Monday, January 30

Actor Kills Himself After Forced Euthanasia of his Pit Bull

Dogster brought us a story this morning that is tragic and heart breaking!  I guess the saying desperate times lead to desperate measures rings true here.  But it didn't have to be this way.  I see it as a discrimination case that included bullying and harassment  sent a broke man over the edge.  

Like Dogster, I hate to bring you such a sad story on Monday morning, but it is one that needs to be told.  These bans are getting out of control and hurting innocent dogs and people.  This is no more than discrimination of a breed.  It needs to stop before more dogs and people get hurt.

Here is the story:
 Struggling soap-opera actor Nick Santino used to say that the pit bull mix he rescued actually rescued him. The actor had grown up in an orphanage and foster homes, but when he adopted his dog several years ago, they bonded deeply, perhaps more than he had with any of his temporary families. His dog, Rocco, was his family.

But both are now dead, and friends and neighbors are saying it’s because his Upper West Side building’s management had been harassing him for months because of Rocco. In 2010 the building passed strict dog regulations with a pit-bull ban. Rocco, the only pit bull in the building, was grandfathered in. But the harassment had apparently grown unbearable in recent months.
Among the difficulties, Rocco was no longer allowed to ride in the main elevators, and one condo neighbor complained the dog was a barker, even though other neighbors said it was not true. Management threatened Santino with a $250 fine.
“Everybody knows that he had been harassed by the building management,” said neighbor Lia Pettigrew, who works in the pet-care industry.
“People were complaining about his dog,” said neighbor Kevan Cleary, adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School. “It was open season on him.”
On Tuesday, something inside him snapped, or more likely, broke under pressure. Santino took his healthy best friend out of the building one last time and had him euthanized.
But overcome with the horror of what he had done, Santino took an overdose of medication later that night – after tearfully giving the doorman and neighbors Rocco’s treat, rawhides and bed. It was a day after his 47th birthday.
His suicide note included this, according to a friend:
“Today I betrayed my best friend and put down my best friend. Rocco trusted me and I failed him. He didn’t deserve this.”
Rocco has been cremated, and Santino will be, too. Their friends will make sure their ashes will end up together forever.
This story is just so tragic, and I am sorry to bring it to you on a Monday morning. But it’s important to tell it. Maybe it will be a cautionary tales against this kind of discrimination. Yes, Santino was down on his luck, and there may have been more going on than we know about. Maybe he could have moved, but that’s not easy in NYC, especially with a pit bull. Through the grey haze of bullying and harassment, he could not see clearly. I hope someone has to answer for this. (Building management did not respond to inquiries by media.)
RIP, and rest together, Nick and Rocco.

Friday, January 27

Wounded Soldier Reunited With War Pup

I am a sucker for the reunion stories, I always enjoy them and end up with a few tears in my eyes.  This story was no exception.  The tears were happy ones as you get to see the pup land on U.S. soil and ready to meet his solider.

The story is about "Donny Eslinger, 20, who encountered the dog while on tour of duty in Afghanistan. He traded three cigarettes to become the dog's owner. He named the dog Smoke Pup Barbarian because of the transaction."

Then tragedy struck when "a mortar attack critically wounded Eslinger in September 2011. He was in treated at the Kandahar Airfield Hospital for a broken leg, broken ribs and multiple internal injuries. When Eslinger was later flown to Germany and then the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for more treatment, Smoke was left behind."

Now, thanks to The Puppy Rescue Mission the two will be reunited.  Below is part of the letter from Eslinger's squad leader that got the process in motion and the video of Eslinger's family greeting Smoke at the airport.  Enjoy!

"Smoke was the only bit of morale that made these kids forget where they were and cope with the tragedy we just experienced. It is amazing how therapeutic a little creature can be. Donny took care of that dog up until he was injured. Many of us in his Platoon would love nothing more than to see Smoke reunited with Donny. It would be the only decent thing we would see come from this place." 

Though the video doesn't show you the reunion, I know we all can imagine how happy it was.  They say a picture can say a 1,000 words, but this one says a whole lot more, just look at the smiles on both of their faces.  Happy reunion Donny and Smoke!

Happy Friday and have a great weekend, don't forget to do something special with your dog!  

For the whole story, bark on the link:  BARK!

Thursday, January 26

Why The Love Your Dog Pooch Parade Is Right For You!

My favorite Pooch Parade of the year is just around the corner!  I would love to share it with all of you, but space is limited, so I thought I would help you figure out if it is right for you and your pooch.  Below are the top 5 reasons this Pooch Parade is right for you.

5.  You LOVE your dog!

4.  Your pooch is social and loves being around other dogs and people.

3.  You would love to spend time with other dog owners.

2.  You and your pup love Pussy & Pooch and Portofino's and don't want to miss the treats!

1.  You and your pooch want a date night to spend special time together working on manners in the city!

Is this you and your pooch?  Sign up today before the space is gone!  The Love Your Dog Pooch Parade is Tuesday, February 7th @ 7PM in the heart of DTLA!

To RSVP for the Love Your Dog Pooch Parade, bark on the link:  BARK!

Wednesday, January 25

Dog and Grandson Save Grandpa

I love stories with happy endings and even better when a dog is one of the hero's in the story.  I got this story from Dogster, it is a great story about a fabulous team.  I think all of us that own dogs understand the bond you can have with them and I think we all would love to think if we were in trouble our dog would know and would be able or could be able to get help.  Well in this story, Teddy, a 5-year-old Carin Terrier, plays a very integral role in saving his owners life.  Here is the story:

If it weren’t for the combined actions of Teddy the Cairn terrier and high school student Jerry Bellissima, the teen’s grandpa probably wouldn’t be around anymore.
Tony Del Rosso was watching football at his New Jersey home when he choked on some cashews while tilted back in his recliner chair. His grandson was nearby, but wouldn’t have realized anything was amiss if not for Teddy. It seems Del Rosso choked so quickly that he passed out before he had time (or ability) to cough, much less cry out for help.
But the 5-year-old dog knew something was wrong, and started barking up a storm.
Bellissima went over to see what the dog was barking about and saw his grandfather unconscious. He immediately launched into a front-facing form of the Heimlich maneuver, which he learned in elementary school. The cashew(s) were no match for the Heimlich, and after they popped out, Del Rosso began breathing again and regained consciousness.
What a team!
Del Rosso was all praise for his grandson — with whom he is very close — and his dog.
“I don’t know how he knew to come out, but he’s a good dog,” Del Rosso told the Gloucester County Times. He has had Teddy for four years, and the two are inseparable.
“I had a lot of animals growing up — horses, goats, pigs. If you could have it, I had it, and this dog is probably the smartest animal I’ve ever had,” Del Rosso said. “He understands English, I swear.”
He also seems to understand the equal importance of the sound of silence.

