"The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog."

Rainy Weather Hampers Adoptions

Bad weather keeps potential forever homes away in Southern California.
After years of drought, Southern California is finally getting some rain. Unfortunately it's also putting a damper on pet adoptions.

According to the Pasadena Humane Society, bad weather can cut adoption numbers in half, or even more. On one recent rainy Sunday, only 18 dogs were adopted, compared to 65 on the same day last year. This is largely due to less people venturing out in the rain. After all wet weather is usually uncommon in the area, so even a drizzle can cause traffic and confusion. But another contributing factor is the closure of the outdoor kennels during downpours, meaning less animals are available for adoption.

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Pawternity and Mutternity Leave

BrewDog offers a week off—fully paid
BrewDog.com

A beer company based in the UK wants to be the best company to work for, ever, and a new policy gives them a legitimate claim to success. BrewDog just announced that all 1000 of their employees are eligible for a full week of paid leave when a new dog joins the family. They recognize the importance for everyone in the family of spending time with a new dog to adjust to the change. They want to make the transition easier for everyone.

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Five Dog-Friendly Finishes — Plus Five You Should Avoid

Save your sanity and your decorating budget by choosing materials and surfaces that can stand up to the test.

It’s a common situation for pet owners and parents alike: You buy a brand-new couch thinking you’ve purchased a truly indestructible piece of furniture, only to watch it be destroyed within a matter of months by your pet or child. It’s enough to make you feel like you’ll never be able to rectify your love for your family members, furry or not, with your yearning to create a beautiful home. Not to mention the pain it inflicts on your bank account.

There are a few simple things animal lovers can do to keep pets from damaging their homes. Accidents aside, most scratches and bite marks happen because of boredom. Scratching posts, chew toys, basic pet training and plenty of outdoor playtime will go a long way toward keeping your pet happy and your furnishings unscathed. Most dog trainers also recommend creating a comfortable enclosure for young pups, because this helps with house training and keeps them from chewing on dangerous objects.

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The Education of Will by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D.

A breathtakingly honest memoir

The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog is everything you expect from well-known canine behaviorist and best-selling/award-winning author Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., but it is also so much more. What you presume would be included is indeed there—insights about dogs from science as well as from her own experiences, research into the physiology of behavior and personal stories. If you love learning about dogs through McConnell’s combination of science and tales from real life, you will love this book, and yet this is more than a book about dogs.

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Smiling Dog: Spooky Boo

What’s your dog’s name and age? Spooky Boo, 6 years

Adoption Story:

Six-year-old Spooky Boo was adopted from a local shelter. She's incredibly gentle and trusting but completely deaf with severe separation anxiety so she had finding a home. Luckily for this sweet girl she found a family who was happy to have her. Three years after being adopted, a freak accident during a walk lead to Boo's paralysis.

Spooky Boo's Determination:

Her dad says seeing her wag her tail again following her accident is one thing he will never forget. She showed sheer determination and refusal to stay down during her first faltering steps when walking unaided. She is a real inspiration.
 
Spooky Boo loves to run and now with her wheels she has her freedom back (though she has a knack for running over people's toes)! She has a wonderful spirit and zest for life.

 

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Oh, the Things Dogs Eat!

Clients share stories of ridiculous consumption

My appointments with clients tend to follow themes, some of which are predictable. I receive many calls about housetraining after the first big snow of the year, and there’s the digging under the fence problems when the ground thaws in the spring. The start of monsoon season corresponds with the Fourth of July, so that time of year typically brings large numbers of dogs who are afraid of thunder, fireworks and other loud noises.

Sometimes, the trends are less expected. There have been times when my week is full of dogs who are aggressive to other dogs on leash or when a surprising number of appointments involve dogs who fear men with beards. (The past few years with big bushy beards being so fashionable have been a tough time for dogs and for canine behaviorists alike.) I’m not sure why I’ll occasionally work with a cluster of dogs who jump on visitors followed by a series of dogs who guard their toys from other dogs in the house.

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A Life Changing Vacation

U.K. veterinarian quits her job to help street dogs in Sri Lanka.
Three years ago veterinarian Janey Lowes was vacationing in Sri Lanka when she was struck by the many street dogs that were in horrible shape. Some had been hit by cars, or deliberately hurt by knives or boiling water. Others suffered from untreated health issues, such as ticks and mange. It's estimated that there are three million dogs roaming the streets of Sri Lanka. Sixty percent don't make it past puppyhood.

