Local Vet Goes Ape in Africa Tips for Feline Hygiene Remembering Dogs That Served America Dairy Cow Receives a Pardon
Mud Season 2020 Western Vermont
Inside this issue of 4 Legs & a Tail
2. Coming to Their Rescue Peg Bolgioni
about Save A Lab Rescue, a non-profit organization that rescues Labradors
4. Bark For Life: A Canine Event to Fight Cancer 5. Police and their K9s - Ties that Bind Karen Sturtevant A look into canine law enforcement
8. Dairy Cow Receives Pardon As Yet Another New England Dairy Farm Shuts Their Doors
Tomten Farm and Sanctuary commit to keeping a special milk cow from going to slaughter and she finds herself living the life of Riley.
9. Bringing Home a New Friend Maria Karunungan Tips to acclimate your new pet to their new home
10. Spring Cleaning the Toy Box? Carol Gifford, DVM
Make sure your pet’s toys are safe and healthy for them
12. Local Vet & Gorillas
Four years ago, local veterinarian Dr. Lynn Murrell found himself in one of the most unique situations of his professional life.
14. Putting the Dog Before the Cart
Meet a couple of Newfoundlands who are no strangers to hard work
15. The Pileated Woodpecker - Feathered Engineer of the Forest Catherine Greenleaf 16. The Scoop on Pet Insurance Catherine MacLean, DVM 18. Shelter Dog Beer Can Campaign Helps Reunite Missing Dog with Owner
A Florida brewery that recently began placing shelter dogs’ faces on beer cans helped reunite a Minnesota woman with her dog
Pg. 12 19. Service Animals and More!
Eileen M. Wolfe, DVM
The differences between service and therapy dogs
20. Alternatively Speaking: Grain-Free Diets Friend or Foe? Part II Dr. Anne Carroll DVM, CVA 22. Pet Vaccines: Schedules for Cats and Dogs A complete guide to when and what you need to keep your pet healthy
24. Top Tips For Feline Hygiene 26. Memorial Day: Remembering All Who Have Served, Including Military Dogs Kate Kelly 28. Have Some 4 Legs & a Tail Fun! 4 Legs & a Tail Volume R.120 P.O. Box 841 Lebanon, NH 03766 603-727-9214 TimH.4LT@gmail.com Spring 2020
Publishers: Tim Goodwin, Tim Hoehn Office Manager: Beth Hoehn Graphic Design: Kristin Wolff Lindsey Fleck
Pg. 24 If you have a tale about a tail or a photo that will make us smile, we’d like to hear from you. 4 Legs & a Tail is published quarterly and distributed free of charge throughout Western VT. 4 Legs & a Tail, Inc. is locally owned and operated and acts as a moderator without approving, disapproving or guaranteeing the validity or accuracy of any data or claim. Any reproduction in whole or part is prohibited.
Bruin, Lily, Abby, Bella and Hemi posing for the camera
Coming to Their Rescue Peg Bolgioni, Communications Specialist - Rutland Regional Medical Center
ethany Stack’s day job is Physician Assistant with Vermont Orthopaedic Clinic. Her passion is rescuing Labrador Retrievers and Labrador Retriever mixes. In 2013, Bethany became involved with Save A Lab Rescue, a non-profit organization originating in North Carolina, with its main hub in Rhode Island. When asked how rescuing labs came about for her, Bethany responded, “My good friend Marci Matson, an OR Nurse at Rutland Regional, had fostered dogs through Save A Lab and she got me involved. My
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first dogs were labs and I had fallen in love with this breed. When I found out that so many of these abandoned dogs were dying because no one was giving them homes, I just had to help.” Many of these dogs are transported to New England from the south. The shelters are very overcrowded and if they are not claimed in 5 or 6 days, they are often euthanized. “Many of the animals in the south live outside most of the time,” explained Bethany. “They are rarely spayed or neutered, so dogs are free to roam neighborhoods which leads to more dogs. A
family may decide to move and will just leave the dog behind in the house, and someone discovers it later. Some of the dogs I’ve fostered have been the victims of significant abuse and neglect.” All the rescue groups across the country try to come in, pull the dogs out of the shelters, get them up to date on their medical needs, make certain vaccines are current, and transport them to New England where they can find loving homes. Save A Lab has a very comprehensive application process and all candidates for adoption are vetted thoroughly. Once applicants are cleared, they meet the dog, and if it is a good fit, the dog is formally adopted. The longest dogs typically stay with a foster is one to two weeks. Bethany has fostered 31 dogs and adopted four; Hemi, Lily, Bella, and Bruin. Hemi, who came from Texas, had been shot in the shoulder and left at shelter in the middle of the night. “His gait is a little off, but what better place to have a dog with a shoulder injury than with someone in orthopaedics,” smiled Bethany. Bella, who arrived from New York, had been severely abused. Lily was a hospice foster who had been diagnosed with GI Lymphoma but is now doing better. Lastly, Bruin, Spring 2020
Bella on her first day in Vermont
landed from a shelter in Alabama. No one claimed her and she was going to be euthanized. “Save A Lab rescued her and named her Josie, but after she came to me, I renamed her Bruin in honor of the Stanley Cup Playoffs that summer,” she chuckled. Because of her medical background Bethany has taken on more fosters with health issues. “My dogs have a wonderful life,” said Bethany. “The yard is fenced in and there is dog door so they can come and go as they please. I have a swimming pool, so they go swimming in the summer. There is a camera so I can watch them during the day. They get plenty of exercise, are very well behaved, and do everything together. We do “Gotcha Day” parties commemorating the day they were adopted, and I dress them up for fun photos for holidays.” According to Bethany, rescuing a dog is very trendy right now. There is even a hashtag, #Adoptdontshop. “When I was fostering it was amazing how many people in this community got rescue dogs. There are a lot of Save A Lab dogs in our community.” When I posed the question, why someone should consider rescuing she had this to say, “The numbers of dogs that are euthanized annually due to overcrowding in shelters is staggering. It is something that is not on our radar up here. In the rural south it’s not uncommon for people to drive by and throw a box of puppies out of a car window. Days later they are found covered with fleas and brought to a shelter. These poor animals don’t have a chance. There are all types of dogs out there waiting to be rescued and adopted. If you cannot take an animal, there are other ways to help like transporting the animals or just making a monetary donation. I enjoy my job, but rescuing is what I live for, being able to make a difference in the lives of these animals.” For more information on the Save A Lab Rescue visit http://www.savealabrescue.org/ Spring 2020
BARK FOR LIFE A Canine Event to Fight Cancer R
utland, VT: The American Cancer Society is sponsoring a Bark for Lifeâ„˘ event, Sunday, May 17, 11:00am2:00pm, at the loop by Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen Street Just look for the signs off Allen Street. This is a walk and fun event for dogs and their owners to fight back against cancer. Opening ceremony and walk will take place at 11am and there will also be a Live DJ, Dog Costume Contest, Dog Portraits/Photo Booth, Training Demos, Face Painting, Food, Vendors, Basket Raffle drawing and much more. Proceeds from the event benefit the American Cancer Society.
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For more information and to preregister visit www.relayforlife.org/ barkrutlandvt. You can also register the day of the event. Dogs must be at least six months old to participate, must be current on all of their shots and be on a leash at all times. Owners are responsible for any clean up (bags will be provided). For more information contact Lisa Frankel Boerner at 802.774.8330. Event will happen rain or shine.
