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News: Guest Posts
Dog Date
At the drive-in

My boyfriend Jason often accuses me of trying to shoehorn the dogs into activities he feels aren’t an ideal fit: birthday parties, beach trips, Saturday morning brunches. Now, we have one more activity we can add to the list: Friday date nights.

  When Friday rolls around, I’m ready for fun with Jason but feel terrible if it means leaving the dogs home. What makes it worse are the hopeful looks on the dogs’ faces. Oh hey, you’re home! Yeah, change out of those work clothes... Hmm, those don’t look like hiking shoes... You’re going to be a little cold in that dress... Hey wait, where are you going? You forgot our leashes … and us! It’s enough guilt to ruin a date.   Recently, thanks to Bark’s articles about summer fun with your dog (see “Outward Hound” in Summer 2010 issue), I discovered the perfect dog + date night solution: the drive-in theater! The only question: Is my local drive-in dog-friendly? While I lived the majority of my teen years by the adage, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, I’ve grown less adventurous with age, particularly in this case because I didn’t want to drive 40 minutes only to be turned away.   I tried contacting the theater with no luck. When I asked friends and family if they had brought their dogs to the drive-in before, a few had, but they snuck them in under blankets. Others said they remembered seeing a “NO DOGS” sign a few years back. Jason said he didn’t want to smuggle the dogs into the theater because he’d be too stressed out about the whole ordeal, plus the dogs wouldn’t likely cooperate. It seemed like I only had one option: Lie to Jason and just go for it.   As we approached the drive-in, I pulled over for a second and told Jason I had forgotten something. Then I pulled out a large blanket from the backseat and threw it on his lap. “What’s this for?” he asked.   “So it turns out they might not be dog-friendly here, and I just didn’t want to tell you because I really wanted to go!”   “What? This is insane.”   “I know, but just put this blanket over Skipper on your lap, and they won’t notice Leo because he’s asleep and since he’s black and he’ll blend in.”   Jason rolled his eyes and begrudgingly accepted the blanket.   We pulled up to the ticket-booth and I calmly addressed the teenage cashier, “Two for The Other Guys at 10:15?”   So far so good. I handed the cashier a twenty. He returned my change. “Thank you, turn your radio to 93.6 FM.” Suddenly, both dogs leaped up and barked. Skipper practically jumped out the window. I smiled nervously as the teenager looked at me and said, “Enjoy your show.”   I honestly don’t know if the drive-in had a dog-friendly policy, or if the teenagers running the joint just didn’t care. Either way, Jason and I had a great date with the dogs. We can’t wait to go back.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Joyful Experiences with Dogs
Can you beat running on the beach?

I took this photo of Caity running with her dog Maggie while I was vacationing with my extended family in Cannon Beach, Ore. I had never met either one of them until that day, but when they zoomed by together, I just had to capture the moment.

  I am an obsessive beach and ocean lover, running is my favorite sport, and I hope it goes without saying that I’m a dog person, so for me, all of them together are about as good as it gets. Of course, if I could eat chocolate at the same time without choking, that would probably increase my enjoyment of the experience slightly, but that’s only theoretical since I’ve never tried it.   What I want to know from you is what experiences with your dog give you the greatest happiness? What are la crème de la crème of all the joyful, fulfilling moments you spend with your dog?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Baseball Breed Ban
Petco Park event bans German Shepherds and other breeds

As a dog lover and a baseball fan, I always look forward to the New York Mets’ Bark in the Park every summer. At the annual event, canine fans are invited to CitiField to watch the game alongside their humans. “Dog days” have become popular promotions at baseball stadiums around the country and, as you can imagine, the Padres’ Petco Park is one of them.

Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to enjoy this Friday’s event in San Diego. Padres fan, Ted Lew, couldn’t wait to attend the Dog Days of Summer event with his German Shepherd, Joey, so he signed up as soon as tickets were made available earlier this year. However, just weeks before the game, Lew received a letter stating that the event had sold out.

After many inquiring phone calls, Lew found out that the real reason he couldn’t attend the event with Joey was because of a breed ban that included German Shepherds. According to the Padres, the breed ban is in effect for safety reasons but they are unable to disclose the exact breeds that are banned, only that the number is between 10 and 15.

I’m guessing insurance may have a part in the Padres’ decision, though many other ballparks offer this promotion without a breed ban. However, the Padres have made this situation even worse by not making the ban explicit, seemingly turning dogs away at random. 

