March 24 2016
We always welcome a new work from Susan Conant, one of the founding “dams” (along with Carol Lea Benjamin) of the dog mystery subgenre. A lover of all dogs, but with a special fondness for Malamutes, Conant has written another intriguing tale full of dogs, wit and keen insights into the foibles and follies of human behavior. Holly Winter’s good friend is getting married, and amid the hubbub and multitudes of visiting relatives, the bride’s dog is stolen. Not only that, a burglar is killed and a service dog might be next on the hit list. But as always, Holly and her fearless Rowdy not only solve the crime, they also prevent another from happening.
March 22 2016
One would expect that a Boston-based, certified dog trainer’s first book would be about training a dog for city life, but McGrath’s is not a training guide. Instead, she explores bigger and broader subjects: how to be a responsible urban dog person and how to ensure that our relationships with our dogs are successful and fulfilling. She takes on subjects like breaches in dog-owner etiquette and other societal challenges that normally don’t come up in basic training class. We owe it to our dogs to read this resource-rich, highly informative handbook. As McCue-McGrath reminds us, we need to “know where they are coming from and what they need, and how to make their lives better,” which includes living in harmony with others in our communities.
March 20 2016
Although this debut thriller isn’t about a dog per se, it does have a memorable and wellconceived canine character. Mingus, a large and rather ferocious dog, is hiding under a porch, awaiting his owner’s return when he is discovered by ex-marine Peter Ash. Ash is a war veteran plagued with his own devils who nonetheless works to help other vets and their families. Mingus lends his ample talents to assist Ash in his mission in this gripping, action-packed novel.
March 18 2016
This author has much to recommend her to Bark readers, including her decade-long work in animal rescue and this charming debut novel. Sit! Stay! Speak! introduces us to a troubled young woman, Addie Andrews, who relocates from Chicago to a small town in Arkansas after her fiancé tragically dies just before their wedding. She inherits her aunt’s house, which is sorely in need of her DIY skills. As she tries to find solace in restoration work, she is drawn out of her self-imposed seclusion when she finds a bedraggled Pit pup who needs her kindness and love even more. This is a touching and engaging book about friendships, family and the power of dogs to inspire changes in our lives.
Dog's Life: Humane
Compassion in Action
March 17 2016
Vet Ranch is a place where homeless animals come to be cured of treatable injuries or diseases that would otherwise result in their euthanasia. The brainchild of Matt Carriker, DVM, it’s solidly positioned at the intersection of technology and old-fashioned compassion in action. The young vet (Class of ’08) videos the animals he and his associates help— from the time they’re brought in, through their treatment, until they’re completely healthy and ready to be adopted—then posts the videos on YouTube. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, the videos give rescue a face—and a wagging tail. Vet Ranch is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and all donations go directly to the cost of treating at-risk animals.
Capturing the Essence of Shelter Dogs in Pictures
March 5 2016
Lisa Prince Fishler is an artist who has always connected deeply with animals. A professional photographer who lives in the Hudson Valley, N.Y., Lisa was inspired to volunteer her services by her rescue dog Iggy whom she calls her “soul dog.” Iggy introduced Lisa to the plight of medium and large shelter dogs, especially those labeled “Pit Bull,” who are sometimes overlooked or passed by due to tragic amounts of misinformation and mythology.
One of the first organizations Lisa volunteered with was the Animal Farm Foundation, a group dedicated to securing equal opportunity for Pit Bull dogs in New York. Lisa was tasked with photographing dogs up for adoption—capturing their personalities, their individualism and endearing qualities in a single portrait. The challenge was to catch the eye (and heart) of potential adopters as they clicked through online galleries or caught sight of adoptable dogs in flyers or ads. Few shelters have the time, resources or talent pool to capture their animals to best effect.
It was through this work that Lisa discovered a clear way to combine her passions—animals, art and activism—to offer a solution. A natural collaborator, she wanted to cultivate a united community of artists who could shine a light on pets in need and be a voice for animals all over the world. Lisa soon discovered many people with the same passion, and thus, HeARTs Speak was born.
Today, HeARTs Speak is home to nearly 600 professional artist members in 47 states and 19 countries, all providing their services pro bono to animal welfare organizations. In addition, HeARTs Speak is expanding the reach of its network to more shelters around the country via the Perfect Exposure Project, a comprehensive, 2-day photography and marketing workshop. The project equips shelter staff and volunteers with fresh marketing knowledge and creative inspiration, covering everything from photography techniques to bio writing and social media.
HeARTs Speak’s mission is to harness the power of creativity and collaboration in order to increase the number of animals saved through adoption. Lisa and her fellow artists are working hard to capture homeless animals in the best possible light and show the world the beauty, loyalty and unconditional love that exists in shelters across the globe.
For some tips on taking good shelter dog photographs, click here.
Good Dog: Studies & Research
Seeing eye to eye
February 22 2016
How better to spend a chilly winter afternoon than gazing into a pair of warm canine eyes? As it turns out, there’s a perfectly rational reason to do so, one that also suggests how dogs became our “truest companions.”
In a 2015 study reported in Science (“Oxytocin-gaze Positive Loop and the Coevolution of Human-Dog Bonds”), a team of Japanese researchers led by Miho Nagasawa studied the role oxytocin plays in the ancient relationship between people and dogs. Popularly called the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, oxytocin enhances the attachment between human mothers and infants; the longer the two gaze into one another’s eyes, the greater their levels of oxytocin. The practical effect of this feel-good neurological chemical is to stimulate contact. For mother and child, the shared gaze creates a seamless loop of affection and bonding.
Since both dogs and humans use gaze to communicate, the team hypothesized that this same loop might come into play between our two species. It could also help explain how dogs came to take their place in our lives—or, in science-speak, to suggest a reason for our unique “interspecies affiliation.”
The study’s results seem to confirm the hypothesis. In a series of experimental situations, dogs’ “gazing behavior” increased oxytocin levels in their owners, and when the owners gazed back, the dogs’ oxytocin levels went up as well. And, as with human mothers and infants, the amount of time owners talked to and touched their dogs also increased, thus deepening the bond between them.
So, the next time you find yourself engaged in a mutual-admiration session with your co-pilot, remember: it’s not just a pleasant way to pass the time, it’s also part of nature’s grand plan!
February 22 2016
Welcome to our 85th issue, with the winsome Abby as our cover girl. A German Wirehaired Pointer and hardworking SoCal ranch hand, she’s the second GWP to grace our cover. (Our own rescue GWP, Lola, was the first.) There’s something so compelling about their laser-focused gaze, and Abby’s cream-flecked facial “furnishings” (as they’re called) give her an almost human look, don’t you think?
Much as I admire this breed, I need to add a word of caution: they are extremely high energy with intense drive, and require more exercise and running space than most people are able to provide.
Another member of the Sporting Group shows up in our review of a fascinating book, No Better Friend, by Robert Weintraub. The story focuses on a remarkable English Pointer, Judy, the only dog ever to be an official prisoner of war. The time was WWII, the place was Sumatra in Southeast Asia. You won’t believe what this heroic dog was able to do, from saving the lives of her fellow (human) prisoners to inspiring many of them to survive the horrors of that war.
We have three excellent training-related articles. Karen London profiles researcher Claudia Fugazza and her “Do As I Do” method, which taps into a dog’s imitative talents. Grisha Stewart provides us with an overview of the Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) program that empowers dogs to use behavior to control their safety. And Tracy Krulik reports on what the future of dog training might be as increasing numbers of trainers use digital communication tools to get the job done.
On the wellness front, pain expert Michael Petty, DVM, describes how to perform simple stretching exercises on our dogs at home, and we talk with him about his new book, Dr. Petty’s Pain Relief for Dogs (where we learned a lot, including that a dog’s dewclaw has a function!). Behaviorist Suzanne Hetts, PhD, covers the importance of an annual behavior wellness examination as a complement to the annual vet visit.
We have an excerpt from Kim Kavin’s engrossing new book, The Dog Merchants—the section that considers the ways shelters can “repackage and rebrand” to inspire more effective adoption rates. (Wait until you see Berlin’s state-of-the-art animal shelter.) Shelia Pell examines pet meds, from supplements to compounded drugs, investigating the possibility that we’re playing pharmaceutical roulette with our dogs. And be sure to read the lovely personal essay by Michael McGuill, “Mutts, Mothers and Mercies,” about a youthful folly and how it led him to a career that saves animal lives.
And there’s more including a look at the recent wolfdog craze, the unforgettable story of artist Thomas Hart Benton’s son’s dog and seasonal safety tips. As an extra special treat we have a series of strips from cartoonist Patrick McDonnell from his heart-warming and inspiring “Shelter” series that appeared in his Mutts feature. We also have a guest editorial that will shock you with its hard truths, offset by much that will inspire you and, as always, a selection of remarkable artwork.
Thank you for your support during these past Bark-filled 19 years. Now, we’re looking forward to reaching our 20th anniversary milestone, carried there by your enthusiasm for what we do.
Features & Essays
It’s a Dog’s Life
Dog's Life: Humane
Initiative calls for inspiring stories
February 18 2016
When it comes to supporting charities, many people believe there are “people causes” and there are “animal causes.” Of the $358 billion given to charities in the U.S. in 2014, less than 1% was given to animal-related causes. Mutual Rescue™ is an initiative to change the national conversation from “people OR animals” to “people AND animals.” When you connect millions of animals with millions of people, you help build a foundation that enriches entire communities across the country.
With this mission in mind, Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) is excited to announce a call for Mutual Rescue™ Stories, a national program celebrating the extraordinary transformation of animals and people through adoption and rescue. From February 14 through April 30, animal lovers across the country can help change the dialogue regarding animal welfare and philanthropy by sharing their Mutual Rescue™ stories—how they rescued their animal and how he or she rescued them in return. “Every day, we witness the transformative and profound impact of connecting an animal with a person,” says HSSV President Carol Novello.
Mutual Rescue™ aims to change the way people see animal welfare. By sharing stories about connecting a person with an animal, Mutual Rescue™ hopes to demonstrate that when you support your local animal shelter, you’re not just enhancing an animal’s life—you’re also transforming a person’s life as well. The stories shared by everyday people through Mutual Rescue™ are testaments to the incredible impact that an animal and a person have on each other, and that “rescuing” isn’t in just one direction
Visitors to www.mutualrescue.org are encouraged to submit a story in which they can become the subjects of short films produced by an award-winning agency. A celebrity panel of judges, like actor Maggie Lawson and Animal Care Specialist Jude McVay from The Tiger Frances Foundation, will select the best stories to be filmed. These films will be shared with the world during a Fall 2016 virtual event. Watch the heartfelt sample film, “Eric & Peety” at www.mutualrescue.org.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Get bright smiles with one of these image-rich treasures.
February 17 2016
In Bread and a Dog, Japanese food stylist Natsuko Kuwahara combines delightful photographs of enticing morning fare (the bread) with the internal ponderings of Kipple (the dog). Delectable recipes are included, including a few for traditional Japanese breakfast dishes. (Phaidon, $14.95)
Pete Thorne’s Old Faithful captures the essence of the beauty and serenity of dogs of “a certain age.” With personal stories of each of the 75 dogs profiled. (Harper Design, $19.99)
Brazil-based Rafael Mantesso’s whimsical drawings of his Bull Terrier Jimmy Choo are one Instagram sensation that actually merits the attention. Now, with A Dog Named Jimmy, which includes 100 images, Mantesso and Jimmy’s fame will surely spread. (Avery, $19.95)
British designer Fenella Smith teams up with her brothers Greg and Myles McLeod to create Breeds: A Canine Compendium, lending their delightful and humorous touch to a guide to more than 100 different breeds. (Flatiron, $16.99)
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