Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets. www.greytinspirations.com

Glowing dogs and positive reinforcement

090428-dog-glow-hlarg-7prp600x350There is a perfectly wild story in the news today about dogs that glow.  I’m not kidding you.  I wouldn’t make this up.  Those crazy South Korean geneticists have been at work again — you never know what they will do next.  This time they have cloned a litter of Beagles which glow red under ultraviolet light.

 

South Korean scientists say they have engineered four beagles that glow red using cloning techniques that could help develop cures for human diseases. The four dogs, all named “Ruppy” — a combination of the words “ruby” and “puppy” — look like typical beagles by daylight.

But they glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs’ nails and abdomens, which have thin skins, look red even to the naked eye.

Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, called them the world’s first transgenic dogs carrying fluorescent genes, an achievement that goes beyond just the glowing novelty.

“What’s significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them,” Lee told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

 

This is the first time that dogs with modified genes have been successfully cloned.

 

Now, the purpose of doing this is to show that it is possible to successfully insert genes with one specific trait into cells.  This could lead to implanting other (non-fluorescent) genes that could help treat specific genes.  According to the scientists the team has begun implanting human disease-related genes in the course of the dog cloning.  This will supposedly help them find new treatments for genetic diseases such as Parkinson’s.  They refused to elaborate on their research.

 

Of course, this is getting into a controversial area.  Some people don’t like the idea of using animals, especially dogs, for this kind of research.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with cloning to reproduce a specific dog or try to improve the chance of reproducing a dog with very desirable skills, such as a drug-sniffing dog.  But I do start to have problems with cloning in order to give dogs specific diseases for research purposes.  I’m not sure how moral it is to clone dogs in order to give them a disease.  My personal opinion is that we can’t afford to forego all animal testing.  Without it we would be living in the dark ages as far as medicine and health care are concerned.  Something to think about.

 

box-largeIn other news, there’s a great article about the woman who trained Bo Obama, Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, in USA Today.  The really interesting part of the article is that Sylvia-Stasiewicz discusses a bit about her training methods and she’s completely committed to positive reinforcement.  If you don’t know this term it means that she trains by using treats and praise and rewarding a dog when he does something desirable.  Positive reinforcement largely ignores a dog’s “bad” behavior so there’s no punishment or corrections, no pain or yelling.  It is, as the name suggests, a very positive approach to training dogs.

 

Positive reinforcement is already a popular training method.  It’s great to see it getting some attention.  Maybe this will encourage even more people to consider training classes or to find out about positive reinforcement.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Precautions for swine flu

I’ve had the TV on today while I was working and it’s been a little alarming (not to mention repetitive).  A lot of news stories about swine flu.

 

I know it may be hard to believe that something like the flu can be so serious but I take it seriously.  My mom got the flu when she was pregnant with my baby brother.  She was deathly ill and he was born two months prematurely.  He almost died.  I don’t remember what flu epidemic that was — I was six years old — but I do know that flu can sweep the country.

 

I’ve heard a few people ask if swine flu can affect cats and dogs.  From checking the Centers for Disease Control web site and other places online, it looks like the answer is no.  Swine flu is transmitted by pigs to pigs, and from pigs to humans.  Humans can transmit to each other.  This particular strain seems to have a mix of swine, avian (bird) and human DNA.  It should not be able to affect cats and dogs.  They should not catch swine flu or be able to transmit it.  Of course, if you have a pot-bellied pig as a pet you will need to take special precautions.  The CDC says that this strain of swine flu is not currently found among swine in the U.S. so you should isolate your pet pig to make sure that he/she does not contract the virus or spread it.

 

There are some precautions you can take to stay healthy:

 

What You Can Do to Stay Healthy

There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

 

We have had flu epidemics in the United States previously.  Take these precautions seriously.

 

It’s a good idea to plan ahead for your pet.  If many people in your community become sick you may not want to run out to buy dog food.  Buy some extra dog food now so you will have it on hand.  If your dog needs medicine from the vet, vitamins or other supplements, go ahead and get them.

 

In case you get sick yourself, consider who you might ask to come in and feed your pets (and check on you!), especially if you were to be confined to bed for several days.  If you have family and close friends nearby you’re in good shape.  If not, make a pact with someone to check on each other.

