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Tag: paws

Elephant treadmill will train Iditarod dogs

maggieWhat do you do with an ever-so-slightly used $100,000 elephant treadmill?

If you’re a zoo in Alaska, you do the same thing you did with your captive elephant – admit it was a mistake and find it a new home.

The Alaska Zoo had the treadmill custom made so that Maggie the elephant — fat, cold and lonely being the only elephant in Alaska — could get some exercise in her otherwise cramped quarters. When the zoo finally came to its senses and shipped Maggie to a sanctuary in northern California, that left them with a contraption that wasn’t in too great demand. Not the sort of thing you can put out at the yard sale. Though the zoo did try selling it on Craigslist.

While the zoo didn’t get paid for the treadmill, they did find a home for it: Iditarod musher Martin Buser has hauled it to his kennel to be used to train his dogs for the 1,150-mile race, the Alaska Dispatch reports.

While he won’t have it reassembled in time to train dogs for the coming race, Buser, a four-time Iditarod winner, expects to use it in the future. Built for an 8,000-pound elephant, it’s 10,000 pounds and 22 feet long, more than big enough to let a whole team of dogs run on at once.

elephant_treadmillAt Buser’s Happy Trails Kennels, he plans to use it to let his dogs run long distances while getting nowhere, invite scientists to use it to learn more about sled dogs, and possibly entertain tourists who want to see a team of dogs run long distances without getting anywhere — like the Iditarod, only without the freezing cold or the breathtaking scenery.

Maggie the elephant left the Alaska Zoo in 2007, after several years of controversy over whether she should ever have been brought there in the first place.

The treadmill was the zoo’s attempt to get Maggie exercising through Alaska’s long winters. It was one of the steps the zoo took to improve her controversial and cramped living conditions. Critics argued she should be in a warmer climate , with more open space, where she could walk outdoors year-round and be with other elephants.

But the zoo decided to try the treadmill experiment first. It didn’t work out, zoo officials admitted. Maggie would have nothing to do with the treadmill – an objection to which we can relate.

At that point, the zoo gave up and loaded Maggie on an Air Force C-17 for a flight to northern California, where, thanks in part to funding from animal activist/game show host Bob Barker, she’s living the rest of her life at ARK 2000, an animal sanctuary in San Andreas operated by the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

After Maggie left town, Buser called the zoo and inquired about the machine. In exchange for the treadmill, Buser added the zoo to his list of official sponsors.

In addition to drawing tourists, Buser says the treadmill will allow for closer scientific research of his sled dogs. Instruments like oxygen consumption masks and heart rate monitors can yield valuable information, but can’t be used when the dogs are running outside.

Sled dogs cruise at 10 to 12 mph, the Swiss-born Buser said, but he’d like to get the treadmill up to 20 mph so he can put his dogs through some speed workouts. Buser said he probably won’t get his dogs on the treadmill until after the coming Iditarod, which has its ceremonial start in Anchorage on March 6.

When a house of God becomes a house of Dog

Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the … dogs?

A handful of churches have found a new way to fill empty pews, catching on to what a lot of hotels and other business establishments have already figured out: When you let people bring their dogs, you get more people.

A recent USA Today article looked at a dog-friendly church service in Omaha at the Underwood Hills Presbyterian Church — one where some dogs took seats on the pews, others sprawled on the floor and a few seemed intent on being social. But all eventually settled down for the sermon.

“Just relax,” the Rev. Becky Balestri, 51, said to open the service. “It’s like having kids in church.”

At least two other U.S. churches, in New York and near Boston, also allow dogs at regular weekly services, the article said.

“I hadn’t been to church in many, many years, and this gave me a reason to come back with my friend,” said one churchgoer who hadn’t attended church regularly since about 1988.

Read more »

Oprah’s second dog, Sadie, returns home

Oprah Winfrey’s 3-month-old cocker spaniel Sadie has returned home, making a full recovery from Parvovirus, Zootoo reports.

The dog was one of two Winfrey recently adopted from PAWS in Chicago. Ivan, Sadie’s brother, and Winfrey’s second adopted puppy, died earlier this month from complications associated with the disease.

A spokesperson for Winfrey said Sadie is doing well.

It is unclear where the puppies contracted Parvo, which attacks white blood cells and can cause intestinal problems, resulting in severe diarrhea, and subsequently, dehydration.

The disease frequently affects younger or older dogs with weakened immune systems.

PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) has maintained that Winfrey’s puppies, like all of its animals, received all of their required immunizations before they were adopted in the beginning of March.

Oprah’s new puppy dies

People magazine has confirmed that one of Oprah Winfrey’s newly adopted and highly publicized cocker spaniels has died.

Ivan, one of two puppies Winfrey recently adopted from PAWS Shelter in Chicago died of parvovirus last week, a veterinarian confirmed. The second, Sadie, is being treated against the highly contagious virus as a precaution.

Winfrey announced the adoption of Sadie on her show March 6 and said she was thinking about adopting one of her three brothers still awaiting homes at PAWS. She brought home Sadie’s brother Ivan, but the puppy came down with a deadly virus last Wednesday and died, said Dr. Jean Dobbs, a veterinarian who supplied the plasma to treat them both.

A spokesperson for Winfrey confirmed to PEOPLE Pets that the puppy died over the weekend, and added that Sadie, “is getting stronger.”

“It was just a little bit too late. All the veterinary community got together to save his life,” Dr. Dobbs said of Ivan. “The puppy didn’t make it, but he’s teaching others how important this is to get vaccinated at the right times.”

Dr. Dobbs is the founder of Hemopet, a non-profit animal blood bank.

The PAWS Shelter has not responded to an email I sent yesterday — and they didn’t return People’s calls, either.

Winfrey’s Golden Retriever Gracie choked to death on a ball in 2007 and her cocker spaniel Sophie died about a year ago at age 13 of kidney failure. After airing a show on puppy mills, Oprah vowed that her next pet would be a rescue.

Sadie and Ivan were part of a litter of 11 puppies born to a dog rescued from Greenwood, South Carolina by a woman attending her mother’s funeral.

Interestingly, news of Ivan’s death was first broken last week by John Yates, head of the American Sporting Dog Alliance, an organization highly that was critical of Winfrey’s puppy mill episode and tried to initiate a boycott of the program’s advertisers.

Through the weekend only Examiner bloggers were publishing that unconfirmed report, picking up what Yates posted on the Internet.

Remembering 71 – the elephant, not the year

One of our intrepid correspondents, braving the wilds of YouTube, tracked down this old video of 71′s arrival at the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California, 22 years ago.

We share it here in memory of the elephant, who (see below) died last week.