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Tag: harness

Prototype device allows blind people to keep tabs on the health of their guide dogs


Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a device that allows blind people to better monitor the health and well-being of their guide dogs.

The researchers are fine tuning a vibrating harness that monitor a dog’s breathing and heart rate and shares the information with the dog’s handler, according to NC State News.

“Our goal is to let guide dog handlers know when their dogs are stressed or anxious,” said Sean Mealin, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the technology.

Mealin is blind and works with his own guide dog, Simba.

“This is important because it is widely believed that stress is a significant contributing factor to early retirement of guide dogs and other service animals,” Mealin said. “The technology may also be able to help handlers detect other health problems, such as symptoms of heat exhaustion.”

The researchers developed a specialized handle, equipped with two vibrating motors, that attaches to a guide dog’s harness.

harnessOne motor is embedded in the handle by the handler’s thumb, and vibrates – or beats – in time with the dog’s heart rate.

When the dog’s heart rate increases, so does the rate at which the motor beats.

The second motor is embedded in the handle near the handler’s pinky finger, and vibrates in synch with the dog’s breathing. The vibration increases and decreases in intensity, to simulate the dog breathing in and out.

“Dogs primarily communicate through their movements and posture, which makes it difficult or impossible for people who are blind to fully understand their dogs’ needs on a moment-to-moment basis,” said David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of the paper.

“This challenge is particularly pronounced in guide dogs, who are bred and trained to be outwardly calm and avoid drawing attention to themselves in public.”

The paper, “Towards the Non-Visual Monitoring of Canine Physiology in Real-Time by Blind Handlers,” was presented yesterday at the Second International Congress on Animal Computer Interaction, in Johor, Malaysia.

(Photos: NC State News)

When the babysitter scratches and drools

We’re not big on dogs being tethered to anything — posts, parking meters, even, except when necessary, humans.

And, entanglements sometimes being easy to get into and hard to get out of, it’s definitely not a good idea, generally speaking, to leash them to each other.

But this was brief, and supervised, and kinda cute.

Ace was recruited into babysitting duty over the weekend when, on the quatro de Mayo, we went to a Cinco de Mayo party at a former neighbor’s home.

Two other guests brought their little dogs. First came a pipsqueak of a pup named Penny who, after greeting everyone, still had lots of energy to spare. With a fairly busy road nearby, it was suggested Penny be tethered to a somewhat stationary object — namely Ace.

We’re not recommending you try this at home, but Ace is pretty mellow, gentle with the little ones and had met Penny before.

Plus, he was used to being latched to smaller dogs, having shepherded a dachshund friend several times without stepping on him.

Plus, he was so happy to return to his old neighborhood he wasn’t about to dart off, or even saunter off, dragging two little balls of fluff behind him.

Plus, I was watching over it all pretty closely.

Ace didn’t seem to mind the arrangement a bit, and Penny put up with it, sometimes walking along in stride with him. She figured out pretty quickly, when she did try to scoot of on her own, that it was hopeless.

After exploring together, Ace decided to lay down, and Penny settled nearby, finding a stick to chew on.

About then, Charlie arrived, another fluffy little dog — slightly larger than Penny. That led to an energy surge, at least among the smaller, younger dogs, so we decided to hook Charlie to Ace, too.

As Charlie and Penny frolicked, Ace monitored them for a while, then worked the crowd, begging for food and ignoring the occasional little tugs on his harness.

Eventually, Charlie and Penny were freed, and they were so into playing, they didn’t go anywhere, except in tiny circles around each other — ignoring their babysitter entirely.

I think Ace liked briefly having a mission.

Like all good things though, it came to an end.



Crack technology: The strap-on poop catcher

It pains me to report that the PooTrap, a strap-on device that catches your dog’s poop before it hits the ground, is not a comedy bit, but a real product.

Its website, doesn’t seem to be working right now, which I hope isn’t a result of high demand for the device, because it’s downright silly. I’m not certain dogs can feel embarassment, but if they can’t, a few hours in one of these get ups should do the trick.

Other than its possible use on an ill dog, ala diapers, the PooTrap, gets our nomination, sight unseen (other than in the video)  for the dump.

A look at the website’s FAQs, as reported by, indicates the makers of PooTrap aren’t real knowledgeable about dogs, or the English language:

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