The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : 2011 The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cheetah Dead at 80, but was Chimp Really Tarzan's Sidekick?

Cheetah dead at 80, but was chimp really Tarzan's sidekick? Doubts have been raised about primate's age, and acting credentials

The chimpanzee named Cheetah, who some claim was featured in Tarzan films of the 1930s starring Johnny Weissmuller, is shown in a publicity photo released Wednesday. The Suncoast Primate Sanctuary Foundation in Florida, where Cheetah spent his retirement days, said the chimp died on Dec. 24. They estimate he was 80 years old.

Cheetah, the chimpanzee who became famous at the side of Tarzan in the classic 1930s movies, has died at the age of 80 leaving several disputes unresolved.

Doubts were raised about the chimpanzee's extraordinary age and the authenticity of its silver screen career. Chimpanzees kept in captivity seldom live beyond the age of 45.

And previous animal trainers have falsely claimed that their chimps starred in the films with Johnny Weissmuller.

Eve Golden, a film historian at the Everett Collection, a Hollywood archive, said Wednesday: "There doesn't seem to be any verification that this particular chimp was ever really in any movies or television shows at all. I think it's just an urban legend.

"Unless they have the chimpanzee's acting union card it seems impossible to prove."

The greying primate retired in comfort at the Suncoast Sanctuary. A spokesman for the sanctuary claimed that the much loved primate died from kidney failure on Christmas Eve.

Staff at the American home in Palm Harbour, Fla., said the chimpanzee had enjoyed an enormous impact on children and adults alike "throughout his years." The spokesman said it was "with great sadness that the community has lost a dear friend and family member on December 24."

She said: "Cheetah, the star of the Tarzan films, passed away after kidney failure during the week of December 19."

Debbie Cobb, the director of the sanctuary, said the chimp had loved to finger paint and watch football as he grew older. Some of his artwork, dubbed "ap-stract" paintings, was sold to fans.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb said. "He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings."

Ron Priest, a volunteer at the sanctuary that has looked after Cheetah since the 1960s, said: "When he didn't like somebody or something that was going on, he would pick up some poop and throw it at them. He could get you at 30 feet with bars in between."

The Tarzan stories, based on the works of the author Edgar Rice Burroughs, chronicle the adventures of a man raised by apes in Africa. The films proved an instant hit from their outset in the 1930s right through to the 1960s.

Weissmuller, who died in 1984, aged 79, played the role of Tarzan, while Maureen O'Sullivan, who played Jane, died at the age of 87 in 1998. Alongside O'Sullivan, Cheetah quickly became an established co-star, often warning the vine-swinging Tarzan of lurking dangers and leaping to his rescue.

But there have long been doubts about the identity of the chimpanzee that played the role of Cheetah. According to film experts 10 chimps starred in the Tarzan movies.

In 2008, the American journalist Richard Rosen discovered that another chimpanzee, which was named Cheeta, was unlikely to have had any-thing to do with the films. The animal's owner, Tony Gentry, claimed that he smuggled the chimp out of Liberia aboard a PanAm flight in 1932.

He said he hid the newborn primate under his overcoat. His family has since agreed that there are doubts over the allegations. It was claimed Wednesday that Cheetah made his first appearance in Tarzan and His Mate in 1934, and later went on to appear in a dozen films about the jungle hero.

In 2005, after his retirement, he was awarded a Guinness world record for the oldest non-human primate. FOLLOW US!

Cheetah, The Chimpanzee that Starred in Tarzan Movies Dead at Age 80

Condolences poured in to a Florida primate sanctuary Wednesday after it announced the death of Cheetah, a chimpanzee that the sanctuary said starred in the Tarzan movies during the 1930s.

The chimpanzee died Saturday after suffering kidney failure the week before, the sanctuary foundation said on the site. He was roughly 80 years old, Debbie Cobb, the sanctuary's outreach director, told CNN affiliate WFLA.

Cobb recalled Cheetah as an outgoing chimp who loved finger painting and watching football and who was soothed by Christian music, the station said.

Several chimpanzees appeared in various Tarzan movies, many of which were popular in the 1930a and 1940s. The Florida primate sanctuary said its chimp appeared in the Tarzan moves from 1932 through 1934, according to WFLA.

According to the website, "Tarzan the Ape Man" was released in 1932 and "Tarzan and his Mate" in 1934. Both movies starred Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan. Weissmuller was the first speaking Tarzan, according to the Internet Movie Database website. He died in 1984.

Weissmuller appeared in Tarzan movies through 1948, according to the online movie guide site, with other chimpanzees appearing in the role of Cheetah.

Cheetah came to the primate sanctuary from Weissmuller's Florida estate around 1960, Cobb told WFLA. He was the most famous of the sanctuary's 15 chimpanzees.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb said. "He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings."

Cheetah was known for his ability to stand up and walk like a person, sanctuary volunteer Ron Priest told WFLA.

Another distinguishing characteristic: "When he didn't like somebody or something that was going on, he would pick up some poop and throw it at them," Priest said. "He could get you at 30 feet with bars in between."

Still, Cobb told the station, "He wasn't a chimp that caused a lot of problems."

Cheetah is not believed to have any children, Priest said.

