Friday, December 12, 2008

I Like Joe Biden's Taste

Regardless of whatever opinion I may have had previously about Vice-President-to-be Joe Biden, it has just gone up 500% by his choice of canine companions. He has just picked out a German shepherd puppy. See the full story and more pictures in Delaware OnLine:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Family Will Have Tough Time Finding Hypoallergenic Dog

Picture is from:

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter – Fri Nov 14, 5:03 pm ET

FRIDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- President-elect Barack Obama has inspired throngs around the world to say, "Yes, we can."
But when it comes to finding a hypoallergenic dog for the White House, allergists are saying, "No, you can't."

For the full article, at Yahoo, go to:
The following excerpt is from a link cited in the above Yahoo article:
Controlling animal dander Contrary to popular belief, people are not allergic to an animal's hair, but rather, to a protein found in the saliva, dander (dead skin flakes) or urine of an animal with fur. These proteins are carried in the air on very small, invisible particles, which can land on the lining of the eyes or nose, or be inhaled directly into the lungs. Usually, symptoms will occur quickly, sometimes within minutes after exposure to the animal. For some people, symptoms may build and become most severe eight to 12 hours after they have had contact with the animal.

A cat or dog produces a certain amount of allergen per week, and this amount can vary from animal to animal. All breeds are capable of triggering symptoms-there are no "hypoallergenic" breeds of cats or dogs. People with severe allergies can even experience reactions in public places if dander has been transported on pet owners' clothing.

The most effective way to combat symptoms of animal allergy is to remove the pet from the home and avoid any contact. Keeping an animal outdoors is only a partial solution, since homes with pets in the yard still have higher concentrations of animal allergens. Before you get a pet, spend time with someone else's dog or cat to determine if you're allergic. If you already have an animal to which you or a family member is allergic, try to place it with a caring, non-allergic friend or relative. Although this separation can be difficult, it is best for the health of you or your allergic family member. You may also consider getting a pet such as a turtle, hermit crab, fish, snake, or other animals without fur or feathers.

If you cannot avoid exposure to the animal that causes your allergy symptoms, try to minimize contact. Most importantly, keep the pet out of the bedroom and other rooms where people with allergies spend a great deal of time. Some studies have demonstrated that bathing dogs or cats on a weekly basis may reduce the amount of allergens that are shed in the home. While dander and saliva are the source of cat and dog allergens, urine is the source of allergens from rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs; ask a non-allergic family member to clean the animal's cage.
Vacuuming is not effective in decreasing animal allergens, because it does not clean the lower levels of the rug. In fact, it can stir up small allergen particles, which can also move right through the vacuum. Using a HEPA vacuum filter or double bags may help. As with dust mites, the best solution is to have a hardwood floor, tile or linoleum. Although there is no conclusive evidence, some studies have found that using a HEPA air cleaner may reduce animal allergen exposure.
Replace bedding and carpeting that has animal dander in it. It can take weeks or months for fabrics to come clean of allergens, and animal allergens may persist for a year or more after the animal has been removed.
~ ~ ~

Monday, November 3, 2008

Uh, Oh....The Elections are Coming!

Sometimes there is only one thing you
can do on the night before Election Day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Ask Ginny"

Ginny invites you to write
to her with your questions......
[Submit them as a comment
on one of the "Ask Ginny" posts
and Ginny will repost them
in a new post segment.]

Q & A about health,
veterinary matters,
training, and life
~ ~ ~ ~
Q: Dear Ginny,
I am a 10 week old Labrador retriever puppy. I am full of energy but I am a little shy around other dogs and people. My vet told my owner that I should have my 16-week vaccination booster before starting a puppy class, but several dog trainers have said that it is more important to get me "socialized" while I am still young. What is your opinion?
--submissively yours,
Angus (West Chester, PA)
A: Dear Angus,
My human partner said that there was a news story published in the October 1, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) stated, "A position statement on early socialization in puppies released in July by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior encourages veterinarians to recommend puppies be socialized before the vaccine series is complete." The article said that, even though infectious disease is certainly cause for vigilance in young puppies, "the fact is that behavioral issues--not infectious diseases--are the number one cause of death for dogs under 3 years of age, according to the AVSAB." The article quoted the AVSAB president, Dr. E. Kathryn Meyer, as saying that "Puppies go through a sensitive period of socialization when they are uniquely prepared to benefit from exposure to social opportunities. From the time the owner adopts the puppy until 3 to 4 months of age, it is critical that the owner get the puppy out to meet other animals and people, and experience many different kinds of environments.... These (unsocialized) puppies may also fail to develop coping mechanisms and grow up into dogs that are unable to adapt to new situations." To see a copy of the AVSAB puppy position statement, go to and click on Position Statements.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Fun! - I Joined a Play Group

Today, I made some new friends. My people signed me up for a play group. I heard them discussing it before hand. They said that I was not getting enough exercise and did not have enough opportunity to interact with other dogs. The group leader, whose name is Larry, came over to our house first, to meet me. I liked him right away. He took me in his van to pick up the other dogs. I got to stay in the front section, which has a barricade so I can see and sniff the other dogs as they got in, but so I wouldn't be overwhelmed in case one of them got pushy. My people went ahead to the tract of wooded land where the play group runs. I didn't find out until later that they were there to check out how I was doing. As soon as they saw that I was getting along well, they drove away. Larry kept me on a leash, to make sure I stayed with him. He says that I'll be able to go off-leash, like the others, once I get the hang of things. I think it is going to be a lot of fun.

(Pictures are from the "The Sandwich Dog"--http://www/

Friday, October 17, 2008

Extraordinary Dogs: In The Line Of Duty


"Missti Lavallee of Erie, ND, had been a soldier in the U.S. Army Combat Military Police Corps for nearly a decade when she was injured in the line of duty and told she would never walk again. Not one to give up, Lavallee made the life-changing decision to bring home Lara, a 12-week-old blue heeler/shepherd mix, and train her as her therapy dog.

