Earlier this week, we gave the scantest of mentions to Abbie G., an Australian kelpie who rode a surfboard 65 yards, setting a certified Guinness World Record.
Turns out, surfing is just one of the sports in which the five-year-old dog excels.
Abbie G. (The “G” stands for Girl) is also accomplished at paragliding, snowboarding, tree and rock climbing, sheepherding, and mountain biking.
Her owner, Michael Uy, adopted Abbie from the Humane Society Silicon Valley.
“She was the only dog in the shelter that didn’t go crazy barking when I walked in. She just stood there, studying me, and picked me right away. She was very traumatized, and classified as a ‘special needs’ dog.”
Michael told ohmidog! that, as he was leaving the shelter with Abbie, a staff member yelled out some final advice to him: “Get her out – take her with you to different places so she sees the world.”
“And that’s what I did,” Michael said.
They walked, they ran, they roller bladed, they mountain biked – and then they hit the ocean.
“One day she just got on a board. It went crazy from there.”
Michael is 41 and lives in San Diego, where he works in business planning and marketing. He describes himself as “a bit of an extreme sports guy.”
But he also has a refreshingly non-traditional philosophy about working with dogs, believing that the heights they can achieve have much more to do with trust than training.
“My work with Abbie has been all about teaching people to bond with their dog through sports … Dogs are naturally athletic animals. I teach that the secret to getting them to excel and enjoy spending time with their owner is to build trust, NOT training.”
“Unfortunately, most of dog ownership these days is all about training methods,” he said. “People ask me what kind of treats I use to get Abbie to surf, and I always respond, ‘Surfing IS the treat!’”
I like that so much I think I’ll repeat it: “Surfing IS the treat.”
Abbie’s high-flying achievements are also featured in new tourism campaign for the city of San Diego:
Posted by jwoestendiek September 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abby, abby g, animals, australian kelpie, bond, bonding, dog, dogs, guinness world record, kelpie, michael uy, paragliding, pets, rescue, san diego, shelter, snowboarding, sports, surfing, surfing dogs, training, trust
Ace and I finally got around to doing one of the things that was on our to-do list during our travels — attend a Minor League baseball game.
Across America, dog-friendly baseball games are growing more popular. For several years, many Minor League teams have been sponsoring them, and the big leagues are starting to catch on. At least 15 Major League ballparks are holding dog-friendly games this season.
Just 30 minutes down the road, in downtown Greensboro, the stadium was a gem, the traffic was non-existent and parking was plentiful (and only $3).
Those are some of the reasons I find Minor League baseball so much more of a pleasure: The prices, for tickets or concessions, aren’t exorbitant. The crowds aren’t huge. The fans aren’t obnoxious. It’s just much more laid back.
On Tuesday night, the tickets were $6 each, and a “pooch pass” ran $3. Beers were $1, hot dogs, too. There was no extra charge for the sunset.
Everybody seemed happy, at least on Natty Hill, the grassy knoll in left field set aside for fans bringing their dogs.
What I liked best about it was seeing so many people bonding with their dogs, and bonding with other people’s dogs, and bonding with other dog’s people.
Minor League baseball, particularly on dog nights, offers a sense of community — something that seems to be fading away in America. We’re more connected than ever, thanks to gadgetry, but somehow more insulated, too. We’re “communicating” more than ever, but not saying much at all.
The Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Bowie Baysox, or the Toledo Mud Hens (and we’ve got to mention the Reno Aces) may not be the solution to that, but it’s nice to have a venue where you can look a person in the eye and exchange words.
Or, if you prefer, spend some time quietly connecting with your dog.
Either way, the dog’s there for you — whether you want to meditate or congregate.
In my book, when it comes to being social, a dog is much better than a BlackBerry or cell phone, Facebook or Twitter or Match.com — for the connection you make with a dog is much more clear and pure and genuine.
If dog nights at the ballpark weren’t already win-win enough, they also raise money for local shelters and rescues. All “pooch pass” fees at the Grasshoppers’ Tuesday night game went to Red Dog Farm, an animal rescue network based in Greensboro.
