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Tag: breathing

Prototype device allows blind people to keep tabs on the health of their guide dogs


Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a device that allows blind people to better monitor the health and well-being of their guide dogs.

The researchers are fine tuning a vibrating harness that monitor a dog’s breathing and heart rate and shares the information with the dog’s handler, according to NC State News.

“Our goal is to let guide dog handlers know when their dogs are stressed or anxious,” said Sean Mealin, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the technology.

Mealin is blind and works with his own guide dog, Simba.

“This is important because it is widely believed that stress is a significant contributing factor to early retirement of guide dogs and other service animals,” Mealin said. “The technology may also be able to help handlers detect other health problems, such as symptoms of heat exhaustion.”

The researchers developed a specialized handle, equipped with two vibrating motors, that attaches to a guide dog’s harness.

harnessOne motor is embedded in the handle by the handler’s thumb, and vibrates – or beats – in time with the dog’s heart rate.

When the dog’s heart rate increases, so does the rate at which the motor beats.

The second motor is embedded in the handle near the handler’s pinky finger, and vibrates in synch with the dog’s breathing. The vibration increases and decreases in intensity, to simulate the dog breathing in and out.

“Dogs primarily communicate through their movements and posture, which makes it difficult or impossible for people who are blind to fully understand their dogs’ needs on a moment-to-moment basis,” said David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of the paper.

“This challenge is particularly pronounced in guide dogs, who are bred and trained to be outwardly calm and avoid drawing attention to themselves in public.”

The paper, “Towards the Non-Visual Monitoring of Canine Physiology in Real-Time by Blind Handlers,” was presented yesterday at the Second International Congress on Animal Computer Interaction, in Johor, Malaysia.

(Photos: NC State News)

Left for dead, pit bull’s tail is still wagging


She was a truck stop dog — or at least that’s where she seemed to spend most of her time.

Having no real home, and no official owner, she could most often be found at a truck stop in Moses Lake, Wash., taking advantage of the kindness of truckers and others who would pat her on the head and toss some food her way.

Sometime in February, she appeared to have met the fate of many a wandering stray. She was hit by a car on the highway and injured so severely that someone thought it best to put her out of her misery.

She was struck on the head with a hammer and left in a ditch.

A few days later the white pit bull mix —  dirty, limping and emaciated — showed up at a farm outside of town, with her tail wagging.

A farmhand took her to Moses Lake Veterinary Hospital, and the owner-less dog’s plight ended up being posted on Facebook.

When Sara Mellado, a Mose Lake resident, read the post, she offered to provide the dog a temporary home. Mellado, whose German shepherd had died just two weeks earlier, named the dog Theia.

“Considering everything that she’s been through, she’s incredibly gentle and loving,” Mellado said. “She’s a true miracle dog, and she deserves a good life.”

Since then, Mellado has made several trips to Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman, where Theia has been treated for leg injuries, a dislocated jaw, and multiple fractures in her nasal bones that are believed to be a result of the hammer blows.

“When I brought her home, she hardly slept because breathing was such a chore,” said Mellado.

The veterinary hospital’s Good Samaritan Fund committee awarded $700 to help pay for Theia’s treatment, and a GoFundMe campaign started by Mellado has, as of today, raised $12,000 — $2,000 more than its goal.

The money will be used to pay for Theia’s nasal passage surgery which will inolve installing  a stent to help reopen her nasal passages.

The surgery is scheduled for April 22, according to Washington State University News.

(Photo: Washington State University News)