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Lisa Wogan

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

News: Guest Posts
Did the Scent of Feet Bring a Lost Dog Home?
Human scent trails as a recovery strategy

I recently finished writing a story for Bark’s summer issue about best practices for recovering lost dogs, based on the experiences and research of folks at the Missing Pet Partnership (MPP). Among their techniques for locating lost dogs are scent-detection dogs, i.e., using one dog to track down another. What I hadn’t heard of was relying on the lost dog’s nose to get himself home.

  Over the weekend, I read about the curious case of Annika Schlemm and her wirey Terrier, Charlie, who went missing during a walk not far from his home in West Sussex, England. He was on the lam for several days, and was frequently sighted in areas where Schlemm had recently been searching. So her mom suggested she go to the last place he’d been sighted and walk home, barefoot—leaving a scent path for Charlie to follow. It seems to have worked; the errant dog arrived home the following day. We won’t know for sure, Charlie isn’t talking, but it’s an interesting notion.   Relying on a dog’s keenest scent makes sense, except for one possible problem. During my lost dog research, I learned that panicked dogs can temporarily lose their sense of smell. “The olfactory portion of the brain will shut down when a dog is stressed,” MPP founder Kat Albrecht told me. “They’re not thinking of eating. They’re protecting themselves. They are full of adrenaline and need to be ready to bolt and run.” That may be why some dogs don’t always respond to food as bait or, unlike Charlie, have a hard time finding their way home.

 

News: Guest Posts
Muttville Celebrates 1,000 Senior Dog Rescues
Party for older pups on May 10 in San Francisco

It ain’t easy finding homes for senior shelter and rescue dogs. That’s why there are people who specialize in this particular population. They understand the joys and challenges of placing an older dog in a new home—and know how to connect the right people with these special pups.

  So we were thrilled to hear that Muttville, a Bay Area senior dog rescue, clocked its 1,000th rescue (in four years). It’s a big accomplishment, and even San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recognized the breakthrough by proclaiming May 10, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue Day.   Muttville volunteers and supporters, as well as fans of canine golden oldies and San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, will celebrate the milestone with an informal senior dog parade on May 10, 6 to 8 p.m., weather permitting, at Civic Center Plaza across from City Hall.   Of course, the rescue is also pretty big news for number 1,000—a sweetheart named Maxwell. The perfectly healthy nine-year-old was dumped in a Martinez, Calif., shelter because “his family outgrew him” and “the baby was afraid of him.” No actual problems or challenges were identified in the documents of his surrender. (Sigh.) And, according to his Muttville foster mom, he has impeccable manners, as well as eyes that shine with love and trust. We hope he finds his forever home soon.

 

News: Guest Posts
True Lives of the Pampered Pooches
Rich, fancy dogs might not have it better

Is the life of the high-flying, super-indulged pooch really all it’s cracked up to be? Well, according to today’s story in the New York Times, about celebrity’s dogs behaving very badly, there are some real downsides.

 

Among the trials: dog parents tend to throw money rather than time and effort at a dog’s problems, large staffs can be confusing, multiple homes can be disorienting, and attending glitzy events with anxious parents can make the dogs anxious as well. Even being carried too much can make a dog neurotic.

 

Oh, and apparently when power brokers come home from a day of mastering the universe they just want to abdicate control—allowing dogs too much free rein, which leads to behavioral issues for which the dog will ultimately pay the price.

 

Suddenly, my simple, staff-free home is looking like a well-planned strategy for raising healthy dogs.

 

News: Guest Posts
New Game for Android Phone Simulates Dog Fighting. UPDATE!
Dog Wars turns suffering into a mobile phone diversion

[4/26/11 Editor's note: It looks like Google heard the people! Dogfighting Game from Android Markets Following Complaints. Hooray.]

 

Seriously, who thought this was a good idea—free game for Android phones in which players feed, train and fight virtual dogs? “Dog Wars” participants can even inject their animals with steroids, bet virtual money and use a gun to fight the cops during a bust.

