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Tea Partiers for Puppy Mills?
Joe The Plumber fights reform

The Tea Party has finally crossed the line from an annoying fringe group who back incompetents for high office to one that can only be labeled insane. Here is all the proof you need: On October 5, a conservative outfit calling themselves the Alliance For Truth and led to the charge by the infamous Joe “The Plumber” (a remnant from the McCain campaign, whose name is not Joe nor is he a plumber, still plunging the remaining seconds of his 15-minute fame ride) picked up the backing of the Tea Party as they sought to prevent … wait for it … The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) from passing what they consider “radical anti-puppy mill legislation.”

  You read that right. The Tea Party backs puppy mills. With passage of the bill—“Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act”—the HSUS will eliminate as many as 3,000 puppy mills in the state of Missouri, a state that contains 30 percent of all the mills in America.   Now, if you’re even remotely close to a sane person, you would applaud this bill instead of putting on your spiffy Revolutionary War outfit and look to block its passage. And even if you had doubts as to whether the bill makes any sense at all, those would evaporate like morning mist soon as you heard the words of Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of the HSUS. “The measure would provide common sense standards for care of dogs,” he said in a recent Talking Points Memo article. “That includes sufficient food and clean water, vet care, regular exercise and adequate rest between breeding cycles.” The measure, he concluded, would only apply to “commercial dog breeding facilities that have more than 10 breeding females used for producing puppies for the pet trade.”   Seems like something we ought to be doing. If you’ve ever seen a puppy mill you would not even hesitate to put your stamp of approval on such a bill. So, what could possibly have the intellectual elites of the Alliance for Truth so agitated about this measure? Are you ready? Joe the fake-Plumper says that HSUS is “cowardly hiding behind animal cruelty, lying to our citizens and taking our constitutional rights away, one state at a time.”   Anita Andrews of the Alliance for Truth goes so far as to claim that the HSUS “don’t like animals.”   Perhaps these freedom-loving patriots should put down their muskets and get a taste of life in the real world. Puppy mills are cruel and evil places that do nothing but cause suffering and pain to dogs. The sooner we rid the country of them, the better off all pets will be. Pass the law, Missouri. Don’t waste a second listening to someone too incompetent to get a plumber’s license or a group of people with so much time on their hands that they are planning a protest march AGAINST puppies. It will be held at Coach’s Pizza World and will include members from the newly formed Mexico Tea Party. Yes, you read that last line correctly.   As the great writer George V. Higgins once said, “Life is hard. Very hard. It is harder if you go through it stupid.”   I hope Missouri ignores the rodeo clowns surrounding them and makes the bill law. It’s the smart move.   In truth, it’s the only move.

 

News: Guest Posts
Animal Blessings
Remembering to care for all creatures

I was raised a Catholic. And when I was young, I was seriously into the paraphernalia of the faith—I had several rosaries, a statuette of Mary and three crucifixes. But my most favorite item was a wood hinged-box, like a book with no pages. Inside was a reproduction of a painting of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology, alongside St. Francis’ prayer, which is all about being an instrument of peace, light and joy. Even after I’d left behind my faith and most of its accoutrements, I held onto the prayer. 

  I count the tradition of animal blessings to mark St. Francis’ feast day, October 4, as one of the better reasons to go to church. My first introduction to the tradition was a raucous blessing of the hounds ceremony on a Westchester farm in the 1980s. The couple dozen foxhounds in attendance barked and howled like true believers. When I lived in New York City, I attended a blessing of the animals at St. John the Divine, where they always pull out the stops. This year the procession featured a camel, a peacock, an emu, an African horned tortoise, a parrot, a goat and plenty of dogs. If you’re interested in attending a blessing with or without your co-pilot, even though the feast day has passed, there are blessings scheduled throughout the autumn.     The idea of animal blessings is, of course, not limited Christians. Most religions have a tradition of animal reverence—even if it is lost in practice. In time for our season of gratitude, Eliza Blanchard has gathered together 27 simple animal blessings and poems (including Hindu and Jewish blessings, a Blackfoot chant and a Sioux prayer) in a collection charmingly illustrated by Joyce Hesselberth. A Child’s Book of Animal Poems and Blessings celebrates the contributions of the spider and the slug alongside the whale and the wolf. A perfect read-aloud selection for kid and canine.

 

News: Guest Posts
Hurricane Leo
Destruction and devastation return with the rains

As the rainy season approaches and the air turns crisp, I become excited for fall. I can finally give up my pipedreams of developing a decent tan and start looking forward to wearing my favorite scarves, boots and coats. The one thing I don’t look forward to is the beginning of hurricane season. While my sympathies go to those living on the Gulf Coast or the Carolinas, I’m talking about a different type of hurricane. This one is named Hurricane Leo.