His age was advanced for a chimpanzee, Cobb told WFLA. In the wild, the average chimp survives 25 to 35 years, she said, and they can live 35 to 45 years in zoos.

Another chimpanzee named Cheeta lives on a primate sanctuary in Southern California named C.H.E.E.T.A (Creative Habitats and Enrichment for Endangered and Threatened Apes). The sanctuary's creator, Dan Westfall, said on its web site that he was saddened to hear of Cheetah's passing in Florida. He said he and others at the sanctuary "send our deepest sympathies to our colleagues at Suncoast."

Westfall writes on the site that he was told Cheeta was one of the original chimps in the Tarzan movies during the 1930s and 1940s. However, when he began working with a writer on Cheeta's biography, research revealed "that our Cheeta is unlikely to be as old as we'd thought, although he is clearly old," Westfall wrote. "It is also difficult to determine which movies, if any, our Cheeta may have been in."

People from several countries offered condolences for Cheetah on the Florida sanctuary's site in several different languages. A few credited him with helping them develop a love for animals.

"Cheetah will remain forever remembered in history," someone in Malta wrote.

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan hold hands with Cheetah the chimpanzee in "Tarzan and His Mate."


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Michael Vick Can Own a Dog - After his “Supervised Release” Ends

This is a re-post written by, Mike Florio, "Daily Rumor Mill", who often writes stories based on tips he attributes to a network of sources.

It has been widely assumed that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick may never again own a dog as part of the sentence imposed on him after he pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to dogfighting and gambling.

The perception has been fueled in part by the comments from Vick himself, who seems to believe that he needs special permission from the judge who sent him to prison in order to ever purchase or own a dog.

“I don’t know when that day is going to come,” Vick said last year.  “It’s up to my judge at his discretion.”

More recently, Vick said that he “would love to have another dog in the future,” and that “if I ever have that opportunity again, I won’t take it for granted.”

As it turns out, he will have that opportunity again.

We tracked down (thanks to a reader who also is a lawyer) a copy of Vick’s sentencing order from December 10, 2007.  And while the document states that “[t]he defendant shall not engage in the purchase, possession, or sale of any canine,” that limitation appears as a condition of Vick’s supervised release, otherwise known as probation.

Vick was placed on three years of “supervised release,” which began to run after he was released from prison.  Thus, at some point in 2012, he’ll no longer be on supervised release, and he’ll be able to buy, own, and/or sell dogs.

Michael Vick on Dogfighting
Michael Vick's Dogs - Where Are They Now? FOLLOW US!

Man Donates Ton of Dog Food to Animal Shelter

A local resident delivered a surprise early Christmas present to the Humane Society of North Iowa last week.

“He told us that he’d like to make a donation of a ton of dog food. It just blew us away. We were overwhelmed. That’s two thousand pounds,” said Executive Director Sybil Soukup.

Garth Jordan of Osage, Iowa droped off fifty, forty-pound bags of dog food at the shelter last Thursday. The donation, valued at approximately $1000, will account for roughly half of the Humane Society’s annual food supply.

Like most non-profits, the Humane Society does not receive state or federal funding, and relies on donations in order to maintain operations.

“We have a lot of donors here in Mason City, corporations that do donate, but it’s just never enough. It seems like so this was really a great Christmas gift,” said shelter manager Tracy Hamand.

Jordan’s generosity will spare the shelter’s dogs from a common ailment: digestive upset caused by constant changes in diet.  Soukup says allowing the dogs to eat the same brand of food for six months will keep them healthier.

“When you switch brands it often causes digestive issues or can weaken an immune system for a dog and so by keeping them on the same diet for a long length of time it keeps them healthier. And it helps them gain weight if they’re needing to do that,” she said.

When asked why he was making such a generous donation, Jordan said he just wanted to do something kind in memory of one of his beloved former dogs. FOLLOW US!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cat Inherits $13 Million Fortune Including Cash, Properties in Rome and Milan

A 4-year-old stray cat that was rescued from the streets of Rome has inherited a $13 million fortune from its owner, the wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon.

Maria Assunta left the fortune to her beloved kitty, Tommaso when she died two weeks ago at the age of 94. The feline's newfound riches include cash, properties in Rome and Milan, and land in Calabria.

As her health began to fail two years ago, Assunta, who had no children, began to look for a way to see that Tommaso was properly cared for after she died.

Assunta first told her attorneys to leave her estate to an animal welfare association who would care for Tommaso. But when she was not satisfied with any suitable group to care for Tommaso, in 2009, Assunta decided to leave all her money to the cat via her nurse Stefania, who cared for her until she died.

Stefania said she had no idea Assunta was so wealthy.

"The old lady suffered from loneliness," the nurse said. "She looked after that cat more than you'd look after a son."

Tommaso and Stefania, along with another cat, are living outside Rome at an undisclosed address.

The windfall for Tommaso places him at No. 3 on the list of wealthy pets. He ranks behind Kalu the chimp, whose owner left him $80 million dollars, and a German shepherd named Gunther IV, who inherited $372 million dollars from an eccentric German countess.

