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Archive for July, 2007


Basic Rules for Birds Who Have a Cage to Maintain
Well, I printed “Basic Rules for Cats Who Have a House to Run” here for cat lovers on June 27, and “Basic Rules for Dogs Who Have a Yard to Protect” for dog lovers on July 9.

Now, in response to requests for same from bird lovers out there in never-never land, here is a copy of “Basic Rules for Birds Who Have a Cage to Maintain,” written by my cockatoo, Lottie (now deceased), as printed in my column on July 23, 1997.

Basic Rules for Birds Who Have a Cage to Maintain:

BIRD CALLS. All birds need to keep in good voice. Best time to practice screaming is just at dawn, when your humans are asleep and can’t bother you.

EATING. For some reason, humans always hide the best seeds at the bottom of the dish. Stick your beak deep into a freshly-filled bowl of seed and use quick sideways motions to empty it all over the just-cleaned bottom of your cage. This makes it easier to choose your favorite seeds when you’re ready to eat. Your human will say, “Oh, how cute!” or something like that.

BITING. If God hadn’t meant for birds to bite, he/she wouldn’t have given us pointy beaks.

FLYING. When your human lets you out of the cage to exercise, always check for open doors or windows. There’s lots more room to fly around outside.

POOP PROUDLY. When you’re out exercising, always sit on something that contrasts well with your poop. For example: white bird poop looks simply striking against a backdrop of black couch or dark lamp shades.

TALKING. Humans are hard to understand, so mumble a lot when they try to teach you new words. This makes them speak louder and pronounce words over and over, so it’s easier for you to learn them. Humans have a limited vocabulary and always try to teach you the same words, like hello, pretty bird, ****, **** and ****.
(Editor’s note: ****, **** and **** are not permitted in family newspapers! We’ll “speak louder” and “over and over” at the next writers’ meeting to help Gary understand this.)

VISITORS. Always fly to a new human’s shoulder and snuggle up against its neck and make soft cooing sounds so they don’t notice you’re pooping down the back of their shirt or blouse.

PERCHING. When humans let you sit on their fingers, hang on tight and start biting. The exhilarating waving and shaking around is lots more fun then those dull old rides at Great America.

NIBBLING. Lampshades can be made more attractive by nibbling pretty patterns around the top edge with the tip of your beak.

WATER DISH. It’s fun to bathe in your water dish. When you’re finished, flap and shake water everywhere and your human will be delighted to wipe off your cage and everything around it with a clean towel.

OTHER PETS. Save your heaviest seed shells (walnuts, Brazil nuts) to drop on the cat’s head whenever it sits under your cage staring up at you.

BEDTIME. Train your humans so they know when it is your bedtime. Wait until they are all gathered together, to avoid repeating yourself. A good time is when they all sit on the couch and stare at the stupid noisy box. Scream until someone covers your cage with a towel.
Remember to do this each night at the same time.
That way you don’t have to stare at the stupid noisy box with them.

That’s it for the “Rules,” folks. There ain’t no more. Unless an erudite garter snake comes slithering up to me some afternoon with a piece of paper in its mouth.

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2007
Under: Pets | No Comments »


Free ANIMAL PLANET EXPO at Bishop Ranch Civic Area, 6200 Bollinger Canyon Road (near Central Park), San Ramon — on Saturday and Sunday.
ANIMAL PLANET EXPO rolls into the Bay Area this weekend, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Animal Planet, Philippe Cousteau, Comcast, and Fresh Step litter invite you to bring your family to celebrate the wonder of wildlife, the companionship of pets and the important role animals play on this planet.

There will be lots for you to do and see:

*** High-Flying Frisbee dog show times are 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

*** R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.) Stage live animal presentations, including exotic pythons, alligators, and lemurs, will take place at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

** Ocean expert Philippe Cousteau will be available for a special “Meet and Greet” on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

*** Discovery Kids’ Endurance Experience, a hands-on adventure that lets young people experience the mental and physical competition of Discovery Kids Channel’s popular series ENDURANCE: HIGH SIERRAS. Try out the big climbing wall.

*** Experience the clarity of high-definition programming in the Discovery HD Theater Dome. Visitors will be treated to clips from Discovery HD Theater’s new documentary mini-series, PLANET EARTH.

*** Pet Den is sponsored by Fresh Step litter. Fresh Step and the East Bay SPCA will provide pet adoption opportunities and helpful information on how to find the perfect pet for your family. From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday and Sunday, Fresh Step litter will also host an “Ask the Vet” session, where pet owners can meet one-on-one with local veterinarians Dr. Pamela Rorich (Saturday) and Dr. Heidi Strand (Sunday) to ask pet-related questions. As part of ANIMAL PLANET EXPO, the makers of Fresh Step will make a $5,000 donation to the East Bay SPCA.

