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Tag: dogs

Gift idea: Your dog’s face on your own socks

PUPSOCKS-WHITE-3With a scant 10 days left until Christmas, we present item No. 3 on our abbreviated list of gifts only a dog lover could love.

Pupsocks are socks for your feet (not your dog’s) that are emblazoned with a photo of your dog.

They are being offered, at $30 a pair, by an Atlanta company that says a portion of their profits (unspecified) goes to helping animals.

“Our products help you share love for your pet, and behind the scenes we spread that love with others! As such, every pair sold feeds a dog or cat in need. In only six months, we’ve been able to support thousands of meals.”

The company, according to its website, supports Ahimsa House which is dedicated to helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence in Georgia, and the Humane Society of the United States.

To order the socks, you can go to the website, upload a photo of your dog, or cat, or human, and specify the size and color you want.

As with our previous wacky dog-related gifts — those pit bull leggings and matching dog and human pajamas — this is in no way a recommendation for the product; rather it’s an idea flung out there for your cautious perusal.

The company will also put your dog’s photo on a tie.

Of course, there are few things you can’t get your dog’s picture on these days. From coffee mugs to blankets, from tote bags to Christmas tree ornaments, you can find a company to pepper almost any wearable or usable item with your dog’s image.

I had Ace’s photo put on a sweatshirt and a blanket, both of which were gifts to my father, and both of which I got back after my father’s death.

I break out the blanket regularly, and I still wear the Ace sweatshirt — sent to me by the nursing home my dad spent his last days in, complete with his name marked on to the collar.

Socks are about the last thing, clothing-wise, I would think of putting my dog’s photo on.

But rest assured there are plenty of entrepreneurs out there who will keep coming up with ways to make a buck off of our love for dogs, and particularly our love for our own dog.

And more often than not, we will lap it up.

Here are a few more websites that offer to put your pet’s photo on stuff:

Print Your Pet

Personalization Mall

Snapfish

Vista Print

(Photos: From the Pupsocks website)

Gang members arrested in China for selling poison darts used to kill dogs for meat

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Thousands of poisoned syringes that were sold to dog meat vendors to instantly kill dogs on the streets have been seized by police in China.

The police investigation led to the discovery of a ton of dead dogs at a storage facility in the eastern province of Anhui, and the arrest of eight gang members who were selling the weapon in 20 provinces and regions across the China, the news agency Xinhua said.

Police believe the gang sold more than 200,000 poisoned syringes to vendors who hunted pets on the street and traded their meat with restaurants.

The syringes contained a large enough dose of the muscle relaxant suxamethonium to kill the dogs instantly — and enough to be toxic to any human later consuming the dog’s meat.

Police said the needles were modified with a spring and a tailfin at the rear so they could be shot like a dart.

The Telegraph reported that the investigation into the gang began in September when police were tipped off by a postal worker who came across a suspicious package leaking a pungent smelling fluid.

syringesThey discovered 200 syringes in the package, and arrested the man who it was being delivered to in Huainan city, in Anhui.

Police then arrested two accomplices who shot the dogs in local streets, before finding a ton of frozen dogs at a nearby cold storage.

The men had frozen the meat and had planned to sell it in the winter.

Police also raided the gang’s workshop in central China’s Hubei Province, where they arrested another five men who were making the syringes.

At that site they discovered four kilograms of the chemical powder, 10,000 needles and 100,000 yuan, or more than $15,000, Xinhua said.

The poisoned darts have been in use for years. Two years ago, in Hunan province, a man who ran a dog meat-selling operation shot himself with one while demonstrating how to fire one with a crossbow. He died on his way to the hospital.

The other members of the operation were later arrested, and confessed to freezing the canine carcasses with the intention of selling the meat to restaurants.

“The dog meat trade in China is organized, large scale and facilitated by crime, with as many as 20 million dogs and four million cats killed every year,” said Wendy Higgins, from the Humane Society International. “Stopping the gangs involved is a major step in the right direction.”

