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November 2013 Newsletter February 26, 2014

Talking to Your Pet

Many devoted pet owners talk to their pets as a way of communicating and bonding. Dogs and cats love the sound of their owners’ voice, and hearing it, especially in warm conversational tones, is very soothing and comforting. By deliberately talking to our pets as we do whatever we’re doing is a way of teaching them a bit of our language. Most dogs and cats can pick up on the words that are really important to them, like “dinner time” and “treat.”

We generally talk to our pets in a gentle, friendly way when we’re just chatting about the day. We’re not concerned about communicating anything more than “I enjoy your company.” We’re not asking anything of them, nor expecting a response. Dogs and cats are generally relaxed during this kind of chat because they don’t have to understand our words; they just know they’re being included.

When we’re actually trying to communicate something specific to our pets is when it gets more difficult. What we may not be so aware of is that since our pets have limited capacity to understand our language, they are mostly attuned to our tone of voice. This is easy for us to understand when we put it in context of a foreign language. If someone speaks to you in Japanese, you can generally gather, by tone of voice, whether she is asking for help, angry with you, warning you of danger or trying to sell you something.

Dog and cat communication is more basic. Dogs and cats come from much simpler worlds, where their mothers communicate using very basic sounds for training. A subtle growl was a warning to behave or of pending danger. A   short, high-pitched bark from mom dog or a trilling sound from mom cat meant, “Hey, I brought you some food!” Most mammals are naturally inclined to slow or stop when hearing a low sound and motivated to get active when hearing a high sound.

Retail Cat “Jobs”

Cats find jobs in stores all over the country without ever filling out applications or sitting through job interviews. Store owners and managers may be unaware that there are working cats out there, or that they have cat jobs available just waiting to be filled. Employers don’t always appreciate the value of employing a store cat, until a cat saunters in and convinces them that she is invaluable.

Cats can be found at work in bookstores, record stores, clothing stores, dental labs, lawn & garden stores, pottery shops, nurseries, restaurants, dog washes and veterinary clinics among other places. By far, most store cats live where they work, since commuting isn’t generally on a cat’s list of pleasures. However, there are a few store cats who don’t mind at all, and come to work each day with their owner.

How do cats manage to get these jobs? Easy – they’re cute, and often, pathetic. Many  working cats begin as homeless, scrawny  kittens who just show up at stores meowing around for cat jobs. Some are found injured or abandoned. Once they’ve been fed and cared for, store cats take on very important responsibilities. They serve as greeters, office assistants, inspectors, pest controllers, security  and PR, to name a few.  Working cats prove their worth and become indispensable AND they don’t require a W-2!  (

Odd Pet Laws

pet laws imageIn an effort to keep you and your pet(s) on the right side of the law, here are some of the lesser-known laws that may still be on the books where you live or travel.  These laws can be found in various books and websites (primarily, The Book of Strange and Curious Legal Oddities by Nathan Belofsky)  It’s possible that some of them have been humorously characterized from how the law was actually written! Every city and state has their share of odd laws on their books – here are a few that relate to our pets.

Most of these apply to dogs and cats, but you may have other pets (and because laws governing other animals are so much funnier), so a few of those are included.

     Berea, OH   Any animal that goes out after dark must wear a tail light.
     Creskill, NY   All cats venturing outside must wear three bells to warn birds of their approach.
     French Lick Springs, IN  All black cats must wear bells on Friday the 13th.
     Waterboro, ME Dog leashes may not be over eight feet in length.

     Chicago, IL It is illegal to give a dog whiskey.
     Zion, IL  It is illegal to give lighted cigars to dogs, cats, or any other domesticated animal.
     Tuscaloosa, AL If you’re in a public park you may not give any animal any alcoholic beverage or tobacco.

     North Brook, IL It’s against the law for a dog to bark more than 15 minutes.
     Little Rock, AR   Dogs may not bark after 6 PM.
     Collingswood, NJ Dogs are not allowed to bark or howl between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
     Columbus, GA  Cats are not allowed to howl after 9 p.m.
     Berkley, CA It is unlawful to whistle for your escaped pet bird before 7 a.m.
     Memphis, TN If a frog’s croaking keeps you awake at night, you can have that frog arrested

Chicago, IL  You may not take a French Poodle to the opera (no matter how well quaffed!).
     Baltimore, MD   It’s illegal to take a lion to the movies.
     Juneau, Alaska  Animals are not allowed to enter barbershops for the practice of hairdressing.
     Hartford, CT  It is illegal to educate dogs.
     Wallace, ID  No person is allowed to sleep in a dog kennel.


     Oklahoma People who make “ugly faces” at dogs may be fined and/or jailed.
     International Falls, MN Cats are forbidden from chasing dogs up telephone poles.
     Foxport, WI Dogs are prohibited from acting as though they are “vicious animals.” This includes excessive barking, growling or making menacing gestures.
     Madison, WI Dogs are not allowed to “worry” squirrels in the public park next to the capitol.
     Miami, FL It is forbidden to imitate an animal.
     Honolulu, HI   Within the limits of any public park, it is unlawful to annoy the birds.
     Norfolk, VA Spitting on a seagull is not tolerated.
     Reed City, MI If you own a cat, you may not have a pet bird. There’s a $25 fine for the offense.
     Virginia Dogcatchers are prohibited from bothering cats while looking for wayward dogs.
     Alabama It’s against the law to teach a bear to wrestle.
     Leahy, WA You may not blow your nose outdoors, as it may scare a horse and cause it to panic.
     Ft. Thomas, KY Dogs may not molest cars.
     Belvedere, CA City Council order: “No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash.”

     Ventura County, CA Cats and dogs are not allowed to mate without a permit.
     California Animals must not be allowed to mate publicly within 500 yards of a tavern, school, or place of worship.
     New Castle, DE Couples are not allowed to make out, or even hold hands, while walking a dog on a leash.

     Palding, OH  A police officer may bite a dog to quiet him.
     Denver, CO The dogcatcher must notify dogs of impounding by posting, for three consecutive days, a notice on a tree in the city park and along a public road running through said park.
     Houston, TX You must submit to psychoanalysis before being considered for the job of dogcatcher.