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Julia Kamysz Lane

Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

News: Guest Posts
Google Android Still Offering Repackaged Dog Fighting App
Dog fighting is not a game

If you love dogs, this photo* is especially hard to look at. Imagine if this was your dog. For Pit Bull lovers, when we see these images—the brutal consequences of dog fighting—we can't help but imagine our dog in that victim's place. Why was that dog's life defined by cruelty, pain and suffering when my dog's life is spent being loved, pampered and spoiled? The difference is education.

 

This is why I'm asking Google Android to stop offering the KG Dogfighting app, which promotes and glorifies this inhumane, illegal activity. (This is a repackaged version of Dog Wars, which we thought had been pulled from the market a couple weeks ago.) Dog fighting is not a game. It has real-life consequences not only for the dogs, but for the children and innocent bystanders who witness the fights or horrific results. If a new generation learns to dismiss the worth of all living creatures, including themselves, there are no winners, virtual or otherwise. Game over.

 

*Editor's note: Originally, Julia included an image of a seriously wounded fighting dog, which we felt was too graphic for the Bark blog. She wanted to post the photo because it communicated the horror of dog fighting in stark, indisputable terms. She has a good point but we felt the image was too shocking for an unprepared reader of the blog. We agreed, instead, to show Hector, one of the beautiful but scarred dogs rescued from Michael Vick's compound in 2007. I add this note, because I don't want to change her words but felt the need to explain why the post and the image don't exactly sync.

News: Guest Posts
Smart Dog Seeks Safety In Bathtub
No one expected Mia to survive fire that destroyed home
belgian malinois female smart dog fire rescue

There are smart dogs, and there are Einstein canines. Mia clearly belongs in the latter category. When a fire engulfed her family's home in Greenville, S.C., the one-year-old Belgian Malinois opened four doors to make her way to the basement. There, she stood in a cool bathtub that quickly filled with water as firefighters doused the blaze. Mia's owners, Chris and Codi Brumby, were enjoying dinner out with their two children when they learned of the house fire. After six hours of intense heat, smoke and flames, they assumed Mia had not survived. When she was carried out by firefighters, she was soaked and bewildered, but completely unharmed.

News: Guest Posts
Gator Enters Through Doggie Door
Beware of unwanted houseguests

Who says doggie doors are exclusive to canines? One Florida homeowner learned firsthand that the easy access has a downside. Alexis Dunbar came home to discover a six-foot alligator slithering along the floor of her bedroom. Apparently, he snuck in through the doggie door. Interestingly, she does not have a dog; the door was for Dunbar's cats, who were both alive and well.

I also use a small doggie door for my cats. It's located inside the house so they can go in the laundry room and use their litter box without a dog rudely interrupting to grab a "snack." (Ick!)

My aunt also uses a doggie door for her inside-outside cats. One night, she woke up in bed because her cat was being so restless, moving all around the comforter. She repeatedly shoved him away until she realized that both of her cats were scared stiff in separate corners of the room, hissing their little hearts out at the intruder: a raccoon! My aunt screamed and managed to shoo him out of the house. For weeks, she had noticed that the cats' food bowls emptied more quickly. It had never occurred to her that a thief was sneaking in for a bite to eat. Do you have a doggie door? Ever have a surprise houseguest?

News: Guest Posts
Video: Fight or Play?
Learn to read canine body language

This might sound strange, but I've been studying dog play recently. A lot. My normally playful mixed breed, Ginger Peach, stresses easily in new environments.

She often refuses to tug on her toy, play with her Frisbee, or otherwise engage with me. She gets a glazed look in her eyes and pants heavily, completely overwhelmed by so many dogs, people, noise and no doubt smells.   This does not bode well for her long-term agility career if I don't figure out how to help her be as relaxed as she is in training or agility class.   I've been videotaping how she plays with my other dogs and reading as many books on dog play as I can. My friends and students enjoy watching some of the film snippets and good-naturedly listen to my latest canine body language observations.

What I find particularly intriguing is how some people can’t tell the difference between dog playing and dog fighting. When I showed the clip above to a friend, she thought my Dalmatian, Jolie, and mix, Ginger Peach, were fighting. The growling, teeth flashing and body pinning scared her. We talked about the difference between playing and fighting, and how to read canine body language. We also talked about play styles and why Jolie and GP are such a good match.

  What’s your dog’s play style? How do you tell the difference between playing and fighting?

 

News: Guest Posts
BIG Dogs Prefer Itty Bitty Beds
Size doesn't matter (except when it comes to treats)

A friend shared this hilarious photo of a small Terrier and giant Wolfhound trading spaces. Why do some big dogs prefer to sleep in smaller spaces? My theory: It's an assured attention-getter. Anytime our Dalmatian, Jolie, curls up in a tiny cat bed, my husband and I have to point it out to each other. "Oh, isn't she cute?" "Look at that silly monkey!" Then we pet her nd coo over her until one of us decides what she really needs is a treat, preferably large. Does your big dog prefer a bed that's too small?

News: Guest Posts
Cancel Gym Membership and Get a Dog!
Research shows that dog owners lead more active lifestyles.

I'll admit it: If it wasn't for my four dogs, I’d likely live a sedentary hermit life and dine exclusively on PBJ sandwiches. Thanks to my pack, I spend at least 10 hours a week out and about in an effort to keep us all conditioned. I also pay more attention to what I eat as I've learned more about how my dogs' diets affect their performance in canine sports.