I hope you all enjoyed this happy little story as much as I did.  All the more reason to give your dog some special love today, you never know when they may help save your life.

Don't miss out on the Love Your Dog Pooch Parade, sign up today.  Bark on the link:  BARK!

Tuesday, January 24

Puppy Bowl VIII

If you are not so into the Super Bowl because you just aren't that into sports or simply because your team didn't make it, maybe this will make your big game day a little better.  The Animal Planet has
announced their line up for the 8th Puppy Bowl.

This is something I have to watch every year just to see all the cute pups.  A little bit of good fun and lots of laughs.  If you want to tune in, here is the line up!

Want to show your pup how much you love them?  Join the Pooch Parade Today!  Bark on the link to RSVP:  BARK!

Monday, January 23

The Rags To Riches Story Of Onyx

Onyx is a black Lab that was found 5 months ago tied to a wooden post with a bloody severed leg.  I'm sure he didn't have much hope of making it, the vet that he was taken to certainly was not sure he would make it to have the much need surgery to amputate the rest of the leg.  But anyone that counted this dog out, was very wrong. 

He now is not only living a healthy life, he is enjoying the good life.  The vet he was taken to for help, Daniel Slayton, not only saved his life with medicine, he also adopted this amazing pup!  The video below tells this rags to riches tale.

Want to show your pooch how much you love them?  Join the Love Your Dog Pooch Parade today!  Bark on the link to RSVP:  BARK!

Friday, January 20

New Volkswagen Commercial

Happy Fun Friday!  As a Volkswagen owner and fan, I love Volkswagen, but this new commercial just made me love them a little bit more.  Watch for the Italian Greyhound that you saw on this blog (and all over the internet) around Halloween time.  This is to premiere of course on game day!  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend and don't forget to do something fun with your dog.

Looking to show your dog how much you love them?  Sign up today for the Love Your Dog Pooch Parade.  Just bark on the link:  Bark!

Thursday, January 19

Cesar Millan Review

A friend sent me this article the other day and I was impressed with it to say the least.  I think what impressed me the most was that this person started knowing nothing about Millan, had never even seen his show.  Just an interested dog owner that wanted to hear what all the fuss was about.

The amazing part to me is this speaking tour should be winning people over and at the end people should leave the night with Millan with this great impression of him.  For the guy writing this article, that is so not the case.  He brings up great points that I think an "everyday man" can relate with.  I tend to get stuck on training techniques and stay in the portion of my head, never going to just being a dog owner. 

This article gave me a little hope that there are people out there like us (me and all of you reading this blog) that really get what training is about and more importantly, how important it is to have a great relationship with our dog.  The other area he points out is how some of the message that Millan is spreading is not entirely different than us reward based trainers, it just his techniques do not match.  I hope you enjoy the article, I know it is on the long side, but it is worth it.

Last night I attended the Rochester, NY appearance of America’s most famous dog trainer, Cesar Millan, in town for his “The Pack Leader” tour.
In the interest of full disclosure, until that point my exposure to Millan was limited. I’d never seen his show, never seen him train a dog or talk about training a dog, never read his book (although I do have a copy of “Cesar’s Way”, picked up at the used bookstore, in my to-read pile).
I had seen him profiled on CBS Sunday Morning and found him charming and interesting, and was impressed that he had about 30 dogs off leash while I was at my wit’s end with three warring dogs and a cat. Woof!
So when people talked about what a horrible, inhumane trainer Cesar Millan is, I really didn’t have an opinion about him one way or the other. As a Christian, I’ve been on the receiving end of the judgmental finger pointing so I try to avoid doing that to others. I’d heard comments that ranged from “He’s rude” to “Let’s get the shotguns”. Honestly, I can’t form an opinion based on that. I needed to see for myself.
And after watching Millan’s performance last night, I now have an opinion.

