General Interest

Canines & Carwashes

posted February 22nd, 2015 by
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Canines & Carwashes


By Sherri Goodall

It seemed like such a good idea at the time… sunny day, dirty car, no line at the carwash. I didn’t think about my two dogs in the car.

Who knew?

I plunked down my money for the deluxe carwash—the one with all the bells and whistles and the longest cycle (of course), seven minutes—the longest 420 seconds of my life!

At the first downpour of pounding water and pummeling brushes, my Westies went ballistic, howling, growling, snapping and yapping. The flashing green and red lights didn’t help. At the same time my car was shimmying and shaking, my dogs were leaping from the back seat to the front seat, into the dashboard, into my lap and into each other. They were desperately trying to escape or attack the water and brushes. (Anything that moves is fair game for a Westie.) I understand what it must feel like to be inside a washing machine.

I gripped the wheel in panic as I realized I was stuck in this carwash, trapped! I am trapped in this car with two flying, freaked-out dogs! Plus, I am trying to keep my eyes on an immovable object in the distance so I don’t get carsick and throw up. I see the cycles light up on the bar above the car. We’re only on cycle three, one of countless rinses. I can’t hold my breath any longer, or I’ll explode. We’re not even halfway done. I toy with the idea of crashing through the brushes as they slap the car. My luck, I’ll get stuck and spend eternity on a merry-go-round of wash cycles. I’m astounded at the insanity of my dogs, and their stamina… that they could keep up this level of hyperactive madness for seven minutes.

By the time the carwash spit us out, finally waxed and dried (another extremely loud and annoying noise, especially for dogs’ ears), I was a sweating, hyperventilating wreck. The outside of the car sparkled; you could apply your makeup and pluck your eyebrows by looking into the gleam.

The inside looked like the aftermath of a tornado. White tufts of fur stuck to the ceiling and dashboard, scratch marks streaked the leather seats, my sunglasses lay broken on the floor, and the contents of my purse littered the front seat. And, to top it off, my macho-male MacTwo had peed everywhere possible in his excitement, and my dainty lady Mulligan had pooped in terror in the back seat.

Will I ever take my dogs to a carwash again? NO WAY!

Pet Insurance: Better Health for Pets, Peace of Mind for Pet Owners

posted February 16th, 2015 by
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Pet Ins

As pet ownership in the United States increases, pet owners are turning to to find out their options. Pet insurance keeps pets healthier while letting pet owners choose the coverage that suits their needs—and their budgets.

The 21st century has seen the rise of two dynamic movements in social consciousness: a heightened awareness of the importance of having health insurance and the increase of the number of American households with pets. True, the health care issue has so far focused on people, not pets, but a quick look at pet math reveals that the latest trends in pet care point the way to a new level of understanding about the level of care we should provide for the four-legged members of our families.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 68% of households responding to a 2013-2014 survey owned a pet. The APPA estimated that, in 2014, those 82.5 million households spent $58.51 billion on their pets. The number one expense, logically enough, was for food; our pets get hungry and we spent $22.62 billion to keep their bellies filled. The second highest expense? $15.25 billion in veterinary care.

With numbers like that, it’s easy to see that pet insurance is destined to become a standard feature of pet ownership, But that doesn’t explain why only one percent of American pets are insured, compared to 30% in the United Kingdom and more than 50% in Sweden.

Concern about the diagnosis for pet health inspired the launch of so that as many American dogs and cats as possible can be insured. Since that time, the company has generated over two million quotes for insuring cats and dogs all across the country. They’ve built a reputation for being America’s most trusted pet insurance comparison website. Not only that, but they’re the only licensed pet insurance agency in the United States.

Animals share some health issues with their owners. Just like humans who have a hard time saying “no” to second helpings and failing to get enough exercise, excess pounds are becoming a problem for our pets. Maybe you’ve already had an episode of pet illness and you’re concerned about future incidents because you know that you want to keep your pet healthy. You know that the average office call runs $45-$55. But it doesn’t stop there. Animals are like us, and when they get sick, tests are called for to determine what’s causing the problem. Geriatric screening for older pets can cost as much as $110, and surgery can cost thousands.

