Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for October, 2007

Can you help one of these animals?

These two cats and one dog need homes.
The letters below explain their individual situations. Contact information is also included. Thanks for caring. /Gary

Dear Gary:

I have been trying to find a home for my Dad’s 5-year-old cat, Midnight. Dad was a Pearl Harbor Survivor and such an animal-cat lover. He had 7 cats/kittens when he died in May. All of these cats adopted my Dad. With the help of my students and Dad’s neighbors, I’ve placed all the cats except a young mama Siamese and Midnight.

Every day I go over to Dad’s house, feed Midnight and let him roam about the backyard. He prefers to stay indoors. The house is being sold. It is on the market. Midnight isn’t dealing well with strangers wandering thru HIS house. Midnight doesn’t understand what happened to Dad and what he did wrong to deserve such crazy treatment. He’s a love-a-lap meowing kitty.

I would take Midnight if I could. The neighbors are caring for the mama Siamese at the moment. Can you ask your readers if someone can adopt Midnight? He’s just 5, jet black, fixed, fluffy and loves to eat. He slept with Dad every night. The house is empty. He sleeps on a blanket on the floor. The animal shelter is NOT a good solution. Thanks. (Eileen Farley,; 925-682-2724.)

Dear Gary:

I have a 21-year-old cat, still in pretty good shape, that I must find a home for as I am moving out of state and can’t take her. She needs a home with no children. Strictly an inside cat. Never been outside. Does like other cats and small dogs. She is a Siamese mix. If anyone can help, they can call me at 925-827-3177. Thanks. (Anita)

Dear Gary:

I hope one of your readers can help. My grandfather recently passed away, leaving behind a 7-year-old spayed akita named Saki. None of the relatives can take her, so now she needs to find a new home.

She doesn’t get along well with cats or dogs, so she’d have to be an only pet, but she’s great with people including kids. She also ignores the squirrels, so any that live in her new yard would still have the run of the place. She’s a bit headstrong and stubborn at first, so she needs someone with experience who can give her clear boundaries and a short leash.

Her picture can be found at and I can be reached at or at 925-685-0230. Thank your for your time. (Natalie Borges)

Thanks for checking this out. I get these kinds of emergency cries for help from time to time and have decided that posting them here on my blog is the best way to deal with it. I simply don’t have enough room (column space) in my daily columns to fit all these in. Whenever I need to post one of these “help me” letters here, I’ll also place a notice in my column telling my readers to look here if they need a pet.

If you have any feedback or suggestions, please note them under “Comments” below, or you can e-mail me at

Just trying to help. /Gary

Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Would you believe, a $1.8 million 52 carat diamond dog collar?

How much do you love your dog?
Enough to sell your house, car, all your possessions and maybe rob a bank to raise enough money to buy it a one-of-a-kind dog collar?

As you might imagine, a pet columnist gets a lot of press releases from companies and publishers and organizations trying to promote their wares. Yes, I get a lot. And occasionally I even get some pretty weird promotions they try to get me to plug in my column.

But this one REALLY takes the angel food cake, so to speak, and I had to share it with you.

Check out this unbelievable press release on taking pet glamour to a new level:
(From Jeri Bryant, Marketing Manager, i Love Dogs, Inc., in Los Angeles — where else?)

“The Ultra Luxurious Amour Amour: A One-of-a-Kind 52 Carat Diamond Dog Collar
“Los Angeles, CA — If you had $1.8 million, what would you spend it on; a house in the Bahamas with an ocean view or a Ferrari Enzo, a Rolls Royce Phantom and a Porsche Carrera GT? Not if your pampered pooch has anything to say about it!

“With 1,600 hand-set diamonds adorning the graceful chandelier design that includes a stunning 7-carat, D-IF, brilliant shape center piece diamond, i Love Dogs, Inc. is debuting the ultra-luxurious Amour Amour. Crafted with precision and attention to detail, the one-of-a-kind 52 carat Amour Amour is the world’s most exquisite dog collar-and without a doubt, the most expensive! No dog has ever before had the chance to wear breath-taking pieces that are more worthy of being called fine necklaces than ! collars.

