Lisa Wogan

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

News: Guest Posts
Kindness of Strangers, Plus Luck
Heartwarming reunion story

This time of year “Christmas miracle” stories fill the air like snowflakes, and most fail to live up to their billing. But the story of a little white dog reunited with his owners after a terrible car accident on the Elkhart County toll road in Indiana, deserves the title. Fair warning: When you watch the video in the link, you’ll want some tissues nearby.

News: Guest Posts
Are You Tipping?
Don’t miss your daily dog tips from DogTown

Sometimes I get overwhelmed reading about training and behavior. It feels like there is too much to know and absorb. That’s one of the reasons I’m loving the daily updates from Dog Tips from DogTown. This sneak, one-tip-a-day peek is rolling out on TheBark.com this week and next. My current favorite is “Tip 3: Because dog’s don’t wear mood rings,” a simple, illustrated guide to reading my dog’s moods.

  I also respect the source: the trainers at Best Friends Animal Society, the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary. Is there any better measure of trainers’ commitment and skill than turning around the lives of dogs the world has turned its back on? I’m inspired and motivated by their example.  


News: Guest Posts
Michael Vick Wants a Dog
To help with his “rehabilitation”

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback who went to prison for his involvement in dog fighting and animal cruelty said in an interview that he and his children miss having a dog and that bringing one into his home would be a good thing for his rehabilitation. Unfortunately for Vick, his sentence includes on ban on his ever owning a dog.

  Ever since Vick was charged we’ve been following his story, and since he left prison, blogging about his many “second chances”—returning to the NFL, starring in a reality show, working with the Humane Society of the United States. We’ve also followed the fate of the “Vick dogs,” many of whom have miraculously and through the intervention of committed people, such as Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer at BAD RAP, landed on their paws.   But this bit of news makes me queasy. On the one hand, I believe in second chances. I believe that if you serve your time, you should be given the opportunity to reenter fully into your life. And I believe that the loving and compassionate example of a dog is a force for good in most lives. But I can’t shake my concerns about what could happen to another Vick dog when no one is looking. I suspect Vick’s reformation has more to do with endorsements and pro contracts. This is the place to hold the line. This is the price he pays for brutally torturing and killing dogs—never again.


News: Guest Posts
No Dogs in Happiness Study?
Harvard brains miss a trick

I recently read about and then signed up for a happiness study conducted by Harvard researchers. I answered some personal questions and then agreed to respond, as soon as possible, to a daily (you can request more frequent check-ins) text and email. The short daily survey asks several questions about what I’m up to and how I feel about it, and then charts my emotional temperature.

  But I’ve hit a stumbling block. Recently, the survey dinged me during a lovely, long walk with my dogs. Feeling good! I reported. Then the survey asked if I was alone. Well, no. Then, it asked if I was interacting with someone. Well, yes. Although I admit at that point I started to feel a little nervous about my answer. But then, the next question came: Are you interacting with 1, 2, 3 or more people? People? I longed for an “other” at the very least. But I had no chance to explain. I selected “2 people.”   All those years of study, math camps, tutors, slide rules, pocket protectors and advanced degrees, and these Ivy Leaguers forgot about companion animals in a study to gauge happiness? What were they thinking? When I consider the high points of my day, many times it’s spent directly interacting with my dogs. I love people too, especially my husband, but playing, walking, training, cuddling with my dogs is often pure pleasure. Hopefully the study, which appears to be dynamic, will change and begin to include these important relationships in the metrics of happiness. Otherwise, the results wil be incomplete.


News: Guest Posts
Veterinarians Improve Their Oath
And provide shelter standards

Every day a veterinarian has a good chance of being a hero—extracting a painful tooth, diagnosing the source of a lump, helping a dog to a much-needed sleep. It should be enough that they take good care of patients each day, but lately vets have been articulating a larger vision that means good things for animals.

  In November, the American Veterinary Medical Association revised the veterinarian’s oath by adding a few words to signal the true scope of the veterinarian’s mission, vowing to protect not just animal health but also welfare and to aim for not just the relief but the prevention of suffering. Read revised oath here.   And in December, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians released 51-pages worth of advice for the care of animals in shelters to help these organizations review their standards for animal care, identify areas that need improvement, allocate resources and implement solutions to optimize welfare, minimize euthanasia and prevent suffering.   The guidelines are based on “five freedoms” developed in 1965 in the United Kingdom by a commission looking at welfare concerns in agricultural settings. Now recognized to have broader application across species, the freedoms include the right to freedom from hunger and thirst, discomfort, pain, injury or disease, fear or distress and the freedom to express normal behavior.  


News: Guest Posts
First-Dog Advice for Youngsters
Kid-friendly website for families who want a dog

It’s the time of year when children are encouraged to say what they want for Christmas and Hanukah, and sometimes a puppy is on the list. Families with young children considering adopting a dog, either as a gift or down the road, should check out a new website created by the University of Illinois Extension called “Best of Friends: Kids and Dogs.” Designed for 4th through 6th grade classrooms, anyone can use the site to walk through the questions that need to be asked and answered before such a big commitment.

  From realistic cost estimates to evaluating the best dog for your home, Best of Friends helps guide the whole family through the decision-making process—celebrating the wonderful addition a dog can be but staying grounded in the important challenges and responsibilities of this relationship.


News: Guest Posts
Trim Your Tree with Hope
Special ornaments send lucky dogs home

Our Christmas tree decorations are an eclectic mix that’s long on backstory and short on thematic unity and good taste. I like ornaments that show their age or are handmade by friends and family. Others have strong memories and associations with people and pets long gone. I’ve always had a rule that I would never buy an ornament, but this year I will make an exception to purchase one from the Shelby Humane Society’s Shelter Partners Program.

  It’s not just that these ornaments are adorable—featuring the portrait of a hopeful, sweet shelter pup destined for a forever home in the Northeast all framed with bows and glitter. It’s that the $50 cost covers the expense of getting that dog out of central Alabama, which is experiencing extreme animal overpopulation, to New Hampshire and Maine, where animal laws and spay and neuter initiatives have limited the number of pets available for adoption. The $50 goes toward gas and a hotel night or two for volunteer drivers, and also any vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery the dog needs to be ready for a new home.   Since November 22, 2006, more than 3,600 Shelby Humane Society canines have found new homes with families through a partnership with New Hampshire Humane Society, New Hampshire SPCA, the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, Cocheco Valley Humane Society and Salem Rescue League in New Hampshire and Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston, Maine. With rare exceptions, the dogs and puppies transferred are placed with adoptive families within a few days of becoming available for adoption.   Read about the ornaments and purchase your very own. 


News: Guest Posts
Taking Your Dogs to the Grave with You?
Protect your pets with a plan

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around Diane Mapes’ story on MSNBC.com about folks who request their dogs be euthanized and buried with them when they die. It sounds a little crazy, and I think in many cases it’s probably selfish and self-absorbed. But, as hard as it is to face, in the case of old or sick cats and dogs for whom the guardian can’t guarantee a home after they die, it may be the more humane option. As senior dog rescue veterans have told me, a shelter for these animals is often devastating and many times leads to euthanasia anyway.

  The story serves as a reminder that we have an obligation to our animals that might extend beyond our lifespan. I have a home where both my dogs will be welcome in the unlikely event my husband and I should predecease them. And we’ve set aside money for their care. Someday, I hope all our remains will be together—but the  timetable is not mine to set.   Have you made plans for your pets?


News: Guest Posts
It’s Cool to Adopt!
Earworm alert: Catchy tune with pawsitive message

Yesterday, my editor sent me the link to “It’s Cool to Adopt”—a down-home video (watch below) with a spot-on message, charming stars and, as I soon found out, a refrain that’s pretty tough to shake. It’s cool to adopt over eggs. It’s cool to adopt in the shower. It’s cool to adopt while walking the dogs. And on and on…

  The man to praise (or blame) for penning this earworm is Michael Raab, whose wife is the founder of Monty’s Home, which produced the video in partnership with New Hanover County Animal Control Services. In honor of her own beloved dog, Raab established the nonprofit Monty’s Home to provide support for people facing geriatric care and end-of-life issues for their dogs and humane education for children. More recently, Monty’s Home paired up with the Pender Correctional Facility in Burgaw, N.C., where inmates provide nine weeks of training for dogs awaiting adoption at the Pender County Animal Control. The aim of the training and socialization is to improve each dog’s odds for successful placement.   "It's cool to adopt" is part of Monty’s Home’s Pet Ed 101, “which teaches children of all ages about pet responsibility, safety around dogs and pet overpopulation problems,” Barbara Raab says. “With the under 7 kids, we needed a way to teach them without talking about euthanasia and spay/neuter like we do with the older kids. Hence, the creation of the song to get them thinking in another direction about where to get a puppy or dog. It worked! Kids at summer camp loved it so we decided to hit a bigger audience with You Tube.”   Everybody join me: It's cool to adopt! It's cool to adopt! It's cool...

News: Guest Posts
2007 Melamine Contamination Explained
FDA webinar to cover investigation, harmful effects

In 2007, thousands of dogs and cats were made ill and even killed by melamine contamination in imported pet food and treats. Questions, anger and grief still linger. On Tuesday, Food and Drug Administration scientist Renate Reimschuessel will detail the FDA’s investigation into the crisis and the contaminant’s harmful effects. During the half-hour limited-audience webinar, Reimschuessel will also respond to listeners’ questions.

  Details: Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. EST—complete details at the link above. (Note: There are a limited number of spots available but materials from the webinar will be made available on the FDA's website.)