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Tag: louisiana

New York’s state dog could be the mutt

Two New York state legislators plan to introduce a bill today to name an official state dog — and they’re suggesting it be the mutt.

Assemblyman Micah Kellner, an Upper East Side Democrat, and State Senator Joseph E. Robach, a Rochester Republican, are proposing the legislation.

If passed, New York would join about a dozen states that have named state dogs, including the Chesapeake Bay retriever in Maryland, the Great Dane in Pennsylvania, the and the Boston terrier in … take a wild guess.

(If you think you know your state dogs, take this quiz — or, if you’re a cheater, go straight to the answers.)

No state has chosen the mixed breed — that most prolific of all dogs — to represent its state.

In New York, a spokesman for Kellner said the assemblyman would choose a rescue dog — as in rescued from a shelter — to symbolize the need for people to adopt pets from animal shelters and animal protection groups. Kellner has no dogs of his own, but he has provided foster care for several.

“He’s a huge advocate for animals in need,” the spokesman told the New York Times.

Also appearing at the announcement of the proposed bill will be Kim Wolf’s dog, Sarge Wolf-Stringer, a Philadelphia dog who was rescued in 2009 from an abusive owner by the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and who now works with the elderly and hospital patients as a certified therapy dog.

(Photo: A Baltimore mutt named Martini)

Gourd is great, gourd is good

Here’s an exit sign that piqued my curiosity — enough to make me veer off the interstate to figure out just what makes a pumpkin Baptist, and why they need their own center.

Are Baptist pumpkins preachier? Do they go all fire and brimstone? Do they achieve life everlasting, or is that dream just pie in the sky?

I pictured a chapel filled with orange orbs, sharing fellowship, singing hymns. I wondered if other denominations of gourds had similar facilities — say, Catholic Cantaloupes, Jewish Watermelons, Seventh Day Adventist Squash?

What makes these Baptist pumpkins so holier than thou to think they deserve their own center, even their own exit sign, I wondered as I exited Interstate 55 in Louisiana, not far from Hammond.

Before I was even off the exit ramp, I realized I was barking up the wrong vine.

Baptist was one way, Pumpkin Center the other. Less intrigued, I just got back on the interstate.

(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)

More help for the big dogs of St. Bernard

It has been more than a month since our extended road trip took us through Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish, where we reported on how cash-strapped fishing families were finding it hard to continue caring for their pets since the oil spill ruined their industry.

Now, we’re happy to report, more help has arrived, which could help stem the tide of people surrendering their dogs because they can no longer afford them.

Twenty tons of Kibbles ‘n Bits (for large dogs) – donated by Del Monte Foods and transported by Best Friends — was dropped off earlier this month.

Large dogs, you’ll recall, are numerous in the parish southeast of New Orleans because many residents used them to guard their properties while rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.

“The people who are coming in have big dogs,” says Beth Brewster, director of the St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter. “They can’t afford to feed them.”

Brewster told Best Friends that many families picking up free dog food bring photos of their dogs with them, and share their dog’s story. “They have tears in their eyes. They’re very, very thankful,” she says. “It’s one less thing they have to worry about.”

The Louisiana SPCA has collaborated with Brewster and Best Friends, as a part of Best Friends’ First Home Forever Home campaign, and is setting up distribution sites, in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

To get the food, residents fill out an application, present a commercial fishing license or proof that they work as charter boat operators or in another field affected by the spill.

“These families have not only lost their livelihoods, but also their way of life practically overnight. They shouldn’t have to face losing members of their families, too. It’s just too much to expect anybody to bear,” said Ellen Gilmore, campaign specialist for Best Friends’ First Home Forever Home.

On music, memories and the open road

This trip, whatever else it’s about, is also about nostalgia, and I got a big dose of it on the drive to Houston – most of it induced by the long-distance driver’s best friend, the radio.

Music, like old friends revisited and roads previously traveled, can be a powerful memory trigger.

Music and roads, in fact, have a lot in common.

