Monday, April 7th, 2014


Elizabeth Oreck

Every year at this time, families across the country look forward to the tradition of enjoying that timeless holiday classic, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. And while we revel in this heartwarming tale of human compassion and salvation, we are likely not thinking about the plight of the hundreds of thousands of dogs in puppy mills. But at no other time of year should these dogs be more top of mind. After all, ’tis the season of the often-requested Christmas gift of a puppy.

And yet, for that puppy under the tree to materialize, we must consider the countless dogs at any given moment living in cramped and often filthy cages, breeding continuously in order to produce as many puppies as possible for the retail pet trade. While Americans dig deep into their pockets to purchase new toys, treats, sweaters or cozy pet beds as holiday gifts for their beloved furry companions, dogs living in mills receive no such gifts. Not even the opportunity to go for a walk or experience a kind human touch.

Puppy mills are in business to supply pet stores and online retailers, and, as is the case with most retail, the holidays are the most profitable time of year. Puppy sellers capitalize on parents’ anticipation of the joy on their child’s face when he or she receives that adorable puppy wrapped in a big red bow on Christmas morning. But that gift comes at a cost that far exceeds the dollar amount on the price tag, and it is a price paid every day by breeder dogs on the puppy production line.

A puppy mill is a high-volume commercial dog-breeding operation in which profit and maximum production take priority over the health and welfare of the animals. Puppies bred in these factory-like settings are regarded as nothing more than a cash crop commodity, and despite the poor conditions in which the breeder dogs are forced to live, puppy mills are still legal in every state.

Although commercial dog breeders who sell puppies wholesale to pet stores and distributors are licensed and regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the minimum required standards of care do little to protect dogs and nothing to ensure responsible, quality breeding. The dogs can be confined for years at a time, reduced to lives of constant breeding in dirty, stacked, wirebottomed cages that are required to be only six inches larger than the dog on all sides, and with few, if any, opportunities to play, be walked, or receive basic grooming or veterinary care. There is no requirement that the dogs ever be let out of those cages, even for a moment, to stand on solid ground or experience the sun on their backs. When they are no longer able to produce, they are usually discarded or destroyed.

These are the parents of the puppies who are sold online or shipped to pet stores, where unsuspecting buyers are not informed of the backgrounds of these animals, nor the conditions under which they were bred. There are frequent reports of these puppies having congenital or communicable diseases, which cause heartache and expense for those who purchased them with the mistaken belief that they were buying a healthy pet from the best source possible. So, this is not just an animal welfare issue; it’s a consumer protection issue, too.

Tragically, when the cost of caring for a sick puppy becomes more than the buyer can manage, it is not uncommon for that puppy to be surrendered to an overcrowded, taxpayer-subsidized shelter. Not all communities have puppy mills, but nearly every community has some byproduct of puppy mills — either a pet store that imports puppies from out-of-state mills or a shelter that takes in more dogs than they can adopt out. In short, the puppy mill problem impacts all of us.

It is believed that there are approximately 10,000 licensed and unlicensed puppy mills in the U.S., mostly concentrated in the Midwest, which combined produce an estimated two million puppies per year. It’s profoundly ironic that the number of puppies born in mills is roughly equal to the number of dogs being killed in U.S. shelters each year. And it begs the question: Why do we continue to manufacture dogs in mills when so many dogs who already exist are being destroyed every day, simply because there aren’t enough people adopting them? The answer, of course, is profit. And those who typically make the largest profit are the retailers, who buy puppies at a low cost and then resell them at a high markup.

Pet stores purchase puppies from mills and wholesale brokers because no responsible breeder would ever sell to a pet store. This basic tenet can be found in every reputable breeder’s code of ethics, including those of the parent breed clubs of the American Kennel Club. And even if they were inclined to sell to pet stores, the high cost of breeding responsibly means that a pet store could never afford to buy puppies from a reputable breeder, because the profit margin would be significantly less than it is when they buy from mills or brokers. The retail reality is that the less it costs to manufacture a product, the greater the opportunity for markup — and profit.

With all that we know about the terrible conditions of these facilities and the unethical breeding that occurs to produce a substandard quality of dog purely for profit, why do we still have puppy mills in this country? Because people are buying what the mills are producing. It is the most fundamental of economic principles: supply and demand. As long as there is a market for a product, that product will continue to be produced, no matter how oversaturated the market becomes.

There is, however, reason to be optimistic. When Best Friends launched its puppy mill initiatives in 2008, there were more than 6,000 USDA-licensed commercial dog breeders. Today, that number is closer to 2,000. One of the reasons for the decline is that the traditional puppy mill industry is becoming more prohibitive and less profitable, due to increased state and local regulations, greater media exposure and public awareness, and a struggling national economy that makes it more difficult for consumers to pay top dollar for a new puppy.

This doesn’t mean, however, that substandard breeding is necessarily in decline. Backyard breeding is still a prevailing problem, dogs are being imported into the U.S. legally and illegally, many breeders are simply continuing to breed without a USDA license, and a lot of selling is now being conducted online.

Internet puppy buying and selling is a relatively recent phenomenon. And despite the obvious risks that come with purchasing anything online — let alone a living, sentient being — there is no denying that we’ve evolved into a point-and-click culture. Unfortunately, that form of convenient consumerism is how more and more people are bringing pets into their homes.

