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Tag: smell

Did the scent of sizzling bacon draw missing pit bull puppy back to her foster home?

A pit bull puppy, still recovering from being abused by dogfighters, ran off from her foster home in New Jersey, but she was apparently drawn back by the smell of bacon.

Or it could have been the love.

Misty, only nine months old, was found on a Brooklyn street corner earlier this month, covered in wounds and bites from being used as a bait dog.

She was placed in a city shelter, then pulled by Second Chance Rescue, which moved her into a foster home. On Friday, she escaped from the backyard of that home.

Friends and neighbors joined in on the weekend-long search. Thousands of flyers were posted, and a $2,000 reward was offered. More than $4,500 was quickly raised to help in the search, and more than 14,000 people had, by Monday, “liked” her Facebook page.

But it was bacon — not social media — that apparently led to her safe return.

“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Misty’s foster mom, Erin Early-Hamilton, told NJ.com.

When someone suggested slapping some bacon on the backyard grill to lure the dog home, Early-Hamilton — despite being a vegan — was willing to give it a try.

She was sitting in a chair, and her husband was at the grill, when Misty came wandering home around 2 p.m. Monday.

(Photo: Facebook)

“60 Minutes” on bomb-sniffing dogs

60 Minutes looked at bomb-sniffing dogs in a report that, especially given last night’s other featured stories — on the Marathon bombing and the 9/11 Memorial — brought home not just how many lives they’ve saved in the military overseas, but how many more they might save here.

Reporter Lara Logan focused on the dogs of war, and the trainers that describe their canines as nearly infallible when it comes to detecting bombs.

But they’re not so infallible when explosive devices are planted after the dogs have made their sweeps, as apparently was the case at the Boston Marathon.

“Would an average police dog have found these bombs at the Boston Marathon …?” she asked trainer Mike Ritland.

“…Based on what I do know, yes,” Ritland said. “If dogs went through the areas where they were placed– you know, your average, certified police bomb dog should have found them. My thoughts are if these guys (the suspects) are paying close attention to these dogs, they’re waiting. And when the dogs leave, they bring it in, they hand– they infiltrate, essentially, they drop it right where it’s busy, and very soon after, it detonates.”

As the “60 Minutes” piece pointed out, since 9/11 dogs have been used more than ever because nothing is more effective in finding hidden bombs. Dogs in the employ of the military and FBI have sniffed out bombs, captured enemies, and one assisted Navy SEAL Team 6 when it took down Osama bin Laden. Much more of what they do, given the often secretive nature of their work, never becomes known.

“The best of them serve with U.S. Special Operations and they’re in a league of their own,” Logan noted. “It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to talk about them publicly because much of what they do is classified, but we were able to talk to the people who train them for this story. We took the opportunity to ask about what might have happened in Boston while getting a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of America’s most elite dogs.”

(One member of the “60 Minutes” team — in a segment not shown on the air but featured on 60minutesovertime.com – even volunteered to be chased down by a military dog in training in Texas. Producer Reuben Heyman-Kantor, in the video above, tried to outrun the dog, but was brought down quickly.)

In her interview with former Navy SEAL Ritland, who now finds and trains dogs for Special Operations and top tier units in the FBI, Logan asked, ”What can these dogs do on the streets of America?”

“The very same thing that they do for our boys overseas in that they detect explosives– they are a fantastic deterrent– they use their nose to find, you know, people as well,” Ritland said.

“Everybody knows that dogs can smell better than humans but what they don’t realize is that if you and I walk into the kitchen and there’s a pot of beef stew on the counter, you and I smell beef stew. A dog smells potatoes, carrots, beef, onion, celery, gravy, flour. They smell each and every individual component of everything that’s in that beef stew. And they can separate everyone one of those. You can’t hide anything from them. It won’t work because you can’t fool a dog’s nose.”

Ritland now trains dogs on his 20-acre ranch in rural Cooper, Texas, runs the Warrior Dog Foundation for retired war dogs, and is the author of “Trident K9 Warriors: My Tale From the Training Ground to the Battlefield with Elite Navy SEAL Canines.”

Ritland says its important — amid these days of budget cuts — to remember what lifesavers the dogs can be, both in wars and at home.

In Afghanistan, according to the report, 42 dogs have been killed in action. They’ve become so effective that the enemy is singling them out. A Taliban commander told “60 Minutes” that on his last operation they were ordered to open fire on the American dogs first, and deal with the soldiers next.

Logan visited what she said was one of only three breeders in the U.S. who produce dogs — almost always the Belgian Malinois — for top tier military units.

She also interviewed Green Beret Chris Corbin who, along with his dog Ax, almost died on their final mission in Afghanistan.

Corbin said he missed a signal from the dog while searching for mines. Ax was alerting to Corbin’s foot, but Corbin realized it too late. He lost both his lower legs. Ax was not wounded. Both returned to duty.

Ax was at Corbin’s side during the interview, and rarely took his eyes off his former partner as he described their first reunion after the blast.

“I just said something simple. ‘Hey, where’s my boy at?’ and he stopped. He froze. He looked around. And he went into a panic until he found me and he jumped on my legs. Painful. Just– I was just happy to see him. I didn’t care how much it hurt.”

Inside of a Dog

Your dog licks your face because he loves you, right?

Ah, if it were only that simple.

There are those that will assure you that yes, those licks mean affection — your “fur babies” are showering you with, in addition to a little slobber, love and gratitude.

There are also those more scientific types who will dissect the act so emotionlessly as to leave you never wanting another lick again — or perhaps even another dog, or at least not another dog book.

Thank Dog, then, for Alexandra Horowitz, who in her new book “Inside of a Dog,” manages to  probe doggie behavior  in a manner both scientific and passionate, without stomping on the sanctity of the human-dog bond like it’s a cigarette in need of extinguishing.

The book’s title comes from the Groucho Marx quote:  “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

Inside-of-a-Dog-coverWhat makes “Inside of a Dog,” released in September, one of the best dog books of the year is that it’s not too dark to read. Horowitz, a psychology professor, former staff member at The New Yorker, and long-time dog-lover is able — based in equal parts on her scientific research and her own personal experiences as a dog owner — to correct the many misconceptions about dogs without snuffing out the special light we see inside them.

As for those face licks, they have an evolutionary basis — it originally was a way for pups to encourage their moms and dads to regurgitate what they had eaten while hunting, thus sharing their prechewed bounty.

That doesn’t mean your dog is trying to make you puke everytime it licks your face, only that what’s now a ritualized greeting began that way.

The book gets to the root of other canine behaviors, as well, including:

· How dogs tell — and actually smell — time.

· Why it’s been futile leaving your television on for your dog all these years (and why this may be different now).

· How your dog really feels about that raincoat you make him wear.

· Why some dogs joyfully retrieve tossed balls and sticks while others just stare at you like you’re a fool for throwing them.

While not a training manual, it’s a book every dog trainer should read, and perhaps every dog owner who wants to truly understand not just what their pet means to them, but what their pet means.

The book goes into how dogs see, smell and hear the world, what their barks mean, what their tail wags mean. And it avoids the common oversimplifications associated with seeing dogs solely in terms of human behavior, or seeing them solely as modern-day wolves.

Horowitz, and the book, show some appreciation and understanding of the evolutions that have taken place, and continue to — the evolution of dogs, the evolution of humans, and the evolution of the bond between the two.

(Learn more about the latest dog books at ohmidog’s book page, Good Dog Reads.)

In a scent but proven guilty

A sheriff’s deputy in Texas whose scent tracing dog has identified suspects in crimes has been named in two lawsuits arguing that scent evidence is often scant evidence.

The Victoria Advocate reported Sunday that the work of Fort Bend County sheriff’s Deputy Keith Pikett led to 62 days in jail for Calvin Lee Miller before he was cleared in the robbery of one elderly woman and sexual assault of another.

A swab of Miller and the scent from the assault victim’s sheets were sent to Pikett, whose three bloodhounds indicated Miller’s scent was on the sheets.

The other lawsuit involves a former Victoria County sheriff’s captain who became a murder suspect based on scent evidence, the Associated Press reported.

No laws or regulations govern scent lineups, and critics say they are often imprecise, but they’re admissible in courts across the nation.

“This is junk science. This isn’t even science. This is just junk,” said Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas. The group works to free wrongfully convicted inmates and started to investigate Pikett recently.

While dogs have a keen sense of smell — sometimes 10,000 times more sensitive than humans — and while every human exudes a different scent, critics of scent line-ups say are easily influenced by human involvement such as the use of a leash , the presence of many scents on evidence or in lineups and the fact that humans must speak for dogs in court.

Pikett’s scent work led to a search warrant for the house of former Victoria County sheriff’s Capt. Michael Buchanek during the 2006 investigation of the murder of Child Protective Services worker Sally Blackwell in Victoria.

The deputy’s dogs walked from a spot where Blackwell’s body was found to her home about five miles away, then to Buchanek’s home nearby. Through a scent lineup, authorities obtained a search warrant. Another man eventually pleaded guilty in the case.

The lineup was “the most primitive evidential police procedure I have ever witnessed,” said Bob Coote, who worked with police dogs in the United Kingdom. “If it was not for the fact that this is a serious matter, I could have been watching a comedy.”

Chicago looks at 5-dog limit

A Chicago alderman wants to limit Chicagoans to five dogs per household.

Alderman Ray Suarez, having reined in 27 co-sponsors, introduced his legislation Wednesday — designed, he said, to reduce sanitation and odor problems, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Neighbors have been complaining about the unsavory sanitary conditions,” Suarez said. “It stinks. It’s terrible. They don’t pick up after their dogs. Their backyards are loaded with dog waste. We have to call Animal Control, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, the Board of Health. You have to take ‘em to court. It’s just not right.”

Actually (opinion alert) we’d argue that it is, and that there is a system in place — as he notes — for dealing with problems. Some people can handle six dogs. Some can’t handle one. But rather than deal with cases as they arise, here’s another city, yet again, as with pit bull legislation, setting arbitrary rules and limits based on what irresponsible people might do, as opposed to what responsible people (pun alert) do do (end pun, end opinion).

Over the years, aldermen have repeatedly called for a three-dog limit, only to be shot down by Mayor Daley. At Wednesday’s meeting, Suarez said he proposed a five-dog ceiling to ease opposition from dog owners, who have tended to mobilize when a three-dog limit is proposed.

“We’ll try and we’ll discuss it,” Suarez said. “If it doesn’t pass, it doesn’t pass. But, I wanted to bring it up.”

Virginia joins states making antifreeze safer

Virginia last week became the seventh state to require antifreeze be spiked with a bitter tasting agent that keeps pets from consuming the toxic liquid.

About 10,000 pets a year, lured by its sweet taste, are fatally poisoned by antifreeze, according to the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kirk Cox, a Republican who introduced the bill in January, after a constituent told him of two dogs on her postal route that had fallen victim to antifreeze.

Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, Tennessee, Maine and California have similar laws, according to Zootoo.com.

The law calls for all imported car engine coolants/antifreeze that have more than 10 percent ethylene glycol also contain denatonium benzoate, a notoriously bitter, but otherwise harmless chemical compound.

“For a 25-pound dog, it can take just as much as a few licks for this stuff to take effect,” said Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Oregon first passed a law to make antifreeze more unappealing nearly 15 years ago.

The buzz on Klinker, Md.’s newby bee dog

Sniffing out harmful bacteria in bee colonies is a full time job for Klinker — “our newest employee,” said William Troup, an apiary inspector with the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

A black Labrador retriever trained late last year, Klinker is part of the department’s strategy to detect diseased bee colonies. Specifically, she’s looking for American foulbrood, the most common and destructive bacterial disease facing Maryland’s honeybees.

Klinker’s normal workday consists of walking along rows of hives. When she smells bacteria, she sits, alerting her handler.

A recent Washington Post story described American foulbrood as a bacteria that forms microscopic spores that can survive for decades, spreading quickly from hive to hive, killing bee larvae. If the infection is caught early, the hive can be treated with antibiotics. If not, the hive usually must be destroyed.

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