The road itself has a rhythm – the steady thwack-thwack percussion of cracks in the highway, the different humming tones produced by different road surfaces, the rat-a-tat drum roll when you accidentally veer across those lane divider bumps, which always causes Ace to, ever so briefly, wake up.

Then, on the Interstate at least, there is the familiar chorus: Exit ahead … Food, Gas, Lodging … Shoney’s, Cracker Barrel, Taco Bell.

When it comes to roads, some are pop roads, also known as Interstate highways, where you’re not likely to see anything you haven’t seen before. There are classical roads, like Route 66; and blues roads, which are dark and swampy with moss hanging from the trees. There are jazz roads, which meander, make abrupt turns and have unpredictable curves and riffs. There are alternate, or alternative highways, which often lead to something interesting; and of course there are country roads, which may or may not take you home … to the place … you belong.

On Friday, with the radio blasting, I traveled a swampy stretch of I-10 – a combination blues/pop road — from Baton Rouge to Lafayette, crossing a piece of the Atchafalaya Swamp, whose name itself is almost musical. During the drive I had four flashbacks, three of them music-induced.

Blame the first on the Red Hot Chili Peppers – the musical group that, like the vegetable, tends to come back and haunt me.

Read more »

St. Bernard: The imperishable parish

If you don’t think dogs are being hurt by the BP oil spill, perhaps you need a lesson in the trickle down – or, in this case, ooze down – theory of disaster economics.

And there may be no better place to learn it than St. Bernard Parish, southeast of New Orleans, a community that was struggling to survive to begin with, left underwater by Hurricane Katrina and, with more than half of its families owing their incomes to fishing, is now feeling the rippling ramifications of the oil spill.

They evacuated during the hurricane, came back and have been rebuilding ever since. Now, the oil rig explosion and subsequent contamination of the gulf means a loss of work and more sacrificing.

Right down to the family dog.

This one statistic pretty much sums it up: The St. Bernard Parish animal shelter took in 60 dogs in May 2009; this May it saw 288 come in, many of them surrendered by owners who, having at least temporarily lost their livelihoods to the oil spill, said they could no longer afford to provide care for their dogs.

That sad-eyed girl above, named Abby, arrived at the shelter a week ago, surrendered by a family that subsisted on harvesting seafood from the gulf – only a few pockets of which are still open to shrimping, crabbing, and oyster harvesting.

While some fisherman have turned to working on the cleanup, “they’re not making nowhere near what they were making before,” said Shannon Asevedo, a St. Bernard Parish animal control officer.

Another occupant of the shelter, Sasha, was owned by a BP employee who turned her over to his mother-in-law because he was being called upon to travel so much. When Sasha had ten pups last month, it was more than she could handle. Now all 11 are at the shelter, where the BP employee’s ex-wife works as a volunteer – partly so she can see her former dog. Due to financial and legal problems, she’s unable to care for Sasha as well.

“Our intakes have probably doubled if not tripled since the oil spill,” Asevedo said. “They may not all be related to it. Most people just say they can’t afford to take care of them anymore. It’s a shame. More are here because their parents can’t take care of them. At the same time, adoption rates are down, too. So where do they go?”

St. Bernard Parish Animal Services Director Beth Brewster says the shelter attempts to place all dogs in adoptive homes, ships some to rescue groups and tries to put down only those deemed aggressive.

Interestingly, the shelter sees a large number of large dogs and pit bulls. Families returning to rebuild after Katrina often bought large dogs and left them at their homes at night to protect against the theft of construction materials.

Brewster, in the job for two years now, said the parish’s previous shelter, with a capacity of 26 dogs, “was a dump.” The parish opened its new facility this January, with financial help from the Humane Society of the United States and FEMA.

The old shelter had reopened shortly after Katrina, but went nearly two years without electricity or running water. It strung together hoses to bring in water, and used extension cords to supply electricity. It, unlike the new facility, had no air conditioning, which took a toll on dogs and humans alike.

The shelter was so shoddy that the shelter bought an old school bus and would load it with adoptable dogs, parking in front of the Home Depot and trying to find them homes.

Now they have a gleaming new shelter, and a new air-conditioned mobile unit. But they also have more dogs than even their new and expanded capacity can handle, with more and more dogs being surrendered for economic reasons.

“This is not a wealthy community to begin with,” Brewster said. “Most of these people grew up on the water and more than half make their living on it.”

Recognizing the parish’s problems, the Humane Society of the United States has sent a shipment of dog food to the area, to be distributed to pet owners facing hardships associated with the gulf oil spill. The food is also being distributed in Plaquemines Parish.

“The Humane Society of the United States was saddened to hear that animals inland from the shoreline are also suffering from this disaster,” said Julia Breaux, the organization’s Louisiana director.

St. Bernard Parish, as you’ve probably guessed, is not named after the dog breed, but after the actual saint — Saint Bernard, who devoted himself to the conversion of the people of the Alps and is known as the patron saint of mountaineering.

But the determined people of the parish may have more in common with the dog breed, which is named after St. Bernard’s Pass in the Alps (which is named after the Saint). The dogs were brought to a famous hospice there in the 1600s, where they developed their reputation for mountain rescues and where, it is said, rugged and adverse conditions honed their strong instinct for survival.

A dog chastity belt: “Stop it, block it, lock it”

We’re going to withhold comment — since we’ve no experience with it — on how new, effective and convenient a product this is.

Don’t let that stop you, though.

Here, for your consideration, is the dog chastity belt, or PABS, which stands for Pet Anti Breeding System, invented by Dexter Blanch of Shreveport, Lousisana, who, as you can tell by his shirt, is president of Highly Favored Creations, LLC.

Blanch’s motto, when it comes to protecting the virtue of bitches in heat is: “Stop it, block it, lock it.”

Blanch touted his product at this year’s Westminster Dog Show where, according to him, it was a big hit with breeders.

The strap-on, machine washable device allows dogs to carry on with their bodily functions, but prevents any unwanted and accidental breeding. According to the website, Pabsforpets.com, the belts are a good alternative for owners that cannot fix their pets for health reasons, and for breeders who don’t want their prized bitches accosted/wooed by non-purebreds.

The standard model starts at $65 for small dogs and costs $85 for large ones, and the sanitary pads are extra.

Know your state dogs — the answers

Chesapeake Bay retriever

Chesapeake Bay retriever - Maryland

Here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz (which you can find here) on state dogs.

Surely, if you live in Maryland, you got the first one right. Maryland designated the Chesapeake Bay retriever as the official state dog in 1964. The breed came to be after Newfoundlands rescued from a shipwreck off the Maryland coast were bred to local retrievers, including the English otter hound and flat and curly coated retrievers.

Boston terrier

Boston terrier - Massachusetts

The other one I’m betting most everyone got is the Boston terrier, recognized by the Massachusetts legislature as official state dog in 1979.

It’s actually a cross between an English bulldog and an English terrier, and is considered by some to be the first “purebred” dog developed in America. It was originally developed, after the Civil War, as a fighting dog.

Plott hound

Plott hound - North Carolina

North Carolina designated the Plott hound as the official state dog in 1989. The breed was developed in the mountains by German immigrant Jonathan Plott around 1750 to help hunt wild boars.

It was recognized as a purebred breed by the American Kennel Club in 2006. If you own one, and it gains weight, you can say “the Plott thickens.”

Catahoula leopard dog

Catahoula leopard dog - Louisiana

Louisiana designated the Catahoula leopard dog as its official state dog in 1979. Leopard dogs are believed to be a cross between the Carolina dog, or American dingo, domesticated by native Americans, and a Spanish “war dog” that was brought into the U.S. in the early 1500′s.

They come in all colors but are best known for a blue-grey coat. Often their eyes are two different colors.

boykinspaniel

Boykin spaniel - South Carolina

South Carolina designated the Boykin spaniel as official state dog in 1985.

Known for their mild temperament and hunting abilities, the breed was developed in South Carolina in the early 1900s by L. Whitaker Boykin.

The breed, originally used to hunt wild turkeys, received AKC recognition this year.

Blue Lacy

Blue Lacy - Texas

The blue Lacy was designated the “official state dog breed of Texas” in 2005. Originating in Texas in the mid-1800′s, the blue Lacy was named after the Lacy Brothers of Burnet County (Frank, George, Edwin, and Harry Lacy).

The Lacy brothers noted the dog to be a coyote, greyhound and scenthound mixture.

Great Dane

Great Dane - Pennsylvania

The Great Dane was designated the official state dog of Pennsylvania in 1965. Why? Because the state’s founder, William Penn, had one. A portrait of Penn and his dog hangs in the governor’s reception room.

When a vote on naming the Great Dane state dog was called for, legislators responded with barks and yips, and the Speaker of the House declared, “The arfs have it.”

American foxhound

American foxhound - Virginia

Virginia designated the American foxhound as the official state dog in 1966. Known for their loyal disposition, and ceaseless energy, American foxhounds were developed in colonial times by landed gentry to help them hunt foxes.

George Washington, in addition to being the father of our country, is considered the father of the American Foxhound. He ran a breeding program and often referred to his hounds in his journals.

American water spaniel

American water spaniel - Wisc.

The American water spaniel was designated the official state dog of Wisconsin in 1985 — the only official state dog, I’m pretty sure, to be chosen by citizens.

An active and muscular breed, with a tightly curled or wavy coat, the American Water Spaniel was developed  in the Great Lakes region of the United States in the mid-1800’s. It’s a mix of Irish water spaniel and curly-coated retriever. A hunting dog, it was particularly valued for its ability to retrieve game from a boat.

chinook

Chinook - New Hampshire

And one more — not included in our original quiz:  The most recently proclaimed state dog is the Chinook in New Hampshire. The breed is said to have originated in New Hampshire. The bill was the idea of a group of seventh graders at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School in Bedford.

(Photo credits: American Water Spaniel by Norm and Mary Kangas, via Flickr; Blue Lacy by Brooke Shaw on Wikipedia; Catahoula leopard dog from PetsFact.com; Chesapeake Bay retriever by Mary Bloom, American Kennel Club;  Plott hound, Boykin Spaniel, American foxhound, courtesy of American Kennel Club, great Dane and Boston terrier by John Woestendiek, ohmidog!)

Know your state dogs — a quiz

Chesapeake Bay retriever

Chesapeake Bay retriever

Boston terrier

Boston terrier

Plott hound

Plott hound

Catahoula leopard dog

Catahoula leopard dog

boykinspaniel

Boykin spaniel

Blue Lacy

Blue Lacy

Great Dane

Great Dane

American foxhound

American foxhound

American water spaniel

American water spaniel

Sure, you may know your state capitals, but do you know your state dogs?

With Missouri poised to name the Newfoundland its official state dog — possibly an attempt by what’s been called the puppy mill capital of the U.S. to gain some good doggie PR — there could soon be 10 states with their own state dogs.

Perhaps there’s some purpose to naming a state dog — other than as a favor to friends or supporters, other than providing a little fun for state legislators — but I don’t immediately see it. I do see an opportunity for a quiz, though. So here’s your challenge:

Match the nine breeds to the nine states that have designated them as their state dogs. The first two are no-brainers, but after that they get a little harder. If you get all nine right, you win …

My admiration.

For the answers, click here.

And if your wondering why a state like Missouri would opt to pick as its official  breed a dog most often associated with the icy northeast coast, think Lewis and Clark.

