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News: JoAnna Lou
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.

News: JoAnna Lou
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?

News: Karen B. London
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.

News: JoAnna Lou
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.

News: JoAnna Lou
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?

News: Karen B. London
Find Your Dog A Date
Matchmaking for canines

I once introduced a friend of mine to my roommate because I felt so strongly that they would like each other. Now that they’ve been married for six years and have two kids, I still consider my matchmaking success with them to be among the biggest accomplishments of my life. Her dog even fell in love with him, so the happiness was complete all around. (This couple happens to be in a picture together that I took in the photo section of Patricia McConnell's book The Other End of the Leash. It shows them kissing to illustrate that this is a primate form of affection and very different from the ways that dogs express affection.)

The urge to make introductions runs strong in many people, but perhaps never more so than in the case of Mike D’Elena, who started the site FindMyDogADate.com. When his roommate moved out and took his own dog with him, Mike’s dog Mika was left missing her best canine friend. Rather than have her continue moping about the house, Mike tried to find her some new playmates by asking neighbors, making phone calls and using Craig’s list, but he had no luck. A few months later, his new website was born out of necessity.

The site, based in Phoenix, Ariz., already has hundreds of dogs registered. Using the free site, people can find companions for their dogs by searching for dog buddies based on size, breed, personality and what activities they are looking to share. Whether someone is seeking hiking or walking companions or another dog for vigorous romping, FindMyDogADate.com just may provide a link to that perfect partner.

So many human couples have met online in recent years. It’s about time dogs had that same opportunity.

News: JoAnna Lou
Celebrating Responsible Pet Care
September ushers in the AKC's Responsible Dog Ownership Day nationwide.

September means it’s time for one of my favorite events, the American Kennel Club’s annual Responsible Dog Ownership Day. The festivities celebrate all facets of canine education from dog sports to health care. Rescue groups, obedience training clubs, therapy organizations, boutique stores and veterinarians all come together in the name of promoting proper pet care.  

At past events I’ve found myself doing everything from watching Frisbee dogs to playing trivia games to learning how drug-sniffing canines are trained. Activities vary by the host club, but the Responsible Dog Ownership Days always feature the Canine Good Citizen test, AKC’s benchmark of good doggy etiquette. Both of my Shelties earned their certification at the event in past years. 

The AKC normally hosts two separate events in close proximity to their offices in New York and North Carolina, in addition to supporting hundreds of clubs nationwide in holding their own Responsible Dog Ownership Days. 

This year the AKC will have their usual Raleigh, N.C., event at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds on Saturday, September 26. The event will feature “meet the breed” booths, low cost microchipping, Canine Good Citizen testing, and agility, obedience and rally demonstrations.

The New York event is being replaced by Meet the Breeds on October 17-18 at the Javits Convention Center, but Responsible Dog Ownership Day will return to the area in 2010. 

Visit the AKC website to find a Responsible Dog Ownership Day event near you.

News: JoAnna Lou
Running with Dogs
Increase your fitness with your four-legged best friend.

Recently, I attempted to run the NYC Half Marathon. Unfortunately, my race ended shortly after mile seven with a ride to the hospital for fluids. My running demise was due partly to the ninety degree August weather and dehydration, but mostly to lack of proper training.

I had meant to train when I signed up for the event, but let’s face it, there are much more fun things to train for… like agility! Reading Lisa's recent blog entry on running with dogs got me thinking about training with my pups for my next long distance event. 

Dr. Dawn A. Marcus, author of Fit as Fido, recommends starting by walking on a flat road with a goal of thirty minutes, five days per week. You can get better health benefits by exercising in small segments versus one long daily session. On the Fit as Fido website, Dawn has a log were you can track your daily mini-walks. 

Keep in mind that humans are better suited for long distance running than dogs, so it’s important to slowly build up distance and be mindful of conditions.

Veterinarian, Dr. Marcia Smith, says in an interview for Runner’s World, that sore pads are an easy indicator that you’ve gone too far too fast. A gradual increase in miles will toughen up your dog’s pads, in addition to making them less susceptible to injury. She also advises against feeding a large meal before running.

Marcia stresses the importance of proper hydration and monitoring dogs for overheating even when the temperature doesn’t seem that hot. Because dogs don’t sweat, they are especially vulnerable. Watch out for slowing down, a lolling tounge, drooling, and glazed eyes. Check out the ASPCA’s Hot Weather Tips for more warning signs.

Peter Larson, of Runblogger, trains on a regular basis with his Black Labrador, Jack. The duo runs as much as 7 miles at a time. Peter recommends holding off on running long distances with a puppy until their skeleton matures and the growth plates close (usually at around 10-14 months), a milestone commonly used in agility for determining when to start full sized equipment.

I’ve already started the Fit as Fido walking routine with one of my dogs and, unlike some of my former human exercise buddies, he’s always enthusiastic--no excuses!

For more walking tips, check out Dawn A. Marcus' web article on the topic.

News: Guest Posts
Runners and Dogs
Do you run with your dog … on leash?

I run with my dog—in my neighborhood, a nearby bike path and mountain trails. It is an essential ingredient in our lives. So I read with interest an old column from Runner’s World, forwarded to me by my editor. In “Unleashed Emotions,” John Bingham writes about reader reaction to his advice on what runners should do if they are greeted/charged by an unleashed dog. It’s a good question. Unless you are fluent in doglish, it’s not always obvious if a barking dog wants to nip your Achilles or slather your face with kisses.

Bingham’s answer, stop and yell at the dog (what I call the mountain lion strategy), earned him a healthy pile of email. Not so much for his advice but on the general subject of dogs and runners, especially the leash question. It’s probably no surprise to Bark regulars that the subject of leashes—pro and con—would provoke a big reaction. His follow-up column about that response engendered similarly passionate comments—as interesting as the column itself. From the sound of it, for many runners, dogs are a menace pure and simple, and that’s too bad.

I get why some runners don’t like to see an off-leash dog on a trail but I’m usually cheered by the sight whether I’m alone or with my own running buddy, and the only dogs ever to run after me were hanging out in a front yard not running on a trail. I use a leash attached to my waist most of the time, except on steep downhill trails where I worry about my dog getting too much momentum or leaping over a rock or tree and pulling me down. Then he’s paw-loose and fancy-free, and I have to say in those moments he bounds with a little extra joie de vivre.

What's your experience running with or meeting dogs while you run?

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