News: Guest Posts
The Buck Stops Here
Dogs and deer don't mix

When friends and family complain about pesky wildlife, I can’t resist reminding them that we've invaded their habitat. Even when skunks burrowed beneath our chicken coop or chipmunks squatted in our garage, my biggest concern was saving their poor furry souls from our prey-driven pack. That summer rabbits raided our vegetable garden? I didn’t mind eating cookies instead of salad for dinner. (And the dogs appreciated the extra piles of protein they left behind.)

At one time, I would’ve naively asserted that deer are the gentlest of woodland creatures. My dogs and I have come across them many times while taking long walks along the river. Typically, my Pit Bull mix, Shelby, air scents them, and as I follow her gaze, a doe will gracefully dart away, her white tail flickering like candlelight. 

A few days ago, I was walking my Dalmatian, Jolie, and Dutch Shepherd, Ginger Peach,  in our semi-rural neighborhood. It was dusk, and I was eager to finish our route before it got dark since there are few street lights. The dogs suddenly dove into a ditch, their noses hot on the trail of something. About 40 yards away, I heard a loud crash and saw a white tail disappear into the woods. I chuckled, glad the dogs missed seeing the actual deer because they were so busy following its trail.

We continued forward until I saw a loose dog up ahead. One of the farmers allows his Jack Russell free reign, and I just didn’t feel like heeling both dogs past him. We turned around. As we approached the spot where the dogs flushed out the deer, a magnificent eight-point buck trotted across our path. He stopped a mere 20 yards away as we passed.

Having never seen a buck up close before, I was mesmerized by his size and beauty. I stopped. The dogs and I stared at him,  studying him. He broke our gaze and trotted through a row of bushes. Slowly, he positioned himself behind us. He stood tall. Jolie and Ginger Peach became absolutely still.  Everything around us was quiet. Looking into the buck’s dark brown eyes, I finally realized what the dogs had likely known the moment I stopped. He did not appreciate our company.

We quickly moved away. Ginger Peach let out a little yips in protest, but Jolie was all too happy to get out of there. As we rounded a corner, I glanced back to see the buck cross the street again, no doubt returning to the doe we had scared off earlier.

After sharing this story with friends, I heard terrifying accounts of deer hurting people or dogs during breeding season. (There are hundreds of videos on YouTube demonstrating their strength in graphic detail.) I was grateful that my naiveté did not inadvertently cause harm to my dogs. Has your dog ever encountered  deer? What did you do?

News: Guest Posts
A Yard of her Own
Daisy is finally the queen of her castle

Daisy is curled up next to me on the couch as I type this, enjoying an early afternoon nap. The first snowfall of the season is coming down outside. She’s extra sleepy for this time of day—she spent about a half an hour this morning romping in the fresh snow in her brand-new backyard.

At long last, it’s happened: After four years of apartment living, Daisy finally has a backyard to call her own.

My husband and I discovered Daisy’s love of the outdoors the very first time we met her at the Denver Dumb Friends League. The adoption counselor let us take Daisy outside to a spacious dog run for a game of fetch. She had no idea what to do with the ball, but spent a good five minutes sprinting back and forth in the run with my husband, John, encouraging her. She was pure joy.

We’ve talked about “Daisy’s yard” ever since we brought her from the shelter to our small apartment, reassuring her that someday she’d have a big space in which to race around. Walks are fun, but leashes are not. Her aggression issues mean dog parks are a risky proposition. She got tastes of the good life at the homes of friends and family over the last few years, but only for a short time.

In mid-October, we finally made the move from a one-bedroom apartment on Denver’s urban Capitol Hill to a slightly larger house in a residential neighborhood in northeast Denver. The house might not be huge, but the yard is a perfect size for crazed running and snuffly investigations.

John made a video of Daisy entering the yard for the first time. She’s a take-charge kind of gal, so her initial action was to squat and take an authoritative pee. She mostly wanted to sniff, but soon got in the spirit and was darting around like a happy maniac—when she wasn’t getting distracted by a new scent.

There’s been lot of excitement for her in the last few weeks: Squirrels everywhere. Unwary alley cats wandering into the yard. Human neighbors going about their business. When the weather was nice, I opened the front door so Daisy could lay in the entryway and watch the neighborhood action through the screen door. She’s finally discovered what house dogs figured out in puppyhood: You can stand on the couch and see out the front window! (The old place had a view of a brick wall.) And now there’s snow, glorious snow.

