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Tag: bulldog

Fatcat finally catches some breaks

fatcat

For eight years, Fatcat led a life that was the opposite of her name — in many ways.

For starters, she wasn’t a cat.

And, as bulldogs go, she wasn’t too awfully fat.

And, from all appearances, she definitely did not enjoy the kind of  lifestyle the term Fatcat name might connote — she wasn’t idly resting in the lap of luxury. Far from it.

Instead, in the eight years after she was stolen as a puppy from the backyard of a home in Memphis, it’s believed she was used to produce puppies, by a less than ethical breeder who dumped her once she got too old.

fatcatasapupThe English bulldog was stolen in 2006 from the yard of LaShena Harris. She searched high and low for the dog, and though Fatcat had been microchipped, she was never found.

Until two weeks ago, when she was picked up as a stray and dropped off at a shelter in Arkansas.

There — at  the West Memphis Animal Shelter — she was scanned for a microchip, and Harris was tracked down, even though she’d long since moved to the Phoenix area.

Along with the good news, Harris received some bad news. Fatcat was in sad shape due to the years she spent as a baby-making machine —  and getting her to Phoenix was going to be a problem.

Fatcat was too big to ride in the cabin of a plane, and between her health problems and her breed — it’s risky to transport short-snouted dogs in a plane’s cargo hold — flying her home wasn’t going to work. Harris, a working single mother, wasn’t sure she could take time off to make the drive.

“I went from the highest high to the lowest low,” she said. Putting Fatcat down was discussed, but before consenting Harris asked the shelter for an extra 24 hours to make the decision.

When she called back the next day to authorize the shelter to euthanize Fatcat, the director of the shelter stopped her short, and offered a suggestion.

A friend of the shelter director who worked with a local rescue group was moving to Scottsdale, and offered to drive Fatcat there.

Harris and Fatcat were reunited last Thursday in a motel parking lot, and between media coverage of the reunion and a GoFundMe.com campaign, donations have poured in — about $6,500 so far — to help pay for Fatcat’s mounting medical bills.

“I am overwhelmed. It is just amazing. People don’t even know me and they are helping me out,” Harris, 34, of Glendale, said. “I’ve even gotten e-mails from the (United Kingdom). … I just don’t know what to say.”

On Monday, Fatcat was checked out by a local veterinarian who found she has heartworms, dental problems and masses around her vulva and anus that need to be removed, according to AzCentral.com

Harris launched the GoFundMe page with a $5,000 goal, and says she plans to donate any surplus to the shelter in Arkansas.

“How do you show gratitude to someone you’ve never met?” Harris wrote on her page. “Even if I don’t have Fatcat home for as long (in terms of her entire lifespan), I feel like the luckiest person in the world right now. I’m just glad she’s finally home.”

(Top photo: Patrick Breen / The Arizona Republic; bottom photo, Fatcat as a puppy, from LaShena Harris’ GoFundMe page)

Supersize me: Americans turning to big dogs

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Big dogs — not that they ever left — are coming back.

In its annual report on breed popularity in the U.S., the American Kennel Club notes that, while the Labrador retriever is again the most popular dog breed, other large breeds are quickly moving up the list, including Dobermans, giant schnauzers and Great Danes.

According to the AKC, it could be a sign of an improving economy.

“Owning bigger breeds – an economic indicator of sorts – has been on the rise during the past five years,” said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokeswoman. “As the economy has improved, people are turning back to the big dogs they love, which cost more to feed and care for than the smaller breeds that saw a rise in popularity in 2007 and 2008.”

Labs took the top spot for the 23rd straight year, the longest consecutive reign of any dog in the annual ranking. The rankings are based on the number of AKC dog registrations across the country.

