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Tag: canada

Therapy dog can’t see the smiles he brings

smiley

Born with dwarfism, and without eyes, a golden retriever named Smiley is bringing comfort and joy to hospital patients, school students and nursing home residents in the small town of Stouffville, Canada.

Rescued from a puppy mill when he was one or two years old, Smiley was timid at first, said his owner, Joanne George.

“He was very scared,” she recalled. “[The dogs] had never been out of that barn.”

But as he came out of his shell, she saw that he had a personality worth sharing:

“People were so drawn to him, so inspired by him.” George told CBS News. “I realized this dog has to be a therapy dog — I have to share him.”

Smiley joined the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program and, now 12 years old, still spends several hours a day dropping in on patients at retirement homes, visiting with special needs children in a library reading program and comforting patients at nursing homes near Stouffville.

George said when she first brought him home Smiley quickly bonded with another one of her dogs, a deaf Great Dane named Tyler.

“Tyler was so bouncy and crazy and happy go lucky and [Smiley] turned into the same dog,” George said. “He came out from underneath the tables where he was always hiding.”

“Dogs can come back from anything, they forget their past,” George said. “We as humans dwell on the past.”

One of Smiley’s favorite people to visit is a man named Teddy, who lives in a nursing home and, up until he met the dog, hadn’t uttered a sound.

“One day, Smiley put his feet up in front of [Teddy] and he started smiling and making noise,” George said. “All of the nurses rushed into the room and said they’ve never seen him smile — never seen any kind of reaction.”

Now every time Smiley visits the nursing home, Teddy is the first person he sees.

After caring for Smiley for 10 years, George says she has learned a lot about how to care for blind dogs: “Don’ t be his eyes, don’t run his life, don’t’ keep him in a bubble … Does he bump into things? Of course, he does. But he does it very carefully.”

George said Smiley changed her life — and was there for many memorable moments. “He came on my first date with me. He was my ring bearer at my wedding.”  He has also brightened up the lives of hundreds more.

Even now, as he nears the end of his, she says — his fur getting whiter, his steps slower — his “tail will never stop wagging.”

(Photo: Joanne George’s Facebook page)

CEO who kicked dog charged with cruelty

The CEO who was drummed out of his job after video surfaced of him mistreating a dog on an elevator has been charged with causing an animal distress.

Desmond Hague, who lost his job last year after the video went public, was head of Centerplate, the food service giant that contracts with stadiums across the country.

He was charged Friday with two civil violations of causing an animal distress. The charges were filed in Provincial Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the incident took place — inside a luxury downtown high rise on July 27, 2014.

hagueHe is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 24, according to U-T San Diego.

Conviction of the charges can carry fines up to $75,000 and two years imprisonment, but it’s considered unlikely that Hague will see any jail time.

The video showed Hague kicking the dog — a one-year-old Doberman pinscher — and jerking her off the ground by her leash.

Around the world, the widely shared video sparked anger among dog lovers and calls for the CEO to be immediately fired.

Hague, who had been walking the dog, named Sade, for a friend, issued a public apology. Centerplate, after its board initially stood behind Hague, placed him on probation and ordered him to take anger management classes, donate $100,000 to a nonprofit to assist abused animals and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

When all of that did little to quell the continuing public outrage, the company forced Hague to resign.

Sade was taken into protective custody, and has since been returned to her owner, said Lorie Chortyk of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Canada.

Hague is not permitted to see Sade under terms of the dog’s release back to her owner, Chortyk said.

(Photo: Twitter)

Trade that tired old dog in for a new pup

You say your old dog isn’t as fun as he used to be? Maybe he’s developing some behavioral issues, or requiring more maintenance. Or maybe his breed is no longer  ”trending.”

Well  now there’s help.

An outfit in Toronto has put together this video, offering what appears to be a trade-in program: You give them your old dog; they give you a brand new pup of the breed of your choice.

“Who says puppy love can’t last forever?” they ask.

Fortunately the outfit behind Puppy Swap is the Toronto Humane Society — and the pitch is a phony one, aimed at bringing light to the fact that each year thousands of dogs are surrendered, abandoned and turned over to shelters by people who weren’t in for the long haul.