If the Padres must have the breed ban, couldn’t they work with their insurance company to allow exceptions for dogs with therapy or Canine Good Citizen certifications? And at the very least, they should make their decision public instead of hiding behind the excuse of having “limited space” at the event.

How do you think the Padres should’ve handled this situation?

News: Guest Posts
National Dog Day
Celebrating canines, August 26

Thursday is National Dog Day, which was founded in 2004 to acknowledge all the dogs who “work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort.” Even if you’re naturally cranky like me and resent being told you need to show your appreciation on a particular day, it’s hard to argue with the fundamental idea that dogs give us a great deal and deserve our best in return.

  I’m willing to set aside my fundamental belief that dogs—just like mothers, fathers, grandparents, lovers, etc.—should enjoy special treats and praise daily to get behind the National Dog Day mission: supporting shelters and rescues, promoting adoption and saying no breed bans.   Among the celebration suggestions on the official National Dog Day website are parties, treats, a day lazing on a new bed (ugh!), and dressing up in patriotic attire (huh?). I think we can do better than that. How about committing ourselves to mastering some new tricks? Kicking off a more active regime? Volunteering for an animal welfare organization or making a donation? Launching a new strategy for helping animals? Reading a book about canine massage? Signing up for an organized activity, such as agility or Nose Work? With the right attitude, we can keep this from being another Valentine’s Day. Improving the health of our own dogs and reaching out to help dogs-in-need is a better investment than a box of chocolates or cut flowers (not that I’d refuse either).   Do you have plans for National Dog Day? Look for our National Dog Day poll this week on Bark’s Facebook page.

 

News: Guest Posts
Hoarder Faces Seven Years
Book-signing/sales will benefit canine victims

A few weeks ago, I posted a short notice about a local animal hoarder named Marie Castaldo, who was finally arrested on a variety of charges including animal cruelty. She awaits trial in Riker’s Island and faces seven years in prison. Her trial begins next week.

You can read about her crimes here or here (beware sad pictures).    The gist of the story is: This woman, a notorious con artist (and a good one at that), would visit local and New York City shelters and present herself as a kind and loving founder of a charming little rescue group located in Hudson Valley. The shelters’ adoption coordinators, taken with this woman’s charm, would relinquish a dog or two, and the hoarder would be on her way—off to do unspeakable things to these poor dogs.   I don’t need to go on and on to you Bark readers about how absolutely horrible this is. Or how this woman deserves to go to jail. Or how those poor dogs need tender loving care NOW. I mean, there’s so much to say on the subject I don’t know where to begin.   So how about this: I think about those sweet shelter volunteers, whose primary goal in life is to make sure that needy dogs find loving homes. I think of how their kindness, trust and goodness has been betrayed. I think how the dogs have been betrayed. I think how God/dess and Mother Earth herself has been betrayed, because we humans were entrusted to be stewards of the animals, and what kind of stewardship are people like Marie Castaldo exhibiting?   So what can we do beyond crying, bemoaning, complaining and/or hating humans like this?    We can rescue dogs, of course, which is what most of us here at Bark have already done. If we can’t take in any more dogs at this particular moment, we can give: Give our time, our dollars, or even our prayers to all those who suffer or need food or love or are in pain. I expect even this hoarder-woman is in pain at some level too—how else could she behave as she does?   The only good thing to come of horrifying events like this is a reminder that for every animal abuser out there, there is at least one, and probably many, animal lovers/rescuers. This is one of those laws of the universe. So let’s remember this every time we hear some bad news. It reminds us that we have the power to help—in large and small ways. And therefore help make amends for all the wrong that has been done. To dogs. To earth. To all.   At the very least, we can send emails to our local shelters—thanking them for all the hard work they do. We can send a tiny packet of treats.   On Monday, August 23, I am giving a reading and book-signing of my memoir Rex and the City: A Memoir of a Woman, a Man and a Dysfunctional Dog to benefit the 40 dogs of the Ulster County SPCA.  If any of you live in the Hudson Valley, I encourage you to attend. We’re trying to arrange to have some of the dogs attend the event and find a new home. Unfortunately, few are well enough to walk yet.   Details: Inquiring Minds Book Store, Partition at Main Street, Saugerties N.Y., Monday August 23 at 7 p.m. Early birds get a free copy of Bark magazine!   If you can’t make the reading, please visit ucspca.org to donate or purchase a copy of Rex and the City through my website at www.rexandthecity.net. All proceeds from book sales now through Sept. 15 will be donated to this shelter. This memoir is about rescuing and rehabilitating an abused shelter dog, and it has a very happy ending.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs as Children
Having kids changes the way we see our pets

Does having kids change the way we see our pets? A new study presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting this month found that people with human offspring are less likely to consider their pets children. The research conducted by a professor at Indiana University South Bend found that even people who used to think of their pets as kids often re-evaluate the relationship when they have human children.

