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Claudia Kawczynska

Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.

News: Editors
Creative Walking
with a dog as your muse

There was a piece in the New York Times recently that provides us with yet another reason why living with dogs is so good for us. Gretchen Reynolds, their Phys Ed columnist, reviewed a current study that show how wonderful walking is to our creative process—a form of exercise that all dog people can relate to (at least 2 to 3 times/day). The salubrious effects of exercise, in general, have been found in “multiple studies that have shown that animals and people usually perform better after exercise on tests of memory and executive function, which is essentially the ability to make decisions and organize thoughts.”

But how about our more creative thoughts? So while we all have experienced thought-bubbles popping up while showering, it also seems that a leisurely walk can also stir creative juices.

Dr. Marily Oppezzo a researcher at Stanford studied this recently. She found that the students who were tested after a walk generated about 60 percent more uses for an object, and the ideas were both “novel and appropriate.” She thinks that “It may be that walking improves mood” and that perhaps creativity blooms more easily within a buoyed-up mind. Or walking may divert energy that otherwise would be devoted, intentionally or not, to damping down wild, creative thought, she said. “I think it’s possible that walking may allow the brain to break through” some of its own, hyper-rational filters, she said. (Bring on those doggies!)

Has a walk with your dog inspired any special creative idea?

 

News: Editors
Senior Love

For Brody, who is 72 years old, her adoption of a puppy was something that she put a lot of thought into. Her first column (a must-read one) about young Max generated more reader comments than anything she had written before—and she has been writing this column since 1976!

Many of the comments came from older people who had adopted dogs, and one, from a retired judge, was especially poignant:

“At age 85, I begged my wife like a 7-year-old to let me have a dog,” he wrote. “We acquired a rescue dog we’ve since learned is a Lhasa Apso. If I leave him for a moment to take out the garbage, he greets me as though I had been at sea for years. None of my children ever demonstrated such love. Without him, I would just be some old guy walking the streets, but everybody stops me to pet him, ask his breed, and just be friendly.

“If I were in my 20s, I think I would be getting marriage proposals just because of him. Dog-owning has its burdens, as you’ve stated, but of all the decisions I have made in this life, next to marrying my wife, this was the very best.”

Brody also points out that having a puppy, especially as a senior, can also be challenging, especially during the housebreaking stage, and while the health and social benefits are easily touted, as she did so well in the first column, there can be the “burdens” as well. Wisely one of her readers chastised her for not suggesting that “older people opt for a dog who is already housebroken.”

I would like to suggest that a senior might a senior dog. I know that there are shelters that provide this kind of service, matching a senior with a senior, and offering discounted adoption fees too. Does your shelter have similar programs?

 

News: Editors
Farley Mowat Dies

"I believe in God the way my dog does" —Farley Mowat

Author Farley Mowat, chronicler of humanity’s relationship with nature, ardent environmental activist and dog lover, died at the age of 92. Mowat’s prolific writing ranged from the trailblazing Never Cry Wolf to People of the Deer and numerous children’s book. In Never Cry Wolf he recounts his experience studying Arctic wolves in 1946, living in a den close to them in the Keewatin Barren Lands in northern Manitoba. As The New York Times noted in their obituary:

He portrayed wolves as patient and gentle with their own, sometimes even fond of practical jokes. They adopted orphan puppies and babysat for other wolves’ pups. They never killed more than they could eat. In one passage he described the father of the wolf family, whom he named George: “His dignity was unassailable, yet he was by no means aloof. Conscientious to a fault, thoughtful of others, and affectionate within reasonable bounds, he was the kind of father whose idealized image appears in many wistful books of human family reminiscences.”

George, he added, was “the kind of father every son longs to acknowledge as his own.”

 

One of my favorite books of all times was his totally enjoyable, hilarious The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be a story of his boyhood on the Canadian prairies with a pair of owls for pets and a dog named Mutt who was an irrepressible playmate and fellow adventurer who could climb trees and road in the back seat of the family’s roadster wearing goggles. This is an unforgettable glimpse of country life in the 30’s where boys and their dogs roamed free. Many reviewers note that this is the most entertaining book they have ever read, I couldn’t agree with them more. Both of his classics, this book and Never Cry Wolf, are must reads for every dog lover. Even as recently as July, 2009, Nicholas D. Kristof, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, listed Mowat's The Dog who Wouldn't Be (first published in 1957) as one of the best children's books of all time.

Farley Mowat died only days away from his 93rd birthday, and was working on another book at the time of his death.

 

See a story in Bark about a young family's adventure to travel across Canada to meet with Farley Mowat.

 

 

 

News: Editors
Notable Birthdays: George Clooney and Sigmund Freud
May 6

I was looking up “notable” (dog lovers) birthdays today (May 6) because that seems to be a favorite newsy item, and I saw that this date celebrates the birth of both Sigmund Freud and George Clooney. I knew that Freud was a huge dog fan with a partiality towards Chows, so checked to see what I could find about Clooney’s affiliation with our favorite species. And lo and behold, I found that not only does he love dogs, as attested to from this Esquire interview (conducted by Tom Junod, another great dog lover, whose own wonderful story appears in our book, Dog Is My Co-Pilot) but he adopted a rescue Cocker Spaniel mix, from LA’s Camp Cocker named Einstein.

From the Esquire's Dec. 2013 interview:

A few years ago, however, he lost one of his dogs to a rattlesnake. He is a dog guy—a little sign about men and dogs adorns a living-room wall otherwise dominated by signed photographs of dignitaries—and he set about to get another, preferably hypoallergenic. He saw a black Cocker-Spaniel mix on the Web site of a rescue organization and called the number. The woman who answered said she’d be happy to bring the dog to his house, but then she explained that the dog had been abandoned and picked up malnourished off the street. “He has to love you,” she told George Clooney, “or else I have to take him back.”

At first, he found himself getting nervous—“freaking out.” What if the dog didn’t love him? Then he responded. “I had some turkey bacon in the refrigerator,” he says. “I rubbed it on me. I’m not kidding. When she came over, the dog went crazy. He was all over me. The woman said, ‘Oh, my God, he’s never like this. He loves you.’ ”

As for Freud we published a great piece about him back in 2002, but here is a memorable quote from him:

"Dogs provide affection without ambivalence, the simplicity of a life free from the almost unbearable conflicts of civilization, the beauty of an existence complete in itself."
—Sigmund Freud

 

For a video of Einstein’s story see here .

For a People article on Einstein/Clooney see here.
 

 

 

News: Editors
Zoey and Jasper
A rescue dog and her little boy

Grace Chon, a LA photographer, who has shot a few covers for The Bark, became a mom about a year ago. She tells us that she started to take photos of her rescue girl Zoey with her son Jasper, modeling the same head gear. How adorable are they? Definitely hard to pick a favorite, but do you have one? I think the co-pilot duo might be my fave.http://www.zoeyandjasper.tumblr.com

UPDATE: Through the power of social media, Grace was contacted by the woman who fostered Zoey in Taiwan seven years ago. Read about their virtual reunion.

 

Guess which one of us likes to work out? (Here’s a hint, it rhymes with Shmasper.) xoxo Zoey and Jasper

Shared from zoeyandjasper

Never go on adventures without your trusty sidekick. xoxo Zoey and Jasper

Shared from zoeyandjasper

Holla back! xoxo Zoey and Jasper

Shared from zoeyandjasper

Korean sauna is fun with your best friend! xoxo Zoey and Jasper

Shared from zoeyandjasper using Embeddlr

All you need is a best friend and a silly hat. xoxo Zoey and Jasper

Shared from zoeyandjasper using Embeddlr

Hey Polar Vortex people - stay warm. xoxo, Zoey and Jasper

Shared from zoeyandjasper using Embeddlr

News: Editors
Jonny and Xena
An abused pup's remarkable friendship with a boy with autism.
Xena and Jonny - Who Rescued Who

April is both Autism Awareness and Prevention of Animal Cruelty month. This story of Jonny, the eight-year-boy with autism, and Xena, the horribly abused Pit Bull, present a powerful and heart-warming tale about survival and the indescribable bond we have with dogs. The pup was severely abused and starving to death when she came into the DeKalb (Georgia) Animal Services shelter, she was given only an one percent chance of survival. Jonny’s mom, Linda Hickey, had been following the pup’s story on Facebook and decided to take the chance that this pup would be the perfect match for her son. See how right she was!

Xena won the ASPCA’s Hero of the Dog Award in 2013, and is now in the running for the “emerging dog hero” award from the American Humane Association.

Linda Hickey poignantly tells their story in this video. Watch it to see why Xena deserves your vote.

For more, see this recent interview as well. 

And watch Jonny sing “You Got a Friend in Me” to his best pal, Xena.

News: Editors
Mars Buys P&G Pet Food Brands
Puppy drinking out of a bowl

Some news on the pet food front: Mars is buying Procter & Gamble’s pet food brands that include Iams, Eukanuba and Natura. Interesting that the company, which owns candies like M&M’s, Snickers as well as pet food brands Pedigree, Royal Canin, Nutro, Greenies, in addition to the Banfield Pet Hospitals, just increased their holdings on the pet food market. Wondering why this happened? P&G only just recently purchased Natura, but perhaps the handling of a large-scale recall of that brand in 2013, was more costly to their bottom line than they had anticipated. We did find it difficult to get timely information from them on these series of recalls, which just seem to escalate from month to month. Perhaps too they were surprised about the scale of the backlash that the news of their purchase of Natura caused. It will be interesting to see how Mars will handle customer confidence in their new acquisitions, as well as their other brands too.

Here's the story from Pet Age, a pet industry magazine.

Mars has agreed to buy Procter & Gamble‘s Iams, Eukanuba and Natura brands in major markets for $2.9 billion in cash, the companies announced in a joint press release.

The strategic move for Mars Petcare will expand its already large portfolio of pet brands, and signals Proctor & Gamble’s move to reduce its pet segment.

“Exiting Pet Care is an important step in our strategy to focus P&G’s portfolio on the core businesses where we can create the most value for consumers and shareowners,” A.G. Lafley, P&G’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said. “The transaction creates value for P&G shareowners, and we are confident that the business will thrive at Mars, a leading company in pet care.”

The geographic regions included in the acquisition, which account for approximately 80 percent of P&G Pet Care’s global sales, include North America, Latin America and other selected countries. The agreement includes an option for Mars to acquire the business in several additional countries. Markets not included in the transaction are primarily European Union countries.

P&G said it is developing alternate plans to sell its Pet Care business in these markets.

“This acquisition is a perfect fit with our Mars Petcare vision of making A Better World For Pets,”  Todd Lachman, Mars Petcare global president, said. “The deal reinforces our leadership in pet nutrition and veterinary science, attracts world class talent and grows our world leading portfolio.”

The companies expect to complete the transaction in the second-half of 2014, subject to regulatory approvals.

 

News: Editors
Rally for a Shelter Dog

Two-year old Fletch has lived at Mount Vernon, Ohio’s Knox County shelter for seven months but a week ago he was facing execution. He had accidentally nipped a girl on the hand while the two were playing together—his first offense ever. But Fletch is a well-loved dog by shelter workers and the public so when dog warden, Jordan Barnard, issued the final sentence on him, animal lovers and friends of Fletch went into action. Thousands signed online petitions, and more than a 100 gathered in downtown Mount Vernon to wave signs and get supportive honks from passing cars.

Cody Jackson, 41, of Mount Vernon, had been hoping to adopt Fletch, so he filed an injunction to block the dog’s euthanization. Fletch’s case went to court, with his advocates packing the municipal courtroom. All were relieved when Judge Spurgeon seemed unmoved by the warden’s case and ordered the dog released to Phil Samuell, a shelter volunteer who offered to foster the dog. Samuell takes marvelous photos of shelter dogs to entice adoptions (and often sends them to us for our viewing pleasure), and tells us that the warden has appealed this stay of execution, so a further hearing is now set for 4/1/14. Let’s hope that Fletch’s case is resolved and he gets a permanent reprieve and to go to his forever home with Jackson.

Culture: DogPatch
Dogs for the Ages
Bracketology: The Final Four of Everything charts out the top dog of all time!
Bracketology: The Final Four

Here at Bark, we adhere to the theory that humans coevolved with dogs. If wolves hadn’t chosen to leave their packs and join our humble campfires, who knows what rung of the evolutionary ladder we would still be on. Not only did dogs teach us the hunt (Sirius), they guided us through icy storms (Buck, Balto), waited our return from adventures (Argos, Krypto), saved us from hairraising travails (Checkers, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Snowy, Toto, and Asta), acted as our confidants (Charley, Fala, Gromit), served as our muses (Boatswain, Flush, Man Ray, Marley, and Tulip) and in the end, became what they are best known as—our truest and oldest friends (Earl, Old Yeller, Skip, and Snoopy). See an enlarged image of this bracket.

HIGHLIGHTS

Lassie vs. Rin Tin Tin
Lassie, the über-Collie, set the bar for canine exploits so high that all our dogs are doomed to pale in comparison. Rin Tin Tin, a scrappy German Shepherd, defined the rugged action hero. The tiebreaker? “Rinty” was a real dog discovered on a WWI battlefield, a dog’s dog. Lassie was an actor. Besides, who can resist a dog in uniform?

Balto vs. Laika
These two heroes captured the world’s attention—Balto in 1925, for his role in the Alaskan serum run, and Laika in 1957, for being the first earthling in space. Laika wins by a nose. Found on the streets of Moscow, the mongrel stray (dubbed Muttnik) wins points for her humble beginnings and her tragic end, while Balto tasted stardom.

Checkers vs. Fala
A runoff between two notable presidential pets—on one ticket, we have Checkers, the Cocker Spaniel who saved Richard Nixon’s career, and on the other, FDR’s constant companion and confidant Fala, a Scottish Terrier who never missed a photo opportunity, accompanying the president by plane, limo, and ship—giving new meaning to dogfriendly travel. Fala in a landslide!

Goofy vs. Droopy
It’s a battle of styles— Goofy, the lead dog in Walt Disney’s cast of cuddly, sentimental characters, versus Tex Avery’s gum-chewing, sarcastic barnyard beboppers, represented here by the deadpan Droopy. Sorry, Goof …

Argos vs. Rin Tin Tin
One for the ages—Ulysses’ devoted dog Argos in Homer’s Odyssey faces off with Rin Tin Tin, Hollywood’s first animal star. Argos’ devotion helped win back the kingdom of Ithaca, while Rin Tin Tin’s loyalty saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin bows to Argos, whose legend has been burnished through the millennia.

Charley vs. Tulip
J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are classic meditations on the enduring bond between man and dog. In this matchup between Tulip, a German Shepherd, and Charley, a Standard Poodle—Charley wins. The quintessential co-pilot, he guided Steinbeck’s search of America, served as the journey’s social icebreaker, and played silent straight dog to his human’s musings.

Boatswain vs. Cujo
How else would these two masters of the written word face off but through their canines? Boatswain, a Newfoundland, inspired one of Byron’s best-known works, “Epitaph to a Dog,” while Cujo provoked fear in Stephen King’s bestseller. Boatswain, in a poetic finish.

FINALS

Fala vs. Snoopy
Sorry, Fala, you’re already immortalized with your beloved FDR on the National Mall, but Snoopy is the iconic dog for the ages, so we award him the golden bone. Snoopy had many alter egos in his long career, and here’s one more for him: the archetypal “everydog.” Snoopy embodies all the characteristics (both good and bad) that we see in our own dogs. He is the muse, the prankster, the hero, the philosopher, the confidant, and the truest of companions. Snoopy possesses a little of everything that makes for the perfect dog—plus, just enough Joe Coolness to keep us on our toes. Good grief, how could he not win?

Culture: DogPatch
Dogs for the Ages
Bracketology: The Final Four of Everything charts out the top dog of all time!
Bracketology: The Final Four

Here at Bark, we adhere to the theory that humans coevolved with dogs. If wolves hadn’t chosen to leave their packs and join our humble campfires, who knows what rung of the evolutionary ladder we would still be on. Not only did dogs teach us the hunt (Sirius), they guided us through icy storms (Buck, Balto), waited our return from adventures (Argos, Krypto), saved us from hairraising travails (Checkers, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Snowy, Toto, and Asta), acted as our confidants (Charley, Fala, Gromit), served as our muses (Boatswain, Flush, Man Ray, Marley, and Tulip) and in the end, became what they are best known as—our truest and oldest friends (Earl, Old Yeller, Skip, and Snoopy). See an enlarged image of this bracket.

HIGHLIGHTS

Lassie vs. Rin Tin Tin
Lassie, the über-Collie, set the bar for canine exploits so high that all our dogs are doomed to pale in comparison. Rin Tin Tin, a scrappy German Shepherd, defined the rugged action hero. The tiebreaker? “Rinty” was a real dog discovered on a WWI battlefield, a dog’s dog. Lassie was an actor. Besides, who can resist a dog in uniform?

Balto vs. Laika
These two heroes captured the world’s attention—Balto in 1925, for his role in the Alaskan serum run, and Laika in 1957, for being the first earthling in space. Laika wins by a nose. Found on the streets of Moscow, the mongrel stray (dubbed Muttnik) wins points for her humble beginnings and her tragic end, while Balto tasted stardom.

Checkers vs. Fala
A runoff between two notable presidential pets—on one ticket, we have Checkers, the Cocker Spaniel who saved Richard Nixon’s career, and on the other, FDR’s constant companion and confidant Fala, a Scottish Terrier who never missed a photo opportunity, accompanying the president by plane, limo, and ship—giving new meaning to dogfriendly travel. Fala in a landslide!

Goofy vs. Droopy
It’s a battle of styles— Goofy, the lead dog in Walt Disney’s cast of cuddly, sentimental characters, versus Tex Avery’s gum-chewing, sarcastic barnyard beboppers, represented here by the deadpan Droopy. Sorry, Goof …

Argos vs. Rin Tin Tin
One for the ages—Ulysses’ devoted dog Argos in Homer’s Odyssey faces off with Rin Tin Tin, Hollywood’s first animal star. Argos’ devotion helped win back the kingdom of Ithaca, while Rin Tin Tin’s loyalty saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin bows to Argos, whose legend has been burnished through the millennia.

Charley vs. Tulip
J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are classic meditations on the enduring bond between man and dog. In this matchup between Tulip, a German Shepherd, and Charley, a Standard Poodle—Charley wins. The quintessential co-pilot, he guided Steinbeck’s search of America, served as the journey’s social icebreaker, and played silent straight dog to his human’s musings.

Boatswain vs. Cujo
How else would these two masters of the written word face off but through their canines? Boatswain, a Newfoundland, inspired one of Byron’s best-known works, “Epitaph to a Dog,” while Cujo provoked fear in Stephen King’s bestseller. Boatswain, in a poetic finish.

FINALS

Fala vs. Snoopy
Sorry, Fala, you’re already immortalized with your beloved FDR on the National Mall, but Snoopy is the iconic dog for the ages, so we award him the golden bone. Snoopy had many alter egos in his long career, and here’s one more for him: the archetypal “everydog.” Snoopy embodies all the characteristics (both good and bad) that we see in our own dogs. He is the muse, the prankster, the hero, the philosopher, the confidant, and the truest of companions. Snoopy possesses a little of everything that makes for the perfect dog—plus, just enough Joe Coolness to keep us on our toes. Good grief, how could he not win?

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