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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Why Do You Love Your Pets?
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
Check Out The Dog Run
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
PetSmart Backs Huge Adoption Event
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.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Halloween Costumes
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.”

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Race to the Rembrandt Cup
Doggy Dash lets athletic pups partake in the NYC Triathlon.

Yesterday registration opened for the third annual Iams Doggy Dash. Held in conjunction with the Nautica New York City Triathlon, the Doggy Dash invites runners and their pets to participate in a competitive race together. The five-mile event, which takes place in Central Park, will be on July 18, 2010.

After deciding in September that my Sheltie, Nemo, would be the perfect running partner, I was excited to find a race where we could run side-by-side in our favorite park. 

The event will be right in our backyard, but past participants have come from as far as Texas to partake in the Doggy Dash. Last year 15 teams ran alongside the triathaloners.

In 2010, the time to beat is 39:59, a 6:27 pace set by Nathan Kucera of New Haven, Conn. and his Boxer, Beowulf, who regularly runs 5 and 10Ks. The winners took home the Rembrandt Cup, a giant red fire hydrant. All finishers received medals and goodie bags.

Not all pups are accustomed to running 10Ks, so safety is a top priority for race organizers. All dogs are checked by veterinarians from The Animal Medical Center before, during, and after the race. There are also aid stations with baby pools and water bowls throughout the run.

Nemo and I submitted our application to participate and have already started to train. Fortunately we have plenty of time to gradually build up to the five miles.

Check out the photos from last year.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Invisible Dogs
Improv Everywhere stages an unusual canine takeover in New York.

What do you do with 2,000 invisible dogs? Walk them, of course! Last week more than 2,000 New Yorkers took to the streets of Brooklyn with invisible dog leashes. The results were amusing, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos on the website and the video below for a good laugh.

Organized by Improv Everywhere, participants showed up having no idea what they would be doing. After a quick pep talk, the organizers handed out the leashes and told everyone to spread out and go on an hour-long walk, acting as if they were walking a live dog.

On the streets, most people smiled, and some even played along with the joke. Some ignored the debacle, in typical New York fashion, and others became angry when no one would explain what was happening. My personal favorites were the dogs they encountered who were understandably confused!

Improv Everywhere’s latest stunt was devised when 2,000 invisible dog leashes were found collecting dust in an abandoned factory. An art group that was transforming the building into an exhibition space contacted Improv Everywhere to see if the leashes could be put to good use. Three thousand RSVPs later and Invisible Dogs was born.

How would your pup react to an invisible dog being walked down the street?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Blessing Animals
An interfaith event

Over the weekend in Flagstaff, Ariz., many people brought their dogs to a blessing of the animals event. Various faiths were represented, including clergy from the Buddist, Muslim, Jewish, Meher Baba, Christian, Muslim and Celtic Pagan faiths. (The breeds present were every bit as diverse as the religions.) Could our dogs lead us to increased interfaith understanding and tolerance? What a blessing THAT would be!

News: Guest Posts
October Is Adopt-A-Dog Month
Five reasons why adopting beats buying—not including, it’s the right thing to do.

In the effort to promote adoption for all the RIGHT REASONS (such as, saving dogs from euthanasia and avoiding fueling puppy mills), a few practical truths get lost, including the fact that adopting from a shelter or rescue has some qualitative advantages over buying. In honor of American Humane’s Adopt-A-Dog Month, we break it down for you.

1. Support and Smarts. Shelter staffers and volunteers are driven by the goal of finding the best home possible for a homeless animal. To that end, most shelters go an extra mile to make a lifelong match between their animals and prospective adopters through education, counseling and follow-up assistance, including training classes.

2. Good Intel. Many dogs in shelters and rescues have lived with foster families, and these folks can provide excellent information about what a dog is really like in a home. In other cases, staff members and volunteers gather information from the people who surrender their animals. In the case of strays, they work hard to get to know the dog and provide a realistic assessment. You can’t know everything before you adopt but good information provides a strong foundation for a lasting placement.

3. The Price Is Right. Adopting is also usually significantly less expensive than buying from a pet store or breeder. Plus, shelter dogs are more likely to be vaccinated, dewormed, spayed or neutered, and microchipped.

4. No Hard Sell. If you have your heart set on a specific breed of dog, breed-specific rescues are a good bet. Not only are these volunteers extremely knowledgeable about the dogs with which they work; they have an incentive to be honest. They don’t want to send you off with a dog you can’t handle or that’s a bad match for your lifestyle.

5. Feel-Good Factor. Don't underestimate how good it feels to provide a loving home to a dog in need.

Learn more about American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Doggy Daycare for Monday Night Football
Sports fans drop off their pups at Unleash Brooklyn before heading to the game.

Many Major League Baseball stadiums have been hosting popular dog days in recent years. Football hasn’t been as quick to catch on, leaving pigskin fans feeling guilty leaving their pups behind to watch their favorite sport.

A New York City doggy daycare has come up with a solution for conflicted fans. Unleash Brooklyn is offering a special package for the football season that lets people drop off their pups before they head off to the sports bar or stadium. 

Fans can also watch the game with their pets on a 92-inch projection screen at the facility. Halftime festivities include fetching dog-sized footballs and playing with pompom toys.

Last weekend seven dogs came in for the Jets/Tennessee Titans and Giants/Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, some even came in fan gear.

The service costs $25 on Sundays, $20 on Mondays, and $400 for a season pass. Up to 25 percent of the proceeds benefit Dog Habitat Rescue.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Autumn Fundraising Events for Homeless Pets
Walk with your pup and raise money for a good cause.

Last weekend, I participated in the first annual Brooklyn Bridge Pup Crawl to raise money for three animal shelters across the country. 

We all received Lulu light-up leashes for our pups, waited until sundown and walked over the bridge, lighting up the night to bring awareness to homeless animals. It was a fun way to meet other dog lovers, hang out with our pets and benefit a good cause.

It turns out that September and October is a popular time for rescue groups to organize fundraising dog walks. Courses range from less than one mile to more than six miles, although most are around two miles. 

Besides the walking part, many of these events have all sorts of fun activities like agility demos, doggy massages, costume contests, live music, animal psychics, face painting and more.

Here is a sampling of events that I found online (I’ll be at the Hounds on the Sound event to benefit the New Rochelle Humane Society!).

Saturday, October 3rd

  • Greyhound Festival and Fundraiser Walk-a-thon for Greyhound Rescue of N.E. - Uxbridge, Mass.
  • Monmouth County SPCA Dog Walk & Pet Fair - Lincroft, N.J.
  • Fair Oaks Dog Walk - Fair Oaks, Calif.

Sunday, October 4th

  • Hounds on the Sound for the New Rochelle Humane Society - New Rochelle, N.Y.
  • Woofstock El Dorado County - El Dorado Hills, Calif.
  • Steps for Pets for the Lowell Humane Society - Lowell, Mass.
  • Dog Walk & Homecoming for Homeless Animals Rescue Team - Centreville, Va.

Saturday, October 10th

  • The Music City Mutt Strutt for the Nashville Humane Association - Nashville, Tenn.
  • Walk for the Animals for the Washington Humane Society - Wash. D.C.
  • Dogtoberfest for First Coast No More Homeless Pets - Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Stroll to the Sea Walk for Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons - East Hampton, N.Y.
  • Dog 'n' Jog for SCAVMA at UC Davis - Davis, Calif.

Sunday, October 11th

  • Bark in the Park for Liberty Humane Society - Jersey City, N.J.
  • Paws for a Cause Walk-a-thon for Bingo’s Foundation - Levittown, Penn. 

Dog walks have become so popular that some "human" organizations are inviting dogs to their events. AIDS Walk Wisconsin on October 10th welcomes dogs who will have their own registration area. Four-legged participants will receive treats in exchange for their pledge forms. And the Hadley School for the Blind is putting on Hounds for Hadley Dog Walk on October 24th in Winnetka, Ill. 

 

Who can resist a day with the pups for a good cause?

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