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News: Guest Posts
Tech Tip for Dog Lovers
Save photos before it’s too late

Tech wise guy David Einstein got personal yesterday in his Computing advice column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Out of the untimely death of his rescued Greyhound Rune, he learned and shares an important lesson: Take care of your memories. After Rune’s death, he discovered he didn’t have many photos, and only a few that “convey Rune’s essence.” Don’t let this happen to you. Take to heart Einstein’s advice for scanning print photographs, and saving, filing and backing up your precious digital images.

News: Guest Posts
Win Free Rent for a Year
With your best furry roommate tales

Does your canine roomie inspire the best in you—al fresco adventures, home-cooked food, a bottomless toy bucket, consistent teeth brushing, summer camp, a clicker and treats in every room? Tell it to a video camera and you could win free rent for a year plus $10,000! It’s not our contest, but it is the sort of opportunity I want to bark about. Plus, I’d like to see how our readers make life awesome for their canine homies.

  Submit your video (2 minutes or less) to Apartments.com’s Roommate of the Year Contest by June 14, 2010 in “The Purr-fect Pet Owner” category. We’d love a preview, if you want to share your entry with us, send it to webeditor@thebark.com. Maybe we’ll post it here.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
One Ball Can Make a Difference
Planet Dog Romp-a-Thon raises money for service dogs

Currently, Planet Dog donates 2 percent of all proceeds to its charitable arm, The Planet Dog Foundation. This year the company hopes to raise even more money through the 2010 Planet Dog Romp-a-Thon.

The initiative challenges retailers and consumers to help sell 20,000 Orbee-Tuff Glow for Good Balls by the end of the year. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of every ball will be donated to the Planet Dog Foundation. The balls can be purchased at any retailer that sells Planet Dog products or directly through their website.

While the Foundation awards several grants each year, it is overwhelmed by the number of requests. Planet Dog created this fundraising challenge to help educate retailers and consumers about the contributions of working dogs and the support they need.

Recently the Foundation announced $25,000 in grants to five canine service organizations. 

$7,500 to Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, which trains shelter dogs to become service dogs. This organization pioneered the practice of working with shelter dogs and is actively working to encourage rescuing needy dogs for training rather than breeding. The grant will fund the Honor Dogs Program, a prison inmate program that places dogs with minimum female offenders. 

$7,500 to Thirteen/WNET TV New York Martha Speaks at the Library Children's Literacy Program, a collaboration between the New York Public Library System and channel 13 WNET, the PBS affiliate in New York City. The grant will fund the program’s expansion to six new cities across the United States. 

$4,000 to Paws & Think, Inc., which serves at-risk youth, at-risk canines and children and adults with disabilities and special needs in central Indiana. This all-volunteer, community-based organization works in partnership with schools, detention centers, youth agencies, humane societies, shelters and others to pair the youth with stray, surrendered or neglected dogs to train them to become service dogs for people living with a disability or as pets, thereby avoiding euthanasia.  

$3,500 to Therapy Dogs, Inc., which provides registration, support and insurance for members who are involved in volunteer animal assisted activities to form a network of caring individuals who are willing to share their special animals in order to bring happiness and cheer to people young and old alike. The grant will help fund Tester/Observer Training Seminars in eight cities, equipping 200 trainers who would potentially train, evaluate and certify some 6,000 new therapy dog teams nationwide.  

$2,500 to HOPE Animal - Assisted Crisis Response, a national all-volunteer, non-profit, crisis response organization with specially trained and certified handler/canine teams. Agencies call upon HOPE AACR teams to provide comfort and support to people affected by disasters including earthquakes and floods, or senseless violence in a school or workplace.  

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Walk for a Cause
Popular shelter fundraisers get people and pets outside

This past weekend, I participated in the Wags and Whiskers Walk-a-thon and Pet Fair to benefit the Westchester SPCA in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.  We had great weather, hung out with friends (human and canine!) and gave the pups some exercise. 

The numbers are still coming in for last weekend, but last year, the event raised over $80,000 for the shelter. So you can imagine that walk-a-thons have become popular fundraisers for animal shelters around the country. But, money aside, these events are a great way to unite the local pet loving community in support of a great cause.

Here are a few upcoming events:

  • West End Shelter’s Walk-n-Wag-a-thon (Chino, Calif.) – 5/8
  • Yolo County SPCA’s Doggone Walk-a-thon (Davis, Calif.) – 5/15
  • Animal Shelter’s Whisker Walk (Lancaster, Mass.) – 6/6
  • Dogs in Danger's March for the Dogs (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) - 6/12
  • Oswego SPCA’s Paws in the Park Dogwalk (Fulton, N.Y.) – 9/11
  • Concord-Merrimack County SPCA’s Walk for the Animals (Concord, N.H.) – 9/26
  • Woods Humane Society’s Walk for Woods (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) – 10/23
  • Ontario SPCA’s Friends for Life Walk-a-thon (various dates and locations)

Have you participated in a walk-a-thon with your pup?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Evaluating Canine Play
Are your dogs playing appropriately?

One of the most common questions asked of dog behaviorists is how to determine whether a group of dogs who are rolling around or chasing each other are playing appropriately. Without knowledge of dog behavior, it can be hard for many people to tell when play is getting out of hand until it’s too late and it’s obvious because somebody got hurt or traumatized. I recently wrote a column for my local paper called Play Should Be Fun, Not Tense that explains some of the basic ways to evaluate what is going on before it ever gets to that point. There is always a bit of subjectivity to assessing play in any species, including our own, because fun itself is subjective. However, there are some basic guidelines worth considering whenever you have to decide whether to let the dogs carry on, or whether they need to be separated to prevent real trouble from developing.

