Welcome back to "The Animal House." I'm Sam Litzinger joined by Dr. Gary Weitzman, the chief executive officer of the Washington Animal Rescue League. You can tell us about your animal friends at 1-877-610-3647. Again, that number is 1-877-610-3647. You can send us an email at email@example.com, plus, see how well you know your animals. By now you ought to know all the animals. We've been on the air long enough that you should know every (laugh) ….
We've covered them all, haven't we?
You can check us out at Facebook.com/wamuanimalhouse. Let's start with an email question this time from ML. "For the last three to four months, my two horses have been adopted by several crows." What? Let's keep reading, shall we?
What does that mean? Okay.
"The crows," oh, I see, "the crows will walk below the horses and at times hop on the back of the horses and get a ride. The horses seem to enjoy the company and tolerate the relationship." So, okay. That's one thing you can comment on.
What's going on here, and then the second question from ML, this is really gonna be loaded. "Who is the more intelligent, a crow or a horse?"
Oh, that's a good question.
Which do you want to start with?
Let's start with the -- yeah. Let's start with that last problem.
The last one?
We all know.
Who's more intelligent, a crow or a horse?
Let's see. For all of our horse listeners...
….horses, all of our crow listeners out there, crows.
We want to be very diplomatic here.
You've learned very well. So what's going on with this relationship between the horses and the crows?
It sounds like that little fish that hooks onto the shark, right?
And I think it is probably the same thing. Crows are smart.
Or that little bird that picks the teeth of the...
The crocodile. Isn't that an urban myth though?
I don't think so. Maybe. (laugh) Somebody will write in...
I don't know either. We've got to find out.
...and tell us. Well, anyway, there's this -- there's a kind of what, symbiotic relationship?
Yeah. Yeah. Probably. But, you know, for crows, they are smart. I mean, Edgar Allan Poe had it down, and that was a raven. But we know crows are smart, and I think there's a lot of reasons you might want to hitch a ride on a horse. It might just be pleasant, I don't know. It might -- there's a lot of food around there.
Grain. And I don't know of any crows that actually do any dental work on horses. (laugh) So if anybody sees that out there, they need to write in or call us and let us know.
But that's -- the crows must be smart enough to say, hey, if I hang around with these horses, interesting things happen.
I get food, and the horses are maybe nice to me. Maybe as they're swatting their tails around getting rid of flies...
...I get a cool breeze. Who knows?
Something, yeah. Just watch the end of that tail, that's all.
(laugh) Well, who knows. Maybe other people will write in with these kind of strange relationships pertaining to animals.
I'd be curious to see what's going on. Our telephone number is 1-877-610-3647. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's take a telephone call if we can. I think this is Ryan on the line. Ryan, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Well, I have two cats that have recently transitioned from living at one country-style home to a farmhouse, and they've transitioned -- they've been indoor/outdoor cats. The mother was feral and adopted us, and we started feeding her and got her fixed after her first litter, and kept the runt from that litter and now we've got the two of them. My main issue is this new house we're in, it's an old farmhouse from like 1850. It's been renovated and it's nice and cozy, but there's a family of black snakes that live in the basement.
The previous owners lived there for 40 years and they said that they had been there the entire time.
Really? So they -- interesting. That's an interesting clause on the real estate contract. They disclosed they have a family of snakes.
House filled with black snakes. So now you're wondering just -- because I don't want to lose your phone line there, Ryan, just in case. It's a little shaky. So you're wondering about the interaction possibly between the cats the snakes, and whether this will work?
Yes, exactly. Because the cats are very interested in the basement, which is where...
Oh, okay. All right.
Okay. I don't like the sound of this at all, for a lot of reasons.
All right. Here comes Dr. Gary.
Hey, Ryan, how long have you lived there?
We moved in in November.
Okay. So a month or so, a little bit more. Yeah. I would be careful of that. There's a couple things. The snakes aren't -- it's not great to have snakes in your basement. See, this is why people tune into this show, so they can hear profound statements like it's not good to have snakes in your house.
It's not great to have snakes in your basement.
I'm worried about the cats and I'm worried about the snakes. So a young black snake is definitely in jeopardy with a cat. There's no question. Now, an older black snake, an adult, a cat could possibly -- I don't know if a cat would be in jeopardy, but I think that snake could take care of himself. And then cats being cats, you know, curiosity and all. I just don't like the mix of the two, you know. Cats are really, you know, they're great predators, and black snakes are gonna not want to be prey. So I don't like the mix of that. How has it been going so far?
You know, I've been keeping the cats out of the basement as much as...
She sneaks down in there everyone once in awhile, and when she sneaks down in there, she does, she hops up on the vents and in the crawl spaces, little areas and stuff, and I know she can smell them and I know...
Well, what do we do here, Gary?
Well, a couple things. You're in Virginia, and it is getting into winter. This isn't the time to relocate the snakes...
...because it's too cold outside for them.