Anyone who doubts that pet insurance makes a difference just needs to listen to the experience of one couple who purchased insurance for their Labrador retriever, Magruff. When he ended up needing hip replacement surgery, they were glad—not to mention relieved—when their pet insurance carrier paid $4300 of the $5200 cost of the operation. They were so impressed by the friendly and professional service they received for Magruff’s care that they felt as if they had their own personal concierge. “The service was so good I wish they owned an airline and some restaurants because they’re setting a new standard for service!”

That’s why you want to provide the insurance that allows you to give your family pet the best health coverage possible. Choosing a pet insurance plan is the first step in keeping the furry, four-footed members of your family around for a long time. Oh, and maybe you and your pet might want to keep an eye on those meal portions , , ,

PetInsuranceQuotes (  is dedicated to helping pet owners find the best insurance plan for their pets. The only licensed pet insurance agency in the United States has been selling insurance plans for dogs and cats for over seven years. The website offers free quotes, coverage comparisons, and guidance to steer pet owners to the plan that’s right for them. For more information, visit

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Nick Braun

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Training 911 – Stop the Jumping!

posted February 8th, 2015 by
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Training 911

Training 911

by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI

STOP THE JUMPING! You come home from work, and your dog is so happy to see you, he leaps into the air and hugs you. You then realize his paws are covered in mud or something worse.

Instead of requesting a sit or touch, you yell at the dog for greeting you. Maybe you yell “Down” or “Get away!” but the only thing the dog hears is the tone and inflection in your voice. What is a responsible dog owner to do to eliminate the jumping?

There are a number of ways you can teach your dog not to jump. Remember, do not hit the dog or step on the dog. When you start training, you should start with the highest value reward first—for most dogs, a treat or a toy. You can take away the treat and use other rewards when your dog has learned the opposite behavior.

I usually tell clients they can decide if they want 7/10 to 10/10, meaning if I ask my dog to sit 10 times and the dog sits 8 out of the 10, I have an 80 percent sit rate with my dog. An important point to remember is, keep the training consistent. Here are some options:

Option 1:

  1. Your dog jumps up; you leave the area. Go into the nearest room or outside the house and shut the door only for a second or two.
  2. When you come out, approach your dog. You can ask for a sit or touch; if the dog doesn’t jump up, you mark or say “good girl/boy.” (If you have a clicker device for clicker training, use it in this step.) Next, you give the reward—a “treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”
  3. If the dog jumps up, repeat the leaving of the area.

Option 2:

  1. The dog jumps up; standing like a tree, arms crossed, say, “Off.”
  2. Allfour paws are on the floor. Now you can pet him or her.Kneel down to the dog’s level.
  3. Ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and give the reward with a “treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”

Option 3:

  1. The dog jumps up; lean into your dog’s space and say, “Off.” (Some dogs may not like you in their inner space. Do not do this with strange dogs.)
  2. Allfour paws are on the floor. Now you can pet him. Kneel down to your dog’s level.
  3. Ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and give the reward with a treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”

Option 4:

  1. You come home from work or walk into the house, your dog jumps up. Turn your back and start talking aloud or walk over to a window and describe what you see.
  2. Allfour paws are on the floor. Now you can pet your dog. Kneel down to his or her level.
  3. Ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and give the reward with a “treat/toy/pet/verbal praise.”

Option 5:

  1. You are letting your dog inside the house from being outside. As soon as the dog sees your hand on the door handle, he starts to jump up. You take your hand off of the door handle, and when the dog is calm, you put your hand back on the door handle. Play this game until the dog is calm when you are touching the door handle.
  2. If the dog jumps up when you start to open the door, then close the door. You slowly open the door. If the dog gets too excited, you can close the door. Once the dog is calm, you can open the door to let the dog in. Mark with “good girl/boy/clicker.”

Option 6: Premack Principle

According to, Premack’s Principle, or the relativity theory of reinforcement, states that more probable behaviors reinforce less probable behaviors. Essentially, if your dog wants the reward, he or she will perform the desired activity required by you to get to that reward.

You teach your dog to jump up and get excited by dancing around or tossing a toy. When the dog jumps up, mark “good girl/boy/clicker” and give a reward with petting only.

Then, you immediately ask for a sit. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker.” Reward with a “treat/toy” and ask for the hug or jump up again.

Eventually, you will fade the treat/toy reward, and your dog will sit for a hug/jump up.

Option 7: Hand Target

While facing your dog, hold your finger or your open hand a few inches away from the dog’s nose.

