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Really, really, really, really stupid pet tricks: Raja “takes care” of the baby

Believe it or not, the poster of this video is a dog trainer — though, if you’ve got an infant in the house, you might not want him to teach your dog this particular trick.

Alex Garcia, a dog trainer based in Brooklyn, jokingly says he posted this video on YouTube “in part to discourage friends from asking me to baby-sit.”

According to his website, CivilPet.com, he works with dogs, cats, and companion parrots, providing dog training, dog walking, and pet sitting services.

The website contains videos of several “useless dog tricks” he has taught his dog, Raja.

He also writes a blog, and did an entire entry that features step-by-step directions on how to teach your dog to put a baby (or at least a baby doll) into the oven:

“Step 2: Use shaping to get her to put the (toy) baby in the oven. Hold the baby in the position you want it to land, click your dog for investigating it, then grabbing it. When she grabs it, click and shove food in her face so she’ll drop it in the same position. She should hold the baby, you click, she drops it, then gets fed, then withhold the click until she drops it, then click. Gradually, start with the baby further away from the point in which you want the dog to drop it, then you’ll eventually be able to put the baby on the floor …”

In a disclaimer at the end, he writes: “This is not an actual How-To guide; I’m just going over what I went through to train this for anyone who is curious. If you attempt to train this to your dog, you’re doing so at your own risk. I am not responsible if: your dog opens or closes the oven while you’re cooking; your dog puts an actual baby in the oven; you get bit trying this with your resource guarding pet; your oven breaks somehow; anything bad happens.”

We’re guessing Garcia isn’t so quick to shirk responsibility when he’s on the job; otherwise his repeat customers would be few. As he sees it, he’s just making training a little more fun through his useless pet tricks.

“Training provides great mental stimulation, even when the behaviors themselves have no practical application in the real world,” he says.

Other videos on his website are somewhat cuter and not quite so worrisome, including this one entitled “The Police are Coming.”

Learning to love your lover’s dog

katz

What do you do when the woman you’re falling in love with has a dog that, seemingly, can’t stand you?

Beef jerky, trust and patience are key, but it also helps to be Jon Katz.

The author of numerous dog books recounted in Parade last week how he came to marry Maria – an artist who was using one of his barns as a studio – and how that required much woooing of her Rottweiler-shepherd mix, Frieda.

Katz was still married when he met Maria and cut a deal with her allowing her to use a barn as a studio in exchange for helping with his animals (a herd of sheep, four donkeys, four chickens, three dogs, and two cats) at his farm in upstate New York. Both later saw their marriages end, and they began developing a friendship — or at least to the extent Frieda would permit.

Frieda was fiercely protective of Maria and, Katz writes, ”whenever I approached the barn, Frieda would fling herself against the door in a frenzy, barking ferociously.”

Frieda had been dumped, pregnant, along the New York State Thruway by a man who had been using her as a guard dog. She lived in the wild before she was captured and brought to a shelter. That’s where Maria met her and adopted her, Katz says:

“They were the perfect pair, the human-canine version of Thelma and Louise, united in their devotion to each other and in their great distrust of men.”

As Katz and Maria made the transition from friends to something more, Frieda continued to act out in the presence of Katz and his dogs. At night, Frieda stayed in the  barn. Even though it was heated, it was not a desirable arrangement.

“I was falling in love with Maria,” Katz writes, “and I hoped she would agree to marry me one day, but I knew I had to work things out with Frieda first.

Katz says he bought $500 worth of beef jerky, and began a morning ritual, tossing a piece to Frieda every day. He started getting a little closer to the dog on each visit and, after months, Frieda let him put a leash on her and walk her. “My goal was to get her into the house by Christmas, as a surprise for Maria, evidence of my commitment and good faith.”

Katz and Maria and their animals are one big happy family now, and you can read all about it when The Second-Chance Dog: A Love Story, comes out next month.

To learn more about Katz and his other books, visit his website, bedlamfarm.com.

(Top photo: Maria and Frieda and author Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm; by George Forss)

Thou shalt not poop

thoushaltnotpoop

When the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine decided it needed to do something about the increasing numbers of dogs pooping on its hallowed grounds, it turned not to a deity, but to a design firm.

That firm’s answer? A series of signs, using Old Testament verse as an inspiration, along with regular English, in smaller print, for those who might not get it.

The Episcopal church, something of a landmark in New York City, isn’t totally down on dogs. It hold a blessing for dogs and other creatures on St. Francis Day. And it doesn’t mind that it has become a popular spot with dog owners. It just didn’t like the mess.

The design firm Pentagram says the church didn’t specifically request humorous signs, but that seemed to be the best approach.

The signs read, “Thou shalt not poop (Please keep dogs off grass),” ”Hold close thy loved (Please keep dogs on a leash),” and “Collect what you receive (Please clean up after your dog).”

(Photo: Pentagram)

Judge shuts down “seizure dog” business

Jon C. Sabin, ordered by a judge last week to stop training and selling service dogs to families of sick children, says any instances of his dogs not performing properly were the fault of the families.

“The dogs are trained when I’m there, but after I leave everything goes to hell in a handbasket,” said Sabin, who was accused by the New York Attorney General’s Office of duping more than a dozen families into believing the dogs he sold them — for as much as $20,000 each – were trained.

Sabin, who ran Seizure Alert Dogs For Life, was ordered by a judge last week to never again train or sell service dogs.

He has promised to fight the ruling, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

Sabin said families who have complained about their dogs have only themselves to blame — for not following through with the training plans that he made for them and for treating the service dogs like pets even though he advised them not to, according to Syracuse.com

“You don’t put these dogs in your bed. You don’t give them meatballs from the kitchen table,” Sabin said.

Sabin was sued by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for selling more than a dozen families untrained dogs he said could detect and control seizures in their ill children.

Court papers described how the families paid thousands of dollars for the dogs only to find they couldn’t detect seizures, much less do anything about them.

Sabin says he suffers from epileptic seizures, and that he developed his program after his medication failed to control them. Sabin estimated that, since 2009, he has sold and trained about 50 dogs

Not all of his customers are unhappy. The Stevens family in Washington D.C. bought a dog from Sabin three years ago for their son, Andrew, who has a severe form of epilepsy. The dog has detected hundreds of seizures and swiped the magnet on her collar over Andrew’s chest, activating a device in the child’s chest that stimulates his vagus nerve and stops the seizure, according to the family.

The state says Sabin “deceptively promoted dogs as ‘highly trained service dogs,’ when in fact he undertook no steps to select appropriate dogs for service work, nor did he undertake any relevant training of these animals prior to selling them.”

A judge last Tuesday issued permanent injunctions prohibiting Sabin and his company from advertising or selling dogs trained to assist people suffering from epilepsy or other medical conditions.

Deaf N.C. pit bull finds new home with deaf woman in Niagara Falls

A deaf pit bull from North Carolina has a new home with a deaf woman in Niagara Falls.

Jessica Czamara read about Maggie on Facebook after the neglected dog was rescued from a backyard in North Carolina, where she’d been kept chained.

“She was very skinny and you could see her ribs and you could see where she sat all the time on the concrete, said Maria Sansone with Diamonds in the Ruff. “All the hair was worn off of the back of her legs.”

A friend of Czamara spotted the dog on the rescue organization’s Facebook page, and referred her to the post.

“I feel like I could relate to the dog because I’m deaf, and the dog is deaf,” Czamara told WGRZ in Buffalo. “There are some things that the dog does that we do in the deaf community.”

Czamara is teaching Maggie commands in sign language and says she’s responding well, and Maggie’s getting along fine with her other dog, Champ.

“It’s amazing,” said Kate Stephens with Educate-a-Bull, which assisted in getting Maggie relocated. “It’s absolutely amazing to see pictures of her intially and then bring her up on transport and take her out and meet her .. and to see her so well fitted to her new family, her home and her new brother.”

Stephens said the dog’s former owner had “all but forgotten her and left her out there and hadn’t bothered to name her because she was deaf.”

Now Maggie’s got a name, a home, and a human companion who probably understands her better than most.

“To get her attention, I have to pat her or wave to her,” Czamara said. “The same thing with deaf people you have to touch them on the shoulder or wave in their vision. And she’s funny and how she plays.”

“She’s just such a sweet dog. She gives lots of kisses,” Czamara said. “She’s a great addition to our family.”

Did the scent of sizzling bacon draw missing pit bull puppy back to her foster home?

A pit bull puppy, still recovering from being abused by dogfighters, ran off from her foster home in New Jersey, but she was apparently drawn back by the smell of bacon.

Or it could have been the love.

Misty, only nine months old, was found on a Brooklyn street corner earlier this month, covered in wounds and bites from being used as a bait dog.

She was placed in a city shelter, then pulled by Second Chance Rescue, which moved her into a foster home. On Friday, she escaped from the backyard of that home.

Friends and neighbors joined in on the weekend-long search. Thousands of flyers were posted, and a $2,000 reward was offered. More than $4,500 was quickly raised to help in the search, and more than 14,000 people had, by Monday, “liked” her Facebook page.

But it was bacon — not social media — that apparently led to her safe return.

“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Misty’s foster mom, Erin Early-Hamilton, told NJ.com.

When someone suggested slapping some bacon on the backyard grill to lure the dog home, Early-Hamilton — despite being a vegan — was willing to give it a try.

She was sitting in a chair, and her husband was at the grill, when Misty came wandering home around 2 p.m. Monday.

(Photo: Facebook)

Report calls attention to dog shootings by Houston police


Since January of 2010, Houston police have gunned down 187 dogs, killing 121 of them.

And last year alone, law enforcement officers in Houston and Harris County shot more dogs than New York City police officers shot in 2010 and 2011 combined.

All of those shooting were deemed by police to have been justified, but it’s not too hard to find families that disgree with that.

The KHOU 11 News I-Team did, and its report this week is more evidence that, across the country, requiring police to be trained in dealing with dogs could save dogs, and their families, a lot of pain.

Colorado passed a law requiring that, and it was signed by the governor this week.

The KHOU report, when it looked at the police-involved dog shootings for all of Harris County found at least 228 dogs had been shot by officers and deputies since 2010, 142 of them fatally.

“If the dog turns and comes at a citizen, or the deputy, they have all right to use lethal force,” explained Dpt. Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Records show Harris County deputies shot 38 canines in the last three-and-a-half years.

When asked if all those shootings were justified, Gilliland said: “The justification is, in that matter, and at that moment the deputy had to choose the decision to use lethal force against that animal.”

Sgt. Joseph Guerra, who works as a cruelty investigator for the Houston Humane Society, said it teaches some officers how to safety interact with threatening dogs. But the training isn’t mandated for all officers.

“A lot of times, officers are not sent to training to get that type of certification to feel comfortable enough to deal with these animals,” he said. “We need to get those officers involved in some mandated training in how to defend before going to deadly force.”

The Arlington and Fort Worth Police Departments started mandatory dog training for officers last fall, and state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the training for officers across Texas.

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