Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Moving Aviation Tribute to Our Veterans

I have been posting stories about animal war heroes (prompted by the release of "Warhorse") as I wanted to let people know about the real life heroes and not the fictional ones, as the real stories are even more compelling. As you can gather I am a history buff and especially interested in military history so that is why I have such a vast store of knowledge about it. I have a special fascination with the Warbirds (military aircraft) and their stories.

I was going to post a story about a hero bird who had "saved" the "Lost Battalion" during World War I, however, a friend of mine sent me a stirring video which moved me and had a wonderful message. So on this New Year's Eve as we are looking forward to the upcoming year, we should also look back and be thankful for those who have made the sacrifices so that we do have our tomorrows, those who have served in our military. As is said, "All gave some, some gave all" and we must never forget. As our "greatest generation" ages and passes on we should be appreciative of what they have done, but must not ignore the sacrifices of our current generation of military who have proved their "greatness" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also we must honor our Vietnam veterans and those who fought in the "Forgotten War" of Korea.

On this New Year's Eve I am thankful for our military past and present for what they have done and do to keep our country safe. I hope you will feel the same emotions I felt when I watched this video.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reckless - A True American Hero

Continuing with our stories about animal war heroes we will discuss a distinguished animal hero who has been forgotten and ignored as time has passed. After reading the account and viewing the presentation after clicking the link below you will wonder why you never heard about "Reckless." We see so many fictional stories and fictional heroes it is truly a shame when real stories and heroes are ignored.

They refer to the Korean War as "The Forgotten War" and it is unfortunately true. You see or read very little about the conflict and it is not glorified in movies as other conflicts. But American soldiers fought and died in this war so it is truly a shame that so many Americans know so little about what happened in this war.

There was a movie just recently released by Steven Spielberg called "Warhorse." When I heard about it I thought it was about the war hero horse "Reckless" who was real and had a "distinguished" tour of duty during the Korean War. I was disappointed when I found out it was not and so Reckless is still relegated to obscurity. That is why I felt it was essential to bring the story of Reckless to light so people could learn about a true "hero" animal. It is pretty amazing when you will find out that Reckless was named one of America's 100 greatest heroes by Life magazine. So read below and click on the link in order to be enlightened about an amazing true story that has been sadly forgotten of a heroic animal who took part in a conflict which has gotten little of the respect it deserved historically.

"Semper fi," Reckless.
(The Marine motto...short for Semper fidelis, always faithful)
Reckless  - a Marine Hero 

Reckless  was a pack horse during the Korean war, and she  carried recoilless rifles, ammunition and supplies  to Marines. Nothing too unusual about that, lots of  animals got pressed into doing pack chores in many wars.

But this horse did something  more….during the battle for a location called Outpost Vegas, this mare made 50 trips up and down  the hill, on the way up she carried ammunition, and  on the way down she carried wounded  soldiers…

What was so amazing? Well she made  every one of those trips without anyone leading  her.

I can imagine a horse carrying a wounded  soldier, being smacked on the rump at the top of the  hill, and heading back to the “safety” of the rear. 
But to imagine the same horse, loaded with  ammunition, and trudging back to the battle where  artillery is going off, without anyone leading her is unbelievable. To know that she would make 50 of  those trips is unheard of. Hell, how many horses  would even make it back to the barn once, let alone return to you in the field one single  time.

So here is a clip of her story and  photos to prove where she was and what she did…. _HERE_ ( 

She was  retired at the Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton  where a General issued the following order…she was  never to carry any more weight on her back except  her own blankets. She died in 1968 at the age of  20.

