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Fly Me To The Moon


Fear of Flying is the name of a book, an anxiety, and a paroxysm that causes every dog breeder’s heart to quake.

The fear is not for ourselves (although some among us may be one of the clench-fisted flyers), but for our beloved pets. Shipping our animals seems to be a necessary evil in our quest for the elusive dream — puppies to new owners, females to be bred, and show dogs to their weekend destinations.

If I have my druthers, the dog is transported by car — although highway statistics are more grim than air disasters. When this isn’t possible, the next best thing is for the dog to be taken on board. In order to do this, he must fit in a crate or container (Sherpa® bags are ideal if the dog is small or a puppy) under the seat. The pup’s home-away-from-home must have absorbent material on the bottom in case of leaks. An extra-large diaper or piddle pad is ideal.

Your dog will need a veterinary health certificate within ten days prior to departure. Puppies must be at least 8 weeks old. Most veterinarians don’t recommend tranquilizing dogs before a flight. Statistics show dogs are safer travelers when not drugged.

When traveling with your dog, inform the flight attendant you have a dog on board. Ask to be notified before takeoff when your dog is loaded.

Most of the time, when traveling great distances, the dog must be shipped. Over the years, I have paced many a floor waiting for the call that the dog has arrived safely, thereby lowering my blood pressure. I’ve also learned a lot of helpful hints to make the experience less traumatic.

First thing on the agenda is a call to the airlines to inquire about schedules. Avoid times of high traffic: holidays or early evening, especially on Fridays. At the same time, ask about estimated cost and whether they have any particular requirements. These change from time to time, and various airlines may have different rules. Most regulations, however, cover all flights.

When temperatures are below 45 degrees, it’s necessary to have a note from your vet stating, “This dog is acclimated to temperatures below 45 degrees.” Dogs cannot and should not be shipped if the temperature at the place of departure or at the destination is above 85 degrees. This, of course, is for their safety, as both the loading area and the cargo’s interior heat to an inferno if a delay occurs on the runway. (Actually, some airlines won’t accept animals in summer.)

Don’t ship your dog if there are more than three animals on the flight. Each uses oxygen, and should a delay occur, you want your animal to have the lion’s share of available air.
Shipping during heat spells can prove problematic. Yet we have shows and do breedings during the summer. The solution can be to ship very early in the morning or late at night. If this isn’t feasible, it’s better to wait for a cooling spell whenever possible. Always keep your dog’s welfare in mind.

My preference is to ship “priority” or counter-to-counter. This means the dog is loaded last into the cargo area and is first off. This method is a bit more pricey, but well worth the extra money, in my opinion. Of course, insurance is a wise precaution — not that money can ever replace a pet.

Shipping out of our local municipal airport would mean a change of planes, which increases the risk of being “misplaced” and additional time spent on the tarmac and in the belly of a plane. So we drive three hours to the nearest major airport and ship to the largest city near the recipient. Non-stops are advised, but if not possible, at least attempt to avoid changing planes or, even more complicated, switching carriers.

When transporting a puppy, accidents happen. Therefore, I use one crate in the car and transfer the pup to a clean crate for the flight. Airlines require a closed crate, with openings on three sides (four for international), rather than open mesh crates. The crate must be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
Label the crate with the dog’s call name, your name, address and phone number, and the consignee’s, as well. Tape a bag of food to the top. Show off your dog to the staff. A dog that’s much loved and wags a greeting is more likely to evoke compassion than an unknown beastie who’s crying and yowling. Be friendly and complimentary. A tip won’t hurt. At least you can be sure the people on this end will remember you.

Regulations state that the dog must have eaten and had water within four hours of the flight time. I don’t like to feed my dogs before a trip (especially puppies who are likely to URP anything in their tummies), so when I hug the dog bon voyage and place him in his crate at the terminal, I put a biscuit in one of the required dishes. The other dish is filled with water and frozen, then transported to the airport in a cooler. This way the water doesn’t spill and the ice melts slowly along the way. A safe toy is tucked in for comfort.

