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.

Pet Food Recall

2 hours ago
basykes [Flickr]

To be honest, most pets don't really care what the food bowl looks like - it's what is in the bowl that counts.  Unfortunately, some pet owners have learned that the food they have been giving their best friends every day could harm or even kill them.

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Canine Good Citizen

Jan 9, 2021
born1945 [Flickr]

`Training your dog is time well spent - for both of you.  It provides mental stimulation, exercise, and builds a solid and lasting relationship between you and your pet.  You will be a better friend to your furry buddy, and you will find you have a true companion that will be devoted to you!

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Mindy Norton

Many of the New Year's resolutions we make for ourselves could also apply to our pets - eat healthier, get more exercise, regular medical checkup and shots.  But this year my resolutions are for better treatment and concern for all pets!

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New Pet in the House

Dec 26, 2020
Jeffrey P. Home [ Flickr]

Having a new pet in your home can be a fun and exciting time for both of you, but it's important to get things off on the right foot.  Your new furry buddy will need some supplies, and especially attention from you.  After all, it takes time to adjust to all-new surroundings - and people!

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Animals at the Manger

Dec 19, 2020
Prayitno [Flickr]

Most Christmas manger scenes include animals, because the Christ child was born in a stable.  Other than Joseph and Mary, the animals were the only witnesses to the birth of Jesus.  So it seems natural that we would  include our pets in our Christmas celebrations!

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Pet Adoption Scams

Dec 12, 2020
Kim Alaniz [Flickr]

Some internet pet sellers are legitimate, but scammers often use available online photos (like the one shown here) to lure you in.   If you want a specific breed, statistics show 1 of every 4 shelter dogs is a purebred.  So be a hero, and adopt a new best friend from your local animal shelter or rescue group.

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Pandemic and Pets

Dec 5, 2020
brownpau [Flickr]

One way to keep your pet entertained in confinement is to play with it.   Most cats are easily entertained with a peacock feather.  It is lightweight, and usually easily replaced if needed.  For some reason, a cat finds it almost irresistable.  And playing with your best friend is a good way to strengthen the bond between you.

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JohnWDavisJr [Flickr]

Some Christmas decorations can pose a risk to our pets that may entice your furry friend into the tree.  Even bows and ribbon on gifts can cause problems if chewed and swallowed.  Protect your pet from Christmas dangers so you can enjoy the holiday now and for years to come!

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BobMacInnes [Flickr]

Many dogs go gray in the face as they get older.  Cats, on the other hand, tend to maintain their youthful color and often do not show their age until they are quite old.  Even so, senior dogs and even senior cats need extra attention and care to make sure they (and you) can enjoy their later years! 

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nataliaking [Flickr]

If you are not sure you're really ready to adopt a pet, consider fostering one for your local shelter.  It helps the pet you foster, it helps the shelter, and it may help you decide if having a pet on a long-term basis is right for you!

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Halloween

Oct 31, 2020
marioanima [Flickr]

Before putting your pet in a Halloween costume, is your buddy okay with the ideas?  Make sure it does not interfere with your pet's ability to breathe or see or move, with no small parts, like buttons, that are easily swallowed.  Never leave it alone while in costume, and if your pet shows signs of stress, be kind and remove the costume.  

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American Humane Association

Mackenzie had a rough start in life, but she also had lots of tender loving care.  Even though she may not be able to bark, her actions speak volumes as she helps to care for other animals with disabilities that are in desperate need of a hero - like Mackenzie!

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Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue [Flickr]

A Veterinary Technician, or "Vet Tech" can make the Veterinarian more effective by running diagnostic tests, administering anesthesia, even cleaning cages if needed.  That allows more time for the veterinarian to focus on diagnosis, determine treatment and talk to the owner.  

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Diane Stunguris [Facebook]

The quote of the day at the Toronto Pearson Airport: "Boy, could she run!"  It wasn't easy to catch Crystal the Spanish Podenco, a breed known for its speed and stamina.  She looked like a white blur running down the taxiway.  It took hours, but finally the frightened animal ran out of steam and was rescued.

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Adopt A Dog Month

Oct 3, 2020
vwcampin (Shelby L. Bell) [Flickr]

When you bring home a new pet, plan for a time of adjustment as you and your furry buddy get to know each other.  You may be comfortable because, after all, it's your home - but it will be foreign and unfamiliar to your newly adopted dog.  Patience and lots of love will help to make the transiton easier for your new best friend.

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Dog Joy-riding

Sep 26, 2020
waferboard [Flickr]

Most dogs love the wind in their face, but they don't realize the danger.  After all, you wouldn't let your child ride like this.  Allowing your best friend to ride in a vehicle with its head out the window exposes it to serious injury.

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frankieleon [Flickr]

Storms continue to form in the Atlantic region, so pet owners should be prepared to keep themselves and their best friends safe.  If that means evacuating to a safer area, it helps to have a plan so you and your furry buddy will have what you need to weather the storm together.

