Weekly family rail, with winter pet tips, a review of “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” and more.

Tip of the Week

Jack Frost is nipping at your pet's nose. Winter is here again, and cold weather can be uncomfortable and dangerous to your pet. "In colder regions of the country, pet owners should already know that they need to make accommodations for their pets, but winter can be hard on a pet even in warmer states, like Georgia, where I work," says Dr. Larry R. Corry, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Here are the AVMA's top winter tips for pet owners:


- If you must keep your dog outside year-round, remember that dogs must be allowed time to get acclimated to the cold with the change of the seasons. This builds up a winter coat they will need to survive. Corry recommends that dog owners with outside dogs double-check to make sure their dog's housing is well-insulated, including straw or padding to sleep - Corry advises pet owners to refrain from taking their pets near frozen ponds. Many dogs and cats fall through or sometimes are cast adrift on an ice float.


- Keep your pet away from antifreeze with ethylene glycol. It's sweet and extremely lethal, even in small doses.


- Honk your horn or pound on the hood before starting your car on cold days. To a cat, a warm engine block can seem like a nice escape from cold winter winds.


- Carbon monoxide is just as lethal to pets as it is for people. Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector, and, if you bring your pet from the outdoors into a garage during the winter, make sure exhaust fumes from your car aren't allowed to build up inside.


- Cold air is dry air, so your pet can become dehydrated easily in the winter. Give him plenty of fresh water and don’t allow the water to freeze.


- Road salt and ice-melting products are not only irritating to the pads on your pet's feet, but when your pet cleans itself by licking off these chemicals and ingesting them, they can cause gastrointestinal problems. Wash your pet's feet after she's been outdoors.


For more information about animal health, visit www.avma.org.


-- ARA


Family Screening Room


“Michael Jackson’s This Is It”


Rated: PG (for some suggestive choreography and scary images)


Length: 112 minutes


Synopsis: "Michael Jackson’s This Is It” is drawn from hundreds of hours of rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage as the late singer was preparing for his concert series in London. The film, which offers select sequences in 3-D, provides a unique career retrospective and feature interviews with some of Jackson's closest friends and creative collaborators.


Violence/scary rating: 2.5


Sexual-content rating: 3


Profanity rating: 1


Drugs/alcohol rating: 1


Family Time rating: 3. If your kids have seen the “Thriller” video and were OK, this movie definitely is – it’s a tad tamer than that.


(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)


Book Report


“The Day of the Pelican,” by Katherine Paterson


Ages: 9-12


Pages: 160


Synopsis: Meli Lleshi is positive that her drawing of her teacher with his pelican nose started it all. The Lleshis are Albanians living in Kosovo, a country trying to fight off Serbian oppressors, and suddenly they are homeless refugees. Old and young alike, they find their courage tested by hunger, illness, the long, arduous journey, and danger on every side. Then, unexpectedly, they are brought to America by a church group and begin a new life in a small Vermont town. The events of 9/11 bring more challenges for this Muslim family - but this country is their home now and there can be no turning back. A compassionate, powerful novel by a master storyteller.


Did You Know


The life expectancy for U.S. females is 80.2 years, and for U.S. males, it’s 75.1 years, according to CDC.org.


GateHouse News Service