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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
A Doggy Cake Masterpiece
NYC bakery creates edible dog portraits

As BARK readers know, I throw my dogs a birthday party every year. It’s a great excuse to gather my friends and their pups for canine games and yummy treats.

 
Usually, I bake my own cakes (one for the humans and one for the pups), but in my years of party planning, I’ve seen lots of awe inspiring professional dog-themed cakes. However, this latest human version from NYC baking extraordinaire Patti Paige really takes the cake!

Patti Paige teamed up with local artist, Dena Paige-Fischer, to create custom dog portrait cakes unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Each features a detailed masterpiece painted with food coloring, based off of a photograph. I don’t see how anyone could possibly eat these cakes!

The dog portrait cakes start at $150 and a portion of the proceeds goes to Animal Haven, a local shelter.

 

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Would You Choose a Dog to a Human Partner?
Shirley MacLaine would take the dog

The Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine writes, “I’d rather have a good, funny, loyal dog than a man” in her new book, I'm Over All That: And Other Confessions. Her life is very different now than in years past, when she was followed by the paparazzi constantly as they sought to photograph her with a new man.

  Now, living in Santa Fe, she takes her Rat Terrier, Terry, with her to lunch in town and on daily long hikes up and down the canyons near her home. She is enthusiastic about her life now and sharing it with Terry.   I’m curious to hear from single people. Do you prefer your dog to a human partner at this time in your life? If so, has it always been that way or is this new? And is loving your dog essential in a potential partner, or just preferable?
News: Guest Posts
What’s In a (Middle) Name?
We've come a long way from Fido and Spike

Does your dog have a middle name? All of my animals—even the cats—have one. It’s not something my husband or I planned. The middle names just came to be, easily rolling off of our tongues when faced with yet another destuffed animal or consumed counter treasure.

  “Arrrgh, Darby Lynn! How could you chew a hole in my favorite fleece pullover?”   “Cricket Alexis! Oh, that naughty kitty. She TP’d the bathroom again!”   But the middle names are not exclusive to disaster zones. When our late Catahoula would lean into me, I’d gleefully sing, “De-SO-to Le-O-pold!” while scratching between his ears and at the base of his tail. It was one of my favorite, mushiest moments with the big guy.   Do you say your dog’s full name when he’s in trouble or being a love?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Carrying Bags of Poop Makes People Friendly
It identifies those who follow the rules

Recently, I noticed that the people I see when I am running or walking with a dog are paying attention to something unexpected. They REALLY notice whether I am carrying a bag of poop or not. When the dog has yet to make a deposit, my bags are tucked out of sight in a pocket or elsewhere, but once I’ve had the joy of cleaning up after a dog, I have my bright blue newspaper bag in hand. Without the bag, people smile a little or nod, or say a brief “Hello.”

  Yet once I have a full bag in hand, the friendliness of people reaches a new level. I am greeted heartily with cries of “Good morning!” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” and “What a lovely dog!” It seems that carrying a bag of poop tells people what a good person I am, or at least a solid citizen and a good neighbor. It’s very interesting that I can see such a big difference in the behavior of strangers based on whether or not they can verify that I’m a picker-upper or a leaver-behinder.   This suggests to me that as a community, people with dogs are not perceived as being reliable about cleaning up after their dogs. And it’s little wonder. I know that in my neighborhood, almost everybody cleans up after their own dogs, but there is still a lot of poop left lying around. A few slackers really do ruin it for the rest of us, which is perhaps why when you have proof that you’re one of the good guys, people respond so positively.   Have you noticed an increase in friendliness when you are carrying a full poop bag?
News: Guest Posts
Head Count
One of the challenges of a multi-pet household

A few days ago, a friend encouraged her six dogs to go outside after dinner then let them back in. She and her husband returned to watching TV in the living room. Fifteen minutes later, they heard a high-pitched bark that seemed to be coming from outside! Sure enough, one of their dogs had not followed the rest of the pack. After some more backyard fun, he had patiently waited at the back door before giving an alert bark.

  Despite the cold and snow, he was fine, but his owners were upset with themselves for not having noticed his absence. After sharing the story, my friend said, "I forgot to do my head count!"   I knew exactly what she meant; we do a head count now, too. A couple summers ago, when we had five dogs and two cats, our Pit Bull mix, Shelby, enjoyed a backyard sleepover because we didn't do a head count. I remember opening the back door in the morning to find her sitting on the back stoop, watching for squirrels. It was a sickening feeling; even though we have a fenced, half-acre property, I imagined many terrible things that could’ve happened while we slept.   If you have multiple dogs, do you always do a head count? What else can you do to keep track of a large pack?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Policy Brings Awareness to Overpopulation
NYC apartment building requires pets to be neutered

Many people are surprised to find that New York City, despite the miles of asphalt, is actually pretty dog friendly. Walk down any street and you’re bound to see someone out with their pup. Trendy pet stores seem to be a prerequisite for every neighborhood and there are almost 30 fenced dog runs on the 23 square mile island of Manhattan. Someitmes it seems as if everyone in New York is an animal lover.

Now one New York apartment building is taking their love of pets to the next level. The Ludlow on the Lower East Side has implemented a policy requiring that dogs and cats be spayed or neutered before moving in. This directive came straight from Chief Executive Archie Gottesman. Archie is a pet lover and chairwoman of Animal Haven, a shelter near the building.

Archie acknowledges that the Ludlow’s policy probably won’t make a huge impact, but she hopes that the requirement will bring attention to the pet overpopulation problem. 

Although the policy seems a little misguided (don’t get me wrong, I’m a big spay/neuter supporter, but I don't think a mandatory policy gets to the root of the overpopulation problem), but I love how this policy seems to have attracted a community of responsible pet lovers.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Toys Are Meant To Be Used
Damage means that they have been

Dogs like to chew on many of their toys. It is common for people to say, “He ruins all his toys!” I like to think of it a little bit differently: When toys are damaged, it’s just a sign that the dog has used them. Toys don’t stay in pristine condition if they have truly been enjoyed, but that just means the toys have been used, not that they have been ruined.

  Of course, if the dog is at risk of being hurt on a rough edge of a broken toy, or by ingesting part it, that’s a different story, and I’ll always intervene to prevent that. I’m not advocating being reckless about dogs and their toys, and I well understand how expensive it can be to supply toys to a dog who is hard on them. I’m simply pointing out that when dogs chew on toys or toss them around, they are using them for entertainment purposes, which is what toys are for. I’m interested in protecting dogs from toys, but I see no need to protect toys from dogs.   I used to have dogs come to my office all the time and start chewing on the toys I had there for the dogs. Invariably, guardians would say, “Oh no! He’s going to chew that up.” I always asked if the dog was likely to swallow the pieces, and if the answer was no, then I assured my clients that it was fine with me for the toy to be shredded, ripped, chewed, torn etc. I would tell them, “We go through dog toys like most office go through paper clips.”   How many toys can your go through in a month or so, and how much money are you spending on your dog’s “hobby”?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Seasons Greetings from the Dogs
Sending cards from the pets is increasing in popularity

This past weekend, I finally got my Christmas cards out and, as always, they were complete with my dogs’ signatures and the annual holiday photo of the pups. Seasons greetings aren’t the only cards “sent” by my dogs. I routinely mail birthday cards and get well soon cards to friends’ pets from my furry crew. 

 

Years ago, when I first started writing cards from my pets, I rarely received any in return. But recently, the trend seems to be catching on. 

Dog Speak Cards, a company that specializes in pet cards, has seen their sales double in each of the five years they’ve been in business. Many stores started carrying their cards after finding that customers were adapting human cards for their pets. 

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, more mainstream greeting card companies jumping on the bandwagon and make cards both for and from pets.

Cards range from American Greetings’ birthday card that says, "You're the one who fills my empty bowl, who always has time to throw my ball and who scratches behind my ears" to Hallmark’s holiday card that says, “Merry Yip-mas.”

Dog Speak even has cards written in the “voice” of a dog (think "happee birfdaaa") and get well cards for dogs to send one another.

Sending holiday cards from pets has gotten so popular that etiquette specialists have begun fielding inquiries from pet lovers seeking advice on how to include their animals in their seasonal greetings.

Do you send cards from your dogs?

News: Guest Posts
Beware of Backyard Bombs
Procrastinating instead of winter poop pickup

It has been cold in the Chicago area. Really cold. I let my four dogs outside to do their business and within minutes, the two Dalmatians are hobbling back to the door because their pink pads are frozen. The two mixes adore the snow and can wrestle in it for hours. Ginger Peach even likes to scoop up the snow with her long snout and toss it over her shoulder like a tiny brindle elephant. Me, I fantasize about the mild winters down south as I layer on the clothing and coats Christmas Story-style before heading out to do my weekly duty: winter poop pick up. Chiseling out frozen brown treasures and narrowly sidestepping yellow snow patches are not exactly my idea of fun. It wouldn't be so bad if I picked up on a daily basis but when the temps plummet, it's all I can do to hussle from hot house to lukewarm car much less wander in circles around a half-acre yard with a poop bag for a mitten. Any suggestions on how to make this winter chore more bearable?   

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
He’s A Penn State Dog
Does your dog wear your school colors?

I recently got to dog sit for a friend who is a big Penn State fan. Actually, I didn’t know that until she brought her dog over and I saw his shiny new navy blue color, which says “PENN STATE PENN STATE PENN STATE” all the way around in white writing.

  When I lived in Wisconsin, I saw lots of dogs with red and white collars or with ones adorned with badgers to show their allegiance to the University of Wisconsin. I’ve often wondered if schools with canine mascots, such as the Georgia State Bulldogs have even more dog fans, especially of the proper breed.   Our dogs reflect who we are in so many ways, including what we name them, and how we decorate them. Many people who do not actually dress their dogs up in clothes or costumes do like to personalize their dog’s attire with a collar that means something to them. Are you a proud alumnus whose dog wears your school colors? Does your dog’s collar reflect another of your interests?

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