One dogs contem....contemp....con-tem..pla-tions on daily life........oh, stop rolling your eyes already and give me break, I'm a dog, for Gods sakes...

Inmates find training dogs brings out their softer side

CHARLESTON, Mo. • Derek Holmes takes seriously his role as dog handler. The Southeast Correctional Center offender recently purchased the "Dog Bible."

The canine reference book aids Holmes and his cellmate and fellow dog handler, Ricky Kidd, in adjusting the training of their chihuahua mix, Lil' Bill, to meet the needs of the dog training program, Puppies for Parole.

In September, Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston became the ninth prison in Missouri to implement the program, which offers selected offenders an opportunity to train dogs rescued from animal shelters and animal advocate groups. The Charleston prison's partnering agency is the Caruthersville Humane Society. Offenders learn skills that assist in their rehabilitation, and their work ultimately produces dogs that are more adoptable.

"I think it's so important when the dogs go into a home and they are already equipped with basic fundamentals," Kidd said.

Using a 10-point system, all dogs are trained in basic obedience and tested for the Canine Good Citizen Award. The dogs are with the offenders for a minimum of eight weeks. "Achieving some of these results takes time — time many people don't have," Holmes said.

But Holmes and Kidd and other offender/handlers incarcerated in Missouri's correctional centers do have the time.

Three prisons joined the program after Charleston, and George Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, said he expects two more in the next couple months for a total of 14 of the state's 20 prisons.

"We're about to adopt out our 200th dog, which is just amazing since it did start Feb. 1 a year ago," Lombardi said. "That's when the first dogs walked into the Jefferson City Correctional Center..."

The program has fostered good relationships with the communities, Lombardi said.

"It has been a benefit to the counties and the areas that instead of euthanizing dogs were able to adopt out these really good pets and made a lot of difference," Lombardi said.

He noted the programs are being implemented without the use of tax dollars.

Lombardi said he hopes eventually to engage universities to gauge the impact efficacy of the program in terms of inmate behavior.

Dog apps


Mon Mar 7, 2011 6:55am EST

(Reuters) - Need a dog groomer? Looking for a trainer or nearby park? A new iPhone application provides canine information and also functions as a dog's ID and medical and insurance cards.

The "My Dog" app allows dog owners to create and share a personalized profile of their dogs, similar to Facebook, according to its creator.

Holger Laufenberg, the California-based designer of the app, said the idea for it came after his terrier mix, Dax, went missing.

"A panic struck me, and I started calling all the vets, all the shelters. Over and over again, I was asked the same questions about the kind of dog, its medications, that sort of thing," said Laufenberg.

"I thought it was crazy, and that there must be some better way to do this," the 49 year-old former ad executive added.

The profile includes a picture, description, information about the dog's owner and emergency contact information, as well as details on vaccinations and medical history.

The data about the dog can be emailed or uploaded to a user's Facebook or Twitter account.

"We wanted to create something that allows any dog owner to have all the information needed at their fingertips at all times," Laufenberg said. "We all run around with our smart phones, which allow us to communicate, and we have to take advantage of it."

The app can also serve as a dog-travel guide with listings of services such as dog-friendly hotels and parks, the pet rules of U.S.-based airlines and rail services.

"I live in California, but my dogs go where I go. Sometimes I need to find day care centres to put them, or need a sitter or to show vaccination records. Now I have all that with me," he said.

A directory of dog services, which contains around 38,000 listings, such as trainers, pet photographers, funerary services, or rescue services can be searched by area code.

Currently, the directory has listings in 220 metropolitan areas across 50 states. The app's travel functions are more focused on larger metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles or New York.

Canine Corner: Good tips for responsible dog ownership

The opening of the splendid new dog park in Naples will bring pleasure to thousands of dogs, their owners and families over the years to come, so it is indeed appropriate that it opened days ago as we just passed “Responsible Dog Ownership Month” — who decides these things anyway?

Dogs need order and leadership from their “pack leader,” which means that good canine manners start with you, and so I now list some good tips for responsible dog ownership.

Making the decision to become a dog owner brings a lot of responsibility and these tips will help you build a great relationship between you and your dog and help your canine companion live a long, healthy and happy life.

• Get your dog spayed or neutered. Spayed/neutered pets not only live longer and healthier lives, but they also make better companions. The best age to spay/neuter a dog is around five to six months old, at the beginning of puberty. Talk to your vet about the right time for your dog.

• Provide proper identification. Your dog should always wear an I.D. tag with your name, address and phone number. Getting your dog microchipped gives an added layer of protection and increases the chances that he will be returned to you if he is lost or runs away.

• Get training to help you understand your dog. Knowing your dog’s unique temperament and tendencies will help you to better control how he behaves. A well-behaved dog is less likely to upset people and other pets in public places, will be more welcome at gatherings, and will enjoy a better relationship with everyone he meets. Plus, his good manners will reflect positively on you, his responsible owner.

• Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Choose a veterinarian who shares your medical philosophies and beliefs; then follow his/her recommendations for vaccinations, diet, spaying/neutering, annual check-ups, and other care. Naples is particularly blessed as it is home to some of the best vets in the country.

• Make time for your dog. Owning a dog is a big responsibility that takes time and discipline. Make time daily to pet, play with, take on walks, or do other activities with your dog that are fun for both of you.

• Provide regular exercise appropriate for your dog’s breed, age, size, and other unique characteristics. Whether it’s a short walk or a rousing game of fetch, exercise is essential to your dog’s physical and behavioral health.

• Provide shelter for your dog. A crate or doghouse is an ideal place for your dog to rest, sleep, and feel safe. The enclosure should be large enough for your dog to sit, stand and turn around comfortably, and many dogs like their crates (dens) much more than their owners might think.

• Travel safely. Keep your dog safe in the car by using a crate or by attaching the dog to a seat belt with a harness. Never let your dog ride free in the back of a pickup truck (he could be thrown into traffic) or allow him to hang his head out of the car window (a danger to his eyes).

• Watch for temperature extremes. Never leave your dog in the car if it is extremely hot as it is like an oven under the blazing sun, or like a freezer in the bitter cold (if you venture north).

Owner of Dog Killed by San Leandro Police Canine Still Waiting for Answers

Adam Lovell, who owned the deceased dog, has yet to receive results from the police department's internal investigation of the incident.

By Jill Replogle
Email the author
March 7, 2011

Two months after his pet dog Chloe was attacked by an off-duty San Leandro Police dog, Adam Lovell is still waiting for answers: Why did it happen? And how does the department plan to prevent a similar incident in the future?

"I'm not doing anything until [the police department] decides what they're doing from their investigation," Lovell said when asked whether he planned to sue the City of San Leandro over the incident. However, Lovell may not get his answers.

The San Leandro Police Department has concluded its internal investigation of the incident, according to Lt. Jeff Tudor. However, the department won't be releasing the results to the public, which is standard practice in personnel investigations, Tudor said.

He declined to say whether the department would make any changes regarding its handling of police dogs as a result of the incident.

Lovell's dog Chloe, a Finnish spitz, was attacked by the SLPD dog, a German shepherd named Arago, while both dogs were being walked on a trail near Brentwood the day after Christmas, 2010. Police dogs are assigned to specific officers, who generally board the dogs at their homes.

Tudor said police dogs are "essentially that [officer]’s pet when they’re off duty."

Officers selected to be canine handlers sign contracts outlining their duties in terms of caring for and handling the assigned dog, Tudor said. These duties include "basically having control and maintaining control of the dog on and off duty," Tudor said.

When the attack on Lowell's dog occurred, the wife and mother-in-law of officer Kevin Hackl, who boarded Arago, were walking the dog on leash on a trail near their home. Lovell said he had Chloe on a leash when he crossed paths with the group.

Lovell said he was walking with his body between Chloe and the two women when Arago broke free of his handler and attacked Chloe, locking his jaw onto the smaller dog's hindside. Lovell said one of the women yelled, "I can't control him."

Lovell took his dog to an emergency veterinarian, who stitched up the wounds and sent her home the following day. The next day, however, Chloe died. The vet told Lovell the dog died from trauma, Lovell said.

Lovell said he requested the incident report from Contra Costa County Animal Services last week, but was told it would take a few weeks, even though an SLPD officer who took a statement from Lovell over a month ago had a copy of the report at the time. Animal Services was closed on Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Everything's just in their favor," Lovell said.

Lt. Tudor declined to say whether or not the dog attack involved a violation of the department's policy regarding the handling of police canines, but said the department was evaluating measures to avoid a similar tragedy in the future. "It was an unfortunate incident, and we’re working to make sure this doesn’t happen again," Tudor said.

Arago is still on the job.

Canine Heroes: US Dogs Search for Survivors in Japan Devastation

Tori Richards Contributor

LOS ANGELES -- Baxter, Pearl, Cadillac, Hunter, Riley and Joe -- these are four-legged members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department searching for survivors in the debris of quake-ravaged Japan. Whether it's an earthquake, flood, hurricane or bombing, the team travels the world looking for the living among tons of rubble.
Along with their counterparts from the Fairfax County, Va., Urban Search and Rescue Team, the dogs and their handlers make up the only federally mandated search teams dispatched to international disasters to look for survivors.

Fairfax County Government

Urban Search and Rescue Team dogs from Fairfax County, Va., are part of federally mandated search teams that look for survivors of international disasters.

"I've seen some pretty gnarly stuff," L.A. Fire Engineer Jason Vasquez, who works with a German shepherd named Maverick, told AOL News. "We search night and day in buildings that might collapse at any minute, [and] through these huge piles of concrete and metal that are extremely dangerous.
"For the handler, it's a pretty stressful situation being so far from home. But the dogs -- they don't know the difference between a block away and 2,000 miles away," he said.
Vasquez is one of two handlers who stayed behind in Los Angeles in case a disaster happens here. He just returned from working the New Zealand earthquake and has also been to the 2010 quake in Haiti and the 2008 hurricanes Ike and Gustav.
The Los Angeles team arrived in Japan on Saturday in a chartered jet carrying tons of supplies and backup personnel such as paramedics and doctors.
"We come totally self-contained. We bring our own food, water, medicine and supplies," Vasquez said. "Dog food too."
The Fairfax team arrived Monday. The two teams set up camp in a school gymnasium, sleeping on cots. They started work this morning in the northern city of Ofunato. The tsunami flattened this area of 42,000 people, leaving behind miles of debris looking like oversized matchsticks where buildings once stood.
It would seem like an impossible task: finding a live person among tons of wreckage. But the dogs' keen sense of smell and hearing can quickly zero in on their target. They are trained to dismiss the carnage and devastation -- to bypass any corpse and ignore the urge to consume any food or water they may come across in their quest to find a living person.
"We train them to leave a piece of steak that they might find, and they take water only from us," Vasquez said.

Tsunami Relief: Network for Good
The dogs train for a solid year before they are paired with a handler. Many of the animals are rescued from shelters, and all become beloved family pets, living with their human counterparts. Maverick was donated to the program from a woman in New Mexico who thought his high spirits would make him a great search dog.
"He's amazing -- only one of two shepherds that are used," Vasquez said. "Most of the dogs are Labradors."
Vasquez and Maverick worked in Haiti last year, where the dog found survivors buried 20 feet deep in concrete. He burrowed his way into holes and crevices too small for Vasquez, and traversed areas too precarious for humans to walk.
Upon locating a survivor, Maverick will stand by the area and bark. Upon finding the survivor underground, Maverick returned to Vasquez at ground level and barked outside the location.

Whenever the dogs succeed in locating a victim, they are rewarded with a toy to keep them motivated. For Maverick, it's an old 8-inch piece of fire hose with a string attached so he can play tug of war. After a brief break, it's back to work.
Searching is stressful, and initially the teams work 12-hour days. However, by the fifth day, the hours are cut to eight.
"I can tell he's not as peppy," Vasquez said. "I know he's getting tired."
If too many hours go by and the dogs don't find survivors, they tend to lose interest. So the handlers will cover up a colleague with debris and let the dog "find" the person.
No doubt about it, this is tough work. Cuts, scrapes and dehydration are part of the job. The team doctor will stitch up the dogs for cuts right along with their handlers, or give them both intravenous fluids if needed.
"As firefighters, you know what you are going to see and how hard you will work -- they just take it a step further," said Fairfax Fire Capt. Willie Bailey. "If they couldn't handle it, they wouldn't do it."
Once back home, the dogs revert to being a member of the family. Maverick -- who is all business while working and doesn't like to be petted or given treats -- is a lovable companion to Vasquez's two children, ages 1 and 3.
"He's the pet. He likes snacks and is great with my kids," Vasquez said. "He's a very loving dog."

Canine influenza now afflicting dogs in 34 states

Last week I mentioned the canine influenza virus which presents a serious threat to the health of dogs nationwide. This new virus evolved from equine influenza and first appeared in 2004 among racing greyhounds in Florida. Since then it has been transmitted to dogs in 34 states. Anyone planning to board their dogs, take them to obedience classes or other social events, should take the time to read an excellent article on the subject put out by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The article is entitled Control of Canine Influenza in Dogs and can be found by simply entering “info on canine influenza” on your internet browser. Since dogs have no natural immunity to the disease, you should talk to your veterinarian about having your pet vaccinated and what precautions to take to guard your pet against infection. Although dogs cannot transmit the virus to human, humans can transmit the virus to dogs. So please, for your pet’s sake, read the article and consult your veterinarian.

Why dogs dig and how to stop it

American Kennel Club

Have you planted your spring plants only to find that your dog has made a minefield out of your yard? The American Kennel Club notes that while certain breeds, terriers in particular, tend to dig more because it's in their genes, dogs dig as an outlet for frustration when they are left alone outside in the backyard. Digging provides something to do when an active, intelligent dog is bored out of his mind.

"Dogs dig for a number of reasons," said AKC Canine Good Citizen Director and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Mary Burch. "It is a common issue that dog owners face, but it can be fixed with a little time and planning."

Burch offers the following tips on why your dog is digging and how to help him stop.

What You Can Do

-Providing mental stimulation through daily play and training sessions is the best thing you can do for a bored dog. The AKC Canine Good Citizen program is a great place to start by teaching your dog how to sit and stay down on command.

-Try making a digging pit in your yard that is basically an acceptable place for your dog to dig. Burying bones or favorite toys will help your dog learn that this place is an approved area.

-When it is hot outside, dogs will dig to try and expose cool earth for them to lay on and lower their body temperature. You can avoid this by bringing your dog inside so that he doesn't have to handle the heat on his own when it is very warm out. If you don't want to give your dog access to your whole house while you're gone, designate a climate controlled area with water and toys for your pooch to stay.