General Interest

A Cat Tale – The Ugly Duckling

posted September 20th, 2014 by
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Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen

They came to me in a box—four kittens, filthy, cold, and lifeless. There was one of every color: black, Tabby, tuxedo, and a dirty white one. It was the day after my birthday, and not exactly the present for which I had wished.

Step one: clean them. This case was worse than usual. Instead of dipping them in a solution of Dawn detergent and giving a complete bath as I would normally do, I wiped them gingerly, as they still had umbilical cords and birth sacs attached. The woman had found them on her porch, obviously born the night before.

Mama cat was nowhere in sight throughout the day, so it was clear they had been abandoned. We later determined by their size and slow development they were probably premature.

Step two: raise their body temperatures. My husband pressed them to his body while I prepared baby formula. I try to keep powdered KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) on hand because it is easy to store and can be reconstituted in small quantities. Then we put the kittens on a heating pad.

Step three: feed. These babies were so small that syringe feeding was necessary. This is usually the best method with small kittens because they are too weak to suck on a bottle with a nipple. The kitten must be held upright, never on its back, and a syringe can force some milk into its mouth. If you are lucky, they will respond by licking. These did not.

The watch began. For 48 hours, I got little sleep (cat naps) as I tried repeatedly to feed them. We must realize that mama cat is normally always available so that kittens can nurse at will as they wake up and then quickly fall back asleep. Sadly, the first two kittens did not respond and died within a few hours.

Step four: feed and monitor care-fully. As the kittens respond to feeding, they must also be stimulated to defecate and urinate. Mama cat does this with her tongue; we use a soft tissue or wet cloth. At the age of one week, the dirty white one was responding well, while his tuxedo sister was struggling.

However, he was the ugliest kitten I had ever seen! He was the color of a dirty sweat sock with no distinctive markings—like a dapple gray horse, only he was a “dapple tan” kitten…  or maybe a dirty little mouse.

Two weeks later: eyes began to open. The ugly kitten’s eyes did open, but his sister’s eyes did not. In spite of additional expert care and supplemental nutrition from a veterinarian, the female kitten died. Unfortunately, this is the disappointing reality of neonatal care, but it hurts nonetheless, and we cry with each loss.

But how we relish success!

Although I was still losing sleep, and feeding him every three hours, the ugly duckling was thriving. He was a survivor! And he now had a name. My husband began to call him “Dirty Dingus,” after a movie character from many years ago named Dirty Dingus Magee played by Frank Sinatra. Dingus slept happily.

By the age of three weeks, Dingus was “out of the woods,” but at this time we had a previously plan-ned vacation, and he still needed special care. Fortunately, my fellow rescuer Gail graciously helped. She was fostering orphan squirrels, so a kitten would  just add to her menagerie.

And of course, Gail spoiled Dingus, giving him a new Teddy Pug to cuddle with. She sent me pictures through-out the week, as he began to develop color. At first, the ears and  tail were darker. Was he a Siamese?  By the age of one month, Dingus was a most unusual taupe color, and stripes began to appear. Was he a Tabby?

As the weeks passed, he became more beautiful. He developed not only stripes, but also swirls on his sides like a Bulls-Eye Tabby. He retained the blue eyes of a Siamese, and in some light appears gray, while in other light is definitely taupe. True to the children’s story, Dingus is an ugly duckling no more, but a beautiful swan.

And now at 4 months old, a cover boy for TulsaPets! 

Pet-Friendly GetAways

posted July 19th, 2014 by
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Your ideal vacation may entail hiking mountain trails or sipping tea in a Victorian parlor, noshing on a downhome breakfast or doing sunrise yoga, singing around a campfire or shopping ‘til you drop! Whatever your style, we have an extensive list of pet-friendly resort getaways who welcome you to do it all with Fido and Fluffy at your side.

For the full listing, check out our Online Directory under the “Pet-Friendly” tab at We have all the details to help you choose the perfect getaway—written descriptions, information, photos aplenty, links, maps, and all of the contact information.