But so if you could, since you've just moved in there, maybe keep the cats out of the basement until the spring when it's warmer and you can actually get a wildlife rehabilitator to take them. Or you can actually -- there's a number of services you can avail yourself of to get the snakes relocated. The best one I think in most of our areas, but definitely in yours too is on the Humane Society of the United States website, and they will help you and humanely move those snakes. You won't have to do anything. They'll just...
Okay. The Humane...
They'll just connect you with somebody that will do it for you. There may be a fee. It wouldn't go to the Humane Society, of course, but it would go to this humane trapper to get those snakes somewhere that might be a little bit more appropriate for them. Do you have any idea -- I'm thinking like "Raiders of the Lost Ark." I mean, do you have any idea how many snakes you have?
I don't. I mean, they've been there for at least 40 years, you know. I mean, when I go down there, I see new snake skins fairly regularly.
You know, they wrap around something and then shed their skin.
Well, that's -- the advice seems to be then wait until the spring, I mean, give the snakes a nice quiet home. The black snakes are not gonna hurt anything?
No. They're not gonna hurt anything, but, you know, there may be a little tussle with the cats who may push the envelope a little bit.
You know what you could do right now I would say, go on the HSUS website, HSUS.org, and see what they recommend and talk to somebody now.
Plan for the spring on that.
Make a plan. They may even have a better idea for something that you could actually do right now. Now, if we're talking about 300 snakes, then I think we have another conversation, and maybe something that should have been disclosed before you moved in.
Right. That should have been a rider on the contract. (laugh)
So try that Ryan. What was the -- HSUS--
Look on the wildlife page there and there probably is a recommendation for somebody who specializes in black snakes. Thanks Ryan. But black snakes are not gonna really hurt any person?
Oh no, definitely not. They're harmless. They'll just be frightened, and the cats, a little bit of a problem.
1-877-610-3647 is our telephone number. Our email address is email@example.com. Let's take a telephone call from Ellen. Ellen, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
I'm calling about my four-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie mix named Timmy.
He's a rescue, and I've had him for about two-and-a-half years, and he's had this particular issue for a really long time, ever since I've gotten him. No one can quite figure out why he sneezes a lot, and he does it most when he's getting excited and rambunctious and playful. You know, he'll just be rolling around on the floor and being silly, and just all of a sudden achoo, achoo, achoo, or sometimes...
...he'll pause -- he'll just stop dead still and then achoo really big.
He's got not health problems, no allergies that we know of, no other symptoms. The vet has never worried about it, or...
I was gonna ask you if you -- right.
...the vet really doesn't care. There -- he just sneezed. I don't know if you heard him.
Oh, okay. (laugh) We gotta get him -- yeah, gotta get him on the phone.
Hold the phone up there and see if Timmy does it again.
Poor Timmy. It sounds as though it's -- well, there's a couple things. It certainly sounds like it could be anatomic, and Sam has a Beagle that does a lot of that as well.
Yeah. So he knows very well what we're talking about. But for this, it's -- he's a young, healthy, dog and you've already brought him to the vet and had him checked out.
Nothing was found, and this is just a habit when he -- and only what provokes it? Only when he gets excited or he's running around?
Yeah. I would say when he gets excited is when it happens, because it's usually when he's on the floor rolling around on his back just like he's kind of a crazy rambunctious dog...
..when he starts to get in that mode.
And then he just can't stop sneezing.
Well, with the proviso that you've already checked him out with your vet, because obviously we can't do that here...
...I would say it sounds completely harmless. It's probably more than anything kind of alarming, you know, maybe irritating to hear all the time, but it's nothing I think to worry about...
...because it should like he just does it when he gets excited. So then I would think it's either anatomical or even an obsessive behavior on his part, but it probably is anatomical. We get a lot of emergencies where people rush their animals in, their dogs that is, that they're choking -- quote unquote "choking," and they're actually not, they're -- it's a reverse sneeze, and it's just...
Yeah. He does that that too actually.
See I wondered. So maybe anatomically the poor guy's nose and his sinus cavities and the back of his throat, his soft palate, there's just a little conformation issue. It's almost maybe like a deviated septum for us, or any of those things that we can always live with, and it just happens when he gets excited and, you know, he gets a little bit of liquid that goes down there and it causes that sneeze, or maybe it goes up behind the soft palate in his case so it causes him to sneeze, and I would say as long as you watch it, it doesn't get worse, and your notify your vet if that happens, and your veterinarian's already checked him out, I'd saying nothing -- nothing at all to work about. Poor little guy though.
Great. Well, thanks...
You get him all happy and he sneezes as a -- in his excitement.
Yeah. He's really funny, and I just -- I really wasn't worried about it because, like you said, it's not been getting worse, he's been doing it forever, and there's no other symptoms of it being anything, and the vet's fine with it, but more I'd like to know why.
I've never had anyone be able to explain why...
Yeah. It's that darn nose.
Dogs' noses, man.
Mm-hmm. Very sensitive things.
