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Pop goes the dog treat

No longer do those of us who like to watch our dogs catch treats in mid-air have to go to all the effort of tossing them.

New from Purina, Beggin’ Party Poppers have hit the market — bacon and cheese-flavored treats that come in a canister with a lid that resembles a pig face.

Push in the pig’s nose, place a treat inside and, in a matter of seconds, the treat will be popped into the air for your dog to catch.

Sure, it may be easier to just toss the treat yourself, not to mention more of a bonding experience with your dog. But why bother with that when, for $18.97, you can let the canister launch a dog treat skyward for you?

poppersThat’s the price listed for the product — treats and canister — on Amazon. A refill bag of treats, meanwhile — and we hope this is a mistake — is listed at $26.86 on Amazon. Other online sources have the refills in the $6-7 range. You can learn more at www.pighead.com.

It seems, at first glance, an over-priced little gimmick, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it evolve, perhaps into an app that allows you to shoot your dog a treat while sitting in your workplace cubicle, or a self-loading version that shoots out a treat every hour for dogs left home alone.

Imagine that. Your dog, if he’s anything like mine, would spend 59 minutes of each hour staring at the machine, one minute of each chasing, catching and eating the treat. Dogs would begin to worship the treat machine even more than they do us. They’d sleep next to the treat machine. They’d bark at anyone who threatened the treat machine. They’d follow the treat machine — once a moving version, like those robo-vacuum cleaners, was perfected — everywhere it went.

And we’d have nothing to do but lay alone in our cold beds and look at our arms, grown flabby after we stopped tossing treats ourselves.

Yes, we’re stretching to make a point, but, propelled by technology, the pet industry does seem to be going in that direction — coming out with products that make it easier than ever for us to pamper our dogs while ignoring them.

Purina’s treat-launching pig is a harmless novelty, kind of fun, and it still requires a human’s involvement to work.

But with automatic feeders already a reality, automatic treat dispensers can’t be too far behind. Once automatic ball tossers and automatic ear scratchers hit the market, we dog-owning humans could find ourselves out of a job.

It’s nice for our dogs to stay occupied, but we shouldn’t turn too much of that job over to machines and robots.

That will only make our dogs, and us, more robot-like.

Fire claims lives at Kentucky animal shelter

shelterfire

The Knox-Whitley County Animal Shelter in Kentucky is looking for a new home after a Friday night fire destroyed the facility, killing at least one dog and most of its cats.

A volunteer with the shelter told WBIR on Sunday that 34 of 37 cats passed away.

One dog was killed by smoke inhalation and one is still unaccounted for. Twenty-three other dogs made it out safely before the roof of the shelter collapsed.

sassyThe dog who died was the shelter’s mascot, Sassy.

 ”[Sassy] greeted everyone who would come in. She would go to nursing homes. She would go to all of the events. She was the ambassador for the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter,” a spokesperson said.

A sheriff’s deputy and firefighters  attempted to rescue as many animals as possible, unlocking kennel gates to free the dogs at the shelter, located in the town of Woodbine, south of Corbin. Only a few cats, kept in an interior room of the shelter, had been rescued when the shelter’s roof started to collapse, according to WKYT

The displaced animals have been taken in by community members.

The shelter is looking into borrowing or leasing a building for 3-6 months to house new dogs and cats. Anyone with information on a possible building is asked to contact Chuck Ledford at 606-627-9477.

More information can be found on the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter Facebook page.

An IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign has also been set up.

(Photo of fire scene from WKYT; photo of Sassy courtesy of Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter)

Dear Isaac, Please do not ride the dog

We’re not real big on stating the obvious, but there are times it needs to be stated, especially when it comes to children and dogs.

Case in point:  today’s “Dear Abby” column, in which a reader relates how a 9-year-old visitor to his home climbed aboard his Labrador retriever, possibly causing her permanent injuries.

“Isaac,” the visiting child, who apparently had little experience with canines, was playing with Layla, the retriever, when the homeowner heard him say, “Look, I’m riding your dog!”

“I immediately intervened, but I was too late,” the letter writer said. “A day or so later, Layla was unable to descend our stairway and was clearly in pain. She has been on pain medication for three weeks and is growing progressively worse. The next step is to get X-rays and/or an MRI to see if she has a spinal injury, and then determine her treatment. It’s possible the damage is irreversible.”

The letter writer wasn’t seeking veterinary advice, but wondering how to tell Isaac and his parents about the harm he caused, and keep him from doing it again, without placing “undue guilt on a 9-year-old boy.”