The show opened when Cesar Millan stepped onstage wearing a giant puffy parka, earring sparkling in the house lights. The crowd cheered. I mean, literally cheered. In the dog world, Millan is apparently a rock star.  He smiled, waved, took off the coat, and got down to business.
The first half of the show was hilarious. I mean, laugh out loud hysterically funny. Whether Cesar Millan was imitating a yapping Pomeranian or lying on the floor demonstrating a cat giving itself a bath, he had the crowd laughing. He’s a natural storyteller, and has an uncanny way of demonstrating animal behavior, pointing out mistakes humans make while making us laugh at the same time.
He made jokes about his immigration status – he came here illegally but is now a citizen. I thought some of it was in poor taste – he joked that Mexicans trying to cross the border invented the first agility courses. But he was open and honest (qualities he stresses in training) and he was thoroughly entertaining.
He also made a lot of great points, talking about a dog owner’s need to be a stable leader, to be calm, to meet the dog’s needs of body, mind and heart, to understand how our own behavior can lead to anxiety and instability. He said, “Dogs in other countries are skinny but they don’t have psychological problems. Dogs in modern countries are chunky and they have psychological problems,” that our dogs have everything but are experiencing instability.
In other words: we Americans humanize our dogs too much. Amen.
He talked about problems like fear and anxiety and aggression being the outcome of problems rather than the problems themselves, and how addressing the root problems in body, mind and heart would be the path to the solutions. He mentioned that there are different techniques to achieve those solutions, but he didn’t go into detail.
Unfortunately, technique is the problem that many have with Millan. I think most trainers – even positive trainers – could agree with much of what he said in the first part of the show. But what he glossed over is exactly where the problems lie. And after intermission, I got to see it for myself.
Keep in mind that I’ve never seen “The Dog Whisperer,” so what Millan shared last night I can only assume was what he considered his best work, and what is most indicative of his methods and technique.
Millan showed a clip from South Park, which parodied the famous dog trainer.
He opened the second half of the show with a clip of South Park that parodied his show,” The Dog Whisperer.” I have a friend who talks all the time about how much she hates when Millan “tssts”. I didn’t understand what she meant; I mean, I click my tongue to the dogs all the time. Watching the parody, I finally got what she meant.
What I didn’t understand was why people were laughing? I mean, it was a complete mockery of Millan, pointing out how his method of training was insensitive, mean, rude, and well, really rude. But the crowd laughed and clapped, as if pinching and intimidating are funny and acceptable.
Sorry, but it’s all rude in my book.
Then Millan brought out a dog he’d been working with; the dog was led by Millan’s assistant Allegra, whom Millan said had never had a dog. The dog walked on the leash ahead of Allegra, sniffed, seemed comfortable. And then Millan took the lead and the dog froze. Obediently, yes, but it was frozen obedience.
Millan then switched the dog’s lead, from a very thick lead to a wire-thin lead, which he held taut, high up on the dog’s neck. The dog was calm, and at times lay down and was fine on and off leash. But when the lead was in Millan’s hand, it was taut the whole time and the dog seemed on alert. We were in the balcony and I was specifically watching to see how often the lead was slack; not often.
Which made me wonder: why was the dog obeying? Clearly this dog had worked for a long time with Millan and knew the ropes. You don’t bring a strange dog out onto a stage with thousands of people making noise; you bring out the dog you know is going to do exactly what you want. But the dog, while calm, certainly never seemed happy – if I can be allowed to analyze canine emotion for a moment. I didn’t see any relaxed mouth, for example, what most people would call a smile. I didn’t see tail wagging. I saw a dog waiting attentively and quietly. And yes, calmly.
But there’s one thing I’ve learned about dogs – and people, for that matter: just because they do what you want, it doesn’t mean they like you.
Then Millan shared a video clip from an episode of his show where he hooked up a dog and owner to heart monitors to see how their heart rates affected the dog’s behavior. As expected, when the owner’s heart race increased, so did the dogs. And a calm Millan meant a calm dog. The crowd cheered.
His point was excellent: a calm owner leads to a calm dog.
Except … if I can be forgiven for pointing out the obvious … that was TV, where a 3 minute clip may take 10 hours to film, and filmed over and over again from different angles. Who knows how much time passed between the owner and dog experiment, and the Millan and dog experiment? Or how many tries it took? What you see on TV is not real, people. It’s manufactured reality. It takes a long time – a loooooong time – to train a dog, and even longer to train the owner. What we saw in the clip was success, but what was missing was the process. And I think it gives a false impression of what it really means to train a dog.
Another thing that raised a red flag: the dog in the video was on a choke chain. Millan said that it wasn’t his decision to put it on the choke chain, that it was the owner’s and that he uses whatever method the owner is comfortable with. I thought that was a cop out and an attempt to placate the positive, force-free trainers in the audience. If he truly believed that using a choke chain was forceful, methinks he would be offering to owners a better, more humane method. (There were some trainers: before the show, a small group stood in front of the venue handing out a flyer with a list of local positive dog trainers and information about dominance-based training.)
By now the hairs on the back of my neck were prickling – not because of things people had told me about Cesar Millan, but because of what I was watching with my own eyes and hearing with my own ears. Talk about dominance and pack mentality – knowing that research has proven that: 1) dogs are not wolves any more than men are apes and 2) what we thought we knew about wolf packs has been completely invalidated once we began to study wolves in the wild. (That was the basis for a piece I wrote yesterday.)
The dog sleeping at your feet is not now, nor has he ever been, an animal that has lived in the wild, lived in a dog pack, or experienced any desire to dominate you. He’s a dog, and he understands one thing: you feed me, I stick around. (One expert I read called it a parasitic relationship, and while that’s a harsh term … it’s pretty accurate when you think about it.) You do not need to grab your dog by the scruff the way a mother dog would because, and forgive me for stating what should be obvious, you are not a dog nor are you your dog’s mother. Your dog has not now nor has he ever looked at you like his dog mother and grabbing his scruff means only one thing: Ouch! This stupid human is hurting me!
But I digress.
Of even more concern last night: the reaction from the audience. I’m a firm believer that I should follow a principle or philosophy or moral compass, not a person. And none of it blindly. But I’ve venture a guess that the majority of dog owners in America are looking for a quick fix. Do A, yank B, pinch C and viola! You’ve gotten your dog to do what you want.
But as I told a commenter who chided me yesterday about dogs needing leadership and someone to be in charge: there’s a difference between being a leader and being in charge. People who are in charge are not necessarily leading and not every leader is the one with the brass plate on the desk that says “boss.”
And intimidating dogs into doing what you want by pinching them or leashing them in their most sensitive place is neither leading or being in charge. It’s being rude and being a bully.
And if I can digress for a moment, one thing I’ve noticed is that people who love Cesar Millan tend to be people for whom obedience is more important than relationship in other aspects of their lives, as well. At work, at home, with their kids, with neighbors, politically, religiously. Someone I love dearly but who has always been extremely strict, emotionally cold, and rigidly egocentric, once said to me, “You know, Cesar Millan would have that dog fixed in 5 minutes.”  My dog didn’t need to be “fixed”, and whatever behavior needed to be worked on took more than 5 minutes. And I’m happy for it, because the process actually built a long, loving, strong emotional bond between human and dog – something I fear my friend may never have experienced.
The show ended with a Q&A session, and here is where I thought Millan let his guard down, and not to his credit. The questions were simple – what do I do about a dog who sneaks people food? what do I do about my dog who barks in the car, but it’s a happy bark? He asked Allegra to read the questions several times; the first one about the people food had him totally stumped, and he seemed to scramble for time and eventually fell back into some long winded recap about stability.
(For the record, my answer to the question about dogs who steal people food – the answer which I also got from Ada Simms, the trainer I talked to later: 1) Put the food away where the dog can’t get it – duh; 2) keep your dog out of the room where people meals are being eaten; 3) and teach your dog a strong “leave it” so that you can have your dog in the room with food without the fear of drive-by dog raids of your plate. I speak from experience, my friends.)
Even more so, by this point in the night, Millan seemed a wee bit irritated. He’d already snapped a couple of times at the video folks – at first it was good humor (“I’m legal now, I can fire people”) but eventually he was staring at them off stage, much the way I imagine he glares at bad dogs.
In the end, I can only say that I prefer to build a relationship with my dog where he wants to do the things I ask him to do, where he wants to be with me because being with me is the greatest thing he could think of to do. Not a dog who obeys because he knows he’ll get pinched or grabbed by the scruff or ”nudged” in the kidneys, however gently.
Obedience is not a relationship. It is the outcome of a relationship. And if you find yourself cheering a man instead of his philosophy, perhaps you need to be doing some thinking. Not throw the baby out with the bathwater, by any means. Cesar Millan is a really great motivational speaker. He has some excellent points about how we humans fail our dogs. His goals for the most part are completely valid. He’s smart, likeable, funny and he really does love his dogs and have a connection with them. 
But I think the paths he’s taking to achieve his goals need to be reevaluated in the light of current research, and for that, I must- forcefully – disagree with his methods.
Of course, for the American dog owner, reevaluating Millan’s methods might mean dog training that takes longer, requires more time and energy, and involve a much, much, much deeper emotional commitment than perhaps many are willing to give.
Because, in the end, the problem is not the dog but the dog owner. Something I think Millan and I might agree on.
Again, I hope you got as much out of this as I did.  I obviously am not a Cesar Millan fan.  Not because I don't like him, but because his training methods are both outdated and not for the masses, yet he markets them as such.  People regard him as a savor of sorts in the dog community, but these "miracles" he performs are just good T.V. editing.  I think his techniques can get both people and dogs hurt and quite frankly I spend a lot of training time with clients trying to undo some of the harm his show has done to the relationship between the client and their dog.