She added: “The use of poison to catch dogs for the meat trade is a cruelty that very often sees people’s beloved pets targeted, and the animals involved can suffer enormously.”

Dog meat has long been consumed by humans in China and other Asian countries. It is eaten by a small minority of Chinese, and the practice is fading as dogs become a popular pet.

He drove 1,300 miles to return dog to owner

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A Maryland man drove 1,300 miles to return an eight-year-old pit bull mix to his owner in Kansas.

Zimba had been abandoned by his owner’s former boyfriend along Maryland’s Eastern Shore before he ended up at the Caroline County Humane Society in November.

The humane society tracked down the dog’s owner, Ikea Mosley, through the dog’s microchip and discovered that Mosley was living in Wichita.

When contacted, Mosley said Zimba had been missing for a couple of months. The dog had gone to Maryland with Mosley’s boyfriend, but when the couple broke up during the boyfriend’s stay, he apparently abandoned the dog.

Mosley ran into difficulties when she tried to make arrangements to get the dog home.

“I’m a single mom, so I wasn’t able to get away from work and get to him. If I could have I would have drove all the way to get him,” Mosley said.

That’s when Zach Holt, a former humane society volunteer offered to drive him from Ridgely, Maryland to Wichita. Holt is a former animal control officer and the boyfriend of Caroline County Animal Control Officer Kaitlyn Noffsinger, who picked up Zimba after she was reported as a stray.

Holt, in conjunction with the humane society, documented his 1,300-mile journey to Wichita on the Caroline County Humane Society’s Facebook page.

returnedHolt and Zimba arrived in Wichita last week, according to the Times-Record.

“I’m very, very thankful, like I’m like speechless, because I really can’t believe you drove all the way here,” Mosley said.

Holt said Zimba was “the best riding companion I’ve ever seen, he was great, he napped the entire way, everything was perfectly fine he had no complaints.”

The humane society is accepting donations to cover Holt’s travel expenses. Donations can be made by visiting www.carolinehumane.org, in person at the shelter at 407 W. Belle St. in Ridgely, or by calling the shelter at 410-820-1600.

“It’ll be for gas, tolls, dog food and I’m sure a few Monster Energy drinks,” Noffsinger said.

(Photos: Caroline County Humane Society, via Facebook)

Sweet idea: Turning a dresser into a dog bed

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This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer turned a large dresser into lodgings for visiting Japanese tourists.

But I doubt that was the inspiration for “Sheltie Shacks” — the personalized dog beds that Kaylee Robertson, an emergency medical technician from Shetland, Scotland, makes out of old dressers.

kayleeRobertson, who lives on a small island off the coast of Scotland with seven dogs, makes no money from the past-time, paying for materials herself and contributing all profits to animal charities.

She said she likes to “provide pets with their own little safe haven that they can sleep happy in.”

“Let’s be honest, your typical dog bed is pretty ugly!” Robertson, 27, told ABC News in an email. “They’re normally these limp, dull, lifeless, smelly things that just lie in the corner. My hope is that by providing a bed which is also a piece of furniture, the dog is introduced more into the living area.”

Unlike Kramer’s tourist lodgings, I think this one has a future:

Robertson said she makes only about 30 a year because she doesn’t want to “shove something shoddy together.” She ships anywhere in the world.

Each one is custom-made and personalized, using information provided by the owner. She contacts the buyers to find what they’d like — from the paint color and wallpaper inside to the kind of knobs.

dresserbed3Every bed is completely deconstructed, sanded down and re-backed, then give several coats of paint in a design of the customer’s choosing.

“This should be something that lasts, and more importantly, a piece that people are happy to display as the centerpiece of the room,” she said.

Working on the projects allow her to clear her head after “some pretty horrific days” as an emergency medical technician. And that, she adds, is more important than money.

“Yeah sure, I’m not driving around in a Ferrari and I don’t have my own private jet, but we’re OK,” she said. “We have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge and a comfortable bed to lie in, and that does us fine!”

Don’t expect her to jump on your order right away. Recent publicity has nearly smothered her with requests.

“A couple of weeks ago I made a particularly nice bed, it even had top drawers in it, so I put a video of it on Facebook.” It quickly garnered more than 2 million views and led to hundreds of emails.

In the face of all that, Robertson might be tempted to cash in, but I doubt it.

“My gain is in the thought that when I press that “donate” button on our charities’ websites, that some wee soul will be given the lifesaving treatment they need to get better. No amount of money in my back pocket can beat that feeling.”

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(Photos: From the Sheltie Shacks Facebook page)

Dog park humans: A breed apart

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One of the things that strikes you if you spend any time at a dog park is the amazing diversity you see — in appearances, in personality types, in behavior patterns.

And that’s just among the dog owners.

Just as there is a vast array of breeds and mixes, shapes, sizes and behaviors among dogs, there are certain “types” when it comes to the human denizens of dog parks.

So let’s slap some labels on them, shall we?

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Yes, it is wrong. But as much as we tend to slap labels on dogs, it’s only fair to give humans a turn. All in fun, of course. We’re not criticizing any of them (hardly), just making some observations.

All the characters we are about to describe are fictitious, though based on actual observations over the years at dog parks in well over a dozen cities and towns. If one or more bears a striking resemblance to you, old or new friend, it’s purely coincidental. And any exaggeration or irreverence that follows is purely for the sake of humor.

In other words, don’t get mad at me.

DSC06870leashes1The Dog Talker:
This person is constantly talking to their dog — an ongoing one-way conversation: “C’mon Princess, you should you meet these other dogs over here. Oh look, there’s your little friend Barney. And look at this big boy. Do you like him? I think you like him. He looks a little like your friend Bowser, doesn’t he? Let’s play with him for a while before we go home for dinner …”

Often members of this type are also members of another type, making them doubling annoying. The Baby Talkers: “Yesums you’re a good boy, yes you are, yes you are. Did you step on a burr, oh poor baby, come here, let me see your little pawsie. Awwww, it’s OK little baby. There, there, all better now.”

There is one more sub-category of these talkers, and they are those who actually seem to expect their dog to answer them. They are prone to asking their dogs the same question repeatedly, as if, on the third or fourth asking, the dog is suddenly going to respond with words: “Are you ready to go home for dinner, Fluffy? Hmmmm? Fluffy, you want to go home for dinner? Does Fluffy want dinner? You want to go get dinner, Fluffy?”

The Experts: They can and most assuredly will tell you more than you want to know about training, about breeds, about care, about feeding, about anything. Sometimes they may actually have some expertise. More often, they haven’t a clue. Still, they feel the need to conduct mini-lectures that conclude with something like “And that is why dogs eat grass” or, “That’s how they came to be known as Lhaso Apsos.”

DSC06874leashes1The Device-obsessed: They are the largest, fastest growing group at the dog park, and one of the most dangerous, totally ignoring their dogs as they tap away on their little screens. They really should look up now and then. See your dog? He’s living in the moment. You should try it.

The Social Butterfly: Must meet and engage every dog, and every human, in the park. He or she flits about, asking your dog’s name, your dog’s breed, telling you about his or her dog, remarking on the weather, etc., before moving on to the next dog and person. One of these — they often being the sort that prefers a monologue over actual conversation — recently began talking to me, even though I was on the big dog side of the fence and he was on the small side. Without any response, or any acknowledgement from me, he continued talking, non-stop, to the back of my head, for 30 minutes.

DSC06948leashes1The Loners: They go to remotest corner, avoiding interaction and engaging, most likely, in some fetch — silently, relentlessly, repetitiously, and most often using one of those flinging sticks so their hands don’t get slimy. Both owner and dog, generally something like a German shepherd, seem to tense up if you or your dog approach. Often, the loner person has a loner dog, which brings up a point we’re not addressing here: How a dog’s personality comes to resemble its owners.

