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Archive for 'Muttsblog'

Hachiko resurfaces in black and white photo


Hachiko has been memorialized in everything from movies to statues, but a fuzzy, 81-year-old, black and white photograph of the famed Japanese dog is being greeted with excitement on the Internet since it surfaced on the Internet last month.

The old school photo of the Akita who became a symbol for loyalty after his owner’s death was found among the belongings of a Tokyo bank employee who died in 1947, The Japan News reported.

In the rare photo, by Isamu Yamamoto, Hachiko is pictured around 1934 laying on the pavement near the Shibuya railway station ticket counter in Tokyo, where he was known to wait every day for his master, Hidesaburo Ueno, to return home from work.

Ueno, who died in 1925, was an agriculture professor at the University of Tokyo. Hachiko would follow Ueno to and from the train station every day in the early 1920s.

While numerous pictures were taken of Hachiko, most were with other people, or taken as close-ups. Yamamoto’s photograph is reportedly one of the few that shows the train station in the background.

“Hachiko was a familiar sight to those living near Shibuya Station. I hope the photo my father took will be preserved carefully,” Yamamoto’s daughter, Yoko Imamura said.

Imamura said the photograph of Hachiko was found in one of her father’s photo albums.

Yamamoto’s family gave the photograph of Hachiko to Takeshi Ando, who created the second statue memorializing Hachiko. In 1934, Ando’s father, Teru Ando, erected the first bronze statue of Hachiko in front of Shibuya station.

“I have never looked at such a photo that caught the atmosphere of Hachiko’s everyday life at that time so well,” Takeshi Ando, 92, said.

The photo was first shared publicly by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which carried an article in its Oct. 22 edition. It was later translated into English and appeared in The Japan News and on its website on Nov. 5.

Since then the photo has drawn tens of thousands of “likes” on Facebook.

(Photo: Isamu Yamamoto)

NC’s first lady supports new charges against former animal shelter director


A week after Guilford County prosecutors declined to pursue felony charges against the former county animal shelter director, Sheriff BJ Barnes was back before the cameras to announce new charges, and with a new ally at his side.

Barnes announced yesterday that former shelter director Marsha Williams has been served with five new misdemeanor citations for animal neglect.

He made the announcement with North Carolina’s First Lady, Ann McCrory, sitting next to him, and, next to her, Guilford County Board of Commissioners chairman Hank Henning.

Barnes was critical of the district attorney’s decision to not pursue felony animal cruelty charges against Williams and other two other former staff members he says were responsible for “horrendous” conditions at the shelter.

McCrory said she supports the effort and asked the district attorney to reconsider prosecution of the case.

On November 1, the district attorney’s office said there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against the former Guilford County Animal Shelter employees who had been charged after an investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Similar charges have been filed, and are still pending, against Williams and two other employees of the shelter in Davidson County, which was also operated by the nonprofit group United Animal Coalition.

In Guilford County, Sheriff deputies spent several months investigating allegations of animal abuse, mismanagement of funds and potential drug violations.

But officials in the district attorney’s office said the evidence to pursue cruelty charges was insufficient, showing a “systemic failure,” but pointing to no particular culprits who could be held responsible.

Sheriff Barnes voiced displeasure with that decision when it was made.

And yesterday, according to the Greensboro News & Record, he insisted the charges should be pursued, at least against the shelter director.

“Marsha Williams, as the manager, was in complete control. There was no decision made, live or die, without her being involved in the process,” he said.

Barnes also requested the cases in the two counties be consolidated, and be prosecuted in Davidson County.

McCrory, an animal rights advocate, said she’d requested to meet with Barnes to discuss the charges and show support for the case.

“This went beyond anything I’ve ever heard of in my life,” she said. “It’s basically torture. It’s beyond me that the Davidson County district attorney is going to prosecute. If that person has enough to charge and make a case … why don’t we have that in Guilford County?”

