Die Meistersinger of New Guineau

photograph by Tom Hewitt

The New Guineau Singing Dog is named for its unique vocalization. It has a distinct and melodious howl which starts shrill and rises to very high frequencies. Like most canine, it is a social animal. Packs of singers used to roam high altitudes in Papau New Guineau and fill its valleys with song.

Time has not been kind to the singer, an animal closely related to the Australian dingo. Its numbers have been in decline since William MacGregor introduced the species to Westerners in the 19th Century.  The last verified sighting occurred in the 1970s. Since then, a singer was photographed in the wild in 1989 but it was impossible to verify it as pure or hybrid. Currently the only known singers exist in captivity.

Because singers are almost unheard of in the wild, it came as quite a surprise when Tom Hewitt snapped a picture of  one on a hike in the mountains. Hewitt is a tour guide for Adventure Alternative Borneo. He led a group that was surprised to find a tawny, thick coated dog watching them from a hillside.

“We watched it for around 15 minutes as it continued to watch us. It seemed as curious as we were, but not particularly scared or nervous,”  Hewitt wrote on his blog. “What stood out was how healthy it looked upon closer examination with binoculars.”

[Scientific American | National Geographic | Wikipedia]

Dog Blogs

mosesWe’re huge fans of dog blogs, and one of our favorites is the Life of Moses. Owner Faisal Sethi’s blog is all about the adventures of his bull terrier, Moses, complete with Instagram photos. Numbered entries impart some piece of zen-like wisdom like, “#725: When someone arrives at your door, greet them with the same enthusiasm you display when your luggage finally arrives on baggage carousel number two.” Sethi is clearly inspired by his dog, and he even released a book based on the blog. It is available on Amazon as a digital download.


The Life of Moses: A Canine Manifesto or You Can Learn from Dogs (Kindle Edition)


Money Saving Tips for 2012, Part 3

Cole Haan Flats
Who needs a pair of turquoise lizard print Cole Haan flats? I do! Buy what you love, and you’ll never waste money on a purchase you regret.

Buy Only What You Love
Everyone has had the experience of buying a pair of pants or shoes or maybe a sweater, taking it home, and never wearing it. If it is a desirable brand, you may be able to sell it on eBay, but unless you bought it at a deep discount, you’re not recouping your investment. Here is an easy solution: Buy only what you love. If you don’t want to take it home and wear it immediately, leave it in the store. The same goes for household items. If it doesn’t strike you as something you love immediately, don’t buy. Don’t overthink your purchases by saying that you “need” another pair of black pants or a plain white shirt. If you don’t love those pants and want to put them on immediately, leave them in the store for someone else to love. Author Cynthia Heimel once advised that when shopping, “the garment in question should jump off the hanger, throw its arms around your neck and shout ‘I’m for you.’ ”

Use the Library and Buy Used
My Amazon wish list is just a click away on my iPhone, and I primarily use it to remember what I need at the library. It’s free, people! FREE! Before you make your next book purchase, check the library web site. Bookmark it on your phone’s browser for easy access when you’re tempted to buy. I now only buy what I can’t borrow, and when I buy, I hit one of Lancaster’s great used book stores like Winding Way or Dog Star. Both stores have eclectic collections that change constantly. Can’t find it there? Check eBay, Amazon Marketplace, or Alibris for a used copy.

Track Your Spending
Even I don’t adhere to this entirely, but I have tracked all my spending on clothing and accessories for the past two years. I track what it is, where I buy it, how much it costs, and whether I’ve purchased it used. At the end of the year, I compare the tally to my after-tax income. Seeing what you actually spend and where is eye opening. Let’s just say I’m a great customer at Building Character. Don’t think you need to purchase Excel to track your spending. Google Docs work perfectly, and access to their spreadsheet is FREE!

Winding Way Books
106 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster, PA

Dog Star Books
529 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster, PA

Lancaster Public Library
125 North Duke Street  Lancaster, PA 17602
(717) 394-2651 Search the catalog

Save Up to 80% Off on New Releases, Bestsellers, Fiction Books, & More!

Money Saving Tips for 2012, Part 2

Vintage Sweater
Vintage cashmere sweater purchased at Cheap Frills for $22.50. You can find unique items for rock bottom prices at used and vintage stores.

Buy Vintage
Clothing is, by and large, a terrible investment. If you spend a lot on clothing, good luck ever trying to sell it. This is especially true if you make most of your purchases at lower end stores. Consignment stores and eBayers aren’t looking for your Target sweaters–even if you never took the tags off them. Learn from your past mistakes and buy used and vintage. In addition to eBay, there are several great used and vintage stores in Lancaster. Check out the links below. You can buy someone’s Benetton overcoat for $30, and trust me, they’ve barely worn it.

