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Tag: labrador retriever

Rise of the French bulldog continues

frenchieleashes1

French bulldogs are now the most popular breed in New York and Los Angeles, and the fourth most popular nationwide, according to the American Kennel Club’s annual ranking of breed popularity.

This year’s national ranking show Frenchies climbing into the top five for the first time. Twenty years ago, the breed was 76th on the list.

And, no, we’re not burying the lede here.

Yes, Labrador retrievers have once again been proclaimed America’s most popular breed, but after 27 years in a row of that happening it hardly qualifies as news.

DSC06082The French bulldog’s rise is a fresher, more significant and more worrisome development, perhaps highlighting the divide between dainty big city breeds and those good ol’ breeds we’ve long held dear.

The breed jumped two spots from number six to number four in 2017. In doing so, it knocked the beagle out of the top five for the first time since 1998, and further cemented its hold on the top spot in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and West Palm Beach.

Yes, it is a trendy breed, and an urban breed. A French bulldog is not going to retrieve that duck whose life you just ended. You’re not going to see a French bulldog on the cover of Field and Stream.

One did make the cover of the Village Voice back in 2015, though, under the headline, “Don’t Buy This Dog.”

The breed had already become No. 1 in New York by then, and the article, by Michael Brandow, enumerated all the reasons that was a bad thing — chief among them the health problems the breed faces because of decades of inbreeding.

An excerpt:

“What’s wrong with French bulldogs? Where should I begin? Generations of unwise inbreeding to no good end, far beyond what would be needed to keep their signature looks, have left these cartoon critters with low resistance to illness and allergies. Physically handicapped at birth (by cesarean, because the heads are, like the owners’ pride, inflated) with squashed-in faces that are freakishly flat, they face serious challenges in performing some of any mammal’s basic functions — like getting enough oxygen and keeping their bodies at a safe temperature. Life’s burdens grow heavier under a long list of deformities preventing even mobility, and a task as simple as walking is no small feat.”

New Yorkers didn’t much heed the then-newsweekly’s warning. Demand just kept increasing, and with it so did worries about unscrupulous breeders and under-informed owners.

AKC officials say they expect the popularity of the downsized bulldogs with the pointed ears to continue as more city dwellers look for a breed that is compact and relatively quiet.

“The French bulldog is poised for a takeover,” AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo said in a statement, noting the breed’s “adaptability” and “loveable temperament.”

Here are the top 10 breeds in the U.S., according to the AKC:

1. Labrador retriever

2. German shepherd

3. Golden retriever

4. French bulldog

5. Bulldog

6. Beagle

7. Poodle

8. Rottweiler

9. Yorkshire terrier

10. German short-haired pointer

After 38 years in prison, innocent man freed — and gets to bring his dog home, too

At first glance this story made no sense — a man who spent the past 38 years in prison wins his freedom when his innocence is finally proven and is reunited with his dog.

No dog — no matter how loyal to his owner — lives that long.

Turns out though, that Malcolm Alexander came into possession of the dog while serving his sentence at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, a facility which, while it has a reputation as a tough place, offers several dog programs and even breeds its own guard dogs.

Alexander, 58, had been proclaiming his innocence since he was convicted of sexual assault and sent to prison at age 20.

On Tuesday, he was welcomed home by his 82-year-old mother, his son and his grandson – both named Malcolm, and other relatives.

Earlier in the day, A Jefferson Parish judge vacated Alexander’s 1980 aggravated rape conviction and his mandatory life sentence after finding that Alexander had not been provided with adequate legal assistance, and that DNA evidence discovered in 2013 excluded Alexander as a suspect in the sexual assault.

After the ruling, Alexander did not return to the prison, where both his belongings and his dog remained.

innocenceThe next day, he was reunited with the huge black Lab, Nola.com reported.

“You ain’t got nothing to worry about no more,” he told the 9-month-old pup upon reuniting with him. “I told you we gonna be free. I told you they was gonna get us out.”

Alexander’s case was undertaken by The Innocence Project, which helped him gain his freedom.

Alexander had raised the dog since shortly after his birth. He named the dog Innocence, and calls him Inn for short.

Inn was born at the prison to another dog at the facility, according to Vanessa Potkin, an attorney with The Innocence Project.

Potkin and other staffers traveled to Angola Wednesday to retrieve Inn and Alexander’s property and return them to Alexander.

(Photo: Michelle Hunter \ NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

Therapy dog comforts Dr. Nassar’s victims

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There’s a dog sitting outside the Michigan courtroom where 144 victims of former Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar are reading statements on how they were impacted by the sexual abuse they say he put them through.

The 2-year-old Labrador retriever’s job? To bring those victims some comfort before and after their testimony.

Preston, a therapy dog, sits in the hallway of the Ingram County Circuit Court in Lansing and makes himself available to the victims, ABC News reported.

“Having Preston here has just been a joy,” said Samantha Ursch, 29, who testified last week about abuse by Nassar in 2011 while she was a gymnast at Central Michigan University. “He is a comfort, especially for a lot of us that have pets at home,” she added. “I’m away from my two dogs so having him here has been amazing and comforting.”

nassarleashes1The statements are part of a sentencing hearing for Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in Ingham County.

Nassar, who worked at Michigan State University, faces a sentence of 40 to 125 years.

He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges.

Preston usually has permission to sit inside Ingham County courtrooms when the prosecutor or family of victims request his presence. Usually he sits at the side of children or adults victimized by sexual abuse as they testify.

In the Nassar sentencing hearing, because the courtroom is so crowded with spectators, he is sitting in the hallway.

“This is the first time we’ve taken the approach of being in the hallway,” his handler, Ashley Vance said of the high-profile Nassar case. “It’s a really nice break for people to come out and have that comfort and support …I’ve seen people just kind of swarming him. [He offers] silent, nonjudgmental support and it’s just calming.”

aly-raismanleashes1Vance said the state’s attorney general’s office requested Preston’s presence during the hearing.

The dog works for the Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center in Lansing, where he began as a therapy dog in September 2016. He works both in courtrooms and at the children’s advocacy center, where children are interviewed by police and prosecutors after reports of abuse.

“Preston is providing a lot of unconditional love and comfort to some people who really need it right now,” said Alex Brace, executive director of Small Talk. “It’s very much about healing and providing hope to survivors of sexual assault and physical abuse.”

The statements from victims continued all day yesterday as they sometimes tearfully, sometimes angrily described the impact he had on their lives. Aly Raisman, one of the multiple Olympic gymnasts who say they were molested by Nassar, delivered her statement in court last week.

(Top photo by Chris Haxel / Lansing State Journal; photos of Nassar, Raisman by Brendan McDermid / Reuters)

Meet two dogs who will fetch you some tee

Just as they are finding jobs on baseball teams — mostly at the college and minor league levels — dogs are making inroads into the college football game as well, and not just as mascots.

And let’s face it, being a mascot isn’t a job at all; it’s more like a position of royalty.

These two dogs, on the other hand, are earning their keep (though they regard it more as play than toil) by retrieving the tees after kickoffs in college football games.

Pint, a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, has held the position at UC Davis for five years. In all that time, “I’ve never seen him fumble a tee,” UC Davis associate athletic director Josh Flushman said.

When Pint was having difficulty spotting the tee on the field last season, kicker Matt Blair, who prefers a green tee, agreed to switch, for Pint’s sake, to a black one, ESPN.com reported.

When he first showed up for practices and saw footballs flying through the air, Pint thought they were ducks and wanted to chase them all.

Dr. Danika Bannasch, Pint’s owner and a geneticist at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, initially covered Pint’s eyes during every kickoff, then released him when the kickoff and run back were completed. Now, judging from the video above, he sits and watches kickoffs, and once unleashed charges out onto the field.

At Boise State University, a black lab named Kohl is handling tee retrieval duties. The tee-fetching tradition there goes back to the 1990s, It went on hiatus and returned in 2010.

Kohl also retrieves bats for the local minor league baseball team.

“He’s just a rock star, man,” said his owner and trainer Britta Closson, who works at Positive Pets Dog Training in Boise. “Once we put the confidence in him, he was unstoppable. You can literally teach him to do just about anything. I’m just there to tell him when to go,” she said.

Boy with Vitiligo meets the dog that has inspired him from afar — Rowdy the Lab

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An 8-year-old Arkansas boy got to meet the dog who has inspired him from afar for the past year.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, Carter Blanchard, who has Vitiligo, an auto-immune disease that causes skin to lose its pigmentation, flew to Oregon over the weekend to meet Rowdy, a 14-year-old black lab with the same condition.

Rowdy is an ambassador for the American Vitiligo Research Association. He developed Vitiligo more than two years ago, giving the 14-year-old dog’s face the appearance of a panda in reverse.

With his owners, he works to further understanding of the condition, and help children — often embarrassed over and teased about the condition — to learn to be comfortable in the skin they’re in.

Carter, for example, began struggling with his self worth after his appearance changed when he was in kindergarten, his mother, Stephanie Adcock, said.

“He would go from room to room in my home looking at every mirror. I remember the day I picked him up from school when he said, ‘Mom, I hate my face,'” Adcock wrote in a letter to Ellen DeGeneres. “As his mother, it broke my heart that I could not change this situation for him.”

Earlier this year, Carter’s mother saw pictures online of Rowdy. She shared them with her son and contacted Rowdy’s owners, who included Carter in a video about Rowdy that went viral last fall.

When Carter saw the video, “He broke out in the biggest smile, according to his mother, and he said, “Me and Rowdy are famous.”

Carter started looking at his condition differently.

“For the first time in 2 years, Carter was proud of himself and his Vitiligo,” Adcock said in the letter. “He even said, ‘Mom, your skin is boring because you don’t have Vitiligo.’ Rowdy changed my son’s childhood. He changed our home and our lives.”