 

You may want to stock up on a few videos or DVDs, too, and some snacks.  If you do have people with swine flu in your city or town then the night life may drastically slow down.

 

Most likely you and your pets will be just fine but it’s always a good idea to be prepared.  Swine flu should be taken seriously.  Follow these simple precautions and you and your pets should be fine.

April 27, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , | Leave a comment

Star Trek and doga

We have another story somewhat related to the Leona Helmsley story earlier this week. How many of you are Star Trek fans? If you are from my generation (and I’m not saying what generation that is) then you couldn’t escape growing up with Star Trek. That means that you know who Gene Roddenberry was — and you probably know who Majel Barrett Roddenberry was. Well, Majel Barret Roddenberry, Gene 425barrettmajel121808Roddenberry’s wife, died late last year. Her estate is now in probate. According to documents obtained by E! News, Mrs. Roddenberry has left $4 million to her dogs so they can continue to live in one of her mansions. She’s left another $1 million to their longtime caretaker, Reinelda Estupian, and residential rights in the home.

“I do not want the animals to be placed in a kennel or other boarding facility,” Majel stated, adding that she also wished for her trustees to hire someone to check up on the dogs periodically, “to be certain that they are being cared for properly (as I cared for them during my lifetime).”

Unlike Leona Helmsley who left many close family members out of her will, Mrs. Roddenberry left $100 million to her 35-year-old son, Eugene Roddenberry Jr., to be paid in installments.

Gene Roddenberry died in 1991. His and Mrs. Roddenberry’s ashes are to be launched by rocket into orbit next year.

If you’re familiar with the Star Trek series and movies you know that Majel Barrett Roddenberry played Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi, the voice of the ship’s computer, and made a few other appearances over the years. Interesting to know that her dogs will be benefiting from the Star Trek empire.

I’m starting to wonder how these millionaire dogs spend their days. What do you think they do with their time after their owners have passed away and they are living in total luxury? Do they have a personal chef? A masseuse? They probably have a swimming pool. I wonder if they simply lie beside the pool or if they get in and swim a few laps. I wonder if they have a wardrobe and expensive collars? Does the vet make house calls for them?

artdownwarddog2cnnMaybe they need to do doggie yoga to handle all of the stress of being rich, celebrity dogs. CNN has an interesting story online about doga — doggie yoga. The reporter, unfortunately, has kind of a snarky attitude, but the class sounds kind of interesting.

“There are a lot of people who think it’s a little silly, but the class is very lighthearted,” said Sophie’s “mother,” Grace. She carries Sophie around in a Louis Vuitton bag that’s bigger than my apartment. “No one takes it too seriously. It’s just a chance to bond with your dog and have fun,” she said.

Another class member brought her “baby” because she thinks he’s a bit too hyper and needs to chill out.

Instructor Kari Harendorf has been teaching doga for several years. She said she believes the classes are perfect for these stressful times.

“It’s actually been proven scientifically that just the simple act of petting a dog will release happy hormones in humans and will lower their cortisol, which is the stress hormone,” she said.

“Studies have also shown that it goes both ways, that when dogs receive the petting and attention that their stress levels decrease.”

By the end of our session, the dogs did appear to be more “blissed out,” to borrow a term from Harendorf. Not a bark or a growl was heard. The only person panting was me.

I keep promising myself that I will give yoga a try. I even bought the mat and a DVD so I could attempt it at home. The only problem is that every time I try to get started I am surrounded by five dogs snuffling and nosing me in the floor. Maybe if I try to make them part of the session I will have more luck. Instead of doing yoga I should be trying to do doga. I will say that even doing it the way I’ve been trying has been a stress-buster. You can’t stay very stressed when you have five dogs trying to play with you in the floor. We usually end up rolling around and laughing. It’s all good.

Embedded video from CNN Video

April 23, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Helmsley money not going to the dogs

Leona Helmsley is in the news again, even though the hotel queen died in 2007. That’s because Helmsley’s $5 billion estate is finally being distributed to charity.

Leona Helmsley and Trouble.  Helmsley's estate will be divided among all kinds of charities.

Leona Helmsley and Trouble. Helmsley's estate will be divided among all kinds of charities.

