Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Regulations Proposed for Dog Walkers
San Francisco looks to create dog walking standards

Dog walkers are a necessity for pets in busy cities where people work long hours. I know many great walkers who are knowledgeable about canine behavior and limit the number of dogs they walk. But any dog lover in New York will tell you about the irresponsible ones who overtake the dog runs with too many pups.

A bill was announced last week at the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco that targets these dog walkers. The legislation, introduced by Scott Weiner, will require dog walkers to have a permit, receive animal control training, ensure that their vehicle is safe for transporting animals, ensure that the dogs they walk are licensed and limit the number of dogs walked at any given time. The bill was created with input of the SPCA and local dog walkers.

Dog walkers would be limited to seven dogs at any given time, which still seems like way too many. When I walk my dogs in Manhattan, not only do I have to watch each of them, I also have to keep track of any potential hazards, like spoiled food on the sidewalk or unfriendly dogs approaching. I can't imagine watching seven dogs, plus keeping an eye out for everything around us.

What do you think about regulations for dog walkers?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Uptick in N.Y. Dog Theft
Even well identified pets are at risk

The recent increase in pet theft has hit close to home as there have been several dog kidnappings in my area this summer.

Some are straightforward, like Matsu, the Yorkshire Terrier who was stolen when he was tied outside of a deli. Others are a little more complicated.

A few weeks ago, Kumiko Masaoka and Michael Reinhardt were at a Brooklyn park with their West Highland Terrier, Winston, when the pup was spooked and ran off. They did all the right things--searched the area, contacted animal shelters and veterinarians, posted flyers, and informed the microchip company.

The next day the couple was put in contact with a girl who found Winston and handed him over to a police officer. Unfortunately, the police officer ended up giving the dog to another family (it's still in dispute whether the family tried to claim Winston or if the police offered him to the family).

Thankfully Winston has since been returned, but this story just goes to show that even a dog with proper identification can easily end up in the wrong hands.

When we lose a pet, our natural inclination is to contact animal shelters and veterinarian offices, but “non-pet people” may not think to go to these places. For many, the police seems like a natural fist resource, as in Winston's case. But police don't typically deal with lost animals, so they may not know the proper protocol, such as checking for a microchip or verifying the identify of someone claiming a pet.

As dog theft increases, it's important for key members of the community, like the police, to get training on how to handle lost and stolen pets. Additionally, it's probably a good idea to check with your local precinct if you're looking for a lost dog.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Man Saves Dogs With Lasso
They were trapped in a canal

Some skills are like riding a bicycle and never fade away. Those hard-won skills sometimes prove useful in unexpected ways years later. Take Jesus Villanueva, who learned to lasso in Jalisco, Mexico when he worked on a cattle ranch. It had been 30 years since he had roped an animal, but when he had the opportunity to save two dogs being swept away in a canal in Yakima County, Wash., he lassoed each dog on his first try and was able to pull them to safety.

Noya and Matt Deats’ dogs, Nia and Fawn, were at risk of drowning in a canal with fast flowing water and steep concrete sides. Noya had already run a long way along the canal trying to keep up with her dogs when she called her husband at work to come help, too. She also called the police. A sheriff’s deputy’s attempts to rope the dogs were not successful, and that’s when Villanueva, working nearby, heard the commotion and put his lasso skills to use. As they say: “Education is never a waste.”

News: Guest Posts
Bear v. Dog Mom

If dogs issued medals for bravery, this woman would get top honors: Brooke Collins, of Juneau, Alaska, took on a black bear—and won—to save the life of her beloved Dachshund.

Collins heard little Fudge barking hysterically in her yard and discovered the bear trying to make a snack out of her weiner dog. Her protective instincts took over and, without thinking, Collins ran up to the bear, punched it in the face, and scooped up Fudge.

The bear took off, and Fudge is recovering at home.

Collins admits that what she did was “stupid,” but she was caught up in fear for her dog’s life.

 “I wasn’t in my right mind at the moment but I would never think of doing it again,” she told the Juneau Empire.

Read the full story here.

Would you do the same thing? Have you ever done something crazy to rescue your pup?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Weathering Hurricane Irene
Emergency plans with the dogs in mind

This past weekend, everyone on the East Coast was hurrying to prepare for Hurricane Irene. I wasn't in an evacuation zone, but I put together a “go bag” for my pets and put crates by the door, just in case we had to leave home. Fortunately, we didn't end up needing any of the emergency supplies. By the time Irene reached New York, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm and the damage was much less than expected.

I was impressed by the local efforts to accommodate pets in emergency planning. New York City evacuation centers welcomed pets, and taxis and subways were required to transport pets of all sizes to help people get to safety with their furry loved ones. The ASPCA worked closely with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to assist with the city’s disaster relief efforts. The Office of Emergency Management even had a dedicated Animal Planning Task Force. I'm glad that the government is learning from past relief efforts, such as Hurricane Katrina.

Natural disasters are stressful, but I felt a lot more comfortable knowing that I didn't have to worry about where I could go with my pets in the event of an emergency.

How did you prepare for Hurricane Irene? Did you take advantage of a pet friendly evaculation center?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Burglar Left His Dog at Crime Scene
That’s how police identified him

It’s Successful Crime 101: Don’t leave anything behind at the scene of a crime. Doing so might give law enforcement just the break they need to come find you and arrest you. It was a violation of this basic tenet that lead to the arrest of a man for alleged burglary. He apparently left his dog behind at a home that had been burglarized.

A police officer recognized the dog and had seen him with the man earlier in the day. The rope around the dog’s neck was distinctive, which made him even easier to recognize. Police officers went to his home where they found some of the stolen items. The man is in jail, charged with residential burglary.

That’s two alleged bad actions on his part: burglary and not attending to his dog.

News: Guest Posts
The Bond, Illustrated
Dying man reunited with his best friend

As a blogger, you can feel compelled to add interpretation, context and/or opinion when you link to another story. But not this time, this ABC report about a homeless man reunited with his dog during his last days in a hospice stands alone.

News: Guest Posts
AKC Recognizes Three New Breeds
A Coonhound, Lapphund and Terrier make the cut

The American Kennel Club (AKC) added what it calls “three new lovable breeds” to its registry this month—a move that brings the total number of breeds recognized by the organization to 173.

The three news breeds are the American English Coonhound, the Finnish Lapphund and the Cesky Terrier.

The AKC describes American English Coonhounds as “well-conditioned athletes.” These lively and affectionate dogs are avid hunters with great speed and loud voices. They were used to hunt fox in the day and raccoons by night during Colonial times. “Today, they still need regular daily exercise to stay in shape,” according the AKC press release, making them good companions for active owners.

The Finnish Lapphund is the newest member of the herding group. These alert and agile dogs were originally bred to herd reindeer near the Arctic Circle. They still have thick double coats. They were also helper dogs of the Sami—semi-nomadic people in Finland, Sweden, and part of Russia called Lapland. “They are intelligent, eager to learn, and are calm and friendly with people,” according to the AKC. “They make loving and devoted family pets that do well with children and other dogs.”

In welcoming the Cesky Terriers, the AKC describes them as smart and active dogs. These eager-to-please canines were bred to hunt such animals as badgers and fox. “Cesky Terriers are loyal to their families, patient, gentle, and get along well with people of all ages, making them a wonderful family pet,” the AKC said, adding the breed needs daily exercise. These terriers also need daily grooming as puppies—and brushing twice a week as adults—because of their coats.

Ever wonder how breeds become recognized by the AKC? The organization said there has to be a certain number of dogs “geographically distributed throughout the U.S.” and an established breed club has to watch over those canines.

More information about the new breeds is available on the AKC’s Web site: www.akc.org.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
New Trend: Executive Protection Canines
Security guards gone to the dogs

Harrison Prather used to train dogs for the British special forces and the Navy Seal Team 6, but a growing market led him to start Harrison K-9 Security Services to provide his talented pups to wealthy civilians.

Some people come to Prather for his executive protection dogs, as he calls them, after receiving threats or after human bodyguards proved ineffective. Others simply like the combination of protection and companionship.

Prices have increased in recent years due to the growing number of people who like the security and status provided by a guard dog. It's not uncommon for people to pay upwards of $60,000 for a dog trained in Schutzhund, or protection work. Prather's dogs cost over $200,000 since they are trained for three years in Germany before coming to the United States for further skill development.

The executive protection dogs learn tracking and fighting skills, but are also trained to be gentle in the house with family.

These dogs play an interesting role as both a bodyguard and a companion, but I do worry that the hefty price tag could cause these dogs to be seen as merchandise. I hope that the buyers consider the responsibility of an animal, and don't just view these dogs as a living security system.

What do you think about executive protection dogs?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Making Dog Theft a Felony
NY bill passed to strengthen punishment for pet thieves

Having a beloved pet stolen is one of my worst nightmares. In New York, pet thieves are typically only charged with a misdemeanor since dogs are considered property by law. The value of stolen property must exceed $1,000 to qualify as a felony larceny. Since it's hard to place a dollar value on an animal, most thefts are prosecuted as the lesser offense. Fortunately, it looks like this may be changing for the better.

Earlier this week, the New York State Senate passed a bill with a landslide 58-3 vote that would make it a class E felony to steal a cat or dog. If the bill becomes a law, stealing a pet could get you up to four years in jail. The State Assembly is expected to pass its version of the bill later this month.

Besides making pet theft a more serious crime, the law would also give police a greater incentive to look for missing pets. Since most cases are prosecuted as a misdemeanor, often police can only take limited action on reported thefts. This bill seeks to rectify these situations.

Similar legislature has had difficulty getting adequate support in the past, but judging from the overwhelmingly positive response in the Senate, I'm hopeful that this bill will be passed.

I consider my dogs to be family, so ultimately I wish the law would be changed so that pets would not be considered property. However, I think this bill is certainly a big step in the right direction.