Friday, December 19, 2014

A Little Bit of Holiday Fun!

The Holiday Season is here and for those of you, like me, who are celebrating The Festival Of Light, my warmest wishes for a very Happy Chanukah!

Most of you are probably celebrating Christmas in just a few days.  To you, my warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas!  

Needless to say, if you're reading my blog your pets are family members and will be celebrating with you.  I know you'll choose gifts for them wisely because there is no organization that oversees pet toy safety. Look out for loose parts, anything sharp that can injure your pet, or something that is so hard to chew that your pet could fracture a tooth. Just say No to teaser toys made with mylar strips - they can cause the equivalent of a paper cut, especially near the mouth.

I've decided to use today's post to bring you a little bit of levity from  Pets opening their holiday gifts.  Enjoy!

Aimee and I wish you all the joys of the holiday season!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Purina Pro Plan's Incredible Dog Challenge Sweepstakes - You Could Win!!

If you know me then you know how I feel about sports - a "sport" is any guy who'll go to the ballet with me. The exception to my rule?  Dog Sports!  (Full Disclosure: I love Cat Agility - but I digress.) Those of you who know me well know that I am World Canine Freestyle Organization's Judge #002, the first judge's number awarded by the Board. #001 went to Caroline Hudnall who created the judging system based on her experience as a figure skating judge. Yes, a real one. 

I love to watch all dog sports. You'll never see me running Agility but don't be surprised to see me ringside cheering everyone on. You name the dog sport and I'm there.  I think it's wonderful for dogs and their people. Everyone gets exercise, has fun and makes new friends. What's not to like?  Every dog should be doing something

If you like to take pictures of dogs who are doing what they love to do (every dog and owner has accomplished something) have I got a contest for you!

The Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge Sweepstakes. Take a picture of your dog doing something incredible and then showcase what your dog has done in 2014.  Has you puppy learned to climb the stairs? Has your dog decided that the cat is really a great friend? Has your dog finally run through a tunnel? Jumped through a hoop? Learned to say his prayers? Tag your submissions on social media using the hashtag #GreatDog2014

The Grand Prize includes 2 Round Trip Plane Tickets to Huntington Beach, CA for The Incredible Dog Challenge Western Regionals, a 3-Day, 2-Night Hotel Stay, Ground Transportation and Spending Money and a $500. PetSmart Gift Card.  

That's quite a haul!

For even more details go to:

No purchase is necessary!

More Info:


This looks like GREAT fun! Breed doesn't matter, your dog or puppy can be of mixed heritage. AKC events are for Purebred dogs. 

To this I would like to add that I love all dogs, pedigree or no pedigree. However, while I support rescue, I also support Legacy Breeders. These are not puppy millers, or commercial breeders, nor backyard breeders. Legacy Breeders maintain their chosen breed, improving on it so that it meets its Breed Standard, is healthy both physically and mentally, they carefully screen potential owners and puppies are sold with a contract that includes taking back the puppy or dog at any time in the dog's life if the owner(s) can't keep him. They take full responsibility for dogs of their breeding. I am supportive of Susi Szeremy's National Purebred Dog Day which started as a page on Facebook and she is now fundraising to create a website. Please go here for more information:

NOTE:  I wanted to bring The Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge to my readers because I believe in dog sports. The request to blog about the Sweepstakes came with a PetSmart gift certificate for my 4-legged kid. Because of my ethics, a comparable donation will be made to a local shelter. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mark Barone's An Act of Love

Night light Playful Nehama

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing artist, Mark Barone, about his very special project, a Museum of Compassion. What follows is my Question and Answer interview so you can read about it in his own words.


A: Upon seeing the chilling numbers of shelter animals being killed every day and the archaic shelter system we're operating with people's tax dollars, (when successful and compassionate alternatives are available), and the lack of education on animal parenting and solutions for being a lifetime guardian, there was no way we could turn away and do nothing, so we decided to paint the approximate number of dogs being killed everyday and use the power of art to illustrate where we are at as a nation, with regards to our compassion for animals, and let the power of art, with the science of compassion, and the heart of philanthropy,  be the catalyst for change.


