American Humane Association CEO Robin Ganzert Pens “Animal Stars”

An Inside View of Hollywood’s Most Famous Fur-Babies; Offers Insights on AHA Initiatives

I always wondered what ‘Hachi’ was like in real life after I cried my way through that movie a million times (thank you very much Stephen P. Lindsey, screenwriter).  I’ve also noticed that, when I see them on TV, I find myself asking how in the hell they got the cute little monkey in “Night at the Museum” to do all the funky feisty tricks he does, particularly at Ben Stiller’s expense.

?????????????????????Well, thankfully, I found my long-awaited answers. I recently read a complimentary review copy of an awesome new book written by Robin Ganzert, CEO of American Humane Association (AHA), “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors.” Now, obviously, the book, co-written by Linda and Allen Anderson, was written with the intent to educate the American public not only about the absolute ‘adorableness’ of animals (did I just make that word up?), the intelligence and intuition of animal actors, and the amazing interactions between humans and these gorgeous creatures, but also to draw attention to what has become an historic, landmark, one-of-a-kind campaign in the world of animal welfare: AHA’s “No Animals Were Harmed”® Campaign.

What campaign, you ask? DUH! Did you know that for nearly 75 years, AHA has been the sole sanctioned voice of animal stars? Well, with its well-established filmmaking guidelines, detailed production reviews, certified safety reps and much more on-set and off, the AHA keeps the animals safe while cameras roll. The L.A.-based film and TV unit is the film and television industry’s only officially sanctioned animal monitoring program. It’s kinda important. (Sarcasm… you know you love it.)

But back to the book for a minute. You guys have gotta’ read this: it’s like one of those books that you start reading and suddenly it’s 1:12 a.m. and your light is still on because you can’t put it down. There are even professional animal training tips – good ones, usable ones, applicable stories — at the end of each chapter.  “Animal Stars is also chockfull of incredible true stories of the trainers, actors, directors, and the dogs, cats, horses, (diva) bears, penguins and hundreds of wild animal actors in their behind-the-scenes glory. Ever wonder how Mr. Jinx (aka Charlie) learned to miraculously flush a toilet in “Meet the Fockers?”(Jinxy was found wandering the streets of Ontario and is a purebred Himalayan by the way…) Did you ever wonder how the actors and film crew dealt with snakes on a little airplane (yes, 300 of those were real – I know, EWWWWA)? From Joey the horse in “War Horse” to the beautiful wolves in “Game of Thrones,” what the public sees on-screen is just the beginning. “Animal Stars” is Ganzert’s (et. al.) take on all things furry in Hollywood – and was written with love, compassion, humor, interspecies respect, and an obvious admiration for all things 4-legged (or more, whatever).

Among the famous furballs you’ll read about:

-Jinxy the toilet-flushing cat from “Meet the Fockers.” Real name: Charlie

-Hachi, the ever-loyal, always-sweet Akita in the movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.” Real name: Chico.

-The Taco Bell dog. Yes, the flippin’ Taco Bell Chihuahua is in this book! HA! Real name: Gidget

-Sam the other always-loyal German Shepherd from “I Am Legend.” Real name: Abbey

-The penguins from “ Popper’s Penguins.” Yes, they trained penguins.

-Crystal the Capuchin Monkey in “Night at the Museum.”

-Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat in the Harry Potter films. Real name: Crackerjack

-“The Horse with an Actor’s Equity Card,” Hightower, from “The Horse Whisperer” and “Runaway Bride.”

-Blackie, the horse from “True Grit.” Real name: Cimarron

Pretty sweet, right? Well I chatted a little bit with Ganzert (okay, I talked her ear off), who holds a Ph.D., and I found some additional details that are equally, well, cool… Here are some quid pro quos for ya’:AHALOGO

-AHA got its start in Hollywood in 1940 after a 1939 Jesse James film required that a large number of horses jump off a cliff and break their necks. Production knew they would die, but they went ahead filming anyhow. Americans started protesting for animals after this. Shortly thereafter, in 1940, AHA opened its first office in Hollywood. According to Ganzert, AHA was there to keep them (the filming industry) accountable. “The US needed a powerful voice that was able to make change and eventually the industry started to work alongside us,” she said of the incident. No Animals Were Harmed® was created shortly afterwards.

-Robin Williams, the beloved late actor and comedian, spent his last birthday with and wrote his last-ever social media post about “Crystal,” his much-loved monkey co-star in the first “Night at the Museum” movie. Crystal is a rescue; she was not taken from the wild. She was taken from a breeding facility and currently has 22 major movie credits to her name.

