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Home Is Where the Bark Is
Enter your DIY doghouse into a competition

There are a lot of elegant, strange and quirky doghouses out there. From straightforward shade providers to structures so tricked out they’d blend in on the Vegas Strip. Maybe because the scale is manageable and the perspective tenants are usually agreeable—especially on aesthetic issues—doghouses draw out the inner architect in us.

For too long your design-and-build efforts have gone unsung. But now the DIY Network wants to reward these backyard domiciles with more than a lonely howl. Enter your hand-crafted creation in the Best DIY Doggone Doghouse in Americz contest, and you could win the grand prize of a $500 Orvis gift card or a weekly prize of a DNA breed identification kit. So far there are canine cabins, palaces, pueblos and palapas entered in the contest—which runs through July 23. We’re hoping to feature photos of the winner in the September home-themed issue of Bark.

News: Contests
Show & Tell: Just Add Water

This is Natasha, our Labrador mix rescue, and she just turned one-year-old. She has loved water from day one, when we first got her she would try and get into her water bowl, so now it is all about the water, wherever we go there better be water!

 

—Jill Hayes, Palm Springs, Calif.

 

 

Send us your photos. Topics include Dog Is My Co-Pilot, My Dog Tickles My Funny Bone, or just about anything that captures your dog’s special something. Send the photo with a brief description, to editor@thebark.com. Winners online receive a subscription (new or renewal) to Bark magazine. Winners in the magazine receive all that plus a snazzy Dog Is My Co-Pilot T-shirt.
News: JoAnna Lou
Cash Found in Poop
Ever find anything interesting when scooping?

Last month, an honest professional pooper scooper gained media attention for returning money left behind by a client’s dog. Steve Wilson was working at Karen Linn's house and found $58 in bills entwined in a pile of poop. The DoodyCalls Pet Waste removal worker promptly cleaned the bills and returned them to Linn. She offered Wilson a reward, which he declined, so in honor of her adopted pup, Fozzie, Linn decided to auction the bills on eBay to benefit the Humane Society of the United States.

According to the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (APAWS), Wilson is the first pooper scooper to ever find and report cash in dog poop (at least the first to gain media attention anyway).

Ever since dogs entered my life, I find that I spend a lot of time looking at the ground. When you scoop poop on a regular basis you end up finding lots of random items this way. While walking the dogs one March, I once found a friend’s spare set of keys that had been unknowingly lost for months under the melting snow. 

As for the poop itself, I usually inspect my dogs’ since it can be a good indicator of health, and I often end up finding pieces of missing household items like sponges and socks. I have yet to find anything valuable, which is a good thing!

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve found when scooping dog poop?

News: Karen B. London
Band Names
What would you call your group?

A woman in my running group was going to band practice after our workout, and we were talking about her music as we left the track. (First we talked about her sweet new dog, Gray, but then we moved on to music.) She sings in a band made up of people she works with at W. L. Gore, which is a company that manufactures medical devices. Her band has had several names over the past year, but the one I liked best was The Distal Olives. “Distal” refers to being away from the heart, and an “Olive” in this case refers to a part used to make a catheter. I love the name because it sounds very funky and cool, but relates to their work. If you didn’t know they worked for W. L. Gore, there would be no way to associate “The Distal Olives” with medical devices.

  It got me thinking about what I would call a band if I were the lead singer and wanted a name with a dog theme. This, by the way, is a highly unlikely contingency, because along with virtually everyone else in my family, I am a horrendous singer.   The names Three Dog Night and The Hounds of Soul are already taken. Here are some possibilities I came up with:   The Great Danes Music Setters Music Pointers The Howlers Liver of Dreams The Beagles Music on a Leash Pavlov’s Bells The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers The Dandie Dinmonts The Barkers   Looking over my list, it appears that I am as good at generating band names as I am at singing. What would you call a band if you wanted the name to reflect your love of dogs?
News: JoAnna Lou
Resident Canines
N.J. stadium gets two full time bomb-sniffing dogs

Last month two canine residents moved into New Meadowlands Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and Jets football teams. Rufus and Anja, both Labrador Retrievers, are believed to be the only bomb-sniffing dogs in the country that are full time residents of a sports stadium.

The canine duo was brought in after team officials determined that the pups’ $10,000 price tag was more cost effective than buying an X-ray machine or renting inspection dogs. Rufus and Anja’s job is to sniff every delivery from new turf to hot dogs to make sure that they are safe.

