Monthly Archives: November 2008

Talking Parrot Saves Toddler

Willie the parrot is no bird brain. He’s being credited with helping save the life of a 2-year-old girl who was choking Friday, November 7th at her Denver-area home while her babysitter was in the bathroom, according to

“While I was in the bathroom, Willie (the parrot) started screaming like I’d never heard him scream before and he started flapping his wings,” said Meagan, the sitter who owns the bird. “Then he started saying ‘mama baby’ over and over and over again until I came out and looked at Hannah and Hannah’s face was turning blue because she was choking on her pop tart.”

Meagan quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver on the child, which dislodged the food.

“If (Willie) wouldn’t have warned me, I probably wouldn’t have come out of the bathroom in time because she was already turning blue, her lips were blue and everything,” Meagan said.

Interesting Animal Communication Facts

* White tailed deer flick up their tails in response to alarm or fear.

* Elephants show love by intertwining their trunks.

* Dogs stretch out their front legs and lower the front half of their body while
keeping their hind half in the air when they want to play.

* When giraffes are attracted to one another, they press their necks together.

* Kangaroos stomp their back legs to communicate danger to nearby kangaroos.

* To show affection, horses rub their noses together.

* When angry at one another, gorillas stick their tongues out.

* In order to fight and also as a pre-mating ritual, swans intertwine their necks.

* Whales leap out of the water in order to send messages to other whales.

* To discover if they are friends or enemies, prairie dogs revel their teeth and
press their mouths together.

* Fireflies flash light patterns in order to reveal location, sex, and other
information to nearby fireflies.

* Eels communicate their location and their territory by releasing electrical pulses
in different patterns and rates.

* Baboons communicate via facial expressions, quite similarly to humans.

* Octopi change colors to reveal anger and readiness to mate. Some great apes also
do the same.

* Birds release calls, which warn others of predators and other dangers. These calls
also coordinate flocking and reveal aggression.

* Male birds also release songs, which attract mates.

* Lemurs use many different noises to indicate different things, such as being
startled, being happy, while greeting others, and when threatened.

* Vervet monkeys release at least 3 different alarm calls, one for each different
type of predator. They have one call for an eagle, one for a python, and the third
is for a leopard.

PIGS, Inc Rescue Organization

As a self-proclaimed porcine lover and owner of a 4 and a half year old Pot-bellied Pig named LilliAnna, I was excited at the prospect of meeting lots of pigs at the Harvest Fest at PIGS Animal Sanctuary in Shepherdstown, WV, that was held October 18th.

PIGS, a Sanctuary, as listed in their newsletter, “provides refuge to abused, abandoned, neglected, and unwanted animals. Typically, animals residing at PIGS have complicated medical and/or emotional needs, a history of abuse and/or neglect, diseases or ailments related to factory farming or genetic engineering, and are often considered “ unadoptable”. The Sanctuary secures permanent, adoptive homes for many animals, but serves as a permanent refuge for hundreds of unadoptable animals.”

When I arrived at the farm, I was greeted by a few horses and donkeys. Then, continuing up the path by the farmhouse, I saw them- a huge pasture full of pot-bellied wonders! There were also several smaller pastures of elderly, young, and special needs pigs. Another huge pasture contained “farm pigs” massive beauties basked in the sun and enjoying mud bathes. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a large indoor/outdoor Adoptable Cat Facility as well as a lifelong kitty house with an enclosed front porch known as Ivan’s House of Hope, which houses FIV positive kitties for the duration of their lives. FIV is a viral disease of cats, similar to HIV in humans, which depletes the immune systems. With proper veterinary care, a good diet, and devoted caretakers, FIV positive cats can live mostly healthy, normal lives. FIV is more difficult to spread from cat to cat than the Feline Leukemia virus, and does not affect people.

