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Panda Accused of Faking Pregnancy To Get Better Food, Air Conditioning

Expectant pandas are moved to air-conditioned rooms and showered with more buns, fruit and bamboo.

Headshot of Dominique MosbergenBy Dominique Mosbergen – News Editor, The Huffington Post – Posted: 07/30/2015 12:57 AM EDT | Edited: 07/31/2015 02:07 PM EDT

Pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, names together mean "reunion", eat bamboo at a panda base in Ya’an, southwest China’s Sichuan province, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. A few weeks after this photo was taken, the duo were moved to Taiwan. (Associated Press)

Keepers at the Taipei Zoo were excited. Resident giant panda Yuan Yuan was exhibiting signs of pregnancy — an all-too-elusive event among captive pandas.

There were tell-tale symptoms, like a loss of appetite and a thickening of the uterus. Yuan Yuan’s fecal progesterone concentration was also on the rise.

Yet despite these promising signs, the panda’s pregnancy was a false alarm.

According to China’s Southern Metropolis Daily, ultrasound scans determined that Yuan Yuan, who was artificially inseminated earlier this year, was not pregnant. Now the panda is being accused of faking the pregnancy as a way of getting her caretakers to shower her with better food and care.

Pregnant pandas are typically treated like queens. As China Daily notes, the expectant bears are moved into “single rooms with air conditioning” and given “round-the-clock care.” They receive more buns, fruit and bamboo as well.

Panda experts have speculated that Yuan Yuan, who gave birth to a cub in 2013, may have been feigning pregnancy to reap these added benefits.

Taiwan’s panda cub Yuan Zai, right, and her mother Yuan Yuan enjoy Yuan Zai’s first birthday cake at the Taipei Zoo in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, July 6, 2014. (Associated Press)

Last year, another female panda named Ai Hin was accused of trying to pull the same trick. The panda, who lives at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, exhibited pregnancy symptoms for two months before experts determined that she didn’t actually have a cub in the oven.

“After showing prenatal signs, the [panda] ‘mothers-to-be’ are [pampered],” Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Research Base, told CNN last year. “So some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

Other panda experts disagree with these accusations.

Zhang Heming, director of the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda, told the Guardian last year that pseudo-pregnancies are actually fairly common in the panda world. He attributed the pandas’ behavior to "more of a hormonal issue than a deliberate ruse."

"This phenomenon occurs in 10 to 20 percent of pandas," he said. "After the mother panda is inseminated, if her health isn’t so good, the pregnancy will terminate, but she’ll still behave as if she’s pregnant."

According to a 2010 LiveScience report, scientists "don’t know why pseudo-pregnancies happen, or if they have evolved for an evolutionary purpose."

"In a sense there’s no answer, but there is speculation that perhaps pandas’ bodies just rehearse pregnancy all the time," Lisa Stevens, curator of primates and pandas at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, told the news outlet.

Also on HuffPost:

Alamy AK58HY Giant Panda Cub  Kin Cheung/AP One of the one month old Panda triples receives a body check at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou in south China’s Guangdong province Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. China announced the birth of extremely rare panda triplets in a further success for the country’s artificial breeding program. The three cubs were born July 29 in the southern city of Guangzhou. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Panda cub Bao Bao hangs from a tree in her habitat at the National Zoo in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Today marks her first birthday and the zoo is marking the event with a traditional ‘Zhuazhou’ ceremony, a Chinese birthday tradition symbolizing long life to mark the event. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Getty Images

YA’AN, CHINA – JUNE 29: A giant panda climbs onto a platform at the panda research base on June 29, 2015 in Ya’an, China. China’s Sichuan province is home to the majority of the the world’s nearly 1,900 endangered giant pandas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

leungchopan panda eating bamboo

  Alamy AJC9T9  -  ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

A woman poses for photographers with the part of the 1,600 paper pandas, created by French artist Paulo Grangeon, in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building during the month-long "1600 Pandas World Tour" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin) ABA PREFECTURE, CHINA – JULY 05: (CHINA OUT) Aerial view of people, wearing panda costumes with mahjong tiles, playing mahjong during a mahjong competition at a theme park in Jiuzhai Village on July 5, 2015 in Aba Perfecture, Sichuan Province of China. Over one hundred people wearing panda costumes with mahjong tiles played on a one hundred-square-meter mahjong table during a mahjong competition. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)  

