Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.
Exploring Smart Dogs
September 25 2013
In What the Dog Knows, Cat Warren explores the science and wonder of working dogs, guided by Solo, her German Shepherd. A “singleton” puppy (the only one in a litter), Solo was a challenge to train, even for someone as experienced as Warren. To harness his energies, she decided to try him at scent work—specifically, cadaver scenting. Her own training for this field was also a challenge, one that at times was more than she thought she could handle.
Initially, Warren interpreted Solo’s high drive and almost complete uncontrollability as “bad dog” behavior. However, she came to learn that he was demonstrating characteristics working- dog trainers value: intense drive and resourcefulness. In her words, “Solo was brutally rebooting my canine worldview.” This is a story of how she discovered what that worldview really is, and how she and Solo not only learned to navigate it but also, to excel at it. Warren teaches science journalism at North Carolina State University and has strong investigative and storytelling skills, which makes the book all the more enthralling and engaging.
This book offers new avenues to learn about the cognitive and emotional lives of one’s own dogs, and is highly recommended by this reviewer.
Exploring Smart Dogs
September 23 2013
Chaser, by John Pilley, is the story of how a man and a very smart, committed Border Collie won what amounts to the canine world’s grand “spelling bee.” Chaser learned to differentiate at least 1,022 words—more than any other animal—most of which were related to toys. Throw in some basic grammar, her ability to categorize her toys by function and shape, and the start of imitative behavior and you have an engrossing and remarkable tale.
The man behind this canine phenom, John Pilley (a professor emeritus of psychology whom Chaser knows as “Pop-Pop”), is himself rather amazing. Pushing 80 when he began Chaser’s lessons, Pilley spent four to five hours a day enriching his new dog’s social and learning experiences. He and co-researcher Dr. Alliston Reid later published their findings in the journal Behavioural Processes and garnered lots of media coverage, so you may be familiar with the narrative’s broad strokes. To fill in the details, read this book, which will also give you tips on how to tap into your own dog’s genius.
This book offers new avenues to learn about the cognitive and emotional lives of one’s own dogs, and is highly recommended by this reviewer.
September 17 2013
It is inspiring and moving to hear stories about people performing wonderful things for their communities. A new campaign, 5-hour ENERGY® Helps Amazing People, is putting the spotlight on these unsung champions by recognizing outstanding people who, despite their own challenges, also give their time and energy to make the lives of others better. Every week one these “local heroes” has been awarded $50,000—think of it as a MacArthur award for everyday people doing good work.
The idea came from Manoj Bhargava, 5-hour Energy Drink’s founder, who posed the question to his marketing department: “Why only pay celebrities or athletes? Why not give to the real heroes?”
One of the recent honorees is Kristina Rinaldi, the Development Associate and volunteer coordinator for Detroit Dogs Rescue (DDR), an organization founded in 2010 to help the plight of the dogs in Detroit—both the thousands of homeless dogs who roam the streets, and those living with people in need of support.
Rinaldi has helped or rescued more than 1,500 dogs and in many ways, she relates to the dogs she helps. She spent most of her childhood and teenage years in and out of foster homes or sleeping on couches of friends and relatives. At age 13 she was working for drug dealers helping throw Rave parties and by age 15 she was rapping in the hip-hop scene. There she became friends with Daniel “Hush” Carlisle, a rapper who founded DDR and who became her mentor. After putting herself through college and getting a job at a hospital, Kristina joined DDR to follow her passion of helping dogs.
Now Rinaldi coordinates volunteers to help rescue and foster many dogs who would otherwise be put down. She also does community outreach and brings dog food and even doghouses (made by local Eagle Scouts and other youth groups) to pet owners who won’t surrender their dogs but need extra help taking care of them.
And it was a total surprise when she was handed the $50,000 award. When we spoke with her recently, she acknowledged that she had no idea that she was going to win any money and “was completely blown away by it.”
I asked her why they don’t have more help with this horrible situation. As she describes it, “Detroit looks like a looks like a Third World country. There are dogs everywhere living in abandoned buildings, fending for themselves.” It is estimated that there might be as many as 50,000 living like this—in a major U.S. city! And adds that she wonders why the “National Guard isn’t coming to help us.” A question that we certainly want to ask as well.
But DDR is now has plans to build the first no-kill shelter in Detroit. And while they are trying to raise money for that project, they still provide vaccination and spay and neutering clinics. They also “do a lot of community outreach. There are many people who lost their jobs in the auto industry and who have dogs, but now they have to choose between feeding their dogs and feeding their families. Hush will go out to them and give them six months of dog food to help them to get back on their feet,” Renaldi added.
As for those doghouses, Kristina admits that she just “loves Eagle Scouts, they are fabulous and they also tap into at-risk youth, combining the building of the houses with a shop class. We are always try to keep the youth involved.”
I asked why helping dogs is so important to her and she replied that, “A dog has always helped me, helped me through whatever. No matter how you unfamiliar and lost you feel, that a dog will make you feel at home and that they are your best friend. I’ve always had a passion for dogs.” So it is fine with her that, as she says, she and her colleagues “have turned our lives over to the dogs, this is all we do. It consumes our lives.”
It is great that 5-hour ENERGY® Helps has chosen Kristina Rinaldi, and her work with the DDR, as a recipient of one of their awards, but DDR still needs our help. See how you can help.
September 14 2013
For your listening pleasure—tune into Alexandra Horowitz, author of the bestselling, “must read” book, Inside of a Dog, being interviewed on the “Person Place Thing” radio program by Randy Cohen. You can listen at any time.
As their site notes about Alexandra:
A professor of psychology at Barnard, Alexandra Horowitz is the director of that school’s Dog Cognition Lab. What we particularly admire about her: she is one of a very few scientists who can write about current ideas in her field in a way that a lay audience finds not only comprehensible – dayanu – but intriguing, which she did to great effect in her book “Inside of a Dog: What dogs see, smell and know,” and more recently in “On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes.”
Humans and Pets can be buried together, in NY state
September 14 2013
Good news for dog-lovers in New York state, pet cemeteries will be allowed to accept the cremated remains of humans and bury them alongside those of their pets. This change resolves a two-year-old dispute that began when the state refused to allow the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery—the oldest pet cemetery in the nation—to accept the ashes of a former NYPD officer, Thomas Ryan, who requested that he be buried with his three deceased Maltese pups. The officer’s niece, Taylor York, an attorney petitioned the state to change the rule that had forbidden this.
“People do get a sense of comfort from knowing they can lie for eternity with their beloved pet, that they can be loved and protected in the afterlife just as faithfully as when they were alive,” York said. The 117-year-old Hartsdale Pet cemetery, had been interring cremated human remains since the 1920s and had already buried the remains of Ryan’s wife, Bunny, beside the couples three Maltese dogs, DJ 1, DJ 2 and DJ 3.
“They didn’t have any children,” York said. “Each (Maltese), was their pride and joy.”
And even though his wife’s remains were already buried there, the state balked when it came to complying with Ryan’s wishes.
“I am not sure what prompted it,” said Hartsdale owner Ed Martin. “The whole thing, as far as I was concerned was a silly matter.”
Martin said the pet cemetery gets about five or six requests a year from pet owners to have their ashes buried with their dogs, cats, birds or other companions.
He estimates the ashes of about 700 people were already under the soil in the cemetery when the state stepped in.
Luckily now with this new ruling, people in, at least that state, will be allowed to spend all of eternity alongside their beloved pets.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/pets-pet-owners-allowed-buried-article-1.1455809#ixzz2esUpe63b
September 13 2013
While a nanny cam might be a good idea to keep track of both a child and a caregiver, even better idea might to trust in your dog’s instincts. A couple in Charleston, S.C., learned about this the hard way. It was their dog Killian who alerted them to an abusive nanny they had hired for their young son, Finn.
Benjamin and Hope Jordan did a background check before they hired the babysitter for their 7-month-old son, Finn, last year. So they hired 22-year-old Alexis Khan, who seemed to be an attentive and loving sitter in her first five months at work. But the Jordans were concerned when their trusted calm, family dog, Killian, started acting strangely toward Khan.
“…we started to notice that our dog was very defensive of our son when she would come in the door,” Benjamin Jordan told the local TV WCSC TV’s Live 5. “He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.” Their dog had never reacted this way towards anyone before.
The parents were concerned and suspicious and decided to put an iPhone under the couch to record what was happening while they were at work.
“It started with cussing,” Jordan said. “Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up.
“To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day…”
The Jordans called the police and Khan was taken into custody. Last Monday, she pleaded guilty for assault and battery in Charleston County Circuit Court. Khan will spend one to three years in prison and will be placed on a child abuse registry.
“That is fantastic news to us. To know that maybe Finn’s ordeal has possibly saved another child’s life in the future,” Mr. Jordan told Live 5. “Had our dog not alerted us to the trouble, had my wife’s instincts not said we need to make something happen, it could have been Finn that was killed by the babysitter. You never know.”
Don’t you think that this shows that every family with a babysitter also needs a doggy cam? Good work Killian!
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!
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