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Archive for November, 2008

Yours Truly is preparing himself for the national feast with a fast which will prevent posting tomorrow because of low blood sugar then there will be the feast itself which will preclude posting because of a Labrador’s power to focus on the matter at hand.  Above is an authentic re-enactment of that first Thanksgiving.  Safe travels and prodigious eating to all!  I will return to my post on Friday if all delectables have been successfully digested.

November 25th, 2008
11:24 pm

Ah, the unlikely has happened: dog shoots man.  Here is the story (if the shooter wasn’t a Labrador I’d have my doubts about its innocent intentions):

PORTLAND, Ore. —  Henry Marcum has nothing but kind words for the dog that shot his 23-year-old son this weekend.

Marcum says his son, Matthew, was standing in Tillamook Bay at the start of duck-hunting trip when his dog jumped into the boat, setting off a 12-gauge shotgun.

The blast blew a hole in the aluminum boat before hitting Marcum, who is recovering from injuries to his legs and buttocks at Portland’s Legacy Emanuel Hospital.

Henry Marcum says he’s not angry with the dog, and neither is his son.

The elder Marcum says the Labrador named Drake is a good dog and the shooting is “just one of those things.”

November 24th, 2008
6:55 pm

I would add to the following five “tips”, the following: “6. Feed your dog amply and repeat as necessary. A human cannot possibly appreciate the role of stomach in the life of a dog, especially if that dog is a Labrador retriever in which case an empty stomach can be genuinely disruptive to pleasant relations between species.”

No matter his size or breed, any dog will bite under the right circumstances, so it’s up to owners to take steps to keep their dog under control.  Some tips, from the American Kennel Association.

1. Research dog breeds before you bring one into your home. Some need considerable training and exercise if you’re going to keep them under control. Do you have the time and commitment they’ll require?

2. Don’t let your dog run free. Keep your dog on a leash when in public. Keep him behind a secure fence at home. Sure, an electronic fence might keep your dog in your yard, but how will you keep people and their pets away?

3. Socialize your dog. Start socializing him from Day One so he’s not uneasy with strangers. Even loving dogs may bite when they feel threatened.

4. Train your dog. He needs to respond to basic commands like  “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “heel,” and “come.” He needs to drop toys on command so you don’t have to reach into his mouth to get a toy. Play non-aggressive games like fetch rather than with games that will teach him bad habits like tug-of-war.

5. Do not set your dog up for failure. Be cautious when introducing your dog to new situations, avoid situations where he might be teased, and remove him if there are signs he’s uncomfortable.


November 20th, 2008
6:36 pm

A Black Labrador Retriever named Skeeter has just graduated from law school –the wolf ancestry will prove useful in his new profession.  Here’s the link and the story is below:

WACO, Texas —  When Amy Jones received her law degree from Baylor University, her playful service dog Skeeter got the same honor.

As Jones got her juris doctor degree on Saturday, Skeeter received an honorary law degree.

“Amy has busted through brick walls, and Skeeter has been faithfully by her side every step of the way,” law school Dean Brad Toben said. “Skeeter has become a part of our community and part of our family here at the law school.”

Jones has used a wheelchair since a 2002 skiing accident left her a quadriplegic. Two years after the accident, she was paired with Skeeter, a black Labrador retriever.

Born and raised in Alaska, Jones had attended California State University at Chico. After months of rehabilitation and with Skeeter’s help, Jones returned to school and received her undergraduate degree in construction management in 2005.

Fellow Baylor law graduate Jolie McCuiston of Lubbock said “everyone loves playing with Skeeter, but Skeeter always knows when he’s working.”

McCuiston said Skeeter will occasionally add a growl to a professor’s lecture for added emphasis.

“He always said what we couldn’t say,” McCuiston she told the Waco Tribune-Herald in Sunday editions.

November 18th, 2008
7:40 pm

Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore above with their dogs…Please take a look at their site Broadway Barks. They do good things for New York dogs.

November 17th, 2008
11:06 pm

I thought we were getting away from Presidential politics, but, alas, it is my duty to report that Barney has apparently bitten someone else.  The story below is from the Boston Globe and the photo above is of Barney seeking out new victims on the White House lawn.

By Globe Staff

His White House gravy train is coming to an end soon. So could Barney, the first pooch, be in a bad state over his imminent departure from his cozy Pennsylvania Avenue crib?

Last Friday, he took a took a bite out of a Reuters reporter who had stooped to pet the Scottish terrier (see video). And now, more details are emerging about how Barney turned on Celtics public relations director Heather Walker in September.

Walker was visiting the White House with the NBA champions when she reached down to pet Barney, who promptly bit her on the wrist, drawing blood.

“Oh, my God, you’ve got to be kidding,” Walker, a Salem resident, said in a story in today’s Salem News. “I couldn’t believe the president’s dog bit me.”

But Walker, a dog lover and yellow Lab owner, took the incident in stride. The Boston Herald reported that the Celtics doctor was on hand to tend to Heather, and the visit with President Bush continued.

