Creative Canine Costumes

KirbyherdriverNo matter how many Halloween parties there are and no matter how many treats they would get, my dogs would not be happy if I tried to dress them up. So I must live vicariously through other people's creative canine costumes. Pictured here is Kirby the "Greyhound Bus" and Linda Maton, her impeccably dressed driver, of Bellville, MI. They're the winners of Chicagoland Tails' annual Halloween costume contest. You can see more clever costumes here. If your pup has trick-or-treat plans, we'd love to see a photo!

Julia Kamysz Lane

October 28, 2008 in Cool stuff, Current Affairs, Recreation | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dog-Friendly Travel Blog

RaveskiesLike to travel with your dog? Then you should check out Car Go Dogs. I drive all over the Midwest competing with my dogs in agility trials, so I'm always looking for dog-friendly vehicle info, accessories and travel tips. It's nice to find all these things in one spot!

Julia Kamysz Lane

October 15, 2008 in Cool stuff, Current Affairs, product review, Recreation, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Poop Patrol Demands Dog DNA

The world has totally gone to the dogs ... and CSI! In a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel, dog lovers are eligible for rewards if they scoop the poop. I have two questions: 1) who has the fun job of collecting and testing the properly bagged and tossed poop, and 2) is it really necessary to reward someone for responsible behavior? I'm all for positive reinforcement, but I hate to think that people will only do the right thing because of a "what's in it for me?" mindset.

Julia Kamysz Lane

October 14, 2008 in Health, Legislation, Recreation | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Toy Requires Tongue Amputation

If your dog plays with a pimple ball with bell (pictured here) manufactured by Four Paws Inc., please remove it immediately. Then read what happened to 10-year-old Lab mix Chai, whose tongue had to be amputated after playing with the ball.

When Chai's owner first brought this to Four Paws' attention two months ago to demand a public recall of this product, he was ignored. Then he was told that all of his correspondence had been forwarded to its insurance company! Four Paws did not publicly acknowledge the defective toy and recall it until August 27, 2008. The long-time dog toy manufacturer claimed that this had never happened before.

Daniel planned to accept a financial settlement from Four Paws to cover Chai's vet bills and rehab until he learned that a 5-year-old Lab mix named Cole died from his horrific tongue injuries sustained by the ball back in 2005. Four Paws was aware of this and did NOTHING. Who knows how many other dogs suffered or died over the past THREE YEARS due to this company's negligence and greed?

Julia Kamysz Lane

August 29, 2008 in Current Affairs, Health, Humane, Legislation, media, product review, Recreation, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Give Your Dog A Bunny!


Does your dog chase bunnies or squirrels? Do you live in the Midwest or are you willing to drive there? Then check out the inaugural All-Breed Lure Coursing Trial! This unique event will be held on Saturday, August 2, 2008, from 10am to 3pm, and hosted by Lure Coursing Fanatics in Somers, WI (about an hour north of the Greater Chicago area).

Lure coursing appeals to your dog's instinctive urge to chase prey, so there's no need for special training. A white bag or "bunny" is attached to a line and rapidly jerked across a field, mimicking a real rabbit. It's great exercise for the dogs and fun to watch them stretch out and really move.

To see lure coursing in action, check out LCF owners' Cocker Spaniel, Tazer (pictured above), or my Pit Bull mix, Shelby (click on "Shelby Lure Coursing Video"), at LCF last summer. As you can see, the dogs absolutely love it!

All breeds and mixes are welcome. Entry fees are $10 for the first entry per dog and $5 for any additional entries for that dog. If you have three or more dogs entered, the first entry fee drops to $5 for the third and subsequent dogs.

For more info, please email Lauri Stromberg at

Julia Kamysz Lane

July 25, 2008 in Cool stuff, Recreation, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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

July 7, 2008 in Cool stuff, Current Affairs, media, Recreation, Sports, Television | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dog Thought Dumb Saves Boy


Jake clearly had something to prove. The Bailey family of Omaha, Neb., loved him, but thought the 4-year-old black Labrador Retriever lacked smarts. How else to explain his rock obsession or selective listening?