P.S. How bad was the battle for Outpost  Vegas…. Artillery rounds fell at the rate of 500 per  hour, and only two men made it out alive without wounds. Just two. And a horse, and she was wounded  twice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Animal War Heroes Honored in England

 I was speaking to some clients today about a memorial in England dedicated to a hero pigeon and was going to write a piece about it, when I came across this article from the BBC about an "Animal War Hero Memorial" unveiled in London in 2004. The dedication of these brave animals is amazing and over the next few blogs I will discuss the stories of some of these hero animals. I know "War Horse" was just released, but there is an even more amazing true story about a horse in the American Army during the Korean War which I will share in the next blog. Right now I want to share this account of the memorial in London. You will be absolutely amazed to read that the type of animal to receive the largest number of PDSA Dickin Medals (the animal equivalent of the prestigious British medal "The Victoria Cross") was the pigeon, with 32 pigeons so honored! Do not look upon these birds as "flying rats" but understand and appreciate that they are truly amazing creatures.

Animal war heroes statue unveiled(from 2004)
The Princess Royal has unveiled a memorial sculpture to the animals who have served and died alongside British and allied troops. The monument, in Park Lane, central London, depicts two mules, a horse and a dog, together with lists of the numbers of animals lost in conflicts.
It honours all animals used in war, including horses, dogs, dolphins, elephants, pigeons and even glow worms
A batch of pigeons was released as part of the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday.
The monument pays special tribute to the 60 animals awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal - the animals' equivalent of the Victoria Cross - since 1943.
They include 54 animals - 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, three horses and a cat - commended for their service in World War II. Among these heroes were:

  • Rob, a para-dog who made more than 20 parachute drops while serving with the SAS on top-secret missions in Africa and Italy.
  • Ricky, a canine mine-detector who continued with his dangerous task of clearing a canal bank in Holland despite suffering head injuries.

  • Winkie, a pigeon that flew 129 miles with her wings clogged with oil to save a downed bomber crew.
  • Mary of Exeter, another pigeon, which flew back with her neck and right breast ripped open, savaged by hawks kept by the Germans at Calais.
  • Search and rescue dogs, Beauty, Peter, Irma and Jet, who located survivors buried in the debris of the London Blitz.
  • Metropolitan Police horses, Olga, Regal and Upstart, who faced their fear of fire and the hail of flying bombs. More recent recipients include Buster, a six-year-old Springer spaniel, who won it for his service in Iraq in 2003, when he discovered a hidden cache of explosives in the southern city of Safwan.
    'No choice'
    The memorial, at Brook Gate, was designed by sculptor David Backhouse and carved from Portland stone, with bronze relief of different animals.
    The inscription reads: "Animals In War. This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time.
    "They had no choice."
    Mr Backhouse told BBC News: "I don't think anyone can fail to be moved by the stories of pigeons that struggled home and dogs that came through under fire and the service some of the mules in particular gave, the amount of time they served.
    "Whether you can call an animal a hero I don't know but they certainly did extraordinary work for their masters."
  • Animals in war
  • Horses - Eight million killed in WWI alone, carrying men, arms and supplies into battle
  • Pigeons - 200,000 used as messengers in WWII. Of 17,000 parachuted into enemy territory, fewer than one in eight returned.
  • Dogs - used to hunt mines and search for the wounded. Still routinely used today
  • Mules - used as transport in the Burmese jungle, with their vocal chords slashed to keep them quiet
  • Camels, oxen and elephants - used for similar purposes elsewhere
  • Dolphins and sea lions - used today to find underwater mines and protect ships
  • Glow worms - used in WWI as an aid for map reading
  • Former mountain gunner Col John Andrews, 80, of Winchester, Hampshire, attended the unveiling in memory of mules who helped during his time in the jungle in Burma in 1944.
    "My life was saved by the mules. The only way we could get the guns up to us was using them.
    "There was no way we could do anything else," he said.
    PDSA director general Marilyn Rydstrom said the memorial was "the nation's long-awaited and very welcome tribute" to the animals.
    "It will also stand as a testament to the extraordinary bond that animals share with mankind in times of extreme adversity."
    The PDSA - People's Dispensary for Sick Animals - is a charity providing free veterinary care for animals whose owners cannot afford private vets' fees.
    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2004/11/24 17:06:27 GMT

    © BBC 2011

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    An Adorable Panda Slide Show

    Last night I had a burst of creative energy and decided to put together a slide show using some panda photos I had received through emails from various friends. Pandas are such interesting and endearing creatures so it was really enjoyable creating the show.