“Amour Amour is one of five exclusive designs in La Collection de Bijoux-the world’s most expensive line of designer diamond dog collars. The limited edition collars introduce high-fashion and the breathtaking beauty of diamonds to the world of dog couture. Amour Amour is the only one-of-a-kind diamond dog collar available. Additional limited edition designs-Juene Cheri, Amour de la Mer, L’Etoile, and Cheri — are available for the discerning pet owner.

“The complete La Collection de Bijoux can be viewed on-line at

“With several product lines ranging from exquisite diamond or turquoise dog collars to veterinarian-formulated supplements and fine-quality leather goods, i Love Dogs, Inc. is the source for dog lovers in search of unique, premium products. ‘We’re fulfilling the needs of the luxury dog market. All of our products are proprietary, and are the best of the best.’ Debra May, General Manager i Love Dogs, Inc.”

So there you have it. Diamonds are a … dog’s … best friend. Right?
OK folks, I think we need to have an impromptu little contest/survey here to find out WHO you think could not only afford to buy such an offensive object for their pooch, but would also actually be crazy enough to do it?

Please enter the name or names of anyone you think would buy such a thing under “Comments” below. And if you’re up to it, maybe throw in why you think they’d do it.

The winner of this little contest/survey gets to sit back and have a real good laugh (with the rest of us).

I’ll be shocked if anyone can come up with a real person.

Of course … I’ve been shocked before. /Gary

Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2007
Under: Press releases | 6 Comments »

UC Web site helps you avoid coyote problems

Take a look at this interesting note I got about CoyoteBytes:

Hello Gary:
I thought you might find this information and new Web site of interest. This project is currently operating in Southern California, but plans are under way to expand to our area. As a walker in the Lime Ridge Open Space (Walnut Creek) who enjoys regular coyote sightings, I am pleased to see solutions that allow us to amicably coexist. — Shelley Murdock, county director of UC Cooperative Extension

Here’s a little bit (byte?) from the press release Shelley sent me:

UC Web site helps homeowners avoid coyote problems.
A new Web site has been created by a University of California wildlife specialist to assist homeowners in preventing and solving conflicts with suburban coyotes. provides information about coyotes in urban and suburban environments, giving specific management recommendations. Residents of Lost (OOPS, Freudian slip) Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties can also report coyote attacks or encounters via the site.

In the future, you’ll be able to view a map that shows where reported attacks occurred. UC scientists will compile and analyze this information to better define the scope of the coyote problem in these counties, and to improve their recommendations for preventing and solving future coyote conflicts.

CoyoteBytes provides information to homeowners, land managers, agency personnel, and others to help solve coyote-human conflicts, particularly in urban and suburban areas. The site also has coyote photos and short video clips in a photo gallery of suburban coyotes for you to see. You can also submit your own coyote photos and videos.

During 2007, this Web site is targeted toward Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties.

** It will be expanded to all of California at a future date. While the focus is down south, the coyote information that is NOW on the site is applicable to coyotes EVERYWHERE … so drop by and start reading!

With CoyoteBytes, you can:
** Learn about urban coyotes,
** Report a coyote encounter or incident,
** View a map of coyote incidents in your area,
** Find links to more information about coyotes

This Web site appears to have real possibilities for making it possible for humans and coyotes to live in the same area and get along with each other. That would be nice.

At the very least, there’s a LOT of fascinating information on CoyoteBytes about coyotes and how to enjoy them while protecting yourself, your kids and pets from any dangerous encounters. It’s pretty interesting.

Please check it out and let me know what you think: /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2007
Under: coyotes | No Comments »

The Gov. finally got the lead out!

Common sense prevailed as Gov. Schwarzenegger finally signed AB 821 — which bans the use of lead bullets in endangered California condor ranges in California!

Condors feed on carcasses left behind by hunters and in the process, swallow dangerous amounts of lead from ammunition. This new law will require the use of non-lead ammo in current and potential condor ranges in the state.

It’s a good Monday because there’s even more good news. I just got an e-mail from my friend Eric Mills, coordinator of Action for Animals in Oakland.

