Thursday, April 29, 2010

Box turtles to the vet

My box turtles Fred and Ethel had a checkup this week. We went to Acacia Animal Health Center in Escondido, CA. This is the most upscale deluxe vet office I’ve ever seen, complete with boarding training, dog daycare, and upscale prices.

The service was excellent, the people are wonderful. The price blew me away: $63 for an exam, $50 for the second turtle. The reason for this luxury treatment? My box turtles needed their nails and beaks trimmed. It is recommended that you get this done every year, and I regret to admit it had been more like 5 years since I had taken them in.

Turtles can wear down their beaks by eating hard foods but mine seemed to need some help. The vet says they appear exceptionally healthy, so a nutritional deficiency didn’t seem to be the answer. Sometimes a cuttlebone (like you would put in a birdcage) will help, and it is a good source of calcium. Mine ignore it.

The doctor used a dremel tool to grind down the beak. Any kind of clippers might split the beak and cause an infection. You can see their nice short beaks in the photo above. Before clipping, the end of the beak extended down below the lower jaw like a hook.

They are kept in an 18 “ x 36” terrarium, so they don’t wear down their nails either. If they were out in the yard they could dig, but a predator would eat them. Also, box turtles are masters at hiding. Let one loose, and they’ll go under your deck and disappear forever. So keeping them in the back yard is not a good option.

Regular clippers work well on turtle toenails, and just like dogs and cats, you have to be careful not to cut into the quick and cause bleeding. I decided to let the veterinarian do it. 

The charge for “grooming” was $39.50 each. ACKKK!! So for a mere $200, my box turtles are happy, healthy and well groomed. No wonder I only take them in every five years. I won’t wait that long again, because their overgrown beaks could impair their ability to eat. I’m not convinced every year is necessary. I’ll let you know about a year from now.

Box turtle care website:

The photo above was taken at the vet’s office. A nice touch; they photograph every client that comes in an add the photo to their file. Then they sent me a copy.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

The “ideal low-fuss” pet: a recipe for neglect?

This week’s Parade Magazine featured an article by my friends Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori of the Pet Connection titled “Fish: The low-fuss pet.”  The story bothered me a little bit, because even fish need care. And the Pet Connection writers would be the first to agree. Sometimes editors write the darndest headlines.

No you don’t have to walk a fish every day, but you can’t ignore them either. They need regular food; you must clean the tank or pond, check the chemical balance, and monitor the fishes’ health. The final sentence in the article was “you are not just keeping fish; you are keeping an ecosystem.”

“I’ll feed him, mommy”
Notice I said “you.” This does not mean the kids. You can supervise while they take care of the pets, but don’t expect them to handle the responsibility alone, or perfectly. Even teenagers forget about their pets when the hormones kick in and they start to date and party with their friends. I know, I was one once.

I hate to think of the neglected turtles, fish, hamsters, frogs, snakes and lizards that waste away in Juniors’ bedrooms all over the country. I feel guilty remembering my own menagerie. If it wasn’t for my dad, they all would have starved to death or died from lack of water.

For some reason it is easier to neglect small caged pets than a dog or cat, though they certainly suffer too. I don’t remember my parents EVER taking our cat to the vet when I was young. We just didn’t have the money, and if Mustard got in a fight and the wounds got infected, well, he’d get over it eventually. Until he didn’t. He died, and I was heartbroken.

Teach your children that all living things require food, water and clean surroundings. If you can’t afford to, or don’t have time to, maintain their health and habitat, don’t get a pet.

Photos above: Koi, leopard gecko, and red-eared slider (water turtle).

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let sleeping dogs lie...

I must love watching dogs sleep:
Wiley E. Whippet
Tucker and Sammie
baby Trapper
Beautiful Shibas

Beans and Tuffy
Xuan Xuan and Desi
Baby Brooklyn

Katie- the Queen of Naps!

Bonnie stole my chair!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The ultimate compliment or copyright infringement?

I am SO behind the times. Just when I thought I’d seen everything, someone surprises me, and it’s taken three days to figure out what I think about it all. 