Real estate magnate Leona Helmsley famously left $12 million to her little dog Trouble. After her human descendents contested, Trouble's pot was cut to $2 million.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Washington, DC - Animals Paint Adorable Pictures

Sans berets, smocks or palettes, the animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are getting their paws dirty with non-toxic, water-based paint and creating one-of-a-kind works of art. Painting is one among many activities that fall under Animal Enrichment—a program that provides physically and mentally stimulating activities and environments for the Zoo’s residents. The animals have the opportunity not only to choose how to behave, but also to use their natural abilities and behaviors in new and exciting ways.

Enrichment is an integral part of the daily care of the species in the Zoo’s collection. Keepers and curators carefully study animal behavior and determine what kinds of enrichment are appropriate for each species and, occasionally, individual animals. Keepers have a number of novel options for enrichment. They may alter an exhibit; train an animal; introduce new smells, sounds, foods, and objects; or enlist an animal in a research project, such as a study about foraging skills or cognitive research. Adding a variety of engaging activities helps keepers ensure the Zoo’s animals have a high quality of life.
Though the subjects of the animals’ paintings remain mysterious, the ways visitors can support the Zoo’s enrichment program are as clear as a starry, starry night. Drop off any size canvas, art paper, paint brush or non-toxic, water-based paint at the Visitor Center for the animal care staff to distribute. Animal keepers are collecting gifts for the animals this holiday season. Browse the list of needed items on the Enrichment Giving Tree section of the Zoo’s website or the Enrichment page of the Zoo’s online store.

Art produced by many of the Zoo’s mammal and bird residents will be available for purchase at the National Capital chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Art Show, which will take place spring 2012.
                       FOLLOW US!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GIs Reward their Best Friends - The Dogs of War

Living thousands of miles from family and loved ones and facing the dangers of war often take a toll on U.S. troops. But inject some of that old-fashioned unconditional love and things become just a little more bearable.

This is the kind of story that warms my heart. I hope it warms yours too! FOLLOW US!

Burt Ward as Robin in the Batman Series – Is Now a Canine Crusader! He and His Wife Tracy are the Founders of Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions

Have you ever wondered…whatever happened to Robin of the Batman series.  Well, I have found him and he is doing great work for animals! He was the Caped Crusader…now he is the Canine Crusader!

I had the pleasure of interviewing him for his story in The Pet Tree House. He played Robin in the Batman television series that aired from January 1966 to March 1968.

In 1994, he and his wife, Tracy, founded a charitable organization called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, Inc., located in Norco, California. They rescue giant breed dogs like Great Danes and some smaller breed dogs. Their work with the organization has been featured in such outlets as People magazine, ASPCA Animal Watch, Hard Copy, Inside Edition, and Entertainment Tonight. Mr. Ward was also seen in an episode of Animal Planet's Adoption Tales.

About Gentle Giants Rescue

We have 45 different traditional and unique breeds from all over the world to choose, all of which are behaviorally trained, easy to handle, great with kids, and socialized with dogs, cats and other animals.

Meet some of the beautiful dogs at the Gentle Giants Rescue! The video below shows 27 of the dogs in the Wards bedroom…or should I say…all over the bedroom!

                                                      Interesting facts about Burk  Ward

Adam West and Burt Ward, TV's famed "Batman" and "Robin," provide the voices of "Young Mermaid Man" and "Young Barnacle Boy" in an episode of "SpongeBob Square Pants."

Batman is an American television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It stars Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin — two crime-fighting heroes who defend Gotham City. It aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network for three seasons from January 1966 to March 1968. The show was aired twice weekly for its first two seasons, and 120 episodes were produced in total.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Everyday Wildlife Champions - Exotic Red-Tailed Tropicbird, Stowaway Aboard a Ship from Korea - Flies Home, by Plane

Everyday Wildlife Champion was founded in 2009, and views saving wildlife as an everyday thing. It's doing simple tasks, little by little, to make a huge difference.

Company Overview - They are sponsored by Dawn, a brand that’s been active in helping save wildlife for 30 years.

An exotic red-tailed tropicbird  that arrived in Los Angeles as a stowaway aboard a ship from Korea took an unusual flight home via Hawaii to Midway Atoll has been rehabilitated at International Bird Rescue's Wildlife Center in Los Angeles.

Red-tailed Tropicbirds nest throughout the southern Pacific Ocean, from the Hawaiian Islands to Western Australia as well as in the Indian Ocean. They disperse widely after breeding, and birds with numbered leg bands from Hawaii have been discovered as far away as Japan and the Philippines.

To catch their prey in the wild, mostly flying fish and squid, the tropicbird flies high into the air and dives with wings half-folded into the water. However, in aviaries they cannot fly high enough to plunge for food, and consequently remain sitting on the water and must be force-fed.

The bird has been in quarantine in its own private pool at International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center in San Pedro, and has now passed all of its required health tests and has been approved for release.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Washington Humane Society - Mohamed Kamara Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty for Starving Dog

Washington, DC – Mohamed Kamara, 41, of the 2400 Block of 20th Street, NE, plead guilty to animal cruelty on November 1 as part of a plea agreement. Today he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, all suspended but six days, which he will serve during November. Once released, he is sentenced to two years’ probation and will be required to pay restitution to the Washington Humane Society for medical expenses incurred.

