Three shelter dogs in New Zealand have been taught to drive a car by a local SPCA, and one of them will be demonstrating his skills behind the wheel on live television next week.
The SPCA in Auckland had the dogs trained in how to shift gears, brake and steer — all part of a marketing campaign aimed at demonstrating the intelligence of rescued dogs.
The SPCA hired animal trainer Mark Vette to teach driving to the dogs — Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer whose owner was unable to control him; Ginny, a one-year-old whippet cross who was rescued from abusive owners; and Porter, a ten-month-old bearded collie cross who was found roaming the streets.
The dogs underwent five weeks of indoor training to encourage them to touch and move brakes, gear sticks and steering wheels, and received treats along the way, New Zealand’s TV3 reported. Once they mastered the basics, they were given a mock car to practice with.
“No animal has ever driven a car before so what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a straight and we’re going to head off, so we’ll start the car, get into position, brake on, gear in place, back onto the steering wheel, accelerator, take off and hoon along the straight and then stop.”
(Not speaking New Zealandese, we can’t tell you what “hoon along” means.)
“In this case we’ve got ten behaviors we’re all putting together, so each behavior is a trained behavior and then you put them into a sequence,” Vette said. “So it’s a lot to do, and for the dog to actually start to get an idea of what actually is happening takes quite a long time.”
On Monday, Monty the dog’s driving abilities will be tested on the television show Campbell live, shown nationally in New Zealand. (You can learn more about the project on its Facebook page.)
“I think sometimes people think because they’re getting an animal that’s been abandoned that somehow it’s a second-class animal, SPCA Auckland chief executive Christine Kalin to Newscom.AU. “This really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.”
(Photos: Auckland SPCA)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, adoption, animals, auckland, bearded collie, brake, car, dog drives car, dogs, drive, driving, gear, giant, ginny, learn, mark vetter, mix, monty, mutts, new zealand, pets, porter, rescue, schnauzer, shelter, shift, spca, stray, taught, trainer, whippet
He licked her face. He nudged her hand. And when his master regained consciousness after a fall on the kitchen floor, a miniature schnauzer named Danny not only brought her the phone, but a list of phone numbers as well.
So says Bethe Bennett, of Glendale, Arizona, who’s now recuperating from her painful tumble.
Bennett fell on her tile floor Friday and broke her femur. Once she regained consciousness, with help from Danny, she hoped the dog remembered some of his old tricks, because she wasn’t expecting any visitors until Tuesday.
“I was scared. I really thought I was going to die,” Bennett told ABCNews.com. “I knew I was going into shock because I’m a nurse.”
But Danny, a trained service dog who used to care for Bennett’s now-deceased mother, was able to remember his training.
“I started asking Danny to get me the phone,” Bennett said. “He ran back and forth a couple of times barking and finally jumped up and knocked the phone over and pushed it with his nose toward me.”
She called for an ambulance, but then realized the paramedics might not be able to get into her locked house. She decided to call a neighbor, but didn’t remember the phone number.
“Paper!” she yelled, and Danny brought over five sheets, one of which had the phone numbers of Bennett’s neighbors. They arrived in time to let the paramedics in.
She is now recovering at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, with Danny by her side, ABC reported.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be the one he’d have to rescue,” she said. “He was my little hero.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, arizona, assistance, bethe bennett, danny, dog, dogs, emergency, fall, glendale, hero, kitchen, miniature, pets, rescue, schnauzer, service dog, video
He took his dog on an ambitious adventure — something, having recently completed a 25,000-mile journey with mine, I can relate to as well.
But climbing all 48 peaks of the White Mountains … with his dog … in the winter … twice? That’s something I’m more likely to plop down on the couch and read about than actually do.
And I’m glad I did.
“Following Atticus” is the inspirational story of a tiny dog — a miniature schnauzer — on an epic adventure, one undertaken to pay tribute to a friend who died of cancer.
Ryan was your basic cynical newsman, the editor of The Undertoad, a muckraking alternative newpaper in Newburyport, a small city on the north shore of Massachusetts.
(If you’re wondering about the name of the paper, it comes from John Irving’s The World According to Garp. If you’re wondering about the name of his dog, Atticus M. Finch, it’s from To Kill a Mockingbird, but with the middle initial changed.)
Atticus came from a breeder Ryan found over the Internet after the death of his first miniature schnauzer, Max, who had become a fixture around town. Ryan, in addition to refilling the void left after Max’s death, saw the new dog as a chance to make some improvements in his life, so he and Atticus started taking long walks, including — after he’d shed 75 pounds — one up the highest mountain in Vermont, Mount Mansfield.
