The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Dave Harper (right) and friendAnimal Hotline is a nonprofit service to help reunite lost and found pets with their people.
P. O. Box 100, Placitas, NM 87043

If you find or lose an animal in Placitas or the surrounding area, call Dave Harper at the Animal Hotline. Placing a lost or found notice in the Hotline is a free service.



Cat: Greyish-brownish tabby, domestic shorthair. Long, slinky cat lost from Cienega Canyon Road in Ranchos de Placitas in late March. Neutered male, about one year old. “Jr. Brown.” #3167 [See photo in Lalo’s pet prints, below.]

Dog: Chihuahua. Small, tan female, disappeared from northern part of Placitas (near the end of Camino de la Rosa Castilla) near San Felipe Pueblo on April 2. #3169


Lalo’s pet prints

Howdy! I don’t think I like cats much. Well, actually, I’ve never seen a real one. If they’re anything like rabbits, maybe they’d be fun to chase around. Maybe you like them. So, here are some photos of cats for you.



“Sassy.” “Sure beats lifting the lid for a drink." Photo by Roy Skeens.

Tigger Schwab

"Lalo's California cousin, art critic “Tigger Schwab,” examines an exciting new Angela Dallas piece." Photo by Kit Schwab.

Jr. Brown

“Jr. Brown.” A stretchy little kitty with sad parents—Jr. Brown has been missing from home since late March. [See Animal Hotline listing.]

Mail or email your favorite pet photos, along with a caption and photo credit to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889, Placitas, NM 87043.
Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, if you would like them returned or email high resolution digital photos to:


Animal News


Dead fox tests positive for rabies


A dead fox found in the Beaverhead area of the Gila National Forest about fifty miles northwest of Truth or Consequences has tested positive for rabies, prompting the Department of Game and Fish to reemphasize the urgency for area residents to vaccinate their pets and livestock against the spreading disease.

The fox, found on April 9, was the first confirmed rabid fox in Sierra County and the sixth in southwestern New Mexico this year. The disease was first confirmed in southwestern New Mexico in 2007, when nine foxes and one bobcat tested positive for rabies in Catron County. Since then, it has spread to Grant and Sierra counties. The most recent rabid fox was found at the far western edge of Sierra County near the top of a drainage to the Gila River. To date, no rabid animals have been reported east of the Continental Divide.

Fox rabies has been a problem for several decades in Arizona and now has spread into western New Mexico. Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects all mammals and can be prevented but not cured. Kerry Mower, wildlife health specialist with the Department of Game and Fish, said rabies in foxes probably will continue to be a problem in New Mexico.

“I expect the disease will run its course and eventually wind down in the coming years, and then we will see [it] cycle up and down with the fox population,” Mower said. The current fox population in southwestern New Mexico appears to be high, he said, adding that cases of canine distemper also appear to be increasing in the area.

Mower said the key to controlling the disease is to have a licensed veterinarian vaccinate all pets and livestock. Area residents can also protect themselves and their animals by keeping pet food indoors, putting trash out only on pickup day, and removing bird feeders that may attract foxes and other wild animals to their property.

The Department of Game and Fish collects protected animals that are sick or dead and has them tested for rabies if the animals have been exposed to humans or are considered a potential health risk to humans.

Here are some guidelines to help protect yourself and your family from rabies:

• Stay away from wild or unfamiliar animals. Do not attempt to feed, approach, or touch wild animals (alive or dead). Teach this important message to your children. Rabid animals may show no fear of people and may seem friendly or become aggressive.

• Pets should be up-to-date on rabies vaccinations and wearing current license tags on their collars.

• Horses and other valuable livestock should be considered for rabies vaccination to protect them from wild rabid animals that may attack them.

• If you or a loved one are bitten by an animal, or come into contact with an animal’s saliva, wash the exposed site immediately with soap and water. Be sure to report the bite to local animal control and seek medical care as soon as possible.

• Keep pets on a leash at all times.

If your cat or dog has been bitten or scratched, call your pet’s veterinarian, even if the wound appears to be superficial.

• If you see a sick or dead wild animal, or a wild animal acting abnormally, report it to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish at (575) 532-2100 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, or anytime at (505) 827-9376.

For more information about rabies, call the Department of Health at (505) 827-0006 or visit:

Not a stroke: vestibular disorder can occur in dogs


Strokes are rare among dogs. Less rare is a syndrome called “Vestibular Disorder.” It used to be called “old dog vestibular syndrome,” but it can happen to dogs of any age, as well as to cats—and humans.

Vestibular syndrome is a disorder of the balance mechanism of the inner ear; it is not a brain event. Its most common form has no known cause, no warning signs, and appears—and disappears—abruptly, with no treatment other than good nursing, within a few days to a couple of weeks.

It happened to Chabeli, my five-plus-year-old border collie, in early March. One minute, she was active and normal and busily outwitting me, the next, she became unsteady, staggered, and fell; her eyes were tracking rapidly side to side, and she was clearly terrified, as was I. She couldn’t walk, she reacted to food as if it were attacking her; she ate absolutely nothing for six days. I later learned she was experiencing extreme dizziness and nausea—severe motion sickness—from a total inability to orient herself spatially.

Since Chabeli’s symptoms appeared at night, I phoned an emergency vet clinic. After hearing the list of symptoms, they suggested a likely vestibular problem and wanted to see her immediately. I asked what they could do for her; they said they would sedate her and watch her for a few days.

I stayed home, partly because I couldn’t carry my frightened and uncoordinated forty-five-pound girl to the car, and partly because the proposed treatment seemed a little like waking a hospital patient to give her a sleeping pill. I spent the night on the couch with my two dogs’ beds close, massaging Chabeli to calm her and giving her water by hand every hour to make sure she stayed hydrated.

By the following day when I got her to our veterinarian, I had read extensively about vestibular syndrome on the Internet and could thereby refrain (barely) from panic when the vet diagnosed “stroke.”

Home again, I resumed my nursing routine. Over the next several days, Chabeli occasionally propelled herself outside by lurching and staggering, then—frightened again—lay motionless and depressed for hours.

On the sixth evening, she unexpectedly wobbled to the kitchen at dinnertime and wolfed down a bowl of food; afterwards, she grabbed her favorite ball and began teasing me to play. Watching her sway slowly leftward, I sadly declined, resisting her engaging smile.

But the next morning, a week from the onset of the symptoms, Chabeli was completely normal again! Surprise! Joy! Unutterable relief!

I’ve since related Chabeli’s incident to friends, both local and distant, and began hearing similar stories in return—some involving crippling vet bills, two in which vets suggested euthanasia. Their responses made me want to share the story more widely.

I’m not a vet, and of course you should take your pet to the veterinarian. (Vestibular problems can indicate serious disease.) Your vet may prescribe steroids or antibiotics or something for motion sickness or anxiety, but no medication is known to hasten recovery. Some vets naturally want to do testing to find or rule out a cause for the symptoms; those of us with limited resources might wait a week or so before allowing an MRI or CAT scan. If your dog is diagnosed as having had a stroke, consider getting a second opinion.


• loss of muscular control (ataxia)
• rapid eye movement, usually horizontal (nystagmus)
• motion sickness and possibly frothy yellow vomit
• circling and head tilt





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