Each listing even has an online gallery for photos of their four-legged guests. So be sure to share your getaway snapshots this summer no matter where they are from. Please include first names of everyone (two-legged or four) and the name of the getaway!

Each resort’s pet policy varies, so be sure to check with the proprietor when making plans for your pet-friendly getaway! If you have a pet-friendly getaway that we should know about, email [email protected]

Pet-Friendly GetAways


posted January 25th, 2014 by
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tips to ensure your pet’s tootsies stay healthy all season long

by Anna Holton-Dean

Paw CareThe thought of going for a barefoot walk on an icy Oklahoma day sounds painful, right? The same goes for your pet’s paws.

Kristie Plunkett, DVM and owner of Mobile Veterinary Hospital of Tulsa, says not only can icy weather be painful for your pet, but it can be dangerous. Here she shares some winter paw care tips to keep your pet’s feet warm, cozy and, most importantly, healthy during the colder temps.

Winter is tough on paws for numerous reasons including chemical burns from de-icers, frostbite, and dry, cracked pads from dry weather. Dr. Plunkett further explains why these are major concerns.

“De-icers contain chemicals and/or salt that can be very irritating to the skin and foot pads, as well as toxic if ingested,” she says. “I have seen numerous cases involving de-icer chemical burns on the foot pads of cats and dogs, along with burns in the pets’ mouths and down the esophagus.

“You can use all-natural de-icers, but most people use those containing chemicals. Pet owners can help prevent these burns and ingestion of chemicals by cleaning off their pets’ feet after every trip outside. If you think your pet has walked in de-icer, make sure they do not lick their feet until you get them cleaned off. If ingestion has occurred, wipe his or her mouth out with a wet cloth and take [him or her] to your veterinarian as soon as possible.”

While nature provides hairy feet to some pets for protection against ice, the hair can allow buildup of little ice balls between the toes, causing the pet to chew at his feet, possibly ingesting the de-icer through which he has walked.

Dr. Plunkett cautions this can lead to inflammation around the toes. “This can be prevented by trimming the hair around the toes,” she says. “I do not recommend shaving between the toes, as this usually leads to nicks and razor burn.”

Another area of concern is frostbite because it can occur in a matter of minutes, especially if the pet’s immune system is compromised (juvenile, geriatric, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetic, etc.), Dr. Plunkett says. “Frostbite can lead to loss of blood supply and nerve function to the affected areas, resulting in loss of toes or permanent damage to the pads.”

Most cases occur on the feet, but she says she has seen it on mammary glands and scrotums as the tissue is quite thin and adheres easily to the ice.

“Indoor pets do not develop the same winter coat as an outdoor pet,” Dr. Plunkett says. “Therefore they cannot tolerate the cold for nearly as long. Most indoor pets can stay outside just long enough to do their business. If you, or they, want to stay out longer, make sure they are bundled up with a pet jacket/coat and booties.”

Next up is dry, cracked pads due to winter air and walking on cold surfaces. Dr. Plunkett says dry skin can become inflamed at the least, but of greater importance is that it can lead to a secondary infection at the site of the chapped, cracked skin.

“Vaseline, vitamin E oil and lotion can be massaged into the foot pads to keep them moist and healthy,” she says. If your pet will not allow anything to be applied to his or her feet, Dr. Plunkett recommends giving an oral form as it will still provide moisture to the skin and pads.

While these concerns can be alarming, take heart, pet lovers. As Dr. Plunkett already mentioned, most dangers to pets’ paws during winter can be prevented by fitting them with booties that will protect their feet from chemicals, ice and extreme temperatures.

“Pets don’t usually care for the booties when first put on,” Dr. Plunkett says, “but after a while of walking around like they are stuck on sticky trap for a short amount of time, they get used to them.” 

