Pet Tales: Follow Xante on Facebook




Xante, the star of PG Puppy Cam, now has his own Facebook page and an ever-growing number of friends and followers.

Fans can watch Xante grow; there are pictures of him at all ages and stages of development. The photo gallery includes pictures of the golden retriever puppy with people who were clearly delighted to run into him when he was outside for a potty break.

Born Dec. 2, Xante was bred by The Seeing Eye Inc. to guide a blind person to a life of independence and dignity. But for now he comes to work, most weekdays, at the Post-Gazette with Joan Ardisson, who will raise him for 12-18 months. Then he will return to Seeing Eye for training and placement.

You can see Xante "live" on the Puppy Cam from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday-Friday. The cam captures frequent shots of the feet of Ms. Ardisson, assistant to John Robinson Block, PG publisher and editor-in-chief.

On Facebook, you can see what Xante is doing, day-to-day. He weighed 29.9 pounds on March 4 and 44.8 pounds at an April 15 veterinary check-up.

"Look what I got my mom for Mother's Day!" says a May 11 post next to a photo of a coffee mug covered with pictures of Xante. Yes, Xante (pronounced ZAN-tee) posts on his page, and people write back to him.

"Xante, hurry hurry and get to the office. I need my morning perk," wrote Kathleen Austin-Muzzey on May 12.

Sue Collins posted on May 5: "I was having a ruff day, then I saw this on FB and I feel better. Thanks Xante!"

The pup, through an editor, responds to posters and signs off with comments like this: "Wags right back atcha! Woof!"

Mike Martin wrote that his wife was recovering from surgery and asked if Xante would "send some puppy kisses and wiggles her way!" Xante did, prompting Mr. Martin to reply: "My wife is doing better. ... Your special wags REALLY helped! Thank you buddy. I am indebted to you! :)"

"Woof Woof Woof! I have more Facebook friends than my editor!" says one of the posts from Xante. There were 603 friends on Wednesday.

You don't have to join Facebook to see Xante's page, but you must join to post comments and be added to the list of Xante's friends.

Go to www.post-gazette.com and scroll down to Xante's picture and the PG Puppy Cam logo. Click on that to get to the next page where you can click on Puppy Cam or on "become Xante's fan on Facebook." Postings and pictures go back to March 31.

Hair for oil cleanup

Animal lovers are saddened by newspaper and Internet photos of ducks and seabirds covered with oil from the massive Gulf Coast oil spill.

This is a massive ecological tragedy. Shrimp and fish are dying, fishermen are out of work and millions of gallons of oil are headed toward beaches and marshes. The initial April 20 blast killed 11 workers.

Animal lovers are trying to become part of the solution. Thousands of groomers are usings clippers and scissors to remove dog hair and fur and then shipping it to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Matter of Trust.

"We shampoo because hair collects oil," says Lisa Craig Gautier, executive director of Matter of Trust. Hair "soaks up skin oils and it can soak up petroleum in oil spills." Her 12-year-old organization has helped clean up smaller oil spills, according to the website.

Volunteers along the Gulf are stuffing dog hair and fur into pantyhose to make booms and mats to soak up the oil. Raw wool shorn from sheep and hair cut from human heads is also being used.

It's not clear how much impact this effort could have on such a massive oil spill, and no one from Matter of Trust could be reached for comment this week. Their website and voice mail say they are "swamped" by the massive numbers of people who are trying to help.

More than 450,000 pounds of fur and hair had been shipped to 13 warehouses by last weekend, Ms. Gautier said in a Los Angeles Times story that ran May 8 in the Post-Gazette. Go to www.matteroftrust.org for further information.

Three local grooming shops contacted Pet Tales to say they are participating. Dog owners can't make "direct" fur donations -- it has to be shampooed and cut by a professional groomer who has signed up. But it looks like we can all donate panty hose to participating groomers, not to mention cash to help with shipping costs.

Christin Bummer of K9 Kingdom in Pine said she signed up last week and received the address of a Florida warehouse where she will ship her "donations."

"Our groomers typically clean up 50-60 dogs each week. A single dog can often fill up an entire trash can." Call K9 Kingdom at 724-935-3647.

The Pet Salon in the Scott Town Center is participating, said manager Roseanna Caruso (412-279-5331), and so is Woody's Do-It-Youself Dog Wash and Pet Boutique in South Park (412-714-4644).

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064.




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