May 2015
Shar-pei pup
ferret in cafetti
tobiano paint

Pet Circkles.

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as
human rights. That is the way of a
whole human being." ~ Abe Lincol

Miniature Donkeys as Pets.


For those who feel a full-sized horse is just too much, don't have any inclination to ride one, and who like playful animals, a miniature donkey may be just your size.

Their size certainly makes them easier to train and manage than a full-sized horse. Miniature donkeys are getting more popular all the time as pets, due to their people-friendly nature, fun-loving attitude and the fact that they are not any bigger than a large dog. Some people think of them as an "outside dog" due to their disposition which is that of following their owner around, playing with toys and being loyal, affectionate and will bond to people.

The size of these donkeys varies from 26 inches, which is considered extraordinarily small, to 36 inches at the withers. An average height would be about 33-34 inches. In general the smaller the donkey the more valuable it is considered to be.

Miniature donkeys are native to the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia. They are identified as either Sicilian or Sardinian donkeys according to their ancestry, although the two types do not differ. They have been extensively bred with each other and with animals of unidentified ancestry in the United States to produce a distinctively American breed of donkeys, which we call the Miniature Mediterranean Donkey. According to all information that can be acquired these donkeys are nearly extinct in the land of their origin and have been brought to their current state of being by breeders in the United States who have bred for size, disposition and conformation over years.

There are probably about 10,000 of these donkeys in the United States today but there is not an accurate account of them because they are not all registered. A registry was established in 1958 by Danby Farm in Nebraska and is now a part of the American Donkey and Mule Society in Denton, Texas. Approximately 15,000 of these donkeys have been registered since the inception of the registry but many more exist in unregistered herds. The breed is defined by size. The adult miniature donkey must not be more than 36 inches tall when mature, measured from the highest point of the withers to the ground.

The miniature donkey is considered the smartest barnyard animal and easy to train. Their reputation for being stubborn is not because they are not willing to be trained or do what you ask, but more so because they are very cautious and will not put themselves in harm's way. They are also much less likely to be spooked as a horse would be.

LIFE SPAN: The average life span is 25 to 35 years.
• Males are called “jacks" .
• Females are called “jennets" or “jennies" .
• Males that have been castrated are called “geldings" .
• Babies are called “foals" until they are weaned.
• Babies that have been weaned and are under a year old are called “weanlings" .
• Donkeys that are between one and two years old are called “yearlings" .

The Miniature Mediterranean Donkey is by nature very tame and gentle. They love their owners and seek attention with friendly nudges and brays and funny little sounds designed to get you to notice them. The miniature donkey is extremely intelligent and docile. Geldings or jennets make the best pets. Jacks enjoy braying and may become excited in the presence of the females.

Other things that make a donkey valuable are good body and leg conformation and one of the more unusual colors such as spotted, white, sorrel, "chocolate" (dark brown) or black. Gray-dun, the various shades of gray with the dorsal stripe and cross is the most common color of these donkeys.

If you want to know where to see or buy miniature donkeys, ask the American Donkey and Mule Society for a breeders list. But first try and find a local donkey or horse rescue that may have one for adoption. Unless you are going to breed miniature donkeys, their lineage and breeding history is of little value to you as a pet. Go for a donkey that is friendly, comes up to you when you visit and seems interested and playful. In other words, go for personality first and foremost as with any animal you want for a pet. If you plan to breed them, your choice gets a bit more complicated and you should thoroughly educate yourself on donkey breeding and buying as well as health concerns that may be passed on to offspring. Also do your research to see if there is much of a market for them in your area.

Contact: The American Donkey and Mule Society, PO Box 1210, Lewisville TX 75067.

The Special Needs of
Giant Breeds:


Dog breed fads come and go like clothing fads. For a while, the tiny dogs were "in", now it's the giant breeds. While caring for a tiny dog is easy, giant breed dogs have special needs and considerations.

Giant breeds are any dog breed that is bigger than a dog that is classified as "large". Such as the mastiffs, Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Saint Bernards etc., which are all much larger than a golden retriever or black lab which are considered "large" dogs.

