We’re not big on dogs being tethered to anything — posts, parking meters, even, except when necessary, humans.
And, entanglements sometimes being easy to get into and hard to get out of, it’s definitely not a good idea, generally speaking, to leash them to each other.
But this was brief, and supervised, and kinda cute.
Ace was recruited into babysitting duty over the weekend when, on the quatro de Mayo, we went to a Cinco de Mayo party at a former neighbor’s home.
Two other guests brought their little dogs. First came a pipsqueak of a pup named Penny who, after greeting everyone, still had lots of energy to spare. With a fairly busy road nearby, it was suggested Penny be tethered to a somewhat stationary object — namely Ace.
Plus, he was used to being latched to smaller dogs, having shepherded a dachshund friend several times without stepping on him.
Plus, he was so happy to return to his old neighborhood he wasn’t about to dart off, or even saunter off, dragging two little balls of fluff behind him.
Plus, I was watching over it all pretty closely.
Ace didn’t seem to mind the arrangement a bit, and Penny put up with it, sometimes walking along in stride with him. She figured out pretty quickly, when she did try to scoot of on her own, that it was hopeless.
After exploring together, Ace decided to lay down, and Penny settled nearby, finding a stick to chew on.
About then, Charlie arrived, another fluffy little dog — slightly larger than Penny. That led to an energy surge, at least among the smaller, younger dogs, so we decided to hook Charlie to Ace, too.
As Charlie and Penny frolicked, Ace monitored them for a while, then worked the crowd, begging for food and ignoring the occasional little tugs on his harness.
Eventually, Charlie and Penny were freed, and they were so into playing, they didn’t go anywhere, except in tiny circles around each other — ignoring their babysitter entirely.
I think Ace liked briefly having a mission.
Like all good things though, it came to an end.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, babysitter, babysitting, backyard, charlie, cinco de mayo, dogs, harness, leash, leashed, party, penny, pets, play, supervision, tethered, tethering
We’re all getting a little tired of the “win-win.” For one thing, it’s a cliche. For another, with so many “win-wins” being pointed out these days, two wins just no longer seem enough.
So how about a win-win-win-win?
Last Friday, the PreVet Association at Illinois State University brought a dozen dogs to campus, accomplishing, by my count, four wins:
First, students, stressed out by exams, had an additional – and far healthier than some other alternatives – way to unwind.
Second — with students paying $1 to walk, pet and play with rescue dogs — the event raised a little money for Wish Bone Canine Rescue, which brought the dogs to school.
Third, dogs in need of homes got a chance to show off, increasing the chances of getting adopted or fostered.
And fourth, the dogs got gobs of attention and a chance to socialize during what organizers call “Dog Days on the Quad.”
“This is a good chance for stress relief,” said Erin Mortimer, ISU Student PreVet Association vice president. “A lot of students miss their dogs from home and enjoy taking these dogs for a walk.”
The dogs benefit at least as much as the young humans do. On top of getting some attention and learning socialization skills, it’s an opportunity for them to find a future forever home, or a temporary foster one.
“We try to let students know that they are also able to foster for Wish Bone,” said Kim Bill, volunteer coordinator for Wish Bone. “It is a great way for them to have a dog on their own schedule. On top of that, everything is provided by Wish Bone — food, toys, medical care, and support.”
You can see a slideshow of it all at Stateside, the school’s alumni magazine.
Half the proceeds from the event went to Wish Bone for food, shelter, and medical treatment. The other half went to the ISU Student PreVet Association to allow students to participate in symposiums and special lectures.
Adding up, actually, to five wins.
(Photo: Stateside magazine, Illinois State University)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, attention, campus, college, dogs, exams, foster, fundraiser, fundraising, illinois state university, mental health, pets, play, pre vet, pre vet association, rescue, shelter, socialization, stress, unwind, veterinary, walk, wish bone canine rescue
The Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab in New York City is looking for some playful dogs, and their playful humans.
The lab at Barnard College, run by Alexandra Horowitz , author of Inside of a Dog,” is investigating the different ways people and dogs play together and the behaviors they use.
Whether you and your dog wrestle, engage in tug of war, play fetch, or Scrabble (one of these days I will win), the lab wants to see the two of you in action, and invites you to submit a video.
