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News: Guest Posts
Dog Date
At the drive-in

My boyfriend Jason often accuses me of trying to shoehorn the dogs into activities he feels aren’t an ideal fit: birthday parties, beach trips, Saturday morning brunches. Now, we have one more activity we can add to the list: Friday date nights.

  When Friday rolls around, I’m ready for fun with Jason but feel terrible if it means leaving the dogs home. What makes it worse are the hopeful looks on the dogs’ faces. Oh hey, you’re home! Yeah, change out of those work clothes... Hmm, those don’t look like hiking shoes... You’re going to be a little cold in that dress... Hey wait, where are you going? You forgot our leashes … and us! It’s enough guilt to ruin a date.   Recently, thanks to Bark’s articles about summer fun with your dog (see “Outward Hound” in Summer 2010 issue), I discovered the perfect dog + date night solution: the drive-in theater! The only question: Is my local drive-in dog-friendly? While I lived the majority of my teen years by the adage, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, I’ve grown less adventurous with age, particularly in this case because I didn’t want to drive 40 minutes only to be turned away.   I tried contacting the theater with no luck. When I asked friends and family if they had brought their dogs to the drive-in before, a few had, but they snuck them in under blankets. Others said they remembered seeing a “NO DOGS” sign a few years back. Jason said he didn’t want to smuggle the dogs into the theater because he’d be too stressed out about the whole ordeal, plus the dogs wouldn’t likely cooperate. It seemed like I only had one option: Lie to Jason and just go for it.   As we approached the drive-in, I pulled over for a second and told Jason I had forgotten something. Then I pulled out a large blanket from the backseat and threw it on his lap. “What’s this for?” he asked.   “So it turns out they might not be dog-friendly here, and I just didn’t want to tell you because I really wanted to go!”   “What? This is insane.”   “I know, but just put this blanket over Skipper on your lap, and they won’t notice Leo because he’s asleep and since he’s black and he’ll blend in.”   Jason rolled his eyes and begrudgingly accepted the blanket.   We pulled up to the ticket-booth and I calmly addressed the teenage cashier, “Two for The Other Guys at 10:15?”   So far so good. I handed the cashier a twenty. He returned my change. “Thank you, turn your radio to 93.6 FM.” Suddenly, both dogs leaped up and barked. Skipper practically jumped out the window. I smiled nervously as the teenager looked at me and said, “Enjoy your show.”   I honestly don’t know if the drive-in had a dog-friendly policy, or if the teenagers running the joint just didn’t care. Either way, Jason and I had a great date with the dogs. We can’t wait to go back.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Joyful Experiences with Dogs
Can you beat running on the beach?

I took this photo of Caity running with her dog Maggie while I was vacationing with my extended family in Cannon Beach, Ore. I had never met either one of them until that day, but when they zoomed by together, I just had to capture the moment.

  I am an obsessive beach and ocean lover, running is my favorite sport, and I hope it goes without saying that I’m a dog person, so for me, all of them together are about as good as it gets. Of course, if I could eat chocolate at the same time without choking, that would probably increase my enjoyment of the experience slightly, but that’s only theoretical since I’ve never tried it.   What I want to know from you is what experiences with your dog give you the greatest happiness? What are la crème de la crème of all the joyful, fulfilling moments you spend with your dog?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Baseball Breed Ban
Petco Park event bans German Shepherds and other breeds

As a dog lover and a baseball fan, I always look forward to the New York Mets’ Bark in the Park every summer. At the annual event, canine fans are invited to CitiField to watch the game alongside their humans. “Dog days” have become popular promotions at baseball stadiums around the country and, as you can imagine, the Padres’ Petco Park is one of them.

Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to enjoy this Friday’s event in San Diego. Padres fan, Ted Lew, couldn’t wait to attend the Dog Days of Summer event with his German Shepherd, Joey, so he signed up as soon as tickets were made available earlier this year. However, just weeks before the game, Lew received a letter stating that the event had sold out.

After many inquiring phone calls, Lew found out that the real reason he couldn’t attend the event with Joey was because of a breed ban that included German Shepherds. According to the Padres, the breed ban is in effect for safety reasons but they are unable to disclose the exact breeds that are banned, only that the number is between 10 and 15.

I’m guessing insurance may have a part in the Padres’ decision, though many other ballparks offer this promotion without a breed ban. However, the Padres have made this situation even worse by not making the ban explicit, seemingly turning dogs away at random. 

If the Padres must have the breed ban, couldn’t they work with their insurance company to allow exceptions for dogs with therapy or Canine Good Citizen certifications? And at the very least, they should make their decision public instead of hiding behind the excuse of having “limited space” at the event.

