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Some older dogs will get a chance in the lead-up to next year’s Puppy Bowl

After 13 years of celebrating youthful dogs in their annual “Puppy Bowl” extravaganza, Animal Planet is finally going to give older dogs a chance to show off their stuff.

Leading up to Puppy Bowl XIV, the network will show the “Dog Bowl,” a one-hour special hosted by Jill Rappaport that — while it may not prove to be as rambunctiously action-packed as the Puppy Bowl — is aimed at giving older dogs a chance to be adopted.

Its contestants won’t be limited to senior dogs, but the program will feature adult dogs living in rescues and shelters.

The program likely won’t be the ratings grabber that the Puppy Bowl has been as an alternative to the Super Bowl. And it may not satisfy an audience seeking mega-doses of playful cuteness.

But it will likely lead to some calmer, wiser, been-around-the-block-a-time-or-two dogs finding forever homes.

And that’s what the Puppy Bowl is all about. Well, that and ratings. Well, that and ratings and advertising and sponsoring.

“Puppy Bowl’s goal is to promote animal adoption so as many animals as possible can find their forever homes,” Patrice Andrews, General Manager of Animal Planet, says in a release.

The formula — dogs competing on a miniature football field — has proven to be a succesful one, both in terms of ratings and in leading its contestants to get adopted.

As is the case with any successful TV show, it’s now being duplicated. Hallmark’s Kitten Bowl will be back for its fourth year.

And then there’s National Geographic’s Fish Bowl, which we’re pretty sure isn’t about adoptions at all.

The new Dog Bowl will be part of Animal Planet’s Road to the Puppy Bowl coverage. It’s good to see the makers of Puppy Bowl branching out and becoming a little more inclusive and diverse.

Last year’s Puppy Bowl featured a three-legged pup and two other special needs dogs — one deaf and one sight and hearing impaired.

It’s about time more mature dogs got some attention, especially in an industry that is so focused on youth, be it human or canine.

After all, an older dog can still be pretty entertaining.

(Video: A promotion for Animal Planet’s 2017 Puppy Bowl, which turned out to be the second highest rated ever)

Yogi Berra, the Greensboro Grasshoppers “ball dog,” is put down as cancer worsens

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Master Yogi Berra, the black Labrador retriever who delighted fans between innings at Greensboro Grasshoppers games, died yesterday — the day before his planned retirement party.

The 9-year-old dog served as the minor league baseball team’s “ball dog,” fetching balls from the outfield during between-inning promotions.

He was diagnosed with cancer this summer and, amid declining health, made his last appearance Tuesday in the Hoppers game against the Hickory Crawdads.

“I think he did it only because he wanted to make me happy,” Donald Moore, team president and Yogi’s owner, told the Greensboro News & Record.

“I don’t think he had any desire to do it, and that’s just not Yogi,” Moore added. “I didn’t shoot the ball very far. He went and got it, and he brought it back, and I could tell. The next morning he seemed so much worse than he had just the night before.”

The Hoppers had planned a retirement party for Yogi during tonight’s game. Instead the team will hold a ceremony in his memory.

“I really thought he would make it through the season. I wasn’t worried about losing him for another couple of months. But, oh my gosh, when it started happening, it happened fast,” Moore said. “He was ready to go, and you don’t punish the dog by putting it off. You don’t keep him in pain just to have a party.”

Moore found a lump on Yogi’s neck in June. A specialist at N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, diagnosed an inoperable malignant tumor that originated in a salivary gland and had spread down the neck and into the chest.

Yogi was one of three dogs the team has featured over the years. His older sister, Miss Babe Ruth, fetched players’ bats and took baseballs to the home plate umpire from 2006 until her retirement at the end of the 2015 season.

Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, a niece of Yogi and Babe, is the current bat dog for the team.

Yogi was a little more free spirited than those two, and never mastered the bat dog job.

Instead, for eight years, he fetched balls shot into centerfield during a between-innings promotion.

Three weeks into his job, Yogi made national news when an umpire kicked him off the field him for leaving a mess in the outfield, becoming the only dog ever ejected from a professional baseball game.

“People love that dog,” Moore said. “A lot of people are going to be just as heartbroken as we are… We knew it was coming. Unfortunately, everything we tried didn’t work. … It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when things changed, but he started slipping last week and every day he was declining more and more.”

Moore made the decision Wednesday to have Yogi put down.

(Photo: By Nelson Kepley / Greensboro News & Record)

ZenCrate: Company offers what they say is a soothing shelter for dogs during storms

Does your dog need a ZenCrate?

Do you?

A Florida company has begun manufacturing of a $500 “smart” crate that doubles as a piece of furniture and offers your dog solace during storms.

The “anti-anxiety dog crate” features noise-muting walls, subtle lighting, and soothing music that is activated by a sensor whenever the dog enters.

zencrateThe crate has a camera and WiFi connectivity so owners can get live updates. Other than that, it’s a remarkably simple concept that combines elements of the Thundershirt, Temple Grandin’s cow-hugging contraption, and the sensory deprivation tank.

The crate doesn’t put the squeeze on dogs, but it is close enough quarters that they feel protected, which is almost as good as a hug.

If they could make them a little bigger, I might want one for myself. Throw in a bottle of wine and it would be a great place for a date, or to crawl into every time North Korea threatens to send a missile our way, or Donald Trump … opens his mouth.

All it would need for human applications is a little more womb … I mean room.

The ZenCrate is the size of an end table and is designed like an animal’s den. It has no door, so dogs can enter and leave as they please.

chargerzencrateThe inspiration for the crate was Charger, a yellow lab whose hopes of becoming a seeing eye dog were derailed due to his fear of thunder.

The dog’s trainer, Jonathan Azevedo, ended up adopting him, and Charger’s fear of storms led Azevedo to bring some engineering-type friends together to make the ZenCrate a reality.

The company is cranking out 30 crates a day to catch up to the 700 pre-orders made before manufacturing even started.

“It really took us by storm,” Azevedo told Fox13 in Tampa. “That’s why we are working around the clock, the lights are on almost 18 hours a day, seven days a week.”

On the down side, the company will not allow the crates to be returned because of their “personal nature.”

Even more annoying, the crate’s “brain” will also send you an email every time your dog enters the crate — a feature we hope is easily deactivated.

(Photos: From ZenCrate.com)

Thief returns dog’s ashes to owner

The thief who stole a package containing a dog’s ashes from a woman’s front porch in Staten Island has returned them, along with a note of apology.

Gloria Johnson said a box containing the ashes of her Yorkie, Dakotah, was returned to her home Tuesday morning with a note from the thief.

“Dear Mam,” the note begins. “I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused you. I wanted to bring back to you what’s dear to you and to me.

“My mind was mesed (sic) up without my mental medication and I feel bad. I love dogs and I made sure I placed him in a rose basket for the time being until I could return him where he belongs!!!”

Johnson told the Staten Island Advance Tuesday she was “ecstatic” to have Dakotah’s ashes back.

Surveillance footage obtained from Johnson’s neighbor showed a man enter her gate after the package had been dropped off by Fed Ex on July 27.

What happens when he approaches the porch can’t be seen, but he walks back into view with his backpack in his hands, walks out of the gate and leaves on his bicycle.

Johnson learned the ashes had been stolen after checking with her vet to see why they hadn’t arrived. She was told they had been delivered the previous week.

After seeing the surveillance video from a neighbor’s home, Johnson searched the neighborhood, knocking on doors, asking questions and checking inside trash cans to see if the thief might have tossed the package after seeing what was inside it.

Dakotah died from complications after a possible stroke.

“I go outside a hundred times a night to see if maybe someone put him on the fence,” Johnson, a widow, told the Advance in an interview after the theft. “After my husband died he was the one I hung on to every night.”

She had bought a crystal ash box for the dog’s cremated remains that she planned to fill and place on her mantle, alongside those of her husband.

In a plea for the return of the ashes, she added, “It matters to me that I have him, that I can talk to him. I’m not coping well.”

It’s not known if the thief saw the initial news reports, but apparently he had a conscience, and three weeks after the theft the box was returned.

“Got a little bit of faith in humanity,” Johnson told ABC 7 in New York.
“But still, he held it for three weeks. He didn’t throw them in the garbage, that was my fear, he’d just open it up and throw them in the garbage because it didn’t mean nothing to him.”

Johnson said the ashes were returned on what would have been Dakotah’s birthday.

What’s turning dogs blue in Mumbai?

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The Mumbai Blue Dogs may sound like a minor league baseball team, but they are real dogs who, thanks to chemicals dumped in a river in India, are really turning blue.

“Handfuls” of blue dogs — all strays — are appearing on the streets of Mumbai, local animal advocates report.

While we can’t vouch for how authentic these photos are, or if they’ve been doctored, we can confirm that the news is real.

Jayavant Hajare, an officer with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board told the Hindustan Times that five to six dogs entered an area along the Kasadi River that was cordoned off to the public and emerged with a blue cast to their fur.

Industrial waste is regularly dumped into the river in Mumbai, whose waters have long been deemed unfit for human consumption, but the latest surge in blue dog sightings has prompted animal advocates to urge the government to take action against companies.

The pollution control board says it is investigating.

“Allowing the discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment,” a spokesman said.

The spokesman said one company, which uses a blue dye to make laundry detergent, has been given seven days notice to cease dumping the pollutant into the river.

Studies quoted in local newspapers show pollution levels in the area — home to nearly a thousand pharmaceutical, food and engineering factories — have risen to 13 times the “safe limit.”

Last week, animal advocates officers took pictures of stray dogs who had turned blue and forwarded them to the pollution control board.

bluedog3(News reports don’t indicate the original source of the photo above, or the one at left, so it’s not clear if they are photos supplied by the animal protection group. At least one news organization describe the photo at top as a “representational image.”)

“It was shocking to see how the dog’s white fur had turned completely blue,” said Arati Chauhan, with the animal protection group. “We have spotted almost five such dogs here and have asked the pollution control board to act against such industries.”

“We have only spotted blue dogs so far. We do not know if birds, reptiles and other creatures are affected or if they have even died owing to the dye discharged into the air,” said Chauhan.

A flurry of news reports has called attention to the blue dogs in recent days, but they are not a new phenomenon.

Here’s a photo that appeared in a 2013 entry on this travel blog. It was taken on what’s known as Blue Dog Street.

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Today’s question: Can dogs be humiliated? The answer is tutu clear

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Attention all you “dog shamers,” all you dog dresser-uppers, all you dog-dyers, and anyone else who finds it fun and harmless to put your dog in a costume, use him to make a fashion statement, or ridicule him on social media.

You may be making him feel silly, and damaging his self esteem.

The Telegraph reports that animal charities in the UK are calling upon pet owners to cool it when it comes to decorating their dogs.

Among those quoted in the story was Caroline Kisko, the Kennel Club’s Secretary, who said the organization is “not greatly in favour of doing anything to dogs which makes them feel ‘silly.’ Dogs know when they are being laughed at.”

Not exactly a bold stance there — “not greatly in favour?” — but then again the Kennel Club sponsors Crufts, which in 2009 chose this poodle as winner in the Utility Group:

Apparently shaving a dog to resemble a bunch of poofy cotton balls is an accepted exemption from the “let’s not make dogs feel silly” rule.

Hypocrisy and poodle cuts aside, we think Kisco makes a valid point when she says dog owners need to strike a balance between what is done for the dog and what is mere “human vanity.”

“It is not a toy and we need to maintain that a dog is a dog,” she said. “Since we can’t ask them we should err on the side of caution … Why is it suddenly OK to dress a dog up in silly clothing or dye it?”

The answer is social media, which has made such practices, if not more frequent, at least more noticeable.

Decorating dogs is nothing new. I’d guess even ancient Egyptians did it — because it sounds like something right up their alley. But since Facebook and other social media came along, it has brought out the attention-seeker in all of us, to the point that — even if it’s not Halloween — we’ll post photos of our dogs looking silly or doing something silly.

doghamedThat’s not always “mocking” or “ridiculing” them, but often, particularly with the dog-shaming sites, it comes pretty close.

I’ve long had a problem with people dressing dogs for any purpose other than protection against the elements. I draw the line at bandanas, which my former dog almost always wore, and loved. My current dog, Jinjja, won’t let a bandana anywhere near his neck.

Some dogs tolerate getting adorned, receiving dye jobs, and funny haircuts; some don’t. But, as Kisco points out, even a dog who doesn’t visibly object may still be getting humiliated.

“Some will have a reasonably high level of tolerance for that sort of thing. You can get a dog that will love being the center of attention. But some will feel silly. Outfits come under the same banner – whether it’s a silly collar or whatever.

“If someone wants to put a bumblebee costume on their dog for Christmas, that’s fine, but take it off again. The dog doesn’t want to be a bumblebee …”

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, told The Telegraph that she had a problem with grooming techniques and dyes that could cause discomfort or irritation.

“It’s important that dog owners, and groomers, remember that dogs are not fashion accessories to have the latest trend tried out on them, grooming is for the dog’s needs rather than for the owner’s entertainment,” she said.

And Elisa Allen, a director at PETA in the UK, is quoted in the article as saying, “Dogs aren’t bonsai trees to be sculpted into shapes that please us. Many are nervous about being groomed, and dyeing them bright colors puts them at risk for allergic reactions and even toxic poisoning, which can have serious and even fatal consequences.”

Before you start thinking those groups have peacefully united to pursue this cause, keep in mind that the only place they seem to have come together is in the Telegraph article, and that — if there is any newsworthiness here — it’s that there is something all three groups agree on.

PETA regularly crashes Crufts, and the Dogs Trust has blamed the Kennel Club and Crufts for promulgating breed standards that don’t just make dogs look silly, but makes them unhealthy as well.

The article may make it sound as if the groups are harmoniously working hand in hand, but that’s about as likely as a bulldog doing ballet.

BBC anchor can’t get too excited (at all) about dog surfing contest in California

Remember when you were a kid and your mother asked you to do something, like clean your room or take the trash out … and then she asked you nine more times … and then, while having far more important things to do, you finally, begrudgingly, did it?

You did it with with a bit of surliness, with total disdain for the task and for the person who assigned it, and while heaving lots of sighs.

That apparently is how BBC news anchor Simon McCoy felt about introducing this “news” report about a dog surfing competition in Northern California.

Pausing often, and emitting frequent sighs, McCoy prefaces his remarks by noting August is always a slow news month. Then he barely gets through reading the words, which clearly were written by someone else — someone who thought the event was cute.

McCoy apparently didn’t think that it was cute, or that it was news, and his performance behind the news desk was so lackluster that it has gone viral and made it on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The Colbert bit shows the real McCoy, then features a faux BBC newscaster who has introduced one too many animal stories.

The real McCoy ends his narration saying, “That’s a shame, we’ve run out of pictures,” before turning things over to the weatherman.

McCoy’s demeanor suggests he thought presenting such fluff was beneath him, and not where he expected his career, which included covering the war in Iraq and the royal family, to turn.

(Buck up, Simon, there are still wars being waged and there’s a good chance more are ahead, possibly quite soon.)

We all need a little fluff now and then, and what is more delightful than watching dogs surf or, for that matter, watching dogs do anything?

It’s when we get a steady diet of it — and that seems to be the direction the news media continues to head — that it becomes unhealthy.

McCoy’s lackluster reading is being praised as “heroic” by some on Twitter, who maintain he gave the report exactly the enthusiasm it deserved.

Perhaps McCoy, through his demeanor, was providing commentary on the state of the worldwide news media, or simply exhibiting that stereotypical British nose-in-the-air disdain for trivial, silly (generally American) things. Perhaps it was a little of both, or even just a little on-camera shtick.

In any case, we’d suggest — without being too judgmental, too serious, or too fluffy — that he needs a vacation.

And a dog.

COzpDmAW8AA_RXS(Late breaking news: Simon McCoy informs us he will be taking a vacation next week — with his two border terriers.

Surfing is not on the itinerary.

See his full comment below.)

(Photo: Posted by McCoy on Twitter)