Friday, August 5, 2011

Cat fights of Afghanistan

It would be a rare and interesting occasion for me to write about CATS, wouldn't it?  Well, I couldn't resist this story.  

The US Embassy compound in Kabul has become home to about 30 stray cats.  Living in a war zone, who wouldn't want a some four legged fuzzballs to soften the atmosphere?  Without attention and care, domestication falls by the wayside and a few employees have been scratched or bitten by the cats.  Reminders about rabies vaccinations and other public health notifications went out. Then the calls for *gasp* "extermination." There has to be another way to deal with this, right?  

Not surprisingly, a backlash has emerged, and the Cat Committee was born.  The Washington Post interviewed Cat Committee members:

Working in Kabul is not easy. Staffers endure endless hours and monotonous food, walled off from the city where they work and a world away from their loved ones. Plus there’s the nagging threat that people want to kill them. The embassy bar is called the Duck and Cover.

“We basically can’t go out at all. We can’t walk across the street; we have to take a tunnel. There are no kids, no families, and basically what we have is the cats,” said one member of the committee. “It’s as close as we come to normality.”
A town hall resulted, and in response, diplomats were given 60 days to ship the cats out to new homes.  The deadline passed and no cats were "exterminated" and many remain on the compound. Some have allowed the cats to take up shelter in the tin "boxes" they diplomats live in, and some have planned evacuations to places in the United States.  
Now, of course, where there are humans, there are cats and dogs, right? Cats will continue to show up at the compound. And you could say there is a public health benefit to having them there: making the workers just a little less stressed, adding a little softness to the harsh environment.  I hope that all parties can work together to make sure there is a balanced solution that will allow healthy cats to keep our diplomats company as they serve our country overseas.  
Photo via

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The girl and her dog, they were fine (wow). Until...

Sure, picking up poop is gross, but you know what is more gross?  NOT picking it up! No matter your day job, if you have a dog, this is just part of your duty.  Check out superstar Pink pictured here doing her job at the beach, demonstrating that you can look good scooping.  Even billionaire Mark Zuckerberg scoops poop.

I bet most of you are hip to the scooping, but some people make the rest of our owners look bad.  Enter Puget Sound Starts Here, a partnership of regional governments dedicated to improving water quality of streams, lakes and rivers.  The Doo Doogity campaign is working hard to curb irresponsible owners through innovative marketing--not by scolding them, but my making poop scooping cool!  

They produced this fun video spoofing the Blackstreet & Dr. Dre "No Diggity" song with clever lyrics like "The girl and her dog, they were fine (wow). Until they left a doodie, that's a crime (bow wow)."  Catchy, huh? Check out the whole video:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Your dog has you all figured out

Hey people: You may not realize this, but your dog is always watching you.  Research even says so! The New York Times points out that previous studies demonstrated that dogs would wait until they knew they were not being watched to exibit forbidden behavior like digging in the garden (duh).  Yet, new research dives down to examine facial cues and dog behavior.  

According to Dr. Monique Udell, assistant professor of psychology at Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL and author of this new study, dogs "are quick learners, they can figure out when you are going to give them the next treat or whether you are going to give them a bath. Whether we know it or not, we are training them.”

She continues, “They are really good at knowing how to live the life they want inside the human home.”  That is for sure!  For example, I quickly figured out that the sound of my person's electric toothbrush meant that it was time for me to move into the bedroom for bed.  Whether it is 8pm or 1am, I follow her lead on bedtime.  And I figured this out just by watching her!  

Pictured here is the internet's new favorite smiling dog. I think he is smiling because he has it all figured out!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Dogs of Costa Rica

On my recent visit Costa Rica, I came to discover that there are dogs everywhere!  Some of the dogs had homes, some made their own homes on the street or restaurant/hotel patios, and some were working dogs.  Surprisingly, nearly all seemed happy and healthy.   It got me to thinking there must be a lot of good samaritans out there keeping an eye on these dogs.  

While at dinner at the Lava Lounge in La Fortuna, we learned that the restaurant owners take care of a number of dogs in the area and help them find homes.  You can even become a fan of their facebok page to see the dogs that are currently available for adoption

Now, I am sure it is not all fun and games for the dogs of Costa Rica, but there are lots of people there looking out for them.  Having the chance to make some new four legged friends and see them having fun made the trip extra special.  Let me tell you about a few of them....

In Puerto Viejo, the dogs to ruled the beach, and most seemed to be from happy homes.  

In Tortuguero, the resident hotel dog jumped to attention when our tables were cleared, as he knew that was where his dinner came from.  The dogs of the town seemed ready to pose for tourist pictures against the colorful backdrop.  

 On the El Trapiche coffee plantation in Monteverde, this working dog seemed to be on his own program.

