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News: Guest Posts
The Laziest Dog Walker on Earth
Dog owner driven to stupidity

When I ran cross country in high school, I was envious of the boys' team because their coach actually ran with them. Our coach had a different approach. He drove behind us in his car, honking once to speed up and twice to slow down. Occasionally, he'd yell out something quasi motivational, like "Work the hill!" We always competed well and even went to state competition one year, so he was doing something right.

Wish I could say the same for 23-year-old Paul Railton of London. A cyclist spotted him driving his car 5 mph while holding onto his dog’s leash as the poor pooch trotted alongside. Was he training the dog for a marathon or something? Of course not! He admitted to police that there was “an element of laziness” behind his actions. Wow, you think?
 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Whole Family Is Welcome at Church
Yes, that includes dogs

Covenant Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles allows dogs to come to its Sunday night prayer services, which are led by Reverend Tom Eggebeen. Welcoming canines to places of worship is a growing trend that reflects an increasing recognition of the strong bonds that people have with their dogs. The goal behind canine-friendly services is to make people feel more comfortable at church.

  Sometimes dogs do become a bit unruly and need to be taken outside to relax, but Reverend Eggebeen says that happens with unruly kids on occasion, too. He says that if all the dogs start barking, they usually quiet down when the congregation sings “Amazing Grace.”   Many people are supportive of dogs being in church, but others have been critical of the policy. What do you think about dogs coming to church? Would you be in favor of having canines at your place of worship or against it?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Winter Olympians and Their Dogs
Athletes love ‘em, too!

If you are addicted to the Olympics, as I am, you probably find it fun to know as much as possible about the lives of the athletes. Most have made a lifetime of sacrifices for their sport and to pursue excellence in it. Many credit the love and support of family with helping them to achieve their goals of competing at the highest level at the Olympics. For a large number of Olympians, that family includes pets, and these mighty athletes are just as in love with their dogs as the rest of us are with ours. Check out the pets of your favorite Olympic athletes and read what they have to say about them.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Couture
Does your dog really need that coat?

Dog clothing ranges from frilly dresses to warm fleece coats. The popularity of canine couture has even given way to the annual Pet Fashion Week. But, given that most dogs have fur, are these outfits really necessary?

According to Dr. Bonnie Beaver of the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs don’t get sick when the mercury drops since there is no cold virus that affects them. She says that unless your pup is tiny with short hair, dogs are rarely bothered by freezing temperatures. But Beaver stresses that clothing can be potentially dangerous. 

Some dogs, like many northern breeds, regulate their body temperature with an insulating layer of fur that lifts off their bodies in warm weather and pulls in close to trap heat in cold weather. Putting clothes on these dogs can lead to heat stroke.

Clothes can also restrict movement, hurting joins and muscles, or get caught in long hair, causing discomfort. 

My pups only have two items of clothing, a cool coat for warm weather and a rain coat, though I can’t say that I haven’t been tempted by cute canine outfits. Fortunately for my dogs, most clothes look funny on hairy Shelties.

Certainly most dogs don’t really need any clothes, but I do agree that there are some dogs that may need some extra warmth in the winter. 

What do you think about canine clothing?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
When a Beloved Dog Dies
How do others help you handle the grief?

My dear friend Trisha McConnell recently lost her 16-year old dog Lassie. She has written extensively about all her dogs, including Lassie, in books, magazines and on her blog, and many people who have never even met Lassie felt the loss and grieved along with Trisha. In fact, following her blog entry about Lassie’s passing, there are over 300 comments of love and support.

  This tells me that as a community of dog lovers, we are sticking together and helping each other with the toughest task many of us face—saying good-bye. When we need one another, our community steps up, and that is something to feel good about. It’s so important when you lose a dog to be around people who understand how big the loss is and to hear from friends and family (or even strangers) that they share our pain.   That sort of support is priceless because, regrettably, there are people out there who just don’t get how hard it is to lose a dog, or don’t seem to realize that dogs are part of our family. (Sometimes people say things like, “Well she was getting old, you must have been expecting it.” Or, “It will be nice to get a puppy and have a young dog again.”   Or worse, “Well, it was only a dog after all.” These sorts of comments may be well meaning, but are never helpful.)   Whenever I learn that someone I know has lost a dog, I send a card with a note about my favorite recollection of that dog, what that dog meant to me, or what I will always remember about her (or him.) I always hope that an expression of love and caring will be welcome, even though nothing can take away the pain. I’d like to hear from you. What did people do that helped you heal from the loss of a dog, or at least made you feel loved and supported? (And if you’d like to share any comments that would have been better left unsaid, feel free to do that, too.)

 

News: Guest Posts
Cats v. Dogs
The not-so-great debate continues

More fodder—for both sides—in the cat versus dog debate: 1. Dog owners are more extroverted and less neurotic than cat owners and 2. Cat owners are better educated than dog owners (at least in the U.K.)!

   

 

News: Guest Posts
Canine Bling Alert
Diamonds are a dog's best friend?

Friends of mine who don’t have dogs are always teasing me about the latest outrageous indulgence we “dog people” are up to—things like canine massages and dog-centered camps. And I patiently explain that while these may not be strictly essential to a happy, healthy life—they are probably welcome additions.

  Then, along comes a $52,000 diamond dog collar. Like something Leona Helmsley would have had in every color of the rainbow, the diamond dog collar strikes me as well, excessive. (OK, I admit I like the fact a portion of the sale is donated to the North Shore Animal Shelter. If it’s like, say, $30,000, I could seriously get behind this thing.) But I’m heading out for a weekend with dog-skeptics and I just know this is going to come up—and honestly, there’s nothing I can say, except it’s not about whether you love your dog or not. It's just that even in a recession some people just really want to burn through their cash.   What do you think is too much when it comes to your pets?

 

News: Guest Posts
Dogs v. Humans
New York magazine looks at our complex relationship with dog

On the plane home from Burbank, Calif., on Sunday night, I read New York magazine’s cover story about dogs. (By the way, I’m always impressed by Los Angeles' serious dog scene. Even though we were traveling sans canines, we walked the very hilly loop at Runyon Canyon Dog Park. Great views of the city, locals and dogs (lots of matched pairs). If you really want to experience L.A., this has to be on the list. Anyway, as they say, I digress.)

 

I grabbed New York in the newsstand because of the provocative cover featuring a tentative looking Boston Terrier with the cover line, “A Dog Is Not A Human Being, Right?” I’m always interested when the non-dog press decides to tackle a comprehensive Dog Story—and this looked like a meaty bone for the ride home. It was, in fact, a well-written survey of our complicated modern relationships with dogs—the sort of sophisticated reporting you expect from New York—covering—albeit too quickly—the high and low points of our attitudes about everything from diet and training techniques to breeding and rescue. I appreciated that dog-owning author John Homans dipped his toe in the shark-infested waters of dog politics—after all, as we see demonstrated on this here blog, we certainly don’t all agree on what constitutes a dog’s basic rights—and that conversation can get a little heated.

 

While the story is too short and too ambitious to dig very deep into anyone area, it’s a decent primer about the state of things and raises interesting questions—like are we allowing dogs to take the place of people in our lives? What does it say about us that dogs treated are often treated better than people? Where is the dog headed as we continue down the road of “anthropomorphic selection”?

News: Guest Posts
First Dog Blog
The President’s Portie is no bipartisan!

Last week in my Rally class, a student joked that her dog couldn't make left turns because he was a Republican. Of course, we all cracked up; dogs don't follow a political party. Or do they? Check out First Dog Bo Obama's blog and you might be surprised. He speaks his partisan mind on everything from Haiti's dog victims, to Scott Brown's unexpected Senate win, to race in politics. Bo is also considering a run for the "big enchilada of the South Lawn animal kingdom." I hear there's already a squirrel smear campaign ... .

News: Guest Posts
AKC’s Change of Heart
An early valentine for mixed breeds

As I wrote in an earlier post, the American Kennel Club will allow mixed breed dogs to participate in events such as agility, obedience and Rally starting April 1, 2010. (Hope the April’s Fool date is not a joke!) The organization--whose new core values embraces all dogs--just announced that mixed breed dogs will no longer compete in a separate class or earn separate titles from purebred dogs. Instead, mutts will now go paw to paw with the pedigrees.

I’m thrilled that my young mixed breed dog can compete at the same shows as my rescue Dalmatians, earn the same titles and be included with the rest of the pedigreed pack. There are a lot of AKC trials in my area, which make them convenient. That said, I will continue to support agility venues like USDAA and NADAC and Rally venues like APDT and C-WAGS because they embraced mixed breeds from day one. We'll also continue to show in disc dog events through UFO and Skyhoundz--the only competitions I’ve experienced where mixed breeds and rescues outnumber the pedigreed purebreds. Participants are always friendly and supportive; it is my hope that long-time AKC competitors will foster that same community spirit.

Can mixed breed dog owners and purebred dog owners literally come together and respect each other’s choice of dog? Please share your thoughts.

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