activities & sports
News: Guest Posts
New Yorker enlists Bark publisher as judge
Purroust, Dr. Zhi-doggo, Puppy Longstocking: Weird things happen when you invite New Yorker readers to dress up their dogs like literary characters. So, of course, you want to do it again. The second annual Critterati photo contest at newyorker.com gets rolling just in time for Halloween, and this year Bark’s co-founder and publisher Cameron Woo joins Susan Orlean and Alexandra Horowitz for his Simon Cowell turn. Even better, each of the five winners receives a copy of Photobooth Dogs, Cameron’s just published collection of photobooth portraits from the last 80 years.The 411 on the contest: Dress your pet as a literary character or writer (wordplay and whimsy encouraged), snap a photo and upload it to the Critterati gallery. The five favorites, selected by the judges and announced Oct. 27, will have their photographs featured in an online slideshow. (Read the contest rules.) You have time—submissions will be accepted through October 25—but don’t rest on your laurels. A black cape and fangs won’t cut it for this competition. Last year’s entries included Waiting for Dogot, Holden Clawfield, a pair of guinea pigs as Lilliputians, a cat hugging a doll as Lolita’s Humbert Humbert, and a chicken as fairly convincing Prince Genji. Check out the 2009 gallery. Good luck!
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month with your pup
This October, there are lots of ways to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month with your pup. From fundraising walks to grooming, check out these dog friendly ways to support a good cause.
Walks and Festivals:
Gloria Gemma Dog Walk - Oct. 9, Providence, R.I.
Canines for a Cure Dog Walk - Oct. 10, Lake Geneva, Wis.
Dogtoberfest - Nov. 6, Monroe Township, N.J.
Paws for Pink - All October at Dogtopia (various locations)
If you can’t make it out to one of the fundraising events, donating to breast cancer research is as easy as logging onto your computer. Whether you need a new food bowl, biscuits or a chew toy, you can find doggy products that support the cause. You can even get a Barking for a Cure bandana and matching leash so your pups can show their support.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Hotel amenities includes Paw Package
For people who still find their bank accounts overflowing in these troubled times, here is one way to deal with the “problem”: Spend money on your dog. In this story in the Palm Beach Daily News, the author tells of her adventures with her Jack Russell Terrier getting spa treatments together at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota.For $130, Maggie the Jack Russell received an hour-long massage from a certified massage therapist. Options include Swedish, full-body relaxation, sports or senior massage, all in the guest’s room to comply with health laws. Maggie’s guardian later had her own massage and reflexology treatment at the hotel spa. The complete Paw Package at the hotel consists of one of the massages, a canine manicure, a walk to an area full of shops, galleries and outdoor cafes, room service with organic pet stew, bottled water and a gourmet dog biscuit, and a souvenir photo. The cost for these luxuries is $350. What would you do with and for your dog if you had unlimited financial resources?
News: Guest Posts
... and help dogs, Oct. 2, Miami
You know how the classic image of a burly fireman rescuing a frightened kitten from a tree is so familiar, it’s a cliché. Well, a crew of shirtless Southern Florida firefighters are breathing new life into the old idea by coming to the aid of animals in need.All thanks to radio/television personality Jade Alexander, who decided to think outside the box and connect two charities with whom she’s been involved over the years, often as an emcee at their events. She asked Lieutenant Luis Espinosa, who created the calendar, to include Friends Forever Rescue (a Florida not-for-profit working to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome homeless and unwanted dogs), as one of the charities to benefit from the sales of the calendar. “Luis and Dee Chess (of Friends Forever Rescue) work tirelessly in helping the community in their individual efforts and I thought it would be a marriage made in heaven,” Alexander says. “Besides, can you imagine the cuteness factor of a firefighter holding a homeless dog? Of course, there’s the whole other audience that can’t resist a bunch of shirtless firefighters in bunker gear! Bottom line, the more calendars that are sold the more money we raise for abandoned and abused dogs.” Details: Meet the South Florida Firefighters Calendar Men, Saturday, Oct. 2, from 11 am–3 pm at Petsmart, 13621 S Dixie Highway, Miami.
