Friday, March 29, 2013

If your old dog needed $6000 in surgery what would you do?

photo by Morgan Yang
Max at his owners' wedding in 2011, well before his gallbladder became a life-threatening problem.

This week, Roz Warren -- a mild-mannered librarian, humorist and dog lover -- wrote a piece for the New York Times about the price one is willing to pay to save a sick elderly dog. 
In her case, she was paying for her son's 13-year-old Bichon Frise, who needed emergency gallbladder surgery, which carried a 30 percent chance of life-threatening post-op complications. The surgery cost $6,000. If it was successful, it would give the old dog maybe two more years.
Bichon resting by Shutterstock.
 Warren writes of the dog owners, "Tom and Amy are crazy about these dogs, so much so that when they married, both Bichons were included in the ceremony. Max, part of Amy’s life since her folks brought him home when she was 12, was the ring bearer. Jack was the 'flower dog.'
"Jack and Max aren’t just dogs," she continues, "they’re regarded as beloved family members. And when a beloved family member needs life-saving surgery, you don’t sit back and 'let nature take its course.' You take him to a hospital." 
The author immediately volunteered to pay a third of the cost, knowing how much the dog meant to everybody. Then she told her friends. Opinion was mixed. 
“He’s an old dog,” one chided. “You’re missing an opportunity to teach your son a valuable life lesson. There comes a time when you have to let go.”
Another said she'd do the same "in a heartbeat." 
Another said, “When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. You grieve. Then you get another dog. Preferably from a shelter.”
Regardless, the family took the dog in for surgery. Unfortunately, there were complications. “Max came through the operation beautifully,” the vet told them. “But his gall bladder had already ruptured.”
And yet Max not only survived, but thrived. After spending 24 hours in the canine intensive-care unit, with his own round-the-clock I.C.U. nurse, he bounced back quickly. 
 "We paid the whopping hospital bill with no regrets. Max, alive and well, is worth every penny. Even if he hadn’t made it through, knowing that we had done all we could for him would have been worth that price." 
The story closed, and we were happy. Then we started reading the comments. There was a heck of a fight going on in there. While many shared our feelings and said they would have done the same as the author, plenty of others said that spending that kind of money on a dog was crazy. They also bashed the notion that we should even love our dogs. Here's some of them:
This article is utterly offensive. People are starving in our own country, yet Ms. Warren proudly defends spending $6,000 to attend to a dog.
I'm sorry but, I think it's disgusting to even consider spending $6,000 to save the life of a pet when there are children all around the world (including many parts of the USA) who need life-saving medical treatments or operations.
This pet obsession in America is insane. Sorry to sound insensitive, but a dog is not your child.
Pets are great, but they are not people. They don't think. They don't "love" you. They are not a replacement for humans.
Strong stuff. Also way off-base -- but that's no surprise in the hornet's nest of a major newspaper's comment section. 
We're curious what Dogster readers think, so we're bringing the same question to you that Roz Warren brought to her friends: “Would you pay $6,000 for a 70 percent chance of buying two extra years of life for an elderly dog?” And if you've had a similar experience, please tell us about it in the comments!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WTF: What the Fluff?? Oops: United Airlines Sends Dog to Ireland Instead of Phoenix

In a sad mix-up, the English Springer Spaniel clocks a staggering number of lonely air miles.

