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Tag: dog

A party in the Bay of Dogs

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The townhouse community in which I live is divided into bays.

On my bay — Bay 8 — there are 20 housing units. There are two or three children. And there are 27 dogs.

DSC05942(Let me repeat that for your burglars: There are 27 dogs.)

Every once in a while when the weather gets nice and the neighbors get coordinated, a dog party is scheduled — held at the bay’s dead end, right in front of my house.

Everybody brings beverages and appetizers and lawn chairs and their dogs.

And then the festivities begin.

With only a few exceptions, the dogs behaved exceptionally well.

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One (not mine) got into the apple pie somebody brought. Another (mine) peed in the middle of the seating area. Otherwise, they behaved in an exemplary manner.

The humans did OK, too.

DSC05915The only rowdiness came when a couple of cars pulled up in front of a home recently listed for sale.

Based on their luxury cars, some neighbors assumed they were investors, who would buy the house and rent it. (Owner-occupied homes are preferred.) So there was some talk of sending all the dogs to that house to bark and poop and generally create a bad impression. (The dogs did not oblige.)

There were big dogs and small dogs, puppies and elderly dogs, the vast majority of them having come from shelters and rescues.

At least two of my neighbors have five dogs. They would bring one or two to the party at a time, return them to their houses, and then come back with more.

The plethora of pooches is one of the things that attracted me to the community, and Bay 8 in particular.

DSC06038If ever a neighborhood needed a dog park, it is this one. There’s enough demand that the homeowner’s association recently gave the OK, at least unofficially, to letting people and their dogs use the fenced-in tennis courts, which are seldom used for tennis.

Everybody knows socialization is good for dogs, and good for humans. In communities like mine, where residents can often keep to themselves, dogs are probably the main way that people come together. And — though I’ve only been to one — dogs are far less boring and far more fun than homeowner’s association meetings.

If you’d like to see more photos of the dog party, you can check out the album I posted to the ohmidog! Facebook page.

Nervous dog owners = nervous dogs

nervousdogs

Leave it to scientists to confirm what we already know, and to do so using words we don’t begin to understand.

Case in point: Nervous dogs often have nervous owners. This is not to say a nervous dog can’t have a cool as a cucumber (coolus cucumberus) owner. Nor is it to say some highly twitchy (humanus nervosa) folks can’t have calm dogs.

Only that, as anyone who visits a dog park knows, nervous owners tend to have nervous dog at the end of the leash.

The new study buttresses the concept that our dogs tend to take on our personalities, and that tension — while it may not actually “flow down the leash” — is picked up on by our dogs, and often reflected in their own behavior.

It looks at the chemistry behind that.

The study at the University of Vienna — published in the journal PLOS One “investigated dyadic psychobiological factors influencing intra-individual cortisol variability in response to different challenging situations by testing 132 owners and their dogs in a laboratory setting.”

You might understand that, or, you (like me) might not know spit — or that cortisol levels can be measured through it.

In the study, the researchers measured the levels of cortisol — and the variability of those levels — in the saliva of dogs and owners put through stressful situations.

In addition, they assessed the personality of both dog and human participants — ranging from highly sensitive and neurotic to secure and self confident.

“We calculated the individual coefficient of variance of cortisol (iCV = sd/mean*100) over the different test situations as a parameter representing individual variability of cortisol concentration,” the study’s authors wrote. “We hypothesized that high cortisol variability indicates efficient and adaptive coping and a balanced individual and dyadic social performance.”

For a more reader-friendly account of the study, check out Stanley Coren’s Psychology Today blog:

“You can think of people who are high in neuroticism as being sensitive and nervous while people who score low in neuroticism are secure and confident. In this study, the dog owners who scored high in neuroticism had dogs with low variability in their cortisol. This suggests that dogs with highly neurotic owners are less able to deal with pressure and stress.”

“Conversely, dog owners who were more laid back and agreeable had calmer dogs. Those folks have greater variability in their cortisol response, suggesting that they are better able to cope with situations involving tension and strain.”

