We’re not sure we totally buy his argument — we even think it smells a little like one of those Texas tall tales – but we’re 100 percent behind John Mark Cobern’s fight to bring his dog to work in the Titus County Courthouse.
After being notified by the county commissioners that he can no longer keep Belle in his office during the workday, Cobern, the Titus County Attorney, is asking for a ruling from the state attorney general.
Cobern maintains that he keeps Belle with him for protection, and that Belle makes the courthouse a safer place, according to the Austin American-Statesman
“The primary reason for bringing my dog to the county office was to make my office a safer work environment,” he told the attorney general, noting his job puts him in contact with “the mentally ill and potentially unstable individuals.”
As you already know — because you’ve seen the picture — Belle is not a German shepherd, Belgian malinois or Rottweiler.
She’s a dachshund. And she’s 16. And she suffers from a glandular ailment.
Even though it’s a little difficult picturing Belle accosting deranged gunmen, subduing prison escapees or breaking up fights, we don’t totally rule out there could be an action hero beneath her greying fur.
We don’t think Cobern should have to lay legal groundwork to be able to bring his dog to work, but if that’s the route he has chosen he should probably emphasize the calming effect Belle can have, and the ways she can assist him in doing his duty that don’t involve detecting bombs or striking fear into the hearts of thugs.
For Belle is clearly no Texas-sized attack dog.
The commissioners say they decided to ban Belle, and all non-service animals, from the courthouse in Mount Pleasant after a complaint was received about her — but who the complaint came from, and what exactly it was, have not been reported.
Titus County Commissioner Thomas Hockaday took the matter to his colleagues and it was approved, despite opposition from Titus County Judge Brian Lee, who questioned commissioners’ authority to regulate what goes on in the offices of elected officials, such as the county attorney.
Cobern has had Belle since he started law school in Houston. “She laid in my lap for hours at a time while I studied,” he said. “She was always with me, and she is always with me now. I can’t go to the bathroom by myself.”
At the courthouse, Belle spends her time in Cobern’s private office, separate from where his staff is and where the public enters. The glandular ailment Belle suffers from killed an earlier dog of Cobern’s.
Cobern has asked Attorney General Greg Abbott for an official opinion on whether the county commissioners have the authority to regulate whether he — also an elected official — can bring his dog to work.
Abbott is reportedly a dog lover himself, and considers his dog, Oreo, part of his family.
Assuming Belle has not caused severe carnage at the Titus County Courthouse, we hope the attorney general bases his ruling not on dusty law books, but on the heart.
(Photo: Cobern and Belle, courtesy of Cobern)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attorney general, ban, belle, commissioners, county attorney, courthouse, courthouse dogs, dachshund, dog, dogs at work, elected, greg abbott, john mark cobern, office, officials, opinion, pets, protection, ruling, security, texas, titus county, work
Two and a half years after the manager of a sled dog tour company shot and slashed the throats of scores of no-longer-needed huskies, he’s scheduled for sentencing in court.
Bob Fawcett — who claims the owners of Howling Dog Tours ordered him to cull the herd, and that doing so gave him post-traumatic stress disorder — is to be sentenced tomorrow in British Columbia’s Provincial Court in North Vancouver.
The animals, owned by the Whistler-based tour company, were killed in April 2010, but were exhumed more than a year later after an SPCA investigation. They were reburied earlier this month in a memorial ceremony.
Fawcett entered a guilty plea in August to charges of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and faces maximum sentence of five years in prison and $75,000 in fines.
The mass slaying came to light after Fawcett filed a workman’s compensation claim, stating that shooting, slashing and dumping the bodies of about 100 dogs over a two-day period had left him with post traumatic stress disorder.
He said the cull was ordered by company owners after the demand for sled dog tours dropped after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Since the slaughter, the province has revised its anti-cruelty laws to provide new protection for sled dogs, and established more severe penalties for cruelty.
After being dug up and examined, the bodies of 56 of the sled dogs were reburied at a pet cemetery near Penticton, British Columbia, earlier this month at a memorial ceremony.
Fifty-six separate stones were placed individually on a memorial stone which read, “In loving memory of the Whistler sled dogs,” according to the Penticton Herald. Mourners attending the ceremony brought their own dogs, and some wore T-shirts that read, “Justice for the Whistler sled dogs.”
“You (dogs) will never be forgotten, and we pledge that in your memories that we will fight any form of animal cruelty and abuse,” Marylee Davies, president of the BC-SPCA, said during the service.
As Fawcett’s sentencing neared, a former volunteer BC-SPCA investigator has come forward to question whether the organization — based on what she saw on a 2000 visit to Howling Dog Tours — could have prevented the tragedy.
Eleanor Matthews visited Howling Dog Tours in January of 2000, when 73 dogs were under Fawcett’s car, and, described inhumane conditions in a report submitted to the SPCA, according to the Edmonton Journal.
She took photos of dogs, some emaciated, cramped in cages, and crammed into crates on two trailers — including this one:
Matthews says she joined the SPCA as a voluntary investigator about 14 years ago. She quit when the SPCA failed to act on her report, declining to take it to prosecutors so charges could be brought.
BC-SPCA officials, however, said earlier investigations at Howling Dog showed no evidence of abuse, cruelty or neglect, and that while they did order improvements in conditions for the sled dogs there, the company had complied with those orders.
(Top photo by Jeff Bassett / The Canadian Press; bottom photo by Eleanor Matthews)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bcspca, bob fawcett, bodies, british columbia, charges, claim, cull, culled, culling, death, dogs, dumped, howling dog, howling dog tours, investigation, killings, memorial, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, reburied, sentence, sentencing, service, shot, slashed, sled, sled dogs, spca, stabbed, whistler, whistler sled dogs, work
A suburban Cincinnati dog park is getting a massive mural — and no, it’s not advertising — that celebrates dogs, covers up an unsightly old lock-testing chamber alongside the Ohio River, and gives local artists some paying work.
The makeover is being done by a team of artists and students from ArtWorks, a local organization that connects student apprentices with professional artists to create public art around the Greater Cincinnati area.
About 20 dogs will be featured on the wall – all of them depictions of real pets who visit the members-only dog park — along with a famous quote from Plato:
“Life must be lived as play.”
The idea of painting the concrete structure that sits in the middle of Kellogg Park’s dog field in Anderson Township was put forth by resident Claudia Cline, who regularly visits the dog field with her beagle-mix, Pflash.
“I absolutely love it, … and it represents the dogs beautifully,” Cline told the Community Press & Recorder. “Not only does the park benefit, but the kids get jobs as artists. The whole area looks totally improved and like somewhere you’d want to hang out.”
Student apprentices are working with lead artist Elizabeth Hatchett and assistant teaching artist Laura McNeel to put a new face on the former lock-testing facility.
“We wanted it to be fun and whimsical, and we wanted to show the playfulness of dogs,” said Susan Romer, one of the student artists working on the mural. “It represents the dogs’ personalities and we tried to show each dog as they really are.”
The mural should be finished by November.
Cline said about $2,500 still needs to be raised for the project. About $32,000 has already been taken in through private donations from the owners of the dogs on the wall or those who support public art.
(Photo: Lisa Wakeland / The Community Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anderson township, animals, apprentices, art, artists, artworks, cincinnati, claudia cline, concrete, dog park, dogs, donations, employment, kellogg park, lock testing chamber, mentors, mural, ohio river, painting, park, pets, plato, program, work
So given that today is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and given that’s the practice nearly every day in the New York studios of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it’s not surprising that, for its 15th anniversary special issue, The Bark magazine features the dogs of the show’s staff members on its cover.
Late last year, The Daily Show — it has more than a few fans of the magazine on its staff, and vice versa – invited The Bark to come meet the many dogs that roam its workplace.
