Tag: new york times
As that annual parade of the pedigreed known as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show unfolded at Madison Square Garden, there has been a debate over purebred dogs going on in the pages of the New York Times, at least its digital ones.
It’s worth checking out, especially, in my view, two of the opinion pieces from two of my favorite dog experts.
Alexandra Horowitz, professor of psychology at Barnard College and author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” hits on several important points in a piece focused mainly on the link between breed standards and inherited disorders.
She cites research showing that, among the most popular breeds, almost every one has developed some type of inherited disorder stemming from breed standards that prescribe how a dog should look.
Bulldogs and pugs have broad and shortened heads that lead to obstructions in breathing. Many large breeds have debilitating hip and elbow dysplasias. Shar-Peis, because of their wrinkly skin, are prone to eye ulcerations. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel may have a brain that grows too large for its skull, an extremely painful condition called syringomyelia.
By changing the breed standards — making them more health-contingent than looks-contingent, the health of dozens of breeds could be improved, she notes.
Horowitz also addresses the matter of personality. Although AKC breed standards make it sound like a dog’s personality is genetically determined, that’s not the case, she says.
” … A dog is not merchandise whose behavior (outside of a few hard-wired ones, like pointing) can be predicted ahead of time.
“While many owners may see breed-typical personalities in their dogs (we humans do tend to spot just the evidence which supports our theories), there is simply no guarantee that a dog will behave just so. Witness the cases of cloned — genetically identical — pets who have, to their owners’ great surprise, quite different personalities.”
Making it sound like the personality of all dogs can be predicted by what breed they are is problematic, she notes.
“When a dog does not behave in accordance with her ‘billing,’ owners call this a ‘behavior problem’ — the single greatest reason for relinquishment of a dog to a shelter. Thus, inadvertently, breed standards lead potential adopters to treat them more like products with reliable features.
“Dogs are individuals, and should be treated thusly.”
In another piece presented in the Times “Room for Debate” feature, James Serpell, the Marie Moore professor of animal welfare at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, looks at what kennel clubs, dog shows and the breed standards they espouse, has led to.
For one, inbreeding, as a way to produce dogs that most closely fit the written standards, or in some cases the interpretation thereof.
“Not only were the original gene pools of many breeds very small to begin with, but breeders have also accentuated the problem by selectively breeding from relatively small numbers of “champion sires” and/or by mating together closely related individuals.
“Nowadays, many breeds are highly inbred and express an extraordinary variety of genetic defects as a consequence: defects ranging from anatomical problems, like hip dysplasia, that cause chronic suffering, to impaired immune function and loss of resistance to fatal diseases like cancer. The only sensible way out of this genetic dead-end is through selective out-crossing with dogs from other breeds, but this is considered anathema by most breeders since it would inevitably affect the genetic “purity” of their breeds…”
“When standards do more harm than good, they should either be revised or abandoned altogether. We owe it to the dogs.”
A compelling argument is also made by Mark Derr, an author who was among the first to bring attention to the problems that have been created in the quest for purity and predictability: “It is long past time to make changes to standards that improve dogs’ lives or discontinue their breeding,” he concludes.
Less in line with my thinking — but I”ll point you to it, anyway – was a piece submitted by Lilian Barber, who breeds, judges and writes about Italian greyhounds.
Barber, president of the Kennel Club of Palm Springs, Calif., argues that breed standards are about more than appearance.
“Breeding dogs that fit a written standard isn’t just about appearance. Different breeds have different traits. It’s like choosing a vehicle. In many cases a two-door sedan will suffice, but sometimes a truck is needed.”
She continues, fortunately shifting out of the motor vehicle analogy:
”Most breeders of purebreds support research regarding the genetic health of their breeds and plan their matings carefully to insure that the offspring will be healthy. It would make little sense to put time, effort, money and passion into breeding unhealthy dogs … Those dogs are a huge and vital part of our lives.”
You can find links to all the opinion pieces here.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, animals, breed standards, breeds, cloning, debate, dog, dog shows, dogs, experts, genetic, genetics, health, inbreeding, inherited, james serpell, kennel club, mark derr, new york times, opinions, personality, pets, problems, purebreds, room for debate, standards, traits, westminster
Pet Airways — viewed as salvation for those who hoped to avoid their dogs traveling, luggage-like, in cargo holds — has hit some turbulence.
Created in 2009 by a California real estate developer, the airline in recent months has canceled flights, leaving dogs and cats stranded and their owners inconvenienced and angry, the New York Times reported Saturday.
“Dog and cat owners are angry about canceled flights. Travel sites are abuzz with complaints, including customers who claim they have not received refunds for paid-for flights. And the company is burning through cash at a rapid rate.”
Alysa Binder, the co-founder of Pet Airways, acknowledged in an e-mail to theTimes that the airline has had some problems procuring planes from contractors and needed to cancel “some flights during the holidays and into the new year.”
“We are a very new company that is pioneering, just as FedEx pioneered the overnight packaging business,” Binder told the Times. “We have ups and downs, but we are keeping our eyes on the long-term goal of providing a safe and comfortable transportation option for the pets.”
The company, which says it has flown more than 7,000 cats and dogs, is still taking reservations, according to its website.
Pet Airways offers service to nine cities. Flights run from about $100 to more than $1,000 each way, and roughly 40 pets can sit in crates in the main cabin (the airline carries pets only), monitored during the trip by a pet attendant.
The airline was a welcome alternative to the major airlines, some of which ban pets in the cabin entirely. Most typically store animals in the plane’s cargo hold, where temperatures can vary wildly and have contributed to deaths. According to the Department of Transportation, 122 dogs died in cargo holds on U.S. airlines between May 2005 and July 2010.
Records indicate Pet Airways had no flights between Dec. 16 and Jan. 16, and it is unclear if it has had any flights since then, according to the Times.
“We are working toward being in the air as soon as we can be assured that the planes are ready for our use,” Binder said.
In a recent regulatory report, the company said it did “not currently have sufficient cash on hand to meet our financing needs … Our auditors have raised substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 13th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, airlines, alysa binder, angry, animals, canceled, cargo holds, cats, complaints, customers, dog friendly, dogs, financial, flights, new york times, news, pet airways, pets, problems, reservations, stranded, travel, traveling with dogs, traveling with pets
Just like their human counterparts, dogs in the military can suffer the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder — and they’re doing so at a rate nearly as high as humans.
By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are developing canine PTSD, according to a report in yesterday’s New York Times:
“ … (T)he concept of canine PTSD is only about 18 months old, and still being debated. But it has gained vogue among military veterinarians, who have been seeing patterns of troubling behavior among dogs exposed to explosions, gunfire and other combat-related violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Of the dogs who show symptoms, about half are likely to be prematurely retired from service, said Walter F. Burghardt Jr., chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base.
The Times article, accompanied by the beautiful photograph above, reported that dogs show the symptoms in different ways, much like humans with the disorder. They may become hyper-vigilant, undergo temperament changes, turn aggressive with their handlers, or start becoming timid and clingy, avoiding areas that they had once been comfortable in.
Most crucial of all — at least as the military sees it — they can also stop doing the tasks they’re being relied on to perform.
“If the dog is trained to find improvised explosives and it looks like it’s working, but isn’t, it’s not just the dog that’s at risk,” Dr. Burghardt said. “This is a human health issue as well.”
The number of dogs on active duty has risen from 1,800 in 2001 to about 2,700. The training school headquartered at Lackland prepares about 500 dogs a year for deployment.
Combining all branches of the armed services, more than 50 military dogs have been killed since 2005, the article reported.
Dr. Burghardt uses videos to train veterinarians to spot canine PTSD, such as this one of a dog that, while he has no problem inspecting a car, refused to go inside a bus or a building.
Treatment of dogs suspected of having the disorder can range from taking them off patrol and allowing them to just be dogs for a few days to ”desensitization counterconditioning,” which involves exposing a dog, in increments, to sights or sounds he’s reacting nervously to and rewarding him when he doesn’t react.
Dogs that do not recover quickly are returned to their home bases, and those that continue to show symptoms after three months are usually retired or transferred to different duties, Dr. Burghardt said.
(Photo: Bryce Harper for the New York Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghanistan, animals, army, article, canine ptsd, care, combat, dogs, forces, humans, iraq, lackland air force base, military dogs, new york times, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, service, soldiers, symptoms, treatment, veterinarians, walter f. burghardt, war
This could get ugly, if it hasn’t already.
This week, a newly formed national organization called The Humane Society for Shelter Pets (HSSP) began making itself known, with full-page ads in national newspapers aimed at discouraging people from contributing to the Humane Society of the United States.
The new organization’s point: HSUS, despite public service ads that seem to indicate it helps dogs and cats in shelters, provides little direct funding to local shelters, which need help more than ever.
While polls show 71 percent of Americans believe HSUS is affiliated, represents or helps fund local humane societies, HSSP says “the reality is that just 1 percent of HSUS’s $126 million budget goes to needy hands-on pet shelters.”
“The Humane Society of the United States continues to fundraise on the perception that they give millions of dollars every year to local pet shelters with misleading advertising campaigns. Unfortunately for the dogs and cats in our local pet shelters, that is not the case,” said Diana Culp, HSSP co-director. (Culp is a former director of education for HSUS and former supervisor of animal control in Frederick County, Maryland.)
HSSP, while noting on its website that it doesn’t contribute directly to shelters, either, does provide a database enabling visitors to obtain all the information they need to donate to local shelters.
However philanthropic that may be, and whether or not you agree with HSSP that HSUS is misleading the public in its fundraising approach, HSSP may not be the angelic organization it makes itself out to be.
For one thing, it has ties to Richard Berman, who, through his Center for Consumer Freedom, has been a long-time, highly vocal critic of HSUS. Berman has raised millions from industries that, at least in the view of HSUS, are cruel and abusive to animals.
In response to the HSSP ads — they’ve appeared this week in USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and New York Times – HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle fired back earlier this week.
On his blog, A Humane Nation, Pacelle, called Berman a “king of charity fraud,” and went so far as to show a photo of Berman’s mansion in McLean, Virginia.
“He sets up phony front groups to do the dirty work of bad actors in industry. He takes their money and then takes on their critics. He runs ‘charitable’ organizations, like the Center for Consumer Freedom (which fights The HSUS), the American Beverage Institute (which fights Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and the Center for Union Facts (which attacks public employees and unions), yet his groups don’t feed one animal, shelter one homeless person, or provide any other tangible social service.
“They are charitable organizations in name only, and Berman and his for-profit public relations company pocket a large share or even a majority of the total revenue. It’s a personal enrichment scam of the highest order, and he’s the architect of the con job. He’s got the mansion in McLean, Va., and the Bentley in the driveway as the spoils, with his accountant wife standing by to tally the profits.”
Pacelle said the HSUS has never presented itself as an umbrella agency that funds local shelters, and he points out that HSUS television ads include a small-print disclaimer: “Local humane societies are independent from HSUS.”
While the HSSP ad states that HSUS gave just 1 percent of the $131 million in donations it received last year to local shelters, Pacelle says that figure doesn’t include the campaigns HSUS has conducted nationally and globally to fight such things as puppy mills, dogfighting, animal cruelty laws and pet overpopulation.
Pacelle says about 20 percent of the Humane Society’s efforts involve companion animal issues, and that, in the last five years, HSUS has given more than $43 million in grants to other animal organizations.
Berman, while not listed as an official of HSSP, has been hired to do its public relations work and to help bring HSSP “to fruition,” said HSSP Co-Director Jeffrey Douglas.
“… HSSP is a product of the efforts of a group of individuals with deep ties to the animal welfare community and dedicated to improving the well-being of shelter animals across the country,” he added. “Who we hired as our PR firm should be immaterial to the project.”
As Pacelle sees it, though, Berman is its backbone: “Now, this Beltway con artist — who has probably spent as much time as anyone in recent years fighting against animal welfare — has formed a new supposed animal welfare charity … He’s the man behind the curtain … He’s reached a new level of fraud and deception.”
Pacelle said that between CCF and HSSP, Berman’s outfits have taken out 25 full page “attack” ads in national newspapers, at an estimated cost of $2 million.
Berman, meanwhile — whose full response to Pacelle’s comments can be found here — says HSSP has been welcomed “warmly” by the shelter community.
The question the HSSP ad raises is not entirely illegitimate: Are those heartstring-tugging HSUS ads, even with disclaimers, contributing to the misperception that the national organization helps foot the bill for all local shelters that call themself by that name?
But a question can also be asked of the HSSP: If you really care about animals, why not, instead of those full page ads, send that $2 million to animal shelters?