  Studies now show that dog owners tend to get more exercise compared to someone sans canine. This must explain why I even started taking a Doga class with my mix, Ginger Peach. Traditional yoga seemed vaguely interesting but I didn't invest in a yoga mat and find out how to pronounce "namaste" until I found out I could bring my dog to class, too.   What's funny is that I know humans need exercise, too, but when I didn't have dogs, that wasn't enough to motivate me to get out there and run around the neighborhood. Why is it that we'll do things with our dogs that we wouldn’t do without them? Would you be as active if you didn’t have a dog?
News: Guest Posts
Twice Euthanized Puppy Survives
Once unwanted, now hundreds clamor to adopt Wall-e
shelter dog mixed breed adoption euthanasia rescue social media

I keep telling myself this is supposed to be a feel-good story. An animal control officer found a stray puppy. No one claimed him. No one wanted him. The shelter was full. Somehow, the puppy survived two euthanasia injections. When his incredible story was posted to a pet adoption website, he got a name (Wall-e), donations toward boarding and hundreds of offers to foster or adopt him.

  Wall-e beat the odds. What about all the other stray mixed breed puppies who are not so fortunate? If hundreds of people could be so easily moved to adopt Wall-e, how do we motivate them to adopt that unwanted puppy at their local animal control?   Last year, I posted a shelter dog in need on my Facebook page. She had puppies and they were in danger of being euthanized, too, simply due to lack of space at the shelter. One of my friends was horrified at the thought. “They don’t kill puppies,” she wrote.   They do. And before animal lovers start to vilify shelters or their staff, let’s think about the people whose job involves euthanizing unwanted cats and dogs. In reading Wall-e’s story, I was surprised to see the name of the animal control officer whose initial attempts to euthanize him failed. Even though it was a part of his job and he then spread the word about Wall-e’s remarkable survival to a community of potential adopters, the public will likely never see him as a hero.   I will never forget my friend telling me how it felt to euthanize a perfectly healthy kitten when she was on staff at a shelter. Normally, it was not part of her job. She was an “intake counselor.” The person who heard the most ridiculous excuses and sometimes tragic stories as the owner handed their cat or dog off to her behind the counter.   She was asked to help with this kitten because a staff veterinarian had stayed late and no one else was available to assist. In that split second, she almost told her no, toying with the idea of adopting her. But she couldn’t, for reasons with which we’re all familiar: our houses are full, too.  

If Facebook or Twitter had existed back then, and my friend had posted that kitten to her page, would she still be alive today? It's hard to say, because that kitten, and puppies like Wall-e, end up at shelters by the thousands every year. Are there really not enough homes for them all? Or are there thousands of untapped potential adopters who simply don't know that an unwanted cat or dog needs them?

News: Guest Posts
Risky Puppy Rescue
An illegal transport spread parvo, killed four puppies

Shelters and rescue groups transport adoptable dogs and puppies across the country every day in hopes of saving more lives. Sadly, in the case of four adult dogs and 12 puppies, what should have been a happy ending in new homes has become a nightmare.

  Earlier this month, the dogs and puppies had been gathered from various locations in the Midwest and placed together in a truck for travel to Massachusetts for adoption. Tragically, the rescuers did not follow interstate animal protocol. Per the Department of Agriculture, all dogs and cats for sale or adoption must be isolated for a minimum 48 hours then examined and pronounced healthy by a licensed veterinarian before transportation.   This oversight resulted in the spread of the highly contagious parvovirus, the suffering and death of four puppies, and an enormous burden on the staff and financial resources of MSPCA-Boston.   The shelter continues to care for the survivors, who remain in quarantine. Costs have already exceeded thousands of dollars. If you would like to donate or serve as a foster parent, please go to MSPCA.   You can also help by adopting a pet in your own community, so animals no longer have to be transported great distances in order to find homes. Please contact your local shelter or rescue group through Petfinder to find out how you can help.
News: Guest Posts
What’s In a (Middle) Name?
We've come a long way from Fido and Spike

Does your dog have a middle name? All of my animals—even the cats—have one. It’s not something my husband or I planned. The middle names just came to be, easily rolling off of our tongues when faced with yet another destuffed animal or consumed counter treasure.

  “Arrrgh, Darby Lynn! How could you chew a hole in my favorite fleece pullover?”   “Cricket Alexis! Oh, that naughty kitty. She TP’d the bathroom again!”   But the middle names are not exclusive to disaster zones. When our late Catahoula would lean into me, I’d gleefully sing, “De-SO-to Le-O-pold!” while scratching between his ears and at the base of his tail. It was one of my favorite, mushiest moments with the big guy.   Do you say your dog’s full name when he’s in trouble or being a love?

 

News: Guest Posts
Amazing Agility Pig
Louie lobbies for spot on canine team

Louie the pot-bellied pig was special when he would race to the agility field to watch her dogs train. His own aptitude for the sport became clear when she attempted to teach a dog to run through a tunnel and Louis zipped through it instead. Now nine months old, he is campaigning for a spot on the canine display team, which competes at the prestigious Crufts dog show. Do you think a pig should be allowed to compete in agility competitions?

 

 

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