The dogs of La Fortuna followed me everywhere, they even waited outside of stores and would trot along with me to the next stop.  This playful guy stole my trail map right off my lap while I was waiting outside of the laundromat....

The cattle dogs at Arenal Volcano loved to ham it up for the camera.  

In Manuel Antonio, we came across a beautiful big-eared blue-eyed stray that decided to live on the patio of a local bakery, as he was there every morning.   

The puppies on the beach in Manuel Antonio made my heart melt.

There were cats too.  They were ok.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The softer, fuzzier side of Mark Zuckerberg

Let me say up front: I love Facebook. It has revolutionized the way we all think, communicate, and share our experiences and knowledge. While founder Mark Zuckerberg may have laid this golden egg, his reputation is less than golden. Whether this reputation is deserved or not, he is making an effort to repair his image. 

First, Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark's struggling schools. This does not yet put him in the league of the sophisticated billionaire  philanthropist Bill Gates, but it is good to see he is giving back.

What is the latest move for Zuckerberg image rehab? He got a puppy! Thats right, everybody loves a puppy! And everyone looks nicer and friendlier when playing with one.  The pup, named Beast, has his own Facebook fan page (of course).   Beast has posted pictures of his furry self, and shows the softer side of his larger than life person.

So is this a shameless ploy for good publicity? I say no, but it still may be good for not only his image but also his ego. Having a pup in your life is a humbling experience for everyone regardless of wealth and fame. In fact, one of Beast's first Facebook posts let us know that even Mark Zuckerberg picks up poop:

So, what is cooler than a billion dollars? A billion dollars covered in dog hair and puppy kisses.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Beiber-fever benefits homeless pets

Justin Beiber ("the kid with the hair") sure is a media darling, and his name is everywhere these days.  I was excited to hear that this young star is putting some of his fame to use--helping homeless animals! Some of you may have been devastated when he chopped his trademark locks, but would it help to know that they went to a good cause for our furry friends?

With the help of Ellen Degeneres, Beiber's hair clippings fetched a cool $40,000 on Ebay, and the proceeds will benefit the California based charity The Gentle Barn.  This unique organization rescues farm animals from circumstances of neglect and abuse and shows them a better life.  This 6- acre sanctuary is home to about 120 animals, from cows to emus to dogs. What makes this place extra special is that they work with these animals to then help people in need too.  They partner with groups serving inner city youth, group homes, mental health care facilities, foster homes, and schools to teach children and adults "that even though we are all different on the outside, on the inside we are all the same and are deserving of the same rights, respects and freedom."

Sounds like a worthy cause to me.  I guess this Beiber kid is not so bad.  On the right is a picture of Beiber, back when he was just a puppy, adopting his own puppy, Sam.

Now let's talk about the person who bought a teenage boy's hair online for $40,000....

Monday, January 31, 2011

The story behind the amazing OK Go video

By now you may have seen the new Ok Go video for their latest hit White Knuckles.  It seems like a cool video to begin with, and the folks at Gizmodo decided to check out how they made it all happen. Long story short, the meticulously choreographed un-cut single take video features 12 talented dogs with the help of 12 equally dedicated trainers.  

Animal talent manager Roland Sonnenburg helped to put it all together: "We ended up with stuffed animals, spreadsheets, flow-charts, and recorded audio instructions, and for many hours we tried various configurations until we finally found one that worked. And then we practiced and practiced." 

It didn't end there--it was only at the 49th take that everyone seemed to get the hang of it.  They hit an unexpected bump around take 72: the dogs got so good they started going faster than the music!  At 124 takes they called it a wrap, and the video below is the result.  

To keep things interesting, they also had a goat in the mix.  Check it out

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wild dogs are dogs too!

 What a treat at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois: 10 healthy pups of the African wild dog variety! These pups were born to Kim and Digger, and this is the largest litter ever born at the zoo. 

Its a good thing too, because they are an endangered species.  The veternarians and other staff at the zoo had the pups in for a check up recently to make sure these cuties can help reverse the tend. 

Like us "non-wild" dogs, these little buggers get distemper vaccinations, booster shots. Apparently distemper is a big reason for their decline in the wild--so while shots are no fun, I am glad they are getting vaccinated so there can be more of my wild African cousins in the future.  They even get microchips just like me!

L.A. Unleashed has the whole story, along with more adorable pictures and even a video of one of the surprisingly cooperative pups at her checkup.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Square dog, round hole

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but in this case, curiosity landed this puppy in a tight spot.  Rebel is a 8 month old German Shepherd puppy who just wanted to see what was on the onter side of the wall.  He popped his head through the 18 inch cement wall, but getting out was not quite as easy. 

Once animal control arrived, they decided that if Rebel fit in the hole, they could get out without having to destroy the wall.  

