The Kitchen Remodel from Hell

Well, I’ve not been posting too much in the last few weeks as life sometimes gets so busy and so complicated and so, so messy. But, there are always obligations. So, I did manage to get out my foundation’s quarterly newsletter.

You don’t want to miss it. You will learn about my kitchen remodel, which after 3 months, has not gotten that far.  And, I have a book review of Stephen Huneck’s final book as well as a wonderful article from Suzi Beber on Slow Cooking for your Dog.

Just click here and you can print out your own full-color issue.

If you haven’t seen Dr. Greg Martinez slow-cooking for his dog family, in addition to eating the same out of the pot with them, you haven’t lived. Honestly, I’ve watched it a few times and enjoy it more each time. Dr. Greg is too funny and writes to tell me of his latest concoctions, all based on what goodies they have on special at the supermarket.

Do check out the good doctor’s great book, Dog Dish Diet, which I gave a Thumbs Up Review to in one of my previous newsletter issues.

And, for some of his latest gems and great advice, please enjoy a copy of his latest electric publication, Canine Crock Pot Cuisine.


Golden Retriever Tanner is a trip

OMG, but Golden Retriever Tanner is just so much like my first Golden boy Ollie. Ollie loves to rip up paper. Just loved it. He would get a piece of tissue or paper towel or paper roller tubes and just leave a huge pile of tiny little pieces. And, he’d be so proud of himself. He also loves his tennis balls, and he would work so hard at picking up as many as he could at one time. He got to four and that was already 3 more than I would have liked.

Well, Tanner LOVES cardboard . . . . loves ripping it up, that is. And, his dad says the video below shows him with 5 balls. That is hard to see, though, as that 5th one must be in the back of his mouth, which is incredibly dangerous (do check out this safety warning).

Tails from the Vet Clinic: Fleased

The scene below was created by Dr. V of Pawcurious fame. It would be funny if it wasn’t totally true.

It’s hard to believe someone actually brought in his itchy dog and said all of this.

But, trust me, if Dr. V says it happened, it did. Being a veterinarian is not easy.

Yet, I am sure those folks working with Dr. V are having a hell of a good time.

The Human-Canine Connection: A Shared Genetic Makeup

I am fascinated by the fact that, about 15,000 years ago, dog domestication and human settlement took place virtually together. As a lover of all things dog, it would be nice to speculate that they played an important role in the development and structure of human society. Clearly, the more we research dogsespecially given the recent successful sequencing of the dog genomethe more we learn about ourselves. And, the more we see the powerful part they play in shaping and bettering our existence.

Humans and dogs have been partners for thousands of years, our canine friends quite active in the fight against cancer. Dr. David Waters, Co-director of the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program, notes that dogs and humans are the only two species that develop lethal prostate cancers. And, the breast cancer that affects dogs spreads to bones, just as it does in women. Further, osteosarcoma, which is the most frequent bone cancer of dogs, presents in the same way as it does for our teenagers. In fact, under a microscope, cancer cells from a teenager with osteosarcoma are indistinguishable from a any breed dog’s bone cancer cells.

Drs. Modiano and Breen have found that humans and dogs share the same genetic basis for certain types of cancer. Furthermore, the researchers say that because of the way the genomes have evolved, getting cancer may be inevitable for some humans and dogs.

Scientists have found a shared gene in dogs with compulsive behavior. Obsessive-compulsive disorder afflicts anywhere from 2.5 percent to 8 percent of the human population, and according to Dr. Karen L. Overall, a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior at the U of PA School of Medicine, up to 8 percent of dogs in America (5 to 6 million) — exhibit compulsive behaviors, such as, fence-running, pacing, spinning, tail-chasing, snapping at imaginary flies, licking, chewing, barking and staring.

Researchers studied Doberman pinschers that curled up into balls, sucking their flanks for hours at a time, and found that the afflicted dogs shared a gene. They describe their findings — the first such gene identified in dogs — in a short report this month in Molecular Psychiatry.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, in North Grafton, Mass., and the lead author of the report, said the findings had broad implications for compulsive disorders in people and animals.

Some geneticists believe that due to pedigree and similarity of genes to those of humans, “dogs make an ideal model for studying human behaviors and pathologies, especially those involving complex patterns of inheritance. Few humans keep detailed genealogies for themselves, but they are diligent in recording every detail in the ancestry of their purebred animals.”

The dog genome has been decoded by researchers at Massachusetts’ Broad Institute, via sequencing of the boxer’s genome, and also by DNA sequencing pioneer, Craig Venter, who decoded his poodle’s genome. Based on both genomes, the Broad Institute designed a dog SNP chip, similar to those used in scanning humans for genetic disease. SNPs, or “snips,” are sites of common variation along the DNA. A UCLA research team led by Bridgett M. vonHoldt and Robert K. Wayne used the dog SNP chip to scan for genes that show signatures of selection.

One such favored dog gene has a human counterpart that has been implicated in Williams syndrome, where it causes exceptional gregariousness.

Many with Williams have so vague a concept of space, for instance, that even as adults they will fail at six-piece jigsaw puzzles, easily get lost, draw like a preschooler and struggle to replicate a simple T or X shape built with a half-dozen building blocks. Few can balance a checkbook. These deficits generally erase about 35 points from whatever I.Q. the person would have inherited without the deletion. Since the average I.Q. is 100, this leaves most people with Williams with I.Q.’s in the 60s. Though some can hold simple jobs, they require assistance managing their lives.

The low I.Q., however, ignores two traits that define Williams more distinctly than do its deficits: an exuberant gregariousness and near-normal language skills. Williams people talk a lot, and they talk with pretty much anyone. They appear to truly lack social fear. Indeed, functional brain scans have shown that the brain’s main fear processor, the amygdala, which in most of us shows heightened activity when we see angry or worried faces, shows no reaction when a person with Williams views such faces. It’s as if they see all faces as friendly.

Another two selected genes are involved in memory. Dogs, unlike wolves, are adept at taking cues from human body language, and the two genes could have something to do with this faculty, Dr. Wayne said.

How Dogs Read Human Body Language: Is your dog reading you like a book?
By Stanley Coren

Most dog owners have had the experience of simply glancing at where the leash is hanging, only to find that Lassie is now headed for the door in anticipation of a walk. While this seems like an everyday event to dog owners, it has special significance to scientists because of what it indicates about how dogs think. First of all, it shows that dogs have the ability to read human body language. In addition, it shows that dogs feel that our movements and gestures contain important cues as to what will happen next in their world.

For decades, scientists have been studying “social cognition” in dogs. This simply refers to how well dogs read cues in the behaviour of others. As humans, we do this automatically. For instance, we know that when the person we are talking to starts glancing at his or her watch, we had best get to the point quickly. All social mammals have evolved remarkably discriminating ways of reading the signals sent to them by their group members, normally members of the same species. However recent research shows that dogs are surprisingly good at reading certain types of social cues in humans.

The experimental set-up used to test for such perception in animals is quite simple. Start with two inverted bucketlike containers. Place a morsel of food under one of them while the subject of the test is out of sight. Of course you must make sure that both containers have been rubbed with the food so that there is no scent difference. Now bring the subject in and give some sort o social cue to indicate which bucket actually contains the food. The most obvious cue would be to tap the container with the food. Less obvious would be to point your finger toward it. An even more muted signal would be to tilt your head or body toward it without pointing. The subtlest signal of all would be not to move your head or body but to simply look with your eyes toward the correct container. If the subject chooses the right container he gets the food. Simple, huh? Don’t bet on it.

