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Tag: politics

Colombian vice president declines ambassadorship — to stay home with dog

garzon-apColombian Vice President Angelino Garzon says he turned down an ambassadorship in Brazil because the climate there would not be healthy for his dog

And when we say climate, we mean the weather.

Garzon, in a letter to the Colombian president, said he was declining the job for personal and family reasons. He elaborated on those reasons in an interview with the magazine Semana.

Basically, it comes down to one family member – his German shepherd, Orion, who he said wouldn’t be comfortable in Brazil’s steamy climate, and who he refuses to live without.

“I have turned down the ambassador job because the dog you see on that picture is very hairy and the hot climate of Brasilia could harm its health,” Garzon, 67, told the magazine reporter as he showed her a photo of Orion.

“Wherever Angelino goes, it goes,” he said.

We find his reasons perfectly acceptable, even admirable (though calling his dog something other than “it” would be more to our liking).

Some, though, are scoffing at his excuse, including Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, according to the BBC.

She called Garzon’s rejection of the post “very embarrassing … When he mentioned personal problems, you would expect something deeper than that. It is as though he doesn’t realize the importance Brazil has,” she said.

We may have a duty to our country, but we have a duty to our dogs, too, and — whether or not “it’s too hot for the dog” is his real and total reason for declining the post — we think Garzon has every right to say no thanks for any reason he wants. We especially like this one though.

Garzon announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election alongside President Juan Manuel Santos. He said he might consider running for mayor of Bogota or Cali. ”In local government, you can have a bigger impact in improving people’s lives than as vice-president,” he said.

(Photo: Associated Press)

NC puppy mill law pronounced dead after senator’s remarks are taped

ncpupmill

Backers of increased restrictions on dog breeders in North Carolina recorded a conversation with a state Senator who opposes the bill at a meeting earlier this month and, as a result, some Republican leaders say there will be no vote on a proposed puppy mill law this year.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca said Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, was recorded without his knowledge during a private meeting, and that those who taped him planned to use the recording to “force” senators into passing the bill.

“It is wrong to secretly record private conversations with members of the General Assembly and then threaten to expose those conversations to the media to force legislators to meet specific demands,” Apodaca said. “That is nothing short of political extortion and represents a new low in lobbying for legislative action. To dignify those actions by moving ahead on this issue would set a dangerous precedent while condoning and encouraging these unethical tactics.” 

Janie Withers, the community activist who recorded the Jan. 16 meeting with Rabon, said the recording wasn’t a secret. She said she routinely tapes meetings, and that the tape recorder was sitting in plain view to all, including Rabon.

The bill passed the House last year, and has been pushed by both Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann.

In the recording, Rabon, using more than a few expletives, criticized the McCrorys for publicly supporting the bill.

Rabon“It was bullied out of committee by the executive branch,” Rabon (pictured at left) says in the tape recording, obtained by WRAL-TV . “The executive branch had absolutely, absolutely no business sticking its nose in the legislature on that sort of issue.”

He said Ann McCrory’s advocacy, including a visit to the House chamber to watch the May 9 vote, was “against all laws. … There is a strong line between opinion and lobbying. When you pick up the phone and you are in a position of power and call individual legislators and offer advice or praise or this or that, you are, under the law, lobbying, and you must be a registered lobbyist in this state to do that.”

Coming across as a bit of an Alpha dog, Rabon makes it clear that he is against the bill, and that it would be unable to pass without his support.

“That bill is not going to pass,” Rabon, a veterinarian, told the group. “Angels in heaven cannot make that bill pass.”

He said he planned to introduce a “stronger” bill that he said would not negatively impact on hunters and livestock owners: “ … When I do it, it will be done at the right time, and it will pass,” he said. “I’m in the top five members in power in the Senate. The best shot you folks have ever had, you’re talking to.”

Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann, have both pushed for the legislation, which is designed to set minimum standards for people who keep at least 10 female dogs primarily to breed and sell the offspring as pets. McCrory urged its passage again on Monday.

