Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dating with Dogs
One in 14 people have used their pet to attract a mate

Dogs are social by nature, so it’s no surprise that our pets help us make connections with our fellow humans. Dog parks and pet lover dating web sites have become popular places to meet new friends and even spark romantic relationships.

Recently statistics web site, the Book of Odds, calculated the chances that a person has ever used his or her pet to attract a new mate as one in 14.29.

This tactic must be a fairly successful one. If I walk down the streets of Manhattan by myself, no one so much as glances in my direction as they rush to their destinations. When I take my dog for a walk, hardly anyone passes without stopping to give him a pat on the head or, at the very least, smile in our direction.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. An American Kennel Club (AKC) survey of dog owners found that 46 percent of women said that they would stop to chat with anyone accompanied by a cute puppy.

Meeting a fellow dog lover means you already have something in common. I’ve met some of my closest friends through our pets.

Who have you met through your dogs?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Educating the Future
NJVMA creates a humane education curriculum for N.J. classrooms

When it comes to problems like overcrowded shelters and the proliferation of puppy mills, I believe everything comes down to education. So I was excited to hear that the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA) is offering grants to provide teachers with structured lessons on pet care and animal welfare.

Many animal shelters and therapy groups have humane education programs, but this is the first time I’ve seen such an extensive program integrated into schools. The NJVMA program is a middle level language arts study that incorporates New Jersey Department of Education core curriculum standards in language arts literacy, science, and social studies. The NJVMA will supplement the program with training, classroom speakers, and resources on animal health and welfare.

New Jersey teachers can apply for the 15-lesson curriculum called, Taking Care of Your Community by Taking Care of Your Pets, on the NJVMA website. I believe that this program will help kids understand the importance of this subject and will hopefully inspire these future leaders to explore animal-related careers.Today’s children will dictate how dogs are treated in the future and I’m glad the NJVMA is investing in their education.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Car Safety
How to protect your dog while driving

I recently saw a dog tossed around the back of a vehicle when the driver had to stop suddenly to avoid an accident. Luckily the dog was okay, but many dogs who are not so fortunate are injured in car accidents. The saddest thing to me is that it can be avoided.

  The best ways to protect dogs while they are in cars is with the use of crates, seat belts, or barriers that keep the dogs in the rear part of the vehicle. Even without these specific safety features, keeping dogs in the back seat rather than the front seat and not having them ride around in the back of trucks are ways to protect them from harm.   How do you travel in the car with your dogs? Have you had the misfortune to find out if they are safe in the event of a crash?


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Key West Decides Where Dogs Can Go
New ordinance concerns dogs at restaurants

Dogs in Key West have traditionally gone almost everywhere with their people, and that includes to many restaurants. People dining al fresco with dogs by their feet has long been a common sight on the island. Recently, a fine imposed by a new health inspector has changed this tradition, and dogs have been banned from one of the most popular canine hangouts in town. The Schooner Wharf Bar’s motto is “Hang with the big dogs” but now, dogs of all sizes are not allowed there.

  A change in the current situation is possible, pending a proposed city ordinance that would allow dogs into the outdoor eating areas of restaurants that get a permit, follow the required health and safety requirements, and carry at least a million dollars in liability insurance. Dogs may soon go back to their traditional roles as dining partners on Key West.   Many people, including the mayor, support the ordinance, which simply legalizes the behavior that has been common practice on the island for many years.


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.