Kinja up to the standards needed to be able to be of maximum benefit to Wesley. These funds were raised but unfortunately the dog was given to another family with a child who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Although disappointed, Wesley’s family bought another dog, a puppy they have named Sam. Sam comes from a line of service dogs so they are sure Sam will learn her duties quickly. Now that they have not received the previously trained service dog, Sam’s training will be on-going for over two years and the fees could be in excess $30,000 for the vet care, kennel board and $40 per hour training sessions, according to Bellingham-based Brigadoon Youth & Service Dog Programs.

“The family has been so buoyed by the outpouring of caring. I wish I could convey how much of a comfort it is to feel so supported during such a heart-rending time,” said Celeste Mergens, a Lynden resident and the boy’s grandmother.

Breanna Logston, Wesley’s mother, said the family were surprised at the amount of money that has been raised so far, and are thankful for the community’s ongoing support and donations.


HOW TO HELP

Donations can be sent to Sterling Savings Bank in Lynden for the Miracle for Wesley fund. The mailing address is 1794 Front St., Lynden, WA 98264.

The money will be used to train and care for Sam, the service dog who will help Wesley Logston, a 2-year-old Lynden boy diagnosed with a rare movement disorder called dystonia.

More information on this story can be found here.
Picture credit as above.