The study says the male dogs of female owners often have less variability in their cortisol responses and are often generally less sociable and less relaxed than male dogs belonging to male owners.

(That’s the study saying that females generally score higher on measures of anxiety and neuroticism — not me. I would be way too nervous to say that.)

“Owners behave differently because they are pessimistic or neurotic, and perhaps dogs read the emotions of their owners and think the world is more dangerous — so they are more reactive to it,” the study says. “It looks like people who are pessimistic have dogs which are worse at coping with stress than others.”

Of course, where a dog was before ending up with its owner can play a pretty big role, too.

I, for example, am the cool as a cucumber owner of a nervous dog. He came from a farm in Korea where he was being raised to become meat. That would tend to instill some nervousness in anyone.

Three months after being adopted by me, he still gets pretty nervous — around large groups, when hearing loud noises. I don’t know about his cortisol levels, but at these times he whimpers, sheds profusely — is there such a thing as projectile shedding? — and pees in inappropriate places, such as on my leg.

He is making great strides in every way, but Jinjja still needs to chill, and get less worked up by new situations.

Of all the factors that shape our dogs — genetics, environment, owners — time (and its cousin, patience) may be the most important ones of all.

So my game plan is to provide him with plenty of both, expose him to new settings and situations, and show him that not all the world is a dangerous place — all while being a mellow role model.

In other words, impossible as it might be, I’m going to have to become EVEN cooler.

Tennessee man plans to let his huskies pull him 2,200 miles on a makeshift dog sled

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A homeless Knoxville man plans to hitch his two huskies to a homemade dog sled made out of a lawn chair and a skateboard and travel 2,200 miles across the country to Venice Beach, California.

Georgie Cutright says the purpose of his journey is to see the country, spread some joy and, for once in his life, finish something.

“I’ve never actually finished anything in my life, you know?” Cutright, 41, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “This is something that’s going to be really incredible to do, and it’s something that I’m really, really adamant about finishing.”

How adamant the dogs who will power his “urban dog sled” — Sarah and Lobos — are is another question.

He could face some questions as well from local authorities as he makes his journey, and possibly animal welfare advocates, given the dogs will be running the distance of two Iditarods, on pavement no less.

Cutright says he plans to outfit the dogs in booties and take multiple breaks, though, and that — given the trip is partly about sharing his love for his rescued dogs — they will be treated well.

Currently living out of his van, Cutright has been training his two dogs on the streets of Knoxville, and drawing crowds when he does so. He plans to sell the van to finance the trip, which he hopes to start soon.

585c65c1a0376.imageHe has been using them for a while now as a mode of transportation.

“I was sitting on a skateboard and holding Sarah’s leash one day when she took off,” he told the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier.

He held on to the leash and rolled along behind them. After that, he says, he learned to balance on a chair atop the long skateboard as the dogs pulled him.

He uses his shoes as brakes and has taught the dogs commands: “Yah” to get them to speed up, “Whoa” to slow down,” and “hard right” or “hard left” for turning.

Cutright says he will take country roads that parallel Interstate 40, camping in a tent at night.

Originally from Mattoon, Illinois, Cutright said he became homeless two years ago after he lost his job as a carpenter. He said he’s been unable to secure another steady job because of a felony conviction for an armed robbery when he was 18.

A friend will be making the trip with him.

Cutright has already secured his first sponsor: HeadQuarters skateboard shop, which donated multiple sets of wheels and bearings for the journey.

He said he will stay in motels when he can, and in people’s homes when they offer to put him up.

Cutright said he got Sarah off Craigslist from a woman who was moving, and acquired Lobos from the police department in Venice Beach when the dog’s homeless owner was arrested.

He will share details of the trip on his Facebook page. He has also established a GoFundMe page that seeks to raise $20,000 for the trip.

“I just want people to know that if you put your mind to something, you can do it. Anybody can, even a homeless guy.”

(Photos: Kevin Kilhoffer / Journal Gazette & Times-Courier)

Man jumps in a lake to save dog from an alligator on a Florida golf course

coppsandcarbonWhen Donald C. Copps saw an alligator swimming directly toward a dog in a lake he didn’t give a second thought to jumping in to try and save the black Lab.