 Kamara was arrested Sept. 13 on a felony animal cruelty warrant that was issued Sept. 12. WHS Humane Law Enforcement officers responded to a call from Kamara’s landlord who was conducting an inspection of Kamara’s home because he had not heard from him in two months. During the inspection, the landlord found a dog in a cage in the basement who appeared to have been left behind. Humane Law Enforcement officers found the dog to be severely underweight and malnourished. It was discovered that Kamara continued to visit the property as the dog declined, but did not provide any care for the animal. The dog was taken to a local animal hospital to receive intensive treatment. He remained there for nine days, but it was ultimately determined he would be unable to recover.

If you have an animal that you can no longer care for, please consider taking it to your local animal shelter. Do not leave it in an abandoned home.

DC Cruelty Laws
The laws preventing cruelty to animals are an important tool in our ongoing fight against abuse. It’s important that as an animal advocate one is familiar with the law. In the District of Columbia, the laws protecting animals are found in Title 22 chapter 10.

If you live in Washington, DC, the Washington Humane Society
Report Cruelty/Neglect and Animal Emergencies
24 Hours/Day, 7 Days/Week
202-BE-HUMANE (202-234-8626)

If you live outside of Washington, DC, contact your local animal shelters for advice, if you have an unwanted animal.


Monday, October 31, 2011

We Have All Heard of Pet Insurance for Your Dog or Cat – Did You Know that There is an Insurance Company that Will Cover Your Horse or Pony?

Did you know that after buying a home or a car, a horse can be one of the most expensive purchases that many people make? You protect your family, home, cars and even your pets with insurance, so why not your horse?

You probably never thought about it…or even knew that there was a such thing as “horse or pony” insurance.

According to Neal King, former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, vet’s fees are increasing at around 11% year on year. Could you afford to pay your horse’s vet’s bill if it ran into hundreds, or even thousands of pounds? Many of us couldn’t, which is why it makes sense to protect yourself should the unexpected happen, with good quality horse insurance.

I want to tell you about a company that can give you the added protection that you need for your horse or pony.

What They Offer:

They excel in offering comprehensive cover for your horse or pony. They are dedicated to providing you with competitive premiums and a great product. provides the coverage, and gives you the freedom to choose a policy that suits your requirements.

On their website, they have an easy to use quote system which will allow you to build a policy unique to your requirements. You will be able to get your instant quotation and then proceed to buying online and having instant cover. Their horse and pony insurance is an exclusive online policy. is a scheme administered and underwritten by Equine & Livestock Insurance Co. Ltd. (Registered in England & Wales no. 294940) which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA register number 202748). Equine & Livestock Insurance Co. Ltd is also a member of the Association of British Insurers and the Financial Ombudsman Service.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Animals are Helping Wounded Warriors

Wounded Warriors heal with help of iconic animals. In Arlington,Virginia, when  Lt. Col. Sam Nerove grabs the reigns to guide a 2000 pound horse, she is taking control of something else too.

"I was in the deepest, darkest, hell hole," says Nerove.

She was injured in the early 1990s in Dessert Storm. She returned to combat in Iraq in 2008.

"Similar environment. More rockets, bombs, bullets, and bodies," says Nerove.

Soon her post traumatic stress disorder  was so bad she had to be medevaced out.

"It got so bad that I couldn't even tell the difference between tents and buildings," says Nerove.

She still jumps at the sound of a plane landing at nearby Reagan National. She takes a deep breath and then resumes talking.

Nerove is part of the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program at Fort Myer.

"Through this program, I have learned that I can do anything. If I can guide a horse, I can guide my life," says Nerove.

At a rider's side, members of the Old Guard. These are the same horses that pull the caisson at Arlington National Cemetery.

"If these horses weren't out here carrying their wounded comrades on their backs, they'd be pulling the caisson carrying one of their fallen comrades to their final resting place," says Larry Pence, a retired Command Sgt. Major in the Army.

The program's been in place since 2006 and so far they've had about 125 wounded warriors out riding.

"The one thing they all have in common is that they all want to be contributing members of our society. It's humbling and inspirational every Thursday for me and it's just a blessing, of course, to be a part of it," says Pence.

He and retired Navy Commander Mary Jo Beckman started the program. Brian Isenhouer was stationed in Italy when he suffered a head injury in a car accident. He hopes driving the wagon is preparing him to one day get his driver's license back.

"It's helped me a lot, really it has," says Isenhouer.

The program's being expanded nationwide.

"There was nothing to really prepare me for just the magic, the magic of what this really is and what it does," says Nerove.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Genetically-Modified Beagle Glows in the Dark – What Do You Think?

Scientists in South Korea said two-year-old Tegon, a genetically-modified beagle, actually glows in the dark.

When the scientists from Seoul National University feed Tegon doxycycline she glows fluorescent green under ultraviolet light.  Removing the drug from her food effectively turns off the radiant effect.

The researchers hope that their discovery can help develop human treatments for some of the 268 illnesses that dogs and people share in common.

"The creation of Tegon opens new horizons since the gene injected to make the dog glow can be substituted with genes that trigger fatal human diseases," lead researcher Lee Byeong-chun told Yonhap news agency.

The dog was created using the same somatic cell transfer technology that the University team used to create the world's first cloned puppy, Snuppy, in 2005.