The last thing I do is to bungee or duct tape the sides and ends together. Twist the leash through the door grate and vent and then knot. Then, if a bolt should slip, or a hinge loosen, something will hold the crate together.

Shipping to foreign countries is even more agonizing. If the flight’s a long one, the airline may arrange for a boarding kennel to pick up your dog for an overnight stay, a meal, fresh water and a chance to stretch his legs.

A wave goodbye, a tear or two on your part, and he’s off on an adventure that’s as safe as you can make it.

Part of my routine is a required phone call from the person on the other end when the dog safely deplanes. The wait seems interminable. At least we can be thankful there are no dog shows (so far) on the moon.

Chris Walkowicz is an award-winning dog writer. Among her many credits is the Cycle® Fido Woman of the Year Award from the Dog Fanciers Club.

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Are Pets Being Recyled Into Pet Food?


The headline read: “How dogs and cats get recycled into petfood” (San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 20, 1990). Similar headlines appear regularly. The belief is dead pets are rendered and the resulting product finds its way into petfoods.

Not true, according to Fred Bisplinghoff, DVM, Consultant for the Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI). “I believe I have as much information on this subject as anyone,” says Dr. Bisplinghoff. “I have spent much time talking to reporters, renderers, petfood manufacturers and pet owners for the past twenty years. Adverse publicity has dictated that renderers get rid of small animals or make arrangements to sell their end products into markets other than the petfood market.”

Rendering pets for petfood is not harmful to pets consuming such petfoods. Nevertheless, emotional reactions overshadow any rational discussion of this issue. Pet owners tend to be appalled by the idea. The rendering industry is well aware of public disapproval of the practice.

Rendering is an economical, environmentally sound way of disposing of pets. The alternatives are to bury or incinerate them. However, these alternatives have economic and environmental disadvantages. Still, because most renderers will not accept pets, humane societies and others have increasingly turned to incineration.

The following is the breakdown of producers of animal proteins by type of raw material processed:

* Independent renderers process raw material from small packing houses, supermarkets, etc. There are 182 in the U.S.

* Packer renderers process raw material from only the species they are slaughtering. There are ninety-eight of this type in the U.S.

* Poultry processors process poultry by-products. There are fifty-six nationwide.

* Protein blenders purchase dry rendered tankage from the preceding processors. There are twenty-four in the United States.

Of these, says Dr. Bisplinghoff, the only group that might process dead pets are the independent renderers. He estimates that of the 182 independent renderers, only five to seven process pets. However, this number does not include the “small country processors who may occasionally take a pet from a livestock producer.” Generally, these small feed companies do not manufacture companion animal diets.

Petfood manufacturers have demanded guarantees that their animal protein suppliers do not process dead companion animals. Since petfood makers are large volume, valued customers, says Dr. Bisplinghoff, no renderer would chance losing this profitable business.

Furthermore, dead pets are not desirable raw material for rendering. Therefore, there is no economic incentive for renderers to seek this type of raw material.

“Some renderers may process a small volume of dog pound animals,” says Dr. Bisplinghoff, “but they do it to get along with local health authorities who have the responsibility to dispose of these animals in an economic and sanitary manner. But, these renderers do not sell their products to petfood manufacturers. The few renderers who handle large volumes of dead pets either export their animal proteins or sell them to integrated poultry operations.”

Tapeworms: Parasites with a past


Tapeworms are one of the few parasites that are most likely to be diagnosed by a pet’s owner.

They’re also one of the few internal parasites that can be tracked back to the source.

There are two common types of tapeworms in dogs. And adult tapeworms look alike. Each has little segments that look like a measuring tape. Since the segments break off easily, they vary in length. Owners often report seeing pieces that look like dried rice on the hair around their dog’s rectum, or on the dog’s bed, or even the furniture.

Rarely, small, white moving pieces are visible on a freshly passed stool. (But perhaps these are seen more frequently now that most responsible dog owners are bagging up their dog’s stools.) These pieces are sometimes confused with maggots if on a stool that’s been outside for a while. If you’re not sure what it is, take a sample to your veterinarian. Tapeworm eggs are not often caught on fecal examinations, so let your vet know if you’ve seen any segments.

Sometimes an observant owner will catch his or her dog rubbing its rear on the ground or carpet. Anal gland problems are the most common cause of this rubbing, but don’t rule out tapeworms. Also, although rare, a dog will sometimes vomit up an intact or large segment of a tapeworm.

The most commonly seen tapeworm species is Taenia sp. They appear in dogs that eat uncooked meat of various kinds — most commonly rodents or rabbits. A microscopic exam will tell your vet if the tapeworm sample is Taenia sp. If it is, you’ll know your pooch has been out hunting on his own. Or perhaps Kitty is dropping “gifts” for Fido to devour (this happens more often than people think).

The other common tapeworm is Dipylidium caninum. This one shows up in dogs that are infested with biting lice or fleas (usually fleas). When dogs do the sort of self-grooming/nipping that they often do with a flea infestation, they tend to ingest fleas which may carry the tapeworm cysticercoid stage. Not all fleas carry tapeworms, but many do.

Again, these two types of tapeworms can be distinguished only by careful examination. They’re not easily identified by just looking at them.

Both types of tapeworms mentioned here are fairly easily treated with oral or injectable medications. But unless you remove the source of the tapeworms — get rid of the fleas or stop the hunting — these parasites will recur with regularity. A severe case of tapeworms can interfere with digestion and cause blockage or a poor haircoat, but they’re rarely serious parasites. (The whipworm, on the other hand, is serious.) No one appreciates tapeworm segments on the sofa, however, and maintaining family peace requires prompt treatment.

The truly serious tapeworm species is called Echinococcus. There are two variants: a) granulosus, which is associated with Australia though found almost everywhere to some extent and b) multilocularis, which is less common. Both of these tapeworms can cause serious, even fatal disease in humans through hydatid cysts. (Think of those alien sci-fi films where something evil grows inside you. This isn’t far off!)

Echinococcus granulosus is in its most aggressive form in sheep. If a dog eats uncooked meat or offal from an infected sheep and then defecates in the pasture, the life cycle for this parasite is perpetuated. Humans are most often infected through contact with their own pets. Personal hygiene is obviously of the utmost importance here.

There are effective medications with which to treat dogs and cats; periodic worming for tapeworms is practiced in endemic areas. Sheep-herding dogs imported to the United States from Australia must undergo quarantine. In Australia, wallabies and dingoes help perpetuate the cycle, as well as the sheep and dog relationship.

So, while tapeworms are not usually a serious parasite, they can cause some health problems. They’re reasonably easy to treat and you, as an owner, are an important partner in diagnosing it. And then there’s that question of how your dog got infested and how you can change that.

Friskies kills Dr. Ballard


It’s official. Dr. Ballard’s dog and cat foods are dead. The Friskies division of Nestle, which made the foods, has pulled the plug. By April 2001, the food will no longer be found on store shelves.

That’s too bad — many people grew to love Dr. Ballard’s oven-baked pet foods, and tasty canned foods. But sales slowed down when prime customer PETsMART brought out their own oven-baked food, PETsMART Premier. (That’s still available, although there is no canned version.)

Other alternatives in the baked pet foods category are rare, because it takes a lot of extra heat — and therefore natural gas — to run the ovens which bake the foods. Heinz pulled the plug on Ken-L Biskit, a 70-year old baked food.

You might try PETsMART Premier. Other alternatives are Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, Neura, Wellness, and Flint River Ranch.

If you want to call and complain to Friskies, the number is 1-800-851-5857.

Dick Molay: Every Dog Has His Doo



A woman I knew when I lived in California kept a horse at a boarding stable. In addition to whatever the stable charged for keeping horses, all owners were expected to put in a few hours of unpaid maintenance work each month. It so happened that I needed to speak with my friend on a weekend morning when she was fulfilling her obligation at the stable.

I drove over and found her up to her ankles in road apples, cheerfully shoveling the stuff into a wheelbarrow. I had never before seen her in anything other than formal business attire, but there she was, in raggedy blue jeans, a stained sweatshirt and distinctly aromatic tennis shoes. She greeted me with a broad smile and a humorous curtsy. “I just love the smell of horse poop on a frosty morning,” she said, “Don’t you?”

Well, as a clever author wrote in a popular children’s book, everybody poops. And the disposal of those metabolic leavings is big business for many companies. You can buy cattle manure for your vegetable garden. The mushroom industry is based on fermented horse manure. Those tourist attractions where lions spend their days napping in the sunlight sell sacks of lion poop to home owners plagued by landscape-eating wild deer. The distinctive aroma is said to keep the deer at a respectable distance. There are even municipalities that treat, sanitize, granulate and sell solid (human) waste as flower bed fertilizer.

Yes, recycling makes short work of a lot of poop.

And then there is doggie doo.

Try to think of a worse catastrophe (dogastrophe?) than planting your shoe directly in a mound of fresh English Setter poop as you are about to show up for a job interview. I picked English Setters as an example because I would love to have one. My own little darling is a Lhasa Apso, a small animal that makes up for her diminutive size by depositing truly terrible-smelling little leavings.

As if we all didn’t agree on the social drawbacks of dog poop, I have just now learned from my son of a website where you can order a gift-wrapped package of same delivered to your least favorite person. The stuff is available in a number of weights and containers, and is reasonably priced, considering the rather unpleasant task of dealing with it at the source. If you want to check out my discovery, just point your web browser to www.dogdoo.com. Honest. I wouldn’t kid you.

Well, it got me to thinking. It wasn’t too long ago that there was an epidemic of pie-in-the-face attacks. Antisocial individuals all over the world advertised themselves as pie throwers, and for a fee, you could have the satisfaction of seeing your designated victim peering out at the world through a thick facial of lemon meringue. Before that, it was dead flowers. A young man, thinking better of a developing relationship with a young woman, could signal his waning interests by sending her a bouquet of almost-dry, brown-spotted, petal-dropping roses. As a nation, we seem to be losing our ability to speak plainly with one another. Instead of telling someone that the party’s over, we send dead flowers or arrange to have a pie tossed in his (or her) face. Or we dispatch a gift-wrapped parcel of dog doo.

At first glance, the doggie doo delivery service sounds new and different. Disgusting, but different. It turns out, however, that this is just a new twist on a very old idea. While I was cleaning out a dresser drawer not too long ago, I came across a small, squarish white box with a lifelike lump of dog poop, rendered in plaster and realistically painted to resemble the real thing. I ordered it decades ago, from a fantastic company called Johnson Smith & Company. When we were kids, my brother and I would spend hours leafing through the Johnson Smith catalog, imagining the disruptions we could cause with dribble glasses, whoopee cushions, joy buzzers and dog poop. But that was at least 50 years ago. Surely, a company so wonderful could not possibly survive.

Just for kicks, I tried an address on my web browser: www.johnsonsmith.com. And I was astonished when a home page came up, looking a lot like my memories from a half century ago. It was enough to bring tears to my eyes. There was a fill-in-the-blanks rectangle and I typed in “dog” and held my breath. An instant later, there it was. Johnson Smith’s traditional “dog mess,” item number 2999, priced at an affordable $1.49 per lump.

I confess that I worry about water pollution, acid rain, indiscriminate use of antibiotics and the gradual decline in taste and texture of bagels. But I will sleep better tonight knowing that Johnson Smith is still selling artificial dog doo. It takes a heck of a load off my little Lhasa Apso.