Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.
News: Guest Posts
October 28 2008
Just in time for Halloween, comes the horror story of an animal hoarder in California named Barbara Ryan. Let's just hope authorities can put an end to Ryan's systematic and repeated acts of cruelty and that they steer clear of the shelter that allegedly returned some victimized animals to the hoarder's care after an earlier raid. Dogs and cats have no choice but to depend on us; sometimes it's a very unlucky bargain for them.
News: Guest Posts
October 26 2008
Prowling around the Internet is a little like wandering through a used bookstore -- lots of times I don't find what I'm after but I still go home with a few goodies. Like today, I was searching for some information on leashes and stumbled onto this eye-opening story about a British teenager who lives as a pet. Watching my pups snoozing in the October sun, I thought, I can relate to the dream of embracing a dog's life. That is, until canine-wannabe Tasha Maltby told a reporter she doesn't go anywhere without her fiance at the other end of the leash.
News: Guest Posts
September 24 2008
When I read about the growing trend of pet-friendly dorms, I thought two things in quick succession. First, I would have really appreciated a furry ally during those cold and alienating years in upstate New York. Second, I barely took care of myself; how would a dog or a cat in my care have fared? While I love evidence of greater acceptance for our pet-loving lifestyles, I hope it's good news for all those four-legged roomies.
The Real Deal
These days it seems if you want to sell a product, all you need to do is slap the image of a dog on it. So an authentic—historic, even—dog-inspired label, such as Pointer Brand, stands out from the pack.
The Pointer in the Pointer Brand logo isn’t some imaginary dog conjured by Madison Avenue types to capture hunters’ imaginations. He’s Carolina Bill, the favorite birddog of Landon Clayton King. Legend has it, Bill was “very intense” and “showed excellent style and character” on point—making him the perfect inspiration for a line of tough and durable working clothes.
King founded the L. C. King Manufacturing Company in Bristol, Tenn., in 1913. He reasoned that if he could raise championship birddogs, he could produce championship bib overalls, coveralls, carpenter jeans, hunting apparel and denim chore coats. It’s a leap but there’s no denying this classic, affordable outdoor wear is well-suited to dog-centric activities. The indigo shop apron, for example, is a perfect match for grooming sessions.
Pointer Brand is seriously old school. Having survived two floods and a fire, it still operates out of its original location, with great-grandson Jack King now in charge. The clothes are sold mostly in mom-and-pop shops—as well as in über hip specialty stores, including Hand-Eye Supply in Portland, Ore. They do have a website, but they still take phone orders by hand.
The best part of the website is Pointer Brand People, an online bulletin board with photos of customers sporting the denim, duck cloth and hickory-stripe apparel, frequently with their dogs. Customers who send in photos receive either a free Pointer Brand cap or T-shirt.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Important lessons from a decade of missing pet recovery
A few days into a family vacation in faraway Bora Bora, Lynn Janata got an unwelcome email from her dog sitter in Renton, Wash.: We have a situation here. Cali has gone missing. The 14-month-old Australian Shepherd had bolted through an open garage door. Although the sitter took quick action, each time Cali was spotted, she was farther and farther from home.
With the help of friends in the Seattle area, Janata contacted Jim Branson, a volunteer with Missing Pet Partnership (MPP), a local group that helps recover lost animals. Branson’s black Labrador, Kelsy, is trained in scent-detection for tracking other dogs. Several times, Branson and Kelsy found Cali’s scent, but they weren’t able to keep up. The dog crisscrossed a three-by-five-mile territory during her seven days on the lam.
Every morning, from the island in the South Pacific, Janata ran down Cali sightings. “People gave so much of their help to try to find our dog,” she says. “But Cali was freaked out; she wouldn’t come to anyone.”
When the family returned from their distracted vacation, they went directly from the airport to search for their dog. Janata headed to the intersection where Cali had last been sighted. And she saw her. “To me, it was a miracle — there she was, sleeping on somebody’s front porch,” she says. “But in the back of my mind, I’m hearing Jim say, She might even bolt from you.”
So Janata sat on the ground with her back to Cali and set out her favorite stuffed toy and treats. When Cali didn’t come forward, Janata lay on her back. That’s when the errant pup started sniffing the air. “Then she just broke into a run and jumped into my arms,” she says. “I started crying.”
Sitting with her back to Cali was hard for Janata. “I’m sure she wanted to run to her when she spotted Cali in that yard,” Branson says. “She may have wondered if my advice to lie on the pavement was the best way to catch a dog.”
