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Tag: hybrid

Sarah smiles: The plight of the Doberhuahua

First, back in the 1990s, she wrote and recorded songs that left our hearts in shreds.

Then, in the 2000s, she teamed up with the ASPCA to make heartstring-tugging public service announcements about abused and neglected animals — ads expertly aimed at opening and emptying our tear ducts and wallets.

Now, just when she was starting show up a little less often on TV, Sarah McLachlan is back with another heartfelt plea – to save the Doberhuahua.

The Doberhuahua?

Obviously, that would be a mix between a Doberman and a Chihuahua. I’m sure — given our proclivity for tinkering with dogs, and dogs’ proclivity for overcoming any size disparities when it comes to messing with each other – some might really exist.

doberhuahuaIn this case, though, it’s a monstrous, fictional canine hybrid with a giant head and a tiny body, created to sell cars, specifically, the Audi.

Audi enlisted McLachlan to engage in a little self-satire, as can be seen in this teaser for its Super Bowl ad — a plea by the singer to help save the misunderstood animal with “a heart as big as its head.”

It’s not clear how funny the ad itself will be, or whether it will make anyone want to buy an Audi. But seeing McLachlan lighten up is, to me, worth all $4 million or so Audi is spending to air the ad during the Super Bowl.

My guess is, when it comes the images of Audi, the Doberhuahua, and McLachlan, the ad is going to best serve that of McLachlan.

It should be pointed out here that, just as I don’t personally know any Doberhuahuas, I don’t know Sarah McLachlan. I just have this possibly faulty perception of her — based on what I’ve seen and heard, her beautiful and often sad songs, and her plaintive ASPCA ads — that she overflows with angst, carries the world’s problems on her shoulders, goes to bed crying every night, and thinks you should, too.

It’s equally possible that she, in real life, is a laugh-a-minute, happy go lucky kind of gal, and that the image I and others have of her in our heads is totally off the mark and entirely underserved — hammered in by having seen her countless times over the past decade in ads filled with crippled dogs and one-eyed cats.

Speaking out, tongue in cheek, for the the misunderstood “Doberhuahua” shows McLachlan can laugh at herself — an attribute not always evident in singer-songwriters, or animal welfare advocates. Both can get a little sanctimonious, a little heavy-handed with their messages.

As with Dobermans and Chihuahuas, there’s no reason animal welfare and sense of humor can’t unite now and then. But they rarely do.

In both cases, we think the offspring would be more cute than monstrous.

How this ad plays with animal lovers remains to be seen. They can be a pretty sensitive group, and they can be easily offended, as was the case with last year’s Super Bowl ad that highlighted greyhound racing, the one with the French bulldog that outraced them all because he was wearing Skechers.

Will Doberman fans object to the Audi ad, based on how it might stereotype their breed as all befanged and snarly? Will the ad rub pit bull fans the wrong way? Will the fictional plight of the Doberhuahua somehow detract from the very real plight of unwanted and abused dogs? Is it worth getting worked up about a fictionally engineered dog when there’s so much other real and disturbing dog engineering going on?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m just glad to see Sarah smile.

Labradoodle inventor regrets what he started

The man who came up with the Labradoodle — and, in the process, fueled the “designer dog” trend — now says he regrets what he started.

Wally Conran, 81, first bred a Labrador retriever with a poodle while he was manager of the puppy program at the Royal Institute of the Blind — in an attempt to provide a non-allergenic guide dog to a blind man in Hawaii.

The puppies were supposed to have the best traits of both dogs: the affable, controllable nature of the Labrador, and the curly, non-shedding coat of the poodle.

“But now when people ask me, ‘Did you breed the first one’, I have to say, ‘Yes, I did, but it’s not something I’m proud of’,'” Conran told The Australian. “”I wish I could turn the clock back.”

The Labradoodle is considered by many to be the the first of the so-called “designer dogs” — hybrids that fetch purebred prices and, in some cases, outsell pedigreed dogs (most of whom at one time were mutts or hybrids as well).

Some pet shops report designer dogs like Labradoodles, spoodles, schnoodles, cavoodles, moodles, groodles and roodles are being pumped out at high volume across the nation to meet demand.

“I’m not at all proud of my involvement in it,”  Conran said. “But the genie’s out of the bottle, and you can’t put it back.”

His dismay isn’t shared by breeders of the curly-haired cross-breeds, who say Conran came up with a winner — a family-oriented, non-shedding dog of  happy temperament.

The Labradoodle, like most so-called purebred breeds, may someday be officially recognized as such by kennel clubs. The Australian Labradoodle Association hopes the dog will be deemed a breed by the Australian National Kennel Council, though it notes the process could take as long as 20 years.

Dog’s head in pipe was tip of the iceberg

A six-inch wide piece of steel pipe had sat in Kay Simmons backyard in Colorado for a long time, but only this week did her wolf-dog hybrid, Marina, decide, for reasons unknown, to stick her head in it.

The 3-year-old dog is recovering from cuts, scrapes and bruises after spending more than seven hours Tuesday with her skull wedged in the 8-foot-long pipe.

“It was a pretty terrible day,” Simmons, 73, told the Boulder Daily Camera Wednesday before leaving to pick up her pet from the veterinarian.

On Friday, though the Daily Camera reported that Simmons has had a lot of terrible days:

She has a lengthy history of animal violations, and last year authorities killed five of her wolf-dogs after they attacked neighborhood pets, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Simmons,  who lives on the Boulder County side of the border with Jefferson County, has at least four open “animal violation” cases in Jefferson County, into which her wolf hybrids sometimes wander.

“She has the largest file in the office,” said Camille Paczosa, animal control officer and supervisor.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has taken more than 50 complaints about Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her dozens of times since 1985. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has taken at least 16 reports of “dangerous animals at large” and similar violations since 1986.

One neighbor said he’s glad the animal is OK, but he finds it “ironic, if not insulting,” that the Sheriff’s Office and firefighters spent so much time and money “to save one of these animals but let the documented hazard to humans go on for almost 15 years.”

Simmons told authorities this week that one of her dogs started “making a racket” about noon Tuesday. When she went outside she found Marina squirming to free herself from the pipe.

Nearly 20 people from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the Coal Creek Fire Department and the Boulder Emergency Squad tried to free her, using everything from vegetable oil to a spatula. Finally, one of the firefighters — who also works as a plumber — used a pipe saw to cut off most of the steel, leaving just one foot of pipe covering the dog’s head. That allowed crews to transport her safely to the veterinary clinic.

Once at the clinic, a “grinding tool” was used to cut a triangle out of the pipe. When Marina was finally freed from the pipe she “sprang up” and appeared to be fine. She’s expected to make a full recovery.

But Wednesday’s feel-good story took a turn later in the week.

Steve McAdoo, who has lived near Simmons for about six years, told the Daily Camera he’s afraid for his 3- and 5-year-old children’s lives after four of Simmons’ wolf-dogs “ripped to shreds and almost killed” his 35-pound spaniel, Molly, in August.

After the attack on that same night, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the wolf-dogs attacked other animals and caused property damage. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office killed five of the hybrids.

“Two weeks later, she got five more,” McAdoo said. “And she’s been doing this for years.”

In August 2003, Jefferson County animal control officers took three of Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her with having a dangerous dog. In 2000, authorities took a report of a dog being killed by wolves in that area, but they were unable to identify the wolves that attacked, according to Jefferson County officials.

(Photo: Paul Aiken/Boulder Daily Camera)

Obama can’t win — regardless of breed choice

Seldom, if ever, has so much weight been put on a single family’s choice of dog.

And seldom if ever has getting a dog –  normally a personal and joyful affair — become such a public exercise in risk management and political correctness.

At first it was a simple campaign promise to his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that they’d get a dog after the election — only slightly complicated by the need for that dog, in deference to Malia’s allergies, to be hypo-allergenic, if there even really is such a thing.

Now there’s talk that the Obama’s eagerly anticipated choice of dog breed, or hybrid — Newsweek magazine’s April 13 issue says to expect some developments within the week — could lead not just to a surge in purchases of whatever breed they choose, but could cause a boom to the puppy mill industry as well.

The logic, as outlined by Newsweek, goes this way: If the Obamas get a Labradoodle — even a rescued Labradoodle — it will spark an increase in demand for the hybrid, and since most hybrids are bred by puppy millers, they’ll start churning them out to meet the demand, or in anticipation of it.

If the Obamas get a Portugese water dog — the other choice they’ve mentioned — the same thing would happen because not a lot of that breed can be found in shelters or rescue.

In other words, Obama can’t win. The fear is any breed, or hybrid, the First Family picks could have a  “101 Dalmatians” effect: a sudden burst in popularity that breeders will try to capitalize on it by mass-producing similar dogs.

Even with Obama’s popularity, I think the fear is being slightly overstated — and I can’t think of any precedent for a president’s choice of dog leading to mass purchasing of the breed. I don’t think the presidency of younger Bush led to a surge in Scotties, anymore than the popularity of beagles was boosted by Lyndon B. Johnson. (History buffs, please correct me if I am wrong.)

Then again, with the Obamas, there are cute kids involved, and photo ops and, I’m sure, a media onslaught of tremendous proportions once the dog arrives, if how much coverage the issue (or non-issue if you prefer) has already gotten is any indication.

All this is another good argument for what was my personal preference, and really the only politically correct choice –  a shelter mutt. That way, the only copycat surge would be in the number of people going to their shelters to adopt dogs that already exist and need homes.

Of course, that was before I decided it was none of my business – that, ideally, a family’s choice of dog should be left up to that family, not pundits, political pressure, or internet polls. Has any other president been held to this level of scrutiny — or any scrutiny at all — regarding his choice of dog? (Note to future presidential candidates: Get a dog before you start your campaign.)

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but I’m not sure, at this particular moment, if they’re Obama’s.

(Photo: Posters by Shepard Fairey)