Janey couldn't bear to ignore these dogs, so she quit her job at a British veterinary practice to dedicate herself full time to the homeless pups of the southern Dikwella District.

“There are no vets in place to treat these street animals,” she explained. “I feel like all of these dogs are my dogs and I’m the only one to look after them.”

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Leasing a Dog Is a Really Bad Idea

Leasing Golden Retriever Puppies Is a Bad Idea

We heard about an intriguing (and alarming) Bloomberg story over the weekend on NPR’s Marketplace Money program. When asked about predictions for what the guests are “long or short" on, reporter Gillian White said that she was “long” on the financial sector behind “dog leasing.” She was reporting on a piece from Bloomberg about dubious loan scheme operations, such as leasing a dog. In the Bloomberg piece, “I’m Renting a Dog?” Patrick Clark reports about Wags Lending LLC, a California-based firm, that provides leasing options for people who want to buy expensive pet store dogs.

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From Abandoned Pup to Firedog

A Pit Bull finds her forever home at a New York City firehouse.
Last year New York City animal rescuers Erica Mahnken and Michael Favor got a call about an abandoned Pit Bull in an old crack house. There was no heat or electricity, and the couple who lived there fled after a snowstorm hit. When Erica and Michael found the poor pup, she was malnourished and covered in cigarette burns. A vet later said that the dog was 25 pounds underweight.

Despite being abused, the pup was happy to be found and jumped right into Erica's car.

Unfortunately they didn't have anywhere to keep the dog, so they called some firefighter friends from a Lower East Side FDNY station nicknamed "Fort Pitt." The firefighters agreed to be a temporary foster home.

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Colorado Kids Train Service Dogs

After school program teaches students to prepare pups to help veterans.
Service dogs have the potential to make a significant impact in the lives of veterans, but many can't afford their high price tag. When students from Summit Elementary School in Divide, Colorado learned about this problem, they wanted to help.

"We recognize a large number of veterans in Teller County who would largely benefit from having a service dog to help them," said student Christian Bonnette.

So five kids teamed up with trainer John Franks from the non-profit group Heroes Pack. After school they work with John to teach dogs the skills needed to help people with PTSD or mobility issues. Currently they're working with a dog named Holly who they plan to donate to a local veteran this spring.

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The Great Furniture Debate

Where is your dog allowed to go?

People who say that money is the biggest source of conflict in most marriages are clearly unfamiliar with the clashes over whether or not to let the dogs up on the furniture. These epic battles regularly find their way into my private consultations, where I am repeatedly asked who is right—the person who says dogs should stay on the floor or the one who wants them up on the couch and on the bed. I always handle these mediations with the same four basic steps.

1) I take a deep breath to calm myself for the coming storm. 2) I wish for the umpteenth time that I had a business partner specializing in marital counseling. 3) I explain the factors to consider when making this important decision. 4) I open a discussion with my clients about how these factors relate to their particular situation. So, you might ask, what are those factors?

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The Top 10 Talking Points for Trainers

Professional dog trainers are asking new questions and coming up with new answers.

Dogs are being studied across all areas of health and behavior, making it possible to apply scientific insights to the way we train. As a result, new conversations are taking place among professional dog trainers at conferences and seminars. Here’s the lowdown on a few of these important discussions. 

 

How can the six-week class be improved?

The six-week-class format was designed to be convenient for the owner’s schedule and budget: same place, same time, same price each week. Unfortunately, this model is proving to be insufficient, as many dog owners find themselves with unmet expectations at the end of the course. Day training (dropping the dog off for the day to be trained without the owner), smaller class sizes, online classes, private lessons and email check-ins are on the list of new options. 

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Issue 89: Spring 2017

Twenty Years and Counting
The Bark magazine, Spring 2017, Issue 89

Welcome to our 20th anniversary year kick-off issue. We are showcasing reader’s dogs on all four of this year’s covers—so we lead off Clementine, who not only has what it takes to be the perfect studio model—calm, charm and an endearing smile—but also, a compelling and inspiring backstory. Don’t forget to enter your dog in our cover dog contest, thebark.com/coverdog.

Patricia McConnell set a high bar for writing about the behavior of dogs and their people with The Other End of the Leash; she followed up with numerous self-published training books and an almost 10-year stint as Bark’s behavior columnist. We talk with her about her new memoir, The Education of Will, and provide you with a preview.

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Fooling People But Not Dogs

A study of the Delboeuf illusion

Visual illusions reveal the inner working of the eyes and of the brain, and when used in comparative studies, they can teach us a lot about the differences and similarities in vision and neurological processing between species. A common research approach involves using illusions that affect perception of size and investigating whether the illusions affect choice. Allowing research subjects to choose between various options can elucidate the illusions’ effects on members of various species.

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Cover Dog: Clementine

Bark's Spring 2017 Cover Dog Winner

Clementine, the first winner of our 2017 cover dog contest, was adopted by Sachino Abe and Joshua Haskins from Posh Pets Rescue (PPR) in New York City in October 2015 at a pop-up event organized by Best Friends. She was in the U.S. after being rescued from the dog-meat trade by Soi Dog Foundation; PPR is one of the many groups working with the foundation to rehome dogs saved from the dog meat trade. Like many of us, Sachino and Joshua weren’t aware that a thriving dog meat trade existed in Thailand, where people still consume dogs locally as well as sell them on to neighboring countries like China and Vietnam. Many of the dogs swept up in this trade were pets.

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Florida Hotel Fosters Shelter Pups

A Tallahassee Aloft partners with Leon County Humane Society to feature homeless dogs.

As pet adoption has gotten more attention in recent years, people have found new and interesting ways to promote shelter dogs and cats. Hotels may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to homeless pets, but one lodging chain has found success in partnering with local rescue organizations.

Earlier this month the Aloft Tallahassee Downtown Hotel launched its Dog Foster Program, in conjunction with the Leon County Humane Society (LCHS). Through this program, one lucky shelter pup gets to stay in the hotel lobby, which features a dog house that was built to look like a smaller version of the hotel. This gives dogs more exposure to potential adopters and socialization to different environments and people

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Peeing on the Leash or on Other Dogs

Is your dog guilty of either offense?

Taking many male dogs out for a walk can be like taking your own little watering can out for a spin—a splash on the light post, a few drops for the fire hydrant, a dribble over an old pile of poop, a good soaking of the neighbor’s prize roses. Males aim their urine for marking purposes, so there’s no doubt that they are able to direct the stream quite accurately.

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Smiling Dog: Steve

What’s your dog’s name and age? Steve, 7 years

Adoption Story:

Found walking along the street with another dog in Ft. Worth, Texas he was picked up by a good Samaritan. After effort to locate an owner failed, Steve's fate seemed doomed to the animal shelter. The rescuer called up his friend thinking he and Steve might be a good fit and upon meeting they were instantly best friends. 

Steve's Interests:

Steve loves scratches behind the ear, eating chicken and the song "Free Bird".  When Steve isn't grooving to the music, he can be found hanging out with his best pal Snickers the beagle or snuggling with his people. He is an unparalleled hugger.

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Pink and Blue Accessories

Another way we treat our dogs like our children

We all know that it has become common for people to consider their dogs to be like their children. They are often referred to as “fur babies” or “four-legged kids”. Among the many signs of that are the colors of dogs’ accessories. Leashes, collars and tags are far more likely to be pink for females and blue for males than ever before. Long gone are the days where most dogs wore a basic brown collar with a matching leash, or the era after that when primary colors were common for dogs of both sexes.

There have been many color changes for human babies’ clothes and accessories. The current pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys code is less than 100 years old.) It’s no surprise that the colors we choose for our dogs has a fluidity to it as well.

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Where do you find the time to train your dog?

Right now: It’s 7:52 on a Saturday night. I’m in my cozies snuggled under the covers with Cooper. Laptop balanced on my knees. Beer on the side table. And I am wiped. But, this is the first chance I’ve had all week to write about time management for dog training–the theme of this past week’s blog […]

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Everything you ever wanted to know about senior dogs and mobility

OK. Maybe not everything, but I’m going to try my best. First, my usual disclaimers: I’m not a vet. I’m not a vet tech. I’m not in any capacity involved in any sort of medical field. I’m a writer and avid researcher who’s crazy obsessed with providing my dogs the best life possible. I’m simply sharing […]

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Food Sharing in Dogs

Familiar dogs prompt generosity more than unknown dogs

Dogs will give food to other dogs. Okay, maybe your dogs don’t show this tendency at home enough for you to believe it, but in laboratory settings, it happens. (It happens in other species, too, especially in various primates and in rats.) A recent study of this behavior found that the details of the experimental situation influence whether dogs choose to give food to other dogs or not. 

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The Debate on Canine Domestication

Canine Origin Story
Jawbone and teeth fragments held at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. DNA extracted from these and similar materials contributes to the effort to track the separation between wolf and dog.
Jennings Dog, 2nd century AD; Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae described a new classification system.
Natufian burial of human with dog, Israel, 12.5 to 10.8 BCE; Illustration from Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle.

Researchers have identified the origin of cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, camels, ducks, chickens, cats and goats. But the genesis of the domestic dog, our oldest companion and the most varied, numerous and widely distributed domestic animal on the globe? We’re still trying to figure out that one.

The study of patterns of diversity is called systematics, and it is a critical subdivision of evolutionary biology. Systematics researchers (earlier called naturalists and taxonomists) sort out species’ genealogical relationships and estimate the points at which populations diverged from one another. Traditionally, they relied on observations of differences in stable physical traits like teeth, skulls and sometimes fossils. More recently, genome-wide comparisons have been used to provide detailed information about species relationships, including the question of when and where wolves became dogs.

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DIY Dog-Themed Bangle

For unique, personalized, wearable art, there’s nothing like it.
How to Make DIY Bangles

For unique, personalized, wearable art, there’s nothing like a decoupaged bracelet. Start with a plain wooden bangle (online suppliers, such as DiyBangles, offer a variety of styles and sizes at $3 to $4 each); a bottle of Mod Podge, which is both an adhesive and a sealant; and a few inexpensive paintbrushes.

Then, collect paper images from your favorite highquality catalogs, postcards, wrapping paper, books, gift cards, stamps, labels and, of course, The Bark. Bark is my go-to source for all my dog-themed bracelets, as the magazine is a treasure trove of photos, paintings, book covers, cartoons and clever ads. It’s also the perfect thickness. Avoid thin paper, which will tear, and newsprint, which will smudge.

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Engineering Students Build a Custom Wheelchair

Aggie Innovation Space finds a way to enable a canine cancer survivor to run again.

Last year, when 17-year old Kita lost her right hind leg to bone cancer, he adjusted quickly to getting around on three legs. But relying on one less limb meant Kita got tired more easily and wasn’t able to complete the long walks he always enjoyed. Unfortunately, standard pet wheelchairs didn’t work for Kita.

His owner, Michelle Lebsock, was determined to find a solution. She found lots of ideas online about using 3-D printers to create custom dog wheelchairs, but had no experience in this area. So Michelle contacted the Aggie Innovation Space (AIS) lab at New Mexico State University for advice on how to embark on the do-it-yourself project.

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Smiling Dogs: Addie the Workday Companion

Meet Addie, a pup who loves to help her owner on the job. It’s not all work; Addie has plenty of fun.

 Addie

Pet at a Glance
Pet: Addie, an American cocker spaniel
Age: 2
Location: Apple Valley, Minnesota
Owner: Tiffani Sluppick, interior designer for Ethan Allen

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Shelter Visits Help With Healing In Between Dogs

We each have our own particular way of grieving the loss of a beloved pet. Some go straight to the shelter and adopt a new friend right away, continuing the cycle of unconditional love that life with a dog perpetuates. Some vow to never, ever take in another animal again, believing that the pain of another loss—or even the joy of a new, huge love—would be too much to bear.

And some hover in the middle, craving a dog’s love and presence, knowing deep in their hearts that another adoption is inevitable, but wary of forming a new bond. I call this the “in-between-dogs” state. Not now, those of us in the inbetween state tell ourselves. Not yet. Wait until the moment is right.

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Kids Feel Closer to Dogs Than to Siblings

More satisfaction, less conflict characterize relationship

Long before people began to consider dogs members of the family, many kids were wishing that instead of brothers and sisters, they could just have more dogs. Dogs (and other pets) fulfill all of the roles that researchers consider important in an attachment figure. Kids find them enjoyable, comforting, they miss them when they are not around and they seek them out when they are upset. That may make them especially important for adolescents, who are learning to rely less on their parents and more on relationships with other individuals. The non-judgmental feeling people experience with their dogs may contribute to enhancing young people’s self-esteem.

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Special Needs Stars of the Puppy Bowl

This year’s canine event will include a diverse group of dogs.

For those of us who don’t care about football, there’s another event we look forward to on Super Bowl Sunday—the Puppy Bowl. This year, 78 young dogs will be “competing,” representing 34 rescue organizations across 22 states. Animal Planet will be organizing this event for the 13th time this year and this Sunday’s “game” features the largest representation of dogs with disabilities to date. Among the canine players will be Lucky, an amputee, Doobert, a deaf pup, and Winston a visually and hearing impaired double merle Australian Shepherd.

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