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Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Dog Helps Elderly Man With Alzheimer’s
Speech returns in presence of dog

The man in this video has Alzhemier’s, and according to the daughter who posted it, he has lost almost all of his speech. However, when he is with the dog, he talks in a clear voice and makes perfect sense.

It’s not clear why his speech abilities return in the presence of the dog, but it’s well known that dogs are helpful to people with dementia. The benefits go beyond the usual health benefits provided by dogs such as lowered blood pressure and alleviating depression. In people with Alzheimer’s the presence of a dog lowers anxiety, decreases outbursts and increases social interactions.

No matter what the reason for this man’s behavior when with this dog, it is beautiful to watch. That is partly because we’re seeing a part of a man that was thought to be lost. It’s also because the healthy, powerful dog in the video is so calm and attentive around this elderly gentleman. I found myself absently saying, “Good dog, good dog,” while I watched.

I haven’t reacted so emotionally to a video since the 2014 Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial. Did it similarly affect you?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine World Cup
Wildlife photographer celebrates dog diversity and soccer
With the World Cup coming up next month, wildlife photographer Eric Isselée decided to combine his profession with his love of soccer by creating images of national dog breeds wearing their country's jerseys. One of my favorite parts about watching world agility competitions is seeing the diversity of dog breeds, so these portraits are a fun way to celebrate the upcoming sporting event, while highlighting different pups around the world.

Eric normally photographs animals for the Life On White project, capturing images of domestic and wild animals on white backgrounds. The initiative has taken pictures of over 1,000 species since its inception eight years ago.

Unfortunately there is no American dog represented, perhaps because we don't have a clear iconic breed. If you were to create a photo for team U.S.A., which dog would be featured?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Puppy Shower for Homeless Dogs
Mo. animal shelter holds an event to increase adoptions and gather donations
This spring, the Cascades Humane Society in Jackson, Mo. found themselves with 21 puppies on their hands. First a pregnant Husky mix gave birth to seven puppies, just days after being abandoned at the shelter. Then three Border Collie mix puppies were brought in, so undernourished and weak that they went straight to a foster home to be nurtured back to health. Next 11 more three week old puppies were abandoned in a nearby home and were brought to the shelter. Being so young, the little guys required round the clock hand feeding.

As you can imagine, the care for these pups has been expensive and the sudden influx meant the shelter had to find a lot of good homes. So earlier this month, Cascades put together a Puppy Shower to create awareness, find adopters, and gather donations. The event was a success with over 200 attendees and a personal shelter record for the most cats and dogs adopted in a single day. In all, 18 puppies, six cats, and four adult dogs found forever homes through the event.

Having a Puppy Shower is such a great idea to gather animal lovers together to help a good cause with an adorable theme!

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Baby Named After Dog Who Saved Her Life
Jade found the abandoned baby in a park

When Jade the German Shepherd sprinted into the bushes during a walk, lay down and refused to return to her guardian, her behavior was literally life-saving. When Roger Wilday came over to his dog, he discovered that Jade was lying next to an abandoned newborn baby. According to doctors, she would not have survived more than a couple of hours longer on her own. The baby, who hospital workers named Jade in honor of the dog who saved her, is doing well, and efforts to find her parents are underway.

Naturally, it makes us feel good to know that a dog’s keen ears or nose led her to a baby in desperate need of help, which saved her life. What I find most interesting about this story, though, is that the dog took the initiative to head toward the baby and wouldn’t leave. She refused even though the guardian presumably wasn’t initially thrilled that his dog ran off and wouldn’t come when called.

Jade was apparently eager to communicate with her guardian that he needed to come investigate, and she behaved in a way that caused him to do exactly that. This is a dog who is very fond of children, as many dogs are, yet her understanding of the situation seems to extend beyond a simple, “This is a baby and I like to be near babies.” Her behavior suggests that she wanted her guardian to find the baby, too.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Generosity in a Time of Need
A N.J. couple leaves a $1,000 tip towards a large vet bill.
Pets are amazing conversation starters and give people a common passion that creates an instant connection. Last weekend, Christina Summitt's paw print tattoo led to an act of generosity that she could have never imagined.  

Christina's wrist tattoo often leads to conversations with strangers about her love of animals. Despite working three jobs and managing a family of three kids and one dog, Christina always makes time to volunteer with a pit bull rescue and aid in other animal adoptions.

While bar tending at the Holiday Inn in Clinton, New Jersey last weekend, a couple asked about her tattoo and her pets. Christina mentioned that Tucker, her Great Dane-Black Labrador mix was at the veterinarian after having emergency surgery and it was almost all she could think about.

