23 December 2008
22 December 2008
After coming under fire for buying a puppy from a breeder in PA (where violations have been cited in the past), Vice President-elect Joe Biden is vowing to add another dog to his growing family.
This time, he’ll get one from a shelter.
“We’re gonna get a pound dog that my wife wants,” Biden said. He told ABC the new puppy will likely be a golden retriever — and that he’s not just adopting from a pound just to silence critics. “We’ve always had two dogs,” he says. “We’ve always had two big dogs so they can have companionship. I’ve had German shepherds from the time I was a kid. I’ve trained them and shown them.”
Biden also told Stephanopoulos that his family is no stranger to pound pets. “We already have a pound cat — we’ve had pound animals in our house,” he says.
19 December 2008
If the shoe doesn't fit, take it back to the store. And if the black dog doesn't match the white sofa, well, you might as well return him, too.
That's the screwy logic some former UK pet owners have followed when surrendering their animals to shelters, Dogs Trust, a leading British dog welfare agency in England, announced Monday. The organization released a list of the top 10 "most irresponsible reasons" people have given for abandoning their dogs.
The sofa gripe placed first; dissatisfaction that a dog "looks evil and has different colored eyes, just like David Bowie," came in second. The list also includes complaints about dogs that didn't match the carpet, opened all the presents on Christmas eve, ate the Christmas turkey, and those that were deemed "too old."
One dog got the boot after the family's pet guinea pig became "worried" about its looming presence. Another dog received a one-way ticket to a local shelter because its owner knelt in its urine while cleaning up after it. A Staffordshire Terrier had only its breed's reputation to fault for his owner's concern that his docile dog would turn aggressive. It, too, was deposited at a shelter.
Across the pond, it's more of the same excuses from some stickler pet owners. New Yorkers have returned dogs and cats because they do not bark or meow, Richard Gentles, spokesman for NYC's Animal Care and Control, told Pet Pulse.
Other justifications include: the pet did not match the new furniture or decor, got caught between a wall in a house, and was "too nice" to aggressively guard the house.
One cat was surrendered after its owner found it "did not alert me when my phone rings or someone is at the door," Gentles said.
A New Jersey couple brought a pig to the Jersey Shore Animal Shelter in Brick, N.J., after it "grew," the shelter's director, Pat Wallace, told Pet Pulse. "The pig grew to be a few hundred pounds, surprise surprise," Wallace said. "How they didn't realize that piglets grow up to be pigs, I don't know."
Another pet owner surrendered a dog that wasn't the breed the pet store had said it was, Wallace said.
Dogs Trust compiled and released the odd complaints with hope of promoting responsible dog ownership, especially during the Christmas season, when more people seek out pets as gifts for others.
"Having a dog is a long-term commitment and our anniversary offers the perfect opportunity to remind people that dogs are not fashion accessories or disposable items that can be upgraded or discarded after just a few months," Dogs Trust's Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin, told the Daily Express.
"Some of the reasons we hear for dogs being abandoned are truly outrageous and saddening," she continued. "The slogan 'a dog is for life, not just for Christmas' is as relevant today as it was when I created it 30 years ago."
18 December 2008
From pooches on the big screen in Beverly Hills Chihuahua and the upcoming Marley & Me to the endless speculation about the Obamas' future "first dog," canines have leaped from supporting status as man's best friend to star billing in entertainment magazines and on the front page.
Publishers, too, have hopped on the doggy wagon. And with gift-giving time just days away, there's sure to be a dog-related book that'll bring smiles and wags (well, at least from your more effusive friends).
A Very Marley Christmas, by John Grogan, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey (HarperCollins, $17.99). Take one rambunctious Labrador retriever puppy (dubbed "the world's worst dog" by his adoring but exasperated family), add breakable ornaments, deliciously chewy wrapping paper and eminently tuggable fir trees (Marley can't resist a good tug of war), and what've you got? One big happy mess. (For ages 3 to 8.)
Phodography: How to Get Great Pictures of Your Dog, by Kim Levin (Amphoto, $17.95). Ms. Levin gets into the nitty-gritty of terrific animal photography, with fantastic advice and sections on such vital topics as close-ups (it's all about the nose and ears), getting the perfect "head tilt" and staging action shots ("Rolllllll over, googums, googums, googums. Yes, we love that wiggly belly!").