Here are the top 10, with links to their AKC profiles:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Golden Retriever
4. Beagle
5. Bulldog
6. Yorkshire Terrier
7. Boxer
8. Poodle
9. Rottweiler
10. Dachshund

Comparing those rankings to the 2009 list, there’s evidence of a decline in small dog popularity — Yorkies dropped three places, from third, dachshunds dropped two, from eighth, and shih tzus fell out of the top 10 entirely.

Some smaller breeds saw a gain in popularity, like the French bulldog (now 11th). But far greater gains were made by greatly sized dogs: Doberman Pinschers rose from 22 to 12; Great Danes from 27 to 16; and Bernese Mountain Dogs from 47 to 32.

The AKC announced its rankings Friday, in advance of the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden.

Three new breeds will compete this year: rat terriers, Chinooks, and Portuguese Podengo Pequenos.

(Photo: Ash, a lab, or perhaps a lab mix (we didn’t ask for his papers), at play; by John Woestendiek)

An act both cruel and unbelievably stupid


A Toledo man stuffed six English bulldog puppies and their mother into a piece of luggage and abandoned them next to a trash bin — apparently not realizing that the canvas suitcase had a tag on it bearing his contact information.

The bag of pups — three males, three females and their mother — was dropped off behind a city business. They were picked up April 4 by the Lucas County Dog Warden’s office, according to the Toledo Blade.

On Tuesday, two counts of abandonment Tuesday were filed against Howard Davis, who lives about a quarter mile from where the dogs were dropped.

Gene Boros, a Toledo Area Humane Society cruelty officer who questioned Davis, said the man told him he had not abandoned the dogs and had given them to someone in Michigan. Boros said Davis appeared to be in the process of moving out of his home.

Passers-by initially found the dogs and unzipped the bag to give them air, said Julie Lyle, Lucas County dog warden.

“There are witnesses who said that the female is indeed Mr. Davis’ dog and that he had been trying to sell puppies,” said John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society.

Davis was to be charged with two counts  of either first-degree or second-degree misdemeanor abandonment. Davis will be issued a citation and given a court date, but he was not arrested, Dinon said.

The dogs were transferred to the Humane Society, where the pups and their mother, now named Maddie,  are reported to be doing well.

They will be going to a foster home by the end of the week and won’t be available for adoption for at least four weeks — possibly longer since they are part of a criminal case.

(Photo: THE BLADE / DAVE ZAPOTOSKY)

Labs still tops; beagles, bulldogs rising

For the 20th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America’s top dog.

While America’s three most popular dog breeds remained the same — Lab, German shepherd and Yorkshire terrier – the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most oft-registered purebreds had some surprises.

The beagle overtook the golden retriever for the No. 4 spot.

And the bulldog, who has been steadily rising up in rank, took 6th place away from the boxer.

“Not since the early 20th Century has the bulldog enjoyed such sustained popularity,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “‘Bob’ was the first AKC registered bulldog in 1886, and today the breed enjoys its highest ranking in 100 years at number 6.”

The AKC numbers are based on the numbers of purebreds registered with the organization.

Baltimore’s top five breeds reflected the national averages, except for the presence of the Rottweiler at No. 5.

Chihuahuas, ranked 13th nationally, were the sixth most popular breed for Baltimore.

Some other national highlights from the AKC’s count:

  • The French bulldog made the largest leap in the past decade, jumping 50 places from 71st to 21st. Other breeds with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade include the Havanese (from 86th to 31st) and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 54th to 23rd).
  • Closing the gap this year, a couple of breeds that had been on the decline over the past decade made double digit increases over the past year — Keeshonden (from 102nd to 87th) and Anatolian shepherd dogs (from 115th to 109th).
  • Three new breeds entered AKC’s registry in 2010, and the larger the breed, the higher they appeared in the rankings. The Leonberger, the largest of the new breeds, was ranked 33rd; the Cane Corso ranked 51st; and the smallest of the new breeds, the Icelandic sheepdog, came in at 82nd.

A new Uga is picked for U of Georgia

Uga VIII — the University of Georgia’s eighth bulldog mascot — will take the field for the first time this Saturday at the school’s homecoming game with Vanderbilt.