A:   Imagine walking the "Wall of Compassion" and feeling the impact of 5500 portraits  of shelter         dogs, spanning 2 football fields long and 10 ft high!
       Education is the bridge to compassion, and if we are to help our children navigate    the world        outside with tolerance, compassion and acceptance, then we must   educate their hearts and minds to produce socially and emotionally aware adults, who understand that compassion is not a luxury, but a necessity for our survival.

 The "Museum of Compassion" is being designed to illuminate, educate and lift our animal welfare consciousness to new heights.

Night light Handsome Pete

       This poignant exhibit and educational platform (that's larger than the Sistine Chapel) will be a   powerful bridge to compassion, inspiring nationwide transformation and the salvation of our animals. The main wall will consist of 5500, 12"x12" portraits and referred to as the "Wall of Compassion." Even though they are individual portraits, they are considered one body of work and one main statement, telling of their collective fate and our state of consciousness.  In addition, there will be an educational wall of 10, 8x8ft portraits, that will represent other areas of companion animal abuse and shelter excuses, such as: dog fighting, puppy mills, animal abuse, cats, temperament testing, breed specific legislation, killing for space, legislation for rescue's to have access and prevent needless deaths, shelter negligence, and animal testing, and the pro-active solutions.

The museum will educate children in how to use art for social change and get them engaged in helping to cultivate a more compassionate generation. There will be speakers from around the world, sharing insights and strategies for compassion, and beautiful products to generate a forever fund for the animals.


A:   We spoke with the filmmakers at Sagacity productions, specifically Bonnie Silva, and she really connected to our own personal story and what it took to give up everything to do this, and she shared it with PBS, and they loved the idea and wanted to partner with her immediately to create a documentary about our journey and the project itself.

Night light Loyal Bubba


A:  The extraordinary level of compassion and commitment that we have witnessed from the thousands of rescue groups, fosters, volunteers and transporters, has blown us away!  These people have no real support, yet they stay on the frontlines everyday, saving animals lives. They are the only life line for these animals, and we are looking forward to being in a position to help provide all the resources they need to continue their great work and eliminate the additional stress that is created by having to raise the money to do it.

Never be silent in the face of suffering. We are all part of the problem, if we are not actively engaged in being part of the solution. Do something, because you care and because you can.

An Act of Dog

Please visit Mark Barone's website:

Watch the trailer for the PBS Special here:

Mark in front of Big Paintings
I'm very grateful to Mark Barone for this interview and for everything his is doing to shine a very special light on the fate of too many shelter dogs.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

BlogPaws Survey of Members' HolidayPet Pampering

The infographic below is the result of a poll of the members of BlogPaws' Influencer Group. BlogPaws brings together people who blog about pets. Experience, ability, etc. have no influence on membership approval. It's a community by and for pet bloggers with an annual conference. Yes, I participated in this survey. I have only attended one conference and found the emphasis seemed to be on the technical aspects of blogging with speakers covering such topics as monetizing your blog and SEO. For those of you who are about as tech savvy as I am (I should hire a 7-year-old since they are raised with the internet), I did find out before attending the conference that SEO means Search Engine Optimization. 

For the record: I don't monetize my blog. I come from a journalism background. In the print media there is paid advertising and then there are articles that feature a product. Those are not articles in the usual sense.  They are called Advertorials and are paid for by the company whose product is featured in the "article." Is it biased? You decide. I receive no monetary compensation for my reviews of books or pet products.  I'm quite certain other bloggers think I'm at best, foolish, and at worst, an idiot. For me it's a matter of maintaining journalistic ethics. The "compensation" is the book or product being reviewed. I don't currently have a dog so those products go off to trusted people to test with their dog(s). 

Here's the infographic.  I should note that APPMA (American Pet Products Manufacturing Association) puts out an annual list with almost all of the same questions.

