Holidays get complicated when you want to take your dog or cat on the road, but owners also are nervous about leaving their pets behind.

Pauline Frommer: Why pets and travel don’t mix

July 23, 2013

Holidays get complicated when you want to take your dog or cat on the road, but owners also are nervous about leaving their pets behind.

Pets may enhance our daily lives, but they ruin our vacations. That’s the surprising conclusion reached by a recent poll conducted for obvious reasons (see below) by the website with the help of Harris Interactive. The polling company talked to some 2,341 adults and came up with some very telling findings.

First: We’re insanely neurotic about our pets. Apparently, 72 percent of pet owners reported feeling worried about Fido or Felix for at least some part of their vacation. Some 64 percent feel that anxiety when they’re planning to go away, as 82 percent depend on family or friends to care for their furry companion, but 50 percent of those folks feel really, really guilty about calling in that favour.

So why not travel with the pet, then? That would be a solution, but 75 percent of those polled said they distrusted the airlines when it came to caring for pets. And then there’s the problem of finding lodgings that will accept pets. An honest 15 percent of the people polled admitted to sneaking pets into their hotel rooms while traveling.

Interestingly, all of this self-reproach doesn’t seem to be stopping pet owners from hitting the road. Apparently, pet owners spend 15 days a year away from home, which is slightly higher than the number for non-pet owners. (Leading to the conclusion that perhaps people with pets are slightly more affluent than those without?)

So, what should the conscientious pet owner do? Well, they could go with the program run by (see, I told you this study was a bit

self-serving), which places dogs into actual homes for a fee that’s often more reasonable than the ones kennels charge. The folks who take in the dogs go through a training and are vetted by the site.

Or they could go the road-trip route. Such websites as and post extensive online travel guides to destinations that your companion will enjoy, including restaurants that have terraces where pets can sit while you dine; hotels that will accept pets; dog beaches; and even events you can go to with other pet owners. I’m also a fan of the website, which gives excellent advice on all things pet, from summer safety tips (concerning swimming pools, leaving your dog in an un-air-conditioned car and more) to tourist attractions that will bring you into contact with animals of all sorts.

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the award-winning Pauline Frommer’s Travel Guides series. She co-hosts the radio program The Travel Show with her father, Arthur Frommer. Find Pauline’s books online at . Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

Content Source: Pauline Frommer Special to the Star

The Toronto Star

Cyber the dog goes to graduation pet it dogs canada

Cyber the dog goes to graduation

July 23, 2013:

Joe Pitt, who is graduating in digital forensics from the University of Portsmouth, is visually impaired, and has had six year-old Cyber the dog for four years. At his graduation he will be awarded the Adam Crump Memorial Prize for Personal Achievement for the student who has overcome significant difficulties in completing their degree. He believes Cyber, a black lab cross golden retriever, has been crucial in getting him this far with his course.

He said: “I couldn’t have done this without Cyber. He’s not only been an invaluable guide but also very popular amongst my classmates.

“Throughout my course Cyber was a great help, quickly learning how to get to our main buildings and sleeping through lectures, occasionally making people laugh by snoring or groaning half way through, or jumping up to his feet exactly when he thought the lecture should end.”

School of Computing staff will present Cyber the dog with some treats at the prize-giving and give a speech praising the dog and the support he has given Joe.

Joe has oculocutaneous albinism, which causes a lack of pigment in the body. As a result of this he is short-sighted and sensitive to bright light. He was given Cyber during his second year at college and says having him by his side made the move to university so much easier.

He said: “I was a bit nervous about starting university due to the way it is spread across a large area, however I was not concerned about roads or obstacles because of the trust I have in Cyber. I also quickly made good friends who helped out with finding buildings and rooms.”

Annette Wilson, Head of the School of Computing, said: “Joe is an extremely hard-working student and winning the Adam Crump Memorial Prize is testament to that. Along with his own determination, he owes a lot to his dog Cyber, who has been crucial in helping him through the three years at university.”

Content Source: University of Portsmouth. Posted by Press Office

Dog Finds A Tiny Kitten, Risks Everything To Save Her the daily dogs news pet it

Dog Finds A Tiny Kitten, Risks Everything To Save Her

July 22, 2013:
Animal control officers in Anderson, South Carolina, thought that a barking Shih-Tzu was stuck in a ravine. Turns out, she was there nursing and protecting a tiny abandoned kitten she had found.

Animal control officer Michelle Smith got a call about a yelping dog behind a Home Depot. She climbed down a steep embankment to find a Shih-Tzu, tangled in a mess of briars. But she looked more closely, she realized Goldie had a friend: a tiny kitten who was nursing at the dog’s side.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Smith told Fox News 10. “I was shocked and surprised and then of course, awww.”