Getty Images

CHENGDU, CHINA – JUNE 30: Giants pandas pause from eating bamboo in an enclosure at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on June 30, 2015 in Chengdu, China. Twin female cubs were born by artificial insemination to seven-year-old Kelin at the center on June 22. China’s Sichuan province is home to the majority of the the world’s nearly 1,900 endangered giant pandas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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August 1, 2015 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pets, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Unusual Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Pharoah Ends Triple Crown Drought

2015: American Pharoah: Now, in 2015 it’s American Pharoah's turn to either captivate the racing world with the first Triple Crown win since 1978, or just become another footnote in horse racing history. Lead by veteran jockey Victor Espinosa and trainer Bill Baffert, perhaps the time has finally come for new horse to enter racing lore, and become its 12th Triple Crown winner. The Belmont Stakes will be held on June 6th.

Victor Espinoza celebrates atop American Pharoah after winning the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 6, 2015 in Elmont, New York. With the win American Pharoah becomes the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years.

By Marion Algier – Just One More Pet

The Sport of Kings has its day after a 37 year drought.  As with most debates involving sports, there are varying reasons for the absence of a Triple Crown champion over the past 37 years. It has as much to do with bank accounts as bloodlines, yet trying to pinpoint the main reason is as elusive as the achievement itself.

NEW YORK (AP) — By mid-stretch, Bob Baffert said he knew it. American Pharoah was going to win the Triple Crown.

He took his eyes off the horse to soak in the crazed scene of the packed grandstand. Fans jumped up and down, hugged, and tossed drinks in the air.

The race wasn’t even over yet, but the crowd knew it, too. Thirty-seven years of waiting to see one of the rarest feats in sports was almost over.

"The crowd was just thundering and I was just enjoying the crowd and the noise and everything happening," the white-haired trainer said. "What a feeling."

Finally, a Triple Crown winner. And this one was never in doubt.

American Pharoah led all the way to win the Belmont Stakes by 5 lengths on Saturday, becoming the first horse since 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes — one of the sporting world’s rarest feats.

"Wow! Wow!" jockey Victor Espinoza (age 43) said moments after crossing the finish line. "I can only tell you it is just an amazing thing."

The bay colt with the unusually short tail, chewed of by another horse, easily defeated seven rivals in the grueling 1 1/2-mile race, covering the distance in 2:26.65 — sixth-fastest in Belmont history — to end the longest stretch without a Triple Crown champion in history.

"That little horse, he deserved it," said Baffert, who at 62 is the second-oldest trainer of a Triple Crown winner. "He’s the one that did it. We were basically just passengers."

American Pharoah is the 12th horse and first since Affirmed in 1978 to win three races on different tracks at varying distances over a five-week span. He won the Derby by one length on May 2 and then romped to a seven-length victory in the rainy Preakness two weeks later before demolishing his rivals Saturday.

Baffert and Espinoza ended their own frustrating histories in the Triple Crown. Baffert finally won on his record fourth Triple try, having lost in 1997, 1998 (by a nose) and in 2002. Espinoza got it done with his record third shot after failing to win in 2002 and last year on California Chrome.

"I was prepared for somebody coming because I’ve been through this so many times," Baffert said.

Nobody did.

Espinoza hustled American Pharoah to the lead leaving the No. 5 post and quickly got him over to the rail. Materiality was on his outside in second, but never applied any serious pressure traveling along the backstretch before falling away on the second turn.

American Pharoah started kicking away heading into the final turn. He opened up on the field as he powered through the 1,097-yard stretch, displaying his fluid, springloaded stride in which he appears to float over the ground.

"It’s just an amazing feeling that you have when you’re 20 yards from the wire," Espinoza said. "And then at the wire I was like, `I cannot believe I did it.’"

American Pharoah ran the final quarter-mile — a stretch that has dashed numerous Triple Crown dreams — in 24.32 seconds, faster than Secretariat’s time of 25 seconds in winning the 1973 Belmont.

"That’s a hell of a horse," said jockey Gary Stevens (age 52), who finished seventh aboard Tale of Verve. "The race was over in the third jump from the gate."

After making his way back to the crowd, Espinoza took American Pharoah nearly the length of the sprawling grandstand so fans could pay their respects to the champion.

As the horses were heading to the starting gate, owner Ahmed Zayat was overflowing with confidence and turned to his wife.

"I told her, `Get ready to be the owner of the 12th Triple Crown winner,’" he said.

Baffert felt equally good, sensing American Pharoah was on the verge of a winning performance when he saddled the horse in the shady paddock.

American Pharoah is the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, but his biggest payday won’t be on a race track.  It will be in stud fees.

