Mindy Norton

Host: Speaking of Pets

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.

She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from UAB. She got her first real pet at the age of 9 when her family adopted a mixed Boston Terrier pup they named “Scamp”. As an adult, a friend invited her to help with a humane society event, and that was the beginning of her involvement with group efforts to help animals. Since then, she has been on the boards of directors of three animal welfare organizations, serving as president of two of them.

For seven years, Mindy wrote and recorded a weekday spot called “Pet Patrol” for Birmingham’s WBHM Public Radio, for which she won an Obelisk Award in 1979. After she and her husband (and three cats) moved to Tuscaloosa, she talked the station manager at the time into giving her two minutes every Saturday morning to talk about pets and pet care.

Since 2006, “Speaking of Pets” has been available as a podcast, consistently one of APR’s most popular offerings. (In fact, staff members have referred to her as the “podcast queen”!) That’s no surprise to Mindy who believes the reason for its popularity is the subject matter. “After all,” she says, “I get to talk about our best friends every week!”

Her APR spot about the link between animal abuse and cruelty toward humans has been featured on the American Humane Association’s website.  As a volunteer, Mindy feels she is so blessed to have a soap box with a microphone in front of it – plus, she gets to help two causes at the same time, animal welfare and Alabama Public Radio.

American Humane Association

The 2018 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways.  Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories:  Service Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs. 

Interacting with an animal can be very theraputic for humans. While other animals can be great therapy animals, dogs really excel in helping humans who are going through a difficult or troubling time. A certified Therapy Dog can make a significant contribution to many treatment programs.

Dogs began helping our military forces as early as World War I, but it wasn't until World War II that the Army established its first K-9 Corps. They serve as scouts, detection specialists for explosives, and assist on guard duty to protect US service men and women around the world. Nowadays, dogs have their own military service records and can be awarded commendations for outstanding service. It is not possible to count the number of lives military dogs have saved, sometimes at the extreme cost of their own. The Military Dog category seeks to recognize the dedication and valor of these extraordinary animals.

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American Humane Association

The 2018 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories: Service Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, and Emerging Hero Dogs.

The Service Dog category includes animals that assist people with disabilities other than sight and hearing. Most have received special training.

Law Enforcement dogs include what we often think of as police dogs, animals specially trained to patrol, search buildings, track criminals, and to detect drugs, narcotics and explosive devices.  Arson dogs are animals trained to sniff out accelerants that may have been used to start a fire.      

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lizasperling [Flickr]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration  is investigating a possible link between incidents of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs and extended consumption of "grain-free" dog food, after several reports from veterinarians.  

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Chaining a Dog

Jul 21, 2018
fvfavo (Mario Micklisch) [Flickr]

Not only is chaining (or tethering) considered inhumane and unsafe for animals, it is illegal in more than 20 states and the District of Columbia.


Pet Fire Safety

Jul 14, 2018
Dan4th (Dan4th Nicholas) [Flickr]

One of the best ways to keep your pet safe is to keep your home safe.  And often, one of the best ways to keep your home safe may be to keep your pet from dangerous situations that could cause a fire!

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anneheathen [Flickr]

Being outside on a sunny summer day may seem like a great idea, but hot humid weather can be dangerous for our furry friends.  Your four-legged companion depends on you to keep it safe and healthy in the sweltering summer heat.

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4th of July Pet Safety

Jun 30, 2018
petfinder.com

We love to include our pets in our celebrations, but this is one time they might be better off at home.  Loud, noisy fireworks are not fun for your furry friend.  Add the summer heat and the dangers in some of the holiday foods, and including your pet might not be the best choice.

A Real Fat Cat

Jun 23, 2018
Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA [Facebook]

Chubbs, a Himalayan mix estimated to be about 10 years old, was grossly overweight.  His long fur was so matted it seemed to be painful for him, and much of it had to be shaved (or cut) off.  Perhaps he was never brushed, or he was just too large to groom himself.  

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Pet Sitters International [Facebook]

Take Your Dog To Work Day is always celebrated on the Friday after Father's Day.  It tops off  Take Your Pet To Work Week, all created and supported by Pet Sitters International to celebrate dogs as great companions and encourage adoptions of homeless pets.

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Pet Left in Hot Car

Jun 9, 2018
Greg Walters [Flickr]

A happy dog sitting in a car, hoping to go for a ride - what is wrong with this picture?  Nothing really, if the human makes sure the pet can ride safely, and does not leave the animal alone in the car, even for a few minutes.  

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Cats and Boxes

Jun 2, 2018
docoverachiever (Sheila Sund) [Flickr]

What is it about boxes that cats love so much?  They are good places to hide, snooze, relax - and it doesn't have to be roomy.  Facebook is full of videos of cats scrunching and snuggling down into unbelievably small containers.   If you want to entertain your feline friend, just find a clean empty box.

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NOAA Photo Library [Flickr]

A military or war dog can be a soldier's greatest asset and the enemy's worst nightmare.  They are loyal, intelligent,  and they have an average accuracy rate of 98% in sniffing out bombs, gas, drugs and enemy forces.   It's no wonder that most of them are adopted by former handlers when they retire!