BlogPaws Holiday Pet Blogger Influence and Christmas Gift Spending

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brain Food for Pets? Yes!

Sage a sweet senior Poodle
Photo by Susan Makin

Dogs and cats, like people, develop problems of aging, not just arthritis, loss or lessening of sight and hearing. They also develop cognitive dysfunction – a cat or dog version of Alzheimer’s or dementia. There is medication available but what if there were another way helping our pets without medication? 

This is the challenge that Nestlé Purina’s veterinary nutritionists have taken on. I had the opportunity to interview two of their researchers to find out exactly what was being done. Drs. Janet Jackson and Gary Pan were generous with their time, information and expertise. 

I'm intrigued by Nestlé Purina's newest product that can make such a difference for our companions. Basically, brain food for our pets.

Glucose is the main energy source for the brain, but the brain’s ability to utilize glucose declines in middle aged and old people and pets,” says Jackson. In women, for example, estrogen is lost after menopause and glucose usage declines in the brain," according to Pan.

“MCTs, Medium Chain Triglycerides, provide an additional source of energy to brain cells,” Jackson says. 

Purina has created an additive for its Pro Plan Dog Food to reduce damage to the brain from stress, as well as other losses from aging, such as estrogen in females.

      MCTs are medium chain triglycerides, and are found in botanical oils such as coconut oil.      MCTs will be included in the new Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formulas, which will be available at retail starting in January;


Dr. Janet Jackson
“MCTs add energy for the brain. Older pets sleep more, they don’t want to play as much. There’s a decrease in activity and mobility.” Cognitive health is impaired and even some veterinarians don’t recognize the signs, according to Dr. Jackson. I would venture to guess that most owners and many veterinarians would assume this is tied in with arthritis, which, of course, needs attention.

The dogs fed this new food in trials have shown improvement within 30 days. “They (owners) will see a difference,” says Jackson. “There is a visible difference in the dogs’ lives.”

Dr. Pan, who has had articles on Cognitive Dysfunction published in the British Journal of Nutrition, points out that as in humans, it is associated with the “gradual and irreversible loss of brain cells and synapses,” which we know can lead to dementia in people, a heartbreaking condition for the entire family. 
Dr. Gary Pan

Purina also has created a unique nutrient blend, called the Brain Protection Blend™ that can help reduce damage to the brain from stress, as well as other losses from aging, and help maintain energy metabolism, blood supply, and the structural integrity and functions of the brain.    

The MCT technology targeting the brain energy supply will be available for dogs starting in January 2015 in the new Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formulas. It is taking longer to develop an MCT formula for cats, but they hope it will be in the food sometime in the near future. The Brain Protected Blend™ food is targeting risk factors of brain aging and is planned to be available for both dogs and cats in next 18 to 24 months.

Cats tend to vocalize more and show similar signs as dogs and people. Perhaps cats and dogs wouldn’t sleep so much if they were more interested in play and hadn’t forgotten about that and so much more. Is it worth a try? When you love your four-legged companion and do not want to see this sort of decline, my personal opinion is yes.

 I’ve been to Purina several times in the past. I was one of the first 6 dog writers invited when they opened to the press. (There were no “official” cat writers at that time.)  I’ve met with their Research and Development people over the years and attended their Nutrition Forums before Nestlé bought Purina. Much of their staff remains in place except for those who retired. They are dedicated to promoting lifelong health in pets with foods developed for weight, development, and dental health.  They want to keep their customers happy and healthy. I can state that not from reading something written by an amateur, or listening to gossip.  I can state it because I’ve toured their research and development facilities, I’ve talked with their researchers who leave no stone unturned in looking for more ways to help our companions.
The Fabulous Aimee

