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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs and Kids

As a child I was surrounded by dogs and was always fascinated by them. When I was 5 years old I walked up to a neighbor’s dog as it was chewing a bone. I reached to pet him and received a minor bite to the hand for my inattention. As I recall, my parents sternly reminded me not to bother dogs, especially if they were eating, sleeping, or chewing a bone. Lesson learned. It was the only bite I ever received as a child and to this day I consider dogs to be one of the greatest gifts in life.

When I was six my parents divorced and I went through a long period without a dog. I missed having a dog so much that I ended up moving to my dad’s house because I could have one there. My first dog that was all my own was a little shaggy mutt that followed me everywhere and slept in my bed at night. That dog was my constant companion through several moves, childhood traumas and a few teenage heartbreaks. His presence in my life is something I still feel the effects of today.

Kids and dogs can be one of the most wonderful or one of the most tragic pairings of childhood. As an animal control officer, I investigate dog bites almost daily. Most are minor, a few are severe, and many of them are to children. I have seen nice dogs euthanized for the most minor of bites and children scarred and traumatized for life by the more severe ones.  In almost every case they could have been prevented.

Children are most likely to be bitten by their families own dog and yet for many children, the dog is their most precious friend and confidant. The value of dogs in many children’s lives is so precious that it should not be missed but children and dogs must both be kept safe.

Many breeders, shelters and rescues have hard and fast rules about what age the children must be for the family to adopt a dog. In my many years of fostering, I am often faced with the decision of deciding whether a family with young kids is suitable for a dog that I am caring for. There are so many variables that I find it impossible to pick an age and take each family on a case by case basis. The most important factor is the parents. Many parents want a dog that the children “can do anything to.” They tell me of some dog they know of that just lets the kids bounce on their backs, dress them in doll clothes and drag them around all day. I have seen dogs like that but I think it’s shocking that the parents allow the child to treat the long-suffering dog that way. And what happens when the dog gets arthritic or painful or just reaches a breaking point? Or when a child visits a friend whose dog is not so tolerant? When I see parents that understand a dogs needs, and teach them to their children, I know it’s a good start.

The second most important factor is the dog itself. Some dogs have a natural affinity for children while others don’t care for them. Unless a dog is truly dangerous, even grumpy dogs can succeed in households with children if the parents are diligent and the children respectful. Of course choosing a dog that is tolerant, easy-going and enjoys children is your best bet. It’s up to the parents to provide boundaries. In the case of children too young to follow directions adults need to be diligent and not put the dog in a situation where he feels the need to defend himself. Dogs try very hard to communicate with us but often we ignore their attempts to express their discomfort until it’s too late. A dog isn’t able to tell us in words that the child is hurting him, bothering him or invading his space. Careful observation of body language is critical, as is teaching respectful behavior toward dogs and separating them from kids if they aren’t enjoying the interaction.

I would love to hear about readers experiences with dogs and kids. Even negative situations can be a learning experience for us all and the positives between dogs and kids are truly priceless.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Coat Type Preferences
Different strokes for different folks

The dog had a lush coat and I couldn’t keep my hands off of it. Touching his fur felt so good and I couldn’t stop petting him and luxuriating in his glorious coat. It is my favorite sort of fur—thick, healthy and soft. He’s a mix that is not possible to identify with certainty, and his coat was all the better for it.

I’m not picky when it comes to petting dogs and loving it—corded, wiry, heavy, double, smooth, wavy, curly, or a combination. I love the feel of canine fur and like to spend a lot of time in contact with it. (My dry cleaner can confirm this.) Yet, certain coats appeal to me most.

I especially like the dogs whose coats are between the double coats of the northern breeds like Huskies or Akitas and the combination coats of Border Collies or Tibetan Spaniels. I like the thickness of the double coat combined with the silkier texture of the combination coat.