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Pet Travel Rules

May 19, 2018
Can Do Canines [Flickr]

If an animal is behaving badly  (growling, hissing, biting), chances are pretty good it is not a true service or support animal.  A legitimate service or support animal is trained to move through crowded areas and confined spaces without acting out.  

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Pet Moms

May 12, 2018
Jack-JackT [Flickr}

Hugging a pet may not do much for the animal, but it sure can bring the human a great feeling of companionship and comfort.  If you have a pet that likes to be hugged, you have a special friend!


Be Kind to Animals

May 5, 2018
American Humane Association

Each of us may have our own idea of what it means to be kind to animals, whether it's showing respect for other living creatures, or becoming involved in helping to protect animals and making sure they are not mistreated.  This is a good week to fill your bird feeder and make sure the water in the bird bath is clean.  Or plant a bush that attracts butterflies.  Or just spend some extra quality time with your own furry buddy!

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Muffet (liz west) [Flickr]

Keeping your home safe for your best friend may mean limiting the use of things like essential oils.  That includes diffusers which may put oils into the air that could harm your pet's sensitive respiratory system.  

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Bark in the Park 2018

Apr 21, 2018
Bark in the Park [Facebook]

Humans and their furry friends are invited to the 5th Annual Bark in the Park Fundraiser benefitting the Will May Dog Park, part of Sokol Park on Watermelon Road in Tuscaloosa.  There will be live music, food trucks, a Pet Parade, children's activities, dogs available for adoption, and much more! 

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First Aid for Pets

Apr 14, 2018
theopie [Flickr]

Knowing what to do for a pet in an emergency can make  a big difference.  For example, applying a splint may seem easy, but done incorrectly, it could do more harm than good.  Learn the basics for pet first aid so you can help your four-legged friend in need.

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Indi Samarajiva [Flickr]

Taking care of your furry friend makes for a great relationship with a faithful companion.  Taking care of your favorite public radio station makes for great listening.  If only a few people do it, it can be expensive, but if a lot of us do it, it will be healthy  -and affordable!

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Easter with Pets

Mar 31, 2018
stacydubuc [Flickr]

So much of what we enjoy about the Easter celebration can mean trouble for our best friends.  Almost everything in the Easter basket should be kept away from our pets, and much of the food on our table, including anything with grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, avocados.  Uncooked breads containing yeast also should be kept away from an animal that likes to sneak a taste or two.   Enjoy the holiday, but remember to keep your furry buddy safe to help celebrate all year long.

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Pets Are Living Longer

Mar 24, 2018
Mindy Norton

Our cat, Sasha, benefited from the expertise of a veterinary specialist who performed major surgery to remove many kidney stones.  Today she is doing just fine, thanks to a wonderful team of doctors - her local veterinarian who diagnosed the problem and the specialist who did such a great job with her surgery.

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Irish Pets

Mar 17, 2018
Martin Hasketh [Flickr]

Knowing the history of a pet's breed and the purpose for which it was originally bred can help you appreciate the animal.  The Kerry Blue Terrier was originally bred to hunt rabbits and foxes; it would also herd cattle and sheep.  It is a hardy, devoted and playful friend.

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Mindy Norton

We are fortunate to have a friend who takes care of our furry friends when we are away.  It's really a personal choice but if she were not available, I would probably consider hiring an experienced pet sitter.

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American Humane Association [Facebook]

In 1877, representatives from 27 humane organizations met in Cleveland, Ohio and started what would become the American Humane Association.  Go online to AmericanHumane.org and look at the history tab to see a year-by-year list of their accomplishments and activities!  It is a vivid picture of how the humane movement has evolved over the years!


Spay Day 2018

Feb 24, 2018
Humane Society of the United States

Spaying and neutering saves lives.  With fewer puppies and kittens being born and crowding the shelters, a homeless pet will have a better opportunity to find a new home and a caring owner!

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senior planning (Jacob Edward) [Flickr]

Poor dental health for your pet can lead to gingivitis or periodontal disease, common dental issues for your best friend.  It is estimated that most pets show signs of periodontal disease as early as three years old.  Regular checkups and good dental care can help to insure that your pet stays healthy, and keep you both smiling,

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stevendepolo (Steven Depolo) [Flickr]

If you are concerned for your pet's safety, do not put its name on the collar or ID tag.  An animal may be more receptive and willing to go with a stranger that knows its name.  And remember - unattended means unsafe when it comes to your best friend.

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The Flu - in Dogs

Feb 3, 2018
lizasperling [Flickr]

With the flu season being especially difficult for humans this year, concern is growing about the threat of dog flu.  Yes, dogs have their own strain of flu, not contagious to humans but very easily spread to other dogs and even to cats.  The advice is the same for your dog as it is for you - get the flu shot.

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Naming the Cat

Jan 27, 2018
Mindy Norton

This is Gypsy.  If you look closely, you will see her "tipped" left ear.  The tip was surgically removed to indicate she has already been spayed, to alert anyone who might find her, to prevent unnecessary surgery in the future.  

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Kerri Lee Smith [Flickr]

Shelter workers and rescue groups make a major difference for animals every day.  Folks who make contributions  or volunteer allow them to continue helping pets.  Pitch in today to change the life of pets - you may find your own life has changed for the better, too!

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