Sammi Earns Her Keep

Our friends Kim and Stick have a border collie. No matter how many times they toss a ball, he brings it back. Stick could throw his arm out of its socket and the collie would bring it back. The city council in Elmira, NY decided to use this trait in Border Collies to its advantage.

The city has a ring-billed gull problem. The little devils are every where. Some regard them as a pest because they’ll steal unguarded food on crowded beaches. Then there’s the poop issue but we won’t get into that…

The Elmira city council voted to accept the services of a border collie from the local shelter. It’s a seven year old female named Sammi. Her job is to harass gulls. Because of their herding instinct, border collies don’t hurt the birds. They try to herd them. Of course a bird doesn’t know it’s being herded. As far as its concerned, the collie is attacking. Elmira hopes Sammi does her job so effectively, they just go somewhere else.

If she’s successful, Sammi will save the city $4000.00 a year on its USDA contract for gull control. Under the agreement, Sammi will remain under the care of the kennel but the city is responsible for her medical bills.  So where will all those gulls go? My guess is a town without border collies….


Detroit Area Strip Club Owner Faces Jail … Over Dog Toys

A Detroit area strip club owner faces prison … over dog toys. Nicholas Faranso pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges after he claimed dog toys as tax deductions. Faranso labeled them “fetish toys” on his tax return and claimed they were used inside his strip clubs. Prosecutors said, “Mmmmkay” and charged him with  conspiracy. But that’s not all. Faranso skimmed money from his clubs to pay vet bills and buy his dog Pebbles an invisible fence.

Prosecutors asked for a forty-six month sentence. The judge will consider that next week at his sentencing.

[CT Post]

Mothers Against Dog Driving?

There have been several major crackdowns against risky behind the wheel behavior: drunk driving, drugged driving, texting while driving. Is dog driving next?

You know what we’re talking about – the pet owner who can’t say “no” even when lives are at stake. She lets Claude the miniature poodle ride in her lap as she steers the wheel. Does anybody see a problem with this?

According to the American Automobile Association, six in ten drivers traveled with their dog at least once a month. During that time, drivers admitted to petting their dog 52% of the time, holding it while braking 23% of the time and preventing it from getting into the front seat 19% of the time.

An AAA spokesperson told the Daily Herald than an unrestrained dog becomes a powerful projectile in a collision. Beth Mosher urged dog owners to restrain their pets when they drive. A ten pound dog can exert 300 pounds of force in a 30 mph crash.

The Federal government has waged a high-profile campaign against distracted driving and this AAA survey provides ammunition for a crackdown. It’s only a matter of time until unrestrained dogs become the new drunk. Click-it or ticket will soon apply to Fido as well.

The Human-Dog Singularity Is At Hand

The Homo-canine singularity continues unabated.

For centuries humans have practiced yoga in order to achieve a state of perfect spiritual tranquility. Now they are adding dogs to this discipline so they may achieve that state with their pet. The result is “doga” – yoga with your dog.

According to Reuters, Suzi Teitelman is a Florida-based doga expert. Her dog would lie on the mat beneath her as she practiced the ancient art. Rather than push the pooch away, she incorporated it into her yoga. Classes, DVDs and a training manual soon followed.

Kari Harendorf is a New York-based doga instructor. Like Teitelman she came to doga in a similar fashion – her dog liked to lay on the mat as she mediatated. Soon he was part of her routine. She uses him in traditional poses such as warriors, triangles and backbends. The position is enhanced by balancing the dog on her belly or waist.

The downward dog is not just for humans.

According to the New York Times, doga classes are increasing in size and popularity. Kristyn Caliendo is a Chicago-based instructor. Since she started teaching doga last year, her classes have doubled in size.  Doga combines massaging and gentle stretching that leaves your dog in a blissful state …. at least until the first motorcycle races by.


Riding In Cars With Dogs

Dogs are humankind’s oldest friend. Back when we were ungainly two-legged things foraging for food with spears, canines were the one animal that saw our potential. “You know,” one dog said to another. “If anyone can invent a car, I’ll bet its those two-legged things.” It took another 30,000 years but we did build cars and dogs love them.

Now the Weather Channel writes about dogs in cars. They love the four-wheeled go-machine but cars don’t always love them. In the summer time heat and humidity can be fatal. The Weather Channel has more details but its summary is correct and worth repeating: If Fido can’t come with you when you reach your destination, leave the dog at home. A cracked window does not offer relief.

