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Tag: hallmark

Pit bull wins national “hero dog” award

elle

Elle, a 5-year-old pit bull who helps children become more confident about reading, has been named the 2103 Hero Dog by the American Humane Association.

But it wasn’t just her listening skills that won her the honor. She also helps teach children about dog safety, and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes – “something a pit bull knows too much about,” the association noted in announcing the award.

The therapy dog and her owner started a reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales”  that helps students at two North Carolina schools — Vaughan Elementary in Macon and Chaloner Middle School in Roanoke Rapids — become stronger readers. Students take turns reading out loud to Elle for 20 minutes.

“She provides confidence for students and a comforting ear,” Leah Brewer, 42, told TODAY.com.

Elle and the other finalists for the American Humane Association award attended a ceremony Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. It will air as a 90-minute special on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30.

After a six-month natonwide search, 141 dogs from across the country were nominated. More than one million Americans cast votes for the eight finalists online. Those results, along with the choices of a panel of celebrity judges and animals activists, were combined to determine the winner.

Among other nominees were Carlos, an explosive detector dog who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan; John D, a rescue dog who uses his scenting capabilities to detect cancer in patients; Cassidy, a three-legged dog who visits rehabilitation centers to comfort children with disabilities; and Lola, a rescued guide dog who connects her deaf owner to the surrounding world.

“Choosing a top dog is difficult because they are all so terrific, but we are proud to announce Elle as the top American Hero Dog for 2013,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association.

“As an organization that for years has fought breed-specific legislation (BSL), we are also pleased to honor a breed that has been often been unjustly maligned. We hope that Elle’s story will help to underscore the many tremendously positive qualities of this breed.”

(Photo: American Humane Association)

Hachiko-inspired movie sidesteps big screen

The modern-day, Richard Gere-infused retelling of the story of a loyal Japanese dog named Hachiko won’t be showing in theaters in the U.S.

Instead the movie, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” will make its American debut on Sunday on the Hallmark Channel, the New York Times reports.

The movie, which has already sold more than $45 million in tickets during its release in Asian, European and South American markets, is a contemporary retelling of the story of Hachiko, an Akita who, when his human companion, a college professor, died suddenly at work, continued for two years to return to the train station to wait for him.

Gere plays the professor and is also the movie’s producer. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who also directed the Swedish coming-of-age film “My Life as a Dog.”

“Hachi” was shot primarily in Rhode Island, using three Akitas to play the different stages of the dog’s life.

“Hachi,” the Times reports, was not eagerly received by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio which controlled its distribution. Sony opted not to release it in American theaters.

“You think of all the people who really love their animals, love their dogs, love their cats, would embrace this specific movie,” Gere said. “But Sony just had no imagination for it. It was really bizarre.”

Hallstrom said the studio’s strategy was “a mistake of being overly worried about the size of the movie as opposed to the emotional impact of it.”

The Hallmark Channel, which broadcasts about 22 original movies a year, stepped in and bought it, and will premiere the film Sunday night.

A Dog Named Christmas

dognamedchristmasA dog adoption promotion dreamed up as fiction has become a reality, and on a national scale.

After Greg Kincaid’s novel, “A Dog Named Christmas,” was published last year, a reader named Pam, who worked at a veterinary clinic in Florida, got inspired by what transpires in the book: Hayley, the fictional manager of a fictional animal shelter is so upset at seeing her kennels full that she calls up the news media and makes an offer — anyone who agrees to take a pet home for Christmas can return it afterward.

So Pam gave the same promotion a shot in real life. Her “Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays” program resulted in all 37 dogs at her shelter being dispensed to foster homes within 24 hours of the story appearing on a Pensacola TV station. One hundred more viewers who saw the report asked to be put on a waiting list.

Author/lawyer Kincaid made up the promotion while writing a story for his family a few Christmases ago, according to the Kansas City Star. It evolved into a published novel, and a TV movie that premieres tonight.

“A Dog Named Christmas” — the story of how a dog changed the lives of the family who adopted him — will air at 8 p.m. on CBS. In conjunction with the broadcast, CBS has agreed to sponsor a nationwide “Foster a Lonely Pet” program with Petfinder.com. More than 2,000 shelters and rescues across the country are participating.

Most shelters, despite their urgent need to find homes for dogs, refrain from encouraging holiday adoptions. Dogs adopted on impulse and as Christmas gifts often end up getting returned or, worse yet, abandoned. But placing them in foster care for the holidays relieves the pressure at shelters, ensures they will be returned if unwanted and often leads to full-fledged adoptions.

And it gives a shelter dog a nice break for the holidays.

“We do a lot of nice things at Christmas,” Kincaid said. “I was thinking, ‘Why is it that we have all these shelters with animals in them, and people don’t seem interested in extending the same generosity to them?”

(For more news and reviews of the latest dog books, visit our Good Dog Reads page.)

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