Unscrupulous puppy sellers exploit the opportunity to hide behind attractive websites and slick catalogs that feature stock photos of adorable puppies frolicking in fields or napping in wicker baskets. Consumers who receive these puppies shipped directly to their door never see the true conditions of the breeding facilities. They also have no way of knowing whether the puppy they purchase will be healthy, or anything like what they thought they were buying, thus elevating the risk of consumer fraud. It’s a game of retail Russian roulette, in which the odds favor the seller.

As an organization committed to reaching a day when every pet will have a loving home, it goes without saying that Best Friends encourages everyone who is looking to bring a pet into the family to choose adoption over purchase. Although we recognize that there are caring and reputable private breeders who breed responsibly and ethically, it’s difficult for us to endorse any kind of breeding while so many animals are dying in shelters.

There are adoptable dogs of every breed, age, size and personality available throughout the U.S. Breed-specific rescue groups and online adoption databases like make it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Adopting may require a little more effort, but what it lacks in convenience it makes up for in the knowledge that you’ve saved a life. And for parents set on the idea of giving a puppy as a gift, why not consider the gift of a promise to adopt? Making the adoption of a new pet a family decision gives every family member a part in the process and ensures that it will be the best match for all.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the fight against puppy mills, but we still have more work to do, as puppies continue to be mass-produced in a manner that most animal-loving, compassionate individuals find abhorrent. The solution to the problem is simple: If we stop buying what the mills are producing, there will be no reason for them to continue producing, and eventually they will cease to exist. We need to stop supporting pet retailers that sell commercially bred puppies, because any money spent in those stores contributes to perpetuating the cycle of puppy mill cruelty.

Fortunately, there is a more humane alternative. Pet stores that offer animals for adoption relieve the burden on shelters and rescue groups by getting homeless pets into retail settings, where they have a greater chance of being seen by the public. It’s an increasingly popular model and a win-win for both the community and the animals. Several commercial property-management companies have recently embraced this concept by implementing policies to lease space only to pet stores that operate under the adoption model.
Cities throughout North Amer ica (e.g., Los Angeles, San Diego and Toronto) are also getting on board by passing ordinances to ban the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores, unless they come from shelters or rescue groups. By cutting off the supply of milled puppies being imported into the community, they are addressing the puppy mill problem from the retail end, while increasing adoption opportunities for pets in local shelters. And, since many dogs in shelters are cast-offs from people who purchased them in pet stores or online, banning retail sales helps reduce the number of animals who enter shelters and, consequently, the number being killed (currently more than 9,000 per day) in our nation’s shelters.

So, we’re heading in the right direction. We are witnessing a cultural shift in the way that we think about companion animals and how we choose to bring them into our homes. Adoption is becoming much more common, legislators are recognizing the need to pass better regulations for dog breeders and retailers, and there is more awareness than ever about the harsh realities of puppy mills. As people share their knowledge and take action in their own communities, we are steadily moving the needle in a more compassionate direction.

What it comes down to is this: The puppy mill problem belongs to all of us, and so does the solution. The ability to put this cruel industry in the past is in our collective hands. We have the power to set positive examples through our consumer decisions. We have the power to teach our kids — and each other — compassion for animals. We have the power to create changes for the better. We have the power to save lives. Working together, we can reach a time when puppies will no longer be mass-produced, adoption will be the first choice for those looking to bring a pet into the family, and there will be no more homeless pets. We’re on the right track. We can save them all. After all, every dog deserves a wonderful life.



Who’s really saving who?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Returning the favor Who’s really saving who?
Kelli Harmon

returning the favor 1
When Barbara Bowman went to the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles last year, she thought she knew what she was going to leave with. “I was looking for a black cat, and I already had a name picked out: Jack,” she says. Who she found, however, was Leo. And, looking back a little over a year after she first met Leo, she couldn’t be happier that Jack the black cat ultimately didn’t materialize on that fateful day.

After all, Leo saved her life.

While Barbara and her daughter, Chakiyah, initially set out to locate and adopt a black cat who would be named Jack, Chakiyah was drawn to a large, long-haired white cat instead.

“I was walking by his cage and felt him grab at my sweater,” she recalls. She liked his playfulness and his aquamarine eyes, and knew right away that this was to be their cat. Barbara says, “I have a soft heart. I couldn’t say no.” When she held the white cat, Barbara fell for him, too. They decided to take him home, naming him Leo for his lion-like hair.

Barbara, who lives with her husband, children, two other cats and two dogs, admits it’s a busy household. “Leo didn’t know what to do in the beginning,” she says. “But by the second week, he started to come around.” It turns out he’s a lap cat, and Barbara’s was his favorite lap. As he began to sit with her more often, Barbara noticed that Leo would start kneading her lap and then moved up toward her chest. She says, “At first, I felt special because I was the only one he was doing this with. He did this every day for a week.” But then he started doing it with greater frequency. He continued to gravitate to the same area of one of her breasts — so much so that his strange behavior prompted her to do a self-exam. She felt a lump. She called her doctor and, after a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, it was confirmed: She had an aggressive form of stagethree breast cancer.