  “Anything that in any way appears to promote or condone the serious, violent crime of dog fighting is cause for concern,” says Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. “This ‘game’ comes at a time when public outrage and law enforcement concern about dog fighting is at an all-time high, and the public should make this outrage known to those who promote it.” The ASPCA is among several groups calling for Google to reject the Android app.   Meanwhile Kage Games, the company behind this brainstorm, argues it’s just a game, get over it.  Well, that’s true. But those of us who know about the consequences of fighting for defenseless dogs, we don’t want to get over it. It can be hard enough to persuade people that animals suffer, we don’t need to turn that suffering into a light-hearted diversion that further undermines the reality.   The truth of dog fighting is a life spent on a heavy chains, with inadequate care, food and water, isolation, and injury and even violent death during the fights themselves. Learn more at the ASPCA’s Blood Sports section.   To call for Google to block this game from the Android market—you can sign a petition at Change.org or contact press@google.com or Android Market.  
News: Guest Posts
Tails Are Wagging for Carol Guzy
Dog-loving photographer wins fourth Pulitzer Prize

We’re so proud—but not surprised—that occasional Bark contributor and certified dog lover Carol Guzy won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography this week. Guzy earned the honor, along with fellow Washington Post shooters Nikki Kahn and Ricky Carioti, for up-close portraits of grief and desperation after the 2010 Haitian earthquake. This is Guzy’s fourth Pulitzer, which makes her the first-ever four-time winner.

 

UPDATE!: Check out our gallery of Carol Guzy's shots from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and her story for Bark (February 2007) on the opening of the Washington D.C. Animal Rescue League shelter.

SECOND UPDATE!: You can also read Carol Guzy's heartwarming article about Washington, D.C.'s Washington Animal Rescue League, "A Place of Dignity," published in the January/February 2007 issue of The Bark.

News: Guest Posts
Interesting Dog-Lovers Stop by Bark’s Open Thread
Like our first goodie bag winner

Last week, we launched Off Leash, our first-ever open thread. We weren’t sure what to expect when we decided to create a space for real-time conversations with no rules (other than common courtesy), so we were thrilled when so many of you showed up to speak your mind. Your helpful advice, informed opinions, experiences and passion remind us why we do the work we do. So we’re making it a regular Wednesday feature, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., PST.

 

As an added incentive, we’ll also be selecting one participant at random each week to win a Bark goodie bag. (When you comment be sure to include your email address, so we can contact you if you’re selected. We don’t publish it.) It’s our chance to learn a little more about our Bark readers—and share their stories with you.   Our debut open thread winner was Laurelin Sitterly of Providence, R.I. When we contacted her, we learned she is the proud adopter of a one-and-a-half year old Beagle/Dachshund mix named Sadie. Laurelin has worked at the Rhode Island SPCA for the past five years as an educator and the manager of the exotics department. In her “spare time,” she has fostered a variety of animals who needed extra help prior to adoption, including Sadie, who had been relinquished five times, starting at the age of five months.
“Sadie first came to our shelter social and easygoing, but by her final surrender was anxious and highly fearful, which is what prompted us to take her home,” Laurelin wrote to us. “We have worked around the clock to combat her severe separation anxiety and grab bag of situational phobias, and have made excellent progress in the last five months. Through training, behavioral modification, environmental management and medication, she can now be left safely alone during the day and enjoys frequent play-time with her canine neighbor/best friend (we still have plenty of work to go in other areas, but she's worth it). After all of that work, we buckled and decided to make her the first permanent dog in our household.”   Laurelin has been reading Bark for many years—longer than she has been working at the shelter and certainly longer than she has had a dog. “Many of the writers, behaviorists, tools and techniques that I have discovered in your publication have been instrumental in improving Sadie’s life with us,” she writes. “I have recommended your magazine to adopters, we receive a subscription at the shelter and, when a photo of one of our shelter dogs was selected for print in your Smilers section, we donated the subscription to his adopter.”   Laurelin is typical of the experienced, humane, animal-loving folks you’ll meet on the open thread, we hope to see you there.

 

News: Guest Posts
Did You Miss Reveille This Week?
Canine mascots rule NCAA basketball this year

We were so focused on the all-dog men’s final in NCAA basketball (UConn Huskies versus Butler Bulldogs), we overlooked a canine presence in the women’s final on Tuesday night. The 2011 Women’s Champion Texas A&M University Aggies are represented by a seemingly counterintuitive canine mascot, a Rough Collie named Reveille.

The tradition dates back to 1931, when a group of A&M cadets accidentally hit a small black and white stray. They brought her back to school to care for her. The next morning, when a bugler performed the morning wakeup call of “Reveille,” she started barking and earned her name. She recovered from her injuries, and the next season she became the school mascot, leading the band onto the field for its half-time performance during football games. She served for more than a decade, and after her death in 1944, was given a formal military funeral on the gridiron, according to Texas A&M’s website.

The most current Reveille is Reveille VIII, and she was officially introduced on August 30, 2008. She is revered. Cadets are expected to address her as “Miss Rev, m’am.” If she is in class and barks while the professor is teaching, the class is to be immediately dismissed, also according to A&M tradition.

