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Dog-Dancing Taken to New Heights
Sandra Roth and Lizzy with a showstopping performance

Dog-dancing is taken to its heights and none display this better than Sandra Roth and Lizzy at The Open European Championships in Heelwork to Music and Freestyle 2014, held in Stuttgart, Germany. “There are no compulsory movements or elements, so each team can present their individual strengths and skills,” reads Dogdance International’s preamble. “No other dog sport offers that much flexibility to ... adapt each performance to the capabilities and needs of each team member (dog as well as human).”

Sandra Roth is a ballet and jazz dancer with a passion for dogs, so moving into dog-dancing was a natural for her and turned out to be the perfect sport. As for Lizzy, her dancing companion, Roth writes in her profile that “Lizzy has been learning tricks and freestyle moves since she was a puppy. But we’ve had many problems and she was not an easy dog. So our main focus for the first 3 years was on her social behaviour and not on dog sports.”

Roth continues that Lizzy “gets more and more confident and our relationship has improved a lot. She is also starting to enjoy the attention by the audience.”

And Roth adds that, “Other than dancing we also do some obedience training, we do Treibball, scent work, lunging, dog scootering and whatever is fun for both of us.”

Don’t you agree that their performance takes your breath away? And by the time Lizzy is doing her front-leg-crossover, I couldn’t stop the tears, this was oh so lovely.

 

Culture: Reviews
Putting on the Dog—Picture Book Pleasures
For Young Readers

You can count on librarians—they always come through with the goods! In the book review section of our Winter 2014 issue, we cover a handful of recent children’s picture books featuring dogs. But we knew that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg—oh-so-many more deserve mention.

With absolutely no advance warning, we swooped down on two local librarians—Theresa McGovern and Carolyn Potter of the Marin County Free Library at Fairfax, Cal.—and asked them for a list of their young library users’ faves, not just recent, but across the years. Within hours, we had it in hand and are sharing it with you here. (Your local children’s librarians might suggest others—check with them the next time you’re in.)

As you’ll notice, the suggested age range begins at two and goes up, so if you’re looking for a gift for a dog-loving child, you’re sure to find one that’s age-appropriate. Many are available as e-books as well, though, traditionalists that we are, we can’t imagine anything better than sitting with a child, turning paper pages and lingering over beautifully printed illustrations.

Bad Dog, by David McPhail (2014)
Forgiveness and love triumph at the end of this charming story of a family dog who’s rarely on his best behavior.
(Suggested Ages 2–7)

Ball! by Mary Sullivan (2013)
A dog with a ball is one of the most relentlessly hopeful creatures on earth. Forced to go solo, the dog begins a hilarious one-sided game of fetch.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book
(Suggested Ages 4–8)

A Ball for Daisy, by Christopher Raschka (2011)
A wordless picture book about all the fun a dog can have with her ball.
Caldecott Medal Winner
(Suggested Ages 3–7)

Bark, George, by Jules Feiffer (1999)
What’s a puppy to do when he can’t sound off with an arf or two? (also, his Henry the Dog with No Tail).
(Suggested Ages 3–8)

Bubba and Beau, Best Friends, by Kathi Appelt (2002)
Bath day for Bubba and Beau and their favorite blankie—a sad, sad day in Bubbaville.
(Suggested Ages 2–5)

City Dog, Country Frog, by Mo Willems (2010)
Award-winning story of an unlikely friendship for all seasons (also, his Pigeon wants a Puppy!).
(Suggested Ages 3–6)

Dog Breath, by Dav Pilkey (1994)
Hally is a loving dog with horrible breath (also, his Dogzilla).
(Suggested Ages 4–8)

Good Boy, Fergus! by David Shannon (2006)
Fergus experiences the perfect doggy day—except for the bath, of course!
(Suggested Ages 3–5)

Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion (1956)
A white dog with black spots gets so dirty that his family doesn’t recognize him. This classic has been around for more than 50 years, and was named by the National Education Association as one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”
(Suggested Ages 3–8)

Little Dog Lost, by Monica Carnesi (2012)
True tale of a curious dog adrift on a sheet of ice, seemingly beyond rescue.
(Suggested Ages 3–5)

Martha Speaks, by Susan Meddaugh (1992)
After eating alphabet soup, Martha starts to speak, and she has a lot to say (also, her other “Martha” books).
(Suggested Ages 4 & up)

Mister Bud Wears the Cone, by Carter Goodrich (2014)
Canine pals Mister Bud and Zorro encounter … the cone.
(Suggested Ages 4–8)