In February of last year, Barbara had a partial mastectomy. Not only did doctors remove the cancerous growth, but 14 lymph nodes — eight of them cancerous — as well. She began a treatment of eight rounds of chemotherapy, which will be followed by radiation. Despite all this, Barbara is incredibly positive. She explains, “I feel good. Sometimes tired, but what makes it worth living (through) is my children. It really helps knowing how much you are loved.” She credits Leo with saving her life, saying, “I never would have noticed the lump if it weren’t for Leo.”
returning the favor 2

At first blush, it could seem that Leo finding Barbara’s cancer was a fluke, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Even a coincidence. But as it turns out, there are numerous stories similar to theirs. Many people have reported anecdotally that their pets alerted them to the fact that something was not quite right. Like Ricky Hatfield of Williamson County, Illinois, whose normally well-behaved retriever head-butted his groin. Or the U.K.’s Sharon Rawlinson, who is grateful to her Cavalier King Charles spaniel for pawing at and standing on her chest. In both cases, tests confirmed what the pets already knew: cancer.

In 1989, the possibility that an animal’s nose knows gained global attention when a letter to the editor from two dermatologists was published in the medical journal The Lancet. The letter stated that their patient’s dog wouldn’t leave alone a small mole on the patient’s leg. The dog continued to fuss at the mole until, one day, she pounced and bit at it. The dog ignored other moles on the patient’s arms and legs and had never bitten her before, so the behavior was strange enough that the woman insisted on having the mole biopsied. It turned out to be malignant melanoma. The untrained, mixed-breed dog sensed something. In the years since, the media has been peppered with stories just like this one.

And all the stories have certain similarities; the pets are acutely interested in a small, targeted area of their human’s body. They tend to sniff and paw or dig at an area, sometimes relentlessly, returning to the same place again and again over time. Dina Zaphiris, a dog trainer and medical scent detection expert based in Los Angeles, has seen this behavior thousands of times in the 20-plus years of her professional life, which includes training search and rescue dogs. This phenomenon is not surprising to her at all. She knows that dogs can smell cancer. In fact, she has trained them to do it.


Enthusiastic about her work, Dina can talk at length about dogs’ abilities, especially their unique connection to helping people. “Dogs and humans co-evolved, and very few other species have done that,” she says. “Our survival depended on each other.” For centuries, humans have relied on dogs’ extraordinary scenting capabilities to do things we can’t. Dina says, “Dogs can smell things in parts per trillion. An example of that would be (smelling) one drop of blood diluted into 20 Olympic-size swimming pools.” It’s the equivalent of finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Training dogs to find people, drugs and bombs has been going on successfully for decades. But training dogs to sniff for medical purposes is relatively new. Dina says, “Medical sensitivity is very, very different (from) what most scent detection trainers have been trained to do.”

In 2003, Dina participated in her first study with the Pine Street Foundation, a California nonprofit dedicated to cancer research and education. The purpose of the study was to determine how accurately dogs could detect lung and breast cancer in human breath samples. Evidence already existed that there were biochemical markers in exhaled breath from lung and breast cancer patients, but no technology was able to analyze chemicals in the breath to accurately detect cancer’s presence.

Dina tapped her many dog trainer contacts, including police officers and search and rescue dog handlers, to gather enough dogs to try out for the study. Since 2003, she has helped select and train dogs for multiple medical studies. “Each time we do a study, we pick a team of five to nine dogs,” Dina says. “We have hundreds of dogs trying out; it’s super competitive because everybody wants their dog to learn how to do it, but not every dog is right.”
returning the favor 3

Dogs who do make the cut, Dina says, “have tremendous drive for their work and for their reward.” A dog’s reward is based on what he or she likes best — a ball for a ballcrazy dog or a treat for a food-driven dog — as recognition for finding the target odor. Dogs of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds are welcome. Dina says, “Mutts can be great, small dogs can be great. In the last study audition, we had a dog from death row named Schatzi; she made the team. It doesn’t really matter where the dog comes from.” All that matters is that they’re able to sniff out whether a breath sample comes from a person who has cancer, or one who doesn’t.

The dogs have shown that they excel at it. In the initial study Dina participated in, dogs were able to detect with 99 percent accuracy if a breath sample came from a patient with lung or breast cancer. Dina says, “There’s nothing in medicine that even approaches those numbers.” They also tested how accurate the dogs were at indicating that a breath sample was not indicative of cancer. Dina explains, “So of course we have to give them healthy samples and we track their ability to ignore, or not alert, on a healthy sample.” The dogs were 88 percent accurate in detecting cancerfree samples for lung and breast cancer.

While Dina was initially interested in medical scent detection as another form of dog training, in 2010 it became personal, when she lost her mother to breast cancer. That year, she started InSitu Foundation, which is dedicated to training dogs to detect cancer in humans. In their most recent study, Dina says, “We trained nine dogs to detect early-stage ovarian cancer. We haven’t published the results yet, but during training, the dogs’ accuracy levels were up in the high nineties — and that’s for ovarian cancer, for which there are (currently) no detection methods.”