The explorers, on their expedition of the new territory acquired by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase, were accompanied by Seaman, a Newfoundland.

wisconsin

louisiana

south_carolina

maryland

texas

north_carolina

massachusetts

virginia

pennsylvania

  

Update: New Hampshire declared the Chinook its state dog in Aug. 2009. A sled and work dog, the Chinook is the only breed to have originated in New Hampshire. The breed was started by Arthur Walden in Wonalancet NH in 1917. The bill designating the state dog was the idea of a group of seventh graders at the Ross A. Lurgio Middle School in Bedford.

(Photo credits: American Water Spaniel by Norm and Mary Kangas, via Flickr; Blue Lacy by Brooke Shaw on Wikipedia; Catahoula Leopard dog from PetsFact.com; Chesapeake Bay Retriever by Mary Bloom, American Kennel Club;  Plott hound, Boykin Spaniel, American Foxhound, courtesy of American Kennel Club, Great Dane and Boston Terrier by John Woestendiek, ohmidog!)

 

Louisiana dog graces Ohio license plate

In this cut and paste world in which we’ve come to value getting it done quickly and cheaply over getting it done with class, style or individuality, maybe it’s not all that surprising that Ohio’s “dog-friendly” license plate features the image of a pooch who’s not from from Toledo, or Dayton, or Cincinnati, or even Cleveland or Akron.

lab_license_woof-226x108No, Ohio’s steel-stamped icon for dog friendliness hails from … Louisiana … by way of Missouri, and the Internet.

How Mac, a 9-year-old yellow Lab from Monroe, La., ended up as the face of dog-friendliness on Ohio’s license plate is a story that began when J.J. and Mary Linda Huggins sent a photo of Mac to Missouri artist Debbie Stonebraker for the purposes of having a portrait painted.

Mac’s picture joined hundreds of others on Stonebraker’s website.

The good folks at The Ohio Pet Fund, rather than going into their own dog-friendly backyard, went online looking for a dog, browsed Stonebraker’s website, and chose Louisiana Mac as Ohio’s dog, according to an Associated Press story — one that ran in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette  under the headline “Apparently the dogs in Ohio aren’t friendly enough … Louisiana pooch ends up on Buckeye license plates.”

Louisiana Mac is the latest addition to the Ohio Pet Fund’s pet-friendly license plate line. The dog-friendly plate joins a cat-friendly plate and a generic pet friendly plate, illustrated with a cartoon. Proceeds from the sale of the plates go towards low-cost spay and neutering programs.

Lack of arms doesn’t deter dog trainer

You might think former Marylander Donna Rock would be at a disadvantage when it comes to dog obedience competitions — given as the dogs are required to follow non-verbal signals, and given Donna has no arms.

Yet Donna and her 8-year-old Doberman Pinscher, Annie, have won numerous obedience and agility titles, including the prestigious Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) and the crown jewel in agility, the Master Agility Championship (MACH).

Donna, who now lives in Lacombe, Louisiana, was born without arms. She originally purchased Annie to be her companion and to train for obedience competition, but the two developed such a bond that Annie became her service dog, assisting her with everyday activities.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Donna lost her home, belongings, and even her job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When she was temporarily reassigned to work in Washington, Annie went with her helping her in the subways, and on escalators.

Annie was a 2008 winner of an American Kennel Club Award for Canine Excellence (ACE), winning the exemplary companion dog category. The awards commemorate loyal, hard-working dogs that have made significant contributions to their community.

Annie is only the second Doberman pinscher in the nation to be named an American Kennel Club champion in both agility and obedience training.

Donna, over nine years of training the dog, created her own method of non-verbal signals, using her feet and legs, shoulder and head to communicate. While she can accomplish most things with her feet, from turning on faucets to feeding the dog, Annie helps her with the few things can’t do for herself.

Donna is shown working with Annie in the video above, from about five years ago. To see a newer video, check out this report from WWL-TV in Lousiana.

Annie is now retired from competition, and Donna is training a year and half old border collie named Roller, running him through the agility course, teaching him the same foot and leg commands, and showing him what his job will be.

“He’s got some awful big paws to fill,” Donna said.

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