Mogie: The Heart of the House, by Kathi Appelt (2014)
A rambunctious puppy finds a home at the Ronald McDonald House. (Note from Bark: This one also appears on the Bark list.)
(Suggested Ages 4–8)

Sally Goes to Heaven, by Stephen Huneck (2014)
When Sally goes to heaven, she lives happily and helps her family on earth find a new pet.
(Suggested Ages 5–8)

Skunkdog, by Emily Jenkins (2008)
Dumpling is a lonely dog with no sense of smell and no friends—until she meets a skunk!
(Suggested Ages 4–8)

The Stray Dog, by Marc Simont (2001)
A heartwarming tale of a stray dog who finds a home.
Caldecott Honor
(Suggested Ages 4–8)

Trouper, by Meg Kearney (2013)
A moving story of a three-legged stray dog who finds a loving boy to call his own.
(Suggested Ages 4–8)

The Way I Love You, by David Bedford (2005)
A little girl celebrates all of the ways she loves her puppy.
(Suggested Ages 4 & up)

And, of course, these classic picture book series featuring two favorite canines: 

Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day (Suggested Ages 4–8)

and 

McDuff Moves In, by Rosemary Wells (Suggested Ages 2–5)

 

Note from the librarians: Some descriptive content provided in our library catalog by Syndetics.

Culture: Reviews
Bark's Summer Books

Now it is summer and its long, warm days have arrived, we hope to catch up on our reading. To encourage you to do the same, we’ve compiled a roster of some of our favorites from newer to recent classic shelves. We would like to suggest our picks for a well-versed “dog culture” reading roster. These 10 books will enhance your understanding of your dog, along with entertaining and inspiring you. Enjoy!

Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures by Virginia Morell (Crown) explores what researchers have discovered about the mental and emotional lives of animals ranging from trout to dogs, and many others. She went in search of the “minds of animals to better grasp how the other creatures around us perceive and understand the world.” Her journalistic storytelling skills makes for a compelling read.

Edgar Award-winner Theresa Schwegel’s newest book, The Good Boy (Minotaur Books), includes an unforgettable character, Butch, a Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd mix trained as in drug-detection work. Butch and his K9 officer partner, Pete Murphy, navigate some of Chicago’s bleaker byways in this story. Both Joel, Murphy’s 11-year-old son, and Butch qualify as the “good boy” of the title. Joel is bright and innocent and loyal; Butch is honest, and honestly portrayed by a writer who knows dogs and their behaviors (she even knows why dogs’ feet smell like popcorn, an intriguing bit of trivia). Put this one on your reading list!

Read the interview with Theresa Schwegel for insights into her portrayal of Butch and the choices she made in his creation.

If you haven’t read it yet, make sure that this summer you pick up, Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz a fascinating journey into the dog’s rich sensory world, providing valuable insights into what it’s like to be a dog. If you think you know your dog, think again. Horowitz peels away the layers of pre-conceived notions and gets to the core of canine-ness to reveal that Canis familiaris is anything but familiar. 

Read an interview with Alexandra Horowitz here. 

A new must-read, The Mountaintop School for Dogs: and Other Second Chances (Houghton Mifflin) by Ellen Cooney is due out in August. This novel is a joyous romp featuring an impulsive, twenty-four-year old, Evie, who is on a quest to untangle a troubled past by seeking a new life path as a dog trainer. Little does she know that the she has enrolled in a command center for a network of underground animal rescuers, lead by four elderly ex-nuns. This is a brilliantly crafted, uplifting book, with its message of “Rescue. Best. Verb. Ever,” being evidenced throughout its pages.

First-time book author, Matthew Gilbert goes behind the scenes of a typical dog park, in his enjoyable Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park (St. Martin’s). He’s a dog-phobic convert who falls hard for his first pup who helps him to get immersed in a whole new world at a nearby dog park. The pair discover an engaging human pack replete with all the quirks, revelations and drama that come with your average (canine) nation state. This is a witty and memorable read that will delight and enthrall off-leash readers everywhere.

See a sampling of this book here.

In August, Spencer Quinn is back with another of his widely popular Chet and Bernie mystery books. In Paw and Order (Simon & Schuster), the seventh in this series, we find the intrepid duo being swept up in a case of international intrigue. Chet, the canine copilot extraordinaire, is always the unforgettable one in this partnership. Read one, you’ll want to read them all!

Susannah Charleson’s second book about dogs, The Possibility Dogs is every bit as enthralling as her first,  Scent of the Missing. In this new book she refocuses her work from search-and-rescue to training rescue dogs for psychiatric service and therapy duty. She becomes an expert on evaluating shelter dogs to find those who might have the right personality and drive for this work. This book is an informative training guide but also a truly inspiring personal story. 