Prior to the Belmont, when he just had Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins, it was estimated that he would collect $60,000 to $75,000 per foal, so that kind of stud money means most successful racing careers are short.

California Chrome, who won the Derby and Preakness last year, hasn’t been put out to stud yet since his blood lines aren’t as prestigious. His stud fee is probably in the the neighborhood of $25,000.

So his owners decided to race him for another year. He went to the Dubai World Cup where he placed second, scoring another $2 million in winnings.

Embedded image permalink

It’s amazing to think that Secretariat’s Belmont time would’ve beaten American Pharoah by 15 lengths.

There Will Never Be Another Secretariat: Thank you, Miss Penny

American Pharoah’s jockey earns peanuts compared to other sports

June 7, 2015 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unusual Friends

Big Dog and Calf SameSize and Sharing Pen

By Marion Algier – JOMP

Big Dog and Calf are virtually same size and new best friends

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, Animal Cuteness, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Pet Friendship and Love, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dog Mourns The Heart-Breaking Loss Of His Brother

 Brutus Cries Over Twin Brothers Death

Brutus Cries for Brother Hank

By Marion Algier – Just One More Pet

The message… animals have feelings too.

This shows one dog’s reaction to finding out his twin brother had passed during the night.

Brutus, does not want to leave his brother Hanks side even after he’s passed away. Brutus stays close, and lays his head on top of Hank’s.

The look in his eyes tells you everything you need to know about how Brutus feels without his lifelong friend.

The dog was crying showing that animals feel love and pain just like people.

Dog Mourns The Heart-Breaking Loss Of His Brother

Brettvett1 included the following message with the video:

Video:  Crying Rottweiler Grieves For Dead Brother. Animals Do Have Emotions

"I’m so sorry you guys…I wasn’t strong enough and had a breakdown in front of the dogs. Hank was right by my side with his Therapy Dog service and grieved with me as I was so upset. He looked so sad. I noticed Hank never came out of his grievance and stopped eating. He was still drinking and nibbling on food so I thought he was okay. A week later Brutus and I awoke to his peaceful body next to us as he passed in the night in his sleep. This is about 30 minutes after we woke up and were missing our baby. I normally don’t video record my real life catastrophes or share but decided I needed to send a message to the world and show how much pain my dog was in as he loved his Twin so much."

Published on Jan 24, 2015

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/he… Rottweiler wakes up to find that his twin Hank had passed during the night and gone to heaven. Brutus does not want to leave him and will not budge, laying on top of his head. Brutus has never whined or cried out in pain the two years I have had him…But clearly you can see in his eyes, he is crying for his brother who had passed as his world around him just crumbled. We both grieve and cry for our brother…This is proof that animals DO have emotions and feel pain just like we do :'( Let the world know animals feel love and pain just like us. Don’t let Hanks passing die in vein with him… Please share our story.

I’m so sorry you guys…I wasn’t strong enough and had a breakdown in front of the dogs. Hank was right by my side with his Therapy Dog service and grieved with me as I was so upset. He looked so sad. I noticed Hank never came out of his grievance and stopped eating. He was still drinking and nibbling on food so I thought he was okay. A week later Brutus and I awoke to his peaceful body next to us as he passed in the night in his sleep. This is about 30 minutes after we woke up and were missing our baby. I normally don’t video record my real life catastrophes or share but decided I needed to send a message to the world and show how much pain my dog was in as he loved his Twin so much :'(
RIP Hank the Rottweiler Unknown–01-20-15

To help Brutus and his family buy a new home we have started a fundraiser in Hanks honor. Please donate here to put a smile on his face…https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/he…
This video is being managed exclusively by Newsflare. To use this video for broadcast or in a commercial player go to: http://www.newsflare.com/video/39136/… or email: newsdesk@newsflare.com or call: +44 (0) 8432 895 191

January 31, 2015 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your Dog Bouncing Off the Walls, This Could Be Why

liver dog treats

HuffPo: If your canine companion is tightly wound, wired, has no desire (ever) to settle down, relax, regroup, you probably refer to him as being hyperactive or suffering from ADHD. But even though the term is widely used in our society today, the actual clinical syndrome of hyperactivity is rare in canines.
It’s probably more accurate to label most dogs who are hyperactive as hyperkinetic. These dogs don’t ever seem to get used to the normal sights, sounds, and smells of their environment. They overreact to ordinary stimuli in their everyday lives. They seem unable to rest, no matter how quiet the surroundings or comfy the bedding.

