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Tag: loyalty

Shep: Montana dog was faithful to the end

It may be a dog in Japan who is most famous for demonstrating the true meaning of loyalty, but the vigil of a Montana dog, named Shep, is at least equally heart-wrenching.

The story of Shep’s vigil begins, almost eerily, the year after the death of Hachiko, the Akita who, after his master died, famously waited for him every day at a train station for nearly 10 years.

Hachiko would accompany his master, a university professor, to the train station every morning, and be waiting for him when he returned. When his master didn’t get off the train one day, having died while at work, Hachiko continued going to the train station every day for nine years and nine months, until he died in 1935.

In 1936, a sheep herder in Montana took ill and was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. His dog followed him into town, and waited outside the hospital.

A nun who ran the kitchen at the hospital brought the dog food as he stood vigil for the next several days, until the sheep herder, whose name has been lost to history, died.

His body was put into a coffin and taken to the train station in Fort Benton to be shipped to his family back east.

As it was loaded onto the train, Shep was there watching. Reportedly, he whimpered as the door slammed shut and the train pulled away,

The dog chased the train for a while, then turned back.

For the next five and a half years, Shep, believed to be a collie mix, never left the train station. He lived underneath the train platform, and would greet each train that stopped — about four a day — in hopes of seeing his master.

According to FortBenton.com, Shep “eyed each passenger hopefully, and was often chased off as a mongrel but never completely discouraged. Neither the heat of summer days nor the bitter Montana winter days prevented Shep from meeting the next train.

“As Shep’s fame spread, people came from everywhere to see him, to photograph him, and to try and make friends and possibly adopt him. All of the attention was somewhat unwelcome; after checking the train he often retired quickly to get away from those who came to see him. Most people missed the point that Shep was a one-man dog.”

Railroad employees fed Shep, and the story of his vigil was carried in the old “Believe it Or Not” newspaper feature, and picked up by other news media of the day.

As time went on, though, Shep was slowing down, probably arthritic, and he had grown hard of hearing.

One day in 1942, unable to hear an arriving train and too slow and frail to get off the icy tracks, Shep was struck and killed.

His death made headlines and thousands of people sent in condolences.

Hundreds attended his funeral, at which a boy scout troop carried Shep in his coffin up to a bluff and buried him.

An obelisk and sign mark the spot of his burial, and 50 years after his death the town of Fort Benton commissioned a statue memorializing Shep, which now sits alongside the Missouri River.

NBC’s Dateline carried a short report about Shep last week:

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Loyal pit bull will be banished from county

preciousThe Animal Management Division of Prince George’s County, Maryland, has taken custody of a dog who stood guard over her injured owner during a house fire, and plans to send the dog away.

The pit bull, named Precious, sat by her owner as firefighters worked to extinguish a fire at their home yesterday, and they say she acted aggressively when they tried to approach the woman.

Eventually, firefighters sprayed the dog with a fire extinguisher, giving them time to get the woman onto a stretcher.

But it’s not the dog’s behavior that’s leading to her banishment; it’s merely the fact that she’s a pit bull.

precious2Pit bulls are illegal in Prince George’s County, and when animal management officers come across one they seize it and take steps to ensure it is sent out of the county.

The fire broke out at the home in Landover Hills early Wednesday morning.

The woman and her father were taken to an area hospital, and both are expected to be OK, according to NBC4 in Washington.

But they won’t be getting Precious back.

“It’s sad. I love that dog,” said the owner’s son.

The county passed a law banning pit bulls nearly 20 years ago.

According to a task force report, the county spends $186 per day per dog to confiscate, maintain and “dispose” of pit bulls — and between $250,000 and $500,000 a year on pit bull related costs.

Precious and two other family dogs are being held in a Prince George’s County animal shelter.

Officials say Precious won’t be put down, and that the family will be given time to find family or friends who live outside Prince George’s County to take the dog, and one of their two other dogs, who is also a pit bull.

If that doesn’t happen, the county will place the dogs with a rescue group or shelter elsewhere.

A “loyal” robot dog is headed to the market

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There is really only one reason we duly report on the latest robot dogs hitting the market, or headed that way: To show how sadly lacking in intelligence our own species is.

To think that technology — even WiFi-equipped technology — can replace a living, breathing dog is, after all, folly.

Nevertheless, the robot dogs keep coming as toy makers continue their futile effort to duplicate dog.

Expected to hit the market late next year is a dog called CHiP, which stands for Canine Home Intelligent Pet.

CHiP will be the first robot dog that’s able to show something resembling loyalty.

Even with that though, we don’t predict much of a future for CHiP. Still being fine tuned by a company called WowWee, CHiP will likely go the way of all robot dogs, from Sony’s AIBO to iCybee — into the garbage.

How CHiP differs from earlier versions of robot dogs — and there have been a few — is basically this. It has sensors that allow it to locate its ball and its bed and you, and it is equipped with Bluetooth, allowing you to connect with it from a band worn on your wrist.

This means it can do a cheap and phony imitation of one thing that up to now only real dogs could do: Get excited when you walk through the front door (assuming you program it to do so).

How sad a little life does the grown-up person who would do that have?

You get out of your car, pause at the front doorstep, tap your futuristic wrist band a few times, and presto, Chip will be waiting for you with tail a-wagging the second you unlock the door.

The $199 black-and-white robot pup, which won’t hit the marketplace until sometime next year, is said to have more smarts than its predecessors.

The head alone has an array of carefully hidden infrared sensors that give it a 360-degree view, which it uses to find its special ball and charging bed. Yes, it can perform a variaton of fetch. Yes,it can put itself to sleep at night and wake up all recharged and ready to go. Yes, it can even be “trained”.

With its Bluetooth and special “Smart Band,” Mashable.com reports, owners can, rather than displaying real love by petting their dog, send their dog “likes,” reinforcing those behaviors they want to make a regular part of the dog’s repertoire.

Mashable says CHiP looks like a cute, big-headed puppy (we disagree). We think, with it wheels, and shiny white plastic coat, and 360-degree sight line, it more resembles a freakish hybrid between dog and army tank, between Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” and a “Star Wars” storm trooper.

“It does seem alive,” Mashable reports, adding that the robot dog’s tricks include sitting, squatting, shimmying, dancing around and making dog sounds.

We can think of only one proper home for such a dog — with the kind of person who wants none of the responsibility of dog ownership, prefers superficial relationships and probably shouldn’t have a real dog in the first place.

Loyal dog honored by Washington governor

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Tillie, the setter mix who stood guard for a week after the basset hound she was roaming with fell into a cistern, was honored by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee last week.

Tillie, her basset hound friend, Phoebe, and their owner B.J. Duft were present as Gov. Inslee read a proclamation naming Tillie “Washingtonian of the Day” Thursday.

Inslee urged “everyone in Washington to celebrate the bravery and loyalty of this canine companion.”

Tillie was the first non-human to receive the honor.

“I saw this story and I just immediately said this is something Washington needs to celebrate,” Inslee said. “I grew up with Rin Tin Tin and Lassie and I never thought I’d meet a real dog that had that type of Hollywood character, but Tillie’s right here.”

Both dogs have been enjoying some newfound fame in Vashon, about 20 miles southwest of Seattle, since they wandered off from their home in early September.

A week later they were found — 4-year-old Phoebe stuck in the bottom of shallow cistern, 11-year-old Tillie watching over her.

tillie

They were discovered by a volunteer from Vashon Island Pet Protectors, who snapped the photo to the left.

Duft, who said the dogs escaped from his property through a hole in the fence, was ecstatic when he learned they’d been found.

“It really made me think a lot about their friendship and Tillie’s commitment to her companion, that’s for sure,” Duft told the Associated Press.

The governor has bestowed about 70 “Washingtonian of the Day” certificates since taking office.

Duft said both dogs are now sporting GPS collars.

(Top Photo: Duft, second from left, holds his dogs as they visit with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, far left; AP Photo by Ted S. Warren. Bottom photo courtesy of Vashon Island Pet Protectors)

The true meaning of friendship

tillie

After her friend, Phoebe, fell into a cistern that was too deep — by Basset hound standards — to jump out of, an old Irish setter mix named Tillie stayed by her side for an entire week.

The two dogs had wandered from their home in Vashon, Washington, on Sept. 7 during a party.

Their owner, B.J. Duft, suspects Phoebe, picking up the scent of something, led the way.

“Tillie would never leave even if the gate was left open, but she’s best friends with Phoebe, and so when Phoebe follows her little Basset Hound nose, Tillie always goes with her to make sure she’s OK,” Duft said. “They’re best pals — inseparable.”

In the week that followed, Tillie proved that beyond any doubt — leaving Phoebe’s side only briefly, and apparently only to scout around to find some help.

The duo was eventually tracked down by Amy Carey, a volunteer with Vashon Island Pet Protectors, an animal rescue group that runs a no-kill shelter in the area.

Carey said the organization, after posting about the missing dogs on its Facebook page, got a call Monday from a resident who had seen a dog come to the edge of his property several times during the previous week.

phoebeThe dog would stand there for a few minutes, then go back down a trail to a ravine behind the house.

Carey went to the area to investigate and found Tillie standing guard over Phoebe, KING5 reported.

“It was very clear what Tillie had done,” Carey said. “She had not left her friend’s side except for going up to the man’s house when he was there to try and get help for Phoebe.”

Duft and the dogs had a tearful reunion shortly thereafter.

“I was thrilled,” he told ABC News. “I was absolutely not surprised to learn that Tillie had stood by her side the whole time. She’s a very caring, loving and nurturing dog and the two of them are best friends.”

Duft said he has had Tillie, now 11, since she was a puppy. He adopted Phoebe, 4, about two years ago after the two became friends at doggie daycare.

The dogs were hungry and exhausted but otherwise in good health.

Duft said he fed them both a “hamburger dinner,” and let them fall back into their routines.

“Within an hour of getting home, Tillie already wanted to play with her favorite toy — the tennis ball — so we did just that,” Duft said. “The two also hung out on the couch and got some well-needed sleep.”

(Photos by Amy Carey, Vashon Island Pet Protectors)

Will quest for profits bring end to dog park?

watertown

Will the city of Watertown, N.Y., pull a fast one and, in a blatant quest for profits, sell land intended for a dog park to a developer?

The city council is considering it, though it took no such action Monday night.

Even though signs announcing the new park are already up, even though citizens have raised $3,000 of the $80,000 needed to open it, even though the land has been designated as parkland and the city accepted grants to accomplish that … a developer’s offer of money for the land is being considered.

Last week, the city received an offer from developer P.J. Simao to buy the land allotted for a dog park at Factory Square, Fox 28 in New York reported.

Simao’s offer came after plans started months ago to turn the site from some unused green space with a trail going through it into what some say would be a focal point for the city’s efforts to revitalize the Factory Square Park neighborhood.

So who will win out? Dogs, dog owners, citizens, community revitalization and the environment? Or one developer, and the city’s hunger for bucks — both from the immediate sale and in terms of future property tax revenue?

“To have that property back on the tax rolls, I think, would be beneficial to us,” council member Steve Jennings said at the Monday night meeting.

The Watertown Daily Times reports that Jennings introduced the proposal to sell the land to the developer, saying the city could use the money generated from the deal for the dog park and relocate it someplace else.

We’ll assume he’s talking about relocating the park, and not the money.

Fortunately, there are a few obstacles in the way of what Jennings probably sees as progress.

And it will probably be one of those obstacles — as opposed to lying to and deceiving dog owners and all those who have donated to the project — that, if anything can, stops the sale.

Factory Square is designated park land and was built with grant money, and selling it would involve going through the state and the National Parks Service.

“I think it’s intentionally made to be a difficult process,” City Planner Ken Mix said. “The purpose for putting the money into park land was to provide park land and to keep it as park land.”

“It’s not that I’m anti-development or anti-free money,” Mayor Jeff Graham said, “it’s just I don’t see that park land hurdle as something the city can overcome.”

The city’s consideration of the offer also hamstrings those trying to raise money for the dog park.

“We’re at a halt right now,” said dog park supporter Erin Gardner, who’s also director of the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

“There’s nothing that we can do,” Gardner said. “I ask that council not delay the decision-making process in this so that we can stay on this momentum.”

A better question to ask might be why the offer is even being considered — given the commitment the city had already made to the dog park. Why wasn’t the developer just told that land is not for sale?

The city council of Watertown should keep its promise — they should take a lesson from dogs and should show those they are serving a little loyalty, no matter how much money drooling developers are dangling in front of them.

(Photo: Watertown Daily Times)

Dog follows owner to death, and beyond, in this moving public service announcement

Here’s a public service announcement that takes the story of Hachiko — the Japanese dog who waited at a train station for his master every day for nine years after he died — and gives it what is possibly an even more tear-jerking spin.

“The Man And The Dog” was created by director Rodrigo Garcia Saiz for Fundación Argentina de Transplante Hepático, Argentina’s liver transplant foundation.

It shows a loyal dog who follows the ambulance that takes his owner away to the hospital — not unheard of in real life — and then waits, and waits, and waits.

We won’t say any more than that, so as not to spoil the ending.

Garcia Saiz, who’s been called “one of the world’s leading Spanish language commercial directors” by Ad Week, has directed other hard-hitting PSAs worth viewing, including the distracted-driving spot “Discussion” and the anti-bullying spot “Playground,” according to o the advertising publication Little Black Book Online.