PIGS, Inc is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and all donations are tax deductible. Please keep them in mind this holiday season- the perfect gift for someone that is hard to buy for or has everything. Give a monetary gift in honor of them or drop off some of the following much needed supplies in their name:
Cleaning supplies- bleach, laundry detergent, Pine Sol, Paper Towels, Dish towels and Wash cloths.

Animal Care- Straw, hay, toys/treats/beds for cats and dogs, Non-clumping cat litter, dog and cat food-both canned and dry

Equipment- Large rakes, Brooms, Shovels

Gift Cards to: PetsMart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears, Sheetz (for gas), Southern States. Staples, Office Max, Target, Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart

For more information on PIGS, Inc or to make a donation call (304) 262-0080 or visit

E-mail to donate supplies

Written by Jen Scuffins, a tech at Kingsbrook

Entrepreneur helps dog lovers make new career

A Mount Airy entrepreneur became a certified dog trainer through a prestigious program. Now she’s helping others change careers and earn money doing a job they love.

Laurie Luck completed the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior. The academy is, according to a company statement, “An innovative institution committed to educating, certifying and promoting the next generation of animal trainers.”

Luck, who holds a master’s degree in psychology from George Mason University, has become a faculty member of the academy, skilled both as a trainer and teacher.

Luck founded Smart Dog University in 2001 to help owners improve their dogs behavior.

She served as president of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, is a Delta Certified Pet Partner and offers community outreach through Your Dog’s Friend and Reading Education Assistant Dogs.

Luck’s experience as a KPA student provides unique insight to the curriculum she teaches as a faculty member, she said.

“I’ve had firsthand experience with every piece of material — every video, every assignment, every facet of the course — from the student’s perspective,” she said. “I’ve had to teach my dog everything the students have to teach their dogs. So my frustrations and successes will aid me in my approach to teaching the material. I can share my successful trials (and my not-so-successful trials) with students, showing that I’ve been in their shoes, that I’ve experienced similar thrills and frustrations — and that I made it.” Frederick News Post

Tidbits: Factual, Funny, Facinating

* About 50 million kangaroos are harvested annually to produce 30,000 tons of meat. Some environmentalists are promoting “roo” as eco-friendly because, unlike more flatulent cattle and sheep, kangaroos don’t produce methane. (Sydney Morning Herald 12/4/07)

* The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies recently announced that it’s gone to the dogs-and cats. A policy with collision coverage now covers canine and feline family members paying up to $500 if a customer’s pet is hurt or dies in a car accident. The coverage is not yet available in North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York or Virginia. (

* A feral cat survived for 9 days with a peanut butter jar stuck on its head. Tabitha Cain of Barlett, Tenesee, finally trapped the once chubby cat when it was too weak to flee. The cat made a full recovery. (Associated Press 12/1/07)

* The Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), recently shown to be associated with colony colaspe disorder of honey bees, has been in the United States since at least 2002, according to a note published in the American Bee Journal. It has been thought that IAPV was a recent introduction from Austrailia. (Bloomberg Press 11/19/07)

* The Amazonian black ghost knifefish is unique in its ability to swim backward or forward ot catch its prey. (

* Nevermind the children…stick with marriage for the sake of the planet. An analysis on domestic relations and resource uses in the U.S. and 11 other countries found that divorce leads to more households (6 million extra in the U.S.), which means more land, electricity, water, and other goods are consumed. (Philadelphia Inquirer 12/4/07)

* A new study reveals that wine can be used as a disinfectant for sanitizing kitchen countertops, utensils, and even fruits and vegetables. Wines with the most alcohol and the highest acidity were the most effective against E coli and staphylococcus. (Press release 11/12/07)

More Amazing Cat Facts

Did you know…

A flashlight makes a great cat toy! Turn the flashlight on in a dark room, and watch your feline “chase” the beam of light!

Cats love to hide! If yours comes up “missing,” be sure to check in the bathtub, in your closet, in the dresser drawers, under a blanket or rug…or anywhere else you can possibly think of!

To make sure your cat’s collar fits properly, make sure you can slip two fingers under the collar, between the collar and your cat’s neck.

