General Interest

Winners are in! Awww…

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Kristie Eaton

For 20-plus years, the pros at Studio D @ MotoPhoto have been clicking cameras on the cutest pets in town contestants.
This year’s winners were recently selected by judges including Marilyn King, Publisher of TulsaPets Magazine, and D’Ann Berson, operations manager for the Tulsa Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Winners of the two-month-long contest received cash prizes and all entrants received a free photo session with a donation to the TSPCA’s waiting dogs and cats.

The 77 contestants raised $807 for pets at the shelter.
This is a tough one to judge because all of these pets are winners! This year’s top three are: About 2,000 dogs and their handlers are expected to converge in Tulsa during Memorial Day weekend, May 27 – May 30, for the American Kennel Club’s annual Mid-Continent dog show.
The four-day show brings together the Tulsa Kennel club with the Seminole Kennel Club at the QuikTrip Center at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. There is no cost to attend.

“A lot of the dogs that will be here in Tulsa are dogs that you will see at Westminster or the Eukanuba championship.
The ones that are on TV, the same dogs come here,” says Lori Finlayson, vice president of Tulsa’s Mid-Continent Kennel Club.
About 160 breeds will be competing in agility, obedience and rally competitions, where the dogs must follow the direction of their handler in the ring, she says. “People are here competing for titles and points,” Finlayson says. “So you have to win 15 total points to have a champion. Five of those points have to be major points. That is, they have to be won with enough competition that it’s considered a major win to get your championship. Then dogs that finish sometimes go on to compete for best in breed and top dog in the country in their breed and all-breed.” Some noted handlers attend, many from the greater Tulsa area.

Brenda Lee Combs of Sapulpa, who had the No. 1 Norwich Terrier in the nation and has been featured in the New York Times, will be in attendance. So, too, will Linda Clark who has been featured on “Animal Planet.” But the show isn’t just for adults and the dogs. Kids also have a role.

Finlayson says 30 – 40 kids, ages 9 to 17, will act as junior handlers. “We have kiddos that are showing their ability to show,” she says. For those who may not have a purebred dog or know very little about the Kennel Club, the show has plenty to offer, too. About 70 vendors will be selling a variety of doggy items. “It’s kind of like a doggy shopping mall,” Finlayson says. “They will sell food, collars and leashes, jewelry, T-shirts, bedding, crates. Just anything and everything you could need for your dog will be there.” Tulsa students have also created art work that will be displayed during the show. This year’s art theme shows what children like to do with their dogs, Finlayson says. Rescue groups will also be on hand with information about adoptable dogs.

The Tulsa Kennel Club has partnered with Seminole’s Kennel Club to make it a four-day event, something that more clubs are doing across the country, she says. “Gas is so expensive now,” Finlayson says. “People really want to go somewhere where it’s four days in a row. That has been a definite trend because of the economy and all dog shows have been trying to go that way.” The show will be a boost to the local economy, she says, because attendees are buying gas, food, going shopping and visiting entertainment venues.

Watch for Red Flags in Ads

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Ruth Steinberger

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned. Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight. With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned.
Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight.
With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.
Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs.
The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact.
Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.
High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell.
They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there.
Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.
It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).
Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments.
Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.
Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.
The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.
Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it.
“Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs. The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact. Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.

High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell. They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there. Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.

It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).

Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments. Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.

Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.

The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.

Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it. “Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

