Pets on Soaps ! Pets as Presents! Presents for Pets!

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Soap confidants, Giving pets as gifts & Holiday pet safety

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Dear Suds Buds:

I loved Harold on All My Children.  Harold was this scruffy mutt with the biggest droopy eyes and perky ears.  Some kind of sheepdog mix, he was the hero of many a storyline in Pine Valley. He once traveled clear cross country to return to Pine Valley with a vial of medicine strapped to his collar.  The name on the prescription was just the clue detectives needed to solve the crime.  “Harold the Wonder Dog” he was called! 


Remember Lucy’s duck on General Hospital?  If I am not mistaken, the duck followed her to Port Charles.  I remember Lucy and the duck (whose name I do forget) sharing a warm bath or two as Lucy confided her fears, hopes and dreams to her pet.  Touching, sweet and telling scenes, as we often got a glimpse of what was to come for Lucy.


I miss seeing trusted pets on soaps.  A vast majority of all households in the U.S. have some kind of pet – cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, reptiles. I mean wouldn’t it add some interest to the character if someone like Shayne on Guiding Light all of a sudden became enamored with a Gila Monster?  LOL.


Seriously, there is such potential utilizing pets and aside from humanizing some of the characters, pet antics can lead to humor and wonder that would enhance any soaps’ story telling.  I mean, come on.  Wouldn’t ATWT’s James Stenbeck suddenly take on a new dimension if he owned and loved a furry kitty?  Maybe it’s time for Y&R’s Victor Newman or B&B’s Eric Forrester to adopt a puppy!  How about Walker giving Blair a kitten for Christmas? Could that soften her heart? 


Which reminds me --


Giving a pet as a gift during the holidays can be exciting and fun -- but California veterinarians want everyone to understand these loveable and cuddly creatures bring numerous responsibilities along with excitement.


Before giving a child, aging parents, or other loved ones a pet -- especially as a surprise -- the gift giver should be sure the pet will be welcome, well taken care of and loved for the rest of its life. After the initial thrill, the recipient will need to make a commitment of time and money to care for the new family member. Pets need vaccinations, licenses, veterinary care, food, shelter and adequate space for their size, all of which can be costly and a burden for some people.


"Holidays are often chosen as the time of year to give pets as a gift," said Peter Weinstein, DVM, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association. "But animals, particularly small puppies or kittens, can become frightened or even injured amid the commotion. Plus the animal may already experience stress from being moved to a new home."


Veterinarians recommend that new pet owners plan for an adjustment period in which the pet can experience a quiet, calm environment and bonding can take place at a gradual pace with special care and attention.


The bond between an individual or family and a pet is a critical component of successful pet ownership. Choosing a pet for someone else may compromise the potential for a bond to develop and could result in another homeless pet placed in an animal shelter. Veterinarians recommend asking the following important questions before choosing a pet for someone:


    -- Is the person allowed to have pets (by parents or landlords)?
    -- Does anyone in the family have allergies to animals?
    -- Are the person's living arrangements compatible with the animal you've
       chosen? For example, a Great Dane would not do well in an apartment.
    -- Does the person want a pet? Is he or she committed to its long-term
       care (dogs and cats can live 12 to 18 years or longer, and some birds
       can live up to 75 years) and willing to devote the time and attention
       an animal needs?
    -- Is the person able to care for the pet physically and financially?
    -- If the pet is being given to a child, is he/she old enough for the
       responsibility of pet care? If not, are the child's parents willing to
       take on the responsibility?
    -- Is the person prepared to deal with the special problems that can come
       with pet ownership, like fleas, accidents if the pet isn't
       housetrained, chewed or scratched furniture and medical emergencies?
    -- If the person has other pets, will they tolerate a new family member?


The holidays are exciting times, but they can be especially hazardous to pets. For example, the tree should be securely anchored to eliminate it from toppling when the cat decides to climb it. Poisonous plants such as holly, mistletoe and poinsettias should be kept out of your pet's reach to prevent natural animal curiosity from becoming a problem. Also, place candles out of a pet's reach to prevent the candle from accidentally tipping over. And very importantly, make sure your animal is wearing identification tags, so it may be returned home in case unsuspecting guests leave the front door open.


Giving someone a pet could result in unwanted outcomes for both the animal and the new owner; however, a gift certificate to choose a pet along with books on different animals or breeds may be the ideal gift. This December, heed the advice of veterinarians and wrap up a collar, leash, toy or pet-care and training book with a card offering to purchase the pet of someone's choice…after the hectic holiday season is over.


For gift ideas for your favorite pet, visit PetSmart by clicking on the link at right.  If you have an idea for a pet-themed storyline for your favorite soap, please share it in the Criticize the Critic forum on the message boards. 

Oh and before I forget -- All My Children fans -- don't miss this chance to ask ex Leo (Josh Duhamel) your questions.  Jot down what you want to know about Josh Duhamel on AMC Message Boards at  I will have the opportunity to chat with Josh in early January as we participate in the press junket for his upcoming feature film, “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton” and will ask him your questions then.  


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Til the top of next week,

Linda Marshall-Smith
CEO, Soapdom, Inc.

What do YOU think?  Share your thoughts in the "Criticize the Critic" forum  on the Message Boards or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it