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Lisa Wogan

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

News: Guest Posts
Spay Plates
California joins spay/neuter initiative

I received my car tab renewal announcement in the mail on Friday, and decided that this year I’d take the opportunity to order one of Washington’s special We Love Our Pets plates, which supports grants to provide low-cost spay and neuter. My state is one of a couple dozen around the country, where a specialty license purchase supports these initiatives and helps spread the word about this important effort to reduce pet overpopulation.

  I was surprised to learn that California is late to the effort. Activists there launched the California Spay and Neuter Specialty License Plate Program only this past summer and they need to pre-sell commitments for 7,500 spay plates by June 2011, in order for the program to go forward. So there's probably not a better time to upgrade your plate in that state. And, if you're not a Golden State resident, when it's time to renew you may want to find out if your state has a pet plate.

 

News: Guest Posts
Botched Euthanasia
Dog survives, what next?

This story will keep you up at night. A Michigan man takes his 11-year-old Rottweiler, Mia, to the vet to be euthanized. It’s a difficult decision, but he feels it’s the best thing for Mia, who suffers from a spinal problem. He brings her body home to bury the next day but when he retrieves her from the garage the following morning, he discovers she’s alive!

  It’s not a Halloween tale. The vet’s office—you seriously have to wonder what’s happening there—says the dosage was either too little or watered down. Does this happen more than we know? The dog, the man—have been through a harrowing ordeal, and now he faces the choice all over again. What would you do?

 

News: Guest Posts
Counter Surfer, Caught!
Man videos his unsuspecting Basenji

Ever wonder what your dog is up to when you’re away? I know I’m curious about how my dogs pass the time when I’m gone, especially when I return to find what looks like the aftermath of a fairly epic couch party, but I’ve never gone so far as to deploy the nanny-cam. Thanks to this bit of undercover cinematography, I’m thinking twice about respecting their canine privacy.

News: Guest Posts
Animal Blessings
Remembering to care for all creatures

I was raised a Catholic. And when I was young, I was seriously into the paraphernalia of the faith—I had several rosaries, a statuette of Mary and three crucifixes. But my most favorite item was a wood hinged-box, like a book with no pages. Inside was a reproduction of a painting of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology, alongside St. Francis’ prayer, which is all about being an instrument of peace, light and joy. Even after I’d left behind my faith and most of its accoutrements, I held onto the prayer. 

  I count the tradition of animal blessings to mark St. Francis’ feast day, October 4, as one of the better reasons to go to church. My first introduction to the tradition was a raucous blessing of the hounds ceremony on a Westchester farm in the 1980s. The couple dozen foxhounds in attendance barked and howled like true believers. When I lived in New York City, I attended a blessing of the animals at St. John the Divine, where they always pull out the stops. This year the procession featured a camel, a peacock, an emu, an African horned tortoise, a parrot, a goat and plenty of dogs. If you’re interested in attending a blessing with or without your co-pilot, even though the feast day has passed, there are blessings scheduled throughout the autumn.     The idea of animal blessings is, of course, not limited Christians. Most religions have a tradition of animal reverence—even if it is lost in practice. In time for our season of gratitude, Eliza Blanchard has gathered together 27 simple animal blessings and poems (including Hindu and Jewish blessings, a Blackfoot chant and a Sioux prayer) in a collection charmingly illustrated by Joyce Hesselberth. A Child’s Book of Animal Poems and Blessings celebrates the contributions of the spider and the slug alongside the whale and the wolf. A perfect read-aloud selection for kid and canine.

 

News: Guest Posts
Date A Rescuer?
Why not

This week Time Out New York offered a different take on Adopt A Shelter Dog Month (October) by highlighting single folks who’ve adopted dogs. Seems to me a dedication to rescue would be a pretty excellent baseline quality in a possible-future-significant-other. I can almost hear the code-crunching as someone launches a dating site dedicated to this particular niche.

News: Guest Posts
Deadly Force
Police shoot another dog

Imagine coming home to a note from the police explaining that while you were away they responded to a false alarm and in the process shot your beloved dog. The Hallock family of Oakland know the terrible truth of it. Three shots from a 40-caliber Glock handgun ended the life of their dog Gloria last Thursday. In addition to dealing with their grief, the family is having a hard time believing that the arthritic, 11-year-old, tail-wagging yellow Labrador Retriever invited deadly force.

