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...

Dressed for the season

Prisons, punishment and puppies


The cute puppies you see on this page have a big destiny in the world. When grown and trained, they'll live in the homes of people with long-term disabilities, opening and shutting cupboards and doors, emptying the washing machine, fetching the phone, and doing other crucial chores. What's especially remarkable is that these puppies are doing most of their growing up in prison.
 It's the Puppies in Prison scheme, and I take my hat off to it. It's there to help the disabled, but it also gives prisoners a way to give to the society they've offended against. And the hope is that it will help make the prisoners into better citizens who are less likely to fall back into crime.
The scheme runs at two Auckland prisons, and may expand. Carefully chosen low-security prisoners share their self-care unit with a pup that they'll raise and train, guided by skilled trainers. At weekends, the dogs leave their prison guardians behind for socialisation in the ways of the "real" world - malls, escalators, traffic lights, crowds. The dogs are mostly large breeds such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors, because their job is going to require strength. When the puppy is 12 to 14 months old and its early training is over, it will leave to complete its training at kennels run by the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust.
The trust's general manager, Jody Hogan, told me that six months is a typical time for advanced training. The trust, formed in 2005, started with puppy raisers who socialised and trained the puppies in their own homes; now "close to 40" dogs are in service, she says.
 Then several factors came together. The trust needed more puppy raisers with plenty of time on their hands, and prisoners fitted the bill; overseas research revealed that "dogs in prison" schemes seemed to reduce recidivism; and the Corrections Department was keen to try out such a scheme. Puppies in Prisons began in 2008 at Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility, and expanded to include Spring Hill Corrections Facility - a men's prison - last month. Jody says she'd be keen to widen the scheme to a juvenile prison.
The Corrections Department tells me that the prisoners who raise puppies are those with not too much time left on their sentence and who are in transition back to life on the outside. The trust ensures that the prisoners meet someone who's living with long-term disability, so they understand what the dog is going to do, and how important their own task is. The plan is that in shaping a dog's behaviour, the prisoners think about their own behaviour; they'll be helping someone on the outside, and be connected to the achievement of something important.
Finally, they'll learn another life skill: saying goodbye. The dog will move on in its role, while the prisoner moves on in his or hers.
But the connection between prisoner and dog doesn't necessarily have to end: Jody encourages the trust's clients to write to the prisoners about how "their" dog is getting on. Once free, the prisoners might even be considered for a continuing voluntary role with the trust's dogs. "As a trust, we'll continue to support them on the outside," says Jody.
The dogs that come out of the prison scheme actually show a higher skill level than those raised in private homes, but Jody points out that prisoners ,"not to put too fine a point on it, have a lot of spare time".
Research and the fullness of time will tell us how statistically successful the scheme is. But to me, it makes a lot of intuitive sense, and I suspect a lot of dog owners will agree. Raising a dog is in itself a character-building course in mature citizenship - you take on the chores, try to form a healthy bond with the dog, then have your efforts and discipline repaid when the dog grows into a safe, well-adjusted pet that returns your commitment twofold. And a lot of dog ownership is about training and retraining yourself.  So I can see how just the regular responsibility of raising a dog could benefit certain people whose life has gone wrong and who've lost touch with the skills they need to get by. It might be no help to some people - but neither Corrections nor the trust claims the scheme is some kind of blanket cure-all.
If you still think that's all soft-headed nonsense, then look at Puppies in Prisons as restitution - people contributing something good to a society that they've hurt in some way.
Lots of people other than prisoners are working to raise and train mobility assistance dogs. These include the trust's canine trainers, the puppy raisers, and other volunteers who can't take a dog fulltime, but who might be able to have one for a period of days to help socialise it. Check out the trust - there might be a role for you.
P.S.: On the subject of dog-oriented groups that do wonders, keep an eye out in Wellington tomorrow (Friday) for street appeal collectors for Greyhounds as Pets (GAP). They'll be at the railway station, the airport and in the city centre. Take time to meet one of these beautiful hounds and help out a group that finds homes for retired racing dogs.

