Tuesday, July 31

Grand Park

Downtowner's, have you checked out Grand Park yet?  I finally got to go yesterday!  I was expecting the whole thing to be open, not just the upper section closest to Grand, but even with just that, I was not disappointed.

It was a great area to walk around and let my dog check out a new green area and we even walked through the edge of the water in the walking fountain.  There were a lot of people in the park and lots of kids playing in the water.  Such a nice site for Downtown. 

I will say that I didn't have a warm welcome by a couple of people there, they let me know that the water area and grass area should be for kids only, no dogs.  But since there are no signs telling me that, Neville and I went on our way and explored the park how we intended.  We had a great time.

The view is great from the park and I can't wait for the two lower levels, that lead right up to City Hall, are finished.  The complete park is going to be huge and beautiful.

If you have not had the chance to check it out, take your dog soon!

Monday, July 30

Hope For Hope!

Hope is a Pug that was found wondering around in Parker County, Texas earlier this month.  She had been horrifically abused, unthinkable things were done to this sweet dog.  But Dogster posted an update that is inspiring and such amazing news!  It certainly reiterated for me just how forgiving and resilient dogs truly are.

For those who haven't heard the story of Hope, the Pug mix who was seen wandering in circles in Parker County, Texas, early this month, brace yourself. 
The dog was spotted on a road, abandoned, confused, scared, and clearly in pain. Someone had stretched her tongue out, clamped her jaws shut, and bound her muzzle tightly with electrical tape. Animal control officers on horseback and residents scoured the area until they finally located her, hours later. 
She couldn't eat, drink, or pant. She was bleeding, dehydrated, and overheating. She had five deep gashes in her body, deliberate cuts from a knife. And her tongue -- her tongue was grotesquely swollen from the ordeal, protruding from her taped-shut muzzle.
Credit: MYFOXDFW.com 
“I thought, ‘What in the world does she have in her mouth?’" said the woman who spotted the dog, as reported by CBSDFW.com. "I got closer to her, I couldn’t believe my eyes; I thought, is that her tongue?”
Said Karen Kessler, Parker County Sheriff Department’s animal control supervisor, “I see a lot of horrific stuff. I have never seen anything to this magnitude. Somebody should recognize this dog, somebody should know where this dog came from. We need them to call to find leads to find out who did such a crime to this animal.”
Once she was receiving the proper care, Hope recovered quickly. Unbelievably, vets were able to save her tongue, and the wounds on her body were closed with more than 100 stitches. She began to eat solid food and wag her tail. As the story of Hope spread through social media, authorities were soon swamped with calls from around the world from people seeking to adopt her.

Credit: MYFOXDFW.com. 
"The Netherlands, London, Illinois, Arizona," Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler told KVUE.com. "The list goes on. Indiana, Iowa."
Presents arrived, too, as did donations -- more than $9,000 -- as Hope's story gained traction. Three days after she was found, she was adopted by a local family, Charlie and Kit Moncrief. Through it all, Hope remained kind and affectionate to people, and "has showed no signs of withdrawing from people due to her torture," said Fowler. 
She is recovering very fast,” veterinary technician Rhonda Sears told Dallas News. “More importantly, she is recovering in a positive way. She isn’t fearful of people like most dogs would be after going through such a traumatic experience.”
A week later, the prognosis was even better.
"She’s healing emotionally, too,” Sears said. “She’s kind of like a flower unfolding. She kind of brightens up every day.”
But the culprits have not been found, despite a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.
We hope to see a just end to the story of Hope, with the torturers standing before a judge -- but it's been some days yet, with no new information. Surely someone knows something about the friendly Pug mix.
For now, there is one good thing to come out of the story besides Hope's recovery and adoption: Last week, the Parker County commissioners set up an abused-dog fund, which they've stocked with remainder of Hope's donations after her care was complete. The money in the fund will go to pay for "medical treatment or reward money for other abused animals," according to the Weatherford Democrat.
That's a legacy to be proud of.

I am so happy this story has a happy ending.  Not just that Hope now has a loving home and seems to be recovering beautifully, but that there is an abused-dog fund for future dogs in this situation.  I hope there is never another one like this, but the sad reality is, there will be.

Friday, July 27

Grand Park Inaugural Weekend

I think every Downtown resident is waiting with baited breath for this new park to open.  Any new green space is always appreciated, but this park also comes with a great amount of beauty!  I can't wait to walk through it and experience it for the first time.

If you haven't heard, the wait is over!  This weekend is the inaugural weekend and the park is kicking things off with a weekend full of fun!  Here is the schedule posted on the Grand Park website!
National Dance Day Celebration
Saturday July 28, 2012
10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


10am to 12noon
A special appearance by Nigel Lythgoe

Welcome by William T. Fujioka, Chief Executive Officer of the County of Los Angeles; Adam Shankman and Lil’ C, Dizzy Feet Foundation Board Members; and Thor Steingraber, The Music Center Vice President of Programming
Warm-up with So You Think You Can Dance, Season 4 finalist Katee Shean
Hip-Hop master class with So You Think You Can Dance, All-Star Lauren Gottlieb
A special performance by Cirque du Soleil®
U.S. Postal Service Innovative Choreographers Stamps First Day of Issuance Ceremony
Everybody Dance Zumba Fitness® routine with Gina Grant

12noon to 1pm
COMMUNITY DANCE CLASSES for everyone! Taught by –
Robin Antin, The Pussycat Dolls, with the PCD girls
Mary Murphy, So You Think You Can Dance judge and ballroom champion

1pm to 2:30pm
PERFORMANCES by some of the best and brightest young dance talent in Los Angeles –
Debbie Allen Dance Academy
Ehecatl Dance Company and Casa de la Cultura Mexico
Rage Crew


Food available for purchase from Kogi Truck, Grill 'Em All, Coolhaus, and Homeboy Bakery.
Information is subject to change.
July 29, 2012
Sunday Music in the Park
- 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Presented by Grand Performances in partnership with The Music Center
Experience a musical treat outdoors with performances featuring the distinctive sounds of Los Angeles.  Bring a picnic and spend the day in Los Angeles County’s newest park.
Get there as soon as you can to check out this new space and on your way there, don't forget to admire the newly restored City Hall lawn!  It is so great to have more green space coming in!

Happy Weekend and don't forget to do something special with your dog!



Wednesday, July 25

Open Letter To An Expecting Mother

I read a provoking open letter to an expecting mother on Petside this morning.  The issue is that the mother to be is giving away her 8 year old cat for no apparent reason other than she is expecting a baby.  This is a hot topic, there are many mothers or couples that decide when the baby comes to get rid of the pet.  Sometimes this is a choice that cannot be helped for a variety of reasons, but sometimes it is just a choice of convenience or misinformation.  I have no tolerance for people that dispose of their pets for no reason, so I found this letter to be entertaining and thought provoking.  Have a read and see what you think, one warning, it does get on the bitter side.

I saw your email in the evening. It came over our building’s email listserv. It went like this:
We are expecting in November, and I am looking for a home for our 8-year-old tomcat. He is very gentile, affectionate, and pretty low maintenance. I'm not going to resort to a shelter, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please let me know!
I felt the blood rush to my head. So you were giving up your “baby” now that the “real baby” was arriving. But I mustn’t make assumptions. Perhaps there was something you weren’t saying. I wrote back:
Why would you give up your cat because you’re expecting? Cats are wonderful with children. I grew up with 40 indoor & outdoor :)
I thought that was nice and non-judgmental. I even added a smiley face. Perhaps you had allergies you weren’t mentioning? Could you really be giving up your cat just because a baby was on its way? Yes, I knew women who did that, unfortunately. As a long-time volunteer with a cat shelter, we heard from women wanting to give up their cat because a baby was on the way. Sometimes they were told to do it by a doctor. Toxoplasmosis, the doc would say, as if this were a certain death sentence for a fetus.
But you, pregnant lady, were already five months along. Could this really be a concern now, all of a sudden? In case it was, I thought I might advise you, as I’ve done a lot of research on it. The risk of toxoplasmosis is slim at best – it certainly doesn’t mean you had to give up your beloved cat. It only means you should be careful around cat feces– either get someone to change your cat’s litter, or wear gloves. Additionally, you can simply get your cat tested for it.
But you ignored my query. Instead, you sent out another email to the listserv. This one went:
I should also mention that he's in excellent health and is neutered.
This is when I lost it, pregnant lady. I shot back:
Sad you would give up a cat after eight years for no reason. And yes, I have a right to say this since you're on a public forum. Animals are not disposable.
Not surprisingly, you didn’t answer. How sad that you are welcoming one family member by ditching another. I imagine you will be the kind of mother who storms to school to yell at teachers who may not appreciate your child’s genius.
Or was it that you thought your “gentile” (I think you meant “gentle”) cat would suck the breath out of your newborn’s lungs like in old cartoons? Perhaps you were the kind of pregnant woman who screamed if you spotted a plate of brie.
Maybe I just don’t understand the sort of raging anti-pet hormones that may have surged through your blood during your pregnancy. I once met a man who told me that his ex-wife insisted they get rid of their elderly three-legged dog when she got pregnant: The same elderly three-legged dog that had never shown one ounce of aggression. The man said he refused. And after their baby was born, she came to her senses. Too bad you don’t have someone also willing to reality check you.
Don’t you know that kids who grow up with a pet in the house have less illnesses and respiratory issues?   Perhaps you just don’t care.
And that shelter you won’t “resort” to? Shelters carefully screen all potential adopters. Shelters interview applicants and check vet records and visit homes. I would sooner “resort” to a shelter than a building’s listserv -- full of people you’ve never even spoken to or met.
I only regret that I don’t know what you look like. If I did, I would make sure you are not one of the mommies whose whale-sized double strollers I routinely help through the lobby’s doors. Yeah, I’d let you handle that yourself. But I do know your name. And I will spread it far and wide to rescue groups. Because when your child is a toddler clamoring for a kitten, I want to make sure none of those animal shelters you will not “resort” to gives you one -- only so you can give the cat away when it suits you, just like you gave away your “gentile” one. 
But mostly I feel sorry for a child born to a mother who would give up a pet for no real reason -- except that she doesn’t want it anymore. Karma has a way of coming back around. What will your child do with you when you are old and no longer fit into his life plans?
So what do you think?  Do you think that in a public forum like this you should list a reason or do you think this is a personal choice and the women is doing what she thinks is best for the cat? 