    Selecting the music was a bit more challenging as I wanted the proper music to set the right tone. Obviously, selecting Chinese music was key and I listened to a number of pieces of music on youtube. So many were beautiful, but too meditative and slow. I suddenly had a blaze of inspiration and was thinking about movie soundtracks. Yes Kung Fu fighting (by Ceelo Green) from Kung Fu Panda was viewed, but was not the right mood I was trying to set. I then remembered the movie "The Last Emperor." I checked out selections from the film and found the perfect piece to set the mood/tone....The Main Theme from the movie.

    There is no holiday theme associated with this show. It was just what turned out to be a delightful show that I wanted to share. It is truly (pardon the pun) awwwwwwwwwwwwi-inspiring. The photos are all real, however, there is one doctored photo (by a very creative person...not me) which I am sure the sharp-eyed among you will immediately identify. It is a great one.

    Hope you all enjoy this.

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    What Will Matter - Words to Ponder

    My daughter just graduated from the University of Illinois this past Saturday, finishing up her BA (Psychology - Pre Med) in 3.5 years. As I was gazing at her in her cap and gown, the reality of what was happening really began to take hold. The ceremony was in the Krannert Center, where I had received my DVM degree 28.5 years ago. It seemed just like the other day I was there in the same position she was. As my wife and I were driving down to Champaign-Urbana, I remarked to her that it seems like we should be going to her pre-school Christmas pageant, not a college graduation.

    Sitting in the audience I was looking over the hundreds of students who would be getting their degrees. They all had a look of excitement and eager anticipation. They had made a great achievement obtaining their degrees and they now have their careers ahead of them. As I had sat there awaiting my degree presentation so long ago my career path was firmly established as I was to begin as a veterinarian at Niles Animal Hospital after graduation. So I was confident in my future, engaging in a profession of which I would dedicate myself. Through all the ensuing years, I have realized my dreams and still love what I do at Niles as a veterinarian. Little did I realize how well it would all turn out for me as I sat there in Krannert Center in 1983.

    I wondered about all the hopes and dreams of these graduating students.  I realized they are our future and many of them would make a difference. I truly wished they would be as lucky as I and fulfill their dreams. My daughter has a difficult road ahead to achieve her dream, but her heart is in it, she is determined  and I know she will make a difference in whatever she ends up choosing.

    That being said.....I was checking my emails when I got home and there was one from a friend of mine that was so appropriate for the reflective state of mind I was in upon my return from the graduation. It really hit home and I felt I should share it with you, as she did for me. 

    (Thanks for sharing this with me, kenyababe.)

     What Will Matter

    Author: Michael Josephson

    Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

    There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

    All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass 
    to someone else.

    Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

    It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

    Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally 

    So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.

    The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

    It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you 
    lived on at the end.

    It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.

    Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

    So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

    What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what 
    you got, but what you gave.

    What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

    What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

    What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or 
    sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your 

    What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

    What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will 
    feel a lasting loss when you're gone.

    What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in 
    those who loved you.

    What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for 

    Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.

    It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

    Choose to live a life that matters.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Santa Claus and the Spirit of Giving

    A story sent to me by a friend of mine. I sure it has been circulating on the internet and I do not know who is the actual author. It doesn't really matter if it actually "happened" or not, it puts things in perspective for this holiday season, whether you are celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah. It celebrates the spirit of giving and the helping of those who are less fortunate.

    I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid.
    I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:  "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
    My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

    Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

    "Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.  "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

    I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for  anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

    For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy,  and who on earth to buy it for.

    I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

    I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!
    I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.
    "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."

    The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

    That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it.
    Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.
    Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

    I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

    Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

    Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were -- ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

    I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

    May you always have LOVE to share,
    HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...

    May you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!
    And may all your wishes come true!

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Protecting Your Pet in Cold Weather

    An article I had written, providing tips to help protect your pets in cold weather. Very topical right now as the cold weather has descending upon us!

    How to Protect Your Pet in Cold Weather
    Peter S. Sakas DVM
    Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center
    7278 N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL 60714
    (847)-647-9325  FAX (847)-647-8498

    Protecting Your Pet from the Winter Weather
    Most people believe since dogs and cats have a coat of fur they can tolerate winter cold very well and that they also possess the necessary instincts to protect themselves from the cold. Unfortunately these beliefs are not true. Dogs and cats are subject to the scourges of cold, wind and snow/rain during the winter as we are. Their haircoat does serve as insulation, reducing heat loss, but body heat is still lost, and through prolonged exposure to cold they will begin to demonstrate signs of hypothermia (lowered body temperature).

    Some breeds are better suited to colder temperatures than others. Dogs that have a fluffy type hair coat with a thick undercoat are able to tolerate cold due to the insulative properties of this type of coat. Dogs with a short haired or smooth type coat with no undercoat cannot tolerate cold as well and will suffer its effect more rapidly. The age of the dog is a factor as a puppy will chill more rapidly than an adult dog due to its small size, thin hair coat and little or no body fat. Old dogs or dogs that are ill are also at a greater risk for chilling. Even the size of the dog plays a role as a large surface area to volume (as seen in toy or miniature breeds of dogs) leads to increased heat loss. Large breeds of dogs have less surface area to volume and thus lose heat less rapidly.

    In addition to the effects of cold dogs and cats are also subject to the dangers of wind chill. Wind passing over the animal will rapidly draw heat from the body despite the insulation of the haircoat. Areas not protected by hair or with a thin covering of hair can suffer the same effects that exposed skin in people can during periods of severe wind chill.

    The dangers of cold and wind are heightened if the dog or cat is wet. Wet hair is no longer an effective insulator so cold/wind will cause more rapid chilling. Even dogs with a thick undercoat will chill if both coats are wet. In addition the evaporation of water from the skin/hair leads to further heat loss, producing a further drop in temperature. If your pet is wet after being in the snow or rain dry them off with a towel or a hair dryer set on low. Drying them will minimize the lowering of body temperature through the evaporation of the water.

    How do we protect our pets from these dangers? Most importantly-if it is dangerous for us to be outside, the same holds true for our pets. These periodic "Arctic blasts" that we have endured are extremely hazardous for our pets and they should remain indoors only venturing outdoors for necessary short trips. During our "normal" winter temperatures most dogs can do fairly well with short exposures. Dogs that are kept mainly in the house suffer minimal effects if they spend short periods outdoors. Dogs at a risk for chilling, such as shorthaired dogs, will do well if provided with a coat when outdoors. Sweaters provide even more complete protection as they cover the underside as well. Boots should also be used if the dog is to be outside for an extended period of time and especially if their paws show sensitivity to the cold.

    Dogs that spend a great deal of time outdoors or are kept outside will be more adapted to the rigors of winter, but certain practices should be followed to insure their comfort. The biggest problem they face is exposure to the cold, wind and rain/snow. They need shelter from the elements. This shelter must be warm, out of the direct wind and raised off the ground. You can make your own shelter or buy commercially available doghouses. To help keep the dog warm the house should not be too large. If the house is too large the dog will not be able to produce enough heat to keep itself and the environment warm. The proper size should be just large enough for the dog to be able to move around inside and lay down comfortably. Keeping the house elevated a few inches off the ground will prevent moisture from entering through the floor. Proper positioning is important. Keeping the opening of the house away from the prevailing wind is a must. Another help is to provide a covering over the door or a "pet door" to further keep the wind and cold out.
    Bedding should also be provided for the inside of the doghouse. Straw is commonly used for bedding, but it can harbor parasites and other organisms, and with long term use, loses its insulative properties. The type of bedding used should be cleaned and replaced frequently. Good choices include a blanket or towels. Make sure that they remain clean and dry.