-A whopping 85% of animals in show business are rescues. I know – WHOA!! Where do we sign up, right?

-When asked what is the most crucial thing about AHA for people to know, Ganzert responded with this: “What we bring to table… we are moderates, we’re science-based, (and we) bring practical solutions to make sure the voice (sic) of our most precious are heard. We are hence both timely and timeless.” Damn straight! She ended that thought by telling me that the power of the human-animal bond is underscored yet so significant.

-The book includes dozens of quotes & endorsements from celebs like Steven Spielberg, Scarlett Johansson and Julia Roberts.

Now I can tell you one last little detail, too. Ganzert said she had two major inspirations for/in writing “Animal Stars.” The first? Her love of animals in childhood and seeing all the animals in Disney movies. (MOL, BOL). Her second? HER LOVE OF THE MOVIE “Hachi!” She said that when her family watched it, even her son was crying. “Hachi’s love went above and beyond anything,” she emoted, practically through tears just from thinking about it. She then admitted that Hachi is one of her all-time fave animal stars. (We are two peas in a pod!) And I learned that Hachi was the trainer’s most challenging dog ever. He, at first, was a dog that did not respond to training techniques, and was, “just not that into you… or treats, or praise, or affection.” (He later became one of “the most honest dogs” the trainer ever worked with, and exuded patience and took affection well.) I finally know what real Hachi the Akita is like. Yay!

So go out and get this book guys, like, stat. It’s entertaining, fun, interesting, educational, and an all-around good read that you’ll want to share with the book club, with relatives, and will all of your fur-loving friends. And while you’re at it, give some mad props out to all those astonishing rescue animal actors… And in the meantime, follow AHA on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

No Response » Comment Feeds Connecting People & Pets; New Pet Adoption Web Page

I feel as though I’m the last to know everything all the time, so forgive this if you feel it’s a delayed report, but I must tell you an awesome story, a story about how an equally awesome American company is helping animals. This is a company that supports other charitable causes too, like breast cancer awareness… This is a company that thrives on creativity, innovation and dedication from its employees – and higher-uppers… This is a company with an ecommerce site that lists OVER 1,000,000 products… This company I speak so highly of is, based in Salt Lake City.

overstock pet logoAnd guess what? This wonderful company recently launched a new program that involved adding a top-level navigation tab for Pet Adoption on their massive website., according to President and Board Member, Stormy Simon, a huge animal devotee herself, launched the program this past March without much ado or fanfare (which tells you how humble these people are). Though not highly touted by the media or the company, the program added a link in the website’s top navigation for “Pet Adoptions.” It’s not just for cats and dogs either; you can find birds, reptiles, horses and other animals too! I urge you to go there now and take a look…

Are you there yet?

Okay, so not only is there an array of amazing pet content on this new page at, but there is a plethora of shelters and rescues listed so that hopeful parents nationwide can find a fur-ever friend – right there on!

“We are allowing people who want rescue pets to connect with shelters and rescues that have what they want/need,” Simon said. Users can use the features on the page to find the most appropriate animal for them. Search features including but not limited to species (obviously), age, color, tail type, breed, pet needs, eye color and more. Overall there are 15 areas for you to specify characteristics, should you choose to use them all is up to you.

In fact, this animal-finding platform is the brainchild of CEO, Dr. Patrick Byrne. And, amazingly enough, the whole project was started because of this good-hearted and gentle-natured executive… According to Simon, Byrne had this idea years back but the pet market “wasn’t ready for it.”

Overstock Web Page Pets

“We have many animal lovers on our executive team and throughout the company. It was the right thing to do – to provide another platform for exposing these ‘overstocked’ rescue animals,” Simon said. “We had the technology and wanted to use it – we want to help those who have a limited reach.” This is not just Simon speaking. It’s the entire executive team, plus many other associates at Overstock.

If you need further evidence that Overstock is a company dedicated to bettering the lives of animals, then check out this pet adoption commercial that Byrne and Simon launched last spring across the nation. (Or check out the page on-site describing the company’s fur- and ivory-free policy.) The commercial is original, it’s heart-warming, but most of all, Byrne and Simon are genuinely concerned with our nation’s homeless and shelter pets. It’s reassuring to know people like this are at the helm of some of our nation’s largest companies (to me anyway).

Simon said that the plans don’t end with the new page on-site for pet adoptions. “In the future we’d like to do things with local or other shelters. We plan to stay involved; we plan to make this a long-term growth type of thing,” Simon said. “Making a difference is the ultimate goal.”