The Rescue Hero: The second, if not first, sentence out of this person’s mouth about their own dog is “he/she is a rescue” and it is followed by the dog’s tale of woe in its previous life. His coat was matted, his ribs were visible, he was a bait dog used by dogfighters, he was abandoned and left tethered at a Walmart. Often they weren’t involved in any actual rescue, but merely walked into a shelter and adopted the dog. But that’s OK. It still makes them good people. Just don’t expect sainthood.

The Action Hero: This is the young guy — perhaps an off duty firefighter, or someone who just left rugby practice — who rushes over to fearlessly break up any dogfights.

DSC06981leashes1The Date-seeker: He is there to meet some babes. He will lavish attention on your dog because he thinks you are cute. He seems so nice, but might he be a biter? Exercise some caution before going into a play stance with him.

The Over-protector: These people are constantly coddling and babying their (usually) small dog, hovering nearby and becoming alarmed if play becomes a little rough. At that time, they immediately pick it up, making all the larger dogs want to have at it even more. I’ve seen people show up with their dogs and spend their entire time at the park on a bench with their dog (who might be wearing clothing) on their lap.

DSC06847leashes1The control freak: This person is a strong disciplinarian when it comes to their dog, so strict that their dog is barely able to have any fun. Granted some people use dog parks to train their dogs, but even then said dog should have a little frolic time. It’s not boot camp. Sometimes, they seem to want to discipline everyone else’s dog too: “None of that now. Easy, eeeeeasy now,” they’ll say to other dogs. He or she commonly offers training advice to total strangers.

DSC06849leashes1The Poop-spotter: This person has uncanny peripheral vision — to the point he or she can spot any dog in the act of pooping, even if there are two dogs simultaneously pooping at opposite ends of the park. He or she then promptly informs the owner, “Hey, your dog just pooped, about three yards from the fence, to the left of that fencepost.”

The No Boundaries Dog Owner: These are the owners who clearly believe their dog can do no wrong: These dog owners let their dog get away with pretty much everything — digging, snarling, humping to name a few– issuing few corrections and generally only mild ones. They fail to notice signs that things are getting out of hand until it is too late.

No Boundaries Parents: These are even scarier yet, letting their young children chase strange dogs, run from strange dogs while shrieking, and hug strange dogs. These people might pose a bigger risk than even the Device-obsessed. And if you have a combination of the two, well, that’s a recipe for disaster. Often, with these people, their children listen to them with the same disregard their dogs do. No matter how many times they warn little Tommy to close both the gates when he enters and leaves, little Tommy leaves them wide open.

By now you are asking, well “OK Mr. Holier than Thou, which type are you? Or are we to assume you are perfect?”

Far from it.

DSC06880leashes1I am sometimes “the expert,” but only when an unanswered question is looming, and I am sure of my facts, and I feel the information will make the person I am conveying it to a better dog owner. If, while I am talking, they start yawning, or texting, I will stop.

Sometimes I am “the loner,” sometimes “the social butterfly,” depending on my mood — and my dog’s mood — that day.

Sometimes I’m the rescue hero, not the action hero because generally any fights will be over by the time I’m able to make my way over there on my wobbly legs. I will share the tale of where my dog came from, but generally only when asked and without taking credit for any actual “rescue” when all I really did was adopt him. Still, I’m happy to share, and feel it’s important to share, the story of his Korean past, sad as it was.

I’m not the Date-seeker these days, but I’ll admit that possibility may have been in the back of my head — if not ever actually exercised — in earlier times with earlier dogs. And, hey, it might still be lingering back there to a small degree.

Most often, I’m of the type I haven’t mentioned yet.

The Quiet Observer: This is someone like, say, a semi-retired journalist with time on his hands, skilled in observing human behavior, prone to eavesdropping, able to recognize the subtle differences between us, and aware that — above all else — they are what makes life interesting.

DSC06843leashes1So feel free to disregard all this, and just be yourself. It’s true, I’m far more tolerant with dogs than I am with people. Dogs can jump up on me, they can lick my face, they can sit on my lap. People, these days, get on my nerves much more quickly.

