Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Doggies in the Windows
Macy’s features adoptable animals in their Christmas displays.

As Christmas approaches, cities are full of people flocking to department stores to see the festive displays. Being in New York, I see plenty of beautiful windows, but often it seems a little extravagant and perhaps a waste of money.

The Union Square Macy’s in San Francisco, Calif. has found a way to use their beautiful windows to benefit a good cause year after year by teaming up with the SF/SPCA. This holiday season, the department store has continued this partnership to help homeless pets find loving families. 

From November 20 through January 3, adoptable animals can be viewed through Macy’s Christmas windows, specifically designed for the pets’ comfort. The displays are temperature controlled and have hidden litter boxes and spots for napping. SPCA representatives are on site to answer questions from potential adopters and collect donations. 

This year’s window theme follows letters from pets and children to Santa Claus at the North Pole.

Throughout Macy’s 21-year partnership with the SF/SPCA, 40,000 animals have been adopted through the Christmas windows and other events. Last year, 300 animals were adopted and Macy’s visitors raised a record-breaking $75,000 in donations. 

The SF/SPCA still needs more volunteers to help. If you’re interested, contact Norma Wood Metcalf, SF/SPCA Volunteer Services Manager, at 415.522.3543 or e-mail windowsvolunteer@sfspca.org for more information.

If, like me, you won’t be able to get to San Francisco this holiday season, you can view these special windows via web cam on the SF/SPCA’s website. 

Dog's Life: Humane
Dogs On Board
Operation Roger: Truckers hauling rescue dogs home

When Marty discovered Jackson (bottom, left), shunned by a pack of wild dogs in a Louisiana swamp, he rescued the Beagle-mix, assuming he was another Hurricane Katrina victim. After some time, Marty became ill and could no longer care for his dog. Eventually, poor Jackson ended up in a shelter—homeless again. When a rescue organization in Lakeside, Calif., offered to take Jackson it seemed a mixed blessing. After all, the rescue was nearly 2,000 miles away near San Diego, which was besieged by wildfires.

A trucker named Nancy learned about Jackson through a volunteer transport organization called Operation Roger. In late December, she loaded the dog into her rig in LaPlace, La., for a long drive west. During much of the trip, Jackson sat on Nancy’s armrest with his head on her shoulder and watched the scenery pass by. He was not alone. For many shelter and rescue animals, transportation provided by volunteers means the difference between life and death.

When Bark editor Claudia Kawczynska adopted Kit and Holly from a rescue in Kentucky last year, she was initiated into the formal and informal network of individuals and organizations with planes, trucks and automobiles that get dogs-in-need to places where their future is brighter.

Inspired and intrigued by this grassroots cooperative effort, TheBark.com has been talking to the people who make these daily efforts a reality. Earlier this year, we met the women behind Colorado Animal Rescue Express (C.A.R.E.), a van transport group out of Denver; Dawn Painter, an individual animal welfare advocate who uses email to spread the word for animals in need; and Pilots ‘N Paws, a collection of general aviation pilots who volunteer planes for speedy transfers.

In this our final installment on the underdog railway, we talk to Sue Wiese, founder of Operation Roger, a non-profit organization comprised of regional and long-haul truckers who volunteer their time to transport needy pets at the same time they do their job delivering freight around the country. Wiese (pronounced We-cee) is a trucker and animal lover who knows how to get the most out of her telephone headset. She talked to us by phone from her home in the “tiny town” of Joshua, Tex., south of Fort Worth, where she lives with two dogs—Buddy, an American Bulldog, and a Dachshund named Huck, short for Huckleberry.

The Bark: How did Operation Roger get started?
Sue Wiese: Remember how you felt after Katrina? All the animals’ and the people’s anguish and not leaving, you know the whole thing. Well, I was driving at the time, and I just going down the road praying. I said, ‘Lord, what can I do, I’m just a truck driver?’ And I heard one word and that was ‘transport.’ I was like, ‘Huh? What do you mean transport? How am I supposed to transport?”

I had heard about PetFinder.com, so when I was able to stop, I went online. I found out that the transport of pets was an everyday thing, not just disaster-related. I called a friend of mine, and then my daughters and … they immediately could see the big picture.

They talked me into going on a truck [call-in] show on XM radio. My hands were shaking; I was scared to talk on live radio. So I typed out what I needed to say. When the guy finally got to me he said, ‘What can I do for Classy Lady?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’d like to know if there are any drivers interested in an operation to move needy pets across the country.’

There was absolute silence. You don’t have silence on radio. From the left temple to the right temple was this thought: “Oh no, I’ve laid an egg now.” He and his wife finally got over the shock. The talk was about 15 minutes long, and I had about 12 calls to return by the time we ended.

