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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?
 

News: Guest Posts
Animal Shelter Wish Lists
Probably not what you expect

It sounds a little counterintuitive: Dog and cat food, litter and leashes aren’t at the top of most shelters’ wish lists, but paper, pens, phones, faxes are. At least, according to the 250 animal shelters and nonprofits to register their needs on TheGivingEffect.com.

  While cash contributions are usually preferred, not everyone is in a position to give. The benefit to in-kind donations (clothes, shoes, food, etc.) is that folks who want to help but are short on cash may have items in their homes that they no longer need (a replaced printer, for example) but which could help a local shelter. The Giving Effect, a free website that launched last month, connects donors with items to spare directly with the organizations in need. Win-win.   According to TheGivingEffect.com, animal shelters top five most requested items are:   1. Office supplies (computers, printers, fax machines, phones, paper, pens) 
 2. Cleaning supplies (bleach, laundry detergent, Fantastik, Windex) 
 3. Blankets, sheets and towels 
 4. Miscellaneous items that can be sold to raise money 
 5. Building supplies (to construct fences, crates, dog runs)   Since most shelters are 501c3 nonprofits, these contributions likely qualify as a tax write-off.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Hotel for Dogs
Jimmy’s Place cares for hospitalized seniors’ pets

One of the best things about our pets is that we can count of them to love us no matter what, in sickness and in health. Fortunately if anything were to happen to me, I have family and friends nearby to take care of my dogs. However, many elderly dog guardians may not have a social network to lean on when they have to go to the hospital.

  Now seniors in Osceola County, Florida can rest assured that their pets will be well taken care of when they need to go to the hospital. Jimmy’s Place is a pet hotel where seniors can house their pets free of charge when they are hospitalized. Area residents can even pre-register ahead of time so that volunteers have the information needed to step in during an emergency.    Jimmy’s Place was formed in honor of Jimmy Scarborough, a volunteer with the local Meals on Wheels. When Jimmy noticed that seniors were sharing their meals with their pets, he started buying pet food to distribute along his route. Eventually Osceola Council on Aging organized pet food drives to supply all Meals on Wheels drivers with dog and cat food.   After Jimmy’s death in 1998, his friends at Osceola Council on Aging wanted to do something to honor his legacy. They knew that Jimmy always used to talk about how seniors could be in the middle of a heart attack and refuse to go to the hospital because they didn’t want to leave their pet at home. So Jimmy’s friends decided to form a pet hotel to give hospital bound seniors peace of mind.   Jimmy’s Place has been getting calls from around the country from communities looking to start a similar pet hotel. Contact Osceola Council on Aging if you’re interested in donating to Jimmy’s Place or would like information to start a pet hotel in your area.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Service Dog Diversity
Pomeranian helps hearing-impaired woman

Pookee the Pomeranian helps Julianna Rigby by alerting her to sounds she can’t detect such as visitors at the door or the telephone ringing. Since the image many people have of service dogs is confined to German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, Rigby sometimes receives dirty looks or requests to take the dog outside when she takes her with her to the grocery store or other places where dogs are usually not allowed.

  I’ve met service dogs from a variety of breeds beyond the two standards mentioned above: Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, a French Mastiff, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Tibetan Terriers and Flat-coated Retrievers are just a few of them. Do you know of a service dog from a breed that is not typically thought of in that role? Tell us about the dog and what he or she does.  

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Stolen Dog
Son of deployed soldier is devastated

Sometimes you read a story that warms the cockles of your heart. Other times the overheating you feel stems more from rage or disgust. Such was my experience when I learned that a 10-year old boy’s new puppy had been stolen from his yard. Cameron’s Dad had given him the puppy, whose name is Caleb, before he deployed to Afghanistan. The meanies who took it did so on the actual day that he left for his yearlong deployment.

  The thieves came into the yard, supposedly to pet the dog, and then grabbed him and took him away in their car. Obviously, taking someone’s dog is a horrible thing to do, and under any circumstances people will be left upset and angry. But to have someone steal your dog the day your Dad leaves for a year is especially awful, and as a mother myself, the thought of such pain for my children is unbearable.   I hope that Cameron gets his dog back, that his Dad returns home safely, and that the thieves get what they deserve.  

 

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.

 

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