Page 1



Happy Mud Season Southern NH & VT

Rats! What You Should Know About Feline Asthma OBarkaCareIs Mandatory Health Insurance For Pets Coming Soon? Choosing The Right Dog This Spring

4 LEGS & A TAIL FUN! What's Different?

Dog’s collar, Paintbrush, Boys’ Shirt, Girl’s Sandal, Women’s Earring, Dog’s Bone, Top Screws on Doghouse

TEACHER’S PET Previous Next

On the last day of kindergarten, all the children brought presents for their teacher. The florist’s son handed the teacher a gift. She held up the box and said, “I bet it’s some flowers!” “That’s right!” shouted the little boy. Then the candy store owner’s daughter handed the teacher a gift. She held up the box and said, “I bet it’s some chocolates!” “That’s right!” shouted the little girl. The next gift was from the liquor store owner’s son. The teacher held up the box and saw that it was leaking. She touched a drop with her finger and tasted it. “Is it wine?” she asked. “No,” the boy answered. The teacher touched another drop to her tongue. “Is it champagne?” she asked. “No,” the boy answered. “What is it?” she said. “A puppy!”


Alicia Goodwin

Inside this issue of 4 Legs & a Tail 2 5

A tender story from the popular book, Miracle Dogs: Adventures on Wheels.

The Miracle of Love, Sandy Johnson

6 7

Working to Improve the Health and Wellbeing of Our Beloved Pets, Dara Forleo How to Choose the Right Dog for You and Your Family, Paula Bergeron

Governor’s Horse Guards, Dick Lynch

Since 1859 the “Guards” have made their mark in New Hampshire.

Food for thought when considering an addition to your household

Reading to dogs at The Monadnock Humane Society has been a hit for kids and canines alike.

How one local pig became a Mother’s Day wonder.

Stomach issues can run wild this time of year. Read why and what can be done.

Some tips from the experts at Cheshire Horse.


Improving Literacy One Dog at a Time, Amee Abel

10 Penny the Piggybank, Tim Hoehn

11 Spring- Keeping Your Pet Healthy, John Eustis DVM 12 Raising Backyard Chickens, Sarah Zabek

pg 5

14 Green Up Your Pets, M. Kathleen Shaw, DVM

Great ideas for your pets and the environment.

A cat who beat the odds and made it all the way to college!

Allergies can bring about a variety of pet issues this time of year.

Learn the signs and solutions.

Is mandatory health insurance for your pet in the future?

One German Shepherd’s mud season adventure.

15 The Tiki Chronicles, Francesca Finch Bochner

17 “Hey, it’s Just an Ear Infection, Right?” Not Exactly - Jennifer Lesser, DVM 19 What You Should Know About Feline Asthma, Elisa Speckert 20 ObarkaCare

20 A Stroll in the Mud pg 12

21 Rats!

Susan Dyer, DVM

Timid, social and exceleent pets when cared for properly. 23 Ready to Ride? Dorothy Crosby- A horseperson in progress

24 Rare Breeds of the Twin States, Karyn Swett

A close up look at Otterhounds.

Pay close attention or you may get more than you bargained for.

April was a happy cat until she broke a tooth.

Spring is the perfect time to explore the world of saltwater aquariums.

26 Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

27 The Cat With the Golden Tooth, Sandra Waugh VDM 28 Under the Sea, DJ Nelson

Publishers: Tim Goodwin, Tim Hoehn

4 Legs & a Tail Volume K.115

Senior Editor: Scott Palzer

P.O. Box 841

Office Manager: Beth Hoehn

Lebanon, NH 03766

Accounting: Elisa Speckert Graphic Design:


Monica Reinfeld, Lacey Dardis,

MIssy Ketterling, Kate Haas Sales: Karyn Swett,

Spring 2015

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 Southern NH & 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. 1

The Miracle of Love Sandy Johnson

“Any man with money to make the purchase may become a dog’s owner. But no man—spend he ever so much coin and food and tact in the effort—may become a dog’s Master without consent of the dog. Do you get the difference? And he whom a dog once unreservedly accepts as Master is forever that dog’s God.” -Albert Payson Terhune, Lad: A Dog


his is the story of two souls, one four-legged, the other two-legged, who were meant to meet and fulfill their shared destiny. First, Scooter’s story: A very cold day in February 2011. I was crouched on the side of the road, hiding from the people and noises coming from the street. Most of all, I was hiding from the man who shot me, my owner. I was a growing puppy, six months old and always hungry; they didn’t want me anymore because they couldn’t feed me, so they turned me out of the house and chased me away. Lost, alone, and hungry, I wandered for days. Finally, I gave up and went home, hoping they would take me back. But when I showed up at their door, the big man took down his rifle and shot me. I turned and ran, but he shot me two more times, once in each flank, and once in the back. I tried to keep on running, but I could move only as fast as my two front legs would carry me. When I couldn’t move anymore, I hid in the bushes. I don’t know how long I had been lying there when some people spotted me and stopped their car and tried to pick me up. I was frightened at first and tried to get away from them, but I had no strength left. They put me in a big blue plastic tub in the back of their car and talked about taking me someplace where I could be “put to sleep.” They drove to a building where many dogs were barking and lots of people were coming and going. A man came out and opened the back of the car and looked at me. Gently, he opened my mouth and looked at my teeth and ears, and then he scratched the top of my head and picked me up and carried me into the building. The smell of dogs and cats and critters of every sort filled the air. I heard the people who picked me up say, “We think he was hit by a car.... Better put him to sleep.... Poor doggie.... ” The nice man took me into a room and put me on a big steel table with a towel on it to keep me warm. He looked at my eyes, my ears, and my mouth again. Then he looked at my back legs. Carefully, he picked me up and put me on the floor and walked a short distance away and turned to me. Using my front legs, I scooted along the smooth floor, which was so much easier than rocks and grass, and came to him. He turned and walked away again, and I followed him. He chuckled and said I was a real scooter. I liked the man; I liked the way he looked into my eyes and smiled as if we were old friends. I followed him around the table a few more times before he stopped and scratched me on the top of the head again and then under my neck. I just melted into him from that moment. He picked up the phone. His expression was discouraging; he wasn’t liking whatever it was he was hearing. When he put the phone down, he got up and spoke to the people who brought me in—“He’s got great character . . . gets around on his own . . . ”—and then they wandered off into another room. Before long, someone brought in big bowls of food and water, which I finished off three times, until I couldn’t eat anymore. I curled up on a blanket on the floor and fell asleep. After a while, the man came back in with a towel that he wrapped around me. I didn’t know what was happening, but I 2 4 Legs & a Tail

remembered the conversation about being “put to sleep.” I tried to get away, but the more I wriggled, the tighter his grip got. Now I was scared. He had covered me up completely with the towel, including my eyes, and went through a couple of doors, and it got really cold. This must be the end, I thought. But then it got really warm. We were in the nice man’s car. He talked to me for a long time. I couldn’t understand all the words, but I could understand what he meant. We were friends; I had nothing to fear anymore. He drove for a while and then stopped at a bigger building. He grabbed that really big, warm blanket and some of the towels and took me inside. There were more dogs in there; they all came up and sniffed at me. Then I had my first bath. The other dogs wouldn’t leave me alone, I growled and snapped at them; it was all I could do, because I couldn’t run. But then the nice man, my friend, came back in and showed me that the other dogs were not going to hurt me. For a long time, he stayed right next to me. Finally, I got so tired that I just lay down and fell asleep. I know at some point he picked me up and carried me to another room and put me on a warm, comfy blanket. When I woke up, I looked around for my new friend, only to discover that he was right next to me, with his arm over my back. I licked his face for the longest time. Then he got up and brought me another bowl of food. After a couple of days lying around, he took me back to that place with that big steel table, but for some reason, now I wasn’t worried. I had learned his name was TJ and that we would be friends forever. TJ came out of another room with a big box in his hands and took out a bunch of strange-looking things and some tools and got busy. When he was finished, he picked me up and took me over to the thing with wheels that he had been putting together. After getting my back legs into the strange-looking contraption, TJ put me down on the floor and wrapped the thing around me and snapped it on. I just looked up at him, wondering what he wanted me to do. TJ grabbed onto my collar and pulled on me . . . and suddenly I could move! With ease! I could even run again, I was still really fast, I ran everywhere I could reach. I could hear people behind me laughing, but I didn’t care . . . I could run again! I ran and I ran, and I ran till I couldn’t run anymore. Finally, I got really tired and fell asleep underneath TJ’s desk while still in the contraption. I felt so good.    When I finally woke up, I made the biggest decision of my life: I decided to adopt my best friend, TJ.   TJ’s Story The dog, a six-month-old Border Collie, was brought in from the back of a beat-up hatchback inside a blue container. He was a sad sight—a heart-wrenching puppy, not even a teenager. His hind legs and hips were scraped from scooting on the ground. Unfortunately, I knew we couldn’t afford to take him for X-rays, not on our government budget. But when I looked him in the eyes, we connected. It was like a total alignment of all the planets in the universe, an almost audible ping. I knew right then that I was going to try—try anything. We brought him in and carried him to the treatment room, where the table was set up to euthanize him. I put him down on the table and looked at those pathetic, withered legs, and my heart dropped. There were no signs of new or fresh injuries. I tousled Continued NEXT PAGE

