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Paw-ternity leave? Don’t hold your breath

paternityTake a decent idea, give it a cute name, and there’s no telling how far — in the age of the Internet — it might go.

Paw-ternity leave, not an entirely new concept, is drawing some major attention this week — the root of which, best I can figure, was a story in London’s Daily Mirror.

To read the headlines that one story has spawned in the echo chamber that is the Internet you’d think giving employees paid time off when they get a new dog was an idea that was sweeping the nation, if not the globe.

Not quite — though we wouldn’t mind if it did.

The Mirror story mentions two companies in the UK — one of them being Mars Petcare, which provides 10 hours of paid leave for employees with new pets, the other being a small British tech support company whose owner offers up to three weeks of paid leave when employees bring a new pet home.

“Pets are like babies nowadays so why shouldn’t staff have some time off when they arrive?” said Greg Buchanan, who owns Manchester-based IT company BitSol Solutions. “The first few weeks of a dog moving to a new home is a really important time, especially (with) puppies.”

“I don’t have kids myself but I do have dogs and I understand how much they mean to people,” he added.

In an interview with USA Today, Buchanan said he took a week off from work to help a new puppy get settled in his home.

“We got a puppy from a rescue home and we realized it needed to be looked after properly, so I took a week off to ensure it was welcomed into the home, and to set boundaries for the dogs. You know, ‘You can’t chew the couch’ and ‘You can’t jump on the television,’ things like that. And it went from there, and my dog is now better for it,” says Buchanan.

After that, he began offering employees paid leaves when they got a new pet. He says the policy has helped improve office morale.

The Mirror article also cites a survey by pet insurance provider Petplan that found almost one in 20 new pet owners in the UK has taken paw-ternity leave.

“The rise in new pet owners taking paw-ternity leave indicates that people recognize the importance of settling in new pets with the right support and care,” said Petplan’s Isabella von Mesterhazy. “The early days of a kitten or puppy’s life are a vital part of the pet’s early development – especially for them to become a proper part of the family.”

(Photo: Pinterest)

Stella!!! So much for that fence

We can’t attest to how genuine this video is — some commenters suspect it was staged — but it’s pretty funny all the same.

The video was uploaded to YouTube earlier this month by someone using the name Joe Ballew. And it looks like it could hit the million-view mark before the month is out.

In it, a male voice, presumably Ballew’s, can be heard showing off his newly repaired fence.

“Yep, just completed fixing this fence. Pretty proud of it I’d have to say,” the man says. “Kinda keeps Stella in the yard.”

Just how “kinda” becomes obvious seconds later — when Stella comes into the frame and easily jumps over what appears to be the new section of fence.

“Dammit,” the man can be heard to say.

What makes some viewers suspicious is that just before Stella appears, the otherwise smooth camera work is interrupted with a jolt, and a slight human grunt can be heard — almost as if the camera operator is throwing something he knows Stella, fence or no fence, is going to go after.

We, too, might question how straightforward Ballew is being, but we are still mighty impressed with Stella’s jumping ability.

After floods in Texas, a pit bull named Thor ended up in California; now he’s back home

thor

A pit bull separated from his family when they evacuated during the summer floods in Texas miraculously surfaced in northern California in September.

And as of yesterday, Thor was back home — thanks to help from strangers who heard about his story.

Eddie Hurtado and his family evacuated their home in San Marcos during the floods in late May, planning to return for their three dogs.

Two were found shortly after they returned, but not Thor.

Somehow, he ended up more than 2,000 miles away.

A police officer picked Thor up in Crescent City after seeing him jump from the back of a pickup truck. The officer brought the dog to the local animal shelter, where he was checked for a microchip.

That confirmed the dog was Thor, but Hurtado didn’t have the money to bring him home.

“We’re having to replace all the furniture and all the appliances and right now we don’t have any extra cash to try to get him down here,” he said.

After Thor’s story was aired on KEYE in Austin, and shared on social media, people stepped forward to help cover the cost.

“We ran the story on Thor at 6 p.m. and by 10 p.m. we had a shipper offering to ship the dog at a third of what Eddie had been quoted and we had viewers lined up to cover the cost. So Thor is coming home,” said Fred Cantú, a KEYE reporter.

“Most police versus pitbull encounters don’t have a happy ending,” he added. “Nice to be able to share this one.”

More offers of help came from California after the The Daily Triplicate published a story about Thor — enough help to get Thor a ride back home.

Hurtado had said he was hoping that would happen before Christmas. “Ever since my grandson found out that he was out there, he says that’s what he wants for Christmas. He wants to get his baby back.”

Thor left Crescent City Saturday, aboard a truck driven by Bruce Heinichen, a driver for Orange County Transport who is hauling a boat from Portland to Laredo, the Triplicate reported.

By Monday afternoon, the truck carrying Thor had crossed into Texas, the Los Angeles Times reported. By Wednesday, Thor was back with the Hurtados.

Hurtado said the transportation cost is being covered by two Austin benefactors, who will split the $665 bill.

The Hurtados, while still recovering from the May floods, are now dealing with a new round of flooding near the Blanco River.

“We probably need to get into a new house pretty soon,” said Hurtado. “But this time we’re keeping the dogs with us if we ever have to leave the place.”

(Photo: Del Norte County Animal Control Director Justin Riggs takes Thor for a walk; by Bryant Anderson / Del Norte Triplicate)

Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down

1deathrowhug

Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)

Abandoned dog was living in a knothole

booEver have one of those days when it seems like humanity isn’t treating you with the proper respect — the kind that makes you just want to crawl into a hole and hide?

Apparently that was the case with Boo, a Chihuahua mix who was spotted a couple of weeks ago in a rural area in Sonoma County, California, living inside a hole in a large tree.

A call to Sonoma County Animal Control led Shirley Zindler and other officers to the spot.

It was an area, they say, where people commonly abandon dogs.

It took a few hours, but the small dog was finally coaxed out of the knothole.

The officers named her Boo — after  the To Kill A Mockingbird character, Boo Radley,  who left gifts for children in an oak tree’s knothole.

boo1aBoo Dogley, as she is now known, was dirty and underweight when she was found. Officers estimated she was about one year old and had been living in the tree at least a week.

Possibly, she picked the hiding place because she was about to deliver a litter of pups. Unfortunately, none survived.

Zindler says Boo is skittish around people and was likely mistreated.

“She thinks the world’s out to get her,” Zindler, who is also the author of The Secret Life of Dog Catchers, told The Huffington Post.

Zindler is caring for Boo now, while seeking a “very, very patient person” to give her a forever home.

boo2Boo’s recovery is being documented on Zindler’s Facebook page,The Secret Life of Dog Catchers.

“She’ll stay with me until the right home is found,” said Zindler, noting it’s not the first time she has taken an unwanted dog home. She has four others.

“I take them home and fix them up so they can find a forever home.”

(Photos by Shirley Zindler)

 

Recognizing a gift when it lands in your lap

Nala isn’t an officially certified therapy dog.

Her presence at a Minnesota nursing home, apparently, didn’t require her owner to navigate a bureaucracy or fill out mounds of paperwork.

She was never trained to make people feel better. She just, like many a dog, magically does.

The tiny teacup poodle, who comes to work with her owner — medications assistant Doug Dawson — makes the rounds daily at the Lyngblomsten care center, somehow figuring out not just how to ride the elevator to get from room to room, but who at the nursing home might most need a visit from her.

It’s another one of those feel-good stories about a dog bringing comfort, hope and smiles to residents of an otherwise impersonal institution.

Let’s hope this one doesn’t get crushed.

On Wednesday, we told you about Ivy — a Siberian husky whose owner, a janitor at a University of Rhode Island dormitory, brings her to work with him everyday. And how Ivy, through bonding with the students who live there, has made it, in the view of most, a better place to be. And how the university, after the school newspaper ran a feature about the dog, banned Ivy from campus — even though she is certified as a therapy dog — citing things like rules and liability concerns.

Today we bring you Nala, who, fortunately, is spreading her magic at a facility that — rather than fretting about pests, bites and liability — seems to recognize a gift when it sees one.

Dawson brings Nala to work with him each morning, then lets her go her own way.

She spends the day popping into the rooms of residents, hopping in their laps and getting petted and nuzzled before moving on to the next room, according to this report by KARE 11

“She’s an angel,” 90-year-old resident Ruth New said. “I love her and she loves me.”

Nala, Dawson says, seems to have an uncanny knack for knowing who needs a visit, and knowing how to get there, even when it involves riding the four-story building’s elevator.

nala“There’s something about her,” said Dawson, who inherited Nala after she failed in her debut as a potential therapy dog at another facility.

He says Nala was too young at the time, and had spent too much time in a kennel.

Now 5 years old, Nala has redeemed herself at Lyngblomsten.

“If you put her down she’ll pick out the person with Alzheimer’s,” said Dawson. “She has a way of picking the sick.”

After the recent death of one resident, Nala entered her room and stationed herself at her side.

“She had died earlier in the morning, but Nala knew and went and sat with her,” said Sandy Glomski, a Lyngblomsten staffer. “It was wonderful and we were all in tears.”

Dawson says he’s constantly amazed by both Nala’s compassion and her ability to navigate the nursing home’s floors on her own.

“She’s here for a purpose,” he said. “She really is doing God’s work.”

That’s kind of what dogs will do when humans — and especially bureaucrats — don’t get in the way,

Bella’s back home, woman charged with theft

bella2Bella, the Maltese mix who mysteriously disappeared two weeks ago from a home in Durham, N.C., has been returned to her family — and in an equally mysterious manner.

Bella wandered away from home on March 11, and, minutes later, a neighbor saw the driver of a car stop and pick her up at an intersection.

A day later Scott and Kerry Holmes received a phone call from a person claiming to have found their dog. But when they didn’t specify a reward amount, the caller hung up without supplying any additional information.

The family contacted police, and began putting up “lost dog” flyers.

Near the end of  last week, a third party contacted the family in an attempt to arrange the return of Bella. The family later met her at a nearby church and picked the dog up.

But neither the Holmes nor police, who have made an arrest in the case, are saying much more than that.

Scott Holmes, an attorney, said Bella was safely returned home Thursday  night. “Our family is so happy she is home. We are celebrating her return. She has slept a lot and seems to be perking up today,” he said.

He declined to offer any specifics about the dog’s return, but did say that his family is collecting reward money for a single mother in Chapel Hill who provided information that led to Bella’s return.

bynumMeanwhile,  police arrested Amanda Shanese Bynum, 28, of Carrboro, and charged her with extortion, larceny of a dog and felony conspiracy, according to the Durham Herald-Sun. According to police, Bynum threatened not to return the dog unless she was paid $600.

According to WTVD, Bella traveled at least as far as Charlotte during the time she was missing. A photograph of her at a Charlotte pet supply store, wearing some  new dog clothes, appeared on Bynum’s social media page, the Holmes family said.

Holmes said that after being returned Bella was lethargic over the weekend, but that she is bouncing back. He said she appeared to be in good shape physically.

“My wife and Bella are catching up on their sleep and are really, really glad to be reunited,” Holmes said. “They’re very close, and they’re doing really well. There’s been a lot of joy in our house since we got Bella home.”