Why were they so surprised?
Generally, callers say, ‘Hi Bill, I’d like to hear this song’ or ‘What do you think about the new regulations?’ So this took them completely off guard.

Of the 12 calls, how many were truckers interested in driving?
All of them, and many of them are still with me.

Once you had drivers who were willing, how did you connect with dogs and cats needing transportation?
I went onto PetFinder.com, into their transport area, and put our name out there. We had decided on the name Operation Roger by that time because I’d used the word “operation” in the statement I made. And I’d had a little dog named Roger, so in memory of him we just put the two together. [Operation Roger now has its own website with a pet board listing of transports needed.]

Are drivers taking legs and connecting with other drivers or do they frequently drive from point A to the destination?
We prefer the latter, obviously. Sometimes they have to meet and transfer. For when that can’t happen, we are trying to build a nationwide network of what we call “layover homes” and also shuttle drivers.

Are those people who keep the animals overnight if necessary during a transfer or shuttle dogs from one truck transport to another when a leg isn’t covered?
Right. We had one dog at a layover home for a month, before we could get a driver through there. They know there’s that possibility. But we try to keep it short. We just had a new layover home come onboard for us. Yesterday, we called. He drove 70 miles to Fargo, North Dakota, picked up a Boxer from a driver who lost her job. He’s keeping it at his place up in Minnesota until another driver can get there.

That’s a terrible reason to need a layover home, isn’t it?
It is. We’ve had layover homes because of car wrecks, anything you can imagine.

Are you transferring the dogs from a rescue or shelter to another rescue or shelter?
Generally, it’s from a rescue or shelter to an adoptive home. That’s the most usual. Then it may be to a foster or it could be to another shelter that has more room in another part of the country. And also we do it for individuals. Maybe you’ve moved and you couldn’t take your animal with you at the time, now you’re able to have him. We’ve transported some lost during a move. We have one on the board that got stolen, and they found it and now we’re trying to get it home.

How many drivers do you have right now?
Between 30 and 35, and we’re needing three times that many.

You just celebrated your fourth anniversary in September, how many animals have you transported in this time?
Does that include dogs and cats?
Mostly dogs. But we have dogs and cats. I think there have been four ferrets, four ratties, and a hamster.

You were a trucker? Are you retired?
Reluctantly retired. I was injured almost two years ago. I’m trying to get back out onto the road.

Tell me about the operation’s namesake, Roger?
I adopted Roger from a shelter in Grand Prairie. He’d been a stray. I had him on board for a little over two years, when he suddenly passed away.

What’s it like to have a dog companion in your truck?
It is actually safer. It’s wonderful. You have someone to talk to, someone to care for. I say someone, because they really become a person to you. They know you just as well as anybody can. They make you get out and walk them. Even those with cats on board enjoy companionship. We have one team that has two cats onboard, when they’re stressed, they can just sit there and stroke them. That purr is relaxing.

Now if we can just convince more of the trucking companies, it would be great.

Are there companies that prohibit dogs on board?
Many of them. One of our major companies, which we had quite a few drivers from, suddenly [told drivers they had] 30 days get rid of all their dogs. You talk about drivers quitting right and left and raising holy Cain.

So trucking companies are not seeing the advantages of dogs onboard?
You know, it’s like the proverbial bad apple in the barrel. You can have a bad owner who will let the dog just tear up a truck, and that’s quite expensive. Plus there are places you go that don’t allow pets on the property.

What do shippers have to supply?
We request the shipper provide at least 10 days of food that the animal is used to eating. That keeps down digestive problems. Plus, blankets, harness, leashes and collars. For dogs that are 30 pounds or less, we ask for a crate. That’s kind of the largest crate that we can comfortably fit in the cab. Many dogs lay their heads on our knees to get stroked.

That’s got to be so great on a long haul.
It really is. The trucking industry, the companies and the general public too, all they see is this big 70-foot monster. They don’t see the human being behind the wheel and realize that that human being is a human being, has a family. We're hoping Operation Roger shows we have hearts too. The biggest comment made by our drivers has been that they feel like they’re giving back to the community, which they can’t do it at home, because they’re not there.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Winter Fun
Dogs love playing in the snow

Like many areas of the country, we have had some extreme weather this week. Specifically, up here in the mountains of Arizona at 7,100 feet above sea level, we have had a blizzard. I’m not just exaggerating to make a point, but using the term “blizzard” as a technical term. We’ve had nearly two feet of snow and winds over 40 miles per hour.

  Luckily, we love snow and played in it a lot. And if there is anything more charming than a dog enjoying the first big snowfall of the year, I’ve yet to come across it. Here’s a video of what was going on at my house yesterday. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes, spoken by Doug Larson: “The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.”  