From the South Tampa Patch we have an experiment that demonstrates the problem. The reporter parked a car and cracked a window. The day was 83 degrees and overcast. He measured the temperature inside the vehicle and this is what happened:

After Five Minutes: The temperature rose to 86 degrees.

After Ten Minutes: The temperature rose to 90 degrees.

After Thirty Minutes: The temperature rose to 100.

After An Hour: The Temperature rose to 110 degrees inside the car.

Remember, we started with a 83 degree overcast day and in a short time, conditions inside the parked vehicle were lethal. Yes, humans invented cars and dogs love them but there’s another invention they love even more: air conditioning.  If he can’t join you when you get there, leave him at home.

McQueen loved his dogs

Alexander McQueen on the runway with his dogs

Alexander McQueen’s will was unveiled this week, and the late British designer, who died in 2010, included provisions for his beloved English bull terriers–50,000 pounds in all (82,126 US dollars). In addition, he left twice that amount to two charities that help animals: the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the Blue Cross Animal Welfare Charity.

While McQueen left the bulk of his estate to his own charity, newspaper headlines focused on the amount left to the dogs. However, bequeaths to animal charities are not new. As Battersea told the Guardian newspaper, 77% of its funds come from legacies. American Philanthropist Brooke Astor left $250,000 to the Animal Medical Center in New York City — specifically for the veterinary care of the pets of poor and old people–when she died in 2007 at the age of 105.

The most famous dog named in a will died earlier this year. Hotelier Leona Helmsley’s dog, Trouble, was named in her will with $12 million left for her care. A judge later reduced that amount to $2 million, and Trouble lived out her days at a Helmsley property in Sarasota, Florida.

In an interesting note for bully breed lovers like McQueen, Battersea noted that 43% of the dogs in its care are staffordshire bull terriers.

Read more: [Huff Po] [Guardian] [ABC News]

Glow In The Dark Dogs

One of the few times I ever spent a night in the woods, Limey Jones managed to escape the tent. I bolted outside just in time to spot a little white dog darting down a pitch black trail. “LIMEY! Get back here!” The little guy obeyed and scampered back to the tent. Before crawling inside, he took a cheap shot at Luke in the adjacent tent. Of the two, Limey was better suited to spot at night. He was pure white.

Now Korean geneticists have solved the problem of finding your dog at night. They’ve created glow-in-the-dark dogs. No, I’m not kidding. Click the link.  A team of researchers at the Seoul National University inserted a gene into a group of dogs that made them glow under UV light. The dogs were designed to aid in Alzheimer’s research but it’s only a matter of time until it’s a boutique pet. “Hey – check this out!”

Old Dog Gets A New Lease On Life

Limey Jones was Pom’s predecessor. By the time Limey reached ten years old, he really slowed down. Ordinary tasks seemed painful. As much as he loved hanging on the bed, he avoided the second-floor stairs. Poor Lime, when he did work his way upstairs, we had to lift him onto the bed. He had lost the ability to jump that high.

One day I noticed a change in the dog. He was scampering up the stairs and jumping on the bed. I mentioned this to Cher and she he was taking joint medicine. It apparently worked like a charm.

According to our vet, joint medication works about half the time. Some dogs take to it while others do not. Fortunately, Limey took to it. For the not-so-lucky arthritic dog there’s an alternative treatment: stem cell therapy. That’s right, the same stuff that gets humans bickering helps older dogs gain a new lease on life.

The procedure was developed by MediVet, an Australian company and offered in the States through MediVet America. A veterinarian takes about 30 grams of fat tissue from the dog’s shoulder. Then MediVet separates and activates the stem cells in the tissue. When the process is complete, some of the stem cells are directly injected back into the infected areas. The remaining stem cells are injected intravenously to allow them to go where they need to go.

When the process was first available, its initial costs totaled over $11,000.00. The procedure is now about $2700.00. Is it worth it? Limey was lucky. He was able to get these types of benefits with joint medication. He lived another 2-1/2 years relatively pain free. Over the course of that time, we spent well over a thousand dollars on medication. If he didn’t take to it, we would have spent the extra money to grant him a second puppyhood.