activities & sports
News: Guest Posts
Interesting Dog-Lovers Stop by Bark’s Open Thread
Like our first goodie bag winner

Last week, we launched Off Leash, our first-ever open thread. We weren’t sure what to expect when we decided to create a space for real-time conversations with no rules (other than common courtesy), so we were thrilled when so many of you showed up to speak your mind. Your helpful advice, informed opinions, experiences and passion remind us why we do the work we do. So we’re making it a regular Wednesday feature, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., PST.


As an added incentive, we’ll also be selecting one participant at random each week to win a Bark goodie bag. (When you comment be sure to include your email address, so we can contact you if you’re selected. We don’t publish it.) It’s our chance to learn a little more about our Bark readers—and share their stories with you.   Our debut open thread winner was Laurelin Sitterly of Providence, R.I. When we contacted her, we learned she is the proud adopter of a one-and-a-half year old Beagle/Dachshund mix named Sadie. Laurelin has worked at the Rhode Island SPCA for the past five years as an educator and the manager of the exotics department. In her “spare time,” she has fostered a variety of animals who needed extra help prior to adoption, including Sadie, who had been relinquished five times, starting at the age of five months.
“Sadie first came to our shelter social and easygoing, but by her final surrender was anxious and highly fearful, which is what prompted us to take her home,” Laurelin wrote to us. “We have worked around the clock to combat her severe separation anxiety and grab bag of situational phobias, and have made excellent progress in the last five months. Through training, behavioral modification, environmental management and medication, she can now be left safely alone during the day and enjoys frequent play-time with her canine neighbor/best friend (we still have plenty of work to go in other areas, but she's worth it). After all of that work, we buckled and decided to make her the first permanent dog in our household.”   Laurelin has been reading Bark for many years—longer than she has been working at the shelter and certainly longer than she has had a dog. “Many of the writers, behaviorists, tools and techniques that I have discovered in your publication have been instrumental in improving Sadie’s life with us,” she writes. “I have recommended your magazine to adopters, we receive a subscription at the shelter and, when a photo of one of our shelter dogs was selected for print in your Smilers section, we donated the subscription to his adopter.”   Laurelin is typical of the experienced, humane, animal-loving folks you’ll meet on the open thread, we hope to see you there.


News: Guest Posts
Did You Miss Reveille This Week?
Canine mascots rule NCAA basketball this year

We were so focused on the all-dog men’s final in NCAA basketball (UConn Huskies versus Butler Bulldogs), we overlooked a canine presence in the women’s final on Tuesday night. The 2011 Women’s Champion Texas A&M University Aggies are represented by a seemingly counterintuitive canine mascot, a Rough Collie named Reveille.

The tradition dates back to 1931, when a group of A&M cadets accidentally hit a small black and white stray. They brought her back to school to care for her. The next morning, when a bugler performed the morning wakeup call of “Reveille,” she started barking and earned her name. She recovered from her injuries, and the next season she became the school mascot, leading the band onto the field for its half-time performance during football games. She served for more than a decade, and after her death in 1944, was given a formal military funeral on the gridiron, according to Texas A&M’s website.

The most current Reveille is Reveille VIII, and she was officially introduced on August 30, 2008. She is revered. Cadets are expected to address her as “Miss Rev, m’am.” If she is in class and barks while the professor is teaching, the class is to be immediately dismissed, also according to A&M tradition.

A love of dogs seems to run deep for the team. Here’s how the coach, Gary Blair, framed the victory, according to The New York Times: “He talked about how much this championship meant to his family, to the families of his assistant coaches, to the pets of another assistant who has no family but does have dogs.” I wish I read that sort of thing all the time.

Go Aggies! Go Reveille!

News: Guest Posts
Cancel Gym Membership and Get a Dog!
Research shows that dog owners lead more active lifestyles.

I'll admit it: If it wasn't for my four dogs, I’d likely live a sedentary hermit life and dine exclusively on PBJ sandwiches. Thanks to my pack, I spend at least 10 hours a week out and about in an effort to keep us all conditioned. I also pay more attention to what I eat as I've learned more about how my dogs' diets affect their performance in canine sports.

  Studies now show that dog owners tend to get more exercise compared to someone sans canine. This must explain why I even started taking a Doga class with my mix, Ginger Peach. Traditional yoga seemed vaguely interesting but I didn't invest in a yoga mat and find out how to pronounce "namaste" until I found out I could bring my dog to class, too.   What's funny is that I know humans need exercise, too, but when I didn't have dogs, that wasn't enough to motivate me to get out there and run around the neighborhood. Why is it that we'll do things with our dogs that we wouldn’t do without them? Would you be as active if you didn’t have a dog?
News: Guest Posts
Conference Examines the Paradox of Purebred Breeding
First-ever meeting this April in Washington D.C.

Ever since the BBC documentary "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" tore the lid off the practice of breeding show dogs in Great Britain, breeders, handlers, dog lovers and more have been forced to answer the question: What's the cost of perfection? In April, the Purebred Paradox conference will offer a high-profile exploration of issues that can no longer be ignored.


What can be done to enhance the health and well-being of purebred dogs? What are the welfare and ethical issues arising from selective breeding practices? These are the urgent questions at the heart of the inaugural conference of the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy. On April, 28-29 at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, leading ethologists, veterinarians, animal welfare activists and more will consider what the attempt to create “perfect” dogs has wrought from scientific, historic, cultural and policy perspectives.