According to Reuters the discovery took four years of research worth roughly $3 million.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Rare Baby Seahorse Found in London River

The discovery of a baby seahorse in east London raised the possibility that a colony of the rare creatures is living in the River Thames, scientists said.

The short-snouted juvenile hippocampus was discovered during a routine fisheries survey at Greenwich, suggesting that adult seahorses were breeding nearby, the UK's Environment Agency said Friday.

The cute creatures once thought only to visit Britain during warm weather were declared protected in 2008 after several were found near the mouth of the Thames. Those sightings raised scientists' hopes that a family could be living in the river.

The latest discovery was the furthest inland that the seahorses were detected so far.

"We hope that further improvements to water quality and habitat in the Thames will encourage more of these rare species to take up residence in the river," Environment Agency fisheries officer Emma Barton said.

Seahorses are one of the few animals that mate for life, after elaborate courtship rituals.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

The National Aquarium, Washington, DC - Unveiled an Extremely Rare Albino Alligator

On October 7, the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, unveiled an extremely rare albino alligator in the new Secrets of the Swamp, here for a very limited time. Don't miss this opportunity to get up close to this rare and special animal!

An extremely rare albino alligator from the swamps of Louisiana is taking up residence in Washington, D.C., dazzling visitors with her brilliant white skin.

The 3-year-old is the first of its kind ever to go on exhibition at the National Aquarium,  home to more than 200 marine species from goldfish and frogs to piranhas and sharks.

"There are less than 100 albino alligators in the world," Ryan Dumas, a herpetologist  at the tourist attraction, told AFP on Thursday. "They are very rare."

Hatched in captivity in, after its egg was found in the wild, the ghost-like alligator with pink eyes came to Washington via the privately owned Saint Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida.

"Local lore in parts of Louisiana, is that it's incredible good luck to see an albino alligator," Dumas said, adding however that because of their color, few if any survive in the wild.

"A white alligator is going to have a very hard time keeping itself hidden in a dark swamp," said Dumas, because the lack of camouflage exposes hatchlings to predators or gives them away to prey.

The alligator, which dines on fish and rodents, will be on display until February of next year. A facebook campaign will be launched by the aquarium shortly, to give her a name.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Have You Ever Had a Hermit Crab as a Pet?

Have you ever had a hermit crab as a pet? I did…well it wasn’t exactly mine. I don’t remember where I got the idea to get my son a hermit crab. I think it was because he wanted a dog, and we were living in an apartment that did not allow dogs. He was very young maybe around 4 –5 years old.

I got the aquarium and everything all set up and showed it to him. His first response was that he took off running when he saw it move!  He came back into the room and looked at it closely and gave me that…what is that look. Then it moved again…and off running he went!

I started to let him watch it eat and he became a little more comfortable with it, however, it didn’t come out of its shell much. I didn’t realize at the time that they are nocturnal.

It’s been years…so I have no idea what happened to the hermit crab. I can assure you as an animal lover, no harm was done to it. I probably gave it away or took it back to a pet shop. We ended up eventually getting him a fish aquarium…and a dog!

Hermit refers to the fact that the crabs borrow the shell that they are in.  They have no real "home" of their own, they are hermits. As the hermit crab grows in size, it must find a larger shell.

Hermit crabs are nocturnal scavengers that will eat almost anything. They live in large groups in the wild, and do best in groups of three or more.  They wear the label “hermit” because of the shell they carry on their back that they hide in when sensing danger.

low maintenance
have colorful shells

no bonding
not interactive

Anatomy: Hermit crabs are invertebrates, animals without a backbone. They have an exoskeleton, an outer shell that provides support for their body but does not provide much protection from predators. They vary widely in color, from red to brown to purple, with stripes, dots, and other patterns. They have ten jointed legs; the front two legs have large, grasping claws (called pincers or chelipeds) and the rear pair of legs are very small. They have a flattened body, sensory antennae, two eyes located at the ends of stalks, and a soft, twisted abdomen (which the hermit crab keeps hidden inside its shell).


Friday, September 30, 2011

Meet Frank and Louie, the Two-Faced Cat

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a cat with two names and two faces was born. Meet Frank and Louie. He has two faces, two mouths, three eyes, and there was lots of doubts about his future.

A Veterinarian looked at the kitten and found it to be perfectly healthy with an excellent chance of survival. The Vet was right.

Twelve years after Marty Stevens rescued him from being put to sleep because of his condition, the exotic blue-eyed rag doll cat is not only thriving but has made it into the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records.

He's the longest surviving member of a group known as Janus cats.

, named for a Roman god with two faces. Janus cats almost never survive, and most have congenital defects, including a cleft palate that makes it difficult for them to nurse and often causes them to slowly starve or get milk in their lungs and die of pneumonia. The condition is the result of a genetic defect that triggers excessive production of a certain kind of protein.

"Every day is kind of a blessing; being 12 and normal life expectancy when they have this condition is one to four days," Stevens said, stroking Frank and Louie's soft fur as he sat on her lap purring. "So, he's ahead of the game; every day I just thank God I still have him."

Frank and Louie's breeder had taken him to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, where Stevens was working at the time, to be euthanized when he was just a day old. Stevens offered to take him home, but experts told her not to get her hopes up.

