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, February 27, 2009

Shelters hope to benefit from "mutts like me"

With too many homeless animals and far too few homes, pet shelters nationwide have clung to President Barack Obama's first post-election press conference in November.

During the session he discussed the family's search for its first dog, which he called "a major issue."

"There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic, but on the other hand our preference is to get a shelter dog, but obviously a lot of the shelter dogs are mutts like me," Obama said. "So whether we are going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household."

Meanwhile has launched to help folks find a rescue shelter near them. Shepard Fairey, the artist who made Obama's face an icon of "Hope," has even contributed his artistic technique, turning the American mutt red, off-white and blue.

"Pets are non-partisan!" the page stresses. "Pet adoption is the way to go, and the homeless dogs and cats of our country need positive change too!"

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Strong read on primates as pets

I recommend this fascinating piece by the New York Times on the challenges and dangers of keeping primates as pets beyond puberty.

A particularly jolting excerpt from a woman who is estranged from all three of her children because she prioritized her two chimps, Mikey and Louie, instead:
In a New York hotel for a job with Mikey, Ms. Harrison was letting the chimp groom her teeth, which is to say, pick at them -- a not uncommon chimp habit and an example, perhaps, of a chimp simianizing a human.

"All of a sudden I feel a severe pain on the right side of my mouth and then I felt something dripping down my face," Ms. Harrison says. "And there was all this blood, and I look over at Mikey and here he had my tooth in his hand, roots and all. He had pulled my tooth out with one finger."
-- Sandra M. Klepach

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obamas choose April as month -- now for breed and name

The first family is getting close, but not quite, to naming a breed for its first dog.

President Barack Obama says the new addition, a hypoallergenic shelter dog, will arrive in April -- just in time for Malia and Sasha, 10 and 7, to return from their spring break trip and begin White House-training.

First Lady Michelle Obama has already gone public with her choice: the active, energetic and extremely bright Portuguese water dog (pictured above). She says it's just the right size and temperament. But her office cautions the public not to treat her pick as gospel just yet.

"Mrs. Obama likes the Portuguese water dog, but she is only one of four votes," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, the first lady's press secretary. "Their primary focus now is that they get a dog that works with their lifestyle."

Sen. Ted Kennedy, proud owner of two water dogs, Sunny and Splash, reportedly recommended the breed to the Obama family on inauguration day. The family's other recent consideration is the energetic, intelligent and highly trainable Labradoodle -- a Labrador retriever-standard poodle hybrid.

For more on potential picks, see this story by the Los Angeles Times, or visit the official site for the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America.

Of course once the breed is picked, the next great debate will be the name. Mrs. Obama has already dismissed the girls' preliminary brainstorms, Frank and Moose, as "really bad."

To be continued...

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Spay and neuter!

Spay Day USA, an annual Humane Society of the United States campaign, came and went Tuesday, but the message still rings loud and clear: Spay and neuter your pets.

According to Timy Sullivan, president of PetFix Northeast Ohio, for every person born in the United States, 45 cats and 15 dogs are born.

According to the HSUS, 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats end up in shelters each year, many of them the offspring of family pets that got out just once or were carelessly allowed to breed over and over again.

Sullivan said puppies and kittens can be safely altered at 8 weeks of age. Many area humane societies offer low-cost, high-quality surgeries using licensed veterinarians for those who cannot afford full fees.

For more information on low-cost spay and neuter procedures, call Sullivan at 440-247-8931.

-- Robin Palmer

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dog needs a home

This blog features animals from area shelters and rescue groups who are in need of a home.

This is Izzy, a young, smaller mixed cattle dog available for adoption at the Geauga Dog Shelter, 12513 Merritt Road in Claridon Township.

According to shelter officials, Izzy is "one of the BEST dogs to come to the shelter."

You can stop by and visit Izzy and the other dogs from 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays; 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information on Izzy, call 440-286-8135.

--Robin Palmer

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Share your pet photos

If you have pets, you have photos.