First, some backstory:
In my blog a few weeks ago, I wrote about my newest greyhound painting for Greyhound Pets, Inc. At the bottom, I included my little copyright notice, because I always do. This particular image was painted from a black and white drawing I did in 1993, which has shown up (or should I say, been ripped off) in many places over the years. When I posted this painting on my website, I added an additional, slighty grouchy, notice about how people are NOT allowed to use it without the permission of the artist (me, Terry Albert). I also made the copyright mark on the picture much bigger than usual.

These particular pieces of art, both the black and white and color version, are a little tricky, because traditionally the artist retains copyright on any artwork he or she produces. I donated the black and white drawing to Greyhound Pets, and they gradually began using it for their logo, which was fine with me. They have purchased the color painting, and plan to use it for their logo, on notecards, business cards, and other fundraising items, as well as selling limited edition prints. Although I technically still own the copyright, I have given them permission to use the art for their group in any way they see fit.

This does NOT mean that Joe Schmo can reproduce it on tiles and sell them on ebay. The guy that did that actually left my signature on it! Or Italian charms, embroidery patterns for a shirt company, and several other examples that come to mind where “my” art was used without compensation or permission from me OR Greyhound Pets.

The surprise
I am laughing now, but at first I was a little grumpy when I received the picture of the greyhounds on a tattoo as you see in this photo. Greyhound Pets gave this guy permission, so I’m not really upset, and the owner of this lovely arm is a big supporter and has adopted three dogs from them. I like him better all the time (I’m assuming it is a “him”).

But it does point out how easily we can lose the rights to our own creative work, especially when it gets splashed all over the Internet. I haven’t made a dime off of that first drawing, but some other people have made money, and that is not fair, or legal.

So listen up everybody. Don’t copy an artist’s work without permission! This includes adapting it to other mediums, like embroidered shirts. Greyhound Pets, Inc., and ONLY Greyhound Pets, Inc., has permission to use this art! And I’m going to start including specific copyright information with the art I create in the future.

I hope our tattooed friend made a nice donation :)

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Sunday, April 4, 2010


Some much-loved animals have passed away recently, and I would like to remember them today. They are not my pets, they belong to my pet sitting clients, but they have been a part of my life for many years, and I've loved these animals like my own. 

Most recently, just yesterday in fact, Spooky the cat died at 19 years old. It broke my heart to find him in his last moments when I arrived to care for him. His family took such good care of him in his old age, putting up with litter box accidents and nursing him through a stroke and other ailments. He always played hard-to-find when I came over, hiding in closets or under the bed. Sometimes he'd glare at me from the stairs until I got out of the way and he could go enjoy his food. He is the subject of my painting (at left). 

Chocolatté was the greatest Lab. He had that typical Lab sense of humor. I remember when he stayed with me in my apartment, and he left the room. I went looking for him about a half hour later, and he was curled up asleep on my bed!  I also remember taking him with me to a garage sale at Virginia's house, and he hopped in my front seat of my car behind the steering wheel and wouldn't get out. I think he thought I was going to leave him there-- he looked like he was driving. 

And one time at dinner, while my husband and I were eating, Chocolatté sat at the side of the table between us, doing a perfect sit, drool dripping all the way to the floor. What a beggar. What a character he was! I remember his owner, Roberta, dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood, and Chocolatté as Grandma so I could take photos of them. I have a lot of fun memories of a special dog.

Maggie the border collie was a gentle soul, who could spend all day sitting at the baby gate watching for the cats to walk by  in the hallway. She and her roommate Summer spent lots of fun times herding my horses through the fence. I don't think she ever met a sheep, but she sure could strike a pose. She was the subject of one of my pastel paintings

Taz was an old timer when I met him. A dear old dog with arthritis and other ailments, I put a carpet runner from the living room to the back door when he came to stay so he could walk easily. He didn't have much traction on the tile floors. As crippled as he was, he'd still play fetch and chase a toy with the other dogs in the yard. There is something precious about an old dog. 

I loved them all.

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