Pictures from the animal world

Am I just to cute for words or what? Com'n tell me...

Giant George: The Biggest Dog In The World

"The parents are real big,” the woman told me, once I’d got through and told her I was interested. “The mom is one hundred and sixty pounds, and the dad is two hundred.” And in an incredible feat of not really listening to what she was telling me (Why did that even matter? Great Danes were big dogs, weren’t they?), I took this in and then completely forgot about it, as I was more interested in jotting down all the other stuff she was telling me about which of the pups were still available for sale.

“Tell you what,” she said, “why don’t I e‑mail you a picture of them all, then you and your wife can decide which one might be suitable for you?”

Christie was understandably excited when she came home from work, particularly when she learned that the puppies were ready to leave their mother (they’d been born on November 17), and even more so when she looked at the picture. It was a real sight— a chaotic jumble of paws and snouts and tails. There were thirteen in the litter altogether. Twelve of these were entangled with one another, as young puppies tend to be, but our eyes were immediately drawn to one pup who was standing apart from the rest. He seemed the runt of the siblings, the outsider in the family, and that endeared him to Christie immediately.

He was also the perfect color. Pedigree Great Danes come in a number of shades and patterns, and the different types of marking make a real difference in the show world. There are harlequins and brindles, merles and mantles, and then the pure colors, like black and fawn and blue. If your Great Dane is a pure color, there must be no other color fur on it anywhere. None of this mattered to me in the least. A puppy was a puppy was a puppy to my mind. But to Christie, being a girl (though I wasn’t stupid enough to say that), color did matter. She had her heart set on a blue one. Happily, our little outsider was just that. In fact, he was blue as blue could be. His fur was almost the exact same steely blue as his eyes, and he had no white on him at all, which was very rare.

“Oh, Dave,” she cooed. “Look at that one! That one’s sooo cute! Let’s see if she can send a bigger picture.”

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The woman kindly obliged, sending a whole stream of photos, and she confirmed that the one we’d picked, which she called “the cute runt,” was one of the six puppies left for sale.

It seemed like an omen and we made arrangements right away for her to ship the puppy from Oregon to Phoenix by air. On the road trip up from Tucson to Phoenix— a journey of some two hours— Christie was pretty excited, and I knew, despite my initial reluctance to become a dog owner, that this had been the right thing to do. The only nagging doubt was about the timing, as I also knew that, because of our respective jobs, the day‑to‑day business of looking after our new pet would be a burden that would mostly fall on me.

Christie worked as a sales executive for a big medical equipment company, which meant she spent a lot of time on the road, visiting clients. It wasn’t the sort of situation that worked well with a puppy, since there was no way she could take him along with her. I, on the other hand, worked for myself. I was a real estate agent, buying and fixing up houses for rental, which meant I was my own boss and could do what I liked— well, at least within reason I could do what I liked. I knew Christie figured that me taking a puppy to work came under the banner of “hey, no big deal.” Personally, I wasn’t so sure about that, but this was the plan we’d agreed on, this puppy, and I knew my wife couldn’t wait to meet him. It would be just fine, I told myself, as we made our way north to pick up the newest member of our little family. “So,” said Christie, as we headed up the interstate. “What are we going to name this pup of ours?”

What to name him wasn’t something I’d given a whole lot of thought to. I was much more concerned with what we were going to do with him than with naming him. But she was excited and I knew I had to make an effort to be too. “I dunno,” I said, trying to think on the hoof. “How about something like... um... Biggie?” She laughed out loud at this— real loud. “Biggie?” she spluttered. “What kind of a mad name is that?” She shook her head. She seemed to find my suggestion funny. I didn’t think I’d ever fully understand women and their foibles. What the hell was wrong with Biggie for a dog?

