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News: Guest Posts
Celebrate Canine Roommates
Help a dedicated dog person win $10,000+

Two wonderful pups—the delightfully verbal Charlie and a trick-happy rescue named Abby—have made it into the group of ten finalists in Apartments.com’s Roommate of the Year Contest. I blogged about this video competition in May because, well, I was impressed by the more-than-decent prize—your rent paid for one year plus $10,000. You could raise a lot of dog-centric fun with that kind of dough. And I figured since dogs really do make fabu roommates, who wouldn’t want to tell the world about it?

  What I love about the submissions by Kathryn McGonigle (with Charlie) and Suzanne Marshall (with Abby) is how well cared for and engaged their dogs appear to be.   Check out all the finalists—there are pitches for two-legged roommates as well, whatever—and vote once daily for your favorite through July 30.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Extreme Primping
Is competitive grooming embarrassing for the pups?

Last month I read about dogs in China dyed to resemble wild animals. It seemed so outrageous that I didn’t think it could possibly be true. After checking web sites like Snopes, It looked like it was indeed real.

As crazy as it sounds, the desire to transform dogs into wild animals is not limited to China. A new show called Extreme Poodles on TLC follows four groomers and their adventures in the world of competitive dog grooming. The pups are cut and styled to look like all sorts of things from a lion to a basket of flowers. The winner will get $5,000 and a cover story in Groomer to Groomer magazine.

I suppose the dogs aren’t being harmed, and if anything, they’re getting a lot of attention and are well taken care of, but it seems a little embarrassing for the dogs. None of the dogs that I saw looked particularly stressed out, although it was hard to see their faces under all of that primping, but I can’t imagine that they enjoy standing on the grooming table for that long!

What do you think? Are you a fan of competitive grooming?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Take Your Dog To Work Day
Live the dream on June 25, 2010

A very rare percentage of people feel that their job is so fantastic that there is little that could be done to make it better. For most of the rest of the world, one simple perk could make their work so much more enjoyable—if they could just bring their dog with them. Being allowed to bring dogs to work has so many advantages both for employees and for the businesses that allow it.

  Julia Kamysz Lane profiled four of the companies that welcome dogs. There are many other companies that allow their employees to bring their dogs to work every day.   Among the benefits of allowing dogs at the office are increased face-to-face interactions between co-workers. It is a real morale booster to have dogs around, and any employer smart enough to want the people who work at the company to be happy deserves the resulting increases in productivity, esprit de corps, loyalty, and general sense of well being. Then, there’s the fact that employees are not in a rush to get out the door to let their dogs out.   Of course, whether you do it every day or just once a year, there is certain “petiquette” and advice worth following to ensure a positive experience for all.   Since 1999, Bring Your Dog To Work Day has been a wonderful event for anyone who must leave a dog behind to go to work on all the other days of the year. This year, the event is Friday, June 25, 2010. The original purpose of this day is to celebrate what great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from shelters, rescue groups and humane societies.   Are you allowed to bring your dog to work, and if so, how much does that add to your job satisfaction? Do you plan to bring your dog to work on June 25?

 

News: Guest Posts
Walk a Mile in Their Booties
Puppy Up! in Boston, Saturday, 6/19/10

Luke Robinson’s epic trek is almost over—and friends and supporters can join him and his dogs for their final mile into Boston. When you think about it, 5,280 feet is the least you can do if you’re nearby, after all, Robinson and his two Great Pyrenees, Hudson and Murphy, have logged 2,400 miles to get this far. The journey began two years ago, when Robinson left Austin with his two, big white furballs on a march to raise awareness about and money for research to eradicate metastatic bone cancer, to which his beloved dog Malcolm (also a Great Pyrenees) succumbed in 2006. A memorial service to honor loved ones touched by cancer will precede the walk (9:30 a.m., Kelleher Rose Garden Back Bay Fens) and a Puppy Up! Festival and Gala will follow in the afternoon and evening. Find complete Saturday details here. And read the blog.

 

Watch the Today Show interview with Luke, Hudson and Murphy. Man, those are big, beautiful dogs!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Channeling Instinct
Taking house pets to the field

Earlier this year I took my Sheltie, Nemo, to a K9 nose work seminar to try out the growing sport. I had a blast watching Nemo hunt for a hidden food pouch and I could tell from his enthusiasm that he was having just as much fun as I was.

The best part was that we could dive right in. Any dog can participate because there is no training required for the beginning stages. For dogs, using their powerful noses comes naturally and it’s a great form of exercise, both mentally and physically.