It’s fun to watch Daisy adjust to her new lifestyle, but it does come with some worries. We discovered tons of discarded chicken bones in the backyard—after we caught Daisy, ever the scavenger, crunching on them. One of the back gates doesn’t close all the way, prompting an argument about the best way to keep it closed until we fix it. (I said cinder block, John said bungee cord; John won.) Daisy loves to chase the occasional stray cat, but I fear the day she corners one and it fights back.

There are new training concerns, too. At the apartment, Daisy was on a regular schedule of walks. Now we can open the backdoor for her to dash outside and do her business, and then let her run around and play for as long as she wants. She doesn’t yet know how to “ask” to be let in or out, however. With cold weather bearing down on us, I’m trying to get her on a schedule of sorts, with lots of outdoor fun every day.

The move’s been hard on me, I confess. Leaving the apartment represented a major change in our lives, a transition from younger, more carefree days to greater responsibility and future family-raising. It means we’re becoming Real Grown-Ups. I’m ready to begin this new phase, but it’s bittersweet. Seeing Daisy so happy is making the process much easier.

She sleeps more deeply. Our old building was filled with other dogs whose comings and goings drove Daisy nuts; now she’s the lone ruler of this castle. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think her eyes are brighter and her demeanor more lively. The other day Daisy jauntily danced around me as I boringly put on a pair of socks, apparently out of simple happiness. She even gave my big toe a playful nibble. She never did that in the apartment.

Daisy’s outside now, sunning herself drowsily on the large step into the garage. Her outsized bat-ears twitch slightly as she listens to the sounds of the neighborhood. A few birds fly overhead and she watches them, calmly. She raises her head, closes her eyes and sniffs the breeze.

I can’t stop smiling.

Halloween Parade for Humans Who Enjoy Dressing Up Dogs
New York's East Village tradition

On October 22, New York’s best-dressed dogs came to the 21st Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, held in the park’s dog run.

Ubaldo came wearing the neon green “mankini” thong made famous in the movie Borat. He debuted this outfit earlier in the year at the New York City Dachshund Meetup Group pageant. That event requires each dog have three changes of costume. This was his swimwear entry. “His coloring is just so perfect for Borat,” said Alyson Nehran, the international flight attendant who sewed the outfit herself. “Last year, he was a Coney Island bather. This year, I wanted to do something really design intensive so that I could play with the concept.”

Amazing Grace, a Chihuahua, won a prize for her hat—a dog-sized replica of the one warn by Princess Beatrice at the Royal Wedding. It was designed by Anthony Rubio, a school teacher in the Bronx who moonlights as a costume designer. Said Grace’s owner, physical trainer Summer Strand: “He’s the Alexander McQueen of dog fashion.”

Bailey is a five-year-old Puggle-cum-panda. He wasn’t sure how he felt about this fact—his jacket-costume looked a little like the bear was eating him. “But I think he likes it—I mean, all his friends are doing it,” said his owner, Jon Zanoff. In previous years, Zanoff has dressed his dog as a hot dog and as a piglet. His friend said the panda was appropriate because it is the logo of an app Zanoff developed that lets people review bars. “You can rate how hot people are,” she said. Dogs don’t get rated.

Rosie, a 9-month-old Pit Bull, wore a pink child’s dress and a belt of spikes around her middle. Her 6-year-old owner, Isa, said she was supposed to be a punk rock princess. “It’s because she is a princess. She sleeps on the couch!” she said. Isa’s mom, Masha Schmidt, said that Rosie indeed has a punk side, too: “She likes to eat my makeup.”

Liz Mulgrew's Bella, a Cairn Terrier, also came as a punk rocker. She wore a pale blue shirt emblazoned with a skull and crossbones. It’s part of Martha Stewart’s dog clothing line. Her face hair was spiked all around, like a starfruit. Mulgrew didn't use any product. "Her hair is pretty moldable,” she said. “It's easy to get it to go like that. But she usually wears it down.”

Holly, a Pomeranian, was the Hamburglar, a McDonaldland character. “She has this little mask around her eyes naturally, so she just needed the striped suit,” said Holly’s companion, Stephanie Radvan. Radvan got the convict dog outfit online. "But I wanted her to be a prisoner with some kind of flair,” so she pinned McDonald’s burger wrappers on Holly’s sides. “I went out and bought four burgers this morning. They're still at home.”