Abby responded to “Heartbroken in New York” this way:

“Children are not mind-readers. If you don’t tell them when they make a mistake, they won’t realize they have made one. Contact Isaac’s parents and explain what happened. If your dog needs treatment, they should be responsible for whatever damage their son did.”

I — though  nobody asked — would add only two things to that. First, that any guilt Isaac might feel on learning what he had done isn’t exactly “undue.” Second, that when your dog is meeting someone new — especially a child — you should be in the room, watching and, if necessary, teaching. It’s very easy for a dog owner to assume everyone knows how to behave around dogs, but it’s also very wrong.

Riding a dog, no matter how big he or she is, no matter what the Internet might tell you — and the photo above is just  one example of some incredibly irresponsible online “expertise” — should simply never be done. Period.

(Photo: Taken from wikiHow.com’s article on “how to ride a dog”)

(Postscript: The day after this article appeared on ohmidog!, the wikiHow article on “how to ride a dog” was taken down.) 

 

NC college starts pet-friendly dorm

Lees-McRae College, located in the mountains of North Carolina, has designated its first pet-friendly dormitory, allowing students who live there to bring along their dogs, cats, birds, fish, ferrets, and hamsters.

With the opening of the Spring 2011 semester, Bentley Residence Hall went co-species. 

“I am so excited that Lees-McRae College has joined the ranks of pet friendly colleges and universities.  We love our pets and we recognize that students who are pet owners are generally responsible and caring individuals,” said Barry M. Buxton, president of the Presbyterian college. “We want to encourage pet adoption and awareness that all of God’s creatures are sacred.”

Students living in Bentley Hall are now allowed to bring their pets from home to school with them to live in their rooms. Under the new policy, qualifying students can have fish, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, ferrets, cats and dogs under 40 pounds. (We’d argue dogs over 40 pounds are sacred, too.)

Previously, students were only allowed to have fish in residence hall rooms.

Under the new pet friendly policy, faculty and staff are also encouraged to bring their pets to campus.

“It is great to be able to have my two dogs for companionship while I am studying and doing homework in my room,” said student Lauren Lampley, owner of Shih Tzus Heidi and Buckley. “This responsibility also forces me to manage my time well enough to take care of them and make sure I make time to spend with them.”

The approved pets for the inaugural pet friendly program include a Boston Terrier, a small Labrador retriever, two Shih Tzus, a pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, a miniature dachshund, a Maine coon mix, a Siamese mix, a leopard gecko, a Dutch rabbit, two ferrets and two birds.

The new policy represents the latest in a trend toward colleges welcoming pets, noted Joshua Fried, director of Petside.com: “We know how much the companionship of a pet can benefit a college student, particularly in the form of stress-relief and as a remedy for homesickness.”

“Now I have two alarms,” one student joked. “When I ignore my alarm clock, my dog licks my face and my nose until I get up. She really cares about my education.”

Lees-McRae College, a four-year, co-educational liberal arts college, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina in the town of Banner Elk.

(Photo courtesy of Lees-McCrae College)

AKC recognizes three new breeds

There are now 167 breeds of dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The AKC has announced that the Icelandic Sheepdog will join the herding group, and the Cane Corso and Leonberger will both join the working group.

The new breeds became eligible for AKC registration on June 1, 2010 and, as of yesterday, became eligible for competitions.

The Cane Corso is a muscular and large-boned breed — one of two native Italian mastiff type dogs that descended from the Roman canis Pugnaces. The Cane Corso is known as a watchdog and hunter of difficult game such as wild boar.  According to the AKC, the breed is intelligent, easily trained, and affectionate to his owner while loving with children and family.

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a playful, friendly and inquisitive breed, the AKC says, known for being hardy and agile — helpful traits when you live in Iceland.

Slightly under medium size with pointy ears and a curled tail, the breed has two coat types, long and short, and is Iceland’s only native dog. 

The Icelandic Sheepdog adapted its working style to Iceland’s terrain and farming techniques since its arrival to the country more than 1,000 years ago. Today, the breed is increasing in popularity, and while still small in numbers, is no longer close to extinction. 

The Leonberger, despite its lion-like looks and large size, is a calm and non-aggressive breed. The Leonberger was originally bred as a family, farm and draft dog.  Today the breed excels as a multi-purpose working dog but the most important task is being a reliable family companion.  In fact, Leonbergers are often called the “nanny” dog because of their affinity for children. 

Breeds trying to gain full AKC recognition must first be recorded with the AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS).  While there is no established timetable for adding new breeds, dogs typically compete in the “Miscellaneous Class” for one to three years before gaining recognition.

More information on the process can be found at the AKC’s website.

New dog park planned in Salisbury

Construction will begin this summer in Salisbury, Maryland on a new dog park, expected to be named after a local dog lover whose family has donated most of the money to build it.

The park will be built on an undeveloped portion of the City Park off North Park Drive, behind the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center’s parking lot.

The project is expected to cost about $30,000, DelmarvaNow.com reported.

The park will have 14,000 square feet of open space for large dogs and a separate section of 8,000 square feet for small dogs.

Plans call for the fenced-in park to be named in honor of Martha Frances “Francie” Jarman Tilghman, one of the founders of the Salisbury Maryland Kennel Club,
a past president of the Humane Society of Wicomico County and an advocate for Pets on Wheels.

Her husband, M.W. “Bill” Tilghman, and son, M.W. “Mat” Tilghman Jr., donated $25,000 for the dog park, city offiicials said.

Tilghman bred and showed poodles, dachshunds and Shelties, and also counseled hundreds of people through the Kennel Club’s breeding referral program, family members said.

Bench donated in slain dog walker’s memory

benchFriends, family and fellow dog walkers in Salem, Oregon, raised funds to have a new bench installed at a dog park in memory of Darrel Valentine.

Valentine, 74, who used to walk his dogs, Lady, Velvet and Nicky, in the park every morning, was attacked in another park while walking his dogs, and died in September of last year.

The bench was completed and unveiled Friday at Minto-Brown Island Park’s dog park, according to the Statesman Journal in Oregon. A plaque on the bench reads: “In memory of Darrel Valentine. Beloved dog park friend.”

“He was kind of an icon down here,” dog walker Deede James said. “He was down here about two hours every morning.”

Friends and family raised more than $1,000 for the bench. They gathered for its unveiling Friday afternoon, along with Carole Miller, Valentine’s sister, who brought Valentine’s two labs to the park as well. Two of the dogs, Lady and Velvet now live with her. A third, Nicky, was adopted after his death.

Valentine was walking his dogs early Sept. 12 near Santana Park in southeast Salem when he was attacked. A suspect was riding by on a bike and demanded cash from Valentine, who said he didn’t have any. The man attacked and beat Valentine, who died days later. No arrest has been made in the case.

Valentine, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, devoted most of his time to his dogs after retirement.

“I think it is wonderful that everyone came together to do this,” said Mark Valentine, Darrel’s son. “It’s really nice.”

Money breeds success at Westminster

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The 134th Westminster Dog Show kicks off today in Madison Square Garden, with 173 breeds — including three newly recognized by the American Kennel Club — competing for the honor of best in show.

“The most prestigious event on the thoroughbred canine calendar” is how the New York Times characterized the show in an article this weekend — and one in which bucks and hype play large roles in determining the winner:

“Among breeders, owners and handlers, it’s understood: you can’t just turn up with the paradigm of the breed, if such an animal exists, and expect a best-in-show ribbon. To seriously vie for victory, a dog needs what is known as a campaign: an exhausting, time-consuming and very expensive gantlet of dog show wins, buttressed by ads in publications like Dog News and The Canine Chronicle.”

Breeders will commonly spend $100,000 a year on ads touting their dog, and that’s just part of the investment.

“Altogether, a top-notch campaign can easily cost more than $300,000 a year, and because it takes time to build momentum and a reputation, a typical campaign lasts for two or three years. Kathy Kirk, who handled Rufus, a colored bull terrier who won best in show at Westminster in 2006, estimates that the dog’s three-year campaign cost about $700,000,” the article said.

Among the 2,500 dogs hoping to follow in Rufus’ footsteps will be some from three newly recognized breeds, competing for the first time — the Irish Red and White Setter joins the Sporting Group; and the Norwegian Buhund and the Pyrenean Shepherd debut in the Herding Group.lg_norwegian_buhund7

Despite its name, the Irish Red and White Setter (above) is a distinct breed, not just a different colored version of the Irish Setter. Bred primarily for the field, they are strong, powerful and athletic, with a keen and intelligent attitude.

The Norwegian Buhund (left) once the companion of Vikings, is a versatile farm dog == black or cream colored — from Norway, where they’ve been used to herd livestock, guard property and hunt game.

lg_pyrenean_shepherd1The Pyrenean Shepherd (left again) is also known by its French name, Berger des Pyrénées, but fanciers of the breed in America often shorten the name to “Pyr shep.” Native to the mountains of southern France, the breed has guarded sheep since medieval times.

The three new breeds will be represented by 29 individual dogs in the show. The newcomers bring this year’s show total to 173 breeds and varieties, up from about 150 two decades ago.

Here’s the TV schedule

NIGHT 1:
Monday, February 15
Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups
8-9 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network
9-11 p.m. (ET) live on CNBC

NIGHT 2:
Tuesday, February 16
Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, Best In Show
8-11 p.m. (ET) live on USA Network

Breed judging highlight videos are available throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday at the Westminster website.

“Deluxe” FURminator easier on the hands

FURminator_blue_angle_01042The friendly folks at FURminator keep making a great, if pricey, product better — and ever more frustratingly difficult to get out of the package.

The product I was sent — the new fur-ejecting FURminator with an improved handle — worked amazingly well. They’ve improved the fur-ejecting technology, so, unlike with earlier models, hair shoots right out of the deshedding tool with the simple push of a button. The new handle is contoured to better fit the hand.

But the packaging! Why manufacturers insist on encasing their products in thick, clear plastic cocoons that take a hacksaw to open, I’ll never understand.

Perhaps it is to suggest that their product is so valuable it rates a hermetically sealed shroud that can be opened only by a team of physics majors.

Once I did manage to free the Deluxe FURminator from its package, which also featured a twisted wire to hold it firmly into its mold, it was smooth sailing.

As with earlier versions, it did a magnificent job of removing my dog’s loose hair and undercoat. In 15 minutes, not counting the 30 minutes it took to open it, I’d removed enough hair to fill a grocery bag. With the new and far more comfortable handle, I could have filled enough for two more bags, but I figured Ace might want to keep a little undercoat for winter.

The small “Deluxe Collection” FURminator, with fur ejector, retails for around $50, and the FURminator website lists some of the stores in which you can find it. The Deluxe Collection went on sale in pet stores today.

As for my now slightly used model, I repackaged it as best I could and it will be awarded — by Santa himself — to a worthy dog at the upcoming Pet Photos with Santa event at Riverside Park in Baltimore. (Saturday, Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon). Proceeds from the event go to the Franky Fund for the care of sick and injured animals at Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS).

Bluetick, Redbone gain AKC recognition

lg_bluetick6The bluetick and redbone coonhounds — along with the Boykin spaniel — have been officially recognized as breeds by the American Kennel Club.

The acceptance of the three new breeds brings to 164 the number of breeds fully recognized as such by the AKC.

The Boykin spaniel will join the sporting group while both the bluetick coonhound and redbone coonhound will join the hound group.

The new breeds will be eligible for full AKC registration and competition in their respective groups at conformation shows held on and after December 30, 2009.

The bluetick coonhound gets its name from its coat pattern, which is dark blue in color and covered in a ticking or mottled pattern. The bluetick is noted for its skill in trailing and treeing raccoons and other small animals. The breed has origins in the English coonhound. In 1945, bluetick breeders broke away to form their own slower-working dog that could pick up older scent trails.

RedboneThe redbone coonhound is noted for its speed and agility and its ability to hunt and swim over a variety of terrain. The redbone dates back to red foxhounds brought to the U.S. by Scottish immigrants in the late 1700s and red foxhounds imported from Ireland before the Civil War.

Boykin_Simmons3The Boykin Spaniel, in addition to being the official state dog of South Carolina, is a medium-sized hunting dog with a cheerful, energetic personality. The breed was developed in South Carolina in the early 1900s by L. Whitaker Boykin, originally to hunt wild turkeys.

The road to full AKC recognition requires non-recognized breeds to first gain acceptance into the AKC Foundation Stock Service. After a breed has been in FSS the recognition process begins with a written request to compete in the miscellaneous class from the National Breed Club.  While there is no established timetable for adding new breeds, dogs typically compete in the miscellaneous class for one to three years.  More information on the process can be found at the AKC’s website.

The next breeds in line for full recognition by AKC are the Icelandic Sheepdog, Cane Corso and Leonberger.

(Photos courtesy of American Kennel Club: Bluetick/by Diane Lewis ©AKC; Boykin Spaniel/by Bill Simmons; Redbone/by Christine Smith)