y sister and I are different beings. She’s outgoing, loves concerts and crowds and is hip and cool. Me? I prefer the company of animals over people, a good pair of earbuds and the clothes with blue tag discount markers from the thrift store. She’s a ‘cat person’ and has three; I’m a dog devotee and have one. A subject we both can agree upon: we’re crazy in love with our animals. I don’t ask much of my little dog, snuggling at bedtime and enjoying her goofy ways are enough for me. I don’t teach her weird tricks or to perfectly behave. She’s fine just the way she is. If she sits for a cookie, it’s a bonus. Our pets are our best pals, our confidants, always loyal and happy to see us. Every pet is unique, whether purebred or a wildly mixed blend, they’re special creatures. As much as we pet parents adore our animals (yes, cats included!), there is a different level of appreciation when we leap into the professional world of the canine. As a self-admitted canine junkie, police dogs fascinate me. From their intelligence and focus on the job to being able to switch roles to being amazing family members, these canines are extraordinary. For many of us, the words, Police Dog (K9) conjure images of muscled, physically fit canines exhibiting strength, courage, and bravery. Even cat people can’t help but admire these disciplined animals. K9s are trained specifically to assist their handlers in search and rescue, detect drugs and evidence, track suspects or missing persons, enforce order at gatherings and provide protection. I recently had the opportunity to learn about two special police dogs, Andre and Billy. My first lesson led me to conversation and coffee with Lieutenant (Lt.) Wade Labrecque of the Burlington Police Department (BPD). Lt. Labrecque is a well-versed professional, an instructor in multiple law enforcement disciplines and a big softy when it comes to K9s. His law enforcement story began when a post-surgical complication ended the life of a close friend. Labrecque reevaluated his trajectory, changed course and in 2001 became a police officer with the Burlington Police Department, beginning at the rank and responsibilities of patrol officer. After seven years of fine-tuning his people, paperwork, and procedure skills, then-Officer Labrecque was promoted to corporal and was soon given the chance to accomplish a goal of securing the soughtafter distinction of K9 handler. Dogs were a familiar mainstay in the Labrecque household––from Jack Russell and rat terriers to a hound/beagle mix and Maggie, a rescued pitbull, their home was always filled with canine energy and antics. He jokes that his daughter has a Spring 2020
K9s Karen Sturtevant
Lt. Labrecque & Andre
“strong sense of balance after being hipchecked and run over all the time a by a pack of dogs.” An opportunity presented itself when K9 Zeus was ready to retire. With the department in need of a replacement K9 team, Cpl. Labrecque applied. In order be considered for this coveted position, the applicant must have an exemplary record, have met the minimum required time period of being an active police officer, meet physical training standards and possess a sincere, realistic long-term commitment (often 6 to 10 years) to the dog and all that the responsibility entails. Police dogs work and live, and often retire, with their handlers. As training at the Vermont Police Academy began in 2007 with Garrett, a chosen canine recruit, Labrecque quickly found out this particular dog was not meant for police vocation and would be more content as a companion rather than a worker. After Garrett was adopted to a colleague, Cpl. Labrecque found himself at the Academy for K9 training without a canine. Not every dog has the right tempera-
ment or physical ability to be a police dog. Candidates must have a strong prey drive, be trainable and sociable. Many K9s when off duty, may be mistaken for ‘just another dog’ as they prefer to be in the company of people and are typically pleasant in manner. As fate would have it, Andre, a handsome German shepherd, was adopted and returned to a New York breeder due to his being ‘too much.’ The breeder then contacted the BPD, which would jumpstart Andre’s future. With a solid drive and intelligent mind, Andre tested well and was welcomed into the Burlington Police K9 program. Within days he and Cpl. Labrecque were enrolled at the Academy. Andre was a natural. With pride in his voice and sincerity in his eyes, Labrecque commented, “He definitely had it all figured out after drug detection and patrol schools. It took me a while to catch up to him. He carried us as a team for the first couple of years.” The pair would continue to work with one another with Labrecque rising in rank to sergeant, for the next nine years Continued Next Page
passing recertification, winning awards, and receiving accolades. “It’s the best job in the world. Going to work, riding around every day with your partner. It was the greatest job, bar none.” The team accomplished several notable distinctions during their career including the seizure of over $750,000 in illegal drugs and currency. They are credited with leading the single largest heroin bust in Vermont history (9,000 bags), being awarded Vermont Police K9 Drug Team of the Year (four times) and Vermont Police K9 Team of the Year (twice). Both have been inducted into the Vermont Police K9 Hall of Fame. If those honors were not enough for a long span of public service, Andre, with his sharp nose and persistence, is credited with possibly saving the life, certainly injury, of Lt. Labrecque. While searching a residence for a suspect, Lt. Labrecque and Andre were in full work mode. The pursuit led them to the basement. At first glance, the space appeared empty, but Andre’s alert led him to an interior door secured by a two by four board, acting as a lever. Rejecting the idea that the suspect was in that room, due to the makeshift lock mounted on the outside, Lt. Labrecque dismissed Andre’s finding. When casting him again for another pass, Andre returned to the exact same spot. At the Vermont Police Academy, a sign reads, The Dog is Right. Perhaps Lt. Labrecque had a split second of recall of those words as he put his trust in his partner. As Andre postured in full warning, Lt. Labrecque maneuvered the board down and opened the door. Andre was sent in. Behind the door, the suspect was holding a brick ready to inflict harm. Instead, when Andre entered, the suspect dropped the brick and grabbed Andre’s neck with both hands. To hear Labrecque share the next part of the story made me laugh and shake my head in quizzical disbelief. With the suspect’s hands around Andre’s neck, this determined and composed K9 peered up at Labrecque as if to say, “Are you kidding me?” It was at that moment, Labrecque gave the attack command. Without Andre’s tenacity, upon Labrecques’s entry in the room, the outcome may have been very different. Score one for the good guys. As remarkable as the records of professional accomplishments are, the emotions that resonated most with me were Lt. Labrecque’s all-embracing, unwavering love and admiration he had for Andre. “Some of the tracks we did, finding people, we were working, communicating, without talking. It’s like a whole different world. It’s an unbelievable relationship that develops.” Andre was more than a dog, more than a partner. To say they simply shared a bond does not acknowledge the enormity and profound depth of connection that existed between them. 6 4 Legs & a Tail
Billy with Cpl. Baccaglini
“Probably the worst part of being a K9 handler is when you have to make the decision to retire your partner.” Andre turned in his badge in 2016 living out the rest of his days being pampered by the Labrecque family. When Andre passed away, he left a legacy of not only a distinguished career but also an indelible imprint on the hearts and memories of those who loved, knew and worked with him. My next class in Police Dogs 101 took place in the company of Corporal Eugene Baccaglini of the Burlington Police Department and his K9, Billy. I, to the envy of my coworkers, was scheduled (and got previous permission from Lt. Labrecque to press the buttons for the lights and sirens!) to accompany them on a ride-along in Vermont’s largest city on a windy, cold winter evening. With a laptop in tow, I met the team in the BPD’s lobby. After perfunctory photographs and greetings, we were ready to roll––that is until we got to the SUV and Cpl. Baccaglini needed a few minutes to rearrange the contents to make room for his eager passenger. After devoting the previous two weeks at the Vermont Police Academy honing Billy’s tracking skills needed for certification, the front seat was full of training gear and supplies. Upon entering the decked-out vehicle my first remark was similar to something a toddler in the midst of sugar rush might say, “Hey, this looks like a spaceship!” (I wouldn’t be surprised, if, after my excited outburst, Cpl. Baccaglini seriously rethought his decision to allow this ridealong.) Screens, a keyboard, radio, and tech-savvy gadgets adorned our cockpit. Billy, unfazed by my enthusiasm, jumped up to settle into his special place in the back of the vehicle. I was forewarned, “When he wants the window down,” Cpl. Baccaglini told me, “he whines. He also whines when he hears the siren.” We were ready for whatever the night had in store. At 65 pounds, Billy is on the smaller
side for a German shepherd. However, if one were to argue that he lacks the physicality to complete his job, the counter would be he has extra rations of drive, smarts, and charm. Cpl. Baccaglini and Billy have been a K9 team since January 2019. Billy’s story is unique as his role has not always been a police dog. For his first two years, he was a family pet and then donated, as several K9s are, to the Burlington Police Department. Beginning formal training for a dog at this age would prove to be challenging as the prime teaching time typically starts during puppyhood. Not only would Billy need to unlearn his previous behaviors, but he would also need to bond and put his complete trust in Cpl. Baccaglini. As we piloted and conversed our way around the streets of the Queen City, Cpl. Baccaglini’s commitment to empowering Billy to succeed became apparent. I noticed a similar endearing tone in the way both Labrecque and Baccaglini spoke about their dogs. Lt. Labrecque recalled when he and Andre would enter an area of rowdy groups of people, Andre would bark to make himself known, the crowd would suddenly become orderly and well-behaved. The simple presence of a highly-disciplined canine can alter actions as if people fear the dog more so than the authority. Lt. Labrecque sees this same advanced level potential in the ‘next generation’ with Cpl. Baccaglini and Billy. 2019 was an active year as Billy was certificated in patrol, narcotics detection and tracking by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council. Cpl. Baccaglini spoke with delight of Billy’s comprehension in learning to track, which proved to be especially demanding in the pouring rain the day of testing. As in any connection (human or animal), reading each other’s body language is important. By recognizing the signals of Billy’s behavior, as when just after losing a scent, Cpl. Spring 2020
Baccaglini can bring him back to the point where the focus was lost and redirect. Keen observation skills are critical, which Billy is sending and his handler is learning to accurately decipher. Billy gave me a demonstration of his fantastic sense of smell in a game of canine hide and seek. Back at the station, with Billy still in the SUV, Cpl. Baccaglini retrieved what looked like a compact suitcase. This was no ordinary carryon. Inside were glass bottles filled with various narcotics seized and approved for K9 training purposes. Cpl. Baccaglini tucked the bagged contraband in drawers, under chairs, in a closet, and on top of a bookcase. When Billy entered the rooms he was allowed a few minutes to acclimate to the surroundings, then the command was given. The working dog within took over. This time was such a thrill for me: to observe this clever canine intently focused on his job to please his handler. Billy has been taught to alert passively, to sit, when his target is found. And, he did. He found every single one. Again, my inner child escaped, vocalized and clapped––not quite the mature adult reaction, but I make no apologies. This was an impressive show. Back on the road, throughout the duration of our trek, Billy waited, whined on occasion, and watched patiently in his custom-made area. Poking his face at the divider at times, I’d rub his muzzle and tell him he was a good boy. As the night continued, we stopped at a park for leg stretching and bit of obedience work. As Billy bounded through the snow, I couldn’t help but feel the tenderness and pride (and occasional frustration) that Cpl. Baccaglini must have for him. The moon’s glow allowed us to witness snapshots in time of this beautiful boy moving through his learned paces. Rewarded with praise and his toy, Billy was one happy dog. Training a dog to the level in which Cpl. Baccaglini aspires for Billy poses a personal and professional ongoing test for the 13-year BPD veteran. Making headway in new skills is not easy. “It’s one thing to get your dog to sit. It’s another to teach him to successfully track a mile and a half or 45 minutes to try and find someone. The challenge was very intriguing.” Cpl. Baccaglini shared with me the perplexity he often has when working with Billy. “At times Billy will have a total understanding of what I’m asking of him followed by long droughts of looking at me sideways,” As Billy progresses in one area of focus, Cpl. Baccaglini sees those skills benefit other disciplines. Patrol abilities get stronger due to advances made in drug work. Tracking proficiencies grow from patrol drills. Each discipline’s success is intertwined showing cumulative results in the others. On this particular evening, I concluded Spring 2020
that when the temperature is in the low 20’s, the bad guys tend to stay inside. This newlyascertained fact was just fine with me. More time for stories. Cpl. Baccaglini told me that one of Billy’s favorite and most successful pursuits is ‘Find the Guy,’ and then has a conflict with the next step: ‘Bite the Guy.’ Having been raised as a companion and not a working dog, biting was discouraged. Teaching Billy when it’s appropriate to bite (either on a specially-designed sleeve, suit or actual person) was another behavior that needed to be relearned. Introducing Billy to different training scenarios and environments helps him to learn how to act and is part of his ongoing education. Cpl. Baccaglini describes this as, “Giving Billy another picture of what I’m asking him to do.” Training may take place in an office, on a busy street, in a parking lot, or wooded area. Problem solving and head scratching is often done with fellow K9 handlers to come up with a plan to redirect the dogs to desired outcomes. The more opportunities a police dog has to participate in replicated situations with varied factors and people, the greater his confidence will be when he’s asked to work in a real-world situation. Billy’s instruction continues with simulated drug searches, tracking exercises and physical conditioning––each activity helping him gain endurance and self-con-
fidence. As committed as Lt. Labrecque was to Andre, the same devotion is evident in the relationship between Cpl. Baccaglini and Billy. Will Billy eventually become another Andre? Probably not and that’s okay. Billy will forge his own path gaining his own achievements under the guidance of his handler and helpers. As for me and my maiden police ridealong? The company and conversation were superb. The knowledge, more than I could have asked for. Billy? A mixture of playful puppy and determined professional. I never did get to push the buttons to activate the blue lights and siren––maybe next time in the summer months when the bad guys are more active and Billy can show me what he’s learned since our last get-together. I have no doubt that Cpl. Eugene Baccaglini and Billy will continue to grow together into building a rewarding partnership (even during the frustrating stages) that would make even Lt. Labrecque and Andre proud. Lt. Wade Labrecque continues to serve and protect with the Burlington Police Department, is president of the Vermont Police Canine Association and instructs at the Vermont Police Academy. When I asked him if he would ever have another police dog, there was a pause. I already knew the answer…he didn’t need to say a word.