Giant breed dogs are just not built the same, even though they may look it. Their large, cumbersome size has it's disadvantages. For instance, my poor Mastiff cannot even raise her hind legs up to scratch herself. Young pups don't have as much of a problem, but due to their large body mass, some older Mastiffs may have this extremely inconvenient problem. How horrible is it to be a dog that can't even scratch itself? So often she will come to me to have me scratch her itch, or she will go outside and try to scratch on a tree or bush. Being scratched is her favorite pastime.

Also, giant breeds cannot negotiate stairs and steps. They can go up them just fine, but coming down is often a catastrophe and all giant breeds should be blocked from staircases with a child protection gate or they will get severely injured and may even break bones when they come tumbling down because they have no idea where their back legs are going to land on the steps as they come down. Believe me, you don't want to see 170 -300 lbs of dog mass catapulting down the stairs.

Bedding is also a challenge for giant breeds. Now that they are "in style" more pet stores are carrying "Kong" beds for extremely large dogs, but they are still difficult to find. My Mastiff uses her bed as a pillow, which brings us to another giant breed consideration: their large heads. Giant breeds can suffer from neck injuries and problems due to trying to hold that massive head up all day, and giving them some relief, such as a pillow or raising their dog dishes, is recommended by all giant breed rescues.

As far as bedding, I have resorted to using just two thick layers of old carpeting for my Mastiff. She trips on dog beds that have high sides, so something completely flat works best for her. Then she has an old, beat up dog bed that she will ball up into a knot and use as a pillow. To each his own I guess. Nobody told her it's for laying on not tying up in a pretzel and using for a pillow. This is how I know she would rather support that big head of hers than anything else.

One thing you may be surprised to learn about giant breeds is that generally, they do not eat any more than a large-sized dog. So that is one good thing. But all dogs should be fed two small meals a day rather than one large one due to the fact that so many dogs are having digestive problems and are prone to bloat these days. Mastiffs are especially prone to bloat and feeding smaller meals more often helps to prevent this life-threatening condition.

Transporting a giant breed is always a challenge. Forget a pet taxi; out of the question. Some vehicles do not accommodate them well either. And one thing you should never let a heavy, giant breed dog do is jump down from a vehicle or anything else. They weigh so much that they can cause serious damage to joints by landing on them with the force of all their body weight.
Getting up into a high vehicles such as a 4x4 or truck is next to impossible for them as well since they cannot jump up into them like other dogs. I had to build a ramp so my mastiff could get up into the back seat of a truck with a double cab where she takes up the entire back seat.

Giant breeds like to go places just like other dogs, but as their owner, you have extra things to consider when taking your huge companion into public or on a trip with you. For one thing, will you have room for them? Another important factor is that many people are scared of a dog that big and may not want them around because even though you know your dog to be a "Gentle Giant" others are not so inclined to believe you when you tell them they are harmless. Just taking my dog for a walk, many people will walk way around us when they see us coming toward them. And I always get the comment, "That's a BIG dog."

Giant breeds are truly the "Gentle Giants" of the dog world. They seem to know how big they are and that they can do serious damage, and that be forceful is not required when you outweigh your adversary. Most of them are not aggressive in the least, and when confronted with an enemy will usually put their giant bodies between the danger and whatever they are protecting, be it pups or you, instead of growling or barking or displaying aggressive behavior like other breeds do. Don't let this fool you however, when push comes to shove, if they are provoked enough, they will still act like any other dog, it just takes a lot more to push them to that point.

As far as activities go, the majority of giant breed dogs are content to lay around and be couch potatoes. They are not particularly energetic, and will not usually play fetch or run after anything. Therefore, taking them for a walk every day may be necessary to keep them fit. Frisbees are out of the question as, once again, landing hard after catching a frisbee in the air can damage their joints and ligaments. Having them chase a ball, if they will, is a much smarter idea. Otherwise, they seem just as happy, if not more so, going for long walks and sniffing new things.



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Pets who look like their owners:

About Pet Circkles:

Allen M. Shoen, a veterinarian and author of "Kindred Spirit" wrote, "Although science has no definite answers, why not assume that sharing a home with a dog, cat or bird - or sharing our lives with a horse or other large animal - has therapeutic benefits that are deeper than simple stimulation of the opiate receptors in the skin through touch? Perhaps, through our connection with animals, we are stimulating some deeply buried aspect of nature within us, rekindling a lost connection that allows us to be more than solitary creatures, but part of something greater - and therefor, more healthy, more whole."

