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How many dogs can a dog walker walk?

dogwalker

How many dogs should a dog walker walk at once?

After half a century as an amateur dog walker, and three months as a professional one, I’m prepared to give a qualified answer to that question.

It depends on the dogs. It depends on the dog walker. But three at a time should be plenty.

Many a dog walker might scoff at that — and view the idea of limiting the number of dogs a person can walk at one time as cutting into their profit margin.

It would be nice if dog walking was the one industry in the world not obsessed with upping its profits. But it’s not.

Many dog walkers balked when San Francisco — one of very few cities that regulates professional dog walkers — suggested limiting them to walking no more than eight dogs at once.

I can’t imagine doing that.

I can’t even imagine walking all three of the small dogs I walk for residents of at an assisted living facility all at once.

bgdogs 042Their leashes would get tangled, I’d trip and fall, and, given a couple of them tend to snarf up anything that resembles food — including Punkin, the handsome Boston Terrier to your left – I wouldn’t be able to monitor all three at once.

So — even though it takes three times as long — I opt for walking them one at a time. Bean counters and efficiency experts would say that’s stupid of me.

But then again, I’m 60, and not as agile and speedy, maybe, as once I was.

Here’s a news item that came out of Mill Valley, just up the road from San Francisco, this week:

A 71-year-old dog walker who fell more than 200 feet down a ravine in California was found by rescuers — with all six dogs she was walking huddled around her.

Carol Anderson fell into the ravine near a remote fire road during a storm Tuesday in Mill Valley, KTVU reported.

It’s not clear from news reports whether all six dogs fell with her, but she did manage to hold on to her cell phone during the tumble, and use it to contact one of her dog walking clients.

A Mill Valley Fire Department official said Anderson told the client, “I fell down, I don’t know where I’m at. I have the dogs. I’m dizzy. I’m nauseous, come help me.”

Authorities were able to track her down through her cell phone signals. The first rescuers to arrive found all six dogs curled up around her, which authorities said probably protected her from the cold. Firefighters climbed into the ravine and hoisted Anderson back up.

Anderson was hospitalized in fair condition. All the dogs were returned safely to their owners

It wasn’t the first time the dog walker has run into some bad luck.

In 2007, three of seven dogs Anderson had been walking — all at once — all got sick and died, just hours later, from what turned out to be strychnine poisoning intended to exterminate gophers.

After a morning walk on the Alta Trail above Marin City, the three dogs experienced high fevers and seizures. Two died at an area pet hospital, and a third was dead on arrival.

Walking six, seven, eight or more dogs at once strikes me as asking for trouble — no matter how well behaved the dogs are, or how experienced and physically fit the dog walker is.

I don’t think the rest of the country needs to go all San Francisco and regulate the industry. Dog owners can do that themselves, simply by asking, or insisting if necessary, that their dog not be walked in a group the size of a baseball team, or jury.

The dog walker who refuses to comply with such a request is probably more of a money seeker than a dog lover and may be better off avoided anyway.

(Top photo, a dog walker in San Francisco, by Mike Koozmin/ San Francisco Examiner; bottom photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Alanis Morissette and ex-housekeeper fight over dog named — aptly enough — Circus

Alanis Morissette says her housekeeper took her Chihuahua mix.

The housekeeper says the singer no longer wanted the dog and asked her and her fiancé — seen in this video explaining their side of the story — to take him.

Morissette and her husband, Mario Treadway, have filed a lawsuit, seeking $25,000 and the return of the dog.

Maria Garcia, the housekeeper, and her husband Patrick Murch, a dog walker, responded with this video, claiming Morissette told them the dog was “too annoying” to keep, and arguing the dog — given he was given to them and given they have cared for him for the past year — should be theirs to keep.

alanisMorissette and Treadway say they found Circus roaming the streets in 2011, took him to an animal shelter and, when no one came to retrieve him, adopted him and brought him home.

They say they asked Murch and Garcia to care for the dog while Morissette was on tour, for most of 2012.