He had been skeptical once himself. “I was like everyone else before I learned about this,” he says of the approach, which is based on calming signals developed by Turid Rugaas, a renowned Norwegian dog trainer. “Almost nobody knows about this before we tell them, and it’s everybody’s natural instinct, when they see a dog on the run, to chase it. That almost never works.”
This is just one of several critical truths gleaned by MPP during a decade in pet recovery and hundreds of searches for lost dogs and cats.
It Takes a Village to Find a Lost Pet
We wrote about Albrecht in 2006, soon after she published her memoir, The Lost Pet Chronicles, which covered her transition from police-dog handler to pet detective (go to thebark.com/pet-detective to read the story online). At the time, she was a working pet detective in Fresno, Calif., focused on establishing a missing-pet recovery protocol and training lost-pet detection teams. Since then, she has moved her operation and shifted her focus. In 2008, she relocated to Federal Way, Wash., south of Seattle, where cooler, damper weather is better for training scent-detection dogs. She trained four new pet-search teams, of which Branson and Kelsy are the only active searchers.
Albrecht is, in general, moving away from training pet-tracking dogs. In part, unsavory pet detectives caused her change of heart. “Several people ended up claiming they had fully trained their dogs when they hadn’t,” and making promises they couldn’t keep, she says. Today, MPP volunteers help with local searches, including carrying out public alerts and deploying wildlife cameras and humane traps; they also provide sophisticated expertise, such as search dogs and magnet dogs (more on that later). They rent out equipment and ask for — but do not require — donations for consultations and scent-detection-dog services.
Albrecht’s current mission is to create training partnerships with animal shelters so they can deploy their own volunteers to help recover lost pets. MPP recently formed a partnership with the King County Animal Shelter in Kent, Wash., where they plan to launch the first-ever lost pet search-and-rescue team on July 1, 2011. Ultimately, they hope to take this training program to shelters nationwide.
Number One Lost Dog Recovery Method
Take the case of a Chihuahua named Sukhi. Last year, she escaped on July 3. Her frantic owners contacted MPP on July 5, and five volunteers staked out the busiest intersection in Seattle’s Central District near Sukhi’s home, holding bright posters with Sukhi’s photo and CHIHUAHUA, RED COLLAR in large type. Within 20 minutes, someone driving through the intersection pulled over to say that Sukhi was at their house.
“The owners had put out hundreds of flyers prior to that, all of which had escaped the notice of this person, but these big signs are impossible to ignore, especially with someone there holding them,” Branson says. The “protest” creates a sense of urgency.
Intersection interventions are based on studies of “inattentional blindness,” which Albrecht read about in Temple Grandin’s book, Animals in Translation. “The hypothesis is that if you’re not paying attention to something, you won’t perceive it; it’s as if it’s not even there,” Albrecht says. The protests are designed to break through that blindness. (A related strategy is to tag a vehicle — providing the same key identifiers as on the posters — in neon ink on the back window.)
Even without staging protests, giant, bright, concise signs yield results — even weeks after old-fashioned 8-by-11 paper flyers have become rain-soaked, tattered and ineffective.
The approach for a missing dog is very different from that used to find a missing cat. Dogs run. Cats hide. To find a missing cat, you need a detailed search of your own and nearby properties. Wildlife cameras and humane traps are also helpful. To find a dog, “a search needs to be very visible,” Albrecht says. “Just massive, obnoxious marketing.”
Enduring Lesson: Persistence
Last October, for example, a cat named Burley hid in his own Sammamish, Wash., backyard for 33 days. It took persistence and encouragement, plus a motion-activated infrared wildlife camera and humane traps rented from MPP, to recover the cat.
“Having a resource like Missing Pet Partnership allows people to keep looking; it gives them tools [that help them] take active steps in the recovery of their animal rather than waiting and hoping,” Branson says. “Giving them encouragement [to look] increases the likelihood of a positive outcome.”
New Tool: Magnet Dogs
After escaping from their yard in Federal Way, Wash., Mack and his buddy Rocco, a pair of blue Pit Bulls, went missing for almost a month. Their owner, who was serving in Iraq, was devastated. When MPP volunteer Ryan Gamache learned about them, he made it his personal mission to recover the dogs.
Unfortunately, he discovered that Rocco had been killed and Mack had fled. But the bad news at least gave Gamache a starting point. He posted giant, neon posters that read “LOST BLUE PIT BULL BLUE COLLAR” along the major roadway near where Rocco had died. Immediately, leads came in.
Following up on a tip, he set out food and a wildlife camera, which caught images of the elusive missing dog. He then placed a humane trap near the camera, but for several days, the wary Pit Bull eluded capture. Then, a full week passed with no new photos. Gamache was discouraged, but not about to give up. (Remember, persistence!)
On January 26, he and two other MPP volunteers displayed new posters close to the last sighting. Leads flooded in the next morning. Around 11 am, MPP received fresh intel. This time, Albrecht wasn’t willing to run the risk of losing Mack. She headed to the scene with her magnet dog, Kody, a super-friendly Whippet mix. Through a variety of cell-phone machinations, Albrecht ended up just down the street from Mack, with Kody on a long leash.
“Mack immediately began to wag his tail, and walked right up to sniff noses with a tail-wiggling Kody,” Albrecht says. “My Snappy Snare was positioned over Kody’s nose so that when they sniffed noses, I could move it over Mack’s head, release the ring and catch Mack. It was a textbook capture!”
It’s also an illustration of a central philosophy of Missing Pet Partnership: try to think like the lost dog — in Mack’s case, like a dog who likes other dogs. It’s just one of many effective tools in a toolbox compiled over a decade of recovering lost pets.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Pups very much at home in Texas tower
In mid-June, when the first owners moved into the Austonian, a 56-story luxury high-rise in Austin’s up-and-coming Second Street District, some of their welcome gift bags included biscuits from the Groovy Dog Bakery. This was just one of many gestures aimed at making new canine residents feel at home.
“Anybody who visits Austin can see from the get-go that it’s a pet-friendly city, and during development we considered the importance of embracing our future homeowners’ pets as an extension of the family,” says Austonian marketing director JoAnna Nuding, who, like everyone on the development team, has a dog. In her case, a 10-yearold black rescue Pug named Sadie.
“We asked ourselves, What is going to make someone want to bring a pet into an urban environment?” Nuding says. The answer: A 600-square-foot dog park on the 10th floor with selfdraining artificial turf; a fully loaded indoor grooming area where owners can DIY or arrange for in-building “spa” services with nearby Dirty Dog (one of several neighborhood pet businesses, including a vet and doggy daycare, partnering with the new establishment); a designated pet elevator; dog-loving staff primed to lend a hand including in-a-pinch walks, even at 3 am; and, importantly, no breed or size restrictions.
Offering amenities and services that go beyond the merely pet-friendly is the norm at many new high-end condos — from One Park Place in Kansas City to Sky Las Vegas on the Strip to the Residences at the Ritz Carlton in Toronto.
Why go so far for dogs? Luxury-minded empty nesters are downsizing, and “the mindset of the empty nester is the kids are gone but thank God I’ve still got my dog,” Austonian general manager Terry Arteburn says. “The dogs are now their children,” and for them, only the best will do. Ranging from $586,000 to $7.2 million and up, 40 percent of the Austonian’s 178 units were sold as of early summer.
Dog's Life: Humane
Sue Wiese is a trucker and animal lover who knows how to get the most out of her telephone headset. Founder of Operation Roger, a nonprofit organization made up of regional and long-haul truckers who volunteer their time to transport needy pets as they deliver freight nationwide, she says the idea came to her not long after Hurricane Katrina. She discussed it with friends and family, and they convinced her to go on a truck call-in show. When it was her turn to talk, she asked if there were any drivers interested in helping move needy pets across the country. “There was absolute silence. You don’t have silence on radio,” she says. When the host finally got over the shock, they talked for another 15 minutes, and by the time the show ended, she had a dozen truckers’ calls to return. All of those original 12 are still active in Operation Roger, and they’ve been joined by another 30 or so; Wiese says they could use many more. The payback for the drivers? “They feel like they’re giving back to the community, which they can’t do at home, because they’re not there.”
Dog's Life: Humane
The idea behind the new Animal Rescue Association of the Americas (AnRAA) is simple: pull together as a community for the betterment of all. Of course, anyone who’s volunteered with rescues knows this is easier said than done.
Still, AnRAA cofounder and executive director Denise Sproul is undeterred. For years, as the founder of Cascade Beagle Rescue, she longed for a professional association that would create humane standards and a certification program that rewarded and promoted responsible rescues while isolating and deterring unscrupulous ones. Plus, Sproul believed that more animals could and would be saved if launching and maintaining a rescue group were made easier with the advice and help of veterans.