“It’s his name, so he always wears this costume,” said Kendra Shea, of her dog Yoda, who was Yoda. His sister, also a Pug, came as Leia. She wore an impressive homemade headband glued with yarn to look like two buns. She sat in a stroller that was decorated with cardboard to look like Princess Leia’s Speeder Bike. The whole project was conceived and executed in under 48 hours, said Shea.

“It was on sale,” said Anna DePalma's of the costume worn by her Havanese, Louis. Louis was a ram.

“He’s an Occupy Wall Street dog, and I’m a cop,” said Christine Chiu, there with her Bichon, Oscar. She wore a blue police cap and had handcuffs clipped to her belt. Chiu was dismayed to learn hers was not the only dog to arrive with protester placards on both sides. “I always like to do something current,” she said. Last year, she is rather sure she had the only dog that came as an iPad. “I thought of turning that costume into an iPhone 4S. But Occupy Wall Street is more what people are talking about.”

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Pet Ministries on the Rise
Churches are sponsoring groups for animal lovers

Dogs have become an important part of our culture and more and more places are starting to welcome and accommodate pets. It's becoming common to see hotels with dog beds, stores with water dishes out front and even car companies designing vehicles with pets in mind.

Religious groups are no exception. Churches have long held blessing of the animal events and some are even inviting pets to attend service. But some congregations are starting pet ministries in order to reach and connect with animal lovers on a new level.

Grace Church, a nondenominational Protestant congregation in the Saint Louis area, has a pet ministry that organizes pet-food drives, fundraisers for a local rescue group, pet therapy visits, a pet loss support group and a Bible study that discusses animal-related passages.

Other churches include animals for adoption in their weekly bulletins, host adoption events and run vaccine clinics.

As a testament to this growing trend, the Humane Society of the United States hired a liaison to religious communities in 2007. Now there are animal ministries in every state. Next month, the Humane Society will be launching a directory of affiliated ministries on their website.

We don't have a pet ministry at my church, but our animal events (blessing of the animals and a holiday “giving tree” that collects supplies for the local shelter) have inspired a lot of people in the congregation to share stories of beloved pets and connect with each other in a different way.

Animal lovers are an amazing community of people, so pet ministries seem like a great way to get like-minded people together for a good cause.

Does your church have a pet ministry?

News: Guest Posts
Barkitecture: The Cutting Edge of Dog House Design
Austin showcase raises funds for rescue

I don’t think any of my friends with dogs have a for-real dog house. Most of the pups in my circle have worked it out so the human home—with its couches, beds, plushy rugs, toys, freshly filled water bowls, etc.—is their “dog house.” With these delights, why would they embrace a small, cold, damp box in the corner of the yard?

Well, the age of the Spartan, Snoopy-style dog house has passed. The passion for home design has seeped into the canine bungalow—I mean, we’re calling them canine bungalows, after all. And perhaps nowhere will you see a more inspiring array of dog houses than at Barkitecture, a showcase and auction of doghouses created mostly by Austin-based architects, designers and builders to raise money for local animal rescue groups. The inventive, often green, designs on display earlier this month have me thinking that outdoor pup palaces could be making a comeback.

Read about the prize-winning designs. My favorites (neither of which won a prize) are La Casita del Sol, which was made with leftover wood and empty clear Sol beer bottles. Perfect for Seattle—capturing what little light there is and keeping the rain off. I also like the Wine Barrel Bungalow made from a cast-off wine barrel and scrap wood. I’m noticing a theme.

Do you have a dog house?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Kit's corner: TreatToob, Pet Fairy Noshers
New products that tickle a dog’s fancy

A Pez for Pooches
Kit is wild for a new kind of treat dispenser that holds especially high-value delicacies (liverwurst, peanut butter or homemade puréed food). New from Paww, the TreatToob is made from soft, foodgrade silicone. Easy to fill and clean, it’s a great training aid, especially for Kit’s challenging heel work — she stays close by when the ’Toob is in hand. $8.95 paww.com (for a reseller list)

