Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Animal Friends' Home to Home Adoptions presents: Odie and Lola!

Name: Odysseus “Odie” Maximus:
Breed: Whippet/Pit Mix
Color: Brindle
DOB: Jan.24 2007
Characteristics: I adopted Odie From an animal shelter when he was 7 weeks old. I have been his only owner. He is a very shy dog. He loves women, but tends to be scared of men. He is a bit skittish. I’m not sure why he was never abused or hurt, but for some reason he takes a while to get use to new people especially men. He loves to take walks. He would be perfect for a single female owner or a younger couple. He would not do well in a home with another dog or very small children. He is a great dog, very loving and cuddly. He would need a home where he would be able to snuggle up on the couch/bed with his owner. He is house broken, and he goes on two walks a day as well as two outside potty breaks. He has had a few surgeries since I’ve had him. His first was for a cherry eye which he got within the first couple months after I adopted him. He also had a few stomach/colon surgeries when he was a year old. He ate a toy and got a piece of string wrapped around his intestines. Besides that he is perfectly health. And hasn’t had any health issues in the past 4 years. He is my baby and I am completely heartbroken that I have to give him up. The only thing I can ask for is a home where he will be loved and cared for the same as I do. He weighs about 35lbs.

Name: Lola
Breed: Westie Mix
Color: Cream/White
DOB: Sep. 25 2007
Characteristics: I adopted Lola when she was 8 weeks old. I have been her only owner. She is a very sweet loving dog. She loves to give kisses and cuddle with people. She would do well in any home. She’s great with kids, other dogs, young and older people. Lola is more of my “special needs” dog.  I found out 8 months ago that Lola had spinal stenosis. This leaves her with problems walking. The first two months after being diagnosed she had no movement in her hind legs. But Lola is a fighter; she has been through a broken leg, auto immune problems (which she had to get teethed pulled), as well as the stenosis, but Lola now is able to walk. She is a little on the wobbly side. It takes her a little longer to get up to start walking then most, but she has come such a long way from the beginning. She is NOT able to climb up or downstairs, although if she gets too excited she will walk down some stairs, but I tried to avoid letting her. She also needs to be picked up if you want her on the couch or bed. She is very laid back dog. Not hyper at all and she listens very well. She will go for a little walk (I will usually take her to the park and let her walk to tennis court), but nothing to long because her legs will start to bother her.  Again Lola is my baby and I love her to death. I just hope she can find someone caring and to love her the way that I do.  She weighs about 22lbs.

If you can help Lola or Odie, please contact Jessica at

Monday, July 29, 2013

Project Pit bull - $30 Spay/Neuter Surgeries


By Kristina Hout, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Assistant

Spaying and neutering pets is so important. It’s especially important to spay and neuter Pit Bulls.

Besides being widely misunderstood, Pit Bulls’ propensity to have high-volume litters—typically ten or more puppies—leads to their being the most frequently-surrendered and euthanized dogs in American animal shelters.

That’s why Animal Friends offers low-cost spay and neuter specials specifically for Pit Bulls. Our “Project Pit bull” promotion empowers Pit bull parents to spay or neuter their beloved Pitties for only $30, offering them both long, healthy lives and preventing the suffering of another unwanted litter. Services including low-cost vaccines, microchips and flea treatments are available as well.

Spaying and neutering is the first step towards improving the reputation and fate of Pit Bulls, and Animal Friends is dedicated to keeping those services affordable! Call 412-847.7004 to schedule your Pit Bull’s surgery today.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What's the Deal with Chicken Meal?

By the staff at Petagogy

    At Petagogy, we only carry foods that we’d be comfortable feeding to our own pets. While there are some ingredients that are strict no-no’s, such as corn and by-products, the foods we carry have different high quality ingredient mixes based on different nutritional and feeding philosophies. One of the first differences you’ll see when looking at the label on a bag of kibble is the inclusion of either protein meal or the straight whole protein as the main ingredient. Many folks believe that the inclusion of a protein meal as a main ingredient (first or second in the list of ingredients) is a bad thing (or that simply including one animal protein in an ingredients list automatically makes a food high in protein). The truth is that using a meal as a protein source is a safe and nutritious kibble component that helps boost the amount of animal protein included in our dogs’ and cats’ food. 