The White Mountains took hold on him all over again. They’d been part of Ryan’s childhood, and returning to them brought back some of his few memories of happy times with his father, who would take the family there on vacation.
Climbing the mountains seemed to enrich Ryan’s soul — and maybe that of his dog, as well. “It was as if he were made for the mountains,” Ryan noted:
“Unlike other dogs, who run back and forth and do three times the mileage of their human companions or go crashing into the woods on either side of the trail in search of wildlife, Atticus walked purposefully, staying on the trail, and kept a slow but steady pace. He seemed part mountain goat as he hopped from rock to rock with ease.”
When a dear friend died of cancer, Ryan decided that he and Atticus, to raise funds for a cancer charity, would attempt to climb every mountain over 4,000-feet, and that they would do it all in the course of one winter, and that they would climb each of the snowy peaks, as only one person had before, twice.
The book chronicles their quest, its literal and figurative ups and downs, the three-way bonding of man, dog and nature, and how, with help from a tiny dog, a crusty newspaperman comes to see the world with fresh eyes.
We’d call it an inspirational dog story, but that — in addition to being redundant, in our view — would only be the half of it.
Ryan sold his newspaper in 2007, moved to the White Mountains, and over the last five years, they’ve climbed more than 450 four-thousand-foot peaks, in the process raising money for cancer, as well as the Angell Animal Medical Center. You can learn more about them on Ryan’s blog, The Adventures of Tom and Atticus.
(To see all our news and reviews of books about dogs, visit our Good Dog Reads section.)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: angell animal medical center, atticus, author, book, books, books on dogs, cancer, dog, dog books, dogs, following atticus, miniature schnauzer, mountain climbing, mountains, schnauzer, tom ryan, vermont, white mountains
The dog, who turns 3 on Tuesday, was inside Lorimer’s SUV when it was stolen at a gas station April 10, according to the East Valley Tribune.
After searching for the dog for a week, Lorimer received a call Monday from a construction worker who found Max in Mesa on his way to work.
The worker, Rolando Artalejo, took the dog home to his wife and daughter who had seen earlier reports about the missing dog and were able to get in touch with Lorimer.
“As soon as they called, I was there in about two minutes,” Lorimer said. “I didn’t know who was happier – him seeing me or me seeing him. He jumped up on me and knocked my glasses off. That little booger was so tickled to see me, he couldn’t stop licking me.”
Lorimer, 72, a U.S. Navy Veteran and retired plumber who has congestive heart failure, believes Max was trying to make his way back home when he was found, just a few blocks from where he lives.
Lorimer, a week earlier, had left his car running outside a gas station and stepped inside for coffee. When he came back out, his car and dog were gone.
When Lorimer recovered the vehicle later that day, Max was not inside. One of the car thieves called him and told him where he could find his car, which had run out of gas, but they said they had let the dog out of the car at an apartment complex.
“I told them I didn’t give a damn about my car. I just wanted my dog back,” Lorimer said. “I can replace my car, but not my dog. I was devastated.”
Once back home, Max went to his favorite resting spot, under the coffee table.
“I’ve had him since he was three and a half months old,” Lorimer said. “I didn’t think I was going to find him. He means more to me than my own life.”
(Photo by Tim Hacker / East Valley Tribune)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, bill lorimer, car, dog, dogs, found, lost, max, mesa, miniature, missing, pets, phoenix, recovered, reunited, rolando artalejo, schnauzer, stolen, suv, veteran
So many people have expressed interest in adopting “Guess,” the 5-month-old poodle-schnauzer mix who was almost air-mailed, that the city of Minneapolis plans to hold a drawing to help determine where he will call home.
The drawing will be held around 2 p.m. Friday at the Minneapolis Animal Care and Control shelter, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Ten names will be initially drawn, and assigned a number. Those people will then fill out an application. After screening, the dog will be awarded to the first eligible person whose name was drawn.
The new owner will be required pay the standard adoption fee, and for a pet license, and sign an agreement to have Guess neutered on “Spay Day” (Feb. 22) before taking him home.
On Jan. 25, Stacey Champion put Guess in a box sealed with packing tape and dropped the package off at a post office near her home, telling postal officials it contained a toy robot. The box was addressed to her 11-year-old son in Georgia, for whom Guess was intended as a birthday gift.
Postal workers opened the box after noticing it was moving and hearing the dog panting.
Champion, 39, has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. She attended an administrative hearing in hopes of getting the dog back but was turned down. On Monday, when she failed to post a bond to pay for Guess’ shelter expenses, she lost any future chance to get the dog back, which would have been a possibility had she been found innocent.
That cleared the way for Guess to be officially put up for adoption.
“We’ve gotten calls from all over the globe,” Jeanette Wiedmeier of Minneapolis Animal Care and Control told Fox News. “311 has taken calls from Europe. They’ve taken emails from people who are outraged and excited about this story, and they want only the best for this dog. We’ve just been overwhelmed with the amount of attention this little six-pound guy has gotten so far.”
(Photo by Elizabeth Flores / Star-Tribune)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopter, adoption, airmail, airmailed, almost, almost mailed, animal cruelty, birthday, dog, drawing, gift, guess, interest, mailed, minneapolis, mix, outpouring, package, packed, poodle, post office, postal workers, puppy, rescue, schnauzer, sealed, shelter, stacey champion
Time to reopen the annals of stupid human behavior and make room for Stacey Champion — a Minneapolis woman who attempted to air-mail a puppy to her 11-year-old son in Atlanta.
Champion, 39, was charged with animal cruelty after postal workers discovered the 4-month-old puppy inside a sealed package she had dropped off, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Champion told a postal clerk the box contained a toy robot. A Minneapolis police spokesman said the puppy would not have survived the trip.
The Star Tribune says that, while the package was still in the post office, it moved by itself and fell to the floor, surprising postal workers. Within minutes, postal employees unwrapped the tightly sealed box and pulled out the panting puppy.
The dog, described as a poodle-Schnauzer mix, named Guess, was placed in a shelter, costing Champion $250 in fees. Today, Champion tried to convince an administrative hearing officer to return Guess to her custody. (See the hearing in its entirety in the video above.)
Champion said in the hearing that she didn’t know dogs couldn’t be mailed. “They say they deliver,” she noted. She further explained to the judge, “If there weren’t no mistakes in life, society wouldn’t be what it is now.”
We can’t argue with that one.
Champion also went back to the post office and demanded she be refunded the $22 priority mail fee, according to the Star Tribune. That request was denied.
The judge called her actions disgraceful and declined to return the dog to her.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air-mailed, animal cruelty, animals, atlanta, custody, dog, dogs, guess, hearing, judge, live, mailed, mailed dog, minneapolis, pets, police, poodle, post office, postal, postal service, puppy, return, schnauzer, stacey champion, stupid, stupidity, video
One dog came to the aid of another last week, leading rescuers to a drainage pipe where a 15-year-old miniature schnauzer named Casper had been stuck for up to three days.
The hero? A rat terrier named Rowdy, who belongs to a neighbor.
“He caught the scent and he just started barking, barking, barking,” said Rowdy’s owner, Patty Monk, whose dog led her to the 8-inch wide storm drain pipe in which Casper was stuck.
Seeing Casper inside, Monk, who is friends with Casper’s owners, ran a block to their home and notified them. They sought help from the Sacramento Metro Fire Department.
Firefighters, not wanting to injure the dog, wrapped a teddy bear around the end of a fire hose to push him out the end of the pipe.
Casper’s owners, who had searched for days and put up posters after Casper went missing, took him to a nearby animal hospital to have him checked out.
“We have one of these storm drains right in front of our house. He may have fallen in that one and crawled all the way here, we don’t know,” said Wayne Hernandez.
“We’ve been kind of taking him for granted, he’s been around for so long,” Hernandez told News 10 in Sacramento. “But we’re going to have to try and pamper him a little more. He deserves it after this.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, casper, department, dog, dogs, drainage, drainpipe, fire, firefighters, metro, miniature, patty monk, pets, pipe, rat, rescue, rescued, rowdy, sacramento, saved, schnauzer, stuck, terrier, wayne hernandez
With Michael Vick’s return to the NFL this week, and all the bitter and sickening emotions it evoked, I thought we could use some slightly more upbeat and dog-friendly sports news:
More than 700 dogs and their owners showed up for the Brooklyn Cyclones “Bark in the Park” Game.
The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and the Brooklyn Cyclones hosted “Bark in the Park” on Wednesday — an event that drew more than 6,000 guests at KeySpan Park, where the Cyclones fell to the Vermont Lake Monsters.
But it was still a victory — eight dogs from Animal Care & Control of NYC and Animal Haven were successfully adopted to new homes.
In addition, many pet-owners took advantage of the low-cost microchipping services held the day of the event. “Maddie,” the 6-foot not-so-miniature schnauzer mascot for Maddie’s Fund, entertained the families and the Cyclone’s players.
