Me and my pet – Charlise and her pet ‘dragon’.

CHARLISE De Francesco loves dragons, and for her ninth birthday she asked her parents for one as a pet.

But what Charlise got was an axolotl, which was close enough because when she was younger she had always called them dragons.

She has little statues of dragons in her room and recently went to see the computer-animated fantasy movie, ‘How to train your dragon’.

Charlise said she thought the dragon character looked a lot like her pet axolotl, ‘Chomper’.

“I always wanted an axolotl,” she said.

“I always asked when I went to the pet shop, because they look like dragons. And because I didn’t know what they were called I used to call them that.”

Her parents, Esther and Mel first thought Chomper was a boy, but ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’.

“Charlise named her Chomper because she takes only a second to eat her food,” Esther said.

“We have a worm farm and fish specifically for feeding to other animals, called feed-a-fish. She eats one every few weeks and has a worm a day, which she loves. Plus she has some pellets.

“We looked up what was best for this type of pet and if you look after them, and keep them in good health they can live for 15 years. So we keep her tank at 16 to 17 degrees. She is the wild type because she is black, which is more closely related to the native variety that live in cold lakes in the high mountains of Mexico.”

Chomper is roughly a year old and has almost reached her adult size, but as the De Francesco family explained, her gills will change colour as she matures to pink.

“If she grows much more we will have to upgrade the tank,” said Esther.

“Although she looks docile she is a dart when she swims. She tucks everything back and becomes streamlined and darts around.

She has a fair bit of character actually. She knows when you’re standing at the front of the tank and it’s entertaining watching her chomp her food.

“She doesn’t have teeth she has plates, but she stays very still and when it’s in front of her she dashes for her food. When there is food she reacts in seconds.”

Charlise said her family has a lot of pets but Chomper is the most unusual.

“My friends think she is cool when they see her and it’s funny watching her eat,” she said.


Identifying your favourite feline

Cats need identification, being the wanderers they often are. Microchips might just give the added protection owners need, as cats are so difficult to keep a collar on.

The people at shelters work very hard, sometimes even calling to another country just to try to trace an owner. But if owners don’t responsibly identify their pets, how can animal shelters return them. It’s up to each pet owner to be responsible for his or her animal. Animal shelters need each and every pet owner’s support by making certain their pet has current identification on them.

Cats are commonly found without any identification at all. Many neighbors might return cats to their owners if they just knew which neighborhood house was it’s home. If a cat is brought to a shelter and it has a microchip, shelters can use it to trace the owner’s last listed address. If pet owners don’t responsibly make known any change of address then lost pets may not get returned. One purpose of animal shelters is to be able to care for and return pets to their loved ones. Without ownership identification, they can only do so much.

A cat owner looked for their missing pet at numerous animal shelters continually over a quite extended period of time. Because they had microchipped their pet, they were hopeful that their missing cat might be found by someone and be turned into a local shelter. Unfortunately for the owners, time passed and their cat was not returned to any of the shelters.

The family eventually moved to North Salt Lake, Utah. They did inform the shelters and the vet of their new address. Weeks turned into months, the family must have lost all hope. Believe it or not, an animal shelter received the cat 1 ½ years after it was first missing. Due to their cat’s microchip, they reached the owners at their current address and the family was reunited!

It is sad when pets are lost, because as time passes the hope of them returning fades. Sometimes, people think their pet is just wandering around and wait too long before they consider it missing. Animal shelters can only keep lost pets a few days before euthanasia gets administered. If you’ve lost a pet, be sure to check the animal shelters right away and continue to do so periodically.

Can you imagine how happy and surprised you’d be — reuniting with a long lost pet from 1 ½ years ago, you thought you’d never see again!!! This story is true – so it can happen.

All Good Dogs Go To Heaven

Photo and article courtesy of

If “all good dogs go to heaven” and all dogs are good; then heaven is overflowing with dogs…and cats…and a plethora of other animal companions. Good for us, I say. I, for one, look forward to being reunited with my animal companions.

Our beloved corgi; Buddynwolf Rowan Crowfeather, most affectionately known as Buddy, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on Mother’s Day. We had shared (almost) 15 years together. His passing was unexpected. We were not ready. But then again, when is anyone ever ready to be left behind? Buddy fought the good fight and survived his bout with cancer last year, gracing and blessing us with an additional 14 months of pure joy, delight and unconditional love. Buddy truly lived every moment he was alive!