    A serious problem dogs kept outdoors face in the winter is dehydration. The water bowl should be constantly checked to be sure that an adequate fresh source is available. Dogs lose fluids in the winter and can dehydrate; it is not just a problem during the summer heat. Frequently check the water bowl to be sure that the water does not freeze. Ice and snow are inadequate to provide for the daily fluid needs and a cold animal is not going to lick or chew ice anyway. A real help would be a heated water bowl, through the usage of a special heater. Do not use metal bowls in the winter as in frigid temperatures the tongue of a dog could stick to the bowl. If this occurs (or if the tongue adheres to any frozen metal surface) do not try to pull the tongue away from the surface. Use lukewarm water to gently warm the surface until the tongue will easily separate.

    Another tip is to groom your dog or cat regularly during the winter. Matted hair is a less effective insulator. Regular brushings will remove loose hairs and prevent matting. It will also enable you to dry your pet more easily if it becomes wet.

    Take care when playing with your dog on snow and ice. They can fall just as you can and also suffer fractures or sprains of muscles/ligaments. They are not indestructible. Also be careful when you and your dog are near a frozen body of water. Dogs do not know that the ice may be too thin to support their body weight. Avoid getting too close to the edge of the ice as they may fall in or even unknowingly jump in. Practice good common sense with your pet as well as yourself.

    Wintertime Hazards
    In the previous section we discussed techniques on how to protect your pet from the winter weather. In this portion we will cover some particular problems associated with winter.

    As mentioned earlier dogs/cats that are exposed to the elements can quite possibly develop hypothermia. Hypothermia is when the body temperature drops below normal. When this occurs the animal is too cold to produce enough heat to maintain their core (internal) body temperature. This leads to impaired function of the internal organs, eventually the loss of function and death.

    Hypothermia may occur especially when a dog/cat is wet, cold and exposed to wind. Be careful if your dog is wet after running in the field with snow/rain, placed in the back of a truck and taken on the road. If wet, dry thoroughly before engaging in that activity. Puppies, older dogs and dogs suffering from illness are also more susceptible to hypothermia. It can also occur when a dog that is not accustomed to the cold is left outside for an extended period of time.

    As hypothermia develops, the body temperature falls and metabolic processes (body functions) slow down. The skin and extremities are very susceptible to frostbite and freezing. Blood vessels in the skin contract to direct blood to the internal organs to maintain their function. The heart rate slows and the pulse weakens. Breathing becomes shallow and slow. The animal may begin to shiver. They become mentally slow and the pupils may dilate (widen). If the skin or extremities freeze they may turn bluish or pale and show little or no feeling. They may lapse into a coma. In the end the heart goes into ventricular fibrillation and stops.

    Treatment begins by trying to return the internal temperature to normal. Bring the animal indoors, dry it if wet and wrap it in blankets/towels. They should be warmed slowly. A hypothermic dog may tend to burn easily if the heat is directly applied to the skin. Warming in blankets may help the mildly hypothermic animal but those that are more severely affected can be warmed with hot water bottles, placed in a tub of warm (not hot) water or on a heating pad/electric blanket. Do not place the hot water bottles or heating pad directly on the animal, wrap them in a towel or blanket to avoid burning the skin. If on a heating pad, turn periodically to prevent overheating or burning of the skin. A hair dryer could be used for warming but set it on the lowest setting. Periodically check the rectal temperature. Normal rectal temperature for a dog/cat ranges from between 100-102 degrees F. A hypothermic animal may have temperatures ranging from 86-90 degrees F to as low as 60 degrees F in severe cases.

    As the animal begins to warm, wrap it in blankets or towels and go to your veterinarian for treatment. The doctor will be able to further aid the warming process and provide additional stabilization of the condition.

