Staff Newspaper Columns

Ken White’s Column

Not the “Dog Catcher”

One need not be a partisan or a pundit to know that our political environment has become fully toxic, and while this one small issue might be a silly bone to pick in light of all we’re going through I just can’t let it go without comment. I am fed up hearing, from all...

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Urban Doves vs. Sky Rats

I grew up in 1950s-60s Brooklyn, long before the place became trendy. I also grew up with a mother who felt cleanliness was two notches above godliness, which meant no pets (along with raking the shag rug, and clear plastic covers over the upholstered furniture)....

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Halloween

While absolutely a fan of his poetry, I don’t necessarily accept T.S. Eliot’s prediction, “This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.” If it is going to end, I suspect the globe is more likely to spin off its axis as an unfortunate side effect of...

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We’re Monsters

From what I see, many of today’s Halloween costumes remain true to a theme familiar to those of us who haven’t gone trick-or-treating in half a century or more: the part human, part animal creature, whether monster or hero. For example, the half man, half wolf Wolfman...

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What A Face!

I bet you’ve experienced this yourself. It’s been a long and especially hard day, you’re feeling all kinds of emotions, and that includes feeling all alone. You look over at your dog or cat, and things start to shift. Your cat does it with her eyes, the way she...

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A Dumb Topic

Having written weekly columns for decades, this is the first time I have chosen a dumb topic. (Readers, however, may think quite a few others also qualify.) With Halloween coming, I’m reminded how often I’ve talked about this holiday’s real risks to our pets (from...

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Very Old Dog Teaches New Tricks

Although we’re certainly not always kind to them, people’s feelings about dogs can be considered a long-time love affair. But when did that begin…? We now have evidence of a first date going back further than previously estimated for here in North America. Scientists...

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Bees, Bats and Bombs

Back a few weeks to my Labor Day column, I mentioned bees used to detect explosives. As promised to a doubting reader, this is my further explanation of what seemed to her a highly suspect reference. Quoting here from no less a source than the December 7, 2006 issue...

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Learned At The Puppy’s Knee

Lola, the world’s most perfect puppy (my column, my rules), is celebrating her first birthday. Well, we’re calling this her first birthday since, as with almost every shelter graduate, the day of her actual birth – along with other early details – is only a guess. But...

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The Name Game

Here’s a question I often get asked: “What’s the relationship between Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA and American SPCA (ASPCA), Humane Society of U.S. (HSUS), and other national-sounding groups?” The question often comes as those organizations send mail asking...

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Labor Day

There are several theories about the history of Labor Day but none I’ve found pay any attention to the other than human animals used in labor, and that seems an oversight. The history of animals used in labor is frankly neither humane nor pleasant (and although...

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Quite the Dickens

A century ago, Maria Dickin set the goal of helping London’s animals. While even today we remain dissatisfied with the quality of life offered most animals, we know that current conditions are far better than those of the early 1900s. Dickin described an epiphany...

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The Original Tesla

At times it seems that we are a species possessed of apparently tiny memory as well as very little interest in the past. Here’s a case in point. Say the word “Tesla”, especially here in the Bay Area, and you’ll soon find yourself in a conversation about innovation and...

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Living With Animals: Fish Tales

Following last week’s story of my first pet, Spot, did you know that fish are the most popular pets in America? 14.5 million households have tanks containing 160 million finny friends. The highly profitable aquarium industry ($300 million/year) creates much animal...

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Living With Animals: Spot

Outside of work, I’ve lived with literally hundreds of animals, but all of that since leaving home at age 16. I spent childhood begging, unsuccessfully, for a pet. Rather than a pet-less childhood, however, it’s more accurate to say there were no pet-able pets. There...

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Miss Behavin’

Helping resident dog adjust to new dog

Dear Miss Behavin’: We have a lab named Rudy who we’ve had for years, and recently adopted another lab named Sandy. They get along for the most part, but Rudy gets so jealous when we pay attention to Sandy! How do we reassure him that we still love him just as much as...

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Preparing furry baby for a human baby

Are you or a fellow pet owner expecting a baby? You’ll want to prepare your furry “baby” for the big changes ahead. If your companion animal is not used to children, you want them to get comfortable with them prior to bringing your baby home. Positive experiences with...

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Helping puppy adjust to change

Dear Miss Behavin’: My six month old puppy and I just moved into a new house where we have roommates and even a new doggie roommate. Rosie is misbehaving more than usual lately and is pestering our roommate’s dog, Captain. How do I help Rosie with the transition?...

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A safer Halloween for your dog

Dear Miss Behavin’: With Halloween around the corner, is there anything I should be concerned with as far as keeping my dog safe? That is a great question!  For many dogs this can be a scary time because of everyone dressing up in costume.  If this is your dog’s first...

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Suggestions for a good starter pet

Dear Miss Behavin’: We’re looking to adopt a pet! We aren’t sure what kind, and the kids are open to anything from a turtle to a dog. Our home is small, we’ll be first-time pet owners, and we’re often out of the house at least 8-10 hours a day. What’s a good starter...

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Working through potty training issues

Dear Miss Behavin’: I adopted a dog, Lolly, last week and the shelter told me she was potty trained. She did fine for a few days but now is having accidents daily. What’s the deal? There are lots of possible explanations for Lolly’s recent accidents, so let’s start at...

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What eye contact means in dogs

Dear Miss Behavin’: My last dog, Harry, used to gaze lovingly into my eyes all the time. It made me feel like we had such a good bond! My new dog, Hildy, rarely makes eye contact. Often when I call her name, she lifts her head but looks to the side. A friend said...

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