Wednesday, February 22, 2012

'Marking Our Territory' tour comes to Austin week of March 4

Attention Austin boosters -- like we need to toot the horn anymore -- connect with the folks at to enhance Austin's pet-friendly rep.
Hi, my name is Will, and the handsome gentleman next to me is Mr. Eko, my Rhodesian Ridgeback. We make a pretty good team; Eko has the brains, looks and personality, and I provide the driver’s license, credit card and comedic relief. Like any good team, our team has always had a goal – to find adventure. Eko and I love exploring new places, meeting new people and seeing what the world has to offer. Unfortunately, traveling with your dog can be a hassle if you’re not prepared. That’s why is sponsoring our journey to find the best pet-friendly destinations in America. Eko and I are traveling from city to city to show that not only can you travel with your pet, but you can do it in style.

Name: Will Kearney

Age: 25

Favorite Movie: Braveheart

Favorite Book: Where the Wild Things Are

Favorite Quotation: “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go!” – Indiana Jones

About Will: Will grew up in South Orange, New Jersey, and due to his freckles he spent the majority of his childhood being confused for his family’s Dalmatian, Indiana Bones. It was only fitting that Will’s first ambition was to follow in the footsteps of his dog’s namesake, Indiana Jones, and become a great adventurer. Unfortunately, Will soon discovered that archaeology involves a lot more monotonous research and a lot less jumping out of planes than is advertised in the movies. So instead of becoming an archaeologist, Will turned to writing to combine his passion for adventure with his love of storytelling. Dogs are the ultimate explorers and Will is ready to hit the road with Eko to find the best dog-friendly adventures America has to offer.

Name: Mister Eko

Age: 9 months

Favorite Movie: The Lion King

Favorite Book: Clifford the Big Red Dog

Favorite Quotation: “It's 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.” “Hit it.” – The Blues Brothers

About Eko: Mr. Eko, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, was named after Will’s favorite character from the TV show LOST. Will originally planned to name his first child Mr. Eko, but luckily for Will’s future wife, he got impatient and gave the name to his new puppy instead. It is widely accepted that Mr. Eko is the smarter, better looking and more talented member of this duo. Ridgebacks are allegedly fearsome lion hunters, but Eko must have cut class that day because he is extremely playful and friendly. Like Superman, Eko is solar powered and you can always find him basking wherever the sun shines brightest. Eko loves exploring new places and meeting new people, and he is even kind enough to let Will tag along.

Fur real?



If you have any extra dog fur you don't know what to do with, hang on to it. Austinites are fixing to create the world's largest dog fur ball.

To set the Guinness record for world's biggest fur ball will take a better-than-67-pound clump of dog fuzz.

Just when you thought tony Austin was losing its grip on weird. New York has the Statue of Liberty; Paris has the Eiffel Tour. We get a huge collection of puppy shavings.

"It's a fun concept because it's simple and visual and disgusting, and people like that," said Sheri Soltes, founder and president of Texas Hearing & Service Dogs, the organization working on the ball.

It would have been better if they were chasing the world's largest hair ball yakked up by Austin cats, but you work with what you've got.

So where will you put your fur? There will be a so-called Fur-O-Sphere at the 14th annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk on April 7 at Auditorium Shores. The Fur-O-Sphere, which is currently being built, will be a 5-foot-wide and 5-foot-tall clear ball in which dog owners will deposit their dogs' clippings.

'Speak' for more leash-free city parks

Off Leash Area Advocates:

On February 13, 2012, the Austin Parks Board's Land and Facilities subcommittee approved the Yett Creek and Mabel Davis proposed new OLAs. This vote allows the two items to move forward to the full board.

Next Tuesday, February 28, 6PM, Austin City Hall, PARD will make the same presentation to the Austin Parks Board. See presentation - At this meeting, the board will vote on the two new OLAs.

Please use your outreach channels to solicit support for these new off-leash areas. Should the board vote in favor of the new OLAs, this will clear the way for PARD to move into the design phase. The next hurdle will be funding. Hopefully the 2012 bond can fill this gap.

Off Leash Area advocates and stakeholders are encouraged to attend the February Parks Board meeting and email support via for Mabel Davis - MabelDavisParkOffLeashArea@ci.austin.tx.usand Yett Creek -


Bill Fraser

512-925-1618 (c)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Does this collar make my butt look big? If your pet has to ask...