Clinically Hyperactive/Hyperkinetic Dogs are Rare

Veterinarians generally agree that most symptoms of hyperactivity as described by the dogs’ owners, upon closer inspection, are the result of breed characteristics, conditioned behavior, lack of appropriate physical and mental stimulation, or a combination.

In clinical cases of hyperkinesis, the dogs are usually 3 years old or older (well past the age of boundless puppy energy) and haven’t learned to settle down. These dogs typically have increased heart and respiratory rates, poor body condition, reactivity, and agitation. They are emotionally aroused by routine stimuli and often stay in a state of arousal long after the stimuli is removed.

These are the poor dogs who react every single morning to the sound of the blender being turned on. Or when the kids run up or down the stairs to the second floor — no matter how many times a day that happens. Or at the sound of the garbage truck at the curb twice a week, every week.

Abnormal Behavior… or Annoying Behavior?

There’s a big and important difference between canine behavior that is abnormal and behavior that is actually normal given the dog’s circumstances, but undesirable.

Your veterinarian or animal behavior specialist will need a detailed description of your dog’s unwanted behaviors, how often she performs them, and to what degree or intensity.

He’ll also need to know about how much physical and mental activity your pet gets on a daily basis, including exercise, social interaction, playtime and exploration. You’ll also be asked how you and other family members respond to your dog’s undesirable behaviors.

All these factors will have bearing on a dog’s behavior, including whether the pet is alone much of the time, isn’t getting adequate exercise, isn’t obedience trained, has been conditioned through owners’ responses to use physical activity to get attention, or is punished for bad behavior rather than rewarded for good behavior.

If, for example, you notice your dog is much easier to be around after he’s spent an hour out back playing with your children, you can reasonably assume the social interaction and physical energy he expended playing with the kids has a positive effect on his behavior.

Diagnosis of Hyperkinesis

In order to diagnose true clinical hyperkinesis in a dog, a number of other potential causes for the unwanted behavior must be ruled out as well. These include:

• Conditioning (the dog has been rewarded for the undesirable behavior)
Phobias and anxiety disorders
• Territorialism
• Hyperthyroidism, allergies or another medical condition
Cognitive decline

If any of these problems exist, they must be addressed first. If all potential root causes for hyperactive behavior are ruled out, the traditional method for diagnosing hyperkinesis is to observe the dog in a hospital setting.

What to Do If Your Dog Seems Hyperactive

Since only a very small percentage of dogs are clinically hyperkinetic, I recommend you evaluate your dog’s lifestyle from every angle as a first step.

• Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise.
• Provide mental stimulation with puzzles, treat-release toys, hikes and other outdoor activities that appeal to your dog’s natural instincts.
• Focus on desired behaviors your dog performs rather than on what you don’t want him to do. Dogs respond to positive reinforcement behavior modification, which does not include punishment.
• Enroll your dog in an obedience class or an activity that helps him focus, such as K9 nose work.
• Feed your dog a balanced, species-appropriate diet to avoid food intolerances or allergies. Food sensitivity can contribute to restless, hyperkinetic behavior, not to mention less than optimal health.

Once you feel sure the lifestyle you’re providing your pet gives him plenty of outlets for physical activity and mental stimulation, if your furry buddy is still hyperactive more often than not, I recommend making an appointment with your vet.

**Beware Prescription ADD/ADHD medications for humans  which are amphetamines, can cause tremors, heart problems, seizures and death in dogs and cats.**

It’s important at this point to investigate potential underlying physical or emotional causes for your dog’s unwanted behavior.

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com.

If Your Dog Is Bouncing Off the Walls, This Could Be Why… Hyperactive, ADD, ADHD, OCD

August 3, 2014 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets | 1 Comment

The Ultimate Dog Pool Party

Video:   The Ultimate Dog Pool Party… Fun!

July 27, 2014 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, Animal Cuteness, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Events, pet fun, Pets | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Never Punish Your Pet for This Accident!

Video: Urinary Incontinence in Dogs and Cats

Dr. Karen BeckerBy Dr. Karen Becker – HuffPo

Please note this article addresses involuntary passage of urine only, and isn’t intended to cover other urination-related problems like too-frequent urination or behavioral-related problems like submissive urination.

Involuntary Passage of Urine

Involuntary passage of urine normally occurs while your pet is asleep or resting. When she stands up, you notice urine leakage. It can be just a small wet spot or a good-sized puddle, depending on how much urine is being unintentionally passed.