But Frank and Louie did not suffer from most of the common Janus problems. Stevens used feeding tubes to nourish him for three months, hoping that would also save him from the danger of choking on food going down two mouths.

It turned out she didn't have to worry about him choking, because Frank and Louie used just one of his mouths to eat.

"The condition itself is very rare, and I think that the fact that this cat became an adult, a healthy adult, is remarkable," said Dr. Armelle deLaforcade, an Associate Professor at Cummings and head of the Emergency Services Section.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Labrador Retriever Puppy – Protects Brothers with Diabetes

A recent addition to a household in Hampton, Virginia, is helping to protect Zajdel Kazee, and his 8-year-old brother, Lucas. Both brothers  have Type I Diabetes.

The new addition is Skittles, a Labrador Retriever puppy who comes from Diabetic Alert Dogs by Warren Retrievers. "They do a scent recognition training and choose the dogs that pass the test with flying colors, and those are the dogs that are places as diabetic alert dogs, " explained the boys' mother, Liza Kazee.

Because of the high cost, the family continually raises funds, and Warren Retrievers' Guardian Angel Service Dogs assists it and others in covering the price of the dogs. Price for a dog and the training, which includes in-home visits for several days 3 times a year, is $17,000.

The boys named Skittles after their favorite candy.  If their blood sugar drops, 10 pieces of the sugary treat brings their levels back into the normal range. Skittles already is going to stores and church with the family, sporting his bright orange service dog vest. Eventually, he will go to school with the boys.

"It's every parents decision, but it's about keeping your kid safe. If he can keep my kid from having one seizure, he's done the job, you know, the money was worth it," said Kazee.

"When they check their fingers, we involve him. We make it exciting for him, you know. We call him over: 'Let's check Wyatt. Let's check Lucas,'" described Kazee of some of the training and bonding process. "He sits or jumps on them, and, then, checks while they're doing it, and if it's high or low, we 'treat' him. We give him a treat for doing a good job."

Although glucose monitors are supposed to let you know when the blood sugar is going out of range, Kazee said there often is a delay. In the short time Skittles has been on the job, he has noted problems with the boys' levels as soon as they started leaving the normal 100-150 range. "He'll jump on me, bite me on my ear," offered Zajdel, "but for Lucas, he'll just sit right next to him or try to come to him."

"It's rough, but you can get through it as long as you're confident," Zajdel said of living with Diabetes. In the past 6 years, the Tucker-Capps Elementary School student has had 14 seizures related to his Type I Diabetes.

"He's taken over my pillow, so I end up sleeping at the end of the bed," shared Zajdel, pointing to the only drawback.

             Video: (Place your mouse on video for start button)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do You Have a Hero Pet? – Buddy a German Shepherd Leads Police to Fire in Owner’s Home

Do you have a hero pet? A pet that has saved a life, or has done something to warn you of danger. We would love to hear about him/her.

This story happened in April 2010, You may have heard about Buddy and what he did to save is owner.

Buddy, a German shepherd lives in Caswell Lakes, Alaska, considerably north of Anchorage, with his best friend, a 23-year-old human named Ben Heinrichs, and Ben’s parents. He was the star of a 1-minute video shot on a state trooper’s dashcam, and it’s one of the most amazing things you’ve ever seen!

A heater ignited chemicals, which started the blaze in the family's workshop. Buddy was told to go and get help by his injured owner. In the video, you can see Buddy running to meet the trooper's car then racing through winding back roads to the house. The trooper guided firefighters to the scene. The owner suffered minor burns, but the fire destroyed the workshop.

Alaska State Troopers presented a special award to Buddy. He even got a prize, a silver-plated dog bowl engraved with his exploit…. soon to have a fresh steak in it!

Please take a look at this video of an amazing dog!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pet Friendly Places to Stay - that Welcome Your Pets!

In 2007 we moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Maryland. I checked on the internet and found a motel6 that accepted pets. At the time we had 2 shih-tzu’s Sugar, and Domino.

We had purchased a home and was waiting settlement which was suppose to be within the next week of our arrival. My husband and I, both have family in Maryland, but decided to stay in a pet friendly hotel/motel. We did not want to burden family members with our pets.

As it turned out with settlement problems, we ended up staying at the motel6 longer than we had anticipated. We ended up staying 6 weeks!

I have to admit, it wasn’t that bad. The management was very accommodating. They didn’t charge us for the dogs. They gave us a room on the first floor near the grassy area so our dogs could go to the bathroom…of course, we did the pet parent thing and cleaned up behind them!

There were a lot of animals staying there, including this baby tiger cub. My husband tried to get me to come out and pet it…but I was making sure that it was not going to have shih-tzu for lunch!

When checking for a hotel/motel that is pet friendly, check to make sure that they not only allows pets, but also appreciate them, meaning that they understand the difference between 'pet-tolerant' and 'pet-friendly'. Some hotels simply allow you to bring your pet into the room, while others offer doggie day-care, gourmet dog biscuits with turn-down service and place mats complete with water, food bowls and even offer grooming services.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do You Believe that Some Dogs Can Detect Certain Cancers?

We all know that there are drug sniffing dogs, and bomb sniffing dogs…but do you believe that there are dogs that can sniff out certain cancers?

The National Geographic News says, that ordinary household dogs with only a few weeks of basic "puppy training" learned to accurately distinguish between breath samples of lung- and breast-cancer patients and thy subjects. Please read their story, Dogs Smell Cancer in Patients' Breath, Study Shows.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says, that some dogs may be able to detect colon cancer.

A recent report in the medical journal Gut suggests that dogs may be able to help doctors detect colon cancer. Researchers in Fukuoka, Japan, found that one Labrador Retriever was able to sniff out the disease with 99 percent specificity, reports

The canine was able to detect the cancer after smelling stool from patients who had been diagnosed with the disease. The animal was able to pick out the cancerous samples, even when placed side-by-side with healthy fecal matter.

"The study represents the first step towards the development of an early detection system using odor materials from patients with colorectal cancer" the researchers wrote in their report.

Though this latest development may be good news for cancer researchers, the scientists warned that it will take time to train dogs to smell out the disease, and that all breeds of canine may not be able to detect the cancer.

According to the news source, dogs have already shown the potential to smell out melanoma as well as ovarian, breast, lung and bladder cancer.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Elephants Shows Smarts at National Zoo – Kandula a Regular Elephant Einstein

Kandula, the youngest pachyderm  at the National Zoo  flashed a moment of insight when he rolled a cube under a tasty branch, stood on the cube and stretched his trunk to grab a treat. He is a regular elephant Einstein.

Never before had scientists seen such an “aha!” moment in elephants, even though the animals recognize themselves in mirrors, drop logs on fences to get to food and even dig wells.

“We knew elephants were intelligent,” said Diana Reiss, who studies animal intelligence at Hunter College at the City University of New York. As smart as dolphins and chimpanzees in some regards. Yet all attempts to get elephants to suddenly solve a problem had failed.

Two years ago that changed, reveals an experiment published this month in the Science Journal PLoS One.  One of Reiss’s graduate students, Preston Foerder, gave the zoo’s elephants sticks, which they banged around. But they failed to use the sticks to grab snacks placed outside their bars.

Foerder then had his own revelation. “They’re not inclined to hold something in their trunk to get food,” he said. “It blocks their sense of smell.”

So Foerder hung the bamboo and fruit just out of reach of each elephant, placing a cube or aluminum tub nearby. In the seventh session, Kandula “just suddenly did it,” Foerder said.

The next session, Kandula rolled the cube all over the joint, using it to reach a flower he wanted to sniff and to play with a toy hung from a tree. But his smarts had a limit: He couldn’t figure out how to stack three thick butcher blocks as a stool.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

10 Years Later – Portraits of Some of the Last Surviving Dogs Who Scoured Ground Zero for Survivors

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.
Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled 'Retrieved'.

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.

Travelling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.

Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which is published on Friday, the tenth anniversary of the attacks. Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted 'Retrieved' to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.

'I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,' explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam. 'They speak to us as a different species and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.'

Most of the search and rescue dogs are Labradors or Golden Retrievers and Charlotte feels that the title works across many aspects of the story. 'I found the dogs, I retrieved them, they were there to retrieve the victims, it is nicely rounded,' explained Charlotte whose work is being exhibited at the Julie Saul Gallery NYC opening on September 8, in time for the anniversary. After working on a project about police canines and other working dogs, she was inspired to concentrate on the animals that played such a huge part in seeking survivors. Contacting the NYPD, the New York Fire Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Charlotte discovered that out of the nearly 100 dogs among the first responders deployed by FEMA, there were in fact only 15 still alive last year.

'They were there for the first few weeks, they were trained to find people alive, although that is ultimately not what happened,' said Charlotte, who will hold a fundraiser for the First Responder Alliance at Clic Bookstore in New York on September 29.

'I traveled across the United States to meet with the owners and portray the dogs. They are all retired and I spent time with each of their handlers learning about their experiences. 'It was moving talking to Denise Corliss, who is the handler and owner of Bretagne, one of the Golden Retrievers. 'She told me a touching story of one fireman who was there in the rubble, and how taken he was with Bretagne who comforted him as he sat down to catch his breath.

'Years later at a Remembrance Ceremony, the same fireman recognised Bretagne and her handler and they had a touching reunion. 'It developed that even though the dogs couldn't find people still alive, they could provide comfort for the brave firemen and rescue workers of the emergency services.' Wishing to tell the other side of heroism from 9/11, each of Charlotte's encounters with dogs such as Gabriel and Orion and Scout stayed with her.

'The dogs are now old and they will soon pass away. Even during the time it has taken since my first work on the 'Retrieved' portraits to now, three of the final 15 have died,' said Charlotte. 'These portraits are about how time passes, and how these dogs and their portraits are offering us a way to deal with the things that happened as well as relying on them for comfort.'

Moxie, aged 13, Winthrop, Massachussetts. Moxie and her handler, Mark Aliberti, arrived at the World Trade Center with MA-TF-1 on the evening of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and searched the site for eight days.

Tara, 16, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the World Trade Center on the night of the 11th. The dog
and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for eight days

Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 11 and searched tirelessly for people in the rubble.

Bretagne, aged 13, from Cypress, Texas. Denise Corliss and Bretagne were at the World Trade Center from September 17th to the 27th. Bretagne takes a break from work at the 9/11 site with his handler Denise

Guinness, 15, from Highland, California, started work at the site with Sheila McKee on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days.  In the immediate days that followed nearly 100 search and rescue dogs and their owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.