I've had a lot of experience with those too. Thanks very much, Ellen. Much appreciated.
Thanks a lot.
And then Ellen's probably mad because she has to keep saying gesundheit.
Gesundheit, every 15 seconds.
Yeah. That can get tiring.
That another sneeze.
That's the irritating part.
1-877-610-3647 is our telephone number. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's take a telephone call from is it Caroline or Caroline? Hello there, Caroline, is that you?
Hi. Glad to have you in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes. I had two pet guinea pigs that were both sisters, but one passed away, and I don't know if we should get another one.
Oh, interesting question.
I'm sorry you lost your guinea -- it's Caroline, right?
I'm sorry you lost your guinea pig. That was probably traumatic for you.
How old is your current guinea pig and was she the sibling of the other guinea pig?
Yeah. She was a sibling.
She's four and a half.
Okay. Yeah. Guinea pigs, four and a half, five, six years old, but they're great, great animals. So what do -- you want to get another one?
Okay. I think that's probably a good idea. How does she -- how long ago did you lose her sister?
It was actually about two years ago.
Oh, really? Okay. I think it's great. Guinea pigs are social animals and it's good to have more than one. Now, your guinea pig is getting relatively mature, but I think there's no problem getting another female guinea pig. At a lot of shelters who are often faced with the problem of having tons and tons of guinea pigs and gerbils and hamsters, you can often get a guinea pig and just pair them up and see if they get along first.
Now, what should -- yeah. I was gonna ask, what should Caroline do in terms of introducing the new guinea pig to the household?
Yeah. I think slow, you know, guinea pigs are pretty placid. It's not gonna be world war three in there, but I would always test them out together, so if you can, have two mesh cages and put them together, but don't actually have the guinea pigs able to touch each other and sort of test them out and see what their reactions are, and then you can actually put them in a large cage together and see how that goes. But it would be good to have gloves or something so you could separate them, or a piece of cardboard or something you could put between them in case they just don't take a liking to each other.
But generally guinea pigs really -- they're very good together, so I think your girl sounds like she might like company, but she's been dealing pretty well for a couple years. But I think it's always good to have animals in groups.
Good for you, Caroline. By the way, why did you choose guinea pigs?
We have some allergies in my family, so...
Yeah. I think it's a great pet. You know, a guinea pig was my very first pet.
Oh, that's nice.
And now look what happened. (laugh)
So you're destined to become a veterinarian at some point, Caroline. Is that all right?
(laugh) Okay. I think she -- you almost said no. That's okay too.
She was thinking about it. No, she's good. So again, recap the advice for her. She should get...
Yeah. I would say go to a shelter.
Go to a shelter, right.
Absolutely. Go to a shelter.
We always say that, yeah.
Yeah. And see what they've got for guinea pigs.
Or call around.
Right. And there's a ton of them that really need homes. So if you're looking for another one, I would say go to a shelter and start out there and have them test the animals together.
Good for you, Caroline. Report back to us in a few months after you've introduced the new guinea pig into the mix, will you?
Oh, yeah, of course.
All right. Thanks very much.
Was it a guinea pig for you that got you interested in veterinary science?
I think I was interested before I got the guinea pig and then we got Charlotte when I was like four years old. Something like that.
Aww, Charlotte the guinea pig.
Charlotte, yeah, yeah. No pig, just the guinea pig. (laugh)
I see. You could have gotten a whole pig, but instead you just got the guinea pig.
You were a smart little kid, weren't you?
Yeah. My parents were lucky, right.
(laugh) Thanks, Dr. Gary.
Coming up, a best-selling author shares his thoughts about the loss of pet in "The Animal House."
I'm "Animal House" producer Karen Munson. Here are a few of the stories that caught our eyes this week. Bay City, Michigan citizens have voted a Labrador Retriever the top dog for their favorite animal story of 2011. Dodger, a canine advocate for the Bay County Circuit Court, comforts child victims of physical and sexual abuse. The yellow Lab had his first assignment on December 5 when an 11-year-boy attended the sentencing of the man who had assaulted him.
When the defendant entered the courtroom, the boy tensed up and stopped petting Dodger. The dog put his head under the boy's hand and nuzzled his cheek. The child went from taciturn and nervous to talkative and smiling as he played with his new furry friend. Speaking of animal stories from last year, you may remember the one about a Colorado cat who was lost then found five years later in New York City.
Well, a cat that had wandered away from his new home in Naples, Florida has been reunited with his owner. After being found nearly 2,000 miles away in Golden, Colorado, Wayland, an orange-striped tabby cat when missing in June after making his exit through a hole in a dryer vent within an hour after being adopted. And on Christmas Eve, a lamb was born in a Cincinnati nativity scene that featured a live animal display.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that conservatory officials say the birthing went well, and mother and baby are doing fine. The conservatory's director say they're thinking of calling the female lamb Merry, for Merry little Christmas. Happy new year, everyone. More information about these stories is at wamuanimalhouse.org.
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