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A word about those T-shirts, and other ads

RescueLove_navyAmong many “old school” and unprofitable practices here at ohmidog! is my tendency to treat advertisers like well-trained, perhaps overly-trained, dogs — insisting they stay in their place and don’t dare venture into our editorial columns.

I will let my big old dog in bed with me, and I gladly do so every single night. But when it comes to advertisers, don’t even think about it.

So what’s this T-shirt doing here — in the space that I, way too ethical for my own good, so haughtily reserve for news matter?

For one thing, it’s kind of cool.

For another, with these T-shirts being the biggest ad ever to appear on our pages, I thought it would be a good time to explain this website’s approach to advertising.

(It is not one I recommend to anyone seeking to make money through their website.)

Basically, this middle section of the website is for news, and despite many requests from advertisers to link to their services and products here, I just don’t do it, because it strikes me as sleazy and deceptive.

The rightside column, with all those logos, is for non-profit animal welfare and animal rescue groups, and serves to link the public to their websites. There is no fee for that.

The leftside column, the one clearly marked “advertisements” is for, you guessed it, advertisements.

When ohmidog! started, seven years ago, the hope was that advertising would cover the costs, and maybe even lead to a profit.

That almost worked when we were headquartered in, and focused on, Baltimore.

Then we went and hit the road and ended up living in North Carolina. A few of those local Baltimore ads remain, but I no longer charge those advertisers — partly out of gratitude for helping us get off the ground, partly because fewer Baltimore eyes will see their ads.

Today, most of our ads, including the t-shirt ad at the top, are what are called affiliate ads.

The advertisers pay nothing for them, but if a reader clicks on one of them, and ends up buying something during that visit, the company sends a percentage of their profits my way — generally pennies on the dollar.

So far, those pennies haven’t amounted to much. And as business models go, ohmidog! — even when I wanted it to make money — has always been a prime example of how not to run a website.

We’ve always been all about the content (though I prefer the word “stories), and, while I don’t promise much else, we always will be — without any ads popping up on you, without any links misdirecting you.

What I started out doing for fun and profit, is pretty much becoming just about the fun.

In the months ahead, I’ll qualify for — and plan to start receiving — early social security. So I can only make so much money before having to turn over all the rest to the government.

So, if you must buy a T-shirt, go ahead and click on it, or any of the others now featured in our banner ad.

Just don’t buy too many.

(Photo: The I Love Dogs Site / Sunfrog.com)

What’s next for Jon Stewart? Maybe an animal sanctuary, for one thing

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I’m old enough to remember being a little blue when Johnny Carson retired. I was enough of a part-time fan to be sad when David Letterman went off the air.

But tonight, when I turn on the television and Jon Stewart isn’t there, the result is going to be something a lot closer to actual mourning.

His departure from The Daily Show — after 16 years of calling some much needed “bullshit” on all the world’s bullshitters — will leave me with a void in my life, grieving for the loss of a being I saw more often than any friend or family member, except for my dog.

The only thing cushioning the blow is thinking about what new directions Stewart might head in, what his brilliantly acerbic mind might bring us next.

Not so surprisingly, it seems one of those directions might be a greater involvement in animal welfare causes.

Philly.com reports that Stewart and his wife, Tracey, recently purchased a New Jersey farm with hopes of turning it into an animal sanctuary.

In some ways, it already is. In addition to their two children, the Stewarts live with four dogs, two pigs, two hamsters, three rabbits, two guinea pigs, one parrot, and two fish, according to USA Today.

The Stewarts are also supporters of the organization Farm Sanctuary, which Stewart managed to plug — along with his wife’s new book — on the final show:

Tracey Stewart, a former vet tech and long-time animal advocate, is the author of the soon to be released “Do Unto Animals,” all profits from which will go to the Farm Sanctuary.

Jon Stewart has some similar leanings, as could be seen in some Daily Show segments, such as an eight-minute long piece about Chris Christie’s refusal to sign a bill that would end the lifelong confinement of pigs in crates so small they can’t even turn around.

And clearly Stewart has a soft spot for dogs.

The Daily Show was a notoriously dog friendly workplace, as reported by The Bark a while back.

Many a staffer brought their dog to work, and I’m guessing some of them were featured in this segment from the final show, in which Stewart paid tribute to his staff. Check out who’s occupying the executive suite, at about the 4:20 mark of this video:

(Photo: Pinterest)

Burned dog and burned girl are now a team

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A Chihuahua that was left at a California shelter after suffering chemical burns as a puppy has found a new home with a 12-year-old girl in Alameda who is still undergoing treatment for burns she received as a baby.

Chloe Levenson, who has been through seven surgeries since being scalded by hot tea, adopted the dog — named Fireman — last week.

They were brought together when a Pittsburg animal rescue group, Umbrella of Hope, decided the traumatized dog might get along best with an owner who had experienced similar pain, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury-News.

While thousands of people applied to adopt Fireman, the group thought the dog, who has some behavioral problems, would be a good fit with an owner who might have some extra compassion for him.

Rescuers found the puppy behind Antioch’s animal shelter on March 30 with severe chemical burns running the entire length of his belly and up to his ears, both of which had to be amputated.

After months of medical care, paid for my Umbrella of Hope, Fireman recovered physically, but was diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the burns.

“He had a lot of strings attached,” said Kristy Keusch, who fostered the dog for four months after his release from the hospital.

Fireman didn’t always like being petted. Although he loved having someone rub what was left of his ears, he disliked being touched on his head and neck, Keusch said.

“He punctured me a few times,” she recalled.

She used behavior modification techniques to make Fireman more trusting and less defensive, but she knew that whoever adopted him would have to commit to continuing the work.

When Umbrella of Hope put out some feelers, Shriners Hospital for Children responded and put the organization in touch with Chloe and her family.

After a few meetings, Chloe took the dog home last week.

Although he still growls and nips, Fireman is already letting her touch his head and will cuddle on the couch with Chloe when she watches TV. But he “absolutely hates leashes,” she said.

“I understand him,” Chloe told the organization. “I know what he’s been through, and I think he understands me too.”

(Photo by Kristopher Skinner / Bay Area News Group)

Dog who went to the vet for teeth cleaning gets unnecessary spay surgery instead

A Jack Russell terrier who was taken to a Utah vet to get her teeth cleaned ended up getting what would have been spay surgery — had she not already been spayed.

“Somewhere along the line maybe we made a mistake,” Terry Emmons, the owner of Heartsong Clinic in Clearfield admitted in an interview with KSL.

Ya think?

Maria Jones of Utah County took her 4-year-old Jack Russell, Pepper to the clinic last week after calling earlier to schedule a teeth cleaning.

“That’s what I wanted. That’s what she needed,” Jones said.

But somehow, on the intake form for Pepper, the spay box was checked.

“She signed the paperwork and we took the dog back,” Emmons said.

“The doctor went in to spay her and the parts that you take out … weren’t there.”

Jones said she doesn’t know how that box got checked. She remembers seeing the checked box on the form, but says she assumed it was checked because Pepper had been spayed in the past.

Whether the mix-up occurred when Jones booked the appointment, or upon checking in, isn’t clear.

Said Emmons, “I’m not sure it was our error, but at least somewhere along the line, maybe we made a mistake.”

That mistake will leave a scar atop the scar Pepper already had.

Jones said she didn’t have to pay for the spay surgery, but the clinic did charge her $35 to cover the cost of the anesthesia.

Former Steeler’s dog has spent the past nine months in a Baltimore kennel

brothers

A former Pittsburgh Steeler, who made feel-good news last year when his Baltimore Raven brother donated a kidney to him, has let his dog languish in a Baltimore kennel for more than nine months.

Chris Kemoeatu, the former Steeler, and his brother Ma’ake Kemoeatu, a Raven whose decision to donate a kidney ended his career, moved back to their home in Hawaii to open a family gym.

In November, 2014, they dropped Chris’s dog, Zeus, at a kennel intending to retrieve him later.

But the six-year-old Cane Corso hasn’t been picked up from Pooches and Purrs on Holabird Avenue, and the kennel owners are getting tired of footing the Super Bowl veteran’s bill for room, board and veterinary care.

While several have offered to adopt the dog, Chris Kemoeatu has repeatedly asked the kennel owners to wait a little longer for the dog to be picked up.

The situation was described yesterday in a report by WRAL’s I-Team. You can watch the report here.

Pooches and Purrs owners Keith and Renee Mason say the former Steeler’s bill has grown to nearly $10,000 since the dog was dropped off last November, about three months after the transplant surgery.

Renee Mason said she last spoke to Chris Kemoeatu three weeks ago.

“He said he was coming back in about a week or two and then we were going to move forward, and then I didn’t hear from him,” she said. “Technically, I could have found a home after 10 days, but I’m trying to do the right thing for the dog.”

“I have two perfectly good homes for this dog and I said, ‘They really want the dog, just sign the dog over or whatever. I can find a home for your dog. I have two people waiting.’ And he said, ‘Please don’t get rid of my dog,’ and the dog is still here.”

We won’t suggest the Baltimore kennel owners might be more patient if the dog belonged to the former Raven brother — because we think they have been plenty patient already.

“I know that he had medical issues, so I was trying to be understanding, but, I mean, he’s taking advantage, completely,” Renee Mason said.

(Photo: The Kemoeatu brothers at a press conference after the 2014 kidney transplant; by Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

How our dogs read our faces

dogsprocessf

If you’re wondering how your dog is able to magically sense when you are sad, take a look in the mirror.

(And quit moping, you might be bringing your dog down.)

A new study suggests dogs have a specialized region in their brains for processing faces, and that face-reading region in the temporal cortex may help explain how they’ve become so adept at reading human social cues — a skill that up to now has, at least in the eyes of scientists, only been well-documented in humans and other primates.

Dogs have “neural machinery” that has been “hard-wired through cognitive evolution,” says Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University and the senior author of the study.

Berns heads the Dog Project in Emory’s Department of Psychology, which is researching evolutionary questions surrounding man’s best friend.

The project was the first to train dogs to voluntarily enter a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner and remain motionless during scanning, without restraint or sedation.

In previous research, the Dog Project identified a region of the canine brain that served as a reward center, and showed that region was responsible for a dog’s brain responding more strongly to the scents of familiar humans than to the scents of other humans, or even to those of familiar dogs.

In the current study, the researchers focused on how dogs respond to faces versus everyday objects, reports Phys.org.

“Dogs are obviously highly social animals,” Berns says, “so it makes sense that they would respond to faces. We wanted to know whether that response is learned or innate.”

The answer appears to be it’s a little of both — it was there to begin with, but has been honed over centuries of socializing with humans.

The study involved dogs viewing both static images and video images on a screen while undergoing an MRI.

Since dogs do not normally interact with two-dimensional images, they had to undergo training to learn to pay attention to the screen. Only six of the eight dogs enrolled in the study were able to hold a gaze for at least 30 seconds on each of the images, but for each of those six a region in their temporal lobe responded significantly more to movies of human faces.

The researchers have dubbed the canine face-processing region they identified the dog face area, or DFA.

(We assume they came up with that using that area of the human brain that is not too imaginative and wants to give everything an acronym.)

A previous study, decades ago, using electrophysiology, found sheep had facial recognition skills, but only a few face-selective cells were identified, as opposed to an entire region of the cortex, said Daniel Dilks, an Emory assistant professor of psychology and author of the study.

Humans, by the way, have at least three face processing regions in the brain.

“Dogs have been cohabitating with humans for longer than any other animal,” Dilks said. “They are incredibly social, not just with other members of their pack, but across species. Understanding more about canine cognition and perception may tell us more about social cognition and perception in general.”

(Photo courtesy of Gregory Berns, Emory University)

State senator’s dogs seized after attack

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Two Tibetan mastiffs owned by a South Dakota state senator were seized by animal control officials after they attacked a woman in the senator’s Sioux Falls neighborhood.

The mastiffs, a large, protective and powerful breed that has been called the world’s most expensive dog, belong to Sen. Blake Curd, who is also a prominent orthopedist who specializes in hand surgery and reconstruction.

The victim was walking near the 1300 block of South Elmwood Avenue Friday morning when she encountered the dogs, who were running loose in the ritzy Riverview Heights neighborhood.

She received bites to both legs and her right arm, and was treated at a local hospital.

Curd (1)Curd and his wife, Debbie, issued a statement to the Argus Leader after the incident.

“We are distraught over what has happened and thankful it wasn’t worse. We hope for all to recover quickly and applaud the quick actions of the Sioux Falls Police Department, EMS personnel and Milo the animal control officer who responded to render assistance in this unfortunate circumstance.”

One of the police officers responding to the call was bitten on the thigh, but shook himself free and fired two warning shots when one of the dogs approached him again. Neither dog was hit by the gunshots.

The woman managed to escape by running into a garage.

“It occurred to a few of us that had she not managed to get into my garage, she could very easily have been killed,” said Jon Arneson. “There is virtually no way she could have defended herself.”

“It was a pretty unnerving experience for anybody who loves dogs,” said Arneson, who is a lawyer for the Argus Leader. “I obviously have no idea what triggered the dogs’ reaction this morning, but I assume they hadn’t shown any vicious tendencies before this. I doubt Dr. Curd would have risked keeping them if they had.”

Both dogs are now in the custody of animal control. Both were up to date on vaccinations. The police chief will determine if they are vicious, a finding that could lead to restrictions on their owners, including having to display a dangerous dog sign on their property.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, given some Internet commenters are already raising questions about whether Curd is receiving special treatment — or at least less than heavy-handed treatment — from police.

“The cop must have been told who the dogs belong to,” reads one comment on DakotaFreePress.com. “Otherwise if this had happened in the ‘hood, I’m sure both dogs would’ve been shot dead on the spot.”

(Photo at top by Megan Raposa / Argus Leader)

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