Thinly disguised as a real business, the website encourages customers to “make a new best friend again and again with PuppySwap — the world’s first puppy subscription service … The moment your puppy grows up, becomes a bother or gets less likable, simply log back into your account and swap out your old best friend for a brand-new one.”

Subtle irony often goes undetected on the Internet, so some of those who see the video — especially those who don’t watch until the end — might think it’s legit — or even that trading in dogs continuously is a good idea. According to a CNET report, it’s not until a viewer clicks on “sign up” on the website that a screen comes up pointing  out Puppy Swap isn’t real.

As of our visit to the site yesterday, though, it opened with a screen saying, “Puppy Swap is not real. Unfortunately pet abandonment is. Over 180,000 animals enter Canadian shelters each year. 40 percent will never leave … Spread the word, pet ownership is for life.”

The screen comes up again when “sign up” is clicked on. Those who click on “more information” get taken to a page of facts about pet abandonment, where another link directs them to how they can help support the Toronto Humane Society.

Another nomination to the Hall of Shame: Dog walker tried to cover up heat deaths

canadadogs

Yesterday I suggested, half-seriously, that a Dog Walker Hall of Shame be established, and that an aspiring actor in Los Angeles who left a client’s dog in his parked Jaguar be made a charter member.

It only took a few minutes, once I put a link to the post on my Facebook page, for one reader to nominate what she thought was an even more deserving candidate.

(I have nothing against dog walkers; I am one. But I’ve always felt — even as a journalist — that it’s up to members of a profession to help weed out the bad seeds, or at least shine a spotlight on the dangerously dim bulbs certain occupation sometimes attract.)

Last Tuesday a dog walker in Langley, British Columbia, reported to police that six dogs were stolen from the back of her truck, parked just outside an off-leash area. She said she went to the bathroom and returned 10 minutes later to find all six dogs were gone.

That led to a week-long search — by authorities, doggie detectives, and the individual families who owned the pets.

In a heartbreaking development, police now say the dogs weren’t stolen, but died of heat exhaustion in the dog walker’s truck. Police are looking into charging the woman with public mischief, according to the National Post. The SPCA is also investigating.

The bodies of the dogs — five belonging to clients, one belonging to the dog walker — were found in Abbotsford, police said.

Alesha and Al MacLellan, of Petsearchers Canada, who were assisting in the search for the dogs, said the dog walker, Emma Paulsen, admitted to them that the dogs died.

She “disclosed that on May 13th, all six dogs were in the back of her vehicle with the side vent windows open and water available, as she had done hundreds of times,” Alesha MacLellan said. “Sometime during the outing, all six dogs perished from heatstroke. Upon arriving at the location and seeing her beloved charges deceased, she went into a blind panic at the thought of notifying the families and the possible repercussions.”

Initially, Paulsen said of the disappearance of the dogs, ”It’s just unimaginable. If somebody thought they were doing the right thing by saving theses dogs out of a hot truck, I can understand this perspective. But enough already, bring them home. Everybody’s just tortured at this point.”

The missing dogs, dubbed the Brookswood 6, gained widespread media coverage in B.C.  Money was donated for rewards, and there was a rally for them at a Langley dog park.

The dog walker’s own dog, Salty, was among the deceased animals, according to The Province. The other dogs were Mia, a 15-month-old pit bull; Oscar, a six-year-old Rottweiler-husky mix; Buddy, a Boston terrier; Molly, a five-year-old German shepherd-blue heeler cross; and Teemo, a poodle-Bouvier mix.

The owners of the pets were devastated to learn that the dogs they thought were missing were dead, Mrs. MacLellan said.

“There’s always that sliver of hope. Until we talked to them today, we were also hopeful that if something bad had happened to some of the dogs, maybe one or two were hidden away somewhere safe. It’s pretty devastating that all six have perished.”

“Each year we attend hundreds of calls to rescue dogs in distress in hot cars,” said SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk. “Animals can suffer brain damage and death in as little as 10 minutes in a hot car, even with windows left open. The SPCA issues this warning repeatedly in warm weather in the hopes of averting such tragedies but sadly, we still continue to see animals left in hot cars.”

You’d think a professional dog walker would know better.

Louise Scott, who owned Molly, said she’d been hopeful her dog might return. She learned what happened from a neighbor, whose dog was also among the six.