Surprisingly, Daniel J. Povinelli, a psychologist at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, found that our closest animal relatives, chimpanzees, were initially quite poor at this task. (Actually, so were three-year-old human children, though they were better than the apes.) However, both the chimps and the kids could quickly learn to read the correct cues. The real surprise came when a team led by Robert Hare of Harvard University ran the same test on dogs. The dogs could immediately interpret the signals indicating the location of the food four times better than the apes, and more than twice as well as the young children, even if the experimenter was a stranger.

Now the real question is: where did dogs get this talent? The first guess might be that since dogs are descended from pack-hunting wolves, the ability to pick up social signals evolved to help coordinate the hunt. If so, one would imagine that wolves should be at least as good at the bucket task as dogs. However when Hare tested wolves at the Wolf Hollow Wolf Sanctuary in Massachusetts, he found that they were actually worse than chimpanzees and a lot worse than dogs. The next guess might be that dogs learn to read human body language because they hang out with and watch their human families. This would suggest that young puppies, especially those still living with their littermates and not yet adopted into human families, should be poorer at picking up human signals. Wrong again! Even nine-week-old puppies, still living with their mother and littermates, do better than wolves or chimps. “The punch line is that this ability was not inherited from the last common dog-wolf ancestor, and it does not take tremendous exposure to humans,” said Hare in a recent conversation.

With the experimental evidence driving wooden stakes through the hearts of the two most obvious explanations, we are still left with the question: where do dogs get their superior ability to read human signals from? Once again we have two candidate explanations, both concerning evolutionary changes that occurred during dogs’ domestication.

Obviously, dogs that could figure out their masters’ intentions and desires would have been more likely to thrive in a human-dominated environment and hence produce more young. But were specific dogs initially chosen to be domesticated because they had a better ability to understand people? Or was the improved ability some sort of unintended by-product that arose during the process of domestication?

It is easy to find rational reasons to support either of these two theories. Obviously people would tend to prefer and form stronger bonds with dogs that could understand human body language. However the alternative theory could also work. Domestication usually involves selecting the tamest and most easily managed animals-for safety’s sake, if nothing else. According to Hare, “If you select against aggression, a whole suite of changes accompanies that reduction in aggression. There are a lot of unintended changes that occur as by-products.” In a classic early set of experiments on captive foxes, it was shown that these changes are not just behavioural, but include tendencies toward floppy ears, tails held high, and multi-coloured coats. “So it’s possible that this ability in dogs is simply a by-product of domestication. You pick the calmer, more attentive animals, and they also happen to be the ones that are better able to pick up subtle social cues.”

Unfortunately the scientific jury is still out. We simply don’t have enough data to decide whether humans deliberately chose dogs that could better understand our social signals, or whether this ability is a “hitchhiker” trait that came along on the evolutionary ride to domestication. Regardless, this is yet more proof that our domestic dog is not merely an urban-dwelling wolf that has learned to sport a veneer of civilization in order to get free room and board. Rather, the dog is a separate species that has evolved, or more precisely co-evolved, with humans.

Given the fact that we started this discussion with every dog owner’s presumption-as an article of faith and observation- that our pet dogs understand our body language and signals, I simply could not end my interview with Hare without asking, “Won’t dog people think that this research finding is obvious?”

“I had the same reaction,” he replied. “I knew that people would say, ‘Of course dogs understand this kind of thing!’ But it’s one thing to say it and another to go and demonstrate it. The people who were really surprised were the scientists-not the lay people.”

Stanley Coren is Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of several books on dogs, including How to Speak Dog and Pawprints of History. His website is

Why Haven’t Pet Owners Been Told These Facts about Heartworm?

Do yourself a favor and check out Dr. Becker’s insightful article about Heartworm and its preventative treatment.

I’m actually following many of the suggestions as I provide traditional heartworm medication (not “‘silver bullet’ all-in-one products that prevent against every known GI worm & external parasite”) only part of the year as based on temperature (see charts below for guidelines), and at 6-week intervals.

Click here on image for supersized view.

Numbers indicate the months in which the First doses of (monthly) administered heartworm chemoprophylaxis should be given to prevent infection under conditions most conducive to transmission. A one (1) for the first and last months indicates continuous all-year administration. Adapted from maps included in the article Seasonal Timing of Heartworm Chemoprophylaxis in the United States, Knight and Lok

Click here on image for supersized view.

Numbers indicate the months in which the last doses of (monthly) administered heartworm chemoprophylaxis should be given to prevent infection under conditions most conducive to transmission. A one (1) for the first and last months indicates continuous all-year administration. Adapted from maps included in the article Seasonal Timing of Heartworm Chemoprophylaxis in the United States, Knight and Lok

Bisphosphonates: When Amputation isn’t an Option for Osteosarcoma

This is Deb Walz’s Golden Retriever Selka, or more formally, Sandhill’s Goldust Selka. A lover of the sport no matter what the season, he also enjoys dumping snow from his Frisbee onto his head! Now, that is what we call one thinking Golden! According to Deb, Selka is a joy to everyone who knows him and spends his time retrieving, working as a therapy dog or laying in Mom’s lap. Selka has greeted folks for years at our foundation’s page on the sport of Canine Frisbee.

So, we were especially sad to receive this news today from Deb:

Rochelle, I wanted to share the sad news that our beloved golden Selka has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Amputation was not a good choice as he has some neuropathy in his hind legs and probably could not walk on three legs. We are doing the best we can, loving him as we always do and spoiling him until the time comes to say goodbye. We do not want him to suffer at all. You will remember the photo of him in the winter with his red frisbee that you used in one of your sections here.

Tripawds has a great article on the new options for patients like Selka.

More recently, there is a promising new option for non-amputation candidates: bisphosphonates. You’ve probably heard of them: Fosamax and Boniva are two. This class of drugs is used in human patients with osteoperosis, or those with prostate or breast cancer that has metastasized to bone.

Now, many veterinary oncologists are using bisphosphonates for canine patients, to build and stabilize bone, and effectively manage pain. In some cases, bisphosphonates can also be used for dogs with osteosarcoma metastasis to bony areas such as the spine or skull.

Typically, non-amputee dogs being treated for osteosarcoma are given the bisphosphonate drug Pamidronate. This drug is given as a two hour IV injection every four weeks. Pamidronate may also be given in conjunction with radiation therapy for pain control.

At the Veterinary Cancer Center (VCC), dogs have the most powerful bisphosphonate available; Zoledronate. For the last year, the VCC team has conducted a Zoledronate clinical trial on dogs with bone cancer, and so far, the results are promising.

I actually know of a canine patient who has been on Pamidronate for almost a year and is now able to run and play like old times, before being diagnosed. I do not have detailed information regarding the Zoledronate clinical trial which is being conducted at the Veterinary Cancer Center in Santa Fe, NM, but contact information is available here.

Polluted Pets (and people) …. need I say more?

I have a great informational page on polluted pets at my foundation’s site. It’s been there for years and has lots of information that can be downloaded and utilized.

Please do read this powerful article: Polluted Pets: High Levels of Toxic Industrial Chemicals Contaminate Cats And Dogs. For me, this is old news. But, for many, it continues to be foreign information.

And, we’ve talked about this issue for years at the site: Nutritional value of fruits, veggies is dwindling: Chemicals that speed growth may impair ability to absorb soil’s nutrients. Another incredible article to read and understand with respect to implications for both you and your furry ones.

Please get serious now. Prevention is what it is all about. Waiting until an illness process takes hold just results in needless pain and suffering. Being proactive about your family’s health is the best way to fight back and possible win the battle.

Golden Retriever Foundation Partners with Morris Animal Foundation

The Golden Retriever Foundation and Morris Animal Foundation  have teamed up to announce a new major canine cancer study titled Discovery and Characterization of Heritable and Somatic Cancer Mutations in Golden Retrievers, or the MADGiC Project (Making Advanced Discoveries in Golden Cancers).

This is a three-year, $1 million project slated to start in the summer of 2010. This jointly funded project is part of Morris Animal Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, a worldwide effort to prevent, treat and, ultimately, cure this disease in dogs. Learn more at

The study will be led by premier canine cancer researchers Jaime Modiano, VMD, PhD, at the University of Minnesota; Matthew Breen, PhD, at North Carolina State University; and Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, PhD, at the Broad Institute of MIT and Uppsala University, Sweden.  They will work together to investigate mutations that are involved in risk and progression of the two most common cancers affecting Golden Retrievers, hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.  This research will be of interest to all dog owners because these cancers affect every breed and cause the deaths of tens of thousands of dogs each year.

It is expected that this research may directly benefit humans too, because the genes involved in cancer are sometimes the same in dogs as in people, although these mutations can be more difficult to discover in people.  Therefore, identifying these genes may also advance scientists’ understanding of common human cancers such as lymphoma.

In addition, researchers will seek to identify genes that predispose some dogs to cancer so that breeders may someday be able to reduce cancer risk through breeding selection.  DNA tests may also be used for diagnosis and possibly to guide treatment choices in the future.  The scientists will also investigate mutations that occur in the tumors themselves and will profile the susceptibility of specific tumor types to various chemotherapy compounds, which may lead to improved therapy options.

Owners of Golden Retrievers diagnosed with lymphoma or hemangiosarcoma can support this research by donating a small tumor and/or blood sample; blood samples from healthy Goldens over 12 years of age are also needed.  More information about sample donation can be found at,, or contact Rhonda Hovan at or 330-668-0044.

About The Golden Retriever Foundation

About Morris Animal Foundation

Vindicated … by President’s Cancer Panel, no less

So nice to see Nick Kristof’s NYT’s Op-Ed, “New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer“.

The President’s Cancer Panel is the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream, so it is astonishing to learn that it is poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies. The cancer panel is releasing a landmark 200-page report on Thursday, warning that our lackadaisical approach to regulation may have far-reaching consequences for our health.

I’ve read an advance copy of the report, and it’s an extraordinary document. It calls on America to rethink the way we confront cancer, including much more rigorous regulation of chemicals.

Traditionally, we reduce cancer risks through regular doctor visits, self-examinations and screenings such as mammograms. The President’s Cancer Panel suggests other eye-opening steps as well, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic.

So much is at blame, especially the bizarre presumption that chemicals are safe for us unless there is glaring evidence to the contrary. Isn’t it nice to know that there are over 80,000 chemicals in use but only a few hundred have been tested for safety? With 41% of us being diagnosed with cancer, it is not comforting to realize that “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

My Alfie .... and his pal

In my discussion, Learning to Protect rather than Pollute ourselves & our Pets, I’ve been harping on these same issues (and for some time). Although this panel’s report is geared toward humans and not companion animals, the health of animal companions mirrors our own. Researchers have discovered a genetic cancer link between dogs and humans. Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., Ph.D., University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and Cancer Center, and Matthew Breen, Ph.D., North Carolina State University’s Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research, collaborated on this research study. Drs. Modiano and Breen have found that humans and dogs share the same genetic basis for certain types of cancer.

Dr. David Waters, Co-director of the Purdue Comparative Oncology Program indicates, dogs and humans are the only two species that develop lethal prostate cancers. And, the breast cancer that affects dogs spreads to bones, just as it does in women. Further, osteosarcoma, which is the most frequent bone cancer of dogs, presents in the same way as it does for our teenagers. In fact, under a microscope, cancer cells from a teenager with osteosarcoma are indistinguishable from a any breed dog’s bone cancer cells.

For many pet owners, the recent April 2007 pet food recall (which resulted in so many horrible deaths of both dogs and cats) was a huge wake-up call about the weak FDA regulations and enforcement, and inherent dangers in our food supply …. for our companion animals and ourselves. Yet, for me, it was the cancer-related deaths of my Ollie and Darcy, that drove home my current mission to educate and help others.

I am already incorporating the many recommendations of this Cancer Panel, for both myself and my dogs. The whole family (2 & 4-footed) has been using filtered drinking water since 1998. I have been home-cooking a 100% organic diet for my Goldens since 2005, and for us human folks, giving preference to foods grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers and growth hormones. We have grown our own vegetables, organically, with no pesticides for over 20 years, and use no lawn chemicals. I have used water or vinegar and water to clean the floors. I store water in glass or stainless steel containers, and microwave using ceramic or glass containers. I choose foods and garden products with fewer toxins or endocrine disruptors.

Will I ever know if any or all of these actions extend my life? Probably not. There are just so many variables, and one cannot discount the enormous genetic role. It is disheartening to know that researchers, Drs. Modiano and Breen, believe that because of the way the genomes have evolved, getting cancer may be inevitable for some humans and dogs.

They have concluded that despite millions of years of divergence, the evolving genomes of dogs and humans seem to have retained the mechanism associated with cancer, and that the conserved changes in the genomes have similar consequences in dogs and humans. I am looking forward to their current research which seeks to pinpoint risk factors for cancer in various breeds of dogs … especially since cancer is the leading cause of death in the Golden Retriever breed, Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphosarcoma leading the list.

I believe prevention is the best defense and only hope folks will begin to learn more about these issues, as natural health writer CJ Puotinen posits in her article on cancer prevention: “What could be better than curing your dog’s cancer? That’s easy! How about avoiding the illness in the first place?

Part of the mission of the Land of PureGold Foundation is to support and promote holistically healthy and responsible dog care, as well as disseminate information on canine cancers. Dogs do not get to be by our sides for that long—the fun we share together, training and playing and living and loving, so woefully brief. That is why our hearts stop, and life slows to a halt, when we feel those lumps or hear the results of those dreaded biopsies.

Canine Ergonomics: The need for a SCIENCE of Working Dogs

I have long been fascinated by the important roles that our canines play in their collaboration with humans. My own personal hero in this area is Dr. Bonnie Bergin, the incredible woman who in 1975  originated the concept of the “service dog.” Seeing waiting lists for service dogs extending to 10 years, and low percentage of dogs making it through the program, she founded the Assistance Dog Institute and Bergin University of Canine Studies. Now providing college programming, and doing research on training and the use of assistance dogs, Dr. Bergin has been a model for us all.

“The dog, we now realize, thinks, feels and reacts in ways very much like humans, which explains its unique ability to fit into human society. And the plasticity, the versatility, the adaptability of the canine species is very much aligned with ours. So the time has come to elevate the dog to take its place beside humans, equines, bovines and other mammalian species as a specific subject of study at the college and university level. No animal does more for us, none share a more intimate relationship with us, nor can any claim more years of alliance with us – than the dog – our partner, our friend, our helpmate.”

Books from several disciplines line my shelves in the attempt to define and explore the nature of working dogs. In this vein, I very much agree with psychology professor, Dr. William S. Helton.

Editor of CANINE ERGONOMICS, the first book on the science of working dogs, Dr. Helton laments over the fact that the “scientific literature on working dogs is scattered across several non-overlapping disciplines and, in comparison to the magnitude of its societal importance, relatively underdeveloped.”

Currently, there is no recognized “science” of working dogs and therefore no recognized, specialized research in the area.

I suspected that Dr. Helton had been personally inspired by a working dog when we read this in the book’s preface:

“I looked up from the paper and there was Kiowa, a black and tan mixed-breed trained signal (hearing assistance) dog. He lay on the floor with one ear up and swiveling around searching for sounds. Kiowa, like a sonar or radar operator, was a vigilant worker, looking for relatively rare target signals among long series of irrelevant noises and sounds. Kiowa, moreover, was an expert, as he had learned to generalize his signaling to untrained but meaningful targets, such as water boiling or a bathtub filling.”

And, of course, I was right. I contacted the good professor in New Zealand and he graciously provided us with more about how his passion developed. Click here to learn more about the book, Dr. Helton’s work, and the assistance dogs he has trained.

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Just love our Mugoh Mat for wet paws!

We have used the Mugoh Mat for over a year now with our Golden guy Alfie, wanting to be sure we put it through the paces before sharing it with our supporters. But, our vote is in and we say, DO IT! Let your dogs dry their own paws in 3 Steps or 3 Seconds with a super absorbent Mugoh Mat. It is absolutely the fastest, easiest way to eliminate wet paw prints on your floor.

Mugoh Mats absorb moisture instantly. Made entirely of natural, 100% biodegradable materials, dogs quickly accept them as comfortable to walk on. A soft, super absorbent 2-ply paper towel for the ruffles and burlap (jute) is used for the backing. A natural latex rubber is used to hold the ruffles in place and as a gripping feature on back of the mat. Hand crafted in Oregon, the mats are well constructed and will last for several weeks or up to four months, under normal use from one dog. We’ve used the same one for several months with our Golden guy Alfie.

The soft ruffles on these mats have the same absorbency as the best paper towels or tissue and suck up water from paws on contact. After being wet, the Mugoh Mat will normally dry in a couple of hours. It is disposable and for best effectiveness should be replaced when it becomes frayed or matted. EEco Pet uses only pure, all natural latex rubber that has no chemical additives and virtually no odor. This is important for dog’s sensitive noses. The mat is an ample 28 inches x 34 inches.

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Come and learn lots more here!

Pilots N Paws . . . Pilots Donating Time to Rescue Dogs

What an incredible thing this is! It is often very tough to get rescues from one area in the country to another, so that they can get to the places where there will be homes waiting. Pilots N Paws is intended to be a meeting place for those who rescue, shelter or foster animals, and pilots and plane owners willing to assist with the transportation of animals. They provide the environment in which those involved can come together in a common place and arrange or schedule rescue flights, overnight foster care or shelter, and all other related activities.

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Please come learn about Pilots N Paws 5000

Pilots N Paws 5000 will take place during the week of September 12th through the 20th. This event was conceived as a means to draw public attention to three issues. The first and most important message that needs to be conveyed is that we have a serious problem in this country and as a result about 4,000,000 animals or more are euthanized annually. This would not be the case if there were more and better spay and neuter programs and laws regarding owners’ responsibility for their animals. The second issue is that because the problem is primarily regional a lot of these innocent animals could find permanent “forever” homes if they could be transported from high kill regions to areas with homes available. To accomplish this we desperately need more pilots to help with transports.

The final issue is that while aviation has proven to be a successful way to transport animals to safety, general aviation in this country is threatened. The threats range from onerous Homeland Security directives to crippling and expensive fees imposed on general aviation. We want to see general aviation perceived by the public accurately as a driving force in our economy, and one that contributes far more than its $150 economic impact would suggest. We want to see general aviation free of these threats.

To transport 5000 animals to safety in one week is a large undertaking, and it involves shelters, rescues, foster homes for animals and pilots. Each will play a role in the success of the Pilots N Paws 5000 and each must commit to its success.

Animal Hospice: An important part of your pet’s lifeplan

While folks make light about Twitter (you can see my Tweets here), it is amazing the folks you can meet and the information that you can learn there. It was actually Twitter that allowed me to meet Dr. Jaime Glasser Merrifield and learn about the emerging and incredibly important veterinary field of animal hospice.

Dr. Jaime Glasser Merrifield DVM MS, of hospice4animals, is quite passionate about end of life care for our companion animals.

I practiced Veterinary Medicine for a long time before I knew about Animal Hospice. I struggled years with trying to find the most gentle ways of touching and treating older animals that were in pain. I spent many years trying to read and communicate with others about euthanasia and it is a sacred and heavy responsibility to decide on and to assist. I spent many of my working hours counseling pet parents  about their choices and options. I had a comfort room like a living room where I could talk quietly and let parents and kids spend the night with the ill animal members of their family. I began to understand that some folks just did not feel it was their right to euthanize their pet, and I helped those animals be as comfortable as possible until their time came to leave our world. I had practiced Animal Hospice for many years without knowing it existed. No matter what your beliefs are it is wrong for each Vet, each pet owner and each animal to go through this re-inventing the wheel. It is wrong we are left feeling alone with these wonderful/terrible questions. Animal Hospice needs to be as much a part of your pet’s lifeplan as good preventative care and good nutrition. Hospice needs to be a part of every veterinary practice or Veterinary Hospice Practitioners be available everywhere.

And, she would like her new hospice4animals blog to be a “a comfy place to discuss end-of-life issues about animals, remember your pets, learn about and discuss palliative and hospice care for animals, and keep in touch with the veterinary movement for hospice for animals”. Check out her newest posting: “Why is it so hard when a pet dies?

Dr. Jaime is very excited about an upcoming event that she believes is as important for the general public as it is for care-giving professionals. The Second International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice Care at U of California at Davis, is being held on September 5-7, 2009 (Pre-Symposium Field Trip on Sept 4th to BrightHaven, an holistic animal sanctuary and pet hospice). The symposium is being hosted by the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine—home to the largest public veterinary program in the country.

Based on human hospice models, veterinary hospice addresses the needs of people who wish to care for their dying animals in the comfort of their own homes—under the guidance and assistance of veterinarians and a professional, qualified staff. By training caregivers to provide comforting palliation for their pets and by offering extensive support services as well as effective pain management, veterinary hospice gives dying animals and their people the opportunity to spend meaningful, quality time together before the pet’s final journey. By compassionately closing the “circle of care,” veterinary hospice honors the human-animal bond, never losing sight of either the companion animal or its caregiver in the total equation—and ultimately serving both in the best possible manner.

A partial list of topics that will be covered by the symposium’s speakers includes:

  • How human hospice is now embracing veterinary hospice care
  • The value of homeopathy in veterinary hospice care
  • Animal hospice and traditional Chinese medicine
  • Veterinary technicians and veterinary hospice care
  • The role of the professional pet-sitter in veterinary hospice care
  • Pet death care and caring for the grieving pet parent
  • Operating an animal sanctuary and pet hospice
  • The “sacredness of dying” in veterinary hospice care

It is definitely not too late to sign up, so go check it out and pass on this message to your friends and the companion animal loving community. Just click here.

Roadside births: Dog has litter of 16 puppies on turnpike

Tessia with her 16 newborn puppies (born on July 19th)

P.U.P.S., a nonprofit organization in Hopatcong, NJ, rescues Pregnant Moms from shelters that are “High Kill”, meaning they are so over burdened with unwanted dogs, they do not have the time or resources to find these wonderful, loving animals new homes. When a dog is pregnant and shows up in one of these shelters, their situation becomes URGENT as the shelter can’t and won’t be able to care and provide for a mom and a litter of pups.

P.U.P.S. transports these dogs into their foster network, where they receive the veterinarian care, the love they so desperately need and a safe environment to deliver their pups and regain their health, before being adopted into their forever homes. Sadly, EVERYDAY, they have to refuse pregnant canines scheduled to die in shelters because they just don’t have enough space and help for them.

Tessia, the Flat-coated Retriever-Border Collie mix shown above, is such a “good mother” and is busy tending to her babies. Her 16 puppies are ALL doing great, and a home has already been found for this lovely girl.

Tessia with one of her Golden-colored puppies

But, it’s how they were delivered which is quite the story, as shown in Matt Manochio’s article, Roadside births: Dog has litter of 16 puppies on turnpike.

Danelle Ruotolo of Sussex County drove to Delaware three weeks ago and picked up a rescue dog to bring to her shelter. The dog, Tesa, was pregnant, and began delivering pups en route to New Jersey, causing Ruotolo and her friend who was driving to pull over and help birth the puppies on the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Ruotolo returned home with 17 dogs: Tesa and her 16 puppies, all of which likely would’ve been euthanized had Ruotolo not rescued Tesa. “We’re a dog-rescue that specializes in pregnant dogs,” Ruotolo said of Protecting Unborn Pups, or P.U.P.S, a nonprofit organization she’s operated out of the borough for three years.

“We get pleas, actually, from shelters needing help to save them,” she said. “”We usually do two moms at a time, we’re small.”

Ruotolo said her shelter has helped rescue and place 240 dogs. … Tesa’s been somewhat overwhelmed by having to nurse the 16 puppies every three hours, so Ruotolo has been switching the puppies from mom to bottle-feeding.

Ruotolo said she gravitated toward saving pregnant dogs early on. “”I’ve been with other rescues,” she said. “”When I found out the pregnant ones go down first … it’s just not fair … that’s why I started to specialize in them.” Ruotolo said she hears about pregnant dogs needing rescuing through various Internet sites that track them. She’s rescued dogs from up and down the East Coast, as far west as Ohio and Tennessee, and as far south as Georgia.

Nancy Freedman-Smith CPDT & What saying NO to your dog really means

Golden Retriever puppy Talulah

This gorgeous photo comes from Nancy Freedman-Smith CPDT, a professional dog trainer and owner of Gooddogz Training in Portland, Maine. She is Mom to three kids and lives with her 2 dogs, a foster dog, a hamster, and a clicker savvy rat. And, she is now Auntie Nancy to her sister’s new Golden puppy, Talulah.

doglifeNancy is simply fabulous and has the most interesting background. I am so glad she also writes for all of us at her A Dog’s Life Blog. It is a great place for dog owners to find positive training tips, canine-activities and places to visit along with the latest information on keeping your dog healthy and active. Staying current, keeping fresh, and always learning new things is a must for Nancy and her profession because one thing that animals surely teach you is “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

As if Nancy wasn’t busy enough, she is also a trainer for Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland’s Paws in Stripes program (click here for some super photos). In this program, prisoners play a major role in the socialization of select puppies from the shelter.

And, in March 2009 Nancy started publishing at That now brings me back to Golden puppy Talulah. You see, Nancy recently went to meet her new Golden family member and then wrote the following must-read and do article:

SAY NO NO NO by Nancy Freedman-Smith CPDT

I finally met my sister’s new Golden Retriever puppy Talulah, and she is sugar and spice and everything nice, just like I have been hearing for the last month from my entire family. We are all in love with her, and she is delightful. At just 12 weeks, Talulah is housetrained, and learned sit, down, paw, to walk politely on a leash, and she has very nice manners. My parents are so very proud of the new grand dog and all the cudos I have been hearing for the last month are all true. She is wonderful.

My entire family is quite dog savvy and they had not solicited any advice for this puppy, until yesterday. Over lunch my niece, who is in grad school mentioned that the only problem she is having is that the pup not only picks things up , she ingests them. I joked that there is a saying among dog trainers that “puppies are only vehicles for their mouths.” Rachael didn’t laugh and told me it was quite serious and she had discussed it with the vet.

“What have you taught her?”, I asked her.

“She’s good, I tell her no and she will leave it alone.” Rachael replied.

“But what did you teach her”, I asked again.

“No she is fine, she drops it if I tell her no, she is good about it really, but I am afraid she will swallow something if I am not there. Our other dogs were not like this.”

“Have you taught her “leave it?” I insisted.

I then went on a spiel about the word “No”, and showed my niece how to teach Talulah to teach leave it and to trade up for toys, two must knows for puppies. I teach leave it by rewarding the dog for looking up at the handler.

The thing is “No,” does not really teach dogs anything. It will (hopefully) interrupt behavior, but to be really effective, you need to replace an unwanted behaviors instead of always suppressing them.

Much in the same way that you can’t always tell your kids what they can’t do, but instead need to guide and teach what it is that they can do.

By teaching a puppy “leave it” and the release word “OK”, you start to teach the dog self control and to check in with us. It is a form of the game Mother May I, and dogs love games. Dogs are very “what’s in it for me” creatures and if all they ever get is loss of their prize, just using the word “no!” can lead to unwanted consequences.

If you only use the word “No!”, and every time your dog picks some thing up you take it from them, you could inadvertently teach them to bolt or swallow before you steal their prize. I can not count the number of dogs who have come to me for behavior counseling, AFTER they have had dangerous and expensive surgery to remove rocks and socks and other non edibles. They all have one thing in common. They were not taught leave it properly.

The next time you tell your dog “No”, please stop for a moment and think about what it was you actually just taught them.

For all you lucky Mainers in Nancy’s area, I would check out her Gooddogz Training Club. She provides puppy parties and teaches individuals and groups. Her classes include: Puppy Kindergarten, Manners, Tricks & Games, AKC Canine Good Citizen, Tricks Clinic, Rocket Recall Clinic, Safe Dogs/Safe Kids, and Canine Musical Freestyle.

FDA has approved Palladia, 1st drug to treat canine skin based mast cell tumors

For Immediate Release: June 3, 2009
FDA: First Drug to Treat Cancer in Dogs Approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced the approval of Palladia (toceranib phosphate), the first drug developed specifically for the treatment of cancer in dogs.

Palladia is approved to treat canine cutaneous (skin-based) mast cell tumors, a type of cancer responsible for about 1 out of 5 cases of canine skin tumors. The drug is approved to treat the tumors with or without regional lymph node involvement.

All cancer drugs now used in veterinary medicine originally were developed for use in humans and are not approved for use in animals. Cancer treatments used in animals are used in an “extra-label” manner as allowed by the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994.

“This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine,” said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs, without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs. Today’s approval offers dog owners, in consultation with their veterinarian, an option for treatment of their dog’s cancer.”

While canine mast cell tumors often appear small and insignificant, they can be a very serious form of cancer in dogs. Some mast cell tumors are easily removed without the development of any further problems, while others can lead to life threatening disease.

Palladia is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor and works in two ways: by killing tumor cells and by cutting off the blood supply to the tumor. In a clinical trial, Palladia showed a statistically significant difference in tumor shrinkage when compared with an inactive substance (placebo).

The most common side effects associated with Palladia are diarrhea, decrease or loss of appetite, lameness, weight loss, and blood in the stool.

Palladia is manufactured by Pfizer Animal Health Inc., New York City.

For more information: Palladia approval summary

So sad for Animal-Assisted Activities to be effected this way

Pet Therapy Dogs May Carry MRSA And Clostridium Difficile Between Patients

ScienceDaily (May 8, 2009) —  University of Guelph in Canada researchers investigated whether MRSA and C.difficile could be passed between pet therapy dogs and patients. The findings suggested that MRSA and C. difficile may have been transferred to the fur and paws of these canine visitors through patients handling or kissing the dogs, or through exposure to a contaminated healthcare environment.

This study was conducted amongst 26 pet therapy dog-handler teams between June – August 2007. Twelve teams visited acute care facilities and 14 visited long-term care facilities. Prior to each visit, the dog’s forepaws and their handlers’ hands were tested for MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci and C.difficile. In addition, the investigator sanitized her hands, handled each dog, and then tested her hands for the same pathogens. Testing was repeated on departure from the facility. The dog-handler teams were observed at all times during the visits and all interactions with patients and staff were closely monitored.

None of the tested pathogens were found on the hands of the investigator or the handlers or the paws of the pet-therapy dogs prior to these visits. However, after visiting an acute care facility, one dog was found to have C.difficile on its paws. When the investigator’s hands were tested after handling another dog that had just visited a long-term care facility, MRSA was detected, suggesting the dog had acquired MRSA on its fur. The dog that acquired C.difficile had politely shaken paws with many of the patients. The dog found to have acquired MRSA on its fur, had been allowed onto patient’s beds and was seen to be repeatedly kissed by two patients.

Finding MRSA on the hands of the investigator who petted a dog after its visit to the long-term facility suggests that dogs that have picked up these pathogens can transfer them back to people. Even transient contamination presents a new avenue for transmission, not only for the pathogens evaluated in the study, but potentially for others such as influenza and norovirus.

The authors conclude that in order to contain the transmission of pathogens through contact with pet therapy animals, all patients and handlers should follow recommended hand sanitation procedures; as for the dogs, perhaps it’s time they learn how to clean themselves after contact with humans!

PupStarts . . . Beginnings Done Right

PupStarts . . . Beginnings Done Right
Here at the Land of PureGold, I often come to meet people after life has gone wrong, their dogs diagnosed with major health conditions or cancer. It is a sad, sad time for sure, and I am sending out far more sympathy cards than you can imagine. But, just like with us 2-legged folks, Prevention is the Best Defense. Besides giving our dogs the healthy basics of life such as good food, clean filtered water, regular exercise and grooming, we can do many other things to keep them well. These include providing regular exams, scheduling biannual exams for dogs 8 years and older, having frequent oral exams, and paying close attention to changes in eating and bowel habits.

Surveys show that cancer is the leading cause of death in the Golden Retriever breed, Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphosarcoma leading the list. This has brought the Golden’s average lifespan down to 10½ years. While we believe they should be long-lived (12-16 years) and healthy and active during most of this time, no screening test for cancer is currently available. One approach is for breeders to select bitches from lines where more than 75% of the dogs in the pedigree lived to at least 11 (longer than the golden average). Breeders can also research the cause of death on as many dogs in the pedigree *and their siblings* as possible, and additionally breed to older males who have already reached the average age. Unfortunately, this is seldom done as many want to breed to today’s top-winning dogs. Rather, we need to be breeding to their sires.

Although there are no statistical studies that prove you can prevent cancer in at-risk dogs, “common sense and clinical experience make a strong case for avoiding anything that expos

es an animal to known carcinogens or weakens the immune system,” says Stacey Hershman, DVM, a holistic house-call veterinarian in Rockland County, New York. Just like their human companions, dogs live longer, healthier lives when they eat organic foods, get enough exercise, breathe clean air, drink clean filtered water, and stay away from harmful substances. They also are helped by supplements, food-source antioxidants, and free-range, antibiotic-free, and chemical-free proteins.

We have selected our favorite must-have products and developed 3 fun and attractive collections to get folks off to the best start with new pups or adopted dogs.

  1. One collection is focused on keeping our chewers busy and satisfied: PupStarts Chews.
  2. A second collection stresses our need to reward desired behaviors: PupStarts Rewards.
  3. The final collection helps in boosting a healthy immune response in your dog: PupStarts Boosts.

We actually use EVERY ITEM that has been included in these collections. It surely impacts our daily lives and we could not imagine not having them help to create the best in health and training.

Each collection includes a SimplyFido Limited Edition 100% Organic & Dye-Free Character Plush Bone Toy. Our dogs are always chewing or sucking on something. From puppyhood, they, like babies, love to put things in their mouths. Given the prevalence of oral cancers, we wondered if their dog toys were safe and non-toxic. Do I want my dog chewing on toys that have PVC (polyvinyl chloride, a toxic chemical) in the plastic? Do I want him ingesting processed materials or those made using pesticides and growth hormones? I don’t think so. That is why the collections include this fabulous toy.

This 9 inch long toy’s fabric and stuffing are grown without pesticides or herbicides, preventing your dog from ingesting toxic materials. Organically grown, the fibers are unbleached, untreated, and unprocessed. The company uses their unique PureWaterWash™ process to achieve their charming colors. The untreated cotton is then woven and color-brightened through Mother Nature’s own plants and minerals. Beige comes from a Chestnut Bur, red from the Madder Root, yellow from a Gardenia Seed, and grey from the mineral Charcoal  The fabric is then triple-washed in pure water to set the color. As a result, each toy has its own unique appearance and color variance.

The collections also include your choice of a gorgeous Pawprints Scrapbook or Pawprints Journal to capture your furkid’s many special moments. Collecting your dog’s most expressive and fun photos and sticking them in a scrapbook is a wonderful way to celebrate your special bond. You can also use special embellishments to make your Pawprints scrapbook or journal attractive, adorning it with ribbons, first collars, baby teeth, and more. You can note progress in dog training classes, note accomplishments, and record difficulties as well. You would otherwise forget about these over time, but scrapbooking your dog will keep these memories for a lifetime.

Our 3 theme assortments are each arranged in a whimsical bone-shaped wire basket that measures 10″ L x 6″ W x 3″ H and includes a useful handle. This elegant shiny basket is simply perfect for holding dog wares and is a true keepsake storage container. This gift can be bought to treat yourself right (which is really important) or to present to a fellow dog lover—a special gift note card provided if requested with your order.

All of these collections are beautifully shrink wrapped and topped with a bow. A detailed brochure additionally accompanies each collection, providing insightful information about the contents and why each item was included.

These collections are great for yourself or to give as a gift. They are equally fabulous for a young pup or a newly adopted adult dog coming into your family.

Why Puppies Do That: A Collection of Curious Puppy Behaviors
Why do puppies sometimes lie on their backs when approached? Why do they sleep in a pile? Why do puppies have that special “puppy smell”? Why are some puppies runts? Few things can cause as much head scratching as the peculiar behavior and characteristics of a new puppy, and this book aims to answer all of the questions new dog owners wonder about their new little charge.

Illustrated with pencil drawings, Why Puppies Do That is lighthearted, informative, and as fun as a new puppy. The author, Tom Davis, has been living with and writing about dogs for 30 years. He has written several Golden books and is an editor for several magazines including Sporting Classics and Pointing Dog Journal. Regular Price: $13.95 but only $10 with a PupStarts Basket purchase!

Come check them out here.

Dr. Bauer’s Biological Trojan Horse – A Great New Cancer Treatment

In the Greek tale of the Trojan horse, soldiers hid inside a large wooden horse, which was then placed outside the walls of Troy. Thinking it a gift, the citizens wheeled the horse inside the city. Once inside, the soldiers sneaked out and overtook the city. Think of that same strategy in terms of battling cancer. What if something could hide until it has made its way deep inside a tumor, then suddenly become active and kill off all the cancer cells from the inside out? This Trojan horse anecdote is one that cancer research scientist Joseph Bauer, Ph.D. uses to illustrate how his approach to chemotherapy works.

While in graduate school and reading a biochemistry book about vitamin B-12, it hit him. Why not get the vitamin to secretly carry a deadly chemotherapy agent into the tumor? Dr. Bauer’s invention uses B-12 to deliver the anticancer drug, nitric oxide, to the tumor. Cancer cells love B-12, actually having receptors to draw it into the tumor. They are completely fooled because they have no idea that a deadly agent lurks inside. “The nitric oxide that’s released inside the tumor cell has a half-life outside the cell on the order of milliseconds. It doesn’t have time to kill the surrounding cells, so it just kills the tumor cell,” Dr. Bauer explains. “Then, with the cancer cells dead and the nitric oxide no longer active, the vitamin B-12 can get out into the blood stream and help the body heal.”

Dr. Bauer’s “biological Trojan Horse” may be one of the best things to happen in cancer research in recent years. Preliminary National Cancer Institute testing noted its anti-cancer effects, showing inhibition of the growth of human tumor cells on 60 different types of cancer. This vitamin B-12 based compound, nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl), preferentially targets cancer cells with minimal side effects to normal cells. Learn more here.


Tales of the ‘Trojan horse drug’ and the ‘miracle dogs’
American Chemical Society Press Release

SALT LAKE CITY, March 23, 2009 — Diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of cancer called anal sac adenocarcinoma, Oscar’s future seemed bleak. Bedridden and unresponsive to chemotherapy or radiation, he would be lucky to survive three months. But thanks to an innovative new drug treatment, Oscar’s cancer receded and he was walking again within two weeks.

Oscar’s recovery was extraordinary enough, but his case was unusual for another reason. Oscar is a Bichon Frise, who scientists reporting here today at the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society call “the Miracle Dog.” Joseph A. Bauer, Ph.D., and colleagues described promising results with a drug called nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl) in battling cancer in Oscar and three other canines without any negative side effects. While it gives profound hope to dog owners, NO-Cbl also points to a powerful new cancer treatment for humans — one that infiltrates cancer cells like a biological Trojan horse.

“We are one of the few research groups that is offering to treat dogs with cancer that otherwise have no hope,” Bauer said. “With no other options available, most people in this situation opt to euthanize so that their pets don’t go through the pain of disease and trauma of surgery.”

About six million dogs are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), pets with cancer provide a win-win opportunity for cancer researchers. Scientists can study new cancer treatments in animals other than lab mice. And pets get access to new treatments that provide hope and in instances like NO-Cbl, additional time.

Bauer put it this way: “The beauty of using a dog or a cat to test a cancer drug is two-fold. First, the animal can get the benefit of the most up-to-date drug in cancer medicine. Second, the NCI gets data on pets that are exposed to the same environmental factors their owners are. They breathe the same polluted air and drink the same polluted water that you and I do every day. If you can find an agent to treat cancer that occurs in a dog with success, there is a higher likelihood that you can take that to the human population and have a much higher response rate than with mice.”

Although NO-Cbl has been used in only a few dogs, daily treatments have led to promising results in each case. “In all four dogs, there has been a significant reduction in tumor size without any toxic side effects or discomfort,” says Bauer.

Oscar was the first success story. Since then, Bauer has treated two other dogs. A six-year old golden retriever named Buddy was unable to walk due to a spinal tumor pinching essential nerves leading to his right hind leg. After nine months of daily NO-Cbl treatment, Buddy’s tumor shrank by 40 percent and he was going on two mile walks. A 13-year-old female Giant Schnauzer with inoperable thyroid carcinoma also showed tumor reductions of 77 percent in less than 10 weeks.

“Our case studies demonstrate anti-tumor efficacy with limited toxicity to normal tissues,” Bauer added. “NO-Cbl sensitizes multidrug-resistant cancer cells to the antitumor effects of several different drugs, so it may be valuable when utilized in combination regimes,” he added.

The drug targets cancer cells with “biological Trojan horse technology.” Cells have receptors for vitamin B12 on their outer surface. The receptors serve as docking ports where molecules of the vitamin, essential for cells to divide and multiply, attach and then enter the cell. In order to divide at their abnormally rapid pace, cancer cells grow extra B12 receptors — 100 times more than normal cancer cells. Scientists have been trying since the 1950s to exploit that vulnerability and make B12-based drugs that attach to the receptors, sneak into the cell, and deliver a knock-out dose of medication.

Bauer and his colleagues from the Cleveland Clinic attached nitric oxide (NO) molecules to vitamin B12. NO kills cancer cells. The B12 acts as the Trojan horse, easily slipping into cancer cells. The subsequent release of toxic NO kills the cancer cells from within.

The team’s goal is to successfully treat 10 dogs with NO-Cbl and slingshot the drug into human use as soon as possible. Because of the genetic similarity between dogs and humans, Bauer says his approach should have a much better chance of getting through the FDA’s strict drug approval chain.

But Bauer stresses he wants to get the NO-Cbl dog treatment approved, as well. “I’m committed to the animals, and my goal would be to do a dual clinical trial, Phase One human and Phase One dog,” says Bauer.

Oscar is still alive and well. Today, Bauer is treating another Golden Retriever named Haley with a spinal tumor.

“This is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life,” says Bauer, the owner of a two-year old Beagle. “It gets boring working in the lab, but to see the fruits of your labor in a positive outcome like this and to know you’re responsible in some small way, that’s pretty cool.”

The Bauer Research Foundation was established to promote the drug discovery work of Joseph A. Bauer, Ph.D. Their mission is to promote and provide ethical and equitable therapies to fight cancer in animals.

Currently, the Bauer Research Foundation is working with local veterinarians as well as veterinary offices in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to treat dogs and cats with a vitamin B12-based chemotherapy agent, nitrosylcobalamin (a non-toxic drug, patented in 1999). Animals will be accrued (informed consent) through the offices of local veterinarians and animal hospitals. Eligibility requirements include 1) Animals must have a reasonable performance status (can walk and eat on their own), 2) No prior anti-tumor therapy is preferred but animals with a minimum of 6 weeks since last treatment may be considered, 3) Tumor size of 7 cm diameter or less is preferred, 4) Tissue biopsy is required to establish the diagnosis, 5) Eligibility decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Once eligibility requirements are met baseline imaging (MRI preferred) will be performed. The animal’s veterinarian will demonstrate, to the owners, the technique for subcutaneous (under the skin) injection. This allows the owner to administer NO-Cbl to their dog on a daily basis in the comfort of their own home. Monthly blood draws will be taken at the veterinary office to ensure the health and safety of the patient and to monitor for any signs of toxicity. The blood draws will analyze basic blood chemistries including liver enzymes, GGT, and BUN, creatinine (to assess kidney function), serum nitrate, serum B12, and complete red blood cell and white blood cell count, including differential counts. If the drug is well-tolerated after three months, with the consent of the veterinarian, the blood draws can be limited to every other month. A follow-up MRI will be required every 6 months.

From Ken & Marti Johnson of Akron, OH, here is the story of Golden Retriever Buddy. He is definitely a wonderful success story as a result of receiving this cancer targeting therapy.

Buddy – Meet Dr. Bauer!

Buddy now enjoys his daily walks, almost limp-free, and constantly retrieves silly things, as only a Golden can. We would never have got to where we are, had it not been for Dr. Bauer’s care and persistence. His research means the world to us; we only hope expanded use of this therapy will lead to even greater results, and not just for the canine community.

A visit to the Pittsburgh clinic on Feb. 27, 2009 confirmed that the tumor has shrunk again, now having shrunk by 70% of what it was when the treatment began.

Buddy showed no ill effects from the drug; his activity and appetite were unaffected, and we slowly but surely noticed a change in his general demeanor. His limp got slightly less pronounced over the first few months, and his movement in general seemed more like the ‘old’ Buddy. He also seemed to be pain-free. As the months went by, these changes became even more pronounced. A follow-up MRI in August of 2008 brought some wonderful news: his tumor had shrunk by about 40%. Our enthusiasm was matched by Dr. Bauer’s: we continued with the drug regimen, which continues to this day.

When our normally bouncy Golden Retriever, Buddy, began balking every time I tried to take him for his daily walk back in the late spring of 2007, I thought it was time to call in the ‘dog whisperer’. What had been one of his favorite activities to that point became an effort in futility. He’d just stop a few steps into the walk, plop on his hind end, look up at me, as if to say, ‘It wouldn’t be prudent to continue, not at this juncture’.

At that time, he seemed to be showing no other signs of physical discomfort, but to be on the safe side, we took him to our family vet, hoping for a simple explanation of what might be going on. Nothing was evident, and when Buddy then began to develop a slight limp in his right front leg, our vet suggested some X-rays. These also proved negative, but then during a follow-up exam, a point of tenderness was found deep in Buddy’s shoulder. An MRI was suggested, and a trip to PetsDX in Pittsburgh ensued. The results were devastating to us: a large tumor was discovered, and Buddy was given little chance to survive beyond six months or so.

