Today being Valentine’s Day, and my dad Lou’s birthday, what better time to talk about matters of the heart, the bond between man and his best friend, and creatures looking for love. Just like our human partners, we dogs are susceptible to heart ailments, both physical and emotional. Some of the former are age-related, and some result from diseases such as parvovirus (heart worm), Lyme Disease, and Chagas. To keep your BFF in tip-top shape, dog behavior guru Cesar Millan advises that you give him/her a healthy diet (not too much fatty people food) and plenty of exercise, and that you be aware of symptoms that might signal cardiac issues:  vomiting, swollen belly, fatigue, increased heart rate, fainting, fever, heavy breathing, excessive coughing, loss of weight, discomfort, especially when lying down, and bluish-gray gums. When in doubt, go the the vet. 

with my first Valentine, my late mom, Buzzy, and my first dog, Victory

Do humans love us dogs because we feel your pain?  If you’re one of the legion of dog guardians who thinks that your 4-legged pal truly understands your every mood and thought, you may well be right. In an article in ScienceDaily.com  study author Daniel Mills details a recent trial in which dogs showed an impressive ability to ‘read’ and respond to human emotion. If that’s true, and my money says ‘yes’, then it explains why we canines are so beloved. 

El Jefe

Although Valentine’s Day is a human construct meant to pry cold cash from aspiring Romeos and guilty hubbies, via gaudy jewelry and overpriced prix fixe menus at jam packed restaurants, we non-humans share your desire to meet ‘the one’. While I don’t usually feel much solidarity with felines (with the exception of Gene and Sandra’s hulking Burmese brothers Fatty and New Boy) a recent article in the Los Angeles Times left me rooting for El Jefe, ‘The Boss’, a 4-year-old male Jaguar spotted roaming the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson. According to the report, Jefe is presumed to be the only wild Jaguar in the U.S. In the spirit of Saint Valentine and interspecies cooperation, here’s hoping he has a honey stashed somewhere, and that they’re busy making beautiful Jaguar babies. 

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