Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lola saves 6 lives in Haiti

Lola is a chocolate lab search and rescue dog from Argentina. She has been working hard the past two weeks with disaster relief teams in Haiti, and her effort have paid off. Thanks to Lola, six people were pulled from the rubble alive. When she started digging, it meant there was a live person underneath her, and each time, that person was saved.

Yesterday, I wrote about human heros saving dogs. Dogs certainly are returning the favor. Thanks Lola for your hard work and dedication to search and rescue!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vernon's amazing river rescue

The rain and flooding in California has resulted in a dangerous situation--leaving people stranded, and dogs too. A dog was found to be stranded on a ledge by the L.A. River in Vernon, CA. Rescuers spent more than an hour getting this guy to safety. It was no easy task because he was scared and he didn't understand that the helicopter and firemen were there to help. He bit the his rescuer, but firefighter Joe St. Georges did not give up. St. Georges managed to get a hold of the very scared dog and they were airlifted to safety. The dog is expected to recover just fine, and hopefully will have the opportunity to give some well deserved wags and kisses to the heroic fireman who saved his life.

Check out the amazing footage:

UPDATE: Local KTLA provides an update on the rescued dog--who they are now calling Vernon. The veterinarian says that Vernon is doing great, except for his toenails being ground down from attempting to scale the ledge on his own. He is a beautiful 60lb German Shepherd mix, estimated to be about 6 years old. He sure looks much more relaxed now that he is safe.

His savior, firefighter Joe St. George was injured, but in this interview, he said he does not blame Vernon for biting him because it was normal that he was frightened. No owner has come forward yet to claim Vernon, and he had no collar or microchip to identify him. According to the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority, if he remains unclaimed, he will be put up for adoption after his 10 day quarantine has been completed.

To watch the whole post-rescue update video, go here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Working mom-dog is set to retire

Heidi was not any ordinary working dog, she was also a mom, and an internet sensation. Heidi joined the Northumbria Police force in the UK when she was just eight weeks old. She was a working dog, but also was the mom three different litters of future working dogs. As the pups grew, their people set up a webcam so you could watch the cuteness unfold. The puppy webcam eventually reached over 300,000 hits from around the world!

Now that Heidi has done her part working for the police and raising 28 pups (most of which followed her footsteps in the police force), she is set to retire. She will be living in the home of one of the police kennel attendants. She is just five years old, so still has lots of life ahead of her. We wish her all the best for the next phase of her life!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Cutest Dog" prize winner gives back

Did you know that being deemed THE cutest dog could win you a million dollars? This Chihuahua, Dr. Papidies, was in the running, and his person Leslie Capin was determined to make it happen. Leslie pulled out all the stops with social media to get people to vote for Dr. Papidies in the All American Pet Brands' Cutest Dog Competition.

After learning that they won, Leslie chose to give back to dogs in need--she set up a charitable trust that will give $33,000 a year to the shelters of her choosing for the next 29 years. Thats a win for Dr. Papidies, a win for Leslie, and a win for lots of shelter dogs too!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is pet news a relief for bad news fatigue?

With all the news media focused on Haiti, how did a story about a dog that only understood Polish end up as the most read story on the BBC website? This phenomenon has gotten a lot of people talking. The New York Times, and London researcher Will Davies both wonder if these type of pet stories offer some kind of relief when the public is overwhelmed with dark news. As Davies puts it, "Pets sit mid-way between a global civil society and a global horror show." What do you think?

As for the story itself--This dog landed himself in the RSPCA shelter in Manchester, and seemed pretty confused by the whole thing. He would not even respond to basic commands. Until shelter workers figured out that he was trained in Polish! Now he is doing much better at the shelter and hopefully will find a home--where they are willing to learn polish too!

Here is the video that caused the discussion:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Saving Tangye

Tangye may not technically be a "working dog" in Afghanistan, but he sure did a lot to lift the spirits of the British soldiers that took him in. He has served as a morale booster with what they call his "can do" spirit. Tangye would tag along on expeditions and would not leave his comrades even when dangerous battles broke out.

His British buddies are concerned now that he might be targeted as a bomb sniffing dog, and want to get him into a safe home back in the UK. His friends from around the world have helped to raise over $8,000 towards his transport and quarantine costs--but they still have a little ways to go.

It sounds like he won't have trouble finding a nice home back in the UK soon enough, but I bet he will still stay on the lookout for his buddies to come home. The eternal gratitude goes both ways--as one of the soldiers said "He has ... brought a little humanity to a very difficult job."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti

The rescue and relief effort in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake in Haiti has been focused on humans in desperate need. Search and rescue dogs have been on the ground for the past week helping to locate survivors.

Sadly, every day it becomes more clear that the damage from this disaster will take a long time to overcome--years, not months. The animal population in Haiti will also reach a crisis point. Left unchecked, the already large stray dog population could quickly grow out of control, contributing to the spread of dangerous illnesses like rabies. The large domesticated goat population--as many as 5 million--are at risk as well.