Want to have a rewarding experience with your dog and show them how much you love them?  Sign up for Bark & Clark's Valentine themed Love Your Dog Pooch Parade today! 
To sign up, bark on the link:  Bark!

Wednesday, January 18

Survey Says Dogs Cause Household Arguments

I can't tell you how many times I have been in a training session and a couple has gotten into it over their dog.  Talk about awkward!  I never know if I should get involved or sit their until they are done.  I usually say something related to the training to get us back on track.  But I see this a lot.  So when I read Dogsters blog on a British pet insurance company doing a survey that shows just how many household arguments Fido is causing, I was not all that surprised.

I feel lucky that my boyfriend is so easy going, Neville is the last thing we would fight about.  I think if anything, we fight over the cat waking us up night after night far more often than we would ever fight over what the dog is doing.

I found the statistics in the survey interesting, especially how many people considered getting rid of their pooch due to the argument.  I also had to chuckle over some of the disputes listed on the top 20 list.  For your viewing pleasure here are the findings and list.

An interesting new survey reveals that our furry best friends are the cause of three family arguments every week — about 2,000 arguments in an average dog’s lifetime.
The survey by esure pet insurance of some 2,000 dog owners shows that dogs are at the root of some 156 doggy disputes per year per household. The argy-bargy topics include who should walk the dog, feed the dog, or clean up the poo in the yard. Discipline and training also cause strife.
The British insurance agency found that about one-fourth of the dog owners say they regularly argue about where the dog is and is not allowed in the house. Most contentious in that category are where a dog can sleep, especially when one party wants a dog on a bed or sofa and the other does not. And a portion of households have problems because someone “insists on treating the dog like a human.”
Sometimes the disagreements get so bad that in 17 percent of households, one family member ends up sleeping in a spare room. In a quarter of the households, someone has stormed out of a room because of the row.
Here is quite a disturbing finding (and I can tell they did not poll any Dogsters): According to the survey results, 26 percent of dog owners “have at some point considered getting rid of their beloved pooch after a particularly bad barney.”
Here, for the record, are the top 20 dog disputes, as found by the survey:
  1. What to do with the dog when going away on holiday / for the weekend
  2. The fact the dog hasn’t been walked/who should walk him
  3. Whether the dog should be allowed on the beds
  4. Whether the dog should be allowed upstairs
  5. Who should clean up the mess in the back garden
  6. One of the owners is being too harsh on the dog
  7. One of the owners lets the dog onto the sofa
  8. How much one of the owners has spent on the dog
  9. Training the dog
  10. Allowing the dog to be fed from the dining table
  11. Who should babysit / look after the dog
  12. Grooming the dog
  13. Damage that has been caused to the house by the dog
  14. Who chose to buy the dog in the first place
  15. Who should clear up the mess when the dog goes to the toilet on the carpet
  16. Who should clear up the mess when the dog is sick on the carpet
  17. One of the owners insists on treating the dog like a human
  18. One of the owners lets the dog into a room of the house they are not normally allowed into
  19. The kid’s toys have been eaten
  20. Shoes have been chewed
If there is one piece of advice I can give you about arguing over your dog, it is this...remember that they only want to love you, not cause you distress.  So if your partner is not doing their part, don't take it out on the dog.

Want to show your dog how much you love them?  Sign up for the Love Your Dog Pooch Parade today!  Space is limited.  To sign up, just bark on the link:  BARK!

