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Tag: giant

Look, up in the sky, it’s … it’s … it’s … skydiving anti-poaching dog!

If the ranks of specialized crime-fighting canines seem to be reaching new heights, well, they are.

Drug-sniffing dogs, bomb-detecting dogs, and even “porn dogs” are all already on duty, but there’s a new incarnation of crime fighting dog hovering on the horizon, and it may be most super-hero-like yet:

Skydiving anti-poaching dogs.

To help crackdown on the epidemic of ivory poaching in Africa, dogs are now being trained to parachute (with their handlers) from helicopters, track and take down poachers.

skydivingdogarrowArrow, the two-year-old Belgian Malinois shown in the photo to the left, hasn’t gone out on an actual mission yet.

But he and a six-year-old German shepherd named Giant, featured in the video above, are being trained for the task at the Anti-Poaching and Canine Training Academy, according to NationalGeographic.com

It’s run by Paramount Group, a defense contractor based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The academy’s canines, which are bred at the facility, are trained and matched with rangers from national parks and game reserves across Africa.

Dogs have been skydiving for a while now (remember the one on the Navy Seal mission that took down Osama bin Laden?). But that’s only half of this job.

Once on the ground, the dogs — much faster and better at tracking than humans — are released to pursue the poachers and bring them down before they vanish into the bush.

Both dogs have already mastered descending from a helicopter by rope, strapped to their handler, but parachuting gets them to the ground more quickly, and decreases the likelihood of the poachers being scared off by the noise of the helicopter.

An estimated 100 elephants a day are gunned down by poachers who saw off their tusks. About a thousand rhinos were killed last year by poachers who harvested their horns.

Africa’s parks are far too vast to be patrolled effectively, allowing the poachers to operate almost with impunity.

Dogs, as is often the case in war and crime-fighting, were seen as effective strategy. Flying dogs? Even better.

The risks (to the dogs) is high. Fleeing poachers could easily train their high powered rifles on the dog pursuing them. Having a drone chase them down, maybe one that could fire tranquilizer darts at the poachers, would seem to make more sense. But then again drones don’t have dog noses.

Eric Ichikowitz, director of the Johannesburg-based Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which helped launch the training program, says the dogs seem to like the chase, getting excited when they hear the roar of a helicopter.

“The dogs are exceptionally comfortable with skydiving,” he says.
“They know they’re going to work.”

(Photo: National Geographic)

Beagle B&B is a sight to see

beagle3

During our year traveling across America in search of all things dog, Ace and I missed this place — a B&B in Idaho that resembles a giant beagle.

The Dog Bark Park Inn is located in the city of Cottonwood, population less than 1,000.

beagle2It serves as home base for husband and wife artists Dennis J. Sullivan and Frances Conklin, who opened the B&B in 2003.

Sullivan, a chain saw artist who specializes in dog designs, built the dog shaped unit, named Sweet Willy, and his smaller sidekick, Toby.

You can’t sleep inside Toby, but Sweet Willy contains two bedrooms and a bathroom, and rents for about $100 a night. (Pets are welcome for an extra $15 fee.)

The two-acre property also includes a sculpture garden featuring other works of art, including a 12-foot fire hydrant with a portable toilet inside, the Huffington Post reports.

It reminds me a bit of Dog Mountain, the park-like Vermont complex featuring the art of its creator, artist Stephen Huneck.

At the Dog Bark Park Inn, guests check in at the owners’ studio and gift shop, located nearby.

dennisandfrancesDennis is a self-taught chainsaw artist who has been carving for over 30 years. Frances joined him twenty years ago and also carves, according to the studio’s website.

They say their “big break” came in 1995 when their carvings were featured on QVC. With the fame came more hard work.

“We did nothing but carve wooden dogs for 18 months (our children barely remember seeing us during those days!), made what seemed like a bundle of money, invested it all in developing and building Dog Bark Park.”

bernese_mountain_dog_jpgTogether, they carve more than 60 different breeds and poses of dogs, and will take custom orders on request, carving dogs based on photos provided by owners.

