Category Archives: Dogs (etc.)

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Eukanuba and IAMS Recall (Dog and Cat Food)

Recall Eukanuba IAMS dog foodAnother day, another dog food (and cat food) recall: The Procter and Gamble company has recalled a variety of dry dog and cat foods under the IAMS and Eukanuba brands due to a risk of contamination with salmonella. (Full list as of today is at this link.) The symptoms which can affect animals that have ingested same include lethargy, “diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.” Similar symptoms can be experienced by humans who have ingested salmonella, and humans can pick it up from infected pets or simply by contact with their contaminated food.

Eukanuba and IAMS recall dog cat food
A home-made meal of beef, peas, carrots and millet

We happen to give our dog home-made food, which isn’t necessarily practical for everyone, but she’s a small dog with an eclectic palate and preparing meals for her is a pleasure and quite inexpensive. Not to overdo a sense of vindication from these frequent recalls, but it does make you wonder how often contaminated or sub-standard food gets out there and stays out there without notice; perhaps, for instance, in smaller batches. Dogs (and cats) do have a tendency to throw up a lot anyway, as pet owners know, and pets also sometimes will just up and die suddenly. How many people pay for an autopsy when their dog or cat dies? The answer is virtually none, as it will not bring Fido or Fluffy back, and veterinary bills are quite bad enough when the animal is alive. So toxic dog food (and cat food) is only even identified as a problem when the effects are widespread enough to attract attention. Or, as in this case, the recall takes place voluntarily because the manufacturer is worried about a potentially big problem. (And since salmonella is communicable to humans too, it holds a special risk of liability for the pet food companies.) Continue reading Eukanuba and IAMS Recall (Dog and Cat Food)

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The Passing of Old Schoep

man and dogLast year, a photograph of a man named John cradling his aging dog while floating in Lake Superior went mega-viral. (It’s the photo at the top of their Facebook page.) That dog, a twenty-year old shepherd mix named Schoep, finally passed on yesterday. The story behind the photo, for those who missed it, is that due to Schoep’s arthritis, about the only place he could truly relax was in water, while floating. So his owner would take him to that lake as often as possible and just hold him in his arms and allow Schoep to relax and doze. He had gotten Schoep from a shelter as a puppy. Continue reading The Passing of Old Schoep

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Where Are My Fried Eggs?

Billie on a sidewalk in July

Around nine o’clock this morning, it was already absolutely sweltering in the sun in New York City, and it’s headed up to 99 degrees today, at least. Try walking on the hot pavement when your entire body is spread out only four inches above it. The concrete and asphalt absorb the sun’s rays and radiate that heat right back out. Fuggedabout your feet; your whole body gets cooked so much it only needs mustard and a bun to finish it off. Continue reading Where Are My Fried Eggs?

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Twilight Zone for Dog Lovers

There is an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “The Hunt” which first aired in January of 1962. Thank you to the noble soul who forwarded it to me. It stars Arthur Hunnicutt, Jeanette Nolan, and an unnamed canine actor (as “Rip”). In addition to answering the age-old and crucial question about whether dogs go to heaven, it also poses a provocative question about what just might happen in the afterlife to those who do not love dogs.

The show is 24 minutes long, not counting commercials, and you may watch it via the embedded Hulu clip below, or on the Hulu website at this link. Continue reading Twilight Zone for Dog Lovers

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The Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program

Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training ProgramThis dog story was linked on the Drudge Report today, so I suppose about 2.3 billion people have already seen it. However, if you’re among the balance of humanity which has not seen it, and like me you have a special soft-spot for dogs, you should not miss it. It’s by Darci Marchese at WTOP and is the story of the U.S. Army’s Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program, which operates at Walter Reed in Bethesda, MD and a couple of other locations. Briefly, the program gives recently-wounded military veterans an opportunity to do constructive work during their recovery by training dogs who will then help other disabled veterans in a myriad of ways. The story testifies to the emotional benefits that come to those doing this training during what can otherwise be a very dark time for them, and is just another example of the special and mysterious human-canine relationship.


Also fascinating is the way in which the trainers utilize older, experienced dogs to complete tasks, having the rookie dogs watch and learn by example.

Videos below. Continue reading The Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program

Dog and Human Genomes “Evolving Together”

There is a story in National Geographic regarding a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and elsewhere, which finds that various genes in humans and dogs, “including those related to diet and digestion, neurological processes, and disease” have been “evolving in parallel for thousands of years.”

I’m not quite sure what to make of this kind of story. Is it news or just researchers spending time and grant money “discovering” the very obvious, and finding fancy explanations for it?

In my house, at least, we’ve been on top of this issue for a long time.

Dog and human genomes evolved together Continue reading Dog and Human Genomes “Evolving Together”

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One Penny Might Kill a Pooch

zinc pennies toxic to dogsMost dog owners would be familiar with the list of things you’re supposed to keep away from your dog: chocolate, chicken bones, recordings of “Old Shep” and the like. However, this one was new to me: Apparently, one cent coins minted in the United States since 1982 contain zinc, and if such is swallowed by a dog and remains in the stomach long enough for the gastric acid to penetrate it, the zinc from a single cent can lethally poison the dog. It apparently interferes with red blood cell production.

The story happened to hit the news after this very scenario unfolded with a Westie named Sierra, owned by a lady named Maryann Goldstein in Colorado, who is now endeavoring to draw attention to the risk. Continue reading One Penny Might Kill a Pooch

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A Blind Husky and His Mixed Terrier Guide Dog

Blind husky and terrier guide dogIt’s not the first ever story of a dog who takes it upon himself (or herself in this case) to guide another dog who has gone blind, but there’s something about this one that is particularly touching. I guess it’s the fact that they were picked up off the street as strays. They are an odd couple indeed: a blind husky with bulging glaucoma eyes, and the little terrier mix that stays with him at all times, cries for him when he is taken away and protects him when people approach too quickly. They’ve given the name of Isabella to the guiding terrier, and the husky is being called Isaac. Video below via News10: Continue reading A Blind Husky and His Mixed Terrier Guide Dog

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Dogs “pass driving test” in New Zealand (and notes on the value of mutts)

Dog newsReports indicate that the famous driving dogs of New Zealand passed their driving test on live TV, although I watched the long-form footage of that event and found it a little underwhelming. Much more fun is some edited stuff, perhaps from another day, embedded below, of my favorite of the three mutts, Porter, going through his paces. He is beyond cool.

Although this whole thing has grown into a massive worldwide internet and TV sensation, it’s worth remembering the small idea behind it. The local SPCA wanted to attract some publicity to promote the idea that your average mutt from the pound is a worthy creature, full of potential and deserving of a good home.

I’d always kind of thought everybody knew this—that mutts are great, and the pound or shelter is a great place to get a dog for very little money—but about eight years ago when we got our mutt Billie at the city pound, and began taking her around to socialize in her New York City neighborhood, I quickly found out that the great majority of people do not think first of going to the shelter to get a dog. Most people, it seems, have very clear ideas of what breed they want, and many are willing to pay quite high amounts to get it. And then, in recent years, we’ve had the phenomenon of “designer mutts,” where one established breed is deliberately mixed with another to achieve a desired result, such as a Cockapoo (Cocker-Spaniel and Poodle) or a Puggle (Pug and Beagle).

I’m not going to be morally-preachy about it: people ought to get the kind of dog they want, and take good care of it. That’s the bottom line. But just as the SPCA in New Zealand was trying to do, it’s good to talk up some of the advantages of mutts (though occasionally shelter dogs are not mutts: pure-bred pooches get abandoned too).

(1) Mutts, like Porter in the video above, are cool because they are unique. People are always stopping on the street to ask what kind of dog our Billie is. After years of igniting back and forth conversations about possible mixes, I’ve come up with the perfect answer: She is one of a kind. And she is, and so is any true mutt.

(2) Mutts are unpredictable, and that makes them a joy. You can’t look up in a book what your dog’s personality traits and tendencies might be. You can only watch and wait as they unfold. (Of-course I know pure-breds also have unique and individual personalities, but a mutt is naturally more of a wild-card.)

(3) Mutts are devoid of any sword-of-Damocles trait or threat that hangs over most pure-bred dogs. Most established breeds have known weaknesses or tendencies towards specific health problems. With a mutt, there are two arguable advantages: (a) You don’t know what weaknesses there may be, so you don’t live in dread of them and (b) You can hope that in whatever genetic mixing that has gone on, any dangerous recessive genes from one particular breed have been overwritten. Some people seriously argue that mutts are healthier by nature. I don’t know if that’s true. I only thank God that our mutt is about to turn nine-years-old and is as healthy and full of vigor as when she was a one-year-old. Continue reading Dogs “pass driving test” in New Zealand (and notes on the value of mutts)

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Veterans Day 2012 in New York: Honoring Military Working Dogs

Veterans Day Military DogsYesterday, Sunday, November 11th in New York City, the annual Veterans Day Parade (known as the largest in the nation) engulfed Fifth Avenue between 26th and 56th streets. For the first time in the history of this parade, what are officially known as “Military Working Dogs” (MWDs) were honored. A group of canines and their handlers, actual veterans of recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, marched up Fifth Avenue accompanied by signage and a decorated float. Photos (taken by yours truly) are below. Click on each for larger versions. May God bless each and every one of our veterans.

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From the War of 1812 to the current war in Afghanistan, dogs have served alongside American troops. Although we usually think of German Shepherds and Dobermans, a vast range of breeds have served, including American Coon Hounds, Jack Russell Terriers, Mastiffs and mixed breeds. Continue reading Veterans Day 2012 in New York: Honoring Military Working Dogs

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British army dog Theo receives posthumous medal

Army dog Theo receives posthumous medalIn March of 2011, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was killed by enemy fire. Lance Corporal Tasker was a specialized dog handler, and he was well known for being utterly inseparable from his arms-and-explosives-sniffing dog Theo, a springer spaniel who has been credited with more successful finds during his time in Afghanistan than any other dog with the British military, and is believed by so doing to have saved many human lives. The relationship between the two was such that Lance Corporal Tasker would prefer to consume his meals outdoors, with Theo, rather than leaving his trusted dog outside while he ate in the canteen.

LCpl Liam Tasker and TheoSeveral hours after witnessing Lance Corporal Tasker being killed by enemy fire, the springer spaniel Theo was overcome by seizures, and died despite veterinary treatment.

The medal which has been awarded to Theo posthumously is one which is called the Dickin Medal (after its founder) and is also known as the animals’ Victoria Cross. It originated in the Second World War and has been used since then to recognize twenty-eight dogs, one cat, three horses and thirty-two WWII carrier pigeons.

May both of these heroes of the war in Afghanistan rest in peace. (Photo via Britain’s Ministry of Defence.)

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Duke the dog, savior of a nine-week-old girl

Duke dog saves baby girlOne of the best dog-related stories of this or any other month has been that of Duke, the ex-shelter mutt in Portland, Connecticut who somehow detected that a newly-born infant in his home was not breathing, and whose dramatic reaction led to her parents checking on her, calling 911, and saving her life. (Video below, right.) Continue reading Duke the dog, savior of a nine-week-old girl

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Dog in Ghana saves abandoned baby

Dog saves abandoned babyA dog in the west African nation of Ghana is being credited with saving the life of a baby abandoned under a bridge in a place called Winkongo. The dog had wandered off the farm where it lived, and its owner had organized a search party to find it. From this report:

Searchers spent most of the night tracking the hound through nearby fields and woods, and came upon the unlikely pair quite some time later; finally locating him under the bridge near the farm he calls home, they were surprised to find the dog curled around a human infant.

Continue reading Dog in Ghana saves abandoned baby

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Dogs and their guilty looks

Dogs guilty looksAn incredibly elaborate study reported on at this link was carried out in order to try and determine once and for all whether dogs really look “guilty” when they know they have done something wrong. The result: Well, you can read it yourself, but my perception of the conclusion is that it remains utterly inconclusive.

Most dog owners of-course will swear that when they come home and the dog has invaded the garbage or relieved himself on the carpet or otherwise made a mess, that the dog acts guiltily even before any scolding words are said. A guilty look in a dog is generally considered to consist of such factors as ears being down, head held low, perhaps averted eyes, and a meekly wagging tail. Continue reading Dogs and their guilty looks

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Dog pulls owner from path of freight train

Dog pulls owner from path of freight trainA story from Shirley, Massachusetts: Lilly, a pit bull saved from the pound to be a companion to a woman suffering from alcoholism, pulled or pushed her unconscious owner from the path of a freight train that was frantically braking to avoid hitting the two. (Video of Lilly in recovery below.) The engineer of the train saw the dog trying to get the woman off the tracks, but couldn’t stop the train in time. The woman, thanks to the dog’s efforts, was uninjured. The dog suffered injuries to her foot and pelvis, and has had to have one of her front legs amputated.

When emergency workers arrived, Lilly the pit bull was covered in blood but still standing by her owner. Continue reading Dog pulls owner from path of freight train

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Seeing How Dogs Think, Via MRI

Seeing dogs think on MRIHuman brain activity has been investigated for quite some time now using what’s known as “functional magnetic resonance imaging,” which basically captures changes in blood flow within the brain. So, if a particular stimulus always makes blood flow increase in one particular part of the brain, then the conclusion is that that part of the brain governs the human being’s response to that stimulus. Human beings cooperate in this kind of research merely by keeping their heads very still while in an MRI machine and paying attention to whatever the researchers want them to pay attention to.

As anyone would know who has ever had to get their dog or cat medically (or veterinarily) scanned in any way, or merely had to consider it, it is de rigeur for pets to be put under—knocked out—before undergoing such a scan or x-ray. There’s simply no other way to get them to stay sufficiently still so that the pictures obtained are usable, other than very dramatic restraint measures. Or at least, so it was always thought. (Putting the dog or cat under anesthesia also adds to the expense and stress of such scans, naturally.)

Well, researchers at Emory University have achieved a breakthrough in this regard, in their pursuit of greater understanding about how the canine brain works. They took a two-year-old dog named Callie (a so-called “Feist” or small squirrel-hunting dog) and a three-year-old Border Collie named McKenzie and they trained both dogs over the course of several months to walk into an MRI scanner, rest their heads on a chin rest and hold perfectly still. The dogs also wear ear muffs to shield them from the noise of the machine. In this position, the researchers have begun introducing various stimuli and mapping which areas of the dogs’ brains respond with increased blood flow. Pretty interesting, huh?

Science Daily quotes Gregory Berns, director of the Emory Center for Neuropolicy and the lead researcher for this project, as saying:

It was amazing to see the first brain images of a fully awake, unrestrained dog. As far as we know, no one has been able to do this previously. We hope this opens up a whole new door for understanding canine cognition and inter-species communication. We want to understand the dog-human relationship, from the dog’s perspective.

There are no doubt some interesting discoveries to come. Of-course, there is always a tendency for advanced scientific research to move mountains and expend all kinds of energy in determining things that, after all, were pretty obvious. Continue reading Seeing How Dogs Think, Via MRI

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Dog named “Doc” helps with post-traumatic stress disorder

Dog newsAn organization called “Patriot Rovers” based in North Carolina trains Golden Retrievers adopted from the pound to provide comfort and support to U.S. military veterans. One such (as reported in the Daily Advance) is named Doc Russell, after army medic Ryan “Doc” Russell who gave his life carrying out his duty in Iraq in 2007. The founder of Patriot Rovers, David Cantara, likes when possible to name the service dogs after fallen U.S. service members, when the families agree. The 11 month-old Golden Retriever named Doc lives with an Iraq war veteran named Ray. He comforts him during anxiety attacks and is trained to bark and lick his hand when he has upsetting nightmares. Ray, who’s suffered enormously from the after-affects of his war-time service, attests: “He has given me a whole new outlook on life.” Continue reading Dog named “Doc” helps with post-traumatic stress disorder

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Kilo the hero pit bull stops bullet with his skull and lives

Dog newsA 12-year-old pit bull named Kilo played a heroic role in defeating a home-invader armed with a gun. The events occurred in Staten Island, New York. An armed criminal dressed as Fed-Ex deliveryman is reported to have been pushing his way into an apartment occupied by Justin Becker and his girlfriend Nicole Percoco. Becker managed to knock the gunman down and jam his body with the door, so that he was lying halfway inside the apartment.

At that point Kilo the dog appeared around the corner to investigate. The thug was clearly spooked by the sight of the pit bull and decided to fire his gun in its direction, hitting Kilo in the head. At that point the craven criminal extricated himself and ran off. Continue reading Kilo the hero pit bull stops bullet with his skull and lives