The Art of a Farrier

posted January 25th, 2014 by
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by Lauren Cavagnolo

Photos by Bob Foshay

ANYONE WHO’S OWNED A DOG knows there’s a fine art to trimming dog nails—holding your dog’s paw just right, not cutting too close to the quick, and if your dog is like mine, feeding him treats for the duration of the grooming. And if you’re like me, after completing the task a couple of times, you decide maybe it would be better for both of you if someone else handled the trimming.

Next, imagine trimming the nails of an animal that averages 1,100 pounds. If you’re now thinking, ‘Who do I call for that?’ Marc Munger is your guy.

Munger grew up watching his dad shoe horses and now makes his living as a farrier.

Farriers specialize in the hoof care of horses, including hygiene, trimming, disease prevention and attaching horseshoes. And though it is a profession that dates back hundreds of years, it has not changed all that much over time.

Munger’s father, Art, began working as a farrier part time in 1978. By 1992, it was his full-time job.

“I think when I was little my mother just sent me and my brothers with [my dad] to get us out of the way,” Munger said. “When we got old enough, we learned how to do it and started helping.

“I remember as a kid, Dad and I were at a job and working two horses tied to a fence as we normally would. He would trim the wall off the bottom, and I would come behind and bevel the edges on the hoof stand.”

He continued to help his father and learn the trade working summers and weekends through high school and college. He took over the family business in 2009 after graduating with a degree in agribusiness.

With only a handful of farriers in the Tulsa area and just over 25,000 in the nation according to, it’s an important job. Like nails on a dog, if the hooves of a horse aren’t properly cared for it can lead to bigger problems down the road.

“Your number one goal is preventing lameness,” Munger said. “Horses in the wild are meant to run around to water and graze and get a lot of movement. That movement wears the hoof down at about the same speed that it grows out.”

Domesticated horses need regular trimming of their hooves and not much else. Munger says a horse’s feet should be trimmed about every six to eight weeks in the summer and eight to 12 weeks in the winter, depending on the horse.

“But if you are using them hard, riding on the road, riding on rocks or doing some sort of performance, a lot of times their feet will get sore if they don’t have any extra protection,” advised Munger.

These horses require steel shoes that are nailed into the hoof—a task not done without risk.

“You’re holding that foot right in between your legs with nails sticking out of every side of it, and if they jerk their foot away when you’re trying to break a nail tip off, you can cut your fingers,” Munger said.

“If you get a malicious horse, they may try and bite you or deliberately try and kick you. Most of the time horses will kick out when they are scared, but they are not taking aim trying to hurt you except for the very rare case.”

In addition to protection, some horses require shoes for correction due to a variety of reasons including fungal infections that eat away at the hoof or bone issues.

“There is something called thrush that is really prominent in horses,” Munger said. “It’s a fungal infection that essentially replaces the horse’s foot with a deep pocket of black fungus. I would say 90 percent of horses have some varying degree of it, a small portion of which gets trimmed out each time I come.”

In all, Munger says it takes him about an hour to remove the shoes, trim the feet and put all of the shoes back on one horse. Most of his clients’ horses are trail horses or are used for cattle performance, although he does shoe race horses as well.

Race horses wear aluminum horseshoes instead of steel and require a more precise fit. Depending on the type of race horse, quarter horse or thoroughbred, it will have a toe grab on its shoe or it may be flat, Munger said. The toe grab gives the horse traction and allows them to dig into the track.

“The importance of that as a horseshoer is that the toe grab has to be dead centered with the track of the foot, otherwise it will make their foot turn and pull funny,” Munger said. “It will also make them hit their other leg with their foot or interfere and cause them not to run fast.”

Regardless of the type of horse or its use, care of the hooves is vital to the well-being of the animal. So the next time you procrastinate on trimming your 20-pound canine’s nails, just be thankful you do not have to nail steel shoes to a half-ton animal. 

