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WebClawer: Oprah Winfrey's puppy dies of parvovirus, spineless hedgehog found, U.K. duck thinks it's a dog

March 17, 2009 |  4:41 pm

Owner Steph Tuft, 25, takes duck Essy on a lead for a walk with her Staffordshire cross dogs Rachka, aged 2 left, and DD, aged 4, in Bournemouth, England From ducks to dogs to spineless hedgehogs, the Web is crawling with animal news today:

-- A Dorset, U.K., duck named Essy has become something of a local celebrity. Raised alongside two dogs from the age of 8 weeks, Essy apparently believes she's a dog too.  She wags her tail, tries to bark and sleeps with the dogs even though she has her own "bedroom" in a cupboard.  "She eats from [the dogs'] bowls, plays with them, forages with them. She's so funny to watch because she picks up little balls and throws them around the house with the dogs," owner Steph Tufft explained. The dogs are protective of the duck and often walk on either side of her.  BBC

-- Sad news from Oprah Winfrey: One of the cocker spaniel puppies she adopted recently from the Chicago-area PAWS shelter has died of parvovirus, a highly infectious disease to which puppies are especially vulnerable. The puppy, named Ivan, was a littermate to Sadie, another cocker spaniel Winfrey adopted and proudly introduced to her television audience.  Sadie is being treated for parvo as well, but, according to a Winfrey spokesperson, "is getting stronger."  "It was just a little bit too late. All the veterinary community got together to save his life. The puppy didn't make it, but he's teaching others how important this is to get vaccinated at the right times," said Dr. Jean Dobbs, a veterinarian who treated both puppies. Ivan apparently contracted the disease after receiving one parvo vaccination but before having a crucial booster shot.  PeoplePets

-- Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, the U.K. veterinary clinic that recently made headlines for successfully fashioning tiny casts to heal the front legs of a frog who'd been shut in a door, is in the news once again.  This time, the good people at Tiggywinkles are treating a hedgehog named Spud who is mysteriously devoid of spines. "Spud was brought to us last year after someone found him in their garden. He's had biopsies and skin tests, but we've had no answers," said Tiggywinkles founder Les Stocker.  "He seems quite happy and does all the things a hedgehog should. We're now appealing for someone to come forward with ideas about what has caused his problem and suggestions for treatment, whether it's homeopathy or some other natural treatment."  Veterinary staff believe Spud is physically able to grow spines because they had to remove an ingrown one. Because he was found as an adult, they're unsure if he's had his condition from birth or if it developed later.  They are also treating a bald squirrel named Smoothie.  Daily Mail

-- Two California sea lions captured recently as part of an effort to protect endangered fish in the Pacific northwest have been euthanized.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it had planned to transfer the sea lions to an aquarium until they tested positive for a viral illness.  "Our primary goal is to place healthy animals in the approved facilities that have asked to receive them," said Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for the department. "These animals had an infectious disease that was potentially contagious and could not be placed in a zoo or aquarium without endangering other animals."  Outposts

-- Because no dog is truly hypoallergenic, Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.), a practicing allergist before his election to Congress in 2006, has an interesting suggestion for the Obama family:  "Get a golden retriever and shave it," Kagen reportedly told the first lady.  Kagen is a fan of the breed and had one of his own, named Champ, until the dog's death.  He says a close-cropped cut would cut down on the first dog's dander and adds about his proposed buzz cut, "Champ loved it."  Washington Post

-- Lindsay Barnett

*A link to the story about Essy the duck was replaced.  The original link lead to a Telegraph story about Essy; it has been replaced with the BBC News version of the story.

Photo: Essy and her canine companions, Rachka and DD.  Credit: Chris Ison / Associated Press

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