News: Guest Posts
Amazing Agility Pig
Louie lobbies for spot on canine team

Louie the pot-bellied pig was special when he would race to the agility field to watch her dogs train. His own aptitude for the sport became clear when she attempted to teach a dog to run through a tunnel and Louis zipped through it instead. Now nine months old, he is campaigning for a spot on the canine display team, which competes at the prestigious Crufts dog show. Do you think a pig should be allowed to compete in agility competitions?



News: Guest Posts
Our Dogs Make Poets of Us
Declare your love in rhyme, and maybe win a prize

I’ve been really enjoying the sweet odes des chiens on our Facebook page. In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, Bark has been greasing the wheels of heartfelt expression by inviting readers to convey your love for your dogs in verse on our Facebook page. The results so far convince me that our dogs make poets of us.


Here are two early entries that capture the spirit of the thing.


From Lisa Litz-Neavear: For Rocky and Sweetie: Roses are red
Violets are blue.
Having one dog's so great
That now we have two!   And from Tammy Robertson: Roses are red
Violets are blue
Tanner came into my life
Now we're stuck like glue.   Of course, I know contest prizes for Bark favorites (such as a Sweet Heart Collar Art from Beantown Handmade, a Doodle Dog Tote from Crypton or Valentine's cards from RiverDog Prints) isn’t the reason readers are posting comments in an A-B-C-B rhyming scheme, it’s just that you can’t pass up a chance to declare your devotion to your canine pals.   Sample the entries and create your own on our Facebook page through February 14 at 11:59 p.m. PST—maybe you'll win a prize or simply enjoy the warm glow of telling a loved one what they mean to you.


News: Guest Posts
Super Bowl Alternatives
Walk your dog, swoon over puppies

I live in Seattle, and walked my dogs during the first quarter of the Seattle Seahawks v. Chicago Bears NFL playoff game a couple weeks ago. I was thrilled with the traffic-free streets of my neighborhood. Many of the blocks around my house don’t have sidewalks, so normally Lulu, Renzo and I have to share the road with too-fast cars. Other than snow days, which paralyze this city, a football playoff game is just about the best street-clearing mechanism around.

  So, I totally get the idea behind the Subaru Game Day Dog Walk Event—essentially, roll yourself off the couch and walk your dog during the Super Bowl, Sunday, Feb. 6. Of course, I know Bark readers walk their dogs every day, and many of us do this two or three times a day, but wouldn’t it be fun to flood into car-free roads with our dogs at the same time lots of other folks with dogs flood into the streets. For a few hours, we could turn our neighborhoods into flash-mob meetings of the dog lover’s club.   Why stop there? Maybe this day can inspire us to walk other dogs, especially those of us who don’t have a dog in our life at this time (sigh). The Game Day Dog Walk Event could be a catalyst for starting a regular practice of volunteering as a dog walker for a shelter or rescue organization, or maybe just helping to walk the dogs of a neighbor who is sick, overworked, or taking care of a new baby.   Of course, I say all this knowing I will need to be home to check in on Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl VII, yes VII, which, it turns out Subaru is also sponsoring. (They’re everywhere!)


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Greetings While Skiing
Dogs make our outing more fun

A few days ago, we received the first really good snowfall of the season in Flagstaff, Ariz., and for my family, that means skiing. Since the downhill slopes are not yet open, we headed out on cross-country skis to enjoy the morning. Before the plows come, it’s good skiing in our neighborhood, starting right at our front door.

  As we skied, we saw other hearty souls who love the snow and wanted to play in it. That means that fellow outdoorsy people smiled and shouted out greetings, and that many dogs came over to say hello. Our friends Denali, Ruby, Aspen, Annie, and many more ran up to us, pouncing in the snow and wagging their tails. There’s a certain sort of enthusiasm that only dogs can express about snow, especially early on in the season when there’s the excitement of its novelty.   I so enjoyed the friendliness of the neighborhood canines, perhaps because they convey, far better than any of the people, their feelings of joy about the snow that was making all of us so happy. In fact, it made me think that one of the best ways to explain dogs to an alien would be to say that they are “happiness multipliers.”   How do dogs add to your winter delight?


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Wash for Cancer
John Paul teams up with NCCF to Wash Away Canine Cancer

I remember when I found out that one in three dogs will be affected by cancer, and half of those cases are fatal. I was at an agility trial in New Jersey and a representative from the National Canine Cancer Foundation was in attendance.  During a break in competition, someone asked everyone to raise their hand if they knew a dog who had been affected by cancer. I was astonished when almost everyone in the room had their hand up.

Since then, the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF) has been one of my favorite organizations. This month NCCF has teamed up with John Paul Pet to "Wash Away Canine Cancer." What’s better than helping out a good cause, while making sure your crew is squeaky clean? 

For a minimum $5 donation, you’ll get a dog wash packet that includes John Paul Pet shampoo, a pink “We are the Cure” window decal, a can of Halo’s Spot’s Stew, and a 30 day free trial of Trupanion Pet Insurance. On top of that, for every packet sold, FreeKibble.com will donate a meal of Halo Spot’s Stew to shelter dogs.

Visit the Wash Away Canine Cancer web site to order your packet and upload a picture of your newly clean pet.


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Pet Trivia Contest
How much do you know?

American Humane is sponsoring a pet trivia contest through this Friday, Nov. 5. There are six questions in the trivia quiz, and if you answer all of them correctly, you could win a prize package. There are 10 prize packages, and the winners will be chose randomly from all of the entries with six correct answers.

  So, if you know what Eddie on Frasier and the RCA icon have in common, what international incident involved Teddy Roosevelt’s dog, the breed of Paul McCartney’s dog Martha, or the name of the canine actor who played Toto, consider entering the contest. Though there are questions related to other types of animals, too, dog knowledge is part of what’s necessary for success.   Good luck!