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.

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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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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Joey the (Hero) Cat

Jun 13, 2020
Scott White [Instagram]

Joey the Cat is happy, and playful, and likes being around his human family.  And unlike his canine brother, Joey made sure everyone stayed safe when a fire broke out in the middle of the night!  (And yes, he did get extra treats!)

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Rainy Day Dog Play

May 30, 2020
Eli Christman [Flickr]

Some dogs don't mind the rain, while others seem to really dislike going outside in wet weather.  But almost all dogs like to play.  Positive interaction between dog and human is good for everyone involved, and can reinforce the relationship between the two - even indoors when the weather is bad!

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America's War Dogs

May 23, 2020
Glenn Beine [Facebook]

In June, 2011, MWD Bronco was on patrol with his handler,  Staff St. John Mariana, in Afghanistan when they encountered an enemy combatant.  Bronco was shot in his muzzle.  He and Mariana were medically evacuated and Bronco underwent life-saving surgery.  It was a career-ending injury, but Bronco was adopted by his handler, who credits the dog with saving his life - just one of many examples of military canine heroism!

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Betty the Weather Cat

May 16, 2020
Jeff Lyons [Facebook]

Jeff Lyons describes Betty the Weather Cat as a mix of Maine Coon cat and Norwegian Forest cat.  Fans think this "working" cat should be compensated for her contribution to Jeff's weather report, so he shared a video of Betty enjoying a can of tuna.  At a time when people are concerned about the future, Betty is on air to make us all smile!

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bradleyolin [Flickr]

Being kind to animals is something that we (hopefully) learn from our parents, especially our mothers.  Spaying or neutering your pet ensures your furry buddy won't contribute to the pet overpopulation problem.  So to all the female dogs and cats, here's wishing you a Happy Un-Mother's Day!

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Mindy Norton

Helping your pet keep its social distance from other animals (and people) may not be as difficult as you might think.  For example, it is possible to teach your cat to walk on a leash.  You need a lightweight leash and a cat harness (not a collar) - and patience!

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Dmitry Teslya [Flickr]

A tiger is definitely not a house pet, but it shares many traits with its small domestic cousin, the house cat.  Unfortunately one thing they share is susceptibility to COVID-19.  But while they might catch it from humans, there is no evidence that a human can catch it from an infected cat.  

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beltz6 (Glenn Beltz) [Flickr]

Your pet probably enjoys having you around more these days, but there may be times when boredom sets in.  And a bored pet can get into trouble.  Take time to play with your best friend.  It will be good for both of you, and help to strengthen the bond between you!

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The Easter Dog

Apr 11, 2020
Cadbury [Facebook]

When Cadbury invited pet owners to nominate their best friends as the next Cadbury bunny, and let America vote online for their favorite, there wasn't even a rabbit in the top ten!  The winner, a dog, has no back legs so he uses a special wheelchair or he "bunny-hops".  That may be his secret advantage - along with his great attitude and personality!  Congratulations, Lieutenant Dan!

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Spirit of Kindness

Apr 4, 2020
yornik [Flickr]

Ronald Reagan said, "We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone."  This is a time when each of us may have an opportunity to be kind to another person, to an animal, and maybe to organizations that help people or animals.  How can you show a spirit of kindness today?

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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!

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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.

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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.  

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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!

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Leaping Cats!

Feb 29, 2020
Pixabay.com

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!

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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!

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