With Rowdy’s health declining rapidly, his owners decided they wanted Rowdy and Carter to meet, and one of his owners, Niki Umbenhower, started a GoFundMe campaign to allow Carter and his mother to make the trip from Searcy, Arkansas to Canby, Oregon.

carterrowdy2Last week, an anonymous donor from Salem donated $5,000, making the trip possible.

Carter and his mom flew to Oregon Saturday and Carter and Rowdy met for the first time Sunday, KGW in Portland reported.

“The meeting was (and has been) one of the most gratifying, rewarding things I’ve personally ever experienced,” Umbenhower said.

Carter and his mother will return to Arkansas tomorrow.

Rowdy, meanwhile, wasn’t doing so well. On Sunday, he had a seizure.

His owner updated the situation Monday on Instagram:

“Rowdy saw a neurologist in the ER today. They are not sure if it was a seizure or a stroke or something else. They did a lot of tests and without a “much needed” (expensive) MRI and CT Scan, we may never know. He could have a tumor or a mass causing a lot of his issues.

“We left with them prescribing a new medication for seizures as well as some codeine for his pain. This could be age related, an isolated event, or he may have more episodes like today. . I want to thank EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU for the prayers, well wishes, and support!”

(Photos: By Niki Umbenhower / Instagram)

Look what this mailman delivered

Mailman Jeff Kramer met black Lab Tashi on his route in Boulder a few years ago.

“As fast as he could — which was not very fast — he ran up to me tail wagging, first day I met him,” Kramer said. “He’s just a really friendly dog. And I am a dog person, and they can tell.”

Kramer greeted and petted him nearly every day. But over the years, Tashi’s mobility declined — until the point that, after turning 13, the dog became unable to handle the steps of the front porch.

Kramer was in a position to help.

He’d built a ramp for his own elderly dog, Odie. But Odie passed away not long after that, about five years ago. The ramp sat in pieces in Kramer’s backyard.

So he offered it to Karen Dimetrosky and her family. Then he delivered it, in pieces.

rampAnd when two months went by and the family hadn’t assembled the ramp, Kramer came by on a day off and put it together for them.

“He’s just amazing,” she added. “We’ve had the ramp for a few months and he’s saved us …

“I can’t imagine not having the ramp now. It’s the only way he gets in and out.”

“We were literally carrying him up and down the stairs,” Dimetrosky told the Boulder Daily Camera. “And he weighs about 70 pounds.”

“I just noticed they needed it,” Kramer said. “I didn’t need it anymore and I hate throwing things away.”

Kramer said most of the dogs on his route are friendly.

“I’ve got about 30 or 40 that enthusiastically greet me,” Kramer said. “Then I’ve got three or four that enthusiastically want to eat me.”

Kramer recently attended Tashi’s 14th birthday party, and Dimetrosky said that Tashi, despite his achy bones, gets up off his bed whenever Kramer comes by.

Kramer said Tashi is one of his favorite dogs on the route.

“He’s just so happy with life.”

(Photo and video by Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)

After flunking out as a service dog, a black Lab named Dagger turns to an art career

Having a gallery opening and appearing on the “The Rachael Ray Show” show in the same week would be quite the accomplishment for any artist.

But this one has only been painting a year.

And he has no hands.

Dagger II burst onto the art scene in March, when Newsday published a story about the paint brush- wielding, three-year-old black Labrador.

dogvinciYesterday, in light of his growing fame, there was a follow-up story in Newsday recounting his recent achievements.

Dagger II and his human, artist Yvonne Dagger, met Rachael Ray last month and demonstrated the dog’s skills. Dagger II, wearing his trademark red beret, was said to have hit it off especially well with Ray’s co-host for the day, Regis Philbin. The episode airs Friday.

Friday also marks the gallery debut of Dagger II — also known as DogVinci. His works will be on display at Long Island Picture Frame and Art Gallery in Massapequa Park.

Dagger II and his owner have partnered with that business to sell both original works and limited edition prints of his creations.

Ten percent of proceeds will go to Forgotten Friends of Long Island, a Plainview-based animal rescue and rehabilitation group.

Yvonne Dagger adopted Dagger II after he flunked out of service dog training. It was discovered he had a fear of going up and down stairs.

After laying at her feet as she painted, he attempted his own foray into the art world.

sunny-day-1-lLast Summer, Yvonne Dagger said, the dog who had always quietly watched as she painted began nudging her. She asked him if he wanted to paint and he began wagging his tail. She set up an easel for him, made a brush handle out of a paper towel tube and duct tape, and taught him some commands.

Yvonne helps him load the brush with non-toxic paints.

“Brush,” she tells Dagger to get him to take the makeshift brush in his mouth. “Paint,” she says to get him to apply brush to canvas.

His original paintings are selling for up to $325.

You can learn more about Dagger II, and view more of his works, at his website, DogVinci.com.

(Photos: DogVinci.com)