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2001: The Year in Review

By: Alex Lieber

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Any "Year in Review" is sure to be dominated by the war of terrorism, the tragedy of Sept. 11, and the heroism that occurred afterward. This review – from the pet's perspective – is no different. It's as if the world ended and began anew from that date. Looking back before then, except in nostalgia, seems superfluous.

But it isn't. One of our strengths is our ability to put the war into its compartment, and to look at the year, before Sept. 11 and afterward, in perspective. With so much that has changed, there's comfort in reliving the moments that remind us of times of peace.

New Occupants in the White House

In January, after weeks of contentious wrangling over butterfly ballots, chads and who actually won the Presidential election, three new pets took up residence at the White House. In order of rank, they are: Spotty, an English Springer spaniel and offspring to Millie, dog of former President George Bush; Barney, a Scottish terrier; and India, a 10-year-old cat.

The three pets succeeded Socks, the cat, and Buddy, the Labrador retriever, whose feuds made headlines during the Clinton Administration. The Bushes declined to bring a second cat, Ernie, because he has the tendency to claw at furniture. With six toes on his front paws and historic, antique furniture in the White House, the risk was just too great. (Ernie was given to GOP fundraiser Brad Freeman. Keep reading; the story doesn't end there.)

They also left Ofelia, a longhorn cow, at their ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Bichon Frise Wins Westminster "Best in Show" Title

For the first time in Westminster Kennel Club history, a bichon frise named Champion Special Times Just Right won the coveted "Best in Show" title. Westminster holds one of the most prestigious dog shows in the world. February's event marked the 125th consecutive show, making it the second-longest sporting event held in the United States (the Kentucky Derby is the longest).

Drew Barrymore's Dog Saves Couple from Fire

In February, Barrymore's mutt, Flossie, earned headlines by waking Barrymore and fiancé Tom Green in time to escape a fire that had broken out in Barrymore's Beverly Hills home.

Flossie reportedly barked and banged on their door to warn them of the blaze, which wrecked the $3 million home. "Thank God for Flossie," she told reporters later.

See Spot Run Takes a Bite Out of the Box Office

The movie "See Spot Run," starring David Arquette and Michael Clarke Duncan, opened in March. The movie portrays Arquette as a mailman who is pitted against neighborhood dogs, only to befriend a canine FBI agent. The lighthearted movie points to a situation that postal workers and delivery people face every day – territorial dogs intent on "defending" the home.

Montana Man Wins Third Iditarod in a Row

After more than 9 days and 19 hours in the Alaskan badlands, Doug Swingley and his 11 remaining dogs won the 1,092-mile Iditarod in March. It was Swingley's third victory.

The Iditarod is an annual race of mushers from the ceremonial start at Anchorage to the finish line in Nome, Alaska. The race traces its roots back to the winter of 1925, when a snowed-in Nome was threatened with a diphtheria epidemic. Relays of dog teams raced the serum to Nome.

Gallup Poll Says Dogs "The Better Pet"

In a statistic that raised the hairs of cat lovers, a Gallup poll in April stated that 73 percent of people considered dogs "the better pet." Just 23 percent of people polled favored cats. The rest liked both or had no opinion.

Irradiation of Pet Food Approved

The Food and Drug Administration approved irradiation of pet foods in April. Products are exposed to ionizing radiation to kill microbes, making food safer for animals and reducing exposure to humans.

The process has generated some controversy, especially when used with human food, but it has been used since the 1960s on human products, and its use has gradually expanded since then.

Ernie Takes a Hike

Remember Ernie? This was the cat President Bush declined to bring with him to the White House. He was deemed a security risk because he was fond of clawing furniture. Ernie was given to a GOP fundraiser, Brad Freeman, living in Los Angeles.

One day in June, the six-toed cat took it on the hoof and was missing in action for about 3 weeks. A night watchman, recognizing the cat from television coverage, finally spotted Ernie. The cat was returned to Freeman, who promised to keep the wandering cat indoors from then on.
Barkless Dog Wins 2001 Crufts Dog Show

In a historic upset, a 2-year-old basenji won the world's most prestigious dog competition, Great Britain's Crufts Dog Show. This is the first time the basenji, a breed from Africa, has won "Best in Show."

Crufts was to be held in March, but the foot-and-mouth disease crisis delayed the competition until June.

Open Warfare Breaks Out between Cats & Dogs

The secret war between felines and canines moved from the living room to the silver screen in the Warner Bros. movie "Cats & Dogs." The blockbuster movie, released on July 4, pitted freedom-loving dogs against tyrannical cats that sought to dominate the world.

Leading the fight for world conquest was Mr. Tinkles, a Persian cat, battling secret dog agents led by Butch, an Anatolian shepherd. The replay of the Cold War topped the box office for weeks and is now available on home video.

Denver Tops List of Most Pet-Livable Cities In U.S.

Denver leads the nation as the healthiest, most friendly city for pets, according to a consortium of animal health and welfare specialists. The study was released in August.

Denver had the highest ratio of veterinarians to pets, the best access to veterinary specialists, the lowest flea population and the most dog parks.
Search Dogs Deploy after Terrorist Attacks

Within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, teams of search dogs combed the wreckage to help rescue workers find survivors, and later, victims, of the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil in history.

Ignoring pain and exhaustion, the dogs kept at the task, as did their human handlers. Meanwhile, a call for veterinary supplies was met with an outstanding response by the rest of the nation. Within days, veterinary workers had more than they needed.

As weeks passed, other tales of heroism emerged. Several guide dogs, for instance, stayed at their owners' sides and helped lead them to safety through the smoke and smell of jet fuel.

Shelter volunteers and workers went door-to-door, rescuing hundreds of pets left stranded by the chaos in downtown Manhattan.

Demand for Bomb-Sniffing Dogs Skyrocket

In October, as troops deployed overseas to bring the fight to the terrorists, National Guard soldiers and police were stationed at airports, bus terminals and seaports. Hundreds of specialized dogs are assisting them. As a result, demand for these canines is unprecedented. Schools around the country have geared up to train more of these dogs than ever before.

Tough Kitty Survives 18-Day Ordeal

Miracles are especially appreciated during times like these. The rescue of Precious, a 9-poind Persian, was enough of a miracle to make news – however briefly – amid headlines of war, anthrax and recession.

Precious was rescued from the roof of a shattered apartment building across from the World Trade Center. Trapped, Precious stayed alive by drinking from contaminated puddles of water. She had no food; her eyes were damaged and her paws burned. She was rescued 18 days after the attacks. Her owners thought she had died because their apartment was so close to Ground Zero; in any event, they were out of town when the attack occurred (a pet sitter was scheduled to visit each day).

Precious was expected to make a full recovery.

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