General Interest

For Pet’s Sake, Toss the Cigarettes!

posted September 16th, 2012 by
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by Anna Holton-Dean

We have known of the dangers of cigarette smoking for years, including the detrimental effects it has on non-smokers through secondhand smoke. An estimated 26,000 to 70,000 non-smokers die annually from secondhand smoke.

It only makes sense then that secondhand smoke would also affect pets that live with smokers, and research proves it to be a significant health risk. Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, director of Veterinary Continuing Education and Extension at Oklahoma State University, wrote a paper on the topic and says, more specifically, secondhand smoke is associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds.

A Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine study showed cats particularly to be at an increased risk due to their grooming habits. Oral mouth cancer— squamous cell carcinoma—was higher for cats that live with smokers. In fact, cats who lived with a smoker for five years or longer had an even higher incidence of this oral cancer. A major contributing factor to this is a cat’s grooming habits, MacAllister writes.

“Cats constantly lick themselves while grooming,” she says, “therefore, they lick up the cancer-causing chemicals or carcinogens that accumulate on their fur from their environment. This grooming behavior exposes the mucous membrane of the oral cavity to the cancer-causing carcinogens.”

Another type of cancer found in cats living with smokers is malignant lymphoma. They were found to be twice as likely to have this cancer compared to cats living with non-smokers, and it kills three out of four cats within 12 months of developing it, according to MacAllister’s paper.

Of course, cats aren’t the only pets susceptible. Canines have an increased incidence of cancer in the nose and sinus area with a slight association to lung cancer. MacAllister cites a Colorado State University study which found a higher incidence of nasal tumors in dogs living in homes with secondhand smoke compared to those that live in non-smoking homes. Interestingly, the nasal tumor rate was even higher among long-nosed breeds, and shorteror medium-nosed breeds had a higher incidence of lung cancer.

MacAllister explains “the higher incidence of nasal tumors for long-nosed breeds probably occurs because these types of breeds have a greater surface area in their noses to be exposed to the carcinogens and for the carcinogens to accumulate. Since the carcinogens tend to build up on the mucous membranes of the long-nosed dogs not as much will reach the lungs. Unfortunately, the dogs affected with nasal cancer typically will not live longer than a year.”

She goes on to explain the same for shorter-nosed breeds. As the Colorado State study reported, “there was a slightly higher incidence of lung cancer among the short/medium nosed dogs. This increase probably occurred because their shorter nasal passages were not as effective at accumulating the inhaled secondhand smoke carcinogens; therefore, more of the carcinogens were reaching the lungs.”

A third type of pet affected by secondhand smoke is birds. Birds have hypersensitive respiratory systems to air pollutants, which can bring serious consequences, including pneumonia, lung cancer, and even eye, skin, heart and fertility problems.

T-Town Miniature Horses

posted September 16th, 2012 by
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by Sherri Goodall

What has four legs, a swishy tail, a super-soft coat, a feisty, friendly attitude, and stands 34” tall at the shoulders? Oh, and it ranks about 100 on the cuteness-meter.

If you said one of T-Town’s miniature horses, you’d be correct. Their three-month- old foals are beyond adorable (more like 150 on the cuteness-meter).

When we first met Tony and Judi Krehbiel’s miniature horses, we were introduced to the mares. They nuzzled us and wanted to make friends. We marveled at their small stature and sweet temperament. In the background, I saw four foals gamboling about like puppies. They were chasing each other, jumping on each other, rearing up and “mouth wrestling” like my Westies at play.

Next, there were three fillies and a “stallion.” Putting the name “stallion” on this two-foot tall black fuzz ball would be an oxymoron, except he acted like one. There he was, nuzzling the mares through the fence, showing off, and acting like a super stud. It was hilarious! Then he took off after the fillies who gave him a good run for his money. Soon after he was off to Momma for a little milk and reassurance. (There’s something about miniature that greatly influences the cute-ness factor.)

Tony and Judi both retired after 30- some years of teaching. Judi taught in the Bixby school district and Tony taught and administered computer science at Tulsa Community College. For years, they raised palomino quarter horses, successfully showing and breeding them. Tony was president of the Palomino Horse Breeders of America.

