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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Chihuahua Survives Owl Attack
His winter coat may have saved him

Chico the Chihuahua survived an attack by a great horned owl. In one sense, he was very lucky because a four-pound dog is easy prey for large owls that are capable of killing and eating much larger animals, such as skunks and raccoons. On the other hand, Chico was unlucky, because owls are usually deterred from attacking small dogs by the frightening presence of a human, and Chico’s guardian was right there with him during the attack.

  George Kalomiris was walking Chico on leash when the owl swooped down and attempted to grab Chico. Kalomiris reports that he yelled and lunged at the owl, which had gotten tangled in Chico’s leash. After a few seconds, the owl flew off—without Chico.   Chico was treated by a veterinarian for a puncture wound that was, remarkably, enough, superficial. In all likelihood, the winter coat that Chico was wearing saved his life. It prevented the owl from getting a good grip on the dog. George’s wife Dana said, “Now I feel vindicated for buying dog clothes.”   Have you had a dog who was threatened or injured by a wild animal?

 

News: Guest Posts
Bo Obama’s Trainer Dies
Champion for positive-reinforcement, Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz will be missed

Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, 52, who trained dogs for the late senator Edward M. Kennedy and trained first dog Bo (known to her as Charlie) before he went to live in the White House, died Jan. 12 in Virginia. According to The Washington Post, she had been leading dog training classes days before her death. After being admitted to the hospital, for reasons that were not stated in the obituary, she went into a coma and died of respiratory distress.

  A champion of positive-reinforcement training methods, many of which she detailed in her book, The Love That Dog Training Program (written with Larry Kay), Sylvia-Stasiewicz will be missed by all of those who have been touched by her message of loving and respecting dogs, and teaching them as we would our children.   In a recent interview with Bark, Sylvia-Stasiewicz was asked why training mattered. Her answer stuck with me: “Training opens up communication; it’s a language that helps our dog understand us, and vice versa,” she said. It’s a true sentiment beautifully and simply expressed. We train not simply to keep our dogs off the couch but to develop our relationship with them.   Bark interviewed Sylvia-Stasiewicz shortly before she died. That interview, which will appear in our February issue and in a longer form online, was apparently her last. Dawn’s family has requested that tax-deductible contributions be made to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Foundation to further her work in researching, developing and promoting best practices in positive reinforcement dog training. Dawn’s mentor and APDT Founder, Dr. Ian Dunbar, is presiding over the fund.   Details on a memorial and opportunities to pay tribute can be found at lovethatdogbook.com.

 

News: Guest Posts
Kindness of Strangers, Plus Luck
Heartwarming reunion story

This time of year “Christmas miracle” stories fill the air like snowflakes, and most fail to live up to their billing. But the story of a little white dog reunited with his owners after a terrible car accident on the Elkhart County toll road in Indiana, deserves the title. Fair warning: When you watch the video in the link, you’ll want some tissues nearby.

News: Guest Posts
Walking the Walk
President Obama scoops poop

If you thought being president might be a way to avoid scooping poop, think again. We're guessing Queen Elizabeth never cleaned up after her many Corgis. It’s good to see someone lead by example.

News: Guest Posts
Michael Vick Wants a Dog
To help with his “rehabilitation”

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback who went to prison for his involvement in dog fighting and animal cruelty said in an interview that he and his children miss having a dog and that bringing one into his home would be a good thing for his rehabilitation. Unfortunately for Vick, his sentence includes on ban on his ever owning a dog.

  Ever since Vick was charged we’ve been following his story, and since he left prison, blogging about his many “second chances”—returning to the NFL, starring in a reality show, working with the Humane Society of the United States. We’ve also followed the fate of the “Vick dogs,” many of whom have miraculously and through the intervention of committed people, such as Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer at BAD RAP, landed on their paws.   But this bit of news makes me queasy. On the one hand, I believe in second chances. I believe that if you serve your time, you should be given the opportunity to reenter fully into your life. And I believe that the loving and compassionate example of a dog is a force for good in most lives. But I can’t shake my concerns about what could happen to another Vick dog when no one is looking. I suspect Vick’s reformation has more to do with endorsements and pro contracts. This is the place to hold the line. This is the price he pays for brutally torturing and killing dogs—never again.

 

News: Guest Posts
Taking Your Dogs to the Grave with You?
Protect your pets with a plan

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around Diane Mapes’ story on MSNBC.com about folks who request their dogs be euthanized and buried with them when they die. It sounds a little crazy, and I think in many cases it’s probably selfish and self-absorbed. But, as hard as it is to face, in the case of old or sick cats and dogs for whom the guardian can’t guarantee a home after they die, it may be the more humane option. As senior dog rescue veterans have told me, a shelter for these animals is often devastating and many times leads to euthanasia anyway.

  The story serves as a reminder that we have an obligation to our animals that might extend beyond our lifespan. I have a home where both my dogs will be welcome in the unlikely event my husband and I should predecease them. And we’ve set aside money for their care. Someday, I hope all our remains will be together—but the  timetable is not mine to set.   Have you made plans for your pets?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Accidental Euthanasia
A canine war hero is PTS by mistake

Last week I was heartbroken to find out that the story of an amazing canine war hero ended in tragedy. 

In February, Target, a Shepherd mix, and two other stray dogs captured the hearts of animal lovers all over the world when they confronted a suicide bomber and saved the lives of dozens of soldiers in Afghanistan.

After much media attention, the Puppy Rescue Mission raised thousands of dollars to bring two of the dogs, Target and Rufus, over to the United States in July. The dogs were met with much fanfare and even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Target was adopted by Sergeant Terry Young, an Army medic that was among the soldiers saved by the dogs. 

Living in Arizona was an adjustment for Target, who wasn’t used to being confined, and two weeks ago he escaped from the Youngs’ yard. Target ended up in Pinal County’s animal control without identification tags or a microchip. Tragically, by the time Sergeant Young got to the shelter, Target had been euthanized by accident.

Unfortunately, these types of mistakes are more common than we’d like to think. Human error is inevitable, so shelters often have multiple checkpoints for identification, like microchips.  

Who knows if Target would’ve been saved if he had identification tags or a microchip, but it’s important to take every precaution possible to ensure our pets will find their way home.

A candlelight vigil is planned for December 3rd to honor Target. Visit his Facebook page for updates.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
The Danger of E-Fences
Texas dog picked up by animal control despite e-fence

I’m not a big fan of electronic or underground fences, though I realize some people may not have a good alternative. Besides the potential for being shocked, these containment systems come with several other risks. 

Some dogs learn that putting up with a brief electronic shock can result in freedom if they run through. And even if the fence keeps your dog contained, it doesn’t do anything to prevent dangerous animals or people from coming into your yard.

Earlier this month, a dog was picked up by Dallas animal control when someone complained that the dogs were running loose. It turns out that the Springer Spaniels are enclosed by an invisible fence. Whether or not the fence was malfunctioning (this was a point of contention in the case), the fact of the matter is that leaving your dogs in an open yard unattended can put them at risk.

What’s your take?

 

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
City Shelter Budget Cuts
NYC’s Animal Control no longer able to search for lost pets

These days, it seems as if every aspect of our lives has been touched in some way by the recent economic downturn, and that includes our pets. The economy has increased the number of animals that end up in shelters and has decreased the amount of money that families can spend on vet care. In New York, the economy is now affecting missing pets.

 

In the last two years, the number of animals taken in by New York City’s Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC) has steadily gone up, while the group’s budget has been slashed by $1.5 million.   

With more than 40,000 intakes last year, the CACC, which is responsible for the city’s municipal shelter system, has been pressured to reduce operating costs. Their latest cutback is to the call center, which handles inquiries regarding missing pets. 

In the past, New Yorkers could call the CACC to have city workers search the three main shelters for lost pets. This service is crucial considering stray dogs and cats only have a couple of days to be identified. Legally, unclaimed animals can be euthanized in as little as 48 hours. 

Now, New Yorkers must visit all three shelters in three different boroughs to search for their furry loved ones. They can also check the CACC website, which is updated regularly, but not all of the dogs listed have photos. And nothing can replace having a live person who works in the shelter help search for a missing pet.

It’s certainly unfortunate that the CACC’s budget was cut, but today’s reality is that everyone is facing severe budget constraints.

At this point, the best thing to do is to prepare as much as we can to help our pets get back to us in the event that they become lost. It’s important to make sure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tags, and is microchipped for added security. While the CACC is no longer allowed to take lost animal calls, they will take every measure possible to reunite animals with identification.

The CACC website also has a resource page on finding a lost pet and provides tips on how to systematically search their facilities to check if your furry family member is there. 

News: Guest Posts
Bedbugs Bite Back
Detection dogs’ alerts are challenged

It’s raining cats and dogs at The New York Times. Today’s front page features stories about how cats lap milk (actually pretty cool and weirdly complicated; dogs’ methods are described as “crude” by comparison) and some new wrinkles in the crusades of bedbug-sniffing dogs.

  We’ve written a bit about bedbug detection in The Bark. As the bitey mites have wreaked havoc, especially in New York and New Jersey, dogs have been brought in to detect the “moving needles in a haystack.” Everyone was been singing their praises until a series of possible false negatives led to cranky customers and lawsuits. The jury appears to be out. There are many reasons the dogs may alert when no evidence of bedbugs is confirmed—the most insidious scenario is that dogs are encouraged to alert so homeowners, coop boards and landlords are forced to pay for full exterminations.   Lesson? We can train dogs to sniff out nasty critters, but not scammers.

 

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