Letters to the Editor: Issue 57

Kennel Club Documentary Strikes a Chord
“The Cost of Perfection” (Oct. ’09) was an excellent article and oh so timely. But let’s be clear that the fault is not only that of the breeders. When judges reward the dogs with exaggerations, then everyone jumps on the bandwagon. This leads to the ridiculous extremes that prevail in the show rings and then the whelping boxes. It takes a great judge with the courage of his or her convictions to select the proper specimens.
On the matter of health issues, the Swedish Kennel Club has it right! Why the AKC does not follow suit is a mystery to those of us who care about the future of purebred dogs. Education of the pet-buying public would seem to be the answer to this problem; unfortunately, people put more research into the brand of refrigerator they plan to buy than they do into selecting a living, breathing companion for their family.
—Sami Simons
Pataskala, Ohio

Thank you for your article highlighting the problems with breeding dogs. I have abumper sticker that says “Save Lives: Spay and Neuter.” When asked about it and I explain that every time a litter of puppies is born, it means fewer homes for dogs in shelters who are waiting to be adopted. With millions of dogs being euthanized because of lack of homes, it doesn’t make sense to intentionally breed more.
—Anna West
Richmond, Va.

Was it Beverley Cuddy or The Bark who was afraid to mention the AKC in this article? Pedigree Dogs Exposed could have easily been filmed here in the U.S.; the Westminster show is as much a “parade of mutants” as Crufts.
Of course, everyone claims to be a “responsible breeder,” but the truth is, our breeding practices are no different than those in England. Breeders here have already dug in their heels to prevent changes like those now taken by England’s KC. The AKC needs to step up and start protecting the dogs.
—Sarah Logan
Springfield, Ore.

We wanted to let our readers know about this groundbreaking documentary as well as point out some “best practices.” A future article will take a look at similar problems in our own backyard.The Editors

Many Ways to Help
Thank you for your story on Bali’s dogs (“Bali’s BAWA,” Oct. ’09). I was in Bali a year ago and haven’t been able to get those dogs out of my mind. They are everywhere. I saw pregnant dogs, injured dogs, mangey dogs. I saw dogs dodging insane traffic. I found this heartbreaking until I walked in to the BAWA offices in Ubud, where I briefly chatted with an office worker, picked up some brochures and learned more about BAWA.
According to the brochure, $20 spays one female dog and $10 neuters one male dog, $7 treats mange and other skin parasites. $45 pays for fuel/maintenance to keep the Animal Ambulance on the road for a month.
As Americans, we may ask, “We have enough needy animals in the U.S.; why should I help dogs on the other side of the world?” Here’s why: In the U.S., dogs have been our companions from the beginning but, as the article notes, in Bali, the religious culture doesn’t see them that way. In addition to helping dogs, BAWA is trying to change the culture through education. If you believe that we are all connected, then you’ll understand why this organization needs our help. bawabali.com
—Susan Polakoff Shaw
Cleveland, Ohio

After reading the article about volunteer vacations (Aug. ’09), my 15-year-old daughter and I raised about 1,000 pounds of food and medical supplies for BAWA and am going to Bali in November to volunteer with the organization. I am a Podiatrist and asked our medical equipment suppliers for donations of expired goods, they have boxes of supplies with only a small dent that they cannot sell commercially. I will be there with my daughter for two weeks. Thanks for the inspiration!
—Scarlett Kroencke
Davis, Calif.

Editor’s note: The Kroenckes are now busy fundraising now to be able to ship what they have collected. If you are interested in helping, email Claudia@thebark.com and I will make sure they get your message.

A Life Saved!
I volunteer at our local shelter in Spokane, Wash., which also serves as county animal control. One of the dogs there, a Pit/Lab mix named Wally, was a high-energy and fun-loving boy, but the attributes that made him a wonderful dog also made it difficult to find him a home. Space at the shelter is limited and Wally was at the end of his options, but “Waterwork” (Aug. ’09) saved him. After reading it, I contacted Barbara Davenport and shortly thereafter, Wally was transferred into her program. Following State protocol he will first be trained as a drug detection dog, and if that doesn’t work out, he’ll go into whale scat conservation work. If he doesn’t make it through this program, they will find him a good home. Without this article, Wally would never have had a chance.
I’m also one of the Adoption Coordinators for F.I.D.O. (Foundation for Invested Dog Ownership) so I always enjoy reading your articles and sometimes make copies that I think would be beneficial to new adopting families
—Karen Allen

Subscribers Support
Rather than renew our subscription, we thought we’d just pick up Bark one at a time, or borrow it. After all, we wondered, what more we could possibly learn about dogs at this point? Then we read the amazing articles in the current issue and realized: a lot!
—Teri Wimberley
Ashland, Ore.

I just received my Sept/Oct issue of Bark Magazine. As with every issue, I dove into it with one of my Chihuahuas neatly curled up on my lap (he is one of our four rescued pups)! Before continuing on with my reading I felt compelled to email you with a thank you! Thank you for such a great magazine and hard work, but thank you for acknowledging the tough economic times by lowering your subscription rate, which compared to much larger publications I can imagine that will affect your bottom line.
Of the many publications I receive monthly, you are the first to lower your price, but more importantly, to thank your readers and subscribers for their loyalty. In response, I will be acting exactly as your team would hope—renewing my subscription as well as sending a gift subscription to a friend!
—K.A Hurley

Feed Them Well
Thank you for the article “Pet Food Confidential” (Aug. ’09). Given the absence of publicly funded research on (and testing of) commercial dog foods, why don’t we try some field work of our own? Say, a diet of nutrient-dense, highly processed, nutritionally balanced and relatively dehydrated foodstuff—perhaps premium, high-end meal-replacement bars, preferably organic. Add supplements like high-quality Omega-3s, probiotics, digestive enzymes and anti-oxidants. After a couple of months of this, we may be able to make a more informed decision about whether a quality kibble diet “should be okay” for our canine companions.
—Mason Small
Toronto, Canada

Digital Bark
Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the new Oct. ’09 digital magazine! I went through it right away and watched all the videos—really loved the Halloween Parade. While my first choice remains the print version of the magazine, having the online version at my fingertips no matter where I am makes referencing articles or ads very easy. The e-zine also gave me the opportunity to see my smiling dogs (Bud and Daisy) in the double-page spread. What fun!
—Dianne Houghtaling
Lansdale, Pa.

Words of Encouragement
I live in Ohio, near the Kentucky border. My “rescue life” started nine years ago, while I was living in the Boston area. I had two German Shorthaired Pointers and was inspired to do more for the breed. I started fostering and volunteering for a small group affiliated with the Mayflower GSP Club. When I left Massachusetts in 2005, I returned “home” to the West Virginia/Ohio/Kentucky tri-state area, where I continue to be involved in GSP rescue work.

After hearing that a local couple had adopted a “shy” female named Nutmeg through the GSP Care of Ohio group and were having issues with her, I went to their home to see if I could help. When I met her, I knew she couldn’t remain there one more day; she was virtually feral, fearful of every movement, every noise, everything. I already had one foster, which meant five dogs in my home; I wasn’t prepared (nor was my husband) for six. But, to make a long story short, we adopted her ourselves and in December, it will be two years since she came into our lives. I can tell you that although the first year was very trying, the hard work paid off. She has blossomed into a happy, sassy, and affectionate girl. I’m sure your Holly will come around. Celebrate her little victories. One of these days, you’ll look at her, note her confidence, and your heart will be full to overflowing, realizing just how far she has come.
—Michelle Salyers
National Volunteer Coordinator, GSP Rescue

The story in the June ’09 issue about Holly and Kit (“A Rescue Trip”) reminds us of our Aussie, Brenna, who’s been with us 10 years now and is also a Kentucky lass. We had lost a dog to cancer and our Bearded Collie mix Tramp needed a companion, so when we heard she needed a home, we agreed to take her. Like Holly and Kit, Brenna came to us on Delta Airlines from Cincinnati to Los Angeles; she too was scared. When Tramp lost his battle with hepatocutaneous syndrome in January 2007, Brenna was an “only child” until August of that year, when we rescued Shadow. We will always have two dogs and they will always be rescues. We are convinced they make the best companions.
—Dave and Lynda Snyder
Grand Terrace, Calif.

Dunlap Delights
I smiled my way through the first reading of “The Dogs Go Too” by Murray Dunlap (Oct. ’09) and by the third reading, I realized I have had similar conversations—I only wish that I “might be a writer” so that I could say it as poetically as Dunlap does. It’s difficult to explain to a non-dog person just what it means to share your life with a dog. My coupled friends ask if I’m lonely, but how could I possibly be? I have Tess, the most uncomplicated, rewarding relationship of my life!
—Amy McCormack
Bangor, Maine