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Lisa Wogan

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

News: Guest Posts
The Dangers of Street Shocks

A recent memorial service for a husky named Sebastion serves as a reminder of a danger many of us didn’t even realize was out there—stray electrical voltage. (Sebastian was electrocuted by a lamppost last May.) While the dangers are nothing like the days direct current before Nikola Tesla discovered alternating current, errant shocks and electrocution are not a thing of the past. The folks at Streetzaps.com, an online clearinghouse of information about stray voltage, track incidents and current research, and provide advice for keeping dogs safe, such as avoiding walking close to lampposts or service boxes or across manhole covers.

 

News: Guest Posts
Dogs on Treadmills

Lately, I see dogs on treadmills, and I don't mean in my dreams or metaphorically. Folks are seriously opting for machines, particularly, it seems, for basset hounds. The word is that since exercise is good for dogs, this can’t be bad. Better than nothing, maybe, but you have to think that Clementine, Skully and Hank (below), would be much happier wandering at their own varied pace out where squirrels chirp on branches and honest-to-goodness urine wafts from every hydrant, mailbox and tree. Even the Jetsons’ treadmill was out on the space-deck and included a thrilling cat chase.

News: Guest Posts
Bless the Beasts, Irish-style

The Blessing of the Animals (The Bark, Sept/Oct 2008) at the massive Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York is a Noah’s Arc-style affair (think: camels, eagles, reindeer framed by elaborate Gothic arches) that would have knocked the sandals right off its patron saint, Francis of Assisi.

A recent blessing outside St. Muredach’s in Ballina in western Ireland might have been a little more to the tastes of the ascetic friar. On November 30, a smaller group supporters of and volunteers from the North West SPCA gathered on a chilly day under the open sky with their friends, mostly dogs, to celebrate and renew their commitment to all creatures.

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Vets Oppose Ear Cropping and Tail Docking

Somewhere between packing my car and dicing celery and cranberries, I missed it. On the day before Thanksgiving, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released a statement opposing ear cropping and tail docking for cosmetic purposes, and encouraging the elimination of cropped ears and docked tails from breed standards.

Not surprisingly, the American Kennel Club (AKC)—which was not consulted on the policy—took issue with the position and use of the term “cosmetic.” AKC calls these “acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health, and preventing injuries.”

In particular, the AKC highlights the importance of these procedures in insuring the safety of dogs "that perform heroic roles with Homeland Security, serve in the U.S. Military and at Police Departments protecting tens of thousands of communities throughout our nation.”

Setting aside, for the moment, the AVMA's clear exception for procedures essential to good health and preventing injuries, are we really talking about Homeland-protecting heroes? Isn't the bulk of this surgery performed for the conformation ring and breed standards? Maybe it's time to look across the pond, where European nations banned these practices in 1987.

 

News: Guest Posts
Convictions in California Dog Fighting Ring

Despite defense attorneys' efforts to characterize systematic animal cruelty as a less-than-serious crime, a California judge has handed down a second multi-year prison sentence for felony dog fighting. With several recent convictions, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Task Force looks pretty serious about tackling this scourge.

 

News: Guest Posts
First Puppy Biz Makes New Yorker Cover

Controversial New Yorker cartoonist Barry Blitt provides a learning opportunity re: "vetting" with his Obama and the dogs cover this week. (Thanks to Media Bistro and William Safire.) It's amazing how much press traction this not-quite-cabinet-level pick continues to receive. Meanwhile you gotta love the mixed-breed look of the big, gray dog in Blitt's tableau--a vote for mutts?

News: Guest Posts
Governor Schwarzenegger’s Very Bad Idea

Last week, I talked with the founder of a senior dog rescue organization near Seattle. Her report from the frontlines was dire. She says she’s never seen the situation for dogs so bad. She gets several calls each day from people around the country. They are frantic. Unable to make ends meet and losing their homes and jobs, they plan to “give up” their dogs. The shelters are overcrowded; the rescues, including hers, overextended.

It’s into this environment that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has introduced a potentially catastrophic idea. At a special legislative session to address the state’s budget crisis, he proposed new taxes on certain services, including an approximate nine-percent charge on veterinary services.

What happens when the cost to see the vet jumps up by 9 percent? Animal advocates and veterinarians predict an even greater reduction in routine wellness visits—which means missing opportunities to treat problems early, and more affordably and effectively. They worry that people already struggling to keep animals in the family will be forced to abandon them rather than pay for treatment. Aside from the humane issues, there is also a practical matter: More abandoned animals will only add additional strain (and cost) to shelters and rescues.

This isn’t a solution. They are meeting as I blog. If you are a dog-loving California resident, contact your lawmaker.

 

News: Guest Posts
Paw It Forward

With Black Friday in the rearview mirror, it's time to think outside the big box store. In the spirit of do-good, feel-good opportunities, I introduce Maggie (Magnum, officially). He's been living in a Dogs Deserve Better foster home for three years. Now, I'm not suggesting you run out and adopt Maggie in a burst of egg nog-fueled euphoria. Adoption is obviously a serious commitment. But how about simply showering him with presents—a collar, leash, treats or a new washable bed, in particular—through DDB's Sponsor A Foster Dog Program?

And he’s not the only one. Maggie is one of many foster dogs, who were chained or penned for their entire lives before being rescued by DDL. They and their people could use a lift this season. Read the stories, view the photos, and tackle the wishlists of Freckles, Banshee, Maizy, Hannah Banana and the others. And deal with your own gift list by sponsoring a dog in the name of a pup-loving friend.

News: Guest Posts
18 Legislators Fail Animal-Protection Test

Five senators and 13 representatives scored big fat zeros for their efforts to protect animals this year, according to the latest Humane Scorecard. Every year, the folks at the Humane Society Legislative Fund provide a neat and tidy breakdown of the action on animal protection measures in the U.S. Congress, and this year, citizens can see which members did right (through key votes and cosponsorship) on initiatives including increasing dog-fighting penalties, stricter regulation of animals used in research, and incentives to relieve veterinarian shortages in rural areas. The scorecard is an excellent opportunity to bone up on the issues, gauge the efforts of your U.S. senators and congressmen, and gear up for action when the new Congress reconvenes in January.

Of the five senators to receive goose eggs, only George Voinovich of Ohio, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina will return will return next year. (We’ll be watching!) John Sununu of New Hampshire was defeated in the 2008 race and Pete Domenici of New York did not seek reelection for health reasons.
 

News: Guest Posts
Surf the Bark’s New, Improved Website

Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks? Today, The Bark launches a new site with expanded capabilities, and, boy, are our tails wagging! You'll find the full text of many of your favorite articles (with more added all the time), plus web-only magazine extras, such as a downloadable pattern for handmade window books, a video interview with Margaret Cho, and bonus gift picks for the holidays that we just couldn't fit in the December 2008 issue. At thebark.com, you get the skinny on events that celebrate dogs and early notice about exclusive contests, such as a chance to win a private theater screening of Hotel for Dogs to benefit your favorite shelter or rescue (more on that soon).

Most importantly, The Bark-online 2.0 gives us additional opportunities to hear from you. As always, we invite you to share your perspective in comments to the blog and to submit photos of your smiling dog. But we also hope you'll answer our online calls for creative input that might land your essay in our Readers' Forum or your dog on the cover. We've got our noses pressed to the window just waiting for you to stop by.

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