Riley at her new home in Haverhill, NH
Dairy Cow Receives Pardon As Yet Another New England Dairy Farm Shuts Their Doors.
omten Farm and Sanctuary commits to keeping a special milk cow from going to slaughter and she finds herself living the life of Riley. Jersey cow, Ripley, has found her “Believe It or Not”. Haverhill, NH - It’s not often one sees an animal sanctuary and a dairy farm team up to save a life but that is just what happened when a struggling New Hampshire dairy farmer chose to gift one of his cows to Tomten Farm and Sanctuary instead of sending her for processing. As one local dairy farmer after another suffers financial losses due to milk prices plummeting below the cost of production, traditional family farms throughout New England continue to close at an alarming rate. Both farmers and cows find themselves in trouble as communities find their landscape and neighbors forever changed. Ripley, a 9-year-old Jersey cow, who h a s produc e d over 10 0,0 0 0 pounds and almost 15,000 gallons 8 4 Legs & a Tail
of milk, was one of the thousands of dairy cows who are finding themselves at risk as barns close their doors once and for all. After years of remaining on the same farm, they are run through herd dispersal sales, shipped to auction or loaded onto trailers to go straight to the processor and be “beefed.” But, lucky for Ripley, she found her “believe it or not” moment thanks to the effort of one small farm, the caring farmer who ow ned her and the generous people who made it possible via their contributions to the 100 % donorfunded and 100% volunteer-staffed, Tomten Farm and Sanctuary. The c ol l ab orat ion b e t we e n Jenifer Vickery of Tomten Farm and Sanctuary and Hal Covert of Peaked Moon Farm presented an opportunity to not only save a special cow but to shed light on the plight of the less than 1500 dairy farms left in New England and the many animals and humans whose fate will be forever changed by their closing.
“It doesn’t have to be ‘us against them’,” says Tomten founder Jenifer Vickery when asked why she would consider teaming up a dairy farmer. “Everyone is on their own journey surviving the best they know-how and we respect that while hoping to do more, be more and give more to animals in need. Raising awareness and promoting compassion for humans and animals is an important part of our mission and directly impacts the future of the animals we love. Without it, there will be nothing left but Big Ag and it will be a significant loss for humans and animals.” In t he c a s e of t he c ow c a l le d Ripley on one ear tag and Riley on another, this act of generosity not only saved her but offered Covert the satisfaction of saving the life of at least one of the spent production cows in his herd who, for several years, has been part of his living as a New England dairy farmer. Tomten founder Vickery says, “We have no doubt that Ripley will be an ambassador for the remaining dairy cows in New England and help to inspire compassion while c r e at i ng a d e e p e r aw a r e ne s s of small farms, the animals who reside on them and the direction agriculture is heading.” She, her Board and all who support Tomten Farm and Sanctuary are hopeful that Ripley’s well-deserved pardon will stimulate thought and conversation in New Hampshire and beyond. Ripley resides in Haverhill, NH with 4 other rescued cows where she remains for the rest of her days feeling the sun on her back, the earth beneath her feet and is valued simply for her beautiful presence. Tomten Farm and Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing peace, protection, and possibility to animals in need. It is home to 50 + rescued animals, including horses, goats, sheep, donkeys, pigs, cats, rabbits, chickens, geese and ducks. The Sanctuary opens its gates to the public during regularly scheduled RSVP Farm Tours. Their next public tour is June 21st where they welcome all to get up close and personal with the rescues, hear their stories and be touched by the magic and miracle of each life. For more information and to rsvp, TF&S invites all to travel beside them virtually via their very active Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tomtenfarmandsanctuary/. Spring 2020
Maria Karunungan - Burlington, VT
welve years ago, I fell in love with a quiet, meek yellow fraidy-dog who had, ironically, been named by his previous owner, “Argonaut” after the bold sailor Jason. I was a volunteer groomer at an animal shelter, and every week when I saw his name was on the bath list, I eagerly sought him out. At first, he had to be carried into the room, because he was too scared to walk. He would crouch down on the bottom of the tub, which I had lined with a soaking towel for comfort, and allow me to gently sponge him with warm lather. It was during the drying and brushing phase that I learned how much he secretly liked petting. He would lean into my hand provided I didn’t suddenly move, and his eyes would soften. He was adorable and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I realized I was in trouble when I started to actually worry that he would get adopted. It was then I knew I had to put my name in the hat. As it turned out, there weren’t too many takers. Argie was very fearful, and as soon as someone tried to meet him, he would completely lose his bowels. It wasn’t an attractive quality. I was sure, though, that we could figure it out. And I was motivated, because I had fallen in love. As a dog trainer, I am not one of those people who believes in lining everything up perfectly and making sure every groove exactly fits when it comes to matchmaking between dogs and their prospective human guardians. I really do believe that, sometimes you just fall in love and sometimes you make it work. So, here are some tips towards making a new match work for you: • If you’re able to set it up, arrange to stay home for at least a few days, if not a week or two. Working from home, if possible, is a nice way to help your dog transition into your environment and give you time to really get to know your dog and figure out what he or she needs to successfully become a member of your family. Spring 2020
• For your sake, primarily, it’s a good idea to show your dog where the bathroom is outside, before you even enter the house with your dog. Don’t assume your new dog understands where to go. Some dogs pee when they are excited, and some dogs just don’t know what to do in a new place. If a shelter or rescue marked the dog as housetrained, it’s possible the observations were accurate in only one situation. The dog might not be foolproof in another environment or when change is afoot. Always assume your new friend doesn’t know where the bathroom is and show them a good spot. The nice thing about this strategy is if you have a preference (e.g., you’d rather they didn’t pee where you plan to grow your vegetables next spring), you can literally cultivate where their normal toileting spot should be from the very first day. This can be accomplished by taking your dog there and hanging out with him while he does his business, then cheering and giving him a cookie for a job well done in the right place. • Don’t be surprised if, when you bring your dog home, he or she sleeps a lot for the first few days. Dogs who have been in a temporary situation of any kind, however nice that situation might be, are often stressed by change. Sleeping is a sign that they are comfortable. It’s like when you come home from traveling on a business trip and sink into a familiar bed. In your case, the dog’s bed is likely new, or maybe was used by another dog, but it still has that whiff of…. Dare he hope?... home. • Plan to keep your dog on leash at all times when outside or at least safely enclosed with a high wooden fence. Other types of fences may be adequate, but if you plan to let your dog out at some point unsupervised, you should go outside with him every time for the first few weeks. Some dogs climb fences, other dogs look for holes along the bottom, and yet others simply have springs for legs. It may take awhile for your dog to learn the normal sounds and activities in his new neighborhood,
and until he does, it’s possible something he’s not familiar with will spook him and cause him to bolt; or you may discover he is an intrepid adventurer and might be prone to wandering off if you aren’t actively watching. Assume that your dog doesn’t yet know exactly how to be the best member of the family and will need some crafty set-ups to ensure bad habits don’t set in. Hindsight’s always 20-20 and you may learn that your new pal has a proclivity for shoes. Erring on the side of proactive management from the get-go will help your dog “win” from the beginning. Set up a nice cozy “den”, such as a crate, and check to see if your dog may be comfortable there – toss a treat in, then out, then in, then out – so he doesn’t think you’re going to trick him into staying there. Have a wonderful chewy available for him to enjoy when he goes in – such as a scrumptious stuffed Kong – and let it be a blissful prize for spending some quiet time alone. Sometimes bringing a new dog home is done on impulse, but acting impulsively doesn’t mean you can’t still be smart about easing your dog into their new life with you. Put a little bit of thought into the first few days. Adjusting how your home is set up, as well as how you’ll incorporate your dog’s needs into your daily schedule (some of those needs will fill your needs, too, I wager!), will go a long way to ensuring a lifetime of success. If you get stuck, hire a positive reinforcement trainer to help you or consider taking some group classes for the fun and camaraderie, and for the little bits of practical wisdom you may pick up along the way! Maria Karunungan is an honors graduate of The Academy for Dog Trainers, where she earned her Certificate in Training and Counseling. Maria also holds a Ph.D. in Educational Studies. She has trained service dogs, therapy dogs, shelter dogs, and pet dogs for over 15 years and currently works with Fetch the Leash in downtown Burlington.