How do you think the Padres should’ve handled this situation?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Restaurant Etiquette
Ensure that your pup will be invited back

Last year I wrote about my love of dining out with my pups. Fortunately in New York, most restaurants with outdoor seating allow dogs, so finding one is as easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood. Even if I don’t have my canine crew with me, I like to support pet friendly establishments. Recently, I discovered a website dedicated to dog friendly reviews, PetFriendlyRestaurants.com.

  The website uses a bone rating system from one bone, awarded to restaurants that simply allow pets, to three bones, bestowed on restaurants that go out of their way to welcome dogs with water bowls and treats.   A lot of the places I frequent, such the Boat Basin Café in New York, are on the website with numerous multi-bone reviews. As I browsed through the listings, I was sad to see that many local favorites no longer welcome dogs.    Some are unavoidable, such as George Keeley’s, which was forced to stop letting dogs inside the bar after one too many health code fines. But others may have been preventable, such as Grey Dog’s Coffee, which banned animals after a dog bit a child. Unfortunately, Grey Dog’s Coffee isn’t the first to do so. I’ve heard about numerous other restaurants that have had to stop allowing pets after patrons failed to pick up after their dogs or let unruly pups disturb other customers.   It’s too bad that everyone has to suffer because of a few irresponsible people. This problem could be eliminated if people had the common sense to bring only well-behaved pets and to be vigilant about monitoring behavior. Even the most well trained dog can have a bad day. If I’m going to a restaurant, I always bring a chew toy to keep Nemo occupied and tie his leash to my chair, just in case. When Nemo was a puppy, if he got antsy, we would walk him around the block in between dishes.    For more tips, check out DogsLifeKC.com’s Dog Restaurant Etiquette to keep your pup on his best behavior!

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Swimming at the Local Pool
Dogs welcomed this week

Many dogs love to swim, and so do many people. Being able to do it together makes it even much better for many pairs. For residents of Charleston, West Virginia, this week provides a special opportunity. At the end of the season, one pool is open to dogs. In the week before season’s end, dogs are allowed to come in and have a good time in the water. Soon after, the pool is drained for the winter.

  I’ve never heard of pools that welcome dogs. Do any in your area allow dogs?

 

News: Guest Posts
Every Dog Has His Day
A birthday bash for Leo

It’s August, and that means one thing around here: Leo’s birthday is coming up. Maybe it’s because I like to throw parties or I’m obsessed with my dogs (or both), but it’s a priority for me to acknowledge my dogs’ birthdays. Leo’s big day is the day before my best friend Carrie’s, which means a dual birthday party to ensure a better turnout. (For some reason, Carrie is more popular than Leo; she always draws a crowd.) Last year’s celebration combined their interests: Carrie’s abiding love of Elton John and my dog’s passion for dancing. We picked a perfect party playlist, invited all of our friends (both human and canine), and baked two cakes, one for dogs and one for humans.

  I should mention to those of you who are rolling your eyes at me as you’re reading this, I know throwing a birthday party for your dog is borderline ridiculous. But here’s my rationale:
  • I love parties: I’m not talking about the kind of parties where someone brings an plastic jug of Montezuma Gold tequila and you end up with 10 people passed out in your living room, or awkwardly poking your friend awake and asking them to remove their head from the kennel so you can hose it out before putting the dogs to bed. That kind of fun isn’t fair to the dogs or to my post-party cleanup efforts.
  • Parties at home mean I don’t get home late for the dogs. As a dog parent, I can tell you that every party is less enjoyable on some level if I’m sitting in a corner looking at my watch, wondering how much longer I can afford to stay without the dogs wondering if I’ll ever come home. A party at home means I can see that my friends and my dogs are all having a great time: Everyone wins.
  • The dogs can be where they’re comfortable—in the spotlight. If you were to use one word to describe my dogs and me, it would be gregarious. Two words: attention hounds. My dogs’ favorite thing about parties is the abundance of laps to sit in and pant legs to sniff. We appreciate a captive audience for our hilarious party tricks (guests who come over all know about the incredible Hula-hoop of Fire….don’t worry, it’s actually just a Hula-hoop with orange streamers attached!). Best of all, the dogs can let me know when they’ve had enough fun and want to be put to bed, even if the party is still going (although Leo usually manages to stay awake longer than even me).
  • Using a dog’s birthday as an excuse to throw a party might be seen as ridiculous to some, but to me it’s a great for our social life. Plus dog poop is easier to clean up than vomit.   What about you, thinking of throwing a dog party?  

     

    Dog's Life: Lifestyle
    Too Much of a Good Thing
    Water intoxication strikes active dogs in the summer

    During the summer months, a big concern is placed on preventing dogs from overheating. I’ve been doing a lot of running with my pups lately, so I’ve been very careful about keeping them hydrated. 

    When I ran the race earlier this month, I made sure that we took plenty of water breaks. I even used a flavored canine sports drink to encourage Nemo to drink liquids. Having previously suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration myself, I’m careful to not let anything happen to my dogs.

    So you can imagine my shock when I recently learned that excessive amounts of water can actually be deadly. When too much water is consumed in a short period of time (especially if the dog isn’t urinating or throwing up any of the water), the balance of electrolytes in the body is disrupted, which can cause a disturbance in brain function. Water intoxication can lead to brain damage, heart failure, and death.

    Fortunately water poisoning isn’t common, but it’s important to be aware of the danger. The most frequent cases involve swimming dogs that ingest too much water or exercising or playing dogs that drink too many fluids. 

    Symptoms include lethargy, nausea, a bloated appearance, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, lack of coordination, light gum color, and excessive salivation. Symptoms can progress quickly to difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

    Because water intoxication can progress so quickly, time is critical. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, get to a vet immediately to run blood work. A low level of electrolytes will confirm the condition. Treatment includes fluids, to put electrolytes back in the system, and sometimes a diuretic.

     

    Dog's Life: Lifestyle
    Getting a Bad Rap
    Loose dogs clash with cyclists

    Loose neighborhood dogs remain one of the biggest concerns for cyclists on the road. Aggressive dogs are at the top of the list, but even friendly dogs can cause a cyclist to come crashing to the ground. These clashes can result in serious injuries for both the human and dog involved. 

    Many bike clubs around the country have guidelines about how to deal with dogs en route, which shows that these crashes may be more common than we realize.

    Canine crashes are even a problem for the professionals. Earlier this month, a stray dog crossed the road right in front of the Tour de France riders, taking down several cyclists. Apparently dog crashes are a regular occurrence during the prestigious event.

    So where are these dogs coming from? The wayward hound in the Tour de France was reportedly a stray, but most of the dogs encountered by everyday cyclists are not homeless. 

    At first I was shocked when I learned about this problem, but then I thought about my own experience around my neighborhood. When walking or running with my pups, I always see many unsupervised, unleashed dogs sitting on their front lawn. Most stay on their property, sometimes with a menacing bark, but others have run after us down the street. Not only is it scary for me and my dogs, but it’s not safe for the dog coming after us because he could easily be hit by a car or tangle with the wrong animal.

    As well behaved as my dogs might be, I would never trust them to be unattended in an unfenced yard. You never know what distractions may lead them to dart into the street. 

    Are loose dogs common in your neighborhood?

    Dog's Life: Lifestyle
    Race Day
    16 loyal dogs join the NYC Triathletes in Central Park

    On Sunday, race day was finally here. Sixteen human-canine teams came from all over the country to run in the Iams Doggy Dash, which took place in conjunction with the New York City Triathlon. 

    Nemo and I have been training for the Iams Doggy Dash since we signed up last year. Between running agility courses and romping around with his sister, Ella, Nemo is in pretty good shape. Even so, five miles is a considerable distance to run, especially on a hot July day.

    My plan was to pull out if it was too hot, but fortunately we were running at 8 a.m. and I was impressed by the steps taken by race organizers to ensure that the dogs were safe.

    Each pup had access to their own personalized water station before and after the race. Veterinarians from Animal Medical Center checked the dogs pre-, mid-, and post-race to make sure the canine participants were in good health. Some of the symptoms they looked out for were irregular heartbeat, blisters on the foot pads and high body temperature.

    There were also plenty of stations throughout the course for rehydrating and a mandatory 5-minute break at the mid-point where dogs were given a sponge bath with cool water.

    Nemo and I got lots of cheers and encouragement from the triathletes running alongside us and from the many spectators. In the end, the Rembrandt Cup (a big shiny red fire hydrant) was taken home by a Standard Poodle Eli and his teammate Anthony, but I was really proud of Nemo. I noticed a huge improvement in his fitness and endurance from when we started training. 

    I know Nemo loves running, he always spins around and barks when he sees me reach for his running harness, but I also know he could care less if we participate in a race. Events like the Iams Doggy Dash really go to show the loyalty of our pups. I know Nemo will always be by my side, no matter what crazy activities I get myself into!

    News: Editors
    Therapeutic Trees
    Another health bonus from walking your dog

    The New York Times had an interesting article about studies examining the health benefits of nature. Researchers have found that spending time in places with trees aplenty, such as parks and forests, is good for us and has a positive affect on our immune functions. Seems as if stress reduction is one factor that the scientists attribute to phytnocides, the “airborne chemicals that plants emit to protect them from rotting insects.”  The Japanese have taken this to heart and even partake in a practice called “forest bathing.” 

     

    As The Times notes, “the scientists found that being among plants produced lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure, among other things.” So for all of you who walk your dogs in the woods, not only are you doing the right thing by providing sensory stimulation and exercise for them but you too get a healthy boost from the trees!

     

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