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Two new movies for the dog days of summer

Two new dog movies — romantic comedies both — take a look at how dogs can bring us humans together.

“Dog Days,” (trailer above) follows the lives of multiple dogs and their owners in Los Angeles as their paths intertwine in life-changing ways.

“Patrick” is a UK-made Disney film about a hopeless single school teacher who inherits a pug called Patrick from her late grandmother and, despite an initial dislike of the dog, quickly learns he is a dude magnet.

Patrick is a spoiled little dog and they get off to a bad start, with the expressive pooch eating bedroom slippers, destroying furniture and turning up his nose at regular dog food.

But, as in “Dog Days,” the dog leads to a love connection, or two.

“Patrick” is described as “Bridget Jones’s Diary” meets “Turner and Hooch.” “Dog Days” is described as “Love Actually” meets “Marley and Me.”

Director Ken Marino acknowledges “Dog Days” is a feel good movie — and he meant it that way.

“The world is a really hard place right now to deal with every day. I wanted to dive into a movie that would make people feel good for a while,” he told People. “And I am sucker for dogs.”

“It’s about how people learn to be better people and how dogs help us and guide us in the right direction,” he says.

The cast includes Vanessa Hudgens, Eva Longoria, Nina Dobrev, Finn Wolfhard, Adam Pally, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Tig Notaro and dogs of all shapes and sizes.

It is scheduled to be released Aug. 10.

FDA investigating legume-based dog foods

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Pet food containing potatoes, peas, lentils and other legumes might be causing heart disease in dogs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a warning to pet owners.

Citing “highly unusual” reports about canine dilated cardiomyopathy, the FDA said last week it is investigating a link between the food and cases in which dogs have been diagnosed with the disease, which can cause an enlarged, weakened heart and eventual heart failure.

Large breeds have always been prone to the disease, but the new cases include a Shih Tzu, a bulldog, and a miniature schnauzer.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in having an enlarged heart. As the dog’s heart and chambers become dilated, the heart becomes unable to pump normally, leading valves to leak and a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen.

It often results in heart failure, but can be improved if caught early.

Breeds more prone to the disease include larger breeds like Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers.

Among those reported cases, the dog’s diets frequently included potatoes, multiple legumes like peas, lentils, other seeds of legumes, as main ingredients, the FDA said.

Foods labeled “grain-free” typically have higher levels of legumes or potatoes, but it is not yet known how the ingredients are linked to the heart disease.

Medical records for four atypical DCM cases revealed three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, showed low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a possible leading factor in the disease.

Other cases include a mini Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, and two Labrador Retrievers. The FDA is working with the Veterinary Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories investigate the potential association between these ingredients and DCM.

The FDA said it is in contact with pet food manufacturers that make the foods.

The FDA is encouraging pet owners and veterinary professionals to report any cases of DCM in dogs that are suspected of having a link to diet. To report a case, click here.

Singing dog impresses Simon Cowell

I’m waiting for the day when a dog comes on “America’s Got Talent” with a trained human.

Until then we have this — a performance Tuesday night by a singing dog named Oscar and his piano playing human, Pam.

The 3-year-old golden retriever performed Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” — so well that judge Simon Cowell pointed out that he had some promise. (Cowell wasn’t quite as positive about Pam’s piano playing.)

Oscar, unlike some contestants, actually sounded like he was on key, or at least harmonizing.

Before the performance, Pam boasted, “He can sing. He can hold a note. He can even do a vibrato.”

The dog started singing about a year and a half ago when she was playing the piano at home, she said.

“I’m not kidding. I’ve done this show a long time and I always said if we could find a dog that could sing, that would be everything to me,” Cowell said before the performance.

After the performance, Cowell said, “I think your piano playing isn’t great, by the way. I think it could use a little practice, but we may have found our first singing dog. Genuinely. This is exciting.”

IKEA issues global recall of water dispensers after two dogs die of suffocation


IKEA has issued a global recall for a water dispenser for pets that caused the suffocation of at least two dogs.

The water dispenser was part of the Lurvig line of pet products IKEA introduced last fall.

The company is urging customers to immediately stop using the water dispenser and return it to any IKEA store for a full refund.

The Swedish company took the action after two dogs died after getting their heads stuck in the device.

The water dispenser is made up of two components. Its bottom serves as a water bowl and the base for an attachable transparent domed container that dispenses the water. The company did not disclose where the two dogs lived.

The water dispenser is no longer being included in the company’s catalog.

The $7.99 water dispenser was one of the 75 pet products the company introduced last October, including leashes, collars, bowls, to cat houses, dog beds, and poop bag dispensers.

Korean court says killing dogs to sell their meat is illegal

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A South Korean court has ruled that killing dogs to sell their meat is illegal, but that’s not likely to serve as an immediate reprieve for any of the one to two million dogs slaughtered each year.

Nevertheless, the first of its kind ruling is a step toward outlawing the dog-meat trade in South Korea — one of several Asian countries where the practice, though fading, continues.

The Humane Society International estimates that 30 million dogs a year are killed for food around the world.

The court’s decision was reached in April but not widely known until details were released at the end of June, National Geographic reported.

The decision ruled in favor of the animal rights activist group Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, or CARE, which sued a dog-farm owner in Bucheon, South Korea, last year for “killing animals without proper reason,” according to Agence France-Presse.

The Bucheon city court convicted the owner on the basis that meat consumption was not a legal reason to kill dogs. The court also said he violated building and hygiene regulations that authorities put in place to crack down on dog-meat farms. The owner was fined three million won (about $2,700 US) and waived his right to an appeal.

“It is very significant in that it is the first court decision that killing dogs for dog meat is illegal itself,” Kim Kyung-eun, a lawyer for CARE, told the Guardian.

The precedent “paved the way for outlawing dog meat consumption entirely”, she added, saying CARE planned to file complaints against “many more” dog farmers.

A lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party has introduced a bill to the National Assembly to ban dog meat consumption.

Owners of dog farms and slaughterhouses are protesting the ruling.

“Cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks are all raised to be consumed,” said Cho Hwan-ro, a representative from an association of dog farms, on YTN television. “Why not dogs?”

Cho said there are some 17,000 dog farms across the country, and that the government should legalize and license them. “Otherwise,” he said, “we’ll fight to the end.”

Eating dog meat is a fading practice in South Korea, engaged in mostly by older citizens. Younger generations steer clear of dog-meat consumption, adopting the view that dogs are pets, not food.

(Photo: Dogs look out from cages at a dog farm during a rescue event on the outskirts of Seoul in 2017; by JUNG YEON-JE, AFP/GETTY)

Newest “World’s Ugliest Dog” dies at age 9

Sixteen days after winning the title of “World’s Ugliest Dog,” Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old English bulldog, has died.

Zsa Zsa won the 30th annual contest on June 23. She passed way in her sleep Monday night, her owner, Megan Brainard, told the Star Tribune.

With her floppy tongue, crooked teeth, pronounced underbite and squished in face, Zsa Zsa captured the hearts of the judges at the annual contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair in Petaluma, California, which bestows the dubious honor annually.

zsa-zsa-today-tease-180625_f6982e248fea6a466e6e3f64763a2512.fit-560wThe contest describes itself as “all in fun,” and a way to promote dog adoption.

It has some hard core fans, some hard core contestants, and some critics, too, who say the competition has become a little too cut-throat, and too often features unhealthy, sickly and deformed dogs.

Some years, winning dogs have been expected abuse victims, or been given points for an “oozing sore.”

Nevertheless, it is greeted every year by the news media with puns and laughs.

After winning the annual contest in California, Zsa Zsa was flown to New York for an appearance on the morning shows, including NBC’s “Today Show” and “Fox & Friends.”

Brainard, of Anoka, Minnesota, adopted Zsa Zsa after spotting her on Petfinder. The dog had previously been rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri when she was five years old.

Brainard said she named Zsa Zsa after the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, as the pup enjoyed lounging on the couch “like a beautiful model.”

They didn’t bite the postal carrier — just her lunch

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A note from the mailman is a little like a note from your kid’s teacher. Your first thought is, “Uh oh, what did they do now?”

That’s exactly what Carol Jordan says ran through her mind when she found a note from her postal carrier: “What did the boys do now?”

The “boys” are brothers Bear and Bull, two 6-year-old black Lab/mastiff mixes, and what they did was sneak into the postal carrier’s truck and eat her lunch. It didn’t lead to any trouble — just a bit of fun on social media.

Jordan, who owns a five-acre farm in Isle of Wight, Virginia, stopped at her mailbox one day in June and discovered a handwritten note there from the woman who delivers her family’s mail, CBS News reported.

The letter carrier wasn’t angry. She just wanted to let Jordan knows that her dogs had consumed a hard boiled egg, some carrots and pumpkin seeds.

“I don’t know if that will upset their tummies, just FYI!” she wrote.

Jordan appreciated the gesture, noting that without the note, she would have “never known. They always look guilty of something.” The dogs are left outside on their own, restricted by an electric fence.

Jordan notes that Bull — the smaller one — is the ringleader when it comes to getting into trouble.

She posted a picture of the pair, and the note on Facebook, and the post — #weoweyoulunch” — quickly went viral.

“We’ve heard from people in Denmark, Australia and New Zealand that have seen the post,” she said. “Most people thank us for making them laugh. A lot of folks have made comments along the lines of ‘that’s like my dog’ or they tag someone whose dog would act like that.”

To make up for the pups’ mischief, Jordan purchased a $20 Subway gift card and left it at the post office for their carrier.