“I think it would have been okay for the dog to walk down the hill,” Smith told Fox Carolina. “But it just didn’t want to leave the kitten”

The dog and kitten were taken to the Anderson County P.A.W.S. shelter, where they remained inseparable and the dog continued to care for the kitten as one of her own. Eventually, the pair were taken to a foster home – together, of course.

Gene Mutation in Dogs Offers Clues for Neural Tube Defects in Humans

Gene Mutation in Dogs Offers Clues for Neural Tube Defects in Humans

July 22, 2013:

A gene related to neural tube defects in dogs has for the first time been identified by researchers.

The researchers also found evidence that the gene may be an important risk factor for human neural tube defects, which affect more than 300,000 babies born each year around the world, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neural tube defects, including anencephaly and spina bifida, are caused by the incomplete closure or development of the spine and skull.

The new findings appear this week in the journal PLOS Genetics.

“The cause of neural tube defects is poorly understood but has long been thought to be associated with genetic, nutritional and environmental factors,” said Noa Safra, lead author on the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Danika Bannasch in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

She noted that dogs provide an excellent biomedical model because they receive medical care comparable to what humans receive, share in a home environment and develop naturally occurring diseases that are similar to those found in humans. More specifically, several conditions associated with neural-tube defects are known to occur naturally in dogs. All DNA samples used in the study were taken from household pets, rather than laboratory animals, Safra said.

She and colleagues carried out genome mapping in four Weimaraner dogs affected by spinal dysraphism, a naturally occurring spinal-cord disorder, and in 96 such dogs that had no neural tube defects. Spinal dysraphism, previously reported in the Weimaraner breed, causes symptoms that include impaired motor coordination or partial paralysis in the legs, abnormal gait, a crouched stance and abnormal leg or paw reflexes.

Analysis of a specific region on canine chromosome eight led the researchers to a mutation in a gene called NKX2-8, one of a group of genes known as “homeobox genes,” known to be involved with regulating patterns of anatomical development in the embryo.

The researchers determined that the NKX2-8 mutation occurred in the Weimaraner breed with a frequency of 1.4 percent — 14 mutations in every 1,000 dogs.

Additionally, they tested nearly 500 other dogs from six different breeds that had been reported to be clinically affected by neural tube defects, but did not find copies of the NKX2-8 gene mutation among the non-Weimaraner dogs.

“The data indicate that thisGene Mutation in Dogs Offers Clues for Neural Tube Defects in Humans mutation does not appear as a benign mutation in some breeds, while causing defects in other breeds,” Safra said. “Our results suggest that the NKX2-8 mutation is a ‘private’ mutation in Weimaraners that is not shared with other breeds.”

The researchers say that identification of such a breed-specific gene may help veterinarians diagnose spinal dysraphism in dogs and enable Weimaraner breeders to use DNA screening to select against the mutation when developing their breeding plans.

In an effort to investigate a potential role for the NKX2-8 mutation in cases of neural tube defects in people, the researchers also sequenced 149 unrelated samples from human patients with spina bifida. They found six cases in which the patients carried mutations of the NKX2-8 gene but stress that further studies are needed to confirm whether these mutations are responsible for the diagnosed neural tube defects.

Collaborating with Safra were Danika Bannasch, Miriam Aguilar, Rochelle L. Coulson, Nicholas Thomas, Peta L. Hitchens, Peter J. Dickinson and Karen M. Vernau, and Zena T. Wolf, all of UC Davis; and Alexander G. Bassuk and Polly J. Ferguson, both of the University of Iowa.

Funding for the study was provided by the Center for Companion Animal Health in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Weimaraner Club of America.

Story Source: University of California – Davis.

Dog training could be life-saving

July 21, 2013:

‘Untapped potential’

MAKAWAO – It’s no news that dogs have a keen sense of smell, but researchers on Maui are engaged in a cutting-edge medical scent detection study that involves training dogs to detect life-threatening infections.

Assistance Dogs of Hawaii in Makawao has partnered with a number of other organizations in Hawaii and on the Mainland to train five service dogs to sniff out bacteria common in urinary tract infections, a condition that is prevalent among those with disabilities, particularly spinal cord injuries.

“The problem is that for people with disabilities, the damage to the spinal cord can cause impairment in the bladder function, and many people need to use catheters, which introduce bacteria,” Maureen “Mo” Maurer, executive director of Assistance Dogs of Hawaii and lead trainer in the study, said in an interview Wednesday.

The biggest problem, Maurer said, was that many people who have disabilities are not able to recognize the symptoms and early warning signs of infections. An untreated UTI may travel into the bladder, the kidney and then the bloodstream. People with UTIs are 30 times more likely to develop bladder cancer, she said.

“It’s not until (people with disabilities) are so severely sick from this infection that they realize they have it, and by then it’s too late and oftentimes they have to be hospitalized,” Maurer said.

But the scent detection studies that are currently underway at Maurer’s facility may offer people a way to detect infections early, possibly preventing more serious infections that may lead to cancer.

Maurer and a team of researchers started planning for the study in 2011, after Maurer had worked with professors at her graduate school who were training dogs to detect early signs of cancer. The team selected five dogs to train in scent detection – a golden retriever, two Labradors and two golden-Lab hybrids – and started conducting tests in May.

The testing process involves five different samples – four of which are regular urine samples and one containing traces of E. coli, the bacteria that accounts for 80 to 90 percent of UTIs, said Maurer. The five samples are then covered by large plastic boxes and spaced out evenly in a room. One of the dogs is then brought in by a trainer, sniffs each box and then sits down in front of the one he suspects has the tainted sample. If he identifies the correct box, he gets a treat.

In less than three months, more than 2,000 rounds of testing have been conducted, and all five dogs readily identify the tainted samples, even when the research team diluted the sample to concentration levels equivalent to a single drop in an Olympic-sized pool.

“The dogs’ sense of smell is 100,000 times stronger than ours,” Maurer said. “Even when we diluted the samples, the dogs detected it as if it was full strength.”

The dogs also are being taught to detect staph infections and other bacteria that may lead to health complications. Each test run is videotaped and recorded, and the research will be published in a medical journal by the end of the year, Maurer said.

“This has been the most successful and efficient study that I’ve been involved with in the past 13 years,” the director of research at the Pine Street Foundation, Dr. Michael McCulloch, who has been hired as a consultant for the study, said in a statement. “This study will set a new standard for future canine scent detection research.”

The next phase of the study involves teaching currently working service dogs to provide early detection of UTIs in their disabled partners on Maui, which Maurer said will commence this fall.

Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, formerly known as Hawaii Canines for Independence, is the only accredited service dog training center on Maui and one of two in the state. The nonprofit center began training service dogs for people with spinal cord disabilities in 2000 but has since expanded to train courthouse and hospital facility dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure response dogs and therapy dogs. All services are provided free of charge.

The training process begins with puppies – mostly golden retrievers or Labradors – at 7 weeks old, when they learn basic behaviors and socialization as well as 30 different commands. As they get older, the dogs learn more specialized skills, like opening doors, turning off lights, fetching objects, pulling wheelchairs and water rescue.

“Dogs have so much untapped potential to help people in need. . . . With their incredible olfactory capabilities, dogs already know if we have cancer, infections or other illness, but they don’t know how to tell us,” Maurer said. “We are teaching them to communicate what they already know.”

Content Source: The Maui News

Eileen Chao can be reached at

12 most dog-friendly campgrounds in Ontario

Dog-friendly campgrounds

Where, oh where can you go on a vacation with your dog? That’s what my wife and I have been wondering.

8 camping rules for Ontario dog owners
5 ways to protect your dog in a heat wave

Last week I shared the rules in Ontario if you take your dog camping, but this week I want to share the campgrounds where your dog can play and have the most fun.

Pets are allowed on campgrounds at all Ontario provincial parks, except for designated areas in four Algonquin Park campgrounds: Achray, Canisbay, Mew Lake and Pog Lake.

There are also limitations at the Awenda, Balsam Lake, Pinery and Voyageur campgrounds.

Pets also can’t be on beaches, other swimming areas or roofed accommodation sites like cabins or change rooms, and they must be on a leash two metres long or shorter.

Gatineau Park does not allow dogs, so when looking for a place to camp, it was even interesting to find out some Ontario parks offer exercise and beach areas where pets are allowed.

Adele (That’s my dog’s name, not my wife’s) is a Schnorkie, which is a mix between a Schnauzer and Yorkie. If you know dogs, you know that’s not a big dog.

She is black with a white patch on her chest and weighs just under 15 lbs. Boy, does she love to run and she loves the outdoors, so camping is the perfect activity for Adele.

In case your dog is similar, I’ve listed the 12 Ontario campgrounds that have exercise and beach areas for pets:

Bon Echo.
Pancake Bay.
White Lake.
Rock Point.
Turkey Point.
Kettle Lakes.
Grundy Lake.
Wasaga Beach.

Obatanga also has beach and exercise areas for dogs but it closed as of 2013.

Wondering where these beaches are? Ontario has a park locator on its website to help. Campers can also ask park staff before they enter a campground to find out the location of pet-designated areas.

Content Source: By Jamie Long, CBC News


Dog found alive after shot over 30 times with pellet gun

July 21, 2013: LONGVIEW, TX

A dog is undergoing major surgery after apparently being used as a target for someone’s pellet gun.

“It’s heartbreaking; I don’t understand how anybody can do this,” said Valerie Mills with the Humane Society of Northeast Texas.

More than 30 pellets were found lodged in the skin of an emaciated dog.

“It broke my heart to see that. That is totally unacceptable and cruel. It was devastating,” Mills said.

Mills is one of the many people working to save this dog’s life.

“It could take weeks, several weeks for him to get back to normal,” she explained.

Longview police officers found the dog covered in blood near Richardson and Green Streets in Longview. Officers immediately contacted Longview Animal Control.

“It did have a broken rope that was attached to it. We do feel like the dog was tied up at the time it was shot, and the dog was shot probably 30 plus 30, 35 times,” explained Longview Control Officer Chris Kemper.

When officers approached the dogs, they said there were no problems.

“The dog was sweet and nothing but gracious that somebody was trying to help it,” Kemper said.

Longview Animal Control took the dog to the Humane Society of Northeast Texas for an initial evaluation.

“We gave him some water, and he went straight to the vet immediately because he had one pellet that went in his bottom eyelid,” Mills said.

Dr. Kimbrough at the Kimbrough Animal Hospital had to remove the dog’s eye.

As soon as he recovers from surgery, Mills said he will need an immediate foster home.

“A good, loving home that you know, has the time to take care of him, give him his meds, doctor his wounds,” Mills said.

While this dog heals, the Longview Police Department is launching an investigation.

“In the State of Texas, intentionally injuring an animal like this would be a felony,” Mills said.

Once the person who shot the dog with pellets is found, Longview police said they could be charged with felony animal cruelty.

Gregg County Crimestoppers is offering a reward with anyone with information that leads to an arrest. If you have any information about this crime, contact the Longview Police Department at (903) 237-1199

If you would like information on fostering this dog, call the Humane Society of Northeast Texas at 903-297-2170 or email The shelter is also gathering donations to help pay for the surgery that Kimbrough Animal Hospital said could cost more than $1,000 with medication included. So far, about $200 has been donated.

Content Source: KLTV

Blind dog wins battle with snake

July 20, 2013:

KINGSTON – Tammy Gibson is obviously an animal lover.

She has five dogs, three of which have special needs, and shouts of her house on Montreal Street.

However, her love for man’s best friend doesn’t necessarily extend to all other species.

On Friday afternoon, she heard two of her dogs — Jasmine, a Doberman and Minnie, a blind Parsons Terrier — “dancing around” outside.

What she found outside was surely unexpected.

Her large, daunting Doberman was running away in cowardice as her small, blind terrier, was fighting a snake measuring close to three meters in length.

“I stayed away, but it kept striking at the Doberman, and then Minnie got it… she would not let it go” said Gibson.

The snake has not been identified but one source referred to it as possibly being an “unusually large” eastern milk snake.

The courageous terrier needed nothing other then a bath after its victory in the tussle.

Gibson says that Minnie the blind dog doesn’t get in the way of her actions.

“I really don’t know how she navigates with no eyes, but she just grabbed it and had it in a minute” said Gibson. “You’d never know she’s blind… I swear she didn’t take her eyes out, they just sewed them up.”

The snake was then tossed over a fence into bush and by the time Whig-Standard staff arrived to inspect the carcass, some animal had already hauled it off, although Gibson’s own photo shows the impressive length of the creature.

Story Source: The Whig

A place to remember Ontario’s beloved pets when they die

July 19, 2013:
Horses, dogs, cats, hamsters, even fish find a place at Uxbridge’s Thistledown Pet Memorial crematorium where grieving GTA families can visit ashes of their departed

The stories of love and loss flow like tears: A young couple who visits the niche of their “sweet, brave little girl” every Saturday; three members of one family who have been reunited in death; 60 police officers giving a hero’s send-off to one of their own who died after being injured on the job.

From horse to hamster, creatures great and small have found a final home at Thistledown Pet Memorial in rural Uxbridge. The facility, set in a 21-hectare “beautiful piece of paradise,” as co-owner Nancy Graham describes it, offers all the services of its counterpart for humans. Not to mention a shoulder for the grief-stricken to cry on.

“Boy, is there ever a need,” says Graham, a former nurse. “Our pets give us so much and people are so heartbroken and devastated when they lose them. Here, we let them know ‘it’s okay that you’re hurting this bad’.”

Graham and her husband Colin, a semi-retired civil engineer, created Thistledown 15 years ago after their Great Pyrenees, Beau, died of bone cancer and they could find little in the way of support resources for people coping with the loss of a pet through illness, accident or euthanasia.

Believed to be the GTA’s only pet funeral home, Thistledown provides cremation, markers, niches, woodland burial plots for cremated remains (no bodies), and memorial services.

“We’re here to give every pet the dignity and respect it deserves, and help owners start healing,” explains Graham.

Larry Shackleton, a Markham business owner, brought his dog Tyler for cremation last year after the 10-year-old Great Dane died of liver failure. He had a sand-cast paw print made and later mixed some of Tyler’s ashes with ink to have the dog’s name tattooed on his arm.

“I took him everywhere with me. He was my best buddy,” says Shackleton, 41, recalling their year-long cross-country road trip together. “The whole aspect of him being properly handled (at Thistledown) meant I had an easier time saying goodbye.”

The columbarium walls are full of tributes to all manner of critters, including cats, birds, chinchillas, iguanas and rabbits. The “brave little girl” whose two-legged parents visited weekly until they moved away, was a hamster named Chi Chi. The reunited trio were Yorkshire terriers: “daddy,” son and daughter. And the police hero bid adieu by dozens of off-duty officers was 16-year-old Royal Sun, an equine member of the Toronto Police Service who died last November after suffering a severe leg injury.

“It was such an honour, such a beautiful service,” Graham says of his funeral.

Whether the deceased is furred, feathered or finned, the need to grieve is real, notes Colin.

“On anniversaries, families will bring food and flowers, or they’ll take the urn out and go for a walk. It’s very much like a human cemetery,” he says, adding dog owners often walk their still-living pets along Thistledown’s trails on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Clients, who come from across southern Ontario, can choose from a range of services and products, including pendants with tiny receptacles for ashes, or urns costing $15 to $200. Cremation is priced at $235 for animals over 10 pounds and $135 for those under. Memorial services start at $150, depending on the features chosen and number of mourners.

No pet is too small for a dignified end-of-life, says Graham, recalling the cremation of hermit crabs and another of a child’s goldfish whose ashes went home in a little satin bag.

It’s all part of what anthrozoologist Hal Herzog calls the “humanization of pets” and their role in the family. While memorializing them illustrates “how deeply people love the animals in their lives,” to some observers “there’s a wackiness” behind it, he acknowledges.

“I would understand if people think it’s outrageous” to spend money on after-care, says Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University in North Carolina. He points to a new twist on taxidermy in which deceased pets are freeze-dried and posed for display in the family home, a service for which a Florida business charges $325 and up.

Herzog, who’s been studying the interaction of humans and animals for 30 years, doesn’t see an ethical dilemma as long as pet owners aren’t depriving their children of new shoes or college tuition. “It’s their money and they have a right to do what they want with their money.”

While owners often leave their euthanized pet with the vet for disposal, there are private crematoriums and a handful of pet cemeteries available, including one in Orono, northeast of Toronto and another to the northwest. The Ontario Veterinary College offers a pet loss support hotline for bereaved owners.

The Dadson family of Richmond Hill turned to the Grahams for comfort after the at-home euthanasia of their beloved coonhound Sasha.

“Colin and Nancy are so understanding,” says Anne Morris Dadson. “It just makes it so much easier to lose a pet.”

She and husband Jim, both now retired, got Sasha as a rescue when their youngest son was 9. Not only was she the family’s constant companion, the tan and white pooch helped bring their middle, autistic son “out of his world,” a grateful mother says.

Having Sasha cremated and interred in a niche provided the “meaningful” memorial they wanted, Dadson says. Three years later, they still visit the “gentle little girl who has left her paw prints on our hearts.”

Content Source: Staff Reporter.

The Toronto Star

Rilley the dog cancer treatment may help humans

July 19, 2013:

A dog named Rilley may just be the face of a cure for brain cancer in humans.

The Georgetown, Ont. pooch was given just six weeks to live after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. His owners were told there’s no cure and that chemotherapy, radiation and surgery would only buy him some time. What’s more, the price tag on procedures would run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

But as Avery Haines has learned, Rilley the dog has been given a new lease on life thanks to some experimental surgery – which may also help in treating humans.

For more on Rilley’s journey, go to The chronicles of Rilley