Dog sport enthusiasts who participate in field, tracking, and herding trials have long known about the benefits of tapping into their pets’ instincts. Now many dog clubs are starting to extend field trials, a test of a pup’s hunting skills, to amateurs to encourage people to get their dogs off of the couch.

Last month the Susquehanna and Berkshire Valley Basset Hound Clubs hosted the Fun Field Trial, which pairs newbie dogs with prizewinning field dogs. Walking together, the two people and dogs walk the trial grounds in search of rabbits. When one is spotted, the dogs are unleashed to see what they will do. The trained dog usually sniffs and runs after the rabbit, but the open question is if the inexperienced dog will join in.

According to the Fun Field Trial founder, Kenneth Engle, the dogs relearn the skills quickly since this is what they were bred to do. 

It’s good to see more canine sport clubs create more opportunities for people and their pups to participate in activities like nose work and field trials. Doing agility and rally with my dogs has strengthen our relationship and given us an excuse to be active together.

To find a field trial or other dog sport event in your area, search the events calendar on the American Kennel Club website.

News: Guest Posts
Ick, Ugh, Eeek!
Is it really fun to celebrate ugly dogs?

The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest (Dog Lover’s Festival, Sonoma-Marin Fair, Petaluma, Calif., June 25) brings out the buzz kill in me. Sweet, unsuspecting pups “celebrated” for tufted hair, bucked or missing teeth, disproportionate bodies, wrinkles and bumps, baldness and protruding tongues—many of these exaggerations introduced by breeders in the first place and sometimes creating very real health challenges. It just feels like stories of “pig parties” (where frat members compete to bring the ugliest date to a party) or the flipside of beauty contests, which I don’t much like either.

  This is not to say that many of the other events at the Dog Lover’s Festival—such as tips for adopting a dog from the Sonoma Humane Society, Paws for Reading’s kids reading to dogs, and a Nose Work demonstration (see our story on K9 Nose Work)—aren’t worthy offerings.

 

News: Guest Posts
Curing Wakeolepsy
With “Yankees Fantasy Camp for canines”

Robbie Brown’s story, “Putting the Pounce Back in Your Pup” (New York Times, 6/11/10) serves as a welcome—and funny—spur in the side of complacent dog folk. He reminds us: It’s never too late to try to teach your old dog new tricks when he takes his pampered Bassett, Elvis, to the Fun Field Trial, which pairs laidback Bassets, Beagles, Dachshunds and Petit Basset Griffon Vendéens with seasoned hunters in an effort to rouse latent instincts. (Oh, and if you’re wondering about “wakeolepsy,” that’s Brown’s tongue-in-cheek term for his dog’s brief periods of being awake, mostly to eat.)

News: Guest Posts
Big, Fat, Free Adoptathon, June 12-13
Maddie’s Fund underwrites an unprecedented Bay Area effort

The Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon isn’t your typical adoption drive. It’s big (41 participating shelters and adoption-guarantee organizations), ambitious (aiming to empty all the shelters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties), and, most important for potential adopters, FREE! Oh, and it’s a fundraiser for the participating organizations.

 

And that’s not all: The adoptathon is only a step in Maddie’s Fund’s jaw-dropping goal to save all adoptable animals in the country. We asked the organization president Rich Avanzino to break it down for us.

 

Is this the first free adoptathon Maddie’s Fund has sponsored?

It’s the largest one as far as we know in the Bay Area, bringing over 41 different shelters and adoption-guarantee groups [together] in a collaborative effort to empty the shelters to save all the healthy, treatable animals’ lives. As far as I know, it’s the first one to be done for free in the Bay Area, ever, and it’s also the first attempt to empty the shelters countywide in both Alameda and Contra Costa. It’s going to save a lot of lives.

 

Who pays for the adoptions?

Maddie’s Fund will pay $500 for every adoption [they normally range from about $50 to a couple hundred dollars] so it’s not just covering the cost to the shelters; it’s giving them a little more incentive to help save these lives. And in a tough economy like we’re suffering with today many of the not-for-profits and the municipalities are hurting for money. So this is an effort to recognize their great efforts … and to draw attention to the fact that both the rescue organizations and the shelters have wonderful pets available for adoption all the time.

 

I didn’t realize there was this stimulus side.

