Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Threats to Pets

Western Diamondback Snake. Photo by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In Episode 11, we launch into a multi-part series entitled, “Threats to Pets.” As my husband Gene and I have been traveling about the country with our two Old English Sheepdogs – Mac and Molly – we have encountered potential perils all along the way. Speaking just of wildlife: in Louisiana, we were warned to take care walking near a lake because the denizens therein – the alligators – had developed a special appreciation for “dog.” In Colorado, the concerns were over bears and mountain lions. In South Dakota: prairie dogs carrying the bubonic plague. In Texas: rattlesnakes.

It was in San Antonio, Texas that veterinarian Rae Dishinger suggested that Mac and Molly receive rattlesnake vaccine. In the event of a bite, she said, the vaccine would slow the spread of the venom giving us additional time to get our loved one to a veterinarian. Rattlers are of special concern to Rae as her own dog died as the result of a snake bite. Rae also treated Mac and Molly when they contracted kennel cough. Our veterinarian in Pennsylvania and we had been careful to have the dogs vaccinated against this respiratory illness before we hit the road but, we learned, just as there are many different strains of human flu, there are many strains of kennel cough, and you can’t vaccinate against them all.

Getting us started with this series will be veterinary toxicology consultant Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, former Vice President of the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center. In this first episode in the series, she’ll identify for us some of the common toxins and poisons found in and around our homes and on the road – on roadsides and at rest areas, campgrounds and dog parks --wherever we may be in the country. She’ll offer suggestions on what to pack for our pets when we take them on the road and she’ll share the story of how her own border terrier had to be treated for intoxication after eating something he found on the ground at a rest stop.

In future episodes, we’ll hear from veterinarians in several regions of the country who will instruct us in ways to protect our pets from threats specific to each of those regions. From these folks, we’ll learn about parasites (external and internal); infectious diseases; insects, wild animals; plants; and toxins and poisons found in and around our homes and in various places we may visit while on the road.

For more on our adventures as Rubber Hobos, visit http://www.rubberhobos.com. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hank the Cowdog

In Episode 10, our guest is John Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog series of humorous mystery books for children. More than 7.5 million copies of Erickson’s books have been sold since 1983. His 57th volume – The Disappearance of Drover -- was just released as was the audio version of the book.

John writes the Hank books from the point of view of a dog, a dog who can’t quite understand why he’s so misunderstood. The volumes are filled with humor, western parlance, and details that could only be provided by one who lives the life of a small-town rancher.

Titles include The Case of the Incredible Priceless Corncob; The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse; The Case of the Dinosaur Birds; and The Case of the Car-Barkaholic Dog. Along for the ride with the bumbling Hank in these stories are the hilariously-written cowboy Slim; ranch owners Sally May and High Loper; Hank’s buddy, the loyal, yet timid, mutt Drover; and sworn enemies like Hank’s chief competitor for table scraps, Pete the Barncat.
John Erickson with his horse Nocona.
Photo provided by John Erickson.
John speaks to us from his home in Perryton, Texas. At the time of the interview, a group of homeschooled junior high and high school students (who'd been raised on Hank the Cowdog stories) were with him learning about the process of writing.

John Erickson with a group of homeschooled students.
Photo provided by John Erickson.

Also on the show are Phil and Amy Kruse, owners of the Circle View Ranch in Interior, South Dakota, who share how they were inspired by John’s books to name their own border collie and "head of ranch security," Hank the Cowdog.
Hank the Cowdog of Circle
View Ranch. Photo provided
by Phil and Amy Kruse.
Amy and Phil Kruse
with Lace, Phil's horse.
Photo provided by
Phil and Amy Kruse.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Doggy Suites and Kitty Condos: Pet Vacations in Orlando

Photo provided by Best Friends Pet Care.
Photo provided by Best Friends Pet Care.
In Episode 9 of On the Road with Mac and Molly we visit Orlando, Florida where we search out some of what's on offer for pet accommodations. With the exception of service dogs, pets are not permitted in the city's theme parks so, if you're planning to bring your dog, cat, or pocket pet on vacation with you, they'll need a place to romp and revel while you're doing the same at one of the playgrounds for humans. Best Friends Pet Care opened a facility recently at Walt Disney World and the center's managers Jennifer Kratzer and Amanda Burris will tell us about the accommodations, amenities, and activities available at this Disney-themed pet palace. In this episode, I'll also fill you in on some of what's on offer for pets at SeaWorld and Universal Studios. And I'll tell what hotel has a VIP (Very Important Pets) program of pampering that includes toys and treats and special room service selections.

Mac and Molly
draw a crowd wherever they
go and such was the case at
Lake Eola. Photo by
Donna Hailson.

The Walt Disney Amphitheater
at Lake Eola Park.
Photo by Donna Hailson.
On the days when you're just hanging about, you might wish to take your furry friend(s) to an off-leash or on-leash park. Two of our favorites of the former type are Meadow Woods, at 1751 Rhode Island Woods Circle, and Barber Park, at 3701 Gatlin Road. For natural beauty and sheer in-the-middle-of-the-city serenity, you can't beat Lake Eola Park at 195 N. Rosalind Avenue. You'll need to keep your dog on a leash here but you'll have a mile-long walk beside the water and, along the path, you'll find a pet-friendly restaurant and pet-friendly folks.