“Just because someone uses foolish tactics, there is no reason to stop good legislation which needs to be passed here in North Carolina,” McCrory said.

(Top photo: From a 2012 puppy mill raid in NC, courtesy of Humane Society)

Gun groups question Humane Society’s connection with governor’s dog

sutter

The Humane Society of the United States may not have Jerry Brown on a leash, but the organization’s state director takes the California governor’s dog out on one — nearly every day.

Jennifer Fearing is a regular dog walker for Sutter, the governor’s corgi, and gun rights groups are saying the free service she provides — on top of giving the lobbyist undue influence — may amount to an illegal contribution.

“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s ‘first dog,’ cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown?” an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked.

Gun rights groups point out that all six pieces of animal rights-related legislation Fearing lobbied for in the most recent legislative session were approved and signed by Brown, including Assembly Bill 711, which, over the objection of hunters, banned the use of lead ammunition.

“The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor.”

Kerns said gun-rights and hunting groups are considering filing a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission

Critics say Fearing may be breaking the rules because she hasn’t reported the dog walking as an in-kind contribution.

“For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor,” Chuck Michel, California attorney for the National Rifle Association, said  in a statement.

Fearing has been walking Sutter around the Capitol grounds since Brown took office in 2011, and their trysts have never exactly been a secret. The two toured the state together to campaign for the governor’s pet tax increase, which the Humane Society was in favor of. Last year, Sutter and Fearing joined the governor and animal rights activists to push for California’s Pet Lover’s license plate.

While it’s true the way to a governor’s heart is through his dog, Fearing and Brown (and we guess Sutter) are already of pretty like minds when it comes to animal welfare, so walking his dog isn’t likely changing the course of history. And as Fearing points out, the volunteer gig doesn’t give her direct access to the governor’s ears, just Sutter’s.

“I wouldn’t misuse that relationship,” Fearing told the Chronicle. “I deal with staff, and I go through the right channels,” she said.

Still, the arrangement provides gun groups with some ammunition, and their ethical concerns aren’t entirely off target.

Fearing says her love of dogs — not political gain — is what motivates her to walk Sutter.

“I would like to believe that we live in a civilized society where you can do neighborly things like walking people’s dogs.”

(Photo: Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, with Gov. Brown’s dog, Sutter; by Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee)

Puppy mill law, with boost from First Lady, passes N.C. House, heads to Senate

 A law requiring dog breeders to provide fresh food and water, daily exercise, veterinary care and sanitary shelter was passed by the North Carolina House Thursday, with help from the governor’s wife.

Ann McCrory, who normally leaves the politics to her husband, released a statement Wednesday supporting House Bill 930.

“… Passing legislation to establish basic standards of care for large commercial dog breeding facilities is a very important issue to me, and to people across our state,” she wrote.

“ … I hope you and other members of the General Assembly will continue to advocate for this bill, and other legislation establishing higher standards for commercial breeders. These policies increase our quality of life in North Carolina and ensure better care for dogs across the state…”

The bill sets basic standards of care for operations that use more than 10 females for breeding.

Many say it is a watered-down version of previous attempts to pass a puppy mill law, but add that the compromise is better than nothing in a state some breeding operations have been relocating to in an attempt to avoid regulation.

“North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without puppy mill laws,” explained Caleb Scott, President of North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare told Fox 8 News. “We are a puppy mill destination in North Carolina because we have no laws on the books. Puppy millers gravitate to our state.”

The minimum standards required by the bill, as it has been amended, would notapply to breeders of hunting dogs, sporting dogs, field dogs, or show dogs.

It now heads to the Senate.

WRAL described Ann McCrory’s letter as her “first foray into public advocacy” since her husband took office.

The McCrory’s have a Labrador Retriever named Mo.

(Photo: Erin Hull / The Daily Tar Heel)

Does N.C. legislature have a new top dog?


There’s a rising star in the North Carolina legislature, and she has four legs.

