A Little Breathing Room for the Pekingese
The United Kingdom’s 135-year-old Kennel Club announced it will review of the breed standards for every pedigree dog due to concerns that these ideals are contributing to serious health problems. (First up, reevaluating the flat face standard for the Pekingese, which makes breathing difficult.)
The decision, which has been long in coming, was essentially forced on the club after a BBC documentary in August ("Pedigree Dogs Exposed") cataloged severe illness, pain, discomfort, disability and deformities in purebred dogs -- including champions. As a result of these revelations, the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) withdrew support for the Kennel Club’s crowning dog show, Crufts, and BBC was reconsidering its role in the event. These developments succeeded in capturing the attention of breeders and judges, where struggling dogs had apparently failed.
The next question: What are they thinking over at the American Kennel Club?
Greatest American Dog
No doubt all of us think we have the greatest American dog. I certainly do! If you'd like to watch other people and their pooches publicly vie for the official title, check out CBS's new reality game show, "Greatest American Dog." It debuts this Thursday, July 10, at 8/7pm central. Tillman the English Bulldog looks like a seriously awesome contender!
The first time I saw a Bulldog skateboard on Animal Planet's "Pet Star," I thought it was truly unique. Since then, I've seen several more skateboarding Bulldogs. What is it about this breed that makes them so good at it? As Tillman's owner says, he's "like a Lab in the shape of a pot roast." Does it have more to do with their easygoing nature and their willingness to people please? I'd love to hear your theories!
Julia Kamysz Lane
Reward or Ransom For Lost Dog?
I'll never forget that horrible day when Jetta's new owner called to tell me that she was missing. We had fostered the beautiful German shepherd for a local rescue group and grown very attached to her. On the very day of the adoption, a friend came over to visit and left the front door open just long enough for Jetta to bolt. Thankfully, someone suggested I contact Sherlock Bones, an experienced pet detective, and he helped us take immediate action. Within hours, we got Jetta back safe and sound.
Since we were a nonprofit rescue group, Sherlock Bones didn't charge us for his services. I will always be grateful for his generosity. He told us that it was important to scrape together whatever we could to offer as a specific reward on our flyers because that got everybody -- even people who didn't like dogs -- keeping an eye out for her.
Apparently, Bert Clark of Canada received similar advice. The distraught dog lover offered a $15,000 reward for the safe return of his beloved chocolate Lab, Huckleberry. Clark scoffed at a reporter's suggestion that his reward was "excessive." (I think all of us who read Bark would agree!) Soon thereafter, he got his dog back, but questions remain as to whether Huckleberry was dogknapped and the reward was actually a ransom.
Lost in all of the drama over the reward money is the fact that the dog walker left Huckleberry alone outside a cafe while she went inside for "five minutes" to grab something to eat. If a dog were left in my charge -- and I made a living at it -- you better believe that pup would never leave my sight. Now that Huckleberry is safe, I wouldn't be surprised if Clark tells the dog walker to get lost.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Woman Wants Ex's Dog To Be "Axed"
Last night, Anderson Cooper -- reporting live from New Orleans -- and his in-studio substitute, Erica Hill discussed a radio station publicity stunt that went awry. On Valentine's Day, listeners were invited to come down to the Atlanta-based radio station with something that either belonged to or was given to them by an ex and that they no longer wanted. It would then be destroyed in the parking lot with an ax. You'd assume that most people would bring the usual -- old love letters, photos, clothing, stuffed animals, etc. But one woman showed up with her ex-boyfriend's dog! You can see a video of this sweet shepherd mix on CNN. Thankfully, the Humane Society and caring callers intervened, so the dog found a loving home by the end of the day.
Julia Kamysz Lane
PETA No Fan of Best In Show
Animal-rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is no stranger to stirring up controversy. In the past, some dog owners have questioned PETA president Ingrid Newkirk's canine devotion as a fundraising ploy or worse.
So it comes as no surprise that PETA debuted a provocative ad campaign (one commercial compares purebred dog breeders to the Ku Klux Klan) during Westminster Kennel Club's annual show, the Superbowl of dog shows. You can watch all three commercials through You Tube or the New York Times.
What do you think of the new PETA commercials? Are they fair? Or too over the top?
Julia Kamysz Lane
Reality Check for Groomers
Shear Genius meets the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show! Project Runway for dog lovers! With Animal Planet’s latest reality show in development, 12 groomers will get their chance to cash in on the reality show sweepstakes. According to notices posted on realitywanted.com and craigslist, Project Pooch is looking for dog stylists “with creative flare and personality to match.” The prize: Fame and $50,000!
Is Vick Apology Acceptable?
This past Monday, Michael Vick finally did something right off the football field. He pleaded guilty to federal charges regarding his role in a large dogfighting operation. He also offered a meandering, informal apology directed at NFL employees and children who had looked up to him as a role model.
What about the dogs whose lives he took so cruelly? And the dogs who suffered from their physical and psychological wounds? Vick categorizes what he did wrong as "immature acts." Excuse me? An immature act is a teenager shoplifting a CD, not an adult professional football player drowning, strangling and fighting dogs he deliberately bred and trained to kill each other. Does Vick honestly not know the difference? Or does he think we, the public, don't know or care about the difference?
So many questions remain: What will be the fate of Vick's dogs? Will the NFL's indefinite suspension lead to an outright firing? How much jail time will he serve? Newport News (Va.) reporter Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer does her best to answer those questions and more.
If you're still outraged by the whole tragic situation, as am I, then please voice your concerns to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Atlanta Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino. You can also support nonprofit organizations like HSUS, the ASPCA and your local shelter, all of which strive to end dogfighting and care for its many voiceless victims.
Julia Kamysz Lane
On PBS last Sunday, “The Rise of the Dog” (the first of a two-part Nature documentary entitled "Dogs That Changed the World") explored the highly controversial garbage-heap theory of dog domestication and a novel genetic analysis that traces most ancient breeds back to East Asia. For folks who keep up with their canine reading, these may not be earth-shattering or even persuasive insights. But the beautifully filmed documentary made one especially critical point: Dogs have earned a singular place in our lives. From shepherds in Scotland to sled dogs in the Arctic, our connection to and reliance on dogs is intelligently celebrated on the little screen—and that’s always a good thing.
Don’t miss the second half, “Dog’s By Design” (PBS, Sunday, May 6, 9 p.m. ET), which looks at the harmful impacts of selective breeding and the inspiring contributions of dogs in medical settings, where they sniff out cancer and sense blood-sugar levels in diabetics. SCHEDULE NOTE: A reader points out that the Nature broadcast schedule in Seattle, where I live, is a week behind many other stations, check your local PBS schedule for airing times and rebroadcasts or visit the Nature website, link above, to learn more.
"Eddie" Passes Away
Moose, the celebrity Jack Russell Terrier famous for playing Eddie on "Frasier" and the older Skip on "My Dog Skip," passed away at the impressive age of 16 last Thursday. He was a terrific comic canine actor and he will be missed.
Tune in to Animal Planet this Saturday at 5 pm (ET/PT) to watch the dazzling 20th annual Genesis Awards show, which honors those in the news and entertainment media who have helped make the world a better, or at least more aware, place for animals.
In addition to honoring TV producers and filmmakers, the awards show also honors heroes of Hurricane Katrina, including HSUS volunteer Jane Garrison, who helped rescue 1,300 animals in the five months post-hurricane, as well as TV networks that aired in-depth reports on the animals that were left behind.