Tuesday, July 24

Michael Vick Wants A Dog - For His Kids

So here we are, the 3 year ban has been lifted for Michael Vick and he can now get a dog.  According to Vick, he only wants a dog for his kids, because it has been unfair to them to live 3 years without a dog.  For me, I do feel sad for his children that they cannot have a dog, but I feel that Vick should've been banned for life for what he did to those dogs.  To say it was inhumane doesn't even begin to cover it. 

I have gone back and forth on this topic, should Vick get another chance to right his wrong, prove he is rehabilitated?  Or should he have to live with some reminder of what he did the rest of his life, since he has shown little remorse for it?  It doesn't matter what I think, a judge gave him his punishment and he served it and now he is allowed to own a dog if he chooses to.

Below is the post Dogster had on Vick this morning, in it is the blog from the ASPCA about their thoughts on Vick owning a dog again.  As well, they give a brief but descriptive recount of what Vick did, I think many of us have blocked out just how horrific his actions were.

Oh, here we go. Michael Vick wants to get a dog. "Certainly wouldn't be a Pit Bull," he told Piers Morgan last week during an interview.

Vick has said as much in the past, but in the past we were protected from him owning a dog because a judge had banned him from owning a dog. Now that the three-year ban is up, Michael Vick says he wants to get a dog -- for his kids. 
You see, his kids haven't been able to have a dog of their own after their father killed 13 of them by hanging, shooting, electrocuting, and slamming them repeatedly on the ground  -- not to mention engaging in horrific acts like throwing family pets into the ring for dogs to attack, along with the more garden-variety abuse of fighting dogs. 
Not being allowed to own a dog hasn't sat well with Michael Vick. 
"I still deal with my kids each and every day, and for the last three years, not being able to have a dog, because of my acts, I just don't think that's fair," he told Piers Morgan. 
In Michael Vick's world, it isn't fair that his kids can't own a dog after he killed and abused so many of them. 
"I can’t take that dream away from them," Vick goes on. "That’s selfish on my behalf."
You can't win, right? You kill and torture dogs for years, and then you're selfish if you don't get another dog. 

(Vick on Piers Morgan.)
"Got to find a way to make it right and, you know, I put everything in God’s hands to make it right."
So, remember, when the story breaks that Michael Vick has stopped being selfish and has stopped trying to take away his kids' dream and has finally bought his dog -- certainly not a Pit Bull -- rest assured that the decision was made by the lord and what He deemed best. It was out of Michael Vick's hands. 
To us, it looks like Michael Vick is saying anything he can to temper the outrage that is likely to occur once he does buy his dog -- for his kids.
You know who doesn't want Michael Vick to buy a dog? The ASPCA. When the ASPCA doesn't want you to buy a dog, you probably should take a moment and listen. We know, it can be hard to sit down and tell your kids that the ASPCA really doesn't want to to get a dog, but maybe at least you can read the group's blog post together, at least to let your kids know what's waiting for them when you do get that dog:  
Despite spending 19 months in prison for running an illegal interstate dog fighting business, Vick hasn't expressed a shred of empathy toward the dogs he brutalized and killed. And rather than talk about the horrors of dog fighting, he has consistently chosen to focus on the consequences of getting caught. In a nutshell, his actions are self-serving. We've seen little remorse and even less compassion. And let's not forget, he caused unspeakable suffering to hundreds of innocent dogs. Frankly, the ASPCA has serious concerns about Vick's ability to be a responsible pet parent.
(Lucas and Mel are just two of the "Vicktory Dogs" seized from Michael Vick and placed with the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Photos by Gary Kalpakoff for Best Friends.)
Michael Vick, of course, has owned a lot of dogs in his life -- 13 dead, 51 seized from Bad Newz Kennels in 2007, with 47 ultimately surviving after being rehabilitated at places like Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, who took in 22.
We should remember these dogs, who have names like Jasmine, Ellen, Sweet Pea, Hector, Uba, Lucas, Oscar, Zippy, Teddles, Handsome Dan, Ray, Gracie, Harriet, Ginger, and Jonny Justice. Some work as therapy dogs, visiting cancer patients and working with children and the elderly; some live on farms and in sanctuaries, running free; others compete in agility contests and work to achieve their Canine Good Citizen certifications; some travel to schools, educating kids about animal welfare; and many are in forever homes, curled safely on the couch.
And some of them are still wounded, trying to recover from what happened to them, when a group of men abused them and beat them and trained them to kill other dogs. One of these men now wants another dog -- for his kids.  
Are you okay with Michael Vick having another dog? Or does it feel like a knife in your gut? Let us know in the comments.
So as Dogster asked their readers, I ask you... What do you think?  Does this sit well with you or does it make your stomach turn in a knot?