Buy Good Shoes
I learned this the hard way. Cheap shoes are, well….cheap. Inexpensive shoes, which are made from cheap materials, are a poor investment. In the long run, you’ll spend more on five pairs from Payless than you will on one investment pair from Cole Haan. The pair you spend some money on will be noticeably more comfortable and last longer. Another plus–good shoes can be repaired allowing you to extend the life of your investment. I have a pair of Birkenstock Arizona sandals from 1992 that have been repaired twice. They’ve also been chewed by my now deceased bulldog, so they’re extra special. Look online for good buys on quality brands like Kenneth Cole New York (stay away from the Reaction line, which is cheap), Cynthia Vincent, and Cole Haan. You can also find these brands gently used on eBay and occasionally at vintage stores.

Vintage Coach Soho Bag
A vintage black Coach Soho bag purchased at a vintage store in Boise, Idaho for just $40. It’s my favorite bag.

Buy Quality Handbags
Closely related to my mantra on shoes, good quality handbags are an investment piece. A good handbag will last you forever. In addition to the ones I own, I now have several Coach bags I “inherited” from my Grandmother, who was an early convert to the brand. If you’re buying a good handbag, do it at a reputable store or department store. Use caution when buying a designer bag on eBay. If you don’t know the brand, you may be burnt with a fake. Check out the seller’s ratings and look for clues in the listing to ensure you’re getting the real deal. Vintage stores can be great places to find great leather bags with lots of life left in them. Invest in good leather cleaner and lotion to protect your purchase, and stay away from designer bags with fabric or canvas accents. The fabric is virtually impossible to clean.

Lancaster’s Best Used and Vintage:
Style Girl, Style Guy, and Cheap Frills are located at Building Character

Barely Used Boutique
350 West Main Street  Mt Joy, PA

More of my favorites:
Find, Portland, Maine

Great site for shoes:
Shoe Metro

Shoe Repair
Joe’s Shoe Service
1386 Columbia Avenue, Lancaster, PA

Have a money saving tip? Leave it in the comments!

Money Saving Tips for 2012, Part 1

Block of cheese
A block of cheese will yield more product for less, so grate your own.

Grate your own damn cheese
Still buying grated cheese in bags? Don’t. Those bags don’t contain that much product. Buy the block of cheese, and you’ll get more and have more of a selection of styles to choose from. Personally, I like tasty cheese like extra sharp cheddar. Try finding the extra sharp in a bag. You can, but it’s usually crowded out by the regular cheddar and something called taco mix. Whatever.

Buy good kitchen equipment
Cooking at home will save you money, and it will be measurably more fun if you have a nice set of knifes, a good quality skillet, and several sets of measuring spoons. The knives are going to cost you some money, but once you have them, you’ll wonder how you ever did without. I recommend Henckels. Solid craftsmanship. Made in Germany. Be prepared to drop $100 on that 8″ chef knife. It’s worth every penny. You can find nice measuring spoons and some nice cookware at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Make several trips and look around. You’ll find a gem. Oh, and buy yourself a good cheese grater or zester. It will make grating your own cheese that much easier.

1268 Lititz Pike  Lancaster, PA

TJ Maxx
832 Plaza Boulevard  Lancaster, PA

Have a money saving tip? Leave it in the comments!

Humane League Special Pets Promotion

Dutch, a special needs dog available at the Lancaster Humane League
Dutch, a special needs dog available at the Lancaster Humane League

The Humane League of Lancaster is running a holiday promotion showcasing their special needs pets. In reading through the descriptions, these little guys may require a little extra patience, some medication, or a quiet home in order to thrive. There are several cats and one dog named Dutch, who is pictured here. Dutch, like a few of the cats available, was injured by a car. If you have a special home, check them out here:

Beautiful photography by Melody Pet Photography



Earnest Dog Portraits

Dog portraits
Photo by Mark Peckmezian

At Where’s Pom, we’re huge fans of dog portraits, and we love the work of Mark Peckmezian.

Mark explained his work in dogs to Flavorwire.com, “In retrospect I see my motivation more clearly,” he continues. “I took these photos simply out of joy of photography — they’re not about dogs, really, they’re about aesthetic concepts, and I take them the way a painter might do sketches or doodles. I also see them as a reaction to art school: I had just graduated last spring and was sick to my stomach with all the vacuous talk and misguided ideology of art school. I think I was so drawn to the dog photos because they were so earnest, from the heart, not complicated with pretty words, just straight, unselfconscious expression — what attracted me to art in the first place.”

Mark is generous enough to share his unexpected portraits on his flickr page. Need something to smile about today, head over and check it out. While there are no bulldog photos, we think you’ll find something that will make you laugh in his quirky portfolio. We did.

Sources: [Flavorwire | Flickr]


The dogs of war suffer from PTSD

If you’re a fan of the Dog Whisperer, you’ve probably seen the case of ATF Gavin, a service dog Cesar treated for PTSD. It’s a powerful episode, and Gavin’s story consumes the entire hour of the show eluding to the difficulty of the case.

Dogs, like soldiers, suffer from PTSD
Dogs, like soldiers, suffer from PTSD

Gavin’s story was filmed in 2007, and as more dogs are used in combat, the cases have increased. The Times covered canine PTSD this week, and the methods used to help suffering dogs are like those used by Cesar. The Times explains, “More serious cases will receive what Dr. Burghardt calls ‘desensitization counterconditioning,’ which entails exposing the dog at a safe distance to a sight or sound that might set off a reaction — a gunshot, a loud bang or a vehicle, for instance. If the dog does not react, it is rewarded, and the trigger — ‘the spider in a glass box,’ Dr. Burghardt calls it — is moved progressively closer.”

Dogs suffering from PTSD can become clingy and timid like Gavin or aggressive and hyper-vigilant. The article points out that the military veterinarians at Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base have had some success in treating the disorder, which is so new its existence is being debated. Dogs who can’t be rehabilitated in 3 months time are moved to other duties or retired.

Last year, the Times wrote a series of articles on Gina, a four-year-old German Shepherd military working dog who suffered from PTSD. The Air Force blog reports that Gina is back on duty after months of additional training to build her confidence.

Sources: [ATF Gavin | NY Times | AF]

Teaching builds friendship

At Where’s Pom, we recently decided to seek the help of a certified dog trainer. While we have several things to work toward, her first suggestion was to teach Pom to do things and to work for things in the house. To be honest, I was embarrassed when she asked us what he could “do,” and I replied (happily) with, “He sits. He can sit!” I’ve had this dog in my life for three years now, and all he can do is sit. I’m a pathetic owner!

However, now we’re on a new track, and he’s learning fast. The results have been remarkable. So far, we’ve taught him how to “touch” and lay down. We’re working on “stay” and are up to 30 seconds. He also happily sits in the doorway while I make the bed rather than get tangled in the sheets like it’s a game. Once the last blanket is on the bed, he’s rewarded with a treat for his patience.

He learns so quickly, and he seems to really enjoy our training sessions. I decided to work on it every day for short periods of time using pieces of raw carrots as treats. Bulldogs are prone to weight gain, so it’s best to pick a low calorie treat. The training has had other side benefits. He is slowly becoming more patient, and he gives me more space and respect when I’m eating, working, or cooking. After all, I’m the giver of treats and affection that he now eagerly works for.

We still have many more milestones to reach. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

See our training video here: Pom the Bulldog learns a few things

Trainer information:

Anne Funston, Good Dog Unlimited. In Lancaster, PA – 871-1159

The Times Magazine Focuses on the English Bulldog

The Sunday Times Magazine focused their coverage on the English Bulldog this week. If you missed it, click the link below for more. The initial focus of the article is the UGA line of bulldog mascots at the University of Georgia. I have a good friend who once worked for the university, and he told me that the dogs couldn’t be rolled over because they couldn’t breathe. They’re cared for by the school’s veterinary program.

University of Georgia Mascot UGA VI
University of Georgia Mascot UGA VI, 1999–2008.

It’s no secret that the English bulldog has some serious health issues, and their current popularity clearly isn’t helping the breed. As the article mentions, bulldog clubs in the breed’s homeland of England are changing the breed standard in hopes of creating healthier animals. However, the American Kennel Club has been unwilling to bend their standards to breed dogs with larger hind quarters, longer noses, and fewer wrinkles.

At Where’s Pom, we’re behind any effort to make the English Bulldog healthier and more comfortable. While the exaggerated features of UGA are beautiful to me, I was heartbroken to learn that the latest UGA (UGA VIII) only lived to be two. He passed away in February 2011 of lymphoma, which the article mentions is becoming common in the breed.

To all those who would like to own a bulldog, please read our advice on selecting a dog.

Our first bulldog passed away just six months shy of his 13th birthday. He had few health problems, but he did have a few “bulldog” related issues that had to be managed including keeping his wrinkles clean and his eyelashes trimmed. The Pom has longer legs, the larger hind quarters, and the slightly longer nose that the article mentions as good improvements to make for health. He does, however, have a tight screw tail that requires careful attention.

One thing I would add to this article is the caveat that all dogs need to be managed, exercised, and cared for. Veterinary care should be an expected expense when you’re purchasing any dog. You should also expect to spent time cleaning, grooming, and exercising your pet to keep them in good health. After all, they’re yours for a lifetime.