Saturday, July 12, 2008

No reality TV for me…until now

I don’t watch reality TV. At least, not shows that tend to be competitive in nature. I’ve never seen an episode of Survivor, American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen or the like, and I don’t feel as though I missed anything by not watching.

Then along came Greatest American Dog, where twelve people and their dogs are competing for a chance to win $250,000.

As I watched the commercials leading up to the premiere I could feel my “no reality TV” stance beginning to waver. Happy, well-behaved dogs interacting with their favorite people in the world, all while in a beautiful setting --- what’s not to love? Especially for someone like me, who will regularly stop people in their tracks for a chance to talk about the dog they are busy walking.

My last bit of resolve crumbled like the topping of a Dewar’s sundae when I learned that Victoria Stilwell was on board as one of the judges. As far as I’m concerned, Victoria Stilwell rocks the socks off of Cesar Millan when it comes to dog training. Don’t believe me? Check out a couple of episodes of It’s Me or the Dog on Animal Planet.

So I watched.

By and large it looked like the dogs were enjoying themselves. The dog owners seem incredibly smitten with their canine companions, even when their pooches were less than stellar in their performances. The judges made it clear that the dogs’ happiness and well-being are the top considerations for the competition and that it is up to the owners to insure both.

Watching a show like Greatest American Dog can be downright inspiring for me. Seeing happy people interact with equally happy dogs, I’m reminded of how important training is for the physical and mental health of pets, and how the art of positive training only serves to strengthen the bond between people and their furry companions. As an added bonus, I get ideas about new commands for Darby, my SPCA pup, and household items I can use to put a new spin on an old trick.

I don’t care who ultimately wins the contest, at least not yet. When dogs have owners who love and care for them the way these folks do, the dogs have won already.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stray cats becoming a focused issue

Almost on the heels of my complaint about Bakersfield Magazine’s near-complete exclusion of cats from their recent “pets issue”, the Colorado Springs Gazette has published an article about the second-class status of cats they see occurring in their region.

"Throwaway cats": Strays are often forgotten

High number of homeless cats may indicate lack of caring

July 6, 2008


Niko is a fine cat. He enthusiastically greets guests, meows appreciatively when he gets attention, adores playing chase the laser light. He is litter box tidy and helpfully tries to assist when his human companions read books and send e-mail. He has handsome golden eyes, soft gray fur and Russian Blue features.

Jack and Sue Majors adopted Niko in May at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region after seeing his photo online and then visiting him.

After all, they say, who wouldn't love this cat?

Apparently, not his former owner, who never bothered to search for him at the Humane Society when he strayed, according to shelter officials.

For the rest of the story, head here.

Again, I have to ask: Why have cats become such completely expendable animals, barely worthy of our attention?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On another note...

It's been three years, to the day, since my always-beloved Bosco passed to the other side.

Just in case I somehow might have managed to forget, the forces that be had me outside of my office just in time to watch two men walking a happy, beautiful, sable Sheltie. I've been in that part of town for the past four years, yet today is the only time I've ever seen a sheltie in the area.

After work, I came home to quiet house and spent a few minutes decompressing before we, once again, played his song, Mr. Bojangles by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The album version (as opposed to radio) has a lead-in that Bosco would sing to, if you asked. And there's a verse in that little tune that never fails to squeeze my heart.

Since he died, it's the only day of the year we play it at all.

We play it to think of him, in all his glory. Before he became ill. We play it in tribute to his life and his love and devotion. We cry a little. And it's O.K.

Bosco-pup, we'll always hold you close in our hearts.

Stem cell treatment for hip dysplasia

O.K., I admit it --- I was completely cooled-out by the recent Time magazine article that talked about the advances made in stem cell treatments for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia.

Having seen the agony that some dogs go through due to the condition, and the agony of pet owners who watch their beloved fur-kid break down before their eyes, this is one person who is hoping that this procedure produces the long-term results needed.

I also applaud Time’s efforts at bringing to light some of the more progressive treatments for pets that are available these days. Living in Bakersfield I certainly don’t see much “new age” veterinary medicine being practiced (and if someone knows differently, please let me know), but I worked alongside a veterinarian in Sacramento who practiced both Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture and can tell you that there were dogs who definitely benefited. No question about it.

Anyone else who finds a cool pet medicine article, feel free to share.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back on the writing train

It appears that I’m once again in the writer’s chair. As a few of you may know, for a couple of years I was the author of the “Dear Daphne” column that appeared in the Northwest Voice (and occasionally the Southwest Voice).

I loved doing the column. In fact, with the exception of an occasional bout of writer’s block, which was always cured by talking to a few other critter people who came up with some creative topic ideas, it was easily one of my favorite “job duties”. I got to talk about pets and pet ownership, which is very dear to my heart, and I got to do some writing. I don’t consider myself to be the greatest thing since Stephen King or anything, but I do think there are times I can get on a roll and put something relatively meaningful down on paper. Were I to have a dream job, it would be to spend all of my time writing about pets and pet issues. Just like the other hundred thousand-plus pet bloggers out there.

As I assumed different duties within my company, my writing about pets kept getting pushed further and further in the back seat, until one day I had stopped completely.

But apparently the wheel of life continues to turn. I have a different position in my company, and today I was asked if I would start writing again. I’m embarrassed to say how much I enjoy the idea of putting together a pet column. I’ve made a few changes this time. I decided to write under my own name, rather than behind a pseudonym, regardless of how cute she is. And as future column topics arise I am committed to putting a bit more of myself out there as I talk about pets and our relationship with them as a whole.

I’m glad it happened, because I think in conjunction with the column this blog will also circle further around to what I had intended it to be when I first began. I got a bit wrapped up in some of the local politics as they related to pet ownership, and while I’m still firmly committed to improving the lives of pets in Kern County, that wasn’t really what this blog was supposed to be about. The resurrection of the pet column will help get me, and this blog, back where I wanted it to be in the first place.

I'm hoping you'll join me.


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