Garcia house sat for the couple during the tour. When Morissette returned in early 2013, Garcia says she was asked to take the dog home with her because his behavior had become, in Morissette’s view, ”annoying and insufferable.”

Since March of 2013, Circus has lived exclusively with Murch and Garcia.

Garcia says Morissette was allergic to Circus, and that the dog was food aggressive and was relieving himself inside the singer’s house.

“Mario and Alanis were both frustrated with Circus’ behavior and said he was disruptive to their family, posed a risk to their other dogs and their child…”

In a blog called Help Circus Stay!, they add, “They gave him to us a year ago and he’s been with living with us since, happily, healthily and loved by his little family. Now they are trying to rip our family apart!”

Morissette and Treadway fired Garcia in January of this year, and filed the lawsuit seeking the return of Circus a couple of months later.

After the housekeeper and dog walker posted the video last month, Morissette and Treadway further complained that, by doing so, they have made the dog a target for dognappers, TMZ reports.

Treadway filed additional legal documents in which he said Circus “is not merely a piece of property. He is living and breathing.” Each day he is separated from the dog, he said, “[my] heart suffers more and more.”

How many legs does it take to frolic?

This irrepressible boxer, known as Duncan Lou Who, took his first trip to the beach last month, where he demonstrated that having only two legs in no way limits him, or the fun that is to be had.

That’s the thing about beaches, and about dogs — the beach leads our souls to consider the possibilities; dogs show us, with persistence, we can reach them.

duncanlouwhoDuncan Lou Who, now nine months old, was born with severely deformed rear legs that had to be removed. He learned to walk with a specialized wheelchair, but didn’t think much of the device, and now no longer requires it — as you can see here.

The clip was uploaded to YouTube March 22, and it has been viewed more than 2 million times.

According to Panda Paws Rescue, a nonprofit in Vancouver, Washington, Duncan has seemed a happier little dude since he has learned to get about on his own.

Duncan is in fairly good health, but is not up for adoption. Nor is he likely to be equipped with prosthetic devices.

“He is not a candidate for prosthetics because he doesn’t have a femur to attach them to, and we will not use him for experiments to try and find something else to [sic] could do more harm than good,” Panda Paws Rescue wrote.

“He is lean, yes. He is a Boxer puppy who is missing almost a 1/4 of his body and uses twice the energy of a 4 legged dog. The rear half of his body has atrophied as well, from lack of use. He is on the best possible diet and his weight is monitored.”

You can learn more about Duncan on Panda Paws Facebook page.

Fecal responsibility: Boulder looks at DNA testing to track down poop scofflaws

poopquestionBoulder City Councilwoman Mary Young wants to know how feasible it would be to require DNA samples from dogs, and create a registry so that, through DNA analysis, poop left on city trails could be traced to dog owners.

She’s not suggesting every dog in Boulder be tested (yet) — just the estimated 35,000 with so-called “green tags” that allow them to romp off-leash on some of the city’s trails and greenspaces.

Young has asked that the issue be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting, the Boulder Daily Camera reports. (Yes, it happens to be an April Fools Day meeting, but nobody’s joking here.)

I would hope Boulder looks not just at whether it can be done (it can), but at whether it should be — that city leaders consider, in addition to the price tag of such a venture, the ethics and implications and utter goofiness of it.

There’s a lot of dog-related technology I don’t like (click the banner at the top of this page for one example) and poop-detection technology is near the top of the list.

Not just because of its Orwellian overtones, not just because it’s heavy-handed, dictatorial, silly, creepy, intrusive and expensive.  It’s also because technology, unleashed, has a habit of oozing beyond the boundaries of its originally intended purpose — DNA-testing of dog poop being just such a case — and spreading into ever scarier realms.

The day could still come when your tossed cigarette butt, un-recycled soda can or expectorated phlegm could be traced back to you, which, come to think of it, might be a better use of DNA technology than that being offered by the dog poop sleuths.

Declaring war on poop, and bringing out technology’s big guns, is overkill. Especially when the real solution can be achieved by simply bending over and picking up what your dog leaves behind.

In case you haven’t been following our posts on this issue, here’s how it works:

Deciding unscooped dog poop is simply intolerable, homeowners associations, apartment complexes or government entities sign up with a company called PooPrints, which sends them the supplies needed for residents to take swabs from the cheeks of their dogs. Those are sent to Tennessee, and a doggie DNA registry is created.

After that, any pile of poop that is found can be gathered, packaged and sent to a lab in Tennessee, where it can be unpackaged and tested and, by comparing DNA markers, matched to an individual dog, assuming that dog’s DNA is in the registry.

The company lets management know who the poopetrator was, and the owner is fined $100 or so — or, if a repeat offender, perhaps told they and/or their dog should move somewhere else. Thereby a community is made safe from scofflaws, as well as, say, a grandmother whose back might have been hurting too much one day to pick up every last dropping left by her Shih Tzu.

Here in my current home state, North Carolina, apartment complexes in Winston-Salem and Wilmington are among the growing number of property management companies and government entities turning to PooPrints.

Yes, dog poop can be hazardous to our health, and harmful to the environment.

So can the feces of all the non-domesticated animals we live among, but don’t feel compelled to prosecute for pooping.

danriversludgeSo, too, can the dumpage of corporate entities, like the thousands of tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River by Duke Energy, coating 70 miles of the river with toxic sludge.

That’s a little harder to pick up after, and, I’d suggest, at least as deserving of society’s consternation and oversight and vigilance as dog poop — even if punishing the culprit won’t make them change their ways. (Big companies, unlike the average dog owner, can hire lawyers to avoid fines, and, if unsuccessful, they just pass the costs along to their customers.)

Finding clean sources of energy — that’s a use of technology I like. Using DNA to solve murders  (and clear the wrongly convicted) seems a good use,  too.

But gathering, packaging and mailing dog poop so technicians in Tennessee can comb through it and test it, by comparison, seems a silly use of our technological muscles.

In Colorado, Boulder officials say dog waste on public trails is one of the most common complaints the city receives, so it’s not surprising that they’d turn to a company that claims to have the solution.

Eric Mayer, director of business development for BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., said the company’s PooPrint service is used by private property management companies in 45 states and in Canada. Franchises are popping up all over, like Burger Kings.

So far, the company doesn’t have contracts with any municipalities, but officials have been in talks with a half dozen different local governments. He said he expects to sign the first municipal PooPrints contract with Ipswich, Mass., sometime this year.

Maybe, if poop detection continues to catch on, it would be good for the economy. Maybe, you too could have a fulfilling career as a dog poop laboratory technician.

But there are far better ways to spend our time and money, and far bigger problems more deserving of our rage. Between all the emotion, and all the technology, we seem to forget that we can simply …

Pick it up!

(Top photo, fake poop question mark, from Big Mouth Toys; bottom photo, sludge from the Dan River spill, courtesy of Dan River Basin Association)

From Sochi to DC: More strays arrive


Ten more Sochi strays — saved from the streets by rescue groups in Russia — arrived in the U.S. last week.

The dogs were among those rounded up by rescue organizations before and during the Winter Olympics in an effort to save them from being poisoned and killed by authorities who considered them a menace, or at least an embarassment.

“These 10 are representative of some of the dogs that have been removed from the streets and are now up for adoption in Sochi,” said Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for Humane Society International. “They’re the sweetest, most interactive, very friendly dogs, very adoptable, that just happen to be unfortunate enough to be living on the street.”

The dogs landed at Dulles Airport Thursday. They were taken to the Washington Animal Rescue League, which will be responsible for finding them new homes.

More are expected to be arriving in coming days.

HSI worked with PovoDog Animal Shelter in Sochi and two other organizations to arrange vaccination, documentation and travel for the dogs, who spent two days in transit.

“We are excited to make the connection for homeless Sochi dogs with loving homes in the United States, with our focus on helping street dogs in Russia and around the world,” O’Meara said. “Our goal is to protect street dogs from cruel and unnecessary killing programs — like the one employed by Sochi officials to ‘clean up’ in advance of the Olympics — by working with governments to create humane and effective dog population management programs.”

HSI had urged the International Olympic Committee and Sochi authorities last year not to conduct a pre-Olympic “cull” of street dogs, and got some assurances that would be the case.

When it was exposed before the Olympics started that the program was underway, HSI petitioned President Vladimir Putin to put an end to it. The organization has offered its assistance in creating a humane program to control the population of street dogs.

HSI assisted American skier Gus Kenworthy, an Olympic silver medalist, in bringing home four strays.

It is also pushing the International Olympic Committee to mandate humane animal control standards when identifying a host country for future Olympics.

Each of the arriving dogs will get a medical evaluation, and they could be available for adoption within weeks, said Bob Ramin, CEO of the Washington Animal Rescue League.

“These animals are seeing a lot of new things and experiencing a lot of new things, so they’re kind of stressed out,”  Ramin said. “We want to make sure they know they’re in a safe place so we’ve got our staff working with them one on one.”

When what can go wrong does

Here’s a scenario that — even before I saw this frightening video — has flashed through my mind often since I became a dog walker.

As a natural-born worrier (I suspect it’s in my genes), I’m prone to assessing the situation I’m in — even when it’s an entirely pleasant one — and picturing the worst thing that could possibly happen, no matter how unlikely it is.

After six decades, I still haven’t totally gotten over my fear of being sucked under the escalator grate as the step I’m standing on flattens out and disappears.

In my dog walking job, I visit three small dogs at an assisted living center, take them down the elevator, out for a walk, and then back up the elevator to their masters’ rooms.

The possibility of this happening, or something like it, popped into my head my first day.

What if, as the elevator doors closed, a dog darted out, ending up on the opposite side as the elevator went down?

I’ve kept a firm grip on the retractable leash — and kept it in the locked position — ever since having that mental image. After seeing this video, I’ll keep an even firmer one.

Tamara Seibert, a college student in Toronto was riding the elevator March 2 with two dogs — hers and a friends. They were heading from her condo unit down to the parking garage. As the doors closed, the end of her dog’s leash was caught outside the elevator.

Vado, her five-year-old, 110-pound Rottweiler, was violently jerked upward as the elevator descended, and Seibert struggled to remove his collar, breaking two fingers in the process, she told the Toronto Sun.

“I thought I was going to watch him die,” Seibert said.

Thankfully, the clasp on Vado’s leash snapped under pressure, and he fell to the floor about the same time the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. Thankfully too, Vado’s prong-type collar had been put on with the prongs on the outside.

Seibert, a student at Ryerson University, obtained video from the surveillance camera and posted it on her Facebook page as a warning to others.

It was reposted to YouTube, where it’s drawing all sorts of insensitive comments from people who would rather get in a good jab than learn something from someone else’s experience.

Painful as it is to watch, it’s a teachable moment, and one that proves not all my unnatural fears are that unnatural.

I, for one, have become even more cautious on the elevator, and I’m contemplating switching to the stairs — especially if I’m ever taking two dogs with me at once.

As for Vado, he’s fine.

“I can’t believe its been almost a month since I went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life,” Seibert wrote in a Facebook post. “I thought I was about to lose the love of my life (my puppy) and seriously mangled my hand in the process … I want to warn people how fast something so simple can go horribly wrong.”

Animal control officer who struck river rescue dog won’t be prosecuted

An animal control officer who struck a dog with his baton, leading to a cracked skull and the loss of an eye, did not use excessive force, authorities in Oregon have concluded.

The officer, Hoyt Stepp, was defending himself against two dogs when he struck Dojie, a river rescue dog who was running loose when the Washington County animal control officer encountered her.

After an investigation by Hillsboro police, the district attorney’s office said there was not enough evidence to pursue animal cruelty charges against the officer.

Protesters gathered outside a news conference yesterday, where the decision not to prosecute the officer was explained, KOIN reported.

