Lisa Wogan

Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.

News: Guest Posts
4th of July Safety Tips
Keeping dogs healthy and happy while toasting the founders

Other than a cloud-and-drizzle-loving barista friend of mine, nearly everyone I know delights in summer. And what’s not to love about long days, blooming gardens, barbecues and picnics? But like so many good things, summer, and especially the Fourth of July, aren’t without their risky aspects—especially for pets.

To help keep the holidays joy-filled and injury-free, the ASPCA* has provided a few sensible, easy-to-follow suggestions for the season.

1. Be sure to keep people food and drinks at barbeques away from your animals. There is something about dining outside off paper plates that results in an abundance of low-hanging fruit for poaching dogs—look out! People food and drink, especially alcohol, can be dangerous to pets and should always be kept out of reach.

2. Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to animals that is not labeled specifically for their use. From what I read, there are plenty of these products that are none too good for us humans either.

3. Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression.

4. Never use fireworks around pets! Do we really need to say this? While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

5. Confirm the contact info on your dog’s tags are up-to-date, and attached to a properly fitted collar. A dog frightened by fireworks might bolt from a yard or through an open door. Proper identification and micro-chipping improve the chances an escaped pet will be returned home safely and promptly.

6. Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your dogs and cats safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home. (If you’re dog struggles with loud noices, talk to your vet about a sedative.)

7. Keep your pups hydrated. It’s coming on heat-wave season, and dehydration is a serious risk. Be sure you always have a generous amount of fresh water on hand to quench your dog’s thirst.

Have we missed anything? How do you celebrate the Fourth with your dogs?

*Update: I’ve added a few more helpful tips from SEAACA (Southeast Area Animal Control Authority), which provides animal care and control services for 14 cities in southeast Los Angeles County and northern Orange County.

News: Guest Posts
The Bond, Illustrated
Dying man reunited with his best friend

As a blogger, you can feel compelled to add interpretation, context and/or opinion when you link to another story. But not this time, this ABC report about a homeless man reunited with his dog during his last days in a hospice stands alone.

News: Guest Posts
Hitting the Road with our Furry Co-Pilots
Summer is almost here!

In our summer issue of Bark, we rounded up some of our favorite dog-friendly destinations from camps and swimming holes to happening neighborhoods and rustic lodges. Our readers chipped in as well with their favorite go-to spots and travel advice. We had so many great ideas, we couldn’t fit them all in the magazine, so check out our catalog of fun here. Also, we’re still collecting your ideas, and since summer is still four days away, there’s still plenty of time to make plans.

Several reader tips related to keeping dogs comfortable on trips—a very important concern. This is supposed to be fun, after all. And as anyone who has ever packed for a trip knows the challenges begin the moment you pull out the travel gear.

“I bring out my suitcase the same time I bring out my dogs' ‘suitcases,’” Georgia Herpel of Pennsylvania wrote us. “If my dogs saw a suitcase they would know they are being left behind—albeit with a wonderful dog sitter. I have them watch me pack their ‘bags,’ add their favorite toys and tell them they are going in the car. No anxiety!”

Trudy Halvorson of Montgomery, Tex., sent us a photo (above) of her English Springer Spaniel, Sammie (short for Samantha). “We were packing for vacation and she wanted to be sure that she was not left behind,” Halvorson says. “She did go with us and we called our trip ‘Sammie’s Big Adventure!’” I love this photo because Sammie does look about as casual as you could want.

In my house, when we are loading up the car for a road trip, the dogs are the first in the vehicle. Otherwise they will be constant UFOs (under-foot objects). Once they are settled in the car, they don’t seem to care how long it takes, as long as they are sure they’re coming along.

What are your tricks for launching a journey smoothly?

News: Guest Posts
More Food Trucks for Pups
Chicago and Atlanta take a bite out of the moveable feast

When we learned about Phydough, a dog-centric food truck in Los Angeles, we thought it was a pretty great idea. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. Bringing dog food and treats, especially canine ice cream, to the curbs of America appears to be an innovation whose time has come.

In the meantime, we’ve learned about a couple other roving treat vans we wanted to tell you about. (And we’d love to know about any more—tell us if there’s one in your city.)

