Dogs benefit, sometimes in unexpected ways
“He doesn’t really play with toys,” his guardian said as he dropped the dog off for an afternoon visit with us. Their realtor didn’t want dogs at home during their open house, not even resting contentedly in their crates, and work schedules meant they needed a little help. We were taking one of their dogs and his brother was going to watch the other.
Though we were not expecting Moose to play with the toys, within an hour, that dog had played with every toy in our house and a couple of items that he thought were toys although we would not classify them as such. He flapped a Wubba around at his own face and did the same with a dishtowel, went joyfully berserk over a squeaky toy shaped like a bone, fetched tennis balls and flying squirrels that my kids threw, tossed around a fleece fox with a dead squeaker inside, and “dribbled” a dust pan around like it was a soccer ball. Moose was, no matter what his guardian said, really into toys.
When we told his guardian about Moose’s afternoon toy playing session, he was genuinely surprised. He told us, “That’s odd because at home, all he does is follow Zach, who loves to fetch.” He went on to explain that Moose never got the balls himself, but just followed their other dog who loved to retrieve. And when Zach was chewing on bones or toys, Moose just watched, no matter how many were lying around. If they specifically gave Moose a toy, Zach would come over to relieve him of it. Moose never objected so his guardian figured that Moose just didn’t have a strong interest in them.
Au contraire. Many dogs live in households in which the other dog prevents them from doing what comes naturally, but if you never observe the dogs on their own, it’s hard to know that they are missing out. In Moose’s case, he was not playing with toys or chewing on bones with Zach around, but based on his behavior at our house, he loves them. (It’s almost a sure bet that a dog who is being “mugged” by another dog who habitually takes the bones and toys would rather maintain possession of them if possible.) I believe that having regular time without Zach would improve Moose’s quality of life because he would be able to play with toys and chew on bones.
Other dogs may benefit in other ways from being away from other dogs from time to tome. Spending time as the only dog with the guardian may mean receiving undivided attention or more petting. For some young dogs, it may mean a more vigorous exercise session than the older dog in the household can tolerate. There are dogs who just want the peace and quiet that a one-dog situation bestows on them, and others who appreciate the chance to train or play without another dog interrupting the flow. A class that suits one dog, but not another, such as agility or a tracking class may provide the incentive to spend time with just one of your dogs.
With the rare exception of dogs who panic when they are not in the presence of their dog family members, the opportunity to spend quality time as the only dog with their guardians has great value. A little goes a long way, so even the occasional session can be a great treat for a dog and well worth working into even the busiest of schedules.
If you have more than one dog, do you spend time with each of them individually? If so, how do you think they benefit?
The Little Miracles of Social Media
At its best, social media can spark connections one only dreams about. Such was the case involving a series of photographs we posted recently on Facebook. Last week we blogged a new series of photos by Bark contributor Grace Chon, showing her 10-month-old son Jasper and 7-year-old dog Zoey in matching apparel. The photos are adorable and our followers agreed, “liking” and sharing the pix with tens, then hundreds of thousands of people. Zoey and Jasper had gone viral—appearing on HuffingtonPost, Mashable, BuzzFeed and Good Morning America to name but a few. As the images brought smiles to viewers around the world, one woman far away in China thought Zoey looked familiar. It was a woman named Joy who had fostered little Zoey in the first months of the pup’s life in Taiwan. She had been waiting 7 years to hear news of the little puppy she nursed back to health before sending her halfway around the world to a new home in California. All she knew was that a Korean girl in Los Angeles had adopted her. Following her intuition, Joy reached out to Grace, and piecing the puzzle together, they concluded that Zoey was indeed the little pup she had fostered. The two women shared photos of Zoey— of her early life in Taiwan, including her first night with Joy—and Grace’s photos of life in Southern California. Each had wondered about the portions of Zoey’s life they had missed, and are grateful for this serendipitous reunion. Deep down inside, they both knew that this little black dog was loved and well cared for—in both Taiwan and in Los Angeles. Now they have the stories and pictures to prove it. Read more about their reunion.
Tire puncturing culprit is caught on tape
After a six month manhunt, police have finally caught the mysterious car vandal puncturing car tires in the small village of Brampton, England. It turns out the culprit was not a man at all, but a Border Collie named Jess. The wayward pup was captured on video by Anne Taylor who set up surveillance after having to replace 12 tires on her vehicle.
Apparently Jess was involved in a car accident last year and, unbeknownst to her family, has been taking out her revenge on car tires. Anne's video shows Jess biting the front tire of a car, leaving for a break, and coming back for the back wheel. The slow tire leaks brought on havoc as drivers discovered the damage as they were driving on the road.
No one knew Jess was to blame because, from a distance, it looked like Jess was just sniffing the tires. After the discovery, Jess' owner was completely surprised and promised to keep Jess on leash from now on.
Fortunately there were no car accidents caused by Jess' tire habit and residents are relieved that the damage was not done by a malicious human (only a revenge seeking dog!). It's also a good reminder to keep our pups on leash in urban areas since cars and dogs don't mix!
Patricia Cudd is looking for the perfect home for her dog
Patricia Cudd was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and was given just six months to live last August. While others in her shoes would be checking items off their bucket list, Patricia has only one wish—that her five year old Pit Bull mix, Sherlock, finds a loving home.
Patricia adopted Sherlock four years ago from the Longmont Humane Society in Colorado. Like many rescue pups, Sherlock was initially wary of Patricia, but they eventually became the best of friends.
Patricia says that Sherlock taught her how to have fun and, after her diagnosis, helped her get through chemotherapy treatments.
Now Patricia's cancer has progressed to stage 4 and she's determined to find the perfect home for Sherlock. Patricia admits that Sherlock can be territorial and protective, but is one of the most loving dogs you'll ever meet. So a family without other pets would be ideal. For the five years Patricia and Sherlock have lived in Fort Collins, Colorado, they struggled to find landlords who would allow Pit Bulls, so Patricia was worried that it would be hard to find an adoptive home for Sherlock.
Fortunately Patricia's appeal resulted in 400 emails and 150 calls, in just one day! Patricia is currently screening the messages to find the best home for Sherlock.
“It breaks my heart,” Patricia told The Coloradoran, “But if he could go to a good home, it would help me so much. It would give me peace.”
If you're interested in adopting Sherlock, call (970) 775-0797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Since it sounds like Sherlock has many good homes lined up, perhaps instead consider adopting another dog in need in Patricia's honor!
Butler will be easing people's pain
With weather extremes making headlines more than ever, it’s nice to know that The Weather Channel does more than just predict and report disasters. With their recent choice of a therapy dog to help those who are in the midst of crises, they are helping to alleviate the suffering caused by them.
After a nationwide search for just the right dog, Butler has become The Weather Channel’s official therapy dog. He was adopted from the Humane Society of Charlotte in North Carolina by Amy McCullough. McCullough is the National Directed of Animal-Assisted Therapy at the American Humane Association, as well as Butler’s handler and trainer.
Many dogs across the nation in various shelters were considered. Butler, a 35-pound, 18-month old Shepherd mix. was chosen because he has the traits of a perfect therapy dog. He is affectionate, social, friendly, attentive, easy to train and well-mannered. He likes to sit in laps and is comfortable in crowds.
Once Butler has completed his training, he and McCullough will visit schools, hospitals, shelters and other locations to help ease the pain of people who have survived disasters.
A rescue dog and her little boy
Grace Chon, a LA photographer, who has shot a few covers for The Bark, became a mom about a year ago. She tells us that she started to take photos of her rescue girl Zoey with her son Jasper, modeling the same head gear. How adorable are they? Definitely hard to pick a favorite, but do you have one? I think the co-pilot duo might be my fave.http://www.zoeyandjasper.tumblr.com
UPDATE: Through the power of social media, Grace was contacted by the woman who fostered Zoey in Taiwan seven years ago. Read about their virtual reunion.
Guess which one of us likes to work out? (Here’s a hint, it rhymes with Shmasper.) xoxo Zoey and Jasper
Never go on adventures without your trusty sidekick. xoxo Zoey and Jasper
Holla back! xoxo Zoey and Jasper
An abused pup's remarkable friendship with a boy with autism.
April is both Autism Awareness and Prevention of Animal Cruelty month. This story of Jonny, the eight-year-boy with autism, and Xena, the horribly abused Pit Bull, present a powerful and heart-warming tale about survival and the indescribable bond we have with dogs. The pup was severely abused and starving to death when she came into the DeKalb (Georgia) Animal Services shelter, she was given only an one percent chance of survival. Jonny’s mom, Linda Hickey, had been following the pup’s story on Facebook and decided to take the chance that this pup would be the perfect match for her son. See how right she was!
Xena won the ASPCA’s Hero of the Dog Award in 2013, and is now in the running for the “emerging dog hero” award from the American Humane Association.
Linda Hickey poignantly tells their story in this video. Watch it to see why Xena deserves your vote.
For more, see this recent interview as well.
And watch Jonny sing “You Got a Friend in Me” to his best pal, Xena.
Study finds kenneled dogs show signs associated with mental illness
I think all of us would agree that dogs shouldn't live in a cage all day, but the reality is that many pups, working canines in particular, do spend the night in a kennel. Although these canines have an active life, a new study found that these dogs showed signs of distress often associated with mental illness.
Researchers at University of Bristol's Anthrozoology Institute looked at the behavior of 30 police dogs living in a U.K. kennel. They were all male German Shepherds, specifically chosen to avoid other influencing factors, such as differences due to breed temperament, size, sex, etc. After their work shift, the dogs primarily lived in a facility that accommodated 40 dogs with a run and an enclosed resting area.
Analyzing video of the dogs, the researchers noticed the following repetitive behaviors:
93 percent of the dogs performed one or more of the repetitive behaviors. Scientists say that this kind of obsessive behavior is associated with numerous mental health problems. The root cause of these actions isn't known, but in humans it's thought that focused behaviors are an attempt to block out painful stimulation.
The researchers thought that the dogs may be reacting to isolation from humans. These kennel situations are very different from crating your pup while you're away at work. Dogs are naturally social, and because these police canines work so closely with people during the day, I can see how it would be jarring to be suddenly cut off at night.
You'd think that these repetitive behaviors would mean that the dogs had high stress levels, but not all of the pups showed exceptionally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers hypothesize that these dogs may use the actions as a coping mechanism.
I wonder what these findings mean for other working dogs, like sheepdogs that might be kenneled outside at night, or even dogs boarded while their family is on vacation. The team hopes to do further studies to explore the negative effects of these behaviors and I hope they explore other kennel situations as well.
Some dogs figure it out right away
It’s scary for dogs and guardians alike when a dog makes contact with a sliding glass door, and it can certainly be injurious. Most dogs who live in or visit a house with such a door eventually run or walk into it, but some never seem to learn to watch out for it. I’ve known dogs who would run into the glass door every time they are trying to pass through if it were not for some assistance from people.
We can help dogs avoid this danger by putting decals on the glass, blocking the door with a chair or leaving the screen door next to the glass one partly open. Still, it would be easier if dogs learned to take proper precautions on their own like Tucker, who is staying with us this weekend, managed to do.
Tucker is a sweet dog who is fearful of many things. He hesitates or backs away with his body lowered and his ears back if he encounters people or dogs he doesn’t know, new places, brooms, trash cans, sudden noises, and a great many other things that are encountered regularly in modern suburban life.
Given that Tucker is hesitant about so many ordinary, harmless things, it’s no surprise that a door that he bumped into really affected him. Luckily, he was not moving quickly at all when his nose hit the glass, so he was not physically injured. Still, he was obviously distressed enough by the incident for it to influence his behavior ever since.
We now have a chair in front of the door which we only move when we are about to open the door, so Tucker is not at risk of another accidental collision. However, he does not seem to know this. Each time we move the chair and open the door, he approaches ever so slowly until his face is past the “danger zone” at which point he trots through and into the yard. He behaves the same way when coming back inside.
He learned to check that the path was clear after one episode, but that’s unusual. Most dogs don’t seem to figure it out after one collision or even after many of them. It’s likely that the reason Tucker learned this lesson so fast is that he is fearful and is trying to avoid the feeling of being afraid. His response is good in the sense that he is less likely to run into our glass door again, but the ease with which he learns to be cautious of trouble extends beyond that situation.
For example, he was running through our living room to take a treat from me after I called him, and he skidded a bit on our wood floor. Since then, he has walked around that particular spot on the floor. Similarly, he heard a loud noise (I have children!) while he was walking down the stairs, and we had to re-train him to go up and down the stairs using a lot of treats, praise and patience. When my purse fell off the counter, he became afraid of it, and backed away when I picked it up later in the morning. So, while most dogs don’t learn to watch out for the glass door after bumping it to it just once, they also don’t learn to be afraid of locations or items that are innocuous but happen to be associated with a single instance of being startled.
Do you have a dog who has learned to avoid a glass door? How about a dog who easily learns to exercise caution even when it is not necessarily warranted?
Inseparable pups help their people find true love
There's no question that guide dogs are invaluable. These working pups help their people navigate the world and hold onto their independence. In 2012, two guide dogs in England went beyond the call of duty and helped their handlers find something incredible—true love.
Claire Johnson and Mark Gaffey met two years ago at a training class for guide dogs. Mark has been blind since birth and Claire lost her eyesight due to diabetes when she was 24. The two, both in their 50s, lived less than two miles away from each other in Stoke-on-Trent, England, but didn't know each other previously.
Their guide dogs, Venice and Rodd, both three-year old Yellow Labradors, were inseparable. Mark says they were always playing and nuzzling up together. Since the pups got along so well, Claire invited Mark out for coffee after classes ended. Soon coffees became regular lunches, and then dinner dates. 11 months after meeting in class, Mark proposed to Claire on Valentine's Day 2013 and they made it official two weeks ago. Venice and Rodd were of course in the wedding ceremony as ring bearers.
Mark never believed in fate, but can't deny that their relationship seemed meant to be. Claire on the other hand had no doubt that the pups brought them together. “Much like our two guide dogs, we really are best friends and soul mates.”
Some news on the pet food front: Mars is buying Procter & Gamble’s pet food brands that include Iams, Eukanuba and Natura. Interesting that the company, which owns candies like M&M’s, Snickers as well as pet food brands Pedigree, Royal Canin, Nutro, Greenies, in addition to the Banfield Pet Hospitals, just increased their holdings on the pet food market. Wondering why this happened? P&G only just recently purchased Natura, but perhaps the handling of a large-scale recall of that brand in 2013, was more costly to their bottom line than they had anticipated. We did find it difficult to get timely information from them on these series of recalls, which just seem to escalate from month to month. Perhaps too they were surprised about the scale of the backlash that the news of their purchase of Natura caused. It will be interesting to see how Mars will handle customer confidence in their new acquisitions, as well as their other brands too.
Here's the story from Pet Age, a pet industry magazine.
The strategic move for Mars Petcare will expand its already large portfolio of pet brands, and signals Proctor & Gamble’s move to reduce its pet segment.
“Exiting Pet Care is an important step in our strategy to focus P&G’s portfolio on the core businesses where we can create the most value for consumers and shareowners,” A.G. Lafley, P&G’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said. “The transaction creates value for P&G shareowners, and we are confident that the business will thrive at Mars, a leading company in pet care.”
The geographic regions included in the acquisition, which account for approximately 80 percent of P&G Pet Care’s global sales, include North America, Latin America and other selected countries. The agreement includes an option for Mars to acquire the business in several additional countries. Markets not included in the transaction are primarily European Union countries.
P&G said it is developing alternate plans to sell its Pet Care business in these markets.
“This acquisition is a perfect fit with our Mars Petcare vision of making A Better World For Pets,” Todd Lachman, Mars Petcare global president, said. “The deal reinforces our leadership in pet nutrition and veterinary science, attracts world class talent and grows our world leading portfolio.”
The companies expect to complete the transaction in the second-half of 2014, subject to regulatory approvals.
It’s one of life’s common stages
“It’s because we all got a dog before we had children,” one friend of mine said.
Another replied, “It’s so true. They were our first babies.”
Both women were referring to the recent epidemic in our little circle of friends of elderly dogs dying. Most of us first had a child upwards of 10 years ago, and many of our families have a dog in the 13 to 17-year old range. That naturally means that there have been many losses recently and that there a few dogs who are not likely to be around this time next year.
I’m used to thinking about the stages of life—engagements, weddings, babies—but I hadn’t noticed how in sync the dog stages are, too. Many people get a dog right after graduation or soon after getting married, and those people often face the tough loss of that dog around the same time as each other, too.
There’s another stage of dog loss that happens for the people who get a puppy when their kids are little. Those people tend to get a dog when their youngest kid is around 5 to 8 years old because they are old enough to help out and not grab at the puppy as small children often will. They often face the loss of that dog right around the time that their human children move out of the house.
It can help in a misery-loves-company sort of way to know that others understand your loss because they are suffering, too. Have you lost a dog “right on schedule” at one of these times?
Study shows dog people laugh more
Do you enjoy a good laugh with your dog? If so, apparently you are not alone. So writes New York Times long-time health columnist Jane Brody on one of the many benefits her new dog Max contributes to her life. Brody’s recent article champions the many perks of “life with a dog”—companionship, exercise, meeting people and laughter. She cites a study of 95 people who were asked to keep “laughter” logs and record the frequency and source of their laughter. Results showed that dog owners laughed frequently more than cat owners and people who owned neither. The findings suggest a complex relationship between pet ownership and laughter. Dogs may serve as friends with whom to laugh or their behaviors may provide a greater source of laughter. Does this resonate with Bark readers? How does your dog make you laugh?
Last week, we marked that annual day of grins and laughter—April 1—with an in-box full of pranks. Jokey press releases, outlandish news reports and faux announcements tried to outduel each other for guffaws. Given the nature of our business, many were dog-themed.
Here’s a sampling of some of the April Fool’s jokes we received this year:
Google Apps for Business Dogs
Moo’s new delivery system—Pug Post!
The Milwaukee Brewers mascots square off
Great British Chefs offer fine dining for dogs
Plus, these favorites from the past deserve mention …
IKEA’s 2011 Hundstol Dog Highchair
Warby Parker introduces Warby Barker in 2012
Barclaycard launches Barclay PayWag in 2013
Copyright © 1997-2014 The Bark, Inc. Dog Is My Co-Pilot® is a registered trademark of The Bark, Inc