“It’s a good name!” I countered, though, in truth, it really wasn’t. I imagined calling it in a park: “C’mon, Biggie! Biggie, here!” Nope. Biggie sucked. “He’ll be big,” I added anyway. “You know. He’s gonna be a big dog. So we call him Biggie. What’s wrong with that? It’s logical, isn’t it? C’mon. It is! Or, I don’t know, Fido, or Pluto? Or... hell, I don’t know!” She laughed again. “Pluto? Come on, hon. No. I think he should have a man’s name. I like dogs with men’s names.” She’d clearly decided already, I realized. “What?” I asked her. “You mean something like Richard?” She pulled a face. “No, stupid. Something more... you know. More...” She paused. “I know!” she said finally. “How about George?” “George?” “Yes. George is a cool name. You like George?”

I tried the park-calling thing again. It worked way, way better.

“George! C’mon here, George!” Yep, I thought. George I could do. “Okay,” I said. “Suits me. We’ll name him George,then, shall we?”

“Yes,” agreed Christie. “I think George is perfect— as long as he looks like a George when we see him.”

I wasn’t sure quite what set of features would indicate this, but I knew better than to waste time trying to figure it out. “Fine,” I said. “If he looks like a George, then that’s what we’ll name him.”
And at no point did either of us think—hand on heart— about how easily you could prefix that with Giant.

We’d been given a bunch of instructions for what we had to do when we arrived at the airport in Phoenix. We had to go and pick him up, apparently, from some special zone where they offload and deal with all the freight. Once we’d found the right desk and explained what we’d come for, we were escorted through many doors and along several corridors, heading right into the bowels of the airport, to a strange silent area we’d never seen before. It was here, along with a woman who was picking up a cat, that we waited for the luggage cart to arrive that would be carrying the seven-week-old puppy. The woman explained to us that she was waiting for her new pet, who was being flown in from LA, and that cats were also a big part of her working life.

“I own a pet modeling agency in Phoenix,” she told us, “so I tend to be down here quite a lot.”

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“Wow,” Christie said. “That sounds like an interesting occupation. What kinds of animals do you represent?”

“Oh, all sorts... dogs, cats, the odd reptile here and there... What are you two picking up today? A cat too?”

Christie shook her head. “Our new puppy,” she answered.
“A Great Dane.”

“Oh, good choice. I’ve got a couple on my books. Magnificent animals. And if he ever fancies strutting his stuff at anytime, here—”

She plucked a small card from her bag. “And, oh, here they are!” she added, looking beyond us. “Arrived safe and sound. Aww... so cute!”

Her crate was handed over first, with ours right behind it, but all we could see at first was a stuffed animal, a rubber bone and two dishes, one of food and one of water. But then, behind all that, cowering on a crumpled gray blanket, was the puppy we’d decided to make ours. Christie opened the crate door and reached in to lift him out. He was just seventeen pounds and clearly terrified. What a journey it must have been for such a tiny animal! How must it have been for him, not only to have left his mother but then to be stuffed into a crate and put in the hold of an aircraft? We figured they must have heat— at that altitude, the animals would surely die if they didn’t— but even so, it must have been one hell of an ordeal for him, all alone up there, probably in the dark.

He was no more than a tiny trembling ball of peach- fuzz blue fur, with four comically large paws at each corner. It must have been almost like a second birth, of sorts. Blinking in the harsh glare of the fluorescent airport lighting, he teetered to a standing position on our outstretched hands and moved his head slowly from side to side, taking in the wonder of it all. Then, finally, as if having weighed us up and finding us okay, he tentatively snouted forward and gave Christie her first lick. We agreed he was the cutest little thing either of us had ever seen. And he was ours now. “So,” I asked Christie, as she cooed at him and petted him, “what’s the verdict? Does he look like a George?”

She paused in her stroking and considered him for a moment, tilting her head to one side. “Hmm,” she said thoughtfully. “I need to look carefully. Let me see, now...” The puppy looked back at her, bewildered.

“You know what?” she said finally. “He does. He really does.” So that was that. George he would be.

We topped up his water bowl and placed him back in his crate for the long journey home, but not before the woman, who’d just done the same with her new kitten, had a chance to have a quick stroke as well.