Spring Cleaning the Toy Box? Make sure your pet’s toys are safe and healthy for them.
ost pets love to play with a toy and both cats and dogs benefit from playing with toys. Appropriate toys help keep their teeth and gums healthy, provide exercise and relieve stress. However, the wrong toys or worn out toys can cause dental problems, blockages, and other potentially lethal problems. Spring is a great time to take stock of your pet’s toys and make sure they have a year of safe play. But that’s not a toy! Many times pets play with things that are not designed for that purpose. Here are 2 examples of household items that are actually very dangerous for pets. Dogs often mistake pill bottles for toys. In fact ingestion of pharmaceuticals is the most common emergency call to Pet Poison Control centers. So, of course, all medications should be kept far away from your pets reach. Cats usually love to play with any type of string, yarn or ribbon. These can have deadly consequences as felines often
swallow these. Once these “linear foreign bodies” reach their intestines they cut into the delicate lining causing serious damage. Without rapid surgical intervention, many cats do not survive. Curtain and shade pulls should be knotted up so they are out of reach, and all yarn, string, and ribbon should be kept out of sight. Children’s toys such as dolls, balls and stuffed animals are all appealing to dogs and may be small or destructible enough to cause trouble. Clothing such as socks, underwear, and towels are also common causes of trouble for dogs. Basically, if it smells, squeaks, rattles or rolls your pup might say “It’s a toy!!” For cats-if it moves its fair game (literally). One more warning about medications. Although Ali is being very helpful by reminding us to give her heartworm prevention medication, she should NOT have access to veterinary pharmaceuticals either. Obviously, they are often flavored to appeal to pets and consuming higher than the recommended dose can be dangerous. Dental Chew Toys-What works? And what is safe? There are so many dental products that it is hard to know which ones are effective. Fortunately, there is a whole group of board-certified veterinary dentists to figure that out for us. The Veterinary Oral Health Council evaluates all dental products including chew toys. Look for the VOHC seal of approval to decide if a dental product is safe AND efficacious. There is an extensive list on their website: vohc.org.
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What about all those other toys? As Clawd, Keirin and Bella show us, cats and dogs love a variety of toys. These are some safe, effective VOHC Pretty much any soft toy is appropriate approved chews. However, how do you as long as it is not too small. However, know if a given chew toy that is not a medium to large dogs are at risk of chokdental product is safe for their teeth? ing on tennis balls and they are also The general rule is that anything they destructive to their teeth once they get chew should be soft enough to indent a bit worn out. The tricky part of toy with your fingernail and too large for Spring cleaning is finding the toys that them to swallow. Obviously, many have been too lovingly chewed to still people give their dogs bones to chew be safe for your cat or dog. Blue and Tiny’s favorite toys are on that don’t fit this rule. ready to be discarded. Frayed toys can be a risk from strings, choking or small pieces that can be swallowed and cause a blockage. Also, dogs often like to chew and can swallow the stuffing or squeakers. So spend a little time sorting through the toy box and keep your pets safe.
Jigger loves his bully sticks but they are harder than is ideal for his dental health. If you do give your pet these hard chew toys moderation is the key. Don’t allow too much time with them and monitor your pet’s teeth for signs of wear. Your veterinarian may recommend discontinuing them if the teeth become worn or break.
Of course, if all pets were like Bitsie we wouldn’t have to worry about dangerous toys at all. Carol Gifford, DVM has been practicing veterinary medicine in Vermont since 1987. In 1991, she founded her own practice, which grew to become Riverside Pet Hospital.
t e V l Lo ca Go r i lla s & Q
much arm waving and shouting,” said Murrell. uechee – Four years ago, local veterinarian Dr. Lynn Murrell found himself in one of the most unique When the post-mortem was completed, the body was bursituations of his professional life. ied in a deep grave which had been dug during the surgery. The place was the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park “I never heard what was learned from the examination of the samples taken from the dead gorilla, but found that in southwestern Uganda. The bamboo and thick ground they had been sent to labs in Europe and the United States cover of ferns, vines and other plant growth interspersed to take advantage of this rare chance to study the parasites, among larger forest hardwoods made the forest extremely bacteria and viruses of this species,” said Murrell. difficult to access by foot. The forest is also known as the “Place of As he and the others hiked out of the Darkness” and is one of the most biologicaljungle in the dark to the ranger station, ly diverse areas on the planet, a region Murrell was fascinated by the calls where half the world’s population of of the nearby chimpanzees and the highly endangered mountain other jungle creatures. gorillas live in its jungles. “Gentle giants” is how Murrell describes the pre Murrell, who founded the Kedron Valley Veterinarian dominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the Clinic in 1978 in South forests of central SubWoodstock, had travSaharan Africa. The eled there with his wife, physician Dr. DNA of the primates Judith Hills, as he is highly similar to that of humans, had done every year since 2007 but, this from 95-99 percent, time, under unusual and are the next closest living relacircumstances. He and the memtives to humans after bers of his group chimpanzees and had received a call bonobos. that a silverback Murrell had joined gorilla had been his wife who is the struck and killed by president of Friends lightning and had been of Hospice Africa, USA discovered by rangers and had arranged to go to the following morning Uganda twelve years ago when they noticed that he to work there. was missing from his group. “I went along to see if Mother mountain gorilla in Bwindi So, along with members of his there was something I could do, National Park, Uganda group called Conservation Through utilizing my veterinary medicine - Lynn Murrell experience,” said Murrell. Public Health (CTPH), Gorilla Doctors and other veterinarian technicians, Murrell Not long after, Murrell was introduced to hiked into the impenetrable forest at sunset to Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka a Ugandan veterinarobserve and assist in the post-mortem. ian who, after receiving her veterinary training at the “Everyone was attired in full hazmat suits since no one Royal Veterinary College in London, had become the first knows what viruses these animals carry and no one wants veterinarian with the Uganda Wildlife Authority. to be the first case of the next HIV disease,” said Murrell. After becoming aware of the plight of the endangered Guards were posted in the dark around Murrell and the mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, she founded CTPH with a mission of improving public health other groups because a younger silverback was detected, trying to approach. Male gorillas become silverbacks around in the villages surrounding the Bwindi National Park to the age of 13 when the hair across their shoulders and down reduce the risk of human disease transmission to the goriltheir back becomes grayish or white in color. las and to monitor the health of these creatures to reduce the chance of disease transmission to humans. Silverbacks can be dangerous as the dominant males who control several females and youngsters and fend off “The villages share in the ecotourism income from other males. people who track and observe the gorillas and thereby “We were able to scare away the young silverback with have learned to respect the value of them in improving the 12 4 Legs & a Tail
quality of their life,” said Murrell. “This has reduced poaching to essentially zero and has resulted in a steady rise in the gorilla population.” As of 2019, there are less than 1,000 mountain gorillas remaining on the continent, according to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. This is up from 480 in 2010. When Murrell arrived in Bwindi in 2007, he traveled with Kalema-Zikusoka and her field staff to observe and participate in the gorilla health monitoring work she was doing, although it would be four years later that he made his first gorilla trek. “It was a grueling 12-hour drive in a Toyota Land Cruiser over poorly maintained roads,” said Murrell. The most important process KalemaZikusoka and her staff continue to use is examination of stool samples brought into their lab by rangers who observed gorillas daily. Kalema-Zikusoka has also intervened directly when a medical problem has been reported by rangers, thus resulting in surgery in the forest on occasion. “When an injury occurs, the preferred approach is to allow natural healing unless life threatening infection or other complications occur,” said Murrell. “These are wild animals and veterinary intervention is reserved for extreme circumstances. Medical therapy is rarely employed if nature can deal with it.” An exception to this rule was an outbreak of scabies in one of the gorilla groups that Kalema-Zikusoka traced to gorillas wandering out of the forest and coming into contact with human clothing infested with the scabies mites. A baby gorilla died of a severe infestation but the others in the group were treated with Ivermectin administered by a dart gun that stopped the outbreak. “I soon realized that we weren’t going to be going into the forest daily with our vet bags to hold gorilla health clinics,”
At the equator in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda with driver, Dr. Gladys Kalema- Zikusoka, Dr. Lynn Murrell, and a field staff member - Stephen Rubanga
said Murrell. “The approach was instead largely ‘herd health’”. Murrell continues to return to Uganda every year (usually in January or February) as one of the few U.S. veterinarians to help the gorillas. Next year, he will travel in January. He officially retired from the Kedron Valley Veterinary Clinic in 2012. The Clinic was taken over by his daughter, Dr. Blakeley Murrell-Liland of Quechee and Dr. Philippa Richards of South Pomfret. “I think what my Dad is doing is so cool in so many ways,” said MurrellLiland. “At an older age, he’s traveling to the depths of Africa to improve the life of the mountain gorillas and the people who live in the villages surrounding them. He’s an inspiration to anyone with advanced academic training or skills who continues to use them long after retirement.” When he first encountered these “gentle giants”, prior to applying his veterinary procedures later on, Murrell and his wife observed a group from a distance of no less than 20 feet for an hour. “The mothers were relaxing and chewing on vegetation while their juveniles were busy playing just like
human kids,” said Murrell. “One youngster would start up a vine and another would grab him and pull him down. Occasionally, a juvenile male would stand up on his hind legs and pound his chest, no doubt to assert his superiority. The silverback sat at a distance and observed the serenity of his family.” By and large, the gorillas ignored Murrell and his group. “But we all had a great laugh when one juvenile somehow got behind us and then went roaring between the legs of one of our group to join his buddies,” said Murrell. “When our hour was up, we packed up our cameras and hiked out to the ranger station with our guide, having had the privilege of observing these gentle giants, undisturbed, in their natural habitat.” Murrell received his DVM from Michigan State University and is a member of the American Medical Veterinary Association and Vermont Medical Veterinary Association. For more info and to support gorilla conservation, go to www.CTPH.org www.4LegsAndATail.com 13
Putting the Dog Before the Cart Cathy White - Walpole, NH
Y ou’ve been through the fields at Bishop Farm in Springfield, VT and chosen that special Christmas tree.
You can’t wait to get it home to decorate. Typically, you’d hear the thrum of an ATV or the grinding of tractor gears announcing your tree’s arrival at check out; but on one special Saturday in December, you’ll hear a very different sound. A melodic sleigh bell rings as it nears, and there it is, conifer perfection coming to you in a sled pulled by a huge… black bear? Rest assured, it’s not a bear. It’s a Newfoundland dog (though Newf owners regularly hear the “bear” comparison.). Today it’s Cash, a beautiful 5-year old, 150-pound boy delivering your tree with bells on. (Whether by bright red sled or wagon is Mother Nature’s choice.) Each December, the Newfoundland Club of New England and Bishop Farm partner to host a tree pull that draws Newfs from all over the region. This special event is a great chance to get your tree delivered by a festively attired, jingly Newfie (any proceeds go the rescue division of NCNE). These big loves are ready for meet-and-greets, photo ops, and chats with their equally friendly owners. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to sample everything else the farm offers during the holidays. Cash belongs to Barry and Linda Jones of Springfield. They’re regulars every December, but you can bet that Cash isn’t spending the other 364 days of the year just lolling about. Tree-pulling is an off-shoot (pun intended) of the dog sport “drafting” (or “carting”). Many breeds, from Bernese Mountain Dogs to Rottweilers, excel at this discipline, but the Newfoundland is about the largest of the bunch. Cash and Barry, who handles him, love drafting; though it should be noted that Cash is no one-trick-pony. He’s also active in water rescue, conformation showing, rally and competitive obedience.
Cash, Barry and Linda were kind enough to demonstrate for me the intricacies of carting, and it was fascinating. Linda says: “He loves to draft. He is so happy when that cart comes out.” And you can see that Cash was clearly eager to show off his skills as he saw his equipment being unloaded. Once set up, the team gets to work. First up: the harness. There are three types: competition, freight and parade, and each does what its name suggests. Each harness is fitted very specifically to the dog. Inquiring whether it takes a long time to properly fit the harness, Barry responds with an emphatic “Yes!”. Next up, Cash’s wagon, which involves shafts, traces, brakes, and weights inside the cart itself. It’s bright red and small, with enormous wheels (picture the “sulky” that harness racing horses pull). Tacked and ready to go, the team moves forward. And backward. In a circle. In a straight line. Parameters are predetermined by the level of competition in the sport. This includes Beginner, Draft, and Advanced. Members of the latter group, (Cash) exhibit their talents completely off-leash. They must - amongst other requirements - complete an 18” circle without the wheels of their cart touching the circle itself. (Picture a 150pound dog pulling a cart around an extra-large pizza.) Compare that with Beginner level drafting, where dogs are on-leash and have a 36” circle to navigate. Narrow straight-aways and acute right angles are also requirements for competitive drafting. Wheels cannot touch or rub the borders of the set-up. Cash negotiates each with amazing precision, Barry at his side handling him with his voice alone. The palpable bond between the two is both beautiful and intense. Barry points out that the structure of the harness and the cart result in Cash actually “pushing into the pull”, rather than merely dragging weight behind him. This is an interesting concept that is somewhat difficult to imagine unless you see it - then it makes perfect sense. So, no real strain on Cash at all, and you can see that in his ebullient demeanor. He truly loves this work. The Joneses haven’t always had Newfies, so how did this partnership come about? The couple had previous experience with Labs, Rotties and Mastiffs, so they were no strangers to large breeds. Fifteen years ago, though, Barry decided that he wanted a pinto pony for his 60th birthday. Though the Joneses are both experienced riders, that seemed like a bit much - so Barry’s request was downsized to a Newfoundland (practically pony-sized). He wanted, in particular, a Landseer (black and white, not unlike a pinto). Linda vetoed the color, but she was completely on board with the breed and the Joneses have been owned by shaggy black Newfs ever since. In addition to Cash, they have a younger pup named Gulliver - “Gully” for short, who is right on track to follow in his big brother’s footsteps. A key motivator behind Barry’s desire to draft with his Newfs was when he “realized how many things you can do with these dogs”. And he’s right. Newfoundlands are incredibly versatile gentle giants. Who knows, maybe we’ll keep up with the Joneses in the future, and discover how the breed goes from drafting to water rescue. Cathy White lives in Walpole with her husband Jeff and Labradors Pippa and Nigel. Cathy is a Boston University alum, with a degree in Journalism.
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Woodpecker Feathered Engineer of the Forest Catherine Greenleaf - Lyme, NH
gravitated to the other dead trees on the property – the ones used to build their house. If you don’t want woodpeckers drilling the wood on your house, then leave as many dead trees up as possible, provided they are in a safe area. A KEYSTONE SPECIES Pileateds are a keystone species in the forest, as their nest cavities provide shelter for other wildlife, including bats, swifts, bluebirds, Wood ducks, Great-Crested flycatchers and several other woodpecker species. Their specialized engineering work is also vital to the nutrient cycle of the forest, since their drilling helps to quickly break down dead and decaying trees, leading to regeneration of the soil. Pileateds have a sweet tooth, as they enjoy drinking the sap of pine trees. The sap contains mostly water but also sugar and minerals that give the bird the extra energy it needs to get through the day – much in the way a hummingbird will drink at a nectar feeder. In turn, after a Pileated has drilled for sap in a pine tree, the sap that is released will go on to feed numerous other birds and wildlife. Pileateds also have a fondness for pine resin, which is most likely due to its potent antibiotic properties.
see a great many orphaned Pileated woodpeckers come into St. Francis Wild Bird Center in Lyme, NH every year. Pileateds are cavity nesters, so when trees are cut down by loggers, the youngsters inside the nests are often killed. The ones that do survive are brought to my center for treatment and are raised until they reach juvenile status, at which point they are released back into the wild. The Pileated, with its 28-inch wingspan, is considered the second largest woodpecker in the continental United States, and is very close in size to an adult TERRITORIAL BIRDS crow. The bird is second in size only to the The sound of the Pileated’s drilling can Ivory-Billed woodpecker, a bird consid- sometimes be heard for miles, and is often ered long extinct, despite the occasional claim their call is being heard deep in the Louisiana swamps. The Pileated is a shy and reclusive bird, and prefers deep woodlands, especially mature mixed coniferous and deciduous forests. However, due to the extreme habitat loss taking place in the U.S., they are being forced more and more into suburban areas, and as a result, sightings of the bird by the public have risen in recent years. WHY IS THAT WOODPECKER PECKING ON MY HOUSE? The Pileated prefers dead trees. Most people are not aware that dead trees are loaded with yummy, juicy insects – far more than any live tree. The Pileated’s diet consists of 90% insects, and their favorite food is termites and carpenter ants, along with wood-boring beetles, cockroaches, grasshoppers, caterpillars and insect larvae. Their long, sticky, multi-pronged tongue can reach deep inside holes in trees to capture larvae. When retracted, the tongue wraps around the inside of the head between and skull and the skin. The remaining 10% of their diet consists of fruits from natives like sumacs and dogwoods, as well as nuts. Don’t be too fastidious a gardener! Leave dead trees and fallen logs on your property whenever possible. Some homeowners remove every dead tree in their yard only to find the Pileated has Spring 2020
territorial, warning other male Pileateds to stay clear of their breeding grounds. The woodpecker’s skull is reinforced with spongey bone that can absorb the force of a hammering beak without resulting in headaches or brain damage. However, Pileateds are just as prone to head injuries from window strikes as any other species of bird. It’s important to keep bird feeders at least 50 feet away from all windows and sliding glass doors to avoid injuries to birds. The Pileated has zygodactyl feet, meaning it has two toes located at the front of the foot and two toes located at the back. This gives them the excellent grip they need to climb vertically up and down trees. A Pileated typically lived 20-30 years, but due to increasing habitat loss their lifespan has been greatly reduced. Consider joining the nationwide environmental movement called, “One Third For The Birds.” Leave the back third of your property to the wildlife, allowing for a quiet space filled with native trees, shrubs and perennials. This will create safe habitat for birds, like the Pileateds, to raise their families. You will be rewarded with untold hours of bird watching enjoyment. Catherine Greenleaf is the director of St. Francis Wild Bird Center in Lyme, N.H. If you find an injured bird, please call (603) 795-4850.