(Sheriff BJ Barnes, left, First Lady Ann McCrory, and Guilford County Board of Commissioners chairman Hank Henning; photo by Andrew Krech / Greensboro News & Record)

After some zigs and zags, Ziggy is home


After a Fresno family shared a post on Facebook about their dog Ziggy going missing, and Ziggy showing up not much later on Craigslist for sale, a good Samaritan said he did what he had to do — buy Ziggy back and return him to his family.

Ziggy, a Maltese, was stolen Friday from a crate in his front yard in Fresno, Calif., his owner, Kris Villasenor, told ABC News.

By Saturday he was returned to the family, by a stranger named Jeremiah Lee.

“I was browsing Facebook the other day and my aunt shared a post about a lost dog,” Lee told ABC News. “I read it and realized that the dog was stolen in my neighborhood.”

Lee made a mental note to keep an eye out for the dog, and followed Villasenor’s post on Fresno’s lost and found pets Facebook page.

When he saw that someone had commented on the post that they had seen the dog listed for sale, and provided a link to the Craigslist ad, Lee took action.

“I texted the number thinking that there was no way that they would respond and just told them that they had broken a little girl’s heart and to do the right thing.”

To Lee’s surprise, the seller answered his text, claiming they had bought Ziggy from a homeless person and had no idea that he was stolen.

While skeptical of that story, Lee met the seller Saturday and paid $40 for the Maltese he had never met.

Lee got in touch with Villasenor through Facebook, informing her he had her dog, and she picked Ziggy up right away.

Villasenor insisted on reimbursing Lee, even though he protested.

“I wanted to help because I would hope that someone would do the same for me,” he said.

“It’s amazing what Jeremiah did just to get the dog back,” Villasenor said. “The kids are super stoked about it. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

A “loyal” robot dog is headed to the market


There is really only one reason we duly report on the latest robot dogs hitting the market, or headed that way: To show how sadly lacking in intelligence our own species is.

To think that technology — even WiFi-equipped technology — can replace a living, breathing dog is, after all, folly.

Nevertheless, the robot dogs keep coming as toy makers continue their futile effort to duplicate dog.

Expected to hit the market late next year is a dog called CHiP, which stands for Canine Home Intelligent Pet.

CHiP will be the first robot dog that’s able to show something resembling loyalty.

Even with that though, we don’t predict much of a future for CHiP. Still being fine tuned by a company called WowWee, CHiP will likely go the way of all robot dogs, from Sony’s AIBO to iCybee — into the garbage.

How CHiP differs from earlier versions of robot dogs — and there have been a few — is basically this. It has sensors that allow it to locate its ball and its bed and you, and it is equipped with Bluetooth, allowing you to connect with it from a band worn on your wrist.

This means it can do a cheap and phony imitation of one thing that up to now only real dogs could do: Get excited when you walk through the front door (assuming you program it to do so).

How sad a little life does the grown-up person who would do that have?

You get out of your car, pause at the front doorstep, tap your futuristic wrist band a few times, and presto, Chip will be waiting for you with tail a-wagging the second you unlock the door.

The $199 black-and-white robot pup, which won’t hit the marketplace until sometime next year, is said to have more smarts than its predecessors.

The head alone has an array of carefully hidden infrared sensors that give it a 360-degree view, which it uses to find its special ball and charging bed. Yes, it can perform a variaton of fetch. Yes,it can put itself to sleep at night and wake up all recharged and ready to go. Yes, it can even be “trained”.

With its Bluetooth and special “Smart Band,” reports, owners can, rather than displaying real love by petting their dog, send their dog “likes,” reinforcing those behaviors they want to make a regular part of the dog’s repertoire.

Mashable says CHiP looks like a cute, big-headed puppy (we disagree). We think, with it wheels, and shiny white plastic coat, and 360-degree sight line, it more resembles a freakish hybrid between dog and army tank, between Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” and a “Star Wars” storm trooper.

“It does seem alive,” Mashable reports, adding that the robot dog’s tricks include sitting, squatting, shimmying, dancing around and making dog sounds.

We can think of only one proper home for such a dog — with the kind of person who wants none of the responsibility of dog ownership, prefers superficial relationships and probably shouldn’t have a real dog in the first place.

Dairy farmer says his dog is 30 years old, and, yes, that would be a record


He doesn’t have any paperwork to back it up, but a dairy farmer in Australia says his kelpie could, at almost 30, be the oldest dog in the world — ever.

Brian McLaren arrived at his dog’s age using this mathematic formula. His youngest son, Liam, was four years old when they bought Maggie as a young pup. Liam is 34 now.

Maggie — approaching nearly 300 in human years — may have lost a stop or two but she is still working as a guard dog on McLaren’s large dairy operation.

In fact, about 15 years ago, when McLaren moved to a house away from the farm, Maggie resisted the relocation.

“She stays there when I go home at night,” McLaren told the Weekly Times. “We moved to Koroit in 2000 and we took her with us, but she went off her head. She wanted to stay on the farm, so that’s where she stays.”

McLaren says he lost Maggie’s paperwork and can’t prove she has broken the record of what’s consider the longest living dog of all time — Bluey, an Australian cattle dog who died at age 29 in 1939.

Maggie sleeps in a bed in the farm office at night and comes out for the farm work when McLaren arrives early in the morning.

(Photo by Yuri Kouzmin / The Weekly Times)

Great Dane helps girl find her balance

Fifth grader Bella Burton has gained both confidence and mobility since a service dog came into her life last year — a dog that outweighs her three to one.

George, a Great Dane who tips the scales at 131, was paired with Bella through the Service Dog Project, an Ipswich, Mass.-based non-profit organization that trains and matches Great Danes with people who have mobility and balance limitations.

Bella, who turned 11 last week, has a rare genetic disorder called Morquio Syndrome, or Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) IV.

“She used to pretty much be confined to a wheelchair or have to use crutches to get around, but with George, she’s become so much stronger and active,” said Bella’s mom, Rachel.

Since George loped into the picture late last year Bella has gone from dreading school to enjoying it.

“I couldn’t play on the playground, and I had to use crutches when I was at home,” Bella said. “Now, I’m running outside and I love to go to school.”

Bella and George were featured on ABC News last week.

Next month, George will be honored by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as one of five dogs to receive the Award for Canine Excellence, at the AKC’s national championships in Orlando, Fla.

The Burtons spent about a year trying to find Bella the right balance support dog. Once Bella met George, the two bonded almost immediately.

Last October George started staying with the Burtons on weekends. By January, George was permanently placed with the Burtons, who have two other non-service dogs.

Bella and family plan to donate the $1,000 cash prize from the AKC to the Service Dog Project.

“Between the training and adoption fees, it probably costs around $20,000,” Rachel said. “They didn’t want a dime when they placed George with us.”

Emu’s best friend? Meet Edward and Rocky


An orphaned young emu has found a friend at a bird rehabilitation center in Australia.

Edward, the emu, was just a few days old when he was found by a truck driver in a ditch near the West Australian rural town of Nannup.

The truck driver bundled the bird in a flannel shirt and rushed him to the Jamarri bird sanctuary in the town of Jalbarragup.

“He was pretty much comatose when I got him,” Dee Paterson, who operates the sanctuary, told “But he slowly came back, and soon enough he was well enough to sleep outside in a nice warm box.”

This is where Paterson’s dog, Rocky, took a special interest in Edward.

The center primarily rehabilitates black cockatoos, so Rocky was no stranger to birds. For some reason, though, he decided to take Edward under his wing, and the frail bird began taking walks with the little dog.

Before long, Edward began cuddling up next to Rocky for naps.

“They are a great pair and Rocky seems to have taken on the role of dad,” Paterson said. “They do everything together and Edward never lets Rocky out of his sight.”

While Edward is free to leave the property, he so far seems to have no interest in doing so.

“They just seem happy to be in each other’s company,” Paterson said.


(Photos by Anthony Pancia,