For an excerpt on our site click here.

Rex and the City, by Lee Harrington. First published over seven years ago, this book still is one of the finest examples of the ever-popular canine memoir genre. Rex was a  “behaviorally-challenged” sporting breed mix rescued by a NYC couple, who proves a trifle more than they can handle. But when it comes to exploring what it takes for “newbies” to learn about co-existing with a canine (and with each other), this is one of the funniest and exquisite accounts of the journey. A love story at its finest.  As one reviewer noted: “Harrington shows us that learning how to live with a canine is the surest way of learning how to live." 

For a sample of Lee Harrington's work read this.

A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life by Steven Kotler is part Hunter Thompson part Carlos Castaneda but mostly so original that it’s difficult to peg. A fascinating examination of the “cult and culture” of dog rescue. The story takes place in rural northern New Mexico—a perfect place for the author and his wife to start their dog sanctuary, Rancho de Chihuahua—home to not very “normal” dogs: special-needs dogs who are too old or too frail or simply too “compromised” to be easily adopted. Kotler gleefully throws himself into being part of the pack, taking the big dogs and the many Chihuahuas on forays into the foothills, where both dogs and humans experience a “flow state,” defined as “a joyous and complete merger of action and awareness.” Being totally involved in the now, time flies and the ego melts away—a feeling you’ll surely share when reading this delightful and insightful book.

In What the Dog Knows, Cat Warren explores the science and wonder of working dogs, guided by Solo, her German Shepherd. To harness Solo’s energies, she decided to try him at scent work—specifically, cadaver scenting. Her own training for this field was also a challenge, one that at times was more than she thought she could handle. This is a story of how Warren discovered what the worldview of a working dog really is, and how she and Solo not only learned to navigate it but also, to excel at it. This book offers new avenues to learn about the cognitive and emotional lives of one’s own dogs, and is highly recommended by this reviewer.

Click for a conversation with Cat Warren.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
What’s New: Products
With many new products on the store shelves, these caught our eye.
CarpetSaver

Keep floors dry and clean with CarpetSaver’s absorbent foam-backed (non-skid) fabric that grabs debris and water. Just shake it out or toss in the washer when it’s dirty. Comes in two widths, three colors and a variety of lengths.
Carpetsaver.com

Minnesota’s Mendota Products is in the “pink” over a new color they introduced to their pliable, durable safety collar line. Pink teams up with yellow, green and orange as the high-visibility colors now being offered. Cleaning is simple—dirt and odors are quickly rinsed off.
Mendotaproducts.com

Ma Snax’s sweet smiling leprechaun cookies are sure to bring good luck. Wheat/ corn/soy and preservativefree. Baked in small batches in Sonoma, Calif., to ensure freshness; hand-decorated.
Masnax.com

Skookum Dog makes a synthetic sheepskin, memory foam bed whose curvy design looks like the “real” thing. Perfect for a nap out on the porch or anywhere inside too.
Skookumdog.com

Sleepypod’s Clickit™ Utility claims to be the world’s first three-point dog safety harness, offering a safer ride for your favorite co-pilot. It was named the 2013 Top Performing Pet Safety Harness in a Subaru and Center for Pet Safety collaborative study to test the effectiveness of pet harnesses.
Sleepypod.com

Add new flavor and zing to your dog’s kibble meals with Doggie Shotz. It comes in six flavors including Three Cheese, Chicken Stir Fry and Turkey ’n Mash. Just shake, pour on and stir into kibble.
Doggieshotz.com

Moso Bags are a safe, natural way to purify and dehumidify your home. Made of bamboo charcoal, it’s non-toxic and fragrance free. Great around dog beds, litter boxes and anywhere odors linger in a house!
Mosonatural.com

These useful microfiber cleaning cloths from Poochie-Pets feature fun “Live in Dog Years” designs, and are great for cleaning fingerprints or nose “kisses” off your tablets and phones. Available in six designs.
Poochie-pets.net

For a soft, durable collar, Timely’s rounded styles are handcrafted from the finest Italian and Finnish leathers. Developed by a small family-owned Danish company, they are designed with a unique “inside stitch” technique with no outside edges.
Timelyus.com

The Loop is an easy, stylish way to carry the all-important poop bags with you. “Loop” it through a leash, or even through your handbag strap; refilling is simple. Comes in six fashionable colors.
Loft312.com

Dexas presents its H-DuO, the first bottle carrier designed for both you and your active dog! Carry two drinks at the same time—one for you, and one for your dog. A companion cup collapses flat against the side of the bottle—it’s BPA-free too.
Dexas.com