Half Dog, Half Goat

posted January 25th, 2014 by
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Half Dog

By Nancy Gallimore

SATURDAY MORNING got off to a smooth start. I was about to head out the door to attend a much anticipated conference when I noticed Chip, one of our young foster dogs, doing a funny little dance across my kitchen floor.

Breakdancing? No. Trying to dislodge something disgusting that was protruding from his backside? Oh yeah.

OK, it happens. You dog people out there, don’t you dare turn your backs on me. You know you’ve at least had to help your dog free itself of a long blade of grass or something similar. This however, was no blade of grass. I’m a tough gal though, so I grabbed some paper towels and rushed to Chip’s rescue.

My rule of thumb is that if something protruding from that tender region of a dog’s anatomy comes forth easily, with just a little assistance on my part, then all is well. Resistance is not necessarily futile, but it’s not a good thing.

So, just as I raised Chip’s tail to get a closer look, he gave a push and voilà! An impressive length of some sort of material came right out. Hooray! Now I can run out the door, still on schedule.

Not so fast. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Chip doing the south-of-the-border cha-cha once again. Darn it.

You guessed it. There was another length of foreign object exiting Chip’s nether region. Sigh. Dog ownership is oh so glamorous. I gathered another handful of paper towels and gave a gentle tug. Yelp! Foreign object not budging. Chip not amused. Darn it again.

I yelled to my partner, Jim, “Hey! Chip has something stuck in his backside,” which somehow did translate into, “One of the dogs has a potential medical emergency and I need your assistance.”

After Jim and I stared down at our embarrassed patient for a few moments, we decided to call in reinforcements. It was time to admit that the “certified professional dog trainer” had not observed her young charge quite as closely as she should have. Oh, how I longed for that now elusive ounce of prevention.

Fortunately, our veterinarian is also a close friend. After a rather hysterical exchange of text messages, I learned that there was not much sense in trying to get Chip in to see her at this delicate point. The sage advice was, “If whatever ‘it’ is has made it all the way through his intestines to his colon, then you just have to wait it out. Feed him some fiber.” Great.

I glanced at the clock. I glanced at Jim. I put on my best pleading face as I looked between the two once again. “Yeah,” he said, “I’ll keep an eye on him.” Yes, he is a great guy.

I was out the door in a flash and off to my conference, knowing that our little goat in Dalmatian clothing was in very good hands. Hopefully, nature, aided by a Metamucil wafer or two, would do the trick.

A bit later, as I was enjoying a wonderful panel discussion featuring some very respected and successful authors, I felt my phone shudder and quickly checked the text message that read, “Got it,” accompanied by a photo. There was a pair of rubber gloves, a wad of paper towels and a pile of blue… something blue.

“What was it?” I queried innocently.

“Your underwear.”


Rule number one in raising a puppy is to maintain a safe environment in which you keep things put away and out of reach. My laundry basket apparently runneth over. Chip apparently consumeth. Bad dog owner. Baaaaaad.

In reality, while we can have a good chuckle over this— let’s call it a mishap—when dogs consume unusual objects, it can quickly turn into a serious medical emergency. We were lucky that things came out in the end (yeah, I went there), but every pet owner needs to be aware of steps to take if you know your little darling has been doing some creative grazing.

The most common problem when a dog consumes a foreign body is the potential for an obstruction, a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when an object ingested by your dog is unable to make it successfully through the intestinal tract.

Even if you don’t catch your dog in the act of consuming, there are signs to be aware of that can indicate a potential foreign body obstruction.

Whether you know for sure or not Fido has consumed something, don’t take the wait and see approach if you:

• notice your dog is reluctant to eat, or is vomiting and unable to hold food down.

• see that your dog is straining to poop and not succeeding.

• notice your dog acting quiet, in pain and/or distressed in any fashion.

In these instances, seek immediate assistance from your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital.

“Gastrointestinal foreign bodies are a very common occurrence in the ER setting,” says Dr. Troy McNamara, medical director at the Animal Emergency Center. “Dogs are very food motivated and will ingest just about anything.”