“He’s gorgeous,” she agreed with us. “Absolutely gorgeous. And I tell you what,” she added, “big paws.”

Naturally, this didn’t mean a lot to us. All we could see was this cute little puppy. Who knew that one day he’d be doing what she’d suggested— strutting his stuff for the whole world to see? Right now he just looked plain old bewildered. Once we got back to the car, Christie changed her mind about George traveling home in the crate on the backseat. She decided he’d probably had enough of being stuck in a tiny box, and would much prefer to sit up front with his new mom.
“I’ll travel with him on my lap,” she announced, and that was exactly what she did. She pulled him out of the crate again, cooing at him all the time and stroking him really gently, and soon his trembling began to stop. In fact, by the time we had reached the outskirts of Phoenix, he’d evidently started feeling so at home with his new mom that he decided to mark his territory.

“Guess what,” Christie said, as we reached the big highway, “little George here appears to have peed in my lap.”

We both laughed, of course, because, well, it was pretty funny. But I also couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “Here we go...” Everything that had worried me about becoming a dog owner would now, quite possibly, come true. I didn’t say that, though, because I didn’t want to be a killjoy. Two were now three. We were committed.

Pet Stores In LA Will Be Required To Sell Only Rescues If City Council Motion Passes

Pet Stores In LA Will Be Required To Sell Only Rescues If City Council Motion Passes

The cute puppy and kitten faces peering out from Los Angeles malls and storefronts could soon all be rescues. The LA City Council Tuesday voted 11-1 in favor of banning stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that are not rescues.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who sponsored the motion, explained to The Huffington Post that the measure is in large part in response to the problems caused by puppy and kitten mills. "Puppy mill dogs are kept in horrible, inhumane conditions. Puppies and kittens, in the case of kitten mills, often end up with severe health problems and sometimes behavioral problems," he said. "They also make worse the problem of an overabundance of animals and the euthanasia of hundreds of thousands of animals," he added.

He speaks from personal experience. Koretz's own Bichon Frise died due to an illness he believes was caused by conditions at the puppy mill that sold him the dog. "I've always been an animal lover," Koretz said to HuffPost. For him, the measure is a "win win win win" on many levels: fighting animal cruelty, reduction in overpopulation and ending euthanization.

The measure is part of an effort to increase adoptions as one step in a multi-pronged effort to make LA a "no kill city." "So many people have a stigma and don’t want to go to a shelter," the councilman's staff person Jeff Ebenstein told HuffPost. "They think they're dirty and unpleasant. But if the animals are in malls or storefronts, I have to imagine that the adoption numbers will go up."

Ebenstein added that if an Angeleno wanted a particular breed not available as a rescue, he or she could still turn to breeders. "We don’t want to attack breeders. As long as you have sanitary humane conditions, you're not a puppy mill and you're licensed with one of the reputable organizations, you'll be fine," he said.

In addition to this attempt to increase adoptions, Koretz's office is working with nonprofits to offer mobile low-cost spay and neutering and to increase pet micro-chipping so that lost pets can be returned to owners, Ebenstein said. Also, earlier this year, Koretz worked with state officials to allow Angelenos to license their pets online at

The measure will be drafted by the City Attorney's office into an ordinance, which will go before the council for another vote and then to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's desk. Councilman Koretz told HuffPost he is confident that it will be signed into law by the Mayor in three to six months.

Meet George, the world’s largest dog

There’s no way around it, George is a big boy.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the 6-1/2-year-old Great Dane is the tallest dog in the world. And now he is famous too. After appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Live! With Regis and Kelly,” George will star in owner Dave Nasser’s book “Giant George: Life With the World’s Biggest Dog,” out April 10.

But as this colossal canine reveals to the Daily News — through his owner and spokesman — fame means little to George, who prefers afternoon naps at his Arizona home, barking at the UPS deliveryman, and chicken and rice dinners.

Honestly, George, how big are you?