"In the first few months, Lara learned to assist her human by reminding her to take her medicine and fetching Lavallee’s husband when she needed his assistance. Lara even figured out—all on her own—how to test the temperature of Lavallee’s bath water. But the real turning point was when Lavallee lost circulation in her legs—so badly they were turning purple—and the shepherd mix climbed into bed and lay on her legs. 'Her breathing and her soft fur heated up my legs—slow enough not to cause more pain, but fast enough to relieve the pain I was in,' Lavallee recalls.

"Lara soon knew instinctively when Lavallee needed her legs warmed, and was right there to help. Little by little, as Lavallee’s circulation improved, Lara encouraged her mom to get out of her wheelchair and walk alongside her as they played hide-and-seek with her two daughters. 'Doing the "seeking" with Lara gave me motivation to get up and walk alongside her, no matter how hard it was or how much it hurt,' Lavallee tells us.

"This former soldier believes her amazing dog encouraged her to focus on her and the kids instead of on the pain. 'Lara did what four doctors in two countries could not—after about eight months, I began to walk!' Lavallee says. 'Let me say that again because it feels so good. Thanks to my blue heeler/shepherd mix, I can now walk!' That winter, for the first time in a long time, Lavallee was able to go outside and play with her two daughters.

"Lara’s assistance extends beyond the physical. She’s also a nanny! 'I don’t have to worry about the kids fighting with each other,' says Lavallee. 'Lara is quick to get between them and tell them to knock it off with one "Woof!" She’s tough! Being a female soldier, I learned that the words "I can't" and "No" are fighting words—and Lara helped me win the fight.' "

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

EXTRA! EXTRA! Candidates Mittens and Rowdy Caught Canoodling

ASPCA Presents: Cat vs. Dog '08

"A photo surfaced today showing presidential candidates Rowdy and Mittens clearly canoodling on a comfy sofa, drawing public outcry.

"A joint statement issued by the pets defended their decision to cross party lines. 'While we continue to differ on legalization of catnip, we have concluded that all pets agree on the important issues facing us today: preventing cruelty and ensuring safety and security. So we are officially joining forces to ensure the next human in the White House knows our stance.'

" 'We will take the signatures of everyone who pledges to fight cruelty directly to Obama or McCain this November.'
The statement continues: 'Also, the sunny spot on the couch is pleasant. After thoughtful negotiations, we determined that there is room for both of us.' In a press conference candidate Rowdy admitted, 'Typically I am not allowed on the sofa, but in this case an exception was made.'

"Candidate Mittens added, 'We did not anticipate having our afternoon nap interrupted by pawparazzi. But we are proud to stand together in fighting animal cruelty, and we still need your support and help.'

Read the full story here:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Aid for Pets

I saw this web page on First Aid for Pets, while my partner was browsing on her computer. It is put out by the American Red Cross and has a lot of good information.,1082,0_10_,00.html

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pregnant Dog Adopts Hurt Squirrel

"Dog Makes It Pick Of New Litter As Human Nurses It Back To Health"

(CBS) "When a very young squirrel fell from a tree, little did it know that would mark the start of a most unusual relationship. A woman found the squirrel and its sister lying on the ground. They had fallen about 40 feet out of their nest. The sister was dead. The woman asked animal lover Debby Cantlon, well known in the Seattle area for nursing injured animals back to health, to care for the squirrel, and Cantlon agreed." For more of this incredible story, including the video, go to:

Finnegan was resting in a nest in a cage just days before Giselle was due to deliver her puppies. Cantlon and her husband watched as the dog dragged the squirrel's cage — twice — to her own bedside before she gave birth. Cantlon was concerned, yet ultimately decided to allow the squirrel out — and the inter-species bonding began.

"Finnegan" curls up with puppies from the litter recently born to "Mademoiselle Giselle", a dog belonging to Debbie Cantlon. For almost as long as she can remember, Debby Cantlon has been the person people bring sick and abandoned aminals to. On September 6, Cantlon was brought a newborn squirrel, probably less than one week old, dehydrated and orphaned, which she attempted to nurse back to health. Much to her surprise however, her Papillion, Mademoiselle Giselle, decided to nurse the squirrel along with her litter of five newborn puppies. And even more surprising was that all - squirrel and dogs - bonded.


For a video of the puppies and squirrel nursing together go to:

"After goodbye visit, squirrel moves on"
The adoption story concludes with Finnegan's starting a new life.
"... When Finnegan was 8 weeks old, Cantlon decided he was old enough to be on his own and began putting him outside. He'd run around but would stay in the yard. Each night, he would scratch at the back door or at Cantlon's daughter's window to be let in for the night...."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

My humans want everyone to know what to do if their dog starts to choke on something, like a piece of rawhide, or a meatball. Several years ago, before I was born, my vet-human was working at a small vet clinic one day, when a frantic man came running in, carrying his English bull dog. The dog's tongue was purple and she was dead. After my partner had confirmed the fact that this beautiful dog had passed away, the dog's distraught owner said that he had given her a meatball--something that he had done many times before, and she had started to choke. Not knowing what to do, he had rushed her to the vet clinic, but it was too late by the time they had arrived.

Here is what to do if your dog happens to choke:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Pet Food Recall

The Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association alerted my vet partner to another pet food recall:

It is a voluntary recall by Mars Petcare US, "of products manufactured at its Everson, Pennsylvania facility. The pet food is being voluntarily recalled because of potential contamination with Salmonella serotypeSchwarzengrund. This voluntary recall only affects the United States.

"Salmonella can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and, if there is cross contamination caused by handling of the pet food, in people as well, especially children, the aged, and people with compromised immune systems. Healthy people potentially infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. On rare occasions, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

"Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Animals can be carriers with no visible symptoms and can potentially infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

"The company stopped production at the Everson facility on July 29, 2008 when it was alerted of a possible link between dry pet food produced at the plant and two isolated cases of people infected with Salmonella Schwarzengrund...." [See the article for complete text.]

American pet owners had already been sensitized by the illnesses and deaths caused by food made with tainted gluten exported from China to the United States. A February 6, 2008, ABC News report (See by Pierre Thomas, Jason Ryan and Scott Michels, states that, "A U.S. food importing company, its owners and two Chinese businesses were indicted today [2/6/08] by a federal grand jury in Kansas for their roles in allegedly manufacturing and importing a tainted pet food ingredient that may have killed thousands of cats and dogs.