November 16th, 2008
12:11 am

Ah, A Dog Down Under.  This time, unlike last time, the dog gets the snake.  I will be keeping an eye out in the shrubbery of Central Park for any threats.  Here’s the link and the story:

A dog is the toast of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast after saving a three-year-old boy from a brown snake.

This morning Diesel, a cattle dog-dingo cross, was honoured by the RSPCA and rewarded with a big bone.

Drew Gralike was playing on a swing at his grandfather’s Eumundi property when the snake attacked.

His grandfather, Stan Gralike, says Diesel jumped to the rescue.

“When the snake came up and was about to strike everything was just like it was slow motion because I couldn’t get to Drew quick enough and the snake was up ready to strike and Diesel was like a cat,” he said.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

“He twisted in mid-air, took off on one leg and got between Drew and the snake and grappled with the snake.”

Diesel suffered two bites, but was not badly hurt.

November 14th, 2008
2:42 pm

Now for something completely different (as they say):

PRYOR, Okla. (AP) — A dog waiting in a car while at a car wash slipped the vehicle into gear and drove in a loop before the car came to a stop. Pryor police officer Brent Crittenden said the dog’s owner was washing the vehicle when the 70-pound pit bull jumped on the dash and somehow shifted the car into reverse.

The car backed out of the car wash bay, continued onto a highway and then looped around before coming to a stop at an automated car wash lane.

Crittenden said the vehicle was impounded because its owner was unable to provide proof of insurance.

Because the dog was registered with the city, Crittenden said the owner was allowed to walk the pooch home.

Information from: Pryor Daily Times,

November 13th, 2008
12:15 am

This seems like a fitting article for Veterans Day.  I was a therapy dog in A Dog Among Diplomats, but instead of caring for a veteran, I had to keep my eye on a neurotic and somewhat shady representative for the United Nations.

Enjoy (here’s the link to the article (also pasted below) and here is the link to the slideshow):

Veterans Helped by Healing Paws


DEUCE is a chocolate Labrador retriever who knows exactly which patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington give the best treats, said his owner, Harvey Naranjo. Both he and Deuce are part of the Military Advanced Training Center, a department at Walter Reed that cares for severely disabled veterans.

A certified therapy dog, Deuce assists with rehabilitation and helps relieve stress. He excels at both, said Mr. Naranjo, who brought him to the center three years ago to help the growing number of severely disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Medical technology has given us the opportunity to save more lives with this conflict, but they are surviving devastating injuries,” said Mr. Naranjo, adaptive sports program coordinator and a certified occupational therapy assistant at Walter Reed.

Encouraged by Deuce’s success with patients, Mr. Naranjo contacted accredited service dog organizations and learned that several had started programs specifically for recent veterans. “These soldiers are a very young population; they do not want canes or crutches,” said Mr. Naranjo, who is also a specialist in the Army Reserve.

Many veterans, after suffering traumatic injuries, are “fighting to get their independence back, and dogs give them a sense of independence,” he added.

Service dogs are 24/7 companions that can retrieve and carry objects, open doors, call attention to safety hazards, help with stress and balance difficulties, and provide a bridge back to society. “Veterans can feel vulnerable walking around with these disabilities,” Mr. Naranjo said. “When they go out with a service dog, it draws attention away from the injury.”

Through the efforts of Mr. Naranjo, the staff at Walter Reed’s department of physical medicine and rehabilitation and the Military Advanced Training Center, the hospital refers qualified veterans to organizations like Canine Companions for Independence Veterans Program (, America’s VetDogs ( and Neads Canines for Combat Veterans (


As a platoon leader in a combat engineering unit in southern Baghdad, Jeffrey Adams, 29, a first lieutenant, was responsible for 35 soldiers. While he was on patrol on Nov. 7, 2004, an improvised explosive device blew up 10 feet from him. When he looked down, his leg was gone. “All I could think of was, I have to crawl back to my vehicle and I have no leg,” Mr. Adams said.

By Nov. 10, he was at Walter Reed, where he was given a titanium prosthetic leg. His rehabilitation lasted six months. Afterward, he and Mr. Naranjo started discussing the possibility of a service dog.

Though a dog lover, Mr. Adams found that the traits that make a good soldier do not always make a good patient. “You get military people that think, ‘I’m an alpha male, alpha female, and I don’t need a dog,’ ” he said. He eventually overcame his reluctance, and in February 2008 was teamed with Sharif, a yellow Labrador and golden retriever mix from Canine Companions for Independence Veterans Program. The two have been inseparable since.

Sharif is trained to respond to 40 commands, a skill that becomes crucial when Mr. Adams removes his prosthetic leg. In addition to retrieving dropped objects and helping with balance, the dog barks only in an emergency, and the neighbors know that. Mr. Adams said that his wife, Katie, “jokes that Sharif has made me lazier, but that’s not it. He makes me safer.”

Mr. Adams has adjusted well to his disability. Retired from the Army, he lives in Huntsville, Ala., and works for Boeing as a systems engineer. After taking up skiing in 2005, he became a certified ski instructor in 2007 and teaches other disabled veterans. He is also a dedicated advocate for service dogs for wounded veterans. “They are there to help you, assist you, and will be always there for you regardless,” he said.


