Don't Miss The Flyball Tournament This Weekend

FOCUS ON PETS

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Don't miss the great dog events this weekend in Payson. Flyball races will be ongoing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, in the ballpark across from the Payson Public Library.

This is a North American Flyball Association sanctioned tournament and very fast dogs and teams from throughout the southwest will be competing. INXS flyball team is hosting this event under the chairmanship of Jonnie Geen of Payson. Admission is free. There will be booths selling dog-related items and several raffles. If you are anywhere near the ballpark, you will hear the excited dogs as they eagerly await their turn. Don't miss this fun event.

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Whether it be flyball, Frisbee chase, Rally or just running after a tennis ball, dogs need exercise and training. Dogs love the stimulation and attention they receive from dog activities, and bonding with the handler is a natural result.

Across the road in the Payson Off-Leash Dog Park, on Saturday only, there will be a Rally Fun Day. Rally consists of a series of signs set around a course, each indicating a specific exercise to be performed. The moves are quite simple, but some obedience training is helpful. Come and see what Rally is all about. You will have the opportunity to walk the course and receive instruction. Dogs must be on leash. The rally event will be in the small dog park. Therefore, it will be closed to unleashed dogs on Saturday. The big park will be open.

This is an opportunity to see two quite new dog sporting events. Both of these are fun for dog and handler. If there is some interest, classes could be offered in Rally and Flyball in the Payson area.

The pet food recall continues and grows. We are hearing less about it, but it is real and involves dry, canned and moist-pouched food, as well as treats. The problem has reached human food production also. It is frightening.

In a recent release by the Food and Drug Administration, "It has been determined that the contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China and associated with the deaths of at least 16 dogs and cats and the recall of hundreds of dog and cat food brands, was mislabeled and was really wheat flour contaminated with melamine and melamine-related products."

It sounds very complicated, and it is.

But because melamine is a protein source, it raised the protein content of wheat flour and led examiners to assume it was wheat gluten, which is naturally higher in protein. Just keep reading and watching for new recalls. Small animals are more likely to become sick. Pet food stores should have all the up-to-date information on the recall and have eliminated the contaminated food. But for now, don't stock up on large quantities of any pet food. Buy enough for no more than a month.

Some people would feel safer if they made their own pet food. This is not a good idea. The nutritional requirements of dogs and cats are very complicated. You cannot just cook up hamburger and rice and throw in a few vegetables and expect them to be well nourished. Pet food is a complex business and the big companies have veterinarians and scientists on staff for constant updating and improving of the products. They also have kennels for product testing.

This is the time for summer grooming and sprucing up of your pets. The type of coat the dog or cat has will determine the kind of equipment needed. A long, shedding coat needs a tool that will get down to the skin and get out that dead under coat. There are metal combs with wide spread teeth that do a great job. After the comb, use a slicker brush to get all that loosened hair out of there. The dog will be much cooler and more comfortable and you will have far less hair in your house and on your clothes.

For short-haired dogs, there are rubber curry combs designed to loosen up and remove dead hair and dirt. Work the curry in a circular motion and then brush all of it out with a short-bristled slicker brush.

Until we get a good rain, we will have to put up with the dust our pets transport from outside to inside. To reduce the dust, rub a damp cloth over the entire dog. You can see on the cloth how much dirt you are removing. There are special cloths or towels available at pet and auto stores that are like very thin sponges. When damp, these are great for removing dust.

I keep finding ticks. Many have asked what a tick looks like and the photo in last week's column was worthless for that. They are dark brown, flat, oval-shaped and about an eighth of an inch long, with four legs sticking out on each side. When they fill with blood from your dog, they are bigger, lighter in color, plump and pretty disgusting looking. They can also get on people, though they prefer dogs. Beyond the fact that they are sucking your dog's blood, they can spread disease. Monthly treatments are available at vet's offices and pet supply stores.

During grooming sessions, watch for foreign objects. Check in the ears, on the ear leather or flaps and around the head and neck for ticks and stickers. Also, run your finger totally around and between the pads of the feet, checking for ticks, little stones and stickers. Lots of things can lodge between the pads of the feet. Run your hands over the dog or cat's body, feeling for any lump, irritation or wood tick.

The fire season is here. It is time to be putting those evacuation bags together for yourself and your pets. More on that next week, but check to make sure all vaccinations are current and health records are in order. Does your dog have ample identification? ID tags, microchips and licenses are all helpful if your pet is lost.

Don't miss the great dog activities in Rumsey Park tomorrow and Sunday. See you there.

-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather @earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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