Buddy was a great teacher. I vow to uphold and share the lessons he has taught us, (and I do believe he will continue to teach us from a distance)… He taught us how to love without judgment and without conditions. One of his closet sidekicks and trusted confidantes was Toka, a cat. Buddy showed us how to find joy and happiness in every moment. He would delight in rolling in the snow and never ever became dismayed because it was raining. He loved to share his life and his possessions and never complained when his (new) canine companion Charlotte ‘stole’ his favorite treat… sure he grumbled for a moment, but he let go and moved on.

He taught us how to forgive and how to be happy, despite whatever obstacles we were faced with. Having short legs (he didn’t know he wasn’t a wolf) he would be confronted with challenges while ‘out and about’ on a trail, however, he simply chose another route, another way around things. And he taught us to find the answers deep within our hearts and souls. He chose love.

Those of you who have had to let go of a dearly beloved animal companion, are more than likely remembering your life with that great animal as you read my words. You feel my pain and grief in your heart and there is knowingness that we are not alone.

Animal companions have presented themselves during readings so I know heaven is full of our friends and I find comfort in that knowing.

Diane Marie Ford, CHHC, AADP, Nourishment Counselor & Spirit Medium is the founder of Whole Soul Nutrition™.

For more information or to 
talk with Diane call 508.947.5348
Please visit her web site;

Alaska dog honored for leading troopers to fire

Photo and story courtesy AP.

In the US state of Alaska, Buddy the German shepherd was hailed Friday as a hero for guiding State Troopers through winding back roads to a fire at his owners’ workshop.

“Buddy is an untrained dog who for some reason recognized the severity of the situation and acted valiantly in getting help for his family,” Col. Audie Holloway, head of the troopers, said Friday at a ceremony for the 5-year-old dog, who stood quietly before an adoring crowd.

Buddy, whose good deed was caught on a patrol car’s dashcam video, received a stainless steel dog bowl engraved with words of appreciation from troopers for his “diligence and assistance.”

Buddy also received a big rawhide bone, and his human family got a framed letter documenting his efforts.

“He’s my hero,” owner Ben Heinrichs said, his voice breaking. “If it wasn’t for him, we would have lost our house.”

The dashcam video shows Buddy meeting the trooper’s vehicle, then dashing to their property about 55 miles north of Anchorage on April 4.

Heinrichs said he was working on parts for his truck when a spark hit some gasoline and ignited, lighting his clothes blaze. The 23-year-old man ran outside to stomp out the flames by rolling in the snow, closing the door to keep the blaze from spreading.

Heinrichs then realized Buddy was still inside the burning building and let the dog out. Heinrichs suffered minor burns on his face and second-degree burns on his left hand, which was still heavily bandaged Friday.

Buddy was not injured.

“I just took off running,” Heinrichs said. “I said we need to get help, and he just took off.”

Buddy ran into the nearby woods and onto Caswell Loop Road, where the dog encountered the trooper, Terrence Shanigan, whose global positioning device had failed while responding to a call about the fire. He was working with dispatchers to find the property in an area with about 75 miles of back roads.

Shanigan was about to make a wrong turn when he saw a shadow up the road. His vehicle lights caught Buddy at an intersection, and the dog eyed the trooper and began running down a side road.

“He wasn’t running from me, but was leading me,” he said. “I just felt like I was being led … it’s just one of those things that we’re thinking on the same page for that brief moment.”

The video shows Buddy occasionally looking back at the patrol car as he raced ahead, galloping around three turns before arriving in front of the blaze, which was very close to the Heinrichs’ home.

From there, the trooper guided firefighters to the scene.

The workshop was destroyed and a shed was heavily damaged, but only some window trim on the house was scorched.

The Heinrich family said they knew Buddy was smart ever since they got him six weeks after he was born to a canine-officer mother and that he was brave, twice chasing bears away while Ben Heinrichs was fishing.

But saving their home beat them all.

“Downright amazing, I would say,” said Tom Heinrichs, Ben’s father. “Maybe there was some divine intervention.”

Setting Up An Aquarium Procedure For Kids

Article and photo courtesy of

Would you like to know what to do when setting up an aquarium? It is very simple if you follow the steps set out below.

Materials You Will Need

  • glass aquarium with a lid
  • gravel
  • aquarium filter
  • aquarium air pump
  • water plants (artificial or living)
  • aquarium light
  • fish
  • water snails
  • fish food
  • water
  • heater in winter
  • medium sized rocks and ornaments