It’s cataloging all the ways, traditional and non, that people play with their dogs. Project: Play with Your Dog is open to anyone, in any country, and short video submissions — under 60 seconds — are welcome.
To participate, make a video and upload it to the study website. You’ll also be asked to complete a short survey. Those taking part can add a picture to the project’s Wall of Contributors.
Julie Hecht, the canine behavioral researcher who manages the lab, describes it as an opportunity for dog lovers around the world to get involved in scientific research into dog behavior.
“While dog-dog play has been studied extensively, dog-person play, which takes on a different form and appears to have different rules, has not attracted nearly as much scholarly attention,” Hecht noted in a guest blog for Scientific American.
Hecht, who’s also a science writer, adjunct professor in the Anthrozoology Masters Program at Canisius College, and blogger, says play behaviors arise early in a dog’s life. From three weeks onward, puppies show behaviors like wrestling, rolling over, biting, rearing and reciprocal chase.
For dogs, play appears to help them learn social skills such as bite inhibition, and other behaviors they will use the rest of their lives.
Play often incorporates behaviors also found in aggressive interactions, but dogs seem to have found a way to let other dogs know that it is play time, not fight time — the hiney-raised play stance for instance.
“Dog-dog play is more similar to an episode of the Three Stooges than you might have imagined,” Hecht says.
Dog-human play might have some similarities, and some differences — and the lab plans to try and figure that, among other things, out.
Tugging games between dog and human, for instance, seem to be more about keeping the interaction with a human going rather than gaining possession of the object being tugged — at least to the dog.
To learn more about the study, and get details on how to join, visit www.DogHumanPlay.com.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, animals, barnard, behavior, biting, chase, cognition, dog, dog cognition lab, dog human play, dog-dog, dog-human, dogs, fetch, horowitz, humans, julie hecht, owners, pets, play, play stance, play with your dog, playing, poject, research, run, sought, study, submissions, tug, video, videos
While many players chase them
Sharapova, Nadal, et al …
None, I think, are as enthralled
As dog with tennis ball
(Sometimes, the poet within wins. To read all his verse, click on the logo to the left.)
For the one in five children who learn they need to wear glasses, and maybe aren’t feeling the best about it, Arlo can help.
Arlo’s a shaggy, free-spirited dog who loves to play catch, until one day he finds he can’t. Unable to see the ball anymore, he learns he needs glasses.
Arlo Needs Glasses (Workman Publishing) is the latest book from Barney Saltzberg, the bestselling (and bespectacled) author of Beautiful Oops!, Peekaboo Kisses, and Good Egg.
The book was inspired by Saltzberg’s own dog. Just like his character, the real-life Arlo is not very good at playing catch either, although he loves to play.
“He just couldn’t get the ball to land in his mouth,” Saltzberg says. “We tried over and over and I honestly had never seen anything like it.”
The interactive picture book is intended to helps kids see the fun in wearing glasses. Children get to do just what Arlo does to solve his problem: They read an eye chart, look through a fold-out phoropter (that big machine optometrists use), and try on different pairs of glasses — from movies star glasses to superhero glasses to mad scientist glasses.
Arlo, though we hate to give away the ending, becomes the best ball-catcher in the neighborhood, and picks up a new hobby along the way — reading.
In connection with the book’s release in July, the publisher sponsored a “My Dog Needs Glasses” contest, inviting pet owners to submit photos of their dogs in glasses. That’s one of them, Wilson, to the left.
Five winners will be chosen to win signed copies of the book. The deadline to enter has passed, but you can see some of the contenders here.
Saltzberg is the award-winning author-illustrator of Beautiful Oops!, the successful Kisses series, Peekaboo, Crazy Hair Day, and Good Egg, as well as many other beloved children’s books. Also a singer-songwriter, he has written tunes for the PBS show “Arthur” and continues to perform music for children.
(For more news and reviews about dog books, visit our Good Dog Reads page.)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: arlo, arlo needs glasses, ball, barney saltzberg, books, books on dogs, catch, children, children's books, contest, dog books, glasses, good dog reads, need, photo, play, spectacles, wearing, workman, workman publishing
What your dog sees as humpworthy may include other dogs (male and female), your child, your ottoman, your favorite pillow, your house guest, a stuffed animal, your leg, or anything else he — or even she — can latch on to.
