Lisa Wogan

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

News: Guest Posts
What Is This Guy Thinking?
Dogs in pickup trucks—it only looks cool.

Driving home from a snowshoe hike with our dogs yesterday (we got a major dump in the mountains outside Seattle), we came upon a truck with an open flatbed. What caught my eye was the enormous U.S. flag across the cab guard. Obviously, this driver wanted to send a message: He was a patriot, couldn’t we see from the flag?

If I sound snide, it’s because of what I saw next: In front of the flag, actually, flush up against it, was German Shepherd. He wasn’t tethered in any way, and if we hadn’t been driving 65-miles-per-hour down a crowded, four-lane interstate, we could have reached out and grabbed him. My husband snapped this photo with my camera phone. It’s not a great shot, but you get the idea. Here’s the other thing, as the truck pulled off an exit and we sped by, I saw that the cab was extended, i.e., there was a perfectly good—empty—backseat for his furry buddy.
It’s as dangerous as it looks. “It’s estimated that more than 100,000 dogs die from falls from pickup trucks each year,” writes Joanne Helperin at Edmunds.com, an automotive information website. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) lists a variety of dangers for dogs in pickups including bumps, swerves or quick stops launching the dog into traffic. Even if the dog isn’t injured or killed in a fall from a truck, another driver can be hurt or cause an accident avoiding the animal. I was surprised to learn that a restraint can increase the dangers.

And while I have my ire up about my sighting, I’ll reserve some for the Maryland Senate, which, in February, voted down a proposal against dogs in pickups.

News: Guest Posts
Tattoo You
A loving tribute that’s more than skin deep.

Last spring, I wrote a story about dog tattoos, or more precisely, people who have tattoos—usually portraits—of their dogs. I was awed by the variety and beauty of these tributes. After we ran the story, I received so many wonderful photos of tattoos (which we posted on our old blog over the following weeks). Honestly, for a while there, I began to feel like I was writing for a dog-tattoo blog—so did a few less enthusiastic readers. So at the risk of exciting their ire once again, I have to share this latest tattoo from Elisa Bolvari, a loyal reader for the last eight years. Here’s what Elisa wrote about her tattto:

"It is a memorial to six canine friends I had the pleasure to live with during my life and who are now waiting for me on the other side (where I believe they are indeed joyful). My Dogs humble me—their freely shared love, unbridled joy of each day and willingness to share the most treasured, dirty, wet prize makes my heart swell. I thank them for truly being my Co-Pilots."

Her tattoo designer and artist was Mark Duhan of Skin Deep Ink Tattoo in New Milford, Conn. According to Elisa, Mark is also a dog lover, who “neva met a dog I didn’t like.”

I don’t have any tattoos myself—a soul-curdling fear of needles being one central reason—but when I see a work like Elisa’s and hear about her inspiration, I can almost imagine it. Almost.


News: Guest Posts
Dog Is My Décor?
Wearing your heart on your lawn.

Lawn jockeys, flamingos, gnomes and windmills—our front yards have long been a platform for inorganic self-expression. For my part, I have always exercised restraint in these matters, but after receiving an email from Bark contributor Helene F. Rubinstein, I’m thinking that’s been my loss. During a recent drive on the roads outside Reno, Rubinstein saw lawn ornaments for sale—the sort you never see in traditional stores. You know what I’m talking about, silhouettes of a cowboy leaning against a fencepost, grazing sheep, a gardener’s posterior, and dogs in variety of poses. “I couldn’t resist this one [see photo] and had it shipped back home,” Helene wrote. “I finally put it up yesterday. I love it!" Her dog has been growling at it like crazy. Fun for the whole family, but what will the neighbors think?

These aren’t that easy to find. Other than a rural road trip, your best bet is probably D-I-Y. I’m eyeing plans for a digging dog.

News: Guest Posts
Two Dogs Down
After two dogs freeze to death, is it time to rethink the Iditarod?

A few days before cancer-survivor Lance Mackey became the third person to win the Iditarod three years in a row, two dogs belonging to rookie racer Lou Packer died from exposure to high-winds and 50-below-zero temperatures. The story of Grasshopper and Dizzy’s demise is as harrowing as it is provocative. Already the questions are tumbling down. Was Packer a rookie who took unnecessary risks or is he to be admired for helping a fellow competitor earlier in the race and falling behind? Should race officials checked on him sooner?

Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about dogsled racing, and I generally don’t follow the big events. I know neglect and cruelty are often a byproduct of competitions involving animals. But I’ve also driven small recreational teams before—in Minnesota and Alaska—and it seemed clear the dogs relished the run. But I wonder is it right to celebrate competitions and provide cash incentives for events that can exact this price?

News: Guest Posts
Valentino: Pug Lover
New documentary shines a little light on designer’s dogs.

Best job in the world? Pug-sitter for Valentino.

“I don’t care about the collection; my dogs are more important,” declares Valentino Garavani during one of his regular tantrums in Valentino: The Last Emperor, which opens today. (New York Times film critic Stephen Holden weighs in.) While the documentary is not a dog movie, Valentino’s pugs steal every scene in which they appear—snoozing in the designer’s bustling atelier, sprinting through the gardens of his French estate, modeling diamond-encrusted jewelry, peeing on photography equipment during a shoot, chillin' on a private jet. With just the bling nature gave them, Milton, Monty, Maude, Margot, Maggie and Molly outshine the film's jaw-dropping dresses and Hollywood beauties.

Still, I wish there’d been a little more on the silver-coated sweeties—such as an interview with the lucky guy who takes care of them (proficiently brushing their teeth among other duties) as they sniff through elegant quarters in Paris, Gstaad and Rome.

For all you Pugophiles out there, the movie is sponsoring a Most Fashionable Pug Contest.

News: Guest Posts
Not-So-Stupid Pet Trick
Bailey rocks Letterman with her last gasp.

When Bailey goes as limp as a rag in Mike Bower’s arms, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. Bravura performance by a Beagle--and a perfect antidote for anyone suffering a case of the Tuesdays.   


Watch how without any crowd noise, Bailey gives a “killer” performance trying to land the gig as Milk-Bones spokesdog.



News: Guest Posts
Three-Year Rabies Requirement
UPDATED. Finally Arkansas. Alabama and Rhode Island next?

The only state in the union to require a rabies vaccination every year may be changing its tune. Weeks after Arkansas extended its rabies booster requirement from every year to every three years, Alabama Senator Larry Dixon introduced legislation to do the same in his state. In addition, Senate Bill 469 includes a medical exemption clause for animals whose health would be jeopardized by the vaccination. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health Committee. [Editor's Note: Progress in Alabama. On March 26, the Senate Health Committee has sent the three-year rabies vaccination requirement to the senate for a vote.]

Proponents of less frequent vaccination argue that the booster provides immunity that lasts for years and carries risks for significant adverse reactions including autoimmune diseases. Leading the fight against over-vaccination and spearheading research to determine the long-term duration of the rabies vaccine is The Rabies Challenge Fund. After success in Arkansas, the Fund began nudging legislators in Alabama and also Rhode Island, which has a two-year requirement.

Finally, earlier this week, Wichita, Kansas, extended its municipal ordinance from one- to three-year rabies requirement. (Unfortunately, these revisions to the city animal ordinance also included restrictions on Pit Bull owners, although the City Council rejected an outright breed ban.)

News: Guest Posts
Fetch the Meteorite
Forget about balls, maybe your dog can bring home something valuable.

Do you have one of those dogs who collects rocks? Maybe even plunges into lakes or streambeds to retrieve them? People sort of smile, sympathetically, when they see it; it’s cute but a little weird. Well, all those stone-loving pups with the ground-down teeth have a new patron saint: a Texas stray named Hopper. He had the good fortune to grab a meteorite in his chops in the weeks after a fireball hit the earth near Austin in February, which made him the first dog ever to recover a meteorite, according to Rob Wesel, a Portland, Oregon, a collector of space debris. Wesel knows a little something about dogs and rocks from outer space; his website Nakhla Dog Meteorites is named for a dog reportedly vaporized by a meteorite in Egypt in 1911.

News: Guest Posts
Helping Pups Out of the Dog House
Charlotte ad man applies a little creative thinking to the foreclosure crisis.

If simple necessity is the mother of invention, you gotta believe a crisis like our current sub-prime/banking/global market implosion is going to spark some pretty incredible results. (Think: Octuplets without the nuttiness.) One glimmer comes from Charlotte, N.C., where the proverbial light bulb flashed for Phil Jones, when he read an article about the rising number of pets abandoned to his local shelter due to foreclosures. As art director at Wray Ward, a Charlotte advertising agency, his job is to attract attention and motivate folks to take action. So he installed a large dog house at the shelter hung with a “Foreclosure” banner and a box filled not with listing sheets but dogs available for adoption. It sums up the problem in a glance and then offers a way to help.

On the subject of foreclosures, there’s a little good news mixed in with the climbing unemployment numbers and plunging Dow. According to Foreclosure.com, foreclosures slowed “dramatically” in January. Dropping more than 25 percent to the lowest number since April 2008. This is good news for everyone. Still, at more than 70,000 foreclosures per month, the numbers are very high. Remember, the Humane Society of the United States’ Foreclosure Pets Grant Fund, which supports local shelters and rescue groups working to expand their networks of foster homes, starting pet food pantries, or providing financial assistance for veterinary care.

News: Guest Posts
Supernanny to Save the Day
Petfinder.com enlists Victoria Stilwell--and you--to help troubled pup.

I’ve been avoiding the latest celebrity trainer, Victoria Stilwell of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog.” I figured she was just another quirky import with an accent. But I love watching trainers in action, especially from the comfort of my own couch, so I was thrilled to read Helene F. Rubinstein’s thumbs-up on Stilwell and her positive methods in the current issue of The Bark.

No sooner had I declared my TiVo affiliation to this Punk-Supernanny-hybrid that I learned one behaviorally-challenged homeless hound will soon be a Stilwell clients. Yahoo.

Of course, in the world of American Idol and Survivor, the public is going to pick that dog. First, the more than 12,000 shelter- and rescue-group members of Petfinder.com were asked to nominate wonderful dogs whose behavior issues have prevented them from being adopted. Those nominations were narrowed down to five dogs—Ollie the nipper, George the barker, Trojan the puller, Liza Bean the shy girl, and Charlize the unmanageable.

I don’t know how you’ll choose a favorite, but if you can, place your vote (through March 22). Stilwell will provide a free behavioral consultation to highest vote-earner's adoption organization and (we're optimistic here) future forever family or individual. Runners-up receive great exposure and a copy of the Petfinder.com Adopted Dog Bible.

You can track the lucky dog’s progress at the Petfinder blog.