The Scoop on Pet Insurance Catherine MacLean, DVM - Grantham, NH Disclaimer: I do not work for, receive incentives from, or get any kickbacks from pet insurance companies. Before selecting any pet insurance, do your research and ask lots of questions.
ne of the most common questions that I get asked from new pet owners is “Should I get pet insurance?” and my answer is always yes. Pets for many people have evolved from just a dog or cat to a beloved family member. Because of this cultural shift, animals are living longer because their owners are willing to do more for them. When a pet has a longer life span, the cost incurred both on the veterinary and non-veterinary side increases. So what’s the deal with pet insurance? For starters, it’s different than human health insurance. There are no network veterinarians vs. non-network veterinarians. You can get your pet treated at the veterinarian of your choice. Although there are many different pet insurances out there, their payment structure is usually more or less the same. The pet owner chooses the plan and the deductible. Just like car insurance or any other insurance, the higher your deductible the lower the monthly premium typically is. After your deductible is met, then a certain percentage of the medical expenses incurred are covered. For most insura n c e s, t h ey c ove r 9 0 % a f t e r t h e deductible, and then the other 10% of the cost is up to the pet owner to pay for. For instance, say your pet has an emer-
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gency that costs $1100 and you have a $100 deductible. After your deductible, there is $1000 left of the bill. The pet insurance would pay $900 and you would pay an additional $100. So out of $1100, the pet owner pays $200 and the insurance company pays $900. Where pet insurances start to differ is how the deductible works. For some of the pet insurance companies, the deductible is per year, and for others, it’s per condition. So what does that mean? In the per year scenario, your pet could have ten different things go wrong, but you only pay your deductible once for that year. That sounds great in theory, but could be more costly if your pet develops a chronic condition like allergies which means you’re paying the deductible every year. The per condition deductible is nice for chronic conditions such as allergies or arthritis. It’s not so great if your pet is a magnet for issues. For example, say you have a Labrador and in one year she has a foreign body surgery, diarrhea and needs knee surgery. That means you’re paying a deductible three times that
year. There are pros and cons to each system. The bottom line is to make sure you know which one you’re getting when you buy it. The other main way that pet insurances differ is in what they cover. Some insurances have breed exclusions. This means that diseases that are common for a certain breed may be excluded from coverage. This is something you need to ask before selecting insurance. Some insurances cover routine wellness care (i.e. vaccines, annual exams, etc.), while others do not. Some insurances have lifetime cost caps. What this means is that they will only pay a certain amount for a condition during the lifetime of your pet. It is also worth noting that if your pet has a pre-existing condition, it will be excluded from coverage by most, if not all pet insurance companies. The other thing to keep in mind is that pet insurance, for the most part, works as reimbursement. This means you pay out of pocket and then submit the claim to the pet insurance comSpring 2020
pany to get reimbursed. There is one Ember & pet insurance company on the market Quiver that has an express claims program with veterinarians that wish to participate. With that program, the participating veterinarian submits the claim directly to the insurance company and in about 10 minutes the vet clinic finds out how much will be paid directly to them and what the client has to pay out of pocket. So in our above scenario with the $1100 bill, the insurance company that has this program pays the participating veterinarian the $900 and the pet owner only pays $200. With other insurances, the owner pays the veterinarian the whole $1100 bill and then waits for the insurance company to send them the $900 after the pet owner submits the paperwork to the insurance company. In summary, you should consider the following things when choosing then dropping it because they haven’t pet insurance: been using it; dropping it because their pet is getting old (pets get more expen 1. Is it a reputable company and sive as they age), or wanting to get pet does it have a strong underwriter insurance when their pet develops an (that’s who pays out the issue (it won’t be covered then because claims)? it’s pre-existing). 2. What medical coverage does it Nothing is worse than having to provide? make tough decisions because of cost. I can give you many stories of pets that 3. Do you really need wellness were saved because of pet insurance. I coverage? In my opinion, the cost for the wellness coverage is often more than it’s worth to pay for wellness coverage out of pocket. Accident and illness insurance are more valuable in my opinion.
had one patient who needed two foreign body surgeries six weeks apart. Pet insurance paid for the bulk of it. We just had a patient that tore the ligament in her knee. Pet insurance paid for most of her orthopedic surgery. I had another patient that ran up a bill of over $20,000 at a specialty hospital. Pet insurance paid most of it. So if you have a pet and you also don’t want to have to make tough decisions because of finances, then I would encourage you to take a look at and consider pet insurance. Dr. MacLean completed her Bachelor of Science from Penn State University, her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Atlantic Veterinary College, and her pet acupuncture certification from Chi Institute. Her areas of special interest include general practice and acupuncture. She opened Sugar River Animal Hospital in 2013, and she has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. Dr. MacLean’s family consists of her husband Matt, her daughter Katarina, son Alexander and their three pets: Jack and Misty, two cats, and Arrow, a dog.
4. What is the maximum payout amount (i.e. are there lifetime caps)? 5. What am I getting for my premium? 6. Does it have unreasonable exclusions? 7. How quickly does the insurance company payout? 8.
Does it cover your pet in states that you travel to the most? Not all pet insurances have coverage in all states.
9. What would cause the premium to increase? The bottom line is doing your research and even ask your veterinarian if they have an opinion, since we often see the good, the bad and the ugly. In today’s world where the cost of everything is going up, I would recommend looking at and consider getting pet insurance. The biggest mistakes I see are people getting pet insurance and Spring 2020
Shelter Dog Beer Can Campaign Helps Reunite Missing Dog With Owner Associated Press
Hazel makes the "cover" of Motorworks Beer
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Florida brewery that recently began placing shelter dogs’ faces on beer cans helped reunite a Minnesota woman with her dog, Hazel, who went missing three years ago. Earlier this month, Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton teamed up with the Manatee County Animal Shelter to turn beer cans into adoption flyers for shelter dogs. Monica Mathis of St. Paul, Minnesota, told KSTP that she couldn’t believe it when she spotted Hazel’s face on a beer can that had been photographed and posted on social media. Hazel, a terrier mix, was among the dogs featured on beer cans called “The Four Packs.”
Mathis saw the post and something about one dog’s eyes caught her attention. “Oh my gosh that looks like my dog, I think that’s my dog,’” Mathis said. But the featured dog’s name was Day Day. Mathis contacted the shelter, which needed proof that Day Day was in fact Hazel. “I sent everything I could find — all the pictures so I could stop an adoption process from happening because I could’ve lost her again,” Mathis said. Mathis said she was living in Iowa when Hazel disappeared in 2017. “She was on a leash outside and I went to get her and she was gone from our yard,” Mathis said. She searched, called shelters, but never found the dog. She said she has no idea how the dog got to Florida. Then, a new job took her to Minnesota. Several years went by until she saw the beer can campaign on Jan. 24. The shelter confirmed that Day Day is Hazel. “I was amazed, I was crying. An emotional wreck,” Mathis said. Mathis said animal services couldn’t immediately find her because the contact information on Hazel’s microchip was out of date. “Keep track of exactly what company you use, make sure your stuff gets updated, especially if your pet goes missing and don’t ever give up,” Mathis said. Hans Wohlgefahrt of Manatee County Animal Services, said they saw the photos and vet records, which provided proof Hazel belonged to Mathis. “This dog was such an important part of her family that she had everything to prove she was her owner,” Wohlgefahrt said. “There was really no way we could trace her back to that particular owner. It’s a great reminder to people when they do these things to go into their profile and make sure all their contact information is up to date.”
Service Animals and More! Eileen M. Wolfe, DVM - Vermont Veterinary Medical Association
f you’ve wondered what’s going on with peacocks on airplanes and dogs at the salad bar in the grocery store, you’re not alone. Veterinarians are concerned about the unfortunate trend of pets being mistakenly, and sometimes fraudulently, presented as either service animals or emotional support animals. It’s a complex topic, and the more we all know about it, the better everyone’s rights are protected, particularly those who genuinely depend on their service animals and emotional support animals. Service animals and emotional support animals each work with their handler for the benefit of that handler, and each has some federal rights of access – but there are important differences between them! What defines these groups and what are the differences in their rights of access? SERVICE ANIMALS • Are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Acts • Are trained to perform one or more specific tasks that help with the disability of the owner/handler • Are nearly always dogs • Can go anywhere the public is allowed to go • Have no certification or standardized form of proof, as this is seen by the ADA as a potential barrier for those who need service animals.
