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Archive for January 18th, 2009

Home from Iraq, soldier reunites with dog

Three months after shipping her adopted dog, Ratchet, home from Iraq, Army Specialist Gwen Beberg was reunited with him, her tour of duty completed.

“Hey, baby. Oh, you got so big — Oh, you got so big,” said the soldier to the pup. “Yeah, who’s home? Who’s home, huh?”

The two were reunited Saturday as Beberg returned to Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Friends, family and supporters gathered at VFW Post 363 to witness the reunion. “I wish every soldier in the world, past, present and future, came home to a welcome like this,” Beberg said.

Beberg urged support for Operation Baghdad Pups, a branch of SPCA International that rescues dogs and cats adopted by U.S. military personnel. More than 50 pets have been relocated to the United States.

Beberg adopted Ratchet as a month-old pup after fellow soldiers rescued him from a burning pile of trash.

Although the Army balked at Beberg’s plan to send the dog home, Beberg’s efforts, and those of Operation Baghdad Pups — along with 70,000 signatures on online petitions and some help from congress — led military officials to loosen the prohibition on U.S. troops adopting pets in Iraq.

The most disloyal dog breed?

Slate has a popular feature called “The Explainer,” which addresses those nagging questions the news leaves unanswered — be they too weighty, too trivial or just too weird.

Every year, the online magazine lets readers pick from submitted questions that never made the column, and choose what they call the “Explainer Question of the Year.”

Then the column answers it.

For 2008, after deeming the three top vote getting questions already sufficiently answered– including why cockroaches flip over on their backsides when they die — Slate named the No. 4 vote-getter as question of the year: What’s the most disloyal dog breed?

Slate’s answer: “Nobody knows.”

The column’s author, Daniel Engber, writes that while conventional wisdom holds that each of the 161 breeds now recognized by the American Kennel Club has a distinctive temperament, the reality is the there is less difference, behaviorally, between breeds than ever.

The reason? Most dogs have lost their jobs.

Dogs once bred for a specific task — to herd, to guard, to hunt — are now bred primarily to make good companions or win dog shows. The traits a breed might once have clearly exhibited were tied in large part to how we used them. So a working dog, trained to guard property, might at one point might have been deemed most “loyal.” Today, though, the personality of dogs can vary tremendously within a particular breed.

Breeds might still have certain predilections, but any sweeping statements about dogs of a certain breed should be taken with a grain of salt — whether they’re about pit bulls or poodles.

Of course, plenty of people are still making them, and are still a little to quick to do what — were it applied to humans — would amount to “profiling.”

 Hats off to Slate for not falling into that trap.

Ohmidog! comment of the week

This week’s winner of our “comment of the week” contest is Marie, who coined a new word in her remarks pertaining to our entry on a dog’s near-deadly confrontation with a video game:

“Wii-suscitation”

It’s what you do when your dog, or a human for that matter, gets a little too close to those caught up in a Wii game and gets clobbered with the remote to the extent they need to be revived. You “Wii-suscitate” him.

As this week’s winner, Marie will be Wii-ceiving an ohmidog! sports bottle, though we suggest she let Anne drink from it as well. It was Anne’s earlier comment that Wii-sulted in Kelly’s counter-Wii-mark.

“We don’t have a Wii, and the Beagle has a thick skull, so I suspect chances of this happening at our house are wii-mote,” Anne wrote. She noted how some fire departments have begun to keep doggie oxygen masks on hand, to which Marie responded:

“It is great the local fire departments are starting to really keep an eye on pets. I would be terrified if my dogs wii-suscitation was in my hands.”

In addition to giving us a laugh, the exchange also gave us an idea — given all that uncertainty, even among dog nuts like Marie and Anne: an ohmidog! report on just how you can resuscitate a dog. Look for it in the near future.

And keep Wii-ding.