The man mentioned something about surgery being expensive and they started talking about the expensive vet bill and her commitment to Tucker, whom she adopted in 2011.

After the couple finished their meal, they closed out their $80 tab and left a $1,000 tip. When Christina saw the credit slip, she started sharking and crying in disbelief. After verifying that she was seeing the number correctly, Christina approached the man to say she couldn't accept such a large tip. But he insisted she put it towards Tucker's veterinary bill.

She hugged the couple and they said, "we'll be praying for Tucker" before leaving the bar.

Christina's manager followed up with the customers to verify that the gesture was legitimate and found out that they do this quite frequently.

As word about the good deed made the internet rounds, Christina says that she's received messages of support from all over the world and has been inspired by how this random act gave so many people hope. She'd love nothing more than to publicly thank this couple, but they wish to remain anonymous.

The even better news is that Tucker is now back at home recovering from his surgery.

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Dog Waits Outside Hospital For 8 Days
Reunion with homeless guardian worth it

Lauri da Costa, a homeless man in Brazil who stumbled to the hospital after being hit in the face by a rock, has a priceless friend in his dog Seco. When da Costa went inside the hospital, neither he nor his dog could have known that it would be more than a week before he came out again.

Luckily, the injuries from the attack were not incredibly serious. However, during the exam, doctors discovered that he had melanoma, which required an operation right away. So, it was 8 days until da Costa emerged from the building for a reunion with Seco, who had waited outside in the parking lot the whole time. During their separation, members of the hospital staff fed Seco and gave him water.

Many dogs do wait for their guardians, although such behavior is not universal. Do you think your dog would wait for you?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Service Dogs for Boston Marathon Victims
Assistance pup helps Jessica Kensky navigate a new reality
On the surface, Boston looks like a city that has fully recovered from the tragedy and fear surrounding last year's marathon bombing. Nearly 9,000 additional runners are participating in today's race, bringing the number of participants up to over 35,755.  And officials are expecting one million spectators, double last year's turnout.

But for many of the victims, the journey towards recovery is only beginning. That is very much the case for Jessica Kensky and her husband Patrick Downes, two of the 16 people who lost limbs in last year's bombing. Their injuries were so severe that they were among the last marathon victims to leave the hospital.

Both Jessica and Patrick had their left legs amputated, but Jessica was at risk for losing both legs. She ultimately chose to keep her right leg, but it has made learning to walk extremely difficult and painful. Her service dog, Rescue, has been by her side to steady Jessica when she walks on crutches or with her prosthetic. The Black Labrador also helps her with a variety of tasks most people take for granted, like picking up the telephone and pressing buttons in the elevator.

Rescue is from NEADS, a Massachusetts based nonprofit that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities. NEADS has offered a free service dog to any marathon bombing victim with a permanent physical disability and Jessica is the first to accept the offer.

Jessica sees Rescue as much more than an assistance dog. Rescue keeps Jessica and her husband physically active, a challenge for amputees.

"Here's this big animal who needs to be taken out, he needs exercise, he needs to go to the bathroom, he needs to be fed," Jessica told NPR. "On the day you just don't want to get off the couch, you don't want to get in your wheelchair, you don't want to put your prosthetic on, he looks at you with those eyes and you've got to take him out."

Rescue also provides emotional support, cuddling, giving kisses, and making Jessica and her husband laugh. It's been hard for the couple to rest, they would often wake up at 3 a.m. with feelings of depression and anxiety. After Rescue joined the family, Jessica finally started sleeping through the night for the first time.

The bombing has changed the course of Jessica and Patrick's lives. Jessica hasn't been able to return to her job as an oncology nurse and Patrick had to abandon his plan to do a pre-doctoral program in San Francisco, where they had been planning to relocate.

But for now, they can only take life one step at a time. It's going to be a long road, but Jessica and Patrick are immensely grateful for Rescue and the joy he's managed to bring to their lives.

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Dogs Comfort in Boston
Therapy dogs attend marathon festivities

After the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, therapy dogs from the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministries were there within 24 hours. The group consists of 70 therapy dogs (all Golden Retrievers) from 10 states. Small groups of the dogs visit churches, schools, hospitals and disaster areas, offering the soothing, healing presence that only dogs can provide. Many survivors and first responders in Boston benefited from spending time with these highly trained and lovable dogs.

This year at the Boston Marathon and associated events, four dogs from this group will again be in attendance. Ruthie, Hannah, Luther and Rufus have traveled from Illinois to offer support and lots of opportunities for petting and loving. They are making appearances throughout the four days of events that conclude with the race on Monday, April 21, 2014. It’s the fourth visit of “Comfort Dogs” to the area since the events at last year’s race.

