"Ebony" Black Lab/Australian Shepherd Mix 1989-2003 I adopted Ebony from Animal Welfare (www.come.to/awps/), a no-kill dog shelter in Pueblo, CO in 1989 at about 6 months of age. She died last year after developing adrenal and splenic cancers. Labrador Retrievers are genetically prone to both of these cancers. If you have an older dog (>10yrs.) and can afford it, I recommend a physical exam and bloodwork twice a year. A chemistry panel shows how most organs in your dog's body are functioning. If you really want to keep on to of things, you can request an abdominal ultrasound as well. It can reveal abdominal masses (cancers) that can be removed before they become critical. If you are ever concerned that your pet is sick but your regular veterinarian cannot find the cause of the illness, I recommend seeing a veterinary specialist (internal medicine, neurologist, ophthalmologist, etc.). They have more advanced training to help with difficult cases.
"Poo" Pointer/Yellow Lab/Husky Mix 1989-2003 I adopted Poo from Animal Welfare, too, in 1989 at 8 weeks of age. He died last year after developing throat cancer (melanoma), which Pointers are prone to genetically.
"Kiki" is a 16-year old cat who came to me 10 years ago when the people living next to me moved away and left him behind. I also recommend physical exams and bloodwork yearly on cats over 10 years of age. Cats get different cancers from dogs but seem to be genetically prone more to kidney and heart failure and thyroid disease. If your cat has had an increase in his water intake, seems to be urinating more or is losing weight, he should definitely make a trip to the vet.
"Charlie" is a 14-year old cat we adopted from Larimer Humane Society (www.larimerhumane.org) in Fort Collins, CO in July 2003. Charlie was given up because his owner was being deployed overseas. This happened to a lot of animals because of the war in Iraq. Charlie was at the humane society for 2 months before we adopted him. Older animals are sometimes harder to find homes for but Charlie has the energy of a 4-year old. If you're ready to adopt a new pet, consider rescuing an older one--they'll really appreciate it!
"Tig" is an 11-year old feral (wild) cat. He is the last survivor of a feral cat colony I started managing in 1994. His mom died from kidney failure at about 10 years of age and another female died from cancer about the same time. It is a misconception that all wild cats living on the streets have hard lives and die young. They manage quite well when they have a caretaker. I relocated Tig to the basement of my house. He has a huge cat play room with an outdoor playpen off one window. (I highly recommend outdoor enclosures for all cats and discourage tame free-roaming cats. Click here to see the enclosure.) We recently discovered Tig is FIV positive. FIV is a virus similar to HIV in humans. He was not infected when I neutered him at 6 months of age but we guess that he has been infected for at least the last 4 years. Like HIV, FIV is not an immediate death sentence. Tig is a very healthy 13 pounds but mildly anemic with bad teeth (two symptoms of FIV). To learn more about feral cats, visit www.alleycat.org.
"Duncan" is a 10-year old Collie we adopted from Pueblo Sheltie/Collie Rescue (www.pueblocolliesheltie.org) in Pueblo, CO in September 2003. I found Duncan on www.petfinder.com, a website that showcases over 100,000 animals in need of homes all across the country. Did you know that there is a rescue group for practically every breed of dog somewhere in the country? If you are looking for a particular breed, do an internet search for "(breed)" + "rescue" + (state)". For example, "beagle rescue colorado". You may need to look in other states to find some of the more rare breeds.
"Gracie" is a 5-year old cat we adopted from Weld County Humane Society (www.weldcountyhumane.org) in Greeley, CO in June 2002. When all of Tig's wild cat family died, he was very lonely. We adopted Gracie to keep Tig company--this was before we discovered Tig is FIV positive. However, Gracie and Tig love each other and hate being separated. Since FIV is usually only transmitted through bites and since Tig doesn't have many teeth left, we've decided to let them keep living together.
"Avron" is a 4-year old American Eskimo we adopted from the Cheyenne Animal Shelter (www.cheyenneanimalshelter.org) in Cheyenne, WY in August 2003. Unfortunately, the Cheyenne shelter receives a large number of young purebred dogs and suspects there is a correlation to the pet store located nearby. Please do not buy dogs and cats from pet stores--these animals come from puppy mills and are the result of very poor inbreeding. (To learn what a puppy mill is, visit www.canismajor.com/dog/puppymil.html or www.hsus.org/ace/11797 or www.hua.org/prison/puppymills.html) I always recommend adopting from shelters and breed rescue groups. If you want a purebred puppy or kitten, you should find a responsible breeder. To learn more about what to look for in a responsible breeder, visit www.canismajor.com/dog/responbr.html.