Late last week, Edith Lombardo-Albach of Staten Island, N.Y., was waiting to hear that her 6-year-old English Springer Spaniel named Hendrix had landed safety in Phoenix. Lombardo-Albach had accompanied the dog to the airport herself. He was traveling on a United Airlines flight in the cargo hold.
"They marked everything Phoenix, and put the tags on Phoenix," she told
Her daughter was waiting for the dog in Phoenix. But minutes before the plane was due to land, the airline called Edith. Hendrix would not be landing in Phoenix. 
"Originally, I thought the dog had died and I started screaming," she said.
But Hendrix was fine, or thereabout. He had just been put on the wrong plane. He was going to Ireland. 
"I almost fainted," she said. "My husband and my daughter were already at the airport waiting for the dog."
Yes, United Airlines sent a woman's dog to Ireland instead of Phoenix. The dog went exactly the wrong direction. 
United tried to console Edith, telling her "they were going to have someone clean the dog, feed the dog, walk the dog, and then they were going to get the dog back on the plane and send him to Newark."
But Edith was beside herself. "The dog had already gone seven hours to Ireland, and now the dog has a two-hour layover and then a seven-hour flight to Newark," she said. "I was insane."
Still, there was nothing to be done. Hendrix arrived in Ireland, got his walk -- and hopefully some pets and scratches -- then boarded another plane and flew back to New York. Edith met the dog at the airport at 11 a.m. and stayed with him until his 5 p.m. flight to Phoenix. Edith made sure Hendrix was on the right flight this time. 
"They boarded him the last possible minute they could," she said. "I stayed and watched them physically put the dog on the plane."
Hendrix wasn't too happy about the whole thing. 
"He was fighting me to put him into the crate. That's just not like him," she said.
What did the airline give Edith in exchange? A refund! 
"This was a major failure on United's part," Edith said. "He's a member of my family."
United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy rushed to assure pet parents that the airline is not as incompetent as all get out.
"Hendrix's experience is not typical of the service we provide to the more than 100,000 pets who travel with us every year," she told
We're not so sure. Let's let our previous United Airlines coverage concerning dogs speak to how well it handles pets: 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Herman: A county attorney and his dog — and the attorney general

Herman: A county attorney and his dog — and the attorney general

It must be Spring in Austin: 15th Annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk this Saturday

from: 15th Annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Help us win these world records with YOUR dog:

Day: Sat., March 23 2013

Time: 10:00 am (Exhibits open at 9:00am)
What: A beautiful 1 mile stroll around scenic Lady Bird Johnson Lake + Doggie World Record Attempts, games, free samples & more!
  • Help celebrate Texas Hearing and Service Dogs’ 25th anniversary of Turning Strays Into Stars!  Over 700 shelter dogs given a New Leash on Life!
  • Make history with your dog with new World Record wins!
  • Take home TONS of free samples of the best products for your pooch!
  • Be the first to see the new Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, renamed Service Dogs, Inc!
Online through March 22, 2013, By Mail:                  $30/Dog
Day of Event, On-site:                                  $35/Dog

Online ($30/Dog)

Through Friday, March 22, 5:00 PM

Register Here

By Mail ($30/Dog):

Postmarked by
Friday, March 15, 2013
Mail To:
Texas Hearing &
Service Dogs
4803 Rutherglen
Austin, TX 78749

In Person ($35/dog):

Sat March 16
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Healthy Pet
4301 W. Wm Cannon
Austin, TX 78749
(512) 892-8848
Thurs, Fri, March 21, 22
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Petco ls Trail (Austin Arboretum)
(512) 345-2355
5601 Brodie Lane, Sunset Valley
(512) 892-7804

Day of Event Registration:

March 23, 2013, 7:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Registration Tent (the big white one!)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Four-legged warriors show signs of PTSD

For years, PTSD — or post-traumatic stress disorder — has been an issue for
 military members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But humans aren't the 
only ones with problems. Military dogs returning from war zones are also showing 
signs of PTSD. Read the story from:

Think twice about giving table scraps as treats: List of foods dangerous to your pets

