Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark’s editor in chief. Cameron Woo is The Bark’s publisher.
After a 10-year separation, canine siblings meet
We wondered what a 10-year reunion would look like for dogs, littermates who had been separated as pups. We adopted Lola when she was about 10-months old. She and her brother were found wandering the country roads of Yuba county in northern California. The woman, Julie Duarte, who rescued the pair specializes in rescuing Pointer-type dogs, and she got them from the local sheriff who had told her that they had been spotted for some time, out alone, fending, somehow, by themselves. Seeing Lola’s photo on Petfinder made us think she was a scruffy mutt, we found out later that she was actually a German Wirehaired Pointer. She came to live with us in Berkeley and became the lead Bark office dog. Her brother, Jack, was adopted a few weeks later by a couple living in Utah. We stayed in touch via Julie, sharing the occasional photo and update. We had hoped to make plans to rendezvous when they came out west during their travels but never managed to do so until this year.
When I learned that Jack’s family would be traveling to southern Oregon in June for a mountain biking holiday, I was determined to meet up with them and told Lola she was going to a family reunion. We didn’t know what to expect when Lola and Jack saw each other again after a decade apart. Would they recognize each other? Would they jump for joy the way BFF dogs do at the dog park? Research suggests that dogs have the power of memory, and stories of canine recognition after years of separation are common.
To reach our destination, the small town of Oakridge, Oregon, we drove north 7.5 hours, split up with an overnight stay in Klamath Falls. We wanted to be fresh for our meeting. We had considered meeting up at Crater Lake, but were reminded that National Parks do not allow dogs off-leash—not a good option. So we decided to connect at the small off-road campsite that Jack’s family had been staying … secluded, no traffic, next to one of the many streams that feed into the Willamette River. Familiar territory for Jack. When the moment arrived, we let the two dogs out of the cars, off leash and stood back. Sniff, sniff … a few turns … but no hoopla. No outward signs of recognition, jumping for joy or howls. Lola didn’t express anything out of the regular interaction with any dog, which is one or two sniffs, and ready to move on. I’m not an expert and there may have been clues that escaped me. Erin and Ryan (Jack’s people) think that Jack showed more than the usual interest, something they interpreted as recognition. In fairness to Lola, she’s a little shy and reserved in nature under normal circumstances, and on this trip was exposed to new and changing surroundings, her normal routine completely disrupted. A show of celebration may have been too much to hope for.
None of us expressed any disappointment with the subdued greeting, and Erin and Ryan’s second dog Skye was let out to join the party. Skye is a very sociable senior GWP–Lab mix, Jack’s partner in the field. All the dogs were revved up and we immediately started on an hour-long hike down the narrow trail surrounded by forest. The dogs took their place in the procession—Jack in front, doing what GWPs do … scouting ahead and turning back regularly to check on the group. Lola followed closely behind Jack, the two moving in tandem. We started to recognize something that resembled teamwork, one dog moving further ahead, then returning to check in with the humans, then the other dog taking the lead position, then returning for a visual check. When we stopped at the stream, Lola and Jack “coursed” around (i.e. hunted) in a small meadow of grasses, rummaging through old logs, smelling holes, leaping into the air (as GWPs do) towards furtive movement in the foliage. That is typically Lola’s favorite activity and one that she usually is loathe to share with any other dog—we believe, she thinks that other dogs are “intruding” on her intense concentration.
But with Jack, her reaction was much more inviting to her bro, she seemed to relish having a partner with a similar skillset. Erin, Ryan and I all agreed this was very typical behavior for both dogs but now they were working in tandem. Skye did not join their expeditions, instead hung out with us. We saw this as a clear sign of a bond that was either familial or common to their breed. And since these two dogs had been pups “on the run” early on in life, and learned that pairing together was best for them, it was great to see them pick up that closeness again as seniors. Either way, real or imagined, this provided us the satisfaction we were seeking—littermates do maintain a connection over time and space.
After our walk, we all sat campside and shared stories of the dogs, comparing their similarities and differences—at 70 lbs. Jack was much larger than Lola, who is a petite 42 lbs. (and small for their breed). Jack has a lot more fur and his coat is really curly, Lola is fearful of loud noises, Jack is not and he is definitely more rambunctious … more of a … boy while Lola tends to be demur! They shared many of the same gestures, and we relished the kind of behavioral traits and anecdotes that only “family” would care about.
We talked of plans for our next gathering, perhaps in Utah or out west next summer. It was thrilling to share time with Jack and his family, to renew the bond between littermates and to find kinship with his people. We’re fortunate to have that connection that Julie, their rescuer made possible. We even recounted all the hoops that she, as a very picky matchmaker, made us both go through in order to adopt our dogs. Glad that we both passed the test. I am curious to know about other canine family reunions, and how dogs express their familial bonds.
Dog's name and age: Floyd III, 1 year
Floyd III was spotted in the middle of a storm floating on a piece of wood during the flood. The two men who found him began searching for other puppies or the mother in the waters. After a few minutes of searching, and at the risk of their own lives, they found a dog house submerged underwater. Unfortunately, the dog house had been pinned down by a fallen tree with the mother and her six puppies inside. Floyd was the only survivor. Thankfully, Floyd was rescued and was adopted into a loving home.
Floyd's human decided to name him Floyd III as a tribute to the previous two dogs that he shared his life with. Although they are expecting their first human child this month, Floyd III will be always our eldest son.
Dog's name and age: Roosevelt, 1 year
We lost our 12-year-old Lab mix, Betsy, in December and our other dog, Hannah, seemed out-of-sorts and lonely without another dog in the house. I applied with the Pixel Fund Rescue (out of Florida and Maine) to be on their list of potential adopters. During the approval process, I saw Rosy's picture on their website (his name was Magoo at the time). What really drew me to him was the fact that he is blind. Hannah is blind and deaf, so I felt like it was meant to be that he would be her little brother. After talking to Rosy's foster mom several times, we decided that he would be a good match for our family.
On Dogs with Disabilities:
Both dogs are able to challenge peoples' assumptions about what a dog with a disability can do. We had no experience when we adopted Hannah, but she has shown us that she's 100% a dog first, and she does everything a typical dog does, in her own way. Roosevelt is the same; he's not very good at fetching a ball, but he certainly has other ways to play!
Researchers have come up with another reason why we are attracted to irresistible photos of puppies and kittens, and another reason that we can never get our fill of these adorable photos.
Psychological scientists from Florida State University, led by James K. McNulty, are using cute animal photos to rekindle marriages that might be in the doldrums. These researchers were tasked by the Department of Defense to come up with a strategy “to help married couples cope with the stress of separation and deployment.” McNulty and his team set out “to develop a procedure that could help soldiers and other people in situations that are challenging for relationships.”
Using techniques developed by none other than Pavlov, they employed a positive feedback mechanism called evaluative conditioning. They would show images of a spouse that were repeatedly paired with very positive words or images (like puppies, kittens and bunnies). In theory, the positive feelings elicited by the positive images and words would become automatically associated with images of the spouse after practice.
Each spouse was asked to individually view a brief stream of images once every 3 days for 6 weeks. Embedded in this stream were pictures of their partner. Those in the experimental group always saw the partner’s face paired with positive stimuli (e.g., an image of a puppy or the word “wonderful”) while those in the control condition saw their partner’s face matched to neutral stimuli (e.g., an image of a button). Couples also completed measures of automatic partner attitudes and explicit marital satisfaction at baseline and once every two weeks for 8 weeks
The study concluded that “spouses who viewed their partners paired with positive stimuli demonstrated more-positive automatic partner attitudes than did control spouses, and these attitudes predicted increased self-reported marital satisfaction over time.”
As McNulty noted that the positive completion of the study:
“I was actually a little surprised that it worked,” McNulty explained. “All the theory I reviewed on evaluative conditioning suggested it should, but existing theories of relationships, and just the idea that something so simple and unrelated to marriage could affect how people feel about their marriage, made me skeptical.”
Dog's name and age: Scout, 10 years old
I first spotted Scout and his brother on a bike ride in South Texas; they were puppies abandoned in a ditch on the side of the road. I went back to look for them in my car after my ride and spotted Scout bravely exploring his surroundings while his brother was laying low. I figured I'd just drop them off at the local shelter. When I saw the condition they were in up close, I knew they wouldn't have a chance in the city shelter due to severe overcrowding our area was facing. I decided get them checked by a vet, get them healthy and find homes for them myself. Scout never made it out of my house. The name Scout just seemed like the right name for a bold puppy!
More on Scout:
Scout loves attention, chasing and barking at birds, being chased by his sister Gracie (a Great Pyr mix who is 11) and belly rubs. Scout has many tricks, but the best thing he does is come get me when Gracie doing something she's not supposed to!
What are Scouts's nicknames?
Bubba, Bubba Boy, Scooter, Barky Bark, and best of all, Sweet Pea because that's what he is.
Dog's name and age: Maggie, 14 years old
Originally from Minnesota, Maggie's previous person couldn't keep her, so she was given to the rescue group Washington State Setter Rescue. Living in Seattle at the time, Maggie's soon-to-be people and their beagle were excited to meet her so they scheculed a visit. Maggie, then known as "Mcgyver", and her foster mom came over for a meet and greet and it was love at first sight! Everyone in the family knew it was a perfect match.
Tasty treats, taking up the whole couch, and doing tricks like high-fives.
In the spring of 1967, I moved to San Francisco and had a couple of months to become acclimated to the West Coast climate—both social and meteorological— before summer hit. Hard to believe that 50 years have passed, but that summer has stayed in my memory. In retrospect, it was a seminal moment, although the magnitude of this cultural watershed wasn’t apparent at the time. Even so, we knew that something was definitely happening here: be-ins; love-ins; and music by the likes of Janis, Jimi and Jerry and a long playlist of others flowing almost nonstop from clubs and parks. I think of that time now not only to mark its golden anniversary but also because, while so much has changed, some societal and political similarities have persisted over the past half-century. Still, for me, it was a great time and place to be a young adult—to actually be there. The good times really did rock (and roll).
Back to the present … I just read a research paper in Science Daily with the intriguing title, “Lifting your spirits doesn’t require many reps,” which concludes that simply getting out of your chair and moving around can reduce depression and lift your spirits. As I was reading it, my three dogs urged me to do just that, barking their need to see what that darn squirrel was up to in our back yard. Even though I was mildly annoyed with them for breaking my concentration, I knew I had something to thank them for. As a bonus, the paper’s lead author, Gregory Panza, observes that the study’s results suggest that the “more is better” mindset may not apply when it comes to the connection between movement and our sense of well being. So, even short bursts of mild activity, like walking around the block with your dog (or chasing them around the yard, as it was in my case), can improve your mood.
To help you tap into some good vibrations this summer, we chose “Journey” as our issue’s theme, trippin’ in both the metaphorical and the literal sense. To start off, we’ve packed this issue full of reasons for you and your dog to get out and about. We have 51 tips —one for each state and the District of Columbia—for exploring with your dogs, from “California to the New York Island,” as Woody Guthrie famously sang. We also give a special nod to the fine city of Austin for its five-star dog friendliness, as well as to New Mexico’s Sunrise Springs Spa Resort, where guests relax while helping with the socialization of future assistance dogs.
If you’re thinking about wandering overseas, you’ll be inspired by Belgian photographer John Thai’s work at Thailand’s Headrock Dogs Rescue, where he contributed his talents during a working “volunteer vacation.” Similar opportunities to help animals in need abound, many in scenically beautiful locales.
For our literature coverage— what would summer be without lots of good reading material?—we travel with author Laura Schenone as she covers the stories and meets the people who started Greyhound rescue in Ireland and beyond. We interview her and excerpt her book, The Dogs of Avalon, a thoroughly enthralling and inspiring read. We dip into our archives to bring back Michelle Huneven’s essay, “Lala the Loot,” from our anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her story, about a charming little dog whose cuteness inspires others to snatch her, has a happy ending, so be prepared to smile.
In another entry with a journey theme, Laurie Priest tells us how a kayak vacation to Baja California’s Sea of Cortez netted her a honey of a dog, along with an amazingly complicated return trip with the dog to her home in Massachusetts. Dana Shavin’s essay, “There Is Now Only This,” comes with another twist—how being dogless just doesn’t feel right. As she notes, “My meticulous tending to the ever-expanding needs of my dogs became the point of my life. It was what defined me.” Without that, who are we? Finally, our “Backstory” features a man who traveled into outer space with the support of his pups, whom he considered to be his family.
On the department front, Karen London tells us why bite inhibition matters and how it develops; Carin Ford provides pointers on starting a rescue; and Ernest Abel explains how the R.E.A.D. program, which is now in just about every country, came to be. Heather McKinnon gives us another reason to consider getting a doggy-pack for our dog; Erica Goss reveals how research into human color blindness was helped by a Poodle aptly named Retina; Sarah Wooten, DVM, shares new treatments for arthritis; and we interview the star and writer of “Downward Dog,” a new TV comedy we hope hits it big.
In this issue, you’ll find a new short feature, “Dog-eared.” If you’re like me and read a lot, you have no doubt encountered references to dogs in books that are not about dogs at all, perhaps as a refreshing plot turn or as part of a character’s environment. We’ve started collecting these dog-eared finds, and if you run across any you’d like to share with us, we would love to hear about your discovery (be sure to note the source’s title/author/page number). To kick it off, we found the perfect paragraph in Louise Erdrich’s wonderful LaRose; in a very few words, we come to know both characters better (see page 20 in The Bark Summer 2017).
Finally, as always, we have some unforgettable artwork for you to feast your eyes on.
We hope you take a liking to what we’ve put together, and that your own 2017 summer of love goes well. We look forward to connecting up with you again in fall. You can purchase a copy of The Bark Summer 2017 here or subscribe to get all these wonderful articles.
Dog's name and age: Lexi, 4 years
After deciding they absolutely needed to have a dog in their life, Lexi's people adopted her through a local rescue group. On the way home, they discussed names and they settled on Lexi as being the one they both loved.
Lexi's Person Writes:
Lexi is so precious, sweet and adorable that she makes my heart melt. I thank God for her every day that she's in my life. She is my child. My world. I love her so much.
Dog's name and age: Cassie, 3 years
Cassie, was waiting for a forever home at a rescue group in the Sacramento, CA area. Her soon-to-be people had made an appointment to meet another dog that day, but that dog had been adopted just before they arrived. Lucky for Cassie, they found her so friendly with other dogs and people with such a big heart it won them over!
Cassie loves meeting her friends at the Rescues United For Fun (RUFF) Meetup at either Pt. Isabel or Crissy Field, in California. It's this group that has given her the title of "social director" since she shares her love with all! Cassie willingly shares toys, food, and water since it's the interaction she enjoys the most.
She has a best friend and role model, Max, a golden retriever that she adores and plays tug of war with, and she admires her walking buddy, Duke, a labrador, and his human, Michelle. She also loves her neighbor, Mary. Cassie will run at breakneck speed 2 blocks to jump in the mail truck when she sees Jim, the mailman coming.
Cassie loves to go for rides in the car because there are always new people to meet when they stop. When she goes outside, she smells the flowers blooming on the back step before continuing on her way. Like most dogs, she loves digging in the sand and running on the beach. She likes meeting people on the street in San Francisco. And, nothing would make her happier than meeting you and your dog!
Dog's name and age: Stanley, 1 year
After their fourteen-year-old dog Sparky died, they knew they would eventually want another dog. The name Stanley was decided upon, it was just a matter of finding him. The family was continually look at the Humane Society's website looking for their Stanley. One day this past summer the family went to the Humane Society to visit the available dogs. When they met this dear dog the family agreed that they found their Stanley!
Stanley loves going to work with his dad who helps transport elderly and underprivileged people to their doctor's appointments. Stanley loves riding in the van and his passengers get a kick out of it.
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