Every year, runners and fans of the sport watch the Boston Marathon. This year the audience is bigger because the whole world is watching.  I’m so glad that these therapy dogs are a part of the celebration and that they have been part of the healing all year. They are contributing to making Boston strong.

Good Dog: Behavior & Training
Quality Time Without Other Dogs
Dogs benefit, sometimes in unexpected ways

“He doesn’t really play with toys,” his guardian said as he dropped the dog off for an afternoon visit with us. Their realtor didn’t want dogs at home during their open house, not even resting contentedly in their crates, and work schedules meant they needed a little help. We were taking one of their dogs and his brother was going to watch the other.

Though we were not expecting Moose to play with the toys, within an hour, that dog had played with every toy in our house and a couple of items that he thought were toys although we would not classify them as such. He flapped a Wubba around at his own face and did the same with a dishtowel, went joyfully berserk over a squeaky toy shaped like a bone, fetched tennis balls and flying squirrels that my kids threw, tossed around a fleece fox with a dead squeaker inside, and “dribbled” a dust pan around like it was a soccer ball. Moose was, no matter what his guardian said, really into toys.

When we told his guardian about Moose’s afternoon toy playing session, he was genuinely surprised. He told us, “That’s odd because at home, all he does is follow Zach, who loves to fetch.” He went on to explain that Moose never got the balls himself, but just followed their other dog who loved to retrieve. And when Zach was chewing on bones or toys, Moose just watched, no matter how many were lying around. If they specifically gave Moose a toy, Zach would come over to relieve him of it. Moose never objected so his guardian figured that Moose just didn’t have a strong interest in them.

Au contraire. Many dogs live in households in which the other dog prevents them from doing what comes naturally, but if you never observe the dogs on their own, it’s hard to know that they are missing out. In Moose’s case, he was not playing with toys or chewing on bones with Zach around, but based on his behavior at our house, he loves them. (It’s almost a sure bet that a dog who is being “mugged” by another dog who habitually takes the bones and toys would rather maintain possession of them if possible.) I believe that having regular time without Zach would improve Moose’s quality of life because he would be able to play with toys and chew on bones.

Other dogs may benefit in other ways from being away from other dogs from time to tome. Spending time as the only dog with the guardian may mean receiving undivided attention or more petting. For some young dogs, it may mean a more vigorous exercise session than the older dog in the household can tolerate. There are dogs who just want the peace and quiet that a one-dog situation bestows on them, and others who appreciate the chance to train or play without another dog interrupting the flow. A class that suits one dog, but not another, such as agility or a tracking class may provide the incentive to spend time with just one of your dogs.

With the rare exception of dogs who panic when they are not in the presence of their dog family members, the opportunity to spend quality time as the only dog with their guardians has great value. A little goes a long way, so even the occasional session can be a great treat for a dog and well worth working into even the busiest of schedules.

If you have more than one dog, do you spend time with each of them individually? If so, how do you think they benefit?

News: Editors
Foster Mom Reconnects with Rescue Dog
The Little Miracles of Social Media

At its best, social media can spark connections one only dreams about. Such was the case involving a series of photographs we posted recently on Facebook. Last week we blogged a new series of photos by Bark contributor Grace Chon, showing her 10-month-old son Jasper and 7-year-old dog Zoey in matching apparel. The photos are adorable and our followers agreed, “liking” and sharing the pix with tens, then hundreds of thousands of people. Zoey and Jasper had gone viral—appearing on HuffingtonPost, Mashable, BuzzFeed and Good Morning America to name but a few. As the images brought smiles to viewers around the world, one woman far away in China thought Zoey looked familiar. It was a woman named Joy who had fostered little Zoey in the first months of the pup’s life in Taiwan. She had been waiting 7 years to hear news of the little puppy she nursed back to health before sending her halfway around the world to a new home in California. All she knew was that a Korean girl in Los Angeles had adopted her. Following her intuition, Joy reached out to Grace, and piecing the puzzle together, they concluded that Zoey was indeed the little pup she had fostered. The two women shared photos of Zoey— of her early life in Taiwan, including her first night with Joy—and Grace’s photos of life in Southern California. Each had wondered about the portions of Zoey’s life they had missed, and are grateful for this serendipitous reunion. Deep down inside, they both knew that this little black dog was loved and well cared for—in both Taiwan and in Los Angeles. Now they have the stories and pictures to prove it. Read more about their reunion.

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