Breaking and caring for the big horses became too much of an ordeal for the Krehbiels, so they turned to miniatures. Tony lucked into a small palomino stallion, three good mares and their three babies.

Thus began a love affair that has satisfied them and made them smile every day since. They no longer show the miniatures, but they have show mares and two stallions, one of which is the son of a 2005 Grand Champion (T-Town’s Admiral Piccolo.). Their breeding stock comes from the Johnson’s Jo-Co Miniatures of Michigan, which recently ended an impressive career of breeding and showing in the nationals.

These cuties don’t kick, bite or stomp on you. On the contrary, they have very docile personalities—big personalities unique to each one. Each is extremely bright. They like people, and they expect you to like them. These little guys have no idea how small they are and might as well be Budweiser Clydesdales. In fact, the Krehbiels have one standard size mare who is at the bottom of the pecking order. She has to come into the barn last because the minis boss her around.

Tony gave us a demonstration of how he halter-breaks the foals. He starts when they’re just a couple months old. Judi calls this “peopleizing.” As Tony cleans the stalls, he familiarizes the foals with the halter and ever so gently puts the halter on his or her head. The foals will kick and fight, but Tony is patient. When the horse finally settles down, Tony hooks the halter to the stall. At this point, if the horse is calm, Tony will pick up its feet and handle them. This is so the horses will be used to hoof-trimming.

Many of the miniatures work as “therapy” animals, acting as eyes for the blind, and going to facilities for mentally challenged children and senior citizens. Children with autistic syndrome disorders often bond easier with animals than people. The diminutive size of these horses makes them perfect, non-threatening friends.

The Krehbiels made it very clear that their miniature horses are far more than a reduced version of the standard- size horse. These cuties are bred for temperament, as well as size. The standards for size are 34” at the withers (across shoulders). Color does not matter. They are a separate breed from Shetland ponies.

Many people buy the horses for pets. Yes, they can be potty-trained, and they do need a yard, just like your dogs. They are playful, friendly and cuddly. But they are nonetheless horses, so one must learn how to train and interact with them.

One thing to note is that the minis are not for riding. A toddler might be the right size to ride a mini, but it will take two adults—one to lead the horse and the other to hold the child. A foal stays close to his mama.

The miniature horse was bred originally to work in underground mines, pulling carts. Many were brought to the U.S. to work in coal mines. Today, the little horses are bred for show or for pets. They can be trained to jump and “drive” (pulling carts).

It’s a good thing—a very good thing— I didn’t drive my SUV. I would’ve loaded up one of these babies in a New York minute. I can see it now, a miniature horse and two cocky Westies. To learn more about T-Town Miniature Horses, visit ttownminis.com or call the Krehbiels at (918) 366-4119.

Lulu!

posted September 16th, 2012 by
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by Nancy Gallimore Werhane

What is more challenging than getting one pug to sit still long enough  to pose for a photo? Apparently, getting three pugs to sit still long enough to pose for a photo. This is the valuable lesson I learned from Lulu, Otis and Dandy when I tried to help convince them to pose for a recent photo shoot.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that they aren’t smart enough to perform a good “stay” or even that they aren’t willing.  It’s just that on that particular day, this little group seemed to be in very high spirits and sitting still just wasn’t what they had in mind. Frustrating?  No. Hysterical? Absolutely!

One of the oldest recognized breeds, the pug has flourished as a companion dog through the ages, dating back as early  as 400 B.C. Though the pug’s background is a bit of a mystery, most researchers agree that the breed comes from Asia, due to its similarities to the Pekingese. China is the earliest known source for pugs where they were pets of the Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. The breed then made its way into Japan and Europe, becoming a fashionable breed when Prince William II, a devoted pug owner, became the King of England.

The pug was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885 and quickly established itself as an affable, fun-loving family pet throughout  the United States. Considered a toy breed, pug aficionados describe the dogs using the Latin phrase “multum  in parvo,” which means “much in  little,” or, in the case of the pug, a  lot of dog in a small package. Pugs are known for having even-tempers, playful personalities and outgoing, loving dispositions. When it comes to personality and energy, this dog is anything but small.

Physically, the pug is a square, stocky dog with a wrinkly, shortmuzzled face and a tightly curled tail.  Their short coats come in fawn, silver fawn, apricot fawn or black (the fawn varieties having a well-defined black mask). They are comfortable with apartment life because they need minimal exercise, but the breed can adapt easily to all situations.

A popular family-oriented dog, it would seem that this could be the perfect pet for just about anyone. But sadly, each year rescue groups take in many of these charming little dogs— some because they have been overbred  in puppy mills, some because  owners failed to do their homework  or made an impulse purchase.  Whatever the reason, one quick look at Oklahoma’s Homeward Bound Pug Rescue website will show as many as 50 homeless pugs available for adoption.

Loveable as they may be, as with any breed, there are things you should know before you run out to find the little wrinkled face of your dreams.

Betty Brunkow is a long-time pug owner and has been very involved in helping support the local pug rescue effort. Lulu, her own bright-eyed little  pug, can often be found on the job  at Pooches dog care center where  she charms all visitors from her post  behind the front desk at Brunkow‘s  side.

When asked what five things she would want someone to know before adding a pug to the family, Brunkow offered these tips:

1. They are housedogs. They were bred to be companion dogs and don’t do well left outside. Add to that a strong intolerance to cold and  heat. In fact, exposure to heat can be deadly for pugs whose nearly nonexistent snouts make them more susceptible to heatstroke.

K9 Nose Work

posted September 16th, 2012 by
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by Stacy Pettit Smith

It’s not what you would expect at K9 Manners and More, a place where most classes focus on obedience. When Khara Criswell steps in front of her furry, four-legged students at the school in Broken Arrow, these dogs are not learning to sit, stay or speak. Instead, it is not uncommon to find one of her clients sniffing with its nose in the air, searching nooks and crannies of vehicles in the parking lot or even ignoring a box of treats sitting on the floor. Criswell’s pooches are channeling their own natural behaviors at these K9 Nose Work classes—a class all about a dog’s ability to “follow your nose.

Now, the new dog sport that has gained popularity throughout the country has made its way to the Tulsa area with more than 40 dogs enrolled in Nose Work classes. And Criswell says newcomers to this growing group of pooches are almost always excited about the main requirement for the classes. “All the dog needs to do is know how to sniff,” she says. “They sniff and get to do what is natural to them. They get to take in their environment.”

K9 Nose Work is built on the dog’s ability to smell and desire to hunt. A variety of designated scents or “odors” are hidden in different scenarios. Once the dog is released to begin the search, the final goal of the sport is a simple one—locate the odor.

Criswell, the only certified K9 Nose Work trainer in the state, has been teaching the classes at K9 Manners and More since April. Soon, she says, she hopes to travel with some of her four-legged students to K9 Nose Work competitions throughout the country.

Although the main idea behind K9 Nose Work comes naturally for its competitors, there are factors that add a level of difficulty to the sport. Nose Work is divided into three competitive levels, with Nose Work Level I trials for beginners. In this trial, the dog must locate one odor—birch—hidden in four locations, which include containers such as boxes, interiors of buildings, exteriors of buildings or the outdoors, and vehicles.

In Nose Work Level II, another odor—anise—is added to these four locations, along with the birch odor. Distractions, such as treats and toys, can also be placed throughout these areas. With the most difficult trial, Nose Work Level III, the scent of clove is added, along with the other two scents. In this round, the odor can be placed out of the dog’s reach, even hung from the ceiling.

The idea to search for and locate a hidden smell ties into the professional background of the dog sport’s founders. Initially created by military and police looking for something for their re-tired bomb-detecting and narcotics dogs to do, they quickly discovered the sport could easily be played and enjoyed by others.

“What they found out was that any dog could do it,” Criswell says. Mary Green, co-owner of K9 Manners and More, says this was the main reason why they decided to begin offering the classes at the obedience school.

“We liked that it was something very doable for all dogs and for all people,” Green says. “It has a great recreational component and is just interesting for the dogs to do.”

The fact that progressing through K9 Nose Work classes is attainable for any dog can be seen by the class’ four-legged clientele. “These dogs have a very diverse background, with many of them [being] rescues,” Kim Sykes says, co-owner with Green at K9 Manners and More. “A lot of rescue dogs end up [given away] because they are high energy dogs, and they don’t have a job. This gives those dogs a job.”

Many times, the act of searching can tap into more than just the dog’s energy, Sykes says. “[There is] a part of the brain in the dog that takes them into that seeking mode,” she says. “You’ve got to work them physically, and you’ve got to work the mind. And a lot of times, the mind is forgotten. Getting into that seeking mode can tire them out and give them another outlet.”

But perhaps the biggest achievement many of these rescue dogs obtain is not the treat they receive after locating the odor. Criswell says dogs that were once frightened or nervous tend to gain confidence as they progress through the classes. They learn to trust their natural instincts in unfamiliar surroundings, all while having fun doing it.

Even Sykes’ own dog has had some issues while competing in other dog sports. While doing agility competitions or dog shows, she can sometimes become distracted or frightened by loud noises, Sykes says. “She has really blossomed,” she says. “Now, people can be around her, and noises can happen; and it’s not scary. If she gets nervous, I can start playing her game and get her into the nose, and she relaxes.”

Although it is obvious the dogs enjoy the classes with all the sniffing, snorting and tail wagging seen throughout the K9 Manners and More complex, Criswell admits owners sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to their side of the requirements. Because Nose Work taps into the dogs’ natural abilities, the handlers are not allowed to correct or discipline the dogs’ actions, regardless of what that may be.

“You don’t want to call them off from their search,” she says. “They’re hunting. If you punish or correct them, what are you really punishing? They’re [searching for] that odor; you just want them to work.”

Although owners might have to bite their tongues when their pooches speed off to find the odor, Criswell says owners really have as much fun as their furry companions. And handlers tend to get creative with the release word they say to tip the dog off that it is time to search—anything from “let’s go shopping” to “franks and beans.” Whatever the phrase, the dog quickly goes into search mode with his or her snout on the ground and tail wagging in the air.

However, some owners feel an added bit of pressure to ensure their dog has a prize-winning snout, especially with K9 Manners and More hosting a workshop this December 8 and 9. Dogs will have their first chance to pass an Odor Recognition Test, the first step toward competing at a K9 Nose Work trial. At an ORT , 12 boxes are lined up in rows, and the dog has three minutes to locate an odor hidden in one box. This ORT must be completed and passed in order for a dog to move on and compete at any K9 Nose Work competition.

While one student and owner, Solo and Keri Cathey, put a lot of sniffing and searching into the Nose Work classes they take, they do not plan on going to competition. In fact, Cathey says she brings Solo to the classes purely to watch him have a good time and gain self-confidence, something he was lacking before as a rescue dog.

“He has a blast,” Cathey says. “He comes in just grinning. He loves that he doesn’t have to be disciplined or trained. He is free to be an animal.”

The Perfect Combination of Compassion and Expertise

posted September 16th, 2012 by
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A cute little Chihuahua arrived at an area animal shelter with what appeared to be a very infected eye. Volunteers put out a plea for a veterinarian to examine the little dog, known as Baby, and the doctors at Hammond Animal Hospital were happy to take a look. Examination revealed that Baby actually suffered from microphthalmia, a congenital disorder resulting in a small eye that is recessed in the socket and often blind. To add to the tiny dog’s troubles, the veterinarians also noticed that Baby had an unusual gait and further diagnosed bilaterally luxated patellas– a condition in which the patellas, or kneecaps, in the dog’s hind legs dislocate or move out of their normal location. Baby needed surgery to not only remove her blind eye, but also to repair both knees.

None of this is good news for a homeless dog that is living in limbo in a small shelter with limited resources. But there was good news for Baby. Thanks to the expertise and generosity of Dr. Dennis Henson and Dr. Lauren Johnson, along with an outpouring of support from concerned animal lovers, the tough little Chihuahua received the surgeries she needed followed by excellent support during her recovery and rehabilitation. Baby quickly became a hospital favorite. In fact, so much so that she and Dr. Johnson, who oversaw her recovery, quickly became inseparable. So instead of returning to the shelter to await adoption, Baby was adopted by one of her favorite docs and can be found making the rounds with Dr. Johnson on a regular basis.

Whether it’s a beloved family pet or a homeless animal in need, the veterinarians and staff at Hammond Animal Hospital deliver the perfect combination of compassionate care and expertise to each case. The result? Many happy tales…and tails!

FIRE

posted September 16th, 2012 by
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by Camille Hulen

In early August, Oklahoma was on fire. During the evening of August 4, the sky darkened, and the smell of smoke lingered over Tulsa. Ash from the fires in Creek County even fell on cars in Midtown Tulsa. There were many pictures on TV of the devastation throughout the state. But what about the animals? Here are three personal stories of people and their pets in the Mannford, Bristow and Thunderbird fires.

Mannford

On Saturday August 4, a young couple called me wanting to board their cat because fire was nearing their home in Mannford. They had evacuated their home and spent the previous night in a motel, fearing the worst. When they brought “Mr. Stitches” to me, they told me that not only was their home in danger, but also the homes of their relatives, who were electing to stay and fight the fire. At least this couple had insurance; their relatives did not.

Fortunately, on Sunday, I received the good news that Mr. Stitches’ home, as well as those of his relatives, had been saved, and he might go home on Monday. When they reached their home, however, electricity was still out, so they elected to stay away until Wednesday. Mr. Stitches was understandably stressed and not too happy with the situation, but he was safe.

Drumright

The next call that I received was from Cathy, a lady from the Drumright area. Cathy explained that she had barely escaped, as helicopters whirled overhead; and the flames spread to the trees on the western edge of her property. She had two cats, but had been able to find only one in time to flee. She and her kitty were spending the night in Tulsa with a relative, and then she would bring the kitty to me on Sunday.

On Saturday night, the rain came, and eased the situation somewhat. When I spoke to Cathy on Sunday, she was trying to get back to Drumright to see if her home had been saved. One can only imagine her anxiety throughout the day as she was trying to find alternate routes into town. Major roads were blocked while firefighters continued to battle the blaze. The only vehicles permitted on the roads were emergency vehicles and equipment.

Finally, at 9 a.m., on Monday, Cathy called. Her house had been saved! It was only then that I learned the rest of the story. She had recently lost a son, and throughout this entire time, her husband had been hospitalized in Tulsa, suffering from a stroke. She had remained so calm in talking to me to make arrangements for her cat that I had no idea of the other difficulties in her life. However, her neighbors knew. They called in friends who traveled cross-country through burning fields to help. They just had to save her house. Using whatever resources they had available, they battled the blaze for seven hours and were successful. And, what is more, when Cathy reached her property, her missing cat “Snoball” came running to greet her.

Thunderbird

Sometime during the weekend, I received a call from Oklahoma City, seeking shelter for four cats. This family in the Thunderbird fire was not so fortunate. They had lost everything, but their horses had been saved; and a member of Thunderkatz, an OKC cat advocacy group, would be bringing their four cats to me. Another anonymous donor called to say that she would be sending a donation on their behalf. I have since learned that this family too had other difficulties. The husband is handicapped from an accident, which happened exactly one year ago to the date, and was scheduled for surgery within the week. “Sophie,” “Scrappy,” “Drew,” and “Zuko” are now rested and happy and will be staying with me until their living situation is resolved.

When tragedy strikes, there are so many heartwarming stories of good people helping others. PALS was on the scene immediately to rescue animals at the Mannford shelter before the fire reached them. And Kudos to the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and Tulsa SPCA, who spearheaded the rescue efforts in Creek County. Also, numerous unnamed, generous people donated supplies, veterinary care, and foster homes for animals.

A Facebook page has been established to reunite owners with their pets, Creek County Displaced Animals. The need will be ongoing, as many acres of farmland were destroyed. Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and Forestry has set up a donation site for hay or feed at the Creek County Fairgrounds. Donations may also be sent to Oklahoma Alliance for Animals (11822 E. 15th St., Tulsa, OK 74105) for its continuing work.