Speaking of Pets (Opinion)

Saturdays at 8:59 a.m.

Speaking of Pets with host Mindy Norton is a commentary (opinion piece) for people who care about pets and humane treatment for animals in general, and who want to celebrate that special relationship between us and our animal companions.

Chance and Lily, Spy Cats [Flickr]

The mental health benefits of having a dog or cat include help with depression, stress, anxiety - not to mention the companionship they provide to ease our loneliness.  Sounds like just the right prescription for a time such as this!


Poison Prevention Week

Mar 21, 2020
Mindy Norton

A pet is naturally curious, and explores the world with its nose and sometimes its mouth.  Poison-proofing helps to keep your best friend safe and healthy.  Store medications securely, use only non-toxic houseplants, and choose cleaners and chemicals for use around the house that won't harm your furry buddy.


Bryan Alexander [Flickr]

In addition to preparing for your pet's care if you and your furry buddy are quarrantined together, also consider what might happen if you just can't get home.  Let your neighbors know your pet might need some care, or have a trusted friend who will make sure your four-footed companion is taken care of.  


JTD121 (Josh Dionne) [Flickr]

You may have heard that dogs and cats commonly have coronaviruses, and you are wondering if it's safe to keep your family pet.  The answer is that your dog or cat poses no risk to you, or your family or your friends.  However, it is more important than ever to keep your pet healthy!


Leaping Cats!

Feb 29, 2020

One amazing thing about a cat's ability to jump or "leap" is that the animal can twist its body around, even upside down, and then manage to land on its feet - with precision!  I had one cat that jumped to the top of an open door, landing with all four paws lined up in a row to stand at that great height and survey the room - remarkable!


Mount Vernon [Facebook]

Many of those who have led our country from the highest office through good times and also difficult ones have had great support from some furry sources.  Presidential pets have often been in the news, but it all began with our very first president!


Siba Wins Westminster

Feb 15, 2020
Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show [Facebook]

Just a dog?  Well, this one is the reigning queen of the canine world as she just walked off with Best in Show, the top prize at the 2020 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  Her highly stylized coat - which her handler says takes six hours of grooming - has been compared to a topiary, but at three years old this Standard Poodle reigns supreme!


Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show [Facebook]

In 1877, a group of sporting men in New York decided they should hold a dog show in Manhattan.  They named their group after their favorite bar, the Westminster.  When the club staged its first dog show, the light bulb had not yet been invented, or the automobile.  In fact, Westminster Kennel Club is even older than the American Kennel Club!


Super Bowl Pet Safety

Feb 1, 2020
ShebleyCL (Cindy Shebley) [Flickr]

Even on Super Bowl Sunday, pet safety should still be a priority, but your four-legged friend may want to be part of the festivities.  The ASPCA suggests that you can put pet snacks in a special bowl so your guests have a good treat to give your furry buddy.  That way, everybody gets to be part of the fun!


Officer K9 Jet

Jan 25, 2020
K9 Jet [Facebook]

A two-year-old Pit Bull mix was rescued from an animal shelter and trained to be a detection dog.   After becoming an officer in the New Haven, Missouri Police Department, he did some public service work like visiting schools, senior centers and community events.  Then, just seven months after joining the force, he showed his real worth as a police officer when he made a big drug bust.  Way to go, K9 Jet!



Cold weather poses at least as many risks to our furry friends as hot weather does.  For example, you wouldn't leave your pet alone in a car in the summer heat, but in the winter that car can become a refrigerator.  It's not a safe place for any animal, especially your pet.


skeeze [Pixabay]

The Koala population has been so devastated already by the Australian Wildfires that the marsupial may end up on the endangered species list - a tragic thing to happen to such an iconic animal!


Eric Sonstroem [Flickr]

You can find a lot of dog training resources online.  Or look for a local trainer who will offer personalized help, or classes in your community where you can go with your canine buddy to learn in a group environment.  Helping your furry friend understand how to please you will benefit both of you!



During the first few days and weeks in your home, your new pet may be confused and unsure what to expect or how to react.  A little patience on your part can help your new best friend adapt to its surroundings and become a true member of the family!


Animals at the Manger

Dec 21, 2019

From the beginning, the Christmas celebration is for all members of the family, whether they are human or not - just like the first Christmas!



When telling someone about their family, many pet owners include their furry friend.  So it's not surprising that as pet owners shop for Christmas gifts, they are also looking for something to give their four-footed family member.


Stressed Out Pets

Dec 7, 2019
Lihoman... [Flickr]

A stressed out pet may have a decrease in appetite, isolate itself, or even  show aggression towards people and other pets.  Reducing stress factors for your pet will make for a happier companion, and probably a happier owner.


Sadie_Girl [Flickr]

While we humans enjoy the holiday festivities, Christmas can be a dangerous time for our pets.  All the bright colors and twinkling lights are fun for us, but they also capture the attention of our four-footed family members.  It has been said that one-third of pet owners will experience an emergency during the Christmas season.  Take precautions now to keep your best friend safe during this festive time.


Thanksgiving Treats

Nov 23, 2019
Birmingham Ballet [Facebook]

Not all Thanksgiving treats are on the dinner table.   One special treat can be found at the Alabama Theatre the day after Thanksgiving, as the Birmingham Ballet presents the "Mutt-cracker" with live dogs performing alongside the dancers.  They call it a new twist on a "classic tail"!


A dog's muzzle often turns gray as it ages, but in cats it is difficult to distinguish an older animal.  Even so, as a pet ages, its needs change - as your furry friend's owner it's up to you to make sure your companion gets the best possible care to enjoy its senior years.


Skip Baumhower

A good portrait of a homeless pet waiting for adoption helps potential adopters really see that animal and feel a connection - the first step to a relationship with a new member of the family.  The secret to a great pet portrait, according to Skip Baumhower, is to get down on the animal's eye level, or raise the pet up, so that you get a straight-on view.  My dogs are long gone,  but I am grateful to have a wonderful picture that shows their sweet faces and their personalities.


Luke.Ma [Flickr]

Settling in for a good night's sleep with your four-footed buddy can actually be good for you.  Many owners find comfort, warmth, and relief from stress or anxiety having that cozy feeling of a warm fuzzy body snuggled up next to them.   


American Humane Association [Facebook]

The  2019 winner of the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Award shows the power of a service dog to change a boy's life.  Because of his specially-trained dog, Alice, Antonio is able to enjoy life much like any other teenager.  No wonder he calls her his "guardian angel"!



Oct 19, 2019
KOMUnews [Flickr]

Adopting a dog from a shelter is good for the dog, but it's also good for you.  Dogs are social animals that will keep you company, even if you're just watching TV, reading a book or checking your email.  They help relieve stress and lower your risk of heart problems.  And they offer unconditional love.  It's one of the best things you can do for yourself - and your new best friend!


Bahamas Miracle

Oct 12, 2019
Big Dog Ranch Rescue [Facebook]

The rescue of a young, emaciated dog, found in the rubble more than three weeks after Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas, is a heart-warming story.  In fact, it's a Miracle - that's the name his rescuers gave to this special survivor.


Walking the Dog

Oct 5, 2019
Mindy Norton

Some places where you might choose to walk your dog may have stations that offer plastic bags that make it more convenient to clean up after your dog.  Still, it's a good idea to keep at least one plastic bag with you in case you walk in an area where the bags are not available.  It is just one more way you can be a good neighbor and a responsible pet owner!


Feral Cats

Sep 28, 2019
kisluvkis [Flickr]

Using a humane trap, a cat is caught and delivered to a veterinarian for spay or neuter surgery.  Females have their left ear surgically "tipped" to show they are already spayed. T-N-R has been shown to be a humane way to dramatically reduce the number of feral cat problems experienced in a community.


Non-traditional Pets

Sep 21, 2019
Countess Zarah [Flickr]

Non-traditional, alternative or uncommon pets can be a great addition to your family - but do your research before bringing one into your home!  Make sure you are prepared and can commit to caring for your new friend for its lifetime!


James Cridland [Flickr]

For the cost of feeding one dog a day, you can support Alabama Public Radio.  It will follow you almost anywhere up and down the state, and even online, so you won't miss important and timely news stories and your favorite shows.  Go online and contribute today!


Hurricane Pet Safety

Sep 7, 2019
aekpani [Flickr]

Advance planning can help to ensure the safety of you and your fur buddies.  Usually the safest approach is to evacuate before it's too late.  FEMA has mandated pet-friendly emergency shelters, but in your area there may be only one that will allow pets.