We want to see them!

Share your photographs of your animal friends with everyone by submitting them to

Once you get to our Web site, click on "Photo Galleries" and then "Share Your Photos."

Just follow the directions from there. It's easy. I even submitted a picture of my Kitty.

So, tell Fido or Fluffy to smile, and click away.

--Robin Palmer

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pet deaths in the news

Socks, the Clintons' former cat, was put to sleep Friday at the age of about 18, having suffered from mouth cancer. The president's personal secretary, Betty Currie of Maryland, took over Socks' care after the Clintons left the White House. While Socks' relationship with Buddy the chocolate lab was bumpy at best, Socks acted like a dog, Currie said, and she took him for one last walk Thursday. What a fine ending for a tuxedo cat who began life as nothing more than a stray in Chelsea's arms.

Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke has lost two dogs this month, including 17-year-old Loki a week ago today. "All I can say is she waited for me and she fell asleep in my lap," he said. In her final months Loki, who is survived by Rourke's four other dogs, has been a fixture with The Wrestler star on red carpets. You'll also remember him paying tribute at the Golden Globes: "Sometimes when a man's alone, that's all you got is your dog." At the Oscars last night Rourke also wore a pendant with Loki's picture around his neck. Now that's a man who loves his dogs.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tonight on PBS

The blustery cold gives us all good reason to stay in tonight and watch some quality television.

Consider the PBS repeat of "Nature: Why We Love Cats and Dogs," which airs in most of our region at 8 p.m. on PBS.

"Some people are cat people, some are dog people," the introduction starts. "But regardless of which camp they fall into, most people are simply crazy about their pets. The connections people form with their cats and dogs are often the longest, strongest relationships in their lives. They are our soul mates, our best friends, sometimes even our surrogate children. What makes these creatures such key members of our families?"

For those of you braving the cold anyway, the entire episode, a photo contest and a place to write about your pets' quirks can also be found on the episode's official Web site.

Four-time Emmy Award winner, filmmaker and director Ellen Goosenberg Kent produced the storytelling-rich program over 10 months.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do you take this ... canine?

Man's best friend, sure. Kid's best friend, depending on the breed's patience. But kid's wife?

News spread today about a less-than-two-year-old boy, Sagula, recently married to his neighbors' dog, Jyoti, in eastern India.

About 150 tribespeople participated in the ritual, to ward off tigers and other animals, after the boy sprouted of a tooth on his upper gum -- considered a bad omen leaving them more prone to wild animal attacks, according to reports.

Indian law doesn't recognize ritual marriages between man and animal, so Sagula may still find a suitable human wife down the road. Y'know, if he's lucky.

Personally my favorite part of the news story describes the afterparty: The dog was let loose to roam the area, while townspeople rejoiced with a feast of food and alcohol. Hey, any excuse is better than none, right?

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Few words more accurate than 'tragic'

A tragic case out of Connecticut dramatically proves the danger of owning adult chimpanzees, our closest primate relative and a fascinating member of the animal kingdom, as pets.

The photo I've included is six years old now, but shows the tremendous size of Travis -- the 14-year-old, 200-pound chimpanzee police shot and killed Monday after he spent about 12 minutes ferociously attacking his owner's longtime friend.

The animal had spent a lifetime eating at the table, using the toilet, brushing his own teeth, surfing the Internet and sometimes drinking wine from a stemmed glass, among other human past times. His owner Sandra Herold, also pictured above, raised him as her child.

But wild behavior had given Herold cause for concern Monday. She gave him some tea laced with the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, then called her friend, 55-year-old Charla Nash, to help control him.

What followed inflicted "life-changing, if not life-threatening" injuries to Nash's face and hands, reports claim. A news report featuring graphic audio from Herold's 911 call, as well as an analysis piece by the Associated Press, can be found here. Police shot Travis when he charged them, then cornered an officer inside his cruiser.

Seemingly recapturing its mind in the end, the wounded chimp fled the scene, returning to his bedroom in Herold's home to die. The cause of his attack remains under investigation.