Other activity pavilions:
Animal House — Get to know even more live animals, while animal experts introduce exotic species from around the world.

Bug House — Discover the world of bugs and butterflies, and check out the new farm of burrowing ants.

Kids’ Zone — Kids can get their faces painted, try the “Happy Gator” obstacle course, test their legs on the new 18-ft. Spider Mountain climbing tower and play other fun games.

Heroes of Animal Planet — Protect your pet just as the stars of ANIMAL PRECINCT do by creating your own personalized pet tag.

Pet Misters and Watering Holes — If you bring your fur children with you, let your pets “chill out” and quench their thirst on a hot day.

And lots more. Have fun!

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Under: Animal Fun | 1 Comment »


How to get the most out of a trip to see your veterinarian
In 2006, Americans spent $9.4 billion for veterinary care for their pets (source: American Pet Products Manufacturers Association).

So what types of things do you need to tell your vet in order to get the most “bang” for your buck? The answer is simple: details, details, details.

Below is a “cheat sheet” from IDEXX Laboratories with five vet visit tips for pet owners from Dr. Arnold Plotnick, veterinarian and president of Manhattan Cat Specialists. This will help you share the necessary details to maximized your visits to the vet and make sure that all is well in your furry friend’s world.

Expert Tips to Help Your Cat Live Nine Lives — All of Them in Good Health

Know The Basics: Share your cat’s age, breed, whether or not your cat is neutered or spayed, and if he is an indoor or outdoor cat.

Food For Thought: Be prepared to discuss your cat’s eating habits with the vet. What kind of food does he eat and what brand? How frequently is he fed? Does he have a good appetite? Has your pet gained or lost weight?

Vital Cat Stats: Share your cat’s basic medical history, especially when meeting a new vet. Bring copies of previous medical records.
*** Ask about testing and prevention for conditions such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and heartworm disease. An estimated one-third of pet cats are at-risk for FIV and FeLV, which often show no outward symptoms.
*** Heartworm disease is found in cats in all 50 states, making indoor and outdoor cats equally susceptible. Many cat owners mistakenly believe that heartworm is a disease only affecting dogs. Heartworm season varies depending on where you live, but typically starts in the spring and ends when the weather gets cold.

Brush Up On Home Care: Ask your vet what you can do to keep your cat healthy, including at-home grooming tips for nail clipping and brushing — his fur and his teeth. A recent IDEXX Laboratories study reports that cats with common dental diseases are five times more likely to test positively for FIV and FeLV.

Harmless vs. Harmful Behavior: Tell your vet about any sudden behavior changes. Lethargy, hyperactivity, aggression, growling and urinating/defecating in inappropriate places may indicate an underlying medical problem.

Your veterinarian is the best source for information on testing, disease prevention and pet wellness, but YOU are the best source of information about your pet.

(The above information can be easily modified to apply to dogs.)

Posted on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Under: Veterinarians | 2 Comments »


Basic Rules for Dogs Who Have a Yard to Protect
When I published “Basic Rules For Cats Who Have a House to Run” here on June 27, I told you to be on the lookout for a set of our Lady Dog’s “Basic Rules for Dogs Who Have a Yard to Protect,” and for those people who think rules are for the birds, a set of my old cockatoo Lottie’s “Basic Rules for Birds Who Have a Cage to Maintain.” Well, here are the Dog Rules. The Bird Rules will be flying in soon. Watch for them.

(The information below is from a column I wrote on June 4, 1995.)

Back in the 1980s, my long-deceased Siamese, Isis (bless her black little soul), published a list of “Basic Rules for Cats Who Have a House to Run.” This hilarious and thought-provoking list was so well-received (feral cats from as far away as Australia requested copies), I decided to compile a similar list for dogs. It wasn’t easy.

One minute I was down on my knees interviewing and rubbing noses with a near-sighted Chihuahua, and the next I’d be hanging from a tree, discussing attack protocols with a vociferous pit bull.

But finally, after two years of research, 33 flea baths and 29 new pairs of pants, I have compiled a list of “Basic Rules for Dogs Who Have a Yard to Protect.”

Please share it with your family pet. If he or she has any additions or corrections to the list, you can have them drop me a note at

Before passing this information along to your dog, I suggest you read it carefully, and make yourself a copy. It couldn’t hurt.

Basic Rules for Dogs Who Have a Yard to Protect:

NEWSPAPERS. If you have to go to the bathroom while playing in the front yard, always use the newspaper that’s placed in the driveway every morning for that purpose.

VISITORS. Quickly determine which guest is afraid of dogs. Charge across the room, barking loudly and leap up playfully on this person. If the human falls down on the floor and starts crying, lick its face and growl gently to show your concern.