It’s important to understand your pet isn’t intentionally leaking urine. She has no control over what’s happening. This is not a behavioral problem, it’s a medical problem — so trying to correct or punish your pet is a bad idea on multiple levels.

In fact, many pets become very distressed to realize they are passing urine in places other than a designated potty spot. A housebroken dog or any kitty accustomed to using a litter box will be confused and even ashamed to know they are leaving urine in inappropriate spots.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

There are a lot of causes for involuntary passage of urine, especially in dogs:

• Central nervous system trauma. If your pet’s brain or spinal cord isn’t signaling correctly to the bladder, this miscommunication can cause urine dribbling.
• Damage to the pudendal nerve. If the pudendal nerve, which works the neck of your pet’s bladder, is impinged, the bladder neck can remain slightly open, allowing urine leakage.
• Disease of the bladder, kidneys or adrenals, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism and diabetes can all cause dribbling of urine.
• Bladder stones. A dog with a bladder stone will often strain while trying to urinate. If you’ve noticed this behavior with your pet, you need to consider the possibility of bladder stones.
• Birth defects. Birth defects — structural abnormalities existing from birth — can cause incontinence. If your puppy has been difficult or impossible to housetrain, there could be a birth defect present. Some dog breeds have more of these types of from-birth plumbing problems than others.
• Urethral obstruction. Obstruction of the urethra can also cause involuntary passage of urine. A tumor can obstruct urine flow and cause dribbling. So can urethral stones.
• Age-related urinary incontinence. Older pets can develop weak pelvic floors or poor bladder tone which can result in urine dribbling. If your dog has signs of canine senility or dementia, he can also simply forget to signal you when he needs to potty outside. His bladder can overfill, and there can be leakage.
• Feline leukemia. For reasons not well understood, some kitties positive for feline leukemia have urine leakage. If your cat starts dribbling urine, it is more than likely a medical issue requiring veterinary care.

Hormone-Induced Urinary Incontinence

Hands down, the most common reason for involuntary urine leakage, especially in dogs, is hormone-induced urinary incontinence.

After a pet is spayed or neutered, the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, which are necessary to help close the external urethral sphincter, are no longer available. This often results in urine dribbling.

Hormone-induced urinary incontinence is extremely common in spayed female dogs, and somewhat less common in neutered males. These are typically healthy, vibrant pets that just happen to dribble urine anywhere from multiple times a day to just once or twice a year.

Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

The cause of your pet’s urinary incontinence will dictate what treatment she receives.

If there’s an underlying disease process or structural abnormality causing the problem, and it can be corrected through medical management and/or surgery, that’s obviously the way to go.

If your pet is diagnosed with hormone-induced urinary incontinence, I strongly recommend you consider treating the problem naturally.

I successfully treat cases of hormone-induced urinary incontinence with glandular therapy, as well as natural, biologically appropriate (non-synthetic) hormone replacement therapy and a few excellent herbal remedies.

I also use acupuncture to improve function of the pudendal nerve and control or stimulate sufficient closure of the external urethral sphincter. Chiropractic care can also keep the CNS working properly, aiding in normal bladder and neurologic function.

I urge you to start with natural remedies, because some of the traditional drugs used to treat urinary incontinence are potentially toxic with side effects that can create more problems than they solve.

As always, I recommend you have a holistic vet on your pet’s treatment team.

Dogs with incontinence that can’t be completely resolved can be fitted with dog bloomers or panties with absorbent pads — you can even use human disposable diapers and cut a hole for the tail. Just remember that urine is caustic and should not remain on your pet’s skin for long periods, so if you use diapers, be sure to change them frequently or remove them during times when your pet isn’t apt to be incontinent.

For more by Dr. Karen Becker, click here.

For more on pet health, click here.

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com.

Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.

By reading Dr. Becker’s information, you’ll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet’s quality of life.

July 13, 2014 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dogs of War – Photos From the Frontlines Revisited

Emerald Warrior 2011

Thursday’s Awesome Photos From The Frontlines: The Dogs Of War – Pat Dollard

Mar 21, 2013 – Jake Hammer – Originally Cross-Posted at Just One More Pet and at Ask Marion on 3.22.13

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Iraq-US-Army-dog

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Afghanistan

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Dog_and_soldier

war-dog-rico

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Airman's best wingman

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WAR DOG 2

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Protective "doggles"

Dogs-At-War

Operation Iraqi Freedom

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May 25, 2014 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, Political Change, Service and Military Animals, We Are All God's Creatures, Working and Military Dogs and Related | 11 Comments

There Will Never Be Another Secretariat: Thank you, Miss Penny

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Penny Chenery

by Gary Spina – The Independent Sentinel

This Saturday, May 3, 2014, will be the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby – the greatest two minutes in sports, as the racing crowd would tell you. Of course, so much goes into those two minutes, and all of it legendary. And you cannot think of the Kentucky Derby or the Triple Crown and legends without remembering Secretariat. Simply stated, there will never be another Secretariat.

In the spring of 2011, I had the privilege and honor of meeting Miss Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat and sitting down for an interview with her. The interview was published in the Caroline Progress and in Horse Talk Magazine.

Today, I went into my old files and pulled out the article and realized that it read exactly as it happened – awkward at first and going nowhere, and me trying to capture an ending quote to wrap it up and get out of an interview I had no business being any part of. And then it suddenly changed, and I’m not sure why. But for the briefest of moments, with a hundred people partying and hovering around us, it was just the two of us alone, and Miss Penny going back in time to share a very special memory with me.

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Penny Chenery and Diane Lane who played Miss Penny in the movie: Secretariat (Blu-ray)

Original Article, 2011:

The other day, I met Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, at a fund raiser for the future Museum of the Virginia Horse. The museum will sit on what was once the Chenery family farm and stables in Doswell, Virginia. The Virginia State Fair also enjoys its prominence on the land the Chenerys called the Meadow, or the Meadow Farm – the birthplace of Riva Ridge, their first Kentucky Derby winner, and Secretariat, their legendary Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner.

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Secretariat

But you can never bring back what’s gone — the tears and laughter, the struggles and losses, and the sweet, delicious victories too long in coming for the Chenerys who carved and scratched a glorious legacy from a backwoods wetland they cleared for paddocks, pastures, and rolling Meadows.

Outside on the front grass, Rain Away, the great-grandson of the famed Secretariat was being paraded for a photo shoot. It was almost like watching a ghost of greatness-past. Rain Away was handsome and sleek with a big chest and big shoulders, though not the massive size and deep red color of his great-grandfather. He was eighteen years old, but he pranced like a spirited colt.

The fund raiser crowd were people of all ages – all horse lovers who had come mostly to meet Penny Chenery, who in 1973 had gambled on a big red horse to win the Triple Crown and save the family farm from bankruptcy.

It was a pretty fancy affair. Horse people are not known to do things by half. There was a cocktail hour with marvelous hors d’oeuvres and wait staff coming and going with trays of drinks and food. I didn’t actually see the open bar, but my contact person there kept bringing me vodka martinis. There was a fabulous dinner afterwards. Great food, great people. It was all nice. But I was there to interview with Penny Chenery for a story.

Penny Chenery is 89 years old, and she gets around with the help of a cane now. And maybe it was the Jersey wise-guy in me, but as she walked by me into the reception area, I showed her I, too, walk with a cane, and before I knew it, the words came out of my mouth: “Wanna race?”

And just for a fleeting half second, Penny Chenery was a young girl again. She looked at me and her eyes came alive and a pretty smile crossed her face – pretty and ever so slightly wicked as my challenge awakened a fighting spirit that still languishes just below the surface. As far as she was concerned, the race was on! I had to beg off.

“No, no,” I said quickly, trying to smile away the challenge. “I concede. I know you’d win the race — no matter how you had to do it!” I said the last part under my breath, but I suspect she heard me.

Penny Chenery granted me an interview, and immediately I could sense the warmth and generosity of a lady of good southern stock. It was just the two of us sitting quietly near the wall, and she gave me her undivided attention. Old friends would come up and hug and kiss her and gush their enthusiasm, and of course, she was happy to see them. But to each it was always the same: “I am so happy you’re here. Thank you so much for coming. But just let me finish interviewing with this gentleman – and then there’s so much I want to talk to you about.”

Wayne Mount came by. “Remember me?” he asked her. After a quick jog of her memory, of course, she did. Wayne had been the exercise boy who was the first to break and ride Riva Ridge. With Riva Ridge, the Chenerys had their first Kentucky Derby win. That was in 1972. Even then, every breeder aspired to the Triple Crown – The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and The Belmont – but in 1972, no horse had won the Triple Crown in twenty-four years, and back then it was beginning to look as if no horse could ever do it again.

Wayne Mount jogged another memory – a name from the past.

“Mert would always say of Secretariat, ‘You will read about this horse someday.’ He said it repeatedly,” Mount said.

“I had never heard that,” Penny answered. You could see a renew pride swell in her.

“Who was Mert?” I asked.

“Mert. His name was Meredith Bailes, but they called him Mert. He was our farm trainer, and he was the first to break Secretariat.”

“Was he the trainer you fired?”

“No, he was our farm trainer. I fired the racing trainer.”

I was learning, and she was graciously patient – or patiently gracious. I learned there was a farm manager named Howard Gentry who foaled all the mares. From the very beginning, Gentry was impressed with Secretariat.

Mark Atkinson came by to greet Penny. Mark’s father was Ted Atkinson who had ridden both Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal – Secretariat’s sire and dam. It was Ted Atkinson who in 1946 was the first jockey whose mounts won over one million dollars. It was Ted Atkinson who was inducted into the Virginia Jockey Hall of Fame, the National Jockey Hall of Fame, the United States Horseracing Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Horseracing Hall of Fame.

Penny was obviously happy to see both Wayne Mount and Mark Atkinson, but they could see she was interviewing and they stepped back. Both men had been as conversant with me, both as affable and polite with me as they were with Penny, and I was beginning to get a sense of the genuine warmth and camaraderie of these “horse people.”

Again and again old friends and acquaintances came up to greet Penny Chenery, and always she was cordial, but always first and foremost she was attentive to me – gracious always even when my questions bordered on the foolish. Old friends had come from New York, Houston, Colorado – from near and far, and I was beginning to feel like an intruder in what was surely one of Penny Chenery’s last hurrahs. Still, my poor old Jersey heart so very much appreciated the courtesy and consideration she reserved for me, and I appreciated her time.

“I guess, without you, there’d have been no Secretariat,” I heard myself say to Penny. It was a foolish lead, but I was feeling the need to wrap things up, and I was searching for a good quote.

“No, there’d be no Secretariat without Riva Ridge,” Penny answered. “For thirty years my Dad had been breeding horses. His goal was to win the Derby. We had two thousand acres of land worth only about $350 thousand. I mean we were so far out in the country with no real roads in or out, so our land was not that valuable.

“Riva Ridge was our first Derby Winner. Now, for the first time we had some real profit. Riva Ridge saved The Meadow and broke trail for Secretariat to come along after him. And every day I watched Secretariat grow in size and strength and experience. There was an excitement, a promise of great things ahead. Only Daddy never lived to see it.”

On January 3, 1973, her daddy, Christopher T. Chenery died in the 87th year of his life, leaving an estate tax of $11 million. It was a figure the “revenue” folks in Washington came up with, and I guess they were rubbing their palms together in anticipation. But $11 million dollars was money the family could not pay. Their beloved Meadow would be lost unless they sold Secretariat, not yet a three year old who had won most of his races in impressive fashion and was named Horse of the Year. But Penny would not sell her big red horse, not with the Triple Crown ahead.

“Where did you get your fighting spirit,” I asked her.

“From my daddy,” she said.

The rest is history and legend. For champions are born to run the great races. And there are legends among the champions. The legends run with the sun, and then they’re gone beyond a far horizon. And when they’re gone all that we have of them are the memories we hold close and deep, somewhere safe from death itself and oblivion. And that’s why they’re legends.

Finally, I asked Penny her fondest memory of the Meadow. Only now I wasn’t fishing for a quote. I loved this woman, and I just wanted her to take me back with her to “how it was.”

“Oh, I suppose one among many memories was the broodmare barn where there was perhaps twenty mares and their foals,” she said. Her eyes were opened, but Penny Chenery was looking inside herself and going back through the years.

“We always sat down to a formal dinner in the evening, and after dinner, as the day was softening into darkness, Daddy would love to take a walk down to the broodmare barn. And I’d walk with him – and as we walked, maybe we’d talk, or there were times we wouldn’t say a word because as the shadows spread across the Meadow there was nothing that needed to be said. Even now I can see just the two of us walking together. We’d go down to see the mares and their babies – and I remember the smell of the sweet hay and the sound of the mares munching away – and everything so peaceful in the quiet evening – like time standing still.

“And the barn had Dutch doors and the top of the doors would be open and the new foals – once in awhile you’d see one of them just stretch his neck and get his nose over the door. It was special. It was our moment, just my daddy and me – an owner’s moment.”

I leaned close to her and said, “You just painted a picture.” I spoke in almost a whisper because the moment was too pastel soft to speak otherwise.

“I guess I did,” she said, and she smiled to herself, soft and pretty and lonesome.

