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WebClawer: Dogs help kids learn to read, Yahoo shuts down Yahoo Pets

Reading dog programs are gaining in popularity

From pets on the Web to those who help young readers get the hang of good old-fashioned books, these are the stories that made us sit up and take notice today:

-- "Reading dog" programs -- which encourage young children to read by allowing them to practice their skills reading aloud to dogs -- are gaining in popularity around the country.  One such program in the suburban Washington, D.C., area is called Paws to Read.  "I liked reading him the pool part" of a book about a beaver, 5-year-old Norah Doherty of Ashburn said of her time with Gus, a St. Bernard. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to wait an hour for the chance to read a story to Annie, the other therapy dog at the library that day.  (Washington Post)

-- A recent puppy mill bust in northwestern Washington state sent nearly 600 dogs -- most of which  were found to be pregnant with an estimated 1,500 puppies in all -- into area shelters.  Now that the dogs are safely out of the puppy mill, the real work of caring for them has begun, and it's very expensive: Most have parasites and all need dental care.  Some dogs have rotted jaws from dental neglect. Dental work costs about $200 per pet, which means the total bill will top $119,000.  (KOMO News Seattle)

-- Yahoo has shuttered its Yahoo Pets division in a cost-cutting measure after a fourth-quarter loss of more than $300 million.  Yahoo called the pets site a "comprehensive resource for pet owners and animal lovers" when it launched in 1999.  Pets.yahoo.com now redirects to a pet-themed section of another Yahoo property, Shine. (San Francisco Gate)

-- A San Diego County deputy who stole her neighbor's dog and abandoned it 20 miles from her home in Hemet has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years of probation and was ordered to pay a $454 fine.  The deputy, Diane Michelle Brown, claimed the dog's barking was a nuisance and an attempt to take its owner to court was thrown out.  The dog, a Maltese named Spike, was unhurt and returned to his owner after being identified by microchip.  (San Diego Union-Tribune)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Young Collette Megerdichian reads to a dog named Baltic as part of the Barks and Books program at the Glendale Central Library. Credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times

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Very sad about the dental probs -- I found I had some dental probs with some puppies I had -- I started adding a half a teaspoon of non-fat dried milk powder to each meal -- their dental problems "coincidentally" dropped to zero. I try to go for a dryish kibble and add some water to moisten it, but not make it mushy.

Dogs, in nature, wouldn't normally need (or get) dental care -- some do, sure, but I suspect something about the diet we feed domestic dogs is more to blame for most dental probs and that many can likely be prevented by diet changes. My dogs are also, for the most part, vegetarian -- I look for low-processed vegetarian foods with a variety of ingredients, feeling a broad-based diet is best. I also add my own vitamins -- especially when I started noticing some cataract development -- seems to have slowed down but hard to say. Been stable, little change in 3-4 years now with vitamin enhanced diet.
I strongly question whether dogs get enough nutrition in most dog foods -- especially if fed the same dog food day after day -- any missing nutrient would show up as a toxic deficit.
I also don't think dogs getting tons of tumors is normal in old age either -- my current dog has a few skin-level cysts or overgrown warts -- but they don't seem to be growing -- but I can't help but think that for every one I see on the outside, there might be 3-4 on his inside that I don't see.

I've been lucky in that I've been able to stay away from pesticides -- garlic granules added to their food -- half teaspoon/meal has worked well to keep them immune from fleas. I had problems with fleas before I discovered garlic-- granulated or chopped is best. Doesn't have to be fresh -- McCormic's bulk at Costco was most cost effective when I had a Costco membership.

So many dog health issues should be treatable with proper diet (and cheap supplements) -- easier to force a diet on a dog than it is on self. I also add a teaspoon of hemp or flax oil for their essential oils (what other fats do they get?) That's probably the most expensive component right there -- is the fresh oil -- it has a shelf life not much better than milk. Hemp is best -- has the best ratio of essential oils for life. Flax is an ok substitute, but not quite as good.


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