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.

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show [Facebook]

The name Pekingese gives you a clue to the origins of this breed.  At one time, these small dogs (usually 7-14 pounds) could be owned only by the royal family of China, where they lived in the palace and even had their own servants.  In the late 1800's, they were brought to Britain, and later to America.  In 1906, the American Kennel Club registered its first Pekingese.  This is a breed that bonds with its owner, but can still have an independent (some might say "royal") personality!


Myths About Cats

Jun 12, 2021
Kevin Dooley [Flickr]

Let's bust some myths that have plagued our feline friends for too long!  All cats are not alike - they can be as different from each other as humans are.  You may wonder what your cat is thinking or feeling, but understanding your furry buddy begins with knowing some facts about cats.  


The Color of a Cat

Jun 5, 2021
Mindy Norton

Our very first cat, Heidi, was a tortoiseshell kitten.  We thought she was beautiful, and so unique!  The first time we saw another tortoiseshell cat in someone's yard, we were surprised to see a feline that looked just like our pet!  The tortoiseshell coloring is so named because their coat resembles, well,  the shell of a tortoise.  Keep in mind that tortoiseshells can be found in a variety of cat breeds, so their size and personality can vary greatly.  Our current pet, pictured here, is a tortoiseshell named Gypsy.  She is a sweetheart!


Grant Menzies [Facebook]

A hearty little dog, Rags won the hearts of soldiers with whom he served, many times helping to save their lives.  In October, 1918, he and his rescuer, Private Donavan, were both wounded in battle and evacuated to a military hospital in Illinois.  Donovan died in 1919 from his wounds but Rags, who had lost his right eye in the attack, recovered.  In 1920 a military family at Fort Sheridan adopted him, and took them with him wherever they were stationed.


Three Rivers Police Department [Facebook]

Every year hundreds of pets die because they were left unattended in a parked car.  In just minutes an animal can suffer heatstroke, irreparable organ and brain damage and death.  Even if you live in a state where the laws do not allow you to rescue the pet, you can still search nearby establishments to see if you can locate the driver.


Brief Gasp (Anninna Rutanen) - [Flickr]

When  grooming your pet, brush or comb in the direction of hair growth. Use short firm strokes with a brush or comb and be careful to stop if you encounter a mat in the fur.  Gently work the tangled hair loose before continuing.  Make it a pleasant time for your pet - and for you!


Dog Mom Day

May 8, 2021
sidewalk flying (Seth Sawyers) - [Flickr]

Pet moms know that having a four-legged companion brings with it a number of benefits for the human.  A pet can help a person feel less isolated (a real benefit many new owners discovered during the pandemic).  Pets reduce our stress and help us relax.  They can lower our blood pressure, reduce anxiety and depression, even help to ease chronic pain.   And if you adopt a pet from your local animal shelter or rescue group, it makes room for another animal to have a chance at a new forever home!


Plan for Disaster

May 1, 2021
The National Guard [Flickr]

This dog is one of the lucky ones - he survived the tornado, and is rescued!  If his owner had a disaster plan, he might not have needed to endure this.  Make a list of items your pet will need to get by for several days, and make your own "bug-out" bag!  The best advice is to not wait until the last minute to evacuate.  The American Red Cross website has some great information to get you started.  


National Pet ID Week

Apr 24, 2021
AdamB1995 (Adam Buzzo) [Flickr]

Losing a pet can be traumatic for both owner and animal, but if your furry friend has some reliable ID it greatly increases the possibility your four-legged companion will make its way back home to you.  Check with your veterinarian or local pet store about options for having your pet microchipped.


Feral Cats

Apr 17, 2021
DF (Denise) Church [Flickr]

When feral cats are spayed or neutered and released, it is possible they may be trapped again.  It is easy to tell if a male has been neutered, but not a female.  To prevent unnecessary surgery, one ear of a spayed feral cat is "tipped" (the tip surgically removed) so that it is obvious the cat has already been spayed!


greeblie [Flickr]

Hugging is a universally recognized sign of affection that we humans use with each other, so of course we want to shower that love and affection on our canine friends, as well.  The problem is that our dogs may not appreciate it nearly as much as we might think!


petful.com [Flickr]

Having a pet around the house may change the way you celebrate certain holidays, and that includes Easter.   Pets are attracted to shiny objects, or things that have a tantalizing smell.  Taking the time to make sure your best friend stays safe during the holiday will make it a happy time for everyone!


Easter Bunny

Mar 27, 2021
NHDutch [Flickr]

Contrary to what most people think, rabbits need more to eat than just carrots!  A rabbit needs about 1-2 cups of fresh vegetables every day (like carrot tops, cucumber, etc.), some fresh fruit (apple without the seeds, bananas) and fresh hay - plenty of hay.  A rabbit's teeth grow continually throughout its life, and rough foods like hay help to file down the teeth!  And don't forget to keep the water bowl filled with fresh clean water.


Nicolò Lazzati Photography [Flickr]

Separation anxiety can happen in a pet when the animal is strongly bonded to its owner and is not accustomed to spending any time alone.  It can be (or become) a serious condition and needs special attention from you to find a way to keep your pet calm in your absence.  It is one of the major reasons a new pet owner gets frustrated with their new furry friend.  Don't give up - you can fix this!



Mar 13, 2021
Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue [Flickr]

Clocks don't mean much to our pets.  They keep time by knowing the routines of their lives - and that means they are aware of the routines of our lives.  When those change, it's not only an adjustment for us but our furry friends may also have to adapt to a new schedule.  


Kelsey MacDonald (kmac989) [Flickr]

Keeping your pet comfortable and healthy means helping it stay free from pesky things like fleas.  But keeping it safe also means using products that will not harm your furry friend.  


Spay Day 2021

Feb 27, 2021
Daniesq [Flickr]

How many puppies can you count in this picture?  Should be easy to find homes for them - after all, they're so cute!  But if the shelter has already received more than a hundred puppies that day, chances for these little guys are not so good.  Please spay or neuter your pet!


When A Pet Owner Dies

Feb 20, 2021
KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO [Facebook]

The late Bill Dorris wanted  his faithful dog, Lulu, to be with someone who loved her and would care for her.  The $5 million trust he left for Lulu's care will be managed by a conservator who will reimburse her caretaker for all expenses.  


Pet Theft Awareness

Feb 13, 2021
Phil Scoville [Flickr]

Estimates are that almost two million pets are stolen every year.    And in the pandemic, there was a significant increase due to the demand for dogs during the lockdown.  It's thought that many are stolen by dog flippers, who hope to make fast money by selling your pet; but unlike flipping a house, dog flipping does not improve the animal.  Your best friend counts on you to keep it safe.  Protect your pet by making sure it does not get stolen.


Orbiting Sphere [Facebook]

In 2018, United Airlines refused to allow a peacock onboard its flight as an emotional support animal.  Now airlines have the DOT on their side as the new rules allow them to limit animals on planes to qualified service animals who are trained to assist individuals with disabilities.  


Patches Comes Home

Jan 30, 2021
Animal Shelter Assistance Program [Facebook]

Three years after her owner was killed in a massive mud slide, Patches the cat was reunited with her owner's partner, all thanks to a small (and relatively inexpensive) electronic marvel called a microchip.


Pet Food Recall

Jan 16, 2021
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.


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!


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!


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!


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!


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.


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!


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!