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Lisa Wogan

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

News: Guest Posts
He Will Draw Your Dog
Artist turns hobby into fundraiser for shelters and rescues

At night, after his full-time job as a software test manager at Lockheed Martin, Paul Atzmiller makes pencil drawings of all types of animals, especially dogs. It’s been a hobby for 25 years. But in the last 11 years, that hobby turned into something more.

  “Way back in 1998-99, some of my co-workers saw my animal drawings in my module at work and asked if I would draw their dogs,” the Littleton, Colo., artist says. “After drawing about a dozen or so for free, I thought maybe I could make some money for local animal shelters by drawing dogs for donations. Thus, my ‘I Will Draw Your Dog’ fundraiser was born.”   It works like this: People take good quality photos of their dog’s face, send them to Atzmiller with the name of the shelter or group they want to support, and he creates a free, 9-by-12-inch, black-and-white, highly detailed pencil drawing. He sends the finished drawing and a donation form to the owners, and, in lieu of any personal payment, he requests they make a financial donation to the shelter/group they want to support.    It works on the honor system. There is no obligation to send a specific amount, or even to make a donation at all. And Atzmiller makes no effort to ensure a donation was sent. It’s not about policing behavior; it is about inspiring good works and good feelings.   It takes a little over a week to compete a drawing and he absorbs all material and mailing costs. “I really enjoy helping these wonderful groups and it gives me a great feeling to know that so many people who support these organizations think highly enough of my talent to pay money for my drawings,” he says.   He recently complete his 418th drawing and from what he knows, donations from his art have supported at least nine shelters and rescue groups, including the MaxFund, Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue, Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies (GRRR), Have Paws Will Travel, Colorado Humane Society, Rottweiler Rescue, Friends of Retired Greyhounds, Denver Dumb Friends League and National Canine Cancer Foundation.    He estimates he has raised more than $20,000 for these organizations, and even had one grateful dog owner donate $1,000 each to GRRR for two of his drawings.   Atzmiller hopes his fundraising concept will motivate other artistically inclined dog lovers to help their favorite dog group.   You can contact Paul Atzmiller by email at p.atzmiller@msn.com.

 

News: Guest Posts
Sled Dog Massacre
British Columbia tour company kills 100 dogs

As most of you who read this blog regularly know, I have a rescue sled dog. So I have a special fondness of these working dogs of the north, but it doesn’t take any special kinship to be sickened by the story of 100 sled dogs slaughtered in British Columbia, Canada. According to the story posted on HuffPo, a tour company near Whistler ordered the killing of 100 of its 300 dogs due to a downturn in the economy.

  I understand that times are tough but did they try to place the dogs with other families, mushers even? Shouldn’t that be required of companies that make their money on the backs of dogs? I learned a lot about the dark side of sled dog ownership researching a story on a woman who rehabilitates sled dogs in Fairbanks. And I’m not saying every musher is cruel or even that most are cruel, but there are plenty who see dogs as machines and treat them accordingly. Add to that the profit motive and things get really sticky.   I also know that sometimes killing an animal is better than abandonment, but abandonment shouldn’t be an option. And if the reported details of these killings are accurate—some dogs “were repeatedly shot and had their throats slashed before being dumped into a mass grave,” others were tossed into the grave while still alive—it's a simple case of extreme cruelty and should be treated as a serious crime.   Meanwhile, the role of mushing for entertainment has to be examined. Can it be pursued humanely? How do we ensure the dogs are kept safe? What do you think?

 

News: Guest Posts
The Jazz Puppy
Have you seen the singing, piano-playing Schnoodle?

There are a lot of singing dogs on YouTube. But Tucker is the first I’ve seen who sings and plays. Not just sings and plays, but performs. There is a Glenn Gould feeling about it that really blows my mind. According to the “KennedyFamily99,” he wasn’t trained to play; it’s not a trick. And he practices a few times a day, that’s better than most folks taking lessons.

News: Guest Posts
Super Bowl Alternatives
Walk your dog, swoon over puppies

I live in Seattle, and walked my dogs during the first quarter of the Seattle Seahawks v. Chicago Bears NFL playoff game a couple weeks ago. I was thrilled with the traffic-free streets of my neighborhood. Many of the blocks around my house don’t have sidewalks, so normally Lulu, Renzo and I have to share the road with too-fast cars. Other than snow days, which paralyze this city, a football playoff game is just about the best street-clearing mechanism around.

  So, I totally get the idea behind the Subaru Game Day Dog Walk Event—essentially, roll yourself off the couch and walk your dog during the Super Bowl, Sunday, Feb. 6. Of course, I know Bark readers walk their dogs every day, and many of us do this two or three times a day, but wouldn’t it be fun to flood into car-free roads with our dogs at the same time lots of other folks with dogs flood into the streets. For a few hours, we could turn our neighborhoods into flash-mob meetings of the dog lover’s club.   Why stop there? Maybe this day can inspire us to walk other dogs, especially those of us who don’t have a dog in our life at this time (sigh). The Game Day Dog Walk Event could be a catalyst for starting a regular practice of volunteering as a dog walker for a shelter or rescue organization, or maybe just helping to walk the dogs of a neighbor who is sick, overworked, or taking care of a new baby.   Of course, I say all this knowing I will need to be home to check in on Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl VII, yes VII, which, it turns out Subaru is also sponsoring. (They’re everywhere!)

 

News: Guest Posts
Jack LaLanne, Early Raw Food Devotee
Old TV show video reveals Happy's diet

I was saddened to read that fitness visionary Jack LaLanne died over the weekend—at the impressive age of 96. Even though I wasn’t really his target audience (housewives), I loved his exercise-in-your-living-room program, and one of my favorite aspects of the show was Happy, a sleek, sweet German Shepherd.

Reading about LaLanne over the past few days, I discovered he was a pioneer of more than fitness and juicing; he was an early raw-food-for-dogs advocate. Check out this clip where Happy struts his stuff and LaLanne reveals that his dog eats 6 pounds of raw meat a day. It’s another great example where healthy dog equals healthy owner.

Thanks Jack for being such a fine example of living healthy and taking great care of your dog—way before it was cool. Oh, and thanks for rocking that jumpsuit!

News: Guest Posts
Bo Obama’s Trainer Dies
Champion for positive-reinforcement, Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz will be missed

Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, 52, who trained dogs for the late senator Edward M. Kennedy and trained first dog Bo (known to her as Charlie) before he went to live in the White House, died Jan. 12 in Virginia. According to The Washington Post, she had been leading dog training classes days before her death. After being admitted to the hospital, for reasons that were not stated in the obituary, she went into a coma and died of respiratory distress.

  A champion of positive-reinforcement training methods, many of which she detailed in her book, The Love That Dog Training Program (written with Larry Kay), Sylvia-Stasiewicz will be missed by all of those who have been touched by her message of loving and respecting dogs, and teaching them as we would our children.   In a recent interview with Bark, Sylvia-Stasiewicz was asked why training mattered. Her answer stuck with me: “Training opens up communication; it’s a language that helps our dog understand us, and vice versa,” she said. It’s a true sentiment beautifully and simply expressed. We train not simply to keep our dogs off the couch but to develop our relationship with them.   Bark interviewed Sylvia-Stasiewicz shortly before she died. That interview, which will appear in our February issue and in a longer form online, was apparently her last. Dawn’s family has requested that tax-deductible contributions be made to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Foundation to further her work in researching, developing and promoting best practices in positive reinforcement dog training. Dawn’s mentor and APDT Founder, Dr. Ian Dunbar, is presiding over the fund.   Details on a memorial and opportunities to pay tribute can be found at lovethatdogbook.com.

