Dogs may help kids learn to read

Dogs may help kids learn to readMedical studies have linked pet care to better exercise habits, lower blood pressure and improved psychological health in humans. Even simply petting a dog can provide the soothing conditions to lower heart rates and reduce stress. Now, pet experts are saying that having a dog in the house may help small children learn how to read.

Kathy Klotz, director of Intermountain Therapy Animals – a nonprofit organization that specializes in animal-assisted physical, occupational and speech therapy – has begun a new nationwide program called Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ).

The organizer based her program on the belief that children who are new readers may feel judged or intimidated by human listeners, and can benefit from a supportive, passive friend, CNN reports.

"One factor that turned out to be really important, is that the child feels like they’re letting the dog understand the story," Klotz told the news source. "They get to be the teacher, the storyteller, the one who knows more than the dog for a change."

While humans continue to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association says that veterinary pet insurance can be used to protect pet health and ensure the financial stability of the pet’s family.

Wildlife conservation group sponsors exotic animal adoption

Wildlife conservation group sponsors exotic animal adoptionGazing into a pet shop window, a passerby might think that owning a boa constrictor or baby iguana seems like a fantastic, albeit impulsive, idea. However, these pets grow and their custodians struggle to provide adequate pet care, the pet owners may seek a way out of their ownership responsibilities.

This weekend, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) will hold an amnesty event, allowing the owners of nonnative pets to hand over their animals – no questions asked.

The event, which the FFWCC sponsors several times a year, has been held in response to owners releasing their exotic animals into the wild, where some species can infringe on the habitats of native animals, the Tampa Tribune reports.

As an alternative, biologists at the wildlife commission will attempt to find adoptive owners for the animals who are qualified and able to care for them.

"We expect to get quite a few nonnative animals that day so we need to make sure we have safe homes for them," commission spokeswoman Jenny Tinnell said in a news release made public last month. "Often, pet owners don’t understand the difference between native and nonnative species or they don’t realize the possible effects releasing a nonnative fish or animal can have."

It is a violation of Florida law to release exotic animals into the wild.

Doggy door makes pets masters of own domain

Doggy door makes pets masters of own domainSome pet owners may recognize the convenience of installing a doggy door but find themselves asking, is it worth the risk? While owners who are very busy or away from the house for long hours appreciate the access the small doors give their pets to backyard bathrooms, others may be concerned that an especially small or cunning burglar can get past the rubber flap that defends the house from intruders.

However, new technology has ensured the safety of any household that installs the Plexidor Pet Door, by recognizing and allowing entry to only those animals that the homeowner desires, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The new product works by responding to an RFID chip that his embedded in the dog’s collar; the doggy door only opens when it detects the compatible chip, which the company says is waterproof and shockproof.
According to Plexidor, "It is like having a personalized garage door and electronic opener specifically for your dogs."

The chips use the same technology as tracking devices at toll booths and airline baggage claim services.

"It allows the pets to go outside when they have to, not when you’re able to let them out," said Plexidor President Joe Ambrose.

The product is currently being sold for $129 to $800, depending on the size and model.

Groundskeeper reflects on decades of presidential dogs

Groundskeeper reflects on decades of presidential dogsHealthcare reform, bank regulation, unemployment benefits – there are countless reasons to tune into the news or pick up the paper to see how the decisions of President Obama and his administration may affect American lives. However, as the White House’s veteran groundskeeper told the Associated Press, "Sometimes I think people are more interested in the pets than the president."

Dale Haney has been the keeper of the White House grounds for nearly 40 years, spanning eight presidents and over a dozen presidential dogs.

In addition to keeping the grass green and the flowers in bloom, Haney is often tasked with walking the Obama family’s Portuguese water dog, Bo, when the president and first lady turn their attention to slightly more pressing matters.

An animal lover, the groundskeeper gets along well with Bo, but says he was most fond of George and Laura Bush’s English springer spaniel, Spot, and Scottish terrier, Barney, the AP reports.

"They would hang out with us during the day while the president and first lady were busy," he said. "Barney plays with the volleyball and Spot plays with a tennis ball."

Of Bo, Haney says, "He has his own mind and does his own thing. You’ve got to love him."

Due to 11-year-old Malia Obama’s allergies, the first family chose a Portuguese water dog in part because it is a hypoallergenic breed.

The Dog Says: ‘Bling, Bling’

The Dog Says: 'Bling, Bling'The pet paparazzi will be on hand November 5th as the North Shore League Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill animal adoption and rescue organization, presents the fourth annual DogCatemy Celebrity Gala.

In addition to the glamorous outfits modeled by celebrity pet owners, the Dollars for Designer Collars project will ensure that the animals get in on the fashion fun as well.

The event will be hosted by acclaimed journalist Geraldo Rivera and will feature an auction of unique pet collars, crafted by illustrious designers like Betsey Johnson, Christine Brinkley, Nicole Mill and Isaac Mizrahi.

The Dollars for Designer Collars initiative will raise money for North Shore and gives dogs fashion options regardless of their image. The jewel-encrusted collars include flower patterns, beaded bands, woven fabrics, sea-shells and – for the biker dog – black leather with spikes.

One designer, Rebecca Taylor, said she became involved in the program because the mission to provide pet care and rescue to animals across the U.S. was an issue "close to [her] heart." She added, "As a dog and cat owner I really enjoyed designing my collar to reflect the Rebecca Taylor aesthetic."

North Shore League Animal League America gives homes to about 20,000 pets each year.

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