  In appropriate play, the number one rule is that everyone is a willing participant. If one dog is suffering based on what’s going on, it’s not appropriate, and that’s true even if what the other dogs are doing would be fine with most dogs. If everyone isn’t having a good time, it’s not okay to let it continue. Play should always be fun.   Generally, dogs who are playing are holding back a bit at least some of the time. They are bouncy and carefree in their motions, and there are frequent pauses in the action. Most play involves running, leaping, chasing, brief pounces and batting at one another. Dogs’ mouths are usually open and any vocalizations tend to be fairly consistent in pitch rather than suddenly deepening or turning into shrieks.   In play that could lead to trouble, dogs seem to be more serious and lack that light-hearted quality so essential in play. Dogs who tongue flick, drool excessively, cower, whine, pant when it’s not hot enough to warrant it, tremble, attempt to escape or to hide, whimper or shiver are showing signs of tension or anxiety that could indicate trouble. When dogs are uncomfortable, they are more likely to act in a way that is aggressive or that could prompt another dog to behave aggressively. One of the biggest warning signs in play is of one or more dogs suddenly go stiff. Going stiff with tension throughout the body often occurs before dogs bite or fight, so it’s a bad sign. Pausing in play with a relaxed body is a good sign and is very different than going stiff or still, which is a bad sign.   It can be very hard to evaluate play, but if you stop the play and all the dogs want to head back to it, that’s a promising sign that the play is okay. I always recommend interrupting the play if you are in any doubt. You can always let them continue in a minute, but if you let things go and a dog gets hurt, frightened or overwhelmed, you can’t take that back.  

 

News: Guest Posts
Slip Slidin’ Away
The joy of dog sledding

Dog sledding without the sled is more fun!


Dogs Body Sledding In The Snow - Watch more Funny Videos

News: Guest Posts
Adopt a Pile
In honor of Don’t Step in Poop Day

As national month/week/day designations go, Don’t Step in Poop Day (today, April 25) falls somewhere where between No Name Calling Week (Jan. 25-29) and Flossing Day (November 26)—literally and figuratively. Good ideas all—but do they really deserve special commemoration? Probably not, but at least Don’t Step in Poop Day provides me with an excuse for ranting about a behavior I just don’t understand: People abandoning stinky piles at the edge of manicured lawns, in tree wells, parks and parkways, streets and alleys?

  There are those who argue that pet waste is natural and therefore fine following a natural course where it—with its pathogens, round worms, etc.—can seep into soils and water systems. It might not be a problem if theirs was the only dog but there are, in fact, millions of al fresco waste-makers to consider. Also, what’s so flippin’ “natural” about how our dogs live these days—why is poop the big exception? If you don’t like the idea of dog waste wrapped in plastic in landfills, try bio bags pet-waste composting options.   More often, I think, folks are either too lazy to bend over or just grossed out (see Brian, below)—to which you can only ask, “why have a dog?” Effort and poop are part of the bargain.   But really I’m tired of complaining about how others make me and my dogs look bad. And so, I think those of us vigilant folks need to take it up a notch by compensating for our lame brethren. When we head out the door, we must arm ourselves with extra bags. When we discover a lesser man or woman’s leavings—which I don on every walk because my dogs’ noses are poop-seeking missiles—we should sweep them up and finish our walk with a smug, morally superior smile—realizing that we are helping to make everyday, Don’t Step in Poop Day!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Bucket List
Calif. family says goodbye to their beloved Lab, Hudson

Saying goodbye is arguably the toughest part about sharing your life with a pet. For the Piper family, their Chocolate Labrador, Hudson, shared the joy of their first home and welcomed each of the three children into the world. So when Hudson was diagnosed with cancer and given just two to four weeks to live, the Pipers were devastated. 

To ensure that Hudson made the most of his time left, the family decided to make a canine bucket list. 

The 10-year old dog enjoyed activities that he normally wasn't allowed to do, like ride in the car with his head out the window and eat heaping pancake breakfasts. But most importantly, the list made sure that the family got to spend plenty of quality time with Hudson. They took extra walks and had dog-themed movie nights, complete with Hudson's own sleeping bag.

While the Pipers were busy preparing the bucket list, Hudson surprised them by fighting the cancer for three more months, giving the family time to complete everything on the list.

Of course, the bucket list doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye, but I know it would be therapeutic to see my pups enjoy their last days engaged in their favorite activities.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
BlogPaws 2010
More than 250 pet bloggers unite to learn and network

Who doesn’t regularly read blogs these days? Last week, more than 250 people traveled to Columbus, Ohio to attend BlogPaws 2010, a conference for pet bloggers and a testament that this online tool is here to stay. 

BlogPaws was created last year to foster a community of learning and networking among pet bloggers. Besides the annual conference, the organization plans to expand its web site to provide resources for budding online writers on topics such as leveraging social media, increasing web traffic and strategies for content development. 

Maintaining a blog isn’t easy, but it’s a great way to share your perspective, connect with people who share similar interests and exchange timely information. I’ve been able to use blogs to find reviews on a new dog toy, stay on top of the latest results from agility nationals, keep up to date with the latest canine behavior research, read dog training journals and learn new training techniques. 

My favorite blog is agility trainer Susan Garrett’s, which blends personal reflection and training tips. I’ve learned a lot, not just about agility training, but about canine motivation and behavior. And for fun, I like reading Good Boy Bo, Bo Obama's blog. 

What are your favorite dog-related blogs (besides this one, of course!)?

News: Guest Posts
Get Your Puppy Fix
And learn about Best Friends’ new care center

Best Friends Animal Society in southern Utah celebrated the grand opening of Val’s Puppy Care Center on March 25, 2010. Congratulations Best Friends and all you lucky puppies! (Oh, also check out the "cute puppy pile-up"--so sweet, your teeth will hurt.)

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