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Tag: pack

White God: It’s not the nerds getting revenge in this haunting Hungarian film

In terms of its story line, White God isn’t too different from any other movie in which the bullied rise up and get even with the bullies.

What makes it different — and makes it shine — is that in this case the bullied are abused and mistreated dogs, a species that already knows (perhaps better and more instinctively than us) that there is strength in numbers.

Perhaps the most talked about scene in the much talked about Hungarian film — winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Prize Un Certain Regard Award and an official selection of Sundance Film Festival — is when a pack of 250 dogs, all mutts, stampede through the streets.

And what makes that scene even more impressive is that it was achieved not through computer graphics, but with dogs.

Director Kornel Mundruczo first issued a casting call for 100 dogs for the scene, then decided bigger would be better. More than 200 dogs ended up being involved, many of them from local animal shelters.

The scene serves as the movie’s climax, and it was a first of its kind achievement for the dog trainers involved.

Under the leadership of Hungarian dog trainer Árpád Halász, a team of humans was able to train the dogs to stampede in a pack in what was, in reality, a massive rush for treats.

One of the dog trainers involved, Teresa Ann Miller — daughter of a trainer who worked on films like Beethoven and Cujo — was interviewed about the movie on NPR this week.

Miller helped cast and train the two dogs who shared the role of Hagen.

The movie’s story begins when a young girl is forced to give up her dog, Hagen, because it is of mixed-breed heritage. Her father, unwilling to pay the fee required to keep a mutt, abandons Hagen in the streets.

Young Lili tries to find him, and Hagen tries to find her, but eventually he joins forces with, and becomes the leader of, hundreds of other abandoned, abused and mistreated dogs living in the streets.

As a pack, they rise up to seek revenge for the indignities they’ve suffered at the hands of humans.

(If the film has one fault, it’s the notion that dogs would seek revenge. They’re better than that.)

Miller told NPR that director Mundruczó wanted the stampede scene to look as real as possible — a goal complicated by the fact that no one has ever seen hundreds of domestic dogs running as a pack.

It was first rehearsed with 100 dogs running together.

Trainer Halász watched and then said, “What about 150?” Miller recounted. “And 150 looked so good that he says, What about 200? And each time Árpád learned, as he acquired the dogs and introduced other dogs into the pack, that it was possible.”

It took four months to prepare for the scene, she added.

“And that was amazing to see; that was fascinating. I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never seen such a large pack of dogs run together. And, quite honestly, I don’t think we’d ever do it here (in the U.S.) just for the time that it takes. It’s so much easier just to CGI it, but the director didn’t want that effect at all.”

Ecuadorian stray becomes global celebrity after bonding with adventure racing team

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That Ecuadorian street dog who befriended a Swedish adventure racing team after they tossed him a meatball is an official resident of Sweden now.

Arthur, as the team named him, followed the extreme racers for the last 50 or so miles of the 430-mile race — slogging through mud, traipsing through jungle growth, climbing up mountainsides and at one point, after race officials advised the team to leave the dog behind, plunging into a river and swimming alongside their kayaks.

The team had stopped to eat before the final two stages of the race when member Mikael Lindnord noticed the scruffy yellow stray and tossed him a meatball from the can he was eating from.

It was a simple, nonchalant gesture — one Lindnord said he didn’t think too much of at the time.

Clearly, though, Arthur did.

When the four-member team finished lunch and resumed the race — beginning a 24-mile hike through the rainforest — Arthur, named after the legendary King Arthur, got up and followed.

Adventure Racing is a form of extreme sport that combines continuous hiking, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking.

At a checkpoint before the final segment of the race — a 36-mile stretch of river — race organizers warned the team that taking Arthur along was inadvisable and posed a risk to both the dog’s safety and their’s.

Team members agreed to push on without him, but after their kayaks pulled away Arthur jumped into the river, caught up with them and swam alongside.

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When Lindnord saw the dog was struggling to keep up, he pulled Arthur aboard.

Spectators standing on shore applauded.

By the end of the race, Lindnord said he had decided to try and adopt the dog and take him back to Sweden.

He admitted in a Daily Mail article that Arthur — due to living a harsh life on the streets — was in pretty bad shape even before accompanying the team on the last two legs of the race.

Once the race was over, Arthur was taken to a vet in Ecuador, and Lindnor applied to Sweden’s board of agriculture, or Jordbruksverket for permission to bring Arthur home. Arthur had already become a media star by then.

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“I almost cried in front of the computer, when receiving the decision from in Sweden,” Lindnord wrote on the Facebook page of Team Peak Performance.

They flew home together this week.

“I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship,” he said. “Instead, I got a new friend.”

(Photos: Krister Göransson)

How many dogs can a dog walker walk?

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How many dogs should a dog walker walk at once?

After half a century as an amateur dog walker, and three months as a professional one, I’m prepared to give a qualified answer to that question.

It depends on the dogs. It depends on the dog walker. But three at a time should be plenty.

Many a dog walker might scoff at that — and view the idea of limiting the number of dogs a person can walk at one time as cutting into their profit margin.

It would be nice if dog walking was the one industry in the world not obsessed with upping its profits. But it’s not.

Many dog walkers balked when San Francisco — one of very few cities that regulates professional dog walkers — suggested limiting them to walking no more than eight dogs at once.

I can’t imagine doing that.

I can’t even imagine walking all three of the small dogs I walk for residents of at an assisted living facility all at once.

bgdogs 042Their leashes would get tangled, I’d trip and fall, and, given a couple of them tend to snarf up anything that resembles food — including Punkin, the handsome Boston Terrier to your left – I wouldn’t be able to monitor all three at once.

So — even though it takes three times as long — I opt for walking them one at a time. Bean counters and efficiency experts would say that’s stupid of me.

But then again, I’m 60, and not as agile and speedy, maybe, as once I was.

Here’s a news item that came out of Mill Valley, just up the road from San Francisco, this week:

A 71-year-old dog walker who fell more than 200 feet down a ravine in California was found by rescuers — with all six dogs she was walking huddled around her.

Carol Anderson fell into the ravine near a remote fire road during a storm Tuesday in Mill Valley, KTVU reported.

It’s not clear from news reports whether all six dogs fell with her, but she did manage to hold on to her cell phone during the tumble, and use it to contact one of her dog walking clients.

A Mill Valley Fire Department official said Anderson told the client, “I fell down, I don’t know where I’m at. I have the dogs. I’m dizzy. I’m nauseous, come help me.”

Authorities were able to track her down through her cell phone signals. The first rescuers to arrive found all six dogs curled up around her, which authorities said probably protected her from the cold. Firefighters climbed into the ravine and hoisted Anderson back up.

Anderson was hospitalized in fair condition. All the dogs were returned safely to their owners

It wasn’t the first time the dog walker has run into some bad luck.

In 2007, three of seven dogs Anderson had been walking — all at once — all got sick and died, just hours later, from what turned out to be strychnine poisoning intended to exterminate gophers.

After a morning walk on the Alta Trail above Marin City, the three dogs experienced high fevers and seizures. Two died at an area pet hospital, and a third was dead on arrival.

Walking six, seven, eight or more dogs at once strikes me as asking for trouble — no matter how well behaved the dogs are, or how experienced and physically fit the dog walker is.

I don’t think the rest of the country needs to go all San Francisco and regulate the industry. Dog owners can do that themselves, simply by asking, or insisting if necessary, that their dog not be walked in a group the size of a baseball team, or jury.

The dog walker who refuses to comply with such a request is probably more of a money seeker than a dog lover and may be better off avoided anyway.

(Top photo, a dog walker in San Francisco, by Mike Koozmin/ San Francisco Examiner; bottom photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Pit bull saves owner from javelina attack

javelinaAn Arizona woman is crediting her adopted pit bull with saving her life after she and the dog were attacked by a pack of javelina.

Heidi Diedrich said the two-year-old dog, who she adopted from a county shelter eight months ago, chased off as many as five of the wild animals after they charged her and knocked her to the ground in Scottsdale on Thanksgiving day.

JoJo, the pit bull, received more than 100 sutures for his wounds but is recovering.

Diedrich said she and the dog were walking before sunrise in a park near her Scottsdale Ranch condo when she heard hooves behind her and was knocked to the ground.

“I couldn’t see anything,” she told the Arizona Republic. “I just know I kicked something.”

JoJo wriggled out of his collar and both he and the javelina disappeared in the darkness. Diedrich didn’t see what happened next, but she heard fighting and yelping in the distance.

When JoJo reappeared he was covered with blood. Vets found about 10 cuts and gore wounds from the animals’ tusks.

He is expected to make a full recovery.

Javelina attacks are rare, state wildlife officials say. While capable of inflicting serious harm with their razor sharp incisors, they generally avoid pets and humans.

Jim Paxon, a spokesman with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said Diedrich and JoJo were likely attacked because the javelina felt threatened.

“They might have been running from something else and already … felt threatened,” he said. “But when they came in contact with the lady and her dog, they were reacting to a perceived threat and they were acting like wild animals.”

Paxon advised anyone who encounters a javelina to quietly move away. If it’s too late for that, he recommends climbing a tree or fence, or running away in a direction perpendicular from them.

Owner of dogs that killed California jogger is charged with murder

jacksondog1Prosecutors in Los Angeles County have filed murder charges against the owner of the dogs that attacked and killed a 63-year-old jogger in Littlerock.

Alex Jackson, 28, was arrested at his Littlerock home Thursday after DNA testing confirmed the presence of the victim’s blood on several of his dogs.

His bail is set at $1,050,000. If convicted, he faces life in prison, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said.

Six pit bulls and two mixed breeds — were recovered from his home, according to the Los Angeles Times. Four of the dogs were believed to be involved in the attack.

“We believe there was evidence that he was aware the dogs were vicious and they have attacked before and he knew of the danger they posed,” said Jane Robison, a district attorney’s spokeswoman.

Pamela Devitt, of Antelope Valley, was attacked by a pack of dogs on May 9 and died en route to the hospital. Coroner’s officials said the cause of death was blood loss, and that they found 150 to 200 puncture wounds on her body.

Since January, authorities had received at least three other reports of Jackson’s pit bulls attacking other people, according to the district attorney’s office.

Experts said the filing of murder charges in such cases is rare.

“When it comes to murder charges, there are very, very few over decades. But increasingly dog owners whose animals attack are facing criminal prosecution,” said Donald Cleary of the National Canine Research Council. Most dogs involved in such attacks aren’t family pets, and have usually been isolated, he added.

Cleary said he was aware of only two cases in the last 15 years in which dog owners have been charged with murder — one in San Francisco and one in Atlanta.

One of those was Marjorie Knoller, an attorney whose dogs mauled her neighbor to death in San Francisco. She is now serving 15 years to life in prison for the 2001 killing of lacrosse coach Dianne Whipple.

A jury convicted Knoller of second-degree murder. A judge later reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter, saying there was not enough evidence for Knoller to know her two 100-pound Presa Canarios would kill. The original jury verdict was later reinstated after an appeal.

(Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)   

Heavy meddle: Creed works as wolf repellant

A 13-year-old boy in Norway credits the Creed song “Overcome,” cranked up to full volume, with saving him from a pack of wolves.

Walter Eikrem was walking home from a school bus stop in Rakkestdad, listening to the band through his headphones, when he noticed four wolves lurking nearby on a hillside, not far from his family’s farmhouse.

According to Spiegel Online, the boy heeded advice his mother had given him and didn’t start running.  “The worst thing you can do is run away because doing so just invites the wolves to chase you down,” he said, “… but I was so afraid that I couldn’t even run away if I’d wanted to.”

Instead, he unplugged the headphones from his mobile phone, and turned the volume up. Between the heavy metal, and Walter shouting and flailing his arms, it was enough to drive the wolves off.

“They just turned around and simply trotted away,” Walter said.

(Photos by Rune Blekken / TV 2)

Dogs suspected in flamingo deaths at zoo

flamingosBaton Rouge Zoo officials think a pack of wild dogs may be responsible for the Sunday night deaths of 17 flamingos, more than a third of the zoo’s flock.

Despite having 24-hour security, the zoo didn’t discover the deaths until staff arrived for work Monday morning,  Phil Frost, zoo director, told The Advocate.

Zoo officials don’t know how the dogs got into the zoo, or through an additional fence and into the flamingo enclosure, but they said canine paw prints were detected.

Besides the 17 flamingos killed, one more bird was injured in the attack and was being treated at the zoo’s hospital, said Mary Wood, the zoo’s marketing director.

The remaining 30 members of the flock who survived were back on display Monday. Zoo officials aren’t sure how they managed to survive the attack.