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Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark’s editor in chief. Cameron Woo is The Bark’s publisher.

Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 6
Mesilla's Story

Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic Mesilla's shelter experience.

Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate.

Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 5
Sweetness' Story

Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows Sweetness' adoption experience.

Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate

Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 4
Ralphy's Tale

Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows lost dog Ralphy’s experience.

Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate.

Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 3
Bes' Story

Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows Bes the bunny's adoption experience.

Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate.

Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 2
Wysteria's Tale

Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows Wysteria’s shelter experience.

Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate.

Mutts Comics "Shelter Stories" Series Feb 1
Cindy’s Story

Fans of MUTTS comics eagerly look forward to cartoonist Patrick McDonnell's annual "Shelter Stories." For his latest installment, the week's worth of strips were inspired by his visits to New York City’s only public, open-admissions animal shelter—Animal Care Centers of NYC. McDonnell is a longtime supporter of humane causes and looks forward each year to creating tales that move people to support their local shelters. Today’s comic shows foster pup Cindy’s experience.

Patrick McDonnell was filmed during his time at ACC and will be featured in the national PBS series, Shelter Me. The Shelter Me TV series was created by filmmaker Steven Latham and episode six with McDonnell, “Shelter Me: Hearts and Paws,” will air in May.

Reissued online by special permission of King Features Syndicate

Recognizing Shelter Heroes

Behind every rescued animal there stands a group of unsung heroes. Those people who make dog and cat adoptions possible — a team of shelter workers, trainers, foster parents and volunteers who shepherd each animal from their first day to, hopefully, a forever home. With dedication, hope, expertise and above all, hard work … they persevere, believing that every animal deserves a second chance at happiness and love. We salute their commitment, and strive to bring their stories to light.

The Bark has partnered with Halo to proudly present SHELTER HEROES — a program that recognizes outstanding individuals helping homeless animals find their forever homes. For the next several months, The Bark will be shining the spotlight on these shelter heroes, as well as publishing the best practices and recipes for successful animal adoptions. Together, we can make a difference.

Do You Know a Shelter Hero? Do you know an animal shelter worker or volunteer who stands out for their dedication, innovation and hard work? Somebody who is making a special impact in your community? We want to hear about them and tell their story to inspire others. We want to recognize their efforts and share their success. Go to our online entry and help us find the real shelter heroes in your community.

One special hero will be selected to be profiled in The Bark and the shelter they represent will be provided with 10,000 bowls of Halo dog food, courtesy of Freekibble.com. Other notable heroes will be featured on thebark.com. For rules and eligibility, click here.

Winter Safety Tips for Dogs

While we on the west coast are contending with a very robust El Nino rainy season, we aren’t complaining after so many years of drought. But it does make dog walks and exercising extra challenging. But for most of the rest of the country dealing with harsh and cold winter weather is even more difficult. So today when we received a press release from the Central Veterinary Associates in Long Island, NY we thought that they had many good ideas to help you prepare for wintery conditions.

● Always Dry Off: When your dog comes in from the snow, ice or sleet, be sure to thoroughly wipe down their paws and stomach. He or she may have rock salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals on their paws which, if ingested, can cause severe stomach problems. Antifreeze should especially be watched for as it can lead to kidney failure. In addition, paw pads may get cut from hard snow or encrusted ice, so it’s important to check them over and treat them accordingly.


● Hold Off on Haircuts: Save for extreme circumstances, you should never shave down your dog during the winter. Their long, thick coats are vital for protection from the cold. If you have a short-haired breed, consider getting him a coat or a sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.


● Keep Bedtime Warm: Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafty areas. A cozy pet bed with a warm blanket or pillow is ideal.


● Bathroom Breaks: If you have a puppy or aging pet that may be sensitive to the cold, it may be difficult to take them outside. Use wee-pads or old newspapers to train puppies or to allow older pets to relieve themselves.


● Bring Pets Inside: If domesticated animals are left outdoors during winter months, they run the risk of health conditions caused by extreme temperatures. Cats are especially susceptible as they have free reign of the outdoors, and become lost during a storm, or taken in by a neighbor. In similar fashion to summer months, you should never leave your pet alone in a car in cold weather, as they could freeze and develop serious cold-related health conditions.


● Keep a Short Leash: Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm as they can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than any other season, so make sure that your dog always wears his identification tags. It is highly recommended that all pets are outfitted with a microchipping device, which it makes available as part of a low-cost service.


● Check Your Engine: As you’re getting into your car in the morning, bang loudly on the hood of the car before getting in. Outdoor cats and wild animals like to sleep under cars or within the engine compartment or wheel base, as the engines keep the vehicle warm long after the car is parked. However, once the car is started or in motion, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt or tires.


● Clean Up Spills: If you spill any antifreeze or winter-weather windshield fluid, be sure to clean it up immediately. Pets, especially cats, are enticed by the sweet-tasting liquid, but it is poisonous. Ingesting antifreeze leads to potentially life-threatening illness in all animals, domesticated or otherwise. If possible, use products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
 

Also, Dr. Aaron Vine, DVM, Vice President, Central Veterinary Associates adds that, “It is very important to keep your pet safe and healthy during the winter season, especially during storms like the one in the forecast this weekend. The extreme cold may have an adverse effect on your pet’s health, so pet owners must take the necessary precautions for their pets when bringing them outside. It is especially important during extreme weather circumstances to ensure that your pet is microchipped, which makes it easier to locate them. In the event they become ill as a result of being exposed to the elements, please bring them to a veterinarian immediately.”
 

Do check out their Holiday Safety Tips blog and visit www.centralvets.com.
 

 

2015: The Bark’s Year in Review

As the year comes to a close, we look back at some of the ideas in dogdom that caught our attention. The world is forever changing with new health and science discoveries, advances in technology, and evolving ideas that impact our communities and relationship with animals. One thing remains constant though, the comforting companionship of our dogs and the bond we share … thankfully, some things never change.

Considering the big themes that had us talking (and writing) about in 2015, two topics rose to the top and suggest important shifts in thinking. The first combines new findings that tie together nutrition, health and science—nutrigenomics or the study of how foods affect our genes and how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients. Canine nutrigenomics is further evidence that good nutrition matters, and our conversation with leading researcher and author W. Jean Dodds, DVM, explains why. Dodds and Diana Leverdure also explored the importance of “brain food” or good nutrition for senior dogs. The microbiome ecology found in our dogs’ gut may prove the pathway to better health (and behavior). Bark contributing editor Jane Brackman, PhD, investigated these microscopic worlds with fascinating results. Scientific research and popular theory (gutbliss) are creating a new awareness of the importance a healthy gut to a dog’s well-being.

As dog lovers, we’ve always known that dogs enrich our lives in countless ways. New research continues to build that case empirically, none more important than a special report from Harvard Medical School. Get Healthy, Get a Dog is the first publication to compile hundreds of research studies from around the world that document the physical and psychological benefits of dog ownership. Taken together, these studies provide the most complete picture yet of the many ways in which dogs enrich human life: from lower cholesterol and improved cardiovascular health to weight loss, companionship, defense against depression and longer lifespans. Twig Mowatt delved into this landmark report and its importance.

The second big idea gleaned from 2015: If dogs are proving good for us, they can be particularly beneficial to children. A recent study reports that kids who live with a dog are less likely to be anxious than their peers living in homes without dogs. Other studies show that children with dogs at home were healthier overall, had fewer infectious respiratory problems, fewer ear infections and were less likely to require antibiotics. Researchers considered these results supportive of the theory that children who live with dogs during their early years have better resistance throughout childhood. Innovative education programs like Mutt-i-grees curriculum are testing the many ways in which dogs can aid in learning. 

Space does not allow us to list every worthy book, film and exhibit from the past year (and there were many), but we would like to note these special, memorable works:

George the Dog, John the Artist: A Rescue Story by John Dolan

The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks

Heart of a Dog, a film by Laurie Anderson

Rescue Road by Peter Zheutlin

Shelter Dogs Star As Toto in The Wiz
10-year-old Cairn Terriers Make Their Acting Debut

Two senior dogs will make their acting debut this Thursday night when NBC broadcasts their live production of The Wiz. 10-year-old Cairn Terriers Ralphie and Scooter will share the role of Toto, Dorothy’s canine sidekick in this retelling of the Wizard of Oz featuring an African American cast. The training of the two dogs was assigned to Bill Berloni, American theater’s most renown animal trainer. Berloni has been teaching dogs the art of performing on stage going on 40 years. He has trained the canine actors for stage and television productions of Legally Blonde, Annie, Peter Pan, Lady Day and The Royal Family. Since his very first casting in 1976, a shelter dog playing Sandy in the original production of Annie, Berloni always selects his actors from shelters and rescue organizations. For the role of Toto, the production team discovered two blond Cairns in a Sacramento shelter. “There is nothing I look for that’s different in a senior dog than a young dog. They have to be outgoing, people-friendly, want to interact. You don’t want a snappy puppy or a grumpy old man. You want outgoing, friendly and willing to work,” says Berloni.

When asked which scene is the most challenging for Toto, Berloni responded with not the most physical scene but one of the most emotional—where Dorothy sings “Over the Rainbow”—think back to the 1939 classic film where Judy Garland sings and Toto lovingly looks at her. Without the luxury of editing, the scene requires incredible focus on the dog’s part. This is achieved by hours of training and bonding with the actors. During that scene in the performance, nobody is allowed to move backstage, no sound can distract from that critical connection between human and canine performer.

The secret to Berloni’s success is preparation and building a bond between the human actors and his animal performers. It’s less about acting than expressing real love for their human cast members—“Dogs don't act; they either are in love or they’re not, which is why I think animal performances are so exciting and so genuine. It’s like watching a husband and wife in real life playing a husband-and-wife team onstage. They’re really in love.”

The Wiz is televised live on NBC Thursday December 3, 8/7c. In addition to Ralphie and Scooter, the production stars Shanice Williams, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier and Cirque du Soleil.

Read The Bark’s interview with Bill Berloni to learn more about his incredible career in theater and animal training.