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News: JoAnna Lou
National Train Your Dog Month
APDT dedicates January to socialization and training

 

Last year the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) decided that it was long overdue to dedicate a month to promote socialization and training. So in 2011 January became National Train Your Dog Month. The first month of the year was chosen because so many dogs are adopted or purchased during the holidays.  APDT wants to encourage new pet parents to start off the New Year on the right paw. 

In celebration, many dog-related business are sponsoring special discounts on training classes and hosting free events.  My favorite is the K9 Nosework workshop at All Dogs Gym and Inn in New Hampshire. K9 Nosework is a great into to canine sports, because it doesn’t require any prior training to dive right in and experience the fun.  Any dog can search for a food pouch, the first step in the sport. 

I find that many people who are new to dogs often assume that training is for professionals and that their dog could “never do that.” But National Train Your Dog Month encourages people to discover how fun training can be and will lead to happier and healthier people-dog relationships.

National Train Your Dog Month is certainly not limited to those new to dogs. I’ve vowed to incorporate a little training throughout each day, so I put different exercises and skills on index cards (crate games, sit stay proofing, shaping a new trick, etc…) to make it really easy to remember to train anywhere.

What will you do for National Train Your Dog Month?

 

 

News: Karen B. London
Killing Over Dog Urine On Lawn
What’s this really about?

 

When I heard about the man who killed a neighbor after that neighbor’s dog urinated on his perfect lawn, my initial response was “Can you say ‘overreaction’?” When I learned more details about the case, I realized that the sad result of the situation was more about the behavior of the people than of the dog.   While it is true that the incident was started by one man’s dog urinating on another man’s lawn, that alone did not immediately lead to violence. When the owner of the nicely manicured lawn confronted the man whose dog had just urinated on it, the man with the dog cursed at him, pushed him, and punched him in the face. So while the dog’s behavior may have been a catalyst for the fatal shooting, the intervening human behavior was a critical part of the problem.   The distinction is important to me because while many people get into altercations over dog behavior such as barking, chasing, or even the people’s failure to pick up after their dogs, it is rarely dog behavior alone that leads to a truly problematic response by a person. It is the reaction of the people involved that causes situations to escalate into arguments, anger and even, on occasion, violent crime.   I’m certainly not saying that someone who yells, pushes and punches deserves to be fatally shot, and I think the situation is still one that involves a huge overreaction with tragic consequences. But I do think that the headlines saying a man shot another man after his dog urinated on his lawn tells only part of the story.  

 

News: Guest Posts
Canine Christmas Thief
Clever dog does her own shopping

How far would your dog go for a Christmas present? A few years ago, a clever dog decided to pick out her own gift. The mystery stray traveled six miles to a grocery store, sniffed out the pet food aisle and grabbed a rawhide bone to take home. Her shopping adventure was captured on store security cameras and shared with the local media. The clever culprit was later identified as Akira, an 11-year-old Husky known for her escapades. The owners eventually returned to the store to pay for Akira's purchase and reunite with the amused store staff.

News: Guest Posts
Merry Christmas!
From all of us at The Bark

The story going around on email is that this pup is a stray, who, looking for a warm and comfy bed for the night, ended up in a town crèche. Happily, he was allowed to spend the night and, according to Internet lore, was adopted.

  We’re not sure if it’s for real and refuse to subject it to the Snopes test because we want to believe it. Hopefully, this is just one of many homeless companion animals who will find safe, loving homes soon.   Thanks for spending some of 2010 with The Bark. We hope to see more of you in the new year. Woof.

 

News: Guest Posts
Canine Christmas Shoplifter
An 11-year-old Husky picks out her own gift

Is your dog happy with his Christmas presents this year? A couple years ago, this Husky decided to pick out her own gift, a large rawhide bone from a grocery store. Eleven-year-old Akira traveled nearly six miles from home to get it. Months after the original security camera footage aired on local TV stations, the owners came forward to pay for her purchase and buy her a new rawhide bone. Happy holidays, everyone!

News: Guest Posts
Puppies Not Always Perfect Present
Something to remember this holiday season

I came across this blog post, "Wanna Puppy, Little Girl?" and it reminded me of how many calls I will get regarding my Puppy Kindergarten class starting in January. After the puppy and his new family complete the six-week session, they might go on to my Beginner Obedience class. The lucky pups will continue to go to classes and have fun and learn for the rest of their lives. Sadly, there are a few people who will think they took one obedience class and training is now "done." The kids, to whom the puppy was given, should now "know" how to feed, shelter, play with and otherwise take care of him. These are the exasperated people I hear from when the puppy is 8 months to a year old, demanding I help them find a home for him immediately "or else." They repeatedly point out that the dog is a purebred and they "paid good money" for him. So please, if you or someone you know is thinking about buying a puppy for the kids as a Christmas present, please wait until the new year. Better yet, only get a dog if it's for you because it's unfair to the kids and to the puppy to expect them to take care of each other. 

News: Karen B. London
Dogs Ease Exam Stress
Students benefit from canine visits

 

Many colleges and universities are experimenting with new ways to ease the stress of exams for their students. The point of such activities as dance breaks in the library and yoga classes late at night is to help students cope with the extreme anxiety of finals. From oxygen bars to simultaneously dropping 10,000 rubber balls from a roof, it seems that no idea is too odd to consider. Things have sure changed a lot since I was in college and our only organized stress relief was the 9 o’clock scream.   I wish that I could have benefited from the technique I consider best of all—bringing in therapeutic dogs. It is well documented that dogs reduce stress and elevate moods, so I love that colleges are recognizing this and using that knowledge to help their students. Students who are away from their own pets as well as those who have never had a dog but always wanted one all benefit from visits by playful, affectionate dogs. Since the only way that university administrators could reduce stress more would be to cancel exams, I applaud their efforts to bring dogs in to help students.

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Caring for Pets Through Tough Times
Seer Farms temporarily takes in pets from families in crisis

In tough economic times, we’ve seen an increase in surrendered dogs, a myriad of shelter budget cuts, and the creation of the pet soup kitchen. According to the ASPCA, the recession has added an estimated one to two million animals to shelters.  And that's on top of the six to eight million pets surrendered each year.

I can’t even imagine what I would do if I was financially unable to keep my pets. Loosing your job or house is devastating, but losing a canine family member on top of that is unthinkable.  Unfortunately, many people have no alternative. 

Two years ago, Laura Pople saw people and animals suffering as a result of the economic downturn and decided to create Seer Farms, a facility that would temporarily take in pets from families in crisis from foreclosure, extended medical illness, military deployment, and domestic violence. Within three months she assembled a board of directors and found a property in Jackson, New Jersey, funded by money from her 401k retirement fund. 

When families bring an animal to Seer Farms, they also commit to a timetable for reuniting with their pets. They’re also asked to stay involved by making regular visits. If the owners can afford it, they pay a nominal fee per month to defray costs, but the organization survives on donations from pet supply companies, private donations, and other fundraising efforts.

The need for Laura’s organization was obvious from the start. Seer Farms had a waiting list before they even opened, including requests from all over the nation. Today 175 animals are cared for at Seer Farms and 49 cats and dogs have already been reunited with their families. 

 

News: Guest Posts
Gift Pick: Photobooth Dogs

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and Bark publisher Cameron Woo’s new book is already showing up on gift lists. Esquire magazine’s gadget guru included Photobooth Dogs on his list of Best Tech Gifts (and stocking stuffers!) for Men 2010—describing it as “strangely satisfying.” Not so strange to us. We understand why someone whose days are are dominated by gadgets would be drawn to this analog oasis, this vintage paean to our best friends. We think he’s on to something.

News: JoAnna Lou
Ball of Fur
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! sponsors abandoned pup

I’ve heard a lot of inspiring rescue stories, but recently I read about a Poodle from Louisiana with a particularly incredible story, and the most amazing makeover I have ever seen. This tenacious pup could’ve given any of the Worlds Ugliest Dog winners a run for their money… until he got the second chance of a lifetime.

A couple weeks ago, a dog was found in a ditch, covered in insects and so matted he couldn’t walk or eat. Fortunately he was rescued by My Heart’s Desire, a local animal rescue group.

The poor pup was so matted that he had to be sedated in order to shave off all of the hair.  It took him one week to walk again. The rescue group named the Poodle Ripley after Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, since they could barely believe there was a dog under all of the mats.

When officials at Ripley’s Believe It or Not heard about their namesake, they were so inspired that they sponsored his care by making a donation to My Heart’s Desire. When Ripley is adopted, the company will be sending him home with a gift card to a local pet store for food, grooming, and toys.

Love for special animals is not new to the company. Founder, Robert Ripley, was a pet lover and even had a one-eyed dog named Cyclops.

After grooming and lots of love, Ripley the Poodle is now doing well and is looking for a forever home. My Heart’s Desire says that Ripley is a social butterfly and is constantly wagging her little stub of a tail. 

With her amazing turnaround, Ripley is a perfect example that you should never judge a book by its cover!

 

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