The Grasshoppers were holding two dog-friendly games a season, but this year dropped down to one.
We missed out on the pre-game doggie festivities, as Ace felt the need to make his mark on the streets of downtown Greensboro. Even though parking was right across the street, it took us more than 20 minutes, with his frequent stops, to get to the gate.
One inside the stadium, he stopped to meet some of the adoptable dogs Red Dog Farm had brought to the game. At first he had to check out every dog he encountered — and there had to be over 100 at the game — but eventually he became more selective.
Sitting on a grassy hill in left field — filled with people and dogs — proved a little problematic for him, as he kept sliding down. But we spent most of the time wandering around — me hydrating on $1 beers, Ace patronizing the many bowls of water placed about.
One red bucket in particular intrigued him. He thought he saw something at the bottom of it, and repeatedly submerged his entire head in it, not realizing all he was seeing was the raised surface at the bottom of the bucket.
A crowd gathered to watch and take pictures.
During nine innings of baseball, I answered the question, “What kind of dog is that?” 36 times; the question of how much he weighs at least a dozen; the question of how he got his head all wet about 10.
Back on our blanket on the hill, we enjoyed a sunset on one end of the stadium and, as the game came to an end, watched the moon rise like a pop fly over the other.
We’ll close with a baseball trivia question: Who was the first canine ever ejected from a baseball game?
Answer: Yogi Berra, a mascot for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He was showing his ball retrieving skills between innings in a 2009 game (despite a stomach virus) when he stopped for a bowel movement on the field (an event noted in news reports and memorialized on YouTube). The home plate umpire, apparently offended by the act, ordered him ejected.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, allow, allowed, america, ball park, ballpark, bark in the park, baseball, bonding, communicating, community, connecting, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, events, grasshoppers, greensboro, insular, insulated, major league, minor league, north carolina, road trip, social, socializing, society, sports, stadiums, teams, travels with ace, winston salem dash, yogi berra
How Close Are We?
“Too close” to your dog:
When he completes not just you,
But your sentences
Posted by jwoestendiek June 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, bonding, closeness, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, hand, highway haiku, how close are we, paw, pets, photography, poetry, road trip, travels with ace
From Washington’s Olympic Peninsula comes the story of Harley — a Chihuahua found on the side of a logging road with his throat slit.
The dog, bearing a four-inch gash on his tiny throat, was found Feb. 2, bleeding on the side of a road west of Port Angeles by Monte Mogi, a 75-year-old, Harley Davidson-riding, retired Air Force master sergeant.
Mogi took the dog to veterinarian Dr. Charles Schramm of Port Angeles, who threaded tight a 4-inch open slice across the center of the dog’s throat, according to the Peninsula Daily News
The cut appeared to be intentional. By slitting the dog’s throat, “maybe they thought they were euthanizing it,” said Schramm, adding that he’d never seen a similar injury.
Mogi paid the dog’s $464 veterinary bill, then called his daughter, a veterinary technician, and she drove the dog — dubbed Harley by then — back to his house. Already having eight dogs on his property, Mogi called Nancy Woods, who had cared for Mogi’s wife before her death.
Nancy and her husband Herb, though they’d sworn off dogs after their last one died, offered to take in Harley — even though he appeared traumatized and was terrified of children.
Once Harley recuperated, they planned to find him a new owner. In mid-February they handed Harley over to a new family. The next day, they asked for him back.
“I had bonded with him,” Nnancy Woods said. “I was terrified for him. My heart just hurt for the trauma he had been through. I felt like he had been with us for two weeks, and then he was uprooted again. I felt horrible about that.”
Now Harley has the run of the Woods family’s rural property, which he shares with Bob, a rescued cat who’s larger than him. He’s doing well, the Woods say, though he’s timid, shakes when nervous and can’t really bark. He starts coughing when he tries to do so.
Last weekend, the Woods reported, Harley slept under the covers with Nancy’s 7-year-old granddaughter.
Seems he’s beginning to realize that, however evil some of them might be, there are some good humans out there, too.
(Photo: Peninsula Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, behavior, bonding, charles schramm, chihuahua, cut, dog, dogs, harley, harley-davidson, herb woods, humans, monte mogi, motorcycle, nancy woods, olympic peninsula, pets, port angeles, rescue, saving, shelter, slit, throat, trauma, veterinarian, veterinary, washington
When a Maltese-poodle mix named Mindy was found after being lost for 100 days in the woods of northwest Massachusetts, she was infested with fleas, her weight had dropped to three pounds, and her fur was so matted over her face that she couldn’t see, which explained why she was running around in circles.
She was “effectively blind,” said Martha King-Devine, of the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. “She was just skin and bones when they brought her into the shelter.”
Mindy was lost during a family trip in August, surviving more than three months among the owls, foxes, coyotes and bears who dwell in the woods, the Mansfield News Journal reports.
Mindy had disappeared when Kathy and John Dunbar stopped at a rest area on their way to Maine to visit a terminally ill relative. “I thought he put her in and he thought I put her in,” Dunbar said.
Back on the road, they realized Mindy was missing, and retraced their route, spending six hours trying to find her. They also dropped off business cards at shops and police stations, and filed a report with the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society — all, it seemed, to no avail.
On Nov. 13, though, Mindy was found by Tye Carlson, a boy with autism, about 30 miles from the rest area. Tye and his father took her to a local veterinarian, then took her home, where Tye — normally fearful of dogs, according to his mother – became fast friends with Mindy.
The Carlsons were more than happy to keep Mindy, but when they learned — through the humane society — that she had been reported missing three months earlier, Carlson and her son knew that they had to give Mindy back to her owners.
Mindy is back home with the Dunbars now.
Mrs. Carlson, meanwhile, said she is “definitely thinking” about getting a dog for her son now.
Here’s hoping he gets a great one.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: autism, autistic, bonding, dakin pioneer valley humane society, dog, dogs, fear, found, john dunbar, kathy dunbar, lost, maltese, massachusetts, mindy, pets, poodle, returned, tye carlson, woods
Who needs children when a puppy can provide a similar emotional experience?
New Scientist magazine recently asked that question in an article about a Japanese study that showed relating to dogs causes a surge of the same hormones triggered by nurturing an infant, romantic love and close friendship.
Oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle chemical” and the “love drug,” has been found to relieve stress, combat depression, breed trust in humans and generally make life more worth living. When two humans bond, their oxytocin levels increase.
Miho Nagasawa and Takefumi Kikusui, biologists at Azuba University in Japan, suspected social contact between two different species might boost oxytocin levels, as well.
“Miho and I are big dog lovers and feel something changed in our bodies when gazed [upon] by our dogs,” Kikusui says.
They recruited 55 dog owners and their pets for a videotaped laboratory play session. Owners provided a urine sample to measure oxytocin levels. They were then divided into two groups — one that played with their dog for half an hour, one that sat in the same room but were told to completely avoid their dogs’ gazes.
Then everybody’s urine was tested again. Participants that spent a long time making eye contact were determined to have experienced increases in their oxytocin levels of more than 20%. Those who avoided their pooches’ gaze saw their oxytocin levels drop slightly.
Among those playing with their dogs, the longer they made eye contact, the higher the increase was in their levels of the hormone.
A flood of the cuddle chemical could explain why playing with dogs can lift moods and even improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, Kikusui says. Possibly, the scientists say, oxytocin even played a part in the domestication of dogs from wolves, about 15,000 years ago.
“Maybe during the evolutionary process, humans and dogs came to share the same social cues”, such as eye contact and hand gestures, Kikusui says. “This is why dogs can adapt to human society.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: azuba university, bond, bonding, children, cuddle chemical, depression, dog, dogs, evolution, evolved, experiment, eye contact, hormone, hormones, humanization, japan, love drug, new scientist, owners, oxytocin, relationship, science, social contact, stress, study, trust