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Julia Kamysz Lane

Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

News: Guest Posts
Pet Food Pantry
Seniors often share what little food they have with their pets

No one should have to choose between feeding herself and feeding her dog. Sadly, volunteers with the mobile food pantry Meals On Wheels discovered that many elderly and disabled clients were sharing their hot meals with their pets. Dog Scout Troop 208 of North Aurora, Ill., teamed up with its local Pet Supplies Plus to hold a "Meals for Seniors Pet Food Drive" from November 27-December 15. All food and monetary donations will go toward pre-filled gift bags, which will be distributed by Meals On Wheels to seniors with pets. To participate or start a pet food drive in your area, contact your local Meals On Wheels and/or Dog Scouts chapters.

News: Guest Posts
I Made Food! I’m Magical!
The moving adventures of simple dog & helper dog

I have a million friends who love dogs and another million who know I love dogs. This is why my email and Facebook inboxes are constantly jammed with multi-forwarded messages featuring sentimental dog stories, links to THE funniest dog video ever, and multiple memory-sucking photos of costumed canines posed or Photoshopped next to everything from babies to ostrichs complete with silly captions. So my thumb was practically twitching over the delete button when friend after friend kept forwarding and sharing the same blog post, "Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving." Finally, I gave in and read what is THE funniest dog-related blog post ever thanks to its belly-laugh inducing illustrations. The author-artist and her boyfriend attempt to move from Oregon to Montana without completely stressing out their two dogs. They are not entirely successful. Enjoy.

News: Guest Posts
Dangerous Dog Breed List Has No Bite
Daily Beast fearmongering should be muzzled

I don’t know how to break it to my family and friends, but there’s a Pit Bull mix and two Dalmatians in my house! According to the Daily Beast, I should be scared to death to live among the #1 and #11 most dangerous dog breeds, respectively.

Just because you don’t have one of the common banned breeds—Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds—you think you’re safe? Greyhounds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, Beagles, Golden Retrievers and Poodles all made the list of 39 dangerous dog breeds. Guess all of us dog lovers should run for our lives!

The irreverent online news digest (founded by former Vanity Fair and The New Yorker editor Tina Brown), attempts to persuade the reader at how much research went into creating its “39 Most Dangerous Dog Breeds” list.

Problem is, it relied on a faulty study—which had been discredited several years ago—as its main source. Not to mention, both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association have stated that breed is not the primary indicator for a bite. As most dog lovers and professional dog trainers know, socialization, training and supervision are key to bite prevention.

When glancing through the photo gallery illustrating the 30 breeds, be sure to note the breed name as printed because the Daily Beast posted photos that do not match the breed listed. For example, the Bull Mastiff “pictured” is a Dogue de Bordeaux, and both the Australian Shepherd and the Collie feature photos of what appear to be Border Collies. Perhaps if the Daily Beast had focused more on finding accurate breed photos than digging up muzzled and mean dog pics, readers could take this pet project a little more seriously.

News: Guest Posts
AKC’s Mixed Message
Does it support all dogs or not?

Earlier this year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) invited mixed breeds to participate in select activities, such as agility, obedience and rally. But are mutts only welcome at AKC events if their owners pay for the privilege? That’s the message some mixed breed owners are receiving after the AKC said no to adoptable animals as part of its annual “Meet the Breed” event in New York City.

For seven years, the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) allowed the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to bring homeless cats and kittens to its New York City Cat Show at Madison Square Garden. This generous partnership enabled the Mayor’s Alliance - a nonprofit coalition of 150 animal rescue groups and shelters – to find homes for hundreds of adoptable cats.

Last year, Madison Garden was unavailable, so CFA paired up with AKC’s “Meet the Breeds” event at the Javits Center.  CFA continued the tradition of inviting the Mayor’s Alliance to hold its Adopt A Cat program. However,  AKC said no adoptable dogs or puppies would be allowed.
 
On April 1, 2010, AKC officially opened some companion and performance programs to mixed breeds. A one-time $35 registration fee allows them to enter agility, obedience and rally trials. Each event requires additional entry fees. Apparently, the inclusion stops there. The nonprofit organization, whose mission statement includes “promote responsible dog ownership,” told the Mayor’s Alliance that no adoptable dogs or cats will be allowed at this year’s “Meet the Breeds” event.

In response, the Mayor’s Alliance and Best Friends Animal Society will present an adoption event  December 18-19 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. CFA will be participating.

News: Guest Posts
Stray Dog Caught After 3 Years
Community that cared for him glad he's safe

Rusty, aka Mr. Windyface, was the dog no one could catch. For three years, the Chow-Sheltie mix eluded animal control officers, police and the concerned  residents of Woodside Estates, the development in Oak Brook, Ill., that Rusty called home.

This implies that he was shy and rarely seen, but he was spotted nearly every day, often following people walking their own dogs through the neighborhood. In fact, he was rather social. One resident even videotaped Rusty playing with his dog.

Employees of nearby Follett Higher Education counted on regular Rusty sightings. My husband – who works for Follett at a different location - recalls seeing him two years ago when he stopped at the Oak Brook campus  one afternoon. He was worried about the loose dog in the parking lot, but his colleagues assured him, “Oh, that’s just Rusty.”

A few weeks ago, Rusty must’ve decided that he didn’t want to go through another Chicago winter on his own. He waited at the gate to play with his buddy, a rescued mix named Milo, and Milo’s owners let him in then quickly closed the gate. Finally, Rusty was caught and safe.

He is now at the Hinsdale Humane Society, where he is being treated for heartworms and growing more comfortable with people. Thankfully, there is no shortage of potential adopters and donations to his medical care fund.

For updates on Rusty’s health and home search, friend him on Faeebook where he goes by the name “Steve Arfenbarker.”

News: Guest Posts
Watch Out, Poachers!
Detection dogs stop smugglers

If dogs can sniff out drugs or explosives, why not ivory or rhino horn? The South African Police Service is training detection dogs in an effort to thwart poachers and protect endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos. Thanks to a partnership with South African company Mechem, which created its Explosive and Drug Detection System, new technology will enable the police dogs to work more safely and efficiently. Watch contraband-detection dogs in action. 

News: Guest Posts
Five Year Katrina Anniversary
Today, we remember and reflect

When my husband and I evacuated our New Orleans home the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, we assumed that this would be an unexpected, albeit nice visit with my parents in the Chicago area. Surely, we’d head back in a week or so. On August 29, 2005, we learned our fate; there was no going home.

In shock, I took comfort in the fact that our beloved pets – four dogs and two cats – were safe with us. It soon became clear that many other people were not so fortunate and thousands of dogs and cats were in danger of dying due to starvation, heat or worse. Animal lovers from around the country poured into New Orleans and Mississippi, selflessly sacrificing their time and money to save as many pets as they could.

I admired their efforts and yet, I felt for those owners who were unable to bring their pets with them and desperately tried to track them down. In some cases, the pet was found only to have the new owner refuse to reunite them, claiming that the animal had been abandoned, or neglected prior to the storm.

When I interviewed people frantically looking for their animals, I started to have nightmares. The most vivid opened with me sitting in a beautiful old theater and spotting my pets near a woman a few rows away. I called out to her, “Those are my dogs and cats! I need to take them home!” The woman turned toward me and said, “You can’t. You have no home.”

The first time I needed to take one of my dogs to a vet in Illinois, I was asked about his breed and where he was from. I said Louisiana and the tech said, “Oh, a Katrina dog!” No, I corrected her. He is from Louisiana and so am I.

Five years later, and having relocated to the Chicago area, I still occasionally hear people refer to their Katrina dog or cat. Though I am glad that these animals survived, honestly, the label makes me wince. Had we not been able to transport our pets with us, would someone else be calling my 13-year-old Catahoula, Desoto, their “Katrina” dog? Would he have a different name? Would all four dogs, even our Pit Bull mix, Shelby, have been saved? Our cats, Cricket and Bruiser Bear, are siblings. Would they have been separated?

Of course, the alternative would’ve been far worse. In the weeks and months after the biggest man-made disaster in U.S. history, I heard from friends and neighbors what happened to people and pets who were not rescued in time. I saw graphic images on websites and in the news. They are impossible to forget, and they shouldn’t be forgotten.

Fortunately, the lessons gleaned from this tragedy should prevent any animal from being left behind again. Thanks to the PETS Act, people are allowed to bring their pets with them to an emergency shelter. The Louisiana SPCA has since rebuilt, giving safe haven to homeless and unwanted pets in a beautiful, modern shelter. Plus, its volunteer and adoption programs are stronger than ever.

Civic activism became a new, necessary way of life. Local animal lovers and the LA/SPCA persuaded the city council to pass the Intact Dog Ordinance earlier this year, a major victory in the cause against pet overpopulation.

Challenges remain, but as a Katrina survivor once said, New Orleans will always be between storms. The difference is now we are prepared to ride them out.

News: Guest Posts
Google: “Shoot Dog”
What do you find in your neighborhood?

If you give up your dog, please don't be a coward and abandon him in the parking lot of a shelter. Give your dog the dignity of bringing him inside to the shelter staff so he gets food, water, a safe place to sleep, and hopefully, a chance at adoption. There are worse things than humane euthanasia.

Case in point: This past January, a dog was left outside Save-A-Pet, an animal shelter in Grayslake, Ill. While shelter manager Dana Deutsch attempted to coax him from a field to get him inside, she saw a man in a nearby house point a gun at the dog and shoot. The dog suffered before succumbing to his injuries later that day. Deutsch confronted the dog killer, Elvin Dooley, and contacted police. Her brave testimony lead to yesterday’s sentence: 20 months in jail for Dooley.  

While searching online for coverage of this incident, I came across many more stories about dogs being shot, from other unlucky strays to even family pets. Don't believe me? Go to your local daily's website, search the phrase "shoot dog," and tell me how many stories you find about people shooting either their own dogs or strays. In every story I read, a man pulled the trigger. Why do you think this is?
 

News: Guest Posts
Pit Bulls Save Chihuahua From Coyote
The lucky little dog has good neighbors

The town of Littleton, Co., is on edge this summer due to coyote attacks on a young boy and pet dogs. Early Saturday morning, Buster the Chihuahua mix was grabbed by a coyote while he and his owner were outside their home. The neighbor's Pit Bulls chased after the coyote who then dropped Buster. The little dog crawled under a bush and the Pit Bulls guarded him until the coyote was gone and Buster's owner could rescue him. Buster will undergo surgery today for various injuries sustained during the attack. Hopefully, he will make a full and quick recovery. What struck me most about this incident was how the owner did not view the coyotes as "bad," nor did she see the Pit Bulls as completely "good." What are your thoughts on this unique dog-saves-dog story?

News: Guest Posts
Shelter Dog Plays Trick on Staff
Locks are no match for Red the Greyhound

The staff at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in England had a mystery on their hands: Who let the dogs out? Enjoy!

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