Tuesday, January 17

Love Your Dog Pooch Parade!

Last year my favorite Pooch Parade was the Valentine's themed Love Your Dog, so we decided to bring it back this year!  I am very excited to announce Bark & Clark's first Pooch Parade of 2012.  Please join us for Love Your Dog Pooch Parade on February 7th @ 7pm.  It will be a night on the town with your dog as we take a romantic stroll through our beautiful city.  Then a special treat for your pooches at Pussy and Pooch and finally a chance to sit down and enjoy adult treats with wonderful conversation at the lovely and dog friendly Portofinos.

Besides the obvious fun you will have, this is a great chance to learn about how to handle your dog downtown and in general with other dogs and humans.  This class focus is on basic obedience to help your dog focus on you - not all the distractions. We'll also focus on manners specific to the city, such as sitting at all intersections before crossing; sitting for introductions and the proper way to greet other dogs.  Last but certainly not least, we address the ongoing battle of teaching owners the proper places to potty their dog and how to clean it up!

We teach uptown manners for Downtown dogs! This class is so fun, it's more like an outing... So let's take a stroll through the city and focus on doggy's ability to deal with the public, the lively city and all the other pooches out and about.

I am so excited about this Pooch Parade, I hope I will see you all there!  Be sure to RSVP by February 3rd because space is limited.

To sign up for our next Pooch Parade, give us a bark:  Bark!

Monday, January 16

Happy MLK Day!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  Today we get to celebrate a man that was a true leader and inspired all that could hear his message.  A message that I personally think can be applied to not just race, but all discrimination that is occurring right now.  One day I do hope we can truly stand as one and support our neighbor no matter what their nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, or political party may be. 

So today let's just celebrate a man who preached pure goodness and continues to inspire us to be better.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from such a wise soul:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction...The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." Strength To Love, 1963

Friday, January 13

Wally and Boo

With all the stories coming out about Pitbull bans and other stereotype related stories, I thought it would be nice to read a story where the Pitbull is portrayed in a whole other light.  I hope you all have a fun read and enjoy the sweet story of Wally and Boo.

Wally and Boo — a Chihuahua and a pit bull — were dropped off at an animal shelter in southern California (not the no-kill kind) by their owner, who was moving and could no longer care for them.
It didn’t take long for the Rancho Cucamonga shelter, in San Bernadino County, to see the strong connection between the two.
During their stay at the shelter, Boo, the 4-year-old pit bull, and Wally, the 6-year-old Chihuahua, protected and comforted each other in the same kennel. 
When separated, both would become depressed.
The shelter did its best — including making the video above — to try and adopt them out as a pair, but found no takers.

At one adoption fair, the pair was spotted by members of the The Fuzzy Pet Foundation, a Los Angeles area rescue group.
“We were so touched by their bond, but we also knew it would not be easy to place into a forever home a pit bull and a Chihuahua together,” said Sheila Choi, Fuzzy Pet’s CEO and founder.
“We asked the animal shelter to give us a little time to network, and begged them not to put to sleep Boo and Wally,” Choi said.
Joe Pulcinella, Rancho Cucamonga director of animal care and services, said Wally and Boo were never scheduled to be euthanized — and that the shelter spent five months trying to adopt them out together “because they were so bonded.”
Rancho Cucamonga has increased its adoption rate to about 90 percent, but still, as Choi saw it, the pair getting put down was a possibility.
“For many days and weeks, we made more than a thousand phone calls, sent out a slew of e-mails to our network of friends, family members, donors, and general supporters, hoping to find Boo and Wally a loving, permanent home. It was not an easy feat. No one had come forward to adopt this pair of lovers,” Choi told ohmidog!
That’s when Choi remembered a conversation she had with a classmate at Harvard’s Kennedy School, where she’s enrolled in a two-year master’s program.
“This classmate, Jack Jaskaran, also a New York City police captain, and I always talked about our love for pit bulls. Jack had owned pit bulls all his life, and had talked to me about adopting another one or two dogs after he graduated from the program last year.”
Fuzzy Pet shared Boo and Wally’s story with Jaskaran’s family, as well as a video the Rancho Cucamonga shelter had made and posted on YouTube. They agreed to adopt the pair.
“We bailed out both Boo and Wally on August 3, 2011. We have sheltered them at a cage-free boarding facility ever since, and today, they will be flying in cabin (NOT cargo) via a pet aircraft for NYC,” Choi said yesterday.
The Jaskarans were eagerly awaiting their arrival. “My little girl looks at the dogs’ video clip daily … She keeps telling me about Wally’s smile. We are very excited about them,” said Jaskaran.
The pair arrived, together, in New York today.
“The Fuzzy Pet Foundation believes in giving every pet a second chance,” said Choi. “Pit Bulls, especially, have a bad reputation and we want to share with everyone that they are a loyal and loving dog breed. Boo and Wally were considered by the animal shelter difficult to re-home as a pair, but we truly performed a miracle.”

Happy Friday and don't forget to do something fun with your 

Thursday, January 12

Another Pitbull Ban Situation

When I see these articles about bans placed on Pitbulls in various places throughout the U.S., I can't help but have a bit of a flash back to a time that we were showing the same discrimination to humans based on the color of their skin.  Did we learn nothing?  My hope is that one day we will wake up and understand all dogs have the potential to be good or bad, it all depends on the owner and the chemical make up in their brain.  But that also is true of ALL animals and humans.

Today I want to share with you a story out of Miami.  Mark Buehrle was signed to an amazing deal to play for the Miami Marlin's, though he encountered a road block when trying to find housing due to a ban on pitbull's in Dade County.  Below is the full story.  Luckily, this one has a very happy out come.