Even so, it’s not my place to tell them how — other than observing proper dog park etiquette — they should act. So I almost always stifle myself from saying anything out loud.

When a small child it is chasing my dog, screaming and trying to grab him, I will warn them out loud, “Hey, you might not want to do that.” But I try to not let negative vibes into my head, and try even harder not to let them out of my mouth.

But that said, Tommy, close the damn gates.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Owners spot their lost dog in TV news report about a high speed chase

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Imagine, after your dog goes missing, spotting her on the evening news.

That’s how a San Diego area family learned that their missing pit bull, Catalina, had been recovered by authorities — but not until after being shot during a high speed chase that ended with a crash.

The nine-month-old puppy had gone missing just after Thanksgiving.

A few days later, a neighbor told Salina Hurtado’s husband that he thought he saw Catalina on the news, and gave them a few details from the news report.

The couple quickly Googled “pit bull shot in Valley Center” and watched this report on CBS News 8’s website:

Catalina had been in a stolen van that was being pursued by sheriff’s deputies. The van nearly ran over a few deputies, leading them to fire shots, before it crashed into a patrol car.

After arresting the driver, they tended to the dog’s gunshot injury, which was minor.

Footage of the incident shows the mostly white pit bull excitedly licking the face of the deputy who was carrying her.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Hurtado told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I remember thinking, ‘My poor baby got into a high-speed chase? Is this for real?’ But I knew it was her.”

After viewing the report, Hurtado called the television station and was referred to San Diego County Animal Services shelter in Carlsbad.

She found her dog there, but hasn’t yet been able to reclaim Catalina.

The arrested driver, Kevin Meza, had told deputies the dog was his, and, since Catalina wasn’t licensed or microchipped, he has two weeks to prove Catalina belongs to him, said the director of the county’s animal services department.

Hurtado said she doesn’t know Meza.

Hurtado’s family has started a GoFundMe account to help with the medical bills they expected to receive for Catalina’s treatment.

(Photo: Catalina, at left, lounging with her brother, Capone; courtesy of Salina Hurtado)

It’s (almost) official: Dogs are about twice as smart as cats


A scientific study has shown that cats have an average of 250 million neurons in their brains while dogs have about 500 million, making dogs about twice as intelligent.

Before you cat lovers start objecting, keep in mind that the study was performed by humans, who average about 16 billion neurons per brain.

Scientist’s brains, we can only assume, have even more than that.

The study is the work of a team of researchers from six different universities in the U.S., Brazil, Denmark, and South Africa. It is expected to be published soon in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.

The research wasn’t aimed at resolving the great national debate over which species is smarter, but was part of a larger effort to use neurons as one quantifiable measure of intelligence.

Previous research sought to quantify intelligence by measuring brain size and structural complexity. Counting neurons is generally accepted to be a more accurate measurement than those.

To accomplish that, study author Suzana Herculano-Houzel explained to National Geographic, “You take the brain and turn it into a soup.”

That leaves a number of nuclei suspended from neuron cells, allowing the researchers to estimate the number of neurons present. Neurons are a special type of nerve cell found in the brain that transmit messages.

The research team used only a part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, which drives decision-making and problem-solving.

“Neurons are the basic information processing units. The more units you find in the brain, the more cognitively capable the animal is,” said Herculano-Houzel, a neurologist and professor at Vanderbilt University who has been studying cognitive function in humans and animals for the past decade.

The team used three brains — one from a cat, one from a golden retriever and one from a small mixed-breed dog.

In the dogs’ brains, despite varying in size, researchers found about 500 million neurons, more than double the 250 million found in the cat’s brain.

By comparison, orangutans and gorillas have about eight to nine billion neurons, while chimpanzees have about six to seven billion, elephants have about 5.6 billion.

Herculano-Houzel says counting neurons is a more effective measurement of intelligence than the size of an animal, or the size of its brains.

“It’s not a larger body that explains the number of neurons you have,” she said. “You can have animals with similar-sized brains, and they have completely different numbers of neurons.”