I’m 43 inches at the shoulder, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. On doctor’s orders, I have lost some weight recently. I probably weigh around 230 pound. Typically, Great Danes weigh closer to 140 pounds. So I’m big but not fat. I’m long and lean. And while I’m getting up there in years, I’m still in really good shape right now. However, anything can happen with a dog my size. Let’s say I break a foot — there is almost nothing you can do, because you can’t pick me up to go to the bathroom.

What does a dog of your stature eat?

I eat pretty much the same thing every day. It’s a mixture of chicken, rice, dog food and yogurt. Sometimes I’ll get a tablespoon of canned dog food as well for flavor. Great Danes can have sensitive stomachs, so it’s best if I eat the same diet all the time. But I eat a lot. Every meal I eat two cups of rice, one cup of dog food, three quarters of a cup of chicken, and then four or five tablespoons of yogurt. That’s about 180 pounds of food a month, 110 of which is the dry dog food.

Do you have a girlfriend, George?

Not anymore. I used to have a girlfriend name Bella. She was a Labrador. She broke my heart. We are no longer an item.

That’s too bad. You could find a new girlfriend in New York City. Have you ever been?

I came to New York when we did the “Live! With Regis and Kelly” show. I loved it. I had a whole row on the airplane, all five seats. Plus, they put us in a hotel that was two blocks from Central Park, and every time I went to the park, everyone wanted to pet me and take pictures.

Do you have any enemies?

The UPS driver near my home in Arizona is my nemesis. I hear that low-pitch rumble of the truck from miles away and I start barking. I have a very deep, loud bark and it can absolutely be intimidating, but I’ve been seeing that UPS guy for five years now and he is used to it.

A lot of people think big dogs are dumb. Thoughts?

I know I’m not a poodle, but I’m very intelligent. That might be surprising but I have at least a 50-word vocabulary. My owners have to talk in code and spell words out because I understand exactly what they are saying. Here are a few of the words that I know: dog park, dog leash, golf cart, food and chicken.

What do people say when they see you for the first time?

I hear the same things all the time. There’s, “You’ve got to get a saddle for that thing.” Or, “Is that a dog or a horse?” It was funny in the beginning, but now I’ve heard it hundreds of times and it is just boring. One of the downsides of being a big dog is that sometimes people are afraid of me. People will see me and often switch sides of the street.

Where do you sleep?

I used to sleep in my owner’s bed but I grew too big and now I have my own queen-size bed.


“Giant George: Life With the World’s Biggest Dog,” by Dave Nasser with Lynne Barrett-Lee, Grand Central Publishing, $24.99.

Organza and Bowties for Puppy Wedding

What could be better on a weekday morning than going to a bridal shop for a fitting with two dogs that are about to get married? You're right: very little.

Piper, a black Chihuahua, does a trick for her entourage before being fitted for a doggy bridal gown.

In mid-May, at Twenty Four Fifth, a Pomeranian named Boo will take a Chihuahua named Piper as his blushing bride. The wedding is meant to bring awareness to animal adoption; it will benefit the North Shore Animal League America and Waggytail Rescue. The officiator? A radio personality named Valerie Smaldone, since apparently Cesar Milan was not available.

As anyone who has been married, is on the verge of getting married, or has watched "Father of the Bride" knows, there is a lot of preparation that goes into a wedding, even if the bride and groom are small canines. On a recent morning, Piper and Boo, their owners and their entourages headed to Kleinfeld to check out dresses and tuxedoes. The whole situation was very reality-show ready, but of course Kleinfeld already has one of those. "Say Yes to the Dress" was filming in the basement.

Piper receives a veil she will wear to the wedding ceremony, which is meant to bring awareness to animal adoption and will benefit the North Shore Animal League America and Waggytail Rescue.

There wasn't much time for tail wagging at this bridal mecca. Appointments would follow immediately downtown to discuss various wedding elements like the nuptial cake—it will be in the shape of a biscuit—and catering, which would be totally vegetarian. The wedding will be nondenominational, said Dawn Strain, the mother of the bride and the president of a company called DJS Events, and Piper and Boo will bark "I do" under a canopy that looks like a doghouse. With weddings these days, she explained, "You have to be much more creative."