“Wednesday night’s event drew more fans that brought their dogs than the previous two years, so it appears that the event is growing. We can’t wait to enhance the event next year in conjunction with the Brooklyn Cyclones’ 10th anniversary,” said Steve Gruber, communications director of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.
The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Inc., founded in 2002 and powered by the pet rescue foundation, Maddie’s Fund, is a coalition of more than 160 animal rescue groups and shelters that are working with the city of New York to find homes for dogs and cats.
(Photo by Rick Edwards, courtesy of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 29th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, animal care & control, animal haven, bark in the park, baseball, brooklyn, cyclones, keyspan park, maddie, maddie's fund, mascot, mayor's alliance for animals, minor league, new york, new york city, rescue, schnauzer, shelter, vermont lake monsters
Despite all the buzz about “hypoallergenic dogs” since the Obamas indicated they may get one, there are no breeds that are truly free of potential allergens, some medical experts say.
“I don’t think there is such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog,” allergy and asthma expert Corinna Bowser (really, BOWSER!) of Havertown, Pa. told WebMD.
While there are countless websites devoted to “hypoallergenic dogs,” the Obamas could find it difficult to find one to which their older daughter, Malia, won’t have an allergic reaction.
Bowser explains that the major allergen in dogs is a protein found in dog serum, and dogs excrete that allergen in sweat and shed it from their skin. “It also gets secreted into the saliva, and possibly a little bit in the urine,” Bowser says.
Since all dogs have that protein, no dog is completely allergy-free, according to Bowser.
She said a German study, published this year, tracked allergies among people exposed to various dog breeds and found that factors related to individual dogs seem to influence the “allergenicity” more than breed or gender.
Breeds commonly cited as hypoallergenic include the poodle, (and several poodle hybrids, like the goldendoodle), Bichon Frise, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Portugese Water Dog, Schnauzer, West Highland Terrier, Basenji, Airedale Terrier, and our good friend, the Xoloitzcuintli.
Smaller dogs, and short-haired breeds might be less risky, Bowser said. “Hair length could have something to do with how it spreads in the house,” she said, explaining that shorter dog hairs may not stick as much as long hair to furniture, clothes, and other surfaces.
Bowser went on to say that if she was the Obama family doctor, “I would say it’s probably better not to get a dog.”
“Of course, now he made the promise and he kind of has to,” she said. Bowser recommends that before they get a dog of their own the Obama family dog-sit to see how Malia’s allergies fare, and set some rules about how they’ll handle any allergy issues.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 19th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allergens, allergies, allergy-free, bichon frise, doctors, dog, family, goldendoodle, hair, hypoallergenic, malia, maltese, medical, obama, portugese water dog, schnauzer, shedding, west highland terrier, xolo, yorkshire
1. Akeeter. Because of his curly tail, my dog Ace is often suspected to have some of this Japanese breed in his mix. As in, “He got any Akeeter in ‘em?”
2. Burmese Mountain Dog. Alas, these behemoths are not from Burma, but a section of Switzerland that is also home to the Bernese Alps. Not the Alpos, the Alps.
3. Datsun. A few months back I saw a sign posted on a light pole by a family that was having to find a new home for their “Datsun,” which was good with children and up to date on its shots.
4. Great Dames. I’ve known a few, and none were dogs. I don’t think they were Danes, either.
5. Rock Wilder. I’ve had several people tell me that my dog appears to have some “Rock Wilder” in him. They’re correct about that part, at least — if not the porn star-sounding name of the breed.
6. Saint Barnyard. Protectors of all the cows, pigs, goats and chickens? Hay, that can’t be right.
7. Snoozers. You’ve got your standard Snoozers and your miniature Snoozers. Most of the miniature ones I’ve known, however, don’t snooze much, or allow anyone else to, either.
8. Sharpie. It’s Shar-Pei, not Sharpie. Make a note of it.
9. Rhyme-a-whiner/Wisenheimer. I had one of these sleek, silver-grey, highstrung dogs while growing up, and while she did sometimes whine, she was, bless her heart, anything but wise.
10. Welch Corky. No, it’s not what keeps the grape juice in the bottle. It’s the dog breed that got short-changed when they were handing out the legs — the Welsh Corgi.
Monday: The hardest-to-pronounce dog breed of all.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 4th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akita, bernese mountain dog, corgi, dachsund, datsun, dog breeds, great danes, mispronounced, mispronounciation, rock wilder, rottweiler, saint barnyard, saint bernard, schnauzer, shar-pei, sharpie, snoozer, weimaraner