"The U.S. company, called ChemNutra and run by husband and wife Stephen and Sally Miller, imported and distributed wheat gluten, a protein-rich ingredient commonly used in pet food. The gluten contained melamine, a poisonous chemical that is used to create plastics, cleaning products, countertops, glues, inks and fertilizers, the indictment states.

"The indictments allege that more than 800 metric tons of tainted gluten was exported from China to the United States between November 2006 and February 2007. ChemNutra and the Millers received the melamine-tainted product and sold it to their customers, who used it to manufacture various brands of pet food, according to the indictment.

"Melamine was allegedly added to make it appear that the wheat gluten had more protein than it really contained, the authorities said.

'Chem Nutra and Sally and Stephen Miller deny the allegations in the strongest of terms and look forward to proving their innocence at trial,' said spokesman Steve Stern. 'They had neither the intent to defraud or knowledge of wrongdoing.'

"The allegedly tainted products led to a massive pet food recall last year [2007]. Though it is not clear how many pets died from the tainted food, the Food and Drug Administration estimates that about 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs were killed...." [See the article for the complete text.]

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Scary Story about a Dangerous Ball Toy

This story was forwarded to my human partner's e-mail address, and it looked so scary that I had to post it for my friends to read. It is a warning about the toy seen in this picture, a ball made by the Four Paws company. Please go to this blog and read about it. It is a very dangerous toy.

Monday, August 4, 2008

"Ask Ginny"

Ginny invites you to write to her with your questions......
[Submit them as a comment on one of the "Ask Ginny" posts and Ginny will repost them in a new post segment.]

Q & A about health,
veterinary matters,
training, and life

Q: Dear Ginny,

I, too, am a beautiful female GSD. I HATE having my nails trimmed. I snarl and carry on but mom still insists on trimming them. She has never hit even come close to making my nails bleed but I still Hate it. Mom has seen a product advertised called PediPaws. This product looks good but mom doesn't want to spend the money if it's not worth it. Do you have any opinion or experience with this product? If, not, any suggestions?

--Thanks, Natti in Ohio

A: I have never had it used on me, and my partner does not know of anyone personally who has used it. However, for curiosity's sake, she looked up some comments on Google, and it does not sound like it is much different from a dremmel tool with a cover on it. Here is a groomers' forum with some comments about the PediPaws tool: . We do know a lot of breeders who like using a dremmel tool, but it does make noise, and I (being a rather noise-sensitive dog) do not like strange noises. I went to my current home when I was 10 months old. The first time my partner trimmed my nails, I started to throw a fit, but she calmly and firmly (but gently) lay on me until I calmed down. She did not even try to start again until I was calm. I let her do all my nails after that and have not minded it since then. I think the key is for your person to be very patient and just wait until you calm down before proceeding. Even so, I know that there are dogs who have a true phobia about nail trims. Sometimes the only answer is sedation.

Dog Dressage

A friend sent this incredible video, which I just had to share. It reminded me of watching the Lippizaner stallions perform. The music this dog and her handler dance to is beautiful, so make sure you have your speakers turned on.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

"Ask Ginny"

Ginny invites you to write to her with your questions...... [Submit them as a comment on one of the "Ask Ginny" posts and Ginny will repost them in a new post segment.]

Q & A about health, veterinary
matters, training, and life

Q: Dear Ginny, I recently had a litter of puppies. They are 8 weeks old, and doing great. My question is, at about 3 weeks, I started losing hair. It started low around my stomach and chest, but has since gone farther, and is traveling up my side. I am now losing much of my beautiful thick and soft coat. It has been uncommonly hot this year. Could that be a cause, or is it perhaps something more serious?

Eric S.

A: Well, assuming that you are not significantly itchy (i.e., scratching or licking yourself), then it is very likely that the hair loss is due to normal hormone fluctuations following whelping (delivery of pups). The scientific name for this condition is telogen effluvium. Again, it is NORMAL and the hair will grow back after several weeks. Now, if the hair is lost in patches, if the skin is itchy, or you see bumps or areas of redness, it may be something else entirely, and you should see your vet. Sometimes other hormone imbalances can mimic this post-whelping hair loss, so if there are any additional symptoms, you should definitely see your vet. For example, hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones) can cause weight gain, sluggishness, and symmetrical hair loss, among other things; Cushings syndrome (excessive internal steroid hormones) can cause increased thirst and urination, a pot belly, and numerous other signs. Again, if there are any questions at all, see your vet.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Ask Ginny"

Ginny invites you to write to her with your questions...... [Submit them as a comment on one of the "Ask Ginny" posts and Ginny will repost them in a new post segment.]

Q & A about health, veterinary
matters, training, and life

Q: Dear Ginny,

I recently heard something about palm trees being poisonous. Do you have any information about this?

A: Well, not all palm trees are toxic, but one important one is: the Sago Palm, scientific name Cycas revoluta, of the Cycad palm family. ALL parts of this palm tree are poisonous. For a complete discussion on the toxicity of Sago and other cycad palms, see the excellent ASPCA Poison Control Center article on the following page:

There are several other helpful lists on toxic and non-toxic plants and flowers:

1) ASPCA Toxic plants list:
2) ASPCA 17 most common poisonous plants:
3) ASPCA Non-toxic plants list:
4) ASPCA Non-toxic flowers and bouquets:
5) Univ. of Calif. at Davis, Toxic plants list--by common name and toxicity class:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Routine Surgery is Not Always Routine.

Even though my human partner is a vet, she does not like doing surgery on her own animals. I have heard that this is true for human doctors, too--not wanting to practice on their own family. Anyway, my person took me to the veterinary hospital where she works, to have a spay and a gastropexy. I knew what it meant to be spayed, but I had never heard of a gastropexy, so I kept my ears open while my partner was telling her husband what it was. She explained that it is a procedure that is done to "tack" the stomach to the body wall, to prevent that really dangerous situation where the stomach fills with air and then twists--called gastric dilatation with volvulus, or GDV, for short. (See these two previous posts: and A gastropexy is "standard procedure" after repositioning the stomach during GDV surgery. As she said, it is much better to do this as an elective procedure than in an emergency, when a dog is in critical condition. So..... I was taken in for "routine surgery." My two humans took this opportunity for a trip out of town for a few days, figuring that I was going to have to be separated from them anyway.