Hebrew folklore believes that cats came about because Noah was afraid that rats might eat all the food on the ark. He prayed to God for help. God responded by making the lion sneeze a giant sneeze — and out came a little cat!

Backward-pointing spikes on a cat’s tongue aid in their grooming.

It costs $7000 to care for one household cat over its lifetime. This covers only the necessities; the pampered pet will carry a higher price.

Cats are the sleepiest of all mammals. They spend 16 hours of each day sleeping. With that in mind, a seven year old cat has only been awake for two years of its life!

Interesting Facts About Pocket Pets

Some interesting facts about small mammals:

“Thumping” is an interesting gerbil behavior. The gerbil will pound both hind legs on the ground when he is excited, stressed, or to attract a mate.

When a gerbil rubs his abdomen on cage accessories, he is marking his territory.

The common pet gerbil originated in Mongolia.

Golden hamsters are also called “Syrian” hamsters, since they originated in Syria.

Fancy mice and rats have been exhibited for over 100 years. The National Mouse Club of Britain was formed in 1895.

Mice are nocturnal animals and are more active at night than during the day.

Rats are extremely clean pets and are among the most intelligent.

Rabbits are not rodents. They belong to a family called “lagomorphs.”

Many rabbits learn litter box habits easily.

Rabbits require daily exercise outside of their cage.

Another name for a guinea pig is a “cavy.” Wild cavies live in social groups called “herds.”

A male guinea pig is a boar and a female is a sow. Baby guinea pigs are pups.

Guinea pigs are unable to manufacture Vitamin C within their bodies therefore this vitamin must be supplemented.

Chinchillas need a dry habitat and need dust baths several times weekly; in fact, a dust bath is necessary to keep a chinchilla’s fur soft.

The African Hedgehog, in its natural environment, will eat a variety of insects, worms, and fruit.

Ingrown Toenail

Mags is a 5 year old domestic shorthair cat that presented to Kingsbrook Animal Hospital for a nail trim. He had a tendonectomy performed previously. A tendonectomy is an alternative to declawing. The veterinarian removes a section of tendon on each of the front toes. This prevents the cat from being able to extend the front claws and curbs destructive behavior such as scratching furniture, etc. Since an amputation is not performed (as in a declaw), the nail is still present and must be trimmed every few weeks. Mags middle toenail overgrew and punctured his paw pad. The constant irritation caused the toe to swell to four times the normal size and it became infected. After sedating Mags, we trimmed the nail and cleaned out the wound. He went home on antibiotics and will be back to his normal self soon.

Tidbits: Factual, Funny, Fascinating

* Copy Cat, the world’s first cloned cat, had her first litter of kittens. These kittens weren’t cloned-their father is Smokey, a naturally born tabby. Copy Cat was cloned by Texas A&M University researchers in 2001. Associated Press 12/15/06

* Elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and antelopes from the Munich Zoo create their own power supply-their manure is recycled to generate electricity. The plant, launched in cooperation with Munich city council, operates by fermenting the manure, producing methane which is burned to provide energy. Reuters 12/13/06

* Can a single female cat and her offspring really produce 420,000 cats in seven years? Many rescue programs and humane societies use this figure to encourage neutering, but no basis for this statistic has been found. More realistic calculations put the number at 100 to 5000. The Wall Street Journal 10/12/06

* Researchers have developed DNA tests that can quickly identify 30 different shark species, including those protected under strict laws such as the great white and basking sharks. These tests have already aided the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in several cases of illegal shark fin processing. Associated Press 8/16/06

* The collective name for a group of frogs is an “army.” In the case of their warty cousins, it’s a “knot of toads.”

* The Chytrid fungus has killed millions of frogs and eliminated 120 frog species in the Carribean and Central America. Milwaukee County Zoo workers are trying to help scientists slow the spread of the fungus and are collecting, disinfecting, and housing the few frogs that have survived. Associated Press 12/18/06