You may remember that Helmsley’s death caused, well, rejoicing among dog lovers because she left most of it to the dogs. Not just to her own dog, the little Maltese Trouble, who was supposed to inherit $12 million. Helmsley left nearly all of her enormous estate to dog charities.

Well, a couple of years have passed and things have changed. Trouble’s portion of the estate has been reduced from $12 million to a measly $2 million (it costs an estimated $100,000 a year just to provide security for the little dog). And a Manhattan judge ruled in February that Helmsley’s trustees had sole discretion in allocating money from her estate. They could distribute the money to whatever charities they saw fit. They didn’t have to limit themselves to dog groups.

This week the Helmsley trustees began announcing the first of their grants. Out of the first $136 million distributed most of the money went to medical centers and not to dog organizations. Only $1 million, so far, has gone to dogs.

That little change in direction has some people very, shall we say, disappointed.

“This is a trifling and embarrassingly small amount,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Mrs. Helmsley’s wishes are clearly being subverted.”

Mr. Pacelle said, “We are extremely disappointed that less than 1 percent of the allocation announced is going to animal-related organizations, and only one-tenth of 1 percent is going to animal welfare organizations.”

“We are in touch,” he continued, “with the interested parties and are hoping to have a satisfactory resolution — a much larger percentage than 1 percent.”

The $1 million for animal rights and welfare was divided equally among 10 charities, including the A.S.P.C.A. and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Uh huh. Now the Humane Society of the United States is not a poor organization. They have assets of over $200 million themselves. They have total annual revenue of $100,000,000. And that doesn’t include all of their spin-off organizations like the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the other groups that they operate, such as Humane Society International. I guess that’s why they consider $1 million a trifling sum. But they do depend a lot on snapping up estates from the elderly. I’m sure that it is very disappointing for them not to be receiving the millions or billions they hoped to be getting from Mrs. Helmsley’s estate. Poor Wayne.

Just for the record, HSUS does not operate your local humane society or animal shelter. Those are locally run and HSUS does not contribute to their expenses. When you donate to HSUS the money does not go to your local animal shelter. If you want to help your local shelter you should donate directly to them. HSUS is a national organization that uses their money for lobbying, legislation and fundraising, not helping animals in shelters.

I am actually undecided how I feel about Mrs. Helmsley’s estate and the judge’s actions. I think people should have the right to leave their estates as they wish, and that should include leaving them to their pets. But, gee whiz. The bulk of $5 billion? That’s a lot of money. I can’t help thinking that money can help a lot of people, too.

Maybe the most important thing here is that the money is being used to do some good, one way or another. Some of it is being used to help dogs and a lot of it is being used to help people. But both ways the money is doing good.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AKC welcomes mixed breeds

Great news for mixed breed dog owners. The American Kennel Club announced last week that they are now welcoming mixed breed dogs so they can participate in AKC performance events. The events will include obedience, rally and agility.

maya_tunnelThe plan has been under discussion for several years and the AKC’s board of directors voted unanimously to approve it recently.

According to AKC President and CEO Dennis Sprung, “Our goal in creating a program specifically designed for mixed breeds is to share our passion for dogs and our sport. AKC will broaden its legislative influence by representing more dog owners and achieve greater exposure for our responsible dog ownership messaging. But ultimately, the positive developments that this program creates will benefit dogs the most, and this is what we value above all.”

The mixed breeds program will be implemented in three phases. As of October 1, 2009 owners can begin enrolling their pets and receive an AKC ID number. Then beginning April 1, 2010 enrolled dogs will be eligible to compete in mixed breed classes at stand-alone AKC Agility, Obedience and Rally events. Soon after they will have access to benefits such as discounted AKC Companion Animal Recovery Lost and Found service, a free AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate for dogs passing the CGC test, a free initial veterinary visit, a trial offer of pet health insurance and discounted coupons for dog supplies.

The third phase will offer a dedicated Web site where dog owners can interact via an online community with discussion forums and access dog care video downloads, advice from experts and the most up-to-date news on canine health and welfare. The site will be continually enhanced with new features and benefits in order to respond to the changing needs of pet owners.

This new AKC initiative is the first designed to specifically benefit mixed breed dogs and their dog owners, however the AKC has long included mixed breeds in programs such as AKC Canine Good Citizen®, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppysm, AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day and the AKC CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund’s disaster relief efforts. In addition, AKC has always actively advocated for the rights of all dog owners and the welfare of dogs through its Government Relations efforts and serves dog owners through its affiliate organizations such as the AKC Humane Fund, AKC Canine Health Foundation and AKC Companion Animal Recovery.