 

News: Guest Posts
Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets Book Available Free
Rather than a pricey new addition, Donald R. Strombeck puts his book online

When he wrote Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative, Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD, created one of the first-of-its-kind nutrition and dietetics books. It went on to become one of the standards for both veterinarians and those looking for an alternative to commercial pet food.

 

Once again the professor emeritus at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine is breaking ground and demonstrating that his overriding concern for the health of dogs and cats. When his publishers asked him to update his book for a new edition, he declined because he felt there wasn’t enough new, valuable information to warrant the update.   He and his publisher stood to make a bit of money off a new edition, but he’s not motivated that way. So when the publisher stopped printing the original, Strombeck put all the information on a website, Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets, so anyone can find and use it for free. How great is that? There is so much important information contained in Strombeck’s book we are thrilled everyone will have the opportunity to read it and consult it often.
News: Guest Posts
Patricia Simonet, 1959-2010
Jan. 22 memorial for researcher who discovered dog laughter

We were saddened to learn Patricia Simonet, who “discovered” dog laughter, died in December—at only 51, three after years of being diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be missed not only for the contributions she made in our understanding of dogs’ play vocalizations and smiling but also because of her advocacy for homeless dogs in the Spokane, Wash., community.

  Simonet, who wrote about dog laughter for Bark magazine in September 2007, not only translated the “meaning” of various grunts and breathy pants, she revealed the value of laughter in calming dogs, which could be deployed to ameliorate stress in shelter environments. In Spokane, Simonet worked as an animal behaviorist at SCRAPS, the county animal shelter, where she helped promote pet adoptions by matching the animal’s “personality” with that of their prospective owners. She also volunteered at the Spokane Humane Society. In 2010, the Spokane County Board of Supervisors named Spokane County’s only off-leash dog park, the Patricia Simonet Laughing Dog Park in her honor.   ► Patricia Simonet will be remembered and celebrated on Saturday, January 22 at 1 p.m. in the Spokane Buddhist Temple at 927 S. Perry St., Spokane.

 

News: Guest Posts
Vintage Suitcase Dog Bed
Make a statement with your dog’s sleep zone

When Brian Patrick Flynn needed a dog bed as an alternative to the couch for his generously shedding white rescue Terrier, Gidget, he couldn’t be satisfied with a mass-produced bed. He needed a piece of canine furniture that fit in his Mid-Century Modern home and reflected his eclectic tastes and skills as a home makeover TV show producer, interior designer and creator of Décor Demon.

  The result is an eye-catching bit of upcycled wizardry, fresh purpose breathed into a classic form. I’m not saying this looks like an easy DIY project—finding an old suitcase that’s as slick as this one could be a challenge—but it’s certainly worthy.   Find fully illustrated, step-by-step instructions at HOUZZ.

 

News: Guest Posts
Big Holes in Anti-Cruelty Enforcement
ASPCA study finds cops need more training

Earlier this year, Charles Siebert wrote a New York Times magazine story about the increased attention on animal cruelty in the United States. He cited a significant expansion of state animal-cruelty laws, investigative initiatives, and most importantly an overall appreciation for the links between animal cruelty and “non-animal” crimes “including illegal firearms possession, drug trafficking, gambling, spousal and child abuse, rape and homicide.” The story left me feeling that law enforcement would stop relegating crimes against pets to a lower priority—if only in the interest of protecting humans.

  So I was disheartened to read about a recent study by the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that found only 19 percent of law enforcement officers surveyed report they’ve received training in handling crimes against animals. Not just that, while nearly one-third of Americans say they’ve witnessed animal cruelty firsthand, police say they rarely see it. The study also revealed that while nearly all law enforcement officers feel they should play a role in enforcing animal cruelty law, only 41 percent say they know the relevant laws in their area and just 30 percent say they know the penalties. In short, awareness of animal cruelty is here but not the frontline know-how to stop it. With so much budget pressure on municipalities around the country, I’m pessimistic about these concerns rising to the top of priority lists. But I’m glad to see the ASPCA shed light on this gaping hole in the effort to fight animal cruelty.

 

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