“They said they’re all dead,” said Scott, 80. “I’m too upset to say anything. And I’m very, very mad. Angry is the word.”

(Photo: National Post)

When what can go wrong does

Here’s a scenario that — even before I saw this frightening video — has flashed through my mind often since I became a dog walker.

As a natural-born worrier (I suspect it’s in my genes), I’m prone to assessing the situation I’m in — even when it’s an entirely pleasant one — and picturing the worst thing that could possibly happen, no matter how unlikely it is.

After six decades, I still haven’t totally gotten over my fear of being sucked under the escalator grate as the step I’m standing on flattens out and disappears.

In my dog walking job, I visit three small dogs at an assisted living center, take them down the elevator, out for a walk, and then back up the elevator to their masters’ rooms.

The possibility of this happening, or something like it, popped into my head my first day.

What if, as the elevator doors closed, a dog darted out, ending up on the opposite side as the elevator went down?

I’ve kept a firm grip on the retractable leash — and kept it in the locked position — ever since having that mental image. After seeing this video, I’ll keep an even firmer one.

Tamara Seibert, a college student in Toronto was riding the elevator March 2 with two dogs — hers and a friends. They were heading from her condo unit down to the parking garage. As the doors closed, the end of her dog’s leash was caught outside the elevator.

Vado, her five-year-old, 110-pound Rottweiler, was violently jerked upward as the elevator descended, and Seibert struggled to remove his collar, breaking two fingers in the process, she told the Toronto Sun.

“I thought I was going to watch him die,” Seibert said.

Thankfully, the clasp on Vado’s leash snapped under pressure, and he fell to the floor about the same time the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. Thankfully too, Vado’s prong-type collar had been put on with the prongs on the outside.

Seibert, a student at Ryerson University, obtained video from the surveillance camera and posted it on her Facebook page as a warning to others.

It was reposted to YouTube, where it’s drawing all sorts of insensitive comments from people who would rather get in a good jab than learn something from someone else’s experience.

Painful as it is to watch, it’s a teachable moment, and one that proves not all my unnatural fears are that unnatural.

I, for one, have become even more cautious on the elevator, and I’m contemplating switching to the stairs — especially if I’m ever taking two dogs with me at once.

As for Vado, he’s fine.

“I can’t believe its been almost a month since I went through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life,” Seibert wrote in a Facebook post. “I thought I was about to lose the love of my life (my puppy) and seriously mangled my hand in the process … I want to warn people how fast something so simple can go horribly wrong.”

Canine pipeline: Dogs who run out of luck in Las Vegas are ending up in Canada

pono

Most people involved in animal rescue know that homeless dogs in America are routinely shipped from southern shelters to northern ones to improve their chances of adoption.

But here’s a canine pipeline I hadn’t heard of — dogs from Las Vegas, like Pono (above), are being flown to Canada to find new adoptive homes. He was the 1,000th dog to make the trip.

Pono, a 3-year-old male Pomeranian, left a Las Vegas animal shelter in September and ended up either for sale or up for adoption (depending on your point of view) at Petcetera, a large pet store chain in Canada.

He made the trip through a program called Foreclosed Upon Pets Inc., which has been operating since 2008.  The non-profit organization began shipping Las Vegas shelter dogs to Vancouver two and a half years ago, and now ships eight to 16 every week.

In Canada, they they are adopted out — for a $500 fee — through Petcetera’s 18 stores, according to a story initially reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and picked up by ABC News.

Both stories describe what’s happening — troubling as it is on some levels — as a simple matter of supply and demand: The U.S. has millions of surplus dogs; Canada, with its stricter regulations on spaying and neutering, has what some might call a shortage, especially when it comes to smaller breeds.

“For whatever reason, we have a shortage of small dogs here, and to be quite honest, we were shocked at the size of the problem in Las Vegas,” said Richard Kaga, the executive vice president of Petcetera, which operates big box pet stores from Alberta to British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

“Over here in the United States, we’re just one big puppy mill,” said Everett Croxson, FUPI executive director. “Las Vegas included … Let’s face it. People are breeding for money in their backyards, and the concept of spaying and neutering never enters their heads, even if the laws exist. Even if there are such laws on the books.”

