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Tag: rescue

That “Southern hospitality” isn’t a myth — not even during a flood


A Columbia family worked together to rescue an 87-year old man and his dog after he got trapped in his car by rising floodwaters while passing through South Carolina.

Then the family fed him, gave him a shot of bourbon, called a doctor to look him over and invited him to stay the night.

Southern hospitality, it seems, is alive and well — even during a deluge.

George Osterhues, who lives in Canada, was on his way to Florida with his dog Tilli. He got off Interstate 77 because of the flooding, then got lost near a flood prone lake north of Columbia.

osterhues2The Hall family, who lived nearby, was going door to door to check on neighbors when they saw a hand waving from a car almost halfway underwater.

Inside, they could see a man and a dog.

Julie Hall, a Chester County prosecutor, called 911, but the family quickly decided rescuers probably had their hands full during the flooding.

Together, they decided to take action.

At first her husband, Tom Hall tried to reach the man in a canoe but the current was too rapid. Instead, he used ropes tied to trees to hold onto as he made his way to the car.

When he reached the car, the man told him he was “ready to die.”

osterhuesHall deemed that unacceptable.

“No way was that man going to die out there,” he told the Charlotte Observer.

Tom Hall gave the man a life jacket and pulled him and his Yorkshire terrier out the window, and the whole family, including sons Brice, Graham and Logan, helped to tug Osterhues and the dog to dry ground.

Then the family took him to their home for some warm tea, a shot of bourbon and a hot meal.

Julie Hall’s father, a doctor, came over to check on Osterhues, who stayed over Sunday night.

Osterhues, it turned out, is German-born, and a survivor of bombings and Nazi terror during World War II.

He and Tilla got a rental car for the rest of the trip to Florida.

The true meaning of friendship


After her friend, Phoebe, fell into a cistern that was too deep — by Basset hound standards — to jump out of, an old Irish setter mix named Tillie stayed by her side for an entire week.

The two dogs had wandered from their home in Vashon, Washington, on Sept. 7 during a party.

Their owner, B.J. Duft, suspects Phoebe, picking up the scent of something, led the way.

“Tillie would never leave even if the gate was left open, but she’s best friends with Phoebe, and so when Phoebe follows her little Basset Hound nose, Tillie always goes with her to make sure she’s OK,” Duft said. “They’re best pals — inseparable.”

In the week that followed, Tillie proved that beyond any doubt — leaving Phoebe’s side only briefly, and apparently only to scout around to find some help.

The duo was eventually tracked down by Amy Carey, a volunteer with Vashon Island Pet Protectors, an animal rescue group that runs a no-kill shelter in the area.

Carey said the organization, after posting about the missing dogs on its Facebook page, got a call Monday from a resident who had seen a dog come to the edge of his property several times during the previous week.

phoebeThe dog would stand there for a few minutes, then go back down a trail to a ravine behind the house.

Carey went to the area to investigate and found Tillie standing guard over Phoebe, KING5 reported.

“It was very clear what Tillie had done,” Carey said. “She had not left her friend’s side except for going up to the man’s house when he was there to try and get help for Phoebe.”

Duft and the dogs had a tearful reunion shortly thereafter.

“I was thrilled,” he told ABC News. “I was absolutely not surprised to learn that Tillie had stood by her side the whole time. She’s a very caring, loving and nurturing dog and the two of them are best friends.”

Duft said he has had Tillie, now 11, since she was a puppy. He adopted Phoebe, 4, about two years ago after the two became friends at doggie daycare.

The dogs were hungry and exhausted but otherwise in good health.

Duft said he fed them both a “hamburger dinner,” and let them fall back into their routines.

“Within an hour of getting home, Tillie already wanted to play with her favorite toy — the tennis ball — so we did just that,” Duft said. “The two also hung out on the couch and got some well-needed sleep.”

(Photos by Amy Carey, Vashon Island Pet Protectors)

Dog and boy pulled safely from 23-foot hole


A 4-year-old boy and his dog were rescued from a 23-foot hole in Mississippi Monday night, but any similarity between what happened outside Brookhaven and the old Lassie script end there.

In this story, it was the dog who first fell into the hole — initially described as a well. The boy, apparently while searching for the dog, fell in after him.

According to the Jackson Clarion Ledger, the boy’s dog had been missing for at least two days.

Family members believe the child, identified as Gabe Allbritton, was in the yard when he heard the dog, went to look for it and fell into the hole.

Members of the family say they had no idea the hole was even there.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said the hole’s opening was too small for rescue workers to go down, so they dropped the boy a rope. Initially, the boy could not figure out how to attach the rope to himself.

Emergency crews from McComb, Hattiesburg, the Mississippi State Fire Academy, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Brookhaven Fire Department, and every volunteer department in Lincoln County were on scene and a crowd of nearly 100 onlookers gathered.

Once rescue workers were able to instruct the boy how to attach the rope to himself he was raised with a pulley system. After being pulled out of the hole, around 8 p.m., he was taken to an emergency room and had no serious injuries.

The dog was freed shortly thereafter and returned safely to his family.

(Photo: Kaitlin Mullins / The Daily Leader)

Some recommended reading: “Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself”

Dog_Medicine.cvr_Seems that hardly a month goes by that we’re not reading about — and duly reporting on — some new scientific study showing how dogs, for us humans, are good medicine.

Whether its lowering our blood pressure, upping our oxytocin (that hormone that makes us feel warm and fuzzy), or keeping us sane (no small task), you can bet there’s a study underway at some university somewhere seeking to unravel — and dryly present to us — more hard evidence of yet another previously mysterious way that dogs enhance our well-being.

Given that, it’s a nice change of pace to plunge into a more anecdotal account — one that looks at the near magical mental health benefits one woman reaped through her dog, and does so with candor and humor, as opposed to sappiness.

“Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself” is a book that shows, far better than any scientific study, just how valuable — no, make that priceless — the human-dog bond is.

The memoir spans a year in the life of the author, Julie Barton, starting when, just one year out of college and living in Manhattan, she had what we used to call a “nervous breakdown.”

A barely coherent phone call from her kitchen floor brought her mother racing to her side from Ohio to take her home.

Barton was diagnosed with major depression — one that didn’t seem to lift, despite the best efforts of family, doctors, therapists and the pharmaceutical industry. She spent entire days in bed, refusing to get up.

Around the same time doctors started her on Zoloft, Barton told her mother she’d like to get a dog. Her mother thought that was a great idea. A few weeks later, they were bringing home a golden retriever pup. Barton named him Bunker.

On that first night, Bunker started whimpering in his crate, and Barton crawled inside with him:

“It occurred to me as I gently stroked his side that this was the first time in recent memory that I was reassuring another living thing. And, miraculously, I knew in that moment that I was more than capable of caring for him. I felt enormously driven to create a space for Bunker that felt safe, free of all worry, fear and anxiety. For the first time in a long time, I felt as if I had a purpose.”

Barton’s depression didn’t lift overnight; it never does. But, as the artfully written story unravels, Bunker gives Barton the confidence she needs to start a new life on her own in Seattle.

The are plenty of bumps ahead, and more than a few tests, but, given we’re recommending you read it for yourself, we won’t divulge them here.

The book is being released in November by Think Piece Publishing, but you can pre-order it here.

Or you can wait for the next scientific study that comes along, proclaiming — in heartless, soulless prose — to prove one way or another what we already know:

Dogs are good for the heart and soul.

A word about those T-shirts, and other ads

RescueLove_navyAmong many “old school” and unprofitable practices here at ohmidog! is my tendency to treat advertisers like well-trained, perhaps overly-trained, dogs — insisting they stay in their place and don’t dare venture into our editorial columns.

I will let my big old dog in bed with me, and I gladly do so every single night. But when it comes to advertisers, don’t even think about it.

So what’s this T-shirt doing here — in the space that I, way too ethical for my own good, so haughtily reserve for news matter?

For one thing, it’s kind of cool.

For another, with these T-shirts being the biggest ad ever to appear on our pages, I thought it would be a good time to explain this website’s approach to advertising.

(It is not one I recommend to anyone seeking to make money through their website.)

Basically, this middle section of the website is for news, and despite many requests from advertisers to link to their services and products here, I just don’t do it, because it strikes me as sleazy and deceptive.

The rightside column, with all those logos, is for non-profit animal welfare and animal rescue groups, and serves to link the public to their websites. There is no fee for that.

The leftside column, the one clearly marked “advertisements” is for, you guessed it, advertisements.

When ohmidog! started, seven years ago, the hope was that advertising would cover the costs, and maybe even lead to a profit.

That almost worked when we were headquartered in, and focused on, Baltimore.

Then we went and hit the road and ended up living in North Carolina. A few of those local Baltimore ads remain, but I no longer charge those advertisers — partly out of gratitude for helping us get off the ground, partly because fewer Baltimore eyes will see their ads.

Today, most of our ads, including the t-shirt ad at the top, are what are called affiliate ads.

The advertisers pay nothing for them, but if a reader clicks on one of them, and ends up buying something during that visit, the company sends a percentage of their profits my way — generally pennies on the dollar.

So far, those pennies haven’t amounted to much. And as business models go, ohmidog! — even when I wanted it to make money — has always been a prime example of how not to run a website.

We’ve always been all about the content (though I prefer the word “stories), and, while I don’t promise much else, we always will be — without any ads popping up on you, without any links misdirecting you.

What I started out doing for fun and profit, is pretty much becoming just about the fun.

In the months ahead, I’ll qualify for — and plan to start receiving — early social security. So I can only make so much money before having to turn over all the rest to the government.

So, if you must buy a T-shirt, go ahead and click on it, or any of the others now featured in our banner ad.

Just don’t buy too many.

(Photo: The I Love Dogs Site /

Burned dog and burned girl are now a team


A Chihuahua that was left at a California shelter after suffering chemical burns as a puppy has found a new home with a 12-year-old girl in Alameda who is still undergoing treatment for burns she received as a baby.

Chloe Levenson, who has been through seven surgeries since being scalded by hot tea, adopted the dog — named Fireman — last week.

They were brought together when a Pittsburg animal rescue group, Umbrella of Hope, decided the traumatized dog might get along best with an owner who had experienced similar pain, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury-News.

While thousands of people applied to adopt Fireman, the group thought the dog, who has some behavioral problems, would be a good fit with an owner who might have some extra compassion for him.

Rescuers found the puppy behind Antioch’s animal shelter on March 30 with severe chemical burns running the entire length of his belly and up to his ears, both of which had to be amputated.

After months of medical care, paid for my Umbrella of Hope, Fireman recovered physically, but was diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the burns.

“He had a lot of strings attached,” said Kristy Keusch, who fostered the dog for four months after his release from the hospital.

Fireman didn’t always like being petted. Although he loved having someone rub what was left of his ears, he disliked being touched on his head and neck, Keusch said.

“He punctured me a few times,” she recalled.

She used behavior modification techniques to make Fireman more trusting and less defensive, but she knew that whoever adopted him would have to commit to continuing the work.

When Umbrella of Hope put out some feelers, Shriners Hospital for Children responded and put the organization in touch with Chloe and her family.

After a few meetings, Chloe took the dog home last week.

Although he still growls and nips, Fireman is already letting her touch his head and will cuddle on the couch with Chloe when she watches TV. But he “absolutely hates leashes,” she said.

“I understand him,” Chloe told the organization. “I know what he’s been through, and I think he understands me too.”

(Photo by Kristopher Skinner / Bay Area News Group)

Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down


Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)