They key: those big German Shepherd ears!  With officers on either side of the wall, they tucked Rebel's ears back in and wiggled him back and forth for 30 minutes until he was free.  They recommended that the owner keep the pup away from the hole until it was covered with chicken wire, but I bet Rebel won't be sticking his head back in that hole anytime soon. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Stuff chicks dig

Last minute holiday shopping for your single lady friends?  Instead of opting for candles or pajama pants this year, check out the 2011 Hot Men and Baby Animals Calendar!  Your heard that right--two things women love in one calendar.  This is not just for dog lovers either: puppies, kittens, bunnies, even baby goats! Something for everybody here. 

But wait, IT GETS BETTER!  10% of every sale goes to support chariest that help animals, including the San Fransisco SPCA and the Milo Foundation.  To put the whole thing over the top, everything is printed on all products on eco-friendly, post consumer recycled paper.

Take note guys: baby animals, supporting rescue groups, and eco-friendly products are all things that chicks dig.  Also, hot guys.

Here is a preview:

Want more? Check out their behind the scenes video.  Or, just buy the calendar.   Support a good cause.  Also, hot guys.

Note:  This is NOT a sponsored post, but my person would gladly accept samples and cross promotional offers from the creative media savvy founders Audrey Khuner and Carolyn Newman.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Family Dogs: Something to be thankful for this holiday season!

The holiday season can be a lot of fun, but it seems to cause a lot of stress for humans too.  This is when the important work of dogs comes in.  Sure, I do my part to help my person relax every day, but this work takes a little extra care during the hectic holiday season.  You may be stressed about who is able to make it this year.  You may worry if someone forgot the cranberry sauce or if the mac 'n cheese is not cheesy enough.  All the while, you can count on your dog to remind you that there is a whole turkey in the oven. Whole. Freakin. Turkey.

There are lots of other things dogs can do to help remind you of the joys of the holiday season.  Instead of just raking the leaves, spend a little time playing in them too.  Curl up with a loved one by the fireplace.  Sleep in.  Eat leftovers for breakfast.  Give lots of hugs.  Chase deer (ok, maybe you won't like the last one).

My person is a little stressed about sitting in traffic on I-95 all day today, but I keep reminding her that on the other side of that trip, we will get to spend some quality time playing with my cousin Lily (and the rest of the human family of course).  We are pictured above posing as two warm croissants snoozing in front of the fireplace last holiday season.  We are pictured below with the great family that we are lucky to be a part of.  How could you be stressed out about something like that?      

Your dog, who perhaps once knew life on the street or in a shelter like me, will be quick to remind people that most of us will be spending the holiday, and every day, in a place of abundance, peace, and love. Now, that is something to be thankful for.

[This post is a part of the Pet 'Net Family Event, hosted by the good folks at  Be sure to check them out to read other stories from across the blogosphere about the important role that pets play in families! In case you missed it, here is  last year's Pet 'Net Safety event, where my snow covered cousin Lucy was featured in a post about winter hiking safety.]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Fun Post! OMG there is a MOUSE on your HEAD

Wow, I do NOT know how this dog is staying still!  I am about to jump out of my skin if I just SEE a mouse, or a leaf that might LOOK like a mouse.  This dog is letting the mouse CRAWL ON HIS HEAD! I am ready to explode just from watching it.....See for yourself: 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

178 Dog years!

Glenice Bagley would like to clear something up: Sheba, is the worlds oldest dog.  That is right, Sheba is over 25 in human years, or 178 in dog years! Glenice is preparing the papers to submit her entry to the Guiness Book of World Records. She was a full grown dog of three years when she was adopted in 1987.  That would make Sheba three years older than the current record holder, Piccolo, a Tricolour Mongrel in Farra d'Alpago, Italy.

Regardless of her status as a record holder, it sounds like Sheba is still living a good life these days.  Glenice tells The Sun, "Now she's 25 and she thinks she's still five. She jumps on the roof of the greenhouse when she sees a cat on the fence. It's a bit of a dangerous trick for an old dog. She walks like a youngster - always at my side with her tail wagging. People stop to say how lovely she is then ask her age.  I tell them she's 25 and their mouths fall wide open. They can't believe it because she's so lively."

In addition to a good mix of mutt genes, Sheba has benefitted from a loving and caring home since she was rescued over two decades ago.  Check out the whole story and video of Sheba with a little spring in her step.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Now a Million+1 reasons to get a dog

There are lots of benefits to owning a family dog, but did you know that your four legged buddy could also help keep your child from worsening or developing eczema.  Who knew?!

Dr. Tolly G. Epstein told Reuters that "14 percent of the children had eczema at the age of 4. But that rate was lower -- 9 percent -- among the 184 children who'd had a dog in the home during infancy."  That is not an insignificant drop--so it is very promising.  Researchers caution that the work is too preliminary for a general recommendation of whether a child prone to allergies should have a dog in the house, but the possibility of preventing eczema is just one of the millions of perks of growing up with a dog.  So, if you and you family think you are ready for a dog--no need to hold out for more definitive research.