Improving fitness plus being best friend
As dog lovers we know that our dogs are important to both our mental and physical health—our dogs with their daily “walkathon” needs induce us to be more active, for one. In 2009, researchers from the University of Missouri found that walking dogs makes people not only more consistent about regular exercise but those who walk with a dog showed greater overall improvement in fitness than those who simply walk with two-legged companions! Another study found that dog owners actually take 25 percent more steps per day than do those without dogs. Both studies looked at adults, excluding the younger family members.So recently, researchers in the UK set out to discover if dogs also increase the level of physical activity in children. They based their study on 9- to 10-year-olds, from 78 schools across the UK. The young participants wore activity monitors for a week (a small instrument that was worn over the left hip on an elasticized belt). Only 10 percent of the kids had a family dog—but they recorded the most “overall activity count, counts per minute, and steps compared with non-dog owners.” The authors of this study acknowledged the limitations of their study group, most from a less affluent urban population. Additionally, even though the dog-owning segment proved 4 percent more active, it’s far from the 25 percent recorded in the Canadian adult study. Nonetheless, their findings are important to our understanding of just how important dogs can be to all members of the family. How has having a dog affected your exercise patterns? And parents, can you really get your kids to walk or play with the dog?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Thank you canine family members!
When we moved to our first house in Wisconsin after years of being students and renting, we were very excited about our new life as homeowners. We couldn’t help feeling that life would be just a little easier, and just a little sweeter in this new place—820 square feet of “Well, at least we own it!” And it was true—life was good there. Of course, the reason wasn’t so much that we owned the place as that we met the most wonderful neighbors and the sense of community was so strong from our very first day in the house.And how did we get to know people so quickly that it made our lives better? Because we walked our dog a couple of times a day, and so did most of the people living near us. In my experience, there has never been a better way to meet your neighbors than walking your dog. As soon as we pulled up and before we unloaded the truck, we took Bugsy out for a walk, and immediately ran into a couple and their dog who I had met as my clients. Half a block later, we met another woman walking her two dogs—both black mutts like ours, and we walked together for a bit until we got to her house, all the while discussing the possible breeds that our dogs might have in them. Forty-five minutes later, we had met half a dozen more of our neighbors and their dogs, and felt incredibly welcome. By the end of the week, we had met a dozen more families that included dogs, and many of them had stopped by with wine, cookies, flowers, and from one kind neighbor who was clearly no stranger to moving, giant trash bags, some picture hangers and a magnet listing important local emergency numbers. That guy also brought over some dog treats—can you ever say you’ve met a more thoughtful person? Of course, many nice people who welcomed us into the neighborhood did not have dogs, but I’m convinced that having a dog was a key reason we met people quickly and that they were so good to us. I realize that dogs can often be a source of great tension between neighbors, such as when barking is an issue or dogs destroy a neighbor’s garden, or other property, or worst of all, if a dog is frightening another neighbor (especially children). But I still think more good than bad neighborhood relations result from having dogs. Has anyone else found that their dogs were excellent social facilitators when they moved to a new house?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Donate your old show ribbons to a good cause
My dog sport friends often tell me that they don’t take the ribbons they’ve won because they end up stuffed into old shoe boxes at home.
When I first started competing in agility and rally with my first dog, Nemo, I couldn’t believe that people had so many ribbons that they wouldn’t take them! Each of the prized ribbons Nemo and I earned meant so much to me, a representation of our hard work and a way to show family and friends why they hadn’t seen us for the last five weekends.
Now Nemo and I have been competing for three years and a good run means so much more than whether we qualify or place. I still display some of our ribbons, but most end up in a shoe box.
I’ve started repurposing ribbons, giving them out to children when we do therapy work at the local library. The flat qualifying ribbons actually make great bookmarks. I know other therapy teams who bring old ribbons with them to leave behind with patients they visit hospitals.
Recently a friend told me about Ribbon Recycling, which donates old ribbons to therapeutic horseback riding facilities. These organizations can’t afford to purchase ribbons for their patients, so funneling donations from dog and horse show people is a perfect match.
What do you do with your old show ribbons?
News: Guest Posts
Aerial fabric artist spins for dogs
Ever feel like your unique talents couldn’t possibly translate into helping animals? Well, Kyla Duffy could change your mind.
The first time I saw Duffy, who co-founded Happy Tails Books (which publishes collections of breed-specific adoption stories), was a few days ago at the opening reception for BlogPaws West 2010. (Over the next week, I’ll be writing about several of the dedicated and talented folks I met at the pet-centric blogging conference in Denver.)When I saw Duffy, she was wearing a pair of artistically torn leggings and dangling upside down from a few pieces of fabric. (See video below.) Seeing and hearing Duffy twist and turn a few yards away, I got a much more visceral appreciation for her talent than I did watching the distant, polished Cirque de Soliel aerialists years ago. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the audience didn’t see the slideshow promoting puppy mill awareness that accompanies her performance—and explained what she was doing there. While aerial acrobatics and rescue stories don’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly, I’m intrigued by the concept. Calling it “creative volunteerism,” sort of like volunteer vacations, Duffy is trying to do good through her creativity. And, I think it’s possible her performances could allow her to reach beyond the choir (i.e., folks like you reading this blog) to people who don’t yet know the challenges of pet overpopulation.
Duffy says she hopes to take her show and the road, and we’ll keep an eye out for her. Meanwhile, I’m wondering about what other surprising skills and talents are or could be put to good use for shelter dogs.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs herd balls in a new sport from Germany
I've always wanted to try herding with my Shelties, but it’s not easy to find sheep in the New York City area! Nemo is also a little impulsive, so his interaction with a sheep or duck seems like a big wild card to me. I guess I’m a little worried he’d pounce on a duck or get run over by a sheep, though admittedly I know nothing about herding.
This week, I discovered a sport that could let us try herding without having to drive out to a farm. In Treibball, German for driving ball, dogs are directed by their human handlers to herd eight balls (which sort of look like exercise balls) into a net.
The sport originated in Germany in 2003 and competitions have been held since 2008. Even if you have no interest in ever getting that serious, Treibball looks like a lot of fun.
Treibball has only recently come over to the United States. Some training schools have Treibball classes, but if you don’t have any in your area, there’s a Treibball book available so you can train at home. You can also join the American Treibball Association Facebook group to meet other enthusiasts.
I know a lot of people who are always looking for activities to do with working breeds, but access to sheep is limiting. Treibball is a fun sport that is accessible to all families with dogs. With the winter coming up, I’m thinking it would be fun to set up a modified version of this game indoors with smaller playground balls.
Check out this video to see what Treibball is all about.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
How many is too many?
There are so many ways to get people who care about dogs to voice strong opinions, and one hot topic lately relates to dog walkers who walk many dogs all at once. Many people have questions and concerns about this, and I am no exception.It worries me when I see a person walking more than four or so dogs, which is a very challenging thing to do. Many people who walk dogs are very knowledgeable about canine behavior and do what it takes to keep it safe and fun for all the dogs under their care. That includes walking dogs who are compatible with each other, keeping the number of dogs walked simultaneously at no more than four, and preferably even fewer most of the time, and constantly monitoring the dogs for any behavior that could lead to trouble between the dogs, including signs of stress. It takes a lot of education and experience to be able to handle this, and that’s why the best dog walkers are more than worth their fees. Regrettably, not everyone who walks dogs is up to this standard of care. Many people seem to feel that just loving dogs is enough of a qualification to take large numbers of them on a walk, whether the dogs are familiar with each other or not. Still other dog walkers may be putting profits over safety. Obviously with more dogs being walked at once, more money can be made. This raises many questions, especially in situations where a single person is walking many dogs on leashes at the same time. Can one person watch so many dogs at once in order to monitor their behavior? What if the dogs react to each other or to another dog? How could one person manage such a situation? Are these dog walkers picking up all the poop from so many dogs? Many other dogs are uncomfortable around such large groups of dogs and become intimidated. This is especially relevant at dog parks, and many people worry about taking their dogs to places where such large groups of dogs are present. Some places limit dog walkers to four dogs, though it is common in other places to see dog walkers with 8, 10, or even more dogs all at once. Should there be limits on the number of dogs that can be walked by a single person simultaneously in places such as dog parks and other public areas? I think that these kind of limits could help prevent problems, and help keep the dog walkers who truly are responsible from being outcompeted by people who are charging less but perhaps putting dogs at risk. What do you think? How many dogs is too many?
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