I will tell you that for me, I am not okay with this.  When you break down what you have to do to a dog to teach them to fight or rather kill another dog, it is disgusting!  When you think about the pain and suffering those dogs went through that were killed at the hands of Vick in the barbaric way that they were, it is horrifying!  I am aware that there were other workers, but it was Vick's place, he knew, he was responsible. 

Give us a bark and tell us what you think.   


Monday, July 23

Chihuahua's Rescued From Hoarders

It is always sad and sickening to learn of a hoarding situation and then to see the dogs coming out of it.  This is one of those stories that will make you truly appreciate the work the rescues do.  It is not an easy job, emotionally or physically, I'm not sure I could do what they do over and over, but I am glad they do it!

Dogster posted this morning the rescue of these Chihuahua's from another hoarding situation in Bakersfield.
Volunteers from San Francisco nonprofit Rocket Dog Rescue are preparing for a second trip to Bakersfield after traveling there last weekend to rescue nine Chihuahuas from a dog-hoarding situation.
Rocket Dog founder Pali Boucher says that two of the dogs have already found new homes, two are in foster homes that might become permanent, and the others are being fostered.
About 50 dogs were in the home, which she described as “awful living conditions.”

“They are all around a year old, and extremely sweet and loving despite what they have been through,” Boucher wrote on Rocket Dog Rescue’s Facebook page.
She says she is not sure how many dogs she and other volunteers will bring back from Bakersfield when they return.
Despite the horrific environment the dogs were found in, Boucher says, the woman who was keeping the dogs is working with Rocket and other rescue groups. “That’s the way I like to help,” Boucher says, “before animal control steps in, as long as we have a system in place and the person is willing to work with us.”
Asked to describe the Bakersfield site, she says, “Whenever you have 50 animals in one given place, you’re going to have a very cluttered and very dirty environment -- it’s going to look pretty harsh.”

The woman holding the dogs called Rocket Dog Rescue directly; Boucher says she believes the woman was trying to help the dogs, but somehow the situation got out of hand. Unfortunately, this is all too common in dog-hoarding situations.
The health problems in this group of Chihuahuas include cases of demodectic mange and some pneumonia. “We’re pretty good at trouble-shooting some pretty serious illnesses,” Boucher says, adding that just getting a large group of rescue animals spayed and neutered can cost thousands of dollars.
The first group of dogs taken by Rocket Dog were mostly in good health -- and that was intentional. Boucher says when there are a lot of animals to be rescued, she’ll take the ones in better condition first because they can find foster and permanent homes more readily. Volunteers will return to get dogs with more serious medical needs and behavioral problems who could take longer to rehabilitate. Older dogs, which are also harder to place, are also included in the later rounds of rescue.
Late last week Rocket received the call and coordinated with other rescue groups in California, including Nuts’n Bolts Animal Advocates in the city of Madera. 
“We really believe in working together as a team,” Boucher says. “We’re not territorial.” The first phone call indicated that about 25 animals were at the site, whereas 50 were discovered.

Small dogs such as Chihuahuas used to be relatively rare in shelters, Boucher says, but now they are among the most common. A recent case involved 16 Chihuahuas in a small apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. The animals' owner moved to the Philippines, simply leaving the animals behind.
The situation in Bakersfield and surrounding Kern County is indeed dire, Boucher says. Statistics from the Kern County Animal Control website reflect this. In 2011, slightly more than 1,800 dogs were adopted from the shelter, whereas around 10,000 were euthanized. The numbers for cats are lower but the adoption-to-death ration is worse. About 500 cats were adopted from the shelter, while more than 7,800 were put to death.
Asked the reason for this, Boucher cites overpopulation. “There’s just no place to put these guys,” she says.
To adopt one of the rescued Chihuahuas, donate toward the cost of the dogs' care, or offer volunteer services, visit the Rocket Dog Rescue website.

I hope there are some of you out there that are in a position to help and could take on one of these guys that need a little extra help to rehabilitate.  If so, contact the Rocket Dog Rescue through the website link above.

Wednesday, July 11

6th Annual Dog Day Afternoon

The 6th Annual Dog Day Afternoon was a success!  Not just for me but for all vendors and participants.  I have to say, the dogs scored BIG time with all the free goodies!  Below are a few pictures to highlight the event!

It was great to see so many dogs and owners!  I am already looking forward to next year.

But for now, I am off to a trip and will return 7/17/12, until then my blog is on hiatus.

Have a great week and don't forget to do something special with your dog!

Sizzlin' Hot Dogs Pooch Parade!

With Summer comes longer days, warmer nights and a whole lot of fun!  A perfect setting to get your dog out to strut and sniff through Downtown, learn something new and have a patio for us all to relax on after! 

It brings me great pleasure to announce Bark & Clark's Summer Pooch Parade!

Please join us for the Sizzlin' Hot Dogs Pooch Parade on August 14th @ 7:30pm

The evening will start with me, Certified Trainer, Tamara Clark, leading your pooches through the bustling streets of the Historical Core and South Park.  We will stop in at Pussy & Pooch for some Pawbar time for your dogs and then through the city we will go for our educational romp.  As usual, the evening will conclude with a chance for the humans to sit down, unwind and enjoy wonderful conversation at the dog friendly, Big Wangs.  So fun!  