Eric says:
“Just got word that Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the charreada bill into law today (Sunday) (AB 1614, introduced by Assemblymember Audra Strickland). Watered down more than it should have been, of course (no thanks to Assemblyman Kevin De Leon), but it is a step in the right direction, and should help a few animals. Enforcement will be key, as with most legislation. Thanks to those who helped with this.” Eric

Eric and Action for Animals are of course sponsors of AB 1614.
This bill lowers the definition of rodeo from four events to three (so that it will apply to small rodeos like charreadas) in order to cover all rodeos under existing law, requiring a veterinarian, or a vet on call, to treat injuries to animals and report those injuries to the Veterinary Medical Board. AB 1614 also requires a conveyance for injured animals so they are not dragged and bans electric prods.

My thanks to all of you who helped with these important bills. /Gary

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2007
Under: Condors | No Comments »

Is this another plot by “anti-gun” nuts to ban guns?

On Oct. 9, I wrote here about the California Fish and Game Commission meeting on Oct. 11-12 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 45 John Glenn Drive, Concord, in the Cedar Room. I asked you to please attend the meeting and when it was time for public comments, to stand up and ask the commissioners to support a ban on the use of lead bullets in the endangered California condor range.

This got a response in “Comments” at the end of my blog:
“This is another idiotic environmental wacko proposal. By demonizing lead, the anti-gun nuts believe that they have taken one more incremental step toward banning guns and ammunition. Let’s be honest, this is another feel-good meddling idea. What are the actual odds that a hunter will use lead in any form to shoot a game animal and then just walk off and leave it to that a condor will find the carcass before other scavengers get to it. Then consume exactly the right amount of the dead animal to cause the death of the Condor. Perhaps one in 100 million to one?? Please, leave the shooters alone. They will just go to bismuth or some other heavy shot replacement. Stick to your cute back yard stories Gary and leave the wacko politics to the enviro-nuts. — Posted by Larry Ward, October 9, 2007 11:01 AM

I beg to differ. This has nothing to do with anti-gun nuts, or banning guns, or ammunition, or hunters. It has to do with changing the TYPE of ammunition used in the condor refuges … from lead to something else that won’t poison these endangered birds.

As to the actual odds that lead from bullets will poison condors?

Here’s a sampling of the reports in my very thick “Condors vs. Lead” file:
Twelve California condors have died of lead poisoning since the program started in 1992, according to the Ventana Wilderness Society. That’s a conservative estimate, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which has reported at least 15 condor deaths linked to lead since the reintroduction began.

In July of this year, a consortium of 44 scientists announced that lead bullets have been the main cause of lead poisoning in the Calif. condor population. Dr. Don Smith, chair of the toxicology department at University of California, Santa Cruz, says isotopes found in lead bullet samples and in condor blood were significantly similar.

On top of the two condors poisoned this summer, 11 from Pinnacles National Monument had to be treated last summer for elevated lead levels. Five condors recently suffered from acute lead poisoning, after feeding on a wild pig carcass killed by hunters near Pinnacles.

Check out this Washington Post story on condors and lead poisoning from today’s paper.

Anyone who really cares about these giant endangered birds should trot right over to this morning’s meeting of the California Fish and Game Commission and ask them to ban the use of lead bullets in the condor range. The meeting starts at 8:30 a.m.

And now, back to my cute back yard stories. /Gary

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2007
Under: California condors | No Comments »

DVC hosts Eco-Fair, Oct. 18 — free info & free stuff

Diablo Valley College Eco-Fair, Thursday, Oct. 18, 9:45 a.m.–2 p.m., between the Library and the Learning Center.

Learn how you can make your life “greener” and help fight global warming.

DVC is located at 321 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill. The Eco-Fair is sponsored by the Sustainability Committee.

** Get one of a couple thousand compact fluorescent light kits to be given away to the community by Pacific Gas & Electric.

** Gather transit information from the County Connection.

** See demonstrations and get information about water conservation from representatives of the Contra Costa Water District.

** Allied Waste will be there to promote recycling and a “Recycle Mania” contest that DVC will be entering.

** Learn about saving the green — both environmental and the cash kind — and about the DVC solar panel project to generate power on campus.