As we all know, it is extremely difficult to resist our doggies when they call a small piece of what’s on the table.
But can our pets eat whatever we may eat?
I’ve always heard of chocolate as a poison for dogs and cats.
But there are many other nourishment our pets must not eat.
I recently focused my research on this issue to make a list of food you must not give your pet.
Here are my results: 30 dangerous foods for our dogs and cats
1. Chocolate
Cocoa contains theobromine which passes quickly into the bloodstream of your pet and is very toxic to him.
150 grams of dark chocolate is enough to kill a dog weighing 10 kilos.
Symptoms (vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea and in the most dramatic cases, heart disease can lead to death) are often 4 or 5 hours after ingestion.
2. Milk
Rich in lactose, milk and dairy products can cause vomiting, diarrhea and other intestinal problems. Indeed, our pets do not have enzymes to dissolve the sugar and therefore their intestines can not absorb it.
3. Cheese
Very high in fat, it can cause a pancreas inflammation, which in some cases can be fatal.
4. Bones 
Breakable, the bones cans lodge in the intestines or get stuck in the mouth or throat, all the bones are to be avoided without exception. Only bones sold in pet store or your veterinarian are recommended.
5 & 6. Ham and fat meat
As cheese, meats are high in fat and can cause pancreatitis. In addition, they are rich in salt and encourage dogs to drink plenty of water which can create twisting of the stomach (possibly fatal).
7. Liver (only concerns dogs)
For dogs who eat a lot, it can cause vitamin A poisoning, which destroys muscles and bones. The symptoms are constipation, weight loss, deformed bones.
8. Fat 
It can cause inflammation of the pancreas that can be fatal if not treated in time. In more severe cases, the animal does not move and suffers when resting on its belly. Veterinary emergency management.
9. Tuna
Very salty, canned tuna promotes kidney damage and can lead to heart disease. Tuna especially for pets does exists.
10. Raw fish (only concerns dogs)
It can lead to a vitamin B deficiency leading to loss of appetite, weight and sometimes death. These problems are more common if the dog is fed raw fish regularly.
11 and 12. Onions and garlic
Of derivatives of sulfur, they damage the red blood cells of our companions and can cause vomiting, anemia, tachycardia … and even death.
13. Avocado
Rich in fat, it can cause inflammation of the pancreas. More, its core is very toxic and very harmful to the lungs and hearts of our friends. It goes without saying that the kernel, once swallowed, can cause intestinal obstruction.
14. Grapes 
Dried or fresh, they can cause intestinal disorders and kidney damage. In addition, for small dogs, they can cause intestinal obstruction and increase the risk of choking.
15. Macadamia nuts
They contain a toxin that attacks the digestive system, nervous and bones of animals. Some sufficient to cause vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, convulsions … They also increase the risk of choking for small doggies and kitties.
16. Raw potato 
Rich in calcium oxalate (an insoluble ionic crystal), it is very dangerous for the urinary our animals. Once cooked, the potato is ideal for our animals because it is rich in nutrients.
17. Mushrooms
Wild or even those in your garden contain toxins that can have several effects on different systems in your companion can cause tremors and lead to death.
18 & 19. Chestnuts and hazelnuts  (only concerns cats)
They contain tannins that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
20. Salt
Absorbed in large quantities it can cause electrolyte imbalance resulting in convulsions, coma, paralysis, cardiac arrhythmias.
21. Sweet food
It can lead to obesity, dental problems and diabetes.
22. Xylitol 
It is a sugar substitute used in pastries and sweets …
23. Raw pie dough 
The yeast in the dough can inflate the stomach and cause bloating important. In extreme cases, it can pierce the stomach or intestine. In addition, the dough ferments alcohol can create very harmful to the dog.
24. Moldy or stale food 
Infected multiple toxins, these foods can seriously poison your pets. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions.
25. Cat food  (only concerns dogs)
Generally too high in protein and fat. It increases the risk of pancreatitis in our doggies.
26. Human vitamin supplements containing iron 
They can damage the digestive system and be toxic to many organs such as the liver or kidneys.
27. Caffeine 
Very harmful, it accelerates the heart rate, palpitations and heart attacks may occur. Be careful your dog or cat don’t dip their nose in your cup of coffee.
28. Alcohol 
It interferes with the proper functioning of the brain. Enough to make  doggie or kitty drunk with a few sips. Symptoms may be vomiting and in some cases when the amount ingested is important this can cause heart problems.
29. Tobacco 
Pets do not smoke, but they can find a cigarette to chew on. Rich in nicotine, it damages the nerves and digestive system. The symptoms are hyperactivity, vomiting, tachycardia and, in extreme cases, coma can result in death.
30. Marijuana
It can depress your pet by acting directly on the nervous system and can cause vomiting and heart rate changes.
What to do when your pet has eaten any of these ingredients?
You must act quickly. Call your veterinarian, specify its name, the composition of the product, the amount ingested and some information about your pet (breed, size, age, health problems …). Your veterinarian can perform an injection that  will make your pet  vomit if necessary.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Humane Lobby Day in Austin

March 14, 2013

Humane Lobby Day Kicks Off in Austin with Special Guest Kyle Chandler and Daughter Sawyer