A love of dogs seems to run deep for the team. Here’s how the coach, Gary Blair, framed the victory, according to The New York Times: “He talked about how much this championship meant to his family, to the families of his assistant coaches, to the pets of another assistant who has no family but does have dogs.” I wish I read that sort of thing all the time.

Go Aggies! Go Reveille!

News: Guest Posts
Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals” Coming to New York
Will the Chinese artist and government critic be allowed to come too?

It’s funny how an interest in dogs takes you places. This morning, I was drawn in by the photo of a giant dog head sculpture in The New York Times. It’s part of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac series, which will be installed outside the New York City’s Plaza Hotel in May.

  Wanting to know more about this inspiring canine, I ended up learning about an inspiring artist—Ai Weiwei. A longtime critique of the Chinese government, the sculptor/conceptual artist was embraced by the leadership for many of his early years. Ai was even selected to collaborate on the famous Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics.   Then, he turned around and criticized China for whitewashing it’s repressive policies during the Olympics. He blamed the government for corruption that lead to poor construction of schools that collapsed, killing thousands of children during the Sichuan earthquake. Since then he has been targeted by the government. He has been beaten, his studio has been razed and he is currently in detention.   What has this got to do with dogs? Well, other than the gorgeous Zodiac rendition not much, directly, but when you look at your life with dogs, you’ll probably see many ways they link you to the world—either physically, through walks and activities, or mentally, as you connect with dogs in art, literature, science, politics and on and on.   Meanwhile Ai was expected to attend the unveiling of “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” on May 2, we’re hoping he will be released to “walk” his rather large dog in New York on the big day.

 

News: Guest Posts
Pull This! Green Job for Dogs
Putting pullers to work—for the fun of it

We’re always looking for opportunities to green up our lives with dogs. So when Daphne Lewis sent us this video of her Chinooks hauling bamboo, we knew we’d hit one of those eco trifectas: Enlisting dogs who love to pull in the enterprise of helping to thin an ur-sustainable crop with no power tools. It was so simple and—based on the sacked out forms of Brett and Rosy after a day’s work—satisfying.  

It turns out Daphne and her dogs have a long history of pulling. She got into the game trying to find an exercise outlet for her energetic Rottweiler, Rubromarginata (Rubro, for short), years ago in Seattle. She began on rollerblades, which lacked a good braking system, and so soon graduated to scooters and sulkies. She launched a dog scooter business and then set about creating a market for them by starting a scooter group and writing Dog Scooter: The Sport for Dogs Who Love to Run.   She sold her scooter business, and three years ago, moved to Perry, Ga., to farm bamboo. But she kept her hand in the pup-powered vehicle biz, as the owner/operator of Chalo Sulky, which makes a light, two-wheeled cart (like those used in harness racing) and harnesses. The sulkies look like so much fun. Watch Rosy and Brett nearly pass cyclists on a trail.   Her other passion is adapting the harnesses and techniques for people with disabilities, especially to pull wheelchairs. She’s created several demo videos including a really wonderful short with her mother being pulled in a wheelchair. I love how calm Rosy and Brett are when they aren’t in pull mode.   The day after we talked, Daphne was off to meet with a disabled vets group to help them train their assistance dogs to pull their wheelchairs. She’s also working on developing a tricycle, which some people may find easier to balance than the sulky or scooter.  

Do you have a puller who helps at home, in the garden or on the road?

News: Guest Posts
Harness Flower Power for Senior Dogs
Spring fundraiser brightens gardens and old dogs’ days

We love us some old dogs here at Bark. (Evidence #1: Febuary/March issue.) Several of us share our homes with aging pups, and all of us have been touched by a senior dog somewhere along the way. But we also know homelessness hits this population hard—shelters often can’t afford the medical care, such as expensive dental work. Cold and concrete kennels can be especially tough on arthritic dogs. For these pups, foster care and senior-specific rescues fill an especially critical role—keeping dogs well-cared for while they await appreciative, loving families or, in some cases, live out their last days in comfort.

  Among the organizations working on behalf of these grand old dogs is Grey Muzzle, which provides direct support, via grants, to senior dog programs nationwide. In addition, Grey Muzzle works to raise awareness and educate the public about senior dogs.   You can support Grey Muzzle, and by extension a variety of senior dog programs, and leap into spring by shopping for lily, dahlia, daffodil and dozens of other spring bulbs at the Grey Muzzle Flower Power for Senior Dogs online boutique through April 29. It’s a perfect twofer: Find gifts or brighten up your yard at the same time you contribute to this important cause.

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