Unfortunately reports still leave more questions than answers. The more we learn about chimps, the closer we feel to them, but our similarities are deceiving. There is much left to learn.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tomlin speaks up for captive pachyderms

Lily Tomlin's concern for animals is no laughing matter.

The 69-year-old comic and actress, who performed in Cleveland this month, has spent much of her energy promoting the retirement of aging zoo elephants to sanctuaries where they can roam free and recover from a life of captivity.

Tomlin's pet causes are Jenny of Dallas Zoo and Billy of Los Angeles Zoo.

In her latest blog, she cites a December study of 4,500 elephants "that concluded elephants in the wild live up to three times longer than in zoos, even though elephants in zoos live predator-free and receive regular veterinary care and a steady source of food." Time magazine also recently picked up the story, finding that new elephant enclosures being built across the country haven't proven to increase health or longevity.

Already 32 years old and nearing the average captive elephant's lifespan, Jenny is an emotional train wreck. Her supporters say she likely witnessed her own mother's death, has been psychologically and physically traumatized over time, and receives tranquilizers to keep her from self-mutilating. Yet the zoo clearly doesn't feel she's earned her freedom, and even considered sending her to a "drive-thru" zoo in Mexico before settling on a long-term habitat expansion. Supporters say she may not live to see it.

Billy, who in nature would be a social animal, has been in solitary confinement 20 years, and his bored behaviors have resulted in worsening foot damage, the leading cause of euthanasia among captive elephants, his supporters claim. Wild elephants can walk 30 miles a day; 640 acres make up one mile; and L.A.'s resident giant has about a quarter acre to roam. Supporters' ideal sanctuary for him would include 2,300 acres, bathing lakes and therapeutic jacuzzis -- but again, another case of politics at their least humane.

I love seeing elephants in the zoo as much as the next nature buff. They're always a highlight, and I believe exposure to wild animals is key for young people. But sentencing these tremendous creatures to cramped spaces for their entire lives is unfair and flies in the face of reason.

It's a relief someone, let alone legendary Tomlin, has begun speaking for troubled titans that can't speak for themselves.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Pearly whites or gnarly yellows?

Ten days remain in National Pet Dental Health Month.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease -- the most frequently diagnosed health problem -- by the age of 3. Warning signs include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, depression and pawing at the face and mouth.

Is this your pet?

Consider that nipping plaque in the bud is far more cost-effective than managing dental disease and the roaming bacteria, which may eventually threaten the heart, liver and kidneys.

To do this, sponsors recommend twice-a-year veterinary appointments and daily tooth-brushing for dogs and cats.

I don't know about you, but I kind of laughed when I heard this. Daily brushing seemed a little far-fetched to me. But a short instructional video on dental health and tooth-brushing, found here, actually makes the process look easy and now has me considering a home dental hygiene routine for my torties.

For the cynical, the video has a hint of playfulness to it: descriptions of helpful toys, beef-, mint- and chicken-flavored toothpaste, and an easy-going chihuahua that the vet holds yet never actually brushes. But seeing the gingivitis-plagued Scottish Terrier under anesthesia getting its mouth cleaned, routine for the bad cases, gave me personal incentive to keep my pets healthier.

Taking a brush to the mouth of an animal once a day may seem extreme, sure, and only 2 percent of dog owners actually follow through. But isn't your best friend worth it?

For more information, visit

-- Sandra M. Klepach

I can't say good-bye

How do I say good-bye after almost 20 years?

How can I thank you for all the joy you gave me?

My precious Kitty died Saturday night ... ironically on Valentine's Day, but appropriate too because she gave me such unconditional love.

Only people who love animals will understand the bond you make with your pets.

It's strange how attached you become to them. They are family. I knew her routines and she knew mine. We understood each other.

Even though she lost most of her hearing in her later years, she still knew when I came home each night.

As I opened the door, she would come down the stairs and greet me with a meow.

