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Tag: groups

Ignoring Leona: Dogs have a bone to pick

If Leona Helmsley was betrayed as much in life as she is being betrayed in death, it’s easy to understand why she might have become the bitch — and we’re not talking female dog — she was so often portrayed as.

In the latest development with the wealth she left behind, a second judge has ruled, in effect, that the foundation divvying up her fortune among charitable groups need not follow her express wish that much of that money be spent on the care of dogs.

The judge denied a bid by the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and other animal groups to get a larger share of Helmsley’s billions.

Although Helmsley directed a share of her massive fortune go to “the care of dogs” — that being in addition to the $12 million she asked be left to her own dog — the Helmsley Foundation’s trustees have seen fit to dispense most of the foundation money among organizations that have little or nothing to do with canines.

According to the animal welfare groups, only about $100,000 of the $450 million the foundation has given away has gone to dog causes.

The dog charities argued they should have standing to challenge how the foundation gives away its money in light of Helmsley’s written statements and last wishes. Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS, called the $100,000 received so far ”a trifling amount, and contrary to Helmsley’s intentions.”

Surrogate’s Court Judge Nora Anderson in Manhattan rejected the bid by the animal welfare organizations to intervene in the case, agreeing with a judge who ruled earlier that the trustees have sole discretion in how to distribute the money, the New York Post reported yesterday.

She said she feared the groups’ challenge could open the floodgates to countless lawsuits from dog organizations around the world.

It’s hardly the first time Helmsley’s last wishes have been overruled since her death: Of that $12 million she left in her will for the care of her Maltese, named Trouble, a judge reduced the amount to $2 million.

Beyond what she intended to leave for the care and feeding of Trouble, Helmsley had another $5 to $8 billion, according to estimates of the trust’s worth.

Helmsley, who died in 2007, wrote in a 2004 mission statement for the trust that she wanted that money used for “1) purposes related to the provision or care of dogs and 2) such other charitable activities as the Trustees shall determine.”

In 2009, though, the Surrogate’s Court found that the mission statement did not place any legal restrictions on what donations could be made from the trust.

Later that year, the ASPCA, the Humane Society and Maddie’s Fund, filed a motion asking the court to vacate its earlier order and allow them to intervene. The primary interest of those groups was not, of course, in seeing solely that Helmsley’s wishes were honored, but neither, it seems, are the foundation’s. The animal welfare groups’ goals seem more aligned with her wishes, though.

By all descriptions, the so-called ”queen of mean” was a hard-hearted woman, with one soft spot — dogs.

The foundation doling out her fortune doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of respect for dogs, or for Helmsley.

I’m no legal expert, just a dog lover, and I’m not asking for Trouble.  But if I arranged to leave my fortune – non-existent though it may currently be — to my dog Ace, or anywhere else, and you didn’t carry out my wishes, you can be sure I’d be back to haunt you.

I’d show you mean.

Copse and robbers

How do I describe the winds that swept through North Dakota this week? They were relentless. They sliced right through you. They were cold and mean. In a word, they were criminal.

When I finally pulled out of Fargo, I was certain any visions of fall colors were over. No way, I figured, could any leaves still be clinging to their trees. Those winds, like a heartless gang of thieves, surely stripped them bare.

But, as Ace and I traveled west across the state, there were a few bright exceptions: groves of yellow-leafed trees — birch or aspen — that, by virtue of being tightly grouped together, still sported their fall colors.

The only way I can figure it, they were saved by the copse.

By being huddled together in a group, they – at least those not on the periphery — were able to keep their leaves a little longer. They, like early American settlers, bees in a hive and the huddled masses everywhere found safety in numbers.

You don’t hear the word “copse” that much anymore. In “Travels with Charley,” it shows up a few times. When John Steinbeck camped, it was usually in a copse, alongside a river, which is where you’ll generally find the copse — despite what you might have heard about donut shops.

Driving along, I wondered if the copse might hold some lessons for us humans, or at least remind us of some.

When pioneers set forth across America, they did so in groups, depending on each other, and each other’s skills, for their survival. When Indians attacked, pioneers circled the wagons, recognizing that forming, in effect, a copse, was the best defense. They established towns for the same reason — so neighbors would be close, so that help would never be too far away.

And long before that, cavemen and cavewomen learned — apparently from sources other than reality TV — that, by forming alliances, they could better protect themselves from the elements, evil-doers and scary creatures.

For long time Americans lived a copse-like existence. We established a home. We dropped our seed. We watched it grow. Once it did, it stayed around, mingled with other hometown trees and dropped its own seed. Children lived where parents lived. The apple didn’t fall, or roll, far from the tree; it stayed in its parent’s shadow, at least until it ended up in a pie.

Somewhere along the line, that went by the wayside. Children grew up and ventured off, carving their own paths. Mom and dad, once on the periphery of the copse, shielding us from the nasty winds, were relocated to places they can get some assistance with living.

The copse-like closeness has diminished not just in the family, but in the family of man. We’re less inclined, I think, to help each other out. Rather than thinking we’re all in this together, rather than the stronger helping the weaker, the richer helping the poorer, the franchised helping the disenfranchised, we look out for No. 1.

And the more insular we’ve become, the more we fail to stake up those in need of support, the more we turn away from those stuck out in the cold, the more robbers we produce.

In the 21st Century, when it comes to protection, we rely on the cops.

But maybe the real answer is the copse.

Bluetick, Redbone gain AKC recognition

lg_bluetick6The bluetick and redbone coonhounds — along with the Boykin spaniel — have been officially recognized as breeds by the American Kennel Club.