Has Piper started shopping for a trousseau? "What is a trousseau?" asked Ms. Strain.

Orfeh, who owns Boo, and Dawn Strain, who owns Piper, a Pomeranian male who will be wedded to Piper next month.

Will the bride and groom do their first dance to "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baha Men? "That's funny," responded Orfeh, Boo's mother, an actress and singer who was nominated for a Tony for her portrayal of Paulette, the manicurist/confidante in the musical "Legally Blonde."

The honeymoon for the dogs and their mothers will take place in Bal Harbour, Fla.

Piper and Boo became friends through their owners, passionate animal lovers who met on the benefit circuit. The dogs have had playdates for the last two years, which, said Ms. Strain, "is a lifetime for dogs." Piper lives in Queens; Boo lives in Manhattan. It all sounded very "Moonstruck."

So: Has the relationship been consummated?

"Well, they're both fixed, but in their fantasy it has been," said Orfeh. Piper, she warned, might need to get used to Boo's wandering eye. "It won't be a consummated cheat, but there will be a lot of sniffing going on. He's obsessed with Yorkies. He'll follow them around the street." Piper, via Ms. Strain, seemed to be OK with that.

It was time to move into the bridal salon, where Piper and Boo sat on a long couch and quietly and patiently waited to be shown their outfits. Champagne was passed out to everyone, including the brushing bride. "She likes to sneak a few sips," said Ms. Strain.

Tailoring a dress for a dog "is a pain," said Ronnie Rothstein, a co-owner of Kleinfeld. "It takes as much time as a regular dress." Mr. Rothstein estimated that wedding attire for a dog can cost around $1,500; a typical bridal gown for a grown woman is $4,500. "If one of our girls is fanatical about it, we'll do it. Unless it's a big German shepherd."

"A lot of women walk down the aisle with children now," Mr. Rothstein went on. "And if they don't have the baby, they have the dog."

The first thing that was brought for Piper and Boo to try on was a pair of collars. Instead of rings, that's what they will be exchanging. The collars will classify as "something new." Bailey, a Shih Tzu that belongs to Ms. Strain's publicist, Diane Terman, will be the "collar bearer." "Do we need a certain kind of tray to bring the collar out on?" asked Ms. Terman.

"That's something to think about," said Ms. Strain.

At that point, Vera Skenderis, the Greek-born alterations manager at Kleinfeld, brought out the human version of the dress Piper will be wearing so everyone could take a gander. Made of organza with a satin lining, it was designed by the furrier Dennis Basso and will be, of course, adjusted to petite animal size.

"I think it's a beautiful style for the doggy, especially with the ruffle at the bottom," said Ms. Skenderis. "It's classic bride looking. Very happy and fresh."

"It's the hottest dress around," Mr. Rothstein chimed in. "It fits over the hips, the tummies, the tush. Every girl puts that dress on and feels fabulous."

When Ms. Skenderis put Piper in a temporary veil, Boo started to bark. "Maybe he's saying, 'Where's mine? Where's mine?'" said Ms. Skenderis, who removed a tuxedo off of a children's mannequin and placed the bowtie and vest onto Boo. "Look at how beautiful you're going to look. Isn't it nice? You look so handsome."

Ms. Skenderis obviously had the act on how to talk to Bridezillas and their future hubbies down pat. But that comes from years of practice. "At least the dogs don't complain," she said.