Every week, Croxson picks up dogs from the Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas and takes them to the airport. After a layover in Seattle, they arrive in Vancouver. Since the program started in 2010, Croxson said he has exported as many as 1,100 small dogs, nearly three-fourths of them Chihuahuas. Croxson calls Las Vegas “the Chihuahua capital of the world.”

He started the organization to find homes for dogs that had been abandoned due to foreclosures, most of which ended up at Lied Animal Shelter,  a very high volume regional shelter that takes in more than 100 dogs and cats each day. In 2012, nearly 43,000 unwanted animals — nearly 23,000 dogs and 18,000 cats — came in, and many never left. An estimated 65 dogs and cats are put to sleep there every day.

Given that ugly alternative, it’s hard to find any fault with a program that’s bringing dogs happy endings in another country.

But what’s happening seems to make a pretty sad statement about our own country: “No, we can’t take care of our own.” “True, we tend to shirk responsibilities.” “Yes — cough, cough — our economy is a little unhealthy right now.” America in 2013 is producing refugees — albeit canine ones — who must be airlifted out of the country to stay alive.

Kaga, the Petcetera official, says there are no puppy mills in Canada and that Canadian pet owners  “would not think of having a pet” without spaying and neutering it.  Some might argue with that, but clearly Canada is a step ahead — or at least enough ahead that, when it comes to canines, it’s accepting our tired, poor, homeless and hungry.

Noble as it appears, the adoption program isn’t hurting business at Petcetera stores.

Kaga says the $500 fee the store is paid for each adopted pet covers the cost of the animals’ transportation, spaying or neutering, shots, health certificate, and their care and boarding at Petcetera.

But each dog adopted is going to need some food, and toys, and treats, perhaps a dog bed, and maybe a nice warm sweater.

“Like people, dogs have to have toys and food,” he says. “When we adopt a dog out, we hope the customer will come back to us for all that dog’s needs for the rest of its life. It’s worked out really well for all concerned — especially the dogs.”

(Photo: Foreclosed Upon Pets, Inc.)

Would you eat your dog to stay alive?

Marco Lavoie.jpg A hiker who was stranded in the Canadian wilderness for nearly three months after a bear destroyed his supplies had to eat his beloved dog to survive.  When Marco Lavoie was found by rescuers on Wednesday he was just days from death and had to be carried to a waiting helicopter.  The 44-year-old had been trapped with little food and survival equipment since July after a bear ransacked his campsite near the start of a planned three-month solo hike.Three days after his dog saved him from a bear in the Canadian wilderness, a stranded hiker ate his German shepherd to save himself from starvation.

Unable to find any food, Marco Lavoie, 44, killed his dog with a rock and ate him, according to the Canadian news agency QMI.

According to news reports, the first words the hiker uttered, after being found close to death by rescuers last week, were: “I want to get a new dog.”

Lavoie — after a bear destroyed his canoe and food supply — was stranded for three months in the wilderness about 500 miles outside Montreal. After the bear attack, he sprained his ankle and was unable to hunt or find any other source of food, according to reports.

Lavoie, an experienced hiker who often spent weeks in the wilderness by himself, was rescued by helicopter on Wednesday. He’d lost 90 pounds and was suffering from hypothermia. He was listed in critical condition in a hospital in Northern Quebec.

Survival expert Andre Francois Bourbeau told the Toronto Sun that Lavoie’s decision to eat his dog was a good one.

“He survived because he made good decisions. Eating his dog was one of them,” said Borbeau, the author of a survival guide. “You have to be desperate, but there’s no shame in (eating the dog),” said Bourbeau. “Hunger squeezes you so much that you would accept food that’s not normally possible,” said Bourbeau. “You can crave slugs and bugs.”

I’m sure there are many others who hold that view, and who’d point out that man – by virtue of that “dominion” he has over other animals, by virtue of being the superior, more developed being, by virtue of his position atop civilized society – has every right to chow down on his dog when trapped in the wilderness with no other options available.

But we don’t find much virtue at all in his actions.

We see more humanity in the dog, who loyally went along on his master’s silly wilderness trip, scared off a bear to protect him, and — despite any hunger pangs he might have been experiencing, despite his master’s hobbled condition – didn’t make a meal of Lavoie.

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