Meko the Miracle Dog

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As a self-proclaimed bibliophile (means 'lover of books' and 'book-collector' of which I am both), I am always looking for a good animal story. Unfortunately, a lot of the ones I find out about or that others suggest to me end up as sad stories with some kind of abuse against the animals. But I have read some that are worth noting here and are really good stories. I have also included a few that were recommended to me but that I have not yet read. One of my goals this year is to read two books a month (I have read 12 books as of the end of June so I am right on schedule) therefore I am quite sure that at least a couple of the books on my 'books not read yet' list will end up on my 'books I read' list later this year.


Books I Read

All the James Herriot "All Creatures...." series books

Wesley the Owl

A Dog's Life

An Eagle Named Freedom

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Betty and Friends - My Life at the Zoo

Zoe's Cats


Books Not Read Yet

Summers with Bears

Never Cry Wolf

Zamba: True Story of Greatest Lion That Ever Lived

100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth's Most Endangered Species

The Dog That Wouldn't Be




I'm pretty sure I've written about this in the past, but it is definitely something that needs repeating. Although we might love the summer heat and think our pets do also, too much heat can be deadly for our cats and dogs. Here are a few tips to remember and keep with you at all times.

1. Never, ever, ever leave your pet locked in a vehicle during the hot summer months. You might think, with the window opened a crack, that they are fine but the temperature inside the vehicle can heat up to 120 degrees in a few minutes when it is just 80 degrees outside.

2. When you travel with your pet, keep your vet's emergency number with you or find a local vet hospital and have that number readily available. The time to look for a vet's number is not when you are in the middle of an emergency.

3. Always make sure you have plenty of water on hand for your pet. Just like you need extra water to stay hydrated during the hot summer days, your pet needs to, also.

4. If you tie your dog up outside, make sure they not only have plenty of room to move around (and plenty of water on hand) but that they also have a shaded area to get out of the sun especially at the heat of the day. Again, too much sun can lead to heat stroke or death for your dog.

5. If you bring your dog for a walk with you, test the sidewalk temperature with your own feet. If the sidewalk is too hot for your feet, it will be too hot for your dog's feet, too.

6. Watch for signs of heat stroke in your cats, too. If they are panting for a long time, pacing, have increased heartbeat, an increased body temperature, and respiratory distress (all similar symptoms to dogs) they may be experiencing heat stroke. Encourage them to drink more water and add ice cubes to their water bowl.

7. This should go without saying but I'll say it anyway - avoid strenuous exercise with your dog when it is exceptionally hot outside. Just like you, your dog can overheat and too much running and playing can be too much for them. They will keep going if you keep playing - it is up to you as their caretaker to know better. Limit outdoor activity to 20 minutes and it is best to keep outdoor playtime to early morning or evening when it isn't as hot outside.


I remember one time seeing a man who was at least 6'4" tall running with his puppy, a Jack Russell Terrier. Obviously he wanted his dog to learn to run with him but at that young age, and with his incredible height difference and extra long legs, there was no way the little dog would be able to catch up. This was many years ago and I saw him a distance away from me so didn't have the opportunity to say anything before he was gone. If I saw something similar today, I would chase after the man and tell him how abusive he was being to such a tiny dog. It amazed me that he couldn't see the difference and I wondered why he didn't get a greyhound to go running with him instead. At least they would have been better matched!!!



Do you feel like you are making too many visits to the vet? Your dog or cat could be one of the breeds that is more prone to illness.

Because of their scrunched noses, the bull dog is often at the vet's office. Golden retrievers are likely to have hip dysplasia, especially as they age. Surgery can sometimes help but the condition causes much pain and suffering for your dog.

Surprising to me, Burmese mountain dogs, actually one quarter of them, are stricken with a genetic cancer of the lungs and lymph nodes.

Cats aren't safe, either. The ears of the Scottish fold cat can sometimes develop bone and cartilage deformities. And the Maine coon cat is sometimes afflicted with hereditary heart problems.

Be grateful if you have a pet who isn't prone to one of these conditions. To find out more about your breed of dog or cat, check with your vet or read as much online as you can before buying your pet. And remember, never purchase a dog or cat from a pet store. Wonderful dogs and cats can found, waiting for homes, at your local shelter.


My sister and her husband, both animal lovers, always had dogs in the home. When their daughter was old enough, she wanted a cat (even though she was allergic). Adding a cat to a dog home could have opened up the proverbial can of worms, but what happened was, the dogs came to accept the cat as one of the pack. And the cat happily took its place among the dogs. Of course, they had little dogs, Shelties and a Lhasa Apso at the time, but I doubt if the size of the dogs makes a difference. I think that they all just learned to get along.

Our three dogs, having never been around cats, are on their guard for anything smaller than them that runs around. Our Min Pin in particular, a ratter, spends the majority of her day watching one of our many chipmunks running back and forth under the bay window that she lies in. And once when we passed a dog-friendly cat on one of our walks, they all pulled and lunged to get at the cat who observed them as if they were insane, and decided to keep her distance. 

But animals, in particular domesticated ones, are adaptable and accepting of their situation. I have no doubt that if we brought a kitten into the home, and we spent our time 'educating' our dogs about being gentle, they would soon come to accept the cat as one of their own. But until then, they might get a few scratches across their nose. They can be fast learners! 



Meko and Kitsu going for a ride

I read an article in the latest issue of one of my favorite non-art-related magazines, called Scientific American Mind that discusses the intelligence of our best friend, the dog. The interview was with Brian Hare, an associate professor at Duke University and also the author of a book called "The Genius of Dogs". There was a lot of fascinating information found out about dogs in various studies, such as, dogs prefer to spend time with humans rather than their own species, something that is unusual for an animal. Personally, I find that to be true with my own dogs, Kameko and Kitsune, both Pomeranians. Sometimes it seems as if they don't even see each other because they are always only interested in what I am doing. Makes sense, though, since I am their caretaker. You want to know that the person who provides you with food and water, who gives you treats, who cleans the gunk out of your eyes and the poop off your bum, is always available and ready to take care of you.

Another interesting observation is how much dogs read our gestures, which "allows them to be incredible social partners with us, whether it's hunting or agility or just navigating everyday life. Their ability to interpret our gestures also helps them solve problems they can't solve on their own."

Although Brian Hare was unable to confirm the level of empathy our dogs feel for us, I can attest to my dogs' behavior when I am upset and crying. Whether or not it is empathy, it most certainly is concern. They want to be as close to me as possible or they watch me from a distance, shaking and obviously stressed. Our first Pomeranian, Sammy, would go into another room and start digging, scratching at the carpet, as if she was trying to dig a hole to crawl into whenever Jim and were yelling. And often we were just talking loud but she interpreted loud voices with anger.

Although I already knew how special my dogs are, reading an article like this proves, scientifically, that dogs are even more intelligent and more special than a lot of people realize.



News about Help Shelter Pets.

Life with our "pack" - Meko, Kitsu, and Jacquay.

Musings by the Cofounders of Help Shelter Pets.

News about and shared by the shelters we're supporting.

Stories you've shared with us about your adopted pets.

Animal news, product reviews, and other useful information for pet owners.