    The main advantage of using meal is that the water has been removed from the meat before the kibble is cooked. Removing the water from the meat in the creation of the meal guarantees a higher protein percentage in the kibble. Simply put, meals are a more concentrated protein source than straight raw meat. The ingredient panels on pet foods are listed by weight BEFORE the cooking process, whether it’s baking or extruding. During the cooking process, water is lost and the kibble’s ingredients are condensed, both nutritionally and in size. So, a raw meat ingredient would not remain in the same position on the ingredient panel since about 70% of its total weight is lost when the water is cooked out.  If a meal is used as a protein source, either as the main protein or to boost a raw protein, the process of removing the water in the meat has already taken place so the protein percentage stays consistent after the cooking process. The general rule is, before cooking, raw meat contains about 70% water and 12% protein, compared to a meat meal, which contains about 5% moisture and 70% protein. Comparing the same weight of raw meat and meat meal, it’s clear that meal has a much higher protein content.    

Here is an example of a pet food that advertises the fact that it lists chicken as the first ingredient and therefore is rich in protein:

Purina One SmartBlend Chicken & Rice
Chicken (natural source of glucosamine), brewers rice, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal (natural source of glucosamine), whole grain wheat, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soy flakes, soybean meal, animal digest, glycerin, calcium phosphate, caramel color, calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, Vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, sulfur, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.

However, the chicken (which is 70% water) is followed by several grains, which are not digestible sources of protein but are used by pet food companies to boost the amount of protein in pet food.

Compare that with a high quality pet food that incorporates both raw protein and meat meals to increase the amount of animal protein in the food:

Acana Wild Prairie
Deboned chicken, chicken meal, green peas, turkey meal, chicken liver oil, field beans, red lentils, whole potato, deboned turkey, whole egg, deboned walleye, sun-cured alfalfa, pea fiber, chicken liver, herring oil, whole apples, whole pears, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, spinach greens, cranberries, blueberries, kelp, chicory root, juniper berries, angelica root, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, lavender, rosemary.

Since Acana uses several meals in addition to raw chicken, it contains a much higher percentage of animal protein, which is best for our pets’ diets.

    Of course, whether picking kibble that uses a straight raw protein or a protein meal, the sourcing is crucial to the quality of the kibble. All proteins should be named. For example, look for chicken meal, beef meal, lamb meal, and so on, and always stay away from foods containing “animal meal,” “protein meal,” “meat meal” and other generic labels. Additionally, knowing the quality of the manufacturer and its sourcing helps us feel confident that we are feeding safe and nutritious food to our furkids.

Petagogy (pronounced pet-uh-go-jee) specializes in premium and natural pet foods, treats and supplies. Petagogy is located at 5880 Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Learn more at

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Animal Friends’ Pet Therapy Teams Visit Veterans

By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

A veteran clad in Steelers garb vigorously spun the wheels of his chair and glided down the hallway at the Southwestern Veterans Center in Pittsburgh.

“Is that a dog I hear? Do we have a dog here?” he cheerfully grinned while asking the nurses.

Ricky, a 5-year-old chocolate Lab, sauntered out of a resident’s room to greet the man. The veteran reached down and scratched Ricky’s silky smooth ears as they both sported oversized smiles.

David Mitchell, Ricky’s owner and Animal Friends volunteer, introduced the Pet-Assisted Therapy dog to the veteran.

Then it was show time. Ricky sat down on all fours with his front legs pointed forward. David placed a treat on his paw.

“Say ‘now’ when you want Ricky to grab his treat,” David told the veteran. He peered down from his wheelchair and paused for a second while the well-trained dog waited for his command.

“Now!” the veteran called. Ricky snatched up the treat. His new friend bellowed a lively laugh that filled the hall.

Ricky, a certified Canine Good Citizen, then traveled down the hallway to spread his cheer to the other residents, many who are terminally ill and are grateful for the friendly greeting.

