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A special supplement to the

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20 | animal superstars.


elcome to the first Animal Superstars insert of the Tracy Press. Thousands of Tracy and Mountain House residents have animals in their lives. Just like you, the staff here at the Press alone have dogs, cats, rabbits, cows, birds and myriad other animals they care for. Caring for an animal crosses all social and economic boundaries. In fact, the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that in 2011, Americans spent $61.4 billion on their pets. That’s not even inclusive of domesticated farm animals.

Why would we spend all that money and time on other species. which we often invite to live in our homes with us? For many. the simple companionship of a cat or dog who loves us no matter how we feel about ourselves, the beauty and serenity of an aquarium full of fish or the uniqueness of a snake or lizard adds to our lives in ways we often cannot detail. It’s clear that we love animals, even if we sometimes don’t exactly know how to help them when they are ill, what food they like best or when they actually want to go out and use the bathroom or just want to go out and play.

So we have compiled information, sought the advice of local veterinary doctors and experts, found the best pet businesses in our area and brought our own expertise to bear so you have information at your fingertips that can help you extend the life of your best friend or just enrich your relationship with your pets. We even have the results of a pet photo contest on the back cover. Take some time to find out some things you might have never known about our Animal Superstars.

Picking the right pet is serious business By Beth Palacios For the Tracy Press

With kitten and puppy season upon us, make sure your family is prepared for the responsibility before those adorable whiskers persuade you to take one home. When deciding if a pet is right for your family, there are many things to consider. The most important things to look at are the time commitment you are willing to sacrifice, your family’s lifestyle and the financial expectation of the animal. Dogs typically have a lifespan of about 11 years, give or take, depending on the breed. Where will you be in the next 10 to 15 years? One must consider all aspects of the question, such as where you will be living and future plans. The No. 1 reason dogs are surrendered to the animal shelter is that the family is moving. The second most common reason is behavioral problems. Dogs also require training, exercise on a daily basis, love and affection, and veterinary care. Required vet bills include yearly vaccines and the initial spay or neuter operation, which can be very costly — not to mention

any unforeseen medical emergencies or sicknesses that can come up at the most inopportune times. Many times, once the excitement of having a new dog or puppy wears off, dogs are banished outside and can become neglected of necessary affection and attention. Don’t let this happen. We also recommend researching the breed of the dog you are thinking of adopting before making any decisions. Different breeds require different care, such as grooming, which can add to the financial expectation. If you are an active family and willing to commit to many years of long walks, accidents in the house and scooping poop, then a dog might be right for you. Having a dog can be very rewarding, if you are willing to open your heart and home and commit to many years of love to come. If you are planning on starting new family, may be moving soon or are unsure where your future lies, you might want to wait before bringing Fido home. If you have a busy lifestyle, aren’t home as often or can’t commit to daily exercise, a cat might be right for

n Beth Palacios is an animal service officer with the Tracy Animal Shelter and can be reached at 831-6364.

Home and Pet Sitting Services Tracy, CA


you. But don’t be fooled: Cats are still dependent on you for all their needs, including food, water, medical attention, shelter and, most important, companionship. We also recommend keeping cats strictly indoors to keep them safe. Longer-haired cats will require brushing or grooming to keep them from becoming matted, which can be very painful for them. If you don’t mind hair on your clothes and furniture and scooping a litter box every day, the entertainment a cat provides can be priceless. Every parent hears “I promise I will take care of it� when it comes to small animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. A small pet can be great to teach children responsibility, but ultimately the adult is the one who is truly responsible. Be prepared to be the sole care provider to these animals when the excitement wears off. Small animals have a much shorter lifespan

than dogs or cats, so the commitment is less daunting. Small animals can be great “starter� pets, but they do require daily care and commitment. Keeping them indoors is preferable and recommended, and cages need to be cleaned almost daily. Although purchasing small animals is cheaper than adopting a cat or dog, cages and food can also be expensive. Not all small animals care for constant handling while in a home with small children, so make sure the little ones are supervised at all times. Many of these animals end up at the animal shelter when the parent grows tired of caring for the pet or the animal bites someone. Please buy responsibly and do your research before purchasing. Being a pet owner can be extremely rewarding, but it is best to remember that a pet is a luxury. Although we strongly recommend adopting your next pet, responsibility is crucial to being a pet owner. Please spay and neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted animals in the shelter.

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Vaccines vital to dogs, cats of all ages Press staff report

Your dog or cat might seem healthy, but skimping on annual vaccinations may harm its long-term health. The following information about pet vaccinations comes from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but your own veterinarian will offer the best advice for your best friend.

Cats There are vaccines to help prevent many illnesses that affect cats. Vaccinating your cat has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help her live a long, healthy life. Although vaccination has the potential to protect pets against lifethreatening diseases, vaccination is not without its risks. Recently, there has been some controversy regarding duration of protection and timing of vaccination, as well as the safety and necessity of certain vaccines. Vaccination is a procedure that has risks and benefits that must be weighed for every patient based on lifestyle and health. Your veterinarian can determine a vaccination regime that will provide the safest and best protection for your individual cat.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has divided vaccines into two categories — core and non-core. Core vaccines are considered vital to all cats and protect against panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calici virus, feline herpes virus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle. These include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chylamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus. The best vaccination schedule for your cat will depend on the type of vaccine and your cat’s age, medical history, environment and lifestyle. Adult cats might be revaccinated annually or every three years. Kittens automatically receive antibodies in the milk their mother produces, if their mother has a healthy immune system. These antibodies help protect against infectious disease until the kitten’s own immune system develops. When the kitten is around six to eight weeks of age, your veterinarian can begin to administer a series of vaccines at three- or fourweek intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age.

Immunizations are supposed to mildly stimulate the animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This stimulation can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. There are other, less common side effects, such as injection site tumors and immune disease associated with vaccination. That said, it is important to realize that vaccines have saved countless lives, and play a vital role in the battle against feline infectious disease. As with any medical procedure, there is a small chance of side effects. In most cases, the risks are much smaller than the risks of disease itself. But it is important to talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s medical history before he is vaccinated.

Dogs Vaccinating your dog has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help him live a long, healthy life. Not only are there different vaccines for different diseases, there are different types and combinations of vaccines. Although vaccination has the potential to protect pets against

life-threatening diseases, vaccination is not without its risks. In 2006, the American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force published a revised version of guidelines regarding canine vaccinations. Core vaccines are considered vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans. Canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines by the task force. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria. Your veterinarian can determine what vaccines are best for your dog. Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations with a combination vaccine product that protects against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis. Your puppy must also be vaccinated against rabies. There are a variety of other vaccines that may or may not be appropriate for your pet. In California every dog is required to have a rabies vaccination at least once every two years after a dog reaches 4 months old.

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NEW EXPANDED HOURS: Mon-Thu 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM • Fri 7:00 AM - 6:00 PM • Sat 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

forever friend: Jonah, a 7-year-old neutered orange tabby, needs a new home. He can be adopted from the Tracy Animal Shelter, which is open from noon to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 370 Arbor Road. For information: 831-6364 or “City of Tracy Animal Services” on Facebook.

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22 | animal superstars.

Five tips to take the perfect pet picture By Glenn Moore Tracy Press

There’s a running joke around the Tracy Press office that I don’t like animals. Whenever I’m out on assignment, I seem to find that one camera-hating puppy or flashphobic cat in front of my lens. Why do they hate me so, when all I am trying to do is capture a cute portrait that shows a little bit of their personality? Jokes aside, there are a few key elements to taking a good picture of a pet.

Gather your gear

Glenn Moore/Tracy Press

picture perfect: At top, don’t use a flash, because it could scare your subjects and ruin a cute photo opportunity. Above, get up close and personal, fill the frame and capture your best friend’s face. Below, let your pet’s personality show through every picture. It may take patience, but the payoff is one photo that is a perfect representation of his or her character. Below right, when you get down on their level to take their photo, you can see the world through your pets’ eyes and capture just how they interact with their environment.

The first step in getting a great pet photo is selecting the camera gear for the job. Photographers with interchangeable-lens cameras will want to look for a mediumfocal-length telephoto lens for pet portraits. Lenses in the 85-135mm telephoto range with a fast f.2.0 or faster are ideal for creating tightly cropped portraits of an animal’s face with a shallow depth of field, just like photographing a human portrait. Zoom lenses in the 70-200mm range work just as well. A 135mm telephoto fills the frame easily and avoids the wide angle that can distort facial features on a pet. When using a telephoto lens, just as in a human portrait, the photographer should always adjust the focus of the lens to the pet’s eyes. While short telephoto lenses are good for facial portraits, there may be times when showing the whole scene is a better option. Wide-angle lenses are good if you need to include some of the surroundings to show off your pet’s home or personality. Lenses in the 16mm to 24mm wide-angle view let you keep the space around the pet in the picture. That makes it easier to include a doghouse or a pet’s favorite toys in the picture frame.

Photographers do have to be wary of inducing distortion of the pet’s body from the wideangle lens, especially if the camera is not exactly parallel to the subject.

Location, location, location

the camera. Whistling, jingling keys or even a squeaky toy can be used to turn the pet’s head toward the camera for the quick second you need to snap the shutter. If your pet refuses to sit still for a picture, a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second or faster can help keep subject blur down to a minimum. Even a wagging tail on a dog might be distracting, and a fast shutter speed can help reduce blurring.

Selecting the right lens is half the battle, but the background can make or break your pet picture. Busy backgrounds kill good pictures. Telephone poles growing out of heads, random hands and feet, even an unsus- Manage light pecting person in the backLighting can be an issue ground can be distracting to when photographing pets. the subject. Indoors, try to shoot by availAlways look for a plain or able light and avoid electronic simple background before you flash as much as possible. take a pet picture. Try to avoid Some pets hate an electronic photographing flash as much a pet against a as the vacuum similar-colored cleaner and run Check it out background — a away. Instead, n You can find the winners black Labrador raise the camof our Pet Photo Contest wouldn’t work era’s ISO setting in this insert on Page 25. well against and shoot with a a dark backlarge aperture. ground. Try to keep your If you can’t find a simple pet still or shoot when it’s not background, try to minimize moving to avoid motion blur. distractions with a shallow When shooting outdoors, depth of field using a long lens bright direct sun can often cast and a large lens aperture. harsh shadows on the subject. Sometimes, backgrounds Look for a shady open area that can add to the picture. A offers diffused, even lighting. small tree, ornaments or a piece of wrapping paper in Capture character the background can add a to a The hardest part of any porChristmas pet picture. But be trait, human or pet, is letting careful with props. Don’t overthe subject’s personality show load the scene with too many in the picture. items and distract attention By putting sunglasses on from the pet. a dog to show its coolness or Unless you are photographcatching the angry stare of ing a horse, most pets sit a a cat to display its temper, a little lower to the ground. Try good portrait shows who the placing your camera at the pet is along with what it is. Is animal’s eye level to get a good Lucky chasing a ball or sleepview. Laying the camera on the ing on the couch? ground gives a truly pet-level Remember to have fun, too. perspective to the picture. A good pet picture can provide Cameras with articulating a lasting memory of a member LCD viewing screens can make of your family — or evidence of composing an image easier. who really chewed your favorite pair of slippers. Sit! Stay! A problem vexing to any pet photographer is keeping an animal’s attention focused on

n Glenn Moore, Tracy Press photo editor, can be reached at 830-4252 or

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Preventing pet problems

critter kissing


reventative medical care Another focus for preventaand screening are very tive care is dental disease. Most important for four-legged, of our dogs and cats over three furry members of your family. years of age have some degree Animals are much more of periodontal disease that can stoic than their human lead to pain, loss of teeth counterparts and tend or spread of infection to to mask or hide illness the kidneys, liver or heart. until they are quite Regular dental care with sick or in extreme pain. your veterinarian, comBy providing routine bined with home dental physical exams, vetcare, such as brushing and erinarians can find tooth-cleaning treats, can problems early while eliminate this problem they are still minor and in your pet. You have to easily treated, which in natalie olsen, remember that animals turn saves quite a bit of cannot tell us when a tooth dvm expense for owners in hurts, and most patients the long run. will continue to eat and Also, because animals act fairly normal while suffering are unable to speak to us, it from a problem that would have becomes important to run a human in the emergency room. screening lab work — blood Vaccines, routine deworming, analysis and urinalysis — reguheartworm testing and prevenlarly so that problems can be tion, and flea control are other identified before any noticeimportant aspects of preventing able symptoms even develop. medical problems in your pet. For example, it is common to Providing proper care before find a quiet, low-grade bladder they have a major problem can infection on screening lab work help them live a longer and where no signs of the problem healthier life and save veterinary were present. If left undiscovcare costs through the years. ered, the infection could spread to the kidneys and cause permanent damage or even trigger the development of a bladder stone, requiring surgery.

future farmers:  Above, West High School Assistant Principal Zachary Boswell planted a kiss on Bea, a heifer, after FFA students turned the school quad into a petting zoo Feb. 20 to celebrate National FFA Week. Students bought votes in the 12th annual Kiss-a-Critter contest to determine which faculty member would have to kiss one of the animals in the petting zoo. At left, Tracy High senior Emily Thompson lent a hand to West High senior Alex Russo to show newborn goats to students at West High.

n Natalie Olsen is a doctor of veterinary medicine at Jules Veterinary Center, 1855 W. 11th St., and can be reached at 833-7387.

Glenn Moore/Tracy Press


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24 | animal superstars.

to the rescue

east of eden

Courtesy photo

left alone: Valentino (left) and Velvet, 10-year-old siblings, have been left without a home by the death of their owner. These large, shy cats are declawed and need a place to quietly live out the rest of their lives together. Valentino, a Maine coon, will interact with people a bit, but Velvet is not sociable. Volunteers from Animal Rescue of Tracy recommend a quiet setting, perhaps in a business office or an enclosed patio room. No adoption fee is required, but patience with these cats is essential. The nonprofit, all-volunteer rescue group is also recruiting new volunteers to provide foster homes for cats and kittens of all ages as kitten season accelerates. All supplies will be provided. Animal Rescue of Tracy adoption fairs for dogs and cats take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays in the Macy’s wing of the West Valley Mall, 3200 Naglee Road. Members will also make arrangements to show animals in rescue during the week. For information: 642-4324 or

Courtesy photo

pup pal: Christian, a mixed-breed puppy, was born in April and loves to play. He gets along with people, dogs and cats. Christian walks well with a harness and retractable leash and likes to play fetch and romp around the dog park. He is learning to sit rather than jump up to get attention. Christian weighs 40 pounds and stands about 19 inches high, and East of Eden volunteers guess he might be part Swiss mountain dog and part Rottweiler. He will be at Petco, 2888 Grant Line Road, from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday with East of Eden, a nonprofit animal rescue organization. For information, contact Sheri Savage at 925-980-3035 or eoerescue@yahoo. com or visit



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Animal Superstars  
Animal Superstars  

A special supplement to the Tracy Press. Highlighting everyone's favorite creatures. Pets