BARKING. Because you are a dog, you are expected to bark. So bark — a lot. Your owners will be very happy to hear you protecting their house. Especially late at night while they are sleeping safely in their beds. There is no more secure feeling for a human than to keep waking up in the middle of the night and hearing your protective bark, bark, bark …

LICKING. Always take a BIG drink from your water dish immediately before licking your human. Humans prefer clean tongues. Be ready to fetch your human a towel.

HOLES. Rather than digging a BIG hole in the middle of the yard and upsetting your human, dig a lot of smaller holes all over the yard so they won’t notice. If you arrange a little pile of dirt on one side of each hole, maybe they’ll think it’s gophers. There are never enough holes in the ground. Strive daily to do your part to help correct this problem.

DOORS. The area directly in front of a door is always reserved for the family dog to sleep.

THE ART OF SNIFFING. Humans like to be sniffed. Everywhere. It is your duty, as the family dog, to accommodate them.

DINING ETIQUETTE. Always sit under the table at dinner, especially when there are guests, so you can clean up any food that falls on the floor. It’s also a good time to practice your sniffing.

HOUSEBREAKING. Housebreaking is very important to humans, so break as much of the house as possible.

GOING FOR WALKS. Rules of the road: When out for a walk with your master or mistress, never go to the bathroom on your own lawn.

COUCHES. It is perfectly permissible to lie on the new couch after all your humans have gone to bed.

PLAYING. If you lose your footing while chasing a ball or stick, use the flower bed to absorb your fall so you don’t injure yourself.

CHASING CATS. When chasing cats, make sure you never — quite — catch them. It spoils all the fun.

CHEWING. Make a contribution to the fashion industry. Eat a shoe.

Watch for “Basic Rules for Birds Who Have a Cage to Maintain” — coming soon.

Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2007
Under: dogs | No Comments »


Sexy Beast — canine style unleashed
It’s Friday, we’re in the middle of a miserable heat wave and it’s going to be stinking hot today, and I need to wade through this huge pile of press releases to see if there’s anything I can use in my column. What fun.

Press release #1:
“NEW YORK, NY — Even the most well-primped pooches get their paws dirty once in a while. Now your pup’s favorite scent will make bath time the best time. Sexy Beast, the luxury canine-care brand that created pet beauty is now debuting their highly-anticipated Shampoo and Conditioner. Along side their already lavish 3-step grooming system and award-winning Signature Fragrance, what more could your dog ask for?”

Press Release #2:
“Can a pet shampoo change the world? No. But it can eliminate the odor. Fresh Wave Odor Neutralizers for Stinky Pets NEW Fur Fresh Shampoo!!! For people who LOVE LIVING with their pets!!!”

Press Release #3:
“Good morning! With over 377 million pet owners in the U.S., the pet industry is booming. From bones to bed and bath, pet owners will do everything they can to keep their furry friends happy. Moen Incorporated recently conducted a survey to look into bathing habits for our beloved pets. The results are attached, along with a photo featuring man’s best friend and Moen’s new Inspire handheld seven-setting shower, available at Lowe’s stores nationwide.”

Press Release #4:
“Spice up your pet carrier for summer! In addition to the new carrier options on the market, an alternative is jazzing up your current carrier with colorful handkerchiefs, ribbons, or some artful sewing.”

Press Release #5:
“Barking by day and snoring by night? If that sounds like your dog, then the answer just may well be a breakthrough new product called SnoreStop For Pets, believed to be the world’s first drug-free, all-natural solution for the relief of canine (and feline) snoring. Interested in trying samples? Where shall we send them?”


I think I’ll go outside and stand in the sun and sweat for awhile.

Posted on Friday, July 6th, 2007
Under: Crazy Press Releases | No Comments »


This heat wave isn’t over yet
So keep an eye on your pets.

Here’s some good hot weather advice from the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services:

HEAT & CARS: An outside temperature of 85 degrees will raise the temperature in your car to 104 degrees within 10 minutes — even if you leave the windows slightly open. Within a half-hour, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. This serious heat can cause a pet or child to suffer brain damage, heatstroke, suffocation or kidney failure.

PLAYTIME: On very hot days (like today!), only play with your pet during cool early mornings or evenings. Keep dogs off of hot pavement or sidewalks. They can burn their foot pads. Keeps walks to a minimum (or not at all) on very hot days like today.

OLDER & OVERWEIGHT CATS & DOGS: Keep a special eye on these animals when it’s hot. They are more vulnerable to the affects of heat.

SHORT-MUZZLED DOGS: bulldogs, mastiffs, pugs, Boston terriers, Lhasa apsos and shih tzus find it harder to breath on hot and humid days. Keep them where it’s cool.

HEAT STRESS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY: Heat stress signs in dogs and cats include heavy panting, glazed eyes, fast pulse, unsteady on feet, vomiting, and/or a deep red/purple tongue.

If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, you can lower its body temp by pouring cool (not cold) water slowly over its body. Let the animal drink small amounts of cool (not cold) water.


Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2007
Under: Hot Weather | No Comments »


Authorities probe attempted firebombing of UCLA researcher’s car
Take a look below at two views of the same story. I’m interested in what you think about them. Please click on “Comments” at the end of this posting and let me know. Thanks.

One is a press release I received from the North American Animal Liberation Press Office in Los Angeles, dated June 28, “For Immediate Release.” The other, an Associated Press wire story on the same matter, dated June 29, the next day.

North American Animal Liberation Press Office — For Immediate Release — June 28, 2007
UCLA Vicisector gets Heat for Animal Abuse
His BMW is Firebombed to Protest Useless and Cruel Experiments on Non-human Primates

Los Angeles- In an anonymous communique received by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, activists claimed to have incinerated the luxury automobile of UCLA primate vivisector Arthur Rosenbaum. Claiming to have witnessed abuse of the highly intelligent animals personally, the activists went on to threaten Rosenbaum with some of the same cruel and useless atrocities he perpetrates on innocent primates in his laboratory.

Press Officer Jerry Vlasak, MD explains: “The research protocol calls for restraining monkeys in a device that keeps their heads from moving, while metallic coils are glued to their sclerae to allow tracking of their eye movements. This is an inordinately cruel experiment purporting to study a usually self-limiting disease that can readily be studied in volunteer humans. I hope Rosenbaum stops his cruel and useless experiments.”

The communique reads in part:
[A] gallon of fuel was placed and set a light under the right front corner of Arthur Rosenbaums large white shiney BMW. He and his wife Sandy, living at (address removed/Gary) in la, are the target of rebellion for the vile and evil things he does to primates at UCLA. We have seen by our own eyes the torture on fully conscious primates in his lab. We have heard their whimpers and screeches of pain. Seeing this drove one of us to rush out and vomit. We have seen hell and its in Rosenbaums lab.

For more information or to read the full press release, visit the Web site listed below. But I warn you, be prepared for a very scary visit:

BC-CA–Animal Rights Attack, June 29, 2007
Authorities Probe Attempted firebombing of UCLA researcher’s car

LOS ANGELES — Authorities were investigating the attempted firebombing of a car owned by a University of California, Los Angeles, researcher as a terrorist act, officials said Thursday.

Animal rights activists claimed they set fire to a BMW parked in front of Arthur Rosenbaum’s house on Sunday. Jerry Vlasak, a spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, alleged that Rosenbaum conducts abusive experiments on monkeys.

The firebomb was lit but did not ignite, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

The Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force — composed of investigators from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and local fire and police departments — was investigating the attempted attack, she said.

Rosenbaum is a professor of ophthalmology. University officials said the incident was the latest act of violence by animal rights extremists who oppose the use of animals in laboratory research.

“Anyone planting an incendiary device does so with the intent to kill or severely injure people or property,” UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams said in a statement.

He claimed animal rights activists have made threatening phone calls, pounded on the windows and doors of faculty members’ homes late at night and demonstrated outside their homes.

Please click on “Comments” and share your thoughts about the above. Thanks. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007
Under: Animal Liberation Front | 2 Comments »


Should Mitt Romney’s supposed treatment of the family dog on a 1983 vacation be a presidential campaign issue?

The Boston Globe disclosed last week that Mitt Romney supposedly put the family Irish setter in an enclosed dog kennel and tied it to the top of his car for a 12-hour vacation trip. The Globe says it found out about this while researching a series of stories on the presidential candidate’s life.

Romney is the former Governor of Massachusetts and a current Republican candidate for president.

I wasn’t going to write about this. Politics isn’t my thing and I have no positions one way or the other on any presidential candidates, Republicans, Democrats, or whatever.

Then, when I got to work this morning, I found a couple of e-mails suggesting this might make good blogging fodder. So I did some research and I STILL decided not to write about it.

Something that happened almost a quarter of a century ago, much of it apparently based on the recollections of people who were children at the time, can be pretty sketchy. Did it really happen? And if it did happen, are all aspects of the event clearly covered?

And then while Googling the subject, I discovered that the blogosphere has gone berserk about “Romney’s Cruel Canine Vacation” … “lesson in cruelty” … “the dog was, basically, being tortured.”

Well, I wasn’t going to write about it until I saw that.

It seems like there are an awful lot of thoughts being bandied about on this subject without much actual knowledge.

Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2007
Under: Animal Politics | 3 Comments »