Some residents were bedridden, so Ricky stood up and rested his front paws on their bedside and inspired a faint but thankful smile. Others were wheelchair bound with limited movement. A few had missing arms, most likely the result of battle. But they all did their best to give the Ricky a pat on the head. One resident, who walked with some difficulty, grabbed Ricky’s leash and joyfully walked him down the hallway. At the end of the trek he rested against the nurse’s station.

“Thank you. Thank you so much,” he repeated with slightly winded breathing.

Ricky even pulled tears of joyful and sentimental memories from one resident.

“I once had a Cockapoo,” he cried while rubbing Ricky’s head. He was elderly, in a wheelchair, and had bandages and braces covering both arms. With effort, he slowly reached for a bag of pretzels, pulled one out and took a bite. He then offered Ricky the other half. Even though Ricky had a belly full of treats, he was eager to share the fare.

 “Thank you for coming in,” the veteran choked between tears.

 “No, thank you,” I replied.

Animal Friends’ trained Pet Therapy volunteers bring the joy and gentle healing of companion animals to individuals in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and hospitals. The contact encourages communication, socialization, independent movement for the immobile and memory stimulation. Our Pet Therapy volunteers have visited over 100,000 people since 2006! If you’d like to join them, visit

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cats and Babies

Guest Blogger: Chanellie (with help from Human Mom Chris Whyle, Behavior Wellness Coordinator)
Here I am again, your Special Cat Friend Chanellie, to present you with some Crunchy Treats of Wisdom (Pearls just don’t do anything for me) about Cats and Babies.

My Human Mom (MHM) told me a very sad story that happened recently in our area, about a family dog who attacked a newborn baby in the family home.  If I could cry, I would have, but instead my whiskers drooped for several days.  But it made me think of how I would feel if a baby human suddenly appeared in my home.

I am a cat, and I am happiest when each day is exactly the same as the day before--the furniture remains in the same place, my human’s schedule is predictable, and the food appears in my bowl when I expect it.  Any deviation from my expectations causes my whiskers to ruffle.  But MHM tells me “change is inevitable” (who says!!!!) and I need to accept that premise, extend my horizons, see the good in different, blah blah blah.  I disagree.

But since I live with humans, and enjoy my life of leisure and the yummy kibble that magically flows into my bowl twice a day, I’ve come up with Rule #2 in Chanellie’s Book of Rules to deal with change.

Chanellie’s Rule #2:  Change is only OK when it is done gradually.

Whether it involves a different brand of litter, a different flavor of food, the mysterious movement of furniture throughout the house, the unexplainable (and terrifying) appearance of The Cat Carrier in the living room (OMG, who’s destined for The Vet???!!!), a new four-legged intruder in my domain (Aaarrrgh!!!), or a new little human in my midst, I need time to adjust.  To accept.  To get used to.

MHM has told me stories of family cats who were surrendered to the shelter where she worked just because a new little human had arrived.  Oh, oh, oh—my tail is at half-mast at that sad thought.  Especially because Rule #2 would make this situation so very preventable!

We cats are creatures of scent, of sound, and cherish the territory we’ve claimed (although we are quite good at the concept of “time-share!”).  So when a cute little human is anticipated, new parents need to consider what new sounds, sights, and smells will enter my previously pristine environment.  (MHM is rolling her eyes at the word “pristine.”  I must admit I’m not a neat-freak, but every hair-ball I cough up is precisely placed.)

New Baby Scents . . . OK, the first thing that comes to my feline mind is diaper doo-dees, the odor of which is not easy to replicate.  But baby powder, baby lotion, formula (mmm, mmm, mmmm!), pulverized peas and carrots (I feel a hair-ball coming up), are brand new smells that I’ve heretofore not experienced.  Begin several months in advance by introducing me to these new scents.  Smooth some baby lotion on your hands; sprinkle a little baby powder on your lap (where I love to nap); apply both to a spare washcloth, toss it into a room and ignore it (I’ll find it, don’t worry).  After a while, pair the new scents with something I love—crunchy cat treats are a great start!!!  I sniff the washcloth, and underneath the new smell is a familiar one that I cannot resist!  My favorite crunchy cat treats!  New Smell=Very Pleasurable Experience!  Warning: do not sprinkle the baby powder directly on my yummies!