  According to news reports, the officer has not been identified or put on leave—although the department has apologized and says it will review the matter.   Meanwhile do we just have to accept that protecting dogs isn’t part of the equation—even if they are hanging out in our backyards not hurting anyone? I hope the police give the incident serious consideration that includes a greater awareness that for many of us, our dogs, cats, and other companion animals are family members and part of what we want to protect with our alarms and our tax dollars.   Unfortunately, this shooting isn’t the only recent case of police shooting dogs. In August, an off-duty officer in a Maryland park shot a dog at a private off-leash park. And on Sunday, police shot a dog during a Washington DC street fair.

 

News: Guest Posts
Rabies in Africa
Help here, change there

Earlier this week, JoAnna Lou wrote about an effort to curb rabies in Bali, a fairly new challenge on that island. Now, we’re talking Africa, where an estimated 25,000 people (often children) die from rabies each year. It’s not a huge number but it is unnecessary, since we have to tools and technology to eliminate human and dog rabies. 

  Timed to mark World Rabies Day early this week, I learned about the “Help Here, Change There” campaign, which targets domestic dogs in the Serengeti region of Tanzania. Domestic dogs are responsible for 84.2 percent of cases of the deadly disease in that region, according to the campaign.   The initiative works like this, for every cat or dog to receive certain designated vaccinations in the United States from now through Dec. 31, 2010, U.S. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health will donate a dose of canine rabies vaccine to Afya Serengeti, a rabies control project, up to 150,000 doses.   It's a good cause and I like creative promotions, but I am sort of weirded-out by tying vaccines here to vaccines there. Would they do the same for human vaccinations? I guess, if you are already planning to get a Nobivac Lyme or Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine anyway, you might as well make it count for people and their pets in Tanzania. There are also opportunities to donate directly or drive donations by clicking through at afya.org.

 

News: Guest Posts
Hachi Debuts on Hallmark
Story of epic canine loyalty

From what I hear and read, it appears people either love the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale or, well, hate it. I’ve surprised myself by falling in with the fans. First, it’s hard not to swoon over the beautiful dogs portraying Hachi through the years—with their profound eyes and noble carriage. But more than that, I was impressed by the simple story, the slow pace and an unexplained melancholy that hangs over the small Rhode Island town, even when times are good.

  The film relocates the story of Hachiko, an Akita born in Odate, Japan, in 1923, to Rhode Island sometime close to today. The real Hachiko walked his human, a professor at Tokyo Univeristy, to and from the Shibuya train station every day for a couple years. One day, the professor died suddenly at the university and did not come home on the train. Hachi returned to the station and waited for the professor’s return every day for nine years. There is now a bronze statue at the station in his honor.   Knowing the story and that the film was heading for a Hallmark Channel premiere (Sunday, September 26), I worried it would be teeth-achingly saccharine. While I cry at the drop of the hat, I don’t enjoy being played, and I think director Lasse Hallström avoided that. Casting Joan Allen was probably one reason; she plays the professor’s wife/widow as a little hard and unsentimental. It also helps that the score features lots of piano that wanders rather than paces the story. Some of the train station folks—a bookseller, a food cart vendor, and Jason Alexander as the crusty stationmaster—are less convincing types.   Still, I happily bawled into my tissues watching scene after scene of Hachi waiting patiently through sun, wind, rains, snow and dark. When it was all over, I hugged my dogs and asked: “Would you wait nine years for me?” They held their tongues, but I figure I’d get a day, maybe two, tops.

 

News: Guest Posts
Poop Power
Converting dog waste into light

If you’ve been reading Bark’s blog for any length of time, you know my pet peeve is dog waste. I hate wrapping it in plastic and adding it to the landfill almost as much as I resent people leaving it on the street and in the park. So I LOVE lemons-to-lemonade/sow’s-ear-to-silk-purse stories that start with this all too bountiful raw material.

  Therefore, howls of gratitude to Cambridge, Mass., artist Matthew Mazzotta who has created a dog-poop-to-methane converter that fuels a park light, known as the “Park Spark.” Mazzotta has succeeded where others, including the City of San Francisco, have failed.

 

News: Guest Posts
White Knuckles
OK Go's alt-dog video goes viral

Just so Bark readers don’t think I live under a rock. I have seen—and thoroughly enjoyed OK Go’s video, “White Knuckles” with its talented pups hopping, skipping and jumping all over white Modernist furniture. In fact, I watched it when it had clocked only about 600 hits. Today, it’s has more than a million. But even better, the band members know not to look a gift dog in the mouth: A portion of sales from the video will be donated to animal rescue and on their website, OK Go has a link for donations to the ASPCA.

  See for yourself what all the fuss is about:

 

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