Dr. McNamara says he has seen everything from food items such as whole chickens and corn cobs, to foreign objects like underwear (I’m not alone!), hygiene products and, yes, even intact tennis balls.

“Cats tend to ingest smaller and more tactile objects like strings and tinsel. They are much more discriminating, whereas dogs are just… dogs,” he says.

According to Dr. McNamara, the course of treatment depends on the type of object ingested, the location of the object within the gastrointestinal tract, and the condition of the patient. “Linear or stringy foreign bodies or sharp objects, for example, can easily tear a hole in the stomach or intestines, leading to fatal infections and require aggressive treatment,” he says.

When a pet is suspected of ingesting a foreign object, it is possible that a veterinarian can detect an obstruction by simply palpating the animal’s abdomen. Oftentimes, however, lab testing and radiographs may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

“As a general rule,” explains Dr. McNamara, “metals and bone show up well on routine radiographs, while papers, plastics and fabrics can remain undetected and require an X-ray study using a contrast agent called barium to determine if there is an obstruction.”

If it is discovered that a foreign object has become lodged in the intestinal tract, it may require either endoscopic removal or traditional surgery to clear the blockage. These are necessary, life-saving procedures— obstructions cause great distress and can be fatal if not treated immediately.

If you are lucky, like we were, and see an object protruding, this, at least, means it navigated through the intestines. Something that is small may pass easily on its own. In all cases, beyond the common piece of grass, it is best not to try to remove an object yourself because, in extreme layman’s terms, things can get tangled up in there and pulling may cause a lot of damage.

In our case, we did immediately seek advice from our veterinarian and stayed in touch with her until we felt certain that Chip was in the clear.

That included watching him carefully for the next 24 hours to ensure all systems were functioning normally, and then keeping an eye on him for the next several days to be sure there were no gastrointestinal upsets that followed.

Now, several mornings posttrauma, I let my mind reflect on Chip’s close brush with Victoria’s Secret as I am putting another pile of laundry away where it belongs. Well, that which doesn’t kill my dogs makes me a better teacher, right?

I will make a note to review the importance of puppy proofing your home with my students. They will learn from my mistake. Yes, I will do that. Right after I find… find… DAMN IT! Where is my bra?



posted January 25th, 2014 by
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By Ellen Taylor

Photos by permission of the University of Tulsa


The University of Tulsa’s 10-month-old Golden Retriever (she will be 1 year old in March) ambassador is a local, even national, celebrity. Following the announcement of her new position, the adorable puppy was featured on Good Morning America, on websites like Buzzfeed and Deadspin, and in the Tulsa World and numerous local publications. Wherever she goes, admirers are clamoring to pet her and take a photo.

The first time I met Goldie, I was on my way to meet Mona Chamberlin, associate director of news and publications, in her TU office. As I descended the stairs of Westby Hall, there was Goldie, not posed and dignified like she looked in the many pictures I had seen, but a bundle of energy racing around the building.

Friendly and warm, she promptly lay on the floor and rolled over—an invitation for a belly rub. As she freely bounced up and down the hallway, her squirrel chew toy in mouth, it was hard to imagine Goldie as anything other than a carefree companion. Yet only 10 minutes later, she was back on the job, being whisked away to her first appearance—one of many lined up for a football game day.

Goldie never asked to be famous, but luckily, she’s got it pretty good. Unlike other well-known animal mascots, such as Louisiana State University’s live Bengal Tiger Mike VI, Goldie has the advantage of being able to lead a somewhat “normal” home life. Goldie is currently living with her trainer Susan Owen, founder of Oklahoma City-based Scout Film Company.

After finishing her training with Owen in the next few months, Goldie will permanently live with Matt Casteel, a TU employee, and his wife Paige along with their 2-year-old Newfoundland, Willis. Once she transitions to her new family, she will be spending even more time at TU; Casteel will likely bring Goldie to work with him often.