For a little more information on Drs. Jackson and Pan: Dr. Janet Jackson is the Vice President & Director of Nestlé Purina PetCare Nutrition Research. She has been collaborating with NRC scientists in Lausanne, Switzerland to work together and share knowledge to help improve products for pets and people. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.  Yuanlong (Gary) Pan is a senior research scientist in the Nestlé Purina PetCare Nutrition Group. His interests are nutrition, weight management and healthy aging. Raised in China where he always had a cat while growing up. His research into the healthy aging of dog and cat brains via nutrition, have proved that a special botanic oil can be used as an alternative energy source for the brains of middle-aged and senior dogs, as well as nutritional advances in weight loss in dogs. His work with cats includes developing a special blend of nutrients that can improve memory and learning functions in middle-aged and senior cats. Dr. Pan graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu University of Agriculture, P.R. China where he also earned a Master’s degree in comparative anatomy. He earned his Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition from Virginia Tech where he was a Pratt Fellow. He then earned a Ph.D. in human nutrition from UNC-Greensboro. He worked as a research associate, then instructor, at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Here are two interesting infographics from Nestlé Purina.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!

It's Thanksgiving here in the United States of America and Aimee and I want to wish everyone who is celebrating a Happy, Healthy and Blessed Thanksgiving. Being thankful is something for everyone to think about, no matter where you live. I like to count my blessings, starting with my precious Aimee and including friends around the world and each of my wonderful readers.

I'm sharing this fun bit of silliness for the holiday.  Aimee wants me to assure you that no self-respecting cat would allow herself to be dressed up like Dave and Gremlin are from this episode of Life in The Dog House!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Memorial to a Best Friend


Sometimes you meet someone online who touches you in a special way. It's happened to me at various online venues. One friend who impressed me with his thoughtful posts made a special impression when he talked about his cat, Tribble, and shared pictures. Real men love cats and Frank is a real man whose best friend, Tribble, was generously shared with his friends. A long and loving relationship, they were the perfect example of The Human-Animal Bond. It truly hurt my heart when I found out that Tribble died. Frank posted a tribute to Tribble. I was moved to tears and asked his permission to share it here. I don't have Guest Bloggers so this is unusual. Frank shared some photos, as well. Here's Frank Incremona's Memorial to his beloved best friend, Tribble.

Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend

A Tribute to my cat, Tribble

When I met Tribble for the first time, he was a tiny fluff of hair… He was four months old, only weighed four pounds, and had a terrible case of ringworm. He was also malnourished and had vitamin deficiencies.

They put him down on the ground, at my request, but told me he wouldn’t come running to me. He did just did the opposite. He ran over, ran around me then climbed up onto my lap and fell asleep. All I said was, “He’s coming home with me.” They couldn’t believe what they saw, stating that it’s never happened before.

I brought him home then drove off to Petsmart to get the necessary accouterments… Water Dish, Food Bowl, Kibble Dish, Food (both wet and dry), litter box a few toys and a comfy bed to sleep in.

When I fed him the first of many cans of kitten food, he devoured the dish as if he’d not eaten in weeks… once the wet food was gone he found his kibble dish and proceeded to empty about half of it. He looked like a little Buddha, his tummy distended from the amazing amount of food he’d ingested. All that done, he climbed up my pant leg, then implanted himself on my lap for a nap. When he curled up you couldn’t tell where he started or ended. He was just a ball of hair… a little Tribble. That was October 8, 1995.

The vet checkup the next day was very eventful. My vet did the perfunctory blood panels, and examination… but there was one thing that he said looked odd…Tribble had a sticky discharge all over his ears and head. He came back in to the room with a UV Light. Plugged in the light then shined on Tribble’s fur. He lit up like a bouquet of fiber optics. It was so bad that he told me that, “to treat this systematically, he will most likely die.”  The next thing I knew, I was taking him home with a pre-surgical shampoo with instructions to bathe him every other day until the doctor said to stop. It took over 3 months to eradicate the ringworm. And Tribble was very cooperative about getting bathed. He seemed to enjoy it; probably because he felt so good after he was dry and not looking like a drowned rat.

Tribble had the run of the house, and at night he would make me carry him to bed to rest. He always chose a spot by my arm so it could be used as a pillow. I didn’t mind. At least he didn’t snore.