There is already so much confusion in Haiti, and animal welfare folks do not want to make it worse. To ensure that any effort is coordinated, a number of animal welfare organizations have joined together to form the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH). The groups are currently working together to stage their effort nearby in the Dominican Republic, and plans to enter Haiti in the next 48 hours. They are assembling mobile clinics that will be able to provide vaccines, basic medical care, and food and water to animals in need--mostly dogs and goats, but I am sure they will come across other animals in desperate need.

If you are interested in making a donation, you can direct them to either of the ARCH lead partners:

For other updates, you can also check out the sites of other partners (who are also accepting donations on behalf of ACRH):
Humane Society International (Updates posted every few days)
Best Friends Animal Society (Includes information for those wishing to join the response team on site)

Updates are also available in the AnimalsInDisasters blog.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dog people and cat people really ARE different!

We all know that there are differences between "cat people" and "dog people," but now researcher have set out to prove it. As part of the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project, researchers at University of Texas at Austin surveyed people to understand the differences. The larger project examines surveys from 4,500 people to measure their levels of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Self-identified dog people scored significantly higher on their levels of extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. They scored lower than self identified cat people on neuroticism.

The lead researcher, Sam Gosling, put it this way: "Once you know the findings, it kind of falls into place. You think, 'of course, agreeableness and extraversion -- dogs are companionable, they hang out, they like to be with you, they like your company, whereas cats like it for as long as they want it, and then they're off." Gosling has also suggested that these findings could be helpful in determining what type of pet therapy would be best for a particular individual human.

[Image courtesy of PhotoBucket]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Puppy CPR

Some puppies owe their lives to this man, who was not afraid to give them a little mouth to mouth after rescuing them from a burning building. I don't know if this guy had any formal training, but you can contact you local Red Cross Chapter to take their pet first aid course to get certified in dog CPR. Check out the video:

Friday, January 15, 2010

This inseparable dog-cat duo needs a home!

Smiles was pretty upset after losing her buddy in a train accident. She had an injured paw, but did not want to come in for help because it meant leaving her buddy for good. Once she came in to the vet in southern Virginia, they fixed her up and put her in the quieter part of the shelter--the cat room--so she could rest. She was still depressed over the loss of her friend, but one of the cats came by to cheer her up. Amie, a cat that was abandoned at the shelter, started cuddling with Smiles constantly.

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue heard of their story and offered to bring them into their rescue program in Arlington, VA, and promised to find them a home together. In describing the pair, founder Sue Bell said, "It was as if they'd been looking for each other forever." Hopefully the publicity that they recently got in will help them find a forever home soon. In the meantime, I know that the folks at Homeward Trails are taking excellent care of them--because Sue and the good people at Homeward Trails took care of me for 6 months before I found my forever home! Homeward Trails just celebrated their 8th year, and 7,000th adoption--hopefully Smiles and Amie will be 7,001 and 7,002.

If you are interested in adopting this one of a kind pair, email their Homeward Trails adoption coordinator, Maria, at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Search and rescue dogs land in Haiti

People around the world are stepping up to help the people of Haiti recover from the disasterous earthquake earlier this week. Search and rescue of survivors is a critical part of the aid needed in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy. You can always count on dogs to help out there.

An elite search and rescue team from Fairfax, VA has landed in Haiti with their six canine workers in tow. In total, they are taking 48 tons of equipment, but the six dogs are a critical component. Another similar team is flying down from Los Angeles. These teams will work with USAID to locate and free survivors trapped in the rubble.

This is the second trip to Haiti for Czarzo, the black dog pictured here. He made the trip down there with his team to help the search and rescue team respond to a school collapse in 2008. He and his other FEMA certified disaster search canine buddies are down there working hard. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their handlers. We know you will do your best.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Does Grandma need a dog?

Dogs can provide a special kind of companionship to older humans. US News and World Report recently published Ten Reasons Older People Need Pets (Plus Slideshow). If you know a senior that is a little lonely, a pet may offer the companionship that they need day to day. Dogs not only give you a reason to get out of bed, but the regular walking may provide some much needed light exercise. Seniors whose children are grown and moved away may still feel the need to take care of someone, and a dog is happy to step in there. We love the attention! Older people with pets also are less stressed, and I am sure the tail wagging next to them plays a big part in that.

The article recommends smaller dogs for the less active senior. They list some suggested breeds, but remember there are tons of small dogs in shelters all over the country. Seniors should also consider adopting a senior dog--as an older pup may match their speed (and may come housebroken and trained).

[Image Courtesy of PhotoBucket]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Canine Compulsive Disorder

Lots of dogs can get really fixated on their favorite toy or favorite task. Other become downright obsessed, and that is not healthy. Well, the dog scientists are on it. Behaviorists Drs. Dodman and Moon-Fanelli, at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine just published their study on Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) in the latest issue of Molecular Psychiatry.