This spring, Fido to Go launched a “gourmutt food truck” in Chicago, proffering natural, healthy dog treats, including hand-crafted canine cookies and doggy ice cream. Fido to Go is the brainchild of owner/founders Tracy Werner and Donna Santucci. Werner has owned and operated Natural Pet Market, a health food store for cats and dogs, in Wheaton, Ill., for nearly a decade, and Santucci has been a groomer for several years. Both women are also Red Cross certified in animal CPR and First Aid.

Fido to Go’s menu includes grain- and gluten-free baked cookies, whole-wheat biscuits and a variety of frozen treats. Plus, Fido to Go merchandise bags can be repurposed as (biodegradable) pet waste bags.

Werner and Santucci are passionate about helping homeless pets and often foster animals themselves. Their business cards double as trading cards, and feature adoptable dogs from local shelters, as well as customers’ four-legged family members. Follow Fido to Go’s daily routes and events on Facebook and Twitter @fidotogo. and look for the big yellow truck at Chicago’s Gay Pride Fest, June 24-25.

Meanwhile, Kim Bohstedt is in the process of getting her Poochsicles (and Bark Bites) truck ready for the streets of Atlanta. Although she’s a dog-lover, assisted by canine taste-testers at home, this is Bohstedt’s first foray into an animal-centered business.

Possibly as soon as next week, Poochsicles will be serving doggie ice cream, all natural, organic, corn-free, soy-free and dairy-free baked goods, as well selling retail items such as poop bags and fetch toys. The truck is schedule to debut next Saturday, June 25 at PAWS Atlanta.

Follow Bohstedt on Facebook and Twitter @poochsicles.

News: Guest Posts
How Dogs Drink
They’re not so different than cats after all

I love research that reveals surprising similarities between species, especially species often depicted as rivals. Last year, when MIT researchers “discovered” cats had a sophisticated and speedy mechanism for drawing fluid into their mouths, which was one reason they aren’t as sloppy as canines, it just seemed like one more example of the old cats are sleeker, neater, smarter argument.

The thinking was that dogs scooped fluids into their mouths with a backward-curled tongue action. But thanks to weirdly-watchable x-ray videos of dogs drinking, Alfred Crompton and Catherine Musinsky have revealed the dogs do lap like cats. (“How dogs lap: ingestion and intraoral transport in Canis familiaris” published in The Journal of Royal Society Biology Letters—abstract free; fee for full report.)

Both dogs and cats use a method called adhesion. “Liquid is transported through the oral cavity to the oesophagus, against gravity, on the surface of the tongue as it is drawn upwards, then a tight contact between the tongue surface and palatal rugae [ridges on the roof of the mouth] traps liquid and prevents its falling out as the tongue is protruded.”

According to a story on Wired’s blog, the commonality goes back to a shared ancestor 43 million years ago. Since that time neither cats nor dogs evolved the thick cheeks now present in many other animals, including humans. “Such cheeks form a tight seal that both retains liquid and allows suction-powered drinking. Without them, cats and dogs needed to develop a different way to drink.”

While the research could impact robot design, it probably won't improve cat-dog relations.

We’re Talking Dogs ... About Dogs, That Is
Join the conversation

Time to let the conversation off leash. This is your chance to talk dogs with other Bark readers and our editors and contributors during a real-time chat. Unlike recent open threads, we aren’t featuring a special guest or a theme this week—although we’ll be popping by with some thoughts and questions of our own.

Because we know that some folks need an extra push to join the conversation, we’ll be selecting at random one open thread participant to receive a Dog Is My Co-Pilot T-shirt and a subscription. (If the winner is already a subscriber, he or she can extend his or her subscription or give it as a gift.) Be sure to include your email when you register to comment, so we can contact you if you win.

Please note: When we titled our open thread "off leash," we didn’t mean out-of-control—just like at the dog park. Obscene, abusive, offensive or commercial comments will be taken down. We close the thread at 4 p.m. PST. 