I don’t know about you, but from now on, I’ll be stocking up on my goods at

2 Responses » Comment Feeds

Dogswell® Entices Pooches with LiveFree®: Premium, Palatable Dog Food High in Nutrition

Posted on October 24th, 2014 in Canine Corner, Dogs, Pet Food, Pet Nutrition

Dogswell® is just that – swell. And I mean, really swell. These guys wasted no sense on naming their food. It’s just perfect.

Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with a dog food that has a tagline that reads: “Unleash the Happy!” Furthermore, one that lauds the following on its website:dogswell_logo_1

“When it comes to nutrition, it doesn’t matter if you have two legs or four. In order to live life to the fullest, a body needs good, healthy fuel… not junk. LiveFree® provides a complete solution of natural pet food that delivers wellness through digestive health. Only LiveFree® dry food has DigestiBits™ made with pumpkin and prebiotics, so that dogs can live free from digestive issues and dog owners can live free from worry.”

The pet food company’s new line of dog food and dog treats, the aforementioned LiveFree®, could not have gone over better with the Smith Bassets. Franklin and Ramsey, who are inherently finicky eaters naturally as they were both formerly abused and neglected, took to the greatly gravy-licious wet food immediately. Like bees to new honey… Like hounds to dead fish smell at the beach… Like pigs to new poop… Like they hadn’t ever experienced anything this tastily awesome before, BOL!!!

Live Free Product ImageBoom-Boom (aka Ramsey), who will, by the way, stand and stare at you until you put the proper amount of gravy-love in his dry kibble, lapped up LiveFree’s Adult Chicken Stew formula with his chow so voraciously you would of thought that he hadn’t eaten in weeks. Now please keep in mind, Ramsey is one of THEE most stubborn of the Hound breed on Earth, and flat-out refuses to eat unless there is WET CAT FOOD in his puppy chow. We have tried everything and the only “gravy” (aka wet dog food) that was on par and up to standard with his precious cat food fetish was the canned wet dog food line, LiveFree®.  (We have since bought two cases…)

I wanted to give the new wet dog food at least two weeks when we tried it. Why? Well most of us pet owners like to get a good idea of palatability, plus we like to see how it affects energy, coat, weight and/or maybe even eyes (clarity, etc). We noticed after about a week in Franklin – a super-senior – that his, um, evacuations were more solid and less fragrant if you will. We also noticed that he was shedding less. With Ramsey, we noticed that he actually ate it and loved it, LMAO…. It was extremely relieving that the new wet food did not change the consistency or schedule of either one’s poops. And both of them seemed to have less GI discomfort (tummy-growling and gurgling, bad gas) after ingesting this recipe instead of another wet dog food. This obviously makes them both happier because they are more comfortable.

What makes me so happy about all of this is that LiveFree® is high in animal protein so it aligns with a dog’s natural diet, plus it has added nutrition for holistic health. There are antioxidants to support immunity, vitamins and chelated minerals for better nutrient absorption and the food is even nutrition-boosted for specific life stages. You can choose from formulas in the LiveFree® line including Chicken, Lamb, Salmon and Senior Chicken. (This revolutionary dog food company also offers different lines for accommodating different health issues, such as Vitality® and Nutrisca®.)

DogSwell® is actually quite thorough and very well-spoken on their website, too. The site is extremely helpful, and offers a ton of detail about the products, a blog, a testimonials section, and lots more!Dogswell Healthy Dogs

LiveFree® is available in dry food (chicken, lamb, salmon, and turkey recipes) and canned food (chicken, lamb and salmon stew recipes) for puppy, senior and adult dogs. You can visit the LiveFree® website for some great details and even more reasons why you should try it. Also, the LiveFree® product fact sheet is quite helpful if you want to learn more about the premium dog food brand.

And don’t forget to visit the brand on Facebook and Twitter, too! You can also find them on Pinterest and Instagram.

This post is a review and the Administrator, JL Smith, received product from DogSwell to use on the dogs and then review. never posts dishonest, distended or distorted reviews. All opinions herein are those of JL Smith, the Administrator. DogSwell is not responsible for this content.

No Response » Comment Feeds

Get Creative with Your Canines this Halloween with Walmart’s Big Heart Pet Brands

Premier Pet Brands Offer Fun Variety of Seasonal Ideas for Treat-Gifting Plus Howlin’ Halloween Instagram Photo Contest


Disclosure: Post sponsored by Lunchbox, but all opinions herein are those of the Administrator of this blog, JL Smith. never publishes dishonest, distorted or distended reviews.

Are you one of those dedicated dog-lovers who spend time making homemade puppy freezer pops to give to family and neighborhood dogs? Do you make your own dog food? Do you keep a dog treat bag in your car or purse just in case…? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then Walmart’s Big Heart Brands have a real treat in store for you – and the pooches in your life — this howlin’ Halloween season!