The dogs live in two different kennels that are furnished with a bed and a water bowl. No toys are allowed since they “will chew them to pieces,” but they are sometimes given rawhide.

I always love reading about dogs and people working together, and I was glad to hear that the dogs are trained with positive reinforcement, but Rufus and Anja seem to lead a lonely life. Unlike police dogs, who typically go home with their handlers, the Meadowlands pups have to stay behind at the stadium. It almost seems like the dogs are being taken advantage of. They work all day and have only a lonely kennel to return to at night.

What do you think about these working dogs?

News: Guest Posts
Urban Wanderers
Rescued strays inspire art and hopefully donations

An indomitable stray named Chill is among many cats and dogs providing inspiration for dozens of works of art—paintings, photographs, sculptures and drawings—in an exhibition entitled Urban Wanderers, which opens at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art next Friday, July 16.

  Chill was a neglected, abused street dog until she was rescued by Randy Grim of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, a no-kill organization dedicated to rescuing stray animals in need of medical attention and place them in loving, adoptive homes.   “Man can be downright evil and cruel at times. One such person felt it necessary to disfigure, crush and mutilate parts of Chill’s body and cut off one foot,” Grim writes in his story about the decision to rescue her. “No longer could she run or play with her pack. Her mutilated body made it impossible for her to scavenge for food or keep up with her horde of dogs that provided a sense of security and being. For the past month, we wondered where she was but now we know, she was unable to move. She was dying.”   They rushed her broken, flea-infested, anemic and infected body to an emergency vet where she has seen many months of intensive care. She is now healing—physically and emotionally—at home with Grim until she is ready to move to a wonderful full-time home. Read her complete story here and here.   The Urban Wanderers exhibition opens with a reception on Friday, July 16, at 6 p.m. Stray Rescue supporter and actress Loretta Swit will attend the reception and several of her paintings will be displayed. In addition, rescued dogs and cats will use their paws, tails and noses to create works for the show.   All these creations, as well as select pieces by Swit, will be available for purchase through a silent auction to benefit Stray Rescue of St. Louis. The exhibition is free-of-charge, open to the public and runs through August 29.   In related news, the lack of shelter space that, in part, contributed to Grim’s need to triage strays, including Chill, is improving. Soon, Stray Rescue St. Louis will open the doors of a new Animal Companion Center, with 69 kennel runs. Initially, dogs will be transferred to this facility from the city pound in Gasconade, which is in a crisis. Additional, runs will be added in a second phase at the new shelter.
News: Karen B. London
Dogs at the Farmer’s Market
Handling dogs and crowds

In my town, Flagstaff, Ariz., dogs are welcome in many places, and one of the hot spots for dogs is the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. It’s great to see people and dogs out enjoying the beautiful weather and the purchase of fresh foods. Regrettably, what’s not always so great is seeing people frustrated or angry with one another because of the dogs.

  Sometimes people, especially kids, pet dogs without asking permission first, or dogs jump up on people or lick them while a guardian is busy picking out heirloom tomatoes or the perfect bunch of basil. I regularly see many dogs who are stressed out in the crowd at the event or dogs greeting each other in a tense way that makes me concerned that the interaction might escalate into trouble.   When dogs and people are interacting at any sort of community event, following a few guidelines can make the difference between a positive experience for everybody and a situation full of tension and bad feelings. My top tips for people who want to take their dogs to such places include: 1) Crowded situations are not for every dog, so if your dog is not at his best in such situations, don’t put him in them. 2) Don’t let your dog jump on people or lick them unless you know they are okay with that. 3) Know the signs of stress in dogs. Watch for any indications that your dog is no longer having a good time, and if that happens, be willing to leave even if you’d rather stay a bit longer. 4) Don’t let dogs greet each other unless both guardians have agreed that it’s okay.   If you like to take your dog to various events about town, how do you make it work for both you and your dog?  

 

News: Guest Posts
Twilight vs. Harry Potter
Leading ladies put on the dog

We don’t have much call to do celebrity blogging a la Gawker here at Bark, so I couldn’t resist an opportunity to drop two “it” girls (with video!) into a dog-themed post.

