Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.
Wellness: Healthy Living
September 13 2013
Dogs are great at bringing nature—bits of flora, fauna, dirt—into our homes. Now studies have shown that they also fetch a treasure of bacterial diversity “nesting” in their fur. This is not a bad thing. In fact, having a diverse microbiome environment can be very good for us.
North Carolina State University biologist Rob Dunn and colleagues are studying the microbes in home environments and found that the one variable that made the biggest difference in a home’s bacterial diversity was whether or not the family had a dog.
“When you bring a dog into your house …you are introducing a suite of dog-associated [microbe] taxa directly into your home…some of which may have direct or indirect effects on human health,” they write in PLoS ONE.
Other scientists have speculated that an exposure to greater numbers of microbes keeps the immune system from turning on the body. Plus, children living with dogs had fewer allergies and were healthier overall. Dunn added that, “Our study provides evidence to robustly support this assumption.” So do as Michael Pollan suggested: “wash your hands when pathogens or toxic chemicals are likely present, but maybe not after petting your dog.” Good news for dogs, and for us too
Joey's Jerky Brand
September 11 2013
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is announcing a voluntary recall of Joey’s Jerky brand Chicken Jerky due to possible Salmonella risk. A total of 21 people in Merrimack and Hillsborough Counties have been identified with the same strain of the illness, but no deaths have occurred. Joey’s Jerky is produced in New Hampshire and the manufacturer, Kritter’s Kitchen Kreations, LLC, has voluntarily recalled all of the product. Joey’s Jerky was sold at the following six stores: America’s Pet in Hudson, Blue Seal in Bow, K9 Kaos in Dover, Osborne’s Agway in Concord, Sandy’s Pet Food Center in Concord, and The Yellow Dogs Barn in Barrington. DHHS is asking people to check if they have any of these jerky treats at home and to discard them.
According to The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H.:
This jerky was made in Loudon, NH. Its website as part of New Hampshire Made, a consortium of local firms, identifies the owner only as Krista, “a mother of an adult son, and 6 furry friends.”
The company’s goal, it says, is “to provide fresh, locally made treats for your pet.”
Marks said that more local firms are making pet treats and pet foods these days as a reflection of the “local food” movement.
“More and more, people are doing that. They don’t want to be buying from China. They want to know where their food is, where it’s from,” she said.
Through investigation and interviewing the ill people, the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control determined that the jerky treats were implicated in spreading Salmonella. Confirmation through laboratory testing of the jerky is pending at the New Hampshire Public Health Labs.
Salmonella is a bacterium that causes the diarrheal illness Salmonellosis, which can be serious in some patients. Symptoms also include fever and abdominal cramps within 12-72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts from 4 to 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur that may move to other body sites and in rare cases can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
“While uncommon, pet food and treats can sometimes be contaminated with Salmonella, which is why it is so important for pet owners to wash their hands after handling pet food and treats,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “I want to commend the manufacturer of Joey’s Jerky for their cooperation in this investigation and the epidemiologists here at Public Health for their excellent work. Salmonella can be a serious illness and the sooner the source of an outbreak is identified the sooner it can be stopped.”
For more information on Salmonella, contact the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496 or visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/salmonella.
Goats Milk, Tea, Chia, and Kelp
August 30 2013
Here are four new products whose ingredients harness nature’s bounty for our dogs’ benefit. Enrich your co-pilot’s diet with herbal blossoms, goat’s milk, sun-dried seaweed and an ancient grain.
Time for Tea
Culture: Stories & Lit
August 28 2013
Welcome to our 75th issue. When we launched The Bark almost 18 years ago (before email became the ubiquitous medium it is today), we relied on traditional “pamphleteering” to campaign for off-leash recreation. That humble eight-page broadsheet—the first incarnation of today’s magazine— showcased articles similar to those in this glossier version.
We set out not only to help dogs (and their people) by advocating for dog parks but also, to chronicle the nascent modern dog culture. We were the first to cover it, and the first to examine the complexities of the humancanine bond. Researchers are now exploring this relationship, and some of the mysteries behind the world’s oldest friendship are being unraveled. However, all dog people know in their bones that no matter how far back our co-evolution goes, or how domestication came about, the core value of our relationship hasn’t changed much in the thousands of years since we teamed up. That continuity guides our course at The Bark.
The importance of adoption has long been a critical part of our agenda, and in this issue, we showcase innovative sheltering programs. It has been almost 10 years since we covered the plight of satos, stray dogs of Puerto Rico, and it’s encouraging to learn that progress is being made with the assistance of groups like Pets Alive Puerto Rico, profiled here. John Woestendiek examines college programs that reward students for fostering dogs and cats in their dorm rooms, and Science reporter David Grimm takes us on a visit to a unique Louisiana prison-shelter program that began in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Endpiece by Elaine Sichel, prizewinner in our humorwriting contest, also perfectly complements this theme; in a lighthearted way, she makes it clear that we’re the winners when we adopt shelter dogs. Finally, our intern, Jennifer Senski, who is doing her PhD dissertation on the state of sheltering, puts out a call to the shelter community for assistance with data collection.
On other fronts, Jane Brackman considers the ways dated and misapplied definitions have been used to set breed standards, and Karen London tells us why it’s important that dogs learn to focus. Plus we discover that autumn is the perfect time to “revisit” Minnesota’s scenic Highway 61, with a drive along Lake Superior. Pieces on the value of probiotics, a recipe for homemade kibble, a home-visiting vet and the ways dog “germs” make our homes healthier round out the issue. Speaking of home, this photo shows our Kit—who recently turned five— striking a pose on a stone memorializing César Chávez at our local OLA in César Chávez Park. Many of you know that we adopted her and her sister Holly from a shelter in Kentucky. Both had rough puppyhoods, but were definitely making steady progress, Kit more so than her sibling.
Because many of you routinely inquire about the girls, I feel I must share some sad news about Holly, though it’s still difficult for me to write about. A few months ago, my husband was walking Kit, Holly and our Pointer Lola in the park’s off-leash area when an unexpected storm blew in; Holly, easily spooked, bolted. With Lola and Kit’s help, he searched for more than 45 minutes, canvassing the 100-acre park in a torrential downpour.
They finally spotted her in a parking lot, darting between cars, but before they could reach her, a car struck her, and she died instantly. I was home with our fourth dog, Charlie, nursing a broken ankle, when I got the call. Needless to say, we were devastated. At that point, my biggest concern was for Kit. I wasn’t sure how she would respond to this loss; she and Holly were inseparable, seeming at times to be one magical, eight-legged dog. Charlie turned out to be a great comfort to Kit (and to the rest of us, for that matter). Once again, I was reminded of how resilient dogs can be, and was inspired by it.
On to business matters. For a limited time, the digital version of each issue remains free for subscribers. Those who are concerned that we are abandoning print can rest easy, however, as we have no intention of dropping the ink-on-paper magazine. We too love print, but its digital cousin gives us another way to enhance our content and expand our reach. Last, a heads up: printing costs are skyrocketing and in 2014, we will be forced to increase our cover price and subscription rates to cover them. Now’s the time to take advantage of the current low rates and place a new or renewal subscription. Support independent publishing and help us get to issue 100!
August 24 2013
When Andrew Sullivan’s Beagle, Dusty, passed away a couple of weeks ago he wrote a very moving piece about her at that time. Now he is writing about how his other Beagle, Eddy, has responded to this loss. Again, in a very touching, observant manner.
“Her demeanor shifted to sadness and quiet. She didn’t just leave her food around to eat at leisure; she stopped eating in the morning altogether. It was almost as tough as getting her to eat in the evening as well. On walks, she trailed behind, moving slowly, tugging at the end of a long leash, as if not really wanting to go anywhere. It happened after about a week – perhaps because that was when it became unmistakable that Dusty wasn’t just away for a bit – but was, in fact, never coming back.”
I certainly believe that dogs can grieve, as well as possessing the full range of emotional expression as we have—it just might be more difficult for us to translate theirs. As another post on Sullivan's The Dish site noted:
"The 17th century English philosopher Anne Conway argued that the differences between humans and other creatures were “finite” differences—differences of degree and intensity. There is no infinite difference between creatures that makes another’s form of life wholly and eternally incomprehensible. Whoever can’t see that something sort of like “justice” functions in the animal world, Conway argued, “must be called completely blind.”
A few years ago when Bark’s “founding” dog, Nellie (a Beagle/Border Collie mix) died, Lenny, our 14-year-old Terrier, went into a tailspin. I feared that he too would soon leave us, dying of a broken heart. Like Sullivan’s dog, he stopped eating and simply wouldn’t respond to my attempts at consoling. It didn’t take me long to realize that Lenny missed having a pack mate and there was little that a human substitute could do. So we quickly decided to get him, and us, another dog. That is when our rescue Pointer, Lola came into our lives, and turned out to be the magic pill for Len—not only did he perk up almost immediately, but he seemed to drop years in a blink. It wasn’t that he liked Lola all that much, but she added a necessary foil for him to maneuver around. He had a new motivation to live and since Lola was more concerned with “environmental matters,” as is the wont of sporting dogs, he got to trail after her in those pursuits. He went on to live another 4 years, and passed away in my arms at 18.
I’m sure that you too have experienced this, not just a dog grieving for the loss of another dog (or other family member), but how a new dog can provide just the right antidote to the “other” dog. Let me know your thoughts.
August 21 2013
Petfinder.com, which was actually owned by Discovery, was just purchased by Nestle Purina. What this means to this important online pet adoption service is anyone's guess. Hopefully, Purina will put more of its vast resources into improving its functionality, something that I had noticed needed some "fixing up" for quite some time. I have heard from a few rescue groups that the process to get "accepted" by Petfinder can be a very long process. Perhaps this might speed it up, which would be a good thing. But it will also be interestng to see how Petfinder's source of "metadata" might be used by this new parent company. What do you think of this?
A Video Pick of the Week
August 18 2013
I was rereading John Pilley’s Chaser, a must-read book about his dog, Chaser, the Border Collie who learned to distinguish over 1000 words. One of the aspects of the book I really enjoyed was his appreciation for Border Collie lore, with a nod to others, like Arthur Allen, the “grandfather of Border Collies,” who wrote the seminal Border Collies in America and went on to “star” in a 1955 Disney movie, Arizona Sheepdog. Pilley mentioned that it’s now available on YouTube, so I just watched it and want to recommend it to every dog lover. It’s my video “pick” of the week!
Granted it is a “staged” Disney film but what Nick and Rock, Allen’s dogs do on this film cannot be directed. It was stunning to see how Nick herds a Navajo child’s pet chipmunk and then goes on to rescue sheep that have fallen into a fast moving river. These are amazing dogs who demonstrate that not only can they problem solve without supervision but they also work cooperatively with each other. This short film is a testament to Allen who has said, “I like a dog that is an individualist; one who thinks for himself and will act without orders.” As the film narrator says, Allen had no doubt that Nick would do his job and bring the sheep back to their flock. That is what they expected he would do and he did it. See it for yourself and let me know what you think.
Iams and Eukanuba Brands are affecte
August 15 2013
Editors note: Make sure you do not feed your dogs the food on the recall list and also make sure that the store you shop it pulls it from their shelves!
CINCINNATI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) has voluntarily recalled specific lots of dry pet food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. These lots were distributed in the United States and represent roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of annual production. No Salmonella-related illnesses have been reported to date in association with these product lots.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
This issue is limited to the specific dry pet food lot codes listed below. This affects roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of total annual production. The affected product was distributed to select retailers across the United States. These products were made during a 10-day window at a single manufacturing site. P&G’s routine testing determined that some products made during this timeframe have the potential for Salmonella contamination. As a precautionary measure, P&G is recalling the potentially impacted products made during this timeframe. No other dry dog food, dry cat food, dog or cat canned wet food, biscuits/treats or supplements are affected by this announcement.
P&G is retrieving these products as a precautionary measure. Consumers who purchased a product listed below should stop using the product and discard it and contact P&G toll-free at 800-208-0172 (Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 6 PM ET), or via website at www.iams.com or www.eukanuba.com.
Media Contact: Jason Taylor, 513-622-1111.
Products affected by this announcement:
Procter & Gamble
Link to Eukanuba Recall notification: http://www.eukanuba.com/en-US/SpecialAnnouncement.pdf
Link to Iams Dog Food Recall notification: http://www.iams.com/en_us/data_root/_pdf/8-14-13%20Iams%20Product%20Information%20Dog.pdf
Link to Iams Cat Food Recall notification: http://www.iams.com/en_us/data_root/_pdf/8-14-13%20Iams%20Product%20Information%20Cat.pdf
Pup Found Swimming in the SF Bay by Windsurfers
August 13 2013
This is a lost pup story for the record books. On Monday evening a black Lab-Pit mix was found swimming in choppy, chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay about 2 miles from the shore. Windsurfers had spotted her and were trying to get help to bring her to shore, when a Berkeley man, Adam Cohen, came to rescue. Seems that Cohen has a nonconventional commute vehicle, he uses a motorized rubber boat to take him to his office at the Presidio in San Francisco from his home in North Berkeley.
He was at the evening leg of his commute when he had noticed a group of windsurfers clustered together, with their sails down. He was concerned that something was wrong and went closer to see if he could help. What he found was that one of the surfers had pulled a pup from the water, unto his board, and was trying to get help from the coast guard by calling from a two-way radio. Cohen maneuvered his boat in closer and, after phoning his wife, took the dog with him. The surfer said, “She was way out there. It looked like she was trying to swim to Angel Island.” Cohen noted that “the dog was shaking and seemed disoriented.” He then took her home, put her on a pad and wrapped her in a blanket. A couple of hours later, she seemed to be recovering, Cohen said. She looked healthy, was wearing a collar but was not microchipped.
Cohen’s wife, Lisa Grodin, picks up the rest of the story in this report from the Berkeley Patch:
“She just has the nicest, sweetest personality. She follows me everywhere.”
The couple is hoping to locate the dog’s owner but it they don’t “Grodin said she would like to adopt the puppy, though her husband thinks that having one dog is probably enough. They already live with a Lab mix named Zephyr, who seems disposed to peaceful co-existence with the new visitor ‘as long as she doesn’t get near his food bowl.”
So, if the dog's owner isn’t found, they will likely adopt her out “if we can find an adoption home that can be as loving as we would be,” Grodin said.
In the meantime, what do they call their new house guest?
“We’ve been calling her ‘Richard Parker,’ from The Life of Pi,” Grodin said, referring to the film about a boy stranded in a small boat at sea with a tiger named Richard Parker.
A remarkable story filled with a fleet of good Samaritans. Let’s hope the Cohen-Grodin family expand by one well-traveled new member. If not, I’m sure that all the publicity that this story has gathered will come up with the perfect home for her.
More news: This story keeps gettting better, we picked up this report about the windsurfers who valiantly rescued the dog:
This morning I had the opportunity to read the news story you wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle. As one of the windsurfers that came to the aid of the labrador yesterday off of Treasure Island, I thought I would share some of the facts, and to identify to you the person that I believe to be the “true hero” in all of this.
He is one of windsurfing community, and a incredibly compassionate man. He is Ed Coyne, of San Rafael, CA.
Ed and I were windsurfing together about a mile north of Treasure Island when Ed noticed the labrador (mix) swimming aimlessly in the bay. As is evident in the photograph, the winds were up in the bay and there were substantial waves which were breaking periodically over the head of the dog.
Ed was determined to come to the aid of the dog, and to do everything possible to ensure that the dog would not drown.. He sailed near the dog and tried to garner her attention with commands of “Come here”. Nevertheless, the dog kept swimming towards Alcatraz. Ed sailed out ahead of the dog to get in her path and then single handedly Ed secured her by the nape of her neck to place the dog on his windsurfing board. Ed hailed other windsurfers who then joined him to assist.
As most of us carry VHF radios, I hailed the Coast Guard to report the situation and to request Coast Guard assistance. Shortly after placing the distress call on Channel 16 to the Coast Guard, Mr. Cohen and his friend were motoring back towards the East Bay and the flotilla of windsurfers then assembled to assist Ed Coyne and the dog waived their arms to indicate that assistance was needed. At that point, Ed Coyne coordinated the transfer of the dog to Mr. Cohen’s boat with a request that he take the dog to the Berkeley Humane Society to attempt to find its rightful owner.
This is a wonderful story with a happy ending.
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