Yes. It’s a win-win. Obviously the people who take home a pet are going to have the opportunity to have the love of their life. The animals obviously get their lives saved, which is rather spectacular because these are wonderful beings that just need to find a home. And then it will provide a little monetary incentive for the shelters and rescue groups to carry on their great services and provide the wonderful programs that they do to save animals.

 

Why is it called Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon?

This is done in the spirit of the little dog that Maddie’s Fund is named after, a miniature Schnauzer who enriched the lives of our founders Dave and Cheryl Duffield. They promised to basically do right by her by giving back in dollars some of what she gave them in love. We started with a $300 million gift to help animals in need of loving homes. We think this has the potential to be a model for the nation to get us to our goal, which is to save all the healthy and treatable animals countrywide by 2015.

 

That’s a huge goal.

It is a very ambitious goal but we think we are basically on path to achieve the result.

 

What do you think the adoptathon is going to cost Maddie’s Fund?

We’re hoping to spend well over a half million dollars. We think we have about 1,000-plus animals to save. The rescue and shelter world is very enthusiastic: Many of them have extended their hours, some of them have opened their facilities for Sunday adoptions, many of them who used to do one satellite are now doing several. So we’ve got great buy-in. We think it’s going to save at least 1,000 lives, maybe more. We hope to spend a half-million dollars but we’d love to spend a million. So it all comes down to the public and the rescues to help get us to goal.

 

Those who will be attending the adoptathon, hoping to bring home a cat or dog, what should they have in mind?

First of all, each agency has it’s own adoption criteria, so they are going to be adopting out to qualified pet owners—people who are responsible, caring, loving.

They’re not going to have to have any money—it’s a free comrade and lifetime partner. They should be prepared for the fact that it’s a lifetime commitment. They are going to take home a pet who needs food, living accommodation, toys and all that sort of stuff so the money they don’t spend on the adoption fee will give them a little extra to spend on pampering their new pooch or kitty. They are going to get unconditional love but in return this four-legged best friend/family member is going to rely on them to be taken care of and loved.

 

Are you concerned that by not requiring a fee, it communicates the animal has less value?

Absolutely not. The adoption agency and rescue groups and shelters that we’re dealing with are committed to the best interests of animal welfare, they’re doing this not for money, they’re doing this because they are focused on helping animals in need, and ending an animal’s life is not providing a great deal of assistance. The groups’ … screening programs are going to be well in place. They are going to select the best homes. We hope they have a lot of applicants from which to choose the best.

 

When will you know how many animals will be adopted?

We’re doing it hour by hour. We’ll have a running tally. We’re putting the entire Maddie’s staff (“roving reporters”) out in the field. We’re going to be capturing every placement in real time and sending it back to our Facebook page.

 

That sounds great.

The enthusiasm couldn’t be at a higher pitch. The weather’s nice. The animals are fabulous. The shelters are excited. And now we’re just hoping the public comes down and takes advantage of this.

Free adoption of dogs and cats will be offered to qualified homes throughout the weekend, June 12-13, at each participating organization, as well as many PETCO, PetSmart and Pet Food Express locations. To find hours, locations and participating organizations visit: MaddiesAdoptathon.org. 

 

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Step Aside, Susan Boyle
Make room for a dancing dog

The dance-floor stylings of Chandi, the “amazing dancing dog,” have gone viral and taken the former pound pup into the finals (on Saturday) of Britain’s Got Talent. Watch her performance (we can’t embed this one). Current odds the Shrewsbury rescue will take it all are 5 to 1. If she does, she'll be the first animal to win the contest. Go Chandi!

 

News: Guest Posts
Lady and the Tramp Mentality
Washington Post article reinforces purebred vs. mix debate

When Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse contacted me about my AKC/mixed breed blog post, I was flattered and eager to share my thoughts on this controversial decision. Unfortunately, Hesse was on a tight deadline and we never connected for a formal interview. After reading the piece, I was surprised at its "Lady and the Tramp" mentality. From the first sentence, she paints lovely images worthy of any literary novel, yet they reinforce an ignorant stereotype that purebred dogs are superior over mixed breeds. For example, while attending a dog show where both purebreds and mutts, ahem, mix, she compares the "sly Border Collies, whose owners plaster their cars with bumper stickers reading, 'My Border Collie is smarter than your honor student,' to mixed breed Otis, who "might lick his rear end." Talk about a cheap shot! I've got news for Hesse and the general public--purebreds lick their rear ends. And they probably drink out of the toilet, too. It is my fervent hope that the mingling of purebreds and mixes at AKC events will remind us that they are all dogs, regardless of pedigree.

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