54% of Nation’s Pets Overweight According to Latest Veterinary Survey; Pet Owners in Denial

The “fat pet gap” continues to widen according to the latest nationwide survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). The fifth annual veterinary survey found 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats to be classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals 88.4 million pets that are too heavy according to veterinarians.

“The most distressing finding in this year’s study was the fact that more pet owners are unaware their pet is overweight.” comments APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward. “22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese. This is what I refer to as the “fat pet gap” or the normalization of obesity by pet parents. In simplest terms, we’ve made fat pets the new normal.”

Perhaps even worse was the finding that the number of obese pets, those at least 30 percent above normal weight or a body condition score (BCS) of 5, continues to grow despite 93.4 percent of surveyed pet owners identifying pet obesity as a problem. The study found 24.9 percent of all cats were classified as obese and 21.4 percent of all dogs were obese in 2011. That’s up from 2010 when 21.6 percent of cats and 20.6 percent of dogs were found to be obese. “What this tells us is that more and more of our pets are entering into the highest danger zone for weight-related disorders.” says Ward.

Some of the common weight-related conditions in dogs and cats include osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, kidney disease, and shortened life expectancy. Orthopedic surgeon, APOP Board member and Director of Clinical Research at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Steve Budsberg states that “The prevention of obesity needs to be at the forefront of all discussions people have about the health of their pet with their veterinarian. The body of evidence that shows the negative impact of obesity on all the body’s systems is overwhelming. As an orthopedic surgeon I see, on a daily basis, the effects of obesity on dogs and cats with osteoarthritis. It is very frustrating to see how much pain and discomfort excess weight has on my patients. Veterinarians and owners have the ability to stop obesity in our pets. No animal goes to the refrigerator or the pantry and helps themselves. We enable our pets to get fat!”

Ward agrees. “Pet obesity is plainly a people problem, not a pet problem. The most important decision pet owners make each day regarding their pet’s health is what they choose to feed it.”

Endocrinologist and fellow APOP Board member Dr. Mark Peterson agrees. “Obesity in dogs and cats is not just the accumulation of large amounts of adipose tissue, but it is associated with important metabolic and hormonal changes in the body. For example, heavy or obese cats are up to four times more likely to develop diabetes as a complication of their obesity. Losing weight can lead to reversal of the diabetic state in some of these obese cats.”

Treats continue to be a major contributor to weight gain in pets. An online poll conducted in October 2011 by APOP of 210 pet owners found 93 percent of all dog and cat owners gave treats. 95 percent gave a commercial treat with 26 percent reporting they gave their pet treats three or more times a day. “Treats are the silent saboteur of slimming down.” remarks Ward. “Those tiny treats are often hiding a significant amount of calories.” Ward suggests offering single-ingredient rewards or fresh vegetables such as baby carrots, string beans, broccoli or other crunchy vegetables.

Veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist Dr. Joe Bartges from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and APOP Board member notes that weight gain in pets can be prevented. “Prevention of obesity is much easier than treating it. The major obstacle is to convince pet owners what “overweight” and “obese” means and what it looks like. Veterinary health teams must educate the owner and work with them to prevent and treat obesity in their four-legged family members.”

Fat Cats Not In the Conversation

Only 49% of surveyed cat owners reported their veterinarian had discussed obesity and excess weight with them compared to 72% of dog owners. Even worse, only 46% of cat owners stated their veterinarian had reviewed nutrition or food choices compared to 86% of those with dogs. “This is a call to action for veterinarians; we must do a better job educating cat owners on obesity and preventive care.” says Dr. Ernie Ward.

Survey Notes

The survey was conducted at 41 US veterinary clinics and evaluated 459 dogs and 177 cats in October 2011. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians evaluated each pet to assess current weight, medical conditions, owner assessment of weight and body condition score. Over the five years studied, these results have proven to be consistent and increasing at a gradual pace.

    About APOP

    Founded in 2005 by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, APOP’s mission is to create and promote awareness of pet obesity and to develop parallel weight loss programs designed to help pet owners lose weight alongside their pets.

    The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has launched campaigns to fight pet obesity within the veterinary medical community, veterinary schools, and state and local veterinary organizations, and has reached out to various media outlets. APOP is made up of dedicated veterinarians and veterinary healthcare personnel committed to making the lives of dogs, cats, all other animals and people healthier and more vital.