Dina’s goal is to see a day when dogs’ scent abilities are accepted and used for routine cancer screening. She hopes that someday it will be standard procedure for doctors to take breath samples from patients and send them to a lab to be tested — by dogs. Dina says, “(This method) provides a noninvasive, low-cost, really accurate method of finding cancer early. We need more studies and we need to get this standardized. We could be saving lives. Within five years, we’re going to have a breath-screening kit for cancer. We will do it.”
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It has been a year of doctors, tests, surgeries and treatments for Barbara, but she’s grateful for Leo and what he knew that she didn’t. Doctors still aren’t sure exactly what trained scent dogs or pet dogs and cats smell that indicates cancer, and there’s still no answer to the question of why some pets alert us to cancer and others don’t. While Dina works with well-trained dogs in cancer detection studies, she agrees that untrained household pets may sense cancer in their people. She says, “If your dog has a moment when he sniffs your breast once, I wouldn’t worry. But if day after day he’s coming up to the same spot and really kind of pushing, almost as if he’s trying to find something, you don’t need to be alarmed, but you definitely need to investigate.”

So far, no cancer detection studies have used cats as scent detectors. And there are fewer anecdotal stories in the media about cats detecting cancer. That’s another reason that Barbara feels certain that when she got Leo, she adopted a very special cat. She says, “He follows me everywhere I go; I’m so happy to have him. To me, he’s almost human.” She admits that she still wants a black cat someday, but for now, Leo is her constant companion. “I wouldn’t trade Leo for anything,” she says. Not even a black cat called Jack.


Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Community steps up to help injured dog

CBS 4 News Came by Town and Country Animal Hospital to do a story on Robo, the deaf Catahoula that was hit by a car and had his leg crushed and his hip dislocated.



Click below to watch our story on CBS 4 News

robo vid pic

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — He’s still a little wobbly, but thanks to a community’s kindness, a dog named Robo is well on his way to recovery after being hit by a car.

Jeena Velasquez heard the accident March 5th at about 9:15 p.m. on Sunset Drive near 132nd Avenue.

“I heard the car’s brakes screeching and I saw it drove away.  I was wondering where the accident was and I heard a faint whimpering,” she said.

She picked up the badly injured Catahoula  off the street and rushed him to an emergency vet.

“They told me he had an open fracture which was bleeding that they actually bandaged up to stop the bleeding, then he had a dislocated hip on the other side,  and that he was going to need emergency surgery,” said Velasquez.

The dog had a tag that said his name is “Bobo” and he’s deaf. It also  had a phone number, but it was disconnected. Without surgery the dog would die, and without an owner there was no one to pay for surgery .

“I said to myself, ‘If this was my dog and I changed my phone number for whatever reason, I’m not going to want someone to just quit on my dog – that’s my angel- so I just did what I would’ve done for my dog and I just claimed responsibility for him without even worrying about the cost,” Velasquez explained.

The surgery cost nearly $3,400.  Valesquez’s friend Paola Leal stepped in to help. She set up a fundraising website with pictures of the injured pup, whom they renamed Robo, since metal pins now hold his shattered leg  together. The website worked.

“It was only three photos, but those three photos were enough to get everyone’s attention and within not even 24 hours we had multiple donations more than $1,000,” said Leal.  After  two and a half weeks, the donations reached more than $3,000.

Town and Country Animal Hospital, where Poala works, offered to care for Robo while he heals.

“She came to us with the dog and he needed a lot of aftercare so we volunteered to take care of it for her,” said veterinarian Dr. Eric Wenke.

Robo is making progress, but the search for his owner hasn’t gone so well, even though he had a microchip.

“When they tried contacting the owner to let them know your pet was found they declined any information,” said Leal.

“We do want to find a home for him. I would love to adopt him myself but that’s just not possible, so we’re just going to look for a home for him,” added Velasquez.

Before Robo can go home, he’ll spend another month in the hospital and he’ll need more surgery to repair his dislocated hip. That surgery will cost about $2,000.


Thank you CBS 4 for sharing Robo’s story with everyone! Robo has a long road to recovery and will require another surgery, he needs all the help he can get!
We can’t say enough how much we appreciate our amazing employees who show so much compassion for an animal in need, Thank You Paola Leal, and everyone involved in Robo’s rescue and  progress!

If you would like to donate to Robo’s surgery please visit this link:

The Adventures of Bob continued…

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014


Yes! I am back home with Bob(ette). I was away for three weeks and missed Bob immensley. Will and Joanne took great care of him for me. Joanne made sure to keep me advised of Bob’s attentive manner towards her. However, there was a streak of jealousy galloping around in my head . I was wondering if Bob would still know me when I got home.

 While I was away Will mentioned that tornado Bob was destroying the house. Will described what he saw and I explained that Bob is trying to expel his pent-up energy, and the fact that he is alone also contributes to why this is happening. Yes, I have thoughts of looking for a cat friendly yip, yip to keep him company, but I do not think that I want to give Bob a permanent co-conspirator at this time.  Fostering sounds a little interesting…but…..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 When I arrived home Bob met me at the front door.  Yes! He remembered me. I inventoried the house and found paw prints on my counter tops, tables and stove (glass top). No breakage; mainly due to the fact that Will moved the breakables off of the tables out of Bob’s reach (and mine).

 I was relaxing in my chair and happened to look over at the dining table and there Bob was very comfortably laying on the edge of the dining table looking at me.  Zip  zip zip ….there he goes again.

