News: Karen B. London
Dreaming of Dogs
What are your nighttime canine visions?

If there was a group called Dog Dreamers Anonymous, you would surely find me at their meetings, standing up to say, “Hi, my name is Karen, and I dream about dogs.” In fact, I dream about them every week, sometimes multiple times. Last week for example, I had three dreams about dogs.

  The first dream was about a dog trying to block the waves from ruining a little kid’s sandcastle. The dog ran in between the sand castle and a big wave and blocked most of it so that it did not destroy the castle. The child who had built this particular castle had been bullied and teased by some other competitors in a sandcastle building contest, but ending up winning an award from the judges, thanks in part to the dog’s quick move. In my dream, I was very excited about what the dog’s actions might mean about dog’s cognitive and social abilities since he acted to prevent a future problem and chose to help the child most in need.   In the second dream, I was running slow motion through a field of daisies with many dogs, most of whom belonged to clients. For years, I’ve said that people probably picture the daily life of anyone who works with dogs to be mostly running through a field of wildflowers with piles of puppies, and probably in slow motion. The reality, though still wonderful, isn’t quite so idyllic.   I was running a race in the third dream. A dog joined me after a couple of miles and ran with me the rest of the way, which kept me going over the last few miles when I was feeling bad and wanted to stop. As I crossed the finish line, I turned to give this dog some water, but he was gone. I looked all around, but couldn’t find him. Later, I learned that every struggling runner who finishied the race reported having this dog as company, but that he always disappeared at the finish line.   Do you dream of dogs? What canine thoughts dance in your head as you sleep?
News: JoAnna Lou
Restaurant Etiquette
Ensure that your pup will be invited back

Last year I wrote about my love of dining out with my pups. Fortunately in New York, most restaurants with outdoor seating allow dogs, so finding one is as easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood. Even if I don’t have my canine crew with me, I like to support pet friendly establishments. Recently, I discovered a website dedicated to dog friendly reviews, PetFriendlyRestaurants.com.

  The website uses a bone rating system from one bone, awarded to restaurants that simply allow pets, to three bones, bestowed on restaurants that go out of their way to welcome dogs with water bowls and treats.   A lot of the places I frequent, such the Boat Basin Café in New York, are on the website with numerous multi-bone reviews. As I browsed through the listings, I was sad to see that many local favorites no longer welcome dogs.    Some are unavoidable, such as George Keeley’s, which was forced to stop letting dogs inside the bar after one too many health code fines. But others may have been preventable, such as Grey Dog’s Coffee, which banned animals after a dog bit a child. Unfortunately, Grey Dog’s Coffee isn’t the first to do so. I’ve heard about numerous other restaurants that have had to stop allowing pets after patrons failed to pick up after their dogs or let unruly pups disturb other customers.   It’s too bad that everyone has to suffer because of a few irresponsible people. This problem could be eliminated if people had the common sense to bring only well-behaved pets and to be vigilant about monitoring behavior. Even the most well trained dog can have a bad day. If I’m going to a restaurant, I always bring a chew toy to keep Nemo occupied and tie his leash to my chair, just in case. When Nemo was a puppy, if he got antsy, we would walk him around the block in between dishes.    For more tips, check out DogsLifeKC.com’s Dog Restaurant Etiquette to keep your pup on his best behavior!


News: Guest Posts
Should Dogs Attend Funeral Masses?
Mine did

I’ve been to many a dog funeral (including a Buddhist sukhavati for my own beloved dog Wallace … and I do plan to write about this someday), but never before have I brought my own dog to a funeral. Not until this week, that is.

  It wasn’t like Chloe (the dog) was invited. Nor had I planned to bring her, but circumstances were such that I had to rush back to Massachusetts to make it to the service on time, and I had to bring Chloe, because I did not have time to find a sitter. I thought I would be able to leave her in the car during the service, or at least tie her up outside the church, with a dish of water, a marrow bone and a copy of Cat Fancy magazine. But the church had no trees. And it was ninety degrees in the shade.   So I really had no choice, right? I must confess I was nervous about this decision. Risk A: The funeral service had already begun by the time I arrived, which meant I risked walking in the wrong door and finding myself at the front of the church instead of the back, thereby revealing to all the mourners my possible lapse in tact, propriety and judgment. Churches are always confusing like that—especially old New England churches, which seem to have dozens of entrances and no signs.   Risk B: The funeral was being held at a Catholic church, and, if I recall correctly, Catholics don’t believe that animals have souls, right? So would they allow a being without a soul into their chapels? Would they allow me, a Buddhist who sings Hindu and Sikh chants, and practices Native American ceremonies and believes in One God/dess Many Paths? And who believes that not only do dogs have souls, but that some of them are more advanced than we humans? (I was raised Catholic, by the way, which by Law allows me to poke fun at this institution.)   Well, there was only one way to find out. I put Chloe on a close “heel” and entered through the hallowed doors. If lightning stuck, I’d know dogs weren’t allowed at St. Joseph’s.   If lightning did not strike, and no clouds parted (revealing a hand pointing its finger of judgment at me a la Michelangelo), well, groovy.   Chloe is an exceptionally well-trained, well-behaved dog, by the way. I knew that would work in our favor. Plus, the woman whose funeral mass we were celebrating was a life-long dog lover. As was her husband, who had passed seven months prior.   We entered, and found ourselves at the back of the church. Excellent. No one noticed our entrance; the second reading had already begun and people were lost in their own thoughts—of Jane and all the goodness and kindness she had spread through the world.   I thought how Chloe was a good and kind being too. I thought of my best high school friend, sitting way up front, mourning the sudden loss of her mother. And of her father. And of her beloved, beloved dog Lydia, who had died in April. My friend had endured a lot of loss in the past seven months. And yet she sat up there with her shoulders straight and her spine erect and poised. She has always been a graceful woman. So was her mother. I said my silent goodbyes to Jane and Bill, and said a few prayers for my friend. I even said a few prayers for my long-departed dog Wallace, and asked him to keep an eye out for Lydia, who still might not be used to life beyond the beyond.   As I had this thought, my dog Chloe wagged her tail.   And the lightning did not strike.   This is when I finally cried—and how good and sweet life can be, and yet so sad at the same time. I guess you can’t have one without the other. Until you leave this world.  Death didn’t seem so bad. Neither did life. Not with a dog by your side.   Anyway, I am starting to go off on mystical tangents when I am supposed to be writing about my dog.   After the service ended, we all stood, and the family filed out of the church, preceded by the priests. The first one swung an urn of incense back and forth, filling the aisles with the scent of frankincense. The second one walked piously, with his hands folded around his Bible. This second priest made a point to make eye contact with all the mourners and because I was at the very back of the church I knew I would be one of the last. My dog stood at my side, partially hidden from view. I worried again what the priest would think—if I had committed some grave cardinal sin. (I would have known this, perhaps, if I had paid attention in Sunday School, but who does that?)   I backed up a bit, as if to shield the dog from view. But then she sneezed. Incense does that to her. The second priest looked over, to find the source of the ground-level sneeze, and thereby saw my dog. She wagged her tail at him and moved forward to say hello. He smiled in a kind and loving way.   All God’s creatures, I thought.   My friend’s entire family smiled too as they passed. And I like to think that my dog brought them some sort of comfort on this day of mourning. That the dog reminded them of their own family dogs, of the dogs their parents had raised and loved. Of love itself. For that is what dogs are: love. On four legs.   So in the end, no one complained about the presence of my large furry spaniel. She was even welcomed to come to the post-funeral reception. There, the young grandchildren clambered about her, bringing her water and pieces of fried chicken, rubbing her belly, laughing at the way she squirmed and smiled when she wagged her tail.   It was heartwarming, to say the least. Especially when Clara, my friend’s six-year old daughter, said to my friend: “Mommy, Grandma is with Grandpa in heaven now, right?”   My friend answered, yes.   “And Lydia is there, too?”   “Yes, Lydia is there, too.”   “Good,” Clara said.   And it was good. Clara went over and hugged my dog.


News: Contests
And the Winners Are …
Sweet Licks - Dozing Dogs


This is Sadie licking her chops! Taken while playing outside last summer and me holding a treat off camera to get her to pose.

-Angela of Edmond, OK.


This is Hammy. Like all puppies, he runs and plays until he's all worn out. I plopped him on the pillow and he never moved a muscle. I think he was asleep before he hit the pillow!

-Karen of Scottsdale, AZ.


News: Guest Posts
Doggy Blues
A short story from across the pond

“Dear Sir, Your dog is driving me mad. I can’t concentrate. I should be obliged if you would bring your hound under control. Yours faithfully, E Brown.”

  Paul tore up the note and threw the bits towards the waste bin. Rambo raced after them, growling ferociously.    “She says you are driving her mad,” he said.   Rambo wagged enthusiastically. Paul looked in dismay at a torn cushion, chewed slippers and broken houseplant. “She can’t concentrate. She says I’ve got to control you.”   Rambo threw himself at his lead and dragged it to Paul’s feet, prancing with anticipation at the thought of rabbits and cats to chase. It had been a long day and now it was his turn for some attention. He launched at the door, nearly knocking his head sideways in his excitement.   “I suppose I’d better take you out despite the fact that you’ve been a bad, bad dog.” Paul looked at his new neighbour’s prim garden and raised flowerbeds. He guessed she was a prim person. Her handwriting was as neat as her curtains. If E Brown had trouble concentrating, then that was her problem.   “Come on, Rambo, let’s go hit the park.”   Paul commuted daily to his job. He was often late home because of train cancellations. It was frustrating, especially when he knew that Rambo had probably been watching for him since about four o’clock. Rambo was his brother’s dog and he had promised to look after him till he returned from abroad. That had been a year ago.   “Rambo... what am I going to do about you?” Paul groaned, as the dog brought over a wet and sticky stick for him to throw for the twentieth time. He threw it into a tangled bush. Rambo bounced after it, fresh as a frisky foal. The dog was full of unleashed energy. He’d been saving his adrenalin all day.   The next evening, Paul opened the front door and gasped at the scene of total chaos that met his eyes. Torn newspapers, chewed chair legs, his pyjamas heaped on the floor and clearly slept on. Teeth marks in packets of biscuits, a curtain hanging off its hooks, dirty paw marks all over the sofa.   Rambo was hiding under the desk, ears back, making himself as small as possible and hoping he couldn’t be seen.   “You bad dog,” Paul shouted. He had all this clearing up to do just when he wanted to put his feet up with a glass of cold beer. He heard an envelope drop through the letterbox. Rambo shot from his hiding place. Paul came second by one-fifth of a second and wrenched it from Rambo’s teeth.   “Dear Sir, Your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. He is bored and lonely. Kindly buy him some new toys or I shall never finish my work. Yours faithfully, E Brown.”   “What am I to do with you, Rambo?” Paul raged, getting out a dustpan and brush. “I can’t move, not with this mortgage, change my job, far too difficult, give you away. What would my brother say? There’s such a thing as family responsibility.”   Rambo agreed, sheepishly. He sat, waiting patiently for Paul to finish the clearing up, not letting the man out of his sight. He was fiercely dependent on his new owner. Panic set in every time Paul went out of the door.   Paul always took Rambo for a quick stroll before breakfast. He tried a good talking to before he left for work.   “Now please try and be good. No hunting and attacking prey all over the house, no helping with the housework, no making your own supper. We’ll go for a longer walk this evening.”   Rambo leaped up onto the windowsill as soon as Paul left for work. He barked loudly at the postman, at the milkman, at every passing car, at any bird that dared alight on their tree and hysterically at the snooty cat from next door. The cat sat on the dividing wall, turning an elegant back on the noisy dog.   “Dear neighbour,” began the now familiar writing. “It’s not that I dislike dogs. I like all animals, even ones with behaviour problems. Please do something before I explode with frustration. The first fifteen minutes are the worst. Yours truly, Elinor Brown.”   Paul was just about to toss the note into the bin when his attention was caught by the last sentence. What did she mean? The first fifteen minutes were the worst.   He put an advertisement in the local paper: “DOG-SITTER REQUIRED FOR MAD DOG. INSURANCE NEGOTIABLE. BOX NO 138.”   He was inundated with replies. The envelopes fell through his letterbox like snow. Rambo had a terrific time especially with the second post. He shredded the lot, buried them under the carpet, surrounded himself proudly with the fruit of his labour. Paul tried to fit the pieces together while Rambo licked his ear. “It’s no good trying to get round me,” Paul groaned. “This is hopeless. Dozens of helpful people and I can’t put together a single address.”   The only address he could put together was the one next door. Elinor Brown had written again, no doubt issuing a writ.   Paul decided to go round on bended knee. He washed his best shirt, finished off the drying with the hair dryer. He knocked nervously on the door expecting a sour-faced dragon.   “Come in,” said Elinor, a young woman with a sweet smile. “I’ve been expecting you.”   “Rambo and I have come to apologise.”   Rambo leaped in, high on hopes of demolishing the cat. Elinor began to laugh. “This is Rambo? A small King Charles Spaniel?”   Rambo hung his soft and floppy spaniel ears, his big brown eyes eloquent with desperation to be liked. She rubbed his curly coat.   “My brother’s dog,” said Paul.   “That explains it. Rehomed dogs surround themselves with the smell of their new owner, worried that he’s not coming back. They can find your scent on almost anything. So they chew it, tear it up, curl up on it when the panic is over. But if they think that their owner’s return means anger and shouts, so they also get guilty and even more anxious.”   “I’m trying to find a dog-sitter, but Rambo tore up all the replies.”   “Why not me?” said Elinor. “You could leave him here. I work from home.” She nodded towards a big computer. “I analyse consumer products. Companies send me sales figures and I make charts, project swings. My cat has a cat-flap. She’ll soon get used to Rambo.”   She already regretted her last letter. She hoped it had been torn up. In her anxiety she dropped her pen. Rambo hurtled after it, thrashed it lifeless, then returned it to her, tail wagging enthusiastically.    “We could celebrate by going for a walk,” Paul said. “Would you like to come with us?” Elinor spun her wheelchair forty-five degrees so that she could see the expression on his face. “Cool,” she said.


News: Karen B. London
Swimming at the Local Pool
Dogs welcomed this week

Many dogs love to swim, and so do many people. Being able to do it together makes it even much better for many pairs. For residents of Charleston, West Virginia, this week provides a special opportunity. At the end of the season, one pool is open to dogs. In the week before season’s end, dogs are allowed to come in and have a good time in the water. Soon after, the pool is drained for the winter.

  I’ve never heard of pools that welcome dogs. Do any in your area allow dogs?


News: Guest Posts
Zia Needs A Home
Are you ready for an “earth goddess”?

Yesterday, we received a call from Jennifer Rabinowitz in New Mexico. She wanted to know if she could place an ad in Bark to help find a home—ASAP—for her rescue dog. Since we publish every other month, we couldn’t get the word out quickly enough. When we heard about all Jenny had been through for Zia, we were reminded of how hard it can be for some dogs to land in the right place. We were also reminded of the determination and resourcefulness of so many folks who are dedicated to doing right by homeless dogs.

  We got back in touch with Rabinowitz, a 49-year-old former development director, and asked her to tell us more about Zia, a small, 14-month-old Labrador, and the effort to find her a good home. [Editors Note: If you're interested but think Zia lives too far away, Jenny says she'll deliver the pup to pretty much anywhere in the United States, as long as she finds a good home.]   How did Zia come to you? I moved to New Mexico from Washington D.C. almost a year ago to attend graduate school in social work. My first week here I volunteered at an adoption event for dogs from the Las Vegas (New Mexico) pound, a dark place for dogs—both literally and figuratively. A crate of puppies arrived at the event, and for six hours I tried to get them adopted. By afternoon’s end, nobody had adopted them and I couldn’t bear to see the puppies go back to the Las Vegas pound, which has one of the highest euthanasia rates in the state. I thought I could easily share my rental home with the pups until I could get them adopted! The problem is that I could not find an appropriate home for them.   How did she get her name? When I brought her home (together with her brother and a puppy from another litter) she was lethargic, even limp. I thought I would have to take her to the vet. A 10-year-old girl who lived next door stopped by and scooped the lethargic puppy into her arms, holding her and rocking her. She then looked up at me and said, “This is Zia.” I asked why, and she said, “Because she is an earth goddess.”   Tell me about her. Zia is very playful, even creative in her play. She is affectionate. She is also somewhat fearful of other dogs. While she is not dog-aggressive, she is unsure of herself around dogs. I used to take her to Santa Fe’s Frank Ortiz no-leash park. She loved the park and not once did I hear a growl from her. If anything, I saw her lay down next to dogs or run alongside them. My other foster dogs, however, were less forgiving of her, and twice they went to attack her. It is no wonder that she is shy or reticent around dogs.   When I lived in the New Mexico countryside, I would take Zia to the Pecos River twice a day. In the winter, Zia liked to break the ice formed on the river. In the spring, she’d sit next to me leaning into my side, and we’d watch the water flow by. I’ll miss her.   Why do you need to find a home so urgently? I had to move about eight weeks ago because my landlord gave me an ultimatum: Get rid of some of the dogs or get out.  I moved. During my first two weeks at my new place, Zia and Blaze (also a female and the same age as Zia, but from a different litter) had a horrific fight. The experience was unnerving, and because Blaze gets along with the other two (Zia’s brother and Nick, my Mastiff), I must find a home for Zia. In short, I’m trying to weigh one dog against three dogs who get along well. It’s harder to place three dogs than it is one dog.  But, believe me, it’s a tough decision.   What have you done to find Zia a home? I’ve reached out to environmental groups (Sierra Club/Northern Rio Grande chapter, WildEarth Guardians, Northern New Mexico Law Center, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance so far), churches, synagogues, my grade school (where my flyer will be read at the noontime meeting), my high school (will email my graduating class), a meditation center in Washington DC, my yoga studio, and so on. In short, I’ve tried to identify where the kind of people I would want to adopt her would likely be. I’ve asked a church in Santa Fe if I could make an announcement after Sunday morning’s sermons—they graciously said yes! Still, I have had little luck.     It sounds like you have fostered dogs before. If so, is this the most difficult experience you’ve had placing a dog? I’ve never fostered dogs before. I’ve always adopted shelter dogs, but only dogs that were full-grown. Working with puppies while caring for an aging Mastiff with health problems has been the challenge of my life. It is something I will never forget. It has offered a profound education in ethics, morality and love.   Getting her placed has felt like climbing Everest with no oxygen. Virtually everybody says to simply dump her at the Santa Fe Humane Society (which is a kill shelter). I can’t be so insensitive to her life and her right to live it.   What’s making it so difficult? I think it is the economy. New Mexico is a poor state, and we are in difficult economic times.     How will you feel once you have found a loving, stable home for Zia? Ecstatic and relieved.       If you want to provide Zia with a stable, loving, one-dog home or if you have ideas for Jenny, contact her via email at jennifer.rabinowitz@gmail.com.


News: Guest Posts
Salmonella Risk
Human infections linked to pet food
We’ve posted several recalls recently related to concerns about salmonella in dry dog food. Now, there’s an additional, disturbing wrinkle: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that dozens of salmonella infections in toddlers have been traced to dry pet food. According to The New York Times report, it’s the first time human infections have been linked to this source.

  The CDC recommends “children younger than 5 not be allowed to touch or eat pet food or pet treats and be kept away from pet feeding areas.”


News: Guest Posts
Big Love
Living the poly-dog life

“Babe, how do you think Skipper felt about me bringing home Leo? I mean, do you think he feels like...inadequate, as a dog?”

  “What on earth are you talking about?”   “Maybe he feels like I got another dog because he wasn’t enough for me? Like if maybe he had a bigger personality, or liked to snuggle more, I wouldn’t have had to go elsewhere for it?”   My most recent TV obsession is “Big Love,” which was introduced into my home after my boyfriend Jason impulse-bought three seasons on DVD. For those of you not hooked on the drama, I’ll fill you in: Unlike other cable shows about vampires, serial killers or suburban drug dealers (“Weeds” or “Breaking Bad,” take your pick), “Big Love” is about a clean-cut Mormon family living in Utah. Oh, yeah, and they’re polygamists. The show has provided the kind of escapism that keeps me hooked, especially since polygamy remains a subject with which I don’t foresee myself becoming more intimately acquainted. I mean, obviously Jason isn’t going to take any more girlfriends in (at least, he wouldn’t live to tell about it if he did), and it’s not like I’m going to take in another boyfriend.   Maybe I’ve become too invested in the show and can’t separate fiction from reality, but all of the sudden I feel really guilty. Perched on the end of the sofa, staring out the window, is Skipper, my faithful first dog. We used to joke when I first adopted Skip that he thought he was my boyfriend, not my dog. He followed me everywhere and slept on my pillow at night (which for a 15 pound dog is quite a feat). Whenever Jason would come over and sit next to me on the sofa, Skipper would look at me like “You’re going to let this fool take my seat? Tell him to move!” and would eventually disappointingly concede when it was clear Jason wasn’t going anywhere.   As if my human boyfriend wasn’t enough (sorry, Skip), imagine how he felt when I brought home a younger, more outgoing canine without real warning. And what’s worse, the latecomer is a total attention-fiend. Skipper’s a little like Big-Love-first-wife-and-total-control-freak Barb, who was dragged into a plural marriage by her husband when he married second-wife-and-compulsive-spender-and-liar Nikki. Like Barb, Skipper must have tried to maintain composure those first few days, but the jealousy probably was overwhelming. When the second dog was not sitting in my lap or getting combed or doing fancy tricks, he’d be misbehaving: Peeing on the curtains, eating my favorite Lady Gaga headband, barking at the heater. Meanwhile, there’s perfectly faithful Skip, a paragon of good behavior, often going unnoticed because he doesn’t ask for much other than the occasional pat on the head or a quiet whispering of “Who’sagoodboy?”   I figured with a second dog, the more the merrier. But after marathon “Big Love” sessions, I have my doubts. What does Skipper think? Is a new dog a replacement? A competitor? While Skip and Leo get along famously whenever they’re interacting—wrestling, cleaning one another, even sharing the same dog-bed—like the wives on “Big Love” the stakes are raised when they’re vying for the affections of one person—in our case, me. Even though there are still minor squabbles from time to time over who gets to sit next to me on the couch, the dogs have worked things out among themselves and seem happier for having one another. As for me? I’ll just have to get over my guilt, stop watching “Big Love” and take the dogs out to the park together.   What about you? Is one dog enough or do you have a poly-canine family?


News: Guest Posts
Google: “Shoot Dog”
What do you find in your neighborhood?

If you give up your dog, please don't be a coward and abandon him in the parking lot of a shelter. Give your dog the dignity of bringing him inside to the shelter staff so he gets food, water, a safe place to sleep, and hopefully, a chance at adoption. There are worse things than humane euthanasia.

Case in point: This past January, a dog was left outside Save-A-Pet, an animal shelter in Grayslake, Ill. While shelter manager Dana Deutsch attempted to coax him from a field to get him inside, she saw a man in a nearby house point a gun at the dog and shoot. The dog suffered before succumbing to his injuries later that day. Deutsch confronted the dog killer, Elvin Dooley, and contacted police. Her brave testimony lead to yesterday’s sentence: 20 months in jail for Dooley.  

While searching online for coverage of this incident, I came across many more stories about dogs being shot, from other unlucky strays to even family pets. Don't believe me? Go to your local daily's website, search the phrase "shoot dog," and tell me how many stories you find about people shooting either their own dogs or strays. In every story I read, a man pulled the trigger. Why do you think this is?