Friday, July 31, 2015

This is Homes for Pets Weekend!

Courtesy Coldwell Banker Real Estate

Back in February, I shared a wonderful project with you. Coldwell Banker Real Estate teamed up with to try to help some of the six to eight million homeless shelter pets find loving homes. It seems like the perfect match - a real estate company selling homes to people who might want to complete their family by adding a new pet to their new home. The good news is that they are now more than halfway to their goal of placing 20,000 adoptable pets in homes in 2015 since they launched their Homes for Dogs project.  Frankly, I think homes for cats would be very much welcomed, too!

"We were thrilled when Coldwell Banker Real Estate came to us about this campaign," said Abbie Moore, Executive Director of "Together we know we can make an impact on communities across the country."

This weekend is a great chance to find that perfect new family member and help them reach that wonderful goal!  More than 650 shelters and rescue groups across the United States will be participating in this weekend's special event.

August 1 -2, local Caldwell Banker offices will join forces with shelters and rescue groups in the network to host adoption events in communities across the United States. More than 600 shelters and rescue groups have already signed up to participate.
Courtesy Coldwell Banker Real Estate Company

More information, including how you can find a shelter or rescue group near you, is available at:

"It's shocking to think of how many homeless dogs enter shelters each year," said Sean Blankenship, Chief Marketing Officer for Coldewell Banker Real Estate LLC.  "So many of us at Coldewell Banker are dog lovers - that's why we launched the program. Between our 88,000 affiliated sales associates and the 15,000 shelters, we're hoping that we can truly make a difference through a major adoption event."

I hope you'll share this information with your friends who are considering bringing a new companion into their lives. Please let me know if you or someone you know adopts a pet this weekend, or if you have adopted a pet at any time in your life.  

Let's make this a great weekend for homeless pets across the nation!  Let's hope they find loving forever homes!
Courtesy Coldwell Banker Real Estate

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Canine Flu

Photo by James Stagg

A few months ago there was a lot of talk about canine influenza in Chicago. It was a real concern for pet owners in that City and all dog owners reading about it felt compassion and concern. However, in 2015 did we really think it would stay in Chicago until it was eradicated or a vaccine appeared?
Canine Influenze was first seen in my home State of Massachusetts several years ago at Greyhound race tracks. It first appeared in dogs in 2004. It seemed to stay within that population of dogs. Upper respiratory diseases aren't uncommon in groups of dogs. Racing Greyhounds are in close proximity to each other and travel to most of the same race tracks. The cause of the virus at that time was an H3N8 subtype that probably migrated from an equine subtype. 
Photo by Linda Aronson

I remember concern about it and then the subject seemed to go away until the outbreak of Canine Influenza in Chicago, which was widely reported. There was an outbreak of H3N8 on the North Shore of Massachusetts in 2014 that seemed to be associated with dogs boarded in a specific kennel. There were other cases scattered throughout Massachusetts, but not many. They were isolated but the dogs had been exposed to other dogs in places where dogs were involved in canine activities. Dogs exposed to other dogs in close proximity would likely benefit from the vaccine for H3N8 along with kennel cough vaccine.

The virus in Chicago this year was different. It was H3N2. I wasn't surprised when I heard that this isolated case occurred in a dog who had traveled to Chicago.

In 2015 I can't imagine why we would think that a virus could be confined to one place. People travel with their dogs.  We're in the middle of Summer vacation time and many of us love to travel with our four-legged companions since they are family members. How could we think that disease wouldn't travel from one place to another?  It's not exactly a vacation souvenir that we want. 

Interestingly, the disease in the Central Midwest bears a strong resemblance to one in Southeast Asia, a canine flu associated with dogs in the Korean Meat trade.  It's hard for me to type those words.  There's talk of people being interested in adopting dogs from that area of Southeast Asia. The ramifications of that is something to carefully consider because we must protect the dogs who are here.
Photo by Gary Rohde

In 2009 the USDA approved the first influenza vaccine for dogs. It can reduce the severity of the flu and damage to the lungs but it's something you need to discuss with your veterinarian.  If you're planning to travel with your dog, now is a good time to have that conversation, before you and your dog leave on that trip.

There are, I believe, other canine influenza drugs in development. It's interesting to contemplate what they will come up with, if it will be something to cover upper respiratory diseases, or vaccines specifically for various specific variations.