Posted here is a picture of my person with the first dog she ever met--Charlie Brown.  For what it is worth, she does not have eczema.  But more importantly, she knows how to have fun with a dog, relax with a dog, and has a general sense of compassion for animals, all thanks to growing up with dogs in the house.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fun Post! Intelligence contest: Great Dane v. 2 year old

Last year I wrote about how Scientist Stanley Coren had determined that dogs are about as smart as toddlers aged 2-2 1/2. This week I found this fun youtube video that backs up the science:

(Warning: you may want to lower your speakers to medium. There is a very, um, vocal baby in the video)


Don't forget to read my whole story about Coren's research!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Promising research for parents of autistic childen

Dogs are emerging as a great treatment option for autistic children.  Earlier this year, I wrote about Kaleb, and the autistic twins that he is helping.  And now a study has been released by Universit√© de Montreal and published in  Psychoeuroendicrinology that found that dogs "had a clear impact on the children's stress hormone levels." They tested he cortisol levels in the saliva of 42 autistic children before a service dog was introduced, during a visit with the dog, and after the dog was removed.  They found a dramatic impact for the time which the dog was present.

This was the first study of its kind, and according to the lead scientist, Sonia Lupien, "Our results lend support to the potential behavioural benefits of service dogs for autistic children." Let's hope so!

Image courtesy of PhotoBucket

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baxter's Forever Home

Over a year ago I wrote about my buddy Baxter, who was in need of a special home.  Baxter was in the custody of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue--the same folks that took me in when I was down on my luck.  Not only that, but Baxter's adoption coordinator was Lisa Milot, who also helped me navigate the foster care and adoption process!  I was in foster care for six months, and was even returned once.  For Baxter, it was well over a year.  But Lisa and the team at Homeward Trails worked with him to get help for his anxiety and energy, and much to my delight, I received a comment on my original story to share the news that she adopted Baxter over the summer and he is doing great!

I checked in with Lisa, and she told me that the Maryland couple met Baxter at a local adoption event and seemed like a great fit--especially since they had experience with other cattle dogs.  Since Baxter had a some trouble finding a fit in the past, they did a "trial adoption"--which went so well that Baxter found his forever home.  The couple recently updated Lisa, telling her that Baxter "has just been the sweetest, most loyal, not to mention the most playful dog I could have ever asked for." To give you an idea of how much progress this is for Baxter--he used to have to wear an e-collar all the time because he would get anxious and chew his tail until it was bloody.  But look at him now--happy and relaxed in his new home!

Sure, Baxter had some trouble finding a home for a while, but like many homeless dogs, he just needed the right fit.   I want to thank the dedicated folks at Homeward Trails Animal Rescue who have stood by dogs like me and Baxter while we looked for the perfect forever home for our high energy needs.  

Most dogs aren't perfect, and some are even difficult.  But you give those most difficult dogs a chance and help them through their issues, they might just be the most loyal dogs around.  It is also very rewarding for the people, or so my person tells me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My most important job

Hello friends!  Sorry I have not posted recently.  My number one job--taking care of my person--has been pretty hectic lately.  You see, she started a very busy new job, so I have to work extra hard to make sure she eats on time, gets her exercise, and takes a few moments for herself to relax with me.  This is not an easy job, but it is very important!  She thanks me for my hard work every day, and it is exciting to see her enjoying this new opportunity.  Many thanks to my readers for your patience while I balance my new responsibilities!

By the way--That is yours truly pictured here on the right!  I had taken my person out for a fun day of relaxing and I was lucky enough to find an old dirty tennis ball in the park!  I was so happy about it that I carried it all the way home.  That's just part of the everyday work of reminding my person to appreciate the simple things in life.

As far as my attire goes--I am sporting a Comfort Trainer head harness, which is a great alternative to the gentle leader, as it doesn't leave a mark on my nose yet is exceptionally durable and well constructed.  Did you notice my HomeAgain Tag that reminds people that I am microchipped?  You can't see it well, but I am also sporting a fashionable, yet durable Bella Bean collar.  No disclosure is necessary, as we purchased all of these items with our own money and have not been contacted by any of these companies--but can say with certainty they are all great products!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Fun Post: Puppy Ambush

This male Airedale is babysitting some Scottie pups.  He seems interested in playing with one or two, but he is quickly overwhelmed.  He says, "Oh my god, they are all over me!"

Did you know this is part of my new feature, The Friday Fun Post!?  I get nearly as many funny videos sent to me as I get news tips, so I guess my audience wants to see the lighter side of the dog world too.  I will still stick to the serious business of dog news on most days, but check back here on Fridays for something fun! If you have a fun or adorable video to share, email it to