There is tremendous variation in coat preference among people. I have friends and colleagues who are drawn to wire-haired dogs or who love any dog with a curly coat or who always choose short-haired dogs. I suppose some of the preference is about what we were exposed to as children. Another piece of it may be about a special dog we met quite by chance, and whose coat type becomes our standard of perfection. Many of the preferences may be random personal choices that are no more explicable than why one person might choose blueberries over raspberries or prefer the color blue to the color green.

Do you have a favorite coat type, and if so, do you have any guesses about the origin of your preference?

News: Editors
Dog Rescuer Wins Big Award

It is inspiring and moving to hear stories about people performing wonderful things for their communities. A new campaign, 5-hour ENERGY® Helps Amazing People, is putting the spotlight on these unsung champions by recognizing outstanding people who, despite their own challenges, also give their time and energy to make the lives of others better. Every week one these “local heroes” has been awarded $50,000—think of it as a MacArthur award for everyday people doing good work.

The idea came from Manoj Bhargava, 5-hour Energy Drink’s founder, who posed the question to his marketing department: “Why only pay celebrities or athletes? Why not give to the real heroes?” 

One of the recent honorees is Kristina Rinaldi, the Development Associate and volunteer coordinator for Detroit Dogs Rescue (DDR), an organization founded in 2010 to help the plight of the dogs in Detroit—both the thousands of homeless dogs who roam the streets, and those living with people in need of support.

Rinaldi has helped or rescued more than 1,500 dogs and in many ways, she relates to the dogs she helps. She spent most of her childhood and teenage years in and out of foster homes or sleeping on couches of friends and relatives. At age 13 she was working for drug dealers helping throw Rave parties and by age 15 she was rapping in the hip-hop scene. There she became friends with Daniel “Hush” Carlisle, a rapper who founded DDR and who became her mentor. After putting herself through college and getting a job at a hospital, Kristina joined DDR to follow her passion of helping dogs.

Now Rinaldi coordinates volunteers to help rescue and foster many dogs who would otherwise be put down. She also does community outreach and brings dog food and even doghouses (made by local Eagle Scouts and other youth groups) to pet owners who won’t surrender their dogs but need extra help taking care of them.

And it was a total surprise when she was handed the $50,000 award. When we spoke with her recently, she acknowledged that she had no idea that she was going to win any money and “was completely blown away by it.”

I asked her why they don’t have more help with this horrible situation. As she describes it, “Detroit looks like a looks like a Third World country. There are dogs everywhere living in abandoned buildings, fending for themselves.” It is estimated that there might be as many as 50,000 living like this—in a major U.S. city! And adds that she wonders why the “National Guard isn’t coming to help us.” A question that we certainly want to ask as well.

But DDR is now has plans to build the first no-kill shelter in Detroit. And while they are trying to raise money for that project, they still provide vaccination and spay and neutering clinics. They also  “do a lot of community outreach. There are many people who lost their jobs in the auto industry and who have dogs, but now they have to choose between feeding their dogs and feeding their families. Hush will go out to them and give them six months of dog food to help them to get back on their feet,” Renaldi added.

As for those doghouses, Kristina admits that she just “loves Eagle Scouts, they are fabulous and they also tap into at-risk youth, combining the building of the houses with a shop class. We are always try to keep the youth involved.”

I asked why helping dogs is so important to her and she replied that, “A dog has always helped me, helped me through whatever. No matter how you unfamiliar and lost you feel, that a dog will make you feel at home and that they are your best friend. I’ve always had a passion for dogs.” So it is fine with her that, as she says, she and her colleagues “have turned our lives over to the dogs, this is all we do. It consumes our lives.”

It is great that 5-hour ENERGY® Helps has chosen Kristina Rinaldi, and her work with the DDR, as a recipient of one of their awards, but DDR still needs our help. See how you can help.

 

 

News: Editors
Listen to Alexandra Horowitz

For your listening pleasure—tune into Alexandra Horowitz, author of the bestselling, “must read” book, Inside of a Dog, being interviewed on the “Person Place Thing” radio program by Randy Cohen. You can listen at any time.