And it wasn’t even his dog.

Copps was taking care of a friend’s dog, named Carbon, when the dog — an accomplished dock diver — jumped in the lake. Copps and two friends were hitting balls on a golf course when they noticed a 7-foot alligator making a beeline for the dog.

Without fully thinking about his actions, Copps said, he jumped in and yelled and splashed to distract the gator, and his friends hollered as well.

The alligator bit Carbon’s left thigh, but the dog managed to get out of the lake.

“By the time I gathered my senses, the dog was out of the water and I’m in it up to my chest, just feet from the gator,” Copps said, recounting the late January incident in an interview with the Naples Daily News.

Copps hurried ashore and, with his friends, Brian and Yuliya Vail, loaded the dog on a golf cart and took him to a vet. Carbon was treated for scrapes and puncture wounds.

“The dog was really lucky,” said Dr. Lon Miyahira, the veterinarian who treated Carbon “When I hear alligator bite or attack, I expect worse. It’s hard to recommend jumping into the water, but it’s probably why the dog was not badly injured.”

Copps said Carbon was sore and bothered by the cone he was required to wear after the attack, but within a week he was running around the house.

Copps, who lost his own dog, a yellow Lab, in 2015, is looking after Carbon for a few months while his owners are on a cruise.

Friend Yuliya Vail described his actions as heroic: “I think most people would freeze. He jumped in …That gator could’ve drowned Carbon. We could have watched him die.”

(Photo: Copps and Carbon on a return visit to the vet, by Luke Franke / Naples Daily News)

Metal fragments lead to Blue Buffalo recall — the fourth canned food recall this month

Blue buffaloBlue Buffalo is recalling some of its “healthy” and “holistic” canned dog food because it might contain pieces of metal.

It’s the second company this week to recall canned dog food due to concerns about metal fragments, and the third canned dog food recall this month.

Blue Buffalo’s CEO said in a statement on the company’s website that it is recalling the food as part of its “mission of bringing transparency to pet foods.”

(That from a company that paid $32 million last year to settle a lawsuit about its deceptive advertising.)

It’s kind of hard to find the “transparent” company’s statement on the company website, so here is the link.

“My father, brother and I founded Blue Buffalo with the mission of bringing transparency to pet foods, and so, even though it is highly unlikely that you will have a product affected by this problem, we felt that we needed to voluntarily withdraw the product from retailers and let you know that we were doing this,” CEO Billy Bishop says in a letter to customers.

The recalled product is Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables. The cans have a “best by” date of Aug. 3, 2019 and the UPC is 8-40243-10017-0

PetSmart this week announced recalls of both the Blue Buffalo product and cans of Grreat Choice chicken and rice dog food.

In both cases, the companies said there had been no reports of illness or injury as a result of the possible contamination.

In both cases, the lots came from suppliers not identified by the companies or in news reports. Dog food companies commonly outsource their manufacturing to multiple manufacturers.

Also this month, Evanger’s announced a recall of its Hunk of Beef canned dog food after some of it was found to contain a sedative used to euthanize animals.

That contamination led one dog to die and at least four more to become ill in Washington state.

recalled-Against-the-Grain-dog-foodYesterday, the FDA announced another dog food brand, Against the Grain, was recalling some cans of its Pulled Beef with Gravy Dinner for Dogs amid concerns it contains the same sedative.

Against the Grain appears to be a sister company of Evanger’s.

Food Safety News reported they may share manufacturing facilities and ingredients, and that the founders of Against the Grain are listed as the son and daughter of Evanger’s owners Holly and Joel Sher.

Chelsea Sher, who serves as vice president for exports at Evanger’s, is listed as owner of the Against the Grain trademark.

PetSmart recalls some cans of Grreat Choice

great-choice-chicken-and-rice-dog-food-recall6PetSmart has issued a recall on cans of its Grreat Choice dog food after a manufacturer informed the company of consumer complaints about finding pieces of metal that could cause a choking hazard to pets.

The product is sold nationwide at PetSmart retail stores and online at PetSmart.com, Pet360.com, and PetFoodDirect.com.

The dog food was sold between October 10, 2016 and Feb. 7, 2017 and has a “Best By” date of 8/5/19.

PetSmart said in a press release that only one lot of Grreat Choice chicken and rice dog food is affected by the recall.

No injuries or illnesses have been reported, the company said.

The cans have a lot number of 1759338, and a UPC code of 7-3725726116-7.

Neither the manufacturer or PetSmart have given any indication of how the metal pieces ended up in the food.

Customers who have purchased the recalled food are advised to stop feeding it to their pets and bring any remaining cans to a PetSmart store for a full refund or exchange.

For more information, consumers can contact PetSmart customer service at 1-888-839-9638 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. CST

Why is it always Jesus and dogs we think we see in toast, wood, grilled cheese, etc.?

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A recent photo posted to Twitter — of a dog’s image in a piece of wood — gets me to thinking: Why is almost always Jesus (or sometimes his mom) and dogs (or sometimes other animals) that show up in inanimate objects, i.e. inside wood, on grilled cheeses, in potato chips, Cheetos, peirogies, tortillas or cinnamon buns?

lincolnnuggetThe answer’s pretty easy: We tend to see what we want to see; we tend to see the things we love most.

There are exceptions to the Jesus and dogs rule — potatoes that look like George Washington, chicken nuggets that resemble Abraham Lincoln — but even then it’s commonly what we cherish most (such as beloved presidents) that we think we see.

Chris Blundell recently posted the image at the top of this post on his Twitter page.

There, it was quickly joined by more reader submitted photos of dogs in wood:

moredogsinwood

moredogwoodThat dogs are giving Jesus a run for his money — in terms of making appearances in wood, at least — says something about how the species has become ever more ingrained in our hearts.

I won’t sink to pointing out what dog spelled backwards is, but I’ll say this:

If Jesus showed up on my grilled cheese, I’d eat it anyway. If there was a dog visible in my wood paneling, on the other hand, I wouldn’t paint over it.

With the rise of social media, we’re seeing much more of this type of thing.

But it has always gone on — so much so that there are names for it.

Pareidolia is seeing (or hearing) something significant in a random image or sound. The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape.

Sightings of spiritual or religious images in objects are called simulacra.

ebay-virgin-mary-grilled-cheese-getty-128167414Those are the most famous, and the most often reported — the faces and or bodies of Jesus or the Virgin Mary having been perceived, by both believers and non-believers, in toast, frying pans, grilled cheese sandwiches, the facade of buildings, firewood, rocks, tortillas, cinnamon buns, pretzels and more.

By the way, that grilled cheese Virgin Mary, seen directly above (some people thought the image more closely resembled Bernadette Peters) went on to sell on eBay in 2004 for $28,000.

jesusordogJesus, too, has been seen in grilled cheese sandwiches, including this one — though when I look at it, I see a dog. (Then again, I’m the guy who spent countless hours during my year-long road trip with Ace, looking for the image of dogs in kudzu.)

It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, this spotting of things within other things. To the contrary, I think those who spot them, while they might not be blessed with eternal life, are blessed with an active imagination. They are able to look at clouds and see something else entirely.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote about pareidolia, saying this: “If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills.”

Georgia O’Keefe used it in her paintings of flowers, embedding hidden images that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Psychologists used it with their Rorschach tests, which had us interpret random inkblots that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Then again, we tend to see in random objects the things we long for, the things that make us happy.

There are exceptions to that as well. Some hated and feared faces have been spotted in objects over the years — with Satan being the most common.

But far more often we see something that soothes us, like dogs, something that gives us hope, like dogs, something that makes us smile, like dogs.

So, if you’re seeing things within things, don’t rush to a shrink. Don’t join a pareidolia support group. Instead, celebrate and savor your pareidolia — whether it be through pieces of wood, your morning toast or with those fluffy white clouds dancing like … you name it … across a deep blue sky.

(Photos: Twitter, Wikipedia, Imgur)