If this new strain of Canine Influenza has appeared in my State, it can appear in yours, too. How much risk is there in taking your dog to the local dog park? That's a question for your veterinarian. 

This is not a disease that can spread from dogs to people. But it is airborne and can easily spread from dog to dog. I didn't write about this to frighten you but simply to give you a heads-up so you are aware of the possibilities.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How Rescued Senior Dogs Can Help

Dogs make life so much better.  For many people, they make life bearable. They are there during the darkest times, when the whole world seems to have gone away.

It doesn't matter which breed, or if the dog is of mixed heritage, dogs are who they are and they always seem to know exactly when we need them. And, of course, they need us as well, for a range of reasons.

Few people know this better than Vicky Neville. Vicky had had Bulldogs and loved them dearly but life wasn't always good for them. Her dogs had died, so she was dog less when Vicky was recovering from a divorce and the death of her sister and soulmate. It was all too much. Vicky was admitted into inpatient care for her chronic depression. 

While she was in recovery, Vicky heard about the Mr. Mo Project, a non-profit organization that finds loving homes for senior dogs. What a great idea!

On Easter Sunday, Mr. Mo Project founders, Chris and Mariesa Hughes, arrived at Vicky's house with Macy, a Senior Bull Dog. Vicky and Macy made an instant connection and before Vicky new it, her life began to change. She began to live again, laughing, gardening and rediscovering the parts of her day that made her truly happy. All of this with her new companion by her side. 

We know that shelter dogs need our love, and sometimes it's the unconditional love from a dog that can make all the difference to its owner.

Senior dogs are usually facing a death sentence in a shelter when they have so much more love to share and deserve a second chance. This is a win/win.

Thanks to Hoopla-Ha, please enjoy this video of Vicky and Macy and hear Vicky talk about what this wonderful Senior dog has done for her. You can see for yourself what Vicky has done for Macy, and how the program works.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Live Well & Prospurr

Darlene and Aimee

Before I got so involved in dogs and cats, and for a long time afterwards, I wrote countless celebrity profiles for a wide range of publications. One celebrity who caught my eye but I never interviewed, is Morris the Cat who came on the scene long before I started to write and before I was ever owned by a cat. Morris starred in more than 50 commercials for 9 Lives cat food. A real rags to riches story, Morris came from a shelter and found fame and fortune as the first celebrity cat. In 1988 he ran for President. Obviously a viable candidate if ever there was one, living the American Dream.

Morris the Cat

Morris has a new campaign that should appeal to every cat and the  people they own.  Live Well & Prospurr is Morris' guide to ways cats and owners can hang out together. There's a lot we can learn from our feline friends about relaxing, enjoying life and seizing the moment - or the nap. Aimee and I are big proponents of this concept so I thought I'd tell you about some of the ways we hang out together.

Aimee came to live with me when she was 3 1/2 years old. A retired show cat, she was quite accustomed to travel and during those first years we traveled together. I spoke at a conference, Aimee came along, I spoke at the Atheneum on Nantucket, Aimee took the Fast Ferry with me from Hyannis and watched TV in our room, relaxing on the bed, snacking. Guess which one of us got the Welcome Gift from the hotel? Hint: it wasn't me.

Aimee and I love to play with interactive toys. Games shared are much more fun! Those interactive toys come out when we're going to play together.

We enjoy watching TV together. Aimee jumps up on my lap and relax while I pet her or pick up her comb and comb her which she adores. She always arrives with kisses on my nose, on my lips, on my cheek, and soft purrs along with gentle headbutts.

Morris the Cat

Aimee is very good about helping me write. She's very good on the laptop and has discovered short cuts that she has yet to share with me. Could someone please tell me why, after she gets down, iTunes is always open? I've learned to shut off the sound so I can concentrate on the work at hand.

Aimee has never seen a nap that she didn't want to join.  She goes off for a Power Nap every afternoon. Frankly, I think she should give seminars in napping but she seems to be working towards having it declared an Olympic Sport. Between us, on rare occasion we nap together.

I'm not sure how she manages it but I often find her lying across my chest with her back paws in my right hand and my fingers automatically petting her tummy. She's a girl who always manages to get what she wants.

When not napping or snuggling with me, Aimee is the Spokes Cat for the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization.

Aimee and I love hanging out together. Everything is better when shared with a cat.

Morris the Cat
If you're looking for suggestions for hanging out, Morris has them for you. Just check out the new website he created (pretty good for someone who doesn't have opposable thumbs!).  Point your browser to:

You'll find other interesting things to explore while you're there.

How do you and your cat hang out?  Remember to Live Well & Prospurr!

NOTE:  I received no monetary compensation for this blog post. As a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and a layperson member of The American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians I'm happy to share this human-animal bond concept.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Humane Society of Utah's Clever Idea!

Sometimes it's hard to walk into a crowded shelter and make a connection with a dog when you want to adopt a new pet. Shelters are crowded, noisy, dogs are jumping, barking, and not much fun for dogs or people. The Humane Society of Utah decided to give each dog a chance to shine in front of the camera.

Each dog was given an opportunity to show his or her personality to staff photographer, Guinnever Shuster. 

Separating each dog from the others allowed their personalities to shine, captured on film. This gives potential adopters a chance to get to know the dogs by looking at their pictures before they meet them. Potential dog owners are now lined up to meet the dogs who have captured their fancy. Each dog now has a much better chance to find a forever home.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Algae, You and Your Pets

How often do you think about algae? If you're like me, you probably only think of it when you're at the beach, if at all. I really wasn't aware that primarily in Asia it is being studied as a source of natural energy and health. Nor did I know that it has been used for 50 years by Olympic Athletes. No, I don't know which ones. It has also allegedly been used by NASA astronauts. So, now you're wondering what that has to do with you and your pets. 

Frankly, I'm always in search of new sources of energy. Life moves at such a fast pace that meeting deadlines, keeping up with interview requests, speaking engagements, etc., is fun but if you're like I am, you really need energy to keep up with your busy life. Your pets do, too. Whether they're involved in a sport (did you know that cats do agility, too?) or just racing around the house or playing fetch in the yard, energy is important.

I was recently made aware of a fairly new (6 years old) company that's practically in my back yard. ENERGYbits® is based in Boston and they are putting algae to work for us and our pets. 

ENERGYbits are a performance fuel/food for runners, endurance racers and the rest of us who have busy lives. The small pills are made of 100% organic spiralina algae and are absorbed within 10 minutes. Believe it or not, they are loaded with 40 vitamins, including all the B vitamins, Omega-3 and "the highest concentration of protein in the world."  The company insists that they deliver a steady stream of mental focus and physical energy without sugar, caffeine, chemicals, soy, gluten, animal products or stomach distress. They can be used as a snack or meal replacement.

Well, frankly, I'd be hard-pressed to used them as a meal replacement for myself or for Aimee. 

The company sent samples of both their ENERGYbits® and RECOVERYbits®, the latter is made from 100% organic chorella algae, which has the highest concentration of chlorophyll and RNA/DNA in the world. It is supposed to build the immune system, prevent colds and speed recovery from athletics or injury. It also is supposed to remove toxins.
Photo © Gary Rohde

All of the bits are swallowed like supplements but they're not a supplement. Algae is a plant which is grown organically and dried into small tablets. While you and your family can consume them, so can your cats and dogs. 

The information accompanying the samples I received pointed out that it's better to swallow them although pets often like the taste.  I put it to the test. Aimee came up on my lap for a cuddle, as she does throughout the day. I opened a packet, offered her one and she sniffed it. Then she delicately took it from my hand, chewed it, swallowed it, seemed satisfied and went off to investigate the whereabouts of one of her toys.  I decided to see what would happen if I consumed it the way she did.  Trust me, the company is right. You want to swallow it unthawed, untasted.  

We haven't tested it long enough to know if we have increased energy or if our immune systems are improved. Winter in New England is a better test of the latter since most of us walk around with pneumonia thanks to the weather. 
Photo © Frank Incremona

I can tell you that these bits are pricey but what isn't these days.  I can also tell you that it passed my cat's taste test. 

If you're involved in dog sports (or cat agility) or have a particularly active pet, or one who can use an energy boost, you may want to give this a try. Dieticians have been quoted approvingly. If you have any hesitation, talk to your veterinarian. 

To learn more or to order some for yourself and your family, both two-legged and four-legged, point your browser to:

NOTE: I received no payment of any sort in return for this review. I received only samples of the two products so that I might test them. The opinions expressed are my own.