For more information about the AKC’s mixed breeds program, visit www.akc.org/mixedbreeds.

Of course, this new program has not been announced without some controversy. There are some AKC people who are a little stuffy about it. They say that the AKC is for purebreds and wonder why the organization wants to reach out to mixed breed dogs and their owners. But most people not only understand why it’s a great idea, they welcome mixed breeds and their people.

The fact is that the AKC is one of the oldest dog organizations in the United States. It began registering dogs in 1884. It’s the biggest dog organization, registering about a million dogs per year, and it’s the most respected. But even an organization like the AKC needs to keep up with the times and there are many people in the United States who love and own mixed breed dogs. The AKC has always been the leader in speaking for dogs and dog owners on crucial issues in the United States. If they are to continue to represent the interests of dogs then they need to be able to speak for all dogs and their owners, not just purebreds. That’s why it’s important that the AKC welcomes mixed breeds to enroll and participate in their events.

Contrary to popular belief, many people with purebred dogs also have mixed breeds. Many purebred dog people help with rescue. They may have purebreds and rescue dogs at home. They go to shows on the weekend and compete with their purebred dogs. Now they will be able to enter their mixed breed dogs in competitions at the same shows. Adding mixed breed events to AKC shows is really a win-win for everybody.

So, if you have a mixed breed dog you can now enroll him or her with the AKC if you’re interested, starting in October. You can start participating in events the following April. I think that welcoming mixed breed dogs and their owners into AKC clubs and events will bring in a lot of new life and vitality. I’m very excited about these developments.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

BooBoo takes a trip…and cakes for dogs

As much as I would love to go on ooohing and aawwing over Bobama the puppy for a few more days I don’t want to bore the rest of you.  I’m going to force myself to move on to other topics.

 

My house is very quiet today because my own little (really not so little) Boo Boo has gone on a dog show adventure this weekend.  There are some nice shows in Maryland this weekend — too far from home for me to drive.  But he’s eligible for some special classes for another month while he’s still under 18 months old and I wanted him to get to go.  So my handler friend Amy is going to show him for me this weekend.  I was giving him a bath in the middle of the night so he would look good.  We caught the dog show bus headed north at 7:30 this morning (otherwise known as Amy’s van).  Amy has been posting updates on her whereabouts on her Facebook page so I’ve been able to follow her progress.  At last report she was “parked” on 495 around DC.  I’m guessing she hit the Beltway just about rush hour.  Hopefully they will arrive at the showgrounds soon and they can all get ready for bed after their long drive.

 

Of course, I was very nervous about letting BooBoo go away for the weekend.  I know that he’s traveled before.  My friend Mari sent him to the field trainer for a few days when he was staying with her.  He’s a big boy and very well-adjusted.  I know that he can handle this.  But it’s hard on me!!!  I miss him.  It feels like part of my family is missing.  I keep resisting the urge to pick up the phone and call Amy to ask her how he’s doing.  I told Amy this morning that he was a big baby and that he might whine and cry and bark.  Then he made a complete liar of me and calmly walked away with her without even looking at me.  I think he’s handling this separation much better than I am.

 

Well, he does have other friendly dogs to ride with and to play with on the trip.  My dog Billie went on three or four of these trips with Amy and she adored her.  She was always very excited to go and seemed to have a lot of fun.

 

Keep your fingers crossed for BooBoo this weekend.  And for me.  I need some help getting through this weekend.  After this I’ll be back to showing him myself.  He won’t be eligible for sweeps anymore so there won’t be any rush about showing him.  We can stay closer to home and wait for shows to come up.

 

Wouldn't your dog love a cake of his own?

Wouldn't your dog love a cake of his own?

To take my mind off things today I was working on some interesting dog articles.  The topic was dog cakes.  A few weeks ago I watched some great shows on TV about these cake people  (bakers? they were much more than that) who make special cakes for weddings and other occasions.  The shows were almost like competitions where the cake people from New York were working on a cake, and people in Chicago and L.A. were also working on special cakes.  And it was all hectic but the cakes were fabulous.  I was very impressed.  Well, when I was working on these articles today I discovered that there are people who do the same thing for dogs!  They make cakes with all kinds of decorations in different flavors and colors.  They’re very sophisticated cakes for anyone but these are for dogs.