    APOP is not affiliated with any veterinary industry corporation or business in any manner. This neutrality is critical to our ability to provide unbiased information and advice to veterinary healthcare providers and the pet-loving public.

    Sick Pups Walk into Hospital

    'Puppy Conan'

    Ain't No Party Like a SoCo Party for APA!

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Austin's own Puppy Bowl tomorrow at Austin Humane Society


    AUSTIN (KXAN) - It's no rules, no pads and no leashes for the puppies on the field in Sunday's free-for-all "Puppy Bowl."

    The fifth annual adoption event runs from noon to 3 p.m. at Austin Humane Society , 124 W. Anderson Lane.

    All of the puppies available for adoption will take the field with hopes that new loving owners will take them home.

    Kittens will have "litter-box seating" for the game, according to AHS staff.

    Puppy adoption fees are $150, which includes spay or neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, microchip for identification, and a free month of pet health insurance.

    In addition, AHS has 10 rabbits and five guinea pigs available for adoption. These aniimals were rescued from a hoarding situation earlier this week . They have been neutered and spayed, and adoption fees are $25 each. Interested persons can come by AHS on Saturday from noon to 7 p.m.

    For more information, call 512-646-7387.

    Puppy Bowl: Expert Game Day Analysis

    02.04.12 | 09:00 am

    Animal Planet released the starting line up revealing twenty impressive pups. I’ve studied the line up hard, literally staring at some of these puppies for hours. Fantasy Puppy Bowl nerds get your pencils out; here’s my inside scoop on who’s going to make a splash in Puppy Bowl VIII.

    Everyone’s worried about the wild pack from Philadelphia this year. Being called the Philadelphia 4, you have Malie, Lucie, Hollie and Brandy all representing the City of Brotherly Love. The crew of collies, pit bulls and mixes have a very tight friendship. Will this be their downfall? I am worried the four will spend too much time wrestling with each other and not enough time getting the ball to the end zone.

    The inspirational story of the year goes to Baskin the pug and Jack Russell terrier mix. Although Jack Russells often perform well in sporting events, pugs are not known for their athletic ability. Being last picked in school never got in Basin’s way of chasing his dream. Pugs and Jack Russells everywhere will surely be cheering for him. Look for his uplifting life story in theaters next fall.

    Picking a Puppy Bowl MVP is never easy. Last year, proving size doesn’t matter, C.B. took the award home. This year I believe it will be a return to brawn. My money is on Hunter the boxer from Ohio. You can see in his eyes the determination to be a legend. MVP recognition wouldn’t hurt his future political career either.

    Maggie MacDonald, the medical director of Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, thinks one of the Philadelphia 4 will be taking the award home. “I like Hollie's chance for MVP because she is a Border Collie Mix,” Maggie predicts. “Border Collies are the most intelligent breed and I imagine she’s got some tactical skills up her sleeve.”

    Sadly this year there will be no Austin athletes competing in the Puppy Bowl. Austin has a strong puppy scene and hopefully we will see one of our athletes competiting in the future. There are plenty of local organizations that support puppies that you can make a donation to. You never know, next year one of their pups could be MVP.

    • Check out the action at last year's game in video below.

    Super Bowl alt: Puppy Bowl VIII


    They’re the ideal football players: gorgeous, cuddly, and not too picky about salaries. In fact, a dog treat and an ear rub will pretty much keep these athletes happy. Meet the pups of Puppy Bowl VIII, Animal Planet’s answer to the Super Bowl.

    There’s lots of fun and games during the Puppy Bowl, and there’s even a ref to sort it all out as the pups explore the gridiron, with all the chaos that comes with that.

    “When Animal Planet first called and told me that I would be working with 58 puppies, 20 cats, five pigs, and one bird, I thought this would be the easiest gig of my career,” says Dan Schachner, the Bowl’s new ref. “But after calling my first ‘terrier touchdown,’ I can see why this is the toughest competition in sports today.”

    All the puppies in the Puppy Bowl have been selected from shelters and rescues across the U.S. with the help of One goal of the Bowl is to increase adoption of animals. The aforementioned cats are cheerleaders, and the pigs are the pep squad. The bird apparently tweets the fast-paced action.

    Want a sneak peek at some of the pups in the starting lineup? Check out the action here.