Pet news, until recently, appeared in newspapers only occasionally, typically on inside pages. As the fog, it came in “on little cat feet.” But times they are a’changin’.

Now, dogs are hogging the news, often on the front page.

Their teeth marks in our daily journals are nothing new, but paw print headlines are…

From a news space perspective, canines — each formerly said to have his (her) day—have been in the national media spotlight for months.

A bunch of it can be laid squarely at the feet of deposed NFL quarterback Michael Vick, whose off-the-field involvement in dog-fighting may have snuffed out his football future.

The stuff of his admission is as unbelievable. One sick-of-it-all fan says he hopes they have a music loop playing continuously in Vick’s cell. Suggested titles are “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?,” “Who Let the Dogs Out?,” “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog” and “If My Dog Could Talk.”

At his news conference, Vick’s remarks were couched in contrition.

A neighbor who believes that whatever “shouldn’t happen to a dog” should happen to Vick, boiled the athlete’s message down to a few words.

“He apologized to everybody and their dogs,” he said…

In Texas, new dog laws are now in place, and old ones have teeth in them.

In essence, dog owners whose pets injure folks can face felony charges and extended jail time.

Instead of canine lovers walking dogs in the park, they may choose pet cages on rollers…

Yet another dog tale suggests that some people thought to be loony in life can achieve validation after death.

The bizarre life of hotel magnate Leona Helmsley had one last bombshell: she left a bequest of $12 million for her beloved white Maltese pooch, Trouble.

Her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, also gets millions and is to care for the aging pet.

Upon her demise, Trouble (reported to have bitten numerous housekeepers) is to be interred next to her owner in the Helmsley mausoleum, overlooking New York City…

Look for little Trouble to luxuriate while she sorts through names of thousands of canines claiming to be “kinfolks,” maybe even next of kin. This $12 million could take paternity suits and DNA to a new level. Attending vets may quake at the prospect of malpractice suits, and don’t be surprised if the late hotelier’s lawyers masquerade in dog suits, pawing/heeling/howling — whatever it takes.

Two of the magnate’s four grandchildren are in a snit because they get zilch — “for reasons known to them,” the will states. The other two get $10 million each, but forfeit half of the bequests “if they fail to visit the mausoleum at least twice a year.” Surely they’ll work this into their schedules, along with witnesses and photographers…

A housekeeper is livid because she gets nothing; her chauffeur seems grateful for his $100,000.

Mrs. Helmsley, 87, was convicted of tax evasion in 1988, and subsequently was known as “the queen of mean.”

The preponderance of her estate, estimated in the billions, goes to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust…

Though too late for equal time in this epistle, a phone call from my Uncle Mort down in the thicket yanks us back to the world of people.

He can’t believe all the Dallas celebrities in the sports world taking on dancing, or, as he puts it, “dancing may be taking them on.”

“It wasn’t too many years ago that dancers could get thrown out of the church, and some tried to soften their brethren’s scorn by calling it ‘boot-scootin,’” Mort mused….

He thinks celebrated Dallas Cowboy footballer Emmitt Smith got it started with his heralded “Dancing With the Stars” success on TV last year. Now, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has dancing feet for Domino’s Pizza, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is training to succeed Smith in the Stars’ venue.

There are two other major sports teams in Dallas, both owned by Tom Hicks.

Don’t expect the Rangers/Stars mogul to be measured for dancing shoes. His probable response if asked? “These boots were made for walking. Any more questions?”

Don Newbury is a speaker and author whose weekly column appears in 125 newspapers in six states. He welcomes comments and inquiries. Call him at (817) 447-3872, or send e-mail to newbury@speakerdoc.com His Web site is www.speakerdoc.com.