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Tag: new york

Woman and her guide dog are reunited


A legally blind woman and her guide dog have been reunited after recovering from injuries they received when they were hit by a school bus in New York.

“Oh, my good boy. You’re home, finally,” Audrey Stone exclaimed upon greeting her golden retriever, Figo, in the driveway of her home in Brewster, about 60 miles north of Manhattan.

Figo got in between Stone and an oncoming minibus in June as they crossed a street a block from her home.

Stone spent months in a rehabilitation hospital. Figo underwent surgery and went back to his trainers for a determination of whether he could work as a guide dog again.

As of Monday, he is back on duty.

Figo, who had been Stone’s guide dog for more than six years, leaped to put himself between her and the oncoming bus, then stuck by her side until help arrived.

“Basically, he would have died for me, doing what he did,” said Stone, who suffered a broken ankle, elbow and ribs and needed stitches in her head. Figo had a serious gash in one of his legs, according to the Associated Press.

On top of being reunited with Stone, Figo will be receiving the Dog of the Year award from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“We’re tremendously proud of Figo, who really did show a great deal of bravery,” said Wells Jones, of the Smithtown-based Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. Figo was the third dog the organization had placed with Stone.

Stone says she’s happy to have him back.

“You feel better with a dog,” she said.

(Photo: By Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Hasidic dog walker turns some heads

Ultra-orthodox Jews, much like some followers of Islam, would rather not be among dogs.

There is a common view, among Hasidic Jews, that dogs are impure and unhygienic, should never be inside the home, and are best avoided.

So Gedalya Gottenger makes for an unusual sight as he plies his trade on the streets he grew up on, in what was a nearly all-Jewish enclave in New York’s Williamsburg.

Gottenger is a Hasidic Jew, and a dog walker.

Gottenger said that, growing up, he rarely saw a dog in his neighborhood. As a result, he saw dogs as a little bit frightening.

“Dogs were seen as frightening by default,” Gottenger told The Forward which featured the dog walker in a recent article.

“It doesn’t matter the size, the shape or the color. They were always scary.”

hasidicIt wasn’t until after he started attending Brooklyn College that he began relating to dogs, starting small. He got to know a friend’s chihuahua while they were studying together.

When the friend asked him to babysit the dog, he agreed.

Now, he walks up to five dogs regularly.

He knows some might see what he’s doing as an act of rebellion, and admits that might be one of the factors that led him into the job.

“I get to spend time with dogs, which is the most important part, I guess,” he said. “And then there is the rebellion part, the money part, but it’s all intermingled in a way.”

He said he was worried at first that other Hasidic Jews might be upset with his new undertaking, which he started about a year and a half ago. But he likes the fact that he is shattering a stereotype.

He says his father “doesn’t know, or at least doesn’t tell me that he knows” about his occupation — even though he has a Facebook page about it.

On the streets, he says, any comments made to him while walking dogs are “very benign.”

Will quest for profits bring end to dog park?


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)

And now, the downside of doggy DNA tests


The board of a ritzy Manhattan co-op is requiring some residents undergo testing of their blood and spit to determine if they are pure enough — and of the proper type — to live there.

As of last month, dog owners living in the luxury tower at 170 West End Avenue must have their veterinarian sign off on the canine’s pedigree and, if the pet is a mix, detail the percentage of each breed, according to

The policy is designed to purge the building of any pedigrees the board deems troublesome.

And the board deems many breeds troublesome — 27 in all, including the Pomeranian and the Maltese.

Residents were informed of the new policy a few months ago.

The board policy says the 27 breeeds were chosen based on “documented information regarding their tendency towards aggressiveness.”

In the case of mixed breed dogs, the co-op board is requiring owners to have their pet undergo a DNA test. If the test shows a dog to be made up of more than 50 percent of one of the outlawed breeds, it will have to leave the building.

Initially, they wanted to require mandatory DNA testing of all dogs, but they amended the policy to require the testing “at the board’s discretion.”

The latest version of the policy, issued on May 26, says that if a dog’s breed is unknown “the board at its sole discretion may require a resident to perform DNA testing.”

The 484-unit, 42-story cooperative is one of eight buildings that comprise Lincoln Towers, a 20-acre property near Lincoln Center managed by FirstService Residential. Each building has its own co-op board and makes its own policies.

The board policy also requires that residents register their dog and provide a mugshot of the canine.

The list of banned breeds includes St. Bernards and German shepherds, pit bulls, basset hounds — and even the tiny shih tzu.

“It’s like dog racism essentially,” one resident said of the new policy. “It’s beyond offensive, it’s intrusive.”

(Photo: From

Outlook good for guide dog who tried to shield blind woman from oncoming bus


An anonymous benefactor has come forward to pay the veterinary bill for Figo, the 8-year-old guide dog dog who leapt in front of a school minibus Monday to shield his blind handler.

Figo (pronounced “FEE-go”) suffered trauma, tissue damage and a slight break to his right front leg when he stepped in between Audrey Stone and an oncoming bus Monday in Brewster, New York.

Hopes are high that he will make a full recovery.

The dog was walking on Stone’s right side but switched sides and jumped between Stone and the vehicle, witnesses said.

Stone, 62, broke an ankle, ribs and an elbow and has a head wound. She is being treated in a Danbury, Connecticut, hospital, where she told The Journal News on Tuesday that Figo “deserves the Purple Heart” for his actions.

Dr. Angela O’Donnell of Middlebranch Veterinary said Figo came out of surgery well, and is now receiving pain medication and antibiotics. His fractured leg could take up to six weeks to mend.

“He’s doing really, really well,” O’Donnell said Wednesday. “I have no concerns at this point about a long-term issue for him.”

The decision on whether Figo will be able to resume serving as Stone’s guide dog will be made by the Guide Dog Foundation, which provided Stone with the dog.

Andrew Rubinstein, marketing director for the foundation, said that once Stone and Figo are home, a trainer will visit them for an assessment.

“Once they’re well enough, the work of the team will be assessed by one of our certified trainers,” Rubenstein said. “Is Figo a little timid around traffic? Is he scared to be around traffic? Or is he ready to go back full-time?”

“If the dog is a little timid, we’d talk with Audrey about maybe retiring Figo and maybe coming back to the foundation to get a new dog,” Rubenstein said. “Or if the dog feels good and works well in traffic and doing their typical routes, they might need a refresher to get all their skills fine-tuned again.”

(Photo: Middlebranch Veterinary)

Is Fox News biased (against big dogs)?

Of all the adoptable pet segments we’ve seen on local TV news, this one — featuring a large dog named Titus — might be our favorite.

Right off the bat, we’d say a dog who has been labeled as one who “needs to live alone” — code for not getting along with other dogs — probably shouldn’t appear on a live TV adoption segment with other dogs.

In the video above, Titus appears on the Fox morning show Good Day New York with animal activist Cornelia Guest and two other dogs — “little treasures,” as she calls them, named Arabella and Nonny.

An 8-year-old Saint Bernard, Titus “wants to be the only dog, he doesn’t want to be with other brothers and sisters,” Guest — a vegan, socialite, caterer and animal activist — explains, while holding the two smaller dogs, just a few feet away, in her arms.

Titus, though neither the show hosts nor Guest seem to notice, is sitting like a statue, entirely focused on the two small dogs as the hosts ask Guest what he likes to eat.

It’s right about then that Titus begins advancing in the direction of the smaller dogs — and Guest’s face, just for a moment, takes on the horrified look of someone who is about to be dinner.

Being a Saint Bernard, Titus is not to be swayed, and even though Guest tries to spin out of his way, he still manages to get in a good sniff of one of her little treasures, which is probably all he wanted in the first place.

After that, he’s tugged out of camera range by a stage hand, and remains out of view for the rest of the segment, in which Guest goes on to tout the other dogs — as well as the vegan chocolate chip cookies her company makes.

All this leads us to ask, did Titus get the respect he deserved when he appeared on Good Day New York? It seemed every remark the hosts made about him was based on big dog stereotypes. It seems he was rudely led off camera for merely wanting to satisfy his sniffer.

Might Fox News, in addition to all the others it so closely holds, have a bias against big dogs?

Compare and contrast the first video with how respectfully Titus was treated, and how calmly he behaved, in an earlier adoptable dog segment on New York’s CBS2. He was quiet and reserved — even though there, too, he was paired with another dog.

We won’t go so far as to suggest there is a different, more dog eat dog, more hate and fear mongering vibe in the Fox News studios, and that maybe Titus was picking up on that. (Woops, I think we just did.)

We’ll just say that this proves dogs, unlike Fox News folk, are unpredictable.

Perhaps I’m biased, and perhaps it’s mean to add this, but I definitely detect a higher degree of on-air air-headedness among the Fox hosts than their CBS counterparts.

I base this on their comments, such as:

She: “I hope Titus doesn’t take a bite of your … whiteus.”

He: “I’ve got a new name for him, Cujo.”

He: “This is a great big dog. I think it’s one of those St. Bernards that usually … they have whiskey and they find those stranded mountain hikers.”

He: “Oh, is he not supposed to go near that dog? He’s not biting them is he?”

All that said, and while admitting to our anti-Fox News bias, we think any network, station or news outlet that uses valuable time/space to showcase adoptable dogs can’t be all bad.

Titus is available for adoption at the Humane Society of New York, as are those little treasures, Nonny and Arabella.

Going out to eat with your dog is close to becoming legal in New York


Dogs in the state of New York could soon be joining their humans for dinner at restaurants — without it being against the law.

A bill passed by the New York Senate Wednesday — by a 60-0 vote — would change state health law to give restaurants the option of allowing pet owners to bring dogs into outdoor dining areas, the New York Times reported.

The State Assembly is now reviewing its version of the same bill.

Dogs, under the revised law, would have to be accompanied by a diner, and restaurants that decide to allow dog would have to provide an alternate entrance to their patios, so dogs don’t walk through indoor dining areas.

Dogs will have to be on leashes, and would not be allowed into outdoor areas where food is being prepared.

The bills specifically forbid communal water bowls, requiring dogs be served water in disposable containers.

And, in what is sure to be the toughest of the new law’s requirements, restaurant servers would be prohibited from playing with dogs.

The bill is similar to one passed in California last year. As with that one, restaurants remain free to ban dogs from their outside areas if they so choose.

“With a large percentage of New Yorkers being dog owners, many restaurants would like to accommodate their guests and permit canine companions to join them,” said Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau County), a sponsor of the Senate measure.

In the Assembly, Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) is the sponsor of the similar bill.

“People consider dogs and other animals to be just another member of the family,” said Rosenthal. “When you sit down to dinner, it’s your husband, your partner, your wife, your kids and your dog.”

“An overwhelming number of New Yorkers who have dogs take them everywhere they go,” she added. “So this is just another option for them to take their animals with them when they dine out.”

(Photo: New York Daily News)

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