    Frostbite occurs when the body tissue becomes so cold that it actually freezes. Severe cold can lead to lack of circulation to an area of the body. If this continues the tissue is destroyed. The extremities, such as the ears, feet, tail and in males, the scrotum, are susceptible to frostbite. Dogs are especially prone to the freezing of the pads of the feet if in long term contact with deep snow or cold surfaces. Frozen mud, snow or ice, which has accumulated between the toes, can lead to frostbite as well. Long eared dogs occasionally freeze the ends of their ears. However, short-eared dogs and cats can lose portions of their ears due to frostbite.

    An animal that is suffering from frostbite should receive veterinary care immediately. Keep the animal warm and try to bring the body temperature back to normal. To thaw the frozen tissues wet heat, not dry heat, is preferred. Do not rub the frozen tissues as they can be easily damaged in this state. As the tissue thaws it will become red and swollen and blisters may develop on the skin. Quite often the animal will scratch or chew at the tissues. Severely damaged tissues may slough (fall) off or require surgical removal, leading to the loss of the tips of the ears, tail or toes. In severe cases of frostbite systemic antibiotics may be needed.

    If the case of frostbite is mild recovery may be complete with no after effects. In severe cases tissue may be lost and the affected areas may not regrow hair or if it does regrow it may come in white. Previously frostbitten skin will be especially sensitive to cold due to the damage suffered to the circulatory system in that area.

    As mentioned, snow/ice or mud adhering to the paws can lead to foot problems and frostbite. Try to keep the feet free from this material. Another hazard/irritant to the paws is salt used for clearing frozen roads and sidewalks. It is very irritating to the feet (just think what it does to your car!). Small grains may become embedded in the paw leading to the development of sores and infection. Animals may try to lick their paws in an effort to clean this material, leading to oral irritation and/or gastrointestinal disturbances.

    To prevent such problems from developing keep your pet away from surfaces that have been heavily treated with salt or thawing chemicals. If these materials are used in your area get in the habit of cleaning (and drying) the feet, getting between the toes to remove any salt and packed snow/mud, after your pet has been outside. Boots may be helpful if your pet is especially sensitive to these products. Feet that have become irritated will benefit from topical or systemic antibiotics, if severe. Seek veterinary care if the feet develop sores or irritations.

    Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) Toxicity
    A serious winter danger is antifreeze poisoning. The problem is not limited only to the winter but most commonly occurs in winter, spring and fall when people are draining and flushing their radiators/coolant systems. Antifreeze has a sweet odor and pleasing taste for animals. However, it is extremely toxic and can produce severe, irreversible kidney damage. Only a small amount can be toxic. High blood levels can be reached in 1-3 hours after ingestion, illness develops within 24 hours and death can occur in less than 2 days. Signs of poisoning include, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, depression, incoordination and staggering. As the disease progresses they may show difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, lowered body temperature, muscle twitching, convulsions and acute renal failure. The animal becomes drowsy, can go into a coma and die.

    If you believe that your pet has been exposed to antifreeze, seek veterinary care immediately. If you wait until symptoms develop irreversible damage may have already occurred and it may be too late. However, this is such a severe condition, that even with proper treatment some animals may not survive. Your veterinarian may have to treat the poisoning with intravenous fluids for 2-3 days and hopefully the treatment will be successful.
    The best way to avoid this is to take precautions when using antifreeze and monitor your pet when outside to be sure that it is not lapping up any strange liquids. During the draining of your radiator collect the antifreeze in a container that can be sealed and follow the proper procedure in your community for its disposal. If after changing and filling your radiator check for the presence of antifreeze on the floor or street in your work area. Clean any spills that may have occurred. Such spills are a danger to your pets and any animals that come in contact with it, pet or wildlife. If your neighbor is not following safe practices bring their attention to this potential risk for animals and children. If you have partial containers of unused antifreeze, make sure that they are properly sealed and placed in an area away from pets and children. Antifreezes are now available that are non-toxic and if you are concerned about the potential hazard of antifreeze poisoning these should be used.