  Hurricane Leo is the seasonal nickname bestowed upon my three-year-old Schipperke, once the rainy season starts. A spell of shorter, wetter days often means less time to play outside and a frustrated Leo ends up creating entertainment for himself: Rifling through the laundry, licking every strange surface in the house (the toilet? Come on, Lee...), staring out the window and commenting on (barking at) every single thing that moves outside.   This year, hurricane season came early and unexpectedly. I had hired a painting contractor weeks before to come and re-paint the entire interior of my house, and had everything planned out perfectly for weeks. The house would take two days to paint, and during that time I could keep the dogs company outside, sipping lemonade in a hammock while watching them play. It was a perfect plan: Until our heat wave was interrupted with scattered showers and lightning. Not cool.   The dogs and I were forced out of the house, now that every room was covered in fresh paint and plastic-wrapped furniture. The two-day paint job turned into four days, and Tropical Depression Leo slowly began gaining momentum. Leo grew increasingly frustrated with being removed from his normal surroundings and forced to stay indoors all day with me and Skipper at a friend’s apartment. While Leo had no shortage of toys and chewables to keep him occupied, the combination of bad weather and new surroundings created, you guessed it, a Perfect Storm.   As if he could think of no better way to express his feelings and frustrations, Leo jumped up onto my friend’s bed, stood over one of the pillows and peed. For about a minute. Even though he had been given multiple opportunities to potty outside, I truly believe he was saving it up to perform a memorable form of protest, like the sit-ins at U.C. Berkeley in the 1960s or Ghandi’s hunger-strike. Maybe he just was agitated and did something strange, as dogs are known to do when under stress. Needless to say, our welcome was worn out, and (after sopping up as much dog urine as possible and offering to launder my friend’s pillows and duvet) we headed back to my house and took our chances with the painters.             Within minutes of being home, Hurricane Leo escaped my grasp and bolted into the house, running laps through every room and touching nearly every wet surface along the way. I screamed. The painters screamed. Hurricane Leo seemed triumphant with several white streaks along his back and sides. Instead of yelling at him, I rinsed him off, put him in the car, and we drove to an inner East Bay dog park, where there were no storm clouds in sight. While my hurricane season hasn’t hit in full-force yet, I’m wondering what I can do to better prepare Leo (and myself) for the fall and winter. Indoor agility? Daycare? Enrolling Leo in yet another training course? Whatever it takes to keep the hurricane away.

 

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Show & Tell: Bilingual Canine
Bilingual canine

This is a picture of Sam cooling off in the Jizera River outside Prague, Czech Republic.

 

He’s an 8-year-old Golden who understands Czech and English and who is the happiest while in the water. I had to buy a cabin in the forest by a clean river in order to make him happy. The river feeds the drinking water plant for Prague so it’s crystal clear and Sam can easily locate the fish. Of course, after he catches them he is a true conservationist and releases them back for the next time.   What a boy!   —J.C. Cortese, Prague, Czech Republic

 

 

 
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News: Guest Posts
Date A Rescuer?
Why not

This week Time Out New York offered a different take on Adopt A Shelter Dog Month (October) by highlighting single folks who’ve adopted dogs. Seems to me a dedication to rescue would be a pretty excellent baseline quality in a possible-future-significant-other. I can almost hear the code-crunching as someone launches a dating site dedicated to this particular niche.

News: Guest Posts
AKC’s Mixed Message
Does it support all dogs or not?

Earlier this year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) invited mixed breeds to participate in select activities, such as agility, obedience and rally. But are mutts only welcome at AKC events if their owners pay for the privilege? That’s the message some mixed breed owners are receiving after the AKC said no to adoptable animals as part of its annual “Meet the Breed” event in New York City.

For seven years, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) allowed the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to bring homeless cats and kittens to its New York City Cat Show at Madison Square Garden. This generous partnership enabled the Mayor’s Alliance - a nonprofit coalition of 150 animal rescue groups and shelters – to find homes for hundreds of adoptable cats.

Last year, Madison Garden was unavailable, so CFA paired up with AKC’s “Meet the Breeds” event at the Javits Center.  CFA continued the tradition of inviting the Mayor’s Alliance to hold its Adopt A Cat program. However,  AKC said no adoptable dogs or puppies would be allowed.
 
On April 1, 2010, AKC officially opened some companion and performance programs to mixed breeds. A one-time $35 registration fee allows them to enter agility, obedience and rally trials. Each event requires additional entry fees. Apparently, the inclusion stops there. The nonprofit organization, whose mission statement includes “promote responsible dog ownership,” told the Mayor’s Alliance that no adoptable dogs or cats will be allowed at this year’s “Meet the Breeds” event.

In response, the Mayor’s Alliance and Best Friends Animal Society will present an adoption event  December 18-19 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. CFA will be participating.