News: Guest Posts
Does Your Dog Have the Best Roommate in You?
Tell it to a camera for the chance to win a year rent-free

The folks at Apartments.com are back with their third annual Roommate of the Year Contest. It’s not our contest but how can I pass up a chance to see a loyal Bark reader and his or her faithful co-pilot(s) reaping the benefits of a full rent-free year—or $10,000 in cash?! That’s a lot of kibble. And so far, there aren’t that many entries, especially in the pet category.

So think of all of the ways that you are your dog’s dream roommate—long walks (even in the pouring  rain), agility camp, home-baked treats, canine massage, off-leash play dates, etc. Then, tell it to the video camera. (Check out Kathryn M. and Charlie's story, a finalist from last year.) Even if you don’t clinch the title, your story of outstanding dog care might inspire others to raise their game.

Submit your video to Apartments.com’s Roommate of the Year Contest by noon, June 13, 2011 in “The Purr-fect Pet Owner” category. We’d love a preview, if you want to share your entry with us, send it to webeditor@thebark.com. Maybe we’ll post it here. Good luck.

News: Guest Posts
Is Your Dog a Hero?
Nominate a deserving pup

Every day you tell us stories about the generosity, courage and loyalty of your canine companions, so I know there are more than a few Hero Dogs out there in the Bark community. Well, heads up: There are only eight days left to nominate a deserving pup for the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.

The idea of the contest is to celebrate the canine-human bond and to acknowledge dogs’ manifold contributions to our lives. In addition, 17 participating charities will have a chance to receive a share of $50,000 in grant prizes awarded by the Hero Dog Awards, including Canine Companions for Independence, United States War Dog Association and the National Association for Search and Rescue.

It's Me or the Dog star and Bark columnist Victoria Stillwell will lead the judging panel that will select heroes in eight categories: Law Enforcement and Arson Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Military Dogs, Guide Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Emerging Hero Dogs, this last category is a tribute to ordinary dogs who do extraordinary things. (Unfortunately for my dog, this probably doesn’t mean swiping a rack of ribs off an unguarded platter. I suppose a few seconds with the ribs was its own reward.)

Nominations will be accepted through May 31. If you don’t have a dog in mind, stop by the site anyway and read up on the deserving and inspiring nominee profiles. I’m glad I don’t have to select one in each category.

Finalists will be announced at a celebrity gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in L.A. on October 1.

News: Guest Posts
Stray Breaks into Fairbanks Shelter
That’s one strategy for finding a home

I love this story about a stray breaking into a Fairbanks shelter—and not just because Albert looks an awful lot like my dog. I’m guessing Albert’s story will help him land in a good home. Let’s hope the same can be said for all his current shelter buddies.

News: Guest Posts
Say No to Dog Bites
More than 4 million preventable injuries each year
Body Language of Dogs

Out with friends last week, one of our group revealed that she had been bitten by a dog as a child. It was a serious bite and, 40 years later, I can still see the scars on her cheek. It quickly turned into a dog-owner-busting session: The mothers in my group complained about how people let their dogs wander right up to their kids. I agreed that’s no good but I also told them I often have the opposite experience: Parents allowing their children to zero in on my dogs, even as my dogs turn away or cower. (They aren’t used to being eye-to-eye with toddlers.) While we’ve never had an incident, it’s unnerving and we calmly steer out of their path.

I know a dog doesn’t have to be a “biter” or behaviorally challenged to bite. Sometimes they are simply afraid, and when the person inspiring the fear can’t read the signs of fear in the dog, the outcome can be injurious.

Around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, many of them children. Fortunately, the majority of these painful interactions can be avoided. During this National Dog Bite Prevention Week, it’s a good time to bone up on why dogs bite and how to avoid being on the receiving end.

Behaviorist Sophia Yin created a downloadable poster illustrating signs of fear and anxiety in dogs along with a video demonstrating how to approach a dog appropriately. It's an excellent primer on bite-avoidance.

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s tips on how to avoid being bitten include:

  • Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch you.
  • Ask for permission from the owner before petting a dog.
  • Don’t approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.
  • If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
  • If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.

On the owner side:

  • Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs.
  • When a stranger comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door in another room. (The AVMA's tips are especially focused on mail carriers, who are on the front lines of dealing with dog attacks.)
  • Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of visitors as a threat.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and bite.
  • Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.