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Tag: artificial

One last snowfall for Spunky

Spunky always loved the snow.

But when the German shepherd-husky-chow mix and his owner moved from Wisconsin to Texas in 2008 that — with flakes being rare in Austin — became a thing of the past.

Ashley Niels, who works as a behavior and enrichment specialist at the Austin Animal Center, says she promised Spunky, who she’d adopted in Wisconsin, that he’d see snow again someday.

When she learned earlier this month that the 12-year-old dog was dying, and made the appointment for him to be put down, she regretted that promise would go unfulfilled.

ashleyandspunkyWhen she shared that regret with friends at the animal center, they got together to make it happen.

They rented a snow machine and brought to her home.

Last week, Spunky got his snow.

Niels sat in her front yard with Spunky and experienced one last snow storm — albeit an artificial one. He didn’t frolic in it, like he used to, but Niels thinks he enjoyed it.

“To be honest, he was like ‘I’m not really sure what this is.’ It wasn’t cold snow. I think he could see how excited I was, so he thought it was pretty cool,” Niels told Inside Edition Tuesday night.

“I think he felt all the love we were trying to show him.”

Spunky’s appointment with the vet the next day was canceled, and Niels hasn’t rescheduled it yet.

“As long as he’s happy, I don’t really want to take that from him,” she said. “It makes me happy to be able to spend more time with him.”

She adopted him from a local shelter in Wisconsin when he was a puppy. They lived there for four years before moving to Austin.

austinanimalcenterAfter creating the snowstorm for Spunky, animal center staff brought the snow machine back to the shelter to let a few more dogs experience a snowfall.

As of late last week Spunky was still hanging in there, according to Ashley’s Facebook page, and she was doing her best to not think about his death and savor the time together they had left.

“I try not to think about it because he’s my boy,” she said. “I get to spend this extra-special time with him.”

(Photos: Courtesy of Ashley Niels and Austin Animal Center)

Company seeks to put synthetic dogs in every veterinary school in the world


A Florida company that makes synthetic humans for medical training has branched out to synthetic dogs — and it says it’s hoping to place packs of them in every veterinary school in the world.

If successful, SynDaver Labs says, the mission would save thousands of animals by preventing shelter dogs from being used in veterinary training.

SynDaver — a combination of words synthetic and cadaver — wants to raise $24 million to give 20 synthetic dogs to every accredited veterinary medicine college in the world. It says the schools will receive the artificial canines for free.

The company worked with the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine to develop the synthetic canine, which has a full list of functioning bodily systems, including a heartbeat and a circulatory system. It even bleeds when cut.

Speaking of bodily fluids, fans of the television show “Shark Tank,” may remember the company’s founder, Christopher Sakezles, appearing on an episode last year. Despite sweating profusely — unlike any of the sharks — he managed to persuade one investor to contribute $3 million to his company, in exchange for 25 percent ownership.

The deal later fell through, when Sakezles and investor Robert Herjavec disagreed over specifics. Conjecture is Herjavec wanted to replace the company owner with a new CEO, who would be a more profit focused than Sakezles.

That was last year. This year, the company has announced it will seek backers for the veterinary school program, according to WFLA.

syndaver2Currently, according to SynDaver, vet students learn surgical skills by practicing on live shelter animals. The animals are then euthanized.

“The product will immediately end the need for terminal surgery labs in veterinary medical schools and represents the beginning of the end of animal testing in general,” the company said.

The synthetic dogs have the capability to simulate customized diseases, illnesses and medical complications, the company says.

If more than $24 million is raised, SynDaver says it will start creating a synthetic cat, followed by a horse and cow.

The Tampa Bay Times described SynDaver as a small player in the $2 billion medical simulation industry, with about 150 employees split between offices in Tampa and Phoenix.

(Photos: SynDaver Labs)

L.A. flaw: Where’s a downtown dog to pee?


Downtown Los Angeles is enjoying a spurt in growth, and with that has come a growth in spurts.

But just where in that concrete Shangri-La-La is a dog supposed to pee?

With the revitalization of downtown, and a campaign to attract upwardly mobile types (and their dogs), more of both are relocating to the area — only to find that convenient places for dogs to urinate weren’t part of the makeover, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The latest attempt to address the problem has been to locate small — and we do mean small — patches of artificial turf in areas designated (by humans) for canine toileting needs. As you can see above, it’s hardly a dog park.

Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District, said patches began being installed in August as part of a trial run. Three tree wells that no longer contained trees, in spaces away from restaurants and heavy pedestrian traffic, were used to install 4-by-4-foot patches of artificial grass.

If they’re popular and hold up to regular use, the program may be expanded, Besten told the newspaper.

By redirecting dogs to the patches, she said, the city can cut down on odors, peed-upon buildings, sidewalks and trash cans, and the residue that is tracked into offices and apartments. The patches are located at Spring and 7th, near the corner of 7th and Main, and on 6th just after Main. 

“They should have put them in a long time ago,” said downtown resident Helena Gaeta, who has trained her dachshund-Chihuahua mix to go in tree wells.  While downtown advertising campaigns targeted dog owners, she noted, there isn’t much greenspace available to dogs.

A survey by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District this year showed one of every three residents of the area owns a dog.

“Dogs have been the greatest thing for the downtown L.A. renaissance,” said Hal Bastian, executive vice president of the district. “It creates a community because more people are on the streets. It’s a better environment.”

But even with dog owners scooping up poop — and, of course, not all do — pee remains a problem.

Not all dogs find the patches pee-worthy. Josh Jacobson, who recently moved from downtown Long Beach, said his two Chihuahuas avoid the turf patches, possibly because they hold too many scents.

“The dogs are still trying to figure it out,” he said.

(Photo: One of the patches of artificial turf installed in downtown L.A.; by Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times )

Potty Patch: The indoor option for your dog

Previously available only on the Internet, the Potty Patch — basically a porous slab of artifical grass situated atop a drainage tray — will now be available at PetCo, one of the nation’s largest pet retailers, and will be sold under the American Kennel Club name.

Eagle Eye Marketing, makers of the indoor doggie restroom, announced the marketing breakthrough yesterday.

The three-tiered doggie restroom is perfect for patios and indoor use, says Eagle Eye Marketing, and serves as a valuable training aid, getting dogs used to relieving themselves on grass, or what appears to be grass. It is the only product of its type endorsed by the American Kennel Club, Eagle Eye says.

In fact, the AKC has done more than endorse the product. The non-profit organization has agreed to it being sold under their brand.

As for the product itself, the top portion is made out of a soft artificial grass specifically designed to let liquid flow through. The collection tray holds up to a gallon of liquid. It comes in two different sizes, regular (17″ x 27″) and large (27″ x 34″).

“We are very excited to finally have Potty Patch available at PetCo,” said Simon Wright at Eagle Eye Marketing. “This is a big milestone for us and we look forward to even better serve our customers. For extra convenience, Potty Patch is no longer available exclusively online but you can actually go to the store and see it first.”

Potty Patch is available through the product’s website, www.pottypatch.com.

Cassidy adjusting well to “bionic” leg

Cassidy, the three-legged dog we first told you about last month, seems to be getting around well on his new prosthetic leg, if the footage in this CBS report is any indication.

Cassidy was missing one of his hind legs when he was adopted from a New York City shelter in 2005 by Steven and Susan Posovsky.

Veterinary Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine outfitted Cassidy, a German shepherd mix, with his new titanium leg in July — after much trial and error.

“We worked for about a year first to try to design an external brace that was fairly sophisticated, but did not work very well,” Marcellin-Little told CBS .

“There were two removable legs were made for him. Slip-on legs, which he was able to just kick off,” Steven Posovsky said. “At that point, they took out some computer diagrams and said let’s look into this possibility of an osteo-integrated leg.”

Cassidy’s artificial leg is a permanent prosthetic. A titanium rod was implanted into Cassidy’s lower leg bone. Over several months, they fused together. A custom designed carbon fiber foot with a rubber tread for traction screws right on to the implant.

“Now he walks for two, three hours and not a hint of fatigue,” Steven Posovsky said. “Watching him run on the beach is a very emotional thing for me personally. But a lot of tears of joy.”