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Behavior & Training | Nutrition | Health | Outdoors

A Supplement to the Jackson Hole News&Guide

June 13, 2018

Mind

Games Canine agility challenges brains as much as brawn. Page 10.

AMBER BAESLER / NEWS&GUIDE


2 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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ll journalists have biases. The best we can do is be cognizant of them. My bias, or at least one of them, is my dog. He’s the best one. Sorry everyone, Bentley is the best dog in the whole dog world. I worked with and in animal shelters for several years before returning to journalism. Prior to my return, I earned a Professional Science Masters in zoo, aquarium and animal shelter management. Weird, I know. But that background is partially why I was so excited to launch the Peak Pets section, the News&Guide’s newest special project. I love animals (see bias above). We’re kicking it off hot this year (meet our inaugural #JHPeakPets Instagram winner on page 3, read about an African grey parrot that goes hiking on page 17, for starters), and as much as we love our pets in Teton County, I’m excited to see this annual section grow. I’m also excited to unveil Peak Pets because animals have brought me so much. I got Bentley when he was an 8-week-old ball of fat and fur, and he’s been with me through half a dozen moves, rough patches, good times — the thick and the thin. He’s now 6. But with animal ownership comes responsibility. This leads me to something I’ve been thinking about for weeks. I recently visited my parents, who live south of Denver and close to the dog mecca that is Cherry Creek Dog Park. Unlike our seasonal dog park at the Teton County Fairgrounds, this fenced-off space is 107 acres of land and water perfect for playing, romping and “sniff-faris,” as dog trainer Eva Perrigo calls them. I’ve never had a bad experience at the park, and neither had Bentley. At least, not until a few weeks ago. Bentley came upon two Australian shepherds as we were walking the big loop around the park, and one locked onto him. She wanted to play, so my mom and I stopped for a few minutes. Then we started back on our loop, and the other owners started walking in the opposite direction. Typically, even if dogs are in heated play they break off and follow their owners at some point. This dog wasn’t going to do that. It stuck with Bentley for several hundred feet as its owner yelled and yelled — and yelled — for it to come. Unsure of what to do, my mom decided to walk back toward the dog’s owner, hoping her move would encourage Bentley

and his new friend to follow. It did. But when she got to the owner he didn’t leash his dog or otherwise restrain her. So, my mom gave up and we continued walking south, his dog still trailing Bentley. The owner continued to yell for his dog to come as he walked in the other direction. We got about a half mile away when we saw the owner jogging toward us, a Chuck It stick in hand. You know when you can sense something bad is about to happen? The Australian shepherd cowered behind me. The owner grabbed his dog by her harness — thankfully she didn’t have a collar on — and shook her saying, “When I say ‘come,’ you come.” Then, as he dragged her away, he struck her with the Chuck It. She yelped and whimpered as she was hauled away. I froze. As soon as my mom heard the dog yelp, she yelled. A nearby man also yelled. The owner told them to stay out of his business. We were about a mile from the ranger station, a location that is typically not staffed with a park ranger but, rather, a volunteer checking badges and taking payment. I didn’t bring my phone. I wasn’t prepared for a confrontation. I’m not sure confrontation helps in these situations. Advocate training through the Community Safety Network has reinforced the truth that we are not responsible for someone else’s choice to abuse, be it pet or person. Still, I have seen the same frustration rise with owners — never to that level, thankfully — when their pet won’t come when called. And watching the miserably poor recall exercise the man was attempting was pitiful. I’m no trainer, but the basics of recall suggest this: positive reinforcement works (see page 4). Violence does not. We can’t solve all the cruelty in the world, and you can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to be taught. But for those of us who are teachable, who are willing to learn, who do love these animals as if they are kin, let’s do the best we possibly can. Let’s learn new techniques. Let’s build our bond with our pets. Let’s find ways to connect with our animals, be it through hiking (see page 9), agility (see page 10), or just choosing the right one for you (page 6). And most importantly, let’s be kind. As for the man who hit his dog, something to remember: karma is a ... female dog. — Melissa Cassutt, News&Guide deputy editor and Peak Pets editor

Special supplement written, produced and printed by the Jackson Hole News&Guide Publisher: Kevin Olson Associate Publisher: Adam Meyer Editor: Johanna Love Managing Editor: Rebecca Huntington Deputy Editor and Peak Pets Editor: Melissa Cassutt Layout and Design: Kathryn Holloway, Andy Edwards Photographers: Bradly J. Boner, Ryan Dorgan, Amber Baesler Copy Editors: Jennifer Dorsey, Mark Huffman, Tom Hallberg Features: Julie Butler, Melissa Cassutt, Kelsey Dayton, Jennifer Dorsey, Clark Forster, Allie Gross, Tom Hallberg, Isa Jones, Mike Koshmrl, Kylie Mohr, Emily Mieure, Elise Schmelzer, John Spina Advertising Sales: Karen Brennan, Tom Hall, Chad Repinski, Megan LaTorre, Oliver O’Connor Advertising Coordinator: Maggie Gabruk Creative Director: Sarah Wilson Advertising Design: Lydia Redzich, Luis F. Ortiz, Taylor Ann Smith Pressroom Manager: Chuck Pate Pre-press: Jeff Young Post Press Supervisor: Charles R. Pate Pressmen: Dale Fjeldsted, Steve Livingston, Dayton Fjeldsted Office Manager: Kathleen Godines Customer Service Managers: Lucia Perez, Rudy Perez Circulation Manager: Kyra Griffin Circulation: Hank Smith, Jeff Young

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©2018 Teton Media Works Jackson Hole News&Guide P.O. Box 7445, 1225 Maple Way Jackson, WY 83002


PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 3

#jhpeakpets instagram winner

@_DREW_SMITH_ / COURTESY PHOTO

Huck, a 2-year-old blue merle miniature Australian shepherd, is the winner of the first #JHPeakPets Instagram competition. He gets a little nutty when he sees animals on TV but is otherwise mellow.

Small but mighty Meet Huck, the 2018 #JHPeakPets winner.

penter a little over a year ago, he became scared in his crate and started crying in the middle of the night. But once his new parents brought him into bed he went to sleep. By John Spina The very next night he got right into his crate and slept through the night. Ever since uck is your normal Jackson boy, just he’s just been “super easy.” maybe a little bit more handsome. “He does have a weird habit where he You can find him making turns down loses his mind if there’s any animal on TV, Glory, hiking Josies Ridge, floating the rivers but we’re so spoiled,” Orzech said. “I rarely and cruising the bike paths on weekends. He have him on the leash and he always stays also likes to bark at the wildlife. close, even when we’re biking. He’s so melBut nobody’s ride in Jackson is free, so low and gentle, he gets along with every dog, even as a 2-year-old the blue merle mini every person, and he’s very good with kids. Australian shepherd commutes from Vic“I just feel like Aussies just have good tor, Idaho, every Monday through Friday to souls. My friends describe them as the spend his 9-to-5s assisting his dad, Kevin Subarus of Jackson: They’re super reliable Gregory, at the Lubing Law Group. and you can’t go wrong.” “We’re trying to get him to start billing At least part of Huck’s good behavior, hours,” said Huck’s mom and Gregory’s fi- however, is due to his canine-crazed parents. ance, Casey Orzech, who works as a floating Though they were unable to have a dog living nurse, “but that hasn’t happened yet.” in the small, run-down apartments of East With electric-blue eyes and a luscious head Jackson, they constantly dog sat for their of hair, Huck also friends and fostered does some modeling three dogs from the on the side to help Animal Adoption make ends meet. Center. When they “I want to be him His good looks even decided to buy a garnered 283 votes house in Victor, they in my next life.” in the #JHPeakPets were well-prepared competition, more a puppy. — Casey Orzech for “We, than any of the other like, bought HUCK’S MOM 122 entries. our house for our Though Orzech dog,” Orzech said. always said she “It’s way easier over would never start an Instagram for him, he here. We have a yard and it’s just nice to have was just so photogenic she couldn’t resist. a such a dog-friendly spot in a mountain His many glamour shots can be found at town that’s not really that dog-friendly.” @huck_the_mini. Living in Victor with Huck has also ex“I want to be him in my next life,” posed Gregory and Orzech to a whole new Orzech said. world. While they love taking Huck to the Key to any active life in Jackson, how- beach at Jackson Lake, the ban on dogs in ever, is knowing how to recover. Huck is much of the national parks has forced them very good at recovering. to find new areas and meet new people. “Aussies can be very hyper, but they “I certainly go to the park a lot less since just need a lot of exercise,” Orzech said. “If we got him,” Orzech said. “I’ve made so there’s ever a day that either of us can’t get many friends that I may not have found out during the day we’ll sit in the hot tub through Huck just by going to the dog and throw him his Frisbee to wear him out. park or walking the dike or exploring new As soon as he gets in the house he’s super areas of Jackson and Victor.” mellow and just passes out.” Huck is such a good boy that Orzech and When Orzech and Gregory picked up Gregory are already thinking of getting him a Huck from the Four Paws breeder in Car- brother or sister, which they will likely adopt.

H

COURTESY PHOTO

Huck with his mom and dad, Casey Orzech and Kevin Gregory.

“I hope our next dog will be just as good,” Orzech said. “But the next one will probably be super crazy and hyper because he’s easy.” Contact John Spina at 732-5911, town@ jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGtown.

Floofs and fluff wanted Think your pet should be the next Jackson Hole Peak Pet? Follow @ jhnewsandguide to watch for the 2019 #JHPeakPets contest on Instagram.


4 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

training & behavior

Leash-free and reliable canines By Melissa Cassutt

E

veryone wants a dog that comes when called. Whether in town, on a hike or just in your house, it can be frustrating when your pup ignores a “come.” But teaching reliable recall, especially the kind that would lend to off-leash walks on trails, is a process, said Eva Perrigo, who works with clients at Dog Jax and adoptable pets at both shelters in town. “Motivation is so key to a rock-solid recall. You have to be better than your competition. … If we don’t show them that, that’s when you get the dog that looks at the thing they want, looks at you and weighs their options,” she said. Perrigo, 35, has loved canines as long as she can remember. She worked in the behavior department of the Santa Fe Shelter and Humane Society and professionally with pooches as a trainer staring in 2010. She practiced under a Star Valley trainer, then beefed up her skills by enrolling in the Academy for Dog Trainers, a two-year program that offers certification in training and canine behavior counseling. She graduated in 2016. Much of her work starts with explaining dog behavior to owners: Once people know why their pet is behaving a certain way, it’s easier to understand the solution. “Dogs do what works for dogs,” she said. In the case of off-leash recall, Perrigo trains owners to train their pet in a 10-step program, a process that can “take a while,” she said. Recently the News&Guide visited with Perrigo to pick her brain about teaching recall and off-leash issues. While we can’t address all 10 steps of the process, she did provide a good foundation for how dogs are trained to come when called. The interview has been edited for clarity and space. N&G: Generally speaking, how long does it take a dog to have really good recall? Perrigo: It’s definitely dog dependent. It depends on how diverse their motivation is. Are they food motivated? Are they toy motivated? My general recall protocol is a 10-step training plan and each step is repeated 10 times. By the end of that training plan the dog will have had 100 repetitions of recall, ideally. N&G: How much time do you usually plan for a dog to make it through all 10 steps? Perrigo: I usually say most owners should do three to five recalls a day. Too many more of those and you get a little bit of a loss of motivation, and sometimes the dog starts to anticipate. N&G: So Step 1, if you’re doing three reps a day, it would take you four days. Perrigo: Exactly. N&G: What is Step 1 to teaching recall? Perrigo: We start in the house, 10 feet away. We say the recall word that we’ve chosen, wait a few seconds and then prompt. Prompting is happy talk, clapping, bending down low, basically making a big fool of your-

AMBER BAESLER / NEWS&GUIDE

Dog trainer Eva Perrigo works with Domino, an American Staffordshire terrier and good boy, May 17 at the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter. Training off-leash recall, as she is doing here, is a multistep, multiweek process.

self so the dog is excited and runs over to you. And we feed huge. It’s helpful to feed something that they never receive any other time. The first step is about “charging” the word, it’s not about coming to you. It’s more about them learning whenever they hear that word they get a huge “paycheck.” N&G: Can you talk about motivating your dog to come? Perrigo: Whatever you’re offering has to be better than what’s out there — and you have to prove that to your dog, that it’s good for them to come to you. If we have shown them time and time again that it’s good to come to us and they get a huge party, then

they trust us. N&G: Can owners steer away from “paying” the treat after recall is established? Perrigo: A lot of people want to pull away from their “paycheck” and expect their dogs to just do it because “they should.” The reality is usually when we’re calling our dogs to us it’s because we want them to stop doing something that they are mostly likely really enjoying. It may be rolling in poop. They may be playing with their best friend. They may be chasing a deer. They’re being a dog. I like to put it in perspective with owners that when you’re out there doing your favorite thing in the world — you’re

skiing the pass in deep pow and someone says a word and that means you need to stop skiing right now and you’ve got to go to work, how much money would you need to do that willingly and happily? N&G: Are there other commands that complement “come”? Perrigo: There are three levels of recalltype behaviors. I use a “let’s go,” which is a “let’s keep moving, let’s move off that scent, let’s keep going,” but I don’t need the dog to come to me. I have casual recall, which is usually C-O-M-E. Sorry — I’m used to spelling it out because I’m in front of dogs all the time! “Come” or “here” are the ones you use most of the time and it’s going to work most of the time. Then I have an emergency recall, which would be a unique word or sound that is never used with the dog except when you’re calling them. A lot of my clients will use foreign language words — “aqui,” “vamos,” “venga” — some clients just use the word of the treat they’re going to give — “chicken!” The word doesn’t matter, but it has to be something really unique that the dog never really hears. That recall you pay it big, heavy, tons, tons, tons every single time for the rest of their lives. N&G: When are dogs ready to be off leash? Perrigo: My three things for having a dog off leash are a rock-solid recall, really solid “leave it” and really good “stay.” “Stay” can be a really great way to manage situations. Don’t wait for the dog to do the thing you don’t want them to do and then have to react to it. N&G: What are some of the problems you see with dogs on the trails? How can we better educate owners on responsible trail use with dogs? Perrigo: Always have a leash with you on trails — always. I’m not saying you have to have your dog on it, but at least carry it with you. A lot of bad encounters happen because of on leash-off leash interactions and it’s not fair to the owner whose dog is on-leash. Unfortunately there’s no place for owners who need their dogs to be on-leash to go without interacting with off-leash dogs. So the onus is 100 percent on the owner who has their dog offleash to get their dog under control before it interacts with the dog that is on-leash. I also suggest owners put bear bells on their dogs. It helps to decrease encounters with wildlife. And your dog should be in your sight at all times. The amount of dogs that you see in this community and you don’t even know where the owner is, it’s like, what if something happened? You wouldn’t even see it. Contact Melissa Cassutt at 732-7076, valley@ jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGvalley.

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PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 5

training & behavior

Treat toys puzzle pups, challenge cats Toys that make pets work for treats have bountiful benefits.

Popular picks for pet owners Puzzle toys are a best seller at Pet Place Plus, which stocks a variety of games to challenge pups. Employees pick them up as frequently as the customers. “I have [a dog] that’s high-energy, so I constantly do things like make feeding her a little harder, or I don’t hand her treats, I put them in a toy to make her work at it,” Borneman said. While dogs are the most prominent consumer of puzzle toys, they can be good for cats as well. Both Pet Place Plus and Teton Tails have toys that target canines and felines.

By Isa Jones

A

ll it takes to mentally stimulate and entertain a dog is a couple of scoops of peanut butter and a cylinder-shaped rubber toy. The Kong, a toy that pet owners have come to worship, is the most simple kind of pet “puzzle toy,” a category of challenging toys designed to make a dog or cat (or any animal, really) work for a reward. These kinds of toys are both popular and beneficial, especially for pets whose owners are off at work during the day. At Pet Place Plus, puzzle toys fill the toy aisle. “We sell them because we think they’re important for canine enrichment,” General Manager Jessica Borneman said. “We see a lot of dogs, in all kinds of breeds, that are high-strung with a lot of energy. If you’re working during the day, having them home alone or in a crate can be problematic, because by the end of the day they had no way to get rid of that energy.”

“Just like us, we need things to keep us busy and work our minds. So do they.” — Jessica Borneman GENERAL MANAGER, PET PLACE PLUS

Toys that make them work

The puzzle creates a route to expend some of dogs’ energy, and there are multiple kinds that all get the job done. Treat dispensers are, as they sound, contraptions that release goodies when solved. Owners fill the toy — a Kong or a rubber cube, for example — with the dog’s favorite snack, and he roots around until he gets the cookies out. Puzzles with moving pieces require the curious canine to physically move parts to reveal the reward. There are also slow feeders, which are less of a puzzle toy and more of a consumption regulator. Slow feeders are either a specially designed dish or a piece added to a regular dog dish that make it harder for the pet to chomp up his kibble. The most complicated toys act as a stand-in for an owner, like the iFetch, which auto-throws a ball for a dog.

Why puzzle toys succeed

Puzzle toys have a straightforward purpose: To keep your pet physically and mentally engaged. These kinds of toys can help with energy, anxiety and stress behaviors. Beyond the typical household

BRADLY J. BONER / NEWS&GUIDE

Treats are stashed inside the toy between rubber arms that require some effort on the part of the pooch to dislodge.

pets, such enrichment is also used in zoos and animal sanctuaries. The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg, Colorado, is home to hundreds of lions, tigers and bears plucked from defunct zoos, roadside shows or personal homes. In addition to other animal enrichment, such as large concrete tunnel tubes, sanctuary workers also freezes blocks of meat for its tiger population, which encourages the carnivores to work for their food. Enrichment has also started to make its way into the cages of research rodents and rabbits. A 2005 study in the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research found enrichment — specifically enrichment that targets species-specific behaviors — is as important to animal care as nutrition and veterinary care.

“All are mentally stimulating,” Teton Tails employee Sarah Scully said. The store stocks a variety of cat toys, from feather fishing poles to pouncing toys to chase lasers. Some even involve catnip. Generally the feline variety of enrichment is smaller and easier than the canine types, Borneman said. “They have to be easy, or the cats lose interest,” she said. Toys and similar enrichment activity correlate to weight loss, decreased aggression, anxiety and fear, and cessation of attention-seeking behavior, according to a March 2013 article in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. “In cats, various forms of enrichment, such as play, perches, play towers and novel toys, have been shown to reduce stress-related symptoms and to contribute to weight loss,” the study stated. If you want to try a puzzle toy on your fluffy companion, the study provided the following suggestion. “Clients should be prepared to try a few different types of food puzzles, because cats may have individual preferences for the type of puzzle or how they interact with puzzles,” the study stated. Contact Isa Jones at 732-7062, jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGscene.

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6 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

training & behavior

Shy owner, shy dog? It’s not that simple Do our dogs reflect our personalities and appearances? By Elise Schmelzer

M

any of Carolyn Auge’s friends tell her that she and her dog, Subi, have the same energy. The Jackson real estate appraiser and dog trainer wasn’t sure about Subi, a combination of pit bull, Australian shepherd and sporting dog breeds, when she adopted him more than six years ago. At first, he cried all night. But after a few weeks, he stopped whining and settled into his new home and became Auge’s “heart dog,” she said. Now, Subi is a highly energetic, sensitive and goofy dog, Auge said. When he gets excited, he spins in circles at high speeds. “I think our attitudes are the same: He goes in and says hi to everyone,” she said. “The two of us are energetic and can be silly. Though I don’t think I’m as well-behaved as Subi is.” It’s not unusual to compare dogs to their owners, in both looks and personality. But animal behavior expert Melissa Bain has good news. “Don’t worry — if you’re crazy you’re not making your dog crazy,” she said. It’s a bit of a myth that we choose pets that resemble our personalities, she said. At least there’s no strong scientific evidence that the hard-core skier will choose a serious, focused dog or that the gregarious joker will seek out a sociable, goofy canine. Bain and others at the veterinary school at University of California-Davis recently completed a yet-unpublished study comparing owners’ Myers-Briggs

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE

Carolyn Auge considers both herself and Subi to be friendly, energetic and, at times, silly. Want to find your perfect pet? Check out this story at JHNewsAndGuide.com for some tips.

personality type to their dog’s personality, but there wasn’t much correlation between the two, she said. “There’s some research out there showing there’s some relationship,” said Bain, who researches animal behavior at UC Davis’s veterinary school. “But it’s pretty weak.” She pointed to one 2012 study that compared the personality profiles of 389 dog owners in Austria and Hungary with their canines by evaluating each participant on five indicators: neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness. Although the researchers found “significant positive associations” between the pairs’ personalities, they recognized that their methods had limitations, includ-

ing the fact that owners may project their own personalities onto their dogs. Instead, she said, pet owners are much more likely to seek out their animal companions based on their lifestyles and, as suggested by at least one study, their looks. In 2004 two researchers took separate photos of 45 dogs and their owners. The researchers then asked volunteers to match the dogs to their owners, based entirely on looks. The study, titled “Do dogs resemble their owners?”, found that volunteers were able to match purebred dogs with their owners about 60 percent of the time. Nonpurebred dogs, however, could not be consistently matched with their owners. “The results suggest that when people pick a pet, they seek one that, at some

level, resembles them, and when they get a purebred, they get what they want,” the study reports. Sumayah Holden, practice manager at Jackson’s Spring Creek Animal Hospital, says she knows a number of clients who look like their pets, though it can be tricky to point out the similarities. An older man might not find it flattering to be compared to his bulldog. “You don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings,” she said. But Holden also sees another pattern appear between pets and their owners. “I think there are two ways people choose pets: Those who choose a dog that looks like themselves or those who choose a dog who looks like who they want to be,” she said. “Like, I think, sometimes shy people will get a gregarious dog because they want to break out of that situation.” But that can set some pet owners up for an uncomfortable relationship, she said. Say someone adopts a border collie because she or he wants to be more active. However, that person then continues to be a couch potato. The lack of exercise and stimulation will likely leave the dog unhappy and hyperactive. “Most people nowadays, though, think about the breeds they’re going to get and are making the choice based on what their lifestyle actually is,” she said. While there may be little scientific proof that owners’ personalities influence their pets’, all pet owners should remember that their behavior absolutely affects the behavior of their animals, Bain said. “There is evidence that if you yell at a dog, it is more likely to be aggressive,” she said. “But crazy people don’t necessarily have crazy dogs.” Contact Elise Schmelzer jhnewsandguide.com.

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PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 7

nutrition

Chow hounds and tubby tabbies abound Portly pets face poor health prognoses. By Jennifer Dorsey

E

ating fruits and vegetables is a great way to stay slim and trim. Just ask Olive and Barley. When the pug and her puggle brother get a treat it’s more likely to be chunks of carrot or apple than a couple of dog biscuits. “They get lots of vegetables and fruits,” said their mom, Diane Peterson. “Whenever I get the knife and cutting board they come out and sit at the edge of the kitchen. It’s all good stuff. I don’t mind giving them that.” Low-cal treats help Olive, 13 1/2, and Barley, 6 1/2, keep their waistlines in check. That, plus regular walks and controlled portions of canned dog food at mealtime. “I know exactly how much I need to feed them,” Peterson said. Veterinarians probably wish they had more Olives and Barleys on their patient rosters. Simply put, a lot of cats and dogs are fat. Early spaying and neutering may contribute to the problem. But mostly dogs and cats lay on the lard the same way we do: They eat too much and exercise too little. “It simply comes down to how many calories they’re putting into their body and how many they are using,” said Dr. Alex Radebaugh of Spring Creek Animal Hospital. She cited figures from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention: 56 percent of dogs and 60 percent of cats are overweight or obese. Because Jackson is such an active community, Radebaugh thinks the stats are a bit better here. Her guesstimate is that 1 out of 4 dogs and 1 or 2 out of 3 cats are overweight. “Locally I would certainly say obesity or overweight is definitely a common problem we see daily on routine healthy visits,” she said. With so many people in the Tetons taking their dogs with them hiking, biking and ski-

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE

Hobbes loves himself a good treat, but putting on extra pounds is bad for dogs’ health. He’s a 4-year-old male Labrador retriever and is available for adoption at the Animal Adoption Center.

It’s hard to get indoor-only cats like Buford to shed pounds, but it’s not impossible if owners count calories for their pets. The 4-year-old “gentle giant” is at the Animal Adoption Center awaiting a forever family.

ing, it can come as a surprise to hear that their canine companion is chubby, said Dr. Katie Alexander of the Wydaho Mobile Vet. “They think that because they’re walking their dogs or taking them on adventures there’s no way they can be overweight, but that’s just not true,” Alexander said. “You get skinny in the kitchen but fit in the gym,” she said. “If you feed the dog too much and give it lots of treats, even with those adventures it can still be pretty obese. It should be pretty obvious, but you have to feed them less.” Excess baggage puts stress on hips and joints, leading to arthritis, tendon injuries and more: “Those bone and joint problems that dogs can get from leading really active lives

are worsened by even a few extra pounds,” Alexander said. A range of other health challenges are in store for portly pets: diabetes; heart, respiratory and skin problems; hypertension; kidney disease; and cancer, to name some. Moods suffer, too. The American Animal Hospital Association’s website cites a veterinary behaviorist’s opinion that some obese dogs and cats are actually clinically depressed. You can assess your cat or dog by looking and touching. When your pet lies on her side on the floor, for example, does her side look rounded? That’s not ideal. When she’s standing does she have a visible waistline, aka tummy tuck? That is ideal. Try running your hands over her rib cage.

“You should be able to feel ribs without pressing,” Alexander said. “Sometimes it’s a question as to whether the animal actually has ribs.” A body check is a routine part of checkups at the veterinarian’s office. “We look at weight, where it has been in the past year,” Radebaugh said. “Are they gaining or losing? What is the body condition score — not only fat, but muscle?” From there the conversation moves into the type of food the animal is eating, how much and how often, including snacks. “Those treats that seem small will significantly contribute to their intake for the day.” Radebaugh said. Accurate measuring is key. A cup of food means one measuring cup. “I’ll ask to see the cup and it’s a Big Gulp soda fountain thing from the gas station,” Alexander said. “I have little cups in my van that are 1 cup. You fill it to the top and that’s it.” Getting a pet to exercise more is easier if you’re talking about a dog than a cat. “Indoor-only cats are the hardest,” Radebaugh said. She encourages owners to get their cats to play more, perhaps with toys or kibble dispensers that require a bit of work to get a nugget (see page 5 for more on puzzle toys). Strict calorie limits are key with indoor-only felines. Don’t expect the cat to like it. “The owner will tell me, ‘Now my cat is waking me up at 4 a.m.,” Radebaugh said. “That’s always a challenge: when we have angry cats bothering the owner because they want more food.” Obesity isn’t a fun topic for vets to discuss, but it’s necessary. “I took an oath to speak for what I think animals would want me to say,” Alexander said. “Even though it’s hard for people to hear it’s important for the health of the animal.” Contact Jennifer Dorsey at jhnewsandguide.com or 732-5908.

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8 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

nutrition

You may save your pet’s life.

PHOTO: SUE CEDARHOLM

Thousands of traps and snares cover our public landscapes. Wherever you see wildlife and it is legal to walk your dog, there are probably traps in the area... even directly on the trail.

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE

Teton Tails shop dog Annie perches atop a stack of dog food at the Pearl Avenue store. Though grains are part of a healthy pet’s nutritional requirements, a recent trend is cutting grains from your pup’s diet.

Vet: Grain-free diet is just a pet food fad Most animals eat grain with no ill effects.

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ill health is caused by diet, and, if so, exactly what part of the diet is responsible. But grain and gluten intolerance in dogs is rare, said Dr. Joe Wienman, a veterinarian By Kelsey Dayton at Jackson Animal Hospital. The majority of pets can tolerate grains. he pet food aisle at grocery and pet stores Veterinarians do see dogs with food alleris filled with seemingly endless options gies, but those are almost always to protein for your animal friends. And the compasources like chicken, beef or soy. nies that make the food that lines the shelves The grain-free movement is like a fad all want you to believe their brand is the diet but for pets, he said. The real question is healthiest for your pet. whether the grains in pet foods are the same In recent years grains have gotten a bad as the grains decades earlier. Food today is reputation when it comes to pet food, but isn’t processed and might contain pesticides and because of the science, it’s the marketing, said GMOs, but whether that affects pet health Dr. Jonathan Stockman, clinical instructor hasn’t been determined by science, he said. and board-certified veterinary nutritionist at Wienman recommends looking for the Colorado State University. wholesomeness of ingredients. “I would say as a general rule, there is noth“The fewer the ingredients in there and ing inherently wrong with grains,” Stockman the more pronounceable the ingredients are, is said. “Grains provide some fiber and some a good indication you are on the right track,” other important nutrients.” he said. Grains have come to be seen as a problem Cats can also thanks to pet food eat grain. But cats companies that make need more protein, grain-free products, “The fewer the ingredients so grain-rich foods he said. The antiusually aren’t the best in there, and the more grain movement has choice, he said. been going on for The idea of a balpronounceable about 10 years, but anced diet applies to it seems more prevacats and dogs, but the ingredients are, lent at the moment, what that looks like gaining traction is a good indication is different between when new brands the two species. introduce specialty you are on the right track.” Cats handle carbofoods or marketing hydrates differently campaigns, Stock— Dr. Joe Wienman than dogs and peoman said. It’s a fad VETERINARIAN ple, Stockman said. similar to low-carb They metabolize or gluten-free diets. carbs differently and Like human nutrition requirements, their livers don’t respond to grain the same which include gains and complex carbohy- way. drates, grains are part of a balanced diet for It can be an overwhelming process to figpets. That’s what people need to worry about: ure out what food is best for your pet, Stockmaking sure their animals are eating a bal- man said. Check labels to see if the food is anced and complete diet and getting suf- formulated to meet the Association for ficient nutrients and not eating an excessive American Feed Control Officials’ guidelines amount of anything. and was tested to meet animal feeding proBut just as some people really do have tocols, he said. gluten allergies or their bodies respond better Do a little research on the company to proteins, animals have individual dietary that makes your pet food: Does it have needs, Stockman said. It’s not uncommon a licensed animal nutritionist on staff ? for animals to have food sensitivities, he said. How does it test its products? What Some might be sensitive to chicken or pork, kind of quality control does it perform? while others might not do well with grains. Talk to your veterinarian about what he “Specific animals have specific dietary or she recommends in terms of brands, needs,” Stockman said. “There isn’t a blanket but also what kind of food will work best statement about what all animals should or for your pet. shouldn’t eat.” “And remember, the more expensive Food sensitivities in pets manifest in simi- pet foods with all these exotic ingredilar fashion to humans, including skin diseases ents are not necessarily better than those or gastrointestinal issues. Infections or envi- that are cheaper and provide a balanced ronmental sensitivities can also cause these diet,” Stockman said. problems. To determine if the diet is the culprit, Stockman recommends a trial in which Contact Contact Kelsey Dayton via valley@ specific ingredients are avoided to pinpoint if jhnewsandguide.com.

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PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 9

outdoors

Wilson Canyon hike suits man and pooch Doggie-friendly outings abound in Jackson Hole. By Mike Koshmrl

T

his pooch-friendly three-hour hike was chosen somewhat arbitrarily, and could be any of the dozens within an hour of so of Jackson. I say so because we live in a remarkable place to adventure in the outdoors with our dogs. I was reminded of that on a recent trip to visit my old stomping grounds in Boulder, Colorado, when I unexpectedly encountered leash laws, even along the summits of the highest peaks setting the Front Range skyline on the fringes of town. The rules were perhaps necessary in a place with 10-plustimes the population of Jackson and oodles of dogs, but a bummer to this spoiled Teton County resident and my spunky leash-adverse pudelpointer Sota (not poodlepointer, thank you). Jackson Hole is very different. Though the national parks and National Elk Refuge are rightly, in my opinion, off limits to dogs with few exceptions, there are no restrictions on the vast majority of public land. The BridgerTeton and its adjoining national forests’ many millions of acres house a treasure trove of trails, streams, peaks, basins and rolling hills that can be explored with a furry friend on or off leash. In my experience it’s having a dog in the first place that oftentimes leads to exploring these landscapes, and getting outside generally. That brings me to my first-ever stab at a through hike from Wilson Canyon to town. On a brisk-turned-beautiful late-spring weekend day, I set off with Sota and my girlfriend, Julia, on this somewhat mellow hike through the Snow King area’s “backcountry” that would spit me out four blocks from

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE

Reporter Mike Koshmrl and his pup, Sota, head north through the Teton Wilderness last summer. Jackson Hole is filled with off-leash areas, but pets must be under voice control.

home. The lightly used trailhead is located in the Lower Valley Energy parking lot, just 3 miles south of Smith’s. Ambling through the lowest reaches of Wilson Canyon was a walk down memory lane. Blackened standing conifers on the small butte just south of canyon’s mouth had me pondering the threatening 2012 Horsethief Canyon Fire, started in a burn barrel in a nearby neighborhood. We passed a grassy meadow where I’d worked to hone my now 4-year-old bird dog’s pointing instincts with live pigeons when he was a puppy. At another point I eyed a depression where I once stumbled onto a shed antler from a “spiker” elk. Sota helped create a new, though ideally less-lasting, memory near the onset of our outing. He’s apt at finding ungulate legs to gnaw on and roll in, and this time his un-

wanted plaything was a moose’s front leg — a first! I gave him a sniff. Foul, but not horrifically so. A definite win. A mile and a half or so in we were striding uphill paralleling a tiny seep stream that must go underground in its downstream reaches. There was ample water for Sota through the first half of the trek and a few lingering snowfields near the Snow King summit. But if you attempt this hike later in the year, bring an extra liter for the pooch, especially if you’re setting out on a warm afternoon. Wilson Canyon is perhaps best known as a mountain biker’s trail, and it’s considered one of the most challenging in Jackson Hole. Mountain Bike the Tetons’ online description is that this “extremely difficult” trail is in one stretch “steep, loose, rocky and very technical.” Nevertheless, we encountered one group of mountain bikers that were tackling Wilson Canyon, and several more parties above the West Game Creek trail junction. To avoid a collision that could be painful either way, I make a point to secure Sota by the collar when bikers pass by. Usually I’ll slap a bell on him, too, though, not expecting many people, I skipped it in favor of the birdsong and silence this time. Three-quarters through the hike we’d punched through to much more familiar territory: the saddle south of Snow King’s summit, where Ferrin’s Trail tops out. The number of people picked up big time, testament to the nice weekend day. Just shy of three hours after setting off, it was over. It was 7.5 miles from the car to the base of Snow King, according to my iPhone’s health app. My critique: The Wilson Canyon through-hike to town gets high marks as a half-day dog-friendly jaunt, as do countless other adventures. Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067, env@ jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGenviro.

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE FILE

Trail signs in the Bridger-Teton National Forest frontcountry remind owners not to leave their pets’ doo-doo behind.

Doggie trail etiquette Responsible dog owners keep their pet in sight and under voice control, guidance that’s especially important in well-trafficked areas or where wildlife abounds. A chronic problem with misbehaving dogs in the Cache Creek area led the Bridger-Teton National Forest to amend its wintertime dog-walking rules a few years back. An early plan to create an on-trail leash zone was scaled back to the Cache parking lot, a regulation that carries over to the Nelson Drive trailhead and also Teton Pass. Bagging poop but leaving the bag behind is now a fine-able offense on the Bridger-Teton. The forest reports that dog owners’ behavior has improved since the regulations were updated in 2016. Keep it up by keeping your pooch under control and hauling off doo-doo.

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10 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Anna Adams and her red heeler mix, One Eyed Jack, practice the A-frame during a K9 Athletes of the Tetons practice at the Teton County Fairgrounds. Though Jack is 9 years old, he has the e on a course Adams has set up at her home in Teton Valley, Idaho. No matter how well Jack does on a course he always gets a treat afterward.

Mind Games Canine agility challenges brains as much as brawn. By Melissa Cassutt

O

ne Eyed Jack tends to get himself into trouble. The red heeler mix is fast and agile, bred to herd. He “has a chase tendency,” explained his owner, Anna Adams. She guessed he was bolting after stock when he was sprayed with buckshot in his face and rear. “If he’s let loose he will always make improper decisions,” Adams said. He was found as a stray in Teton Valley, Idaho, several years back and ended up at the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter. The lead was removed, along with his eye, and he was put up for adoption. Adams, a volunteer at the time, remembers seeing Jack and thinking, “that … is an interesting animal.” She took Jack into her Teton Valley home when he was about a year old. Unlike other dogs, the walks, runs and hikes weren’t enough to tire him out. “This one, he would be like, ‘Now what?’ ” she said. That’s when she started playing mind games with him. It started with a Canine Good Citizen course, a class that puts pooches through a series of obedience tests. Graduates of the

American Kennel Club-sanctioned course successfully demonstrate a series of obedience trials, such as walking through a crowd, staying in place, and remaining focused on the owner while distractions are present. “He was exhausted because he had to think,” Adams said. When the class was over Adams signed Jack up for the annual beginners’ agility class taught by the K9 Athletes of the Tetons, KATS for short. Classes turned into trials, both around Wyoming and in neighboring states, which turned into building “the agility yard,” an athome course she constructed in her backyard. The two can be found on the course, which includes an A-frame, tunnel, handful of jumps and set of weave poles, for at least a few minutes every day. “It really does form a bond,” Adams said. “You’re the owner, yes, but now you’re a teammate.”

Mental workout

In addition to weekly practices, set up inside the Heritage Arena or outside on the lawns of the Teton County Fairgrounds, most KATS members participate in agility trials. Most of the competition pits the dog against itself, though a few events have canine athletes competing against one another. The most popular trials for club members are AKC-sanctioned events, which are com-

mon around the country and growing in the Mountain West, AKC Director of Agility Carrie DeYoung said. The sport originated in 1970s England, when handlers were charged with coming up with an entertaining interlude to the Crufts Dog Show. The AKC started hosting trials in 1995, and the sport has grown since. Over 4,000 agility trials were held nationwide in 2017, with over 1 million entries, she said. “Agility is a puzzle,” DeYoung said. “But to be able to solve the puzzle the dog and the handler have to be able to work together. That is when the bond really comes.” Canine agility is a popular sport for that reason: It naturally fosters a bond between master and dog. It also offers a type of workout all dogs need: mental exercise. “It exhausts them, which is fabulous,” KATS President Allison Neeley said. “You can wear a dog out mentally.” At a practice last month Neeley brought her 9-week-old puppy, Finn, to meet the canine crew. He’s too young to participate; most dogs can’t really join in on the fun until their growth plates have closed, something that typically happens around 1 year. But even just being out on the grass, meeting other dogs, sniffing, being handed from one person to the next is “highly stimulating for him,” Neeley said as she pulled him off a pair of sunglasses he would learn were not for chomping.

When not playing with the pup the older dogs — some new to the game, some veterans — took turns running through the course set outside the Fair Building. “If they have to think it’s tiring,” said Carolyn Auge, who joined the club 20 years ago after reading an ad about it in the paper. Then, she said, she “got bit.”

Keeping it fun

Participants describe the sport as an addiction. Dogs who take to it may even guilt their owners into continuing from the sheer happiness they express leaping over the vertical jumps or racing up and down an Aframe. Pippi, a year-old border collie/heeler/ “Idaho Falls mutt mix” took to agility as soon as her owner, Stina Richvoldsen, brought her to the intro class in January. Richvoldsen remembers a bit of panic setting in watching her dog frolic around the course, taking to short games of tug, her reward for a job well done. “I hope I love this,” she thought, “because she’s going to be pissed if we don’t come back.” It’s a sport she fell into, too, joining the club shortly after the course ended. She has since built a collection of agility-only toys, rewards that get Pippi both excited and focused on the course. Her favorite one to see is a big, fuzzy purple “ridiculous looking thing.”


PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 11

Sparky, 12, heads through a tunnel on direction from his owner, Ella Adam. Members of K9 Athletes of the Tetons set up obstacles once a week on the Teton County Fairgrounds. Big dogs and tiny ones come out to practice.

AMBER BAESLER / NEWS&GUIDE PHOTOS

energy of a much younger dog. The pair practice daily

Richvoldsen isn’t sure what it is, exactly. While many dogs love toys — either games of tug or balls — others are food motivated. As is the case with Jack, who is rewarded with a Zuke’s dog treat if he’s tried, poached chicken if he’s done good and “liver crack,” a baked beef liver treat made from a recipe commonly shared among KATS members, when he’s a star. The 9-year-old heeler is not always the best listener. It took a year and half — maybe two years, if she’s honest — to train him to not fly off the top of the A-frame “like a rocket ship.” Canine athletes are expected to run up and down the two-toned A-frame. At least one toe is expected to hit the yellow zone at the bottom of the obstacle. “We had such a pickle of a time,” she said. “He would go to the top, and he would fly off.” The judges at a few trials were “horrified” by his “enthusiastic” bounds from the peak, she said with a laugh. Whether he nails a perfect round or was “an absolutely stinker” on the course, he “never does anything wrong in agility,” she said. “He gets a treat no matter what.” Dogs are never punished for messing up. And they all have their weaknesses. Auge’s pup, Subi, a 6-year-old with a slight underbite and three toes on the right front foot, often chooses the wrong side of the tunnel to enter. When that happens, Auge said, “you don’t win.” Positive reinforcement is a popular route to success in the sport, and also what keeps the fun in what can be a frustrating challenge. It’s not easy, for example, to teach a dog to zigzag through a dozen weave poles.

Sortie, a border collie, negotiates a set of weave poles with owner Michael Cook close behind during a K9 Athletes of the Tetons practice. Teaching weave poles is one of the most complicated obstacles on the agility course and requires patience and positive reinforcement from the handler.

“There is nothing natural that a dog does Czech Republic, Garcia tagged along to a on their own that is anything like the weave puppy class her mom was attending. An agility poles. I’ve never seen a set of those when I course caught Casper’s eye, and with permission was out hiking my dogs,” DeYoung said. from the instructor, the little dog went for it. “He was just so natural that the instructor “This is a completely trained obstacle.” To keep pets interested in the sport, own- was asking me how long we had been doing ers back off when their dog communicates agility,” she said. Casper didn’t he doesn’t understand start formal training the task. The sport is until he was almost meant to be a mix — 2 years old, starting a mix of training and “It wasn’t me out in the Heritage fun, of mental stimuArena with other lus and focus. that chose the sport. beginners. Once the “Jack is very runt of an accidental mouthy,” Adams said. I’ve been just litter and so scared “When we’re out doof both people and tagging along.” ing something and dogs he’d shake in he doesn’t get it, he’ll — Eliska Garcia his mom’s arms, he just start barking at became confident. OWNER OF CASPER, A CHIHUAHUA/YORKIE MIX me. If I’m training Emboldened, even. something that’s kind “Now when we go of hard and I can see to agility he wants to he’s getting frustrated, I’ll send him through the tunnel and give go and mug other people,” Garcia said. “He knows everybody has a treat there. His little him a treat.” ego has grown quite a bit from ‘I’m so afraid’ Any dog can do it to now he’s the boss of everybody. He’s very Coming in at 10 pounds and hitting confident, his tail up all the time. We make jumps only 4 inches off the ground, Casper fun of him a bit for that. He definitely does isn’t the typical agility athlete. At least, not have Napoleon syndrome.” what one may imagine. His owner included. In 2016, Casper went to the United States “I never knew you could do a sport like Dog Agility Association national trials in this with such a small dog; I always thought Arizona and placed middle of the pack, an it was for border collies,” said Eliska Garcia, accomplishment for a first-timer at nationCasper’s owner. “It wasn’t me that chose the als, Garcia said. The transfer of confidence from the agility sport. I’ve been just tagging along.” The 7-year-old Chihuahua/Yorkie mix arena to the outside world is a common one showed an interest in agility since he was 6 for the sport, DeYoung said. months of age, when, while on a visit in the “Agility is great for the shy dog, the young

dog, the ones that are just beginning to figure things out,” she said. “Maybe they are new to your home. Maybe it’s a dog that you have picked up at a shelter.” As the dog builds confidence working alongside his owner, he builds confidence that shines in the outside world, she said. It’s something club members have witnessed as well. “You’re training your dog to be a problem solver,” Auge said. “You’re training them to be independent.” While the most common breeds of dogs that lean toward agility are the cattle types — “I think the herding breeds have a desire to do it because they need a job and not everyone has a flock of anything,” Neeley said — the sport is open to all breeds. Handlers can hail from any background as well. AKC trials have featured junior members as young as 3 and seniors older than 90 in the ring, DeYoung said. The only real requirement is the dog and owner are looking to build their bond. “We can all play ball with our dogs and we don’t have to think about it. The dog gives us a ball, we throw it,” DeYoung said. “With agility or any other type of dog training you have to think it through together. You’re reacting to your dog’s reactions.” But even experienced handlers like Adams keep realistic expectations for their canine companions. No matter how experienced or well trained, dogs are dogs. “He’s not an angel at all,” Adams said of Jack. “He barks at the UPS man, and he chases things. He’s still a dog.” Contact Melissa Cassutt at 732-7076, valley@ jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGvalley.


12 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

health

First aid knowledge can save a dog’s life Know-how that applies to humans will help an injured pup to safety. By Tom Hallberg

D

r. Dave Hunt knows all too well the danger of taking a pet into the backcountry. “I was skiing Teton Pass one day, and I cut the back of my dog’s leg,” the veterinarian said. “I was amazed how much it bled.” Hunt was lucky: He missed the big artery that runs down a dog’s back leg and was able to provide enough first aid to get his pup back to the car. Though everything turned out OK for Hunt that day, a pet injury deep in the backcountry is a situation every dog owner likely fears. Dogs, and other pets, can’t make the decision to go into the backcountry. Pet owners make that choice for them and are responsible for providing the care needed to keep an injured pet alive until it can be taken to the vet.

Pack properly

Luckily, the supplies found in a standard backcountry first aid kit are, for the most part, all pet owners need to keep their furry friends safe. Hunt said people should be aware of how to treat some specific injuries. RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE “Bandage supplies are the most imporMost of the items you need if your pet is hurt on the trail can be found in a typical first aid kid. Remember to carry treats, too. tant,” he said, “because a dog could bleed out pretty quick.” gauze wrapped around their snout,” Hunt and Rescue saved a dog in an emergency Wound care for dogs is similar to that for said. “If you can’t do that, you should always situation. humans, which is good because cut pads are have extra treats to keep them distracted.” “We did have a swift-water rescue,” she one of the most common injuries. Pressure is A last-resort supply not found in a stan- said. “And we went back the next day to required to stanch the bleeding, and a cover dard first aid kit is a lightweight litter that pick up some gear and we found her dog keeps the wound clean and (usually) free of infection. Applying a pressure wrap — gauze would allow owners to carry their dog out. on an island in the Gros Ventre.” But that situation is not the norm beoverlaid with vet wrap, the bandage that sticks Mountain Dogware makes one called Packa-Paw that allows you to put the dog on your cause “Search and Rescue doesn’t respond to itself, not hair to rescue pets,” King said. But if searchers back and shoulders. or skin — can stop are out already, “we’re not going to leave a Emily Martin, a bleeding without “Bandage supplies are dog that we see.” handler for Jackson a person having to Hole Search Dogs, Knowing rescue options don’t exist for manually apply conthe most important said they are an esour canine companions, there are some stant pressure. Finsential part of their things to watch out for to keep them safe. ishing the wrap with because a dog could first aid kits. Wildlife encounters are an obvious dan• Gauze (rolls and square) a plastic bag keeps “We don’t do ger in many of the places Jackson Hole it dry if the dog has bleed out pretty quick.” any first aid other denizens take their dogs, so keeping them • Tape to walk out on wet • Vet wrap wouldn’t within eyesight can minimize that risk. ground or snow. • Extra water — Dr. Dave Hunt people do,” Martin said. Cliff areas, especially when you’re skiFor deep wounds • Treats VETERINARIAN “But we do carry ing, can be dangerous for dogs that like to or ones that sever a • Tourniquet material one litter for each roam, so knowing your surroundings can large artery or vein, • Splint material go a long way in keeping your dog safe. Hunt recommended carrying tourniquet ma- handler.” • Gloves Hunt pointed out one dangerous situation terial, even just a thick rubber band. Applying • Plastic bags An ounce of prevention most owners may not recognize. it for no longer than five minutes above the • Medications First aid knowledge is important, Hunt “Always take their collar off when they wound while putting the pressure wrap on can said, but prevention goes much further, so go into the water,” he said. “It could catch help the wrap stick and the blood coagulate. Many canine-specific pain Pet owners should also carry something owners should keep their dogs in voice on something underwater and you would relievers, including Rimadyl or to splint a sprain or broken leg. Dog’s legs control or attached to a long leash. never make it to them in time.” tramadol, can help an injured dog “As long as they’re near and close to you, are usually small enough to use a large cotA backcountry first aid course for huand may be good to carry. But never ton wrap, like an Ace bandage, to immobilize, the odds of something happening is low,” mans would provide much of the necessary but carrying a SAM splint for larger dogs he said. give your dog a new medication in a knowledge to help an injured dog. We humans are used to the fact that wouldn’t hurt. Knowing that basic information could backcountry emergency situation, Understanding how to interact with in- Teton County Search and Rescue will be the reason you have a successful evacusaid Dr. Dave Hunt, a veterinarian. jured dogs is important, because their sunny, pluck us from a hairy situations, but the ation like Hunt experienced on Teton Pass Always know how your dog will normal dispositions often disappear when same doesn’t hold true for dogs. the next time your pup gets hurt. react to a medication before Jessica King, the Teton County Sherthey are hurt. administering it in the backcountry. “You want to be able to muzzle them while iff ’s Office supervisor for Search and Res- Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-5902 or you’re doing wound care, even just with some cue, couldn’t remember many times Search thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

When traveling in the backcountry with your dog, it’s important to carry (or have your pup carry) the following:

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health

PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 13

What not to feed your dog (or, spit it out!) List includes forest finds, marijuana and chocolate.

THINGS YOUR DOG SHOULDN’T EAT

By Allie Gross Keep your dark chocolate and your hallucinogenic mushrooms on the highest shelf. Those are among the items that Dr. Theo Schuff has treated dogs for eating. The Fish Creek Veterinary Clinic veterinarian said one of the most important things an owner can do is store potentially toxic items in an unreachable, secure location to prevent accidentally poisoning their pets. And consult a vet first if you’re willingly feeding your dog treats meant for humans. Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, the service chief for community practice at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, recommends investing in childproofing gear to ensure your home is safe for your dog: A lot of what could hurt your dog is similar to what a toddler might get into. “For new dogs in particular, puppy proofing your house is going to be really important,” she said. Here’s a guide to what to look out for and where to look for problems.

Dangers in the kitchen

Beware of seemingly harmless digging and chewing while out camping or hiking in the woods. Sometimes unseen molds and toxins can hurt your pet. “I’m frequently contacted by people who are camping whose dogs have been digging, chewing at a root, and their dogs have probably been ingesting some molds or toxins that do produce neurological symptoms of incoordination, and it’s very alarming,” Schuff said. Some molds can cause anything from nausea to the neurological signs mentioned above, typically showing lack of coordination

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends against feeding pets a long list of foods, including avocado, grapes and garlic. But Schuff isn’t too worried about many of those foods unless they are consumed in excess. In his experience, dogs will usually just vomit up a food that doesn’t agree with them and move on. But there is one item on the list that tends to cause more problems than others: chocolate. The sweet is the most common culprit for poisoning in dogs Schuff has encountered. You may not have to worry about your

Forest finds

Alcohol

Milk & dairy

Avocado

Chocolate

Onions, garlic & chives

Coffee

Salty snacks

Citrus

Nuts & Grapes & raisins macadamia nuts

Coconut

Xylitol (Sweetener found in gum)

Both illegal and prescription drugs ANDY EDWARDS / NEWS&GUIDE

Sources: AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, DR. THEO SCHUFF

or hallucinations. If your dog does get into something weird on the trail, it’s good practice to take the item with you to help a vet identify what it is and treat symptoms. Ruch-Gallie added that certain yard mulches like cocoa mulch can be toxic to dogs, and people should be careful of insecticides, weed killers or rodenticides.

dog eating a little bit, but if he snarfs down a whole bar, there could be a problem. And when it comes to dog toxicity not all chocolates are created equal. Dark chocolate is particularly harmful, as is baker’s chocolate. Xylitol is an additive that is increasingly used in household products. It sneaks up on you, Schuff said, in items like chewing gum or toothpaste, sometimes even peanut butter. “The trouble with this one is it seems to be in so many things we wouldn’t expect,” Schuff said. Xylitol can lead to hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure or death in dogs. Even small amounts can be dangerous. Some dogs may be drawn to bones and containers in the kitchen trash can, RuchGallie said, which can be harmful.

Prescription problems

Dogs consuming prescription medications is a major concern, especially those that treat anxiety, depression or pain. “Those seem to be the big ones where we’ll see some pretty big reactions in the dogs and

some disturbing reactions,” Schuff said. Even veterinary medicines prescribed to your dog can be poisonous in excess, and flavored chewables are tempting. Tylenol and other over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories can be toxic for dogs as well. Some medications like Benadryl or the pain reliever aspirin can be OK for pets, but a veterinarian should be consulted before dosing your pet.

Say no to drugs

Schuff has treated more dogs for marijuana consumption than you may think. “It’s very palatable to the dogs,” Schuff said. “It’s probably not the most dangerous thing they can ingest, but we do see a lot of it.” He’s also treated dogs who’ve scarfed hallucinogenic mushrooms. Best practice: Don’t have pot or shrooms around pets. Ingestion of either warrants intensive veterinary care. Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063, county@ jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGcounty.

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14 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

health

Canine influenza is on Tetons radar

SUMME R

2018

In

Issue № 27

e th sid

Vaccines help protect pups from a new strain of the flu.

is issue

4TH ANN

U

SUMMEALR CAMP GU ID

By Kylie Mohr

E

H

COLD BREW Coffee's alter ego

CAMP LIKE A GIRL

The all-girl camp setting puts self-esteem on a pedestal

TICKS IN THE TETONS Navigating the Lyme disease "gap states"

PICK UP YOUR COPY OF Teton and read more

tetonfamilymagazine.com

Family

Follow Us! 348457

umans take precautions around flu season by getting vaccinated. Pets can do the same, and with a relatively new strain of influenza circulating around the country, local veterinarians and boarding facilities are recommending it. H3N2 has not made it to Jackson Hole, at least not officially, but it’s been on the rise across the country since it was first discovered in the Midwest in 2015. The old strain, H3N8, has been around for 10 to 15 years, starting in greyhounds in Florida. The introduction of a new strain is poised to have a significant impact locally, because the population is largely unvaccinated against H3N2. “A new strain means animals aren’t immune to it, and it would be very contagious because it’s not recognized by their immune system,” said Dr. M.J. Forman, veterinarian and the co-CEO of Spring Creek Animal Hospital. Forman and Dr. Katie Alexander, owner of Wydaho Mobile Vet, said cases have been reported as close as Rigby, Idaho. But rather than a cause for alarm, the rise of the new strain is a call to action for pet owners, who need to be educated and know vaccination options for their animals. “Just like people know from flu in humans, just because you get the flu doesn’t mean you’re going to get really sick and die from it,” Alexander said. “The lifestyle of the dog makes a difference.”

Silent symptoms

THE TETON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE K9 UNIT AND THE NATIONAL POLICE CANINE ASSOCIATION ARE

DEEPLY GRATEFUL TO ALL the organizations, businesses, and individuals that have made this important annual Police K9 training a huge success: • •

Western Wyoming Beverage Pepsi

North Park Transportation

and Randy Grill

Snake River Ranch and Lance

Hiltbrunner •

Johnsen

Town of Jackson and Eric •

Jedediah’s Restaurant and Rhea Brough

Lower Valley Power and Energy and Rick Knori

Wyoming Game and Fish

Wyoming Department of

Jackson Hole Aviation and Jeff Jackson Hole Fire and EMS and Brian Coe and Matt Redwine

Transportation (WYDOT) •

Snow King Center and Bob Carruth

Elk County Inn and Dan Winder

National Elk Refuge and Brian Glaspell and Cris Dippel

Martha Stewart

Jill Aanonsen

Jill Callaway

Flat Creek Motel and Kyle Eggett

START Bus

Copy Works and Theresa Burnside

Teton County Fairgrounds and Rachel Grimes and Kory Hill

Cowboy Village Resort

Teton County School District and Grant Galloway

being too social is risky

Brown • •

The staff of Jackson Hole High School and Summit High School

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS, GENEROUS FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS: •

Melanie Wunsch and the Wunsch family

D

Pinky G’s Pizzeria

Pet’s Place Plus

World Cast Anglers

Shannon Marie Artistry

Dogs don’t have to mingle with a dog that looks or sounds sick for the damage to be done from canine influenza. Dogs are nonsymptomatic for three to seven days beforehand, but the virus can be shedding at the time. “If a dog licks something, sneezes or releases saliva droplets from panting, it’s contagious for days,” Alexander said. “They are most contagious before they start showing symptoms.” Jackson’s transient population and number of visitors increase the likelihood that social dogs may come in contact with the flu. “We have all of these people coming in and out,” Forman said. “If one dog comes from an area where flu is common, and their dog was in a doggy park, that’s all it’s going to take. “Because we have so many travelers we’re just at a higher risk for that happening. It would be pretty devastating here because it’s such a social dog town and it has the potential to go pretty quickly. Prevention is key.”

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Pam Boyer, the owner of Trail Creek Pet Center, a boarding and grooming facility in Victor, Idaho, knows firsthand that too much doggie interaction is a bad idea when it comes to controlling disease. Shared water dishes, for example, are a no-no for Boyer. “It’s like taking a glass of Kool-Aid, one cup, putting it down in the middle of daycare center and letting all 25 kids drink out of it,” she said. “It’s disgusting. But that’s the reality of it.” Boyer said she’s always been on highalert when it comes to canine socialization and the negative effects it may have. Trail Creek doesn’t have large play groups, for example, which Boyer called “nothing more than a petri dish.” With canine influenza on the rise she’s become more diligent. “I’ll walk away from business any day,”

BRADLY J. BONER / NEWS&GUIDE

Spring Creek Animal Hospital has signs on its doors warning pet owners of the symptoms of canine flu.

she said. “We’re going to do our best to control this.” A bivalent vaccine is recommended for pooches because it provides immunity for H3N2 and H3N8. While a shot won’t prevent the flu, it’s more likely to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. Full immunity isn’t expected until after a booster is given two to four weeks after the initial vaccine. “Because our population has not been exposed to this virus yet, we want to get as many people as possible to vaccinate,” Forman said. Spring Creek Animal Hospital encourages vaccination for those with “high-risk” pets: those in doggie day care, those that frequent trails with a lot of dog traffic and those that board. Other highly vulnerable pets are puppies, senior dogs and those with otherwise compromised immune systems. With vaccination, Forman said, “if we see an outbreak, we’re not going to see as many dogs who are as sick.” It’s also worth noting that, as with the human flu, different strains aren’t always covered. “Strains can change really easily and quickly,” Alexander said. “It’s a virus that changes quickly, so that makes vaccination less foolproof than it is for other things. “But a respiratory vaccine is a great option for dogs that are getting a lot of social contact from other dogs or are just in places where other dogs are,” she said.

Looks like kennel cough

In dogs that come down with the flu, the disease looks a lot like kennel cough. “It’s really impossible to distinguish in the early phases,” Forman said. Symptoms include coughing, retching resembling vomiting (but only foam is produced) and discharge from the eyes. Severity can vary. There’s no antiviral like Tamiflu to give to dogs. But if there is an infection, IV antibiotics can be given. Alexander said she’d love to see more doggy parents testing their pets. Usually curiosity, and the money to back it up, is the only reason owners might decide to test for the flu because testing doesn’t change the course of treatment. But if you’re about to travel with your dog, bring a new dog into your home or live with roommates who also have dogs, Alexander said testing is something to consider. “All vets would be psyched if you asked for a nasal swab and asked what pathogen is causing this,” she said. “But in my professional experience that’s rare.” — Deputy Editor Melissa Cassutt contributed to this report. Contact Kylie Mohr at 732-7079, schools@ jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGschools.


PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 15

health

Hungry ticks are out to feast in the fur Disease transmission is rare, but it can happen. By Emily Mieure

R

ob Pursell knew something was wrong when Ruby, his 1-year-old healthy Australian shepherd mix, started walking funny. “We went on a hike on Sunday, and then on Monday everything was fine,” Pursell said. “Tuesday I woke up and she couldn’t walk straight. She looked like she was drunk or in an earthquake.” Extremely worried, Pursell rushed Ruby to the Jackson Animal Hospital, where she was given fluids and checked for ticks. “The next day she woke up and couldn’t stand up at all,” Pursell said. “It was pretty terrifying.” They returned to the animal hospital, where veterinarians and technicians suspected Ruby had tick paralysis. Despite several searches through her thick fur, there were no signs of the arachnid. “We spent a day and a half looking for a tick,” said Dr. Heather Carleton, veterinarian an co-owner of the practice. Finally they gave Ruby a tick preventive medication. “Two hours after we gave the preventative it detached, and then we found it,” she said. Vet technician Leanne Williams pulled the tick off Ruby, and within a few hours she was walking again. The bug was feeding on Ruby, Carleton said, causing salivary neurotoxins to release and affecting the dog’s nerve tissue. “If the tick is not killed or removed in this situation the condition can occasionally lead to death from failure of the respiratory muscles,” Carleton said.

Ticks are out and about

It’s not the first tick the doctor has come across this summer. “I have seen a lot of ticks so far this season on both myself, my dogs and our client’s dogs,” she said. “The ticks seem to be especially prevalent in areas where there are a lot of sage bushes.” Ticks are most prevalent in May, June and July but are also sometimes spotted in the fall, she said. The insects are infamous for carrying Lyme disease, Carleton said, but in Wyoming they’re better known to cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, bartonella and, as was the case with Ruby, tick paralysis. “Ticks are capable of carrying many diseases including some new viruses that are just being discovered,” she said. Ticks on the East Coast and in the Midwest often carry Lyme disease, babesia and ehrlichia, Carleton said. “There are many products to use that are effective against ticks,” she said. “Some of the newer oral products are very convenient and can protect a dog for either a month [such as Simparica] or up to three months if you use Bravecto,” she said. “There are also still the topical products like Frontline Plus and Advantix.” Some ticks don’t carry any diseases, but if you find one on your pet you can remove it with tweezers. “Make sure that you remove the head and not just the body of the tick,” she said. “Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water after handling a tick and also the area where it was attached.”

there may be more than one

Once you’ve removed the tick, check for others. “There are likely to be more, so keep looking and consider treating your pet with a tick-killing product, as they may be hard to find if your pet has a long or thick hair coat,” Carleton said. When you go hiking you should wear light-colored clothing, she said, to make it easier to find and remove ticks. “Also, tuck your pant legs into your socks to keep ticks from getting under your clothes,”

COURTESY PHOTO

Rob Purcell’s dog, Ruby, suffered temporary paralysis due to a tick that was feeding on her.

Carleton said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common ticks found in places like Jackson are the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the brown dog tick. If you get a tick off your pet fast enough there’s a good chance that nothing will happen, said veterinarian and co-CEO of Spring Creek Animal Hospital Dr. M.J. Forman. “If you check them after the hike and you remove them it takes ROCKY MOUNTAIN anywhere from an WOOD TICK hour to a day or so to transmit bad things,” Forman said. “If they can’t attach or you get rid of them routinely you’re less likely to have a problem.” Carleton said she’s noticed an increasBROWN DOG TICK ing number of ticks in Teton County in the past few years. “They are spreading to new areas they’ve never been,” she said. “Ticks like that lowlying brush. They can detect heat. They just find you.”

Tick prevention is talked about more often in other parts of the country, but Carleton said it’s starting to become a routine discussion with her clients. “It’s probably just a matter of time that ticks become a big problem here like they are in other parts of the country,” she said.

dogs in spots where it’s hard for the animals to remove them, he said. “They go to places where blood vessels in the skin are thin,” Schell explained. Ticks are often found inside the ears of dogs, under their collars and on their stomachs. There is one animal that seems to be a lessThey’re looking for a host popular host for ticks. Scott Schell, an entomologist at the Uni“My barn cats,” he said. “I’ve never found versity of Wyoming, said ticks will latch on to any ticks on them.” just about any “host” that crosses their path. Ticks have been around for 60 million “The first two years at least, Schell hosts are rodents and said, and they have small animals,” he always found a way “Take precautions, said. “And then large to reproduce. mammals.” but you’re more likely But fortunately in Ticks are most Wyoming, the tick to get hurt stepping out season is short. And active in early spring, Schell said. He’s a disease of your bathtub than you contracting been collecting them from one is rare. to assist with a proj“Take precauare from a tick bite.” ect, and he’s already tions,” Schell said, found 40 on his own — Scott Schell “but you’re more property, mainly on ENTOMOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING likely to get hurt his horses. stepping out of your “My poor horses,” bathtub than you are Schell said. “I start to look for ticks on them from a tick bite.” as soon as I start to see the ground squirrels emerge. It started relatively early this year.” Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066, courts@ Ticks will attach themselves to horses and jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGcourts.


16 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

features

The tale of the ‘post office pup’ Cute canine brings joy to clerks and customers. By Julie Butler

O

ne doesn’t usually equate the seemingly mundane chore of picking up mail or a package at the post office with a bit of tail-wagging entertainment. If you think standing in a noontime postal line couldn’t possibly bring a smile to your face as you clutch a yellow card or have buying stamps as your intent, you are in for a surprise. At about 12:15 p.m. every Monday through Thursday, without fail, longtime resident Bob Stuart brings his Labrador/border collie mix pooch, Phoebe, to the Maple Way post office. Once there she enthusiastically receives doggy treats from head clerk Penny Jones. It’s a happy ritual that has been going on for more than three years, ever since the dog was about a year old. The nearly daily routine begins with Stuart opening the post office door with an eager Phoebe making a beeline for Jones’ station at the far right end of the counter. She proceeds to spring up, paws touching the edge of the marble. “She’s kind of partial to Penny, who’s sort of the alpha gal there,” Stuart said. Phoebe goes right to Jones regardless of who’s waiting there. “We call her a ‘line jumper’ because she doesn’t wait her turn,” Jones said. “She leaps so high we’re surprised she doesn’t jump over the counter.” After trying to get Jones’ attention with another high hop, Phoebe then stands back expectantly on her hind legs until Jones throws her one of her special, fairly gourmet organic treats. Recently the dog enjoyed a sweet potato fish snack. Sometimes the treat is grilled bison jerky. Stuart provides the box of canine goodies appropriately labeled “Phoebe only.” It’s located in a small cupboard only about seven steps away from the counter. “Phoebe had no training whatsoever to dash in and go to Penny,” Stuart said. “It was just instinct, but once it happened the first time — they have treats for other dogs and one must have been tossed to her — Phoebe was hooked, so I figured, OK, this is going to be happening every day, I better bring in some of my own treats.” Typically, Jones tosses Phoebe one or two yummy morsels a day. After this special “postal” transaction, Stuart — who stands well away from the counter — will call for Phoebe, and off they go, leaving bemused customers in their wake. “I try to stay sort of incognito,” Stuart said. “I stand in the background to observe, so I suppose it looks like she is there on her own. People in line will ask, ‘Whose dog is that?’ and the only way to know she is with me is because we leave together.” Stuart said just about everybody seems to enjoy his dog’s antics. “Most people find it amusing,” he said. “And she’s a pretty adorable, cool dog to look at.”

Man meets dog

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE PHOTOS

The first time Stuart and Phoebe laid eyes on each Phoebe looks for treats at the Maple Way post office. It’s been an almost daily routine for several years for the 4 1/2-yearother was more than four years ago at the Animal Adop- old Labrador/border collie mix and her owner, Bob Stuart. tion Center in Jackson. She was part of an abandoned “It’s hard to say what she enjoys more: the treats or the litter of six puppies discovered in a box on the side of the creek,” he said. road in Star Valley. Two of the furry tykes — Phoebe and The biscuit-begging boogie, however, is most assurher sister — were brought up to Jackson. edly a favorite of the denizens of the post office. It was love at first sight. “Phoebe’s a cutie, and no one can resist her big, brown “We chose each other, I think,” said Stuart, who de- eyes,” Jones said. “She’s a crazy little dog and we love her.” spite living in the valley for 25 years had never owned a dog here, although he has had cats for a long time. A furry regular Once he decided to get a puppy he told a friend of his Resident Cindy Zamora witnessed Phoebe’s antics for that he was looking. When the friend heard a couple of the first time on a recent visit to the post office. young man’s best friends had arrived at the adoption cen“She’s gorgeous and very smart,” Zamora said. “She ter, she let Stuart know right away. just made my day, brightened it up. Phoebe was the runt of the litter Animals do that.” and as such endeared herself to her Another customer agreed. “We call her a ‘line jumper’ prospective owner. “She’s great,” William Jacquet “It’s definitely a love story,” Stusaid. “It’s my second time seeing because she doesn’t art said. “She’s the most important her, and she’s fun to watch. The thing in my life, really.” first time I saw her do this it just wait her turn.” Stuart takes Phoebe everywhere brought a smile to my face.” — to work, hiking, biking and more. If Jones is busy with a customer — Penny Jones “We’re rarely apart,” he said. HEAD CLERK, MAPLE WAY POST OFFICE when Phoebe shows up, the pup “We’re inseparable.” has to wait until the transaction Stuart is semiretired and works with the human is complete. Jones part time at Whitechapel Ltd., an said Phoebe is not always happy See video at upscale brass and iron hardware about that, so she will go to anothsupplier located a block down JHnewsAndGuide.com er clerk, who then gets her treats. the street from the post office. He “She’s a constant; she’s just the brings Phoebe to work with him year-round. best,” Jones said. “At most post offices it’s a no-no to The duo live across from Snow King, and during the bring a dog in, but not in Jackson.” summer Stuart rides his bike to his job, with the dog runAsked if anybody ever complains about the dog snagning right alongside him. ging a few minutes of the clerk’s attention, Jones laughed. When it’s warm their routine is to go straight to Flat “Oh, people complain. Just not about Phoebe.” Creek behind the post office after Phoebe’s visits. Once Stuart delivers bags of treats that are kept for Phoebe there she gets to leap into the creek after a stick, Stuart said. Contact Julie Butler at valley@jhnewsandguide.com. behind the post office counter.


PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 17

features

Feathers and scales please some people Dogs and cats aren’t the only critters to tug at heart strings. By Clark Forster

P

uppies are a great way to pick up the digits of a beautiful stranger. Take them to a populated area and they’ll be the best fisherman you’ve ever seen. A few months later they weigh 60 pounds, they’re shedding everywhere and you can’t even pay the pretty girl or handsome guy you reeled in a while back to watch this teething, hyperactive fur ball. If you’re looking for a conversation piece that stands the test of time, why not get one you can wear around your neck? Or how about one that does the conversing for you? Perrin Band and Valerie Brown are two valley pet owners who will be with their critters for decades and will never struggle to garner attention from passers-by. Brown is the owner of an African grey parrot named Umngane. Umngane is 28 years old and approaching the halfway mark in his flight through life. Perrin is the proud owner of a 3-year-old ball python, a species with an average lifespan in captivity of 30 years. At 15 years old Perrin is already learning how easy it is to meet people when he unwraps his buddy, Kaa, from around his neck and lets him play in the grass. “I get a lot of weird looks,” Perrin said. “But when I’m sitting down in the park letting him explore a little

bit, it’s actually amazing how many people get interested in him.” Kaa is a low-maintenance pet who’s ready to hang out whenever Perrin wants, but is always down to chill out by himself. “They’re really easy to take care of,” Perrin said. “They eat once a week. They poop once a week. They pee once a week. You can leave him in your cage if you don’t want to hang out with him.” Though Kaa doesn’t always like that choice. “When you don’t want to hang out with him he actually has a lot of emotions,” Perrin said. Kaa doesn’t like thunderstorms. He’ll often feel the vibrations and become frightened. And, just like a typical four-legged pet, he doesn’t shy away from a little TLC. Perrin will put Kaa on his bed and Kaa will curl up next to his master. He’s easy to feed, too. Perrin’s freezer is full of dead mice he orders off the internet. He’ll thaw the mice in warm water, let the rodent get close to living temperature, and take in the show. Every now and then, though, the teen becomes part of the act. “Often he’ll actually want to go for my hand because my hand is warmer,” Perrin said. “He’s bitten me twice, but both times I was being stupid.” Umngane is a biter, too. Though, like Kaa’s strikes, the bites don’t do much damage. He bites only strangers and is in love with his master, Brown. Brown’s husband, on the other hand, struggled to build a relationship with Umngane. The parrot will often chase Don Baker

it, ‘Don Baker, hello Don Baker’ in exactly my husband’s voice.” Brown often puts Umngane in her backpack to go on hikes, which she said the bird loves. Baker’s nickname for his wife is Goober, and Umngane’s most common question on the hiking trail is “Hey Goober, what are we doing?”

“When you don’t want to hang out with him he actually has a lot of emotions.” — Perrin Band OWNER OF KAA, A BALL PYTHON

resort

RYAN DORGAN / NEWS&GUIDE

Valerie Brown and her African gray parrot, Umngane, prepare for a hike Saturday at the Nelson Drive trailhead.

around the house as his wife looks on with laughter. Umngane, who happens to be quite a talker, also does a pretty good imitation of

his master’s husband. “He’s got quite a large vocabulary and it’s all appropriate,” Brown said. “When the phone rings he answers

The parrot is so much a part of the family that he’s even developed a relationship with the couple’s 11-month-old poodle, Watson. “When he sees something out the window he thinks our dog would be interested he whistles and calls our dog,” Valerie said. Umngane is expected to live to be about 60 years old. If Brown can’t outlive her pet she’ll hand it off to her son, who is close to the same age as Umngane. Brown is tied to her bird forever. “If you own an African grey parrot you better be committed,” she said. Contact Clark Forster at 732-7065, sports@jhnewsandguide.com or @ JHNGsports.

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18 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jackson’s tails 2018

Thank you to our readers who submitted photos to this

runner up

Amelia

runner up

Summit

yearbook. A portion of net proceeds from Jackson’s Tails will go to PAWS programming.

#jhpeakpets photo contest finalists runner up

winner

Huck

Winnifred

Lucerne (Lucy)

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Rufus

Stella & Stargie

Hollie

Adak

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& G

P et

Abbey

Gus

Lucy Hank & Quinn

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& G

P et

Windsor

Delilah

Puddles

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& G

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Apollo & Greta

Bentley

Sage

Maggie

Glory

Dottie


PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 19

Winnie

James

Hope & Joy

Milo

Boomer

Hankey

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P et

Betsy

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Toonces

Quito

Milagro

P G N & H J

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Keyush et

Darwin

Lola

Chloe

Rex

River

Petunia

Belle & Lulu

Suede & Zeta

Rusty

DaVinci

Colt

Squirrel

Tillie

Mojo & Ricky Bobby

Bear

Blue Bear

Sadie

Putter & Zoe

Maya

Decker

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20 - PEAK PETS • Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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Peak Pets 2018  
Peak Pets 2018  
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