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News: Guest Posts
Ever Lost a Pet?
Technology and the media improve chances of being found

When I opened today’s paper, the front page featured the ecstatic reunion between Denise Shepard and her Boston Terrier Frankie. He had been missing for three months. During that time, the little guy somehow managed to travel 200 miles from his home in Battle Creek, Michigan, to a suburb of Chicago. A tiny microchip in Frankie’s neck allowed this story to have a happy ending.

Of course, I’m thrilled to see pet-owner reunions--we had one with our naughty black cat last summer--but when I read this morning’s headline, I thought, “Really, another one?” It seems like everywhere I look--newspapers, magazines, blogs, TV, Facebook--someone is reuniting with their lost pet. Are there more reunions due to microchips, pet detectives via the Internet, or is it simply more media coverage?

My cynical self knows that human interest stories involving pets sell papers, but is it possible that the mainstream media is recognizing how important our pets are to us? That they are worthy of making the front page because they are beloved family members and not “just” a dog?

Have you ever been reunited with a lost pet? If so, did you use Facebook or the Internet to help with the search? Did the media cover your reunion?
 

News: Guest Posts
Leave No Pet Behind
As hurricane season approaches, make plans for pets now

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was painfully clear that people would do anything - even risk their own lives - to save their pets. At the Chatham County Hurricane Conference recently held in Georgia, participants discussed the importance of helping people plan for their pets' care in the event of a disaster. In Chatham County, crated dogs and cats will now be allowed on evacuation buses, emergency pet shelters will be set up adjacent to Red Cross shelters, and a mobile, emergency pet shelter will hold up to 50 dogs and 50 cats. As the tragic flooding in Nashville demonstrates, you don't have to live in a hurricane prone area to experience a natural disaster. Make plans for your pet now, before an emergency happens. For help organizing, grab a copy of Jenny Pavlovic's excellent Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
My Town Is Dog Friendly
What about yours?

The latest issue of a local publication (Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine) contains an article called Citizen Canine: Flagstaff and Its Commanding Dog Presence. In it, the author discusses why Flagstaff is such a great place for dogs. The top reasons include:

 

Flagstaff boasts many great places to walk, run, or bike with dogs. The clean air, fresh water and endless miles of trails are popular with dogs and people.

 

Dogs are allowed inside many businesses throughout the city, and lots of these have dog treats and water bowls for canine visitors.

 

The city is full of animal lovers, animal activists, outdoor enthusiasts, philanthropists, artists and community organizers.

 

One popular restaurant, Biff’s Bagels, is named after an American Eskimo named Biff. The décor of this restaurant is all photos of dearly departed dogs, and patrons proudly share stories of their dogs with each other.

 

There are multiple organizations that help dogs find homes, including humane associations, shelters and rescue organizations.

 

Dogs are regular and welcome visitors to the countless outdoor restaurants and bistros in the downtown area.

 

Is the place that you live a good place to have dogs? If so, what does it offer that makes you say so? And if not, what is it lacking?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Life After Death
Discovery News explores pets in the afterlife

Will Rogers once said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went,” a quote repeatedly circulated by pet lovers. 

Since the beginning of time, people have wondered about the afterlife. So it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular Internet searches asks if dogs will join us in that place. I, for one, can't imagine existing anywhere without my pups by my side!

Last week, Discovery News analyst, Jennifer Viegas, wrote about this much debated question. She compiles an interesting roundup of perspectives on pets and the afterlife, including different religious beliefs, Egyptian rituals and even scientific research. 

Despite the diverse views, one thing is clear: People across differing beliefs do agree on one thing, that animals play a significant and meaningful part in our lives.

News: Guest Posts
Get In My Belly!
What’s the craziest thing your dog has ever eaten?

Labs are notorious for eating things they shouldn't. Recently, a black Lab named Bracken developed a slight cough and his owner, John Grant, brought him to the vet. An X-ray revealed a deflated football lodged in his stomach. Grant, who is 70 years old, didn't recognize the football and has no idea where Bracken found it. Surgery went well and Bracken has since recovered.

This reminds me of the time I came home to find my Dalmatian, Darby, shivering uncontrollably and a ripped up cardboard box that said “hot dogs” on the floor. Unbeknownst to me, my dad had stopped by to give me a box of 100 frozen hot dogs left over from a party. Since I wasn’t home, he put the box on the kitchen counter and popped two hot dogs into the microwave to dole out to his excited granddogs.

But before he could pass out the meaty treats, he was distracted by a phone call and left. And, not being a dog owner himself, he forgot the box of 98 frozen hot dogs on the counter. My dogs are well trained, but c’mon!

By the time I figured out what had happened, there was only one thing to do: induce vomiting in all five dogs. I soon saw why Darby had been shivering. It wasn’t because of the winter cold. It was because she had ingested 98 frozen hot dogs! None of the other dogs had touched them. Thankfully, she was okay and my dad learned a valuable lesson.

What’s the weirdest thing your dog has ever eaten? Any tips to keep your dog from scavenging?

News: Guest Posts
Dogs of Valor
Four- and three-legged heroes honored

We all know dogs rock. They improve our lives in countless small ways every day—motivating us to be active and patient, making us laugh, helping us in work and play. Sometimes they go an extra mile, saving us from injury and even death. For three years, The Humane Society of the United States has celebrated these ubervaliant pups with the Dogs of Valor Awards. This year’s big winner was Kenai, a 14-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog mix in Colorado, who alerted family and friends to a life-threatening carbon monoxide leak. Runners-up foiled a violent home invasion and alerted a sleeping family to a house fire. Move over Lassie! Read their stories here.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Lost Wallets
Can your dog’s photo help?

According to a psychology study by Richard Wiseman in Edinburgh, Scotland, the likelihood that your lost wallet will be returned to you is influenced by the photos in it. The highest percentage of wallets were returned when there was a baby picture inside (88 percent), but the next most effective photo was one of a dog at 53 percent. A family portrait prompted a 48% return rate while wallets with photos of an elderly couple were only returned 28 percent of the time. Only 20 percent of wallets without photos but containing a charity receipt were returned, and 15 percent of those without a photo or a receipt were turned in. So, that photo of your dog may be great insurance against the loss of a wallet, though a baby picture is even better.

  The scientist who conducted the study says the results suggest that people are naturally compassionate and want to protect vulnerable babies. So, what do you think? Do puppies make people react in the same way as babies but perhaps not as intensely? Do puppies cause the same strong reaction as babies in some people but not others? Or is the reaction a different, though also caring response? What else could explain what the researchers found?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
National Mutt Census
Mars Veterinary gathers data on American mixed breed pups

The recent popularity of canine DNA breed tests have given those with mixed breeds a chance to learn more about their pups’ backgrounds. There are an estimated 38 million mixed breed dogs in the United States, a large group of canines we know very little about. 

This year, Mars Veterinary has launched the 2010 National Mutt Census to systematically collect the data dog lovers have been uncovering. 

Breed tests aren’t required to participate, but are encouraged. Mars Veterinary has two versions, Wisdom Panel Insights, which can be done at home with a cheek swab, and the more comprehensive Wisdom Panel Professional, which is a blood-based test administered by your veterinarian.

The National Mutt Census just covers the basic information -- whether the dogs were adopted from a shelter, their size and their diet, but it’s a great first step towards understanding the make-up of the American mixed breed population.

All participants will also be automatically entered in a sweepstakes to win prizes. 

So far over 12,000 pups are registered. I hope many more mutts will participate!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Memories of Dogs
First childhood experiences

My parents, who are otherwise absolutely lovely people, are not that fond of animals, so I did not have a dog growing up. The year I was three, we spent one year away from Wisconsin in Palo Alto, California while my professor Dad was on sabbatical. I was ecstatic to learn that an Old English Sheep Dog lived across the street from us. I loved that dog! I used to go over to visit him as often as I was allowed.

  I have no memories whatsoever of the people who lived there, but they must have been very nice because they tolerated me coming over to lie on the floor next to their dog (whose name is lost to family memory) and talking to him. (Even back then I would talk to anyone—some things never change!)   I would gently use my finger to hold up all the hair that grew over his beautiful eyes so that I could see them. He was remarkably patient with me, and it’s really a wonder I was never bitten with that kind of fearlessness and presumptuousness around dogs. (Some things DO change and I know better now!)   This is my earliest memory of dogs, and it’s such a fond one. I still feel all warm and fuzzy when I think of the time I spent visiting that dog, and I’m grateful to have had such a positive experience.   In contrast, my husband’s first memory of dogs is of being terrorized by Dobermans who lived behind him. He and his brothers were never actually hurt by those dogs on the other side of the fence, but the growling and barking certainly scared them. My husband loves dogs (Thank goodness we’re not a mixed marriage in that way!) but his warmest thoughts of canines don’t go back to his earliest memories of them.   What are your earliest memories of dogs and how have they influenced you?

 

News: Guest Posts
One Dog’s Bed Is Cooper’s Comfort
An old dog bed helped a new pup feel at home

When my brother and his family lost their loyal German Shepherd, Sheba, last year, it was difficult to pull up onto their driveway. I expected to hear that high-pitched, excited whine and the whap, whap, whap of her tail against the chain-link fence. Instead, there was silence. Inside the house, there was an emptiness in space, in the places where Sheba would normally be -- groveling at my feet for a quick pat on the head, howling her heart out for attention, and scampering around the living room carrying her raggedy duck in her mouth. There were also the empty spaces where her things had been –- her food bowls, her leash, her much-loved dog bed.

One couple decided to keep their late dog’s bed up in their bedroom. Eventually, they adopted a new dog from the local shelter. Cooper’s paperwork said he was a good dog but required that you be “very very firm” with him. Poor guy. No wonder he was an anxious little ball of energy. For the first few days, they slept downstairs with him. Finally, he grew bold enough to explore upstairs and he found what they had forgotten –- the old dog bed. He was home.
 

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