    Space Heaters
    During the winter months we hear of numerous unfortunate fires that are started by space heaters. Space heaters can be dangerous when used around pets. They may chew on the electrical cords causing electrical burns or fraying the cords so they pose a fire hazard. Always check the cords for any unusual signs of wear and tear. An even more serious danger is the possibility that your pets may accidentally knock over the heater leading to the development of a fire. If you are not around to monitor your pets or space heater do not leave it turned on.

    Hopefully this discussion will prove helpful to you in the prevention of the unfortunate injuries and deaths that occur in pets during the winter. The sad fact is that these occurrences can be avoided with the implementation of proper precautions. The care of our pets is a great responsibility. They provide us with so much love and affection, we should take the proper steps to insure their health and safety.

    Two of the references used for this article were A Dog for All Seasons and A Cat for All Seasons by Jane Leon. If you desire further information about seasonal hazards in dogs and cats these books are excellent sources.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Crabby Old Man

    Got this from a friend of mine.....thought provoking.....


    When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte, Nebraska, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

    Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Missouri.

    The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Assoc. for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

    And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

    Crabby Old Man

    What do you see nurses? . . . . . What do you see?
    What are you thinking . . . . . when you're looking at me?
    A crabby old man . . . . . not very wise,
    Uncertain of habit . . . . . with faraway eyes?

    Who dribbles his food . . . . . and makes no reply.
    When you say in a loud voice . . . . . 'I do wish you'd try!'
    Who seems not to notice . . . . . the things that you do.
    And forever is losing . . . . . A sock or shoe?

    Who, resisting or not . . . . . lets you do as you will,
    With bathing and feeding . . . . . The long day to fill?
    Is that what you're thinking? . . . . . Is that what you see?
    Then open your eyes, nurse . . . . . you're not looking at me.

    I'll tell you who I am. . . . . . As I sit here so still,
    As I do at your bidding, . . . . . as I eat at your will.
    I'm a small child of Ten . . . . . with a father and mother,
    Brothers and sisters . . . . . who love one another.

    A young boy of Sixteen . . . . with wings on his feet.
    Dreaming that soon now . . . . . a lover he'll meet.
    A groom soon at Twenty . . . . . my heart gives a leap.
    Remembering, the vows . . . . . that I promised to keep.

    At Twenty-Five, now . . . . . I have young of my own.
    Who need me to guide . . . . . And a secure happy home.
    A man of Thirty . . . . . My young now grown fast,
    Bound to each other . . . . . With ties that should last.

    At Forty, my young sons . . . . . have grown and are gone,
    But my woman's beside me . . . . . to see I don't mourn.
    At Fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee,
    Again, we know children . . . . . My loved one and me.

    Dark days are upon me . . . . . my wife is now dead.
    I look at the future . . . . . shudder with dread.
    For my young are all rearing . . . . . young of their own.
    And I think of the years . . . . . and the love that I've known.

    I'm now an old man . . . . . and nature is cruel.
    'Tis jest to make old age . . . . . look like a fool.
    The body, it crumbles . . . . . grace and vigor, depart.
    There is now a stone . . . . where I once had a heart.

    But inside this old carcass . . . . . a young guy still dwells,
    And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells.
    I remember the joys . . . . . I remember the pain.
    And I'm loving and living . . . . . life over again.

    I think of the years, all too few . . . . . gone too fast.
    And accept the stark fact . . . . that nothing can last.
    So open your eyes, people . . . . . open and see.
    Not a crabby old man . . . Look closer . . . see ME!!

    Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might 
    brush aside without looking at the young soul within.

    We will all, one day, be there, too!


    The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. 
    They must be felt by the heart.
    Remember that as this Holiday Season approaches.


    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    Why a Dog is Man's Best Friend

    This is an edited down version of a Twilight Zone episode. It was written by a screenwriter who became very famous as the creator/screenwriter of "The Walton's." It is a fable about Heaven, and as you watch I am sure you will remember a heavily circulated email story which was based on this Twilight Zone story.

    This also serves as an example of the quality of the screenwriting, stories and moral lessons we obtained from those shows back in the 50s and 60s.