 Now Bob will not jump up on things when I am looking. He is enticed to do so though, and I can see him fighting the temptation. He is a cat looking for height to view the world. In the meantime I am trying to remember how I stopped Precious from jumping up on my tables. Maybe it happened with maturity. Maybe he stopped because he satisfied his curiosity  . One day I will be able to invest in a cat tree, or two, with hopes that it will quench at least a portion of his need for height. I have come to the conclusion that I may as well turn my house over to Bob because with all of his toys and stuff there is little room left for me.

 Along with Bob’s physical abnormalities I think that he suffers from Schizophrenia with moments of paranoia. How is that for an evaluation of Bob’s mental state….   or is that mine? Hmmmm.

 Well, it is too quiet in the house. I must see what Bob has gotten into.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Oh! I am always looking for a way to make money.   I will let everyone know when I decide to hire Bob out as a paper shredder. He does a great job at the task.

     Until next time.






The most loyal dog

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Loyal Dog, Capitán, Sits By Owner’s Grave For Six Years


One loyal dog hasn’t moved from his master’s side for the last six years — refusing to let even death part them.

German shepherd, Capitán, ran away from home after his owner and best friend, Manuel Guzman, died in 2006. A week later Guzman’s family, who live in Cordoba, Argentina, found the heartbroken dog grieving at the gravesite, reported Dog Heirs.

“We had never taken him to the cemetery so it is a mystery how he managed to find the place,” Veronica Guzman, Manuel’s widow, told the Sun.


Every Sunday, for the past six years, the Guzman family has gone to the cemetery to visit both Manuel and Capitán. Although the dog often leaves the cemetery to spend a short period of time with his family, he always returns to the gravesite before dark.

“I don’t think he wanted to leave Manuel on his own at night,” Veronica told the Sun.

Cemetery director, Hector Baccega, said that staff at the cemetery in central Argentina are now feeding and taking care of the dog.

“During the day he sometimes has a walk around the cemetery, but always rushes back to the grave. And every day, at six o’clock sharp, he lies down on top of the grave and stays there all night,” Baccega told La Voz.

Although the Guzman family would like to take Capitán home with them, they understand the dog’s immense loyalty to his best friend.



Breed in the Spotlight – Kooikerhondje

Monday, February 24th, 2014


Breed in the Spotlight



The Kooikerhondje is a small, flashy red and white spaniel like-sporting dog. Originally bred in Holland as a duck decoy dog, it’s heavily white plumed tail waves Jauntily to entice and lure the ducks to follow into the Endenkooi (traps). When not working the traps, Kooikers were expected to work on the farm to catch vermin. The preferred height at the withers is 15 to 17 inches for males and 14 to 16 inches for females. The proportion of the Kooiker is off-square. The bone and substance of the Kooiker is moderate. The head should be in proportion to the dog. The expression is gentle and alert. Ears should be red in color and well feathered and ideally adorned with earrings. The color for the Kooiker should be predominately orange-red and may be patched or solid on pure white although a few small spors on the legs are acceptable. A black tail ring where the color changes from orange-red to white is permitted.


Cheerful, good natured, friendly, quiet, well-behaved, and alert; those are terms that are used to describe the Kooikerhondje. Depending on its domestic environment,[1]it is kind, happy and lively. They are also intelligent, attentive and more than willing to please their owner. The Kooikerhondje adapts to situations rather quickly, changing his behavior from quiet to lively when the situation allows him to be. He will not always immediately like strangers, instead choosing to retreat. But once he warms up to someone, the trust will be there for the rest of his life.[2] The Kooikerhondje can make a fine apartment dog if exercised regularly, but a fenced yard will be more ideal. He has a medium energy level, yet is usually quiet when indoors.

Kooiker dogs 101

Breed in the Spotlight – Scottish Fold –

Monday, January 27th, 2014


Scottish Fold Cat Personality

Scottish Folds are intelligent, sweet-tempered, soft-spoken, and easily adaptable to new people and situations. They are very loyal and tend to bond with one person in the household. While they will usually allow others to cuddle and pet them, their primary attachment becomes quickly clear as they single out their chosen humans. They thrive on attention, but it must be on their own terms.

Despite their devotion, they are not clingy, demanding cats and usually prefer to be near you rather than on your lap. They enjoy a good game of fetch now and then as well, and keep their playful side well into adulthood. Despite the breeding and health difficulties, Folds have certainly earned their standing in the cat fancy.

misa_kitten_scottish_foldScottish Fold Cat Breed Traits

The Scottish Fold’s folded ears are produced by a dominant gene that affects the cartilage of the ears, causing the ears to fold forward and downward, giving the head a rounded appearance. Since the gene is dominant, all Scottish Fold cats must have at least one folded ear parent to have folded ears themselves. When a Fold is bred to a straight-eared cat, approximately 50 percent of the kittens will have folded ears, although the number of Folds in any given litter can vary greatly.

