News: Karen B. London
Just one example of how dogs save people’s lives
Victoria Bensch could have frozen to death or been attacked by a wild animal. Instead, thanks to her dog Blue, she is safe and back at home with her parents. She wandered from her home late last Thursday and spent the night lost in freezing temperatures half a mile away in an area where coyotes and other predators are a concern. Blue huddled with her, which is probably what kept her warm enough to survive, and his presence likely provided safety as well.
What really may have saved Victoria’s life is her strong bond with the dog. He did not want to leave her, but instead chose to remain with her all night. The entire family is grateful to their faithful Queensland healer, and that includes one aunt who says she doesn’t even like animals. (Though her new love for Blue clearly shows.)Many people feel as though their dog has saved their life. Often this is a figurative statement meaning that the dog played a pivotal role in helping them get through a dark time: recent widowhood, a divorce, job loss, financial hardship, the death of a friend, dealing with a sick family member, moving someplace new, loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts, an abusive situation, or any other kind of hard time that we humans face. Other times, as in the case of Victoria Bensch, the way dogs save our lives is absolutely literal: keeping us alive when facing threats of criminal violence, extreme temperatures, attacks by wild animals, an imminent natural disaster or possible exposure to toxic substances, just to name a few possibilities. The great love we share with our dogs can have amazing consequences. How has your dog saved your life—literally or otherwise?
News: Guest Posts
The bond between Blue and Victoria saved her life.
Thanks to her loyal Australian Cattle Dog, Blue, three-year-old Victoria Bensch survived freezing overnight temperatures in the desert. She had wandered away from her Phoenix home this past Thursday afternoon. Family and the local authorities frantically searched for the little girl as temperatures dipped in the desert. Thankfully, Friday morning, a sharp-eyed medic flying in a helicopter spotted Victoria cuddled up with Blue about a half mile from her home. The medic, Eric Tarr, was able to rescue both Victoria and Blue and reunite them with the family. My favorite part of the article is when Victoria's aunt says, "I don't even like animals and I hugged that dog so hard!"
News: Guest Posts
A boy inspired by his dog
I’m a huge fan of the children’s book, “Demo: The Story of a Junkyard Dog,” written with wry humor by Jon Bozak and illustrated by Scott Bruns. So I was very sad to hear that the real-life Demo – Bozak’s rescue Pit Bull – passed away just shy of 16 years. Not bad for a 65-pound dog born in a scrap yard. Bozak wrote a moving tribute to Demo that every dog lover should read. The way he measures their time together is both humorous and poignant. Once you’ve finished drying your eyes, buy the book, then tell me about the dog who inspired you.
News: Karen B. London
His product gave joy to millions
Fred Morrison died earlier this week at the age of 90. Best known as the inventor of the Frisbee, he was also a World War II pilot, husband and father, and an entrepreneur. The first discs he threw were the lids of popcorn tins, which he and his wife threw back and forth at a family picnic in 1937. These dented too easily so he moved to cake tins, and then began to manufacture his own discs, which he sold for a quarter at the beach in southern California. People loved them, and they sold well, attracting enough interest for Wham-O to buy the rights to his flying discs. In 2007, the Frisbee in its current form turned 50.Morrison called them Pluto Platters in recognition of the UFO craze sweeping the nation decades ago. The name Frisbee comes from the Frisbee Pie Company, whose platters were thrown like Frisbees before any were manufactured out of plastic. The name Pluto Platters is quite suitable considering the canine character named Pluto. Dogs and Frisbees hit the spotlight together in the 1970s, starting with a man and his whippet who jumped on the field during a televised baseball game at Dodger Stadium and wowed the crowd with a display 35 mph throws and nine-foot high jumps to catch the Frisbee. For anyone who has a Frisbee-loving canine in the family, it’s hard to imagine life without them. (It can actually be hard to imagine an outing without them. I occasionally hear someone in agony at the dog park exclaiming, “Oh, no! There’s no Frisbee in my bag!” Invariably, a crestfallen dog is nearby wondering why the fun has not started yet.) Many dogs exhibit a level of athleticism and defiance of gravity when playing with a Frisbee that is beautiful to watch. Their level of joy soars as high as they leap. If your dog considers a day without a game of Frisbee to be a day wasted, I want to hear from you. How does your dog amaze you, and when did you first discover that your dog was a Frisbee dog? And thanks, Fred. Your invention has given endless joy to so many.
News: Guest Posts
New Yorkers need to take poisoning threat seriously
New York City dog guardians and their umbrella group NYCdog recently received an URGENT ALERT from Terese Flores, the district manager for New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Apparently someone posted a post on Craiglist, in which he/she which threatened to place poison in all the city’s dog runs. (There are dozens of runs, plus acres of park land on which dogs may run and romp).
Of course, this Craiglist post could be a hoax. But it could be real. Sick, but real. I remember once a man in my childhood neighborhood poisoned our favorite neighborhood dog because the dog kept getting into his trash. So much cruelty, so much rage.
Anyway, the Parks Department has issued a list of precautions:
1. When entering the dog run, please study it carefully BEFORE unleashing your dog.
Those of us with expert-scarfer dogs must be particularly vigilant, because, as we know, these little rascals can scarf up sidewalk food in the blink of an eye.
The link to the threatening Craiglist post itself is not being disclosed, so that officials may investigate properly.
News: JoAnna Lou
FDA compiles pet food recalls in a searchable database
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched a searchable pet food recall database, similar to the resource that already exists for humans. The database contains the 971 pet food recalls that have occurred since the beginning of 2006. It’s scary to think that there have been almost a thousand recalls in the past four years alone.
I’m glad, however, to see that the FDA is responding to the growing need for resources like the new database and the Pet Health and Safety Widget that they created last year. The best part about the pet food recall database is the ability to easily see if a company has a bad track record, information that everyone should have at their fingertips. I’m hoping that the FDA will make a similar database for pet drug recalls.
I’ve always relied on the FDA web site and various dog e-mail lists to keep myself informed of the latest recalls. The database and the widget definitely make this easier. How do you stay on top of the growing list of recalls?
News: Guest Posts
Border Collie finds three girls buried alive in rubble
[Editor’s Note: Earlier this week, JoAnna Lou blogged about the amazing work of search-and-rescue dogs and handlers in Haiti. Today, Lisa Wade McCormick followed up with a story about how one dog rescued a few young earthquake victims in a story she wrote for ConsumerAffairs.com—a portion of which is reprinted here.] Amid the sorrow and despair in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly earthquake in Haiti comes news of survival: One of the United States’ top canine disaster search-and-rescue teams on Friday found three girls trapped alive in the rubble of a four-story building. A Border Collie named Hunter—specially-trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) to locate people buried alive—discovered the young survivors under four feet of concrete and debris. The girls had been trapped nearly 70 hours—since the powerful earthquake devastated the tiny island country. Hunter and his handler, Los Angles firefighter Bill Monahan, located the girls while searching a large bowl-shaped area near Haiti’s crumpled Presidential Palace. “After crisscrossing the area, Hunter pinpointed the survivors’ scent under four feet of broken concrete and did his ‘bark alert’ to let Bill know where the victims were,” the SDF said in statement. “Bill spoke with the survivors, then passed them bottles of water tied to the end of a stick. As they reached for the water one of the girls said, ‘thank you.’” Monahan and Hunter are one of six SDF teams deployed with the California Task Force 2 to find victims buried in earthquake’s rubble. The 72 members of the task force, who have 70,000 pounds of heavy machinery and other rescue equipment, are searching around the clock to find survivors of the cataclysmic earthquake that many fear will claim tens of thousands of lives. “The teams are working in 12-hour shifts so they have time to rest and recuperate,” said Captain Jayd Swendseid of the California Task Force. “The team is putting in long and exhausting days. Roads are closed and there is a lot of debris that is making transportation difficult, but the team is managing to get to buildings and make rescues. Morale is good and supplies are sufficient so far.” Valuable Tools The six “live-scent” dogs on the teams are arguably the most valuable tools rescue workers have in a disaster of this magnitude. These elite canines can climb and run across the piles of concrete and other debris in the streets of Port-Au-Prince and determine within three minutes if there are survivors buried below, the SDF said. Besides Monahan and Hunter, the other SDF canine teams working in Haiti with the California Task Force 2 are: • L.A. County Firefighter Gary Durian and his Golden Retriever, Baxter; • L.A. County Firefighter Ron Horetski and his Lab, Pearl; • L.A. County Firefighter Jasmine Segura and her Lab, Cadillac; • L.A. Country Firefighter Jason Vasquez and his German Shepherd, Maverick; • California civilian Ron Weckbacher and his border collie, Dawson. Weckbacher is the training group’s leader. He and Dawson have participated in other search-and-rescue operations, including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina. Another SDF canine disaster search and rescue team is also on the ground in Haiti. Julie Padelford-Jansen with Miami’s Fire and Rescue Department--and her dog, Dakota--are working with Florida Task Force 1 in the rescue efforts. The SDF also has other canine teams on standby--ready to deploy to Haiti when needed. “This moment is what SDF Search Teams train for--week in and week out--throughout their careers together,” said SDF founder, Wilma Melville. “When one SDF team succeeds, all of our teams succeed. “Our thoughts are with our teams in Haiti, who continue to comb the rubble into the night,” she added. “Their perseverance, skill, and strength in the face of extreme challenges make us all proud, and give us hope.”
The SDF, headquartered in Ojai, California, is the only organization in the country that works exclusively with rescued dogs and trains them to rescue people buried alive. Most of SDF’s 69 canine search teams are certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That is the highest achievement for search and rescue teams and means they can respond to any disaster.
Read Lisa Wade McCormick's complete story.
News: JoAnna Lou
Lawmakers consider the serious offense of dognapping
Two years ago, the American Kennel Club (AKC) began tracking pet theft after noticing an increase in dognapping complaints. Last year the AKC tracked more than 115 missing pets, up from 71 in 2008.
The FBI’s National Crime Information Center tracks stolen property nationwide and currently lists 200 stolen dogs in their database. Animals listed are required to have a permanent owner-applied serial number, such as a microchip or tattoo, so this number only accounts for a fraction of the actual stolen pets.
Unfortunately, as dognapping numbers are on the rise, it’s common for pet thieves to walk away with a mere misdemeanor for possession of stolen property. Some states are now aiming to make stealing a beloved pet a serious offense.
After Siberian Husky Laika was stolen in New York Assemblyman, Joseph Lentol’s, Brooklyn district, Lentol decided to draft legislation to make the theft of a companion animal a felony offense with up to four years in jail. The value of such a law may seem clear to pet lovers, but it hasn’t been easy getting animal theft legislature passed.
Last year, a bill was introduced in Texas that would have upgraded pet theft from a misdemeanor to a state felony with jail time. The proposal died in committee, but will be reintroduced next session. I hope more lawmakers will consider supporting similar legislature. In my mind, there’s no way stealing a living, breathing animal should carry the same punishment as stealing an inanimate object.
Microchipping is just one of the ways that you can help ensure your pet’s safety. Check out the AKC’s appearance on Good Morning America for tips on preventing dog theft.
News: Guest Posts
Guess how much a NYC dog walker can make
According to a weekend story on NPR, dog walkers in New York can gross as much as $200,000 a year--and while the profession is not recession-proof it's proving pretty resilient.
News: Guest Posts
Economy, depression may have fueled suicide
“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.” -- Mark Twain
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