In 2003 they received the Take Pride in Idaho Cultural Tourism Award for a large carved art exhibit depicting the story of Seaman, the dog who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their exploratory journey to the Pacific two hundred years ago.

(Photos: Dog Bark Park Inn)

Who stole the giant turd of Torrelodones?

turd

Officials in Torrelodones, a town outside Spain’s capital of Madrid, are scratching their heads after someone made off with a giant inflatable replica of dog poop — a municipally-sanctioned artwork (and we use the term loosely) intended to remind citizens to pick up after their dogs.

The victim, when on display, is brown, nearly 10 feet high, and weighs about 65 pounds.

Once the air is let out, it is small enough to be packed in a carrying case, which is the condition it was in when someone walked off with it.

The town says it will cost more than $2,700 to replace.

Speaking to the ABC newspaper, a town official said staff were shocked and perplexed by the theft, and a replacement excrement was already on order because “we know that the campaign has been a great success.”

No word on how long it may take for that to come to pass.

Nor is there any mention of a ransom note being sent by those who pinched it.

The inflatable poop is one of several symbols being used in the municipality’s “Lay an egg” campaign. Torrelodones has also placed concrete dog poops around town bearing the message “This is a big blockage to living together. If you have a dog, help us.”

Should an arrest be made, we think the suspect would be able to put on a pretty good defense.

After all, he or she was only doing — albeit on a far larger scale — what the campaign urges.

Giant George ousts Titan as world’s tallest dog

giantgeorge

 
The Great (Dane) Debate is over:  The “World’s Tallest Dog” is Giant George of Tucson, Guinness World’s Records has proclaimed.

The 250-pound blue Great Dane wrested the title away from Titan, a white, partly blind Great Dane from San Diego who held it little more than three months.

Guinness World Records says George is the tallest dog ever on record, standing 43 inches tall at the shoulder, three-quarters of an inch taller than Titan.

Titan was named World’s Tallest Dog last November after the death of the previous title-holder, Gibson, a harlequin Great Dane from Grass Valley, Calif., who died of bone cancer.

Giant George was in the running then, but disputed measurements and late paperwork left his owner, David Nasser, unable to qualify.

Guinness officials say there were conflicting reports about Giant George’s height, so they sent a judge to verify it.

Guinness made the announcement this morning, and George and Nasser appeared this afternoon on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Diana Taylor, Titan’s owner, told the San Diego Union-Tribune she didn’t intend to watch the show because she was busy Monday trying to find a swim vest that would fit Titan, her 190-pound deaf, epileptic and partly blind “special needs dog,” for his first water therapy session.

A blog post on Titan’s website site argues that Titan should still be tops. Taylor says she intends to lodge a dispute but won’t exert a lot of energy on a challenge if Titan’s reign is officially over.

Giant George, we should point out, has his own website as well, which, according to Taylor, was part of a massive public relations effort to steal the title away from her dog.

“Regardless of whether he’s the world’s tallest dog or not, he’s still this beautiful deaf and blind Great Dane, and no one can take that away from him,” Taylor said of Titan.

The blog post read, in part:

“Despite the fact that it detracted from our mission of helping rescue and special-needs dogs, I strived to take the high road. But now, after months of having our accomplishment overshadowed by this media blitz-kreig of poor sportsmanship (and on the eve of this dog actually being on Oprah) I’ve decided it’s time to let the public know the truth about ‘Giant’ George.

“…Confused at how to measure his dog, this owner took two official measurements… one at the shoulder and another halfway up the neck. Guinness requirements state an animal must be measured at the shoulder. See below — when measured correctly George is only 39 1/8″ compared to Titan’s certified height of 42.25”.

“George’s ‘record-breaking’ 43″ is based on a measurement halfway up the neck, a procedure that does not follow industry standards or meet Guinness requirements…”

Guinness spokeswoman Jamie Panas said last week that Nasser’s claim to the title was one of more than 100 the company received since late last year.“It’s a huge record for us,” she said. “The pet records resonate the most with our readers.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Guinness World Records)