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Archive for May 7th, 2009

Shocking: Man zaps his kids with dog collars

An Oregon man was arrested Tuesday on charges of putting an electric dog collar on each of his four children and shocking them — “because he thought it was funny,” police in Salem said.

Police said the father, Todd Marcum, 41, of Salem, gave a statement admitting he had shocked all four of his children — 3,6,8 and 9 — with the collar at least once.

Marcum told police that he would chase the 3-year-old boy around with the collar, making him cry at the thought of being shocked. Police said that because of the boy’s behavior, it is likely that the children were shocked more than once.

Oregon Department of Human Services workers summoned police to Marcum’s home, where he was taken into custody on four charges of first-degree criminal mistreatment, according to the Statesman-Journal. The four children were left in the custody of their mother.

Drug-sniffing Dixie avoids pink slip

Dixie, a drug-sniffing police dog in Snohomish, Washington, was saved from the budget ax when the city council voted Tuesday night not to include her position on a list of those being cut.

The $16,000 a year the city would gain from axing her wouldn’t be worth the loss of her skills and the city’s investment in her training, Mayor Randy Hamlin said.

Dixie is one of two dogs on the force. The other, Kizar, is trained as a tracking dog.

A collie-shepherd mix, she’s never missed a day of work — even when she was injured, said her partner, Sgt. Jeffrey Shelton, who showed up at the council meeting to plead for her job.

Dixie has found $25,000 in cash and seven pounds of drugs, Shelton said. He held up a plastic bag of 25 grams of cocaine to emphasize his point, the Everett Herald reported.

Mayor Hamlin said the cash-strapped city may look into whether there’s a way to keep some of the drug money Dixie has located to pay for her care.

“A police dog could be self-sustaining given some creativity,” he  said.

The city needs to cut about $180,000 in order to have enough money to pay the bills.

Come again? Dog hearing aid is in the works

A University of Cincinnati researcher says the canine hearing aid he is developing may be ready for the market by the end of this year.

Pete Scheifele began working on a hearing aid for dogs after his own 17-year-old dog — a miniature pinscher/beagle mix — lost his hearing.

The highly trained dog has appeared on television and performed for schools and didn’t seem to mind wearing the prototype. In fact, he would seek it out and nudge it when he wasn’t wearing it, Scheifele says.

Researchers are now working on modifications to make the prototype version smaller and more comfortable, according to a report in DVM 360.

The hearing aid would only work on dogs with acquired hearing loss, according to Scheifele, Director of UC’s Bioacoustics and Canine Audiology Clinic.

Scheifele says he is in discussions for commercialization of the prototype and hopes it might be available for sale later this year.

(Photo: Courtesy of University of Cincinnati)

“Oldest dog” appears on NBC’s Today Show

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Chanel, a 21-year-old dachshund mix who has been certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest dog in the world, appeared on the Today Show yesterday, celebrating her birthday with her owner, Denice Shaughnessy.

Wearing a pink sweater and red goggles (because of cataracts), Chanel received her official Guinness certificate on the show.

Denice’s husband, Karl Shaughnessy, contacted Guinness after noticing it had no category for world’s oldest living dog.  He sent in Chanel’s birth certificate showing her birth date: May 6, 1988. In dog years, her veterinarian says, Chanel is 120. She’ll be listed in the 2010 edition of Guinness World Records, scheduled for publication this October.

The oldest dog ever whose age could be verified was Bluey, an Australian cattle dog that died at the age of 29 years, 5 months in 1939.

Chanel wears a sweater or T-shirt when she goes out, because she tends to get chilled easily. She also has a benign tumor on one hind leg, and wears booties to protect the limb. She is prone to getting up in the middle of the night for a drink, and sometimes has trouble relocating her bed.

Denice Shaughnessy was a single mother in the U.S. Army 21 years ago when she went to a shelter in Virginia looking for a dog for her daughter. They paid a $25 adoption fee and took Chanel home.

A few months later, Shaughnessy’s house burned down. That was followed by more hard times in which mother, daughter and dog subsisted on macaroni and cheese. Denice later married Karl Shaughnessy and settled on Long Island, where she got a job as a school secretary.

Dogs help students cope with stress of finals

It has become something of a tradition on the University of Wisconsin campus — just when student stress is at its highest, final exam week, dogs show up to help them chill out.

The Pet Therapy study break on the Madison campus was held again yesterday, with staff from University Health Services bringing their dogs to the Library Mall so students can pet and play with them.

In addition to the dogs soothing frazzled nerves, counselors from the school offer advice on how to deal with finals week — including telling them that all-night cram sessions are not the way to go. A good night’s sleep will probably be more valuable.

Students at the campus in Madison can also get free one-on-one counseling, and for $40, massage therapy.

(Photo: A scene from last year’s break, The Capital Times)