The acceptance of the three new breeds brings to 164 the number of breeds fully recognized as such by the AKC.

The Boykin spaniel will join the sporting group while both the bluetick coonhound and redbone coonhound will join the hound group.

The new breeds will be eligible for full AKC registration and competition in their respective groups at conformation shows held on and after December 30, 2009.

The bluetick coonhound gets its name from its coat pattern, which is dark blue in color and covered in a ticking or mottled pattern. The bluetick is noted for its skill in trailing and treeing raccoons and other small animals. The breed has origins in the English coonhound. In 1945, bluetick breeders broke away to form their own slower-working dog that could pick up older scent trails.

RedboneThe redbone coonhound is noted for its speed and agility and its ability to hunt and swim over a variety of terrain. The redbone dates back to red foxhounds brought to the U.S. by Scottish immigrants in the late 1700s and red foxhounds imported from Ireland before the Civil War.

Boykin_Simmons3The Boykin Spaniel, in addition to being the official state dog of South Carolina, is a medium-sized hunting dog with a cheerful, energetic personality. The breed was developed in South Carolina in the early 1900s by L. Whitaker Boykin, originally to hunt wild turkeys.

The road to full AKC recognition requires non-recognized breeds to first gain acceptance into the AKC Foundation Stock Service. After a breed has been in FSS the recognition process begins with a written request to compete in the miscellaneous class from the National Breed Club.  While there is no established timetable for adding new breeds, dogs typically compete in the miscellaneous class for one to three years.  More information on the process can be found at the AKC’s website.

The next breeds in line for full recognition by AKC are the Icelandic Sheepdog, Cane Corso and Leonberger.

(Photos courtesy of American Kennel Club: Bluetick/by Diane Lewis ©AKC; Boykin Spaniel/by Bill Simmons; Redbone/by Christine Smith)

Eagles meet with animal welfare groups

Animal rights groups met with Philadelphia Eagles management this week for a two-hour discussion described as spirited, cordial and candid.

For the Eagles, it was an attempt at damage control — soothing the ire of animal lovers upset with the team signing convicted dogfighter Michael Vick.

For animal welfare activists, it was a chance to urge the Eagles to play a role in fighting animal abuse.

Vick wasn’t in attendance at Monday’s meeting, NBC in Philadelphia reported.

“I thought it was a good first step in making the best of what we all think is kind of a horrific starting situation,” said Rich Britton, with Chester County’s SPCA.

The team extended the invitations, reaching out to representatives of the area’s animal welfare groups.

Read more »

Website offers $25,000 to dog rescue groups

A dog training website says it plans to award $500 each to 500 dog rescue organizations to help them cope during the recession.

Trainpetdog.com will distribute a total of $25,000 to rescues, with donations in the form of cash or dog supplies, depending on each organization’s needs.

“Our world has a serious dog overpopulation problem,” said Nipa Roy, spokesperson for TrainPetDog.com. “There are tons of rescues out there, making a noble effort to save and re-home dogs, but every day they struggle to get enough funding to stay open another day. Donations are an absolute necessity for these rescues.”

“With the current economy, many dog rescues are struggling to survive even if they were doing okay before,” Roy added. “Fewer families can afford to care for their dogs, so more dogs are being surrendered and fewer are being adopted out.”

TrainPetDog.com will select 500 of the neediest dog rescues to receive donations. To be considered for the donation, a rescue must fill out the online form on TrainPetDog.com’s web site. The form requests contact information for the rescue, allows the rescue to choose whether they want the donation in cash or goods, and asks questions such as what dog breeds they rescue and why they should be chosen as one of the 500 to receive a donation.

With more than 875,000 subscribers to their free dog training mini courses, TrainPetDog.com provides breed specific information for owners who want to learn more about dog and puppy training. Rescues can link to the website to provide foster and adoptive owners with the information they need to train their dogs.

2 parks, 2 plans, 2 bars, 2night

 

From the shores (yeah, right) of Riverside to the uppermost reaches of Upper Fells Point, Baltimore dog lovers will be coming together tonight to push their plans to find a time or place for their dogs to run in a city that offers few such opportunities.

Sparked by the city’s move to increase the penalty for leash law violations to $1,000, two park-specific groups will hold meetings — at neighborhood bars, of course — to move forward with plans that, while different, share the same goal.

Those who have been trying for years to have a fenced-in dog park established within massive Patterson Park will be holding a 6:30 p.m. meeting at Three, a bar and restaurant located at the corner of E. Baltimore and S. Linwood.

Another group of concerned dog owners who frequent Riverside Park, in South Baltimore, will be meeting at 8 p.m., at Captain Larry’s, 601 E. Fort Ave., to discuss asking the city to set aside certain hours at the park during which well-behaved dogs are allowed to be off-leash.

The Riversiders were spurred into action by the city’s increased fine for violating the leash law, and apparent increased enforcement of the law so far this spring. The new fines also fired up Patterson Parkers to refocus on the their effort.

The city council, which approved the increased fine, is now reconsidering it, and a hearing on a proposal to lower it will be held Tuesday, April 28th, at 10 a.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

While the city has recognized a need for more dog parks — and plans to open the first city-funded one in Locust Point this year — other efforts to establish them have historically met with bureaucracy and delays.

In announcing that the city would fund the construction of the dog park in Locust Point, Mayor Sheila Dixon promised as many as eight dog parks in Baltimore. So far, no others have been announced.

With the higher fines, the lack of alternatives and the tight leash the city keeps on efforts to start dog parks, it seems that dog people, taking a lesson from their dogs, are ready to pick up the ball and run with it.