As their site notes about Alexandra:

A professor of psychology at Barnard, Alexandra Horowitz is the director of that school’s Dog Cognition Lab. What we particularly admire about her: she is one of a very few scientists who can write about current ideas in her field in a way that a lay audience finds not only comprehensible – dayanu – but intriguing, which she did to great effect in her book “Inside of a Dog: What dogs see, smell and know,” and more recently in “On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes.”

Listen now

News: Editors
Companions for Eternity
Humans and Pets can be buried together, in NY state

Good news for dog-lovers in New York state, pet cemeteries will be allowed to accept the cremated remains of humans and bury them alongside those of their pets. This change resolves a two-year-old dispute that began when the state refused to allow the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery—the oldest pet cemetery in the nation—to accept the ashes of a former NYPD officer, Thomas Ryan, who requested that he be buried with his three deceased Maltese pups. The officer’s niece, Taylor York, an attorney petitioned the state to change the rule that had forbidden this. 

“People do get a sense of comfort from knowing they can lie for eternity with their beloved pet, that they can be loved and protected in the afterlife just as faithfully as when they were alive,” York said. The 117-year-old Hartsdale Pet cemetery, had been interring cremated human remains since the 1920s and had already buried the remains of Ryan’s wife, Bunny, beside the couples three Maltese dogs, DJ 1, DJ 2 and DJ 3.

“They didn’t have any children,” York said. “Each (Maltese), was their pride and joy.”

And even though his wife’s remains were already buried there, the state balked when it came to complying with Ryan’s wishes.

“I am not sure what prompted it,” said Hartsdale owner Ed Martin. “The whole thing, as far as I was concerned was a silly matter.”

Martin said the pet cemetery gets about five or six requests a year from pet owners to have their ashes buried with their dogs, cats, birds or other companions.

He estimates the ashes of about 700 people were already under the soil in the cemetery when the state stepped in.

Luckily now with this new ruling, people in, at least that state, will be allowed to spend all of eternity alongside their beloved pets.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pets-pet-owners-allowed-buried-article-1.1455809#ixzz2esUpe63b

 

 

 

 

News: Editors
Hero Dog Better Than Nanny Cam

While a nanny cam might be a good idea to keep track of both a child and a caregiver, even better idea might to trust in your dog’s instincts. A couple in Charleston, S.C., learned about this the hard way. It was their dog Killian who alerted them to an abusive nanny they had hired for their young son, Finn.

Benjamin and Hope Jordan did a background check before they hired the babysitter for their 7-month-old son, Finn, last year. So they hired 22-year-old Alexis Khan, who seemed to be an attentive and loving sitter in her first five months at work. But the Jordans were concerned when their trusted calm, family dog, Killian, started acting strangely toward Khan.

“…we started to notice that our dog was very defensive of our son when she would come in the door,” Benjamin Jordan told the local TV WCSC TV’s Live 5. “He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.” Their dog had never reacted this way towards anyone before.

The parents were concerned and suspicious and decided to put an iPhone under the couch to record what was happening while they were at work.

“It started with cussing,” Jordan said. “Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up.

“To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day…”

The Jordans called the police and Khan was taken into custody. Last Monday, she pleaded guilty for assault and battery in Charleston County Circuit Court. Khan will spend one to three years in prison and will be placed on a child abuse registry.

“That is fantastic news to us. To know that maybe Finn’s ordeal has possibly saved another child’s life in the future,” Mr. Jordan told Live 5. “Had our dog not alerted us to the trouble, had my wife’s instincts not said we need to make something happen, it could have been Finn that was killed by the babysitter. You never know.”

Don’t you think that this shows that every family with a babysitter also needs a doggy cam? Good work Killian!

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs Learning to Fly
Airport movie set doubles as a training ground for jet setting pups

Flying isn't a fun activity for most people, so you can only imagine how an animal feels who has no idea what's going on. After seeing a stressed dog go through airport security, Talaat Captan, owner of Air Hollywood, decided to use his aviation themed movie studio to help dogs become comfortable flying. In addition to film work, Air Hollywood also offers training for people with a fear of flying. Helping dogs seemed like a natural next step.

The sets at Air Hollywood have been used in movies and television shows such as Bridesmaids, Kill Bill, and NCIS. For the K9 Flight School, the scenes are transformed to train dogs. Famous actors are replaced with extras hired to simulate a crowded, chaotic terminal complete with TSA security checkpoints, rolling luggage carts, and loud departure announcements.  

After navigating the terminal, dogs board an airplane set that simulates takeoff, turbulence, and landing motions and noises. Every detail is recreated down to the shutting of overhead luggage bins and the dimming of cabin lights. The class focuses on small pups or service dogs that are allowed in the cabin. Unfortunately for the big dogs, the course doesn't address traveling in cargo.

The curriculum, created by a dog trainer, was tested on 60 puppies from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Rick Wilcox, who oversees puppy-training in Southern California, said the simulations were so realistic that some of the handlers who don't like to fly became nervous.

The only way I know about acclimating animals to planes is by training dogs to jump in a kennel resting on inflatable exercise discs (to simulate movement) while playing an airplane sounds CD. Air Hollywood's K9 Flight School is an amazing way to introduce a dog to flying. Los Angeles is lucky to have an aviation themed movie set that can be used for this purpose. I don't think I'll be seeing this kind of class in New York any time soon!

News: Guest Posts
Dog Drinking: An Acrobatic Tongue Act

If you live with a dog, then you are familiar with this sound.

Unlike barks, growls and howls — dog sounds that easily take center stage — a dog lapping up water is background, white noise. Dog drinking attracts little attention until you unexpectedly step in a puddle of slopped-over water while wearing socks.

A closer look reveals there is nothing commonplace about how dogs drink. Instead, to ingest liquids, the tongue seems to perform almost acrobatic feats. Slow-motion footage of dogs lapping up water shows that the tongue curls backward to create a spoon shape. The below video from of The Secret Life of Dogs, a Nat Geo WILD special that premiered Sunday, August 25, hints at the intricacies of how dogs drink.

 

From the above clip, it could appear that by curling the tongue backward and filling the spoon-shaped tongue with water, dogs drink by scooping, or spooning, liquids into their mouths. But a paper published by Crompton and Musinsky in Biology Letters in 2011, finds there is more to the story.

While dog tongues do assume a spoon-shaped position while drinking, much of that liquid falls out. Using high-speed and x-ray video recordings of a dog lapping up a colored liquid, instead of clear water, the researchers could see that the tip of the dog’s tongue was actually drawing a column of water up into the mouth, and this column of water is what dogs are drinking. This observation is difficult to make from slow-motion videos of dogs drinking clear liquids like water. By taking x-ray video of a dog drinking a dark liquid, in this case a mixture of milk and barium, Crompton and Musinsky could see that dogs draw up liquid by the tip of the tongue, and the tongue then traps previously lapped water onto the roof of the mouth so the dog can bring more water in without losing what it already has.

Ultimately, the researchers found that dogs use the same drinking technique as cats. This might be surprising because dogs make such a mess while drinking, and cats seem to emulate the daintiness of royalty, but dog tongues dive deeper into liquids thereby giving off more spray.

The researchers concluded that dogs and cats share the same basic mechanism for drinking: “adhesion of liquid to the tongue rather than ‘scooping’ by the tongue.” I’ll drink to that.

 

Additional Reading and References

Crompton and Musinsky. 2011. How Dogs Lap: Ingestion and Intraoral Transport in Canis familiaris. Biology Letters 7, 882–884.
Reis et al. 2010. How Cats Lap: Water Uptake by Felis catus. Science 330 1231–1234.
Young. Dogs Do Drink Like Cats After All. Not Exactly Rocket Science. May 24, 2011.

