activities & sports
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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.
$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
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:
Have you participated in a walk-a-thon with your pup?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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
The joy of dog sledding
Dog sledding without the sled is more fun!
News: Guest Posts
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
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
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
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.)
News: Guest Posts
Walking into a childhood dream
I dreamed about Westminster the way other children do Disneyland. As a dog-obsessed child, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was the ultimate fantasy somewhere glamorous and far away from the abusive place I called home. Although I watched Westminster on TV every February, I’m not sure I really connected it with a real event. It seemed too good to be true.
Growing up, dogs were my salvation. My first dog Peepers, a shy Lhasa Apso, was the only real friend I had for most of elementary school. Together we’d sit in the family room and watch the dog show long after I was supposed to be in bed. It’s been many years since my February has been defined by dog shows, and yet I jumped at the opportunity to attend Westminster.
As a teenager, I trained and competed in obedience, tracking and the sport I loved above all else agility. I dove into the dog world, spending weekends at trials and evenings training. At seventeen, the situation with my family deteriorated and I was forced to leave home. With no job and nowhere to live, I had no choice but to rehome my dogs—Snickers (a Miniature Schnauzer) and Flash (a Sheltie). Losing my dogs, and in turn loosing the dog world was more devastating than losing my parents. This week, walking into Madison Square Garden was the first time I’ve been able to bring myself to attend a dog show since.
After arriving, I stood in the middle of Westminster and looked at the hundreds of dogs in the bench area bored, and stressed and awaiting their turn in the ring. I was struck with the question of why I wanted to be there and contribute to an industry and event that goes against so many of my political and ethical beliefs. These are dogs who rarely, if ever, are given the chance to actually be dogs. Owners spend hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning dogs who barely know them since they spend years on the road with handlers. I saw dogs who look like they’ve never been given the chance to run and play in a muddy dog park, and even dogs with personal bodyguards.
Yet, despite my skepticism I couldn’t deny there was something magical about being surrounded by dogs, in arguably one of the most prestigious venues NYC has to offer.
I wanted to attend Westminster because it’s full of history, like a museum, a living and breathing monument to dogs. In that way, I was not disappointed. Westminster was a bit like a very grand museum, except that the “artifacts” were dogs, many with health problems, unable to do the jobs they were breed to do. But I can only criticize so much because it’s clear the organizers, handlers, judges and spectators love those dogs just as much as I love my own, and who am I to argue with love? I can’t deny there was something deeply satisfying about being surrounded by thousands of other people as obsessed with dogs as I’ve been my entire life.
I stayed for a few hours, watched Dalmatians, Border Collies and Keeshonds in the ring. I made my rounds of the venders (alas all the freebies were things my highly allergic pup couldn’t have), swooned over my favorite breeds in the benched area, and celebrated the number of rescue and therapy organizations with booths.
Leaving Westminster, I thought about how Mercury, my funny little mutt, would never win best in breed because he doesn’t have one. He wouldn’t win Best in Show because he’d never make it through the door. Attending Westminster I was able to see both sides: the fun and glamour of being surrounded by such incredible creatures and the ethical implications of breeding. Being at Westminster meant saying goodbye to a childhood dream. The dream ended not simply because of a shift in politics, but because I don’t need it anymore.
News: Guest Posts
Running for mayor in Divide, Colo.
Ever think: My dog or cat could run this town/state/country better than the mayor/governor/president? Well, folks in Teller County, Colo., will have a chance to do more than think it (sort of) because twenty-five cats and dogs are running for mayor. And that’s not all. In this election, money talks because you pay to vote. And you can vote as many times as you dang well please. And you don’t have to live in the county even. It’s not an Old West-style politics but rather a fund-raising gambit by the small, poorly funded Teller County Regional Animal Shelter. The $1 per vote is actually a donation (and the unincorporated city doesn’t even have a mayoral post). The only rule: Candidates must live or go to work with their people in Teller County. Vote online or at one of 40 local polling locations in Divide and Woodland Park, Colo., through April 6.
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