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.

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.

American Humane Association

The 2019 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.

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!


American Humane Association

The 2019 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!  They can also bring comfort and closure to families who want to know what happened to their loved ones.


American Humane Association

The 2019 Hero Dog Awards seek to recognize dogs who help people in many important ways.  Dogs are nominated in one of seven categories:  Service Dog, Shelter Dog, Therapy Dog, Military Dog, Law Enforcement/Arson Dog, Search and Rescue Dog, Guide/Hearing Dog. 

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.

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.


American Humane Association

The 2019 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 Shelter 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. 


Too Many Pets?

Jul 27, 2019
cgwcool [Flickr]

Multiple pets in the same house, even when they are different species, can get along with each other.  Two things matter - that you don't take on more pets than you can reasonably care for, and that you make sure no one becomes a bully in the group!


Declawing a Cat

Jul 20, 2019
altemark [Flickr]

Clipping a cat's claws must be done periodically because, like your own fingernails, claws continue to grow.  Claw clipping can be a good alternative to declawing, in part because it does not leave the animal defenseless.


supercarrot [Flickr]

While the FDA has listed the top 16 dog foods reported in cases of dilated cardiomyopathy, keep in mind that the chart is not a complete list of the pet foods reported.  Your veterinarian is the best source of advice on what to feed your furry friend to help keep it healthy and happy.


Pet Drinking Problem

Jul 6, 2019
Lisa Zins [Flickr]

Animals, like humans, can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water.   Proper hydration helps maintain a normal body temperature.  It aids in digesting and absorbing nutrients from food, and removing waste products through the urinary tract and bowel.   It may be the most important nutrient you can provide for your best friend.


Summer Pet Safety

Jun 29, 2019
Medical Lake Veterinary Hospital [Facebook]

The picture is hard to look at, but the problem is real.  In Washington, a dog followed his owner for over a mile before the human realized the pads on the pet's feet were burned by walking on hot pavement.  It's up to you to keep your best friend safe.


Lessons from My Dad

Jun 15, 2019
Mindy Norton

If you want your children, or nieces or nephews, to share your compassion for animals, do what my Dad did - model it for them.  Encourage those around you to treat animals with respect, and leave your own legacy of  kindness.


Pedro Nuno Caetano [Flickr]

Busy lifestyle? Not much room? A cat may be the pet for you.  They almost housebreak themselves.  And when you adopt from a shelter or rescue group, you save a life - but having a cat may also save yours.  Just petting a cat can lower your blood pressure and release positive endorphins in your brain!


Humane Society of the United States [Facebook]

The Midwest has been hit hard with storm systems that spawned tornadoes and serious widespread flooding, putting humans and animals in harm's way .  Once again, animal organizations, rescue groups and volunteers are on the ground trying to save the lives of those four-footed victims of the weather.


Frankenmuth Dog Bowl

May 25, 2019
Frankenmuth Dog Bowl [Facebook]

This weekend, Frankenmuth, Michigan will host its 13th annual Dog Bowl with two days of entertainment and activity for people and their dogs.  This high-energy event includes everything from canine fun runs to a pet parade to a costume contest.  The goal is to encourage responsible pet ownership with events that both people and their four-footed companions can enjoy!


Remembering Doris Day

May 18, 2019
Doris Day Animal League [Facebook]

Compassion for animals was the hallmark of Doris Day's personal life.  She was involved locally and nationally in speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.  She also motivated those around her to get involved.  As she said, "If I can do it, you can do it.  Anybody can."  


Be Kind to Animals

May 11, 2019
mripp (Matthias Ripp) [Flickr]

Kindness begins at home, making sure your own pet is well cared for, with healthy food, fresh water, and good veterinary care.   

However, kindness is not so much an action as it is an attitude.  Treating our pets and other animals with care and compassion is a way of showing our respect for the creatures who share our  lives and our world.


Empty the Shelters!

May 4, 2019
Klearchos Kapoutsis [Flickr]

National Empty the Shelters Day is sponsored by the Bissell Foundation with the goal of finding loving homes for animals in shelters.  You can make a difference by adopting a pet from your local shelter, or by having your own female pet spayed or male pet neutered to prevent even one more litter.