11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and fun … 1. Two Swedish women have invented an inflatable bike helmet. (Learn more at Sports Illustrated) 2. Military veteran dogs find second careers as explosives detectives at the U.S. Capitol. (Learn more at Washington Post) 3. A new kind of tattoo on your throat could be used as a microphone – and double as a lie detector. (Learn more at Discovery) 4. The classic rubber duckie and the game of chess are in the National Toy Hall of …

A Family Commune, One Year Later: Laughing, Barking, Crying, Shrieking…

The shriek of a 3-year-old can crack glass, shift a house on its foundation and register on earthquake scales 100 miles away. If you doubt that, come on over while Gracie, my granddaughter, pierces the air with a sound that is somewhere between a siren and a scream that will leave you vibrating for days. She is the primary addition to the merging of two families into one household, the smallest human member in a home that grew overnight a …

Pet Scam: The Animal Control Officer Who Wants Cash

On the heels of pet-flipping comes the latest ruse facing dog owners: Scammers posing as animal control officers. It’s occurred sporadically but not extensively in the past.  Now it seems on the rebound – at least in retiree-rich South Florida. TV station WPTV reports a case in which a couple living in an over-55 community lost $550 to an imposter claiming there had been complaints about the couple’s dog.  He threatened to impound the pooch unless they immediately paid. They obliged. …

Why the Post Office Might Stop Delivering Mail to Your Door

I’m fortunate to have one of most adorable dogs in the world – Cara, our 7-year-old wire fox terrier – watching over our house (nearly always from inside) pretty much 24/7. She is diabolically effective in scaring Darrell, our cheerful and ever-reliable postal carrier, away from the house within moments after he’s left mail at our front door. Earlier this year, I had to break the news to Cara that the U.S. Postal Service was proposing to do away with …

How Professional Dog Walking Got Its Start

In 1964, then New York Times reporter and later book author Gay Talese wrote a short profile of a man who had embarked on what seemed like a unique, exotic profession. Jim Buck walked other people’s dogs – 30 or 4o of them a day – while their owners were at work. Talese marveled at how Buck – a slender 145 pounds at six feet in height - managed a 150-pound Great Dane, a pair of Labrador Retrievers, and several other dogs all …

8 Rich Resources for Needy Animal Owners

There’s a lot of attention on taking care of older adults, but what happens when the elderly need help caring for others – in this case, their pets? The owners might be ill or have mobility issues and can’t walk their dog, for instance. Or, their fixed income and rising daily living costs make feeding Rover or Kitty an expense they can no longer cover. Annual expenses (i.e. vet visits, food and supplements, boarding, toys) for dogs and cats are …