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Archive for December, 2008

A snowy day in Manhattan with the prospect of a White Christmas very probable.  Here’s some more good news for chastened times, an article about a woman discovering a new career with dogs.

December 20th, 2008
8:20 pm

In reading of the recent controversy around the conducting of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony “Resurrection” here in New York, the blog of one of the outspoken members of the Philharmonic was mentioned, a one David Finlayson.  I visited and was surprised and delighted to discover a most excellent link to what I believe is a photographic record of a dog run(s) here in Manhattan.

The biting, frolicking and general mayhem –as well as the fairly sophisticated city dog hygiene and grooming– are all there in the photographs and for those of my non-Manhattan readers who have only imagined the dog run culture from my books, these photos by this talented musician (and photographer) should be enlightening.  I urge a look (the photo above is, I believe, of a New York dog run but not a Finlayson).  One additional bit of trivia, according to a New York Times article, Mr. Finlayson recently married a woman he met as part of a group who congregated with their dogs in Central Park.  Indeed, if Mr. Finlayson reads this blog, he has just earned himself two copies of my books (please contact us Mr. Finlayson).

Here is the link.

December 18th, 2008
9:29 am

In case you don’t know what to do with your money and are afraid that your Pekingnese may suffer injuries after tumbling from a too high bed…Now there are dog stairs.  Here is the article from The Wall Street Journal:

Without fanfare or marketing, the bedding industry has been raising the altitude of its products, satisfying customer preferences for ever-thicker mattresses. Yet that preference is creating a hazard for a tall bed’s shortest occupant: the dog.

Anecdotally, veterinarians across the country report among house dogs a rise in such disorders as elbow and shoulder arthritis, hip dysplasia and degenerative disk disease. As the lifespan of pets rises thanks to better food and medicine, the old dog that once leapt with abandon now hesitates on the edge of bed — or jumps and hurts itself.

A ‘designer dog staircase,’ featuring cherry staining, carpeted treads and raised wood panels. $109.99 to $169.99 at Drs. Foster & Smith.

Little dogs like the Pekingese are soaring off of high beds without fear. “For a little dog to take a flying leap off a bed that’s five to six times higher than he stands is an act of courage, and a recipe for injury,” says Stephen Crane, an academic animal doctor and diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The peril is too new to have generated peer-reviewed veterinary research. But the problem is evident in the white-hot popularity of a relatively new product: pet stairs, specifically designed to lead Fido from bed to floor by land rather than air.

Pet stairs are one of the fastest-growing categories at national pet retailers such as Drs. Foster & Smith Inc., which offers five models ranging from $40 to $170. Vermont-based Orvis, the upscale outdoors retailer, launched its first pet staircase four years ago and now carries four, including a $200 carpet-and-hardwood model. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. offers a $64 variety, while a Web site called Puppy Stairs offers a range of models, from a bare-bones version for $77 to a designer model swathed in heavy-duty foam and washable upholstered covers in decorator fabrics for $535.


December 12th, 2008
1:05 am

A group of scientists in Austria confirms what we have long suspected.  Please be fair to your charges.  As for Yours Truly with an apartment devoid of snacks and Harry not considering my stomach on this frigid Manhattan night, I feel a strike coming on.  Here is the New York Times link and article below:

With Treats, Dogs Seem to Know What’s Fair

To the list of the qualities of dogs — enthusiastic and steadfast come to mind — can be added another. That pooch of yours, researchers say, may be envious.

Scientists in Austria report in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a dog may stop obeying a command if it sees that another dog is getting a better deal.

In this way dogs may be showing a sensitivity that is similar to, although perhaps more primitive than, that shown by chimpanzees and some monkeys. Until now those primates were the only nonhumans to show what is called “inequity aversion” in the absence of a reward.

The finding may come as no surprise to some dog owners, and it didn’t completely surprise Friederike Range, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vienna who led the study.

“We have a dog at home,” she said, “and I know how jealous she is of different people and situations.”

The study tried to quantify the behavior by using well-trained dogs that readily offer a paw on command. The researchers used two dogs side by side but treated them differently, giving one a better reward (sausage) and the other a lesser one (bread) when the paw was given, or giving one dog no reward at all.

They found that the quality of the reward made little difference. But in the case in which one dog got no treat at all, that dog became less and less inclined to obey the command.

December 8th, 2008
6:09 pm

Apologies for not returning to my post sooner, but apparently there is some ingredient in turkey that acts as a soporific and I have been sluggish since Thursday.  I have only just now managed to nose my way back onto the Internet and appropriately found this tidbit on regulations that if instituted would whisk the owners of most Labrador retrievers and the fellow above to jail for failing to curb their  gargantuan appetites by means of the strictest of diets.  Let us hope that the nanny state remains at bay at least until the over feedings and dropped delectables of the holidays is complete.
Here is that story.

December 1st, 2008
6:17 pm