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Archive for December 16th, 2009

Dogs better walking companions than humans

walking

 
Dogs are better walking companions than humans on almost all counts, a new study shows, with the possible exception of conversation (though I generally favor them in that category as well).

Research at the University of Missouri has found that people who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise, walk at a brisker (therefore more healthy) pace, and show more improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion, according to the New York Times health blog, “Well.”

In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted living home, 35 people were assigned to a 5-day-a-week walking program — 23 walking with a friend or spouse, 12 walking dogs at a local animal shelter.

The dog walkers showed a big improvement in fitness, while the human walkers began making excuses to skip the workout. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just a 4 percent increase among the human walkers.

“The improvement in walking speed means their confidence in their walking ability had increased and their balance had increased. To have a 28 percent improvement in walking speed is mind boggling,” said Rebecca A. Johnson, a nursing professor and director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Johnson said the dog walkers were far more consistent in sticking with the program than those who were walking with humans: “In the human walking group, they were regularly discouraging each other from walking,” she said. “Missouri is a hot state. We would hear them saying: ‘It’s hot today. I don’t want to walk, do you?’ ”

The dog walkers, on the other hand, were nearly always up for the task:

“When the people came to the animal shelter, they bounced off the bus and said, ‘Where’s my dog?”’  Johnson said. “And the dogs never gave any discouragement from walking.”

The study, not yet published,  is continuing, and Johnson said she suspects differences will show up in other areas, like depression and anxiety.

Already, though, Johnson said, many people in the dog-walking group stopped using canes and walkers. “They would say, ‘Now I’m physically fit enough to take my dog for a walk,”’

What I want for Christmas, chapter one

MuttensMuttens.

I want Muttens.

A friend sent me the link to the website for Muttens, which are basically retractable gloves that allow you to pop your fingers out and do what you need to do with them — pick up poop, tie your shoe, answer the cell phone — then recloak them in warmth when you’re done.

But they’re made primarily for dog walking — developed in Chicago (necessity is the mother of invention), by Jim Devers, who got tired of freezing his hands off everytime he had to scoop up the poop of his Pomeranian, Bailey. You know the drill — you take off your mittens or gloves, or at least one of them, pick up the poop, tie the bag, toss it in the trash can, then realize you have only one glove left.

With Muttens — sort of the convertible version of mittens — you can free your hands for all those tasks that require some nimbleness — like hooking and unhooking the leash, poop disposal, getting your key out of your pocket. You can even hold the leash — even a retractable one — inside the mitten.

The cleverly named hand warmers run $19.95 a pair, or six pair for $60.

(Photo courtesy of Muttens.com)

Another dog dragged — charges filed

A year-old pit bull is recovering after being dragged for nearly two miles behind a pick-up truck in Florida.

Holly, as the dog was named by the veterinarian treating her, had two toes surgically removed yesterday but “is doing really well,” Dr. Leonard Fox in Port St. Lucie said. “I really do believe that six weeks from now she’ll be running around like nothing happened,” he told TCPalm.com.

dogdraggedWhen she was brought in, the dog had severe road rash, particularly on her feet, which Fox said “look like ground beef.” She’d been dragged so long the big toes on her rear paws were worn down to the bone, necessitating the amputation.

Fox said the road rash will have to be treated like burns, with fresh bandages every few days. More surgery may be required Thursday or Friday to remove dead skin, and Holly may get a cast on her left hind foot as well.

The driver of the truck, Napoleon Zarah Davis, 31, of Port St. Lucie, was released from the St. Lucie County Jail Monday after paying $2,500 bond on a felony charge of animal cruelty.

The story is similar to one  recently reported in Tennessee.

Davis told police he was taking the dog to the Humane Society of St. Lucie County Monday when the dog jumped out of the truck bed. The dog was dragged 1.9 miles, before a man caught up to Davis and got him to stop the truck, according to police.

Davis  told police he didn’t know the dog, whose 15-foot leash was tied to a post in the truck bed, had jumped out.

(Photo: Port St. Lucie Police Department)

Dog that may have saved hiker still missing

After seven days missing in the frigid mountains of west-central New Mexico,  67-year-old hiker Robert Sumrall was found semi-conscious with his dog, a black Labrador mix named Zulu, lying atop him.

Two ranchers found Sumrall, but they inadvertently scared away his dog — who many now believe may have saved his master’s life by keeping him warm.

Sumrall, of El Paso, has regained consciousness, but hasn’t been able to talk, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News, and the search for Zulu continues.

Sumrall’s wife, Jan Sumrall, a former El Paso city council member, said her husband, though frostbitten, and voiceless from a tracheotomy, is slowly recovering. Meanwhile, his family and dog lovers in several states aren’t giving up on the search for Zulu, who is being called a hero.

A reward fund has reached $3,500, according to the El Paso Times, and has led other hikers to join El Paso’s Animal Rescue League in the search for the dog.

The Animal Rescue League  installed live traps and took food and clothes from Robert Sumrall to the search area last week. They have also posted flyers around the area.

“Cats & Dogs” sequel coming this summer

I don’t understand how a movie trailer can be completed more than six months before the movie is released, but here’s a look at the upcoming sequel “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” a follow-up to the 2001 movie about a secret war between house pets.

The movie is scheduled for release on July 30, 2010.