The puppy mill issue remains in the headlines in Oklahoma, and although they are covered under breeder regulations passed in 2010, high-volume kitten producers are rarely mentioned.
Kittens that are sold in pet stores, over the Internet or through newspaper ads often come from unregulated facilities with too many cats and too little oversight.
With all the talk about puppy mills, few people think about kitten mills.
Whether it is because far more dogs are purchased overall than cats, or that mixed breed cats carry less stigma than their canine brethren, the discussion of mass production of companion animals usually centers on dogs.
The term “kitten mill” refers to facility in which kittens are produced for profit, in poor conditions, with little or no human contact.
Buildings with cages crammed full of cats which are bred until disease or overuse requires them to be put down may not be as common as high volume puppy producing facilities.
High volume kitten-sellers rely mainly on direct marketing, primarily because USDA licensing is only required for breeders who sell animals to brokers who then re-sell them to pet stores and because most brokers and transporters do not buy kittens to resell.
They escape USDA licensing and often slide in under the wire. In states which lack high volume breeder regulations, those selling kittens bypass licensing requirements altogether. Yet, they are there.
Classified newspaper listings for purebred kittens along with Internet sites reveal that while not nearly of the size and scope of puppy sellers, those selling cheap purebred kittens by the litter are present throughout Oklahoma.
It’s not hard to spot kitten mills when browsing the classifieds. Ads placed by someone looking to make a quick buck will offer kittens that are priced well below average (for example at $50 to $150 each) and may state that the kittens do not have registration papers, or that they are registered with an unknown registry instead of CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the equivalent of the AKC – American Kennel Club – for dogs).
Another sign of a kitten mill is a lack of health records with no veterinary reference available, or kittens being sold with existing health issues which may last a lifetime, including serious respiratory ailments.
Other warning signs include a seller who is more interested in collecting the money then the quality of the home where the kitten is going. Buyers should avoid any breeder who offers to meet them instead of allowing the buyer to come to the seller’s home or facility.
Additionally, as in purebred puppies, many veterinary resources note disorders which are common in purebred kittens.
Genetic problems may include fecal incontinence in some Manx cats, vision problems in Siamese and other health issues in other breeds.
A kitten mill will avoid the expense of testing or the owner may even be unaware of the need to screen the cats used for breeding. An April Tulsa World ad cited extra toes as a selling point.
The word “rare,” may mask abnormalities which have associated health problems, and it is used as a cover for scams. Some people selling unusual cross breeds may advertise them as “rare,” leading people to think they are getting a unique treasure.
Camille Hulen, owner of Camille’s Cat House and an animal welfare advocate, says, “If you buy a purebred animal from a breeder, an animal in a shelter will die because you did not choose it. Discourage breeding by not supporting it.
“Also, if you must have a purebred, go to a purebred rescue organization.” Hulen continues, “When people seek out the purebred they usually do so from a lack of knowledge. They really haven’t seen the cats and it has been my experience that those who seek an animal based on “pictures” alone are among the first to give it up because it did not meet their expectations. For this reason, there are many, many purebreds available.”

So me tips:
• Visit the breeder to see the facility.
• Do not buy from a pet shop.
• Do not buy online or mail order.
• Ask the breeder for a veterinarian reference. Does the animal have immunization records?

Dogs Team With Brain Fitness Pros

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Sheri Goodall

If anyone knows about the dog/human connection, it’s Susan Phariss, founder of Therapetics in the 1990s, which trains service dogs for physically challenged people. She worked primarily with Retrievers and Labradoodles.

She has since left Therapetics and founded Brain Fitness Strategies, a company that uses Rhythmic Movement Training (RMT) as a foundation for advancing brain function and neuromuscular brain development. And, dogs help achieve the program’s goals. The Phariss canine team is Sassy and Gracie, both Standard Poodles, who make up the Animal Assisted Therapy component. Studies have shown that contact with animals lowers stress, anxiety, improves focus and raises brain function. Susan and her husband, Paul, are among a small number of people in the U.S. certified to practice RMT.

About RMT
The exercise program is based on movements that infants make in their first year of life. The rocking motions, lifting of the head, rolling over, putting things in the mouth, crawling, etc. are all part of the baby’s primitive reflexes. By age 3, most of the primitive reflexes are “finished,”‘ allowing the adult postural reflexes to kick in. Sometimes babies skip one or more of these developmental milestones, which causes problems later in life. Adults who have suffered strokes and brain trauma revert to some of the primitive reflexes that inhibit normal brain development and function, leaving them impaired.
An outcome of RMT is improved reading abilities of learning and emotionally challenged kids with issues such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, cerebral palsy, and autism. RMT improves brain development to improve written and spoken language in school-age children.

Dr. Harold Blomberg, a Swedish psychiatrist, discovered RMT more than 25 years ago. The program has been successful in treating children and adults with learning and developmental disabilities.

The Bixby Project
Last year, Bixby Public Schools collaborated with Brain Fitness Strategies for a study on the benefits of RMT. Melissa Lytle, special education teacher, reported a 208 percent improvement in reading scores over the control group who did not receive the RMT training.
A reward aspect of the study involved Gracie and Sassy coming to school and interacting with (rewarding) the fifth graders in the study.
One student refused to come out from under a blanket. He kicked, screamed, and basically disrupted the class. Susan and Paul worked with him, using passive exercises. They held and rocked him. (Babies calm themselves through rocking.) After RMT exercise once weekly for five weeks, the boy began interacting in an acceptable manner with classmates. Sassy and Gracie helped reduce the child’s stress and build his confidence. Both dogs were selected and trained to be doggy therapists. Standard Poodles are hypoallergenic, working well with people with immune problems and allergies. The dogs have traveled extensively with the Pharisses, entertaining kids with their antics during school assemblies about friendship skills and positive reinforcement.

The dogs have also promoted the Summer Reading Program in Oklahoma libraries for years. Susan says that getting to work one-on-one with the kids “makes both dogs and kids wag their tails.” The dogs did not become members of the Pharris family at the same time.
Sassy was left behind in a rented house when the people moved and the Pharisses came to her rescue. She had recently had puppies, her coat was badly matted and she was in poor condition.
A groomer shaved her and found infected skin under the mats. “She was tolerant of the shaving, which was hard on her inflamed skin,” Susan recalls. “A week later, she had wormed her way into our hearts and moved into the house with us. We fed, groomed and loved her until she recovered from the emotional and physical trauma of being abandoned.” Poodle Gracie came from a Colorado breeder, after the couple unsuccessfully searched for this kind of dog from Standard Poodle rescue organizations.

How RMT Works
Meet Seth Meyer, age 9, one of Susan and Paul’s’ star students. Seth enters the room in a burst of energy, his dark eyes searching for Sassy and Gracie. The dogs greet him with a flurry of tail wags and kisses.
“Let’s play,” Seth shouts. He grabs a hoop, some balls and toys. Sassy and Gracie leap through the hoop and scramble for the toys and balls. Just holding the hoop still and throwing the toys is an achievement for Seth.

Six months ago, he did not have the hand-eye coordination to hold the hoop steady for the dogs to leap and could not throw the toys. Additionally, Sassy and Gracie are there to bring calm to anxious children. On a floor mat, Seth rocks on his hands and knees for a few minutes “Let’s do the bunny,” Susan says. Seth hops forward like a bunny. Then he stretches out on his back and scoots backwards using his legs to push. Susan grabs a pillow for his head.

“Okay, how many times can you lift your head up and down?” Seth lifts his head up and down at least a dozen times. After he rolls up and down the mat in a rhythmic pattern, he races to Gracie and Sassy for rewarding licks, wags, and playtime. Developmentally challenged children cannot perform these simple actions easily. Their primitive reflexes haven’t “finished” and their brains lack the neural pathways necessary to carry these messages. Six months ago Seth could not lift his head from the pillow without raising his entire torso. When he got on his hands and knees, his legs and hands splayed out. He couldn’t roll over repeatedly, and he couldn’t scoot on his back at all.

Through RMT training, he learned to do all of this, plus track with his eyes without moving his head and converge images (both eyes converge when seeing one image; before, Seth saw two of everything).
His reading and learning skills have improved dramatically, along with his behavior.

For info:
www.BrainfitnessStrategies.com

Its Seabiscuit in the Home Stretch

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Rusty Lang

Dallas doesn’t have a star on his stall. In fact he doesn’t get the movie star treatment at Tulsa Boys’ Home at all, even though he played the famous racehorse “Seabiscuit” in the movie of the same name.

Officially named “Rich in Dallas,” this is Dallas’ third job. First he was a racehorse, then movie actor, and now therapeutic horse. While a movie star, you could say that he was up for an Academy Award or two – the movie received seven Oscar nominations. “His job is just the same as with all the other horses — to interact with the boys,” says Scott Averill, Equine Program manager at TBH. Dallas is one of approximately 20 horses at the residential treatment facility whose job is to work with the boys, ages 11-18 years, who have emotional and behavioral problems. TBH serves about 166 boys each year.
Here’s how it works: The boys are given a task to do with a horse, such as ride through a gauntlet. If a boy has issues in life that haven’t come out in clinical therapy, such as being brash or rude with other boys in his lodge, he will likely display that behavior while working with the horse.

“The boys open up on what is going on in their lives,” Averill says. “These horses couldn’t care less about the boys’ background.” In theory, the approach works because horses are socially much like people: Some are bullies, some are timid. Dallas? Well, he’s a friendly, quiet, personable horse, says Averill.

A meeting with Dallas proves Averill right. He is a 16-year-old bay gelding (male that has been neutered) thoroughbred, who stands 15.2 hands tall. He allows petting and pictures as he nuzzles grass outside the TBH stables area (No sugar cubes or carrots for him), but nickers heartily when a mare is brought around to energize him for photos.
Though Rich in Dallas was one of about a dozen or so horses who played Seabiscuit in the 2004 Oscarnominated Disney movie, he was one of the leads and appeared in several of the racing stretch scenes with actor Tobey Maguire.

After Dallas’ movie stint, he was put in a claiming race in California and a thoroughbred rescue group, the Exceller Fund working with Tom and Leslie Hubbel of Stroud, helped coordinate his “retirement.” Tulsa Boys’ Home was founded in 1918 and has offered healing and hope to more than 11,600 boys to date. The residential treatment facility is located in west Tulsa County on 158 acres south of Sand Springs.

Tango Gets A Haircut

posted May 15th, 2011 by
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By Rusty Lang

Tango ‘s mom doesn’t feel like dancing.
Her eyes are itchy and watery, and her throat is scratchy. Tango’s dander is to blame. Lucky for them, Crystal Bowen, owner of the Paw Spa, stands ready to rescue.

Tango is one long-haired, orangeand white, laid-back feline who arrives at the Paw Spa ready for his “lion cut.” Crystal, despite her fiery red hair, meets the challenge with an equally calm attitude, armed with toe-nail clippers and a buzz shaver. In the pet grooming business since 1994 and before that a veterinary technician, Crystal knows all about those human allergy symptoms.

“Dandruff is big flakes,” she explains, as she gently slides her shaver through Tango’s 1 1/2-inch fur. “Dander is microscopic particles made up of dead skin and saliva. Cats are constantly licking themselves.” About 25 percent of humans are allergic to cats, and that is why bathing is important. Since the protein in dander is hormone-related, nonneutered males produce the most dander. Crystal recommends bathing and grooming cats about once every four to six weeks. The haircuts help with shedding problems, that also may set off allergies.
Crystal buzzes up Tango’s back to the nape of his neck where she will leave a ruff resembling a lion’s mane. His long tail will also be left fluffy. As Tango’s mom rubs his ear, he stretches out on the grooming deck and is so relaxed, he’s purring.

“Well, it’s not like catnip,” smiles Crystal, “but we try to make it so it’s not horrible.” The interior of the Paw Spa adds to the peaceful atmosphere. It’s not the barking mayhem one encounters in most large gatherings of pets. Tango is the only cat here this day, among a Yorkie, three Shih Tzus, and a cocker Spaniel who have already been groomed.

The cocker chases a ball in the fenced-in play “park,” while two of the Shih Tzus chill out in a spacious holding pen. On the walls are a color
ful animal mural, portraits of pets and stuffed toys. Crystal’s training certificates are well-displayed.

As mounds of orange and white fluff pile on the floor and grooming pad, Crystal nods toward Tango. “He’s awesome. But when we have to flip him over is when it gets hard.” Not to worry. Assistant Gina Scarborough steps in and helps gently roll Tango over on his back. Tango merely blinks. Garfield himself couldn’t be more unflappable.
Crystal recently honed her skills at a continuing education seminar in Dallas, where she also learned about nontoxic decorative coloring for pets’ coats. She is eager to try that out on her Standard Poodle at home. She also lives with four Jack Russell terriers, two Chihuahuas and a Dogue de Bordeaux.

Back to the belly, Crystal carefully bares another strip of skin. She knows one slip of the razor and Tango’s thin skin could be nipped, possibly resulting in a bad grooming experience.
“Not all (cats) are as relaxed as he is. But the less handling, the better; if you are calm, then they are calm.” Tango’s mom knows that she and her handsome cat friend will both feel better after the 30 minute grooming at the Paw Spa (add another 30 minutes for a bath and blow-dry). The haircut also helps reduce the fly-away shedding of fine hairs that float in the air. “He loves his lion haircuts,” Mom says.
“You should see how he prances and shows off.” Good enough for a little cat-dancing around the house?

Pets on Vacation

posted May 12th, 2011 by
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chiot basset hound a la plage

by Kristi Eaton

 If you’re planning on taking Fido or Tigger with you on your vacation this summer, you’re not alone.

A recent survey shows that 58 percent of pet owners plan to travel with their beloved four-legged friends this summer.

The second annual Summer Pet Travel Survey from PetRelocation.com says this year’s numbers are similar to last year, when 57 percent of respondents said they planned to travel with their pet.

The survey results, based on interviews with 10,000 pet owners worldwide, showed that the number of people who travel monthly with their pet has decreased from 38 percent last year to 22 percent this year. Still, though, 57 percent said they travel once a year with their pet.

Airline fees to fly with their pets are less of a concern for many, according to the survey. Only 18 percent said they viewed airline fees as too expensive this year, compared to 38 percent in 2010. Instead, pet-friendly hotels seemed to be a worry. About a third of respondents — 32 percent — said they were unsatisfied with the selection of hotels allowing pets.

Nearly half of owners — 48 percent — said they will spend less than $500 annually on pet travel-related products and services, according to the survey. Another 28 percent, though, said they would spent more than $1,000 on pet-travel products and services.