Posted by jwoestendiek December 2nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ads, advertisements, animal cruelty, animals, attack, campaigns, causes, center for consumer freedom, charities, chicago tribune, con man, diana culp, dogs, donate, donations, fight, formed, full page ads, fund raising, funding, hssp, hsus, humane society for shelter pets, humane society of the united states, industries, jeffrey douglas, lobbyist, local, local shelters, logo, los angeles times, misleading, misperceptions, money, national, new york times, newly, non profits, perceptions, pets, politics, polls, psas, public, public service announcements, richard berman, shelters, wayne pacelle
Details are few, and there’s been no government confirmation, but that’s not stopping most major media outlets from reporting that a dog was a member of the assault team that killed Osama Bin Laden Sunday — and even prematurely pronouncing the dog a hero.
“Hero Dog Helped Snare Bin Laden,” read the headline of a story in yesterday’s Sun that called the dog “a fearless four legged hero.”
The Sun, in a report the New York Times seemed to confirm, said an explosive-sniffing dog was strapped to one of the 79 assault team members lowered down ropes from three Black Hawk helicopters into Bin Laden’s hideout in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The rest of the Times story recounts the military’s increasing use of, and growing dependence on, dogs — primarily because of their skill in finding improvised explosive devices. But it sheds no light on the alleged dog’s involvement in the raid.
Slate, meanwhile, in a similarly speculative article, reports that a dog was along on the raid, then notes there has been no confirmation that a dog was involved in the raid:
“The special operations forces do have their own canine training program, but it’s very hush-hush. Furthermore, neither the Pentagon nor the White House is talking about the role the dog played in Sunday’s operation, and they haven’t even confirmed that a dog was involved at all.”
The news media loves a good hero dog story — and I do too, when it’s true — but before we start calling this anonymous military dog a hero we might want to have some facts, like what the dog did, and whether he (or she) was even there.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: assault, attack, belgian malinois, bin laden, bomb-detecting, bomb-sniffing, death, detection, dog, explosives, facts, german shepherd, helicopter, hero, killed, killing, media, military, myths, navy, new york times, news, news media, osama, osama bin laden, pakistan, raid, reports, seals, slate, sun
I had one the other day — the feeling that fate had led me to turn onto an isolated country road in Virginia; that it was meant for me to drive down that road; and that, by doing so, I would end up meeting one of my idols, Tom Wicker, the famous writer.
It all started with a wasp. Heading north to Richmond on State Highway 10, south of Hopewell, I looked into the rearview mirror to check on Ace and noticed there was what appeared to be a wasp on what appeared to be the inside of the back window.
I pulled off on the first side road I came to — Wards Creek Road — and popped my back window open so it could get out. I was getting back into the car when I noticed a sign saying that this particular portion of country road was adopted by Tom and Cookie Wicker.
If they were picking up trash along the road, surely they must live on it, I figured, and just maybe, maybe even probably, it was THE Tom Wicker.
I called my father, who was a friend of Wicker’s long ago. Tom Wicker, both my parents have told me, used to bounce me on his knee when I was a baby. I didn’t really want to be bounced again, but how cool would it be, after all these years, to drop in out of nowhere and say hello?
“Does Tom Wicker live in Virginia?” I asked. He didn’t know. “Is he married to a woman named Cookie?” He wasn’t sure of that, either. Cookie sounded like an author’s wife’s name to me, though. Virginia seemed a likely place for Tom Wicker, born in Hamlet, N.C., to live. Perhaps I was destined to meet Tom Wicker again.
I drove along the road, picked the most impressive looking driveway and turned down it. It led to multiple houses. At the first house, I had stopped when a pick-up truck pulled up. I asked the man inside where Tom Wicker lived. Tom Wicker, I was told, lives at the very end of the long gravel driveway.
The driveway grew ruttier and narrower as I proceeded, but I decided it was worth the possible payoff. This is the sort of place Tom Wicker would live, I reasoned, on a secluded country estate. Writers need their solitude.
At the end of the driveway, there was a modest home, and a mastiff, who started barking. I waited in the car, figuring that Tom Wicker, hearing the noise, would step outside.
And out he came — not Tom Wicker, the writer of numerous books about politics and presidents. Not the author of ”A Time to Die,” about the Attica riots, my personal favorite. Not the Tom Wicker who grilled politicians, hobnobbed with presidents, and whose writing served as inspiration to me. Not the Tom Wicker who bounced me on his knee.
Instead, it was Tom Wicker, the retired nuclear plant worker.
A little wary at first — and who could blame him? – this Tom Wicker listened with curiosity as I explained how I ended up parked in his side yard. He remembered reading Tom Wicker’s columns in the New York Times, but said he was no relation.
As we talked, his dog — Lula was her name — kept her eyes on me. I asked to meet her, knelt down and called her name. Nervously and slowly, she approached, sniffed my hand and let me pet her. Then she spotted Ace, who had climbed up into the driver’s seat and was leaning out the window. She walked over to my car and touched noses with him.
I didn’t go so far as to let Ace out, or even suggest it, as I felt I had intruded enough on Tom and Cookie Wicker — Cookie also having come out into the yard by then.
Lula, two years old, originally belonged to Tom and Cookie Wicker’s daughter but she found two mastiffs too much for her mobile home and gave Lula to her parents.
But, I’ve decided, one should not stop mid-whim and Google. One should not let Google spoil an adventure, even if that adventure is based on a misconception. We don’t want the world to become a place where Google – useful as it is — does all our seeking and searching for us, where we get so used to turning first to the computer that we fail to explore and savor the real world.
Had I done that, I wouldn’t have met Tom or Cookie or Lula.
Besides, Tom and Cookie Wicker gave me a parting gift — two tomatoes from their garden.
They were red, ripe, juicy — and real.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a time to die, ace, ace does america, author, books, columnist, cookie, dog's country, dogscountry, fate, google, hunches, lula, new york times, quest, road trip, roads, search, seeking, tom, tom wicker, virginia, wicker, writer
After PETA’s protest at Westminster, The New York Times posed a timely and interesting question yesterday: Should the buyers and owners of purebred dogs feel guilty — given the number of dogs euthanized in shelters and the abuses that continue in purebred breeding?
Then they bounced that question off four experts on dogs and their place in society.
The responses are well worth reading in their entirety, but here’s the overly condensed version:
Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society:
The only truly guilt-free purebred dog is one acquired from a shelter or breed rescue group … What’s an exploitive breeder? Any breeder that can’t provide a loving, in-home environment for a pregnant bitch, and a safe home environment surrounded by loving people for new born puppies, is exploitive. Anyone who breeds as a business rather than for the love of the breed is exploitive.
Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of ”The Intelligence of Dogs,” “How Dogs Think” and more:
Nearly 40 percent of dogs do not make it through their first year with their first owner, and instead are returned to their breeder, given to a shelter, euthanized or abandoned, according to statistics gathered by the U.S. Humane Society … The advantage of purebred dogs is that they provide us with some level of predictability.
Mark Derr, author of “A Dog’s History of America” and “Dog’s Best Friend”:
This need to find “unspoiled” or rare breeds is tied not only to a desire for the next “hot” dog but also recognition that purebred dogs for all their beauty or uniqueness often have multiple genetic problems that are as much a result of the way they are bred as are their appearance and talents … But with purebred dogs accounting for 25 percent of those in shelters and countless more with dedicated breed rescue groups, virtue would appear to lie in giving a dog a home.
Ted Kerasote, author of “Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog”:
Dividing the world into those who should feel guilty for owning a pedigreed pooch and those who can feel self-righteous for rescuing a mutt does little to solve the two major challenges domestic dogs face today: careless breeding and an antiquated shelter system … Assigning blame to one or the other won’t do much to bring more genetic diversity into the world of purebred dogs or help shelters operate in more diverse and life-saving ways. Nor does instigating guilt give the slightest nod toward the magic that happens when a person and a dog, purebred or not, fall in love.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, authors, best friends animal society, breeders, breeding, breeds, dog, dog books, dogs, euthanized, experts, francis battista, guilt, industry, mark derr, mutts, new york times, people for the ethical treatment of animals, peta, pets, purebreds, shelter, stanley coren, ted kerasote, university of british columbia, westminster
What do some Westminster show dogs have in common with some drug dealers’ attack dogs?
They’ve been debarked.
The surgical procedure, which critics label outdated and inhumane, has been around for decades, but continues to fall out of favor, especially among younger veterinarians and animal-rights advocates, the New York Times reported this week.
There are no reliable figures on how many dogs have had their vocal cords cut, but veterinarians and other animal experts say that dogs with no bark can be found in private homes, on the show-dog circuit, and even on the turf of drug dealers, who are said to prefer their attack dogs silent.
David Frei, the longtime co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, acknowledged that some show dogs have the operation. “There is no question we have some debarked dogs among our entries,” he said.
Many veterinarians refuse to do the surgery on ethical grounds, and some states have banned it, except for therapeutic reasons, including New Jersey. Similar legislation is pending in Massachusetts.
In the surgery, vets anesthetize the dog before cutting its vocal cords, either through the mouth or through an incision in the larynx. Dogs generally recover quickly, veterinarians say, and while they usually can still make sounds, their barks become muffled and raspy.
But Dr. Gary W. Ellison, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, said the procedure can lead to complications, such as excess scar tissue building up in the throat of dogs, making it difficult to breathe.
Ellison said the procedure is no longer taught at the University of Florida’s veterinary school.
Banfield, the Pet Hospital, with more than 750 veterinary practices across the country, formally banned the surgery last summer.
“Debarking is not a medically necessary procedure,” said Jeffrey S. Klausner, the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “We think it’s not humane to the dogs to put them through the surgery and the pain. We just do not think that it should be performed.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that the surgery only be done “after behavioral modification efforts to correct excessive vocalization have failed.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american veterinary medical association, avma, banfield, banned, bark, barking, cut, debarked, debarking, dogs, inhumane, jeffrey s. klausner, massachusetts, new jersey, new york times, outdated, problems, proposal, scar tissue, show dogs, surgery, surgical procedure, university of florida, veterinarian, veterinary, veterinary school, vocal cords, westminster
The internationally known artist, woodcarver and furniture maker, and creator of the Dog Chapel, a hand-built church in Vermont, fatally shot himself on Jan. 7 in Littleton, N.H.
According to his wife, Gwen, he had been despondent over having had to lay off most of the employees of his art business that week.
While Huneck once had a national network of six galleries, only the one at his residence on Dog Mountain remains.
The tardy Times obit offered little new information about Huneck’s life or his suicide, except for this bit of irony: His death has led to a renewed demand for his work, enabling Ms. Huneck to hire back most of the employees let go last month.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: art, artist, death, demand, dog art, dog chapel, dog mountain, employees, galleries, huneck, increased, late, media, new hampshire, new york times, newspapers, obituary, renewed, stephen huneck, suicide, tardy, vermont
There was a gem of a story in the New York Times last week — about two elderly but popular neighborhood dogs who died within a day of each other.
Both lived in an apartment building on West 86th Street. Harry died Friday evening, his friend Bix died on Saturday.
“The fact that they were not human, but were instead a pair of 14-year-old dogs, seems only to have magnified the bereavement in their building, where they had lived longer than most tenants; on their block, where Harry held court at sidewalk cafes and was known as the Mayor of 86th Street; and deep into Central Park, where Bix had been the ringleader of a 9 a.m. play group since 1997,” the article reported.
Harry was a purebred Shar-Pei. Bix, named for the jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke,was a mix of Akita, Saint Bernard and German shepherd.
His 84-year-old owner, the documentary filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker, said he never knew any of his neighbors until Bix moved in, serving as an icebreaker and conversation-starter.
“Over the years, because of him, my circle of friends changed, I met people I never would have met; I came to see my whole life depending on this dog I hadn’t wanted at all,” said Pennebaker. “I’d expected having to walk him in the rain in the middle of the night. But I never expected to lose him. If ever you put a dog down, some of you goes with him.”
Rafael Curbelo, the building’s doorman, who kept a stash of treats behind his desk in the lobby, cried upon hearing the news. “Harry was my best friend here,” he said.
As has become the tradition in the dog-friendly building, two dog death announcements were posted in the elevator. Within hours, both had been inscribed with expressions of sympathy from tenants.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apartment, bix, bond, building, central park, d.a. pennebaker, death, dog, dog friendly, dog park, dogs, elderly, friends, harry, mix, mourning, mutt, new york, new york times, old dogs, pets, relationship, shar-pei, sharpei, west 86th street