Halloween Treat- and Gift-Giving for Dogs: Make the Ultimate Treat Basket

Gift-giving is always enjoyable; the feeling of watching someone’s face as they open your gift is priceless. Well it’s the same sentimentality with gift-giving for dogs! Right? They hop up and down, smile, and get all animated when they know they’re getting something… So why not make up some Halloween doggie gift bags for the whimsical waggily-tails in your life?

With Big Heart Pet Brands, like Milk-Bone™, Pup-Peroni® and Milo’s Kitchen®, it’s really quite simple – and it’s a fun, creative way to show your love, appreciation and friendship. (Bonus:  being the random treat-giver in the neighborhood gets you in any dog’s good graces, too!) There are so many choices at; you can mix and match to make your Halloween doggie goodie bags more varietal!

Tips and Tricks for a Safe Halloween with Dogs

Everyone knows that dogs are part of the family. Walmart and Big Heart Pet Brands feel the same way as we do! This is particularly true on the famous All-Hallows Eve; after all, in years past, how many dogs have you seen romping around the neighborhood with the kids, dressed to the nines, politely protecting their people? But as much as our canine companions love to shadow us in costume and get goodies, there are dangers lurking that all dog-owners should be aware of. So let’s discuss this imperative part of the fall holiday: dog safety on Halloween.

  1. Tricks, But No Treats : Yes, we all love our dogs and their tricks, but they absolutely cannot have any human Halloween treats. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is extremely dangerous for dogs. Candy or sweets with xylitol, the artificial sweetener, also can cause serious issues for Fido.
  2. Doggie Dress-Up: Dog Halloween costumes are not recommended unless you know that your dog likes to wear them. For pets that prefer to go au naturale, suiting them up may cause undue stress. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, move or bark.
  3. Pumpkin Fun: Of course it’s great to carve and showcase pumpkins, but be extra careful with those candles that go inside to light them. Dogs can easily knock them over and cause a fire, or they can drag a costume piece near it, or even get burned or singed from sniffing it.

Instagram Halloween Dog Photo Contest!

Treat The Pups Banner 7

Who doesn’t love doggie dress-up? Well it’s time to show off your most delightful doggie Halloween pictures and enter for a chance to win a $5,000 prize! Big Heart Pet Brands is having a one-of-a-kind dog costume contest on Instagram, and I highly encourage you to enter, and to browse the hilarious photos already in the running! Simply use the hashtag #TreatThePups to enter the Tricked Out Costume Contest!

For more howlin’ good fun this Halloween, and to see an awesome video on making Halloween treat bags/gifts for pooches, check out the Big Heart Pet Brands dog treat bags video!

1 Response » Comment Feeds

Temptations Tumblers™ are Tastily Tantalizing, Sponsored by Temptations

Pun intended. Yes. These meaty, moist , and macho cat treats are the best Temptations yet according to Maxwell Anderson Smith and Tater Tot Turnbull. Two of the most reliable cats around the beat, Maxxy and Tatey had a grand old time batting these spherical, smelly-good treats around the hardwood kitchen floor before ultimately engorging. Designed to make snack time into play time, Temptations Tumblers™ were created to be round so when you toss them into the air, they spin away and give your cat-treat-crazy-cats a chance to hunt ‘em down, pounce, leap, turn, twist, dash and chase. And of course spy for a minute (if you’re Maxwell)…

Here, I’ll show you – watch this sweet-ass funny cat video; it accompanies the release of Tumblers™, which are now on store shelves for MSRP $1.50. The funny cat video will definitely give you a giggle – it’s like a show commercial featuring some seriously flexible felines! I know the first 20 seconds might seem confusing (the first 20 seconds don’t involve animals but I believe it’s meant to be that way), so don’t jump ship-stick with it if you want to see some outrageously awesome slow-motion cat antics!

Crunchy on the outside with a soft meaty center, and containing 30% protein, Temptations Tumblers™ will have your kitties chasing their tails for some more fun – and for some more meaty treaties…  The brand scored a four-paws-up with Maxxy and Tatey, and must be intent on shaking up everykitty’s favorite time of day! #TimetoPlayBall

Available in Tasty Chicken & Turkey and Savory Salmon & Tuna flavors, these new cat treats will surely have your cats “tumbling” all over the place like Max and Tate! Go check out Temptations Tumblers™  cat treats on Facebook!


This post has been sponsored by the Temptations brand, but concerns the opinion of the Administrator of this blog. never publishes dishonest, distorted or distended reviews. All opinions are of the blog owner, JL Smith.

No Response » Comment Feeds