Well, his ears worked when it mattered most. Last Friday, 12-year-old Tony Bailey went for his usual dip in the Platte River. Unfortunately, the water was unusually high and the boy quickly realized he was in trouble. No one heard his cries for help, except for Jake, who came running to the rescue. He jumped into the water, swam to Tony and allowed the boy to hang onto him as he swam back to shore.

Just goes to show that you should never underestimate your dog. Good boy, Jake!

Julia Kamysz Lane

June 18, 2008 in Current Affairs, Health, media, Recreation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Summer Safety Tips

Now that the weather is heating up, it's time to dig in the garden. Please do not use cocoa mulch around your plants as it is toxic to dogs who ingest it.

A few days ago, I was walking two of my dogs in my parents' suburban development and suddenly smelled the worst chemical odor. A lawn-care company was spraying a front yard that was a block away and across the street from us. If I could smell it that easily, I can only imagine how offensive -- and potentially dangerous it was -- to my dogs. You might not be able to control your neighbors' choice of fertilizer, but it's well worth looking into natural lawn-care options for your and your dog's health.

With all the rain we've gotten in the Midwest, I've been keeping an eye out for a natural dog toxin: mushrooms. Not all varieties pose a threat, but why risk it? I pick the 'shrooms while on poop patrol and now it's just a habit.

Lastly, please learn from my mistake and do not allow your dog to go swimming in a retention pond. This past week, my Dalmatian, Darby, got really hot during a sunny afternoon walk. Since she loves to swim and we were close to a retention pond, I decided to let her go in for a quick dip. She was only in there for two minutes when she came back to me lame, holding up a bloody front left paw. It was a deep, clean gash along the inside toe, so I suspect it was glass. My poor judgment call required an emergency trip to the vet, stitches and a $320 bill, not to mention poor Darby's pain and suffering.

In talking to other dog owners about my experience, I have heard other horror stories about dogs swimming in retention ponds. One woman told me her dog almost drowned because the suction of a drain was pulling her under. She hadn't been aware of the drain and was prepared to jump in to save her dog. Thankfully, her dog was large and in excellent physical condition, so she managed to make it back to shore. If your dog gets hot, fill up a little wading pool in the backyard or turn on the sprinkler. Your dog will enjoy it and you'll have peace of mind.

Julia Kamysz Lane

June 13, 2008 in Current Affairs, Health, Recreation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dog Power!

Dogscotrkul100byt1_w7vp_dyduBored with the same old walks? Then you and your pup might like to try the Dog Powered Scooter and the Dog Powered Trike. They're similar to mushing, except the dogs are harnessed from behind the human driver so he can steer without worry. Architect Mark Schuette of Bend, Oregon, invented the dog scooter and trike as a way to spend more time with his dog and give him enough exercise. For a cool video demo with a Husky and a Rottie, click here.

Julia Kamysz Lane

February 17, 2008 in Cool stuff, Health, product review, Recreation, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chicago Tribune Loves BARk!

To those of us who love dogs, the success of BARk magazine makes perfect sense. Who wouldn't want to read a smart periodical dedicated entirely to our cherished companions? But it's always nice when non-dog people (or entities) admit that they find it fascinating, too. So thank you, Chicago Tribune, for congratulating BARk on its 10-year anniversary in today's editorial, "That's 70 in dog years."

I especially like the dare at the end, in which the editors "defy anyone -- dog-haters and cat-lovers included -- to thumb all the way through BARk without grinning like a border collie. It will make you want to get a dog. Or be one." BARk readers, how do you feel after you read the magazine? Are you compelled to give your dog a big hug? Does it inspire you to try something new with your dog? Or add another pup to the pack? Let us know!

Julia Kamysz Lane

February 11, 2008 in Cool stuff, Current Affairs, dogparks, Food, Health, media, Recreation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack