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Good News for Bad Hips

For a long time, surgical hip replacement has been the go-to procedure for dogs with hip dysplasia. In older dogs, when surgery is too risky, pain meds are often the only option. But now, a third alternative is rattling over the horizon. Mechanical engineering students at Purdue University are fine-tuning a canine exoskeleton, essentially a brace, that when fitted on a dog’s back relieves some of the pressure and pain off the hips.

In the process of unsuccessfully scouting for a photo, or better yet a video, of a demo-dog strutting her bionic stuff, I stumbled onto human exoskeletons. One device, created by a paralyzed engineer in Israel, may help people who have lost the use of their legs to walk. More evidence, we're all in this together.

Another, created for military use, practically turns soldiers into supermen. Yikes. Check it out:

News: Guest Posts
New Ammo in the Dog v. Cat Fight

My sister, who lives with two cats in Southern California, regularly ends our phone calls with some version of “cats rule, dogs drool.” I actually really like cats, but this does bring out my competitive spirit. So when I saw a recent study of the biomechanics of gait revealed that dogs are more efficient than cats, I read on, hoping for some feline weakness to drop into the next conversation. I was disappointed. While it’s true the noble dog is a more efficient machine built for long-distance hunting and that cats expend lots of energy with their unnerving stalking style; it is also true that the energy-flaunting way cats slink along with each paw touching down silently is exactly what makes them such superior hunters. Read the sordid details.
 

News: Guest Posts
Woman Steals Dog Poop Receptacle

Some people will go to any lengths to prevent dog poop near their yard. In this case, Carrie Fosdale of Algonquin, IL, literally took matters into her own hands. When her homeowners association refused to remove the community dog waste station installed near her townhome, Fosdale stole the waste bucket and hid it in her garage. A warrant went out for her arrest and she surrendered herself to the Algonquin police. She was released on $100 bond. If convicted, she faces up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.    

News: Guest Posts
No Love for Pet Love

Any day now, Hollywood starlets-without-a-clue will have to go somewhere other than Pet Love at the Beverly Center mall to drop big money on sickly purse pups. In a press conference this afternoon, Best Friends Animal Society will announce that the shopping center will terminate Pet Love's lease in the next few months. It's a victory for the “Puppy-Store-Free L.A.” campaign that began with a boycott of the store last summer. According to Best Friends, Pet Love “sold thousands of animals from irresponsible breeders and puppy mills for 15 years.”
 
In 2006, Pet Love got seriously punked when an undercover CBS news crew filmed illegal and improper usage of medication on store puppies. The shop was also cited by Los Angeles Animal Control for similar violations. According to a statement from Best Friends, the group unsuccessfully tried to convince the store--and offered to help with the transition--to place rescued animals. Apparently, it got ugly.

The campaign continues with a protest of Pets of Bel Air on Saturday, December 13.

 

News: Guest Posts
New Study Reveals “Dog Envy”

A new study reveals dogs feel jealousy and pride.

 

"Dr Friederike Range, of the University of Vienna's neurobiology department, has shown that dogs feel intense jealously when they spot that they are unfairly treated compared with other dogs. 'Dogs show a strong aversion to inequity,' she said."

 

While I love any research that sheds new light on animal self-awareness, I have to wonder if anyone living with more than one dog needed a study to be convinced that animals feel envy. (Paws up to pup-loving science-writer David Williams for the alert on this research.)

Listen to NPR's more detailed story about fair play research.

News: Guest Posts
The Dangers of Street Shocks

A recent memorial service for a husky named Sebastion serves as a reminder of a danger many of us didn’t even realize was out there—stray electrical voltage. (Sebastian was electrocuted by a lamppost last May.) While the dangers are nothing like the days direct current before Nikola Tesla discovered alternating current, errant shocks and electrocution are not a thing of the past. The folks at Streetzaps.com, an online clearinghouse of information about stray voltage, track incidents and current research, and provide advice for keeping dogs safe, such as avoiding walking close to lampposts or service boxes or across manhole covers.

 

News: Guest Posts
More Barks About Dogs on Treadmills

Lisa's post about treadmills reminded me of a story I heard a few years ago--in New York City--concerning two pit bulls who dropped dead from heart attacks (or heat exhaustion? I can't remember) because they were being forced to run on treadmills. These were fighting-ring dogs, of course. They were tethered (chained!) to treadmills and forced to run in order to make them 'tough." Ack!

 

One of the "owners" of the dogs was actually quoted as saying something to the effect of: "Well, if he died, that means he wouldn't have been a good fighter." 

 

This is an extreme example, of course, of why it might be better to exercise your dog in the great outdoors rather than on a treadmill. But, my humble opinion is that these treadmill manufacturers are trying to convince dog guardians that it’s okay--even desirable--to substitute a treadmill session for an honest to goodness walk. (I might go so far as to say, "...to cut corners, and be lazy.") Next, they’ll be equipping their machines with built-in iPod docks and televisions, and selling us videos of squirrels, and iTune tracks of birds chirping or perhaps the theme from Rocky. "Your dog will be inspired to run for miles!"

 

Here’s what the people at www.jogadog.com promise use of their product will achieve:

  • End unruly behavior
  • Reduce risk of serious injury
  • Provide versatility in exercise
  • Develop muscle strength & stamina
  • Control your dog's exercise regimen
  • Provide exercise in adverse weather
  • Prevent obesity & associated problems
  • Improve health, well-being & longevity
  • Correct faults in movement on-the-fly
  • Exercise many dogs quickly & effortlessly
  • Condition muscles to show ring speed
  • Maintain a vibrant coat year-round

They conclude their sales pitch with: Designed with the input of veterinarians, physical therapists and engineers, JOG A DOG is truly the best exercise system available for the most discriminating consumer.

 

Hmmm......if you were sitting on your butt late at night watching television, and this commerical came on, and you were too tired to get up and turn it off, and you knew nothing about the needs of dogs, would you be tempted?  I wonder...

 

I am lucky that I live near the ocean, and that my dog gets to gallop along its shores every day. But even when I lived in the city, and it was 800 degrees below zero, my dog went outside for his exercise: off-leash, free, fluid, and blissful. That, to me, is 'truly the best exercise' a dog (or a human) can enjoy. Does that mean I am not a 'discriminating owner'?

 

Okay, I'll get off the bandwagon now. And I’m not trying to say that the people who exercise their Basset Hounds on treadmills are wrong or evil. "To each his own" is the motto I try to live by. But maybe our treadmill users are just a bit, well, misinformed. It’s likely they were informed by advertisers.

It’s our job, as dog lovers and Bark readers, to inform them otherwise. :)

News: Guest Posts
Dogs on Treadmills

Lately, I see dogs on treadmills, and I don't mean in my dreams or metaphorically. Folks are seriously opting for machines, particularly, it seems, for basset hounds. The word is that since exercise is good for dogs, this can’t be bad. Better than nothing, maybe, but you have to think that Clementine, Skully and Hank (below), would be much happier wandering at their own varied pace out where squirrels chirp on branches and honest-to-goodness urine wafts from every hydrant, mailbox and tree. Even the Jetsons’ treadmill was out on the space-deck and included a thrilling cat chase.

News: Guest Posts
Bless the Beasts, Irish-style

The Blessing of the Animals (The Bark, Sept/Oct 2008) at the massive Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York is a Noah’s Arc-style affair (think: camels, eagles, reindeer framed by elaborate Gothic arches) that would have knocked the sandals right off its patron saint, Francis of Assisi.

A recent blessing outside St. Muredach’s in Ballina in western Ireland might have been a little more to the tastes of the ascetic friar. On November 30, a smaller group supporters of and volunteers from the North West SPCA gathered on a chilly day under the open sky with their friends, mostly dogs, to celebrate and renew their commitment to all creatures.

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Vets Oppose Ear Cropping and Tail Docking

Somewhere between packing my car and dicing celery and cranberries, I missed it. On the day before Thanksgiving, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released a statement opposing ear cropping and tail docking for cosmetic purposes, and encouraging the elimination of cropped ears and docked tails from breed standards.

Not surprisingly, the American Kennel Club (AKC)—which was not consulted on the policy—took issue with the position and use of the term “cosmetic.” AKC calls these “acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health, and preventing injuries.”

In particular, the AKC highlights the importance of these procedures in insuring the safety of dogs "that perform heroic roles with Homeland Security, serve in the U.S. Military and at Police Departments protecting tens of thousands of communities throughout our nation.”

Setting aside, for the moment, the AVMA's clear exception for procedures essential to good health and preventing injuries, are we really talking about Homeland-protecting heroes? Isn't the bulk of this surgery performed for the conformation ring and breed standards? Maybe it's time to look across the pond, where European nations banned these practices in 1987.

 

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