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Decorating With Pets
Having dogs is compatible with style


Pet-focused design is popular today. Interior designers are frequently asked to consider pets when decorating clients’ homes. Some common issues and solutions in pet-friendly designing that appeared in an AP article called “Pet Owners Can Decorate Stylishly, Strategically” are summarized below.



To handle the chewing, scratching, and shedding that can ruin furniture, designers recommend indoor/outdoor rugs and fabrics. To prevent chewing and scratching damage, they suggest buying furniture with metal legs or bases and covering corners with plastic covers intended for childproofing. To deal with shedding, they advise decorating in fabrics that match your dog’s fur and choosing textured fabrics over those that are smooth. For overall aesthetics, they propose covering dog beds with a fabric that matches your sofa or your own bedding.   Designers even have ideas for quick company readiness: Keep a blanket on your dog’s favorite chair and remove it just before company is expected or put a throw over furry spots right before they arrive. Use “pet centers” with drawers to hold pet supplies including food and water so that these items can be tucked out of sight quickly.   I think all these ideas are useful, but I personally have no objection to homes whose overall décor says, “Our dog lives here and is happy.”    


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Cast Your Vote
The polls are closing for the top dogs in pop culture.

In honor of the American Kennel Club’s 125th anniversary, the AKC has teamed up with AOL’s PawNation.com to compile a list of the Top 125 Dogs in Popular Culture decided by pet lovers around the world. There’s just a couple days left before the polls close and the final results will be unveiled on Monday, Dec. 7. From cartoons to literary characters, dog lovers can vote for their favorite pups in the following 11 categories: 

Who is Your Favorite Cartoon Canine?

Who is Your Favorite Dog from TV?

Who is Your Favorite Movie Dog (Part 1)?

Which is Your Favorite Dog in Art or Fashion?

Who is Your Favorite Movie Dog (Part 2)?

Which is Your Favorite Dog Toy?

What is Your Favorite Dog Song?

Who is Your Favorite Advertising Mascot?

Who is Your Favorite College Mascot?

Who is Your Favorite Dog in Literature?

Who is Your Favorite Famous Dog?

Which pop culture pups are your favorites? Some of mine were missing, like Dug from the movie, Up, apparel company Life is Good’s mascot, Rocket, and the canine artwork of Stephen Huneck, who recently made Dog Fancy magazine’s list of 40 Dog People You’ve Gotta Know. Regardless, as a dog lover, I’m always excited to see dogs in artwork or advertisements, so it was fun to see them all recognized in one place.

News: Guest Posts
Send us photos of your holiday pooches!

What makes me such a sucker for dogs in holiday finery? Maybe it’s the early, deep imprint of Max, the Grinch’s eager canine sidekick, tricked out like a reindeer and panting with (momentary) glee as a passenger aboard a sleigh zooming toward Whoville. Halloween, Shmalloween. Give me dogs tearing open packages any day of the year. What says Joy to the World better than a Schnauzer chomping a beribboned bone or a Chihuahua tail-deep in a stocking?

I’m not alone. Every year, I get at least a dozen holiday cards—solstice and Hanukah very much included—featuring dogs, dogs, dogs. Still it’s not enough. I want more. I want to see your holiday pup pictures from formal portraits to dogs passed out in the season’s rubble.

We’ll set the bar with a four-year-old Australian Cattle Dog named Marley (photo, left). Every year, Jeni Hoff of Temecula, Calif., does a little photo session with her dogs for her Christmas card. Although Marley is hard-headed, she says, he seems to enjoy the shoot—“maybe it’s the yummy treats he knows he gets every few pictures.”

“We adopted Marley as a puppy because he was so cute and then learned about the breed (a little backwards) so we had our work cut out for us,” she says. But Hoff knows the ropes. She is a pet sitter (Gotta Love ‘Em! Professional Pet Care), providing in-home care and dog walking for the pets of people on vacation or who work long hours.

Send your holiday canine photos to webeditor@thebark.com (explainer notes welcome), and we’ll feature our favorites in a special yuletide slideshow. DEC. 21 NOTE: Thanks for all the awesome submissions. We've picked our favorites. You'll find them in our 2009 Holiday Pooch Patrol. Enjoy!

News: Guest Posts
Holiday Shopping Tip
Bring Pets Home sprinkles some of your holiday dollars on animal shelters.
I braved my neighborhood mall on Saturday. I found a parking space and never once waited in line. It was sort of spookily mellow. A sign of the recession? Perhaps. Or maybe just a side benefit of savvy Internet shoppers avoiding the anticipated post-Thanksgiving crowds. After all, you can shop many stores—and probably all of the chains—online. I still prefer the bricks-and-mortar world for holiday shopping but a non-profit organization named Bring Pets Home has me rethinking my old-fashioned ways.   Bring Pets Home describes itself as an organization dedicated to helping animals in need, by providing “pet care resources for dog and cat owners” and supporting “animal shelters’ tireless efforts to save homeless animals.” Honestly, this is the first I’ve heard of the group but it launched a shopping initiative that sounds pretty dang good. Here’s how it works: When you shop at one of the participating online “stores”—such as Macy’s, i-Tunes, Sephora, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart, FetchDog, Netflix and tons more—via the Bring Pets Home shopping portal, the stores make a donation to animal shelters. The average appears to be around 4 to 7 percent of the purchase, but I saw as much as 12 percent donated by 1-800-FLOWERS. Shoppers can also register to specify a particular shelter they want to help.   Even if you don’t make a single purchase, you may want to stop by to enter the Bring Pets Home sweepstakes for a chance to win $5,000 for you and $5,000 for the shelter of your choice.   Bring Pets Home claims that it donates 100 percent of the money raised to animal shelters with corporate donations covering 100 percent of operating costs. (I should say, I haven’t verified this independently, and Bring Pets Home isn’t listed on Charity Navigator or the American Institute of Philanthropy.)   Still it looks like a real boon for shelters, and with Cyber Monday—with its attendant incentives and sales—only hours away, the lure of Internet holiday shopping just got a whole lot stronger.


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Collegiate Canines
Petside.com ranks the top 10 pet-friendly schools.

For high school students, the deadline for applying to colleges is quickly approaching. This means many of those students, like I did, will soon have to leave their beloved pets behind to pursue a higher education.

Pets are a big responsibility, particularly for busy college students, but they can be great way to reduce stress and ease homesickness.

Fortunately, more and more colleges are realizing the benefit of allowing students to bring pets on campus. But it’s not easy to find out which schools allow animals, so Petside.com put together a list of the top 10 pet-friendly colleges in the United States. 

The ranking was based on factors such as the type of pets allowed, housing options, required deposits and weight/breed restrictions.

10. Lehigh University - Lehigh Valley, Pa.
9. SUNY Canton - Canton, N.Y.
8. MIT - Boston, Mass.
7. University of Idaho - Moscow, Idaho
6. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Urbana, Ill.
5. Caltech - Pasadena, Calif.
4. Principa College - Saint Louis, Mo.
3. Washington & Jefferson College - Washington, Pa.
2. Stephens College - Columbia, Mo.
1. Eckerd College - Saint Petersburg, Fla.

Unfortunately, not all colleges are as pet friendly as these ten, and of course there are certainly other reasons for choosing a school. But, there are other ways to enjoy the company of animals while away at college. 

When I first arrived on campus, I started an animal shelter volunteer group made up of all the students who missed their pets. We visited the local shelter to help socialize the animals on weekly basis. It was a great way to help out, while getting our pet fix and meeting fellow animal lovers without the responsibility. In fact, I know many people post-college who volunteer to get their pet fix, often limited by non-animal friendly apartments or busy schedules.

There is certainly a risk to allowing animals into bustling dorms. Many college students may not realize the full responsibility of a pet. But as long as there’s a good application process in place, I’m glad that more colleges are accommodating pet lovers. I only wish that I had a list of animal friendly schools when I graduated high school!

What do you think? Should more colleges allow pets in dorms?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The Fido Awards
Canine “Oscars” announced.

This past week, the winners of the Fido Awards were announced in London. These are international awards for canine movie stars. As expected the many dogs who played Marley in Marley and Me won in the category of Rom-Com Rover (for romantic comedy companionship) and Beverly Hills Chihuahua took home the award for Comedy Canine.

  This is the third year of the Fido Awards, honoring canine actors and their contribution to entertainment. Many great films this year starred canines deserving of recognition. Among the other films boasting Fido Award winners were The Young Victoria, Up and Paddy. Films honored with a nomination include The Proposal, Bolt, Hotel For Dogs and Inglourious Basterds.   Winners were determined by votes from a panel of British film critics. Fido Awards are yet another sign of the increasing recognition of the value of dogs in our lives.


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
What Would You Do To Save Your Dog?
One man fought off a kangaroo.

In Australia, kangaroos can pose a threat to dogs, as one man and his dog experienced first hand over the weekend. The man and his blue Heeler, Rocky, were out for a walk when they surprised a kangaroo that the dog chased into a pond. The kangaroo then turned, caught the dog and held him underwater. Apparently, this is a known defense by kangaroos when being chased by dogs—lead them to water and then attempt to drown them. The man rescued his dog, knowing he could get hurt by the kangaroo, but not expecting to be attacked as severely as he was. Rocky was not far from succumbing to drowning when he was freed, and the man who saved him is in stable condition despite sustaining serious injuries.

This man was courageous in his efforts to save his dog and I admire that. I don’t mean to take away from what he did, but many people would have done the same or at least tried to. Have you ever had to risk your own safety for your dog? Would you?