Organic Schmear Delights
Pet Fairy Noshers is another new product that Kit and all her doggy housemates, including old-guy Lenny, are simply gaga for. This tasty “schmear” is just right for hollow-toy and sterilized-bone stuffing (we’ve used it in the TreatToob, too). Ingredients include pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, organic honey and cinnamon, plus other luscious goodies. Lovingly made in small batches in northern Vermont, this “barkalicious” spread also makes a wonderful gift. 16 oz. in a glass jar $8 to $10 petfairynoshers.com (for a reseller list)

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Kids & Dogs

Welcome to Bark’s Kids & Dogs resource page—here you’ll find a host of valuable tools, tips and links to enable kids and dogs make the most of life together. Keeping a dog is a great responsibility and opportunity, a way for children to explore the world, stay fit and active, learn teaching skills and share the fun and excitement of best friends. First off, we want to get to know you and your dog, so we are inviting all of our young friends to take a photo of their pet pooch and send it to us. There’s some tricks to taking a good photo, and we have a primer for good picture-taking to get your started. Our good friend, Michael J. Rosen, author of the new book My Dog, has produced a handy video that guides you through taking a great photo of your dog. He’s also shared his favorite photo- taking tips in this list. Thanks Michael!

When you are done photographing your dog, pick your favorite picture and enter it in our “My Dog” contest here. You will be eligible to win some cool prizes including your very own copy of My Dog, fun canine toys and games, plus assorted treats. We’ll start an album of our favorite photos and post it online to share with all of Bark’s readers!

Once you have some photos of your dog, you can craft some fun projects—from a doggie placemat featuring your pal’s picture to a wall calendar showcasing your best friend through the 12 months of the year. Or make a handmade window book—all you need are some printouts of your dog’s photos, some scissors and a printer to print out a handy pattern that you’ll find here. It’s simple and easy, and makes a great gift! Check out the other great DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects on our website, we provide instructions on making a cool collarette for your pup that recycles an old shirt collar, a handy tugger toy made with gloves, and for advanced crafters—a crocheted dog bed.

Any of you like to cook? Check out Michael’s video “Cooking for My Dog!” Learn how to make a yummy peanut butter carrot cake from scratch—a healthy and delicious treat that your dog will love. It’s perfect for your dog’s birthday surprise party! Do we have any future veterinarians in the crowd? You’ll enjoy the “60-Second Pup Check-Up”— a simple tutorial on monitoring your dog’s basic health. See how to examine your dog’s coat for hot spots, ears for redness and paws for burrs. Keeping your dog healthy and content is something you can share with your dog’s vet by doing these basic check-upsregularly.

Next time you’re in a bookstore, look up Michael’s book My Dog—you’ll find it chock full of helpful tips and facts—a kid’s guide to keeping a happy and healthy dog. Part primer, part owner’s manual, part field guide … it’s essential reading for every child who lives with a dog or has a canine best friend. Learn more about it here.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The Plush Canines of Childhood
Were yours important to you?

My kids have lots of stuffed animals and many of them are dogs. It makes me feel nostalgic to see them play with the dogs, which is the second official sign that I’m old. (The first sign was that a few years ago, I began to dress hideously during the worst of the winter weather. Apparently, I had hit the point where I didn’t care what I looked like as long as I was warm.)

In a recent conversation with my sister, we reminisced about our childhood “friends,” our stuffed dogs.

Goggy, whose name was a result of a mispronunciation of “doggy,” was the first stuffed dog we acquired.

Dimples, who was all white with black spots, miraculously remained white where she was supposed to be white.

PuffPuff was named after Puff the Magic Dragon, and was incredibly soft and fluffy with a mix of white and psychedelic purple fur.

Kidenly, who looked vaguely like a Poodle and had movable legs, was named after Friendly, our aunt and uncle’s Great Dane, since their dog was sometimes called Friendly-Kidenly. Dimples, PuffPuff and Kidenly originally belonged to our Dad’s sister but were passed on to us as children.

Rusty and BlueBlue were matched in size and best friends, with both named for their coloring.

Brownie was named after the food, not the color. He was the dog I took on all trips since he was small enough to pack and big enough to be comforting.

Old Ratty was my favorite. He was so battered that he has about a dozen patches, and his nose and eyes were replaced by buttons pretty early on. He has absolutely NO plush remaining anywhere on his body. He got his name because our Dad once said with considerable alarm, “You’re not taking that ratty old thing with us, are you?” His name was simply “Ratty” until it became necessary to distinguish him from a similar toy, who took on the name New Ratty.

