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Tag: bonding

Alpha — the “first” boy meets dog movie — hits theaters this month

It’s certainly not the first “boy and his dog” movie, but “Alpha,” coming out this month, is the oldest, at least in terms of the history it attempts to portray — that being 20,000 years ago when man and wolf first befriended.

It’s a tale from the ice age, billing itself as historical and an “incredible story of how mankind discovered man’s best friend.”

It takes place in Europe, 20,000 years ago.

Alpha-300x300While on his first hunt with his tribe, a young man is injured and left for dead. He awakens to find himself alone in the wilds.

Things get worse from there when he encounters a pack of wolves and fends them off, injuring one of the younger ones. He can’t bring himself to kill the wolf who, like him, has also been abandoned by his pack.

That proves to be a bumpy process, requiring more than a “here, boy,” or a tossed treat.

The two eventually bond, learning to rely on each other as they encounter dangers that include doing battle with prehistoric animals as they try to find their way home before winter arrives.

The movie was directed by Albert Hughes and features “X-Men: Apocalypse” star Kodi Smit-McPhee and Johannes Haukur Johannesson.

Dogs like running, therapy dogs make people feel good, and other “oh duh” studies

In my daily perusal of what in the world is going on with dogs, I am constantly amazed at how many studies are done on things we already know — and how quick news organizations are to pounce on those studies and present them as something new.

Take last week’s Washington Post, which tells us in a headline, “Dogs can get a runner’s high, too.”

Pfffft. Dogs invented the runner’s high. We didn’t need a headline to know, least of all one based on a 2012 study.

The article goes on to tell us that running is healthy for dogs and humans, that running “gives dogs an activity and burns energy,” and, of course, that dogs and humans should check with their vets and doctors before beginning an exercise program.

I don’t know how much of this stating of the painfully obvious that goes on today is because we have run out of new things to say, study and report on; or how much is the result of so-called news websites providing dumbed-down “content,” instead of news.

But it seems like everybody — from scientist to journalist — is in repeat mode. Or maybe I’m just old.

SONY DSCAlso making news last week was the “recent finding” that dogs respond best to high-pitched voices.

This, at least, stems from a new study in which scientists at the University of York have shown that using high-pitched baby-talk voices can help us bond with their dogs.

Of course, the study found basically the same thing as others in recent years, including this one from more than a year ago.

Now any scientist will tell you that’s there is value in these studies that tell us what we already know — whether we already know them from common sense, or because of similar earlier studies that found the same thing. It is always good to confirm things

News organizations, on the other hand, will take the findings of any study, hype them up and present them as the most important breaking news of the day — even if they did the same thing last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

They know, even with Google, our collective memory is short, so they trot out the same old pieces regularly — should you let your dog sleep with you, should you let your dog lick you, why do dogs eat grass? — and they either find experts or studies to legitimize them.

Just last week, with the news that Barbra Streisand has two cloned dogs, the topic of dog cloning became instantly hot, and many a news outlet presented the story in a you’re-not-going-to-believe-this, dogs-are-being-CLONED!!! kind of way.

Having written a book on the very topic seven years ago, I was amused how the news was suddenly a revelation again.

I’m sure scientists somewhere are studying how short our memories and attention spans are becoming, and that I’ll be reading about it soon.

Until then, there will be plenty of other scientific “revelations” to keep me busy, like this one — unearthed by hardworking researchers at the University of British Columbia:

Therapy dogs make people feel good.

acetWell, that’s kind of why they have been popping up everywhere in the past 20 years — to do just that.

And what led to those initial revelations, years ago? Studies.

This new one, published in the journal Stress and Health, shows that exposure to therapy dogs helps boost students’ well-being. Researchers interviewed 246 students before and after cuddle and petting sessions with therapy dogs.

Students felt significantly less stressed and more energized after interacting with the dogs, though the happy feelings weren’t necessarily lasting, InsideHigherEd.com reported.

In other words, the feel-good vibe a dog gives you — like a news report, like a scientific study, like many a book — will soon be forgotten.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Dog cafe opening soon in East Village

borisandhortonleashes1What’s being billed as New York’s first dog cafe will open later this month in the East Village.

Boris & Horton, on 12th Street and Avenue A, is slated to hold a soft opening within the week and be fully open by the end of the month.

The owners describe it as a place where you can “have great coffee, eat, have wine and beer, hang out, and also bring your dog inside.”

It’s named for the owner’s own dogs — Boris, a pit bull mix belonging to Coppy Holzman, and Horton, a Chihuahua-poodle mix who belongs to his daughter, Logan Mikhly.

It’s designed like a living room, and the owners hope it will be the kind of place where people bond with their dogs and other people, as opposed to their laptops.

boris-horton-dogs2“It’s not just a coffee shop where people sit there with headphones on their laptops,” Holzman told Grub Street.

For humans, there will be pastries from Balthazar and Bien Cuit, plus gluten-free options from Husk Bakeshop, and coffee from City of Saints, as well as a more substantial menu and, in the evening until the 11 p.m. closing time, wine and beer.

There will also be a shop for dog products and store swag, and a puppy Instagram booth. On weekends, adoption events will be held.

Because the health department tends to take issue with dogs being allowed where food is prepared, the establishment will be divided into a café side, with food and drink sales, and a dog side, featuring tables and dog-focused retail.

Dogs must remain on their leashes and employees will be trained by the School for the Dogs to read canine body language and be prepared for altercations and issues.

(Photos: Milla Chappell / Boris & Horton website)

Max and Quackers: Dog and duck are inseparable

Max was a lonely husky. Quackers is, as you might guess, a duck.