Merlyn, aged 14, from Otis, Colorado. Merlyn, owned by Ann Wichmann, was deployed with handler Matt Claussen and worked the night shift while Ann and search dog Jenner worked during the day as part of CO-TF-1.

Red, 11, from Annapolis, Maryland, went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon from September 16 until the 27 as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines.

Abigail, aged 13, of Ojai, California. Abigail and Debra Tosch were deployed together with Duke and Howard Orr, arriving on the evening of September 17 at the World Trade Center and then searching for 10 days.

Scout, aged 14, from McCordsville, Indiania. Together with Blake Wallis, Scout was deployed to the World Trade Center on the afternoon of September 11. Their last shift was on Wednesday the 19th.
Scout and another unknown dog lie among the rubble at Ground Zero, just two of nearly 100 search and rescue animals who helped to search for survivors.

Hoke, aged 13, from Denver, Colorado. Julie Noyes and Hoke were also part of CO-TF-1. With Julie by his side, Hoke was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 24 and searched for five days.

Bailey, aged 14, from Franklin, Tennessee. Bailey and Keith Lindley were deployed to the Pentagon with TN-TF-1. They arrived the morning of the 12th and searched for nine days.

Tuff, aged 12, from Ashland, Missouri. Tuff and Tom Andert arrived in New Jersey with the MO-TF-1 at 11pm on the 11th to start working early the next day the World Trade Center.

Orion, aged 13, from Vacaville, California. Orion and Robert Macaulay were part of the third wave of deployments and worked with the CA-TF-4 at the World Trade Center from September 23 to October 1.

Please look at the videos below:

About Photographer Charlotte Dumas:

Photographer Charlotte Dumas will offer one of each photograph in the Series Retrieved, with all profits benefiting the First Responder Alliance. The series of sixteen images is printed in an edition of seven.

About Retrieved:

Charlotte Dumas has completed a moving series of portraits featuring the fifteen surviving rescue dogs that helped emergency crews search for survivors after the attacks of September 11. Covering over a dozen states, Dumas photographed the retired dogs in their familiar surroundings, to emphasize the similarity to their human veteran counterparts. The portrayed rescuers, who fearlessly joined their human companions into the aftermath of the terrorist attack, embody a decade coming to a close.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Michael Vick on Dogfighting

I did not write this story. I am passing on the link to an article that was on Yahoo this morning in case you haven’t seen it.

He is not up for discussion on this blog. Again, I am just passing on this information.

You can view the article here:


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Michael Vick's Dogs - Where Are They Now?

Michael Vick's dogs, where are they now? Meet Jonny who was one of 51 pit bulls seized in April 2007 from Bad Newz Kennels, the Smithfield, Va., dogfighting ring run by Michael Vick, then quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

Although too young to have been a fighter, Jonny probably had his mettle tested a few times, and like most of the other Bad Newz dogs, he’d spent his entire life either locked up in a pen or chained to a rotating axle in the woods, with little or no positive interaction with people or other dogs.

After the raid on Vick’s property, Jonny and the other dogs were deemed evidence, and put into shelters to be held until the investigation was complete. Conditions varied, but even the best dogs can break down, after a few months of confinement. With Vick’s dogs, this wasn’t much of a concern; it was assumed they all would be destroyed upon the delivery of a verdict.

Jonny was one of the un-socialized but happy crowd, which is how he ended up with Cohen, who had a pit bull of his own. He had previously fostered six others as a volunteer for the rescue group BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls). “The first step was to let him unwind his kennel stress,” Cohen says, referring to the jitters that follow dogs out of long-term confinement. He countered Jonny’s anxiety with quiet time and “the rut,” as he calls it. “Dogs love a schedule,” he explains. “They love knowing that the same things are going to happen at the same times every day. Once they have that consistency, they can relax.”

Workers with the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) are trying to counter the bad reputation of the pit bull breed with an initiative to encourage people to adopt the dogs. Leilani is a three-year-old female pit bull and at the center of the push to get the controversial breed back into loving homes.

“In every city, pit bulls are the victims, victims of abuse of neglect of the way we treat them of overpopulation,” said Gary Weitzman, of the Washington Animal Rescue League. To keep the dogs from becoming overpopulated themselves, the league is waiving the $150 adoption fee and offering training classes at a discount over the Fourth of July weekend.

The league is hoping to rehab the image of the breed, which they say have been tarnished by reports of recent pit bull attacks. The perceived bad reputation is something pit bull owner Darius Baker encounters all the time when out with his dog buddy. “They're probably the most misunderstood out of all the breeds of dogs for the most part their behavior is just like any other dog, they just have that stigma about them,” Baker said.

That stigma is what Anne Eigeman expected to see from the pit bull living in her apartment building.“Initially I was maybe little hesitant around them because I had heard they could be more aggressive than other dogs, but I’ve found that not to be a general rule,” she said.

Of the 47dogs rescued from the Bad Newz kennels, 21 went to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which is the largest no-kill sanctuary in Utah. The rest either found foster homes, or are in permanent homes.

Michael Vick's Dogs Then...

...And Now!