Like human Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, CCD involves time consuming, repetitive tasks. Apparently lots of dobermans are afflicted with this disorder and exhibit excessive blanket-sucking. In comparing the blood of blanket-sucking and non-blanket sucking dobermans, these behaviorists were able to isolate the gene associated with the behavior. It turns out it is not much different than human compulsion disorders, including those associated with autism. Lots of humans respond well to medications that can control compulsive disorders, and since the genes are so closely related, it may mean that similar treatments could be made available to pups with CCD. This research will also contribute to the understanding of the role of genetics human compulsive disorders.

[Image courtesy of PhotoBucket]

Training Tip Tuesday, AGILITY, Sponsored by Anytime K9

Hello my fellow canine companions. It's Riley the extraordinary canine with some tips for your human. Training, socialization and exercise are all very important to our overall canine health. If you have just gotten to your new forever home or even if you have been there for years it is important to incoporate training, socialization and exercise into your routine. Cool trips to the dog park or doggie day care to play and meet all your neighborhood pups is a pretty cool thing. Training classes are also fun. My human enrolled me in a basic obedience class where I learned all these cool tricks like "sit and stay." Although I learned these tricks 35 dog years ago my human still practices these basic techniques with me everyday. She tells me if I don't use it I lose it so practice, practice.

My human says it's very important to continue to socialize me throughout my entire life and to make sure I get plenty of exercise. That's why we are joining an agility class! There are basic obedience or cool agility classes you can sign up for and as my human always says "a tired dog is a good dog." Come join me in a class to learn new things, play, socialize and get down right pooped (I don't mean literally). See you there!

CEO (Canine of Extraordinary Obedience)

If you are in the Washington, DC area and are interested in trying out agility classes with Riley, check out the AnytimeK9 website, click on Services, then Group Classes. The new agility classes for beginners and advanced pups start this week! You can also check out some basic training classes if that is what you need.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hi, is this the lost and found office?

Druse vom Höllengrund (yes, that's a dog name) found herself lost during a hunting trip with her owner in Germany. Maybe she couldn't find her way home, but she found her way to a local lost and found office instead! She walked right into the building and rested by the elevator until someone recognized her. Druse is now home safe and resting up for her next adventure.

Wags to my buddy Shep for always updating me on the Euro-dogs!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Angel lives up to her name

Angel was out collecting wood with her 11-year old human buddy Austin, when they encountered a cougar. Angel knew the cougar was about to pounce on Austin and heroically intercepted. Angel got the brunt of the cougar's attack, and was trapped until a police officer who was nearby rushed to the scene. The officer shot the cougar and Angel was freed, but sustained some serious injuries. She was rushed to the vet, where they discovered that she had a fractured skull and several puncture wounds. She is getting great care at the vet and the family is feeling positive about her prospects and it is possible that she will make a full recovery. Our prayers are certainly with this Angel, who is deserving of her name.

Austin was on the Today Show with his mom and the police officer. I embeded the video here, but will warn you it is a little graphic. You can also read the story here. At the end of the interview, Austin tells Matt Lauer that he already went to the supermarket and picked up a big juicy steak for Angel to enjoy when she gets home. I bet Angel will appreciate that, but her real reward is in knowing that she saved her buddy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Max is no longer king of dog names

Max has been the the most popular dog name for ages. In fact, my person's first dog which she got 19 years ago was named Max. Well the tide had turned, and Bella is now on top! VPI (Veternary Pet Insurance) surveyed their database of 470,000 clients to come up with the top pet names of 2009:
1. Bella
2. Max
3. Bailey
4. Lucy
5. Molly
6. Buddy
7. Maggie
8. Daisy
9. Chloe
10. Sophie

They also collected what they deemed the 50 wackiest pet names. My favorites from the list is "Bam Bam Noodle Butt" and "I am Sparticus"--fitting for a 200 pound mastiff! Check out the whole list here. You can read about how the top 10 got there names here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bahama Potcakes

This lucky dog just got back from a vacation in The Bahamas! It may be paradise, but there are still lots of homeless dogs there. I spent one morning with two of my human friends doing a little volunteering at the Grand Bahama Humane Society. The workers were sure happy to have the help--they have over 300 dogs to take care of! They have 112 kennels to clean and 200 adult dogs to walk every day--and they go through 100 pounds of food a day. The shelter was overcrowded, with 2-3 dogs per indoor kennel, and half of them in semi-covered outdoor kennels. They spend $1,500/ month just on cleaning supplies, and run 25 loads of laundry a day. You can learn more about their challenges and hard work in this youtube video. Most of the dogs there were from the street, so they were not used to being around humans, let alone on leashes, but were still friendly and grateful for the attention. They all looked like mutts, but down there they call them "potcakes," which I love!

Between the three of us, we walked 15 dogs that morning. Of course, we set aside a little time to play with the puppies--who were in need of some human socialization. It was a lot of fun, and felt great to help out, even just a little. After we got off of our sailboat later in the day and came across an very skinny injured stray on the beach, I found comfort in knowing I was able to help out other dogs that came from that kind of tough life. Think about looking up the local animal shelter next time you travel, a little more volun-tourism can go a long way in communities struggling to help their homeless dogs. Here a few pics from the day: