General Interest

New Easter Bunny?

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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By Cyndy Harnett

Congratulations on owning a new pet rabbit!  You might have lots of questions on what to do as a rabbit owner, but taking care of your new pet rabbit isn’t difficult.  It’s basic pet care, like caring for a dog or cat.  There are some daily tasks, and some tasks that need to be done less often.  The mostimportant daily task is providing fresh food, hay and water. One of the least favorite tasks is trimming toenails, which should be done about every 4 to 6 weeks. Here’s a general timeline of tasks
for new rabbit owners.

Daily:  Provide fresh rabbit pellets, grass,hay and water on a regular schedule.  Some rabbit owners include greens such as Romaine lettuce or parsley as part of a daily diet. Hold and handle your rabbit.  Daily handling makes a gentler pet.  A rabbit behaves like a cat since she will come to you on her own terms.  Give a limited amount of treats.  There are many kinds of treats.  Check to see what is suitable for your rabbit.  Watch for changes in your rabbit’s condition or behavior.  Discharge from the nose or a rabbit who has stopped eating may mean a health problem for the veterinarian.  Provide out-of-thecage exercise time. Daily exercise helps controlweight and aids digestion. Exercise should be supervised and take place in a “rabbit proof” area.

This is a good time to play on the floor with yourrabbit. Weekly: Clean the cage. This may need to be done more often if your rabbit lives indoors or the weather is warm. Clean the water and food containers.  Examine your rabbit for signs of poor health.
Catching problems early such as sore spots will keep them from getting worse later. Check food and supplies needed for the coming week, or else you may be going to the store just before it closes to buy rabbit pellets.

Monthly: Brush your rabbit.  Wool breed rabbits need brushing or trimming more often.  Trim toe nails about every 4 to 6 weeks.  You may need a helper the first time or two.  Clean inner ears, if needed.  Check cage, equipment, and exercise area and make any repairs.

Seasonally: Change or add toys for rabbit fun and enjoyment. Protect rabbit from hot or cold weather.  Weigh your rabbit.  Weight gain or loss may indicate a health problem such as molar spurs.  Go to the veterinarian for a check up.  While not mandatory, it is recommended.  Rabbits do not need annual shots.  Having a pet rabbit is a wonderful experience, and you’ll find taking care of your rabbit is easy.  A happy pet rabbit may get you the best reward of all, a lick on the face!

FOR MORE INFORMATION Cyndy Harnett is the owner of www.RabbitsAtoZ.comfor pet rabbit products and information. She has enjoyed house rabbits for many years.

Phoebe’s Phashions Decking Out the Dogs

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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By Marilyn King

The building lights in nighttime downtown Tulsa aren’t the only things sparkling in that part of town. Just as dazzling are the canine jewels that Lisa Steinmeyer makes for her business,Phoebe’s Phashions.

In the summer of 2003, Lisa, a native Tulsan and court reporter by day, started dabbling in a new hobby making sterlingsilver jewelry.  She soon found out that the sterling was too expensive, so she decided to try a necklace for Phoebe, her
miniature dachshund. Phoebe, by the way, was alreadyfamous in her own right, having appeared as Winner of the Week in the 2001 Workman Page-A-Day calendar series for dogs in pink sunglasses on a blue float in Lisa’s pool.

Lisa went to Hobby Lobby, purchased some fake pearls, and the first phashion was born. Friends starting asking for them, and soon after Southern Agriculture placed a large order that kept Lisa and a few friends beading day and night.  Oneby one, different Tulsa pet businesses placed orders, and Lisa’s business savvy to exhibit at the nation’s largest pet trade show,H.H. Backer, landed her an order from Harrods in London that to this day is renewed three to four times a year.

Now Lisa is decking out dogs in 36 states, along with canines in London, Ireland, Canada, Tokyo, and Australia.  Herjewelry is still made right here in Tulsa, and each piece carries a special charm of little silver sunglasses dedicated to her Phoebe.
Also, Phoebe’s is not just for the girls – there’s a line of “neckwear” for those macho boys out there who don’t want to be too frilly!

Way to go Lisa! Are these jewels cool or what!!!
Phoebe’s Phashions – Haute Couture for the Stylish Canine 918-582-6253

Publisher Letter

posted April 15th, 2007 by
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20070415 1

 By Marilyn King

Happy Spring to all you Tulsa Pet Lovers out there!

The joys of Spring! It turns a dog’s fancy hopeful for more walks in the park, and all the kitty’s fancies to leisure naps in the longer daylight hours. It’s a relief to have the winter of 2007 behind us, and I’m sure all creatures great and small in Green Country are enjoying this warmth on their bones. For those of you who missed my first issue, here I am with my rescued chocolate lab Samuel August us King (named after my Dad), who is one year and three months now. After I “christened” him I learned from a friend there’s an old saying that if you name your dog after someone you loved, the dog will love you more. Sam’s certainly full of love, and it gives me great joy to observe his boundless happiness.

Rather naively, I hadn’t anticipated the more sobering aspects of my new career — the horror stories coming my way of abuse and abandonment. Visits to the City shelter also give me quite a dose of reality that some of you don’t even know about. If you haven’t been there lately, go. I challenge you to not come away with a heavy heart. All the animals there are so hopeful they’ll find their way home, or be picked to get to have a home. All the little faces are wrought with anxiety, and the sadness is palpable.

One aspect that helps soften the blows of the horror stories is the number of people I’m meeting and hearing of who truly are making a difference in our homeless pet community. People who foster dogs and spend their money feeding them, tending to their health issues, trying to find them homes; others who devote all their spare time (and then some) to provide assistance in transport and countless other ways of truly giving. It’s wonderful to know there are folks out there who take a great deal of their time, energy, and resources to help. We plan to introduce you to some of these people in a future issue.

We hope you enjoy this second issue of TulsaPets Magazine, and that you share it with your friends and family. I’ve had countless emails and calls of compliments about the first issue, and I wish to say thank you to all who took their time to contact me with their positive comments. I also want to say THANKS BIG TIME to my advertisers. Without their support there would be no TulsaPets Magazine. And of course another thanks to Langdon Publishing. (They do good work, don’t they!)

I value your ideas, suggestions, questions, etc., so please don’t hesitate to call or email. Also, don’t forget that if you have a question for a vet, trainer, or attorney, please email the contact information on the respective article.

So “chow” until July. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and enjoy your Spring!

TheraPETics Service Dogs of Oklahoma

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Sherri Goodall

Along with a devoted, specially trained, four-legged helpmate, people who are partnered with a TheraPETic’s canine are given the invaluable gift of INDEPENDENCE.

Under the watchful eye of Lisa Bycroft, Executive Director and Diane Hutchins, Administrative Assistant, magic transpires on East 21st Street at TheraPETics. Adorable balls of fur—golden, black, brindle, apricot, chocolate and many hues in between— are transformed into superbly trained service dogs.

Golden Retrievers and Labradors are excellent service breeds; they love to retrieve and they love to please. The newest breed is the Labradoodle (Standard Poodle/Labrador)—the uber breed of service dog. Labradoodles combine the best of both worlds: non-allergenic coats, retrieving instincts, love of service and superior intelligence.

David Skaggs and his black lab, Martin, greeted us at TheraPETics. Martin demonstrated his talents soon enough. Martin, like many of his TheraPETics peers, functions as the body and legs of Skaggs, who is paralyzed from the waist down. Martin deftly removed Skaggs’ long-sleeved jacket on command. He also will remove Skaggs’ pants. Doodle, a young Labradoodle demonstrated her talent of undoing Skaggs’ Velcro shoes. Buster, Doodle’s brother, was the ace light switch operator. He entertained us with a frenzy of light switching— on, off, on, off, until we were dizzy.

Skaggs says Martin not only gives him the confidence and freedom to pursue his life and work; but also gives his wife the opportunity to pursue her life without worry. Martin retrieves tools for Skaggs, brings the telephone to him and can go to a neighbor for help.

Buster belongs to Diane Hutchins and alerts her when her sugar drops. Dogs cannot be trained to alert a human to seizures or other body changes, like sugar swings. This ability is due to the canine’s uncanny sense of smell. When sugar drops, or a seizure is about to begin, the dogs smell the changes inthe human’s body chemistry. Once the dog is rewarded for this behavior, it will repeat it when appropriate (Pavlov). Buster, also “braces” to help Diane stand.

What we consider simple tasks; dressing and undressing, opening and closing doors and cabinets, retrieving items dropped on the floor, sitting up, standing, turning on lights, answering a telephone, ringing a doorbell, unloading a washer or dryer—are monumental, if not impossible tasks for the physically limited. TheraPETics dogs perform all these tasks and more.

Children face the most difficult challenges with their disabilities… both emotional and physical. Once a service dog comes into their lives, typical social barriers are broken. The dogs become the bridge between “abled” and “disabled.” More than just physical doors are opened.

It takes tremendous trust and confidence for a physically challenged human, who has known only hardship, to turn him or herself over to a dog. This is where the training begins.

Lisa begins with 7-8 week-old puppies. Haikey Creek Kennels donate the Goldens. Labradors come from Wyngmaster and Glen-Mar Kennels. Sommer’s Doodles in OKC supply the Labradoodles.

Before being accepted, the puppies must take the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, which measures their retrieval drive and temperament (whether too dominant or submissive). Only those that measure up, make the cut.

From here, volunteers take over. First, the puppies go to a puppy raiser for one year. They come to class (raisers and puppies) once a week where they work with Mary Green, the official trainer. They learn basic obedience behavior, socialization, and patience. Their instincts of pulling and retrieving are honed and rewarded. The puppies learn to associate desired behavior with praise and reward. As important as their “schoolwork” is their socialization in their raiser’s home, where there might be children and other pets.

After a year with the puppy raisers, the dogs graduate to a trainer home. This is where the specific task- training begins. The trainer and dog go to work in the real world, whether it’s to a job, classroom or errands around the city. Once a week they go to class at TheraPETics, where they learn and practice desired behaviors. There are wheelchairs to pull and push, doors to open and close, refrigerators with items to be fetched, washers and dryers to be emptied, directions to be learned, tasks upon tasks to be mastered. Then they go home and practice some more. The dogs visit malls, ride escalators and elevators, visit restaurants, retail stores, museums, grocery stores, health centers, hospitals, doctors—all the service and entertainment establishments necessary to our lives. They travel on public transportation, through airports, on airplanes, in taxis, stay in hotels…just as we do.

Each dog costs about $14,000 to train. TheraPETics places the dogs with their partners at no cost. This is due to the volunteers that give so generously of their time, many of the in-kind services donated by vendors and veterinarians, corporations, and the fund raising efforts of TheraPETics.

At last… THE BIG DAY! GRADUATION. The hours, days, weeks and months of training culminate when the dogs are paired with their humans…the bond is formed. Team Training begins. The specific needs of each disabled person are added to the dog’s repertoire. The human/dog team train together for 100 hours, usually at the person’s home, so that the dogs can train to a specific environment.

It’s a beautiful merger. People gain their freedom and independence and the dogs get to do what they love best.

Each year, TheraPETics has two fundraisers: A K9K Race (a 5.5 mile sponsored race benefiting TheraPETics), and DOGFEST where all canines can strut their stuff. Silly contests abound, including Best Trick, Owner/Dog look-alike, Doggie Cross-Dressing Races, and agility races. Many vendors and rescue groups are on hand displaying their services and products. Of course, the TheraPETics dogs demonstrate their talents.

A special fund, The Dolly Fund, honors Dolly Carter, the famous black lab who dived into dryers. Its purpose is to fund extraordinary veterinary bills for service dogs.

These funding opportunities and much more can be found at

Mustang Sally

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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The little black kitten had found a home at last! It wasn’t fancy, but she had a roof over her head and food to eat. And children to play with her!

However, as she grew up, the children played with her less and less, so she spent more time outside, finding her own entertainment in the form of mice and birds. There were other cats, too, and, in time, she had kittens of her own. The family still fed her, but she spent most of her time under the house. And then one day the family moved. What was a cat to do? They had moved without her.

She was hungry so she ventured into the car lot next door. Soon, the owner of the car lot saw her and fed her. However, the black kitten, which was now a cat, was afraid. Could she ever trust humans again?


Her plight grew worse. They bulldozed her house! “To expand the car lot,” they said. The nice lady still fed her, but then told her that she could not stay there. “Cars and antifreeze are dangerous,” she said. The lady said that she might be able to move into her home, so she took her to a veterinarian for a check-up and vaccinations, spaying her so that she would never have kittens again.

However, the black cat could not adjust to life in a home. She had become a feral cat, wary of humans, and preferring the freedom of outdoors. Another dilemma….

But there was a solution! Someone mentioned a ranch, where horses lived in a nice warm barn. Other cats lived there, too, where the owner protected them, fed them, and gave them medical care.

So they moved her, and she now has both freedom and friends. She has become known as “Mustang Sally”: the cat that formerly lived with cars, now lives with horses. Life is good!

Story by Camille Hulen

The Dilemma of Homeless Cats

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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Free-roaming cats without owners have recently become the center of a national controversy. Some groups see these animals as victims that should be provided with food and shelter, while others see them as villains that should be eliminated by humane euthanasia. Many of these cats are feral or “wild,” the descendants of unaltered tame cats that were abandoned and gave birth to kittens that never had contact with humans. Although ferals are fearful of humans, they are still domesticated and ill-equipped to live on their own. Feral cats do not die of “old age.” They fall victim to disease, starvation, poisons, attacks by other animals, mistreatment by humans or are hit by cars.

It is estimated that the number of free roaming abandoned and feral cats in the United States may be as high as owned cats (about 73 million). Since most owned cats are sterilized, these unowned cats are the primary source of cat overpopulation. Many people who encounter feral cats start feeding them, but feeding alone can actually make the situation worse by increasing the birth rate of kittens. Animal shelters nationwide receive several million unwanted cats each year. Due to a shortage of available homes, approximately 75% of these cats are euthanized. Locally, the cat euthanasia rate at animal shelters is about 90% and less than 1% of these cats are ever claimed by owners.

The impact of both owned and unowned freeroaming cats upon the environment is an ongoing subject of debate. Even well-fed cats will hunt and kill prey. These predations cause a significant and preventable loss of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Free-roaming cats pose a small but important threat to human health. They can carry and transmit to humans such diseases as rabies, cat scratch fever, plague, tularemia and ringworm. Also, serious injuries can occur if feral cats are handled without precautions or experience.

Historically, communities have responded to feral cat colonies by capturing and euthanizing these unowned animals. In areas where there is a natural food source (mice), this resulted in the influx of more cats as the resident feral cats were removed. As long as there was a food source, the feral cats would repopulate the area. In areas where feral cats are fed by humans, a strong bond is created with these cats and usually the feral cat feeders will not cooperate with control strategies that involve euthanasia.

Most veterinarians and animal welfare groups now support managing these colonies by trapping, neutering, releasing and monitoring feral cats. The goal is to eventually reduce the feral cat population; however, eliminating the colony may not be possible due to immigration of new cats. Ideally, these colonies should be located in an area where the cats do not pose a threat to wildlife. The location should be inconspicuous so as not to encourage abandonment of pet cats. All cats within the colony are humanely trapped and receive a health exam, tested for feline leukemia and feline AIDS, neutered/spayed and vaccinated against rabies. Socialized adult cats and kittens should be adopted out to permanent homes and those that cannot be adopted should be returned to the colony. Most importantly, a monitoring program must be in place to identify new cats joining the colony, as well as cats requiring medical attention.

Stitch in Time is a local spay/neuter program for feral cats run by Street Cats, a local non-profit organization. Vouchers are issued that will cover a spay or neuter and a rabies vaccination. Over 50 vouchers are issued each month and once issued are good for three months. To receive a voucher call 918-298- 0104 and leave a message for Stitch in Time. Other local organizations that offer feral spay/neuter programs are Spay Oklahoma (918) 728-3144 and PAWS (Pet Assistance and Welfare Society) 918-376-2397.

- Dr. Judy Zinn