Breeding Fold to Fold increases the number of Fold kittens, but also greatly increases the chances of skeletal deformities. Homozygous Folds (Folds that inherit the folded ear gene from both parents) are much more likely to develop congenital osteodystrophy, a genetic condition that causes crippling distortion and enlargement of the bones. Avoiding Fold-to-Fold breeding reduces the problem; however, controversy surrounds the breed because of this defect. Thickness or lack of mobility of the legs or tail are sure signs of trouble. You can determine tail flexibility by moving your hand down the tail in a very gentle, slightly upward-arching movement.

All Folds are born with straight ears. At around three weeks the ears begin to fold, if they are going to. Since it’s not readily apparent how many Folds one has, breeders must play a waiting game until the ears develop their final folds. Even then it’s difficult to tell if the folds will be the tight folds preferred in the show ring or the looser, pet-quality folds.

Despite being folded, the ears are still expressive and swivel to listen, lay back in anger, and prick up when the can opener whirrs. The fold in the ear can become less pronounced when the cat is in heat, upset, or ill. Although some Fold owners report an increased production of wax buildup in their cats’ ears, apparently the folded ears do not make the cat more susceptible to mites or infections. The previously reported susceptibility to deafness may be related to the fact that many early Scottish Folds were white, and white cats can be prone to deafness unrelated to the fold gene.

Interested in the history of the Scottish Fold cat breed?12467295-funny-curious-scottish-fold-kitten-in-play

In 1961 Scottish shepherd William Ross noticed a white cat with strange, folded ears at a neighbor’s farm near Coupar Angus in the Tayside Region of Scotland. Realizing the uniqueness of this cat’s ‘lop’ ears, he asked around and found that the feline was a barn cat of no particular pedigree. Named Suzie, the cat belonged to Ross’s neighbors, the McRaes.

Ross learned that Susie’s mother was a straight-eared white cat. Her father was unknown, so it was unclear whether Susie was the first of her kind, or whether the folded ears had simply never been noticed before. Susie’s brother was also a Fold, but he wandered away, never to be seen again.

Ross and his wife, Mary, were enchanted by the feline and when Susie produced two folded ear kittens a year later, they acquired one, a white beauty like her mother whom they named Snooks.

The Rosses started a breeding program and proceeded to investigate establishing a new breed by attending cat shows and talking with breeders. At this time, they called the breed ‘lop-eared’, after the rabbit variety.

In 1966 the Rosses began registering their cats with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and, along with other enthusiasts, began the long process of achieving acceptance for their folded friends. By the end of the decade the breed was renamed the Scottish Fold.

In the early 1970s, however, the GCCF stopped registering Folds because of concerns about ear disorders such as infections, mites, and hearing problems. To continue in the show ring, the Scottish Fold had to give up its kilts and bagpipes and move to America.

CATS-PICTURES.ORG_-_4458-5184x3456-scottish+fold-erics67-solo-miotic+pupil-whiskers-highresFolds were first introduced to the United States in 1970 when three of Snook’s kittens were sent to Dr. Neil Todd at the Carnivore Genetics Research Center in Massachusetts, who was researching spontaneous mutations. He eventually abandoned his research, but located homes for his Folds. One of his cats found his way to Salle Wolfe Peters in Pennsylvania, who is chiefly responsible for developing the breed in the United States. Other Folds were later imported to the United States. All genuine Scottish Folds can be traced back to Susie’s line.

The Scottish Fold was accepted for CFA registration in 1973; in 1978 it received Championship status. In an amazingly short period, the Fold earned acceptance in all the cat associations and a place in the U.S. cat fancy’s top ten most popular breeds.

The long haired version of the breed was not officially recognized until the mid-1980s, although longhair kittens have been cropping up in the Scottish Fold litters since the genesis of the breed. Susie may have carried the long hair gene, being a barn cat of uncertain origin. The use of Persians in early crosses also helped to establish the longhair gene. CFA, CCA, ACFA, NCFA, ACA, CFF, AACE, UFO, and TICA have accepted the Scottish Fold Longhair for Championship.

The Scottish Fold Longhair is known by four different monikers, depending on the association and area you live in. ACFA, AACE, and UFO refer to the breed as the Highland Fold. TICA, NCFA, ACA, CCA, and CFA call the breed the Scottish Fold Longhair, and CFF refers to the breed as the Longhair Fold. Canadian breeders also call them the Coupari.

Copyright © 1998 by Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. based on

Source: Petfinder

Fun Indoor Dog Games

Friday, January 24th, 2014

You’re a great pet parent. Your pup eats only the healthiest of dog foods, and follows the perfect exercise regimen for his age and energy level. Unfortunately, winter or bad weather any time of year can throw a wrench into your morning jogs or afternoon walk routine. Have you ever spent a snow day stuck indoors with an un-exercised energetic dog? As the “fur mom” of a 1-year-old adopted Boxer mix, I can personally tell you that it’s a bit like spending an afternoon with a sugared-up toddler! I love my pup so much, but when we’re snowed in and he can’t get his daily exercise, he will get into anything and everything, run in circles around my living room, and won’t stop whining. Fortunately for me, and other pet parents of higher energy dogs, you can give your dog a full physical and mental workout indoors with just a few commands and toys. Here are three games you can play indoors with your dog, no matter what Mother Nature is doing outside. As with any physical activity, both you and your dog should start out slowly with the intensity and duration of any exercise, and build up your strength and stamina slowly over time.