The following June I had accepted a position with a company in Tennessee. Everything was packed and on a truck except for some essentials; clothes, toiletries, litter box, food and food dishes, and everything else that Tribble needed.  We made the 14 hour trip, only stopping for gas, toilet stops, food and giving Tribble some treats for being so cooperative on the long trip. He slept on my lap for the entire journey.

My job in Tennessee had me doing a lot of travelling. And to be sure Tribble was well cared for while I was away, my vet recommended a lovely woman to pet sit. Since her husband had passed, Linda was using her time caring for animals. And Tribble loved her. After the first time returning from a trip, Tribble met me at the front door. Tail wagging, meowing like crazy and turning in circles!

As soon as I was in the house, and the door was closed, he ran to the bathtub then jumped in. He was running around in circles then flipped himself over so his belly was exposed. I started giving him belly scratches and he wriggled around in the tub. I looked at him and said, “you’re being silly!” After that first time, Tribble did this for me every time I returned from a trip. He’d just in the tub and get excited and I would say, “Where’s my silly kitty?” and he would flip over on his back to get scratches. As he got older and it because tougher for him to jump he stopped doing it.

As a matter of fact, Tribble traveled quite frequently with me; by car, by train, by ferry and aircraft. Any time I found myself flying back home for business Tribble always came with to visit his Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop. They loved seeing him – more than me, I’m afraid.

A few years later we moved back to PA because my dad was ill, and after he passed I accepted a job with a company in Georgia. Once again, we moved and this time into our own house! Tribble was a little apprehensive of the new surroundings, at first. But when a Red Tail Hawk landed on our deck, he sat poised for almost 30 minutes watching this great bird resting on the railing. He came back at least once per day, maybe looking for a resting spot, or more likely trying to figure out how to get the cat on the other side of the window!

Our home in Georgia had a drive under garage. As soon as the garage door started to rise he would run from the bedroom (where he usually napped) to the interior house entrance in the garage. As soon as I closed the car door I could hear him meowing, wanting me to open the door. I had a floor mat at the base of the stairs and once inside I would say, “Okay, clean your feet then we can go upstairs.” He would knead on the mat, simulating what I did with my feet, then ran up the stairs. He couldn’t wait to jump in the tub and play silly kitty with me.

A few years later we found ourselves up north, working from home and trying to figure out what we would do next. It was during this time that Mom-Mom became a frequent babysitter when I had to go out of town on business. That’s when I found out that Tribble loved to eat whatever happened to fall on the ground.. A palm leaf and twisty tie were the most notable items. The palm leaf made it to his colon… and required an enema to extract it from his rectum. The vet was impressed that he was able to pass it and placed it in a plastic bag to show me what was backing up Tribble. The nursing staff was laughing hysterically! Tribble was not amused.

A couple of years later and Tribble was experiencing the same symptoms as the palm leaf so I brought him to the vet expecting that another enema was in order. Only this time, they told me he required surgery to get it out.  The twisty tie was stuck in his stomach and irritating the lining to the point where nothing could get through. A couple of days and $1300 later, and he was back to his old self.

Tribble continued to have digestive problems that were corrected by only supplying him with small amounts of food over the course of the day; breakfast, lunch, dinner and an overnight snack of about 1.5 ounces of wet food with a constant supply of kibble. We were experiencing a pleasant time no longer worried about vomiting or diarrhea.

In 2007 I purchased a home in the Pocono Mountains. It sat on two acres and there was wildlife everywhere! It was great because there were plenty of windows for Tribble to have naps and there was plenty of deer that came to visit. He loved mornings because we would have a herd of deer in our backyard, some coming up on the back deck looking for some breakfast treats. In the fall I would give them apples and in the dead of winter I would place bales of alfalfa hay in the yard so they would have something to eat. It also kept them off the state game lands, too!

One afternoon I came downstairs to see Tribble napping in his beanbag chair, and a little field mouse, fast asleep under his front legs. He wasn’t what you call, a mouser! When he wasn’t on the beanbag chair he was on his bed in my office, napping while I worked.