Bliss to You: Trixie's Guide to a Happy Life, by Trixie Koontz as told to Dean Koontz (Hyperion, $16.95). Mr. Koontz's fans know his deep devotion to his golden retriever, the late Trixie – he is pictured with her on just about every one of his books, and he features golden retrievers in many of his story lines. Trixie's thoughts are concise and not necessarily grammatically correct (hey, what did you expect?) but often shine with wisdom. Example: "Thomas Jefferson said life mostly sunshine. Hitler said life mostly suffering. Freud said life meaningless. You know whose dog had more fun."
Woof! Writers on Dogs, edited by Lee Montgomery (Viking, $24.95). This canine-themed anthology focuses on the relationships between dogs and their humans, with contributors including Rick Bass, Abigail Thomas, Denis Johnson and Antonya Nelson. With humor and pathos, the writers pay tribute to ordinary dogs who become extraordinary contributors to their families' lives, just by being their wonderful, slobbery, perfect doggy selves.
Izzy & Lenore: Two Dogs, An Unexpected Journey, and Me , by Jon Katz (Villard, $24). Mr. Katz, who once worked as a journalist at the Dallas Times-Herald, continues his series of nonfiction books about the dogs (mostly border collies, but here including a black Lab puppy) at Bedlam Farm, his farm in upstate New York. Here he takes the dogs off the farm, as trained hospice volunteers bringing canine comfort to those who need it most.
Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs, by Gene Weingarten, with photographs by Michael S. Williamson (Simon & Schuster, $19.95). This is a heartfelt, upbeat paean to the wonders of the graying muzzle, the shaky-hipped gait, the ears that don't always hear the mailman. Each photo is accompanied by a story that captures character – of one dog, or of many. To wit: Buffy, 14, a cocker spaniel, has appointed herself the family's paper girl. Her owner says Buffy "has to make sure she shakes the newspaper violently from side to side, to break its neck. Only then will she bring it in for us."
Dogology: What Your Relationship With Your Dog Reveals About You, by Vicki Croke and Sarah Wilson (Rodale, $17.95). The writers good-naturedly help you figure out your own psychological tics and traps by looking at how you treat your dog – what you call him or her ("Hey, you!" is a different type than "Pooky-love-doodle"), how you praise, what you expect and how you show your love. You might be a buddy, a free spirit or a dynamo (and if so, you probably own a golden retriever, a border collie or a miniature pinscher, respectively).
It's a Cat's World ... You Just Live in It: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Furry Feline, by Justine A. Lee (Three Rivers Press, $13.95, available Dec. 30). Ms. Lee, a veterinarian, lets the cat out of the bag on some eternally puzzling questions. "Do cats get high from catnip, and can I use it?" (Her answers: Yes, and no.) "Should I dump my boyfriend because he doesn't like my cat?" (Her answer: Yes. We suspect a slight prejudice on her part.)
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter (Grand Central, $19.99). On a bitter-cold night, someone stuffed a kitten into the book-return slot at the Spencer, Iowa, public library. Maybe they were playing a prank, or just trying to put the kitten in a place where he could warm up. He was found by the library director, Ms. Myron, the next morning – and he stayed for 19 years, becoming as much a fixture as the filing system for which he was named. Meryl Streep is slated to play Ms. Myron in the movie version; this could be next year's Marley & Me at the movie-plex.
17 December 2008
During the busy holiday season, it is important to keep your dogs in mind. Here are Cesar's Top Tips for a balanced dog all Winter long!
1. Exercise your dog before taking him to visit, or receiving, holiday guests. Holiday visits may involve more excited energy than usual. Your dog is more likely to behave if it has just had a nice long walk.
2. Don't forget rules, boundaries, and limitations just because it's the holidays! Holidays bring many new temptations in the form of smells (freshly baked cookies and a tree in the house), sights (bright lights and visiting relatives), and sounds (Christmas carols and sleigh bells). Use this opportunity to reinforce the household rules.
3. Protect your dog from the cold. Many breeds are not built for cold weather. Check out your local pet store for suggestions, such as doggy boots or paw waxes, to help your dog handle the elements.
4. Stick to your dog's normal diet! It can be tempting to share those tasty table scraps with your dog, but too many rich foods (like turkey and sauces) can lead to serious inflammation of the pancreas, which can be life-threatening.
5. Beware of hazardous holiday items. Ingested poinsettia plants cause dogs to vomit; chocolate is poisonous to dogs; and tinsel has sent many a dog to the emergency room. Keep fragile ornaments toward the top of the Christmas tree; only place sturdy ones near the bottom.
6. Do your holiday boarding research in advance! You want to feel confident that your pet will be safe and comfortable while you are away. Start by getting recommendations. Find two or three facilities that meet your requirements, and investigate further.
7. I don't recommend giving a puppy as a holiday gift. I strongly believe that the whole family needs to have basic knowledge about the commitment and responsibility of pet ownership before receiving an animal.
8. Include your dog in your New Year's Resolutions! Make a commitment to be a pack leader 365 days a year, practice calm-assertive energy in all aspects of your life, and work toward achieving calm submission from your dog.
16 December 2008
Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin guest star in the final holiday doggie video from the White House. In the "Barney Cam" Christmas greeting, the first family's Scottish terrier scampers amid the White House's red, white and blue holiday decorations before retiring for a nap and imagining himself as an athlete.
Barney is shown in cutout animation as an Olympic vaulter, swimmer and synchronized diver with fellow terrier Miss Beazley, both in red swimsuits. He also dreams of sinking the final putt to secure the Ryder Cup, with the entire U.S. Ryder Cup team chanting "Barney, Barney, Barney!"
The Barney Cam was an instant holiday hit when it was introduced in 2002 and got 24 million Web visitors on its first day. Since then, Barney's holiday videos have featured former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush adviser Karl Rove, country singers Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson and other stars.
The videos aren't Barney's only star turn, though. He was an inadvertent hit on YouTube recently when he was taped biting a reporter who tried to get his attention.
The Barney Cam spot introduced Monday starts with President George W. Bush, his wife, Laura, and their daughters, Jenna and Barbara, reminiscing about their times together in the White House, then sending Barney off to decorate and nap.
After a wake-up from President Bush ("We're sprinting to the finish, not napping to the finish"), Barney gets a "10" score from Liukin and fellow gymnast Shawn Johnson.
Phelps tells Barney: "I'm glad the decorations are finally coming together and you're using my favorite color, gold."
[Source: The Associated Press]
15 December 2008
President-elect Barack Obama promised his two daughters a puppy if he won the White House, but Malia and Sasha Obama weren't the only ones promised a dog. Last week, Vice President-elect Joe Biden got a puppy of his own, making good on his wife Jill's agreement that he could get a dog if the Democrats won.
On an Election Day flight from Richmond to Chicago in the early afternoon, Biden was too superstitious to talk about what kind of dog he might end up getting. "I don't know what kind I'm going to get yet," he said. "But we're not there yet. The deal is not closed yet."
Jill made the promise to her husband when he was being vetted by the Obama team this summer, when he was still weighing whether he wanted to join the Democratic ticket. "Take the vice presidency and get elected, you'll get a dog," Biden recalled his wife telling him.
The Daily Local News (Chester County, Del.) reported that Biden picked out a 3-month-old German shepherd puppy last week. The veep's selection comes as no surprise. The Delaware lawmaker has owned German shepherds in the past and is a known fan of big dogs.
The Daily Local News reports that Biden's granddaughters will get to name the puppy. Two of Biden's granddaughters, Finnegan and Natalie, joined him during the improptu press availabilty on the Richmond-Chicago flight.
10 December 2008
In 'Wendy and Lucy,' opening today at Manhattan's Film Forum, Wendy (played by Michelle Williams), is a down-on-her-luck girl who's heading to Alaska to work in a fishing cannery and start a new life with her dog Lucy. When Wendy's car breaks down in Oregon and she gets thrown in jail for stealing dog food, Lucy - who is tied up outside - is left behind.
It's every dog lover's worst nightmare, and Wendy's desperation to find her best friend is palpable: She scours the streets, hangs flyers, checks the local animal shelter, and sleeps in the woods hoping Lucy will find her.
Lucy is the real-life pooch and constant companion of the film's director Kelly Reichardt, who lives in Astoria, Queens, and rescued the retriever mix from a Brooklyn shelter.
This film is a poignant reminder of how much we rely on our animals - and they on us.
[Source: NY Daily News]
To the list of the qualities of dogs — enthusiastic and steadfast come to mind — can be added another. That pooch of yours, researchers say, may be envious.
Scientists in Austria report in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a dog may stop obeying a command if it sees that another dog is getting a better deal.
In this way dogs may be showing a sensitivity that is similar to, although perhaps more primitive than, that shown by chimpanzees and some monkeys. Until now those primates were the only nonhumans to show what is called “inequity aversion” in the absence of a reward.
The finding may come as no surprise to some dog owners, and it didn’t completely surprise Friederike Range, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vienna who led the study. “We have a dog at home,” she said, “and I know how jealous she is of different people and situations.”
The study tried to quantify the behavior by using well-trained dogs that readily offer a paw on command. The researchers used two dogs side by side but treated them differently, giving one a better reward (sausage) and the other a lesser one (bread) when the paw was given, or giving one dog no reward at all.
They found that the quality of the reward made little difference. But in the case in which one dog got no treat at all, that dog became less and less inclined to obey the command.
[Source: NY Times]
08 December 2008
Soon after President-elect Barack Obama spoke at a news conference about getting his daughters a pet from an animal shelter because “a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me,” Patrick McDonnell, creator of the comic strip “Mutts,” leapt into action. He quickly devised six strips supporting shelter adoptions.
“I normally stay away from politics, but this was a perfect fit,” Mr. McDonnell wrote in an e-mail message.
The sequence, which begins on Monday, features Mooch the cat and Earl the dog, above, discussing the next first pet. “If the Obama household adopted a mutt,” Mr. McDonnell added, “it would make a huge statement.” “Mutts,” distributed by King Features Syndicate, appears in more than 700 newspapers worldwide and online at muttscomics.com
[Source: NY Times]
04 December 2008
Homeless pets in New York City are at the center of a campaign that has set out to find permanent homes for 1 million cats and dogs this holiday season.
From now through Jan. 5, a partnership between the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and Iams Home For The Holidays seeks to heighten awareness for the need to place area shelter pets in new homes. According to these organizations, pet adoptions are needed this year more than ever because of foreclosures, job losses and other economic challenges.
To help address these issues, an active schedule of adoption drives has been launched throughout the city. The Mayor’s Alliance, an umbrella organization that includes more than 140 shelters and rescue groups, would like to encourage responsible adoptions during the holiday season, said Jane Hoffman, president.
“By combining the dedication and passion of the remarkable shelters, rescue groups and volunteers that comprise the Mayor’s Alliance with the inspiring and successful Iams Home 4 the Holidays program, we hope that more New Yorkers will open their hearts and homes to a new furry family member,” Hoffman said in a statement.
The ultimate goal is to help place 1 million abandoned cats and dogs into homes during a time when shelters are overflowing with adoptable pets. Iams Home 4 the Holidays has placed more than 2 million pets into homes since it was founded by Helen Woodward Animal Center in 1999.
03 December 2008
When filmmaker David Frankel showed a rough cut of his film "The Devil Wears Prada" to his boss, Fox 2000 Pictures president Elizabeth Gabler, she was so pleased that she handed him a copy of another best-selling book to adapt into a movie: "Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog."
Written by newspaper columnist John Grogan, the 2005 book recounted his and his wife Jenny's experiences with their Labrador retriever Marley, who grew from an adorable, precocious puppy into a hyperactive, relentlessly mischievous dog who discovered altogether new strains of canine bad behavior.
Although Frankel liked the book, he politely declined the opportunity to turn it into a film. "It's a lovely book, and it made me cry, but I just didn't see the movie," Frankel said earlier this month over a glass of wine at a cafe just a few blocks from his home in Coconut Grove, Fla. "There's no conflict in it. It's charming chapter by chapter, but it's just an account of these people's lives. I didn't see how the pieces fit together to make a movie."
A few months later, Gabler again pitched the project to Frankel, this time giving him an actual script, by screenwriter Scott Frank ("Get Shorty," "Out of Sight"). And this time, Frankel immediately saw a movie, which wound up being filmed mostly in South Florida.
"What Scott wrote into the script was a sense of longing," Frankel said. "He didn't make it an episodic, literal translation of the book. He made it the story of a marriage -- the whole rollercoaster ride this couple goes through over a period of 14 years. I felt like it was as close to an autobiographical film as I could possibly make, because it's about a happily married writer who lives in South Florida with his dog, and I'm happily married, living in Miami, writing some of the time, and I have five dogs."
Unlike Marley, Frankel's dogs are all strays. Much like Marley, they are all "crazy," he says. "You come to my house, and you'll find chairs with holes six inches deep. There are no bedspreads in my home that have not been chewed up."
More important, though, the 49-year-old Frankel, who has two children, connected with something deeper in Frank's script: The restlessness felt by John (played by Owen Wilson) who, despite his love for his wife Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston) and their three kids and his job as a successful newspaper columnist, still yearns for that archetypal, elusive "something "more."
"That's what I wanted the movie to capture, and that's why the dog is such a beautiful metaphor for happiness," Frankel said. "Dogs don't look forward, and they don't look back. They are all about 'How can I be happy in this very moment?' People often forget to do that. My wife called it the most wistful movie she's ever seen."
Less easy was wrangling the 22 dogs it took to play Marley from puppydom to age 14. The bulk of Marley's scenes as a young adult, which take up two-thirds of the movie, were played by Clyde, a Labrador that Frankel says was "trained" to be rambunctious.
"The trainers could get him to do whatever we needed, but he's never been taught not to jump up on people or chew whatever he wants to chew," Frankel said. "Basically, he's never been told 'No.' He's crazily energetic, and Grogan testified he's the spitting image of the real Marley. The trick was that the actors "had" to be ready to go on take one, because Clyde was always was brilliant on the first take. But he would get easily bored after that."
Many of the other dogs that played Marley were cast for their ability to do one specific trick, like howling at the window or circling around in the water. One older dog portrayed Marley as a senior. Even though the real-life Marley's health deteriorated over the span of a couple of years, Frankel condensed the dog's aging to a couple of short moments in the film.
"This is a movie about a man who is now middle-aged and acknowledging - not confronting, but acknowledging - his own mortality. We all have to deal with the end of things. Hopefully the movie provides you with a lot of space to project elements of your own life into it. In that sense, the spareness of the story - the simplicity of it - is beautiful.
02 December 2008
A miracle-making doggie door is growing in value as shoppers are outbidding each other online. Two years ago, Roger Bowman spotted an image of Jesus on a doggie door. It was posted last week on eBay with a starting bid of $990.
Two job layoffs and the housing market crash put Bowman's family in an economic hole, the family said last week. They were hoping that their "gift from above" will pull them out. After telling his story on November 28, Bowman reports that the bidding as of Monday was up to $1,185. "I think it created a calm and happiness in our house and that's a miracle," says Bowman.
Before the sighting, two unruly dogs ran the house. Bowman planned on getting rid of them, putting one to sleep. Once he saw the imagine, things changed. Some are calling the change a "divine intervention."
"I believe it was divinely created. It's too much of a coincidence," says Bowman. "The dogs created the image that saved their lives." Bowman's 12-year-old son says the door creates all kinds of miracles from making his family happier to fixing things.
"Our ice machine was broken for a long time and it wasn't working yesterday, but then today there is ice," says son Sean Vasquez. "I guess it's the miracle of Jesus." Now, Bowman hopes the divine doggie door will perform one more miracle and help his family get through the tough times. Bidding for the doggie door started on Tuesday and will end on December 5th. For more the complete story of the divine doggie door, check out ebay.com
01 December 2008
Jake the dog is somewhat of a celebrity in the veterinary world. The 11-year-old yellow Labrador retriever of Grand Rapids was the first dog in the Midwest and only the 11th in the world to get a new type of elbow prosthesis that reduces infection and wear and tear - and that eventually could be used in humans. The $5,000 surgery was performed at the Michigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital last spring.
Now, after six months of rehabilitation that includes running on an underwater treadmill, Jake is giving high fives, jumping off the bed and going without his leash. "He's actually acting like he's a younger dog again, which is so cool," owner Sue Falk said. "He's just more playful and not as concerned about each step." Jake's turnaround is a dramatic difference from several years ago, when he had a bad limp and refused to go on daily walks in the woods behind Falk's home.
"We are very happy with Jake because, with other dogs, the recovery has not been as fast," said MSU Dr. Loic Dejardin, who performed the four-hour surgery in April. In the six months since getting his new elbow, Jake has undergone extensive physical rehabilitation. In addition to running on an underwater treadmill, Jake has been navigating obstacle courses and doing home exercises with Falk.
Since Jake received the elbow, Dejardin has performed similar surgeries on four other dogs at MSU and will fly to Canada soon to perform another. Dejardin said the elbow - which became available in March - has worked so well in dogs that it is being considered for use in ankle replacements in people. "If it happens, that would be the first time that we know of an implant designed with a dog in mind having an application in humans," Dejardin said.