Distracted by dogs? Rhode Island may ban pets from drivers' laps

We know it's not advisable to drive with the family dog strapped to the top of the car -- just ask Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner who recently drew the ire of animal lovers for sharing an anecdote about doing so decades ago. But, in Rhode Island at least, it may soon be illegal to drive with a dog on one's lap.
The state is considering such a ban to crack down on distracted drivers. The Providence Journal reported Monday that Rep. Peter G. Palumbo, a Democrat from Cranston, submitted the bill to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration after a constituent told him of her concerns after seeing a dog in the front seat of another driver's car at a busy intersection.
The bill proposes an $85 fine for first offenses, a $100 fine for second offenses and a $125 fine for subsequent offenses.
The bill was driven -- not just by the constituent's concerns -- but by the results of a 2010 survey by AAA. That survey found that an unrestrained dog in one's lap while driving is far more distracting than most people realize.
According to the survey, 21% of respondents admitted letting a dog sit in their laps while they drove; 7% said they'd given their dog food or water while driving, and 5% had played with the pup while the car moved. Thirty-one percent admitted to being distracted by their dog while driving, no matter where the dog spent the journey.
The online survey was based on answers from 1,000 dog owners who had driven with their dogs in the previous year. Beth Mosher, an AAA spokeswoman, said preventing a dog from running loose in a moving vehicle is better for the dog, as well as humans, in the event of a sudden stop or accident.
Several states have laws requiring that animals traveling in "open" areas of a vehicle, such as the back of a pickup truck (or the roof of the car?) be restrained; but according to, none has laws banning animals from running loose inside a vehicle. That may soon change, based on such things as the AAA study, the concerns of dogless drivers, and cases such as the one in South Dakota in 2010 -- in which a woman was pulled over for having 15 cats loose in her car.
The case made it all the way to the state's Supreme Court, which ruled against the woman, Patricia Edwards, and concluded that officials were right to stop her and impound the cats because they posed a risk to public safety.
As Chief Justice David Gilbertson wrote at the time: "Because of the cats in the back window, Edwards failed to see the patrol car behind her and nearly backed into it," Imagine if there had been a child on a bicycle instead of a patrol car there, he said.
Tennessee also is considering a ban on driving with a dog in your lap. And California lawmakers actually passed such a bill into law in 2008, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
A poll being run by the Providence Journal, however, suggests that Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support the ban. Of 380 people responding to the online poll, 74.5% favored such a law; 25.5% opposed it.

Remembering the dogs aboard the Titanic

Tanya Mohn writes

For the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, just about every aspect of the storied liner – from safety issues to class differences among passengers – is being explored, analyzed and celebrated.

But little attention is being given to another group of Titanic travelers: the dogs that made the voyage.

A new exhibit at the Widener University Art Gallery, in Chester, Pa., that opened Tuesday hopes to change that by including stories of the dogs and their owners who sailed on the Titanic, said J. Joseph Edgette, professor emeritus of education and folklorist emeritus at Widener University, who produced and curated the exhibit.

 “I wanted to include things that people don’t normally run across,” Edgette said, noting that there were no Titanic-related exhibits that he was aware of that focused on the famed ocean liner’s canine passengers.

“Everybody knows about the iceberg, how the ship went down, and the heroic stories, but it doesn’t go beyond that, yet there are hundreds of other aspects that we need to give attention to,” said Edgette, who based much of his findings on eyewitness accounts of the evacuation, ship’s records and his own research. “Until recently, most scholarship has not covered the dogs.”

Twelve dogs set sail on the Titanic, according to Edgette, although other researchers have come up with differing accounts. Only three survived, he said.

Those that were saved included a baby Pomeranian, owned by Margaret Hays of New York City, who kept the puppy in the cabin with her, Edgette said. When passengers were evacuated, Hays wrapped it in a blanket. Crew members allowed her to get in a lifeboat with the puppy.

Others that lived were Sun Yat-sen, a Pekinese belonging to Henry and Myra Harper (of Harper & Row publishing fame), also of New York City, and a small Pomeranian owned by Elizabeth Rothschild from Watkins Glen, N.Y.

All surviving dogs were small and were kept in the first-class cabins of their owners, Edgette said.

Two of the dogs that perished were owned by William Carter, a coal magnate. Carter’s children were worried about their pets, but their father assured them the dogs were safe and encouraged his children to get in the lifeboats, Edgette said. The family survived, and later received insurance reimbursement from Lloyds of London in the amount of $100 for daughter Lucy’s King Charles spaniel and $200 for son Billy’s Airedale.

Other dogs that died included two Airedales, one named Kitty, owned by John Jacob Astor IV and his wife, and a fox terrier owned by William Dulles, an attorney from Philadelphia.

The exhibit features photos – some authentic, some representative -- of the dogs and their owners. One photo depicts a group of dogs tied to the rail on the Titanic’s deck, which perished, and another shows crew members walking several dogs.

In addition to the dogs, the exhibit focuses on several Philadelphia-area families who sailed on the Titanic, including the Widener family, for whom Widener University is named. Three Widener family members sailed on the Titanic, but only one survived.

The exhibit also includes displays about the company that built the Titanic, details about the ship, information about the recovery of bodies after the sinking, how local families memorialized members who lost their lives after the tragedy, as well as Titanic’s impact on popular culture.

Free and open to the public, the exhibit runs through May 12.

Correction: In an earlier version of this post, we published several photos from a Widener University Art Gallery exhibit that depict dogs who sailed on the Titanic. has learned some images featured on our story and in the exhibit are not authentic, but rather were intended as representations of the breeds on board. Rebecca Warda, collections manager at the gallery, said the exhibit will be updated with signs clearly indicating which images are historically accurate and which are representations.

Schumer pushes to speed up military dog adoptions

By VERENA DOBNIK Associated PressAssociated Press

Posted: 04/15/2012 01:47:58 PM PDT

NEW YORK—Sen. Charles Schumer wants to speed up adoptions for retired combat dogs after helping an ex-Marine corporal reunite with the German Shepherd wounded with her in Iraq.

Schumer held a celebration Sunday in his Manhattan office for "Sergeant Rex" and former Cpl. Megan Leavey, who spent years fighting for permission to take the aging dog home.

"They performed the most dangerous job in the military," the New York Democrat said of Leavey's mission in Iraq, which entailed using the highly-trained dog to identify roadside explosives.

The pair saved "countless" lives, Schumer said.

Both were badly injured on a patrol in 2006. With 11-year-old Rex in declining health, the senator said time was crucial.

On Sunday, while Rex barked happily at news cameras, Schumer presented the 28-year-old ex-Marine with more than 21,000 signatures from people who had urged military officials to release the dog to Leavey.

After she retired in 2007 with a Purple Heart, Rex kept working.

She'd been trying to adopt the dog but was stymied by bureaucracy until she asked Schumer to intervene.

The senator supports a bill that would speed up retired military dog adoptions, introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The legislation would reclassify dogs from "equipment" to "canine members of the armed forces," while allowing the military to accept travel benefits and coordinate veterinary care with an outside not-for-profit agency.

The bill would also ensure that "excessed" dogs cannot be abandoned in a war zone as equipment, with no way home, Schumer said.

Since 2000, it has been illegal for the military to euthanize any working dog that is considered adoptable.

There are currently 2,700 dogs on active duty in the U.S. military.

Of the 444 that left in 2011, 52 were transferred to other government or law enforcement agencies and 276 were privately adopted, according to an Air Force report. The other 116 died while on active duty, some of natural causes and others euthanized for debilitating illness or because they were too dangerous for adoption.

Rex was retired when he turned 10 and was deemed unable to work.

He arrived Tuesday from Camp Pendleton, the Marine base in California, and now romps through Leavey's backyard in Rockland County, north of New York City.

After not seeing Rex for four years, Leavey was afraid he wouldn't remember her. "But it was like I'd seen him yesterday," she said. "The bond that we have is incredible."

In the senator's office, Rex rolled onto his back, paws in the air, chomping on a stuffed toy.

Schumer gave him some bipartisan dog biscuits—one bag with elephants, the other donkeys, because the Marine pair "saved us all, Republicans and Democrats, and we thought Rex would be happy munching on both," the senator joked.

The combat dog also got a rubber yellow cab, "so he won't have to chase New York taxis!"
Handler and dog have both healed and Leavey now works for a New York private security firm, handling dogs.