Little did they know that my surgery was going to be anything but routine. Here's the story, as I experienced it. Any gaps in my memory were filled in by hearing my two humans discuss everything later, when I turned out to be fine. Apparently, the surgery had gone fine and I was soon back in a recovery cage, getting intravenous fluids and morphine. At some point, someone saw that I was bleeding more from my incision more than I should be and that my gums looked a little pale. My blood pressure was also too low. Someone checked my hematocrit (red blood cell percent) and saw that it had dropped. My surgeon got worried that I was bleeding somewhere and took me back to surgery. Apparently, he saw a disturbing amount of blood in my abdomen, most likely related to the spay procedure, but no obvious "bleeders." The gastropexy site was not bleeding at all. They ran some blood clotting tests and, even though my clotting times were normal, my blood platelets were a little lower than normal. Platelets form the initial plug on which a blood clot attaches. Anyway, my condition was stable overnight and during the next day, but by that night, my blood count had dropped little lower, so they gave me a blood transfusion. The other complication that was occuring at this time was a type of heart arrhythmia called "accelerated idioventricular rhythm," that occurs rather commonly after an episode of hypotension (low blood pressure). It resembles a string of premature beats called VPC's (or PVC's), but is actually not serious unless the heart rate is extremely fast. Nevertheless, it concerned my surgeon enough that I was put on a continuous IV infusion of antiarrhythmic medication. I gather that everyone was very worried about me, but I didn't know this until later. I was getting pain medicine, so I was pretty happy. I just slept a lot and waited for my people to come back to get me.

They finally came back and all was right with the world again. There was one more blood test they were waiting for, to see if my platelets had a defect caused by something called von Willbrand's Disease. The next week, when that test came back normal, my partner did some other test that involved pricking the inside of my lip with something, to see how long it took to stop bleeding. I guess that was normal, too, because after that, everyone had decided that there was nothing wrong with my platelets. I overheard my partner talking with one of the other doctors. Both seemed to agree that the "routine spay" on a large breed, mature female dog (which I guess I am) was sometimes anything but routine.
~ ~ ~
Oh, yeah........ In case anyone is wondering---I'm fine now.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Baby Sister

Remember those little puppies I showed you a few months ago? Here's the one my breeder-mom kept. Her name is Melody. I am so proud. . . . . . .

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Trouble with Swimming. . . .

The trouble with swimming, is that you have to get wet. I do love chasing the ball, but when my people throw it into the water, there is only one way to get it----to swim. And so, I have grudgingly learned to swim.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cicada Songs

"They sound like a thousand cars with bad power steering, all turning in tight little circles." At least, that's what one of my humans said to the other. They were talking about cicadas--periodical cicadas--and they have emerged on Cape Cod. In our town, there are not a lot of them. However, in the next town over, the sound can be deafening. Cicadas made the front page of today's Cape Cod Times. They were discribed as "what sounds like a chorus of police and fire sirens headed to a massive accident." --

(To see the front page of the Cape Cod Times, go to:
A couple of days ago, I witnessed a curious phenomenon: my human partner was outdoors with this small, odd-looking box that occasionally made clicking noises. She was staring at one of those cicada bugs that there has been so much fuss about. Then she found something on a tree to stare at. Afterwards, she started working on the computer and a bunch of different cicada pictures came up on the computer screen. I thought they were rather interesting, so here they are.


"....No other insects in North America excite as much curiosity and wonder as do periodical cicadas when they make their sudden appearance every 13 or 17 years. These cicadas are widely distributed in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, but occur nowhere else on earth. There are seven species of periodical cicadas—four with 13-year life cycles and three with 17-year life cycles, distributed over several broods (see map below). The best way to identify individual species is by sound because each cicada song is species specific. After years of living in underground tunnels, thousands of periodical cicadas emerge from the earth, as if by a predetermined signal, shed their nymphal skins, and spread out through the nearby trees and bushes. Up to 40,000 can emerge from a under a single tree!

The cicada's precise but prolonged time schedule revolves around survival for the masses. When a large population of juicy insects appears on the scene, predators make the most of the situation, but simply cannot eat all the insects. Thus, a significant number of cicadas live to reproduce. Long-lived predators may actually remember the feast and return to the scene in subsequent years. Short-lived predators, being well fed from the cicada banquet, reproduce successfully and often leave a larger population to await next year’s emergence. However, "next year" doesn’t happen for at least 13 years, so the periodical cicada is able to outlast and escape most of its enemies.

From morning till night the males fill the air with their loud, droning song. The song is like the familiar sound of the common dog-day cicada so typical of summer evenings, only it is louder and heard at the end of spring. The males are the only ones singing...." [From: "A Trill of a Lifetime"(originally published in The Illinois Steward, Summer 2004)text by Susan L. Post. For complete text, go to:]


"What is a periodical cicada?

Cicadas are flying, plant-sucking insects of the Order Hemiptera; their closest relatives are leafhoppers, treehoppers, and fulgoroids. Adult cicadas tend to be large (most are 25-50mm), with prominent wide-set eyes, short antennae, and clear wings held roof-like over the abdomen. Cicadas are probably best known for their conspicuous acoustic signals or "songs", which the males make using special structures called tymbals, found on the abdomen. There may be as many as 3000 different cicada species worldwide.

All but a few cicada species have multiple-year life cycles, most commonly 2-8 years (de Boer and Duffels 1996). In most cicada species, adults can be found every year because the population is not developmentally synchronized; these are often called "annual" cicada species. In contrast, populations of the periodical cicada species are synchronized, so that almost all of them mature into adults in the same year. The fact that periodical cicadas remain locked together in time is made even more amazing by their extremely long life-cycles of 13 or 17 years.