 

Twilight’s Kristen Stewart recently told David Letterman that her family has wolf-dog hybrids, including one named Jack with yellow eyes that looks like something right out of the blockbuster series—and I mean that in the best way. Jack is a stunner. After launching into the wolf tale, Letterman cheerfully takes Stewart down a conversational road that must have had her press rep biting his or her nails. Check it out:

  Meanwhile, Harry Potter ingenue Emma Watson gets furry in a new alt-rock video. In “Say You Don’t Want It” by One Night Only, Watson plays a stylishly disheveled dog alongside lead singer/boyfriend George Craig. Watch to the end for the big reveal.  

  What’s my takeaway? Dogs are so brilliant even movie stars can get a little reflected glimmer off them.  

 

News: Guest Posts
Extreme Pet-Proofing
Beyond bitter spray and baby gates

Before adopting my first dog, I did what any soon-to-be dog parent would do, I pet-proofed my home. I was vigilant. Exposed electrical cords were tucked out of sight, my favorite white shag rug was Scotchgarded and put in a room where my dog would never go without supervision, and I bought a baby gate for confining him in the kitchen when I was out. I felt extremely satisfied with my preparation, and thought about what an excellent dog parent I would be. Perhaps it was hubris, but God or the universe or whoever decided that no matter how hard I tried to pet-proof my home, I would be given a dog that would constantly prove me wrong.

  My first dog, Skipper, was a breeze to pet-proof for, although he did show me he could easily jump over the 3-foot baby gate. Then came Leo. Problems that had never seen imaginable suddenly needed to be addressed immediately, such as the fact that Leo can scale vertical chain-link fences like Spiderman. Or the reality that even though my fence goes several feet underground, Leo will dig like he’s Tim Robbins in the Shawshank Redemption until he is free. Containing Leo has been like plugging a cartoon water leak: Once one rupture is stopped, another pops up out of nowhere, then another, and I’m left scrambling to fix them all at once.   Leo seemed to know no limits or bounds, until finally he went too far. One rainy afternoon, he tried to follow me outside and down the stairs leading to the garage. I closed the wooden gate at the top of the stairs, and told him to stay. When I got into my car, Leo was in the backyard and I assumed he would use the dog door to go back into the house. Instead, he scaled the gate (with his aforementioned Spiderman abilities), slipped and fell down the flight of stairs. I returned home an hour later, entering through the front door and not immediately seeing Leo. It seemed strange. I couldn’t find him anywhere in the house, so I panicked and went to the backyard, imagining he had escaped. Then, I spotted him. Leo was at the bottom of the stairway to the garage, shivering. My heart broke. I felt that in spite of my efforts, I had failed. Though Leo wasn’t seriously injured, he sprained three ankles and scraped the front of his face. We were lucky, as his injuries could have been much worse. After taking him to the vet and confirming he would make a full recovery, Leo spent the next few days curled up in a ball on the couch, seeming to consider what he had done.   Though it’s been challenging to pet-proof my home, I think we’ve finally reached an understanding. For me, pet-proofing is not about creating impossible challenges for the dogs to defeat (because my dogs have proved time and again that nothing is impossible for them) and it’s not really about protecting my property (no matter how much I love that rug), but instead it’s about ensuring the protection of what is truly important—my dogs. And they seem to recognize I put in place to keep them safe and comfortable, even if one of them had to learn this the hard way.

 

News: Guest Posts
Soothing Songs for the Anxious Pup
How sound healing can help calm your dog

For the past few years, I’ve been moonlighting as a sound healer and also a kirtan walla. (Kirtan is a lively form of call-and-response chanting that originated in India thousands of years ago). Because this is a dog-related blog, I won’t go into too much detail about the human benefits of sacred sound and sound healing; suffice to say your dog can benefit too.

  Back in 1998, before I had even begun to study sacred sound, I happen to notice that certain music had an unusually calming effect on my dog Wallace. (Wallace is my former beloved Spaniel, known to many Bark readers as the star of Rex and the City.)   There we were, the dog and I, sitting in our cramped Lower East Side apartment on a swelteringly hot summer night, wishing we were on another planet--one with air conditioning and more reasonable rents--and listening, as a consolation prize, to “New Sounds,” excellent hour-long music program on WNYC radio.   The feature CD of that evening was Canticles of Ecstasy by Hildegard Von Bingen, sung by the ensemble Sequentia. Hildegard was a twelfth-century German mystic who began receiving ecstatic visions at age three and was sent to a convent at age eight. There, she began composing angelic canticles, said to have been channeled directly from the Divine. Listen here:
  I noticed Hildegard’s magic immediately--not only in the way it seemed to pulse through my body with a pure white light, but in the way my dog reacted. He was a Setter as well as a Spaniel mix, which basically meant that he never stayed still--not even in sleep. He was constantly pacing, sniffing, snuffling, hunting, flushing, pointing, galloping, grunting or, at the very least, panting--in a way that could get annoying in a hot NYC apartment. In his sleep he would woof, flex his paws, twitch his nostrils, and sometimes even groan in frustration--at not ever being able to catch that rabbit, perhaps.   But once Hildegard started playing, Wallace actually lay down--he rarely did that. Then he placed his head between his paws and let out a huge, pre-nap sigh. He stretched, one leg at a time, and positioned his body in perfect repose.   He knew I was watching him. I often did, because he was so beautiful. And I could tell he was trying to keep his eyes open in that way dogs do, when they want to take a nap but also want to make sure they don’t miss out on anything exciting I might do at any second. But by the third canticle his eyes had lolled back into his head and he was out. An ecstatic trance, perhaps? Would he re-emerge from this slumber speaking in tongues   Meanwhile, Sequentia sang Spiritus Sanctus Vivificans Vite, the high soprano notes of ecstasy soaring up to the ceiling.   My dog slept an entire hour. His breathing was so deep and slow I could barely see his rib cage moving. He didn’t once twitch or woof. And his muscles were completely relaxed.   By the time the program was over, I knew I was on to something. I called my then-husband immediately and suggested he pick up a copy of the CD on his way home from work.   Our lives changed after that. We had more freedom to actually leave the apartment once in a while, without having to worry about our overly-anxious dog. Our neighbors got so used to the sound of Quia Ergo Femina Mortem Instruxit drifting sweetly into the hallways that they began to get worried if it wasn’t playing.   Wallace’s entire temperament seemed to change--slowly but surely--in the same way my temperament would change, years later, when I myself starting singing and composing my own ecstatic chants.   Funny where life leads us.   Funny that sometimes we don’t even realize we’re being led.   We’re too busy trying to find new ways to improve the lives of our dogs.   And in the process, we improve ours.   Years later, in 2004, after Wallace had passed and my marriage had disintegrated and I found myself adopting a new dog, Chloe, I brought out the CD again. Chloe had extreme separation anxiety when I first adopted her. In fact, she’d already had five homes in the first six months of her life, because her anxiety was so bad. Inexperienced dog owners simply couldn’t handle her whining, barking, drooling, chewing, escaping, etc... But I knew I could handle her. Because I had experience. And marrow bones. And Hildegard. Within two weeks her separation anxiety had completely vanished.   Fast-forward to the present, and here I am with the Calmest Dog on the Planet. Pretty impressive for a Border Collie mix, I’d say. People always ask me: How do you do it? And I give three answers: clicker training, holistic nutrition and sound healing.   I’d say, on average, I play sacred music about eight hours each day. I believe this music purifies the space, and creates healing vibrations that re-align both me and my dog on a daily basis.    Sound is vibration, and our physical bodies respond to vibration--whether you believe it or not. Fast-paced, frenetic noise will increase our heartbeats and make us feel, well, frenetic. Erratic music will make us feel erratic. But soft, slow, rhythmic music will calm us. Drums beat at certain cycles can lower the blood pressure and induce theta states of mind. You might be saying, “Well, duh, this isn’t rocket science,” but actually it is.   Science has now proven that certain sounds have healing effects on certain parts of the body. The yogis and sages have known this for millennia, of course, but it takes these Western doctors a while to catch up with things. Now these Western doctors are witnessing cancerous tumors going into remission from treatments with Tibetan Singing Bowls, and bi-polar patients reaching a point of equilibrium by listening to a sacred gong.   So why couldn’t a dog with separation anxiety benefit from soothing music?   Why not give it a try? It’s easy and your dog benefits greatly. I swear even my house plants look healthier from the nonstop sacred music.   My recommended picks of soothing songs for doggy snoozing are:   Canticles of Ecstasy by Sequentia Gong and Singing Bowl Meditation by Scott Kennedy Ultimate Om by Jonathan Goldman Lalitha Ashtrotram by Craig Pruess Atlantean Crystal Temple by Steve Halpern   My dog would second these opinions, but she’s currently asleep.

 

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