December 30 2015
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
December 30 2015
Laurie Anderson is a visionary artist and a pioneer in electronic music as well as a marvelous storyteller. She employs her voice, with its songlike phrasing (as in her 1981 hit single “O Superman”), along with instruments—some of which she invented—video and other acoustic props to weave her tales.
In her new film, Heart of a Dog, her beloved Rat Terrier, Lolabelle, takes center stage in an imaginative, lyrical, confessional narrative. As Anderson describes it, “It’s a series of short stories about telling stories.” Quoting David Foster Wallace, she adds, “Every love story is a ghost story.”
Over the course of this absorbing 75-minute film, she considers the deaths of her mother; her dear Lolabelle, whom she “co-parented” with husband Lou Reed; her friend Gordon Matta-Clark; and finally, Reed himself in 2013. Times critic A.O. Scott praised it as a “philosophically astute, emotionally charged meditation on death, love, art and dogs.” It’s also about learning to “how to feel sad without actually being sad,” as her Buddhist teacher instructed.
While the film offers a visual representation, it’s really Anderson’s Zen-calm narrative that conveys its message. Both film and score open with her recounting a dream in which she gives birth to Lolabelle. She then uses the dog as a springboard, digressing to a variety of other topics but always circling back to the dog. One of our favorite segments, “Piano Lessons,” is about how Anderson and Reed set up keyboards on the floor for their old dog (who was going blind), and used a clicker to train her to make music. As Anderson wryly observes, the dog’s playing “was … pretty good.”
The movie, which has a limited run, will be aired on HBO in 2016. Luckily for dog lovers and Anderson fans, Nonesuch just released its critically acclaimed soundtrack.
Wellness: Healthy Living
December 18 2015
Gather up a high quality pair of trimmers and some styptic powder, such as Kwik-Stop or other product, to stop bleeding if you nick the quick.
You may want to sit on the floor with your dog in your lap, or have someone hold your dog on a table. Hold your dog’s paw firmly and push on the pads to extend the nail. Locate where the quick ends. With clear or light nails, it is easy to see the pink color where the quick ends. But with black nails you can look for a black dot on the underneath of the nail; that’s where the quick ends.
Trim the nail below the quick on a 45- degree angle, with the cutting end of the nail clipper toward the end of the nail. Make several small nips with the clippers instead of one large one.
In some cases, if the nails are brittle, the cut may tend to splinter the nail. In these cases, file the nail in a sweeping motion starting from the back of the nail and following the curve to the tip.
Go slowly, take breaks between each paw., and don’t forget the dewclaws. If you accidentally cut the quick, wipe off the blood and apply Kwik-Stop or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. It is not serious and will heal in a very short time.
Some important tips:
Dog's Life: DIY
Ami Ami Dogs
December 11 2015
Anyone looking to add an extra dash of kawaii (cuteness) to their canine crochet should take a peek at Mitsuki Hoshi’s book Ami Ami Dogs. These big-headed amigurumi (Japanese for knitted stuffed toy) fit in the palm of your hand, and Hoshi’s easy-to-follow patterns will have even novices needlers stitching them up in no time. Gather your crochet hooks and download the PDF below to test out the Beagle puppy Chihuahua pattern—and show off your results by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: We apologize for the confusion with the Beagle puppy pattern. We did not realize when we posted it that it referred to earlier patterns in the book. Harper Collins has graciously permitted us to post the Chihuahua pattern from Ami Ami Dogs, which is complete and does not depend on other patterns in the book.
Please note: If clicking the pattern doesn't prompt you to save it, then Right-Click the link below and select "Save Link As".
Visions of Gold
December 4 2015
To have vision, says Danelle Umstead, “is to have sight, an idea or a dream.” Her immediate vision is to win gold for the U.S. in alpine skiing at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Danelle’s husband Rob Umstead, her coach and sighted guide, will be leading the way through the courses.
Last summer, Danelle’s longtime guide dog, a black Lab named Bettylynn, developed optic-nerve atrophy and had to retire, so Aziza, her new canine guide, will be rooting the couple on in Sochi. Bettylynn, the first guide dog to represent the U.S. at the Winter Olympics in 2010, will be pulling for the couple back home in Park City, Utah, along with their son, Brocton.
When Danelle was 13, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that eventually causes complete darkness. Her vision is “spotted,” and she can only see up to five feet in front of her. Even then, colors have to be highly contrasting for her to make them out, and she sees little to no detail. Then, in 2011, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Still, neither of these hurdles has kept her from achieving her best.
Her father introduced Danelle to adaptive skiing in 2000 and acted as her guide. She quickly fell in love with the sport—the freedom, the speed, the exhilaration. She began training and working full-time with Rob in 2008, and competitive success soon followed: Paralympic Bronze medals at Vancouver (2010), nine World Cup podiums and Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Championships. Her success relies heavily on the 100 percent trust and communication she shares with Rob as he guides her down the hill at top speed. It’s similar to the trust and communication she had with Bettylynn and is working to build with Aziza.
Danelle and Rob have created Vision4Gold.org as a way to mentor junior disabled athletes by sharing her story and offering encouragement. We’re confident that Danelle will realize her vision.
Culture: Readers Write
November 19 2015
Magnolia's family volunteers with a rescue in North Carolina and she was a foster. When she came to them she weighed almost twice what she weighs today. She was on a lot of medicines for a variety of health issues because her previous owner didn't properly feed her. One med was for her heart.
She stopped eating anything that had meds in it and her family noticed her potty was slow drips. So they took her to the vet and got the quality of life talk. Meds for her heart were shutting down her kidneys and kidney meds would put fluid on her heart. They were told she didn't have long so let her do what she wants. They made her a sort of list similar to a bucket list, and that huge smiling picture was when they took her to the beach.
That was over a year ago and at the last visit her weight was normal and all her blood work was great. She's now about 6 pounds and very active. Looking back at where she was and where she is now I am so amazed.
August 26 2015
When the juggernaut that was Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, it taught the nation some hard lessons about the need to provide disaster assistance for both people and their companion animals. When told by emergency personnel that they couldn’t bring their four-legged family members with them, many chose to stay behind rather than abandon the dogs and cats who trusted them.
In the days and weeks that followed, groups and individuals from across the country converged on the Gulf Coast for what’s been called the largest animal rescue operation in history. The following year, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which directed FEMA to take the essential needs of individuals with household pets and service animals, and of the animals themselves, into account.
Ten years on, the phrase “Not without my dog” has been taken seriously, and the depth of emotion that binds us to our animal companions continues to inspire.BREED EXEMPLAR
Sally. Among the first group of dogs evacuated from New Orleans by the Marin Humane Society, Sally landed at San Francisco International Airport on September 11, 2005, and within hours, was charming the local media right out of its collective socks. A few days later, she was photographed for her debut as Bark’s Winter 2005 cover dog. According to her person, Sheri Cardo, 11-year-old, Sally continues to spread her Pit Bull love far and wide.AIDE-DE-CAMP
Katrina. While Bill Daugaard was leading a rescue team in New Orleans’ Eighth Ward in September 2005, he watched the liberation of a dog (above) who had been locked in a house for 22 days. Something about her spoke to him, but before he could put his name in to foster her, she was on her way to Los Angeles. Long story short, he found her, adopted her, named her Katrina and took her home to Seattle.ADOPTION HELPER
Boots. The Golden/Chow mix with the badly burned feet was rescued from St. Bernard Parish by a group of EAMTs from the Arizona Humane Society and transported to AHS’s Second Chance Animal Hospital in Phoenix for treatment. Shortly thereafter, his foster home became his forever home. For the past two years, Boots (above) has been returning the favor by volunteering as AHS’s kitten nanny, helping five- to eight-week-old felines acclimate to dogs (and thus become more adoptable).SQUADRON MASCOT
Katrina. Each time a helicopter from the 301st Rescue Squadron landed on the 1-10 overpass in New Orleans to take on stranded hurricane victims, an intrepid little Beagle would rush toward the craft and station herself nearby. On the last run, Pilot Mike Brasher (above) and his crew realized that she was alone, and took her with them. Brasher adopted her, and she became his squadron’s mascot. Now 15, she lives the good life in Fla.
June 8 2015
There are many reasons to think about the climate these days, including the drought where we are in California. And we learn in the summer issue that global climate changes 45,000 years ago might have also played a hand in ancient humans teaming up with proto dogs. Together they were able to survive an ice age that downed many other species, including the Neanderthals. Pat Shipman tells us just how fortutious we are that friendly wolves joined our campsites! So it’s rather perfect that in this issue, we look at the many reasons to be thankful to our first and best friends. Twig Mowatt follows the story behind “Get Healthy, Get a Dog,” a Harvard Medical School study that concluded that the way to a have a healthy life is to share it with a dog. Handily, Karen London provides us with tips on choosing the right dog. Rebecca Wallick looks at dogs’ remarkable ability to sniff out disease, and how it’s opening doors to earlier cancer detection and better understanding of the disease. Psychologist Marian Silverman relates how her therapy dog, in overcoming her own fear, helped young patients gain invaluable insights. Plus, we have an excerpt from a new memoir, George the Dog, John the Artist, by John Dolan; in it, a stray Pit provides the reason, and the inspiration, for a man to turn his life around. And as an apt testament to the value dogs have to us, Alexandra Anderson describes a program at the University of Pennsylvania that is helping train and raise dogs for search-and-rescue work, saving countless lives worldwide.
Then, Judy Jennings recounts an epic road trip—and a spiritual migration—from Maine to the Yukon made by noted photographer Linda Griffith, accompanied only by her two dogs.
The inner dog also gets quite a bit of attention in this issue. In an excerpt about “brain foods” from a breakthrough new book, Canine Nutrigenomics, by W. Jean Dodds, DVM, and Diana Laverdure, we learn that food “speaks” to the body at the cellular level, which in turn plays a role in determining our dogs’ health (and our own). See our exclusive interview with Dr. Dodds here.
From cells, we move to the microbiome, an invisible world of the hundred trillion bacterial, viral and fungal microbes that live on and in us and our dogs. Jane Brackman takes us on a tour of the research into this microscopic universe, and what it may reveal about pathways to better health. We look at canine chronic renal disease and its management, and consider low-stress handling and why it’s so important to our dogs. And then for a twist on separation anxiety, Tracy Krulik looks at how this condition can be a two-way street. We take a gander at one of the best and largest dog parks in the U.S., the Off Leash Area in Shawnee Kansas with so much going for it, including spaciousness and wise-management. From tips on finding shed antlers, to book, comics, movie and theatre reviews—and a glimpse of one amazing doghouse, we have packed this summer issue with a host of informative and entertaining articles. So whatever the weather’s like where you are, take it slow and easy this summer, and take time to enjoy some fun with your co-pilot and dig into Bark’s offerings. You can subscribe to the magazine and ensure getting this issue, or buy a single copy too.
Get Healthy, Get a Dog: Harvard Medical School study makes it official, dogs are good for us. By Twig Mowatt
Brain Food: What we feed our dogs has a nose-tail affect on their quality of life. By W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Diana Laverdure, MS
Gut Feeling: Exploring the microscopic ecology of the microbiome. By Jane Brackman, PhD
North to Alaska: Suburban dogs share an epic road trip into the wilderness. By Judy Jennings, Photographs by Linda Griffith
George, The Dog Who Saved My Life: A stray Staffordshire Terrier provides the reason, and the inspiration, for a man to turn his life around. Text and art by John Dolan
Letting Go: A therapy dog overcomes her own fear and helped young patients gain invaluable insights. By Marian Silverman
ENDPIECE Strawberry Blond: An unforgettable gardening buddy. By Eileen Graham
It’s a Dog’s Life
HEALTH: Canine Chronic Renal Disease. By Sara Greenslit, DVM
WELLNESS: Low-Stress Handling is the best approach to win trust. By Amy Kantor, VMD
COMICS: Rover Red Charlie By Mark Peters
DETECTION: Smell Test Sniffing out cancer. By Rebecca Wallick
BEHAVIOR: The (Next) Love of Your Life Choosing the dog right for you. By Karen B. London, PhD
PROFILES OF RESCUE: Donna Reynolds, BADRAP. By Jesse Freiden
Tethered by Love: Separation anxiety can be a two-way street. By Tracy Krulik
DOGS AT WORK: Training Working Dogs: A look at new program at UPenn. By Alexandra Anderson
AUTHORS SPEAK: Pat Shipman talks with Claudia Kawczynska about first dogs and probes into the disappearance of the Neanderthal.
The Invaders; Canine Nutrigenomics; George the Dog, John the Artist; Scents and Sensibility; Strays
Guest Editorial: Slumber Parties by Judith Gardner
Asheville’s Aloft Hotel and Portland’s Inn by the Sea help in rescue efforts.
Mural Art “Homecoming” by Agostino Iacurci
Dog Parks: Kansas shines with Shawnee Mission Park Off Leash Area
Postcard from Down Under: Dog Buildings Extraordinaire.
Finding Shed Antlers by Cynthia Howle
Film review: Hungary’s White God by Devon Ashby
Theatre Review: Comfort Dogs by Joanna Lou
Poetry: Irene Willis, Karen Ray
Dog's Life: Home & Garden
Reduce Your Paw Print
April 22 2015
This year we celebrate Earth Day’s 45th anniversary. This annual event is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement back in 1970. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Today, events large and small raise awareness of the fragile balance we hold our planet, and educate to bring changes to the dangerous course we’ve set.
Our dogs bring us closer to the natural world, and help us appreciate the environment we share with them. They too will benefit by our stewardship improving. We all need to pitch in to make a difference. Here are some simple ways to raise eco-friendly dogs and reduce our mark on the world.
Adopt Rather Than Buy
Spay/Neuter Your Dogs
Choose Foods Wisely
Make Waster More Eco-Friendly
For a more comprehensive guide to living green with pets … see more simple strategies for reducing your dogs’ paw print.
Dog's Life: Humane
Q&A with Photographer Tracey Buyce, Volunteer and Board Member, Cats and Dogs International
March 5 2015
While writing about Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) for the Spring 2015 issue, we were in touch with board member Tracey Buyce, who’s also the organization’s volunteer photographer; she made many good points that space prevented us from including in the print article. Here’s the “value-added” expanded version of that conversation.
Bark: What motivated you to become involved with CANDi?
Tracey Buyce: A few years ago, my husband I were vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, and took a romantic walk on the beach after dinner. Suddenly, we encountered a starving, stray mother dog with her malnourished puppy, searching for food and comfort. I fed her my dessert. I didn’t know what else to do, and my heart ached after that encounter.
What became clear during our stay was that there were even more dogs living on the beach, trying to survive. I knew I had to do something to help them, and couldn’t rest until I did.
As soon as we returned home, I searched the Internet for animal rescue groups in Cancun and discovered CANDi. I contacted the founder, Darci Galati, who invited me to return to Cancun the following month as a volunteer photographer for their free spay/neuter clinic. Almost immediately, I came on board as their official photographer for the clinics, and was invited to join CANDi’s Board of Directors in 2014.
B: Have you had any “aha” moments while working with the group?
TB: Yes, many, but the most notable was my change in perception of the underlying cause of the stray dog problem in Mexico.
My volunteer work has required me to visit many of the communities surrounding Cancun’s tourist resorts to photograph dogs and the local people. Although Mexico has some very dangerous areas, its hard-working people are doing their very best to survive and make it through each day with extremely limited resources. When people’s basic needs are not being met, their animals’ needs come in second, which I believe is the case here.
Visitors tend to be judgmental about what’s happening in Mexico with the stray animal and overpopulation issues, and assume that it’s the fault of the local people and community that the animals are not cared for. The reality is—and this was my personal “aha! moment”—as I spent more time in these areas, I realized that these neighborhoods are filled with people who do love their animals, but have absolutely no means of caring for them. Many live without basic resources and are unable to provide necessities such as immunizations for their kids; sterilizing their pets is almost impossible.
I think it’s a government issue. There needs to be an infrastructure in place to provide for the basic needs of families and children, and there also needs to be some support from the tourist industry to help offset the devastating poverty in the communities that surround the resorts.
B: Do you have a special CANDi story?
TB: My work with CANDi has provided many moments of joy, success and surprise, but the one that is most memorable involves Luna, a dog I found in someone’s yard, who was near death. I had seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of street dogs before I came across Luna, but something about her was different. I knew I couldn’t leave her there.
With a lot of difficulty and the help of a translator, I managed to get the owner to relinquish the dog, and through CANDi, she got the immediate veterinary care she needed until she stabilized. I found her a loving home in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, and that’s where she lives and thrives today as a happy, healthy, well-loved family dog! Luna is my special success story. [Editor’s note: You’ll find Luna’s story here.]
B: What do you consider to be the organization’s greatest strength?
TB: That it’s a grassroots group and brings volunteers from all around the world to communities that have the greatest need for spay/neuter clinics.
Everyone, including the veterinarians, is a volunteer who donates his or her time, skills and resources. All of our stories are similar in that we saw animal suffering and wanted to do something to help. CANDi is the vehicle that not only brings us together, but also, paves the way for each of us to help. Without CANDi, none of it would be possible.
CANDi’s approach—partnering with the tourism industry—is what we need to continue to build on expanding our volunteer base. This partnership also translates into resources that support more spay/neuter clinics, the implementation of humane programs at tourist destinations, and education and resources for local residents.
B: What can individuals do to help CANDi?
TB: As a tourist, if you see a stray animal in need, feed that animal; if possible, take it to a vet and have it spayed or neutered. If you fall in love, bring the dog or cat home! There is no quarantine period when entering the U.S. or Canada from Mexico and it’s very easy to do.
Not traveling? Donating just $25 to CANDi can save a dog’s life.
And, of course, volunteer! I am a professional photographer, and I give based on my talents. Not every volunteer is a vet, or wants to pick ticks off dogs at a clinic. Think about your greatest skill or asset and then think about how you can apply that to helping animals through CANDi. Visit CANDi’s website for more information on how to get involved!
B: Finally, a personal question: any dogs of your own?
TB: Yes, I have two rescue dogs, Roxy and Sydney, plus a shelter kitty, Reece, and a horse named Moose. I’m a bona fide animal lover, and that’s why I do what I do!
The interview was conducted in January 2015 and has been edited for clarity.
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