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.  The Sizzlin' Hot Dogs Pooch Parade workshop's focus will be on you dogs socialization with congested city sidewalks, leash control, and focusing on you while dealing with distractions.  As well, we will have our usual education on the approved potty places and how to get your dog to go there. 
The benefit of working your dog in this environment is it helps reinforce their basic obedience and uses those skills to increase their focus on you - not all the distractions. We'll also work  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. 

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 and if you can't be there, I hope you will help spread the word!  

Be sure to RSVP by August 7th because space is limited.  The cost is $40/dog.

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

Tuesday, July 10

Update On Rosie

Dogster published an update on Rosie, the little Chihuahua that was badly deformed from inbreeding that was rescued from a hoarder.  It has been two weeks since her rescue and it looks like little Rosie is showing some real progress!

Remember Rosie, the terribly deformed Chihuahua who was rescued from an animal hoarder/backyard breeder in late June? Our story on her and the other 20 or so rescued dogs brought a great deal of reader empathy, and plenty of sadness and anger about Rosie's condition, which is the result of careless inbreeding.
Despite her needlenose snout, super-bowed legs, bony body, purply-pink skin, and bulging and eerily light eyes, many readers saw her beauty -- both inner and outer. So did her rescuer, Cinnamon Muhlbauer.
"She is an absolutely gorgeous girl who just needs a little TLC. Well, maybe a lot of TLC," she told us.
We checked back in with Muhlbauer a couple of weeks after the rescue to see how her little Rosie was faring. Rosie has been enjoying her time with Muhlbauer, her husband, and several rescued animals on a ranch in the Los Angeles mountains near Malibu. That TLC Rosie needed? She's getting it by the bucketful.
During Rosie's recent visit to her veterinarian at the Malibu Veterinary Clinic, the vet's wife, Evelien Van Netten Lupo, decided to take some "glamour" shots of Rosie to show her off to her fullest.
"She wanted to capture what I see, what her husband sees, and what she saw when she met Rosie, so that people would understand that she is bright, curious, loving, hopeful, and mischievous, and that we are giving her a chance to develop those traits to their full potential," says Muhlbauer. "I don't think anyone viewing those photos can question why we would work so hard to save a little one like her, or why people work to help dogs that some don't think are worth saving."
The good news is that some conditions, like Rosie's mange and malnutrition, are fixable. "But the genetic defects are things we will just have to deal with and work around," she says.
I asked about the specifics of the physical conditions Dr. John Lupo has diagnosed so far. "Her bloodwork came back with no sign of infections or any organ malfunctions. Her X-rays are another matter. Her chest is compressed partially from bearing most of her body weight day after day for two years and partially from her genetics. She has fairly severe scoliosis, which is visible without an X-ray -- that little spine curves almost in an arc. Both her front and hind legs have deformities. Her bones did not develop properly so they fused together in places."

"Going forward, we can't do much about her shortened front legs, but her hind legs can and will stretch out as they should," says Muhlbauer. "We are hoping that with physical therapy she can build enough strength to walk more than a few feet and have better balance, and perhaps she can even have a cart at some point, which would support her front legs and allow her to move her forward via her back legs.
"Her fur is coming back in little peach fuzz spots, which shows what some good nutrition can do. She is still bright red in places; however, her skin texture and color improves daily. The mange treatment is working! Her eyes are getting used to light and dark and are finally functioning normally, so she has expression to her face rather than the startled confused look she had before."

I asked how Rosie's demeanor has changed since their earliest time together. "When I first got her, she wasn't sure what to expect. She was nervous and tense -- I could feel it in her body. Now she is relaxed and curious about everything. She is demanding! She is confined to the bathroom until she is stronger, and she crabwalks out of her bed and drapes across my feet while I am putting on my make up in the morning. If there is an opportunity to be cuddled she is not going to miss it!"

"Rosie will need special care throughout her life, but she is worth the extra effort," Muhlbauer says.

We'll keep you posted on Rosie's recovery, and you can check for updates on Rosie's Facebook page. Even if she can't walk yet, with the loving care of Muhlbauer, her vet, and others in her life, she's already taken many steps in the right direction.
Photos by Evelien Van Netten Lupo.

I am so happy to hear about her progress!  Go Rosie!  Keep getting stronger!!

Monday, July 9

Taiwan Photographer On A Crusade To Save Dogs

A friend of mine told me of this story on Yahoo News about a photographer in Taiwan that is on a crusade to save doomed shelter dogs.  He is photographing them one last time right before they are euthanized.  This could be their last day or even their last minutes before they are taken away.  I know this is a hot topic because there is such passionate views.  But no matter what you think about euthanization, I think you will agree the way he is photographing them, is beautiful and makes you understand what a waste this is.

Please read the story and more than that, go see the few photos they have available at the link below.  I am sure that some of these dogs are sick and some are perfectly fine, but the way he shot these dogs to look so "human" is pretty remarkable.

The photographer gingerly places a small, mixed-breed puppy on a platform in his makeshift studio at an animal shelter in northern Taiwan. The dog looks about 2 months old, with alert, trusting eyes and a shiny black coat.

Tou Chih-kang captures expressions, personality. He creates the kind of photos that any pet owner would love to have.
This puppy has no owner and will not get one. Once its photo shoot is over, it will be taken away by vets to be put down.
Tou has been recording the last moments of canines at the Taoyuan Animal Shelter for two years. He has captured the images of some 400 dogs, most of which were pets abandoned by their owners. To him the work is distressing, but he's trying to spread a message of responsibility.
"I believe something should not be told but should be felt," says Tou, a thick-bodied 37-year-old with an air of quiet confidence. "And I hope these images will arouse the viewers to contemplate and feel for these unfortunate lives, and understand the inhumanity we the society are putting them through."
His photographs are redolent of the kind of formal portraits — of people — that were taken 100 years ago, designed to bestow dignity and prestige upon the subject. In many of the dog portraits, the animals are placed at angles that make them look almost human.
This year Taiwanese authorities will euthanize an estimated 80,000 stray dogs. Animal-welfare advocates say the relatively widespread nature of the phenomenon — Taiwan's human population is only 23 million — reflects the still immature nature of the island's dog-owning culture and the belief among some of its majority Buddhist population that dogs are reincarnated humans who behaved badly in a previous life.
It would seem, judging by the many stores in Taiwan that sell fancy dog clothes and other baubles, as if Taiwanese fawn over their animals, and some do. But others abandon pets to the streets once their initial enthusiasm cools.
"Animals are seen just as playthings, not to be taken seriously," says Grace Gabriel, Asia regional director of the Massachusetts-based International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Activists say that some 70 percent of dogs in Taiwanese shelters are killed after a 12-day waiting period, despite government efforts to find them homes. Gabriel says dogs in U.S. shelters are less likely to be euthanized, though millions of cats continue to be put down there each year.
The dogs who wind up in Taoyuan are picked up by roving patrols, funded by local governments, of workers equipped with large nets.
The dogs come in all sizes and shapes. Some are young and active, others grizzled, listless and battered. After Tou photographs them, veterinary workers take them for a brief turn around a grassy courtyard before leading them into a small, clinical-looking room where they are killed by lethal injection.
Tou, who uses the professional name Tou Yun-fei, says he began his project because the Taiwanese media were not paying enough attention to the dogs' plight. He says he doesn't believe in having pets, but the problem had long plagued his conscience.
He says that while some of his friends refuse to even look at his photographs, others say the images taught them to take pet ownership more seriously.
A handful of the some 40,000 dog pictures Tou has taken are due to be exhibited this August in his first full-scale show, at the Fine Arts Museum in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung.
A few photos already are on display at Taoyuan city hall, part of a bid to raise citizens' awareness of the responsibilities that come with raising a pet.
"I am a medium that through my photography, more people will be aware of this issue," he says. "I think that's my role."

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

Friday, July 6

Dog Food Recall on Pedigree

Happy Friday everyone!  Though I try to have good or fun news on Friday, I thought this was more important.

There has been yet another recall on dog food, this time products manufactured by Mars Petcare US because of the risk of foreign objects being mixed into the food.  Specifically, Pedigree canned dog food, below are the details.

Announced last Saturday, June 30, it's a voluntary recall of a limited range of three varieties of Pedigree weight-management canned dog foods "due to a potential choking risk," according to the Wall Street Journal's Market Watch. The specific products being recalled are these:
+ Pedigree Healthy Weight Premium Ground Entree in Meaty Juices
+ Pedigree Weight Management Meaty Ground Dinner Beef & Liver Dinner in Meaty Juices
+ Pedigree Weight Management Meaty Ground Dinner Chicken & Rice Dinner in Meaty Juices
They have a lot code printed on the end of the can that begins with 209, 210, 211 or 212 and a best before date between 2/24/2014 and 3/23/2014.
According to the Dogster blog "It seems that small pieces of blue plastic "entered the food during the production process. The source of the plastic has been identified and the issue resolved," reads the press release. Mars Petcare US warns that the food should not be given to pets or sold in stores. All three of the affected lines were distributed to retail consumers throughout the United States."

"If you have purchased affected product, discard the food or return it to the retailer for a full refund or exchange. "While a small number of consumers have reported finding the plastic pieces, we have not received any reports of injury or illness associated with the affected product."

"Mars Petcare US is working with distributors and the public to ensure that the recalled products are no longer sold and are removed from inventory. "

No other Pedigree products, wet or dry, are affected.

Thursday, July 5

Dog Day Afternoon!

Have you registered yet?  Dog Day Afternoon is less than a week away, if you haven't registered, do it today! 

This is such a fun event for dog owners and their dogs.  It is a great time to meet your neighbors, talk to other dog owners, learn a thing or two from the vendors, get free stuff and last but not least, your dog may make new friends!

This event however is not for everyone.  You must be a downtown resident and your dog MUST be socialized and friendly with both people and other dogs.

This is shaping up to be the biggest Dog Day Afternoon thus far in the 6 years it has been going. 

Don't forget to stop by and say hello to all of us at the Bark & Clark booth, we will be easy to spot, just look for all the purple!

To register today for the 6th annual Dog Day Afternoon, bark on the link:  BARK!

Wednesday, July 4

Happy 4th Of July

I wish you all a happy and safe 4th of July!  Please keep your pets away from the fireworks, this is the number one cause of people loosing their pets!  Dogs have jumped through windows and cats have scurried out cracked doors to run away from what they understand to be danger.

No matter what your plans, make sure your dog (and all your pets) are safe and sound and have fun!

Happy 4th of JULY!!!

Tuesday, July 3

What's Up Downtown July!

July is here!!!  And with July comes the summer heat and summer fun!  There is a lot to do Downtown in the summer months, way too much for me to list all of them, but here are a few of the things I am looking forward to.

First and foremost, Dog Day Afternoon is July 11th 6pm-9pm!  If you have a dog that gets along with other dogs, this is a great event for you.  Come and check out my booth along with a lot of other fabulous vendor's like Pussy & Pooch!  To register for this FREE event, bark on the link:  BARK!

Do you know what you are doing for the 4th of July yet?  California African American Museum is holding a free fireworks event that is sure to be fun! 

The amazing concerts and outdoor events have already started, but don't miss out, be sure to check out these FREE events:  Summer on the Plaza (7th & Fig), Downtown Stage Summer Concerts (Pershing Square), Grand Performances, Chinatown Summer Nights, and Under The Sheet Music (Pershing Square) just to name a few!

There is so much to do everything from free concerts to food festivals.  Check out the whole calendar by barking on the link:  BARK!

Monday, July 2

Helping Reduce Fear In Your Fearful Dog

With the 4th of July in a few days, all of us dog bloggers and websites are putting out everything we can to help all of you with dogs that are specifically fearful of fireworks or fearful dogs in general.  I had put out a few tips on Friday, but those are all ways to treat the symptom of fear, it is not changing anything.  The Bark, had a great article this morning about reducing fear in your dog through classical counter-conditioning (CCC).  Or for those of you not up on your training terms, it is the emotional reassignment of a fearful event or thing.  If your dog is scared of the doorbell and you feed him a yummy treat every time, he would look forward to the doorbell because it results in something extremely good, no longer scary.

The argument is that you are reinforcing the fear this way or if you pet your dog in a fearful moment.  I do not agree.  I pet my fearful dog in certain moments and if he would take food at times of stress I would be feeding him too.  It is an old theory that to pet or feed your fearful dog in the moment of fear will only make it worse, anyone that has a fearful dog knows this is not true. 

This article is a little long, but it is packed full of great information.  She is working with thunderstorms, but the same treatment will work for fireworks.  I hope you get as much out of this article as I did.

It was one in the morning, and I was wide awake. Thunderstorms had been rolling like waves over the farm all night, and this one was so loud I thought the windows might break. Lassie, my 14-year-old Border Collie, lay panting beside me. She’s almost deaf, but the combination of a falling barometer, lightning flashes and the crashes of thunder were enough to send her into a panic. As we lay there together, I stroked her soft old head, thinking about the advice to avoid petting a dog who reacts to thunder. “You’ll just teach them to be more fearful,” according to the traditional wisdom. Only one thing: It’s not true.
We’ve been taught for ages that trying to soothe frightened dogs just makes them worse. It seems logical, in a cut-and-dried, stimulus-and-response kind of way. Your dog hears thunder, he runs to you and you pet him. VoilĂ , your dog just got reinforced for running to you when it thunders, and worse, for being afraid of thunderstorms in the first place. But that’s not what happens, and here’s why. First, no amount of petting is going to make it worthwhile to your dog to feel panicked. Fear is no more fun for dogs than it is for people. The function of fear is to signal the body that there is danger present, and that the individual feeling fearful had better do something to make the danger, and the fear that accompanies it, go away.
Think of it this way: Imagine you’re eating ice cream when someone tries to break into your house at midnight. Would the pleasure of eating ice cream “reinforce” you for being afraid, so that you’d be more afraid the next time? If anything, things would work in the reverse—you might develop an unconscious discomfort around ice cream. However, you sure as heck aren’t going to be more afraid if a burglar arrives because you were eating chocolate mocha fudge the first time it happened.
There’s another reason petting your thunder-phobic dog doesn’t make him worse, and it couldn’t hurt to take a deep breath before you read it. Research on thunder-phobic dogs suggests that petting does not decrease the level of stress in the dog receiving it.* If it doesn’t decrease stress, how could it act as reinforcement? Before you write describing how your loving touch calms your own dog, please note that (1) I didn’t do the research; (2) my own dogs stop pacing and whining when I pet them during storms; and (3) I don’t care what the research says, it makes me feel better, it doesn’t hurt anything, so I do it anyway.
Studying Stress
Humor aside, it’s important to be specific about what the study actually found. The authors measured the production of cortisol, a hormone related to stress. They found that cortisol levels did not decrease when the dogs were being petted by their guardians during storms. (The most important factor in decreasing cortisol was the presence of other dogs.)
Interestingly, another piece of research on social bonding found that although cortisol levels decrease in people when they are interacting with dogs, cortisol does not decrease in dogs in the same context.** However, in both species, other hormones and neurotransmitters increased, including oxytocin, prolactin and beta-endorphin—all substances that are associated with good feelings and social bonding. So, while petting your dog during a storm may not decrease cortisol levels associated with stress, it is still possible that something good could be happening.
On the contrary, it’s just not possible that petting your dog is going to make her more fearful the next time there’s a storm. Warnings that you’ll ruin your dog by comforting her are reminiscent of the advice from the 1930s and ’40s to avoid comforting frightened children by picking them up. That perspective was tossed out long ago by psychologists, when research made it clear that having parents they can count on when life gets scary creates bold, stable children, not dependent or fearful ones.
A Classical Approach
The greatest damage that’s done with outdated “don’t pet the dog” advice doesn’t relate to storms, but to the pitfalls of trying to explain classical counter-conditioning (CCC). CCC can be a profoundly effective way to change behavior, because it changes the emotions that drive the behavior in the first place. A typical example in applied animal behavior is having visitors throw treats to a dog who is afraid of strangers.
Understandably, many a client has asked, “But isn’t giving him treats when he’s barking and growling just going to make him worse? Won’t he get reinforced for barking and growling?” The answer is no, not if his behavior is driven by fear. Remember, fear is no fun, and a few pieces of food, no matter how yummy, aren’t going to override the brain’s desire to avoid it.
Tossing treats (or toys) to a fearful dog can teach him to associate approaching strangers with something good, as long as the treat is really, really good, and the visitor is far enough away to avoid overwhelming the dog. CCC is one of the most important tools in a trainer or behaviorist’s toolbox, yet it can be hard to convince people to try it. It feels like rewarding a dog for misbehaving, and in our punishment-oriented, “you’ve got to get dominance over your dog” society, it is tough for some people to do. But that’s exactly what I did to cure another Border Collie, my Pippy Tay, when she developed a fear of storms many years ago.
CCC is one of many ways you can help a thunder-phobic dog. I’ve used some of the following with good success, either on their own or, in Pippy Tay’s case, combined with other methods: pheromone therapy, wraps, acupuncture, acupressure, diet change and, in serious cases, medication. If your dog is afraid of storms, you’d do well to consult a behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist for assistance in choosing the method that is right for you and your dog.
Thunder Treats
Pippy and I would run outside and play ball every time a storm loomed. Pip loved ball play, and I wanted her to associate the feelings she had when fetching with a drop in barometric pressure. Once the storm rolled in, we’d go inside and I’d feed her a piece of meat every time we heard thunder, no matter how Pip was behaving. I wasn’t worried about her behavior; I was focused on the emotions inside that caused the behavior.
I even put thunder on cue. “Oh boy, Pippy, you get thunder treats!” I’d say each time we heard the thunder growl. Mind you, these words would come through clenched teeth at three in the morning, but for two summers, I chirped about thunder treats, pulled out the drawer beside the bed and fed Pip after each thunderclap. By the end of the summer, Pip stopped lacerating my face with panicked attempts to crawl inside my mouth to hide from the storm. She began to sleep through moderately loud storms, not even waking up to beg for treats when the thunder rolled. She came over to me when things got really loud, but with little of the panic she’d shown before.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should share that as Pip improved, I became conditioned in the other direction. I began to dislike storms, because even the quietest of them required that I stay awake long enough to hand Pip a treat after each thunderclap. And now that Pip is gone, it seems I’ll have to start again with Lassie. Sigh. Maybe I should give myself a piece of chocolate every time I hand a treat to Lassie!
Fear Is Contagious
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the one way you can make a fearful dog worse, and that’s by becoming scared yourself. The emotion of fear is so compelling that it is easy to spread around. “Emotional contagion” is the ethological term used to describe the viral spread of fear within a group, and it’s a common occurrence among social species. If you want your dog to be afraid of thunder, strangers or other dogs, just get scared yourself. If you’re afraid of storms, it is entirely possible that your dog will pick up on it and become more nervous.
However, if you are scared (and who isn’t sometimes?), all is not lost. You can calm things down by concentrating on your body—slowing down your breathing and your movements, changing your posture to one of confidence and relaxation, and speaking slowly and calmly (if at all). These actions have the beneficial effect of altering your own emotions as well as your dog’s. The calmer you pretend to be, the calmer you’ll actually feel.
I kept that in mind last night as I cooed, “Oh boy! Thunder treats!” and fed Lassie tasty snacks from the bedside table. I had a lot more reasons to be scared than she did—she didn’t know that the basement was flooding, the white water crashing down the hill was threatening to take out the barn, and the roads were washing away all around us. All she knew was that every thunder roll predicted a piece of chicken, and that I seemed to think it was a great game. She settled down relatively soon, but I lay awake for hours. I guess it really is time to put some chocolate in the drawer beside the bed. If, the next time they see me, friends notice that I’ve gained a lot of weight, they’ll know it’s been a stormy summer.
*Nancy Dreschel, DVM, & Douglas Granger, PhD. 2005. “Physiological and behavioral reactivity to stress in thunderstorm-phobic dogs and their caregivers,” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 95:153–168.
**J.S.J. Odendaal & R.A. Meintjes. 2003. “Neurophysiological correlates of affiliative behaviour between humans and dogs.” The Veterinary Journal 165:296-301.