About the Author

Julie Hecht, MSc, is a canine behavioral researcher and science writer in New York City. She writes a behavior column for The Bark. She would really like to meet your dog. Follow on Dog Spies at Facebook and Twitter @DogSpies | DogSpies.com

This story was originally published by Scientific American. Reprinted with permission.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Seeing Previous Guardians
Love in the past and present

Many years ago, I acquired a 2½-year old Lab mix from a family who was rehoming him. The conflicts with their other dog had become alarming and had compromised the quality of life for the entire household. My bond with my new dog formed quickly and was strong until he died and beyond.

It’s phenomenal how well dogs can form new attachments and love so many people throughout their lives. Humans can do that, too, though this is far from common in the animal world. I couldn’t help but notice the happiness my dog expressed when we ran into his original family around town, which happened a few times a year.

Whenever he saw them, he went, for lack of a better term, completely bonkers. He jumped straight into the air like he was on a pogo stick, with all four paws nearly five feet off the ground. His face showed pure joy as he greeted them, and they were much the same in their expressions. Though there was so much love on both sides, they chose to place him in a home where he was not at risk of being harmed by fights with their other, older dog. I’m so grateful for that because otherwise he would never have entered my life.

Though my dog was thrilled to see the people he lived with from 8 weeks to 2½ years of age, he never attempted to stay with them. After each reunion, he invariably returned his attention to me and did not hesitate as we walked away. There were no backward glances and he did not seem confused in any way. Though I can’t know exactly what he felt or thought, I can make guesses based on his behavior. I think he was happy to see the people he knew from the past because he loved them. He also loved me and I believe that he naturally felt more connected to me because we were currently spending time together, sharing a home and a life.

I always enjoyed his reaction to his first family because I liked seeing him happy for any reason. I would have been horrified to see him react to them with avoidance, fear or any other negative emotion. A show of indifference would not have been much better as that would have made me wonder if he would be capable of ceasing to care about me, too. It also made me happy because I could see how much it meant to the family to be honored with an over-the-top exuberant greeting from the dog they loved. It had been a heartbreaking decision for them to give him up for the safety of both dogs. They were overjoyed to see that he still loved them, too, and was excited to see them.

How does your dog react to seeing a previous guardian or a foster family? Or, if you were previously the guardian or foster family to a dog you’ve been able to see again, how does the dog act at the reunion?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Four Countries Seek to End Dog Smuggling
Alliance scrutinizes trafficking pets for food
Asian countries and their canine delicacies are often the target of many jokes. While I can't judge anyone for their dietary preferences (I still can't give up hamburgers despite the inhumane beef industry we have in our country), I was horrified to learn about the Trade of Shame, smugglers that steal pets in Thailand to supply a black market for dog meat in Vietnam.  

Pets are targeted because they are easy to catch since they are friendlier than your average stray dog. Many are taken in the middle of the night, straight from people's backyards. It's a cruel practice made worse by the fact smugglers believe instilling fear and stress in the dogs release hormones that flavor the meat.

The Soi Dog Foundation and the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been fighting for years to get an animal welfare law through parliament. While not exactly what they were hoping for, an alliance formed last week between Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos is a big step in the right direction.  

The four countries pledged to stop the trafficking of pets for meat by establishing a five-year ban on importing dogs into Vietnam and planning incentives to motivate law enforcement to tackle smuggling.

The collaboration is a breakthrough even though the true motivation is to stop the spread of disease rather than organized crime or animal cruelty. Vietnam has one of Asia's worst rabies problems, which is exacerbated by canine trafficking.  

Trying to end a lucrative illegal market will certainly be an uphill battle. Each dog can fetch 5,000-7,000 baht ($155-215) and it's estimated that 5 million dogs are slaughtered annually. Some fear that managing the border between Thailand and other countries will just force smugglers to find new routes and tactics.  

This debate is not about whether it's right or wrong to eat dogs, but about ending a cruel and unethical practice.  Similar to preventing stolen pets from becoming research subjects or dog fighting bait, there is no magic solution to ending these criminal activities. However I'm glad that the four Asian countries are taking a step in the right direction, even if stopping trafficking isn't the main goal.

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