White English bulldogs, all from the same family line, have been serving as the school’s mascot since 1956, PeoplePets reports.

In 2009, UGA VII passed away from heart problems after less than two seasons as mascot. His five-year-old half-brother “Russ” was brought to serve as the school’s interim mascot until a permanent replacement could be found.

All eight mascots have come from the same purebred bloodline and are owned by the Seiler family of Savannah, Ga.

Uga VIII, also known as “Big Bad Bruce,” was named in honor of Dr. Bruce Hollett of the university’s school of veterinary medicine. He will take over as mascot this weekend in a ceremonial “passing of the collar.”

The new Uga, like the previous ones will sit in his own house on the football field as the game takes place.

Confessions of a petsitter

I have not let a water bowl run dry. I have not missed administering a single dosage of doggie meds (more than I can say when it comes to my own). I have not left alone for more than three hours my wards for the week — Sophie the three-legged Pyrenees, Charlie the congested golden retriever, Lakota the flatulent bulldog.

My agreement to pet sit for friends in Santa Fe, in exchange for getting to enjoy their tranquil home (mountain views and wind chimage included), is working out well.

There may be a poop or two I haven’t scooped, some dog hair dust bunnies I haven’t swept up, some food and beverage consumed (by me) and not replaced, but all in all I give myself an A.

There have been no altercations — despite the snarls Lakota was directing at my dog Ace before his parents left. None of three dogs I’m taking care of require walks, content to use the backyard. There’s little actual work involved, other than feeding and medication time, which has gotten much easier since I decided to, rather than take the push down the throat route,  administer all pills — Lakota’s Beano included — inside hunks of Havarti cheese. As a result, all three dogs get very excited about pill time, as do I, for it is very good Havarti cheese. I may start putting my own medications inside Havarti cheese.

Sometimes all three dogs will start barking at nothing, but otherwise we’re enjoying the serenity of our temporary adobe abode — though, as I speak, a storm appears to be coming in, meaning I should go administer some Havarti-wrapped Alprazolam.

There has been only one scary moment, when I noticed Charlie had developed a swelling above his eye. I called Mark Terry, his owner — and a veterinarian — who suspected a bug bite and recommended a Benadryl. By the next day, the swelling was gone.

Lakota, the reputed troublemaker of the group, has caused none, though there was one moment when, waking up from one of his frequent droopy-tongued naps, he didn’t immediately recognize me and came at me barking and snarling. As soon as he heard me use his name, he calmed down. Lakota gets his meals in a separate room, with the doors closed. Generally, after about 30 seconds of trying to eat out of one of those dog bowls designed to slow down fast eaters, he flips the whole thing over and eats off the floor.

All three dogs are sweet in their own way. Charlie is the attention seeker, who approaches with his whole hind end wagging, spit strings (due to his respiratory condition) often hanging from his mouth. Sophie loves attention but, for now, prefers you bring it to her. When you do, her tail starts fiercely pounding the tile floor. Lakota, the most indecipherable, unpredictable and stubborn member of the pack, is a lover, too, though he keeps his soft side more hidden, behind an intimidating looking underbite. Rub his belly, though, and he’s putty in your hands.

Writer/editor Valerie Brooks brought Lakota to the marriage, while husband/veterinarian Mark Terry came with three pets of his own.

Both Sophie and Cleo were taken in by Mark after he met them while training to be a veterinarian. Cleo was the first cat he spayed. He ran into Sophie at a shelter just after his own dog died.

Sophie, who recently had one of her front legs amputated due to bone cancer, seems to have grown more frisky each day, and Cleo, the cat is no trouble at all, though once in a while she seems to be trying to tell me something, even when her bowl is full and her litter box is empty. Ace, now that she’s no longer hiding from him, is less enthralled with her.