** Learn about the campaign to save Mount Diablo, and gain some good gardening information from the DVC horticulture staff.

And it’s also a great opportunity to get out and enjoy both the fall weather and the Diablo Valley College campus.

For more information, contact Holly Kresch at 925-685-1230 ext. 2825 or Lyn Krause, 925-685-1230 ext. 2518.

Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2007
Under: Ecosystem | No Comments »

Got pet hair problems? Here’s a sticky solution

A quick way to remove cat and dog hair from large areas: StickySheets.
These 23-inch by 35-inch plastic sheets are very sticky on one side. Just press a sheet over a hairy chair or couch, rip it off and the hair is gone. They say each sheet can be used on 5-6 surfaces before tossing. If you have problems with pet hair, they’ll help you clean up the place fast.

The company sent me some samples and I took them home to try out on my super-shedding indoor cats, Tut and Newman. Our family room couch is a giant hair magnet for both these beasts and I removed the hair in about two minutes. That’s fast. I’m going to keep a supply on hand to help me clean up when company is coming.

The sheets are $19.95 for 12 (plus shipping); $29.95 for 24 (plus shipping); and $59.90 for 48 (free shipping).

This product if pretty new and the only source I know at the moment is to purchase it on the company’s Web site. I expect it will start appearing in local pet stores soon.

Find out more about StickySheets at:

Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2007
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Anyone have a problem posting comments to my blog?

If you’ve had any trouble posting a comment to this blog, please give it another try right now, just to make sure everything is in working order. I think we’ve corrected any problems. I’ll respond to your new comments, below, by adding comments of my own.

Thanks for helping us out on this and sorry for any inconvenience!

I want to hear what you have to say! /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
Under: Problems? | 2 Comments »

Endangered California condors need your help

Fish and Game Commission meeting on THURSDAY (Oct. 11) and FRIDAY (Oct. 12), at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cedar Room, 45 John Glenn Drive, Concord.

Please ATTEND and make a statement at the Public Forum supporting a ban on the use of lead bullets on the endangered California condor refuge. These birds are dying from lead poisoning when they eat animals that have been shot by lead bullets (they ingest the lead fragments).
The Public Forum is the first thing on the agenda. If you can’t stay long, please at least make a statement supporting the lead ban in the condor refuge. This is VERY important and numbers (those who support the ban) count. The commissioners need to see a LARGE audience of lead ban supporters.

Items on the Thursday 10 a.m. agenda include: PUBLIC FORUM, Receipt of Public Comments RE the Revised Draft Master Plan for Marine Protected Areas; Request by City of Oakland for Commission Consideration to Prohibit Sports Fishing in All Freshwater Creeks, Streams, and Waterways within the Oakland City Limits; Possible Emergency Action to List the Longfin Smelt as an Endangered Species; and more.

FRIDAY, OCT. 12, 8:30 A.M.:
Items on Friday Agenda include: Receipt of Public Comments, orally or in writing, on all options proposed re the use of lean ammunition in condor habitat; receipt of Public Testimony on Proposals re the Prohibition Against Feeding Big Game Mammals; and more.

PLEASE at least make a quick statement supporting the ban on lead bullets in the condor refuge at the 10 a.m. Public Forum on THURSDAY. The condors need your support. Thanks. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
Under: Condors | No Comments »

Got Birds?

What kinds of birds do you see in your yard?
I’m doing a quickie survey to see what kinds of birds you have in your yard. I’m getting a lot of mail asking, “Where are the birds?” I thought I’d check and try to find out.

Please take a quick moment to send me an e-mail listing the different types of bird species you’ve seen in your front or back yard in the last two weeks. (songbirds, quail, herons, woodpeckers, doves, hummingbirds, hawks, owls, whatever)

** Please e-mail this information to:

Include in your e-mail: your list of birds, your name, city where you live, nearest cross streets, and a phone number where you can be reached if I have a quick question.

I’ll print the results of this survey in my column. Thanks for your help! /Gary

Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2007
Under: Birds | 1 Comment »