But the two have become inseparable friends since a Minnesota family brought Quackers home about four years ago to keep their dog company

On any given day, the 12-year-old Huskie and a 4-year-old duck can be found sitting along Highway 28, a lonely country road in tiny Strout, Minnesota, population 25, according to WCCO.

Patrick and Kirsten Riley adopted Max when he was five, where he joined another husky they had at the time.

But when that dog died, Max was without any animal friends.

The Rileys initially kept Quakers in a pen and Max would sit next to the pen all the time.

“I think they just kind of bonded that way,” Patrick Riley said. “After we let him out, they just never left each other’s side.”

“They sleep together, they eat together, they drink together, they go for walks together down the road,” Kirsten Riley said.

“It’s enough to get anyone driving by to do a double-take,” Patrick said.

The dog and duck share carpeted sleeping quarters in the garage now.

“Some people have said that a duck will find a mate, a companion, and once they have that companion they’re set,” Kirsten said. “And that’s what Quackers found with Max.”

When one lost soul bumps into another

Two lost souls coming together isn’t exactly a new movie theme, but it still works, especially when it has a twist like this one.

“A Stray” is about a young man whose refugee family fled Somalia and relocated in Minneapolis. He becomes sort of a double stray when his family kicks him out after he gets in some trouble.

At a mosque, Adan finds shelter. He gets a job, delivering food, and seems to be pulling his life together when his delivery vehicle strikes a dog.

Adan, at the urging of a bystander, hesitantly loads the small white mutt in the car and takes him to a vet, who pronounces the dog OK. It is then that Adan learns he must take the dog with him.

That’s a problem because, on top of being homeless, Adan is Muslim. Under Muslim law, dogs are considered dirty. Many practicing Muslims, like Adan’s family, forbid them in the home. When he arrives back at the mosque with the dog, he’s told to leave.

What happens next — when a man raised to have nothing to do with dogs ends up with a stray, when his God and his Dog are seemingly irreconcilable forces — makes for a thought-provoking and magical movie.

It premiered earlier this year at the South By Southwest (SXWS) Film Festival, and had several screenings last weekend, introduced by writer-director Musa Syeed, at the Film Society of Minneapolis and St Paul.

The human star of the movie is actor Barkhad Abdirahman, a Somali refugee who lives in Minneapolis.

Director Syeed, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, said he was intrigued by the idea of combining the archetypal American/Western man-and-dog story with Muslim sensitivities towards dogs.

“What was interesting to me about a Muslim kid and a dog was that these are two entities that seemingly are not able to reconcile, or that are so different,” he said. “And I think that’s the way that maybe a lot of people see, you know, Muslims in America … there is some inherent tension or something like that.”

He said he hopes that the story of a man and his forbidden dog shows that there is room for compassion, understanding and a connection.

Rambunctious dog keeps cheetah calm

When her mother found eight babies too much to handle, a cheetah named Adaeze was cut off — both from her mother’s milk and from being able to bond with her siblings.

Adaeze and two of her male siblings had to be nursed by the staff at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Conn. Between the hand feeding and having a brother to bond with, the two young males thrived.

But Adaeze remained something of a social outcast.

Then, about seven weeks after her birth, she met Odie, an overweight Australian shepherd.

“They just, for whatever reason, gravitated toward each other,” said Marcella Leone, founder of the center. “If the dog is with her then she’s just relaxed. He helps her take in change better than a wild animal is programmed to do.”

The center is a nonprofit, off-exhibit, accredited breeding reserve for rare and endangered animals.

Odie, who is neither rare nor endangered, is the pet of Leone’s husband.

Odie and Adaeze spend their days together, and sleep together. They are separated only at mealtime, and as soon as they are done eating they wait, nose-to-nose on opposite sides of a door, to be reunited.

It’s not the first time a dog has been used to chill out cheetahs.

The San Diego Zoo has been pairing dogs and cheetahs for about 40 years. Dogs help the cheetahs remain calm and better respond to each other, boosting the cheetah reproduction rate at the zoo.

Leone was hoping a dog would do that and more for Adaeze.

Leone told ABC News that she first tried pairing the cheetah with a younger dog that was very calm.

She had Odie fill in one day though, and he — despite his rambunctiousness — proved to be a better pairing.

dogandcheetah“Of course she could care less about the young puppy, but just immediately hit it off with Odie,” Leone said.

“They roughhouse and play nonstop. They’re just best friends who love each other,” Leone said.

Adaeze is not domesticated, but a tame wild animal who has been trained to appear at wildlife conservation presentations — mainly about the plight the cheetah, an endangered animal, Greenwich Time reported.

Adaeze, with help from Odie, has become so calm and comfortable with crowds that has been selected out of the 18 cheetahs that live at the 100-acre LEO center to be its ambassador animal.

In coming months, the two companions will be attending a fundraiser for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in New York City, and presenting at the American Museum of Natural History and the Explorers Club.

Leone said at such presentation Odie will rarely sit when asked, but Adaeze always will.

“Odie is full of energy but is somehow this calming force for Adaeze,” she said.

(Photo: Leone, Adaeze and Odie, courtesy of LEO Zoological Conservation Center)

Canines and equines being benign

In a big, impersonal, sometimes mean and generally hurried city, it’s nice to see creatures — especially those of different species — taking the time to get to know each other.

Maybe that (as opposed to it being a slow news day) is why Gothamist seems to be making a Labor Day tradition of presenting videos of dogs bonding with horses, police horses in particular.

This year’s “report” — and I use that term loosely — expands on the collection of videos the website presented about this same time last year — all featuring tender, or at least inquisitive moments between city dogs and police horses.

Perhaps best enjoyed without commentary, the 11 videos show dog-and-horse bonding, sniffing, and or licking — though not all were from the streets of New York. To see them all, go here.