Periodical cicadas are found in eastern North America and belong to the genus Magicicada. There are seven species -- four with 13-year life cycles (including one new species described in 2000), and three with 17-year cycles. The three 17-year species are generally northern in distribution, while the 13-year species are generally southern and midwestern. Magicicada are so well-synchronized developmentally that they are nearly absent as adults in the 12 or 16 years between emergences. When they do emerge after their long juvenile periods, they do so in huge numbers, forming much denser aggregations than those usually achieved by cicadas. Many people know periodical cicadas by the name "17-year locusts" or "13-year locusts", but they are not true locusts, which are a type of grasshopper.

Magicicada adults have black bodies and striking red eyes and orange wing veins, with a black "W" near the tips of the forewings. Most emerge in May and June. Some of the annual cicada species are sometimes mistaken for the periodical cicadas, especially those in the genera Diceroprocta and Okanagana; these other species emerge somewhat later in the year but may overlap with Magicicada. The Okanagana species are the most potentially confusing because of their similar black-and-orange coloration. The best way to identify cicada species is by the sounds that they make, because cicada songs are nearly always species-specific. ----------------

Magicicada life cycles

Cicada juveniles are called "nymphs" and live underground, sucking root fluids for food. Periodical cicadas spend five juvenile stages in their underground burrows, with each stage ending with eclosion (shedding of the old nymphal skin). Their burrows are found anywhere from several inches to a few feet underground, depending on nymphal age and the nature of the soil.

In the spring of their 13th or 17th year, a few weeks before emerging, the nymphs construct exit tunnels to the surface. These exits are visible as approximately 1/2 inch diameter holes, or as chimney-like mud "turrets" the nymphs sometimes construct over their holes. On the night of emergence, nymphs leave their burrows around sunset, locate a suitable spot on nearby vegetation, and complete their final molt to adulthood. Shortly after ecdysis (molting) the new adults appear mostly white, but they darken quickly as the exoskeleton hardens. Sometimes a large proportion of the population emerges in one night. Newly-emerged cicadas work their way up into the trees and spend roughly four to six days as "teneral" adults before they harden completely (possibly longer in cool weather); they do not begin adult behavior until this period of maturation is complete.

It appears that the particular night of emergence may be determined by the soil temperature; nymphs emerge when the soil temperature inside the exit tunnel (and therefore the body temperature of the nymph) exceeds approximately 64 degrees F (Heath 1968). Because emergence is temperature- dependent, periodical cicadas tend to emerge earlier in southern and lower-elevation locations. For example, periodical cicadas in South Carolina often begin to emerge in late April, while those in southern Michigan do not appear until June. The best way to predict the time of emergence for your area is to check records from the prior emergence in that location, by asking longtime residents or by searching local newspaper archives. The date of emergence does not vary much between generations, although unusual springtime weather conditions may accelerate or delay the emergence by a week or so.

After their short teneral period, males begin producing species-specific calling songs and form aggregations (choruses) that are sexually attractive to females. Males in these choruses alternate bouts of singing with short flights until they locate receptive females (see the Magicicada behavior section below). Contrary to popular belief, adults do feed -- by sucking plant fluids; adult cicadas will die within days if not provided with living woody vegetation on which to feed. Magicicada feed from a wide variety of deciduous plants and shrubs, but usually not from grasses.... Mated females excavate aseries of Y-shaped eggnests in living twigs and lay up to twenty eggs in each nest (Marlatt 1923). A female may lay as many as 600 eggs (Marlatt 1923)....

Why are there so many of them?

Periodical cicadas achieve astounding population densities, as high as 1.5 million per acre (Dybas 1969). Densities of tens to hundreds of thousands per acre are more common, but even this is far beyond the natural abundance of most other cicada species. Apparently because of their long life cycles and synchronous emergences, periodical cicadas escape natural population control by predators, even though everything from birds to spiders to snakes to dogs eat them opportunistically when they do appear. Magicicada population densities are so high that predators apparently eat their fill without significantly reducing the population (a phenomenon called "predator satiation"), and the predator populations cannot build up in response because the cicadas are available as food above ground only once every 13 or 17 years. Periodical cicadas do have a specialized fungal parasite (see the Magicicada diseases and deformities section), but its effects on Magicicada population density are not well understood. Individual periodical cicadas are slower, less flighty, and easier to capture than other cicadas, probably because the safety afforded by their great numbers means that the risks of predation for an individual are low. Explaining the evolution of such an unusual life strategy is one of the most difficult problems for periodical cicada biologists.

This year (2008), the large Appalachian 17-year Brood XIV will appear. As is true for most of the 17-year broods, all three 17-year species will be present in many locations. A web-based effort to map the distribution of this brood in more detail is underway.... Sometimes periodical cicadas emerge "off-schedule" by one or more years. This phenomenon is called "straggling," although straggling cicadas can emerge either later or earlier than expected. The most common form of straggling is one-year premature or delayed emergences, usually involving small numbers of cicadas. Unexpectedly, the next most common form of off-schedule emergence is four-year premature appearances by 17-year cicadas, and these events sometimes involve many thousands at once. In 2000, many cicadas emerged four-years early across the range of Brood X. A similar event was observed in 1969 in the Chicago area, four years before the normal emergence in 1973 (Dybas 1969). These events help us to understand the origin of the various same-cycle broods as well as the developmental mechanisms underlying Magicicada speciation, which tends to involve permanent shifts between life cycle types (see details on the seven species and their relationships below). Straggling makes it difficult to construct accurate maps of periodical cicada brood distributions (Marshall 2001), partly because historical reports of off-schedule emergences often contain little or no information about how many cicadas were seen.

Magicicada behavior

As in nearly all cicada species, male periodical cicadas produce "songs" using a pair of tymbals, or ridged membranes, found on the first abdominal segment. The abdomen of a male cicada is hollow and may act as a resonating chamber; the songs of individuals are loud, and large choruses can be virtually deafening. Females of most cicada species do not have sound-producing organs. Both sexes hear the sounds of the males as well as other sounds using membranous hearing organs called "tympana" found on the underside of the abdomen.
Over the course of an emergence, males congregate in "choruses" or singing aggregations, usually in high, sunlit branches. Females visit these aggregations and mate there, so choruses contain large numbers of both sexes.

Males of all Magicicada species (each described individually below in the Magicicada species section) produce alarm calls when handled, calling songs that attract males and females to the chorus, and one or more courtship calls when approaching and attempting to mate with females. Five different male acoustic signals have been described for the -decim and -cassini cognate species. Samples of most of these sounds are included below. These species have calling and courting signals that differ in pitch (frequency) and other characteristics, but the signals have have similar structures, so they can be described together. The functions of these signals are not entirely understood, but they have been given names to indicate their suspected function. The acoustical behaviors of the -decula species have not been as well characterized.
Female Magicicada produce timed "wing flick" signals in response to male calls, and the timing of this signal in relation to the male call is species-specific for species of the same life cycle. The signal consists of a quick flip of the wings that creates a broad-frequency sound that can vary from a soft rustle to a sharp snap. Males are able perceive both the visual and acoustic components of the wing-flick.

A chorusing male perceiving a female signal increases his number of calls relative to movement distance, increasing the odds that he will elicit further responses from any nearby female. If the male receives multiple responses, he ceases sing-fly behavior, begins CI courtship, and engages in a signaling duet with the wing flicking female, evidently for the purpose of locating her. Between calls, duetting males often walk towards the signaling female, and while approaching, begin CII calling. After contacting the female or while preparing to mount, the male begins CIII calling, which he continues until he mounts and copulates. Under some circumstances, males engaged in duets acoustically obscure the downslurs of potential competitors, reducing the likelihood of a female response and increasing the likelihood that competing males will continue chorusing, depart and search elsewhere. Although female wing-flick signaling is known in some Australian and New Zealand cicadas (e.g., Lane 1995), this is the first reported incidence of female signaling in North American cicadas.... "
[For complete text, go to:]

For pictures of the May 29th, 2008 Cicada Brood:

If you now have "Cicada Mania," go to:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today, June 1, 2008, is my second birthday. Why humans make such a big deal of birthdays is quite beyond me. Nevertheless, my personal humans felt the need to have me wear a birthday hat, in spite of the fact that it actually stayed on top of my head no more than 3 seconds! So, here I am, showing what a good sport I can be. However, do note the ears...........

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Bloat - The Mother of All Emergencies"

Ginny thought that this was a very important article to post. It was published on In order to view the excellent images that go along with this article, go directly to the web address listed below.

Title: Bloat - The Mother of All Emergencies
Source: The Pet Health Care Library
Address (URL):

There are many injuries and physical disorders that represent life-threatening emergencies. There is only one condition so drastic that it overshadows them all in terms of rapidity of consequences and effort in emergency treatment. This is the gastric dilatation and volvulus - the bloat.

What is it and Why is it so Serious?

The normal stomach

The normal stomach sits high in the abdomen and contains a small amount of gas, some mucus, and any food being digested. It undergoes a normal rhythm of contraction, receiving food from the esophagus above, grinding the food, and meting the ground food out to the small intestine at its other end. Normally this proceeds uneventfully except for the occasional burp.

In the bloated stomach, gas and/or food stretches the stomach many times its normal size, causing tremendous abdominal pain. For reasons we do not fully understand, this grossly distended stomach has a tendency to rotate, thus twisting off not only its own blood supply but the only exit routes for the gas inside. Not only is this condition extremely painful but it is also rapidly life-threatening. A dog with a bloated, twisted stomach (more scientifically called gastric dilatation and volvulus) will die in pain in a matter of hours unless drastic steps are taken.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Bloat?

Classically, this condition affects dog breeds that are said to be deep chested, meaning the length of their chest from backbone to sternum is relatively long while the chest width from right to left is narrow. Examples of deep chested breeds would be the Great Dane, Greyhound, and the setter breeds. Still, any dog can bloat, even dachshunds and Chihuahuas. Dogs weighing more than 99 pounds have an approximate 20% risk of bloat

Classically, a dog who bloated had eaten a large meal and exercised heavily shortly thereafter. Still, we usually do not know why a given dog bloats on an individual basis. No specific diet or dietary ingredient has been proven to be associated with bloat. Some factors found to increase and decrease the risk of bloat are listed below:

Factors Increasing the Risk of Bloating Feeding only one meal a day Having closely related family members with a history of bloat Eating rapidly Being thin or underweight Moistening dry foods (particularly if citric acid is listed as a preservative) Feeding from an elevated bowl Restricting water before and after meals Feeding a dry diet with animal fat listed in the first four ingredients Fearful or anxious temperament History of aggression towards people or other dogs Male dogs are more likely to bloat than females Older dogs (7 - 12 years) were the highest risk group

Factors Decreasing the Risk of Bloat Inclusion of canned dog food in the diet Inclusion of table scraps in the diet Happy or easy-going temperament Feeding a dry food containing a calcium-rich meat meal (such as meat/lamb meal, fish meal, chicken by-product meal, meat meal, or bone meal) listed in the first four ingredients of the ingredient list. Eating two or more meals per day

Contrary to popular belief, the presence of cereal ingredients such as soy, wheat or corn in the first four ingredients of the ingredient list does not increase the risk of bloat.

In a study done by the Perdue University Research Group, headed by Dr. Lawrence T. Glickman:

The Great Dane was the number one breed at risk for bloat.

The St. Bernard was the number two breed at risk for bloat.

The Weimaraner was the number three breed at risk for bloat.

A study by Ward, Patonek, and Glickman reviewed the benefit of prophylactic surgery for bloat. Prophylactic surgery amounts to performing the gastropexy surgery (see below) in a healthy dog, usually in conjunction with spay or neuter. The lifetime risk of death from bloat was calculated, along with estimated treatment for bloat, versus cost of prophylactic gastropexy. Prophylactic gastropexy was found to make sense for at-risk breeds, especially the Great Dane, which is at highest risk for bloat.

How to Tell if Your Dog has Bloated

Radiograph showing typical gas distension of the stomach in a case of bloat The dog may have an obviously distended stomach, especially near the ribs, but this is not always evident depending on the dog's body configuration.

The biggest clue is the vomiting: the pet appears highly nauseated and is retching but little is coming up.
If this is seen, rush your dog to the veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

What has to be Done

There are several steps to saving a bloated dogs life. Part of the problem is that all steps should be done at the same time and as quickly as possible.

First: The Stomach must be Decompressed
The huge stomach is by now pressing on the major blood vessels carrying blood back to the heart. This stops normal circulation and sends the dog into shock. Making matters worse, the stomach tissue is dying because it is stretched too tightly to allow blood circulation through it. There can be no recovery until the stomach is untwisted and the gas is released. A stomach tube and stomach pump are generally used for this but sometimes surgery is needed to achieve stomach decompression.

Also First: Rapid Intravenous (IV) Fluids must be Given to Reverse the Shock
Intravenous catheters are placed and life-giving fluid solutions are rushed in to replace the blood that cannot get past the bloated stomach to return to the heart. The intense pain associated with this disease causes the heart rate to race at such a high rate that heart failure will result. Medication to resolve the pain is needed if the patient's heart rate is to slow down. Medication for shock, antibiotics, and electrolytes are all vital in stabilizing the patient.

Also First: The Heart Rhythm is Assessed and Stabilized
There is a specific, very dangerous rhythm problem called a premature ventricular contraction or "PVC" that is associated with bloat and it must be ruled out. If it is present, IV medications are needed to stabilize the rhythm. Since this rhythm problem may not be evident until even the next day, continual EKG monitoring may be necessary. A disturbed heart rhythm that is already seen at the beginning of treatment is associated with a 38% mortality rate.

Getting the bloated dog's stomach decompressed and reversing the shock is an adventure in itself but the work is not yet half finished.


All bloated dogs, once stable, should have surgery. Without surgery, the damage done inside cannot be assessed or repaired plus bloat may recur at any point, even within the next few hours and the above adventure must be repeated. Surgery, called gastropexy, allows the stomach to be tacked into normal position so that it may never again twist. Without gastropexy, the recurrence rate of bloat may be as high as 75%!

Assessment of the internal damage is also important to recovery. If there is a section of dying tissue on the stomach wall, this must be discovered and removed or the dog will die despite the heroics described above. Also, the spleen, which is located adjacent to the stomach, may twist with the stomach. The spleen may also need to be removed.

If the tissue damage is so bad that part of the stomach must be removed, the mortality rate jumps to 28 to 38%.

If the tissue damage is so bad that the spleen must be removed, the mortality rate is 32 to 38%.

After the expense and effort of the stomach decompression, it is tempting to forgo the further expense of surgery. However, consider that the next time your dog bloats, you may not be there to catch it in time and, according the study described below, without surgery there is a 24% mortality rate and a 76% chance of re-bloating at some point. The best choice is to finish the treatment that has been started and have the abdomen explored. If the stomach can be surgically tacked into place, recurrence rate drops to 6%.

Results of a Statistical Study

In 1993, a statistical study involving 134 dogs with gastric dilatation and volvulus was conducted by the School of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, Germany.

Out of 134 dogs who came into the hospital with this condition: 10% died or were euthanized prior to surgery (factors involved included expense of treatment, severity/advancement of disease, etc.) 33 dogs were treated with decompression and no surgery. Of these dogs, 8 (24%) died or were euthanized within the next 48 hours due to poor response to treatment. (Six of these 8 had actually re-bloated) Of the dogs that did not have surgical treatment but survived to go home, 76% eventually had another episode of gastric dilatation and volvulus. 88 dogs were treated with both decompression and surgery. Of these dogs, 10% (9 dogs) died in surgery, 18% (16 dogs) died in the week after surgery, and 71.5% (63 dogs) went home in good condition. Of the dogs that went home in good condition, 6% (4 dogs) had a second episode of bloat later in life. In this study, 66.4% of the bloated dogs were male and 33.6% were female. Most dogs were between ages 7 and 12 years old. The German Shepherd dog and the Boxer appeared to have a greater risk for bloating than did other breeds.

(Meyer-Lindenberg A., Harder A., Fehr M., Luerssen D., Brunnberg L. Treatment of gastric dilatation-volvulus and a rapid method for prevention of relapse in dogs: 134 cases (1988-1991) Journal of the AVMA, Vol 23, No 9, Nov 1 1993, 1301-1307.)

Another study published December of 2006 looked at 166 dogs that received surgery for gastric dilatation and volvulus. The point of the study was to identify factors that led to a poor prognosis. A 16.2% mortality rate was observed. The mortality rate for dogs over age 10 years was 21%. Of the 166 going to surgery, 4.8% were euthanized during surgery, and the other 11.4% died during hospitalization (2 of dogs died during surgery). All dogs that survived to go home were still alive at the time of suture removal. 34 out of 166 dogs had gastric necrosis (dead stomach tissue that had to be removed). Of these dogs 26% died or were euthanized. Post-operative complications of some sort occurred in 75.9% of patients. Approximately 50% of these dogs developed a cardiac arrhythmia. Risk factors significantly associated with death prior to suture removal included clinical signs of bloating for greater than 6 hours before seeing the vet, partial stomach removal combined with spleen removal, need for blood transfusion, low blood pressure at any time during hospitalization, sepsis (blood infection), and peritonitis (infection of the abdominal membranes).

(Beck, J.J., Staatz, A.J., Pelsue, D.H., Kudnig, S.T., MacPhail, C.M., Seim H.B, and Monnet, E. Risk factors associated with short-term outcome and development of perioperative complications in dogs undergoing surgery because of gastric dilatation-volvulus: 166 cases (1992-2003). Journal of the AVMA, Vol 229, No 12, December 15, 2006, p 1934-1939.)

In is crucially important that the owners of big dogs be aware of this condition and prepared for it. Know where to take your dog during overnight or Sunday hours for emergency care. Avoid exercising your dog after a large meal. Know what to watch for. Enjoy the special friendship a large dog provides but at the same time be aware of the large dog's special needs and concerns.

Copyright 2007 - 2008 by the Veterinary Information Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Ginny invites you to write to her with your questions...... [Submit them as a comment on one of the "Ask Ginny" posts and Ginny will repost them in a new post segment.]