Playing search with your dog is a great way to exercise physically and mentally. As your dog becomes more adept at finding, you can increase the difficulty of the game by using harder hiding spots.

  1. Name one of your dog’s toys. For this exercise, we’ll call his bunny toy Bunny.
  2. Ask your dog to sit and stay. Let him sniff Bunny. Tell him, “This is Bunny”. Walk away a few paces and drop Bunny at your feet. Call your dog and tell him to “Find Bunny.”
  3. When your dog runs over and “finds” Bunny, give him a treat and praise.
  4. As your dog gets more comfortable finding Bunny, hide the toy out of sight in other rooms in increasingly difficult hiding spots.

Search games can take many forms. You can hide treats around the house for your dog to find. Or train his nose with a modified version of the shell game with kitchen pots.


The Statue Game

A great way to burn off excess energy and focus on training is the statue game. The goal of the game is to get your dog wound up and then having her respond immediately to a sit and stay command. So they need to have a good understanding of the sit and stay command first, before trying this game. This teaches her valuable listening skills for situations when she is overly excited.

  1. Start dancing or jumping around with your dog to get his or her energy up.
  2. Freeze in place and tell your dog to sit and stay.
  3. Hold the freeze and give a treat and praise.
  4. Repeat!

Any kind of game you play that will get your dog excited and then immediately require her to calm down and perform some of her commands or tricks will be beneficial to you both.


Stair Sprints

When your afternoon visit to the dog park isn’t an option, either because the weather is too bad or because you had to spend more time at the pet wash than you anticipated, you can try this tiring game. Ideally you’ll use a second human to help, but you can get a workout yourself going up and down the stairs too!

  1. Position one person at the top of a flight of stairs and one at the bottom, each with a stash of treats.
  2. Take turns calling your dog to the top and the bottom of the stairs.
  3. When your dog gets to you, give a treat.
  4. Immediately have your partner call him back to them.

This game will also work in a hallway if you don’t have stairs. Depending on how energetic your dog is this might be a very short game. Don’t forget to build up their endurance over days and weeks, just like if you were starting a new exercise program! Even if your dog is used to going on long walks or jogging with you, stairs work different muscles.


When to Stop

As pet owners we need to make it very clear when the game is over, especially when it involves behavior that would be unsafe in other situations. Imagine your dog sprinting on the stairs every time you went upstairs. Keep your playtime voice and mannerisms more playful. When the games are over, stand up straight use a calm tone and say “over” or “done.” It also helps to redirect your dog to his or her water and a special treat like a peanut butter filled toy that will help them transition to a more calm state.



10 best breed of dogs for kids

Monday, January 20th, 2014



1 boxer

One of the Boxers most distinctive qualities is its love for children. They are a people oriented breed and prefer to have their pack close by. Energetic and affectionate, the boxer needs to have plenty of exercise and playful interaction.



2 mastiff

This good natured giant bonds instantly with its family and loves to be around his people. Gentle with children, this breed makes an ideal family pet. When he feels his pack is threatened, a Mastiff will most likely knock an intruder to the ground and lay on them until assistance arrives.


Old English sheep dog

3 old english sheep dog

This working dog is considered affectionate and loving, although there may be an instinct to herd its family; this might not be so bad if the kiddos are running late for school. The AKC described this breed as athletic filled with clownish energy.


Labrador Retriever

4 labrador retriever

Another popular breed is the Labrador Retriever. This eager to please breed is bouncy and enjoys playing with her pack members. She loves to swim and frolic in the water or on the land. Parents would benefit from a Labrador’s athletic tendencies; she would wear the children out faster.



5 dalmation

People oriented and lover of fun and play, the spotted Dalmatian would be an incredible addition to any family. Energetic, this breed loves to run with the kids all day long and snuggle with them at night. If the home includes horses, even better; the Dalmatian has a symbiotic relationship with horses.


Douge de Bordeaux

6 douge de bourdox

If an owner can get past the drooling nature of this lovable breed, the Douge de Bordeaux sports a calm temperament, is loyal to its pack and affectionate to a fault. Gentle with the children, this French Mastiff will also be protective of the family it loves.


Golden Retriever

7 golden retriever

Active, energetic and friendly these are just a few words to describe one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Goldens are intelligent, eager to please and love to play and run with children. The “Buddy” franchise movies aid in keeping the Golden Retriever a popular choice among families.


American Staffordshire terrier

8 american staffordshire terrier

Extremely loyal, this breed loves nothing more than to be part of a family. At the turn of the 20th century, the Staffordshire Terrier was the number one family dog in the country and was the poster dog for WWI. Pete from the “Little Rascals” short movies was an Am Staff.




Don’t let their size be intimidating, these gentle giants are wonderful family dogs. Referred to as a workhorse, this dog would love nothing more than to pull around the kiddos in a sled on the snow. Nana from the story of Peter Pan was a Newfie.




Don’t forget about mixed breeds! Make it a family event to go to a shelter and pick a loving, loyal family mutt! Just remember that in general, mid to large size mixed breed are a much better fit for families with children.