 

You can make cakes like these yourself, or at least delicious cakes that your dog will love no matter how they turn out.  The recipes are really not difficult and they simply involve baking the batter just as you would a regular cake.  You can frost them with frosting made from things like cream cheese, pureed cottage cheese, mashed bananas, or melted carob.

 

Here’s a good recipe I found:

 

Doggy Layer Cake

 

3 cups flour

1 T. baking powder

1/2 cup margarine, softened

6 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup corn oil

2 jars strained chicken baby food

2 cups finely shredded carrots

plain or vanilla yogurt

2 or 3 strips of bacon, fried crisp, then crumbled, or use bacon-flavored jerky strips, cut into bits.

 

Preparation

Generously grease and flour two 8″ round cake pans; set aside. Combine flour and baking powder; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat softened margarine until smooth. Add eggs and corn oil; mix well. Add strained chicken, and shredded carrots and mix until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into the 2 prepared 8″ cake pans. Bake at 325° for 60 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.

 

Place one layer on a serving plate and spread yogurt over top. Place second layer on top, then spread yogurt on top and sides of entire cake. Sprinkle crumbled bacon or bits of jerky strips over top.

 

Use “Pupperoni” sticks instead of candles.

 

You can use these cakes for many different occasions — doggy birthday parties, Halloween, Christmas for pets.  You name it!  If you are going to celebrate a special occasion for people, you can include your dog with a great cake.  There are lots of great sites online with ideas and instructions on making cakes for dogs.  Try it out and see how much your dog loves them!

 

There’s no end to the party ideas you can come up with for your dog.  You can do party favors, have dog cookie invites, plan party games for pups.  Whatever you can imagine might be fun, your dog would probably enjoy.  Parties and cakes are lots of fun for dogs.  Give them a try sometime.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why you shouldn’t get a PWD

I literally can’t help myself. Just one more Obama puppy video and then I promise I’ll stop for a while.

 

In related news, maybe we should talk about the reasons why a Portuguese Water Dog isn’t for everyone? As you can see for yourself, these are medium to large dogs and they are very active. They’re also very smart and bold. Sure, they like to cuddle as much as the next dog, but they’re also up for sports and adventure. If you can’t provide those things for them they may get bored — and bored dogs can get into trouble no matter the breed or mix.

The AKC and the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America have been very up front with the media about the temperament and activity levels of “Porties.”

“This breed possesses a lot of energy, so without training or a job to do, the dog may entertain itself by running full-speed down the West Wing or barking at Republicans,” said Mary Burch, Ph.D, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and CGC Director. “That type of behavior may not make the best impression on visiting dignitaries, so we recommend that the Obama’s enroll Bo in an obedience class such as the new AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program.”

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy stands for what every puppy needs – Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible Owner. Dogs up to one year of age are eligible to enroll in a six-week puppy or basic training class that is instructed by an AKC approved CGC Evaluator. Classes include valuable training tips for puppy owners such as housetraining and lessons on practical skills for puppies such as coming when called. The program is a pre-cursor to the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, which teaches and rewards dogs with good manners at home and in the community.

As a purebred, the Portuguese Water Dog has a predictable temperament, activity level and coat type, which is ideal for allergy sufferers like Malia. They are loyal and loving companions, cherished by many Americans throughout the country. However, the breed was developed to be a working animal and requires daily vigorous exercise. Historically, the breed spent most of its day swimming, assisting its fisherman owner by retrieving broken nets, diving for fish and delivering messages between ships.
 
Although currently only the 64th most popular breed in the United States according to 2008 AKC registration statistics, the Portuguese Water Dog’s popularity is likely to rise due to its appointment as First Pup. Therefore, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, the AKC Parent club which monitors the health and well-being of the breed in U.S., has issued a press release of their own to urge the public to be cautious before jumping on any trend that involves a living animal.
 
“PWDs are classified as working dogs. That means they enjoy being given jobs to do where they can display their intelligence, strength and stamina,” said Stu Freeman, President of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. “Like all dogs, they need positive training and socialization.”