Ace has bonded with two of the dogs and the cat, but he’s still steering clear of Lakota, even though he’s three times the bulldog’s size. Every evening Ace and I head to the dog park, less than a mile down the road, then out to dinner at one of Santa Fe’s dog-friendly restaurants. Our report on them is forthcoming.

All in all, it has been a peaceful few days. We’ve gotten to stroll the streets downtown, hang out and listen to music in the plaza and, today, are headed to 10,000 Waves, a popular mountainside spa (for humans) that welcomes dogs. I plan to sample the baths, and I have an interview with somebody named Buddha Bob. If he gives me any trouble, I’ll just rub his belly.

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing adventures of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America, click here.)

Back with the pack in Santa Fe

Meet my new posse.

For the next week, I’ll be serving as caretaker for:

Sophie, a gigantic, sweet and speckled nine-year-old great Pyrenees who recently had one of her front legs amputated due to bone cancer.

Charlie, an affable, seven-year-old golden retriever with a congenital respiratory disorder and a severe fear of thunderstorms.

Lakota, an 11-year-old bulldog with issues both behavioral and gastrointestinal. He’s prone to snapping (especially at Ace) and known far and wide for his frequent, most audible and highly pungent flatulence.

Then there’s Cleo: a five-year-old cat who has no issues, it seems. After hiding from Ace for two days – and what cat in her right mind wouldn’t? — she’s taken to approaching and nuzzling him, to Ace’s unending delight.

In exchange for looking after them, making sure they get their food, their meds and ample amounts of attention, I get to stay for a week in a lovely and peaceful home in Santa Fe, to my unending delight.

All four pets belong to a writer/editor and her veterinarian husband, who have gone to New York to attend a family reunion, leaving me with four animals (five counting Ace) and two pages of instructions.

What with all the medications, it’s a little complex, but I should have it all down about the time they come back. Sophie gets a pill to help deal with the effects of her chemotherapy treatment a couple of days ago. Charlie gets tranquilizers because afternoon thunderstorms tend to roll in almost daily. Lakota gets half a Rimadyl and some Beano with meals. He takes his meals in a separate room with the doors closed – in one of those bowls designed to slow down fast eaters — lest he get any ideas about snatching someone else’s.

It’s a five-water-bowl house, six counting Ace’s. Ace has adapted to the new pack. He seeks out Cleo, is amicable with Sophie and Charlie, but steers clear of Lakota, who has gone at him a few times.

The first time Ace laid him down with one paw. Two other times, Lakota jumped Ace, but, luckily, Lakota telegraphs his attacks, with an Elvis-like lip quiver first, and his bites are not too intense. I know this because the second time he went after Ace, I stuck my foot in between them. Generally, though, my “dog shouter*” (patent pending) techniques work to quell any misbehavior.

Sometimes, Lakota’s humongous tongue seems to get stuck outside his mouth, generally after he’s been napping (he snores, too), but when I touch it, it usually slides back in.

Sophie is easy to deal with, and has quickly adapted to being a three-legged dog. She was up and around the day after the surgery. But I have to be sure and immediately scoop her poop. Because of her chemotherapy treatment, her “output” will be toxic for the next couple of days, and both Charlie and Lakota tend to eat poop.

Charlie is the biggest attention seeker. He makes strange noises deep in his throat, like a two-pack-a-day smoker, because of respiratory problems and difficulty swallowing. “If it persists, and it seems like he’s choking, just hit his sides to help him clear up what’s in there,” my instructions say.

Lakota is described in the note this way:

“Can snap on occasion … If he starts to snarl at any of the others, yell ‘Hey!’ very loudly. If that doesn’t work distract him with food … In general, keep him apart from the others, especially when vying for your attention, in a close space or when food is nearby.”

It all requires some logistical forethought, some maneuvering, but after day one, it’s going smoothly. In the days ahead, I’ll keep you posted on how we all fare, and on our travels around dog-friendly Santa Fe.

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