Master Sgt. Mark Eugene Gwathmey, 38, comes from a family with a proud history of military service. He enlisted in the Marines at 19, served in the first gulf war and did two tours of duty in Iraq. While in Iraq, Sergeant Gwathmey was near several devastating explosions. A building wall collapsed over him, and in another incident, his foot was injured. He returned home in May 2005 to his wife, Carolyn, a retired master sergeant in the Air Force, and lives in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Shortly after coming home, he began to show serious symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D., including hand tremors, extreme anxiety and nightmares. When unexplained seizures soon followed, he began treatment at Walter Reed in 2006.

Ms. Gwathmey said her husband’s seizures last anywhere from a few seconds to three hours. “They can be bad enough that he will start to drool,” she said. “His body will lock up and shake violently.” After them, she said, he sometimes does not know who or where he is.

In the summer of 2007, Sergeant Gwathmey saw a brochure at Walter Reed for America’s VetDogs, part of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. Though unsure his injuries merited a dog, he said he “finally took that big ball of pride and swallowed it,” and contacted the organization. In November 2007, he was teamed with Larry, an English Labrador and golden retriever mix. The bond between them was instant.

Larry helps with walking stability and P.T.S.D., and has also demonstrated the potentially life-saving ability to alert Sergeant Gwathmey to a seizure before it happens. Larry has changed his life, he said, and has given him back a large degree of independence.

“Before Larry, I couldn’t stand crowds,” he said. “My confidence in being out in public has gone from not going out at all to going out on my own.” Sergeant Gwathmey is also being treated for traumatic brain injury and is assigned to the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Walter Reed.

The confidence Larry has given him applies to caregivers as well, Carolyn Gwathmey said, adding: “I can’t imagine life without Larry. He helps me take care of my husband.”


Sue Downes, 28, enlisted in the Army in 2004 as a precursor to a career in law enforcement. In 2006 she was deployed to Afghanistan as a military police officer, and there, on Nov. 28, her military vehicle exploded after hitting an improvised explosive device.

Because of the mountainous terrain, a medevac unit was unable to reach her. “I bled out for six hours,” Ms. Downes said. She was eventually treated at two local NATO hospitals, where both her legs were amputated.

After returning to the United States, she spent a long rehabilitation at Walter Reed before rejoining her husband, Gabe, also a disabled veteran, and their two children in Gallatin, Tenn.

While at Walter Reed, she was encouraged by Mr. Naranjo to apply for a service dog through the Neads (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) Canines for Combat Veterans program. In August 2007 she was paired with Lila, a yellow Labrador, and the two became known as “blonde on blonde” by other patients.

In addition to helping Ms. Downes walk with her prosthetic legs, Lila has become a loving and intuitive companion, particularly with P.T.S.D. “The big thing is, she helps me with a lot of stress issues, which I didn’t expect her to do,” she said. “If I’m down in the dumps one day, she knows. She’ll come lay at my feet or jump up on the couch. She’s not supposed to, but I let her. She lies beside me and tries to cheer me up.”

Ms. Downes is retired from the Army and said she feels that she has adjusted “pretty well,” with good days and bad. She tires easily and does not go out as much as she used to. However, on a good day she and Lila might visit the local veterans association or shop for groceries; Lila also likes to go to PetSmart. Ms. Downes said she was thankful that while out in public, people tended to pay more attention to Lila than to her disability.

“Sue has overcome a lot,” Mr. Naranjo said. “I think Lila makes her feel at ease. In the Army, we have this thing called a battle buddy. You never go anywhere by yourself, and you always take your battle buddy because they are there to protect you and you are there to protect them. It’s the same concept with a service dog.”

November 11th, 2008
2:21 pm

Off to the White House?

Off to the White House?

The saga of the presidential dog continues and goes global.  Here is the story from Reuters:


By Terry Wade

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvians crazy about their national dog, a bald and often toothless breed popular among Incan kings, offered on Monday to send a hypoallergenic puppy to the Obama family.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has promised daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, a new pet for the White House. But Malia is allergic to most breeds, he said on Friday as speculation swirled about the dog the family would choose.

Owners of the Peruvian Hairless Dog, a breed dating back 3,000 years and depicted in pre-Hispanic ceramics, say it is perfect for kids who are sensitive to dogs.

“They do not cause any type of allergy and are very friendly and sweet,” said Claudia Galvez, 38, director of the Friends of the Peruvian Hairless Dog Association.

“We want to give a male puppy to Obama’s daughters, so they get to experience all the joys of having a dog but without any allergies.”

According to Peruvian folklore, the dogs have above-average body temperature, which compensates for their lack of hair and helps alleviate symptoms of asthma or arthritis suffered by their owners.

Galvez delivered a letter detailing her offer to the U.S. embassy in Lima on Monday and hopes Obama will accept it.

Galvez has a 4-month-old pedigree puppy to send to the Obama family. For now, she is calling it Ears because it has two large, perky ones.

“But if we send it to the United States, its official name will be Machu Picchu,” she said, referring to the ancient Incan citadel, Peru’s top tourist attraction.

(Editing by John O’Callaghan)

November 10th, 2008
9:25 pm