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News: Editors
And Man Created Dog?
Nat’l Geo special explores canine evolution

Recently, I had the chance to preview a National Geographic Channel special, And Man Created Dog (airing Sunday, August 8, 9p.m. ET/PT). This show is about canine evolution; one of our favorite topics! I must admit I had trouble with its title (too human-centric) and its diorama-like reenactments that confidently state scientific conjecture as proven fact. There is also too much of a “golly gee” flavor to the narrative for my taste. But mainly, I am disappointed that alternative theories of canine evolution aren’t presented, including one to which we subscribe: co-evolution. It’s possible that wolves shaped us as much as we shaped them. Considering that wolves have been among the leading megafauna predators for millions of years, our ancestors would have had a lot to learn by observing their hunting prowess.

  Nonetheless, it is interesting and well worth watching. Two of our favorite researchers—UCLA’s Robert Wayne and Barnard’s Alexandra Horowitz—help explain the story, which includes an emphasis on the longevity of the canine/human partnership.   Another problem I have with the program is the lack of coverage about how closing breed registry books means that dog breeding (especially in the U.S.) has increased the prevalence of canine diseases and resultant health problems. This is such an important topic—it deserves more coverage (or a whole show unto its own). The program spends much too much time with more “exotic” storylines, such as how Italians train Newfies (and other water dogs) to perform water rescues. Or how Italians use dogs for their truffle hunting—seems as if some producer wanted to spend a paid vacation in Italy, perhaps.   Among the most poignant pieces of evidence for the long term association of “us” and dogs is an archeological finding from Chauvet Cave in Southern France: two sets of footprints—those of a dog (which are different than a wolf’s) and a young child—embedded close together in the fossilized mud of the cave floor. The propinquity of the two left no doubt that a prehistoric child and his dog were in that cave together 26,000 years ago! That is, in itself, worth tuning in for.

 

Meet a therapy dog named Tuesday, who helps an Iraq veteran suffering from PTSD in this clip from And Man Created Dog.

Culture: Readers Write
How I Found My Dog
Parvo puppy found us

This is Riley. She is a 5-month-old Pit Bull mix. She found us on a cold and blistering midnight in February. My partner and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment with two cats, not looking for a dog until we purchased our first home. When she stuck her little block head through our back porch, she was soaked and shivering with bones sticking out all over and a perfect burn mark on her little forehead.

  We, of course, rushed her inside and never looked back. Four days later she got sick, and we rushed her to the emergency clinic around one in the morning. She spent the next seven days being carted back and forth from her our regular vet to the E-vet, she was under constant 24-hour isolation watch and all we could hope for was breathing. We would go visit her and she would lift up her head and give us a little wag in her E-collar. She went in weighing 18 pounds, came out a week later at 10 pounds.   Now, almost five months later, she’s up to almost 50 pounds! It was the saddest thing either of us have been through, and I want to raise awareness about this disease. But in short no one wanted this sick little puppy, they let her free knowing she was sick, she knew we were ready for her, and she knew we could help her.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Operation Pit
ASPCA offers free pit bull vasectomies

In my area, shelters are filled with Pit Bulls and Pit-mixes. The breed makes up a large percentage of the 50,000 homeless pets that enter New York City shelters each year. Sometimes it feels like all 50,000 homeless pets that enter New York City shelters each year are Pits. 

  To help reduce the number of homeless Pit Bulls in New York, the ASPCA recently launched a new initiative called Operation Pit.   According to Louise Murray, director of medicine for the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Hospital, Pit Bulls tend to have litters of 10 to 11 puppies at a time, so spaying and neutering can really get to the root of the problem.   In addition to the birth control benefits, there are many health reasons to spay or neuter. Many diseases common in Pit Bull and Pit-mixes—such as breast cancer, infected uterus, and enlarged prostates—can be prevented by spaying and neutering.   Operation Pit also offers vasectomies for male dogs, a less invasive surgery that doesn’t alter a male dog’s physical appearance. I’m a big advocate of spaying and neutering, but have met more than a few people over the years who avoid neutering because they don’t want their pet to “lose their manhood.” Offering the vasectomies will help, though unfortunately the procedure doesn’t have the health benefits of neutering.    All Pit Bulls and Pit-mixes between the ages of three months to six years are eligible to participate in Operation Pit. Participating dogs will also receive a complimentary veterinary check-up, vaccinations and a microchip. For more information about Operation Pit, call 877-900-PITS (7487) or visit the ASPCA website.

 

News: Guest Posts
Another Recall
Texas Hold 'ems recalled by Merrick

Merrick Pet Care has recalled Texas Hold'ems, 10 ounce bag (Item # 60016 Lot 10127 Best by May 6 2012) because of possible Salmonella health risk. Details on FDA website.

News: Guest Posts
Dog Days
Photos of canines that will make you drool

August is the season of culture-lite, when art institutions avoid demanding fare. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of pleasure to be had in comedies performed on park lawns, or orchestras flouncing through Broadway standards, or gallery walls filled with, well, “approachable” subject matter. The current photography exhibit at Corden/Potts Gallery in San Francisco is just such a seasonal delight with double-bonus points for us dog lovers.

  “We wanted something lighthearted for summer,” says gallery co-owner Elizabeth Corden about Dog Days: An International Collection of Canine Images. “My business partner, Jan [Potts], has a small collection of dog photographs and a great interest in dogs and we kind of went from there and decided that being August, ‘dog days’ would be a good fit, even though it’s never hot in San Francisco.”   In selecting the 21 images by 15 photographers, they had a curatorial test. “As we were putting together the show, if it really made you go awwwwh, we couldn’t have it,” Corden says. “We wanted to avoid the calendar art clichés.”   They succeeded. From the dreamy images of Susan Burnstine, a Los Angeles based artist who makes her own cameras, to Aline Smithson’s hand-colored photographs of a woman with a dog a la Whistler's Mother (“she has a great sense of humor and a very patient mother,” Corden says), the photographs are moody, elegant, funny and astonishing—like our dogs. Among my favorites are two theatrical portraits by Vee Speers, an Australian living and working in Paris, and Dog by Italian Giacomo Brunelli, from his series, Animals.   Dog Days runs through Aug. 28 at Corden/Potts Gallery, 49 Geary Street, Suite 211, San Francisco (Tues.–Sat., 11 am to 5:30 pm). If you’re not lucky enough to be in the Bay Area, visit the website to see all the images in the show.

 

News: Guest Posts
Every Dog Has His Day
A birthday bash for Leo

It’s August, and that means one thing around here: Leo’s birthday is coming up. Maybe it’s because I like to throw parties or I’m obsessed with my dogs (or both), but it’s a priority for me to acknowledge my dogs’ birthdays. Leo’s big day is the day before my best friend Carrie’s, which means a dual birthday party to ensure a better turnout. (For some reason, Carrie is more popular than Leo; she always draws a crowd.) Last year’s celebration combined their interests: Carrie’s abiding love of Elton John and my dog’s passion for dancing. We picked a perfect party playlist, invited all of our friends (both human and canine), and baked two cakes, one for dogs and one for humans.

  I should mention to those of you who are rolling your eyes at me as you’re reading this, I know throwing a birthday party for your dog is borderline ridiculous. But here’s my rationale:
  • I love parties: I’m not talking about the kind of parties where someone brings an plastic jug of Montezuma Gold tequila and you end up with 10 people passed out in your living room, or awkwardly poking your friend awake and asking them to remove their head from the kennel so you can hose it out before putting the dogs to bed. That kind of fun isn’t fair to the dogs or to my post-party cleanup efforts.
  • Parties at home mean I don’t get home late for the dogs. As a dog parent, I can tell you that every party is less enjoyable on some level if I’m sitting in a corner looking at my watch, wondering how much longer I can afford to stay without the dogs wondering if I’ll ever come home. A party at home means I can see that my friends and my dogs are all having a great time: Everyone wins.
  • The dogs can be where they’re comfortable—in the spotlight. If you were to use one word to describe my dogs and me, it would be gregarious. Two words: attention hounds. My dogs’ favorite thing about parties is the abundance of laps to sit in and pant legs to sniff. We appreciate a captive audience for our hilarious party tricks (guests who come over all know about the incredible Hula-hoop of Fire….don’t worry, it’s actually just a Hula-hoop with orange streamers attached!). Best of all, the dogs can let me know when they’ve had enough fun and want to be put to bed, even if the party is still going (although Leo usually manages to stay awake longer than even me).
  • Using a dog’s birthday as an excuse to throw a party might be seen as ridiculous to some, but to me it’s a great for our social life. Plus dog poop is easier to clean up than vomit.   What about you, thinking of throwing a dog party?  

     

    Dog's Life: Lifestyle
    Therapy Dog Gives Great Gift
    A wife’s last smile.

     

    There are a zillion stories about the amazing effects of therapy dogs on people, but this one moved me even more than usual. A husband was with his dying wife in a Florida hospital when Pogo, a Shetland sheepdog came to visit. The wife began to pet the dog, wrapped her arms around him, and smiled. It had been a long time since she had smiled, and it was to be her last one. She died the next day.   Pogo’s guardian got a letter from the husband soon after thanking her for letting him see his wife smile one more time. I’m actually dripping tears on my keyboard just thinking about how meaningful that single smile was to this man. I mean, seriously, have you ever written or received a letter because of a smile?  

     

    News: Guest Posts
    P&G Voluntary Recall
    Eukanuba and Iams specialized dry pet food

    The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) is voluntarily expanding its recall to include veterinary and some specialized dry pet food, including Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas, Eukanuba Naturally Wild, Eukanuba Pure and Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin, as a precautionary measure because it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. No salmonella-related illnesses have been reported. For details and UPC codes, visit Food & Drug Administration.

    News: Guest Posts
    Humane Network
    No kill advocates launch new partnership

    I’m sitting in an airport, waiting for my final flight home to Reno from our capital. Back to my life as it was last week – but not exactly. The No Kill Conference 2010 was revitalizing for me and inspirational for all, but I expected nothing less. The aftermath buzz is that this year was even more wonderful than last year.

      But the conference was about the future. Nathan Winograd, founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center who presented this conference, promised us that it is a bright future if only we make the commitment. “No kill is not a series of dogmas we cling to with religious fervor, but it is a philosophy that first and foremost values life,” he reminded us in his closing comments. “In all of its manifestation, irrespective of practical considerations, it does not fear change and it does not make excuses; it champions life.”   Going forward, I return to Nevada Humane Society where we will continue to improve the save rates. (July 31 marked the end of our most productive adoption month ever – 1,006 pet adoptions.) And how fitting that we’re launching a new venture – Humane Network – where fellow believers and industry experts are partnering together to provide practical tools and services to other organization and communities that have the commitment and just need the know-how. Although, I couldn’t be prouder of what’s been accomplished in Reno, it’s not enough to have a handful of no kill communities.   Nathan assured us that the bright future included a no kill nation in our lifetime – and we all believed him. The sponsors, hosts, speakers and attendees of this conference are a microcosm of what exists across the country. I know in my heart and soul that they can’t be stopped!   Our parting thoughts were inspired by the Fleetwood Mac song, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.”   If you wake up and don’t want to smile, If it takes just a little while, Open your eyes and look at the day, You’ll see things in a different way.    Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, Don’t stop it’ll soon be here, It’ll be better than before, Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.   No kill nation, here we come!   Note: If organizations or communities want help in implementing a no kill mission, please contact Humane Network at humanenetworkinfo@gmail.com.

     

    News: Guest Posts
    Dog Receives Communion
    Kinda, sorta.

    Here’s another for the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished annals. It seems an Anglican priest in Canada, recently, slipped a holy wafer to a congregant’s dog during communion. Most witnesses were unfazed by the gesture. But a displeased parishioner complained up the church hierarchy creating a tempest in the temple. The result: No more communion for dogs. But, happily, the dog can still attend services.

      I’m no expert on these things, as terminally lapsed Catholic, but that hasn’t stopped me before: I just can’t believe that a divine intelligence credited with conjuring dinosaurs and glacial lakes, redwood trees and, yes, wonderful wagging canines would be small-minded enough to begrudge a dog his treat—whether it be a sacred host or a liver snap.

     

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