Bret Michaels Talks Dog…

Bret Michaels says he owes his life to rock ‘n roll and to a Husky named Nicholas.

The year was about 1990, Michaels recalls. "It was overnight. I was having a very bad low blood sugar drop, around the high 20s or low 30s. I don't know if Nicholas picked up on a scent or saw me getting increasingly restless in bed. I was about to go into insulin shock, and I might have died if he didn't jump on the bed and alert my manager, who gave me orange juice and a Glucagon shot (to increase blood glucose) - and I was fine in moments."

Fans of old school heavy metal know Michaels as the front man for Poison. Others know him from the highest rated VH1 show ever, "Rock of Love." Michaels won "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2010, though the battle was not so much with Trump as with his own health.

The star has been battling Type-1 Diabetes since he was 6-year old. A series of health scares were played out in front of America during his final weeks of "Celebrity Apprentice." It began with an emergency appendectomy. Less than two weeks later, Michaels was back in the hospital with a brain hemorrhage, which was followed by a transient ischemic attack. (TIA occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief time, triggering stroke-like symptoms. A TIA may be a warning sign of an impending stroke). This was followed by heart surgery. Michaels is 49.

"I've been so blessed," says Michaels. "I know it sounds very clichéd, but when you go through something like that and come out the other side doing just fine...," he says, pausing. "I sure don't take life for granted."

Michaels says he was both surprised and thankful for the outpouring of public support as he faced each crisis. Today, he's past the string of setbacks and is very busy creating rock 'n roll gear, as well as toys and accessories for pets, partnering with PETsMART.

Pets have been a part of Michael's life since childhood. His very first pet was a German Shepherd dog that his dad named Tarkus Arlicicus.

"It was some sort of Romanesque name," Michaels says. "To be honest, I never knew why we named him that; we just called him Tark." He says that having a pet helped to teach him responsibility. Along came cats, horses and more dogs.

Today, Michaels' menagerie includes two German Shepherds (still his favorite breed), Diesel and Phoenix; horses Bo and Ness; and his pet rats, Harley and Charlie. He talks affectionately of his beloved rats Marley and Chester, who passed away.

"I'm telling you, rats are smart, clean and friendly. It's not like Ben and Willard," says Michaels. "We need to create some rat toys."

While the rat toys haven't yet materialized, his Pets Rock line of toys and accessories will be available in stores and online around the end of May, with more products to be released through the summer, and in the fall, a line of cat toys called 'Look what the cat dragged in.'

"Love me or hate me, it doesn't matter, you'll love the ball with my face on it," Michaels says and laughs. "Dogs can fetch me, or not; maybe they'd rather bury me in the yard."

Michaels says he had a hand in designing everything, then "the pet experts" insured that each product would be safe. In addition to toys, the collection includes stylish t-shirts (for dogs) - one with a skull and crossbones. Of course, Michaels' trademark bandanas are replicated so pets can wear them. One dog bed is pink, but a skull with wings adds rock 'n roll appeal.

There's even a rock tour bus dog toy. Inside the toy bus are other toys, band members, groupies and a driver. It's the toy that keeps on giving. As the dog shakes the bus, a band member or groupie might fall out.


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Positively Expert: Steve Dale

Steve is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant, has written several books, hosts two nationally syndicated radio shows, and has appeared on numerous TV shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "National Geographic Explorer," and "Pets Part of the Family." Steve’s blog is www.stevedale.tv


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