Much scientific and psychological research has proven just that. And also that the human animal bond is mutually beneficial under humane circumstances. Many great philosophers, such as Albert Einstein, recognized that we have a great deal of useful information to learn from animals.
In fact, animals are the great teachers, not us, for they have roamed the earth far longer than we and express genuine thought and expression true to their nature, which we do not. We have a great deal to learn from them. Pet Circkles helps us stay more in touch with their health, diet and social needs so we can give back to those who give us so much unconditionally.

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Natural Pet Remedies: Proper way to clean a pet's ears.

Any dog breed with flopping ears may need to have them cleaned on a regular basis. Also ferret ears should be kept clean so they don't get ear mites.
Never pour anything into a pet's ears. Even if using ear drops, the key word here is "drops". Only use 1-2 drops and preferably put them on the end of a Q-tip and then wipe the inside of the ear with the Q-tip rather than placing the drops directly into the ear. Unless your dog has an ear infection and the drops are to treat it.

If your dog's ears have a fowl smell to them or sound gushy when you rub them, they could have some infection or bacteria growing inside the ear. Use a dry Q-tip first to clean the ear out thoroughly, but be careful not to scrub too hard. If they do have an irritation or infection you can aggravate the tissue and make it even more sore.
After cleaning with a clean swab and a cloth around the outside edges, place a few drops of an antibacterial solution on a swab and gently wipe the ear down to the canal with it.

Natural remedies that work well for cleaning are a drop or two of tea tree essential oil added to about 1/4 cup of witch hazel. This solution is not only great for cleaning the ear but will prevent infections and bacteria.

Be especially careful when giving a dog a bath not to get water in their ears. They do not know how to get it out and this can cause an ear infection quickly.


Featured DOG BREED: Bullmastiff.

Slightly smaller than an English Mastiff, this breed's bloodlines are drawn from the English Mastiff and the extinct Old English Bulldog. It was recognized as a purebred dog by the English Kennel Club in 1924. They are quiet dogs and very rarely bark.

Bullmastiffs are strong, powerful but sensitive dogs. For a Bullmastiff to become a well-behaved family member, consistency is needed. Training and socialization is of high importance as the breed can be independent. Dogs of this breed are natural guardians of their home and owners. No special guard training is needed for a Bullmastiff to react appropriately if his family is endangered. During training, a Bullmastiff requires a special approach, because these dogs do not like to repeat the same actions again and again. Activities bullmastiffs enjoy include obedience, agility, tracking, and carting.

Size: Males are 25 to 27 inches tall at the withers and 110 to 130 pounds. Females are 24 to 26 inches at the withers, and 100 to 120 pounds.

Lifespan: The median lifespan of the bullmastiff is 7 to 8 years old. A bullmastiff will not stop growing until it is about three and a half years of age.

Health Concerns: Hip dysplasia, affecting 24.5% of individuals
Elbow dysplasia, affecting 13.8% of individuals. E
entropion, hypothyroidism affecting 2.8% of individuals.
Progressive retinal atrophy is a particular problem, since the trait is an autosomal dominant one. (This has recently been called into question by another other medical team and has been proven there are bullmastiffs with Autosomal Recessive PRA Genes. In America, this is being investigated by the American Bullmastiff Health and Research Committee and the DNA Optigen test only works for dominant genes, so it's considered inadequate at this time.)

Looking for a Bullmastiff? Use our Pet finder tool below and search for an adoptable dog that needs a home in your area now.

To view breeds we've already written about, search our archives in the Google Search at the top of this column.

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Featured Animal Rescue of the Month:

Colorado Saint Bernard Rescue(CSBR): is a 501c3 non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the rehoming of unwanted, neglected, abandoned and abused St. Bernards.
We are constantly getting in new Saint Bernards, and our intake and evaluation process means that a new Saint may not appear on our website for three to six weeks, depending on their condition upon arrival. Please check back often to see our new arrivals.
If you are considering bringing a Saint Bernard into your home and family, please spend some time touring our website, so that you can make an informed and well-considered decision about adding a permanent member to your family.

A special thank you goes out to our sponsors! Without them, we would not be able to run Rescue!



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