Editor-in-Chief, Claudia Kawczynska jumped at the opportunity — and the result is a 10-page exclusive on the dogs of The Daily Show in this month’s issue.
The magazine also proclaimed The Daily Show the nation’s dog-friendliest workplace.
Kawczynska reports that The Daily Show officially turned dog friendly about 15 years ago when production manager Georgia Pappas asked permission to bring her Tibetan Terrier, Cosmo, to work with her.
Given both Jon Stewart and the studio’s building manager, Adriane Truex, are big dog fans, permission was granted, opening the door for other staff members to bring their dogs along to work. Today, dogs are welcomed in Jon Stewart’s office and just about everywhere else, Kawczynska notes:
“These days, the first thing new employees, show guests and visitors notice are the dogs. Free-ranging and ubiquitous, they have become an integral part of the office landscape: roaming, playing or lying about, with toys scattered everywhere. They attend staff meetings, share office chairs, charm the celeb guests –in short, The Daily Show is pretty much dog nirvana.”
About a dozen dogs might be there on any given day — and the regulars include Parker, Kweli and Ally. (You can find a slide show featuring all of them here.)
Co-executive producer Jen Flanz said the inviting atmosphere inspired her to adopt Parker, a Lab mix, from Manhattan Animal Care & Control. The only downside, Flanz noted, is that “our dogs are used to being here, being around people all day, running around and getting attention from a hundred people. So when we have time off, she bounces off the walls. They get so much activity and stimulation here.”
Artistic coordinator, Justin Chabot got his Golden Retriever, Kweli, when he was still a student in Boston. Kweli accompanies him almost everywhere, and has been trained to stick by his side when off-leash, even in Times Square. Kweli has also mastered riding on the back of Chabot’s motorcycle.
Supervising producer Tim Greenberg’s dog, Ally, a rescued Pointer-mix, is a more recent addition. Ally had fear issues and initally he only brought her to the office on slow days. Gradually, he added more time to her “work” schedule. He thinks the office visits have helped build up her self-confidence.
Good training is essential to making the office-dog dynamic work, the article notes, and employees see it as a privilege they don’t want to lose.
“We all feel this responsibility to keep the dogs pretty well-behaved,” Flanz noted. “If someone comes in and thinks this is a free-for-all, they would be mistaken.”
Greenberg noted that ”like the show itself, there really is a strict discipline underlying what looks like a free-form.”
“From my perspective, it seemed that the office camaraderie, conviviality and general bonhomie — laughter can be heard everywhere — inspires and affects both the people and the dogs … Everyone I spoke with agrees that having dogs as co-workers may have something to do with the show’s ongoing success. Not only are they great de-stressors, good for morale, comforting and relaxing, the dogs contribute their own dose of inimitable comic relief to a group that’s focused on creating and showcasing comedy”
Some guests on the show get more excited about the dogs than others. Those who staff members said most seemed to “get-down-with-the-dogs” are Jennifer Aniston, NBC news anchor Brian Williams, designer guy Tim Gunn, Ricky Gervais, Betty White and President Obama, a senator at the time.
The only guest to ever bring a dog on the set has been Ted Koppel, who came with his granddog, a black pup named Pepper.
Kawczynska got to meet Stewart, but his two French Bulldogs, Smudge and Barkley, were not there.
(Photos: Magazine cover, a French bulldog named Zuzu, and group shot of staff and dogs; by KC Bailey, courtesy of The Bark)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, betty white, Claudia Kawczynska, comedy central, daily show, dog, dog friendly, dogs, editor, guests, interviews, jennifer aniston, john oliver, jon stewart, magazine, obama, pets, staff, studio, take your dog to work day, ted koppel, television, the bark, the daily show, tim gunn, visit, work, workplace, wyatt cenac
There are three weeks left to vote in the American Humane Association’s Hero Dogs Contest, a competition aimed at shining a light on the thousands of specially trained dogs giving comfort to people every day.
The American Humane Association and Cesar Canine Cuisine, are honoring the work dogs do in eight different categories — service dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, therapy dogs, as well as those in law enforcement, the military, and search and rescue.
An eighth, catch-all category will honor an “emerging hero dog.”
Browse through the nominees and you’ll find a few dogs that have been featured on our pages before — including Surf Dog Ricochet and, though he’s no longer in the competition, Miracle Dog Patrick.
Patrick is the dog who survived being tossed down a trash chute and abandoned at a high-rise apartment in Newark, N.J. While his story “is one of heroism in the face of horrific abuse and neglect,” contest officials said, the person who entered him asked that his name be removed to avoid further complications in the continuing controversy over who should have legal custody of the dog.
“Many people call us the heros for not euthanizing him,” notes his owner. “We respond that Rigby is the true hero for loving life and not letting his disability in any way slow him down.”
Winners in each category will be determined by online voting — you can cast your ballot at herodogawards.org — and the grand prize winner will be selected based on those votes and the decision of a panel of judges.
Judges for the contest include Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg and Victoria Stilwell.
For every online vote, Cesar Canine Cuisine will make a donation to the AHA, with a limit of $200,000.
Voting ends July 31.
Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association is the oldest national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. It’s the organization that issues the “No Animals Were Harmed” stamp on film and TV productions.
Winners in each contest category receive $5,000 for the charity they have designated. The grand prize winner receives $10,000 for their specified charity. They also win a trip to Los Angeles for the Hero Dog Awards on October 1st in Hollywood. (AHA officials say a tribute to Patrick is planned as well, even though he’s no longer an official entry.)
The presentation will air on the Hallmark Channel, November 11 at 8 p.m.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american humane association, animals, assistance, betty white, cesar canine cuisine, dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs, hero, hero dog contest, hero dogs, honoring, judges, law enforcement, military, miracle dog patrick, online, patrick, pets, rigby, search and rescue, service, surf dog ricochet, therapy dogs, victoria stilwell, votes, voting, whoopi goldberg, work
“Make Your Human Stay Home Day” (and I do expect to receive any and all profits associated with the concept both now and in the future) is not meant to replace Take Your Dog To Work Day.
Rather, it would be an additional day (a weekday, of course) on which all employees with pets are encouraged to stay home (with pay, of course) and spend some quality time with their dogs.
Employees without pets would be similarly excused from work if they promised to spend the day visiting their local shelter, considering, at least, adopting a pet.
That means the only people at the office would be those who don’t like dogs, or don’t have room in their life for a dog, or think dogs are disruptive — the sort of people who oppose Take Your Dog to Work Day. Coincidentally or not, these are usually the cranky and mean-spirited ones. So, in addition to getting a day at home with your dog, you would get a day away from them.
Unlike on the weekend, which most humans fill up with activities, some involving the dog and some not, this day would be all about your dog — not about showing him off, or thrusting him into a strange environment, but about you spending some quiet time in his world.
On this day, you would be encouraged to lay in the grass, take extended naps, bark at the postal carrier, chase a squirrel or two, sniff everything in existence and, if you are in really good physical condition, lick your own loins.
Because Make Your Human Stay Home Day could have an adverse impact on professional dog walkers, whose services would not be required on this day, we suggest you go ahead and pay them anyway because they probably deserve it.
If the concept proves as beneficial as I anticipate, we could extend it, and start having “Make Your Parents Stay Home Day.”
That, as well, could result in happier, closer families and, more importantly, another paid day off.
We expect some opposition to our idea from corporate America and from executives who, though they stay home whenever they please, don’t look kindly on their workforces being diminished, unless they are the ones ordering the diminishing.
Until we get this concept up and running, we continue to throw our full support behind Take Your Dog to Work Day, which you can read a good account about in today’s Baltimore Sun — where I used to work, and which didn’t take part in Take Your Dog to Work Day, which may be what inspired my genius idea for Make Your Human Stay Home Day.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: absence, adopt, animals, barking, children, day off, dog, dog walkers, dogs, dogwalkers, employees, excused, holidays, home, humans, idea, licking, make your human stay home day, naps, office, paid holiday, parents, pet sitters, pets, petsitters, proposal, shelter, squirrels, stay home, take your dog to work day, with pay, work, workplace
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.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 25th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bo, cali, congressman, dachshund, dogs, ken calvert, news media, obama, pets, politicians, politico, politics, rayburn office building, rebecca rudman, washington, work, workplace
The county council in Washington state actually has five members, but Hewitt, a black and brown terrier mix, has been a fixture in the council’s eighth-floor office for more than a year, the Daily Herald reports.
Hewitt belongs to County Councilman Dave Somers, who was headed home from work about two years ago when two men pulled alongside in a pickup truck and asked him to take their dog.
“The guy says, ‘Be good to him, give him a good home,’” Somers, who already had three dogs, recalled. ”Then they took a left, and they were gone.”
The councilman drove to an animal clinic, where, when asked for the dog’s name, he responded “Hewitt” — the name of the street he was on when the dog was handed over.
After a few months, Somers started bringing Hewitt to work with him — because, he says, the dog liked people so much.
“He could stay at home, but he’s just so much fun,” Somers said. “He enjoys us, and he fits right in. So we’ve settled into a routine here.”
(Photo by Dan Bates / The Herald)
Some of you might remember Darcy — the too cute to strangle Boston terrier for whom I’ve served as babysitter while her mom and dad were away.
Twice, I took Darcy into my home for multi-day stays, where she proceeded to test my patience half the time, and be adorable the other half.
That was back when I had a house. Now, upon my return to Baltimore — having given up my home for the purposes of our continuing road trip – the tables have turned, and Darcy and her humans have most graciously taken Ace and me into their’s.
Where, as you might guess, I proceeded to test their patience half the time (going so far as to clog up their toilet yesterday morning … the house guest’s worst nightmare), and attempted to be adorable (once I had my coffee) the other half.
And all this just before the start of school, no less.
Here in the city of Baltimore, yesterday was the first day of school — so, with both Darcy’s mom and dad being city schoolteachers, it’s all the more impressive that, with everything else that was on their minds and agendas, they agreed to house one road-weary man and his 130-pound dog over the weekend.
There, in addition to the hazards of using too much toilet paper, this is what I learned:
Teachers — or at least teachers like Dan and Marite – should be appreciated much more. I say this not because they gave us shelter, but because in the days I spent with them I’ve seen how much of themselves, their own time, their own money, their hearts and souls, they pour into what they do.
Yesterday, as Ace and I sat drinking coffee on their front stoop after they left, I watched as children headed down the sidewalk for the start of a new school year, many of them tightly holding the hands of their parents. And I thought how fortunate they were — even in a school system as troubled as Baltimore’s — to have teachers like Dan and Marite. And how much worse things would be if they didn’t.
Dan spent the bulk of the weekend on his computer, finalizing his lesson plans, sweating the details. Marite cooked up some do-it-yourself orange Play-doh out of flour, water and food coloring. When we walked with the dogs down to the shopping center for lunch, Dan and Marite hit the Goodwill store, and came out with a full bag of classroom supplies.
But Dan and Marite take chaos in stride. They seem to have mastered patience, which I guess all teachers must. They are so easy going that she probably won’t mind that I — lacking the technical know-how — am writing her name without the accent thing over the “e”.
While their home has plenty of clutter — I would describe their decorating scheme as contemporary-tornado — Ace and I only added to it, what with our leashes and dog bowls and dog food and camera and laptop and dirty laundry. We just wedged ourselves and our stuff in, and felt right at home. (Virgo that I am, I will admit I feared putting anything on a counter for fear it would disappear immediately under a stack of paperwork, laptops and school supplies. By the way, have you seen my glasses?)
The clutter, though – I’d say it’s 85 percent school related — is just another sign of their commitment.
Most people seem to truly cherish their work — though not always their jobs. And there’s a difference. One’s “work” is doing what they got into a career to do, whether it’s teaching kids, righting wrongs or driving trucks, whether it’s lawyering or newspapering. One’s “job” is what that work has evolved into — thanks to managers, supervisors, corporate chiefs and stockholders.
We the workers, in a way, are their Play-Doh, and they tend to mold, bend and stretch us, sometimes to the point of snapping.
They take your one job and squeeze two more jobs into it; then shovel layers of bureaucracy on top, burying you under piles of seemingly meaningless paperwork, and doing away with anything that might serve as support. They tell us to do more with less, and, at times, seem to be doing everything in their power to prohibit us from doing our jobs right. Then they — those at the very top — reap the benefits of the more, while we scrape by on the less.
I don’t think that makes me a Communist, just a pissed off worker — or a pissed off former worker, to be precise. (I kind of like the boss I have now, who looks a lot like me.)
As a nation, we fail to show enough appreciation for those doing the heavy lifting. And yet the heavy lifters keep lifting — they, and teachers especially, manage to stay fired up about the work, if not the job, despite shrinking benefits, paltry salaries and all the forces that seem intent on extinguishing that fire.
So, a little early for Labor Day, I salute the American worker, who, like the American dog, keeps at it — leaping obstacles, heeding commands, summoning up energy even when exhausted, snapping at and shaking off all the annoying little bugs that come down from above, buzzing in our ears and getting on our backs.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, america, american, animals, benefits, career, darcy, dog's country, dogscountry, employees, employers, job, labor, labor day, ohmidog!, overburdened, overworked, pets, road trip, salary, school, support, teachers, work, workers
At least that’s my thinking — and it’s the view of the Humane Society of the United States, as well.
HSUS is encouraging dogs in the workplace programs, and this year it has teamed up with Petplan, which describes itself as America’s top-rated pet insurance provider, to ask busineses to consider adopting programs permitting employees to bring dogs to work.
Such policies, they say, can be beneficial to employees, dogs and the company bottom line. Studies have shown that employees who bring their dogs to work tend to be more efficient, happier and healthier.
“We share everything with our four-legged family members – our joys, our sorrows, sometimes even our lunch,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder of Petplan. “It seems only natural that we also share our work lives with our pets.”
To assist employers in implementing a dogs at work program, Humane Society Press, the publishing division of HSUS, published “Dogs at Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces,” a guide to creating a business environment where employees’ dogs are welcome.
Authors Liz Palika and Jennifer Fearing present the tangible benefits of dog-friendly policies and provide step-by-step advice on obtaining management buy-in, setting fair procedures and protocols and dealing with any concerns about dog-friendly policies in the workplace. Dogs at Work also includes detailed advice about how to prepare dogs for the office environment, provides sample policies and handouts and provides two comprehensive case studies describing successful dog-friendly workplaces.
“Our canine companions make excellent colleagues, even at big companies,” said Fearing, chief economist for The Humane Society of the United States. “In the midst of tough times, employers can improve morale and support the human-animal bond by relying on Dogs at Work to develop and implement a workable – and free – program that works for everyone.”
The HSUS implemented a dogs at work program in 2007, and about 50 dogs come to work at the organization’s three offices in the Washington, D.C. area.
(Photo: Soco, HSUS staffer Cary Smith’s dog, at work; by Cary Smith, courtesy of HSUS)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, benefits, dog, dog friendly, dog friendly workplace, dogs at work, employees, employers, guide, hsus, humane society of the united states, insurance, natasha ashton, news, ohmidog!, petplan, pets, policies, take your dog to work day, work, workplace