While in Chamberlin’s office, it’s hard not to notice the blue water bowl on the floor. It’s not uncommon to see her around the office. “On the days when Goldie is here, she tends to wander around the office and say hi to everyone,” Chamberlin notes. “She likes to curl up in the corner of my office and take a nap.”

As one might imagine, it can be hard to get work done when an adorable coworker like Goldie is around. “She’s pretty comfortable down here,” Casteel says.

Of course, like any good celebrity, when Goldie ventures out in public, she needs an entourage. At any given moment during an event, Goldie is surrounded by the Casteels, Chamberlin, and Owen, not to mention photographers and a swarm of adoring fans.

That swarm, Chamberlin says, is what necessitated the addition of Goldie’s very own security detail. Two campus security officers control the crowds so that Goldie doesn’t become overwhelmed.

Not only does the 50-pound puppy have fans—she also has followers. Goldie (or at least the University’s savvy PR department) has her very own Instagram and Twitter accounts with thousands of followers. With each adorable photo or tweet, Goldie generates buzz—each post is often liked or retweeted by hundreds of admirers.

Goldie even has her very own impersonators. TU has seen a surge of fans that bring their Golden Retrievers to events where Goldie is expected. Believe it or not, on any given game day, a handful of Goldie imposters roam the campus and tailgate, attracting fans that have been tricked by a good doppelgänger.

Some owners are honest, while others bask in the phony attention. Though it may take away the spotlight from the real Goldie, one thing is for sure: once you’ve hit impersonator status, you’ve hit it big.

Another sign you’ve hit it big? You get your very own set of wheels—somewhat of a hybrid between a Smart Car and golf cart wrapped in spirited blue and gold.

Though she may look like a superstar, Goldie isn’t without her fears. Loud noises and large crowds still spook her, like at school visits. “Next year, I’d imagine she’ll go to the tailgate and walk around more, but this year it’s just too overwhelming,” Owen says.

She is, after all, still a puppy. Owen says it will take about a year and a half before she gets used to the noise.

As for how she knows when Goldie has had enough for the day, Owen says she “keeps an eagle eye on her” at all times, and also cites her extensive dog knowledge as a way to tell when Goldie has hit her limit.

Even so, a pup has boundaries, and it won’t be easy for Goldie to take on her responsibilities alone. For that, TU has a solution: the introduction of a second Golden Retriever to work alongside the current Goldie.

That’s right—the University plans to have not one, but two canine ambassadors. Like many movies and TV shows that employ twin children to share one role, so will the nearly identical Golden Retrievers.

Owen has already begun scouting for the perfect Goldie Retriever, and says that once she finds it, she will begin training him or her to do the same things as the original Goldie in the hopes that one day they can be interchangeable in their duties.

What their roles will be are up to them, Owen says. “If one of them is energetic and enjoys the excitement that comes with the football games, and the other one is more subdued and enjoys doing more service activities, we will coordinate them accordingly.”

Owen makes it clear that it isn’t the University’s intention to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. “We want them to look similar, but not indistinguishable,” Owen says. “We aren’t going to pass them off as the same dog. We’re not trying to dupe anybody.”

The Casteel family will be the original Goldie’s primary handlers and owners, taking her to football games and various service events, but Owen will continue to lightly train Goldie after she is handed over to the Casteel family; that is, until she has her hands full with the second canine ambassador.

It’s still up in the air as to who will take care of the second canine, as well as her, or even his, name. The goal is an ongoing canine ambassador program with future dogs being added—each having its own recognizable name and fame.

As for any long-term plans for Goldie, Chamberlin and Owen agree that they are playing things by ear. While they plan to retire her eventually, Owen says it’s up to Goldie as to when: “If she enjoys doing it, she very well could be visiting nursing homes when she’s 15.” And if the amount of fans she has now is any indication, she’ll have plenty of demand.