activities & sports
News: JoAnna Lou
Help animals and get a free ticket to Disney
For 2010, Disney is launching a program that celebrates the spirit of volunteerism by giving free theme park tickets to those who give a day of service in the United States or Canada.
The goal is to inspire one million people to volunteer in their communities this year. Even better, there are lots of opportunities for dog lovers, including many pet therapy and rescue organizations.
Disney’s program is a great way to encourage families to volunteer together, while benefiting so many deserving groups. Hopefully many of these partnerships will grow into longer term volunteer commitments.
To participate, you must sign up through the Disney website and search for a participating organizations.
When searching, you can specify the Animals & Environment category, although I found that there are some animal-related organizations that don’t come up with that tag. So if you don’t find the organization you’re looking for, search all categories in your area.
The two opportunities that I’m looking at are Paw Pal Volunteers, a pet therapy group that visits the VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Waterbury in Middlebury, Conn., and Green Chimneys, an organization that provides education and animal-assisted therapy to children with emotional, behavioral and learning challenges in Brewster, N.Y.
My family was already planning a trip to Orlando, Fla., this spring, so the Give a Day program will be a great way to help an organization in need while saving money on our vacation.
If you’re not planning on visiting Florida or California any time soon, you can donate your ticket to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern California and Central Florida or Dreams Take Flight Canada.
News: JoAnna Lou
Keeping busy when it’s cold outside
The freezing weather and snow have been making me and the dogs a little stir crazy lately, especially now that the holidays have come and gone.
Here are some of the activities I have lined up to keep the pups busy until the snow melts.
Food Balls and Kongs
My Sheltie, Nemo, has gotten quite good at getting kibble out of most treat balls, so I usually use the Nina Ottosson DogPyramid, which is more challenging. The beehive-shaped toy is weighted at the bottom so that it always returns to a standing position.
Nina Ottosson Interactive Toys
Do you have any favorite indoor activities?
News: JoAnna Lou
PetParadise coordinates a three-state food drive for needy pets
In March, I wrote about the emergence of pet soup kitchens, whose numbers are growing amid the current economic state. Unfortunately, not all communities have this type of resource available for those in need.
The multi-state pet boarding and daycare resort, PetParadise, noticed that, across the board, many people were struggling to keep their pets, while donations were down for area rescues. As a result, the company decided to team up with local shelters, food banks, and super markets to coordinate the first annual Food for Paws, a three-state food drive for needy pets during the holiday season.
The food collected at their Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., locations was given directly to families in need. The donations at their Houston, Tex., location went to Rescue Bank and helped more than 73 area rescue groups.
To increase participation, PetParadise offered a free night of boarding to people who donated 20 pounds of food. Their efforts resulted in over four tons of pet food for hungry pets, an amazing feat, particularly for their first year.
It’s great to see communities come together to help each other out. Food drives, like Food for Paws, not only collect supplies for those in need, but also bring attention to the economy’s effect on pets. Hopefully more companies will be inspired to use their resources to support events like Food for Paws in the future.
News: Karen B. London
It’s National Train Your Dog Month!
They say every dog has its day, but soon they will actually have their own month! The Association for Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) has proclaimed January to be National Train Your Dog Month. This new annual event promotes the benefits of socialization and positive training, which include enhanced and healthier relationships between people and dogs. January is the perfect month for emphasizing training because it is a time for new goals and because so many dogs have just joined new families over the holidays.Training is a great way to interact with your dog and to have fun together. It is also essential for keeping your dog (and your home!) safe. Well-trained dogs have better, happier lives because they can be allowed more freedom such as being off leash and getting to go more places. Most of us try new things in January, and training your dog more, or even getting started with training is a great way to kick off the year.
News: Guest Posts
Competitors were reaching for sandbags not glory at Agility Invitational
Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) Agility Invitational puts the spotlight on the top five dogs of every AKC-recognized breed, which gives less traditional agility breeds a chance to come out and shine. It's held in Long Grove, Calif., in conjunction with the creme de la creme of conformation and the top obedience teams. You might have seen highlights from years past on Animal Planet. Unfortunately, this video demonstrates how this year’s event went awry. No person and no dog--be it a champion purebred or nontitled mixed breed--should have to endure such disgusting conditions. Doesn’t an “invitational” imply that invitees are to be treated as guests? AKC really disappointed as host of the “party.”
News: Guest Posts
Why and how to help.
I often think that having a dog would be a great comfort to me if I was forced to live on the street. So when I see a pup curled up next to someone who appears to be homeless, I have mixed feelings. I think it must be a benefit for the person but I worry about them both. I worry that the dog, just like the person, may not be getting enough food, water or medical attention. And I know that having a dog can be a liability on the street, since most shelters and other services have no place for them.
This week is a perfect time to do something to help the homeless and their pets. Each year, one week before Thanksgiving (Nov. 15-21), the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness co-sponsor National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. During this week, a number of schools, communities and cities take part in a nationwide effort to bring greater awareness to the problems of hunger and homelessness. This year, Feeding Pets of the Homeless is joining their efforts to draw attention to the pets of the homeless. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are an estimated 3.5 million homeless persons in the United States, and the number is increasing. NCH has also estimated that up to 10 percent of homeless people have at least one pet. For those with pets, finding pet food, shelter and other assistance is more difficult.
Feeding Pets of the Homeless has more than 200 volunteer/collection sites in a number of cities across the country. Donations of pet food and pet supplies are needed. The organization has more than 100 distributing organizations in place that have agreed to offer the pet food to the homeless and needy. They include local food banks, food pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens.
In addition, help for many homeless with pets comes from free clinics that provide a basic check up, vaccines, medicines, flea and tick treatments, spay or neuter, along with pet food and other pet products. These clinics depend on grants to licensed veterinarians from Feeding Pets of the Homeless and the generosity of many of the veterinarian’s distributors who donate products. Grants are made possible from donations from the public to Feeding Pets of the Homeless.
Find a list of pet food collection sites in your community. If there isn’t a collection site near you, contact Feeding Pets of the Homeless to learn how to start one.
News: Karen B. London
Share your answer with the Texas SPCA.
If you love your dogs so much that you can hardly stop yourself from shouting it from the rooftops, then you are not alone. (Unless you really ARE by yourself on top of your house proclaiming your feelings for them. In that case technically you are alone, but that’s not really the point here.) We humans love our pets so much that it’s easy to go crazy expressing our views.
In recognition of the desire to explain how profoundly we love our pets and why, the Texas SPCA is holding a contest called “Love For All Reasons.” Winners of the contest will have their photo with their pets featured in an online video about the reasons people love their pets.
Check out the contest and consider making a donation to any place that takes care of pets who don’t currently have a home. Every donation provides opportunities for more animals to experience a love so intense that it takes more than one species to contain it.
So, get off your roof and enter the contest. It’s a much better way to tell the world why you love your dogs. And until then, watch your step up there.
News: Guest Posts
Field-tested advice on jogging with your co-pilot.
Feeling inspired by Meb Keflezighi’s NYC Marathon victory? Channel those nervous legs and check out the November issue of Runner’s World. In a special column, Bark’s very own Claudia Kawczynska provides some quick tips on jogging with a dog including the benefits for you and your pooch, selecting a running buddy and getting started.
Quite a few of our writers, bloggers and editors are serious about running with their dogs, so we’ve paired up with our favorite running magazine to share our experiences and enthusiasm for the practice. Look for blogs about running with your dog and more articles by your Bark favorites in future issues of Runner’s World.
News: Guest Posts
Holiday drive to find more than 15,000 lifelong, loving homes.
PetSmart Charities is going gangbusters on homeless animals next month with an ambitious Holiday National Adoption Event, November 13-15. More than 2,000 animal-welfare agencies throughout the United States are expected to participate by bringing adoptable pets to in-store adoption centers in all 1,082 PetSmart stores.
While it’s rarely a good idea to give animals as gifts at any time of year, there’s nothing wrong with channeling the generous and compassionate spirit of holidays to find homes for some of the 6 to 8 million dogs and cats bound for animal shelters each year. It’s a big challenge, and we commend this big response.
Holiday National Adoption Weekend details: Prospective adopters are encouraged to visit the PetSmart Charities Adoption Center inside any PetSmart store in the U.S. from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 and Saturday, Nov. 14; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15. Adoptions are handled by participating animal-welfare groups. Call a PetSmart store near you to find out about a specific agency’s set-up time during the three-day event.
Visit www.PetSmart.com or call 1-877-473-8762 to learn more.
News: Karen B. London
Scary for our four-legged friends
It’s hard to resist the urge to put dogs in costumes. The cuteness factor can fly off the charts, and for many people, dressing up our dogs is as natural as dressing up our human children. Despite my recognition of the joy it can bring to see our pups parading around as cowgirls, devils, sports stars or Elvis, I urge caution when considering costumes for dogs.
Most dogs hate costumes. They easily become stressed and uncomfortable when wearing clothing, especially anything on the head or around the body. In the picture with this blog, the dog dressed up as a quarterback looks tense, with the closed mouth so indicative of a dog who is not comfortable, and he seems frozen in angst. In contrast, the dog behind him, sans costume, has a happy face and a relaxed body. I took this photo at a dog camp where all over the room on dress up night I saw unhappy dogs in costumes and cheerful dogs in their birthday suits.
If you simply must have your dog participate in this holiday, costumes that don’t impair dogs’ movements are best. Since most dogs are accustomed to wearing collars, small costumes that consist of something around the neck are the most easily tolerated. The key word is “small.” Rather than dress a dog up in a full tuxedo, for example, having him sport just a small bow tie may be easier for your dog to handle. This can be a great compromise that works for both people and dogs.
Costumes that dogs barely notice are great options. My dog was a skunk for Halloween one year. Being all black, the entire costume consisted of baby powder applied in a strip down his back—cute, easy and not bothersome to him. (Some dogs may even object to baby powder, but mine was fine with it.)
Even better is what my aunt used to tell trick-or-treaters about her dog Nellie who was a cross between a Beagle and a Lab: “What do you think of my cat’s costume? Doesn’t she look exactly like a dog?” My aunt could then have her dog take part in the spirit of the holiday without any ill effects. The older kids gave a little laugh, but the littlest kids were awed by Nellie’s “costume.”
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