According to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, this is the most publicity the breed has ever received since they were introduced into the United States in the 1960s.

“While the PWD is a wonderful family pet, we want to use the increased interest in the breed as an opportunity to educate people about it,” said Freeman.

“We encourage those who may consider adding a Portuguese Water Dog to their lives to do the proper research to ensure that this breed fits their lifestyle.”

Jean Hassebroek, Corresponding Secretary of the PWDCA said, “The best thing about the breed is its versatility – PWDs have been full-time sheep herders, R.E.A.D. therapy dogs and we even had a FEMA 1 hero. But, they can also be champion couch potatoes, content to just hang out.”

Because PWDs will form a strong bond with their families — even a “First Family”– they don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time or when boarded in kennels. PWDs enjoy participating in activities with their family such as youth soccer, baseball and basketball games, picnics, hiking or any other outing, especially those near water. They do well in homes with children, but it’s possible a PWD could mistake a small child for a littermate and play too hard. In general, small children should never be left unsupervised with a dog of any breed.

The PWDCA is comprised of 1,500 members devoted to the well-being of the breed. Its members are available to discuss:
. The history and traits of PWDs
. How to responsibly acquire a PWD
. Health issues in the breed
. Grooming requirements of PWDs

For more information on Portuguese Water Dogs and to obtain a copy of the PWDCA Puppy Information Pack visit www.PWDCA.org or visit www.AKC.org/breeds/portuguese_water_dog.

(Each of the 161 breeds registered by the AKC is represented by a Parent Club, which oversees the breed standard and seeks to protect the welfare of the breed. )

If you think you may be interested in a Portuguese Water Dog then, by all means, investigate the breed. But don’t get a dog because someone else has it. Make sure any dog is a good fit for your lifestyle. The AKC recognizes over 160 distinct breeds. There are over 400 breeds worldwide. And there are many great mixes available at animal shelters. All of this means that you should take your time to find just the right dog for you and your own situation. Consider things like the size of the dog when grown, his energy level, his historical background — if he’s a terrier he may not leave your garden alone, for example; if he’s a sighthound he may see other small pets, even cats, like prey animals. Consider potential health problems in the breed or the health of the parents. Is it important that the breed is good with children? Do you need a dog that gets along well with other dogs or with other pets, like cats or other dogs?

By considering temperament, size and tendencies before you get a dog you have a much better chance of choosing the best dog for you — a best friend who will live out many long, happy years together with you. Don’t just follow a popular trend. You wouldn’t do that with other important decisions so don’t do it when choosing a pet.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The story behind the new White House puppy

How cute is he?

How cute is he?

As we posted yesterday, the new White House puppy definitely seems to be on the White House premises. He’s scheduled to make his first public appearance on Tuesday of this week but there’s some speculation that he may show up at today’s White House Easter Egg Hunt, just in case you want to have your TV on. Puppy – kids – Easter egg hunt? Oh, yeah! How cute would that be?

The Washington Post must have had a team of reporters working on this top secret story — Mrs. Obama promised them an exclusive. But they were scooped this weekend by a couple of Internet web sites: FirstDogCharlie.com and TMZ. It happens. Even PetConnection.com had a great interview on their web site last night with Charlie/Bo’s breeder.

The Washington Post still managed to provide some great stories about the new puppy. They have an article today about how Bo (as he will be called) ended up with the Obamas. It was a story with a few twists and turns.

Photo released by the White House.

Photo released by the White House.

Bo was born in October, along with nine littermates. His breeder was already a big Obama supporter and gave the litter a “Hope and Change” theme. Consequently, all of the puppies had registered names that had something to do with Hope or Change. Bo’s registered name is Amigo’s New Hope — perfect for President Obama’s dog, don’t you think? Senator Ted Kennedy, who also got a puppy from this litter, has a puppy with the registered name Amigo’s Change to Believe In.

When he was old enough Bo was sold to a woman in Washington DC who had just lost her old Portuguese Water Dog. But she still had another old Portie. She thought that the puppy, whom she named Charlie, would be good company for the old girl. Unfortunately, Charlie proved a little too much. For one thing, he tried to nurse on the other dog, which some puppies will do. The other dog was not happy about this situation. And, sometimes bringing a puppy into a home with an old dog, especially if they may be grieving, can be a problem. So the owner decided she couldn’t keep Charlie.