Just seeing her made me happy. Any problems I had that day would just melt away.

My last memory is wrapping her frail body in a blanket and taking her to the emergency animal clinic.

Even though time had taken a toll on her body, her face still looked like a kitten ... the same one that came into my life in July 1989.

I am thankful she had such a long, good life.

I will keep Kitty in my heart forever.

-- Robin Palmer

Monday, February 16, 2009

Study: 1 in 4 smokers might quit for pet

Cigarette smoking prematurely causes one in every five U.S. deaths, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet a recent study suggests that one in four smokers would consider quitting not for themselves, but for their pets, given the proper research connecting tobacco smoke with animal illness.

The research is out there. Tobacco smoke in the house affects every living thing therein -- of course. It shouldn't take proof of certain cancers in dogs and cats, allergies in dogs, and eye and skin diseases and respiratory problems in birds to consider the risk, but the study provided proof anyway.

According to the report, published in the February issue of Tobacco Control journal:

• 28.4 percent of smokers would feel motivated to quit
• 14.2 percent of smokers would stop smoking indoors
• 8.7 percent of smokers would ask people with whom they live to quit
• 16.4 percent of nonsmokers would ask people with whom they live to quit
• 24.2 percent of nonsmokers would ask people with whom they live to stop smoking indoors

What gets me is that in a vacuum, the last two figures show that even nonsmokers prioritize their pets' health over their own. (Yes, just living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent, according to the Surgeon General.)

Study data counted online survey responses from nearly 3,300 pet owners, mostly white women from southeastern Michigan. A current follow-up will determine whether they'd actually walk the talk. I wonder whether the results would be similar nationwide.

On a personal note, I live with a outdoor smoker. His habit frustrates me, but at least he respects my health and comfort.

Pets deserve respect, too, and I hope this study leads non-smoking campaigns to an effective deterrent.

Now if only the risk to their own health -- and the non-smoking humans living with them -- were enough.

-- Sandra M. Klepach

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cats need a home

Brother and sister Abigail and Adam are in need of a home.

The Ragdoll mix felines are about 8 months old and are very loving, according to officials at Western Reserve Humane Society, a nonprofit area group.

The pair are devoted to each other and must be adopted together.

If you can give them a home, or if you want more details on the cats, call (216) 531-1512.

--Robin Palmer

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who needs Pavlov?

I learned how to train my co-workers at The News-Herald without even offering them a treat.

Sure, I've threatened them, but that's another story.

But no one walks by me with an empty pop can without depositing it in the black garbage bag that hangs near my desk.

You'd be surprised how much pop we drink around here.

Once the bag is filled, it makes its way to the Lake Humane Society, 7564 Tyler Blvd. in Mentor.

Aluminum products can be dropped off in the bin at the shelter's parking lot anytime.

I'm not sure how much money the shelter gets for turning in products to a recycling company, but I know any money comes in handy when caring for all the animals.

The shelter does not receive any funds from the county. It relies on donations and fundraisers.

So, get your office or family involved. Save your aluminum products.

You'll not only be helping out a shelter animal, you'll be keeping Mother Earth a little greener.

-- Robin Palmer

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pets and your health help

Pet owners know that dogs and cats can do much for a person's state of well-being.

I'd like to hear from a few of you who can relate your experiences for an up-coming story on pets, the health benefits of pet ownership, as well as buying a pet.

Please e-mail me your response (please keep them short) or call me direct at (954-7194)


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Staff writer
(440) 954-7194

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Looking for a home

The great thing about this blog is I can get photos out there of animals that need homes.

So take a look at Autumn, a female black-lab mix that is available for adoption at the Geauga County Dog Shelter at 12513 Merritt Road, Claridon Township, which is near Chardon for all you Lake County folks.

According to shelter officials, Autumn sat at the shelter for months and is now with a trainer.

She has plenty of house manners and now just needs a real home.

The dog shelter is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays, 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

For more details, give the shelter a call at (440) 286-8135.

- Robin Palmer