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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Persistent Pup Comes Home Five Years Later
Shih Tzu found his way home after his family moved four times

From time to time you hear about a loyal dog--lost on vacation or during a move--who walks hundreds of miles to find their family.

Last week, Myrna Carillo’s Shih Tzu, Prince, showed up on her doorstep five years after she lost him.   While Prince may not have traveled as far as some of those other dogs, the little Shih Tzu tirelessly looked for Myrna after several major life changes. In the five years Prince was lost, Myrna got married, had two children, and moved four times.

I guess we’ll never know what Price has been doing for the past five years and how he ever found Myrna, but now Prince is finally home and is getting along perfectly with Myrna’s kids.  

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Hip Replacements on the Rise
More dogs are getting surgery so they can run and jump again

Earlier this week I was reading the New York Times and was surprised to see a friend’s Pug, Lily, featured in an article about canine hip-replacement surgery. I’ve seen Lily run in agility many times and had no idea--clearly a testament to the success of hip-replacement surgery in dogs.

Hip-replacement surgery has been performed on large dogs for decades, but in 2005, micro-hip replacements were licensed, for dogs weighing below 30 pounds. Lily, who weighs 18 pounds, is one of only 200 dogs in the world who have had a micro-hip replacement.  

As you can imagine, many of the first dogs to get micro-hip replacements were service animals or competition dogs, like Zydeco the champion Frisbee dog and Jere the Finnish moose hunting champion. But as the average pet lover is spending more money on their animals, hip replacements are growing in popularity. 

The surgery costs about $5,000, not including post-operation physical therapy. Some people may think that hip-replacement is excessive for a dog, but for active pets, not being able to run and jump can be devastating to both physical and mental health. 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Does Tail Length Matter?
Robot dog helps answer this question

 

Dogs communicate with their tails in ways that are more complex than people thought even a few years ago, and new studies continue to reveal more about the information that tails convey. Many people have wondered whether dogs with docked tails or naturally short tails are less able to communicate than dogs whose tails are long and have not been docked.   In a recent study called “Behavioural responses of Canis familiaris to different tail lengths of a remotely-controlled life-size dog replica,” scientists Leaver and Reinchen investigated the importance of tail length in the initiation of social interactions in dogs. Basically, their question was whether the length of a dog’s tail made any difference to other dogs. They found that tail length does matter.   Nearly 500 dogs were videotaped when approaching a life-sized robot dog that had either a short tail or a long tail and the tail was either wagging or held still. They noted whether the dogs were hesitant in their approach to the robot dog or if they approached without such caution.   What did they find? They found that dogs were more likely to approach, without hesitating, a robot with a long wagging tail than one with a long tail that was held still. They were equally likely to approach without caution a short tail when it was still and when it was wagging. Approaches to the short tail (whether wagging or still) were more likely to be hesitant than approaches to a long wagging tail, but less likely to be hesitant than those to a long tail that was still.   The experimenters concluded that it is harder to convey information with a short tail than with a long tail. One possibility is that it is harder for dogs to obtain information from a shorter tail than from a longer tail.   I think the coolest part of this study is the use of a robot dog in the experiment. If live dogs had been used, studying the effects of tail length would have been challenging because so many other variables could have clouded the issue. With a robot, the “dog” is in the same posture, smells the same, and is not adding additional behavior into the experimental design. The different responses by approaching dogs can be explained by the only parts of the robot that are different—tail size and tail motion.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Herding Dogs in Modern Life
Today’s Border Collies herd rented sheep and compete at herding trials

In the past couple months, I’ve been doing a lot of research about Border Collie breeders in preparation for adding a new dog to our family.  I’m always in awe of a good herding dog‘s instinct.  While technology has replaced animals in many jobs (think horse drawn carriages), Border Collies remain the best way to manage livestock. 

In my puppy search, I recently discovered the world of competitive herding trials. While many people who enter these trials live on working farms, many more do not.  In recent years, pets have become important family members and people are willing to do anything for their wellbeing. That includes providing mental stimulation and activities that they can enjoy with their dogs together. 

The intelligence and athleticism that has made the Border Collie a popular pet can lead to boredom and destructive behaviors if they’re not given a job. So it probably comes as no surprise that many people eventually get into herding with their Border Collies as a hobby.

Since most people don’t live on a farm, many herding enthusiasts end up renting sheep or buying a few of their own. At Fido’s Farm in Olympia, Wash., people can pay $15 per dog to practice herding with their flock of 200 sheep.  Herding revenue has been up 60% over the past five years. Many people come from urban cities, such as Seattle, to practice on the farm. Along with demand for sheep, herding competitions have gone up astronomically in the last 10 years and there are now hundreds of trials to choose from each year.

I’ve always thought that it would be fun to try a bit of herding with my Shetland Sheepdogs, though I’m sure the instinct will be much stronger in my new puppy! Have you tried herding with your dog?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Burglar Goes Through Doggy Door
Homeowner shoots the intruder

 

The great thing about dog doors is that they allow access in and out of your home. That is also their biggest drawback. A man entered a home in Oklahoma City through a dog door, apparently with the intent of robbing it, but instead, he was shot by the owner of the house. Though he got away, he was later apprehended at a convenience store when the clerk saw that he had been shot and called 911. Officers responding to the call realized he fit the description of the intruder who had gone through the dog door.   Obviously, if a medium to large dog can fit through a dog door, so can many people. For many years, I was among the smallest children in my neighborhood, and that, combined with the skills from being a gymnast, made me the go-to person when people were locked out of their houses. Over the years, I was shoved through various windows and asked to crawl through even tiny dog doors to get inside and unlock a door to let the owners back in. As recently as last year and at my adult height of 5’7”, I crawled through a neighbor’s dog door to help out when their front door lock mechanism was broken. I’ve always considered dog doors the easiest way to enter a house, and far preferable to, for example, going head first through a bathroom window and landing in a handstand in the tub.   Have you ever crawled through a dog door out of necessity? Have you ever had an unwanted intruder gain access to your house in this way?  

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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?

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
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!

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