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WoodleyWonderworks [Flickr]

A newly released British study of cat owners focused on the relationship between cats, people and wildlife.  While some view a cat as a malicious hunter of defenseless creatures, others note the cat's contribution to pest control.  And some just enjoy their feline friend's company.

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Humane Society of North Texas [Facebook]

Transports like Wings of Rescue  are a vital link in rescuing pets from the path of an oncoming hurricane.  But most of their efforts are aimed at relocating endangered pets from high intake shelters to areas where pet overpopulation is not so much of a problem.  One of their mottos is "flying at-risk pets to safety".  Pipsqueak, for one, is grateful for their efforts!!

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American Humane Association

The 2020 Hero Dog Awards seek to find and recognize dogs who help people in many important ways. Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories: Shelter Dogs, Emerging Hero Dogs, Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs.

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The Shelter Dog category honors shelter and rescue dogs who are given a new “leash” on life.  A shelter or rescue dog can be nominated for overcoming difficult odds, having a remarkable rescue story or for simply brightening the lives of the people who gave them a second chance to be a first-rate pet!

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American Humane Association

The 2020 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, Shelter Dogs, Law Enforcement/ Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide/Hearing Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs.

A Guide Dog is trained to lead, follow commands, ignore distractions, and even disobey a command that would put its human partner in danger. The human also must be trained on how to handle the dog and how to be a good leader of the team. A Hearing Dog is specially trained to alert its deaf owner to sounds we all take for granted. Unlike a Guide Dog that must be of a certain body size in order to lead a person, a Hearing Dog can be large or small, pure-bred or mixed breed. Many are shelter animals who are determined to have the intelligence and temperament to serve as a Hearing Dog. It is a perfect blending of needs - deaf individuals have the opportunity to live an independent life, and dogs who may literally die for lack of homes are given a purpose and owners that will love and care for them. Guide dogs and hearing dogs are living examples of the trust bond between human and animal.

In the world of Search and Rescue operations, dogs have a very special place.  Their keen sense of smell, excellent night vision, extremely sensitive hearing and endurance have made them crucial in efforts to locate people or animals who are missing or trapped.  They can truly be life savers!  Human Remains Detection dogs help locate bodies and may be instrumental in solving crimes or bringing closure for family members.

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American Humane Association

The 2020 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 Dog, Shelter Dog, Law Enforcement/Arson Dog, Therapy Dog, Military Dog, Search and Rescue Dog, Guide/Hearing Dog. 

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Interacting with an animal can be very theraputic for humans. While other animals, such as horses and cats 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.

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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 2020 Hero Dog Awards, celebrating its Tenth Anniversary, is seeking 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 Shelter Dogs.

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

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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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Animal Hoarding

Aug 1, 2020
Animal Rescue Corps [Facebook]

Groups like the Animal Rescue Corps step in to help  through direct action in situations where animals are suffering or in danger.  Coordinating with local and regional animal shelters and animal welfare agencies, they can make a real, life-saving difference to protect animals.

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Unchain That Dog

Jul 25, 2020
barock schloss [Flickr]

Humane Society of the United States defines "dog chaining" as the practice in which a dog owner tethers a dog outdoors to a stationary object for extended periods of time.  That practice poses a serious threat to the animal's physicial and psychological well-being.

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Scott 97006 [Flickr]

Summer heat can be uncomfortable, especially for your dog.  Most dogs enjoy being outdoors, but they can overheat or burn their paws before you know they are suffering.  Burned paws can blister and be very painful for your best friend.  It's up to you to make sure your furry buddy stays safe in the summer heat.

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Facebook

Guiness World Records doesn't qualify dogs by breed, so they list August (or "Augie") as the 19th oldest dog in the world. But - of the first 18 oldest dogs, none were Golden Retrievers.  So that makes Augie a record-breaker as the oldest Golden Retriever  on record!

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July 4th Celebration

Jul 4, 2020
BuzzFarmers [Flickr]

Keeping your pet safe during July 4th celebration might mean confining it indoors, keeping it calm when the fireworks begin - and making sure it always has some form of ID, such as a microchip, or tags on the collar,  so your best friend can find its way home.

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Cat History

Jun 27, 2020
polandeze [Flickr]

Cats have been associating with people for thousands of years.  Cats were even official employees of the Postal Service in Great Britian in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Their job?  Mouse control.  Probably the most famous was Tibs the Great, a 23-pound cat that served for more than 14 years; when he died, he was honored with an obituary in the Royal Mail's in-house magazine.

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Animatronic Cats

Jun 20, 2020
PreciousBytes [Flickr]

When I was a child, I had a stuffed toy dog I named "Fluffy" because he was soft and - well - fluffy.  I could hug him and feel comforted.   So I don't have any problem believing an animatronic cat might stimulate the memory and imagination of a dementia patient.

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