“I am convinced that the responding officer followed a reasonable course of action,” said Deborah Wood of Washington County Animal Control.

Animal Services Field Supervisor Randall Covey said the officer followed his training: “…He created a barrier between himself and the dogs, backing up, yelling at the dogs to go home. That did not deter the dogs. Officer Stepp got to the point the dogs were right on him in full, aggressive attack, and at that point Officer Stepp struck Dojie one time to avoid being bitten.”

dojieafter“We are sincerely sorry for the injuries to Dojie but we ask a fair amount of responsibility to lie with Mr. Starr because he did not have his fence locked and his dogs licensed,” Covey said.

Marlin Starr, Dojie’s owner, reported the incident to police after witnesses told him the officer struck his dog, who had escaped from his yard.

While authorities say the dog was struck once, Starr questions how one blow could cause a cracked skull, injured shoulder and complications that led to the loss of one of Dojie’s eyes.

“I am outraged for Dojie and I am outraged for every animal in Washington County. No animal is safe from Animal Control at this point,” Starr said.

Dojie is an experienced river rescue dog trained to help people who fall out of rafts, according to KATU.

She will no longer be able to do that job, Starr said.

Starr said witnesses told him his dog ran into his backyard, followed by an animal control officer, who pulled out a collapsible baton known as a bite stick, and hit Dojie.

The police investigation concluded that the case “did not contain the necessary elements of the crime of animal abuse.”

Did police officer laugh about killing dog?

cali6

Did an Oklahoma police officer laugh after he shot and killed a family’s pit bull?

That’s what at least one witness reportedly told the dog’s owner.

Sarah Brown says a neighbor witnessed the March 19 shooting of her dog, Cali, by an officer with a shotgun.

After the shooting, she said, the neighbor heard the officer remark to an animal control officer at the scene, “Did you see the way her collar flew into the air when I blew her head off? That was awesome.”

The officer laughed after making the remark, the witness said in a statement provided to KFOR.

A Change.org petition identified the officer as Brice Woolley, of the Ardmore Police Department.

Police were responding to a call about a loose dog behaving aggressively near a park, and officials say the dog was shot to protect the public, KFOR reported.

“It was determined that the dog had to be euthanized for the safety of the nearby park and neighborhood as the dog’s owner could not be located, nor could it be captured,” a police report on the incident stated.

That — minus any immediate danger — would seem to make the police officer animal behaviorist, judge, jury and executioner, for what he dispensed surely can’t be described as “euthanasia.”

And his comment afterwards — if reported correctly — should earn him a desk job, far away from the public he says he was protecting.

Brown said her two-year-old dog, while she’s jumped over the fence and gotten loose before, has never behaved aggressively.

Family and friends have started a Justice 4 Cali Facebook page, and launched a petition on Change.org.

Police Capt. Eric Hamblin said that the officer has received death threats since the shooting, and that a review of the incident showed he acted according to protocol. He remains on duty.

“I don’t think it’s prudent, I don’t think it’s wise to wait until a dog who’s acting aggressive to actually bite somebody,” Hamblin said.

When the Most Valuable Player is a dog

hankdog

It’s a wonderful story — what the Milwaukee Brewers did for Hank.

By taking in the stray dog that wandered into their spring training camp in Arizona, and bringing him back with them to Milwaukee, they assured the little bichon frise mix of having food, shelter, medical care and the love of not just a whole team, but hordes of fans.

hankapWhich brings us to part two of the story — what Hank is doing for the Milwaukee Brewers.

As anyone who has rescued a dog knows, you generally get far more out of the deal than you put in.

That’s quickly becoming the case with the Brewers — a team whose fans didn’t have too much to cheer about last season, in terms of wins, attendance, or highly adored superstar players, like the great Hank Aaron, after whom Hank the dog was named.

The summer of 2013 saw the Brewer’s biggest star, Ryan Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2011, suspended for most of the season for using performance-enhancing drugs.

hankmerchHank, we’re certain, won’t fall into that trap. And already he has given fans something to feel good about, judging from the turnout at a Hank “meet and greet.” Hundreds lined up to say hello to Hank, or pick up a souvenir from the Brewer’s new line of Hank merchandise.

The Brewers front office is making the most of the fluffy little mutt. As team spokesman Tyler Barnes noted, one couldn’t have dreamed up a more effective publicity stunt.

“I wish I was smart enough to have thought of this as a stunt,” he said at a recent event held to introduce Hank to Brewers fans. Hundreds lined up to meet the dog in the stadium gift shop.

“The Brewers have promised not to exploit Hank, though they didn’t say anything about making a few bucks along the way,” wrote Journal Sentinel sports columnist Jim Stingl. “You know a bobblehead is in his future.”

Some readers of the paper are saying enough with all the Hank coverage:

“Still with these DOG STORIES,” bemoaned one reader. “It’s sad I know more about the happenings of a dog that is a ‘Stray’ then I do of the Brewers and how their Spring Training went. This Dog got more coverage, and still is, then the actual team. And I applaud the Brewers for their great marketing tactic while removing the spotlight from the status of the team and cloud of Braun. Can the Newspaper please report about Baseball and not a dog, millions of dogs everywhere are offended they are not getting the same treatment, and once someone or something is offended things must change.”

We don’t entirely follow the logic toward the end of that reader comment — especially the part about millions of offended dogs. Dogs aren’t spotlight-seekers. That’s just humans.

But the newspaper did, for some reason, feel the need to say, in a blog post, that it might not be reporting on every single thing that happens in Hank’s everyday, non-official, non-Brewer related life:

“That everyday life doesn’t generate stories every day. We’ll have Hank Watch updates when events happen — but there will be days when they don’t,” the post read.

Meanwhile, Hank is living his new everyday life at the home of Marti Wronski, vice president and general counsel for the Brewers, and how often he’ll be making appearances in the stadium is still being figured out.

Wronski said that while ”we’re giving Hank a home … it’s very clear this dog is the fans’ dog.”

hank crowdHank flew to Milwaukee earlier this month on a chartered flight with Brewers executives, and several hundred fans showed up to greet him at the airport, including the mayor of Milwaukee, bearing peanut butter treats, according to the Brewers.

Hank merchandise went on sale last week, including T-shirts, buttons and pennants.

The team is giving a portion of proceeds from those sales to the Wisconsin Humane Society,

(Photos: Hank dozes off during his meet and greet at Miller Park; by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Hank in Arizona, by Morry Gash / Associated Press; fans line up to meet Hank at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The view from atop a Playboy model’s butt

charlieYou won’t run into many Cavalier King Charles spaniels appearing more cavalier than this one.

One could even call him insouciant — though his name is Charlie.

You might think this photo is in questionable taste, or you might, in hindsight, find it curiously charming. Or perhaps your opinion, like my opinion (and like Charlie), lies right in the middle.

Charlie is pictured here nestled between the well-tanned, thong bikini-clad (if you can even call that clad) butt cheeks of Crystal Harris, a Playboy model and wife of Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner.

It’s not the work of a Playboy photographer, or fence-climbing paparazzi. Harris posted the photo herself on Instagram.

Harris was sunbathing when Charlie — entirely innocently, I’m sure – found the most comfortable position he could, one that was both cushioned and afforded a view of what might be going on in the distance. That there was no lecherous intent on his part seems to be confirmed by the ho-hum look on his face.

Then again, he is no stranger to being photographed.

playboyHe appeared, with Harris, on the cover of Playboy, back in 2011.

Charlie lived with Harris at the Playboy Mansion. Hefner and Harris got engaged, then broke up, and Harris took Charlie with her when she left the mansion.

Later she brought him back and gave him to Hefner, saying the dog was happier there.

Still later, Harris and Hefner got re-engaged, and they married on New Year’s Eve in 2012.

Now they’re one big, happy, well-tanned, silk-pajama-wearing family — as you can see in the Christmas card they sent out last year.

xmascard

(Top photo by Crystal Harris, via Instagram)


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