New Ratty shows what Old Ratty originally looked like. Our family acquired two identical dogs, but they took different paths. New Ratty was left alone, largely forgotten until he was found years later. Because he was never loved by a child, he’s still in good shape.

My sister and I loved those stuffed dogs. Most of our toys are long gone, but the stuffed dogs were too special to pitch. They remain at our parents’ house though it’s been many years since we moved out and went to college. Now they are played with by a second (or third) generation because my kids head straight for them when we visit my parents.

Did you have stuffed dogs as a child?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Home Works: Best picks of domestic design

Stylish & Practical - $99
New from Crypton, the Throver, a stylish, durable throw that’s both soft and comfortable. Use it as a blanket to protect a sofa or as cover for your car’s back seat. The Throver is not only odor-resistant, it also offers complete stain, moisture, mildew and bacteria protection, plus cleans up easily in the washing machine. It measures 48 by 54 inches and comes in 10 designs, including patterns from artist William Wegman.

Paint-by-Numbers 2.0 - $40
Paint-by-numbers is back, and this time, you get to chose from your own fave photos when you’re deciding which masterpiece to re-create. Paintapic makes the whole process simple and inexpensive. Upload a photo, pay $40 and make a few design decisions. Before you know it, you’ll receive a 14-by-18-inch canvas, a set of paints (from Palmer Paint, maker of the original paint-by-numbers kits) and two brushes. And off you go, dabbing a portrait of your beloved pooch.

Dapper Dogs - Pillow cover $29, Plates $24
Need a touch of art for your bed or table? Scott Lifshutz’s whimsical watercolors are just the ticket. The Dog Daze Pillow Cover (14 by 36 inches) is 100 percent machine-washable cotton, and the Appetizer Plates (3.5 by 5.5 inches) come in a set of four and are dishwasher and microwave safe.

Dog's Life: Travel
Explore Southwest Utah
Have Dog, Will Travel

While fall days find New England country roads clogged with leaf-peepers, southwestern Utah’s high desert is wide open and radiant. Here, the autumn sun illuminating sandstone bluffs rivals any maple grove. And in September and October, still-warm days and cool nights make this a great time and place for outdoor adventures.

An excellent home base for dog-friendly fun is Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, just a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, Nev. (If you have dinosaur fans in your life, you may know the name; St. George is home to Johnson Farm, where some of the world’s oldest and best-preserved Dilophosaurus tracks were discovered in 2000.) The adobe-style resort and spa offers a full complement of dog-centric amenities — among them, organic treats and food and water dishes upon arrival — plus a 55-acre backyard that looks like something out of Stagecoach and access to Snow Canyon Park, where pups can bound under towering red-rock cliffs. (Remember to carry water and keep an eye out for not-yet-hibernating rattlesnakes).

Red Mountain goes beyond providing merely a dog-friendly backdrop. The resort’s wellness focus incorporates several volunteer- and pet-oriented programs, including a hike for guest dogs (launching later this year) that ends with a picnic lunch, entertainment and canine treats. The $35 charge for the hike goes to support Ivins Municipal Animal Shelter, the only shelter in the state designated “no-kill” by municipal ordinance.

Because most of Utah’s national parks, including nearby Zion, have few or no trails open to pets, hiking in and around the resort is a great way to experience this region’s jaw-dropping beauty without the strict prohibitions and the crowds.

Those unable to bring their pup can take heart. Red Mountain’s Pound Puppy Hike pairs guests with a friendly canine from the Ivins shelter for a hike through St. George Valley and Padre Canyon. Dogless guests are also welcome to join Blondie, a Golden Retriever and certified Canine Good Citizen, for a four-hour trek, or spend time with real-life Mustangs, part of a program supporting care and adoption efforts for these wild horses.

Eighty miles east of St. George — next door in desert terms — is Kanab, home to the famed Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, where about 2,000 dogs, cats and other animals receive special care. Some will be adopted; others will live out their days here. Consider folding in some volunteer time at Best Friends during your vacation. (Keep in mind that the focus is on the sanctuary’s animals, so bringing your own pets is discouraged.) You’ll return home with a sense of accomplishment and moving stories instead of a camera full of leaf photos no one really wants to see.