Spring 2015

his head, and he smiled back at me. I set him down and backed up, hoping for a miracle, a sign, anything. I hadn’t gotten two steps away before he screamed. It wasn’t a yelp of pain or a howl of sorrow. It was a sudden, soul-stopping scream that cried, Don’t leave me! The scream was unlike anything I’d ever heard before; it was enough to stop me in my tracks. He had pulled himself along, his useless legs dragging behind him as he scooted toward me. Ecstatic that I had stopped, he dragged himself over to me and sat at my feet. His head was cocked back, and his tongue was lolling. I looked into his eyes, and I knew that, no matter what, I had to find a way to help him. I started around the table, and he followed, screaming joyously and sliding along the floor. To think that he had been dragging himself like this through streets and woods and rocks made me cringe. We started to chase each other around the room like two little boys, me laughing and his tail wagging. I had to stop and call the vet. I needed to know the next step; I had to know if there were any other options available for him. When the vet listened to his story, she explained that even without an X-ray, it was clear that the dog was paralyzed, and probably had been so for a while. His scream was most likely his only defense when, stranded and alone, predators were near. The fear I felt for him at this past danger, together with the joy that he had survived, carved itself into my heart. This dog was meant to be saved. Regretfully, she suggested that it might be kinder to put him down. Impressed as she was with his survival, quality of life in the shelter would be poor, and finding someone to take care of him would be nearly impossible. I hung up the phone, my mood bleak. But I was not hopeless. I called the director. I always valued her opinion on such matters. She knew the budget issues, the risk involved, and the very small chance of his ever finding either a rescue or an adopter. She also realized that the fact of his survival so far was a miracle. Still, with apology ringing in her voice, she agreed with the vet’s suggestion. I was devastated. I couldn’t accept it. I didn’t know the scope of issues that Scooter (by then

Spring 2015

I had named him) brought with him, but I knew that I would go through hell before I gave up on him. I had to save him. At that moment, Scooter was mine. Or, rather, I was his. In my heart, I knew that losing him, even after knowing him for only an hour, would wound me more deeply than I could stand. At that moment I took him on, took him in, and opened my world to one of the greatest loves I will ever know. This pillow-stealing, wheelchair-breaking, run-you-down-and-make-you-glad, oversize dust mop has become one of my best friends. TJ Jordi, firefighter, certified master diver, service dog trainer, and recipient of the Humane Heroes Award, is now the director of Tennessee’s Cheatham County Animal. With the support of a small but dedicated staff and rescue network, they have not had to euthanize a single healthy, adoptable animal in three years. Scooter has become a celebrity. He was the grand marshal of the Cheatham County Special Olympics in 2012 and 2013, and won a bronze medal in 2012 and a gold medal in 2013. He is being trained as a therapy dog for people in wheelchairs, and he’s been to nearly all the schools in Cheatham County and has served as the lead dog in all Cheatham County Christmas Parades since his arrival. He is proof that handicapped pets can live full and productive lives. Together, TJ and Scooter are fulfilling the destiny that brought them together. Sandy Johnson attended the University of Pennsylvania, CIDOC in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and the New School for Social Research in New York City. She studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and at the Actors Studio in Los Angeles. Learn more about Scooter and the other pets and people in this book. See color photos, more stories, and upload your own at 3

4 4 Legs & a Tail

Spring 2015

Governor’s Horse Guards T

Dick Lynch - Jaffery, NH

he Governor’s Horse Guards began on June 24, 1859 when they were first incorporated by an act of the N. H. Senate and House of Representatives in General Court. The constitution and by-laws were adopted at the first annual meeting of the corps, held at Concord, on Wednesday January 11, 1860. They were attached to the fourth brigade of the second division of the State Militia with their duties being that of escorting the Governor on public occasions. Former President, Franklin Pierce was honorary Colonel. The civil war made inroads into the ranks of the Guards, and at the last parade, for the inauguration of Governor Smyth in 1865, not over half of the corps were in line. In 1879 an attempt was made to muster the “Guards” for escort duty at the inauguration of Governor Head who was himself a former member of the “Guards.” The attempt was unsuccessful and was the last official act of the corps. The Horse Guards were officially dissolved on January 2, 1986. On September 28, 1999 Governor Jeanne Shaheen directed that a cavalry organization be formed and operate as a ceremonial unit of the New Hampshire National Guard to be known as the Governor’s Horse Guards. Richard Lynch of Jaffrey was appointed Captain. Major General John E. Blair, Adjutant General of the State of New Hampshire inspected the members of the newly reformed unit at a January 12, 2000 ceremony conducted at the State Armory in Concord. A Proclamation signed by Governor Shaheen officially recognized January 12, 2000 as Governor’s Horse Guards Day. Secretary of State, William Gardner reactivated the original 1859 corporation, and their first ceremonial duty was to escort the Governor at the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manchester, NH. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut accompanied Governor Shaheen in an inspection of the troops. Just a few of the more memorable events have been opening the show, “Pfizer Fantasia” with a color detail, mounted demo and saber drill at Equine Affaire, leading the NH Day Parade at the Eastern State Fairgrounds on several occasions, a mounted appearances at UNH and providing a detail for “Honor Flight.” The unit participated in the funeral detail for a NH Chief of Police killed in the line of duty, escorted VIP’s and the NH Congressional Delegation at the presentation of the NH Medal of Honor, caisson escort for two members of the military KIA, and provided the honor guard for the Count de Lafayette when he visited the NH State House. The unit has been involved in several movies including a WGBH-TV Production of “The American Experience,” and most recently “Pale of Settlement,” filmed in Sugar Hill, NH. The unit has also appeared in a CT PBS production as well as a VT PBS film and several others. To date the unit has participated in 152 events, 79 of those being parades. One of the most memorable parades was Nov. 11, 2011 when the unit participated in the Veterans Day Parade in NYC. Members paraded their horses up 5th Ave. and on into Central Park returning by way of Times Square. The unit has received many awards including the President’s Volunteer Service award and is a member unit of the Centennial Legion of Historic Military Commands. In 2011 the Guards formed a Search Unit to assist NH Fish & Game in Region IV. Having previously participated in two private searches, the unit decided in 2014 to include private searches as part of their public service. Dismounted members carry the colors during parades and work at the command post or search on foot during SAR. When the unit is not volunteering their services many of the members participate in trail rides such as a recent trip to Gettysburg, PA for a ride around the battlefield. Some members participate in cowboy mounted shooting, ski joring, civil war cavalry reenacting, and cattle drives. The Horse Guards operate at their own expense when representing the State, the Governor and the NH Army National Guard. Occasionally the “Guards” are paid for participating in parades or for other special appearances out-of-state. Anyone who may be interested to join this historic military organization or would like additional information is requested to contact LTC Lynch at (603) 532-6415 or e-mail Spring 2015

Hangin' out in Jaffery, NH 5

Working To Improve The Overall Health And Well Being Of Our Beloved Pets One Stylists At A Time! D

ara’s Paw Spaw in Peter-borough, New Hampshire has been transformed into the first holistic pet grooming academy in the US. The Whole Pet Grooming Academy is recognized by the state of NH as a secondary career school. Dara Forleo  and Katie Heikkila collectively, have more than 40 years grooming and business experience.  With a focus on the latest techniques and products, theirs is a labor of love and commitment as they are continually seeking proven grooming industry techniques.   The curriculum offered at the academy will ensure that students understand the compassionate approach to pet grooming and care.  Students will learn to take the “whole” pet into consideration, including health and nutrition, as well as hairstyles and grooming needs.  Students will learn to create a stress free, restraint free, and cage free grooming shop as an alternative to the assembly line grooming which is the common practice of the industry.  Rounding out the training is learning the importance of communication with the pet parents about any health or behavior concerns, as well as instrucFuture students Timmy & Morgan working on a Standard Poodle Guernsey. tion on working with other industry professionals and working with their local community as business owners.  The academy offers 7 pet professional diploma programs including the first state recognized diploma for professional pet sitters and dog walkers.  10 individual certificate courses and 22 workshops focusing on continuing education for other professional groomers.  The professional diploma programs offered range from 27 to 236 credit hours include canine grooming, feline grooming, groomer assistant, and the pet sitter and dog walker.  The programs include all start-up equipment needed to begin a career as a pet stylist.  

Certificate Courses:

Diploma Programs:

Feline Stylist Assistant Canine Stylist Feline Stylist Novice Stylist Canine Stylist Assistant Professional Pet Sitter and Dog Walker Intermediate Canine Stylist Professional Pet Stylist Assistant    Advanced Canine Stylist Professional Feline Stylist Business and Facility Management Professional Canine Stylist Pet Sitting and Dog Walker Professional Pet Stylist     Basic First Aid                                            Pet First Aid and CPR                    Nutrition                 Part of the student training will include presenting a current event within the grooming industry, product review, blog article, or demonstrate a new technique or trick learned from exploring on-line groomer resources.  Students will be asked to attend a Chamber of Commerce event, meet other local business owners and veterinarians, attend a dog show and/or trade show if in their training period. During the terms students could be asked to help with planning a community event to help educate pet owners, create an educational pamphlet, write a simple business plan of running their day, and start a business plan for their own business.

6 4 Legs & a Tail

For more information contact Dara Forleo and Katie Heikkila at 603-732-7796 or visit their website at Spring 2015

How to Choose the Right Dog For You and Your Family! Paula Bergeron - Grafton, NH


here are many things to consider when adding a dog to your family. Too often bringing home a dog centers on an emotional impulse that can lead to frustration, stress, and in some instances the difficult decision to give up that dog you thought you wanted so much. Whether you choose to purchase, adopt, or rescue a dog the first step is not looking at different dogs, it is looking at yourself and your family. Begin a discerning process by looking inward and deciding what level of commitment you are prepared to give to this new member of your family. We all want to think that we could handle any dog. We envision giving them the exercise they need, loving them into good behavior, and easily facilitating good dog and human interactions without changing our basic daily routine. These visions are not only unrealistic but impossible in some cases. Dogs require more than love, they need instruction to learn good behavior, supervision to establish good social

Spring 2015

skills, and they always require some change in our daily routine. It is challenging to face reality. You might need to admit that you enjoy quiet weekends at home not active outdoor activity. You might realize that you have very limited time due to a busy career and or that having an active family means you spend most evenings and weekends at children’s activities. You may discover that the funds necessary to deal with vet care or emergencies are just not in your present budget. Although it can be difficult to face self evaluation it is a crucial step to ensure that not only will you be happy with your dog, but that your dog will be happy living with you. Here are a few of the many questions you should ask yourself before you look at a single furry face. What is your motivation for getting a dog? Do you want a running partner or someone who warms your feet while you read by the fire? Do you want

8 Local Offices Vacation Travel • Educational Tours Corporate Travel Solutions Professional Sports Travel Group & Incentive Travel

Continued NEXT PAGE 7

to give your children the experience of a loving constant companion or do you want a dog who is more independent and can tolerate some time alone. How much time do you have to give to your dog? This is not about how much time can you spend with your dog, that is what your dog gives to you, I mean how much time do you have to focus on your dog whether it be in training, giving structured exercise, grooming, playing, or attending to what ever special needs your dog may have, or develop. How much money are you willing to put aside for the continuing care of your dog? Some breeds need more vet care than others, large breeds are more expensive to feed, rescue dogs often need intensive training. There are routine vet visits, grooming, dental care, dog walking services and the inevitable carpet cleaning. Think about what tools you will need to keep your dog safe such as fencing options, leashes, crates, collars, and good nutrition. What level of activity do you enjoy each day? Be honest with yourself here. If you enjoy a good walk each day and that is it, know that most dogs need two 20 to 40 minute walks a day. High energy dogs need more than two walks a day, they need jobs, tricks to learn, mountains to hike, and rain and snow to romp in. Refrain from thinking I will get a dog and get into shape… that can lead to resenting an active dog. Match your dog to your level of energy now. What level of experience do you have living with dogs? Is this your first dog or have you had dogs all of your life? Have all of your dogs been relatively easy to train, or have you already been down the path of obedience or behavioral rehabilitation? If you have no experience with dogs but have a good amount of time to dedicated to your dog a puppy can be a great choice. If you choose to get a puppy from a breeder you can predict to some degree the level of your dogs energy, temperament, grooming needs and health care. You will spend a great deal of time shaping your puppy’s behavior and it can be an amazing experience.

8 4 Legs & a Tail

The gang at Good Dogma waiting for spring.

If you have a bit more experience you might try to get a puppy from a rescue organization. Always be aware that when you adopt a puppy from a rescue you may encounter additional health issues or behavioral needs as this puppy may have been abandoned, taken from his/ her mother too early, or encountered unhealthy environments before getting to the rescue. Don’t misunderstand, rescue puppies can be amazing but you as an owner need to be aware that taking on any rescue adoption almost always requires a higher level of commitment to care and behavior than purchasing a puppy where you know the breeder and have confidence in the good care of the mother, the father and the new litter. If you have no experience, and not enough time or energy for a puppy I recommend adopting an older dog. There are many senior dog rescue groups and often these dogs have been relinquished for reasons other than behavior. An older dog tends to be calmer, and more content to sit with you and go for the daily walk.

It takes a strong constitution to adopt a senior pet because you are truly giving these dogs a home for their golden years which means you will need to deal with end of life issues sooner rather than later. It is a wonderful service to give a senior dog a good home and is one of the rare situations where I categorize the adoption as a true rescue. If you have some experience with dogs or are willing to spend time and effort to learn about dog behavior then you may be in a good position to adopt a rescue dog. I distinguish the idea of a rescue dog from an adoption because I think of adoption as getting a dog who has had a stable life and for some reason is needing a new home, a rescue dog is taking on a dog who has behavioral issues, These dogs need a high level of commitment are not for everyone. True rescue dogs need rehabilitation which includes training, a great deal of structure, exercise, a basic understanding of dog behavior, and the dedication it takes to help them become good citizens of the canine and human world. Owning and living with a dog is a wonderful privilege, and not one to be taken lightly. If you are willing to realistically look at yourself and make a list of what you can give to a dog before you make the list of what kind of dog you want it will pave the way to finding the companion of a lifetime. Enjoy the journey! Paula Bergeron and the gang at Good Dogma embrace a holistic approach to bringing balance to your dog’s behavioral issues. Exercise, training, relaxation, grooming, play socialization and energy healing are incorporated into your dog’s routine. Spring 2015

Improving Literacy One Dog at a Time: Read to a Dog at Monadnock Humane Society

S ome children come in boldly. Some are more hesitant. Some bring

books. Some pause at a tabletop library to select a book. How ever they come in, every month for the past two years, children come to read to the dogs at Monadnock Humane Society. The program, called Paws to Read@MHS, features pet dogs who have been trained, tested, and insured to provide a safe and fun visit. This visit has a big purpose. These dogs aim to help children become better readers. The premise is simple: Make reading fun and a child will read more. Reading more makes a child a better reader. Every child benefits from reading more. However, when you struggle to read, practice becomes agony. Children turn off when reading is hard for them. They feel embarrassed or “stupid” if they make mistakes. They feel they can’t be successful. Bring in a dog and the picture changes. Dogs are perfect listeners because they are completely accepting. Snuggling up to a dog is novel and fun, which takes the focus off the difficulty of the task. Dogs don’t giggle if you make a mistake. Dogs think you are wonderful whether you read a page or an entire book. The Paws to Read@MHS program slips another virtue into the mix—duration. The program entices children to read longer by offering a room full of dogs. When a child finishes reading to one dog, they are often tempted by a wagging tail to visit another dog, and another, and so on around the room. Each dog has a personalized photo bookmark to give to every child who reads to them. Many children like to collect one from each dog. Before you know it, the child has spent 40 or 50 minutes practicing reading. That sounds like a miracle to many parents of reluctant readers. The dogs are in once a month from 12:30-1:30 on the second Saturday of the every month except December. There’s no charge for the program and there’s no need for a reservation—reading is on a first come, first served basis. Therapy Dogs are the Magic Ingredient Big dogs and small dogs; mixed breeds, shelter alumni, or show ring champions: Paws to Read@MHS includes quite a variety of dogs. They all have one thing in common—all are registered therapy dogs. Therapy dogs work in partnership with their human teammate to make others feel better. They pass rigorous testing to prove their sociability, their composure when faced with novel situations, and their ability to remain obedient under the most trying of circumstances. Most of all,

Amee Abel

Drummer the registered therapy dog with Molly and Jason Robinson at a recent Paws to Read@MHS. Photo courtesy Carol Laughner, 2015.

Continued NEXT PAGE

Spring 2015 9

therapy dogs must enjoy meeting people and being the center of attention. It’s the joy these dogs bring to meeting the children that make Paws to Read@MHS work. While the testing is rigorous, becoming a registered therapy dog is not beyond the reach of many pet dogs and their owners. If you are intrigued by the idea of volunteering with your dog, Monadnock Humane Society offers a variety of programs to assist owners of friendly dogs in getting their four-legged friend registered. Monadnock Therapy Pets, a support group for therapy dog handlers and people interested in therapy dog work, meets monthly on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. Its meetings are free and open to the public; they ask you not bring your dog to the first meeting you attend. For more information about either Paws to Read@MHS or registering your dog as a therapy dog, you may contact Amee Abel, MHS Volunteer Coordinator at AmeeA@ or by phone at (603) 352-9011 ext 147. Amee Abel is a Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs, Inc., and the founder of the Monadnock Humane Society’s therapy dog volunteer program. Additionally, she is currently the Volunteer Coordinator for Monadnock Humane Society.

Reading to a dog makes reading fun. This is Boone listening to Kennedy Smith. photo courtesy Carol Laughner, 2015

Penny the Piggy Bank I

t’s been more than three decades since I grew up on our farm, at times it seems like yesterday. I remember the closeness of our family, despite the struggles and hardships my parents endured; they lovingly taught us a strong work ethic, and an appreciation for others, including animals. Our barn was not unlike most in northern New England…some cows, a few birds, plenty of cats and one special pig. Dad named her “Penny” because, “I’m banking on that litter this spring,” his popular phrase each mud season. Although I didn’t care about the finances, the fact that Penny had a name meant she was a pet! This one particular spring, a barn cat had a litter about the same time as Penny had hers. The only two things I can recall about the cat were, Dad tolerated her because she was a good mouser, and shortly after she had had kittens she came up missing. The dinner conversation regarding this situation was brief, with a statement along the lines of, “getting rid of the kittens.” When I asked why, they explained that it would 10 4 Legs & a Tail

be far worse to let them suffer from starvation and that, “they need a mother.” "A mother! I could be their mother”, I pleaded. I’m sure my folks finally tired of me begging to take care of six barn kittens. I’m sure they figured I’d probably give up after a few days and nights of tending to the “kits”, and maybe they were right. The barn felt like a nursery. In one corner there was Penny with her piglets, in the other, a bed of hay the kittens called home. Imagine my surprise, when after school one day, I found the “kits” snuggled in among the piglets taking turns on the teats of Penny. My mom talked about maternal instincts.

Dad just uttered, “That’s the darnedest thing.” while scratching his head. All six of those cats made it through kitten-hood. As the years went by, we would all comment during barn chores about Penny, her “kits”, and the special bond between them. It was not unusual to see Penny letting the cats eat out of the slop bucket first, and although pigs are clean animals, time and time again we would witness Penny receiving a cat “tongue bath”. Growing up on a farm taught me an important lesson. When things look bleak, help may come from the most unexpected of places. Spring 2015

Spring- Keeping your Pet Healthy S

Dr. John Eustis, DVM, Orchard Veterinary Hospital, S. Burlington

pring is here, and with the warmer temperatures we start to see many dogs that are either vomiting, have diarrhea or both. A few years ago I think I figured out why we seem to see this epidemic of GI problems in the spring. My theory is that all the birds, mice, chipmunks and anything else that has died over the winter, in addition to various animal feces that had been frozen for the winter, has now thawed. For many dogs this is a treat they just can’t resist! Many times these tasty little treats are badly decomposed and contain many different forms of pathogenic bacteria. Also, all of the ponds and lakes thaw, and dogs start drinking out of them again. Finally, there are several diseases that affect puppies and are more easily transmitted between dogs in the spring when they are outside and mingling more with other dogs. Most of the time, the first thing that you will notice is vomiting, diarrhea or both. This usually occurs within 6-24 hours of ingestion of the contaminated material. Sometimes the dog just vomits the material up and that is the end of it. Unfortunately, what usually happens is the dog vomits at first and then begins to have runny, watery and sometimes bloody diarrhea. At this point it is a good idea to get your four-legged friend to the veterinarian as soon as possible. When a dog is vomiting he’s not able to keep anything like water or food down long enough for it to be absorbed. When he is simultaneously vomiting and having diarrhea, he can become severely dehydrated very quickly. Puppies can be even more quickly and severely affected, as they have little reserves of fat to call on when they can’t eat. Dehydration can lead to kidney failure and death very quickly if left untreated. Diarrhea in dogs can be caused by many different types of bacteria, several different types of parasites and several types of viruses, some of which can be fatal. Besides eating putrefied remains and feces, dogs drinking from puddles, ponds and streams can get organisms that can cause diarrhea. One of the parasites that commonly causes diarrhea is call Giardia. It is also known as “beaver fever,” and is the reason that you are told not to drink the water from lakes and rivers when you are camping. While not all dogs that drink from these sources will get sick, some may, and occasionally it can lead to severe and even life-threatening diarrhea and vomiting. There was a vaccine for the prevention of Giardia, but in my experience it didn’t work very well and has been taken off the market. Giardia can be prevented by commercial filters used for camping or by drinking Spring 2015

only bottled or tap water. With some dogs though, it is impossible to prevent ingestion, as they are swimming dogs and will be ingesting the water no matter what. In these cases I recommend just monitoring your dog. As I said, most dogs will not have any problems. In puppies there is a virus called Parvovirus that can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting and even death very quickly. Fortunately, Parvo is a very preventable disease, and is one of the core vaccines that all puppies should get every 3-4 weeks beginning at about 6-8 weeks of age, and continuing until they are 16-20 weeks old. Regardless of the pup’s vaccine status, if your puppy begins having any of these symptoms, get him to your veterinarian immediately. As I said, puppies have very little reserves and can get very sick, very fast. Treatment for any of these diseases will depend on what your veterinarian finds when they examine your dog, as well as examining a fecal sample. Many times all that is needed is antibiotics or an anti-parasitic, for mild to moderate cases. In more severe cases where there is dehydration and severe vomiting and diarrhea, the dog may need to be hospitalized and given intrave-

nous fluids, injections of antibiotics and anti-nausea medications. Prevention of these infections can be as simple as a vaccine for Parvovirus, but can be more problematic in some dogs that insist on eating anything they find on the ground, or drinking out of every puddle or pond they come across. I have several patients that, unfortunately, need to wear a basket muzzle every time they go outdoors. They will eat anything they find, and become sick almost every time. One owner tells me that whenever her dog is in the woods, he comes back with the basket muzzle packed with dirt and leaves! Cats can also have most of these same problems, but fortunately cats seem to have them less often. I think because it’s true what they say about cats, they’re finicky eaters. While not every dog is going to get sick every time it eats something off the ground, many will. With diarrhea and vomiting it’s no fun for the dog, and no fun for the cleaning crew! If your dog is showing these symptoms it is VERY important to get them to your veterinarian as soon as possible. You can speed the diagnosis and become one of your vet’s favorite clients, if you bring a fresh fecal sample along with you. 11

Raising Backyard Chickens M

Sarah Zabek, Director of Marketing - The Cheshire Horse in Swanzey, NH

aintaining a backyard flock is an affordable and enjoyable way to source your own food. If you’ve ever had truly fresh eggs – that is, eggs that were laid that morning – you know you can taste the difference. They taste better and are more nutritious than store-bought eggs. In addition, if the eggs come from your own backyard chickens, you also know exactly what went into that omelet you’re frying up. Most people raise chickens for their fresh, delicious, and nutritious eggs, but there are many other benefits of raising your own flock, one of which is companionship. Backyard birds make fun and friendly pets that are relatively easy and inexpensive to maintain. In fact, the entire family can get involved with their care. This is a great way to teach children about responsibility and compassion for animals. Poultry also provide a natural lawn fertilizer, as well as chemical-free bug and weed control. You may be surprised at just how much you grow to love your birds once you start your own flock. Is free ranging all it’s cracked up to be? It can be great for chickens if you have the space available, but shelter from

12 4 Legs & a Tail

the weather and protection from predators are critical for healthy birds. You also want to make sure your birds don’t wander off! They require minimal space; a good general guideline is two square feet per bird for the coop and four square feet per bird for the run. Before you set up your chickens’ new home, it is good practice to also check your local laws and ordinances. Want to see shades of brown, white, blue, and green in your egg carton? A wide variety of chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, guinea hens, laying hens, meat birds, and bantams are available – all of which provide their own unique benefits and personalities. When you bring home your baby birds, you’ll need to have everything in place for them. You’ll need a brooder, a feeder and waterer, at least one heat lamp and bulb, bedding, and feed. Chicks will need to stay in a 95° environment for the first week of their life, and then 5 degrees cooler each subsequent week. Your chicks will live in a brooder with a heat lamp for a couple months before they move to the coop. The brooder can be fashioned from a small children’s

swimming pool, a stock tank, a box, or anything else that provides proper ventilation and at least two square feet per chick. You might be surprised at just how well baby chicks can fly, so the walls of your brooder should be at least two feet tall. The bedding needs to be absorbent, and it must be changed frequently. Pine shavings work well for young birds. Healthy birds are happy birds! Allnatural chicken products are available with odor neutralizing ingredients to help keep your coop fresh and dry. Nesting herbs have natural antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties, making a wonderfully aromatic and healthy addition to coops and living areas. And did you know that chickens go crazy for treats? Give them some dried mealworms as a special treat, and they’ll come running to you each time you come to the coop! The Cheshire Horse has everything you’ll need to develop and maintain your own backyard chickens. Visit The Cheshire Horse, on the corner of Whittemore Farm Road and Route 10 South in Swanzey, and online at www. Spring 2015

Spring 2015 13

Green Up Your Pets! E

The Vermont Veterinary Medical Association M. Kathleen Shaw, DVM

arth Day (April 22) and Vermont Green up Day (May 2) is the perfect time to consider some Earth friendly practices to help the environment, when it comes to our furry companions. Plastic is everywhere, and only 27% of plastic is recycled. Landfills can only hold so much and even then it takes 450 years for plastic to start to degrade. If we can use products for our pets made from recycled plastic or even better from renewable resources, it is better for our pets and the environment in the long run. Consider making homemade treats to avoid buying ones pre-packaged in plastic. While there are a million recipes online for homemade dog biscuits, double check the ingredient list with your veterinarian before making them to ensure they are safe for your pet. An even simpler way (if your pet eats canned food) is to take some of your pet’s canned food, cut it into small strips, and bake in the oven until it is brick consistency. Homemade diets are a great idea, but they can be tricky because you must ensure that the diet has the proper balance of ingredients, vitamins, and minerals. Animals can become very sick on some homemade diets if they are not balanced: check with your veterinarian first. Just because “Dr. Google” says it’s so, doesn’t mean that recipe is complete and balanced. There are at least five types of kitty litter that are not only biodegradable, they can be used as mulch or compost (once you scoop out the waste)! These use renewable products such as corn, wheat, paper, or kiln-dried wood. Nearly every local pet or feed store has at least one such kitty litter. Stop using those plastic grocery store bags for your dog’s waste and use ones that break down quickly and naturally and don’t harm the environment. It is estimated that a million animals (mainly in the ocean) die each year from ingesting plastic, mistaking it for food. There are several companies that make biodegradable “doggie doo” bags that can be found locally. You know you can’t resist buying toys for your pets. Did you know there are many companies that make dog and cat toys and beds from recycled plastics, hemp, wool, or cotton? Check with your local pet supply stores, or as a last resort, check online. You can even make your own pet toys at home. Reuse scraps of fabric to make your own braided dog pull toy. Cat owners all know that most of the time the cats have more fun playing in bags or boxes than they do with toys from the store. You can even crumple up your old bills and have the satisfaction of seeing your cats bat them around the house. Cats find cords and stringy toys irresistible to play with, but they also like to try to eat them. This can cause serious illness, so put them away when you’re done playing. Avoid plastic food and water dishes and use ones made from metal or glass - or better yet, look for ones made from sustainable materials. There is at least one company that makes food and water dishes from bamboo, for example. So green up your pets! These are small things that you can do to help make the environment a safer and better place for wildlife and all of those future puppies and kittens.

The Vermont Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), founded in 1898, is a professional organization of 340 veterinarians dedicated to compassionate animal care and quality medicine. 14 4 Legs & a Tail

Spring 2015

The Tiki Chronicles Part II: Tiki goes to College By Francesca Finch Bochner

The second chapter in a series about Tiki, an older cat with myriad health problems (including FIV, a feline version of HIV). Despite his various handicaps, Tiki is still alive today, and continues to lead an extraordinary life.


artmouth College; home of brilliant academics, cutting edge arctic science research, an excellent hockey team, Animal House and, in March of 2010, my little tabby cat Tiki. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a rule breaker. In the rare event that I do break a rule, I am usually very bad at it. If an authority figure even looks at me twice I will rush to tell them what I did wrong. However, for Tiki’s sake I was willing to take a walk on the wild side. Rumor has it, at Dartmouth, if you are caught with a pet in your room, the school will suspend you. While the custodial staff does not clean individual rooms, campus security can go anywhere, at any time. Furthermore, each room is a reverberation chamber, anyone walking down the hallway can easily hear a cat meow. Tiki has a particular penchant for vocalizing every emotion (hunger is a loud, demanding screech;

happiness a rumbling purr; “Welcome Home” a series of short meows); I was understandably concerned that we’d be caught. During my senior spring semester, I had a generously sized single on the fourth floor of the oldest building on campus. I set the whole room up as a perfect home for Tiki, a chair under the window to lie on, his litter box was under my desk, and his food and water next to my bed so I could see if they needed refilling. The only problem was that we were right next to the bathroom, and every morning around 7:00 the custodian would spend a fair amount of time on the other side of my wall. All well and good, but 7:00AM was just when Tiki would rise and stretch with an earth-shaking screech, his breakfast needed to be served. The first few months in my dorm were heavenly. I would feed him in the morning and pray the custodian was hard of hearing. Then I’d be off to class,

pick up lunch and come back to feed him again. In the evenings I would always use Tiki as an excuse to cut out early, figuring that snuggling with my elderly orange cat trumped playing pong into the wee hours. My friends rolled their eyes at me for being so animal crazy, but they all ended up falling in love with the little guy. At the beginning of the term I would rush home to feed him and then have to go back out to see friends. Soon, I had girlfriends who specifically asked to come see him, and one who would bring over turkey from the dining halls. I have never seen Tiki happier than when he was at college. He got to be around people every few hours, and in between napped on his chair in the sun. I did all of my homework in my room while he sat right next to me. Every Monday night I would pull an all-nighter to finish the chapters Continued NEXT PAGE

Continued Next Page

Spring 2015 15

of my thesis that were due on Tuesday, and Tiki would curl up on my desk right next to the computer charger, his personal heater. There he would stay, snoring blissfully as I typed. We made it all the way to mid-May before we hit our first speed bump. By this time the custodian knew Tiki was in my room (he and everyone else on the floor), but promised he would not report me. I guess the daily smile and “how are you” that I sent his way were so out of the ordinary that he cut me some slack. Unfortunately, as the vet in Florida had warned me, the tumors in Tiki’s ears caused recurrent infections that made him really uncomfortable. I had an oint-

ment specifically to manage those infections, but in the beginning of May Tiki’s ear began to bother him and nothing I did seemed to help. I tried the ointment, but one night he kept us both awake scratching and shaking his head, he had to go back to the vet. Getting Tiki out of the dorm, past the security guards that drive behind the buildings, as well as the custodians who were not as forgiving as our friend on the fourth floor, was going to be a production. Getting him inside had been a two -person job, sneaking his carrier into the building in the middle of the night, through the one entrance without a security camera. I couldn’t bring him out in

Tiki at the dorm.

the middle of the night, so I decided to cover the case with a towel, park my car at the risk of getting towed, and make a run for it. The stars must have been aligned that day because I managed to get down the stairs without passing any custodians, out the door when the security guard was behind another building, and safely to the vet. The vet put him on some special eardrops with the promise that he’d be better in a few days. Afterwards, I waited with Tiki in the car until dusk, and then managed to get him back into the dorm room with the help of a few friends. My last month of college went by in a blur, all with Tiki by my side. He sat with me in one place for two days straight as I finished my thesis (thankfully I stocked up on enough food for 48 hours). He watched as I got dressed for my last ever college formal, and on graduation day he dozed and gazed at the rain out our bedroom window. The end of college is a bittersweet experience. It is in turns surreal, unreal, stupendous, disappointing, sentimental, and hopeful. I came back to my room after getting my diploma feeling extraordinarily sad to be leaving, but excited about moving forward. I closed up the last suitcases, carried my box of textbooks down, and managed to squish my pillow into the last inch of room in my back seat. Then I went upstairs to put Tiki in his crate. This crate had brought him from central Florida to central New Hampshire. Now it would bring him somewhere new. He looked at me and let out a screeching meow. I scooped him up and gave him a hug. “Well, at least we can’t get suspended anymore,” I said, and put him in his crate, ready to start our next adventure.

16 4 Legs & a Tail

Francesca Finch Bochner is a Dartmouth alum who fell in love with the Upper Valley and decided to stay in the area after graduation. She is currently taking a year off before graduate school to train and compete her dressage horse, Tess. She lives in Strafford with her boyfriend (a veterinarian) and their menagerie of animals. Spring 2015

“Hey, it’s Just an Ear Infection, Right?” Not exactly. Jennifer Lesser, DVM - Norwich, VT


solated ear infections are uncommon in dogs. Sure, Cocoa may dive at Lake Sunapee for a week in July and develop an isolated ear infection that is readily treated. But what about dogs like Sadie with recurring or chronic ear infections? The vast majority of dogs who suffer from an ear infection that persists or recurs have an underlying cause for those infections. These underlying causes can be treated, more often than not.   OK, so what does your canine best friend look like when she has an ear infection? Even if she shows no symptoms, these HURT. Most dogs will become quiet when they hurt; they seldom vocalize, especially with ongoing chronic pain. We are their best friend and their advocate. The infection is sometimes hidden deep in the canal, which you cannot see without special equipment. At home, families should watch for these symptoms: • Shaking head • Rubbing ears on floor • Holding head to one side • Increased wax of varying color • Ear odor • Redness to ear canal or to ear flap • Thickened skin of ear flap

How do we eliminate the isolated ear infection? Often Cocoa’s veterinarian will provide a “triple approach,” giving her a topical medication that addresses all three: yeast, bacteria and inflammation. For uncomplicated ear infections, this is highly effective. If this describes your dog, consider her very fortunate. For patients that experience ear infections that will not go away or frequently return, read on! Chronic or recurring ear infections: Do you have to accept them as a pain that your loyal friend must endure? NO! We must identify and eliminate the cause of the ear infection. For the vast Spring 2015

majority of cases, this is the single most important aspect of care and often the most overlooked. What are the most common causes? Allergies, Allergies and yes you guessed it, Allergies. Food allergy, inhalant allergy and flea allergy underlie most ear infections in dogs. In a few instances, we may see a grass awn or foxtail lodged in the ear. Very few dogs may be harboring ear mites, quite uncommon in comparison to other causes of ear infections. The tricky part:  Determining WHICH of the allergies is causing the ear infections.  Here are a few hints.   • You find fleas. Easy - eliminate the fleas, treat the ear infection and see how Sadie is feeling.

• The ear infections happen regardless of season. Consider a food allergy and speak to your veterinarian about the best hypoallergenic diet to try. This is often misunderstood. Please speak to a well informed veterinarian or veterinary dermatologist to appropriately institute a hypoallergenic diet trial. An entire article could be devoted to this subject.   • You recently changed foods (meaning in the past few months) or have started feeding new treats (especially those loaded with artificial colors, flavorings, preservatives) and now Sadie has an ear infection. As much as possible, only feed your pup foods in which you can understand all of its ingredients. Continued Next Page 17

What You Should Know About Feline Asthma Elisa Speckert, Norwich, VT


eline asthma or bronchitis is a relatively common condition in cats. This condition occurs when your cat is exposed to a certain irritating substance that causes an allergic response. This response results in a narrowing of the airways and difficulty breathing for your cat. Additionally, the body’s inflammatory response allows for the buildup of mucous in the airways that can cause additional problems. Adult cats between the ages of 2-8 are most commonly diagnosed with asthma. Siamese cats and overweight animals are also at an increased risk. Symptoms of feline asthma can include coughing, difficulty breathing, open-mouth breathing, sneezing, vomiting, mucous discharge and wheezing. There are a large variety of substances that can trigger your cat’s allergic response. These are often inhaled irritants

18 4 Legs & a Tail

Chronic lung changes in a cat with asthma.

including cat litter dust, cigarette smoke, hairsprays or perfumes, pollens or molds. Other less common causes of feline asthma can include viruses, bacteria and heartworms or lungworms. Diagnosing feline asthma usually requires complete blood work and a radiograph (x-ray). The blood work is useful in determining whether a bacterial infection is present in your cat’s respiratory system as well as whether they are having an allergic response. A radiograph will allow the veterinarian to see if there have been any chronic changes to the lungs which are common in feline asthma. Additional testing including biopsy of the airway tissues with a scope can be done in an attempt to identify exactly what is causing the asthma.

In most cases, however, the exact cause is not able to be determined and our feline friends are managed medically. This includes limiting their exposure to some of the more common and easily avoided irritants (cigarette smoke, dusty cat litter, perfumes, etc). It also includes placing your pet on medication to manage their symptoms. Oral steroids are the most common treatment for feline asthma. Ideally owners will try to decrease this medication to the lowest effective dose. Inhaled medications such as albuterol or steroids used with a specialized feline mask and spacer are also very effective with fewer longterm side effects. Antibiotics are also used in some cases if a bacterial infection is suspected. Though most cats can be managed very well with just a few medications it is important to pay close attention to the way your pet is acting and feeling. If they suddenly begin having trouble breathing or their medication seems to stop working it is imperative that you contact your veterinarian immediately. In some cases your cat may require oxygen therapy and additional medications to recover from a particularly serious episode. Elisa Speckert a graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in Animal Science and is currently a veterinary technician at River Road Veterinary Clinic in Norwich, VT. She currently lives in White River Jct. with her son, three dogs, cat and hedgehog.

Spring 2015

• The ear infections correspond to a move to a new house. Environmental inhalant allergens are a common culprit of ear infections. • Sadie is 3 years old and has begun having ear infections that tend to be seasonal - meaning they are concentrated most heavily in particular seasons. Whether it be Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter - different dogs are sensitive during different seasons. These are generally often due to inhalant allergens; allergies often develop as dogs mature in early adulthood. My medical approach to aid our patients suffering from persistent ear infections may include some or all of the following: • Ear cytology (ear is swabbed and debris

is evaluated under microscope) • Ear culture (ear is swabbed and a microbiology lab identifies the exact organisms) • Blood work (complete blood cell count and blood chemistry including thyroid) • Hypoallergenic food trial. With this approach, please speak to an informed veterinarian, as choosing a lamb, duck or even kangaroo diet from your favorite feed store is not a diet trial. Also, grain-free food has become trendy and is not “hypoallergenic”; in some cases they aggravate symptoms.

• Blood test evaluating for inhalant allergens. I do not recommend blood tests that

evaluate for food allergens as they are highly unreliable (as in, as reliable as a blindfolded monkey and a dart board).

• Evaluation for mites, there are several to consider.

Ear infections, whether short-lived or persistent, are almost always treatable. However, they sometimes require some investigation, critical thinking, patience and commitment. Our pals deserve these in abundance.   Dr. Lesser’s professional life has been committed to pets and their families for fifteen years.  Following her work at the National Institutes of Health on the Human Genome Project, she earned her veterinary doctoral degree in May 2000.  Norwich Regional Animal Hospital is owned by Dr.  Lesser.  Specialty services are provided by Dr. David Sobel, DVM, MRCVS and an exceptional network of referral veterinary specialists.

Spring 2015 19



t looks like Washington is at it again, as legislators in our nation’s capital have begun conversations to amend the Affordable Healthcare Act. The cornerstone of the current administration, ObamaCare has been the most polarizing legislation in more than 50 years, and the current proposal has lawmakers fighting like a cat and dog over it, literally cats and dogs. Under the plan laid out by a Senate sub-committee, a single payer health care program will be required for all dogs and cats. Needless to say, the idea has drawn fire from several groups over the guidelines of the bill, including benefits. As one Georgia congressman put it, “That dog don’t hunt! Here in the Bible-


Both would be well served with the prescription glasses covered under this proposal.” However, some have been highly critical as being too focused on just dogs and cats. The American Alpaca Society has called the proposal discriminatory. As one alpaca farmer put it, “Next time you complain about some scratchy acrylic sweater, you’ll wish for healthier alpacas.” A full vote is expected sometime this spring, and if all goes according to plan, OBarkaCare could go into effect as early as April 1, 2015. For more information visit www.4 HappyAprilFools

A Stroll in the Mud

fter five decades of mud season there are few things that can rattle my cage. The exceptions are: 2am phone calls from my daughter, letters from the IRS marked URGENT and coming home to find a police car parked in my driveway. The latter was the case this spring.

20 4 Legs & a Tail

belt, spay and neutering is a form of birth control and should not be funded by my taxpayers.” When pressed further, the congressman did say he would consider spaying if the mother’s life was in danger. One animal rights group applauds the effort. According to one spokesperson, “We’ve paid a lot of money to our lobbyists over the years. It’s about time Washington threw us a bone.” Even the veterinary industry has chimed in with a statement. “Dogs and cats are part of our families and should have FULL mandatory health benefits including vision coverage. Cats are prone to cataracts, (which is where the human optical term originated), and many dogs suffer from varying forms of blindness.

Let me start with the fact that Bailey, our eight year old German Shepherd, is a little sweetie. She can bark like a Shepherd, but there is no bite to back it up. In fact, she’s such a baby, that most times she’ll camp by the door when left alone and pine until we return.

I say most times, because the day the police came to visit was the day Bailey decided not to wait for her masters. If you know Shepherds you know the intelligence of the breed, they are certainly smart enough to open a French door handle. Once this simple task was achieved, there was only one logical way to celebrate her new found freedom…a casual stroll through the park and downtown Keene, NH. Naturally, the obvious issues arose: a self walking dog without a leash, and the fact that she is a large German Shepherd going solo. Although Bailey has not shared the details of her adventure (and maybe it’s better off that way), a story was shared with me by the local police officer who followed her home that day. He received a call about a German Shepherd wandering around the town. By the time he had caught up with her, Bailey was covered in mud, tired, and ready to call it a day. She walked the last hundred feet and into an open doorway. The fast thinking cop was worried and couldn’t be sure that this dog hadn’t just strayed into the first open door she came across. Arriving back at our house from a morning of shopping was when my heart skipped a beat. We found a Keene patrol car sitting in our driveway! Fortunately, the officer shared this tale as we went in to confront our wayward dog. She was lying sheepishly on our white bedspread covered in mud. If we hadn’t known the entire story, I’m sure we would have wondered until our final days, “How did that dog get so muddy IN the house?” Spring 2015

Rats! R

Dr. Susan Dyer DVM

ecently, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has exonerated rats as the culprit of the bubonic plague. After eight centuries, the findings conclude that it was gerbils migrating from Asia as the cause of “Black Death”. That said, I apologize to all rats.- Editor People envision many different things when thinking about rats. Some consider them as vermin or pests, many envision laboratory specimens, others think of them as snake food, while a chosen population treasure them as pets. These rodents make excellent pets for children if they are cared for properly. They seldom bite when raised as pets and are handled with care. These timid and social pets are fun to watch performing their natural behaviors of burrowing, searching for food, and playing. Unlike their wild counterparts that are typically nocturnal, pet rats have periods of activity both day and night. Rats are inexpensive, easy to care for, and responsive to handling. As with any pet, good quality food and clean, fresh water must be provided

Spring 2015

Rats can make excellent pets.

at all times. In the wild, these animals feed on leaves, seeds, roots, fruits and insects. Pelleted rodent rations are recommended for feeding in captivity, which are processed as dry blocks or pellets. Seed diets are also formulated for rats, but these diets should only supplement the basic rodent pellet as a treat item. Rodents prefer sunflower-based diets to pellets, but these seeds are low in calcium and high in fat and cholesterol. When fed exclusively, seed diets can lead

to obesity and nutritional deficiencies. The pet’s appetite should be monitored closely. Many factors affect the rodent’s food intake, including the ambient temperature, humidity, food quality, breeding status, as well as the pet’s health status. Rats typically eat at night. Water should be provided in water bottles equipped with sipper tubes. The sipper tube keeps the water free from contamination. The tubes must be posiContinued Next Page 21

tioned low enough to allow the pet easy access. Inadequate water consumption leads to dehydration, lower body weight, infertility and death. These rodents drink only a fraction of the total bottle volume, but the bottle should be emptied, cleaned and refilled with fresh water daily. Pet rodents become tame and seldom bite when properly restrained and accustomed to handling. Be careful, however, when approaching a nervous or frightened pet. Also, it is best not to disturb a sleeping animal because most are usually quite cranky when awakened. Some rats can be very territorial of their cage, and these should be coaxed out of the

22 4 Legs & a Tail

cage before being handled. Most pet rats enjoy being handled when away from their cage. Rats can be easily picked up by scooping them into a can or cupped hands. They can then be moved out of their territory to a neutral area. Rats can also be lifted by grasping the base of the tail, but be careful not to injure them due to their large size. For any rodent, never pull on the tip of the tail because the skin can easily tear and become stripped from the tail. Rats can be restrained by grasping over the back and rib cage, while restraining the head with a thumb and forefinger positioned on either side of the neck. To initially pick up a rat, it may be necessary to grasp the tail base as suggested above. Rats do not respond well to scruffing by the nape, but it may be necessary in some cases. Several types of cages are available which are suitable for housing small rodents. Many of these units come equipped with cage “furniture” such as exercise wheels, tunnels and nest boxes. These accessories contribute to the pet’s psychological well being. Cages should be constructed with rounded corners to discourage chewing. Rodents readily chew through wood and thin plastic. Recommended caging materials are wire, stainless steel, durable plastic and glass. Glass and plastic enclosures restrict ventilation and may lead to temperature and humidity problems. These materials are acceptable when at least one side of the enclosure is open for air circulation. These pets thrive in solid bottom cages with deep bedding and ample nesting material. Bedding must be clean, non-toxic, absorbent and relatively dust free. Shredded paper and processed corn cob are acceptable beddings. Wood shavings and ground corn cob must be free of mold, mildew or other contamination. Cedar chips or chlorophyll scented shavings should be avoided because of association with respiratory and liver disease. At least one inch of bedding should be provided to allow for normal burrowing behavior. Cotton and shredded tissue paper make excellent nesting materials. Rats need at least 40 square inches of floor space and a minimum of 7 inches in height. Breeder rats require much larger areas. Optimal temperature range for these pets is between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 40 to 70%. Twelve hour light cycles are preferred, with most rodents being more active during the night. As a rule of thumb, the cage and accessories should be thoroughly cleaned at least once weekly. An excep-

tion to this schedule is when newborn babies are present, then wait until they are at least 10 days old. Other factors that may require increased frequency of cleaning are the number of animals in the cage, the type of bedding material provided, and the cage design and size. Cages are sanitized with hot water and non-toxic disinfectant or detergent, then thoroughly rinsed. Water bottles and food dishes should be cleaned and disinfected daily. Pet rats can be housed singly or in groups. These rodents are colony oriented by nature. However, occasionally an overly aggressive rat may have to be caged individually. Territorial disputes also develop when the cages are overcrowded or when they lack food or water. Group cages should be provided with multiple food and water sources. It is recommended to spay/neuter your rats to aid in avoiding unwanted territorial behaviors and improve the odor emitted by their urine. Dr. Susan Dyer sees dogs, cats, birds and other exotic pets at Bradford Veterinary Clinic (formerly Stoneciff Animal Clinic of VT) in Bradford, VT, 802-222-4903 Modified from: Small Mammal Health Series, by Susan Brown, DVM, 

The beautiful Ms. Monto was adopted by Shelley Cochran of Barre, VT. She will make a great addition to her two senior labs and will enjoy the company of her three year old son, Keegan. She has done exceptionally well shedding some pounds in foster care and will continue to work on her girlish figure. We wish Shelley and Monto the best! For more information on adopting a pug, visit Green Mountain Pug Rescue at

Spring 2015

Ready to Ride?



Dorothy Crosby - Stoddard, NH

s a warmer season approaches, both new and seasoned horse people are anxious to get in the saddle. Some folks have their own horse or access to one on a regular basis. Others want to find some riding opportunities but don’t know where to start. All may wish to obtain skills, perhaps with some lessons. Finding the right place to ride can be overwhelming whether you are looking for the first time or seeking someplace new. Here are some guidelines to help in that search for the right barn or equine situation for you. Some of the things you will look for are not about riding itself; much more goes into a quality equestrian experience than just getting on a horse. The barn does not have to be pristine, but should be in good repair. Safety should be prioritized for both horse and rider whether mounted or unmounted. A messy tack room could simply mean lots of people pass through; broken things or cluttered aisles could be safety issues for humans and equines. Cleanliness counts, too; it is, after all, a farm, but lack of good hygiene and care of things also portrays an attitude about the horses, riders, and their care that you’ll want to pay attention to. You can observe if stalls are kept clean, clean water is available, and horses have ribs showing or caked on dirty legs. These living creatures work and serve the people who ride them, and should have adequate care to do their job and be comfortable. Is the barn open to visitors? By appointment only or can you show up anytime? Farm managers may want staff available to answer questions and ensure safety for visitors and horses, but there should be an opportunity to check things out before your first ride if you want it. Are you welcome to watch a lesson? It’s of concern if not allowed; it is reasonable to request the student’s permission. Will you be required to sign liability waivers?

Are attendance and cancellation policies enforced? Do they offer group or private lessons of varying lengths? Are lessons geared around individual needs, goals, and learning styles or is there a set curriculum that all students follow? Are their horses suited for particular riding styles or rider abilities? Do they offer or specialize in educational programs, showing opportunities, or different styles of riding (English, western, dressage)? Does barn staff groom and tack up the horse or is the student expected to do it? Will there be instruction in this process or any horse care practices included in lessons? The “correct” answer is dependent on the type of experience you are seeking, but it is a good idea to enter into this new adventure with realistic expectations and responsibilities in mind. What types of credentials do the instructors have? Will you always have the same instructor? In some barns teenage students teach less experienced kids or assist an adult instructor with groups. Will this affect the cost? You should be aware of what to expect and realize this will impact the lesson in some way. Know what attire you are expected to have. Are helmets required (they should

be!); will you need your own or do they loan them? You should need long pants, non-baggy clothing and an enclosed shoe with a small (1/4-1/2”) heel to be safe; do they expect “proper” riding attire or is safe and casual ok? With answers that help satisfy your personal riding goals, you are well-prepared for that new horse adventure…. have a wonderful ride! As both a Centered Riding® and CHA certified instructor, Dorothy Crosby manages a farm and lesson program for adults and children based in Stoddard NH. She teaches a number of disciplines, emphasizing safety and fun while learning. Dorothy loves teaching workshops and programs both on and off the farm for riders and horses of all ages.

Oliver is a 16 hand registered Clydesdale who thinks he is a giant Teddy Bear. Enjoyed for his smooth and rocking-chair gaits, his solid way of moving is great for learning rhythm and the feel of something big in a small package

Spring 2015 23

Rare Breeds of the Twin States A Man And His Otterhounds


Karyn Swet - Plainfield, NH

ast spring at Strolling of the Heifers, 4 Legs & a Tail had a booth set up. Part way through the day, a man approached with two large, coarse-coated, handsome dogs that I had never seen before. When I asked about his dogs named Sassy Sue and Blaze, Russell told me about the rare status assigned to this breed of dog, known as the Otterhound. After giving me the historical background of the Otterhound, he suggested that our magazine could create a new column dedicated to the rare breeds of the Monadnock Region - so here it is! First, a little history about the O t t e r h o u n d . T h e b re e d o r i g i n s date back to the 11th century, therefore the Otterhound is recognized as an old British breed, developed to hunt otters. Essentially, the modern day Otterhound found its origin and image within its 19th century cousin, so that is the Otterhound seen today in the 21st century. There are only about 600 - 800 of this vulnerable breed worldwide. This is a serious situation, which the Otterhound Club of America and the Otterhound Club of Britain are striving to avoid, the reality that the Otterhound could cease to exist. In talking with Russell in his cozy cabin located in New Hampshire, he informed me of some local history involving the Otterhound. Originally, the Otterhound found its way from Scotland to America via steam ship in 1903 as arranged by Henry Steele Wardner, who had visited Scotland in the early 1900’s and first brought this breed to North America. H.S. Wardner, was a Harvard alumnus and a lawyer for both a NYC based company and his family’s business, which happened to be based in Windsor, VT, where the Wardner’s had a summer home. His Otterhound kennel was created circa 1903, and existed till circa 1914 in Hartland, VT. He was one of the first Otterhound breeders, and had the first two AKC registered Otterhounds in the US. Those Otterhounds acquired the town name, to become known as The Hartland Otterhounds!   75 years later, in February of 1988, while Russell was viewing the Hound Group of the Westminster Dog Show, he saw Amanda in the show ring representing the Otterhound breed. Immediately, Russell knew this was the breed for him and couldn’t imagine his life without this rare breed in it! Shortly after Westminster Russell contacted the AKC (via phone), about Otterhound breeders that currently had Otterhound puppies. The Greyfield Kennel of Mt. Gretna, PA. had two pups remaining from the March litter of 1988, and Russsell became the proud owner of Shane. Eventually, one Otterhound was not enough for this man! 10 years later, the rescue aspect of the Otterhound Club became aware of seven Otterhounds that were in dire need of rescue and adopting to new homes, due to neglect. Two Otterhound Club members had a large role in this Otterhound rescue. All seven Otterhounds were driven to New Jersey. Russell drove to New Jersey in February of 1998 to adopt Ramona. He loved the sound of her name as it rolled off his tongue. A spot in Russell’s heart was filled with warmth and affection for Ramona - a sweet Otterhound gal that he came to cherish for the next 7 years. Since Shane and Ramona, Russell’s Otterhound family had grown to include a comical big boy named Duncan, and currently, his two loves, Sassy Sue and Blaze. Otterhounds are even tempered and amiable and have a boisterous Johnny Depp howling bark.  With their rough, oily double coat and webbed feet, they love the water. It’s not uncommon to find an Otterhound with its head submerged in a bucket of water. Russell points out that this is not a breed for clean, neat people. Messy faces and flying saliva is something only a true Otterhound fan will love! Otterhounds are loving and comedic, sure to bring joy and humor to your daily life!   If you have a pet or animal that is a rare breed, we’d love to share it. Email us at 24 4 Legs & a Tail

Pet Stress! (Autumn Likes to Pee on the Couch) Cathrine MacLean, DVM Grantham, NH


ave you ever felt stressed? Did you ever pig out on your favorite treat to help “cope” with the stress? What does your pet do when he or she is stressed? For a lot of pets their coping mechanism for stress is acting out. For dogs this may mean destructive behavior, and for cats it often means inappropriate urination. Pets can become stressed for many different reasons. For example, there are many dogs that become stressed from thunderstorms or fireworks because of the loud noise that they make. These dogs are often very anxious, will shake, and sometimes have destructive behavior. Cats tend to handle stressful situations by either hiding or urinating inappropriately. Cats also tend to be much more sensitive to subtle changes in their environment than dogs. Something as simple as having a guest stay at your house, can really upset some cats. So what do you do for your stressed pet? First, call your veterinarian. We are here to help. The course of action will depend on your specific situation. For example, if you have a dog with a thunderstorm phobia, I would discuss the Thunder Shirt with you (works for some pets and not for others), pheromones, herbal/nutraceutical remedies, and then if all else fails, we would discuss drug therapy. In the case of inappropriate urination in cats, it’s a bit more complex. First, your veterinarian will probably check a urine sample to make sure it’s not a urinary tract infection. Assuming everything checks out okay, there will probably be a discussion about possible changes in your environment. In most cases the stressor, such as a new pet, can’t be removed from the situation. Next, a long discussion will probably occur about litter boxes. Cats Continued Next Page

Spring 2015

can be very particular about what type of litter box they have, the location of them, the type of litter used, etc. Most cats tolerate their litter boxes despite what their human chooses; however, all it takes is one stressful event to send them over the edge. If everything checks out and/or environmental changes don’t improve things, then the next step may be a pheromone. I personally like to use Feliway diffusors which need to be refilled once a month. The cat pheromone is calming to many cats and helps relax them. A lot of my inappropriate urination patients respond to this step. For those particularly tough cases, drug therapy may need to be used. Take Autumn, our clinic cat for example. She came to us because she was stressed. I don’t know what exactly stressed her out in her previous home, but her coping mechanism was to urinate on her previous owner’s new couch and bed. Her previous owner couldn’t handle this anymore so we took Autumn in. In this case the previous owner just didn’t want to deal with Autumn urinating all over her furniture, which is understandable since cat pee stinks. We had never met Autumn prior to her being surrendered to us. The first thing we did was get a urine and blood sample from her to make sure everything was okay. When that checked out normal, I decided to just wait and see what would happen. We have a futon and a couch at the clinic

Spring 2015

which she has access to. If she started urinating on one of those items, we would try Feliway. Autumn has lived with us for over six months. Since the day she moved into the clinic she has never urinated anywhere but her litter box (except the one night we accidently locked her in reception and she used the potted plant—oops!). Autum’s case is extreme in the sense that she was taken out of the environment that caused her stress, and the symptoms resolved. Most people are willing to try other steps before giving their pet away. If Autumn was urinating all over the clinic we would have tried the other things mentioned above. For Autumn a new home worked out

just fine. Our original plan was to adopt her out, but after a couple of months of her living at the clinic and making sure her issues didn’t show up again we all became attached. So now Autumn spends her days greeting clients, lounging in her bed on the reception counter, trying to help everyone type, and most importantly, using the litter box like a good girl. Dr.Cathrine MacLean is originally from upstate NY and knew she wanted to be a veterinarian at an early age. She attended Penn State and loves college football. She currently lives in Lebanon with her husband Matt, daughter Katrina and their fur children. 25

Ollie enroute to his new home.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear A

s a first time shopper for new kitchen cabinets, my wife and I tried to take on the experience like the novices we were. Fortunately, Rick was very patient with us. Even while I eyeballed and pawed over a dozen displays, he just smiled when I asked a question about the warranty. Turns out he had just explained in detail the entire warranty. “Sorry,” I said, with an embarrassed grin. “I guess I wasn’t listening.” He quickly brushed it off and shared this 4 Legs & a Tail tale. It seems Rick and his wife were looking to foster a couple of dogs. Or as he put it, “foster- short for potential dog ownership,” but he was certainly ok with adopting a new dog. When his wife approached him with the opportunity to rescue a great Pekingese pup, he was eager to make the new addition to his family. A new addition in a literal sense was more like it. As they got ready to pick up the pup one morning, Rick suggested they take the small car (better on gas). His wife suggested they take the Jeep since it had more room. “How much room do we need? A Great Pekingese is a small dog.” That’s when Rick shared the importance of being a good listener. He swore he heard his wife say great Pekingese, NOT Great Pyrenees. Now, with more than 100 pounds of new dog at home, I think spring is a great time for Rick to build an addition.

26 4 Legs & a Tail

Rick Major works at Belletetes in Andover, NH. Spring 2015

The Cat With The Golden Tooth A

Sandra Waugh VDM, MS, - Windsor Veterinary & Dental Service, Windsor, VT

pril was a happy cat until she broke her upper canine (fang) tooth. Then she spent more time curled in her box and would not come out to greet her human friends. She no longer rubbed her face against our hands. Cat owners often think that broken teeth do not bother their pet, because the signs of tooth pain can be very subtle. April’s change in behavior was a clear sign that something was bothering her, and the broken tooth was the most likely cause.

When a tooth is formed, it has three layers. To make this easier to visualize, think of a garden hose. If you cut across the hose, you will have the outer layer, often a shiny colored plastic, which wraps around the entire tube. Then comes a thicker rubber layer, which is the bulk of the hose. Then there is the central core, which is empty to allow water to flow. A tooth is like a garden hose that is pinched at both ends. In the tooth, the outer layer is made of enamel, the hardest substance in the body. This is the shiny white tooth we are familiar with seeing. Once formed, enamel becomes inert and cannot repair itself. Under the enamel is dentin, which is much softer and is yellow in color. Dentin grows throughout the life of the tooth, and forms the bulk of the tooth. At first the dentin is a thin layer just under the enamel. As the tooth ages, the dentin thickens towards the center of the tube. Dentin is constructed as small tubules which radiate from the enamel into the center of the tube. The core of the tooth is not empty, but is occupied by the pulp which contains blood vessels, nerves, and supporting tissues, which nourish the dentin and provide sensitivity to the tooth. At the top of the tooth this space is called the pulp chamber and in the root is called the root canal, but it is really all one chamber. If a tooth is broken, the pulp is exposed to the mouth, and bacteria easily invade into the chamber. The pulp usually cannot survive this, and dies. This allows bacteria to occupy the entire length of Spring 2015

the tube, and they happily take up residence inside the dentin tubules. The bacteria can then exit the end of the root into the surrounding bone, causing infection there as well. The body can fight the infection that is in the bone, but can no longer reach the inside of the tooth, so the bone is constantly being re-infected as time goes on. This can be quite painful (ask anyone who has needed a root canal procedure!) Dead teeth are often discolored, as seen in the photograph. April really wanted something special, so instead of extracting the tooth, a root canal procedure was performed. This involved cleaning out the inside of the tooth (pulp chamber and root canal) with files and disinfectant, and then filling the inside with an inert material that would seal the inside of the tooth. The top of the tooth is then sealed. The top of the tooth was then prepared for a metal crown. This involved removing the enamel and some dentin to make a platform for the crown to rest upon, and to allow the crown to be similar in diameter to the original tooth. The canine teeth come together quite tightly when the cat closes the mouth, so the crown must fit into this space. Impressions were made with alginate and VPS and a stone model of the mouth was poured. All of this was sent away to a dental laboratory, which then fabricated the crown. Then we all waited (impatiently) for the crown to return to us. Especially April. Some gold alloy was used when the crown was made to give it that nice warm, golden glow.

The day after the root canal procdure, April was like her “old self”. She gave her favorite humans a big greeting, with lots of squawks and rubbing of face on hands, dancing around and insisting on being petted. And when the gold crown went on, she was totally pleased. Now April is the envy of all the other cats, and we have taken to calling her “Goldy”. Why is the crown so short? Crowns in cats and dogs on the canine teeth are never made to the length of the original tooth. A metal crown that long would be very vulnerable to sideways pressure, and that could result in the tooth underneath fracturing at the base of the crown. Why does the crown look fat? Because the original tooth was so small, the least amount of enamel and dentin were removed. The width of the metal was slightly more than the width of enamel and dentin that was removed. This makes the crown look a bit “fat”. The important thing is that April can close her mouth completely and in total comfort. April is a 12 year old female spayed Domestic Shorthair cat residing at Windsor Veterinary & Dental Services. All photographs and radiographs are the property of and produced at Windsor Veterinary & Dental Services. 27


specially this time of the year, when we’ve had enough of the cold, miserable mix Mother Nature has given us, we start thinking of spring, or taking a tropical vacation to a place with a white sand beach. How many of us think of all the beautifully colored fish in the ocean, wishing we could be scuba diving, investigating one of the most unexplored regions of the world? The array of sizes, shapes and colors could mesmerize us for hours, filling us with peace and serenity. Or you stop into a pet store, Looking at their saltwater tanks you see the different animals and fish, and think you would love to have that at home. Nothing helps me get to sleep better then thinking of crystal clear water, nice white sand, colorful rocks with sea anemones and corals all over an aquarium. With nice bright yellow, blue, purple, and red fish swimming around the aquarium going in and out of the rocks, and that little clown fish (Nemo) taking up residence in an anemone. I can swear I hear the ocean waves, and the temperature has risen to a nice 80 degrees. I can even smell it. Don’t you want a nice saltwater tank? I know I do. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face as I relax even more in my office chair. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s too much work to keep a saltwater tank. The fish are way too sensitive.” Anyone can keep a saltwater aquarium, even you! Yes you! You can enjoy your piece of paradise all year round and drown out the stresses of the world, while taking pleasure in your saltwater aquarium. Keeping a saltwater tank can be as complicated or basic as you would like. Believe it or not, the larger the aquarium, the easier it is to keep. My goal is to help you understand saltwater aquariums so you can choose the set-up right for you. I can’t touch upon every aspect in this article, but I can give you a small glimpse of what you can do. Let’s break it down into 3 types of tanks: Saltwater Fish, Reef, and Nano. 28 4 Legs & a Tail

DJ Nelson Saltwater Fish Aquariums: An aquarium that has only fish in it. Usually fish that may eat or torment shrimps, corals etc, but also can have other fish in it as well. These can be the easiest to keep, out of the three choices. Usually it’s recommended to start out with a minimum 30 gallon aquarium. I’d recommend, if you can, starting out with at least a 55 gallon tank. You will enjoy this much longer than the 30 gallon. If you’re just doing fish, you don’t have to worry about the many additives that have to be added to the water, when you have reef set up. Even though lighting in any aquarium is important, you don’t have to worry about the intensity of the light. Like with freshwater, you can have a community tank or an aggressive tank, depending on what you fancy. You can have live rock or fake corals in this type of aquarium. Foods are a bit more interesting than freshwater because you’ll feed a mix of flake/pellet foods and frozen foods, thus keeping the fish healthy and happy.

it and can also have nice colorful coralline algae on it, as well as some other cool stuff. Ask your local pet store more about the different types of live rock. Sand will help filter your aquarium, your inverts (invertebrates) will love the sand over crushed coral. Now, you can also make a reef aquarium very complex with an array of different corals (both easy and hard to keep), invertebrates and fish. Doing this will require that you check your water chemistry a few times a week, possibly adding supplements 2 times a week. This will also require a protein skimmer.

Nano Aquariums: These are aquariums under 30 gallons. Commonly, people are keeping aquariums between 2 and 20 gallons. They can have just fish, or fish and some shrimps and small corals. This requires daily water changes and monitoring, depending on exactly how small the tank and what you are keeping. Usually, beginners don’t go for this type. As you can tell, keeping Saltwater Aquariums can be a fun, interesting Reef Aquariums: An Aquarium that typically has cor- and low maintenance hobby, definitely als, shrimps, crabs & etc. As long as it worth exploring. For more information has even one shrimp in it, I would recom- on keeping saltwater aquariums you can contact your local pet store. mend calling it a reef tank. These I find, can be the most rewarding and amazing. Once it has been set up, you get to see it evolve, not just grow. Remember the same is true as far as the size of the aquarium. This type of tank is probably the most flexible in regard to how easy or complicated you want to make it. You can keep it simple with a shrimp, some fish, and maybe a hardy coral or two (like mushroom rocks). You will have to make sure you have good lighting, and expect to add some liquid supplements. Don’t let this deter you from keeping the aquarium, because doing this will make it moderate/easy depending on one’s definition. Test your water once a week, once established. I also recommend using live rock. Live rock has good bacteria in

DJ Nelson has worked in the pet industry for almost two decades and is the owner of AquaRealm Aquarium & Pets in St. Johnsbury, VT. He works with Reptiles, Birds, Small Animals, Fresh & Saltwater fish, and Dog & Cat Nutrition. Since proper care is constantly changing, educating customers about their pets is very important. and Facebook.

Spring 2015

4 LEGS & A TAIL FUN! What's Different?

Dog’s collar, Paintbrush, Boys’ Shirt, Girl’s Sandal, Women’s Earring, Dog’s Bone, Top Screws on Doghouse

TEACHER’S PET Previous Next

On the last day of kindergarten, all the children brought presents for their teacher. The florist’s son handed the teacher a gift. She held up the box and said, “I bet it’s some flowers!” “That’s right!” shouted the little boy. Then the candy store owner’s daughter handed the teacher a gift. She held up the box and said, “I bet it’s some chocolates!” “That’s right!” shouted the little girl. The next gift was from the liquor store owner’s son. The teacher held up the box and saw that it was leaking. She touched a drop with her finger and tasted it. “Is it wine?” she asked. “No,” the boy answered. The teacher touched another drop to her tongue. “Is it champagne?” she asked. “No,” the boy answered. “What is it?” she said. “A puppy!”


Alicia Goodwin



Happy Mud Season Southern NH & VT

Rats! What You Should Know About Feline Asthma OBarkaCareIs Mandatory Health Insurance For Pets Coming Soon? Choosing The Right Dog This Spring

4 Legs and a Tail - Keene - Spring 2015  

A Magazine for Pet and Animal Lovers