Blogs > Pets Unleashed

Those who love their pets tend to enjoy all animals. Our animal owners are no different. Check in on News-Herald staffers Robin Palmer and Cheryl Sadler as they share their own animal tales and announce upcoming events in Lake and Geauga counties.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter may be hard on wildlife

It could be worse.

People grumbling about shoveling the ever-constant flow of snow and those just plain tired of winter are much better off than are wildlife.

With near record snow falls for January and combined with crusting in a lot of places, white-tail deer and wild turkeys are having a tough go of it.

The hardest hit location for deer is where they are most heavily concentrated: Like at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Here, state wildlife biologists say, deer populations are so dense that even in the best of time there is some mortality. Given that at least 40 inches of snow has fallen this month over the area then deer mortality is all but assured there.

And places like Lake Metroparks' Chagrin River Park also could see problems, though not likely mortality.

Instead, does are more likely to abort fetuses or drop under-weight fawns in the spring along with producing less-than nutritious milk, says Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist Mike Tonkovich.

And deer also use up considerable amounts of energy as they plow through snow as high as their chest.

Avoiding predators like coyotes becomes much more difficult, too.

Combine those points with forage that is less than ideal and the winter could prove fatal, especially if it lingers much longer, Tonkovich says.

"It's been a rough winter but I don't know if we've reached a critical point yet. Deer can weather a hard winter if they're in good condition," Tonkovich says.

Wild turkeys are a little better off in that they can stay huddled in trees and can go without food for a few days.

And these birds also can subsist on marginal tree buds for survival, though here too, body weights can be lower going into the spring breeding season.

"But it's tough to make a blanket statement," Tonkovich says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Go Greyhound ...

There's a little bit for everyone at the Pet-Tique set for 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8 at Club K9 of Wickliffe, 30400 Lakeland Blvd., Wickliffe.

Sponsored by Freedom Greyhound Rescue, the event will feature jewelry, stained-glass art and gourmet food for humans, and home-made dog treats, nail trimmings, pawdicures, and animal fashions for dogs and cats.

Canines can also take advantage of the self-wash dog tub.

Various adoption groups will also be on hand to hopefully introduce you to your new four-legged family member.

Admission is free.

For more information on the Pet-Tique, call Suzi at (440) 944-0374 or visit

To make a donation to the rescue group, send a check to Freedom Greyhound Rescue, P.O. Box 245, Twinsburg, OH 44087.

--Robin Palmer

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Real Dawgs will watch Puppy Bowl

Another year, another Super Bowl without the Browns.

But, Dawgs take heart, if you cannot stomach watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play in the big game on Sunday, then tune in to the fifth annual Puppy Bowl set to air at 3 p.m. Sunday on Animal Planet.

Twenty puppies listed on will fumble and tumble on their own football field. Halftime will feature cat capers of the Kitty Entertainers.

The focus of the Puppy Bowl is pet adoption.

Viewers can log on to ... the largest online, searchable database of adoptable pets ... to learn about adopting animals or fostering a pet in their community.

So who cares if that team from Pittsburgh is at it again ... Dawgs are more fun to watch!

-- Robin Palmer

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Short, sweet and really sleepy

It doesn't take much to introduce The name pretty much speaks for itself.

Consider it a time-saver for those of us who surf onto YouTube to watch a particular video and find ourselves still clicking from funny animal video to funny animal video a half hour later.

As a further time-saver, I've picked out my personal favorites -- and just got paid to do it. (A word of caution: If you're feeling at all drowsy, make sure you're either sipping a cup of joe or watching from a comfortable spot before proceeding.)

Dog people, try this one, this one and this one.

Cat people, this one, this one and this one.

And for the rest, this one, this one and this one.

What makes sleepiness cute anyway? I don't know, but it sure is in these clips. Aww...

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rocky, the flying squirrel

Talk about your Mexican stand-off.

Last Saturday around 8 a.m. I witnessed two regular visitors to my (yes) squirrel feeder that is located on a pine tree next to the front porch.

The first was Rocky, the flying squirrel.

For the past several years the feeder's been frequented by southern flying squirrels, and every now and then, two at a time.

However, they have tended to show up after dark, even past midnight.

Not the current Rocky who's arrived just after sundown or at sunrise to partake of the stripped and black oil sunflower seeds that I place out each evening.

On Saturday the little guy was way past his typical visiting hours.

Then along came one of the early morning fox squirrels, which appeared stunned at Rocky being there.

For his part, Rocky stood his ground, rising on his haunches, lifting his forearms and then spreading the loose skin that the critter uses to glide.

Rocky looked twice as large as normal and pretty nasty for a few-ounce squirrel.

The fox squirrel hesitated for only a moment before crowding into the feeder's small chamber, pushing Rocky to its rear.

That made Rocky squirm to the front and out the feeder in a dash, startling the fox squirrel in the process.

The whole thing couldn't have lasted more than a few minutes but I'll remember it always as one of those things we humans seldom have the opportunity to see.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lab still country's favorite breed

Americans love the Lab.

For the 18th consecutive year, the breed known for its pleasantness and intelligence tops American Kennel Club's 2008 list of most popular breeds in the country.

The Lab can likely walk a couple circles around the spot and lie down, too -- more than twice as many of them were registered last year than any other breed. It may as well get comfortable at No. 1.

In the winners' circle:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Golden Retriever
3. Boxer
4. German Shepherd
5. Yorkshire Terrier
6. Shih Tzu
7. Bulldog
8. Poodle
9. Miniature Schnauzer
10. Doberman Pinscher
* As per registration data from Cleveland zip codes provided by USPS

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle
6. Boxer
7. Dachshund
8. Bulldog
9. Poodle
10. Shih Tzu

I'm intrigued that Clevelanders are more fond of the Miniature Schnauzer and Doberman Pinscher than the Beagle and Dachshund. In fact, it was just in the last year that the Doberman knocked the Dachshund out of 10th place.

Nationally, another noteworthy climb is the Bulldog, which advanced from 10th to 8th place this year, and made the list for the first time in seven decades only a year earlier.

For more cities' results, complete national listings, and a ranking history of the top breeds, visit the AKC's official Web site. Also, to meet the most exemplary members of the nation's favorite breeds, tune in to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship from 8 to 11 p.m. Sat., Jan. 31, on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cats selling tickets

OK, the cats aren't really selling tickets.

But the felines, some 220 of them at Caroline's Kids Pet Rescue, are hoping you will buy a raffle ticket to benefit their Concord Township sanctuary.

The non-kill, free-roaming shelter is raffling a 42-inch LCD Toshiba TV that is valued at $1,300.

Tickets are $5 each or six for $25.

The drawing is set for April 3 at the shelter. The winner can pick up the TV, or it will sent by UPS if the winner is from out of state.

Tickets can be printed from the group's Web site at or by calling Judie at (440) 449-3496.

All proceeds will benefit the shelter.

--Robin Palmer

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A bird in the hand

There’s a place at North Chagrin Reservation that many birding enthusiast know well. Deep in the woods is an overlook where the birds will come to eat from your outstretched hand. Each year I hike back there with a friend in tow so they can experience it for themselves.

In the winter stillness save for the wind rushing through the hemlocks, when the snow blankets the earth and food is scarce, these birds that are familiar with human contact will come to dine.

As you approach this place, they cling to bare tree limbs, close to the path you trod in on, almost in anticipation, knowing that you come bearing nourishment.

You don’t have to wait too long before these sweet creatures -- chickadees, tufted titmice, and if you’re lucky, a white-breasted nuthatch -- will descend from their perches and land, weightless on your fingertips, long enough to take some seed and fly away. If you’re patient they’ll return for more.

From time to time I’ve tried this at home without success. The birds in my backyard are wary, not used to human interaction. But one fall day last year the feeders were empty the birds were hungry and I had some time to kill. I went out and poured seed into my hand and waited.

The chickadees came and, finally taking a leap of faith, they landed on my hand to eat. It is in these simple things, this direct connection with nature, that one can experience sheer joy.

-- Maribeth Joeright

Monday, January 19, 2009

Where's the heat?

Kitty, my 19-year-old 'baby' had her worst nightmare realized last Friday when the furnace went out on the coldest day of the year.

It's usually a balmy 72 degrees (or more) in my house, but when I woke up to Kitty's meows early that morning, I felt the coldness right away.

Or better yet, the cold shoulder Kitty was giving me.

How dare I let it get that cold in the house.

She sat next to the heater vent and waited for the hot air to come out, but to no avail.

I tried to put a blanket on her, but she walked away almost as if I had insulted her.

I had to act fast. I called the furnace repair man, who could be at the house within an hour or two.

I then plugged in the space heater and aimed it at Kitty.

She was not amused, but seemed to warm up (but not to me) a bit.

In the end, $66 later, the furnace guy, who I think Kitty likes more than me, relighted the pilot light, and the world was good again.

I sometimes think of Kitty when I leave The News-Herald in the wee hours of the morning and walk to my car in the frozen tundra that is paper's parking lot.

As I shovel off the snow and de-ice my car, I picture Kitty with her butt up against the heater.

Life is good.

If the Lord does send us back to this earth once we pass, I hope I come back as a house cat ... in my house.

I just hope the furnace is working.

--Robin Palmer

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Freezing so they don't have to

As an owner of outdoor rabbits, I live with tremendous guilt in these most severe winter months.

But I've felt a little bit warmer lately -- and so have Sky and Sherb -- since I learned a couple things from the folks of the Humane Society of Delaware County, Ohio.

The concept of their recent Freeze Out 2009 event was this: Spend 10 hours in the winter cold overnight and live to tell the tale, educating pet owners and helping pets in the process.

"It was my idea," admitted Wade Beane, the branch's director, who was thrilled when more than 100 people joined him for portions of the event between 8 p.m. and 6 p.m.

A dozen people stayed all 10 hours and even stripped down for the 30 Minute Extreme to prove the greatest point. Mother Nature didn't disappoint, either, showing up with 20-degree temperatures and freezing rain and snow between 2 and 6 a.m.

"Everybody's felt cold themselves," Beane said. "If we can get people to relate to that and think, 'Those idiots, what are they doing outside for 10 hours? That can't be safe,' and then - the transference is the key part - if they could personalize what it would be like for them to spend a night outside, and then transfer that to their pets, then they could say, 'Having my dog outside all night isn't the best idea. I'll bring 'em in.'"

For animals built to stay outside -- horses, for example -- Beane stressed the importance of wind-blocks (to trap the heat bodies naturally emit), fresh water (not a block of ice), and insulating straw (the hollow, tan-colored stuff, not the grassy green or brown stuff). Beane said Freeze Out participants were shocked to find it felt about 25 degrees warmer under the 10 bails of straw they could use to cover themselves up with.

Best of all, money raised from the event will be used to keep Delaware County canines cozy through another of its innovative programs, Houses for Hounds.

"Next year we're hoping to get over 100 different animal rescue organizations throughout the northern states to all do it on the same night," Beane said.

Here's hoping Lake and Geauga groups get brave and jump on board on Jan. 8, 2010.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Guidelines for proper care of an animal's safety and emotional well-being in cold weather are available on the society's Web site.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Three local shelters to Change A Pet's Life

Mark your calendar for Sat., Jan. 24, if you've been sizing up your lifestyle to consider adopting a shelter animal.

That's Change A Pet's Life Day, a national effort to find homes for 3,000 animals from 300 participating shelters -- including three local ones -- in a single 24 hours.

To start off its program with a bang, Hill's Pet Nutrition of Topeka, Kansas, plans to pay the first 10 adoption fees at each shelter, a value of $25 to $300 depending on the pet.

For the rest Hill's plans to provide free pet food, a free training/information DVD, and free access to a hotline offering advice to first-time pet owners.

According to the official Web site, here are your local participating shelters:

Lake Humane Society
7564 Tyler Blvd. Ste. E., Mentor
(440) 951-6122
Open noon to 5 p.m.

Euclid Animal Shelter
25100 Lakeland Blvd., Euclid
(216) 289-2710
Open noon to 4 p.m.

Cleveland Animal Protective League
1729 Willey Ave., Cleveland
(216) 771-4616
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Eight million potential pets enter shelters each year, according to Janet Donlin, chief of Veterinary Business Channel at Hill's. Donlin predicts the lousy economy will cause a drop in adoptions this year, as well as a spike in homeless animals.

Don't impulse buy, but if you're up for the challenge how's next weekend for rescuing your new companion?

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A conservation effort for the birds

"It is always with the best intentions that the worst work gets done." -- Oscar Wilde

Take, for instance, the situation on an island halfway between Australia and Antarctica. I read about it today in a story by AP Environmental Writer Michael Casey.

Researchers believe passing ships introduced nonnative cats, rabbits, rats and mice to Macquarie Island within the past century. The invasive mammals soon grew to threaten the island's 3.5 million native seabirds, including the four threatened albatross species. So in 1995 the Parks and Wildlife Service of Tasmania opted to eradicate all the feral cats in a conservationalist effort to save the birds.

Sure, Antarctic prions began to recover, and the grey petrel successfully bred on the island for the first time in a century. But the greatest consequence was far more devastating: Macquarie Island became grossly overpopulated by rabbits, which proceeded to destroy much of the fragile vegetation that native birds called home.

Someone didn't think this through.

As such, decades of conservation efforts have been compromised, and fixing the "environmental devastation" caused between 2000 and 2007 will cost authorities the equivalent of $16.2 million, according to Dana Bergstrom of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Conservation groups responded not by criticizing the initial eradication but by mourning that cats, rabbits, rats and mice weren't eradicated at once. Plans to do just that will begin in 2010. (Think helicopters dropping targeted poison baits and rabbit-hunting teams shooting, gassing and trapping.)

"The unintended consequences of the cat-removal project show the dangers of meddling with an ecosystem -- even with the best of intentions -- without thinking long and hard," Casey wrote.

And never mind the painful process of eradicating animals, fellow pet lovers. Now even those animals intended to be preserved, the native bird species, have drastically suffered. Let's hope the Parks and Wildlife Service has learned from its mistakes and heeds these further words from Wilde:

"One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards."

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

National contest gives animal rescues $$$ -- vote!

Many of us wish we had more money to donate. Here's at least one way to help your local animal rescue group or shelter without a checkbook -- vote in Care2's second America's Favorite Animal Shelter contest.

Top prizes are $10,000 for the winning shelter, $1,000 for second- and third-place shelters, and $500 for shelters placing fourth though 20th.

But here's the kicker that justifies each and every vote, including the one you'll hopefully make before the Jan. 31 deadline: Any shelter with five or more votes in a week will be entered that week to win $500 just for being listed.

The complete list of local candidates to date is as follows:

Greyhound Adoption of Ohio, Chagrin Falls
Mini Mutts Rescue, Madison
Cherished Cockers, Mentor
Helping Hands Pet Adoption Network, Mentor
Nine Lives Rescue, Painesville
Forget-Me-Knot Pet Rescue, Parkman Township
NE Ohio Greyhound Rescue Inc., Perry
South Euclid Humane Society, South Euclid

Don't see your local shelter listed? It can be listed within 24 hours of the shelter registering with, the new name for 1-800-Save-A-Pet, which is sponsored by Purina and North Shore Animal League America.

No Ohio shelters won the big bucks last year. This year's contest began Dec. 1 and our local shelters have yet to make an appearance among the Top 100. Isn't that random drawing totally worth a call to your local shelter representative?

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Are you campaigning for a particular shelter? Take advantage of our commenting space below to state your case and let's see what happens. Remember, voting ends Jan. 31.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside

Just a friendly reminder that when the temperatures dip this low, make sure your pets are not left outside.

Just because they have a fur coat does not mean they can survive this frigid blast.

Every year we hear and read about the tragic stories of cats and dogs found frozen to death.

They cannot survive outside for a long period of time when it is this cold.

If you see a pet that has been left outside in this kind of weather, do not hesitate to call your local police department and report this abuse.

Yes, it's animal abuse.

If the animal is a stray and you can provide it shelter, please do.

Life is tough enough when you do not have a home, so please try and make a difference.

If you see a loose dog in Lake County, call the Lake County Dog Warden's office at (440) 350-2640 or (440) 918-2640. In Geauga County, call (440) 286-8135. You can also report abuse to those agencies.

So as we endure this Artic blast the next few days, stay warm ... snuggle up with your kitty or dog.

-- Robin Palmer

All creatures big and small -- at the feeders

My backyard is a veritable wildlife sanctuary, smack dab in the middle of suburbia. The woods that border my property offer a haven for all sorts of critters: songbirds, birds of prey, squirrels, raccoons, an occasional red fox and a growing number of deer.

One of life’s simple pleasures for me at this time of year is kicking back on a cold snowy morning with a steaming mug of coffee while watching the birds at my feeders. The squirrels come too (I quit trying to outsmart them a long time ago) and they provide endless entertainment as they climb, leap, stretch and contort themselves in a variety of ways for a seat at the bird seed banquet.

But within the last year, I discovered why I can go through a 40-pound bag of seed in no time at all. It’s the deer. And they are very resourceful.

Several days before Christmas, as temperatures hovered in the teens, the snow fell and traffic accidents were clogging the freeways, I was fortunate to be cozy at home, using up remaining vacation days. On that morning there were at least a half-dozen deer in my yard, one of them a buck, eating from every feeder within reach and only several feet from where I stood gazing out at them through my patio door with my cat, Smudge.

Once they consumed every last morsel of seed and were obviously still not satiated, they proceeded to the edge of the woods where my platform feeder stands about six feet from the ground.

Then to my amazement, one doe stood on its hind legs and, leaning against a large baffle for stability, she craned her neck to get to the seed. Too awkward. After several attempts, she gave up.

Like any good photographer, my camera was close at hand. I squeezed off a number of frames through the glass since opening the door would have scared them off. I’m sharing some photos, including the one that was published on December 26.

-- Maribeth Joeright

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rourke thanks dogs at Golden Globes

In case you were looking for an excuse to go see an award-winning movie Friday, Jan. 23:

Mickey Rourke, star of "The Wrestler," unflinchingly recognized man’s best friend during his acceptance speech for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama at last night’s star-studded Golden Globes.

Oft overshadowed by his odd role choices and personal life, Rourke’s acting career has been rocky for more than a decade. Dejected, he even returned to boxing from 1991 to 1995. But last night’s television audience saw a very grateful underdog. "Wow, this has been a very long road back for me," he said. " ... Several years ago I was almost out of this business."

Rourke said his reputation precedes him and trivializes film financing. For taking a chance on him and the movie, he thanked talent agent David Unger and his boss Jeff Berg, director Darren Aronofsky, Fox Searchlight and Peter Rice, co-stars Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei, songwriter Axel Rose and producer Scott Franklin.

The television audience might have deducted Rourke's personal life to be quite thankless; he’s been married and divorced twice. Then, about two minutes and 40 seconds in, with an "ah, who else" ...

"I’d like to thank all my dogs – the ones that are here, the ones that aren’t here anymore, because sometimes when a man’s alone, that’s all you got is your dog, and they meant the world to me."

The 52-year-old's affection for his dogs have long been evident to the press, who regularly meet Rourke's Chihuahua-terrier mix, Loki, at interviews and most recently spotted the 16-year-old pooch at the 65th Venice Film Festival Closing Ceremony.

Rourke scored points in my book for giving credit where credit was due. Time-sensitive producers must have considered the canine shout-out a last straw, though; Rourke quickly thanked Bruce Springsteen, who won Best Original Song-Motion Picture, as the grandiose music cut him off.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More than a Crazy Cat Lady

Mention cats at The News-Herald and the next thing you’ll hear is my name. I’m the resident Crazy Cat Lady. I’ve fed my share of strays and caught a few along the way. Two of my three cats are rescues.

But there is more to me than felines. I am an equal-opportunity animal lover.

Yes, that's me feeding deer, Canada geese and mallards in my back yard (I’m sure much to my neighbors’ delight).

Yes, that's me shoveling my deck so the squirrels can find the roasted peanuts I toss their way.

Yes, that's me who is a sucker for every donation letter that comes my way from the ASPCA, United States Humane Society and National Wildlife Federation. All good organizations.

And, yes, that's me with Midge, Geauga County’s littlest sheriff's deputy, who stopped by the paper in December to bark "Five Golden Rings" for the "Twelve Days of Christmas" video.

So you see, I love all animals, even though I'll probably spend much of this blog talking about cats. Hey, I have a reputation to keep.

-- Robin Palmer

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A certain type of person

You know me. I’m hitting the floor to pet whatever critter is approaching. I’m skipping the movies portraying animal death. I’m sacrificing space so my pets can stretch out.

I’m a proud pet owner. It’s the personal piece I wear most prominently on my sleeve in the newsroom. And it's for this reason that I now introduce myself as one of your trusty new local pet bloggers.

I'd like to thank Woodrow, Crackers, McKenzie, Kiwi, Kitty, Rocky, Sam, Alani, Sherbert, Ivy, Sky, Mei Ling, Ping, Muppet, Sistercat and the Academy for this honor.

Maybe you’re like me and also have as many pictures of your pets as you have of your family, or enjoy animals’ company more than most of your friends’, or find your pets so much more thoughtful than everyone else’s.

Maybe you’re not like me at all. Maybe you’re allergic, or dislike extraneous responsibility, or don’t see the need, or critters with furry, leathery or slimy skin give you the willies.

Maybe you're somewhere in the middle. Whatever your reasons, pet ownership is a loaded decision and a huge responsibility and I don’t blame you.

In my life it just happens to fit. I've escaped adolescence with the understanding that I’ll never know most things, but one thing I already know is the unconditional love of an animal. And I’ve been fortunate to know it from the first time I came home until this morning before work. It’s in the choice of my lap for a place to relax, those innocent eyes in times of pessimism, the silent trust of a belly rub – or for those who don’t have pets, tender moments far enough from a meal that it’s clear food isn’t the motivation for the behavior.

Maybe you’ve experienced this relationship, too. If so, welcome to your forum.

This blog will be a place for sharing and learning. (This is what we do for a living, after all.) But we also hope it will be a place for discussion. Every pet owner comes to the table with opinions on collars, litter, training, enrichment, shelter, current events, food or whatever. We also have our own special stories to tell - reflections on those non-food-oriented behaviors that enrich each of our lives on a daily basis. Please make topic suggestions and share what you know after each posting.

The transfer of tips and ideas is the most classic celebration of our unique bond. On behalf of my fellow pet owners and the marvelous animals we represent, we look forward to hearing yours.

-- Sandra M. Klepach