A miniature Pomeranian named Diva comes to work every day at the General Assembly with her owners, Republican representative Nathan Ramsey and his wife, Robin Ramsey, a legislative assistant — and the fuzzy four-pound dog is said to be developing quite a following.

The Ramseys, who live on a farm in Fairview during the off-season, say they started bringing Diva to work in February, because they thought she’d be lonely staying at the condo they reside in while in Raleigh.

Since then, she’s shown herself to be a valuable asset, both a diplomat and a crowd-drawer.

“… In a short time, the taffy-colored rescue pup has arguably become the most chased after creature at the legislative building. Walk in on any given day and you’ll see a steady stream of bipartisan visitors knocking on the Ramseys’ office door,” North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC (91.5 FM) reported.

“It certainly opened the door to more visitors, which is good,” said Robin Ramsey.

On building tours for visiting schoolchildren, Diva’s office has become a regular stop — and, we’d guess, one of the more exciting ones.

“I make it a point to stop by,” said Democrat Rick Glazier of Fayetteville. “You can’t leave after playing with Diva and talking to the Ramseys unhappy or in a bad mood, and that is not always true around here.”

Ramsey, a former county commissioner, says Diva helps breaks the ice and cut through frosty exteriors. And he suspects she has helped him garner support for at least a couple of measures he has introduced.

“A lot of this is about relationships, and really, unless you’re a seat-mate with someone, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to reach across the aisle,” he said. “You don’t develop relationships by sitting in a committee meeting. You have to find out about other people’s lives and families and get to know them in more depth.”

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis recently stopped by Ramsey’s office with his boxer, Ike. A spokesman for the speaker reported the get-together was ”like many meetings in this building — more sniffing around than anything else.”

Back home on the family dairy farm, Diva likes to spend her time circling the baby calf pen.

She likes to round things up, Ramsey says, and those skills seem to have translated from barnyard to state house.

(Photo by Jessica Jones / WUNC)

Dining with dog? Maryland makes it legal

Maryland restaurants may allow dogs in their outdoor seating areas as of July 1 under a bill approved by the Senate yesterday and headed for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk for final approval.

O’Malley, whose family has two dogs, is expected to sign the bill, the Baltimore Sun reports on its Maryland Politics blog.

The bill permits restaurants with outdoor patios and tables to welcome dogs, if they want to.

Del. Dan Morhaim sponsored the legislation, and said it will provide a financial boost for restaurants and bars heading into the outdoor dining season.

The Dining Out Growth Act of 2011 permits restaurants statewide to have outdoor space for humans and dogs to eat together — as is already the case in Frederick County, for which similar legislation was passed last year.

Opponents of the bill said it could lead to more dog bites and other health hazards.

Pawlitico? Website starts DC dogs series

The website Politico — apparently having finally realized how boring politicians are — has launched a series of videos profiling the pets of Washington’s movers and shakers.

The series of tributes kicked off yesterday with a look at Cali, a grey dachshund who is a fixture in the office of California Rep. Ken Calvert. Her owner is Rebecca Rudman, the congressman’s communications director.

The 3-year-old dachshund can often be seen running the marble halls of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Politico reports that “Rudman threw a tennis ball along the corridor outside Calvert’s office, as Cali ran for it wildly and dutifully brought it back.”

OK, so it’s not exactly hard-hitting reporting. Still, it’s nice to see some inside-the-beltway dogs other than Bo getting some attention.

Is new Chevrolet ad pawlitically incorrect?

Remember the old Chevrolet commercial — baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?

Well, decades later, the car company has, for the sake of selling motor vehicles, gotten around to acknowledging another piece of Americana — the dog; specifically, the dog in the pickup truck; more specifically, the dog in a Chevrolet pickup.

And that, they will find out as the new ad airs, if they haven’t yet, is some tricky ground.

It’s one of those topics that raises the hackles of animal welfare activists, some of whom who say under no conditions should a dog be riding in the bed of a pickup , some of whom say it’s acceptable if the dog is crated or restrained, all of whom say riding in the cab would be preferable.

And they are right. For safety’s sake, it probably would be.