Now, I’m a tough old Jersey boy — down here in Virginia close to twenty years. I’ve seen the Southland’s elegance, charm, and grace, but I’ve never seen it so tender and so beautiful and so real.

I will forever be grateful, Miss Penny, for your time and your memories.

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May 16, 2014 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pet Friendship and Love, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | 8 Comments

If Your Dog Is Bouncing Off the Walls, This Could Be Why… Hyperactive, ADD, ADHD, OCD

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Dr. Becker: If your canine companion is tightly wound, wired, has no desire (ever) to settle down, relax, regroup, you probably refer to him as being hyperactive or suffering from ADHD. But even though the term is widely used in our society today, the actual clinical syndrome of hyperactivity is rare in canines.
It’s probably more accurate to label most dogs who are hyperactive as hyperkinetic. These dogs don’t ever seem to get used to the normal sights, sounds, and smells of their environment. They overreact to ordinary stimuli in their everyday lives. They seem unable to rest, no matter how quiet the surroundings or comfy the bedding.

Clinically Hyperactive/Hyperkinetic Dogs are Rare

Veterinarians generally agree that most symptoms of hyperactivity as described by the dogs’ owners, upon closer inspection, are the result of breed characteristics, conditioned behavior, lack of appropriate physical and mental stimulation, or a combination.

In clinical cases of hyperkinesis, the dogs are usually 3 years old or older (well past the age of boundless puppy energy) and haven’t learned to settle down. These dogs typically have increased heart and respiratory rates, poor body condition, reactivity, and agitation. They are emotionally aroused by routine stimuli and often stay in a state of arousal long after the stimuli is removed.

These are the poor dogs who react every single morning to the sound of the blender being turned on. Or when the kids run up or down the stairs to the second floor — no matter how many times a day that happens. Or at the sound of the garbage truck at the curb twice a week, every week.

Abnormal Behavior… or Annoying Behavior?

There’s a big and important difference between canine behavior that is abnormal and behavior that is actually normal given the dog’s circumstances, but undesirable.

Your veterinarian or animal behavior specialist will need a detailed description of your dog’s unwanted behaviors, how often she performs them, and to what degree or intensity.

He’ll also need to know about how much physical and mental activity your pet gets on a daily basis, including exercise, social interaction, playtime and exploration. You’ll also be asked how you and other family members respond to your dog’s undesirable behaviors.

All these factors will have bearing on a dog’s behavior, including whether the pet is alone much of the time, isn’t getting adequate exercise, isn’t obedience trained, has been conditioned through owners’ responses to use physical activity to get attention, or is punished for bad behavior rather than rewarded for good behavior.

If, for example, you notice your dog is much easier to be around after he’s spent an hour out back playing with your children, you can reasonably assume the social interaction and physical energy he expended playing with the kids has a positive effect on his behavior.

Diagnosis of Hyperkinesis

In order to diagnose true clinical hyperkinesis in a dog, a number of other potential causes for the unwanted behavior must be ruled out as well. These include:

• Conditioning (the dog has been rewarded for the undesirable behavior)
Phobias and anxiety disorders
• Territorialism
• Hyperthyroidism, allergies or another medical condition
Cognitive decline

If any of these problems exist, they must be addressed first. If all potential root causes for hyperactive behavior are ruled out, the traditional method for diagnosing hyperkinesis is to observe the dog in a hospital setting.

What to Do If Your Dog Seems Hyperactive

Since only a very small percentage of dogs are clinically hyperkinetic, I recommend you evaluate your dog’s lifestyle from every angle as a first step.

• Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise.
• Provide mental stimulation with puzzles, treat-release toys, hikes and other outdoor activities that appeal to your dog’s natural instincts.
• Focus on desired behaviors your dog performs rather than on what you don’t want him to do. Dogs respond to positive reinforcement behavior modification, which does not include punishment.
• Enroll your dog in an obedience class or an activity that helps him focus, such as K9 nose work.
• Feed your dog a balanced, species-appropriate diet to avoid food intolerances or allergies. Food sensitivity can contribute to restless, hyperkinetic behavior, not to mention less than optimal health.

Once you feel sure the lifestyle you’re providing your pet gives him plenty of outlets for physical activity and mental stimulation, if your furry buddy is still hyperactive more often than not, I recommend making an appointment with your vet.

It’s important at this point to investigate potential underlying physical or emotional causes for your dog’s unwanted behavior. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Dogs and Cats

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com.

Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, Chiweenie, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | 3 Comments

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