AnRAA offers cost-saving member benefits, peer mentoring and support for new rescues. The group also promotes humane education, legislation and increasing the visibility of volunteer rescue groups. However, the certification program is the core mission.
“That’s an enormous undertaking; it’ll take time, patience and much vetting among members,” says Ketzel Levine, AnRAA creative and communications director. “En route to that goal, we feel that every step we take, from peer mentoring to streamlining administrative tools, will enable groups to capitalize on each others’ wisdom and experience and focus on the task at hand: saving lives.”
AnRAA became a nonprofit in 2008, then officially launched with its new website in January. “We’re cruising toward 200 members and celebrate like fools over every one,” Levine says. Charter members include Rancho de Chihuahua Rescue, Paw Team, the Galapagos Preservation Society, TLC Canine Center and Pacific Northwest Pit Bull Rescue. Membership fees are on a sliding scale, beginning at $25.
Wellness: Food & Nutrition
Denizens of the Middle East, Africa and India have long believed camel milk — loaded with fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins — contains medicinal, aphrodisiac and even magical properties. Now it appears to hold promise for dogs in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, if promise can be derived from a small 2009 study in Tunisia. Researchers at the Arid Land Institute found that dogs given 250 or 500 milliliters of raw camel milk (which is naturally high in insulin) daily experienced a significant and lasting decrease in blood glucose, as well as decreases in protein concentrations and cholesterol levels after three weeks.
It’s one of many studies touted by Millie Hinkle, a naturopathic doctor in Chapel Hill, N.C., who has for years championed the potential for camel milk in treating humans for autism, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, food allergies, Crohn’s and Parkinson’s diseases and more. But until recently, the milk of two-toed ruminants was not available in the U.S.
In 2009, Hinkle successfully lobbied the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to permit the sale of camel milk for the first time. In addition, her company, Camel Milk USA, helps domestic camel dairies get started — using dromedary camels, which are heartier, more productive and more common than the two-humped Bactrian camel. As of June, there were nine established and 13 planned camel dairies — all in states that can legally sell raw camel milk for dogs. (States set their own regulations for raw and pasteurized milk sales.) She also facilitates domestic medical research on camel milk, which currently includes a study focused on treating lymphoma in dogs.
Meanwhile, Hinkle gave camel milk (left over from a study) to her own dog, a young Maltese named Winter. “His behavior changed immediately,” she says. Normally “he’s a barker; he won’t stop. He’s sort of aggressive. We gave him the milk and he became very settled. The barking stopped. I said, ‘Boy, I really need this.’” Fair warning: Winter also gained two pounds in a week.
Villard, 320 pp., 2008; $24
It's always "beer-thirty" for Gill, the underemployed commitment-phobe at the center of Merrill Markoe’s new novel, Nose Down, Eyes Up. Launched by his own stunning lack of maturity and a dog-ona- mission named Jimmy, Gil ricochets through a tidy plot that has him bouncing like a pinball between his longtime girlfriend Sara, a well-meaning animal communicator, and his ex-wife Eden, “a sexual idiot savant”—with an entertaining rebound into the heart of his dysfunctional family in Sedona.
This is classic Markoe terrain and a perfect bookend to Walking in Circles Before Lying Down (Villard, 2006). As in her previous novel, this anti-hero can talk to dogs, and one of the wickedest consequences of his talent is how it throws into relief Sara’s abilities.When a Chihuahua named Cecile “tells” Sara she’s not eating because of emotional issues, Gil hears that the new holistic dog food tastes like soap.
Most voluble among the dogs is Jimmy, whom Gil raised from puppyhood. The square-headed black dog with wavy fur, something of a canine motivational speaker, offers advice for securing walks, treats and bed privileges.“Memorize this phrase: ‘Drop nose, raise eyes.’ It’s the cornerstone of my teachings,” Jimmy tells the neighborhood hounds.
But Jimmy’s confidence in the way things work is shaken when he discovers Gil is not his biological dad. Clearly rattled, he explains, “I figured I was in a transitional phase, like a caterpillar larva. That one day I’d wake up, lose a lot of this hair, and start walking on my hind legs. Maybe get a set of keys and learn to drive.” Being told he’s property —“Like a lawn mower or a vacuum cleaner? Like a slave?”—doesn’t improve the situation.
When Jimmy reconnects with his actual DNA, dog and man are forced to redefine the true meaning of family, especially the reconstituted kind wherein dogs play a central role. In the wrong hands, this could have been saccharine territory, but not with Markoe, who slathers her warm fuzzy insights in a funny, tart sauce.
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