The very important distinction to remember is the task(s) that service animals perform, which could be performed on command or on cue. There are psychiatric service animals, which are different from emotional support animals because they do perform such a task. It might be fetching medicine for a person on command, or it might be alerting a veteran suffering from PTSD that they are in a stressful situation and should remove themselves. It is also worth noting that occasionally miniature horses are service animals due to their longer life span: training a service animal can be very costly and the loss of one can also be emotionally distressing to their handler. There is a final class of assistance animals that have no federal rights of access: the animals used in animal-assisted intervention. These animals are differentiated from service animals and emotional support animals by the fact that they work with their handlers for the benefit of other people. They include animals used in animal-assisted education (reading dogs), animal-assisted therapy (therapy dogs), and animals used in other animal-assisted activities (such as the visitation dogs in nursing homes and hospitals). Although the term “therapy dog/therapy animal” is frequently used, it has a very specific meaning: it is a dog or other animal used as part of a goal-directed therapeutic intervention by a licensed therapist. The federal rights of access granted to service animals and emotional support animals are important for those who depend on these animals and should not be abused by others. Businesses have certain rights with regard to these animals as well. And any business or facility may choose to grant access to any pet or animal. More info on all types of assistance animals, including printable infographics for businesses and others, is available at www. vtvets.org under the One Health link. The Vermont Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), founded in 1898, is a professional organization of 380 veterinarians dedicated to compassionate animal care and quality medicine.
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS • Are defined by the Aircraft Carrier Access Act (ACA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) • Provide emotional support to those with psychological/psychiatric disorders or disabilities simply by their physical presence. They do not perform specific tasks. • Are not limited as to species, though airlines may decline to accommodate emotional support animals that could be dangerous to other passengers • Have federal rights of access only on airplanes and in housing situations • Do require documentation from a licensed mental health professional who is currently treating the owner/handler stating the necessity of the emotional support animal Spring 2020
Grain Free Diets – Friend or Foe? Part II Dr. Anne Carroll DVM, CVA
elcome back to our exploration of today’s pet market. In the last edition we looked at the use of starches and beans in dog and cat foods, and how to read labels to know what to look for and avoid. We realize that due to convenience dry foods are here to stay. So in this article, we will look at how to balance dry foods with fresh feeding to minimize the effects of processed foods, and how to tell if what you are feeding is the ‘best’ for your dog. You may ask why do we care if our pets eat all dry food? After all, it is convenient, economical, and many pets like it. But holistic veterinarians have concerns with dry foods. Are the ingredients appropriate replacements for what dogs and cats would naturally eat, are synthetic vitamins and minerals equal to those in fresh foods, is it ok to leave out all the ‘unessential’ nutrients not easily included in dry diets, and whether our historical carnivore companions can eat so much starch without affecting their health. (Since digested starches end up as sugars and cause inflammation, the answer is no, but that is another discussion). Those issues aside, it is hard to accept the validity of eating food that lasts for years in a bag. Nutrients lose vitality over time or spoil, and if they don’t then it is suspect they won’t digest like fresh foods either.
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On the flip side, feeding properly prepared, appropriate fresh foods can provide protein and nutrients in a readily digestible form, often with little starch. Trying to slim down? Giving less kibble often leaves your pet hungry and may even limit nutrients, while the starch content still makes weight loss hard. In contrast, replacing caloriedense dry food with fresh ‘Atkins’ diet ingredients not only reduces the impact of the dry food, but our pets lose weight, feel and look better, are healthier, and best of all they love it! Certainly, before trying new food, check in with your veterinarian to make sure your pet’s digestion or medical issues are not aggravated. For sensitive stomachs, starting with a single cooked ingredient with probiotics and digestive supports can help with the transition. So can picking specific foods that best fit your pet’s constitution, as we do in Chinese medicine where diet therapy augments herbs and acupuncture. Generally, fresh foods help by being antiinflammatory compared to dry-processed starch, and then specific nutrients can help the body manage imbalances and lessen or prevent symptoms. Whatever your goal, there are many choices for fresh feeding. By ‘fresh’, we mean foods that are still hydrated. This includes raw, home-cooked, dehydrated (water is reabsorbed when reconstituted), and canned foods. Canned food can range quite a bit in quality, processing, and ingredients, and can include some grains so read labels to make sure you are getting mostly meats and organ meats. Regardless, the water content and generally lower starch content makes canned more ideal than dry food, especially for cats. No matter which fresh you pick, ideally use a complete diet when replacing dry food to ensure proper vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. are provided. If you want to make cooked or raw foods yourself, this can require a recipe depending on how much of your dog’s diet it will be. If eating commercial
foods then up to 20% of the diet can be fresh meat, organ meats, or veggies. It is not necessary in most cases to have those additions meet a balanced recipe. Exceptions are puppies, or pets at risk for medical conditions, where attention to detail is more important. This goes double for cats. Their needs are very specific and if you want to learn more about feeding them, visit catinfo.org for guidance. If you are feeding more than 20% homemade diets, then you should consult with your veterinarian on proper balance and content of nutrients – it usually takes just a few supplements and is not too complicated, but meat alone is not a healthy diet for a dog or cat! Let’s use Pumpkin’s diet as an example of what this may look like. She gets a cup of dry food which is 2/3 the recommended serving for her size, and ¼ lb of a balanced commercial raw food, which is 1/3 the recommended serving. So between these two, she should be getting Spring 2020
the essentials she needs. If our family’s meal has pet-friendly ingredients and seasonings, she gets some of that. This week was split pea soup with carrots, celery, cauliflower and a bit of ham, and she thought that made an excellent gravy over her meal! Otherwise, we set her aside some of the cooked veggies, grain or meat before they are seasoned. When time allows, we make her a crockpot or meatloaf meal that does follow a more balanced recipe, and she gets that as part of the rotation. Either way, a few times a week we try to incorporate organ meat and Omega fatty acids such as a poached egg, sardine, flax or fish oil, since these nutrients are underprovided in processed diets and are perishable, so getting extra in fresh food is always nice. It is not a rigid menu, and since variation doesn’t upset her system, it allows us to augment her meals with fresh foods without much extra planning. Eating a mix of food sources like Pumpkin does is helpful for a few reasons. Not all fresh diets are the same. Some have organ meats and ground ligament/bone, some use more supplements than others, and some are not complete on their own. Vegetables in raw or dehydrated diets are raw, and if the pieces are not small enough they may not digest. So to get the best that different options offer, rotate brands or feed a mix. As long as it agrees with your dog’s tummy, they are more likely to get the rainbow of nutrients different foods an offer similar to their prey diet. How do you know if you have it right? First, your dog should enjoy their meals. Some dogs are not excited about food and would rather play than get a treat. But many ‘picky’ dogs actually don’t feel well after eating, just like the lactose intolerant person after some ice cream. Signs of this include grass eating, or wanting something new every few days as they realize their food is ‘bad’. For dogs that eat great no matter what is in the dish, we need to watch their weight, how nice their coat and nose/pads look and feel, how much energy they have and whether they have gas or eat a lot of grass. Vomiting or any degree of soft stools is an obvious sign of digestive upset, but subtle signs are more common. Odors, discharges, or dandruff are examples of dietary stress. You can consult with a holistic vet to pick food types that should match up well with your dog’s Chinese pattern, and let them assess your feeding plan to make sure there are no glaring deficiencies. In our practice, we use a program to give an AAFCO analysis of homemade recipes like you see on commercial packaging so you can be assured your dog is getting everything they need, in a form they can digest. Spring 2020
We know we can’t exactly mimic the diet Mother Nature intended for our pets. Even if we could, there would still never be one perfect diet given the differences in metabolism and digestion between breeds or individuals. But we can certainly stack the deck in our pet’s favor by staying as true to the fuel they are designed to process, keeping corn, wheat, and nowadays so many beans to a minimum and letting them eat real foods as much as we can. Pumpkin will attest to how wonderful fresh food can be, and her Mom enjoys a slim Golden Retriever who no longer has ear and skin issues. Having fresh food routinely
can go a long way in helping maintain heath, and then when life is just too busy and only dry food will work, that is perfectly ok! Dr. Anne Carroll is the owner of the Chelsea Animal Hospital where she and her associates practice conventional medicine and surgery as well as several alternative modalities including traditional Chinese acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. For more information on alternative veterinary medicine visit their website at www.chelseaanimalhospital.com .
TION A N I VACC DULE SCHE : Core GS O D R FO Core n o a n d N in e s Vacc
PET VACCINES: Schedules for Cats and Dogs L
ike people, pets need vaccines. And pet vaccinations, like those for humans, may sometimes require a booster to keep them effective. The best way to stay on schedule with vaccinations for your dog or cat is to follow the recommendations of a veterinarian you trust. Chances are your vet’s suggestions will break down into two categories: core pet vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core pet vaccinations are those recommended for every pet, while non-core vaccines may be advised based on your pet’s lifestyle. For example, your vet may suggest certain non-core vaccinations if your cat or dog is outdoors only or boarded often. Many vaccines can be given to pets as young as 6 weeks old, so talk to your vet about setting up the best vaccination schedule for your cat or dog, kitten or puppy. 22 4 Legs & a Tail
TOP TIPS for FELINE HYGIENE C ats are usually totally into hygiene all by themselves; constantly self-groom-
ing. In fact, cats spend up to fifty percent of their waking hours grooming themselves. Cats start grooming their kittens right away and it is an instant bond between Mom and kitten. This can be the case between owner and cat as well. There are definite reasons that grooming your cat is a good idea. • Hairballs are a common issue for cat owners and brushing or grooming your cat is the best way to reduce the hair they will ingest doing their own grooming and will greatly reduce hair balls. • Detecting injury or illness. Grooming is a good chance to pay close attention to any boo-boo’s or other concerns around you cat’s health.
to take on grooming your cat yourself Combs - A Fine toothed comb (somemake it as easy on yourself as possible. times also called a flea comb) can be run through your cat’s coat from head The right tools. Like any important to tail, being sure to always brush in job, there are tools that can make the the direction of the fur to avoid any disjob easier. comfort. Concentrate on one section at a time to remove any dead hair, dirt, and debris, and take extra caution when brushing around the face and belly as the skin is particularly delicate. Steel Toothed combs (sometimes two sided) are popular to reach below your cat’s topcoat to gently remove loose hairs and reduce shedding. They can also be great to remove mats. Mats can occur anywhere, but main problem areas for long haired cats include behind the ears, on and around the legs, under arms, tail and around the anus. These areas are also among the most sensitive areas on the body. Exercise great care in brushing and combing through them.
• Accustoming a cat to regular handling and providing valuable interaction between cat and owner. If your cat ever does have an injury it will be easier for The Basics: you to assess if your cat is accustomed Brushes - Slicker brushes are curved to being touched everywhere by you. or slanted brushes with very thin teeth. • Long haired cats or cats that spend They are ideal for medium- to long-coattime outdoors do get dirt that is more ed cats. The Pin Brush helps to remove difficult to clean away. knots and tangles in fur to prevent mat For many cat owners the thought of ting. The pins easily go through long grooming their cat sounds like some- fur to carefully comb and neaten the thing they would put on their wish list coat. And cats with short, sleek hair can right after root canal! If you are going often be groomed with a bristle brush. 24 4 Legs & a Tail
Cat Wipes - These are a must have to quickly and frequently wipe away dander, dirt, and saliva residue. Make sure to choose a product that is unscented and free from parabens, chlorine, and other harmful ingredients. Grooming Glove - These are an awesome option especially for cats who distrust traditional brushes and grooming tools. You just slide the glove onto your hand and stroke your cat like you Spring 2020
would normally do petting them. The velcro-like surfaces will feel like a cat’s tongue to them; like a massage similar to grooming they got as a kitten. Toothbrush and Paste - I know this is a lot to ask but…you should try to brush your cat’s teeth daily. At minimum 3 times a week. If you are very regular about brushing it will be less stressful for your cat. Plaque begins to harden in less than one day, so it is most effectively removed before it turns to tartar. Poor dental hygiene can lead to many health risks for felines.
More Advanced: Professional Pet Nail Clippers - The main reason cats’ claw at things is to keep their nails in good shape. You may want to choose a pair with a safety guard to keep you from cutting too much or too close to the nerve. You should also keep a nail file to smooth out the rough edges right after a cut. Grooming Clippers - A popular option is a “silent” trimmer to safely remove fur without the buzzing and vibration of conventional clippers. This will be less stressful alternative for sensitive cats. If the mats are to tight be very careful not to cut the cat with the clippers also. It takes just one fast movement of the cat to do this, especially the loose areas. The mats can be tight and pull on the skin and make it very uncomfortable to the cat. Make sure to get the correct size blades. When grooming matted fur do not use scissors because it is very easy to cut the cat. In closing…remember to always have lots of your cats’ favorite treats around with all the above to make grooming a fun rewarding activity if you can. Also; there are some cats who just do not tolerate being groomed. If your cat fights the grooming process, and there is some potential that injury could occur to your cat or yourself it is safer for everybody to make an appointment with a professional groomer or a veterinarian to have your cat groomed.
If you free-feed your cat their favorite kibble, you have
probably encountered the pile of undigested food your cat has “returned” to your home. While the convenience of freefeeding is undeniable, cats can over-eat at times in addition to eating too quickly.
To slow down you cats’ eating habits and increase digestion
time, try adding some medium size marbles to your cats dish. They won’t eat the marbles, but they will eat slower and keep that kibble in the cat and not the floor!
Memorial Day: Remembering All Who Have Served, Including Military Dogs
William W. Putney, a Marine Corps officer, who had just earned a degree in veterinary science when he went into officers’ training school at Quantico, Virginia, was instrumental to beginning such a program for the marines. Putney was asked to organize a newly established war dog training program that was to be based at what is now Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Putney and Training the Dogs
emorial Day, initially known as Decoration Day, began shortly after the Civil War in the way that one might expect a day of remembrance to begin — mourners started placing flags or flowers on the grave sites of those from their communities who died in the war. In 1868, General John Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Northern Civil War veterans, proclaimed that May 30 each year should be known as Decoration Day. The South was not comfortable accepting Logan’s proclamation of a date, and they set their own timetable for honoring their departed loved ones; some states picked June 3, which the birth date of Jefferson Davis, who had served as president of the Confederacy.
Time Heals Some Wounds
As World War I veterans returned, Memorial Day (as it had been renamed in 1882) grew to be a day to remember all of our military, no matter what war they served in. While there have been other changes in the holiday over time 26 4 Legs & a Tail
Today’s dogs are raised to be in the military, but when Putney began the program, dogs were pets recruited from A Military Guard families. The dogs then had to be condiDog in Kosovo tioned not to react to gunfire and other loud noises; they needed to learn to signal danger to their handlers via body stance or ear movement, not barking. They were also trained to sniff out land mines and trip wires and carry messages. After the invasion of Guam, Putney and a unit of men with their dogs were sent to the South Pacific where the use of the animals was credited with saving many lives, including Putney’s. Captain Putney was leading a patrol of men with three of the dogs to flush out Japanese soldiers hiding in caves (including the fact that the holiday is on one of the surrounding islands. A now celebrated on the last Monday of Doberman named Cappy was out in May regardless of the date), the suc- front of the unit when a shot rang out; cessful raid on Osama Bin Laden also Cappy was killed, but the men were brought a detail to public attention of alerted to the danger. Had Cappy not something else that has changed. been in the lead, Putney would have Today military honor — in survival been ahead of his men, and he likely and in death — now includes canine would have been shot instead. members of the military. Several years ago at Fort Campbell, No Honor Awaited Kentucky, President Barack Obama and As the war ended and the men and Vice President Joe Biden met with the dogs started being sent home, Putney units that carried out the raid on Osama came home to learn that as the dogs Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, it came back, the plan was to euthanize was noted by the press that Cairo, the them; those in the States assumed that military dog who participated in the dogs who had been trained to fight and raid, was also present. protect could not be returned to lives Dogs have not always come home with families. Putney felt otherwise, and been so honored. and Putney convinced the officers at Camp LeJeune, to permit him to start a program to desensitize the dogs — a Dogs in the Military While dogs have almost certainly multi-step process. followed along with military units know- The dogs had been trained to answer ing they might find men who would pet to a single person, so they had to become them and slip them a bite to eat now and accustomed to several handlers (male then, there was no official program to and female). They had to acclimate to train and use dogs in the military until normal street sounds and movement, World War II. and many other aspects of daily life. An Spring 2020
ultimate test was whether a dog could be taken for a walk in the community; would the dog be all right if someone walked past quickly, or if a person approached to pet him or her? Each of these milestones had to be reached very gradually. Of the 559 dogs who were in the Marine Corps at the end of World War II, 540 were discharged to civilian life. Of the 19 who had to be euthanized, 15 were because of health reasons. Only four could not adapt to civilian life.
guard and protect our military personnel as they were trained to do, with courage, loyalty and honor. While our hearts go out to the families of the men and women of the military who have lost their lives in service to our country, we should also include gratitude for the men and women who have trained the canine team members — and the dogs themselves — whose efforts have helped reduce the toll on human life in the many conflicts where these animals have served.
In his book, Always Faithful, Putney noted that because the canine corps was not maintained in the years immediately following World War II, some of the lessons they had learned about working with the animals had to be relearned by those working with the next generation of animals. Unfortunately, one of the lessons — that the dogs could be desensitized — was never passed on, and from 1949-2000, euthanasia for former military animals was the law of the land. Though Captain Putney returned to civilian life and had become a veterinarian in Los Angeles, he continued to advocate for change to the system, and three years before he died — sixty years since he had trained the dogs in the first canine unit, the Senate pass as house bill that permits handlers to detrain and adopt their dogs when their military usefulness has ended (October 24, 2000). Today all branches of our Armed Forces use trained military dogs to patrol air bases, military compounds, ammunition depots and military checkpoints. There are approximately 600-700 of these canines in the Middle East in such places as Kuwait, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. They continue to Spring 2020
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Local Vet Goes Ape in Africa Tips for Feline Hygiene Remembering Dogs That Served America Dairy Cow Receives a Pardon
Mud Season 2020 Western Vermont