Then in 2009 Tribble developed a sort of temporary paralysis of his back legs. The  vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong. His x-ray showed no break or dislocations. Yet he couldn’t seem to use his back legs. The vet sent us home with an antibiotics and prednisone to try and correct the problem.

I gave him the prednisone the slept on the floor next to him so I could assist with litter box use or to allow him to eat and drink as he wanted. About 2:30 a.m. I woke to find him missing from his bed. I turned on the lights to find him at the other end of the room. I called his name and he slowly, walked over to me! I continued the prednisone as prescribed and he made a full recovery. A little over a year later, he experienced the same situation. And once again, a course of prednisone did the trick. Crisis averted!

Over the last four years we have had an uneventful time. Tribble had his daily routine; wake me up early; have breakfast; a quick brush then a nap. He enjoyed his food, played with his toys and looked forward to bedtime when he took over most of the bed. His annual checkups were all good, and the vet was amazed as to his resiliency. His blood panels were all excellent!

Yes, Tribble liked to sleep on Frank's legs!

About two months ago, age finally caught up to my Tribble. His gait was not normal; walking seemed to be tedious and jumping up or down from the loveseat (his personal domain) was now an almost impossibility. He would walk over to the loveseat, sit down then wait for someone to pick him up then place him on the seat. This was followed by a brushing and a long nap.

About two months ago I noticed his condition worsening. His breathing was labored, his interest in eating had gone down some, be he always seemed to eat and drink, and pee and poop. He was now having little “accidents” around the house. But it was unclear if he was having problems holding his pee, or if he simply didn’t realize that he needed to pee and it just releaed.

His respiration was too high and then he started to exhibit sounds you get when there’s fluid developing in your lungs. One night he woke me from a somewhat restful sleep and simultaneously dry heaved and peed. I cleaned him up then got him back to sleep… and he seemed to be okay for the rest of the night, although his breathing wasn’t normal. The next day, Tribble’s interest in food declined immensely. I am at a point where I know I need to put him down so he doesn’t suffer, yet I find myself second guessing the timing. My vet wasn’t in today so I chose to wait for tomorrow. When tomorrow comes I will take him, or I will choose to spend a few more days with him before I have to let him go. I am struggling with this decision, partly for Tribble; if he has more time he should have it here, with me. Partly for me; this little fur ball has been my constant companion for the last 19 years, and he ahs become more than a pet; more than a possession. He’s become my child, and he’s shown me unconditional love, through good and bad times.

Before I knew I was dealing with cancer, Tribble knew I was ill and would not leave my side. After both of my surgeries he stayed with me when I took naps during recovery only leaving momentarily for a food and water break or to use his litter box. I can honestly say that I am a better man for having spent the last 19 years with my fuzzy son. As a result, I just can’t make this decision for him without giving him every chance possible for more time on earth. Even though I know I will see him one day, at the bridge. No words that I write can put an exclamation point on this precious, little life that has brought me so much joy. To look in the window to see him meowing at me, happy that I have returned home is something that is hard to describe. I was his whole world, and somehow I have to be the one to end it for him. And I’m not sure that I am strong enough to do it.

The day has finally come for me to say goodbye to my friend, Tribble. I don’t think that I have ever experienced more sadness in my life. I called the vet this morning and they asked if I wanted to do it this morning, or in the afternoon. I told them that there was no good time to get this done, so I decided that we needed one more lunch, some treats and some extra brushing before saying goodbye. What little breakfast he ate was Italian Tuna in Olive Oil, one of his favorites… Lunch will probably be some low sodium ham (another favorite) and quite possibly some ice cream.

Then I will lay low so I can grieve for him…maybe take a bike ride, albeit a cold bike ride to clear my head then solitude for at least a few days.

If you have a cat, dog, rabbit, ferret, or any other animal in your home give them a hug and kiss.  Spend some extra time with them… time is something that we get so little of with our fur kids. And before we know it, they are gone…

All pictures courtesy of
Frank Incremona