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Archive for March, 2018

UNC’s baseball team dog helps NBA team get up for game — against Charlotte Hornets

My new best friend #Remington from #UNC

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

An NBA player is crediting a visit from a therapy dog for getting him out of a slump and helping his team win this week.

Cleveland Cavalier J.R. Smith had only scored six points in the Cavs’ first two games on their three-game road trip, but after meeting a golden retriever named Remington he shot 8-for-9 and scored 18 points against the Charlotte Hornets.

“It was exactly what I needed,” Smith said. “Something to take my mind off the game and something to make me feel better.”

“It was right on time, especially for me,” Smith told ESPN. “I’m an emotional person. I live in my head. I don’t really express a lot of things. But let’s just say it was right on time.”

Even Cavs acting head coach Larry Drew gave credit to Remington for Smith’s game.

“You know, I think it was the canine,” Drew said. “I walk in the room, and there JR is sitting on the floor. … He’s sitting on the floor petting the [dog]. I think it was the canine that got him going. I can tell he’s very fond of that dog, and we’re going to have to get that dog back to more shootarounds.”

remiRemington is a therapy dog for the University of North Carolina baseball team.

The UNC team was playing in Charlotte and Cavs’ head athletic trainer, Steve Spiro, arranged for the get-together. Spiro said he read about “Remi,” and reached out to Tar Heels head athletic trainer Terri Jo Rucinski.

Remington, in addition to lifting spirits, provides companionship for team members while they’re going through rehabilitation after injuries and helps out with tasks such as opening a door for a player on crutches or fetching a towel for a player coming out of an ice bath.

“We had a great opportunity today to do something for our players outside of the normal routine on a back-to-back,” Spiro told ESPN. “We looked for it to be a potentially very positive impact in a casual setting where the guys could enjoy being around Remington, who is an extremely loving and talented service/therapy dog.”

Spiro said that to his knowledge, no professional sports teams have a service dog in their ranks, but that it might be something worth looking at.

The Cavs have been at the forefront of mental health awareness this season, with former Cleveland big man Channing Frye opening up about dealing with depression and Kevin Love penning an essay for The Player’s Tribune revealing that he has experienced panic attacks.

Rise of the French bulldog continues

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French bulldogs are now the most popular breed in New York and Los Angeles, and the fourth most popular nationwide, according to the American Kennel Club’s annual ranking of breed popularity.

This year’s national ranking show Frenchies climbing into the top five for the first time. Twenty years ago, the breed was 76th on the list.

And, no, we’re not burying the lede here.

Yes, Labrador retrievers have once again been proclaimed America’s most popular breed, but after 27 years in a row of that happening it hardly qualifies as news.

DSC06082The French bulldog’s rise is a fresher, more significant and more worrisome development, perhaps highlighting the divide between dainty big city breeds and those good ol’ breeds we’ve long held dear.

The breed jumped two spots from number six to number four in 2017. In doing so, it knocked the beagle out of the top five for the first time since 1998, and further cemented its hold on the top spot in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and West Palm Beach.

Yes, it is a trendy breed, and an urban breed. A French bulldog is not going to retrieve that duck whose life you just ended. You’re not going to see a French bulldog on the cover of Field and Stream.

One did make the cover of the Village Voice back in 2015, though, under the headline, “Don’t Buy This Dog.”

The breed had already become No. 1 in New York by then, and the article, by Michael Brandow, enumerated all the reasons that was a bad thing — chief among them the health problems the breed faces because of decades of inbreeding.

An excerpt:

“What’s wrong with French bulldogs? Where should I begin? Generations of unwise inbreeding to no good end, far beyond what would be needed to keep their signature looks, have left these cartoon critters with low resistance to illness and allergies. Physically handicapped at birth (by cesarean, because the heads are, like the owners’ pride, inflated) with squashed-in faces that are freakishly flat, they face serious challenges in performing some of any mammal’s basic functions — like getting enough oxygen and keeping their bodies at a safe temperature. Life’s burdens grow heavier under a long list of deformities preventing even mobility, and a task as simple as walking is no small feat.”

New Yorkers didn’t much heed the then-newsweekly’s warning. Demand just kept increasing, and with it so did worries about unscrupulous breeders and under-informed owners.

AKC officials say they expect the popularity of the downsized bulldogs with the pointed ears to continue as more city dwellers look for a breed that is compact and relatively quiet.

“The French bulldog is poised for a takeover,” AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo said in a statement, noting the breed’s “adaptability” and “loveable temperament.”

Here are the top 10 breeds in the U.S., according to the AKC:

1. Labrador retriever

2. German shepherd

3. Golden retriever

4. French bulldog

5. Bulldog

6. Beagle

7. Poodle

8. Rottweiler

9. Yorkshire terrier

10. German short-haired pointer

Homeless man gets help after video plea for his dog, Meaty

Robert wasn’t homeless when he adopted a pit bull named Meaty from Sacramento’s animal shelter a few months ago.

But not much later, after an eviction, he found himself in that situation, and he returned to the animal shelter for help — specifically, in hopes of finding someone to foster the dog until he got through his rough patch.

Gina Knepp, manager of Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter, thought a video about Robert and Meaty, posted on its Facebook page, might lead to someone stepping forward.

“My name is Robert, I’m 47 years old, I have a family, a career, a master’s degree, a pet – and I’m homeless,” he says in the video, pausing frequently to compose himself.

“I came here in hopes I could find a foster family to care for Meaty until we get on our feet again and get into transitional housing …”

Knepp was so moved by his story — common a situation as it is — that she paid for three nights at a dog friendly motel after the video was made.

“Because few homeless shelters allow dogs, he’s been sleeping in his car with Meaty laying on his chest,” she said in the post. “He refused to take shelter, because he didn’t want Meaty to be cold and alone.”

“I think that pets are very important to homeless people,” Robert says in the video. “They’re their companion.”

Still, he had decided it would be best for everyone if they parted ways until housing was found, and in making the video he was hoping to find someone to care for the dog temporarily.

“I mean, who could resist a big lover like that?” he says as Meaty jumps up to give him kisses.

Within a week of the posting, Robert and Meaty were still together and the outlook was good. Amid an outpouring of support from the community, a rental home was found.

Milo’s Kitchen recalls two dog treats

milosThe J.M. Smucker Company has recalled two different kinds of Milo’s Kitchen dog treats.

According to the Milo’s Kitchen website, shipments of Milo’s Kitchen Steak Grillers / Steak Grillers Recipe with Angus Steak and Milo’s Kitchen Grilled Burger Bites with Sweet Potato and Bacon are being recalled over concerns of potentially elevated levels of a beef thyroid hormone.

The FDA says three dogs are known to have been sickened by the treats.

Dogs who have consumed high levels of beef thyroid hormone may show symptoms of increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate and restlessness, according to the FDA.

The symptoms should subside once consumption of the treats is discontinued, but prolonged consumption can cause vomiting, diarrhea and labored breathing.

One of the first dog owners to report a problem with the treats was a Seattle area woman, whose Pomeranian-Chihuahua, named Teka, became ill at the end of last year.

“She was barely getting up. She wasn’t running around. Her activity level was low and it clearly looked like she could die that weekend … She would just sit there and drink and drink and drink,” Eide told KING5.

The dog was a gift to Eide’s dying daughter, Karina.

“It was our daughter’s ‘Make A Wish’ dog,” Eide said. “She said, ‘I know some kids want to go to Disneyland for Make a Wish. We’ll have Teka forever’. It was our responsibility to take good care of her,” Fernette said.

Karina passed away in 2014.

When Teka became ill, Eide took the dog to the vet, where abnormally high levels of thyroid hormones were detected.

After she reported the issue to the FDA, she was interviewed and supplied the agency with some of the treats.

The recall includes two flavors of the treats:

Milo’s Kitchen Steak Grillers / Steak Grillers Recipe with Angus Steak:

UPC Code: 0 7910051822 7 Size: 18 oz. bag Best By Date: 11/15/2018
UPC Code: 0 7910051822 7 Size: 18 oz. bag Best By Date: 4/26/2019
UPC Code: 0 7910051823 4 Size: 22 oz. bag Best By Date: 4/26/2019
UPC Code: 0 7910052776 2 Size: 10 oz. bag Best By Date: 4/26/2019

Milo’s Kitchen Grilled Burger Bites with Sweet Potato and Bacon:

UPC Code: 0 7910052126 5 Size: 15 oz. bag Best By Date: 11/19/2018

Asheville extending its appeal to tourists and visitors by taking aim at dogs

It doesn’t take a mathematical formula to determine the coolest, most eclectic mid- to large-sized town in North Carolina.

And even if it did — say, the per capita number of scenic mountain vistas, plus the number of didgeridoo instructors, plus the number of bookstores, plus the number of natural food establishments, plus the number of craft beer offerings, plus the number of spas that will rid you of toxins by applying something really gross to your body — the answer would still come out the same:

Asheville.

Travel publications will tell you it’s the hippest, most happenin’ city in North Carolina — and now the local tourism office (see video above) is working to persuade dogs of that as well.

If this piece in the Asheville Citizen-Times is any indication, Asheville’s businesses seem to be realizing the importance of attracting canine customers.

More hotels are catering to dogs, and more restaurants are opening their doors — or at least their patios — to them, often even offering special canine selections from the menu.

At Twisted Laurel, which has an expansive animal-friendly patio, humans can order a “Twisted Doggie” bowl for their pet, which includes protein choices like chicken, salmon or eggs, with rice and vegetables like sweet potatoes or broccoli.

The Hop Ice Creamery hosts Doggie Ice Cream Socials, with dog-friendly ice cream, scratch-made with peanut butter, bananas and fat-free yogurt, whipped together with no added sugar.

“We have anywhere between 5-20 dogs at a time, plus lots of kids and lots of excited people and dogs eating ice cream,” co-owner Greg Garrison said.

The Hop sells about 100 servings of dog ‘scream per week between its three locations.

Posana has a dog menu with house-made dog biscuit appetizers and entrees including bison burgers, and a dessert of bacon-soy ice cream.

Upcountry Brewing is dog friendly, inside and out. Bartenders keep treats behind the bar and the brewery has plans to fence in its backyard for canine guests.

And at the Battery Park Champagne Bar and Book Exchange, dogs are always welcome and Corky, a Bouvier des Flandres is usually there to greet them.

ppfEven food trucks are getting into the act.

The Purple People Feeder food truck specializes in hibachi-cooked food for humans, but it’s also serves up a dog bowl filled with steak fat, fried rice, peas and carrots, all for $3.

“I hate throwing away food, so I wanted to try to do something with our scraps,” said cook Lindsey Anderson. “We love dogs, and Asheville loves dogs, so we thought it’d be a good idea.”

Purple People Feeder serves about five of the dog meals when they cook at places where pets hang, like Pisgah Brewing Company, which the food truck visits every other Friday. You can check the food truck’s Facebook page to keep up with its schedule.

Dogs of the World

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There are plenty of nits one could pick about this “Dogs of the World” map, but it’s still a pretty awesome achievement.

The artwork is an offshoot of the “Dogs of the World” series of drawings Lili Chin, a Los Angeles-based artist, produced in 2014.

It features 345 dog breeds and their countries of origin.

Since some countries are home of many more breeds than others, the map is a stylized one. France, England and Germany, for instance, are drawn far larger than scale so that the many dogs who originated in those countries could fit in.

The U.S., while pretty much to scale, includes some dogs that one would think surely originated elsewhere, like the Australian shepherds, pictured as originating in California. The Chinese Crested appears to have originated somewhere around Houston. Chesapeake Bay retrievers are shown way over in Michigan, far from the Chesapeake Bay.


“Space limitations made it impossible to dial in all breeds exact locations, Chin says on her website.

“My goal was to include non-pedigree dogs, lesser-known breeds, mixed breeds, and pariahs/landraces, while sticking with the original theme of geographical origins,” the Malaysia-born artist said. “After kicking this idea around for a couple years, I was contacted by an American jigsaw puzzle company that wished to license a ‘dogs on a map’ graphic for a new jigsaw puzzle.”

The puzzle can be purchased here.

Chin, who specializes in dog illustrations, infographics, custom portraits, and gifts for animal lovers, is selling the prints on her Etsy site. Prints on paper go for $55. Prints on canvas are $105.

Dogs like running, therapy dogs make people feel good, and other “oh duh” studies

In my daily perusal of what in the world is going on with dogs, I am constantly amazed at how many studies are done on things we already know — and how quick news organizations are to pounce on those studies and present them as something new.

Take last week’s Washington Post, which tells us in a headline, “Dogs can get a runner’s high, too.”

Pfffft. Dogs invented the runner’s high. We didn’t need a headline to know, least of all one based on a 2012 study.

The article goes on to tell us that running is healthy for dogs and humans, that running “gives dogs an activity and burns energy,” and, of course, that dogs and humans should check with their vets and doctors before beginning an exercise program.

I don’t know how much of this stating of the painfully obvious that goes on today is because we have run out of new things to say, study and report on; or how much is the result of so-called news websites providing dumbed-down “content,” instead of news.

But it seems like everybody — from scientist to journalist — is in repeat mode. Or maybe I’m just old.

SONY DSCAlso making news last week was the “recent finding” that dogs respond best to high-pitched voices.

This, at least, stems from a new study in which scientists at the University of York have shown that using high-pitched baby-talk voices can help us bond with their dogs.

Of course, the study found basically the same thing as others in recent years, including this one from more than a year ago.

Now any scientist will tell you that’s there is value in these studies that tell us what we already know — whether we already know them from common sense, or because of similar earlier studies that found the same thing. It is always good to confirm things

News organizations, on the other hand, will take the findings of any study, hype them up and present them as the most important breaking news of the day — even if they did the same thing last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

They know, even with Google, our collective memory is short, so they trot out the same old pieces regularly — should you let your dog sleep with you, should you let your dog lick you, why do dogs eat grass? — and they either find experts or studies to legitimize them.

Just last week, with the news that Barbra Streisand has two cloned dogs, the topic of dog cloning became instantly hot, and many a news outlet presented the story in a you’re-not-going-to-believe-this, dogs-are-being-CLONED!!! kind of way.

Having written a book on the very topic seven years ago, I was amused how the news was suddenly a revelation again.

I’m sure scientists somewhere are studying how short our memories and attention spans are becoming, and that I’ll be reading about it soon.

Until then, there will be plenty of other scientific “revelations” to keep me busy, like this one — unearthed by hardworking researchers at the University of British Columbia:

Therapy dogs make people feel good.

acetWell, that’s kind of why they have been popping up everywhere in the past 20 years — to do just that.

And what led to those initial revelations, years ago? Studies.

This new one, published in the journal Stress and Health, shows that exposure to therapy dogs helps boost students’ well-being. Researchers interviewed 246 students before and after cuddle and petting sessions with therapy dogs.

Students felt significantly less stressed and more energized after interacting with the dogs, though the happy feelings weren’t necessarily lasting, InsideHigherEd.com reported.

In other words, the feel-good vibe a dog gives you — like a news report, like a scientific study, like many a book — will soon be forgotten.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)