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Archive for May 11th, 2009

Blind “Idol” contestant receives guide dog

Scott MacIntyre is no longer in the running for “American Idol,” but the blind contestant did win a surprise gift from Paula Abdul last week — a guide dog.

Abdul presented a guide dog to MacIntyre at a Guide Dogs of America event on Friday as part of the official kick-off of  National Guide Dog Month.

MacIntyre had been told he was at the ceremony to perform, but instead Abdul informed him that he would be receiving a guide dog after his upcoming tour, according to a press release.

Abdul, Natural Balance Pet Foods, Petco and independent pet stores nationwide are teaming to raise funds and awareness for guide dogs, with hopes of raising more than $2 million during May.

“Being part of this important cause is truly special and very close to my heart,” said Abdul. “Most people have no idea how much time and money it takes to train these beautiful animals to give such a precious gift to those who need it most. It can take more than two years and $40,000 to properly train a guide dog. Together, we can help guide dog schools provide more of these life-changing partners to people who are blind.”

Throughout the month of May, PETCO’s more than 950 locations nationwide and many independent pet stores will be selling specially marked bags of Natural Balance dog food with Paula Abdul’s picture on them, and donating 50 cents of the purchase price to participating guide dog schools.

PETCO shoppers can also “round up” their purchases at the register to donate the difference to the cause, or make donations directly online at PETCO.com.

“Having Paula Abdul, a huge animal lover, as our spokesperson will help us get the message out to raise money to match people who are visually impaired and in need of these amazing guide dogs”, said Dick Van Patten of Natural Balance Pet Foods.

Bolted down dog art disappears in Indiana

Two of the 41 decorated dog sculptures that have been placed in and around Purdue University as part of a community art project were stolen before the exhibit officially started, and a third was almost stolen early Sunday.

A student was arrested, but Purdue University police don’t believe he was responsible for the earlier two thefts, the Journal and Courier reported. Police said Adam Sachs, 20, a sophomore engineering major, was carrying a toolbox when an officer saw him at 3:30 a.m. attempting to steal one of the sculptures.

The decorated, life-sized dog statues, bolted to 600-pound concrete bases, have been placed throughout  Lafayette, West Lafayette and on the Purdue campus as part of a community art project and fundraiser sponsored by the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine and the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette.

The “Dog Days of Summer” exhibit officially opened Saturday. Artists from Indiana and other areas decorated the fiberglass dog forms, and the works will be auctioned when the exhibit ends in October.

The two stolen statues were entitled, “Give a Dog a Bone,” located outside the Veterinary school’s Lynn Hall and “Alfie the Alpha Dog,” which was in front of the West Lafayette Public Library. Whoever took the initial two statues loosened all but one bolt, breaking a leg off on “Give a Dog a Bone.”

Kevie Doerr, director of alumni relations and public affairs with the School of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the Dog Days of Summer committee, said they will offer a reward of up to $250 for safe return of the artwork.

(Photo: One of the dog sculptures is bolted down, prior to exhibit opening; courtesy Dog Days of Summer Committee)

Inseparable: Nikkie and Natt

Natt Nevins was a fixture among the doggie crowd of Greenwich Village, where she was rarely seen without Nikkie, her 15-year-old dachsund, at her side.

When Nikkie was diagnosed with cancer last month, Nevins told some of her many dog park friends that she couldn’t imagine life without her dog.

Last week Nevins, 74, died — just a few days after suffering a massive stroke.

Nikkie died the next day.

Dozens of friends – including an army of dachshunds, Shih Tzu’s, Chihuahuas and other small dogs –  gathered at Nevins’ West Village apartment Thursday night to memorialize the well-loved duo, the New York Daily News reported.

Nevins rescued the long-haired dachshund when he was 1, after he’d been surrendered by a family with kids that burned him and tied cans to his legs.

Nevins was a regular at the Washington Square Park dog run, where she could often be found dispensing advice.  She regularly cared for neighborhood dogs while their guardians were at work.

Nevins was much more than a dog nanny, though. A former singer and entertainer, she spent 3-1/2 years in the U.S. Air Force performing for troops during the Korean War. She worked, until retirement, as a gerontologist, was a founding member of Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE), and the first woman on the board of directors of The Hetrick-Martin Institute, which provides safe havens for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth.

Leash law hearing is tomorrow

Reminder: A Baltimore City Council committee takes up the subject of leash laws at a 9 a.m. meeting in City Hall tomorrow (Tuesday).

The hearing, before the council’s Judiciary & Legislative Investigations Committee, was originally scheduled for April 28, but was postponed after a water main break forced City Hall to be emptied.

The council is reconsidering the $1,000 fine it approved for unleashed dogs earlier this year, leading to an outcry by some dog owners who say it’s excessive, especially in a city with only one small dog park. (A second, and the first the city has helped fund, is expected to open by fall.) Also to be presented at the hearing, before the council’s Judiciary & Legislative Investigations Committee, is an amendment to allow the city’s director of Recreation and Parks to enact off-leash hours at city parks. The meeting is in the City Council Chambers on the 4th floor of City Hall. (A picture ID required for admission to City Hall.)

As of this weekend, an online petition calling for a reduction of the fine had more than 1,500 signatures.