It’s one of those canine behaviors we humans find less than endearing, downright embarassing and highly confusing; and, as a result, our reaction is usually to bow our heads in shame, holler at the offending dog, or pretend it’s not happening.
So it’s good to see somebody boldy jumping on the subject — and getting across the point, among others, that the behavior is totally normal.
Julie Hecht, who manages Alexandra Horowitz’s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York City, explores the ambiguous and often avoided topic of non-reproductive humping in the latest issue of The Bark magazine.
“From tail wagging to barking, dog behavior is riddled with nuance. A wagging tail might convey ‘I’m quite scared’ or ‘This is the best day ever!’ Like tail wagging, mounting is far more complex than it may appear, and there is not one simple explanation. But there are some likely candidates.”
Hecht holds a master’s degree in applied animal behavior and welfare from the University of Edinburgh, and she’s an adjunct professor at Canisius College. More important than any of that, she’s not afraid to tackle a subject that offends the more prim and proper among us.
So is humping sexual, or part of an instinctual urge — “must … reproduce … now” — to create offspring? Is it a display of aggression, an assertion of dominance, or just a way to relieve some pent up energy? Clearly, it’s not always and entirely motivated by sexual arousal, Hecht notes, for pillows aren’t usually that arousing.
For nearly as long as ethologists have studied dogs, they have taken note of dogs’ tendency to hump outside of reproductive contexts, she writes.
University of Colorado ethologist Marc Bekoff observed way back in the 1970s that young canids — pairs of three- to seven-week-old wolves, coyotes and dogs — were prone to pelvic thrusting, and that females also engaged in some of that behavior.
“It’s what dogs do. It’s a completely normal behavior,” explains Carolyn Walsh, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who studies the nuances of dog behavior in dog parks. “Both males and females mount, regardless of whether [they are] sexually intact or not.”
It can come from a surge of emotion, anxiety or arousal, Walsh explains.
“Dog parks can be quite stimulating, and for those who are highly aroused physiologically, mounting behavior could easily come out. There can be such a buildup of social motivation and the desire to affiliate that some of that energy spills over into the sexual motivation system. You see sexual behavior coming out, but it’s mostly out of context.”
Hecht also interviewed Peter Borchelt, a certified applied animal behaviorist in New York City, who pointed out, “There are only so many behaviors a dog has access to, and dogs do what is part of their species-typical behavior. It is something they know how to do.”
Many dog owners equate humping to dominance and control, but it can also be a friendly and less than lecherous attempt to get another dog to play. It may be a cry for attention, a way for dogs to gauge the bond they have with other dogs, or to test just how much a play partner is willing to tolerate.
“This is the idea that dogs perform potentially annoying behaviors like mounting to test the strength of the recipient’s investment in the relationship,” said Becky Trisko, a behaviorist and owner of Unleashed in Evanston, Ill., who has studied dog-dog interactions in the dog daycare setting.
“It’s like saying, ‘How much will you put up with?’ ‘How much do you really like me?’”
Despite all the dirty connotations we humans attach to pelvic thrusting, with dogs the behavior seems — while stemming from various emotions — to be more of a celebration of life than anything else. Cooped up in houses all day, a trip to the dog park, or even just seeing the leash come out, can get dogs excited to the point that something else comes out. Humping, or even an erection, it seems to me, isn’t all about sex when it comes to dogs — that’s just how we’re prone to interpreting it.
We humans equate it with sexual lust, but, with dogs, humping might just be a natural way to celebrate, like the high-fiving or chest-bumping of frat boys, or that “woo-hoo” noise girls make when they get together.
Looking at it through a less tainted lens, one could even make the argument that the behavior — humping, not woo-hooing — is more charming than it is revolting.
For the dog, joy is joy; and embarassing as it might be for us to see any overlap between sexual pleasure and just plain happiness, dogs don’t seem to get all bogged down in what might be the appropriate expression of their various happy and excited emotions.
Is that dirty? Or is there a certain purity there? Do dogs have their emotions confused? Or do they have it right?
None of this is to say you should try it at home, at the corner bar, or anywhere else. Civilized society dictates we don’t engage in that behavior. It’s only to say we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape when our dogs hump.
Rather than punishing a dog for exhibiting glee, it makes more sense to gently redirect the behavior. Watch closely at the dog park and you’ll see that many dogs — the humpees, as opposed to the humpers – do that themselves, with a growl or snarl.
My dog Ace does not tolerate it — whether it’s him being humped, or another dog. He feels the need to break it up, and, should he see one dog mounting another, he will generally rush over and do so.
I’m not sure where that behavior comes from.
Maybe he has become too human.
(Painting by Lachlan Blair, from his father Stuart Blair’s blog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, animals, arousal, barnard college, behavior, behaviorist, boys, canines, carolyn walsh, causes, chest bump, children, civilized, control, cushions, dog, dog cognition lab, dog park, dogs, dominance, embarassing, embarassment, ethologist, excitement, female, girls, glee, happiness, high five, humans, hump, humped, humping, humps, humpworthy, instinct, interpretations, julie hecht, legs, male, marc bekoff, mounting, people, peter borchelt, pets, pillows, play, reasons, reproductive, sexual, socializing, society, the bark, urge, woo hoo
A Shetland sheepdog removed from the suburban New York home of a hoarder four years ago is back in town, and performing in a different kind of packed house — in a stage production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
Colt was one of 23 dogs removed from the home of a woman in Wesley Hills in 2008, according to the Journal News.
Ramapo police and members of the SPCA wore gas masks to enter the home, the condition of which was described as squalid, and the homeowner was charged with hoarding and neglecting the animals.
At some point, before her trial, she got Colt back, and he quickly tried to escape, getting struck by a car in the process. The accident left him with a broken back that required surgery and a body cast.
The woman later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, relinquishing ownership of all but one of her dogs and paying a $125 fine.
Colt became the ward of the Hudson Valley Humane Society, living in the Manhattan and Stony Point homes of its acting president, Ann Marie Gaudio.
This spring, though, Gaudio got a call from the Antrim Playhouse — located about a half-mile from the house Colt had been hoarded in. They were looking for a canine to play the role of the bunkhouse dog in its production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
Gaudio suggested the producer and director audition Colt.
“Colt has the best bio of all of us,” Director Brooke Malloy Ortiz told the “He’s real sweet, a retired therapy dog. He’s not old, so we changed the dialogue to talk about how he has this wound on his leg and his back is broken. And we wet down his fur to make him look a bit more worn.”
In Steinbeck’s story of two itinerant farm workers, an old handyman named Candy has an old dog that one of the men, Carlson, constantly berates and abuses, eventually persuading the boss to let him put the dog out of its misery — an act that foreshadows what’s ahead.
Candy is played by Gordon Wolotira, who, under the director’s orders, was the only one allowed to pet or feed Colt during rehearsals.
The actor who plays Carlson, who yells at the dog several times in the play, wasn’t allowed to bond with Colt at all.
As a result, “Every time that Carlson has to pull the dog away from Candy, Colt growls at him and sometimes sits down and will not budge,” the director said. “We didn’t even train him to do that. But there’s a lot of shouting on stage, so he just wants to stay with Gordon, who has treats for him.”
Colt spends about a dozen minutes onstage, but he provides “some of the most engrossing moments of the play and it certainly gets the audience’s attention,” Wolotria said. “By the time they drag him off, it’s heart-breaking.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ann marie gaudio, antrim, antrim playhouse, book, candy, carson, colt, comebacks, dog, dogs, f mice and men, hoarded, hoarder, home, hudson valley humane society, john steinbeck, mercy killing, new york, of mice and men, pets, play, plays, production, role, seized, shetland sheepdog, stage, wesley hills
The love affair continues between Ace and the cat next door.
It started at my neighbor’s front window, where her new cat, Tom, would lay in the sunshine when she wasn’t at home. Tom was tiny then, just a few weeks old. And there seemed to be nothing Ace — and Tom — liked better than looking at each other through that window.
After three months of meeting at the window, and later playing peekaboo at windows of the front door, they eventually met in person, spending about an hour running around my apartment and playing. A few times, they’ve frolicked outside. Ace chases him down.
Tom swats at Ace’s face, and then they start all over again. Sometimes Tom hides under the car, darts out for a quick attack, then retreats back under the car. Ace then tries to wiggle under, only to find he’s too big.
Usually, when I let Ace outside, the first thing he does is go next door — in hopes of spotting Tom.
Between actual, in person visits, that’s what they do – gaze at each other through the front window — Tom sometimes swatting at it with his paw as Ace jumps up, putting his paws on the ledge and emitting a whine or two.
Tom started out sitting in the sill of the window above my neighbor’s sink. Ace would sit at the bottom of the stairs to the back door and look up, or climb to the top and crane his neck for a closer view.
On Friday, Tom decided to try and get a little closer too. Walking to the end of the counter, he stretched and managed to stick his face through the mini blinds on the back door.
Apparently that wasn’t good enough so, tiptoeing across what had to be, at most, a quarter-inch wide piece of door molding, he managed to get positioned between the window and the blinds. The blinds, I guess, were what held him in place as he walked back and forth, to Ace’s pleasure.
They spent about an hour visiting that way, with Ace every once in a while jumping up and placing his paws on the screen door, which, as you can imagine, isn’t very good for screens.
Figuring I was responsible for at least half the damage, I grabbed some tools and went over Saturday morning while the neighbor was gone to fix the screen.
Fortunately it wasn’t torn, just pulled out from underneath the molding holding it in place. As I removed the molding, Tom showed up again, intent on watching the process.
That left the mini blinds even more haywire. Once the screen was repaired, Ace, after a warning that there could be no more jumping up on the screen, climbed up the stairs to visit Tom again.
He stayed for half an hour or so, until another neighbor pulled up into the driveway, at which time he tore himself away to visit her. Tom spent a couple more minutes wedged between the blinds and window, waiting for Ace to come back, looking a little forlorn.
As I mentioned the last time I wrote about this relationship, I think the door has a lot to do with how close they’ve grown. First, it allowed them to comfortably get used to each other without feeling threatened. Then, I think, it served to make them want to be together even more. The barrier between them only fueled their desire – kind of like a parent who forbids you from seeing that boy; or you being in New York while she’s in California.
Closed doors, like absences, can make hearts grow fonder.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 4th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bond, cats, dog and cat, dog-cat, dogs, doors, love, neighbors, north carolina, pets, play, relationships, tom, travels with ace, windows
OK, maybe not, but they were practicing both it and the freeze frame long before moviemakers came up with the techniques.
The only slow motion in this video of five border collies enjoying some spare time is the naturally occuring kind.
Once all the stealth and stalking comes to an end, the border collies in this video engage in another staple of moviemakers — the high speed chase.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, border collies, chasing, collies, dogs, freeze frame, herding, high speed chase, moviemakers, movies, pets, play, slow motion, stalking, stealth, video
“Macbeth” doesn’t have a particularly happy ending, but one of the stars of the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s production of the play might find one.
The performances of “Macbeth,” starting with a Thursday, April 12 premiere, will feature homeless dogs from the Baltimore Humane Society, including Sophia (above).
Sophia will appear in the premiere — a long way from when she was found starving and freezing on a garbage dump behind her owner’s home, able only to walk on her hind legs. Her owner said he had no use for her anymore and had not even named her for the months in which he owned her, according to the humane society. Sophia, a nine-month-old boxer mix, is now living with a foster family.
The Baltimore Humane Society says the Shakespeare Factory is also featuring adoptable dogs in the playbill and setting aside space for a humane society information table at all shows.
Baltimore Humane Society will be sharing the stage with The Shakespeare Factory throughout the rest of the year for several different plays.
Different dogs and cats will be appearing in each of the performances.
Macbeth will be performed beginning April 12 at the The Great Hall Theatre, St. Mary’s Outreach Center, 3900 Roland Avenue, Baltimore. Additional performances will be April 20-22 and April 27–28.
For more information or tickets visit theshakespearefactory.com.
Anyone who sees Sophia or any of the other Baltimore Humane Society actors will get half off the adoption fee if they mention it when they come to the shelter and fill out an application.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptable, animals, appearing, baltimore, baltimore humane society, baltimore shakespeare factory, dogs, featured, homeless, humane society, macbeth, maryland, performances, pets, play, plays, shakespeare, shakespeare factory, shelter, sophia, starring