Texas animal advocates lobby lawmakers on sharks, shelter animals and dangerous wild animals
Texans concerned about animal welfare converged on the state capitol for Humane Lobby Day to meet with lawmakers and lobby for better animal protection laws. The Humane Society of the United States, The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) sponsored Humane Lobby Day.
Kyle Chandler, star of “Friday Night Lights,” Oscar-winning “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” and his 11-year-old daughter, Sawyer, were also in attendance to support bills to end the Lone Star State’s contribution to the cruel and unsustainable global shark fin trade. Sawyer Chandler, who addressed the Humane Lobby Day attendees, started a website and petition to speak out about threats against sharks and advocate for them through the political process. Her dedication to this issue sparked her father’s interest, and her work was recently highlighted on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Katie Jarl, Texas state director for The HSUS said: “Texans care deeply about animal welfare issues and Humane Lobby Day is all about bringing together concerned advocates and letting our lawmakers know that we count on their support for these key bills to protect animals. Animal welfare is a bipartisan issue that attracts people of all ages, and from across our state, and I am pleased that children and adults alike have joined in our efforts.”
Humane Lobby Day participants met with their state legislators to lobby in support of several animal welfare bills, including bills to prohibit the sale, trade, purchase and transportation of shark fins in Texas, HB 852/SB 572, by Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-District 38, and Sen. Larry Taylor, R-District 11. Shark finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other animals. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitive shark fin industry.
Deborah Foote, state legislative director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Southwest region said: “Humane Lobby Day affords citizens the opportunity to engage with their representatives in an open forum to discuss the importance of protecting animals through legislation. Concerned citizens from across Texas came out to advocate on behalf of animals today and we look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure the successful passage of stronger animal welfare legislation in 2013.”
Participants also asked legislators to support bills that would prohibit the private ownership of big cats and certain primates in counties with populations exceeding 75,000. The bills, HB 1015 and SB 1627, are sponsored by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-31 and Sen. Lucio D-27. Additionally, advocates lobbied on behalf of bills that would ban gas chamber euthanasia for shelter dogs and cats. The bills, HB 858 and SB 360, are sponsored by Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-38, and Sen. Kirk Watson, D-District 14.
Shelby Bobosky, vice president and legislative co-chairman for THLN said: "THLN counts on Texas animal advocates to help inform and educate their legislators while advocating for pending animal welfare legislation. This Humane Lobby Day, Texas animal advocates did not disappoint.  As constituents, they were not only well informed on the bills, but made excellent presentations for their passage."
Texas ranks 28th in The Humane Society of the United States’ 2012 “Humane State Rankings,” which grades each state based on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals. Texas has some strong animal protection laws, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Media Contacts:
The HSUS: Niki Ianni, 301-548-7793,
The ASPCA: Maureen Linehan, 646-706-4602,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Video with Grumpy Cat and owner at SXSW

Grumpy Cat makes her debut at SXSW

Your Daily Awe

Statesman's Digital Savant Omar L. Gallaga on Grumpy Cat at SXSW: 'Not at all grumpy'


She was very sweet and did not seem to mind a room full of people giving her lots of attention. In fact, she was a little bit sleepy and we tried not to disturb her too much. Yes, I did get to hold her. (She’s very small and soft). Her owners seem very kind and responsible and they’re limiting her public appearances to about an hour a day, so don’t stress out about her welfare; she seems like she’s doing just fine (and not at all grumpy).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chron gets 'scoop' on Internet sensation Grumpy Cat's SXSW appearance

Grumpy Cat Is Coming to SXSW Interactive!

Care for a side of Tardar Sauce, y'all?
The grumpiest creature ever to flood the worldwide internets in meme form, the (actually sweet-natured) varmint owned by Bryan and Tabatha Bundesen will be in Austin for SXSW, to make with the celebrity glad-handing and be filmed as part of a series of commercial webisodes for cat-food purveyor Friskies.
Friskies, it seems, has inked a deal with the four-footed frownmonger (or, rather, with her owner) and now Grumpy Cat's going to be participating in their ongoing "Will Kitty Play With It?" ad spots.
Somebody at whichever PR firm handles Friskies … boy howdy, somebody there has a fat parcel of net-savvy brilliance.
But – is this SXSW Interactive meet-and-greet opportunity even open to the public, or is it just a journos-only deal? Currently uncertain; press release didn't specify; trying to investigate the specifics for you right now, dear reader, but keep getting distracted by the thought that –
[Insert poorly muffled squeeeee here.]

Note: Updates to follow when possible. Follow me on Twitter, too – but be warned that it's my personal (not-officially-Chronicle) account & so might contain some shit that you might find too random or enlightening to an offensive degree: @wabrenner

******UPDATE at 5:45pm on Monday: Sorry, y'all – turns out this is a press-only gig. But I'll post an interview with the Bundesens and photos of Grumpy Cat and media links and, I dunno, maybe a few bits of wayward kibble on Friday morning. – BRNNR