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.

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.

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.