That was in March. It was at this point that the Kennedy family learned of Charlie’s situation from his breeder. They put two and two together — realized that Charlie needed a new home and that their good friends the Obama family were looking for a Portuguese Water Dog puppy, and, well, having the Obamas meet Charlie seemed like a great idea.

Bo meeting his new family.

Bo meeting his new family.

When Charlie met the Obama family he seemed to win them over. Charlie has been learning a few more manners since then from the dog trainers that Senator Kennedy uses for his dogs. Senator Kennedy seems to have given the puppy (now named Bo) to the girls this weekend.

As you can see from the pictures Bo is perfectly adorable. He’s about six months old now and everyone should be happy with the way things turned out.

Of course, not everyone is happy. The Internet has been lit up with people complaining about the Obamas’ puppy choice. Many animal rights people are angry because the Obamas didn’t get a dog from an animal shelter and because Bo comes from a private, hobby breeder. In fact, he’s an AKC-registered purebred dog from champion breeding.

The fact is that if you are looking for a specific kind of dog you are usually better off going to a breeder. In this case, Malia Obama has dog allergies. The Obamas couldn’t just adopt any dog. Even some mixes and hybrid dogs which claim to be hypoallergenic aren’t always. For instance, the Labradoodle can have three kinds of coat — wavy, curly and straight like human hair. All of these hair types can show up in the same litter. To find a hypoallergenic Labradoodle the Obamas would have had to meet many dogs individually, something that the First Family may not have had time to do. Hybrid dogs are also not breeds in the true meaning of that word. They don’t “breed true.” You can breed two Labradoodles together and not get any puppies that look like the parents. All of these things make it hard to choose a Labradoodle or a mix from a shelter for a person who is allergic to dogs.

The fact that Malia is allergic to dogs also means that she probably can’t personally visit animal shelters or rescues. Those are the last places where a person with dog allergies should go.

There are good, practical reasons why it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Obamas to adopt a shelter dog in their situation. There’s also the simple matter of children (and adults) having the right and privilege of choosing a breed of dog that they like and being able to get it. No one should get a dog from a shelter or rescue simply out of guilt. Guilt is a terrible reason to get a dog or to do anything else.

An adult Portuguese Water Dog.

An adult Portuguese Water Dog. Courtesy American Kennel Club.

There are some people clamoring that President Obama should have set an example for the whole country by adopting a rescue dog. How about congratulating him and his family on setting an excellent example for all of us on how to go about carefully choosing a dog based on what’s right for your family? They waited until they were settled in their new home. They researched dogs and breeds paying special attention to their special circumstances (allergies). They met the dog before agreeing to get him. They made sure that the dog received appropriate training to help him settle into his new life. This choice was obviously important, especially to the girls, and they didn’t rush into it.

Lest anyone criticize any part of this process, this puppy comes from a responsible breeder who sold the dog to a responsible owner. When the home didn’t work out, the breeder was there to take the puppy back and find him a wonderful new home. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work. And, because this breeder has been successful and responsible for a long time, she has sold dogs repeatedly to Senator Kennedy who was instrumental in finding that new home for Charlie/Bo. Do you think that Senator Kennedy would keep going back to her for dogs if she didn’t breed good dogs and have an excellent reputation?

I really don’t see what people have to complain about with Bo being chosen by the Obama family. We wish him a long, happy, healthy life and we hope Malia, Sasha and the whole Obama family will be delighted with him.

Can’t wait to see him!

You can find out more about Portuguese Water Dogs on the AKC web site. Here’s some great video of these very active dogs (and some cute puppies).

April 13, 2009 Posted by | dogs, General, Pets | 1 Comment

The New White House Puppy arrives!

Everything you want to know about the new First Puppy: http://firstdogcharlie.com/.

Charlie/Bo, the new White House dog.

Charlie/Bo, the new White House dog.

The Washington Post also has a story about Charlie/Bo and how the story leaked out.

The First Puppy Makes a Big Splash
The biggest mystery of the Obama White House’s first 100 days has been revealed: The first puppy — the one that the Washington press corps has been yelping about for months — is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to Malia and Sasha as a gift by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The little guy’s name? Bo.

April 12, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Dogs in the news…and Happy Easter!