Mark Buehrle's left arm may have been greeted warmly down in south Florida this offseason, but the same can't be said for one of his family's four dogs.
According to the Miami Herald, "Slater" Buehrle, an 18-month-old American Staffordshire terrier, falls under a pitbull ban that has been in place in Miami-Dade County since 1989. That means the Buehrle family didn't have the option of moving anywhere close to the Miami Marlins' new ballpark after Mark  signed a four-year, $58 million deal with the team last month.
Mark Buehrle, a dog lover who made headlines when he said he hoped Michael Vick would get hurt, avoided the ban by moving his family to a dog-friendly development in south Broward County. And while he says he wouldn't have signed with the Marlins if there had been no housing alternatives for Slater and the rest of his family, Buehrle still wants to speak up against the injustice of the ban.

From the Miami Herald:
Mark Buehrle believes "it's kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it. Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it'll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful.''
Mark Buehrle grew up with cats, rabbits and fish, but got his first dog with Jamie. They married in 2005 and are spokespeople for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, which accepted 22 of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick's pit bulls.
The Buehrles have three other dogs — Viszlas named Diesel, Drake and Duke — and adopted Slater after Jamie fell in love with him during work with an animal rescue group. Judging from his festive getup in the picture above, he sure doesn't look too menacing.
As a dog lover who has admired Mark and Jamie Buehrle's work with "Sox for Strays" in Chicago, I agree 100 percent with the pitcher's stance. Without getting into a long drawn-out debate on the subject, the danger with pitbulls lies more with the responsibility of its owners and not the breed itself. There's absolutely no reason why a well-trained dog and its family should be discriminated against through government legislation.
The good news, of course, is that at least this tale has a happy ending. Though Slater and the Buehrles were forced to go live elsewhere, perhaps their story will help end a ban that causes a much bigger hardship for other families.
After all, not everyone who moves to Miami-Dade County for a job has the luxury of being able to choose where to live. The awareness the Buehrles are driving could prevent dog owners from having to make a decision they shouldn't have to in the first place.

Again, I am glad their is a happy ending here, but this fight to change the perception of pits is an ongoing fight.  Dog discrimination is just as wrong as any other type.   Judge the deed, not the breed!

Tuesday, January 10

Helping Solve Shelter Overpopulation

Any of you that have been to a shelter any time in the recent past or read any reports regarding the matter know our shelters are overpopulated.  If you are like me, you see this and are always wondering, "What can I do to help?".  Well, this answer is an in depth one that I think Dogsters blog covered today quite well.  For your reading pleasure and hopefully some tips that will help here is the blog.
Most of us agree that prospective pet owners should try to adopt dogs from shelters whenever possible. Spay-and-neuter advocacy aims to reduce the number of dogs who are euthanized every year. While these are steps in the right direction, neither of them attempt to solve the actual issue of overpopulation.
Behavioral issues and poor training are the reasons most dogs end up in a shelter or rescue. These can include leg humping, being badly housetrained, or increased reactivity and aggression. In addition, some dogs and owners may simply be a bad match. A high-energy, high-drive dog who lives with couch potatoes and is not given a productive job may become “self-employed,” patrolling the yard, constantly barking, or hiring himself as the resident interior designer and eating the couch.
I’d like to see a more proactive approach to the problem of shelter overpopulation. While I’m all for giving dogs a second chance, how about making sure that we give them an optimal first chance? Ideally, we want dogs to spend their lives in one home with one family. Don’t we want rescue to be an industry that puts itself out of business one day?
What can you do to prevent shelter overpopulation?
Train your dog
Start with early socialization — a well-taught puppy class is a must! — and continue training your dog throughout his life. Many dogs are given to shelters as adolescents, because far too many owners believe that attending a puppy class means you are done training your dog for the rest of his life.
Get help at the first sign of behavior problems
A dog that starts out barking occasionally in the yard will likely evolve into a dog that barks incessantly in the yard. It is much easier to address this problem with early intervention than it is to treat the issue once it has become well established.
Most dogs NEVER “grow out of” behavior problems; they get worse without intervention. What is easier? Quitting smoking after your first cigarette, or after decades and thousands of cigarettes? Bad habits are hard to break, and old habits are even harder to break!
Choose the right dog for you
No dog or breed is right for every family. Take a realistic look at your family’s activity level, grooming preferences, training goals, budget, and lifestyle to determine which dogs would be a good match. Some breeds tend to do better with small children, and some acclimate to a “couch potato” lifestyle more readily than others (yeah, I’m talking to you, greyhounds!).
If you don’t like brushing or don’t want to pay for professional grooming, an Old English Sheepdog may not be the right match. Shelties and terriers will be a poor fit if you don’t like barking. Enjoy sitting on the couch? If so, while you may like the look of a Malinois, a Pug may be a much better fit — that “Mali-gator” will likely drive you nuts! Want a socially gregarious pup who might make a good therapy dog? Avoid one of my favorite breeds, the Chow Chow. Like a clean house? Definitely avoid my other favorite breed, the Saint Bernard. This is all about setting yourself up for success.
Many trainers offer pet selection services and will interview you and your family and suggest one or more breeds that would be good candidates for further investigation. Do your own research — the Dogster breeds pages are a great place to start. Better yet, contact a rescue group or breed club in your area to talk with experienced handlers and meet the dogs.
Most dogs languishing in shelters are not puppies. They’re not even strays. They usually started out in a family home that for, whatever reason, neglected their training or were otherwise a bad match.
The simplest way to solve shelter overpopulation is responsible dog ownership. If you choose the right dog and train him for a lifetime of companionship, you’ll make sure you aren’t contributing to the problem!
I found this blog to be filled with great suggestions and tips, especially addressing the behavioral problems early.  I can't tell you how many of my clients wait until it is a severe problem to call me in and then the treatment is much longer and often more intense.  The other issue I see a lot is people train with me until their dogs are behaving better or they learned the basics and then they think they are done.  More often than not, they then come back with a whole new set of bad behaviors.

If you are interested in training with Bark & Clark, give us a bark!

Monday, January 9

Off Leash Dogs

I don't think you will find a more debated issue than off leash dogs.  No matter where you live, no matter what kind of dog you have, there will always be people that are going to argue in favor and against off leash dogs.