We brought him home, realizing by now the cause of his reluctance to walking all this time, and tried to keep his environment as comfortable and safe as possible. He showed few other effects of the tumor, other than the pronounced limp which by now had gotten significantly worse. His love for people, however, was unaffected, and that’s when fate intervened. One afternoon, a normal ‘potty’ break outside was interrupted when Buddy suddenly spotted a familiar face down the street, one of our neighbors enjoying a walk with her two dogs. He limped on down to say hello, as only he can, setting in motion a chain of events which has brought us to where we are now.

Naturally, a conversation ensued, and Buddy’s health became the primary topic. The neighbor, Kari Bauer, mentioned that her brother, Dr. Joe Bauer, was engaged in canine research specifically related to carcinomas, and might be able to help us.

From that point on, Buddy’s world, and our world, changed dramatically. After reviewing the X-rays and MRI results, Dr. Bauer concluded that Buddy would be a good candidate for his current research, and the drug therapy associated with it. We got Buddy started almost immediately, and with a little help from our vet, learned how to administer Buddy’s twice-daily injections prescribed by Dr. Bauer of nitrosylcobalamin (NO-Cbl) based on vitamin B12, in February of 2008.

Better to hop on three legs than to limp on four

I got the following story tip below from some great folks at Tripawds, a 3-legged tripod dog resource and help center to learn about and cope with amputation, canine osteosarcoma or other dog cancers, and life on three legs.

Their cool motto is: It’s better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.

Please check them out as well as other resources for our challenged furry family members at our foundation site.


I just love this story about Lab-Golden Retriever Mix Comet, a Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) skilled companion dog from Colorado Springs. It is wonderful that CCI provides support to its graduate teams for the lifetime of the dog, as I am sure that they were pivotal in making sure Comet got the best and most appropriate care.

Veren Betzen, 14, pets his service dog Comet after American History class at Russel Middle School. The (The Denver Post, Hyoung Chang)

Veren Betzen, 14, pets his service dog Comet after American History class at Russel Middle School. The (The Denver Post, Hyoung Chang)

Click here to experience an audio slide show that is truly so moving.
It tells the story in an expressive way that I seldom see.

All the particulars can be found in the great article below:

Three legged dog keeps up care for disabled teen
By Michael Booth, The Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS — The timeless act of the faithful dog resting his wet nose on his loving boy’s lap is a bit more complicated with Comet and his master, Veren Betzen. First, Comet has to jump over the arms of Veren’s motorized wheelchair. Second — and it’s a heart-stopping second — Comet now has only three legs to propel himself into the lap of a boy whose legs barely work at all.

But Comet would never let down the boy he has served for half of Veren’s 14 challenging years on the planet. So, the golden retriever-yellow Lab mix rears back on two of his good legs and launches his black nose into Veren’s laughing gut. It was mundane a thousand times over before this winter, when a cancer threat nearly put Comet down. Now, it’s a spectacular act of affirmation that tends to draw a crowd.

“I expect medical issues with my son,” said Verlene Betzen. Veren has been poked, soothed, realigned and sutured since birth. “But when it happened with Comet too — oh, my gosh, that was rough.”

Veren has cerebral palsy, largely immobilizing his legs and limiting the dexterity of his arms and fingers. For seven years, Comet picked up Veren’s fallen books and pens, pulled off his pajamas and put on his socks, and closed the back gate on the way to Veren’s grandparents’ house. For a growing teenage boy, is there any higher use of a dog than tugging on a rope to open the refrigerator?

A friend to draw in others
The purpose Verlene initially meant for Comet was to be a best friend for a boy who might always have trouble making others. And the good-natured Comet became the four-legged shill that would gather in school-age strangers made shy by Veren’s ungainly wheelchair and strained voice.

It worked. At Russell Middle School in northern Colorado Springs, a steady stream of eighth-graders come by to bump fists with Veren and snag some love from Comet. They don’t have to talk about movies or girls or sports. It makes Veren smile just to have someone nearby, scratching Comet’s fur-covered stump.

Comet was limping badly on that former leg in November, whining in pain. The Betzens’ vet took an X-ray and saw what looked like cancer on the right front shoulder. Most dogs with osteosarcoma die within six to 12 months. But the vet suggested more work at Colorado State University’s veterinary hospital. Many tests later, Dr. Clara Goh suspected something other than cancer. Amputation would both treat the symptoms and allow for tests on the spots.

Vets can be far more sanguine about amputation than pet owners, and Goh knows that. “We joke sometimes that dogs are born with three legs and a spare,” Goh said. “Right after surgery, they hop up with minimal help and hardly seem to notice.” They worried that Comet, though, might need all four legs to push a door shut or tug that fridge for an after-school snack. And Verlene fretted that the trainers might not consider Comet a service dog anymore, or the school might not let in a dog that wasn’t providing service.

CSU did two weeks of tests on Comet’s leg and eventually concluded it wasn’t cancer. Possibly a stroke in the bone or a focused infection, Goh said; most important, Comet would survive to Veren’s high school years and his own 10th birthday.

If only he can survive the kindness of bored adolescents. Comet’s first move when leading Veren into a classroom is to park his intact hindquarters near the teacher’s desk and beg for a carrot. “He has protein allergies,” Veren explains, “so he can only have simple proteins like carrots and figs. And he likes to sneak things when no one is looking.”

Verlene is a district-salaried paraprofessional now assigned to Veren. While she attends Veren’s social studies work in Karen Peyer’s classroom, Comet alternates napping and taking jaunty hops down the hall. He knows where the other teachers are who keep carrots, and he knows his way back to Veren.

Keep reading here . . . .

PET VACCINE SEMINAR 3/14/09 with Drs. Dodds & Schultz

Pet owners have a rare opportunity to attend a seminar with presentations by two of the world’s leading veterinary vaccine research scientists: Dr. W. Jean Dodds of Hemopet and Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Drs. Dodds and Schultz will be speaking at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ on March 14, 2009 and registration will remain open until March 1st. Dr. Ronald D. Schultz will be presenting: “What Every Dog Owner Should Know About Canine Vaccines and Vaccination Programs” And, Dr. W. Jean Dodds will be presenting: “Clinical Approaches to Managing and Treating Adverse Vaccine Reactions”

When: March 14, 2009
Where: Trayes Hall, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (Directions to Trayes Hall)
Time: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Cost: $115/person (registration closes March 1st)
Note: All funds collected through registration fees, less Benefit expenses of approximately $25/person, will be added to the donations sent to the Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust.

Continuing Education Credits: The 2009 NE Rabies Challenge Fund Seminar & Benefit has been approved for 6 Continuing Education (CE) Credits by the NJ Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA). Certificates will be provided at participant’s request.

For more information on the seminar, please visit this website or email Judy Schor.

Pet Owner’s Guide to Cancer: Cornell Video Series

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Partners in Animal Health, in partnership with The Cornell Feline Health Center, has created a wonderful video series Guide to Cancer.  The authors are: Margaret McEntee, DVM, DACVIM, DACVR(Radiation Oncology), Dennis Bailey, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), and Jodi Korich, DVM.

Vodpod videos no longer available.What is Cancer?
Vodpod videos no longer available.Why Do Pets Get Cancer?
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Early Detection

Vodpod videos no longer available.Diagnosing Cancer
Vodpod videos no longer available.Making Treatment Decisions
Vodpod videos no longer available.Mandy’s Chemotherapy
Vodpod videos no longer available.Triton’s Radiation Therapy
Vodpod videos no longer available.