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Culture: DogPatch
Porch Dogs
Maggie & BB, a Jack Russell/Australian Cattle Dog mix and Labrador/Beagle mix, in Charleston, South Carolina

Photographer Nell Dickerson fondly recalls childhood nights on the sleeping porch of her grandparents’ Mississippi Delta home—the sounds of katydids, cicadas, and tree frogs, the merciful breeze from the overhead fan. But during the heat of the day, the family sought refuge indoors, leaving the dog to his lonely vigil. “I felt like he understood that the porch was the gateway between inside and outside and that it was his duty to keep sentry there in case someone wanted to pass,” she recalls. For eight years, Dickerson traveled across the South taking portraits of dogs committed to the deep-seated tradition of watching the world. Those photographs comprise her latest book, Porch Dogs.

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Weekly Smiler 9-16-13
Smiling Dog
Beth

Our featured smilers of the week. See more in our Smiling Dogs Gallery.
This week: Beth, Flavia, Mooks, Roscoe and Zorro.

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Weekly Smiler 9-9-13
Smiling Dog
Ariel

Our featured smilers of the week. See more in our Smiling Dogs Gallery.
This week: Ariel, Dennis, Olive, Ovie and Widget.

News: Guest Posts
Strut Your Mutt — A Cause to Walk For
Strut Your Mutt

Good things can happen when people join together and walk for a cause. Like moving towards a no-kill nation. Like educating the public about the root causes of homeless pets. Like helping fund those organizations on the frontlines of animal rescue and adoption. Last year, nearly 11,000 people nationwide took part in Best Friends Animal Society’s Strut Your Mutt events. Together, these two- and four-legged walkers helped save the lives of pets in shelters all across the country, earning nearly $1.3 million for homeless pets and 180 animal welfare groups who serve them.

Every day, more than 9,000 pets are killed in America's shelters simply because they don't have a home—that number should be zero, and it can be. Best Friends Animal Society and local animal rescue organizations and shelters (No More Homeless Pets Network partners) have joined together to reach that goal. The donations raised through Strut Your Mutt will be used to fund lifesaving adoption programs and spay/neuter services, which will ultimately impact the number of pets entering and leaving shelters. This year’s events, expanded to include 11 cities, kicked off this past weekend in Kanab, Utah, the home base for Best Friends. We encourage everybody to join — as a participant walking with a favorite pooch or as a donor or sponsor. The bar has been set high, organizers hope to raise $2 million to assist pet shelters across the country — and help us move closer to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters.

Strut Your Mutt Events 2013

Kanab, UT – Aug. 31
Jacksonville – Sept. 7
Los Angeles – Sept. 15
Baltimore/DC – Sept. 21
Houston – Sept. 21
Salt Lake City – Sept. 21
San Francisco – Sept. 21
Austin – Sept. 28
New York – Sept. 28
Portland – Sept. 28
St. Louis – Sept. 28

No Strut in your area? No problem! Join Strut Across America, the virtual Strut Your Mutt open to anyone anywhere! For more information go to: strutyourmutt.org/BarkBlog

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Weekly Smiler 9-2-13
Smiling Dog
Howdy Smiling Dog

Our featured smilers of the week. See more in our Smiling Dogs Gallery.
This week: Howdy, Kenny, Layla, Levi and Terra.

Culture: DogPatch
Talking Dog with David Rosenfelt
Author of Dogtripping
dogtripping rosenfelt

Mystery-lovers know David Rosenfelt for his “Andy Carpenter” series. The fictional Andy is an exceedingly reluctant attorney whose real passion is dog rescue, particularly Golden Retriever rescue. He’s most likely to be persuaded to take a case if a dog’s somehow involved.

What his readers may not know is that Rosenfelt is himself dedicated to dogs. He and his wife—whom he credits as the real force behind their dog-welfare work—started out volunteering in the LA shelter system and in short order, found themselves running a home-based rescue and placement group. At times, they had as many as 40 dogs, some of them unadoptable due to age or infirmity.

His recent book, Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure, is nonfiction, the story of relocating the pack from the West Coast to the East—an improbable and wildly complicated exercise made possible, he says, by the extraordinary help and generosity of friends and fans.

While on a Dogtripping book tour earlier this year, Rosenfelt gave a reading at a local Berkeley bookstore that benefited a northern California rescue group, and The Bark took advantage of the opportunity to talk to him in person. Following are the edited highlights of that conversation, which took place in our office and included an inordinate amount of laughter (which we didn’t transcribe).

Q: Why did you choose Maine?
A: My wife and I are both originally from the East Coast, and we wanted to have real weather. Also, we have grown kids and two grandkids in NYC. We chose Maine after my son, who went to law school with a guy who lived there, went to his wedding and said we should take a look at it. We did, and we liked it.

Q: In Dogtripping, you suggest that the move happened in spite of you. Would you do it again, and would you do anything differently?
A: I wouldn’t do it again. What would I do differently? I don’t think anything. We had a great group of volunteers. If everybody else had their option, they would’ve done much the same, just left me at home. They literally say it was one of the greatest adventures of their lives. It was just terrible, but everyone else loved it.

Q: How did the dogs take to RV travel?
A: They all found their favorite resting places; it turns out that there are many places for dogs to sleep in an RV. They were fine, really—no trouble.

Q: What’s a typical day like at casa Rosenfelt?
A: The dogs wake us up at 5:15 every morning. I go downstairs and they get quiet. (The first day I was gone [on the book tour], they let my wife sleep until seven. She woke them up.) Around 6:30, I feed, I clean up the outside after that, which is quite a job. We have a doggie door that’s like the Lincoln Tunnel, they go through that, and there’s a 60-by-60-foot fenced-in concrete area, because we didn’t want them to bring mud inside. Then we decided that’s not good enough. Last year, we put in a gate that gives them access to about an acre of forest to run around if they want, and now we’re adding another acre to that (all fenced). But they want to be inside.
Then I give the medicine, which is a major production. That’s it, unless I go to the vet, which happens with alarming frequency—I go there three times a week at least, and it’s a 40-minute drive. Around 4:30 or so, I feed again. It’s not really that hard. A day only becomes a hassle if someone’s coming over; then you have to prepare.

Q: Over the years that you and your wife operated the Tara Foundation, you must’ve become quite an expert on dogs.
A: I’m much more of a dog lunatic than an expert. You’d be amazed how little I know about dogs, and certainly nothing about breeds.

Q: Do you work with behaviorists?
A: We’ve never worked with behaviorists for our dogs at home. They’d tell us we couldn’t do what we do. For the foundation, we had a trainer who did temperament testing.

Q: You mentioned that you’re particular about vets. What are your criteria—what do you look for?
A: Everything with us is magnified, so a vet has to “get” us—he or she has to understand us. A vet also has to be responsive. I want to know things; I want information to be quantified. We flew east to interview vets before we moved and decided on one who turned out to be not as great as we initially thought. Then we found a vet in the phone book and he turned out to be fantastic. He understands me. He talks to me like I know what I’m talking about. Quality of life is his key concern. He really knows what he’s doing.

Q: You take in older dogs and dogs with health problems. How do you deal emotionally with the loss of a dog?
A: We take in dogs who are doomed if we don’t take them. You just have to adjust your mindset. It’s all about the dog’s quality of life. You have to focus on the fact that for whatever time you had them, they were happy and safe and loved. It’s very sad, but there’s something peaceful about it, too.

Q: Are you involved in rescue now that you’re living in Maine?
A: There’s no need for us to function as a placement group, but we do still take in dogs. We just got two seven-year-old Great Pyrenees—sisters—who are just fantastic. Sometimes we’ve gotten dogs who came as a pair but once they were in our house, they never saw each other again. These two are bonded at the hip; wherever one is, so is the other.

Q: How would you compare living in Maine to living in California?
A: It’s night and day. There are no pretentions in Maine. If you see a pickup truck, you can bet there’s a dog in it, always. In California, people would come into our house—workmen—and they were like deer caught in the headlights when our dogs mobbed them. In Maine, it’s business as usual.
Someone said to my wife recently that in LA, they ask what kind of car you drive, and in the South, what church you belong to. In Maine, they ask what kind of dog you have.

Discover more at davidrosenfelt.com.

Culture: DogPatch
Trend-Spotting
Highlights and trends from pet trade shows

Our highlights from recent pet trade shows—the big takeaway? They’re starting to listen to consumers.

Keep it simple: food and treats are being made with fewer ingredients. Popular words “pure,” “grain-free” and “gluten-free” abound.

Whole grains and veggies: chia seeds, quinoa, kelp, squashes, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, nutritious carbs and good roughage prevail.

USA made: ingredients being sourced here, as is manufacturing; a good sign, but oversight is still needed.

Alt proteins: pork, duck, venison, bison, fi sh are the new chicken.

Dental: aids, chews, finger “brushes” and herbal mixes to stem plaque.

Gut’s big: probiotics in everything from treats, foods and supplements.

Calories count: more companies include Kcals on packaging— all companies should be doing it.

Healthier treats: they’re smaller, chewier, more nutritious and aimed at training, not just snacking.

Freeze dried: no longer just from small companies; larger ones are doing it too (remember, smaller is usually best).

Oh deer: alternative chews (moose, yak and deer) and antlers in all sizes.

Green: hemp, bamboo and biodegradables, and poop bags that decompose in landfills.

Keeping watch: pet cams and apps allow you to peek in at your dog.

Holding the bag: cool ideas to attach poop bags to a leash or collar; also, products for toting full bags.

Enrichment toys: more are probing the canine mind, inventing toys to promote dog learning.

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Weekly Smiler 8-26-13
Smiling Dog
Athena

Our featured smilers of the week. See more in our Smiling Dogs Gallery.
This week: Athena, Molly, Novak, Tron and Zoe.

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Weekly Smiler 8-19-13
Smiling Dog
Boden

Our featured smilers of the week. See more in our Smiling Dogs Gallery.
This week: Boden, Dinah, Jax, Maddox and Siena.

Wellness: Food & Nutrition
Henrietta Morrison Talks with The Bark about her home cook secrets
Q&A with the founder of Lily’s Kitchen
henrietta_morrison_cooking

Henrietta Morrison is the founder of Lily’s Kitchen, voted the UK #1 pet food company for the last four years. Now she has a great new recipe book, Dinner for Dogs, written to inspire dog-loving home cooks everywhere. The book has 50 easy to make, delicious and nutritious recipes for your dog. We had a chance to chat with Henrietta recently.

Why do you think that people are reluctant to cook for their dogs?

Pet owners can be quite nervous about cooking for their dogs—I had lots of concerns when I started to cook for Lily. Initially, I was worried that what I was cooking for her might not be nutritionally complete, I was also concerned that she may love my home cooked food too much and never eat shop bought pet food again!

You started cooking for Lily because of skin allergies, but what inspired you to expand this into your very successful pet food business (in the UK)?

When I first started to cook for Lily it was really out of desperation. I had tried almost all pet foods on the market and she would either refuse to eat them or they just exacerbated her itchy skin. Cooking for her was a real eye opener—the first recipes were very much based on the kinds of food I love. I would say I’m a pretty healthy eater and have always been on the look out for interesting ingredients and alternatives—e.g. oat flour instead of wheat flour etc. I would use really healthy ingredients such as blueberries and squash as well as grind down herbs like rosehips. Lily just loved it! Not only that, but her skin finally made a radical improvement and the itchiness disappeared within a couple of weeks. I was delighted but also furious! I could not believe that I had been feeding her ready made pet food that was actually making her itchiness worse rather than providing her with the nutrition she needed. I was determined to do something about this and produce a pet food that would be perfect for Lily and help other dogs with similar issues.

What are the 5 common misconceptions people have about canine nutrition?

  • Well, we are all guilty of believing the marketing hype on pet food labels and not being picky enough about what exactly is going into our dogs’ stomachs.
  • Feeding kibble all day, every day is not always the healthiest choice—most kibble is pretty laden with fat in order to make it palatable to dogs. I often think it must be pretty boring to have the same meal every day too! Pet parents are often worried about feeding wet food because of concerns that the poop will be too soft. A really good quality wet food will be made with digestible ingredients so your dog poops a smaller amount and they are easy to pick up too!
  • That kibble will keep your dogs teeth clean. Nothing beats brushing I’m afraid!
  • Check the treats you feed you dog! You may be feeding a great diet, then treating your dog with snacks and treats that are full of preservatives, sugars and tons of fat. It’s very simple to make healthy treats you can keep in a jar—and cheaper than buying them.
  • If your dog has a greasy smelling coat and bad breath it is a lot to do with their diet. This is something that we don’t seem to connect.
  • What is Lily’s all time favorite recipe?

    Tricky question! Lily used to be a very fussy dog and turn up her nose at most things. Now she adores everything I make. I guess one of her favorites is the Wonderful One Pot from my recipe book—it has lentils, chicken, salmon and lots of other yummy ingredients.

    Were you involved in food/cooking before you started cooking for Lily?

    Yes, I have always been a very keen cook and I am a very keen gardener so I always have a glut of fruits and vegetables that need to be turned into recipes.

    Did you work with veterinarian nutritionists to formulate your recipes?

    Yes, I spent a long time collaborating with a number of veterinarians from different fields—holistic, herbalist and conventional. My brother is a veterinarian so he has also been very helpful as an adviser.

    How important is it to use locally sourced ingredients? (I couldn’t find info on where your pet food ingredients are sourced.) I ask this because one of the pet food recalls that happened in the US happened because of organic basil from Egypt.

    In an ideal situation you would always use locally grown ingredients. However it is not always possible to do this as it can depend on the crop outcome in a given year —for example for us last year it was very hard to source apples locally as the crop yield was extremely low in the UK, so we had to bring them in from other parts of Europe. What is critical is to have stringent food safety procedures in place wherever the ingredients come from and always ensure you are sourcing the best quality you can.

    Who oversees pet food and the regulations and recalls in the UK or in Europe? Have there been many large-scale recalls like there have been here? I am thinking of the recent one that impacted most Natura brands.

    In the UK we have the Pet Food Manufacturers Association as well as a variety of government bodies that put together regulations as well as carry out testing. At Lily’s Kitchen we carry out very regular testing on all our foods which get sent off to the government lab for testing—although there is not the onus on companies to do this. But I like to be extra vigilant as my dog’s name is on the label!

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