Steps To Follow When Setting Up An Aquarium

  1. Wash your aquarium and aquarium gravel with fresh tap water. Do not use any detergent as this will kill your new fish.
  2. Spread the aquarium gravel over the floor of the aquarium.
  3. Place the filter medium in the filter and sit it in the back corner of your aquarium.
  4. Connect tubing to your aquarium pump and run it into the aquarium and into the filter pipe.
  5. Position the rocks and ornaments in your new fish tank. Place the bigger ones to the back of the fish tank.
  6. Plant plants into the gravel. Place plants in the back corners of the aquarium.
  7. Place an ice-cream container into the aquarium.
  8. Pour fresh tap water into the aquarium by pouring it into the ice-cream container. This stops splashing and mixing up the gravel when setting up an aquarium. Stop when the water level is one centimetre from the top.
  9. Place the glass lid on top.
  10. Sit the aquarium light on the lid
  11. Wipe away all spilt water, then turn on the power to the pump and light.
  12. Leave aquarium with the filter running for one week.
  13. It is a good idea to add a cupful of pond water to the aquarium as this will add helpful microscopic pond animals to the water.
  14. The fish will come in their own water. Sit them in their bag in the aquarium for 10 minutes before releasing them. Release them by mixing their water with the new aquarium water. This helps them adjust to the new water.

Your new fish will be frightened and will need time to get used to their new home. They won’t want to eat so don’t feed them for two days. You can introduce the water snails when you add fish. They will help keep the aquarium clean. Good luck with your new aquarium.

Do you have a special way of housing your pet you would like to share with other pet lovers? Why not create your own website with Living Years Pets; an easy to create, affordable and highly engaging website to celebrate your beloved pets. It will allow family, friends and colleagues, from around the world, to communicate and frequently relive precious memories forever.

Cat Whiskers – Everything You Need To Know

Article and photo courtesy of

Also known as ‘vibrissae’ or tactile hairs, feline whiskers are specialised hairs which are found on either side of the muzzle (sinus hairs or Mystacial whiskers), the cheeks,  above the eyelid, and on the wrists of the foreleg. The whiskers on the muzzle are the longest of the three sets on the face.

Whiskers  are two to three times the thickness of ordinary hairs and are embedded in the tissue of the cat’s upper lip to a depth three times greater than other hairs. They have a rich supply or nerves & blood vessels. Unlike normal hairs, the whiskers on at the side of your cat’s mouth are surrounded by a highly developed sheath of muscle tissue which enables them  to move both forward & backward. Just like normal hairs, whiskers call out & are replaced with new ones.

Whiskers are the same width as the cat’s body, which is useful for the cat to determine if it is wide enough to squeeze into a narrow space.

As the cat moves in the darkness, it uses it’s whiskers to find it’s way around & avoid object. The whiskers are able to detect slight changes in the air current around the object & the cat is able to walk around the object.

Whiskers are an extremely valuable tool for the hunting cat, especially at night acting as a guidance system. They are able to provide information on the outline of the prey, which enables the cat to bite the prey in exactly the right spot in order to kill it instantly. A cat with damaged whiskers will often aim the bite in the wrong area, therefore not killing the prey.

It’s not uncommon for a mother cat to chew off the whiskers of her kittens.

The Devon & Cornish Rex breeds have shortened, curly whiskers.

The whiskers behind the wrist on the foreleg are assist with tree climbing & contact with prey.

Whiskers also give a clue as to your cat’s mood. Whiskers pulled tightly back on the face indicate an angry cat, when they are pointing slightly forward & down  from the face, the cat is relaxed & happy, when hunting or feeling aggressive the whiskers point forward & are tense.

Whiskers can be a bit of a nuisance when the cat is eating if the bowl is too narrow as they will touch the sides of the bowl, causing discomfort. Therefore it is a good idea to provide your cat with wide food & water bowls.

Hungry pet snake Reggie eats its own tail

Story and photo courtesy

This pet snake got itself into a twist after mistaking its own tail for dinner – and eating it.

Poor Reggie couldn’t let go and only a quick dash to the vet stopped the hungry reptile from digesting itself.

“Its backward-facing teeth were acting like a ratchet,” vet Bob Reynolds from West Sussex, England, told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper.

”The snake had also dislocated its jaw in its attempt to get its mouth around the tail and this isn’t easy to reverse.”

Mr Reynolds was able to gently untangle Reggie by prising its jaws open and sliding the teeth off the flesh.

”I have never seen a case like it, although I have head about it happening,’ the reptile expert added.

“There is a temptation for a snake-eater like this one to lunge at its own tail, especially if kept in a small enclosure. They can’t spread themselves out and think their tails are another snake.”

Luckily the tip of the 18-year-old snake’s tail hadn’t entered its stomach so it hadn’t come to any harm. All Reggie was left nursing was perhaps wounded pride.

Do you have an interesting pet story that you would like to share with others? Why not create your own website with Living Years Pets; an easy to create, affordable and highly engaging website to celebrate your beloved pets. It will allow family, friends and colleagues, from around the world, to communicate and frequently relive precious memories forever.