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Tag: mastiff

Shake: When dogs let the fur fly

As stunning as Carli Davidson’s photographs are in “SHAKE” — a new book featuring dogs caught in the middle of letting the fur (and drool) fly — this video produced in conjunction with her may be even more breathtaking.

SHAKE, the book, was released today by HarperCollins. Inspired by Davidson’s own dog, a mastiff named Norbert, who regularly flings drool at her home, it presents more than 130 full-page portraits of dogs shaking off water. The photos began showing up on the Internet in 2012, went viral, and were shaped into a book.

As a side project, Davidson worked with Variable, a New York production company, to produce the video.

shakeThe still photos are magnificent, capturing dogs in a millisecond –  their heads caught in mid-swivel, their ears in mid flap, their jowls contorted, their fur frozen in flight, and their slung streams of drool stopped in mid-air.

The slow-motion video, though, shows the whole intricate dance – and how the simple act of a dog shaking is really pretty complex. Exactly how many different muscles, going in how many different directions, does doing that take? And how is it possible to be so grossly contorted and amazingly elegant at the same time?

The answer is you have to be a dog.

You, as a human, can dance with stars, dance with the devil, or dance ’til you drop, but I don’t think your moves will ever parallel what a dog is able to pull off in the simple — or not so simple — act of shaking off.

Davidson, a native of Portland, Oregon, began experimenting with taking high-speed photos of dogs shaking off water in 2011. The next year she began posting them online, and they received millions of views.

In 2012, members of the team at Variable saw Davidson’s photo series online and contacted her about making a video.

“Fortunately for us, Carli responded to our enthusiastic e-mail with an even more enthusiastic e-mail stating that she was totally down to collaborate and had a very similar vision! After months and many meetings of trying to figure out how we could even afford to make this film, we all just decided to empty our pockets, pull some serious strings, and make the video purely for the fun of it.”

State Supreme Court to decide Onion’s fate

The Nevada Supreme Court — no stranger to such matters — will decide whether Onion, the Mastiff mix who killed his owner’s grandson on his first birthday, should live or die.

The court will hear arguments — 30 minutes worth, it has specified — on July 3 before deciding whether the city of Henderson should be allowed to kill the dog.

Another option has been offered by the Lexus Project, a New York-based organization that provides legal representation to dogs.

The Lexus Project intervened in the case and wants to gain custody of Onion, then send him to live at a secure sanctuary in Colorado.

The 120-pound mastiff-Rhodesian ridgeback mix killed Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan by biting him on the head the day of his first birthday party. Later that day, the owner turned Onion over to Henderson animal control officers, who planned to kill the dog in accordance with the city’s vicious-dog ordinance.

The city turned down the Lexus Project’s offer to take responsibility for the dog, and has fought its request to be awarded custody. Onion’s former owner now wants Lexus to have the dog, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

The court battle has been going on for a year now.

Last year, Clark County District Court Joanna Kishner ruled the city of Henderson could proceed with the dog’s execution.

The state Supreme Court issued a stay — it’s second in the case — until arguments could be heard.

Those will take place July 3 at 11:30 a.m.

Sunny goes down — because he got too big

Sunny’s first offense was growing.

Being a Rottweiller-mastiff mix, he — as  you’d expect — quickly surpassed the 100-pound mark, well over the weight limit imposed at the Florida apartment complex where his owner, Denise Wilkinson, lived.

She started searching for a new home for him, but, unable to find one by the landlord’s deadline, dropped him off at Pinellas County Animal Services, with plans to pick him back up when she found one.

On its website, the county said dogs are kept seven days there. In person, they told her 48 hours. In reality, they euthanized him before a day had passed.

When Wilkinson, a day after dropping him off, went to pick up her dog, she found out Sunny had been euthanized — within hours of being dropped off.

“He wasn’t sick; he wasn’t old. He still had a long life ahead of him,” Wilkinson told Tampa Bay Online.

Senior Animal Control Officer John Hohenstern said Sunny was aggressive and caused concerns about the safety of shelter workers. “It was determined that because of the aggression in the dog it was not an adoption candidate,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything with the dog.”

Hohenstern  said that, despite the wording on the website, Wilkinson had initialed a paper stating she understood that the surrender was is unconditional: “Pinellas County Animal Services makes no promise, actual or implied, regarding holding time, treatment, adoption or disposition of this animal.” Hohenstern said the document initialed by Wilkinson superseded the website.

The county, Tampa Bay Online reports, has since changed the language on the website.

Hohenstern said with more animals being surrendered, possibly because of the economy, the animal control office encourages people to consider other options before dropping a dog there. “We try to … let them know this is kind of their last resort,” Hohenstern said. “They don’t want to do this.”

200-pound dog gets hoisted out of sinkhole

A 200-pound mastiff fell into a 25-foot-deep sinkhole in the backyard of a California home, prompting a rescue effort that used ropes and pulleys to hoist him out — dirty but uninjured.

It took rescuers more than three hours to get the dog — named Cedrick — out of the hole, apparently the home’s old septic tank, which had been exposed by heavy rains, KION reported.

Nick Rollins’ call to 911 resulted in more than a dozen fire fighters and members of the San Luis Obispo County Technical Rescue Team responding to his home in Nipomo.

They spend hours rigging a pulley system, then lowered Morro Bay Fire Department paramedic Todd Gailey into the hole.

He spent about 30 minutes strapping the dog into multiple harnesses. Moments after Gailey was hoisted out of the hole, Cedrick, 6 years old, was pulled up, hosed off and, after being checked by a veterinarian, pronounced to be in good shape.

A case of mistaken identity?

charlotteA mastiff that killed a terrier-Chihuahua mix Thursday at Charlotte’s Frazier Dog Park mistook the smaller dog for his favorite chew toy, according to the man who brought the mastiff to the park.

On Thursday, Maran Heatwole walked into the dog park with her 12-pound dog, Presley. Witnesses said the mastiff, about 140 pounds, picked up Presley and shook her from side to side, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The man who brought the mastiff to the park told the newspaper that the dog had been playing at the park with his favorite toy, a brown stuffed bear. When Presley walked by, he said, the mastiff picked her up because they looked similar.

The newspaper did not identify the man by name, and he declined to give the dog’s name, but he did provide a photo of the toy in question.

He said he feels sorry for Presley’s owner, but pointed out the park has a separate area designated for small dogs, and that Presley should have been there. He said the mastiff was not his, but belongs to his girlfriend’s relatives in Tennessee.

Heatwole drove Presley to Dilworth Animal Hospital after the incident but veterinarians were unable to save the dog.

Heatwole passed the man’s name on to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control. Officials there said Sunday night that the case is under investigation.

Parks officials said this is the first fatal incident they know of at one of the county’s five dog parks, which have been open for eight years.

Joseph Hawley, Heatwole’s fiance, said the couple is devastated by the loss and plans to lobby for stricter safety regulations for aggressive dogs in parks. “We’re gonna do as much as we can to make sure no other owner or family has to go through this.”

Spotting trends in the AKC’s breed count

lg_havanese10In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.

The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.

According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.

The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.

The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.

And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.

In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)

To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.

There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.

Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).

Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.

The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the  Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.

Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.

(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)

Angus T. Loner is a loner no more

angustlonerIt seemed like nearly everybody wanted to adopt Angus T. Loner, a gigantic mastiff who lived for years as a stray outside a Nebraska meatpacking plant.

So the local humane society decided that’s who should have him — everybody.

Angus was known by most in the town of Grand Island as the ”Swift dog” — due to his having lived outside the JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plant for more than four years. A trucker had dumped the neutered pup while making a delivery to the plant.

For years, plant workers fed the dog meat scraps, bones and their lunch leftovers and set out dinner for him nightly. A  neighbor provided  shelter by leaving a barn open. Local police and animal control workers kept close tabs on the dog, according to the Grand Island Independent.

Over the years, there were more than 500 attempts to catch him — none of which succeeded until December, when he was tranquilized and brought to the Central Nebraska Humane Society.

The humane society, as Angus became more social, began taking applications from those interested in adopting him. But between the many townsfolk who wanted to take him, all those who had helped care for the dog over the years and hoped to have continued access to him, and Angus’ sometimes unruly behavior, the humane society decided it would be best to keep him, allowing him to serve as its official greeter, mascot and spokesdog — to be, in a way, a community dog.

Angus has become attached to his new caretakers — so much so that “he’s gone from being scared of people to severe separation anxiety,” said Laurie Dethloff, the society’s executive director.

When society staff set him up in the spacious cat play area overnight, Angus chewed the carpet and platform from the cat nesting tree and ripped the sill off the room’s front window.

“We didn’t want to set him up for failure,” Dethloff said of placing him for adoption. Society officials decided keeping him would be a way to continue to share him with the public and honor what he represents. “For one, he has an awesome story to tell — about abandonment and a compassionate, caring community,” said Dethloff, who now takes Angus home with her at night.

Angus, the Independent reports, has come a long way from the dog that cowered in a corner and eluded those who tried to trap him. He still needs to gain a little weight, and the humane society is working on getting him up from six to 10 cups of dog food a day.

Angus is estimated to be about five years old.  While the first name the humane society chose for him comes from his size, and the meat he survived on over the years, his middle initial — T — doesn’t stand for anything.

Angus, on the other hand — the dog a whole town adopted — clearly does.

(Photo: Barrett Stinson, The Grand Island Independent)

Dog who bit pitcher’s wife wins reprieve

gabriellaGabriella, the English mastiff scheduled to be executed for biting the wife of Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and another woman, has won a reprieve.

A decision issued Friday by Hingham District Court would allow the dog to be sent instead to a New York shelter, where she would serve life, without parole, the Boston Globe reported.

Gabriella was ordered euthanized by Hingham selectmen after a lengthy hearing in late October because of two biting incidents, both of which took place at her owners’ art gallery in Hingham Square.

Read more »

Psychiatric service dogs: More than “comfort”

2r1There are those who say psychiatric service dogs aren’t “real” service dogs — that, unlike guide dogs for the blind, they merely make their owners feel good and provide nothing more than comfort.

Iraq war veteran Jennifer Pacanowski sees it differently — especially after,  unaware she was going 85 miles an hour on the freeway, a wet nose nudged her elbow, bringing her back to reality.

The wet nose belonged to Boo, a 110-pound Bull Mastiff who warns her when her anxiety levels are rising. Pacanowski slowed down, and lived to tell the story, which is recounted in an article on psychiatric service dogs in U.S. News & World Report.

The article reveals that the U.S. Department of Defense is starting a 12-month study to find out exactly how the dogs help — by comparing soldiers with PTSD who have dogs with a similar group of soldiers without a dog. Researchers will measure changes in symptoms and medication use.

“We want to provide evidence for something we know observationally and help create a movement towards the use of psychiatric service dogs,” said lead investigator Craig T. Love, senior study director at Westat, a research corporation in Rockville, Md. “It’s time to make a change.”

Pacanowski is one of dozens of veterans and others who already know what the study seeks to substantiate.  Boo, only a year old, has been helping her deal with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a result of her experiences as a medic in the war — since December.

“Sometimes I forget where I am and will go back to the war in Iraq. He brings me back to reality and makes me realize that I can’t run people off the road. It’s a frequent thing with PTSD to have road rage,” said Pacanowski, who lives in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Boo is one of a team of “psychiatric service dogs” being used to help people with various mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and, perhaps most notably, PTSD.

“If a dog observes when a person with PTSD is escalating, the dog will be able to signal that they are escalating and, given it’s so early in process, the person can manage and even prevent the escalation,” explained Joan Gibbon Esnayra, president and founder of the Psychiatric Dog Service Association.

The dogs have been in service for about 12 years and while patients and professionals alike know they work wonders, there has been no real empirical evidence of their value — and, as a result, they often receive neither the respect or funding opportunities of guide dogs.

“A recent survey showed that 82 percent of patients with PTSD who were assigned a dog had a decrease in symptoms, and 40 percent had a decrease in the medications they had to take,” added Dr. Melissa Kaime, director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), who spoke at a telebriefing last month. “I fully expect this will be positive trial.”

You can learn more about psychiatric service dogs at the Psychiatric Service Dog Society website.

Kujo rescued from bottom of 30-foot well

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How do you get a 120-pound mastiff out of the bottom of a narrow 30-foot well?

You crawl down it — even knowing the dog’s name is “Kujo” — harness him up with rope, and get everybody to help pull.

In Suitland, Md. last Friday, Prince George’s County firefighter Travis Lambert was lowered into the well to rescue Daniel Ellis’ dog. The two men, and Kujo, appeared on the Today Show Tuesday.

Apparently Kujo had climbed under the deck to seek shelter from the rain and fell through a piece of rotting plywood covering a defunct well. Police were called. They determined it was a job for the fire department, who in turn called on the department’s rescue team.

Rescuers set up a pulley system to haul the dog out of the well. Lambert said he was in the well for about 15 minutes and that Kujo was cooperative.

A little more than four hours after falling down the hole, Kujo was brought back to ground level amid cheers from rescue crew and onlookers. Kujo, the Today Show reported, didn’t go to his owner first — instead he climbed on Lambert and gave him a big lick.