The Continuing Adventures of Bob

Friday, January 17th, 2014


  The Christmas tree was taken down on January 6th. I do not think that

Bob was very pleased with that. I did find a couple more bulbs on the

floor behind the tree. Even with Bob batting the ornaments off of the

tree and around the house there was only one broken and I did that.  The

artificial tree shed just as much as a real tree, so I decided to take

it to the dump. After all it was about twelve years old. Christmas 2014

will bring on new adventures for Bob because there will be a real tree

in the house.

I discovered that Bob does have a purrer. If there is a gear before drive and after

neutral that is what it is in. He was sitting on the bed with me and I had the TV

volume kind of low when I thought that I heard a familiar sound. I turned the TV off

and sat very still. YES! I could hear him purr.

Bob still watches television. I thought that he would get over it because my other

cat watched TV until he figured out that there was nothing coming out of the other

side of it during chase scenes. Bob just sits and observes. He does not attempt to

chase the cars or running people. His head just moves back and forth, not even

tilting his head. Bob also changes positions from directly in front of the TV to the

love seat (with his head on the arm) and to his scratch post. He really enjoys the

National Geographic Channel and Animal Planet, but he also watches movies and other

shows that I watch; i.e. both NCIS shows, Elementary and others.

            Bob came out to accept Will’s company. Will and I were ecstatic.

 I never know what to expect from Bob. This is scary because he reminds me of

myself. Yes, he came out for Will, but now he hides from him. For a while he

enjoyed being brushed; now he fights and runs from the brush. There were times that

he would allow me to pick him up and lay him on my lap for petting, now he runs

from that. I am not sure that Bob is a male, except for the visible hardware.

Bob loves and enjoys his playtime. He loves furry things and things with feathers,

but things with feathers do not stay feathery very long. He definitely gets his

exercise taking off like a jet plane running, jutting, jumping, zigging and zagging

through my little house over and under beds and every other obstacle in the way. One

thing that I have learned about his playtime is to let him rest before trying to pet


Bob gets away with quite a bit more than Precious did. I guess it is that second

child syndrome. I just ignore him and let him go for it. It is fun watching and

listening to him banging into stuff as he has his fun throwing his toys up in the

air to catch and chasing after imaginary things (at least I think they are

imaginary). I guess I have hopes that he will tire himself out and settle down. I

suppose that it will be another couple of years for that to happen.

Since before Christmas Bob has had occasional dry heaves. I started treating him for

fur balls. The mineral oil has improved his output (to put it nicely), but then he

started heaving again. For the first time he actually heaved up something, so I took

it in and the vet said that it looked like he had gotten hold of a palmetto bug.

So….I just need to keep an eye on him; which is tiring because the other eye gets

frustrated from doing all of the work of looking out for me. Bob will be visiting

the vet, shortly, for shots and at that time will inquire again about the heaving


Bob enjoys sitting on the window sills and looking out. My neighbor almost got a

peak of him, but she walked up too close to the window and he scampered away, so she

only got to see Bob’s hind parts. I laughed when I saw that because it made me think

of the Old Testament scripture in the book of Exodus 33:23 (King James Version): And

I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not

be seen. Geez! I do not know why that came across my mind, but it still makes me


Bob ventured out onto the patio once. He took a few steps and scampered back into

the house. I have some minor screen repairing to do and a plant to remove before I

can allow him to venture out.

Well, Bob and I are still learning a lot about each other and will continue to do so

for some time. Actually, as I observe Bob I am learning a lot about myself.

Sometimes God shows his sense of humor in what or who he uses to reveal our

imperfections through. A CAT!? Wow! Well…if the Lord can speak through an ass to

Balaam (Numbers 22:28-30) He can use a cat to open my eyes and ears to what

I seem to not hear or see in His word.

Oh my! I was waiting to release this until after I could give you a report on Bob’s

vet visit. Wow! This morning Bob loved on me and wanted to be pet. He leaned against

me and rubbed my legs. I gave him treats and pet him but when Bob caught the hint

that I was going to pick him up the battle was on and I have the wounds to prove it.

I chased him and he ran trying to hide in visible sight from window sill to behind

the TV to behind and under the dinner table. This was the time that my house seemed

larger than what it is, even after closing all the doors. I was finally able to

catch him between the vertical blinds at the glass doors. The battle raged on. When

Bob saw that I was going to place him in the pet carrier….Geez! What a fight. Then,

ta da! I finally got him in the carrier and closed it. It seemed like an hour had

passed, but victory came within fifteen minutes. I think that when I walked in to

the vets office they were wondering which one of us was there for treatment. We will

definitely have to work on this, but there is plenty of time.

Do you recall what I said earlier in this writing “I am not sure that Bob is a male,

except for the hardware?” When I mentioned this statement and Bob’s mood swings to

Dr. Mordaunt he took a step back and came to the conclusion that with the mood

swings, past reported personality disposition, and other physical abnormalities that

Bob has, Bob is a hermaphrodite. Dr. Mordaunt stated that in his practice of forty

years he has only come across three dogs with this diagnosis. This is his first cat.

Oh how unique!

Bob was given a physical and shots and weighed in at a whopping nine pounds (which

is good). After arriving home I opened the carrier and Bob sauntered out like

nothing happened. He is out and about occasionally going into hiding, but I think

that he is just resting up from the events of the day.

We shall see what tomorrow holds. Right now I am glad that we got through today.

Happy meows to you until we chat again.

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