When he or she sniffs your hand or the target to investigate, mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker” and reward him or her with a treat.

Repeat several times, and then move your hand to the left, right, up and down. Each time the dog touches the target, mark or say “good boy/girl/clicker.” Next, reward with a treat.

When the dog comes running over to jump on you, stick out your hand; your dog should stop to nose-touch it. Mark or say “good girl/boy/clicker.” Reward him or her by petting or with a toy.

The important thing to remember is consistency. Before long, the jumping days will be over, and you will find a better behaved pooch in your home.

Tick 411

posted February 1st, 2015 by
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Tick 411-2

Tick 411

Tick 411


Everything You Need To Know About Treatment, Symptoms And Prevention


By Christy VanCleave



Ticks, more than just a nuisance, can carry diseases dangerous to people and animals.

That’s why it’s important for Green Country folks to know about ticks most common to the area and the viral, bacterial diseases and toxins they carry, as well as tick bite symptoms in both humans and dogs and how to treat and prevent them.

Here is the tick low-down to keep you and your pets tick free and healthy this summer.

Tick-born illnesses are caused by infection from a variety of pathogens. Because ticks can carry more than one disease-causing agent, patients can be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time. Diagnosis can be difficult since symptoms overlap with many common illnesses.

Reactions to tick bites may not show up for two to six weeks after the tick has been removed. Patients could experience one of many symptoms of the disease, and symptoms could appear intermittently.

Common symptoms in humans include headache, flu-like symptoms, stiff neck, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, nerve problems, abdominal pain and vomiting. If left untreated, the diseases can become severe and lead to other complications, even death.

The two most common tick-related diseases are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but they are also the easiest to diagnose due to the rash that usually accompanies them. Lyme has a very distinct bull’s eye rash and Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a wide-spread rash.

Doxycycline is the first line of treatment in both adults and children and is most effective if started right away—within five days of the first symptoms. (The disease can later be confirmed by specialized lab tests.)

Canine symptoms are a little different and may include recurrent lameness due to inflammation in the joints, lack of appetite, depression, kidney damage, a visible stiff walk with arched back, sensitivity to touch, difficulty breathing and fever.  A blood panel test and urinalysis can be performed for accurate diagnosis. Again, doxycycline is the first choice of treatment if caught early.

Should you find yourself or your dog with a tick, promptly remove it with tweezers and grip the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Never use a smoldering match, cigarette, nail polish or kerosene as they may irritate the tick and cause it to inject bodily fluids into the wound.

Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick since fluids may contain infection-causing organisms. The “head” does not stay in the skin, but the mouth parts may break off under the skin. Leave the mouth parts alone; they will expel on their own.

After removal, tape the tick to a calendar in case treatment is needed.  You can show the doctor for identification should it be necessary. It is also helpful to know how long it was attached if it was engorged.

While flea prevention has come a long way over the past 10 years, tick prevention hasn’t. Topical applications of Front-line or Advantix help, but take 24 hours to kill the tick once attached to the host. Some flea and tick shampoos with a pyrethrin base have a residue that lasts up to four weeks after application.

With Oklahoma’s high tick population, sound advice is to look over yourself and your pets after each walk or run in wooded or tall grass areas. With prevention in mind, and some basic knowledge of treatment, your summer outings can be fun, safe and tick free.

American Dog Tick

The American Dog tick is the most commonly-identified species responsible for transmitting rickettsia, which causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in humans. This tick can also transmit tularemia.

Brown Dog Tick

The Brown Dog tick has recently been identified as a reservoir of Rickettsia, causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichia canis. It is also responsible for Hepatozoon canis and Babesiosis (zoonotic). Dogs are primarily the host for this type of tick.

Black-Legged Tick (Deer Tick)

Commonly-known as the deer tick, the black-legged tick can transmit the organisms responsible for anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease.

Lone Star Tick

The Lone Star tick transmits Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii, causing human ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Gulf Coast Tick

The Gulf Coast tick can transmit Rickettsia Parkeri rickettsiosis, a form of spotted fever. Adult ticks have been associated with transmission of R. parkeri to humans. It is also responsible for hepatozoonosis infection that comes in two forms, but this tick is only responsible for Hepatozoon Americanum.

On The Go

posted January 25th, 2015 by
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On the Go

On The Go


Dr. Sharon Marshall’s Riverbend Mobile Vet Service brings medical services to pets in the comfort of their homes.


By Kayte Spillman



It all started out of necessity.

When Dr. Sharon Marshall finished veterinary school, she opened a mobile vet business. She drove to clients’ homes to care for their dogs, cats and horses to save on the overhead cost associated with opening a vet clinic of her own. But it was more than that.

“I didn’t want to look at the same four walls every day,” Marshall says. “I wanted to be out where the animals and my clients were.”

Twenty-one years later, Marshall’s frugal business savvy has grown into a successful veterinary practice. Her mobile vet business, Riverbend Mobile Vet Service, drives directly to the clients in a 40-mile or more radius around Lexington, Okla., while clients can also come to her five days a week at the brick-and-mortar office she’s operated for the last 10 years.

“It’s really for the pet’s comfort and the client’s ease,” Marshall says. “You know, we have many clients who are elderly or homebound, and for them a mobile vet is really a necessity.

“But we also have so many clients who have multiple pets and multiple children, and it is just so much easier for everyone to have me come to them. We’ve had the family with the two toddlers and the dog and the cat trying to get down our hallway, and the kids are crying, and the dog’s peeing all the way down the hall, and the cat’s stressed out. It’s not a good situation for anyone!”

Marshall says the animals are significantly more relaxed and less stressed when she can see them in their home environment than when they come into the office.

“It removes the fear factor that often comes with bringing a pet into a vet’s office,” she says. “I can go where they feel safe and at ease, and a lot of times help them before they even know I’m there. They don’t have time to ramp up.”

She also says visiting in the home allows her to spend more quality time with both the clients and the animals. In a typical vet office visit, a vet may be able to stay with the client for about 15 minutes, Marshall says. However, when Marshall is in a client’s home, she says she gets to know each client and each animal so much better.

“It’s a much more close and personal experience for the client,” Marshall says. “I’m not on that tight schedule that you have to be on if you are in the office. I enjoy slowing down and talking to my clients.”

Sky Lindsay has been a mobile client of Dr. Marshall’s for almost 15 years. She says with six animals roaming around her house, it is very helpful to have a house call to avoid the hassle of getting her four cats and two dogs out of the house and to the vet.

“I love having Dr. Marshall come to us,” Lindsay says. “Cats don’t travel well… well, at least mine don’t! And our dogs absolutely love when she comes to visit.”

Lindsay says Dr. Marshall usually comes out once a year for a checkup on all her animals, she takes her time letting everyone get settled and used to her before she treats them. She said she doesn’t even think her cats realize they are having a checkup from a vet, and it takes a lot of the stress of the typical visit away from her pets.

“She comes in and sits and talks, and then once everyone calms down, she’ll just grab whichever one is walking by,” Lindsay says. “She’s a straight shooter, and I love working with her. The animals love her too.”

Marshall makes about six to seven home visits every day, making sure her office is staffed with a vet tech in her absence to care for anyone stopping in for basic needs. She travels about a 40-mile radius from her base in Lexington to see patients. On a mobile visit, she performs basic veterinary services, but has a full lab and radiology capabilities at her physical office in Lexington.

“We are a full-service vet office, which many people don’t know,” Marshall says. “We do boarding; we do internal medicine, ultrasounds, radiology—whatever is needed. We literally do everything.”

Well, not literally everything… Staying true to her roots, she’s strictly a dog, cat or equine veterinarian.

“If you eat it,” Marshall says. “I don’t do it!”

Tucker’s Story

posted November 18th, 2014 by
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In the rubble of his Earthly possessions, John Salazar found what matters most.


By Anna Holton-Dean




May 20, 2013, started out like any other day for John Salazar, a Moore, Okla., resident. He knew there was a chance of severe weather, but nothing like the day would turn out to be.

He went about his morning as usual, taking his chocolate Lab, Tucker, out to do his business before putting him back in his room, closing the baby gate behind him.

John, and Tucker, lived with his then-girlfriend—now fiancé—Amy Boyer, and her cat, Casper.

Business as usual, the couple headed off to work—Amy to downtown and John to CarMax in Edmond where he had been employed for six years.

Later in the day, as weather reports became serious and news of tornadoes spread, John and Amy discussed by phone what they should do about their animals.

Between the phone calls and the time John made it home, the now infamous EF5 tornado struck Moore and leveled his home with Tucker and the cat inside. It was part of a larger weather system that produced other tornadoes as well.

Peak winds reached an estimated 210 mph, killing 24 people and injuring 377 others. The tornado touched down at 2:56 p.m., staying on the ground for 39 minutes over a 17-mile path, crossing through a heavily-populated section of Moore. John’s home was directly in the path of the tornado, which was 1.3 miles wide at its peak.

“At 3 p.m., I realized it was getting close to where we lived,” John says. “Amy got home shortly after it hit. I got there an hour after it hit. Neither of us could drive into the neighborhood, which was less than a mile from the elementary school that was leveled.

“I parked as close as I could get, ran three to four miles to get to the house, and I didn’t even recognize the neighborhood. Signs were gone; most houses were leveled. It didn’t give me a lot of hope of finding Tucker. I couldn’t even tell what street I was on.”

John guessed at which direction his house would be and headed there on foot. He hadn’t talked to Amy since their last phone call before leaving work. When he finally located his house, 90 percent of it was gone.

“Very little was left,” he says. “I finally saw Amy and asked where the animals were. She was in tears and said, ‘Tucker’s gone, the cat too.’”

Tucker’s room was destroyed—the window, roof, Tucker’s bed and the baby gate were all gone. Everything was the opposite of where it should have been, John says.

“My room that I kept all of my clothes in was leaning over, and two walls were missing,” he says. “All of my stuff was gone or strewn around. I lost everything. I thought for sure Tucker was gone.”

He remembers people searching for their animals, and dogs running everywhere through the remains of the neighborhood. People and neighbors were asking one another if their animals had been seen.

By 7 p.m., the police wanted everyone gone from the area in order to search for survivors. “At that point, I was leaving, and I hadn’t found my dog,” John says.

“We heard they were taking dogs to Home Depot and here and there. Several friends were trying to help us find him. It was pretty hard.”

But they had no luck or any leads in finding Tucker.

“We went to bed that night and woke up bright and early to go to the house about 7 a.m. We thought there would be lots of people there; there was talk of looters. My boss, fiancé and I sifted through what we could find,” John says.

As they walked through what had been the entryway of the house, they noticed something sticking out of the rubble. It was Tucker’s nose. He was buried underneath the house, and John quickly dug through the mess to pick him up. Amazingly, he was unharmed.

“Best we can tell,” John says, “he was probably thrown under there. The kitchen, living room and garage were a giant pile; Tucker was in about where the kitchen should be—a good 50 feet from where his room was. It was a very interesting route how he got there.”

In the end, Casper, the cat, was also found alive.

Amidst losing most of his physical possessions, John could have been understandably devastated. But finding Tucker alive and well brought out the positive in a life-altering circumstance, what mattered most.

“When I found him, it felt like nothing else mattered,” John says. “It really put things into perspective on what can be replaced and what can’t. I had come to grips with not finding him, or if we do find him, it won’t be good. It was very challenging because I’ve never lost something that close to me. It was tough.”

It would be impossible to go through such an event, and not have the effects change a person in some ways… or even a dog. John says the ordeal has changed Tucker in that he is more timid than he used to be.

“The biggest thing is at the groomer, she cannot put a blow dryer on him,” John says. “He is scared of the air blowing on him.”

But that hasn’t stopped Tucker from visiting his groomer, Emily Cefalo, at Mia & Company Pet Salon & Spa. John says she has been great with Tucker’s uncertainty after such a traumatic event.

Emily noticed his anxiety during his first grooming last year, but didn’t know about his ordeal. “He was great during his bath,” she says. “Blow drying dogs is not always easy due to noise. The majority of the time, I hand dry as much as possible.

“The minute I turned on the dryer, Tucker got extremely nervous. Not a typical response from a Labrador Retriever. I finished drying him by hand. I wanted Tucker to trust me. That’s my goal with every dog that comes to Mia & Company.”

Tucker’s story is a reminder of that day and the many stories that unfolded, some with happy, and some with sad, endings.

“Like humans, every dog has a story,” Emily says. “Some we know about, and others we may not. I knew he had been through something. When John picked up Tucker, I asked him if he was afraid of noises. He explained Tucker has survived the Moore tornado. I cried after he left that day.

“Reflecting back and remembering lives that were suddenly taken. Tucker is my hero—I have extra space in my heart for him.”