New Baby Sounds . . . a crying baby sometimes sounds exactly like a cat in distress. MHM has been fooled many times in the shopping center parking lot, and is always So Very Relieved that it is not a stray kitty in need of assistance.  Believe it or not, if you type “Baby Crying Sound Effects” into your search engine you will find a website that allows you to download many of these sounds for free.  MHM just played a couple and all of the homie-cats were instantly on Yellow Alert!  Once or twice a day, introduce these sounds into your home environment.  Pair the sounds with something yummy.  Baby Crying Sound Effect=Very Pleasurable Experience!  After a while I will get used to those Weird New Sounds and, in fact, look forward to them, as every time I hear them I get something Very Yummy.  Warning: Don’t overdo the rewards or you’ll need to buy me a Fitness Club Membership!

The Real Thing . . . do you have a friend with a Real Human Baby?  After you’ve gotten me used to smells and sounds, invite her over for CatSip and kibble—oops, tea and cookies.  Please don’t stick the baby in my face—just ignore me and let me investigate (or not—I may find this Little Intruder too scary and find a place to hide) at my leisure. Toss me a treat now and then.  Baby In The House=Very Pleasurable Experience! Please don’t let the baby grab my ears or tail—after all, I need to see this Brand New Creature as friend, not foe!  If you don’t have a friend with a newborn, there are many dolls that are remarkably realistic, and you can pretty much duplicate the New Human Baby experience with one of them.  Warning:  Clip My Claws before a Baby Visit, and always supervise closely any interaction!  Don’t assume I will accept the baby immediately—Rule #2!!!!!

You’re Changing My Space . . . redecorating is NOT my favorite occurrence.  It is Change—and I’ve made myself pretty clear about how I feel about Change.  If my favorite room is about to become The Nursery, please preserve My Favorite Place in the room, whether it be the back of a favorite chair by the window or a warm cat bed by the heat register.  If the New Baby Place will be Off Limits to me, you can duplicate My Favorite Place in another room, but remember Rule #2!  There are reasons I choose My Favorite Places!  Make sure the view from the new window is as exciting as My Favorite View (if not, add a bird feeder!).  Put yourself in my perspective.  Look at the world through my eyes (believe me, it’s a totally different world down here!!!).  It will give you lots of practice in understanding what your small new human baby perceives in her world and how to “baby-proof” our home!

I’m Missing Your Loving Attention . . . New Human Babies take a lot of time and doting.  Please don’t forget that I am your baby, too.  Carve some time out of your busy schedule for lap-time, snuggles and interactive play.  I can become your new arrival’s Best Friend In The World if you include me in her world.  Mention my name when you are talking to her.  Even if your arms are full of baby and you can’t pet me when I ask, acknowledge me and tell me you love me.  I’ll understand.

Teach Your Children Well . . . how to handle fuzzy four-legged family members.  No ear- or tail-grabbing; when I’m sleeping do not disturb me; don’t stick your face or hands in my food, water, or toys; don’t chase me; use our “indoor voices” when I’m around; pet with a flat hand and always ask, first.  And mom, always give me a safe retreat (a good bet is somewhere high, out of baby’s reach) if the rules are ignored. From my perspective, Small Humans change frequently and pose new experiences for a cat. Baby’s First Step is applauded by mom and dad, but a baby who can toddle around is a different creature than one who is confined to a crib.  A toddler who can’t reach the cat on the end table grows into one who can.  Continual Cat Education is a good thing!

Whew—I’m exhausted.  But one more thing: beware of common myths about cats and babies.  One persistent falsehood is that cats can steal the breath from babies.  The truth of the matter is that we just like the smell of formula on baby’s lips.  You know—like when I smell your lips after you’ve eaten something very yummy.  Oh—you thought I was kissing you?  Yes, I most certainly was—ignore the previous sentence!