News: Guest Posts
Deadly Force
Police shoot another dog

Imagine coming home to a note from the police explaining that while you were away they responded to a false alarm and in the process shot your beloved dog. The Hallock family of Oakland know the terrible truth of it. Three shots from a 40-caliber Glock handgun ended the life of their dog Gloria last Thursday. In addition to dealing with their grief, the family is having a hard time believing that the arthritic, 11-year-old, tail-wagging yellow Labrador Retriever invited deadly force.

  According to news reports, the officer has not been identified or put on leave—although the department has apologized and says it will review the matter.   Meanwhile do we just have to accept that protecting dogs isn’t part of the equation—even if they are hanging out in our backyards not hurting anyone? I hope the police give the incident serious consideration that includes a greater awareness that for many of us, our dogs, cats, and other companion animals are family members and part of what we want to protect with our alarms and our tax dollars.   Unfortunately, this shooting isn’t the only recent case of police shooting dogs. In August, an off-duty officer in a Maryland park shot a dog at a private off-leash park. And on Sunday, police shot a dog during a Washington DC street fair.

 

News: Karen B. London
High Cost Pet Pampering
Hotel amenities includes Paw Package

For people who still find their bank accounts overflowing in these troubled times, here is one way to deal with the “problem”: Spend money on your dog. In this story in the Palm Beach Daily News, the author tells of her adventures with her Jack Russell Terrier getting spa treatments together at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota.

  For $130, Maggie the Jack Russell received an hour-long massage from a certified massage therapist. Options include Swedish, full-body relaxation, sports or senior massage, all in the guest’s room to comply with health laws. Maggie’s guardian later had her own massage and reflexology treatment at the hotel spa.   The complete Paw Package at the hotel consists of one of the massages, a canine manicure, a walk to an area full of shops, galleries and outdoor cafes, room service with organic pet stew, bottled water and a gourmet dog biscuit, and a souvenir photo. The cost for these luxuries is $350.   What would you do with and for your dog if you had unlimited financial resources?

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Dogs in School
Literacy pups help kids develop a love of reading and writing

As a certified Good Dog Foundation therapy team, Nemo and I have visited our local library many times over the years. During these visits, I’ve noticed that the children develop more confidence every time we see them. We’ve even helped one girl overcome her fear of dogs. In today’s world of video games and television, it’s great to see kids get excited about reading and focus their attention on something non-technology related.

A recent study by a University of Alberta researcher, Lori Friesen, found that dogs can help foster a positive effect on children’s love of reading and writing. Friesen’s research assigned two Maltese Poodles, Tango and Sparky, to a second grade classroom in Alberta, Canada. She believes that the second grade is a critical period for developing a love of literacy and that dogs can help motivate children to develop a lifelong habit of reading and writing.

In the study, children signed up for weekly reading or writing sessions with Tango and Sparky. Friesen found that the program eased children’s fear of reading aloud and helped them develop a positive association with reading, writing and even school in general.

One third of the children took their experience with Tango and Sparky outside of the classroom and started reading or writing with their dogs at home. Parents reported that their kids were choosing to read when they previously wouldn’t have and that they were now talking about school at the dinner table for the first time. The children loved reading and writing with the pups so much that parents even noticed an increased motivation to go to school in the morning.

The study’s findings will be published in an upcoming issue of Language & Literacy, although Friesen disagrees with their categorization of her work as “animal–assisted therapy.” Friesen insists that the literacy dog program is not therapy since it is goal-oriented.

No matter what Friesen’s program is called, it’s clear that these literacy dogs are helping kids develop a lifelong love of reading and writing.

News: Guest Posts
Stray Dog Caught After 3 Years
Community that cared for him glad he's safe

Rusty, aka Mr. Windyface, was the dog no one could catch. For three years, the Chow-Sheltie mix eluded animal control officers, police and the concerned  residents of Woodside Estates, the development in Oak Brook, Ill., that Rusty called home.

This implies that he was shy and rarely seen, but he was spotted nearly every day, often following people walking their own dogs through the neighborhood. In fact, he was rather social. One resident even videotaped Rusty playing with his dog.

Employees of nearby Follett Higher Education counted on regular Rusty sightings. My husband – who works for Follett at a different location - recalls seeing him two years ago when he stopped at the Oak Brook campus  one afternoon. He was worried about the loose dog in the parking lot, but his colleagues assured him, “Oh, that’s just Rusty.”

A few weeks ago, Rusty must’ve decided that he didn’t want to go through another Chicago winter on his own. He waited at the gate to play with his buddy, a rescued mix named Milo, and Milo’s owners let him in then quickly closed the gate. Finally, Rusty was caught and safe.

He is now at the Hinsdale Humane Society, where he is being treated for heartworms and growing more comfortable with people. Thankfully, there is no shortage of potential adopters and donations to his medical care fund.

For updates on Rusty’s health and home search, friend him on Faeebook where he goes by the name “Steve Arfenbarker.”

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