Q & A about health, veterinary
matters, training, and life

Q: Dear Ginny,
I have heard rumors that there have been some problems with a dental chew bone that goes by the name of Greenies. What are these problems and are they true or just an exaggeration?
A: There is truth to at least one of these rumors--that there are cases where a Greenie, or a piece of it, has caused an obstruction of the esophagus, which is the tube that takes food from the throat to the stomach. An article in the April 1, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) described "Esophageal foreign body obstruction caused by a dental chew treat in 31 dogs (2000-2006)."[1] This article evaluated 30 cases between March 2003 and January 2006, and one case from July 2000. All were evaluated either at a university teaching hospital or a private specialty hospital. Each dog included in this retrospective study had been given the treat shortly before onset of clinical signs and a green object was identified during endoscopy or surgery. All but four of the dogs were small dogs. In all but one of the 31 dogs, there was moderate to severe damage to the esophagus. Five dogs required surgery to open the chest. Complications of the esophageal damage were seen up to 25 days after diagnosis. Of the 31 dogs treated, only 15 dogs recovered without major complications. Six of the 31 dogs (or 25.8%) died or were euthanized as a direct result of the esophageal obstruction caused by the chew treat.
Certainly Greenies[2] are not the only treat, chew toy, or other material, that can cause damage or obstruction to the esophagus in dogs (or cats). The JAVMA article states that "Bones are the most common esophageal foreign bodies that have been reported in dogs, although fish-hooks, rawhide, pieces of plastic or metal, and other miscellaneous objects have been described. Small breeds of dogs are often affected. Common clinical signs include regurgitation [3] or vomiting, anorexia [or loss of appetite], salivation, and signs of depression [or listlessness]. Esophageal obstructive foreign bodies, such as bones, most commonly lodge in the distal portion of the esophagus [closest to the stomach], whereas the second most common location is at the level of the heart base. Diagnosis is usually made via ... radiography." The article goes on to say that, in 2004, Greenies "received the seal of acceptance for plaque and tartar removal from the Veterinar Oral Health Council of the American Veterinary Dental College." The Greenies web site reported sales over over 300 million of the chew treats in 2005, but,in June 2005, a group discussion sponsored by the Comparative Gastroenterology Society at the Medical Forum of the ACVIM [American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine] decribed difficulty in removing the esophageal obstructions caused by the dental treats, so further investigation was pursued.

It would seem logical that ANY hard chew treat that could break off pieces are large enough to get stuck in the esophagus, especially if they have corners or sharp edges, should not be given to dogs to chew on. One suggestion is to do some on-line investigation of a treat before you give it to your dog, regardless of how wonderful a manufacturer makes it sound.
[1] "Esophageal foreign body obstruction caused by a dental chew treat in 31 dogs (200-2006)," Michael S. Leib, DVM, MS DACVIM, and Laura Lee Sartor, DVM, DACVIM; published in JAVMA, Vol 232, No. 7, April 1, 2008, p.1021
[2] Greenies, S&M NuTec LLC, North Kansas City, Mo.
[3] "Regurgitation" = passive expulsion of ingested material from the mouth. It differs from vomiting, in that vomiting is an active process.
[Disclaimer: Any advice (or implied advice) found on this blog is no substitute for the clinical relationship that your pet has with his/her own veterinarian. You should ALWAYS seek the advice of your veterinarian before making any decisions about the health care of your pet.]

Monday, April 14, 2008

If I were sick.....

"If I were sick or injured, where would the money come from?" I have heard my friends and their owners talk about that. In this time of living from paycheck-to-paycheck, with many people on the brink of foreclosure, what do people do when their pet has an emergency? My primary human has been working as an emergency veterinarian for a number of years, but she has recently seen a significant increase in people who simply cannot afford to pay for emergency care for their pets. At the very least, they find it extremely difficult to find ready money to put down for the kind of deposits that the typical veterinary emergency hospital requires in order to begin treatment. This has become such a big concern to both my humans that they are preparing to start a non-profit organization to address this problem in three important ways. The first will be to find resources for people to pay for the short-term emergency care that their pet needs. The second is to help them learn better financial management so that they can get out of debt and put money aside for life's emergencies. The third is to reach out to assist other people, like themselves. In this way, the gift that they receive turns around and becomes a gift for another. This project is still in the early planning stage, but my partner is looking for people who might be interested in helping it get off the ground in local communities. More information will be posted as the idea develops.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dogs Helping Kids With Autism

There are times when the talents of the canine species overwhelm even me. I just watched an inspiring Yahoo video of an interview on ABC's Good Morning America. The title was:"Canine Companions for Autistic Kids." Here is the video link:
For more information on the dogs and how to obtain them, go to and click on Good Morning America.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Looks? Shmooks!

I must admit that I wasn't really paying attention to what my two humans were talking about until I heard my name mentioned. Then my ears perked up. They were discussing whether it was really reasonable to drive several hours to have me evaluated by the professional handler that they had been talking with. For one thing, they said, even if I had the "perfect body," according to the AKC standard, it still costs a lot to get a championship. There's the handling fee, which, from their research, is about $70 per show, plus mileage, plus training and conditioning, plus entry fees (about $25), etc., etc. Not only that, there's not predicting how many shows it would take to earn a championship, because there are specific rules about how points toward the championship are earned. It could take as few as 3 shows (very rare) or it could take dozens. There are also plenty of dogs who simply don't get a championship, no matter how many shows they compete in. The investment in getting a champioship can't be recouped until puppies are sold. Certainly, it is possible to breed without a championship, but the puppies are not worth as much. Then, there's the expense of getting my hips and elbows certified as structurally sound by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals), because it would be unethical for them to breed me without this.

Oh, and about that "perfect body"---They are noticing that mine has a few imperfections! One of my back legs tends to turn out a bit when I stand or walk. What do I care? It works fine for me. I can run and leap for a ball like a gazelle! Anyway, the end result of their discussion is that they have decided not to put me on the dog show circuit. That's fine with me. I say, "Looks? Shmooks!"
That's my dad, at the
show where he finished
his championship.

My Favorite Facebook Page! I am SUCH a Fan (I'm also their mascot!)

I try not to discriminate against a species that is "less fortunate" than mine.