Additionally, the way we perceive our dogs is also influenced by where we live. The study found that urban pups are more likely to be considered children. People in rural areas are more likely to see animals, including dogs, in a utilitarian way.

I live in the city, so I suppose I easily fall under the category of people who would consider their pets children. Although I don't have any human kids. I can imagine that having a baby is a life changing experience. I can't say that my definition of the word child will change, but to me labels doesn't matter. I know that my pets will always be an important part of the family.

How do you define a child?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Inspires Bagel Shop
Photos of dogs are all over the walls

In Flagstaff, Ariz., one of the most popular breakfast and lunch spots is Biff’s Bagels and Internet Café. Biff was a Samoyed who passed away more than 15 years ago, and his picture is on the wall with a plaque that says “Our Founder.” And his picture is not the only photo. On the contrary, much of the available wall space is covered with photos of dogs.

  The entire restaurant is a memorial of sorts to people’s departed dogs. If people want to have a picture of their deceased dog up in the restaurant, they are welcome to bring one in as long as it is framed. When a picture is first brought in, it stays on the counter for about a week, and then it is hung on the wall as a more permanent memorial.   Most of the photos have the dog’s name written on it, along with the birth and death days or years. Some of them have a simple message, such as “Forever in our hearts” or “He was a great dog and will always be loved.” I like going and looking at the photos, which are so numerous I’ve yet to see them all. I also love eating their bagels, which are so beyond fantastic that I use any excuse to pop in and order one.

 

News: Guest Posts
Happy Birthday, Betsy!
Scottsdale pup turns 20

Betsy will join rarified company when she celebrates her 20th birthday on Friday at home with James and Meryl Tulin, her three veterinarians and their staff, and her two canine cousins. She’s beaten some pretty long odds and deserves a shout out on her big day.

  The Tulins found Betsy on a golf course near their Long Island, N.Y., home 19 years ago. She was badly injured with a hip and pelvis injury. “We noticed she had no identification collar and immediately took her home with us,” they explain. “We then posted a lost notice throughout the area only to find that no one claimed her.” The next day, they took her to the veterinarian who treated her injuries; he estimated she was about one-year-old at the time.   Part Pomeranian and part-something else, maybe Corgi, Betsy is still quite perky. She romps around the house like a puppy and rules a roost that includes a four-year-old Golden Retriever named Lily and a nine-year-old Shih Tzu named Winnie.   “Betsy loves donuts, Chessman Cookies and steak and also thoroughly enjoys chicken of which she has had a steady diet for the past fifteen years,” report the Tulins, who moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., about 15 years ago. “We have been truly blessed to have our love with us for so long as each and every day she lights up our life and fills our home with unmitigated happiness and joy!”   Do you have a canine senior citizen with a special story? We’d love to hear it.

 

News: Guest Posts
DIY Dog Caves
Another great home design idea from Bark readers

From dog dishes in logs to storm-resistant potty zones, we received lots of brilliant suggestions from readers for pet-smart homemaking (which you’ll find in our September issue). But an email from Melissa A. Schnabel and Michael Keleman arrived after we went to press, and so didn’t make it into the magazine. We're sneaking it into the blog because we didn’t want to miss a chance to show you how they responded to the needs and desires of both human and canine residents.

  Schnabel and Keleman share their Oakwood, Ohio, home with five dogs. Their pack includes Water, a 10-ish foster Beagle who stole their heart; a Terrier mix named Max and a Beagle mix named Daisy Mae (both around seven); Anna Banana, a four-year-old Pit Bull mix they found on the side of the road; and Piper, a three-year-old Shiba Inu/Chow Chow mix from the Humane Society of Greater Akron, where Schnabel volunteers.   With so many canine housemates, the couple has become pretty inventive about managing traffic flow. A key solution: caves. Their kitchen island doubles as a canine getaway when they have company. About their entertainment center, Schnabel writes, “I didn’t like the look of having three-plus dog beds laying around so we built the entertainment center so the dogs have a ‘dog cave’ to retire to. They LOVE it!”   So do we.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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?

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