I have told you all my one rule about having an off leash dog, so long as your dog has a recall that they will return to you no matter what, then you can have your dog off leash.  What I usually don't say, but I would hope everyone would understand is implied is that your dog is also properly socialized.

I am bringing this up today because a friend of mine sent me the article and comments below.  This same friend and I have this discussion all the time because we have been put in so many bad situations because off leash dogs.  Though my dog is extremely well socialized with other dogs, I train and handle many dogs that are not and my friend's dog has issues with other dogs due to off leash dogs attacking her.  So we constantly are trading stories about how we had to get out of a situation that could have gotten ourselves or our dogs hurt by an off leash dog.  These stories and the ones below always have one thing in common.  The owner or handler of the off leash dog doesn't think it is necessary to leash their dog even when you ask them to. 

What I would like all of you to question when you are reading this is when did we as a dog society decide that we no longer had to be considerate of other dog owners?  When I yell over to the owner of an off leash dog and ask them to call their dog back, instead of a "sure, no problem", I get "Why? What's wrong with my dog?" or "No, my dog is friendly!"  What has been lost is thinking about the other dog owner.  What is so hard about just calling your dog back and avoiding the interaction, does it really never cross their mind that my dog might not like other dogs?  I just wish all dog owners could support one another and allow us to do what is right for our dogs.

Please read this article and the thread of comments below. 

Service Dogs need space to work. But they’re not getting it from us. Turns out, off leash dogs and dogs on retractable leashes, not to mention humans with no boundaries, are an epidemic for people who depend on Service Dogs. 
The intrusions range from minor (people who want to pet their Service Dogs) to major (loosing their balance and falling when their Service Dog gets chased by a dog on a retractable).
And then there are life altering encounters.  Attacked by a “friendly” off leash dog, Kristel and her Service Dog, Murphy, had their world turned upside down in a single moment.
This is their story:
“Murphy has been prepared for service work since he was a young puppy.
He was well-socialized and exposed to all manner of weirdness from the time he was about nine weeks old. He went to puppy-kindergarten, met lots and lots of new people and had a group of dog-friends with great social skills. He was easy to train, well-mannered and confident. He got through his basic training, public-access training and task-specific training without a hitch.
When he was about three and his training was complete, our family decided to move into town (we had previously lived in a rural area). The adjustment was challenging for all of us, but after about two weeks or so, we settled into a routine and Murphy continued to perform his job flawlessly.
One morning we were walking on the local bike path just for recreation and exercise, and we had a 30 second encounter that made our lives hell for the next two years.
It had always been my habit to stay in areas that prohibited loose dogs and to choose Murphy’s playmates carefully because of the importance of his work and the need to keep him physically and psychologically healthy and sound.
There was a clearly posted leash ordinance on the path. Even so, out of nowhere a loose dog came running toward us, his owner, about twenty feet behind shouting “He’s friendly!” in the usual manner of those who believe they are exempt from the leash laws.
The dog wasn’t friendly at all. He went straight for Murphy’s neck without making a sound. I had to kick him repeatedly to get him to let go, and even then he kept trying to latch on. The owner yelled at me to stop kicking his dog. I promised that I would the moment he had regained control of him. I was so angry to be put in a position to hurt an animal, but I would do it again to protect my dog. The owner finally arrived and grabbed his dog by the collar. He wasn’t even carrying a leash.
The owner wanted my name in case his dog had broken ribs. I agreed that an exchange of information was a great idea, so I would have all the information I needed when I called the police to report the incident. The guy just shook his head and said “I don’t get it, he’s so good with the kids”, and he walked away without either of us getting any info at all.
Thirty seconds of a pet owner’s bad judgement, that’s all it took. After the encounter Murphy became profoundly leash-reactive to other dogs.
This is a dog I depend on to live my life and get through my day, and now he would come completely unglued at the sight of another dog.
To say I had no life at all during Murphy’s TWO YEAR rehab is an understatement. I couldn’t work, it cost me hundreds of dollars in training and equipment, and I had to watch my previously confident and happy-go-lucky dog struggle just to be in proximity to his own kind. Years of work, years of careful exposure, years of my life shot to hell in thirty seconds.
We are ‘out-the-other-side’ now for the most part. Murphy is back to work and can handle most situations with other dogs again. He’s never going to be okay with a strange dog in his face, but I can live with that.
I appreciate your efforts to educate the public, so much. If people would just obey leash laws it would be HUGE. Any dog could be a service dog, just out for a walk; you never know. And it shouldn’t matter. Each of us should have the right to decide how we socialize our dogs and not have that decision made for us.  Thank you for calling so much attention to an issue that is not only relevant to many, but life-altering for some of us.” – Kristel S.
Devastating, isn’t it?
Leash laws exist for this reason. If you allow your dog to run loose, in a designated on-leash area, you’re making a choice that could profoundly impact the lives of those around you.
Leash laws are not optional.
If you think it’s oppressive, being required to use a leash: it’s not.  If you think you’re the exception to the leash law, because your dog is friendly: you’re not. This is bigger than you and your dog.
People who depend on their Service Dogs for their lives should not be harassed, chased, intruded upon, or attacked because people are too ignorant or irresponsible to control themselves or their dogs. 
All of us, whether we have service dogs or not, deserve to live in a safe, respectful environment.  We can create that type of community by not making poor choices and assumptions that could cost a dog or person their entire quality of life. 
It’s time to leash up and give dogs some space. No more excuses.
Here are the comment thread that go with this article, I find these to be almost as interesting as the article itself.

Cindy Eyler I have two dogs who became dog reactive after we were jumped by two off-leash dogs while on a walk. That was the last time I ever walked two dogs at the same time -- If I'd had only one dog with me, I could have done a better job of protecting my animal. Makes me furious when I think of what was stolen from us that day.
7 hours ago ·

  • Jennifer Stewart Sheeesh, nothing makes me more upset! I remember those days in the public park, tracking along with Wiley. I am wearing gloves and a pack with equipment, the dog is in a harness and pulling like mad on the long leash with nose in the grass, flags stuck in the grass here and there. . . obviously we are DOING something. Here comes a huge yellow Lab, racing up to my head-down dog. The owner yells from afar "its okay, he is friendly" to which I yell "mine is NOT!! GET YOUR DOG NOW!!!" Wiley was ambushed this way a few times to the point I spent more time watching the surrounding area for bone-heads with off-leash dogs than I did watching my own dog track. Thanks so much for posting this article Kim, sorry for my rant but had a flood of annoying memories!!! I hope your dogs are healthy and happy, and I know you will continue to kick butt with them!!!
    4 hours ago ·

  • Anna Balsamo I now carry a collapsible baton. I realized my dog kicking boots were not doing the job with certain types of dogs, so I had to upgrade. If the baton doesnt work, I have another surprise.
    44 minutes ago ·

  • Nicole Reusser-Hillbrecht While off leash dogs irritate the hell out of me, I do think, that we need more off leash areas. Maybe what would help is a certification which would allow some trained dogs and educated owners to have their dogs off leash. I do believe, being able to take dogs to more places and have them off leash is an important part of why dogs in Europe seem to be so much more social.
    18 minutes ago · · 1

  • Anna Balsamo I agree with Nicole. There is a park in my area where dogs are allowed off leash. Its not a dog park, its a national park type thing with trails everywhere and you can walk for hours. We have another park with endless fields where dogs are allowed off lead. Since going there my dog has become much much more tolerant of other dogs. She's learned to tolerate the clueless bumbling labs who used to annoy her, and she's downright friendly with other dogs. I've not had a single issue with aggressive dogs at either of these places. The dogs seem so much more relaxed and normal. My problems happen in my neighborhood.

  • If you can't identify with this article, I hope it at least was informative or caused you to think about this problem that exists.  But, if you do relate to this article, I hope you don't feel so alone, there are a lot of us out there.

    Have a comment you don't want to post here?  Give me a bark!

    Friday, January 6

    Happy Friday!

    I know I usually do something fun on Friday's, but I thought I would just do something heartwarming and happy.  As I prepare to leave for the weekend, leaving my dog and cat behind, I am already thinking about the reunion that will occur when I return.  Of course, the excited jumping, licking of faces, wagging of tail will all be provided by my dog, as my cat will most likely just raise his head from the nap he will no doubt be in the middle of when we return.  If I am lucky he will get up and rub up against me.

    No matter what the greeting is, I think any pet owner will agree the best part of coming home, from a day out or a few days away, is the greeting from your pets and that amazing unconditional love.  I was going to string a few of my favorite videos together, but I think this compilation of reunions that the Welcome Home Blog did for Veteran's day is pretty good.  It certainly has a few of my favorites in there.  This is the only time you will hear this trainer giggling and enjoying seeing this many large dogs jump on their owners!  Enjoy!

    Don't forget to hug and kiss your pooch this weekend and do something fun!

    Thursday, January 5

    What's Up Downtown January!

    What's Up Downtown January?!  Well after all the festivities last month, it doesn't feel like much.  But I assure you Downtowner's that is always fun stuff to do in DTLA!

    There are a few new spots that opened, I've had the chance to try Artisan House and Pho Citi.  Both I thought were great additions to the neighborhood.  I am looking forward to trying out Flanders Frites, Pour Haus Wine Bar, and very excited about Oreno Yakiniku

    Though the pickings maybe slim, there are a few fabulous things to do this month!  First, if you haven't gotten your ice skating in, you still have a little time left... The L.A. King's Ice at L.A. Live closes January 5th and Downtown on Ice in Pershing Square closes January 16th. 

    If you are over the holidays and all that go with it, then check out these cool events to experience.  On January 11th the Nokia Theater welcome's the 2012 People's Choice Awards, January 18th brings us a great lecture at the Central Library The Lives of American Muslims Before and After 9/11, and lastly, something that I am excited to see, Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour By Cirque Du Soleil show opening January 27th at the Staples Center.

    Like I said, there is always something to do in DTLA!  And if you didn't find what you were looking for on the special events, create a fun date night with your dog, hit the Paw Bar at Pussy & Pooch, then go to your favorite patio bar, coffee shop or restaurant for a treat for you.

    Check out the entire DTLA Calendar, bark on the link:  BARK!

    Wednesday, January 4

    New Year's Resolutions

    Happy 2012!  Now that the new year has started, I have heard a lot of friends, family and clients talk about their resolutions.  I also have a few of my own.  This is the time of year we make promises to ourselves and to our pets to change something.  Sometimes we are asking our pets to promise us to change a behavior.  But no one can keep their promises without the proper structure or plan put in place.

    Many clients and friends have contacted me about this being the year they rid their dog of that annoying habit or teach him not to chew on their shoes.  Good resolutions by the way!  But it will never be achieved without a plan to teach your dog right from wrong.  The best way to do this is to start a training program.

    I know it is a daunting task to find the right trainer, but these simple tips should help make it a little easier.

    First, find a trainer that trains in the style you are comfortable with.  For instance, if you want a reward based trainer, make sure not to go to a compulsion trainer as the style will seem much too harsh.

    Second, be sure the price is clearly laid out.  No matter if it is a class package deal, hourly rate for privates or pricing per class.

    Third, look for someone that is going to put you and your dog's safety and relationship first.  It is not always about just getting to the finish line, it is about getting there with a product you are proud of.  In the case of training, the product is the relationship between you and your dog.

    Fourth and final tip, make sure your personalities jive.  It is not about if the person is nice or not, but if you can work with them.  Training can be intense and stressful, you want to go through that journey with someone that you trust to give you critical feedback and walk you through stressful moments.

    I hope these tips help you find the perfect trainer for you and your dog. 

    For a quick and fun list of pet New Year's Resolutions from, bark on the link:  Bark!

    If you are on the market for a trainer, give me a bark