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Archive for February, 2016

Need silence? Put a dachshund in your ear

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Who wouldn’t want a tiny dachshund running through their brain?

Now you can have it, or the semblance of it, while simultaneously drowning out night time noises — be they the barking dog next door or a snoring spouse.

plugs2Simply plug the dachshund’s front end into one ear, its hind end into the other, and commence to dreaming.

The ear plugs were created by Japanese designer Mao Yamamoto and are made of the same foam as most other ear plugs you’d find at the drug store.

A set of two costs about $11 and they come in five colors: blue, red/orange, yellow, white and gray, Mashable reports.

The Mimi Pet Earplugs, from the Japanese brand +d, can be washed and re-used, and come with a handy storage pouch. They can be purchased online at Koncent.jp.

(Photos from Koncent.jp)

In this program, kids read to shelter dogs to help them (the dogs) become more confident

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Programs in which kids read to dogs are nothing new, but the Humane Society of Missouri is putting a new twist on the idea — having children read to shelter dogs to boost the dog’s confidence, as opposed to their own.

In the Shelter Buddies Reading Program, young volunteers — from ages 5-16 — read to shy and withdrawn shelter dogs, helping them grow comfortable with visitors.

As a result, those shy dogs become less likely to cower in the back of their glass-enclosed kennels and more likely to get adopted.

“We saw more and more rescue animals that were shy, fearful, and stressed out in the shelter environment,” JoEllyn Klepacki, the society’s assistant director of education told Today.com. “Unfortunately, these dogs are less likely to get adopted, since they tend to hang back instead of engage when potential adoptees come through.”

bookbuddiesWhile it’s aimed at primarily at helping dogs, the program is benefiting the volunteers as well.

In addition to helping them hone their reading skills, they learn about dogs, and their body language, and how to draw them out of their shells — all with the help of a good book and some treats.

The volunteers go through training sessions (with a parent) to learn how to interact with dogs, and the shelter has a library of about 100 donated books the children can read from, though many choose to bring their own.

Not a whole lot of staff supervision is required because the dogs remain in their enclosures — likely for liability and safety reasons — and one parent is required to accompany each child when they come to read.

Even though physical contact is limited, Klepacki believes the program is making a difference.

“These were dogs that before were hiding in the backs of the rooms with their tails tucked. You can see the connection — you can see them responding to those kids.”

Klepacki thinks other shelters could start a similar program at little expense.

“For next to no cost, the payoff is immeasurable.”

(Photos courtesy of the Humane Society of Missouri)

Animal magnetism: There’s more than meets the eye in the eyes of dogs

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If, like me, you tend to mindlessly credit the canine nose when you hear about a dog miraculously finding his way hundreds of miles back home, you might be interested in this other possible explanation.

Researchers have shown for the first time that the eyes of dogs have a version of the molecule cryptochrome 1 — the same molecule that gives bats, birds and certain other mammals the ability to perceive Earth’s magnetic fields.

It’s not clear yet that dogs possess magnoreception — that GPS-like ability that allows birds to return to the same spot every year — but researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany have shown that a version of the molecule that gives birds that ability is present in the retinas of dogs, wolves, bears, and more.

Magnoreception could help explain the mystery of why dogs tend to line up parallel to the north-south axis when they poop.

And many, more important, things, as well.

Presence of the light-sensing molecule gives some plants and animals almost a sixth sense, allowing them to regulate their circadian rhythms and find places they have left far behind.

But not humans. We’ve lost whatever cryptochrome 1 we might have had long ago — probably about the same time we started asking for directions.

According to the study, simply having cryptochrome 1 doesn’t necessarily mean that animals can perceive magnetic fields, but the presence could be a sign of that.

It has been found in the cone photoreceptors of some mammals — the same place it is located in birds.

Out of 90 species of mammals examined, researchers found only a few contained cryptochrome 1.

It was found in the eyes of dogs, wolves and foxes; five members of the weasel family, including ferrets and sea otters; orangutans and two types of macaques; brown bears and polar bears.

With further studies, scientists could find out if and how those animals are using it.

“…It is possible that these animals also have a magnetic sense that is linked to their visual system,” the researchers concluded.

It could explain why some animals approach certain prey from a certain direction, why dogs like to line up north to south to do their business and how so many a lost dog — in real life and movies — manages to find his or her way back home.

Completing the bucket list, posthumously

12748381_611736422307626_1302001925_n(1)The thing about bucket lists — be they custom designed for our dogs or for ourselves — is that the bucket often gets rudely kicked before the items on the list are achieved.

That’s why Ace and I had our’s, though we simply called it an extended road trip, years ago.

New York City resident Neil Rodriguez was living out his and his dog’s list, when his yellow Lab, Poh, diagnosed a year earlier with tumors and kidney failure, died earlier this month.

Rodriguez finished up the list anyway.

He took Poh, in the form of a large photograph, to Disney World, introducing him to Pluto, Mickey Mouse and others.

On Sunday, Rodriguez posted photos on social media, including one of Mickey Mouse holding a photo of Poh at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

“After a couple of tries, we finally fulfilled one last item on #pohthedog bucket list,” the photo’s caption read.

12716590_512191502288812_412147863_nPoh was diagnosed as terminally ill in March 2015. Rodriguez, suspecting the dog had only a few weeks to live, decided to take the dog to visit landmarks across the U.S.

Rodriguez, a DJ, took Poh on a seven-week cross-country trip that included stops in 22 states. They visited Bourbon Street, the Alamo, the Santa Monica Pier and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The trip was depicted in photos and videos on Poh’s Instagram account, Poh the Dog’s Big Adventure, which now has more than 130,000 followers.

In July and August, they traveled to Chicago and the East Coast.

By this February, the dog’s health deteriorated and Rodriguez made the decision to put him down on Feb. 16. Poh died four days before that date, of natural causes.

“Because Poh is Poh, he went out on his own terms, while we were on the road, naturally in … my arms,” Rodriguez wrote in an Instagram post.

(Photos from Poh the Dog’s Big Adventure)

Owners surrender dog at Florida shelter, then take her wheelchair home with them

angieWhen I hear about someone surrendering their dog at an animal shelter, I do my best — though it’s not always easy — to withhold judgment.

Maybe that person or family is facing some hard economic times. Maybe the dog has become ill and getting him or her health care is beyond their means. Maybe they themselves have become unable to care for the dog.

I try, especially when details of the situation are scant, to give those humans the benefit of the doubt.

But I’m having an especially hard time withholding judgment on the Florida dog owners who surrendered their paralyzed 2-year-old cocker spaniel Sunday to Miami-Dade Animal Services, because — before leaving the shelter — they asked for the dog’s wheelchair back.

The owners said the dog, named Angie, had lost the use of her hind legs about two weeks earlier. They took her to a veterinarian, who prescribed oral medication and recommended further diagnostic procedures for the dog.

The owners said they were unable to afford the tests and decided to surrender Angie.

Then — for reasons I can only guess at — they said that, while they were leaving their dog there, they wanted Angie’s wheelchair back.

Perhaps it was a rental. Perhaps they had another dog back home that needed it. Perhaps some agency had provided it to them on a temporary basis.

I hope one of those is true, and that they aren’t trying to sell the device on eBay. That — dropping off their dog but taking home that dog’s only means of getting around, in hopes of making some profit — would lead me lose a bit of faith in my fellow man.

On a happier note, Angie’s plight quickly became a cause on social media, and she was scheduled to be sent from the shelter to a sanctuary yesterday.

As a new resident of Lovey Loaves, an animal sanctuary in Orlando, Angie will receive a new set of wheels and be whisked to Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital, where her condition will be reviewed.

“We have had luck with past rescues in our care improving some or completely reversing paralysis using acupuncture, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, HBOT, etc… but it just depends on many factors, so we’ll have to see,” Lovey Loaves posted on its Facebook page.

“Even if she will not recover from her paralysis we know that she can still lead an extraordinary quality of life,” the post continued. “Were surrounded by wheelie dogs everyday (four in our own home!) We’ll get her a new set of wheels (we like Eddie’s Wheels for Pets) custom fit to her precise needs and measurements, and then she’ll roll with the best of them. Many many MANY folks offered to buy her a new set of wheels.”

The organization reported that it has already received enough donations to get the wheels, but contributions can still be made for Angie’s care.

Another pit bull ban that didn’t work — at least when it comes to reducing dog bites

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In 2005, Ontario passed a law designed to purge the province of pit bulls.

“Over time, it will mean fewer pit bull attacks and, overall, fewer attacks by dangerous dogs,” attorney general Michael Bryant told the Ontario legislature back then.

Time has proved him wrong — at least in Toronto.

The number of dog bites has been rising since 2012, and in 2013 and 2014 reached their highest levels this century, even as pit bulls neared extinction, according to a report in Global News.

It’s just the latest evidence that pit bull bans don’t work.

160219_dog_tableUnder the Ontario law, pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers — and any dog who had that pit bull “look” — had to be kept muzzled or leashed in public and get sterilized within two months of the bill’s passage.

The law allowed those who already owned pit bulls to keep them under those conditions, but breeding pit bulls, or bringing them into the province, was outlawed.

If you owned a pit bull type dog, and it was born after the law went into effect, your dog was — and still is — subject to being sent out of the province or euthanized.

Ten years after the law’s passage, most of those grandfathered pit bulls are dead or dying.

There were only 338 registered in Toronto in 2014, down from 1,411 in 2005.

By the year 2020, pit bulls are expected to no longer exist in the Canadian province.

But the law’s primary desired effect — cutting down on dog attacks and dog bites — clearly hasn’t been achieved.

In 2004, 567 dog bites were recorded in the city. Reports indicate 86 of those bites came from dogs designated as pit bulls. The only breed with more was German Shepherds, with 112 reported bites.

In 2014, there were 767 dog bites in Toronto — only 19 of them by pit bulls.

In 2014, German shepherds were involved in most of the city’s dog bites, and Labrador retrievers had moved up into second place.

Nobody has proposed outlawing them — at least not yet.

(Photo: Chart from globalnews.ca; photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Colbert hosts his own little dog show

It was no parade of puffed-up purebreds (for which we’re grateful), but Stephen Colbert hosted his own little dog show this week the night after Westminster.

Colbert, explaining that The Late Show is a dog-friendly workplace, featured two staff member’s dogs — neither much resembling anything you’d see at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which came to a close in New York this week.

“It’s like the Grammys, but with dogs, and less public urination,” Colbert said.

Colbert went on to present “some champions of our own that we are very proud of.”

First up was Riley, whose owner described her breed as “none of the above.” Among her greatest strengths, her owner said, was “she’ll put anything in her mouth.” He described her weaknesses as matted hair and frequent gas.

Then came Dexter, nearly 15 years old, whose owner described him as a “long-tongued mostly pug.”

Dexter’s owner explained Dexter’s tongue doesn’t stay in his mouth because he has no teeth.

Colbert awarded Dexter a ribbon for “Best in Tongue” and gave Riley the honor of “Most In My Office After Paul Has Left, Evidently Forgetting He Has a Dog.”