Last week, in “Travels with Ace,” the continuing saga of the trip Ace and I are taking across America, we showed you Jake, a golden retriever in Oregon still sporting injuries he received when he tumbled out the back of a moving pickup. We did so without casting judgments or getting preachy, because our road trip is not about how dogs should live in America, only about how they do live in America.

In much of rural America, dogs are still dogs. They roam their property, and perhaps that of other’s, at their will. They chase and sometimes kill wildlife. Some even live, gasp, outside. And they ride in the back of pickups, which virtually all animal welfare organizations will tell you is a bad idea.

The Chevy ad, to its credit, doesn’t show any dogs in the beds of moving pickups, but, even so, I’m predicting it will lead to some lively debate if it airs widely.

On YouTube, it has already started — through Internet comments, gracious and civil as  always.

“Cute video, but I wish Chevy wouldn’t advocate the dogs in the back unless in a crate. Since I have seen a dog fly out of the back of a truck on a busy highway, I am traumatized for life. It should be illegal and is some places for your dog to ride loose in the bed of your truck unless you are on your own dirt road on your property with no other cars around and are willing to pay the vet bill if your dog falls out…”

“If I thought for a second my dog would ever jump out, he wouldn’t ride back there. And he doesn’t on the interstate. But on going into town, on rural country roads, and on my ranch, he will always ride in the back and he wouldn’ t have it any other way. MIND YOUR OWN F***ING BUSINESS FAG…”

“Greatest commercial! Too bad liberal know it all’s have created laws against dogs riding in truck beds! Apparently (like most libs) they know what’s best for us, and will make laws accordingly. My dog will ride in the back forever though, they can suck his hairy nuts…”

Besides reflecting how crass anonymous internet banter can get — how Internet commenting has replaced the punching bag as man’s default mode of venting hostilities — the discourse shows the cultural divide that exists in this country, one that’s not so much conservative versus liberal as it is rural America versus the rest.

It’s a generalization, but many denizens of rural America don’t want the rest of America making rules that govern their access to firearms, or how they raise their dogs — from whether they spay and neuter to letting them ride in the back of pickups.

There’s something to be said for letting a dog being a dog — as opposed to spending life on a leash or in a handbag – but is putting Rover in the back of a pickup letting a dog be a dog? In my view, it’s courting disaster.

Yet, while many experts also advise that dogs in cars be crated or restrained, Ace is traveling acoss the country unrestrained in the back of my Jeep.

Maybe that’s why I don’t come down harder on dogs in pickups; maybe it’s a degree of respect for rural ways; or maybe it’s because the surest way to make people become more entrenched in a bad habit is to tell them they can’t do it anymore.

The pawlitics of bedtime

On my first night in Missoula, I fell asleep with one dog and woke up with a different one.

On the next night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with one.

On the third night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with none. 

For the first time in our five months of traveling, in the latest of the long line of friends and family off whom we have freeloaded, Ace opted to sleep with someone other than me.

My feelings are hurt, but not too badly.

Back in Missoula, Ace has found a lively playmate, and I’ve been in full freeloading mode, enjoying all the comforts of somebody else’s home.

Gwen Florio, a reporter for the Missoulian, who I used to work with at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was kind enough to invite Ace and I to stay with her, her husband Scott, and their dog Nell – a four-month-old Brittany spaniel.

I’ve eaten most of their leftovers, drank most of their milk, eaten most of their eggs, watched their TV and had my own room in the basement, featuring one of the top two beds I’ve slept on (the other being in Santa Fe) during our journey.

Two more weeks on it, and I think my back would stop hurting.

But, as  much as I’ve enjoyed nesting at Gwen’s, it’s time to press on to Seattle.

On the first night, I retired early and Ace came to bed with me. When Nell jumped in – well to be honest, she jumped up, putting her front paws on the bed, and I pulled her up the rest of the way – Ace jumped off. I fell asleep snuggling with Nell, but when I woke up she was gone, and Ace was laying at my side.

On the second night, Gwen was working late on election night, and after watching a little bit of the “shellacking” on TV, I retired early. This time, Ace didn’t mind Nell joining us (if only Republicans and Democrats could learn to co-exist so quickly), and I fell asleep with the two of them – once Nell completed her process of nibbling my hands, squirming, walking over me, turning in circles, pawing at the bedspread, nibbling my hands some more, turning a few more circles and finally flopping down with a sigh. By morning, though (like many a Democrat), she was gone.

On the third night, I retired even earlier, and they both followed me to bed, and  both got in. But when I woke up they had both abandoned me. While I slept, Gwen had returned home and the dogs joined her for the night. Fortunately, her husband was out of town so there was room in her bed for them both.

Ace and Nell have gotten along great, and it has been interesting to watch their play progress — from timid and restrained to no-holds-barred wrestling. She’s Muhammad Ali to Ace’s Joe Frazier. In her back yard, a stone’s throw from the base of Mt. Jumbo, she runs circles around him, eggs him on, gives him a jab or a nip, then darts away. He keeps plodding forward, swinging with his paws, then watching as she bounces across the yard like a pinball.

Ace — despite my initial fears — hasn’t tried to use Nell’s dog door. It’s the perfect size for her, and she speeds in and out of the house at her will. It’s the perfect size for Ace to get stuck in. I had visions of having to take the door off its hinges and taking them both to a vet, or a hardware store, to have dog and door surgically separated.

Luckily, Ace hasn’t tried to use it, or even poke his nose through, probably because it — also like politicians – flaps and makes noise .

Nell, at four months, still engages in the kind of mischief pups perpetrate. At home during the day, while I wasn’t paying attention, she snagged a full roll of toilet paper, took it through her dog door and proceeded to decorate the lawn with confetti. She managed to get into my toothpaste, but apparently decided not to make a meal of it.

Ace, though he seemed unsure how to react to her puppiness at first, now wrestles with her in the way he does with his favorite dogs, nipping at her legs, trying to put her entire head in his mouth, going after her little nub of a tail — all with his trademark gentleness.

When he tires of it all he flops down in the yard, as he did yesterday morning. The grass was white with frost, and Ace relaxed with one of Nell’s toys that he’s grown especially fond of, probably because it has, or once had, peanut butter in it.

For 15 minutes, as Nell alternately looked on, ran circles around him, darted inside and out again, Ace laid there with the purple toy, and when he got up, there was a big green circle where the frost had melted away under his body heat.

To me, it seemed symbolic (then again, I hadn’t had my coffee yet) of what dogs do for us.

They melt away our frosty exteriors, they bring out the unjaded us that can be buried pretty deeply beneath the shells we hide behind, the image we project, all our bullshit and bluster.

They knock down the walls we put up.

Maybe our politicians could learn a thing or two from them, to the point of even becoming bedfellows — not in the dirty sense of the word, but in terms of working together to achieve a goal.

How cool would that be, if they could all settle down, bark less, share the toys, and — as dogs do — make the world a better place?

What’s in a name? Ask Young Boozer

Does what you name a dog shape that dog’s personality? Will “Killer” turn out to be one? Of course not. Dogs, or for that matter, people, don’t always live up to their names, which is fortunate for Young Boozer.

It was while driving through Alabama last week that I first became aware — through a campaign ad on the radio — of Young Boozer, a former banker who is running for state treasurer.

I started scouting for his campaign signs, but, amid the thousands of candidate signs stuck in the ground last week, I couldn’t find one bearing his name, which is just as well because I would have been tempted to take it.

I did find his campaign ad online though (above), which ends with the tagline: “Funny name, serious leadership.”

Today, we’re happy to report that Young Boozer’s name didn’t hold him down. He won the Republican primary over another name that may ring some bells: George Wallace Jr.

 Young Boozer captured 64 percent of the vote in the primary, the Gadsden Times reports.

Young Boozer– he’s actually Young Boozer III, meaning there were two other Young Boozers before him — will face Democratic candidate Charley Grimsley in the general election.