There are several rather interesting, but a little depressing dog stories in the news today.  We have yet another story that says the Obamas are close to announcing that they have chosen a dog for their girls.

 

 

Will a Portuguese Water Dog be the future First Dog?  Does anyone still care?

Will a Portuguese Water Dog be the future First Dog? Does anyone still care?

Public awaits First Dog news with bated breath

A White House dog announcement is imminent.

The Obama girls are getting a male Portuguese water dog puppy, according to hints dropped by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin during a radio interview in Chicago.

 

Ho hum.  I think we’ll all believe it when (and if) it happens at this point.  They’ve been promising something since the campaign.

 

An Associated Press story reports that tighter standards for commercial dog breeders are being proposed in Wisconsin.

 

Standards for dog breeders proposed

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. – A group of bipartisan legislators say tighter regulations for Wisconsin‘s commercial dog breeders are long overdue. 

 

Their bill would require dog breeders selling more than 25 dogs in a year to be licensed and meet standards of care.

 

Sorry, but this is also ho hum.  The Humane Society of the United States is promoting similar legislation in over 30 states this year and, frankly, these are bad laws.  Not because anyone likes sub-standard kennels or wants to see dogs (and cats) treated badly.  Of course not.  But these bills are generally poorly written and would harm responsible, ethical breeders without improving care and conditions for mistreated animals.  There’s really not a state in the country that doesn’t already have laws regarding animal cruelty and neglect.  How about enforcing the laws that states already have instead of imposing new laws that would hurt all breeders?

 

I did think this story from the L.A. Times blog was rather unique, if somewhat bizarre:

 

Would you fight over his semen?

Would you fight over his semen?

Divorced couple go to court over disputed dog semen


A divorced couple brought an intriguing case before Michigan family court Judge Cheryl Matthews this week.  Anthony Scully, who remained in Michigan after the couple’s 2002 divorce, and his former wife Karen Scully, now of Florida, appeared in Matthews’ court yesterday over the disputed ownership of dog semen.

 

Mr. and Ms. Scully, both of whom breed bull mastiffs, divided ownership of the dogs they’d once shared when they divorced: Four stayed with him, and she took the remaining two with her to Florida.

 

Both say they legitimately own the banked, frozen semen of Cyrus, Regg and Romeo.

 

The Detroit Free Press reports:

 

“I asked, ‘Am I being punk’d?’ ” Matthews said Wednesday afternoon. “I said, ‘Is this a ‘Candid Camera’ thing?’ ” …

 

–Lindsay Barnett

 

However, with all of that nonsense out ot the way, here is, in my opinion, hands down, the best news story of the day.  It’s an article on Easter egg hunting with your dog from the Examiner.com:

 

egghunt1-778500Easter egg hunting with your dog

 

The author recommends buying small plastic eggs and filling them with your dog’s favorite treat.  You can hide the eggs in your backyard or living room.  Place them in places where your dog can find them.

 

The author recommends keeping a map of where you hide the eggs and how many you hide.  Your dog may need some help at first.

 

You may want to skip your dog’s breakfast before the big hunt so he is a little more interested in hunting the eggs.  Then feed small meal after the hunt.

 

The author recommends doing multiple hunts to increase the fun for your dog.  You can start off with hiding the eggs in easy places and make it a little harder the next time.

 

If your dog knows some training commands this is a good time to practice some of them.

 

Don’t forget to take video and photos of the Easter egg hunt with your dog.

 

As the author says, be careful because some dogs may want to eat the plastic eggs.

 

I’ve hidden eggs for my dogs and they have a blast with it.  I have to admit that I never thought about using plastic eggs.  One year my mom showed up at my house with a couple of dozen real eggs and some egg dye so we dyed real eggs for them and hid them outside.  The dogs were quite happy to hunt for boiled eggs and eat them.  But, I have very large dogs so they were all right with eating some boiled eggs without it harming them.  I wasn’t afraid that the eggs would hurt them.  If your dogs have any food sensitivities or if they’re small dogs, I wouldn’t do this.

 

One thing you should not do, of course, is to allow your dog to eat chocolate eggs or bunnies.  Remember that chocolate is poisonous to dogs.  And don’t let your dog eat the plastic grass in Easter baskets.  That can become entangled in their stomachs and cause problems.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment