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Tag: rudy

The history and science of dog comes to life in … Zounds! … a comic book!

hirschcoverThink “dogs and comics” and many canine characters comes to mind:

Marmaduke and Snoopy, Underdog and Scooby Doo, Pluto and Goofy –a plethora of cartoon pooches ranging in size, intellect, shape, and colors from blue (Huckleberry Hound) to red (Clifford).

Most of them did little more than provide laughs. Some of them actually passed along some life lessons and knowledge. But none — not even the professorial Mr. Peabody — has displayed the scholarly knowledge of this one.

Meet Rudy, and the man behind him, Andy Hirsch.

Hirsch, through cartoons, words and an energetic narrator modeled after his own dog, tells the story of how wolves transformed into domestic dogs, what’s behind their behaviors and how their relationship to man has evolved in “Dogs: From Predator to Protector“.

It’s the latest title in a graphic nonfiction series from Science Comics that examines science topics ranging from animals, to ecosystems, to technology.

Through Rudy, writer/illustrator Hirsch explores what led wolves to be transformed into the diverse shapes, sizes and breeds of dogs we know today — namely, man.

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“I think it all falls under the umbrella of humans having had a profound influence on dogs. They simply wouldn’t exist without us, especially any sorts of artificial breeds, so a good portion of the book is really about our methods of influence,” Hirsch told Live Science.

The comic-science book gets into the intricacies of doggie DNA and genetics, their exceptional senses, their sociability and their capacity for cross-species communication.

“Humans and dogs have an unmatched partnership all the way at the species level, and to me that means we have a responsibility to understand and care for them,” Hirsch says.

It’s the Texas author’s first nonfiction book, based on his own research, and advice from science consultants including Julie Hecht, a canine behavioral researcher and adjunct professor at Canisius College in New York.

Readers follow Rudy, and his bouncing ball, through a lively series of discussions dealing with the history and science behind how dogs live and behave.

“Maybe it’s something of a cheat to let a tennis ball bounce 25,000 years between panels, but that’s the magic of comics!” Hirsch said. “… The tennis ball was a good way to, well, bounce from one thing to the next. Rudy is our friendly narrator, and though he’s very knowledgeable, he still has the distractible nature of an average dog. That means the bouncing ball never fails to move his attention from one topic to the next.”

Hirsch2-banner“This isn’t a textbook, so when there’s the opportunity to present some facts through an entertaining narrative aside I let the story follow it.”

Rudy is modeled after Hirsch’s own dog Brisco, who he and his partner (all shown at left) adopted.

“Rudy was his first shelter name, and it’s a good fit for a comic book dog,” Hirsch said. “If you get a chance to draw a book full of dogs, of course you’re going to make yours the star.”

Philly man charged with setting dog on fire

phillydogA Philadelphia man has been accused of pouring rubbing alcohol over a puppy and setting it on fire.

The 5-month-old pit bull mix was burned “very badly,” said Pennsylvania SPCA officials who took part in the arrest. The puppy, which rescuers named Rudy, was being treated last night at the SPCA facility on East Erie Avenue.

The dog’s neck and ears were charred, its whiskers were burned off, and one of its corneas was seared. The animal also had been burned repeatedly with a cigarette. “It’s going to be disfigured, and maybe also blind in one eye,” said George Bengal, the SPCA’s director of law enforcement.

John William Fleet III, 33, was taken into custody Friday at his home in Northeast Philadelphia and charged with animal cruelty, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

On Thursday night, police say, Fleet had his two children — a 6-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl — hold the dog while he covered it with alcohol. Bengal said authorities believe the suspect became enraged after the dog nipped at the children.

The incident came to light when a counselor at Harding Middle School heard what happened and notified the SPCA.

Police, after not being allowed into the house, broke through a window to gain entrance and found the dog in the basement. Fleet told investigators the dog was burned accidentally.

 The children last night were staying with their mother at another location.