Thursday, June 30, 2011

Animal KIngdom Out for Rest of Season

News courtesy of the Paulick report that Animal Kingdom will miss the rest of this year's racing season due to a recently discovered slab fracture above the small fissure previously discovered after the Belmont.

That initial crack, believed to have been a result of a collision at the start with Mucho Macho Man, was just going to require rest and another set of x-rays to see how it was healing. That second set revealed the additional fracture which will require a pin to be inserted.

Dean Richardson will do the honors today at New Bolton Center, after which Animal Kingdom is expected to return to Fair Hill where he will rest and begin rehabilitation including work on an underwater treadmill.

Plans are for the horse to begin training in about three months with the long range goal of competing in the World Cup in Dubai in late March. That is, of course, assuming all proceeds according to plan.

Let's hope we do indeed get to see this brilliant horse back on the track as a four year old.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A New Landmark

If you find yourself driving around Nicholasville, Kentucky, you might want to keep your eyes open for a newly named road. That would be Barbaro Lane!

On August 1, according to, sections of Harrodsburg Road will be renamed. One section will be called Barbaro Lane in honor of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winnner. Barbaro's birthplace, the former Sanborn Farm (now called Springmint Farm), is located in Jessamine county, where this road is situated.

The folks around this new stretch of road voted on the names. Apparently Barbaro continues to be a topic of conversation in the neighborhood where he was foaled!

Addressing coordinator for Jessamine County 911 explained that it was necessary for this stretch of road to have formal names so that emergency services vehicles could find the location where they were needed.

The four new sections of the road were created when the new highway, four lane US 68 was built. The new road weave back and forth over the old Harrodsburg Raod.

If anyone goes, be sure to take a picture!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Uncle Mo Hopes to Return to Training

News from the Uncle Mo camp that the two year old male champion is to begin jogging today, June 27, at WinStar Farm where he has been recovering from Cholangiohepatitis, a rare disease that affects the liver.

Since his arrival at WinStar, Uncle Mo has gained 100 pounds and his latest bloodwork indicates that he is most definitely improving.

The plan was for him to begin walking the shedrow under tack with a rider on his back over the weekend and hopefully return to the track today. That said, there is no specific timetable for his training regime but the ultimate goal is for him to return to Todd Pletcher's stable at Belmont.

Let's hope things continue to improve for this handsome and talented champion. "If his body can't withstand the rigors of training at the track, he will be retired," said owner Mike Repole. "Right now, I am optimistic; the doctors are optimistic; it's all positive. . . At the end of the day, you can be sure I'll do what is best for the horse."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Murphy Loses the Battle

I am deeply saddened to report the loss of Murphy Robinson, one of Luke Robinson's beautiful Great Pyrenees who made the walk with him from Austin to Boston to bring awareness to canine cancer.

As those of you may know, thousands followed Luke's progress on his website, 2dogs2000miles and when he passed through Philly, we hooked up for a day at Penn's vet school.

Murphy was diagnosed with nasal cancer after Like completed the walk and despite rigorous and aggressive chemotherapy, lost the battle last week. Beyond being deeply ironic (dare I say cruel) for Murphy to be felled by the same disease that prompted Luke's life mission, it was devastating for Luke to lose another "son" to cancer.

There is a Murphy memorial page on facebook with many pictures posted of this beautiful and elegant warrior. Rest in Peace, Murphy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lions, Tigers and BEARS, Oh MY!

From Good Morning America comes the story of these very brave dogs trained to scare off bears! Yes, you read that right, bears. And apparently they are very, very successful!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tornado Hits Churchill Downs

The wild and crazy weather that has been streaking across the mid section of the country, touched down in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday evening when a tornado streaked through Churchill Downs racetrack. Miraculously, no horses or humans were injured.

The tornado touched down shortly after 8:00 p. m. and according to Bloodhorse, there was little warning, although tornado warnings had been issued for the area earlier in the day.

Trainer Steve Margolis' barn sustained the most damage, with a partial roof collapse, flooding and a leaking gas line. All horses inside were led to safety by workers from other stables. The Margolis-trained horses were all remarkably calm, including those trapped by the roof collapse, which was not the case with some of the ones in another damaged barn, occupied by trainer Jinks Fires. Many of those had to be tranquilized.

"During a storm, horses kick the wall, tear at the webbing and even run into the wall," fires said. "It was knee-deep water when we were trying to get them out. It looks like something took a bite out of [the barn roof]."

Racing was canceled on Thursday at the track, which is in the middle of a nine day meet, and resumed on Friday.

The tornado is the first one known to have struck Churchill Downs.

"It was amazing; it was just incredible," said Susan Margolis. "It was a blessing nobody got hurt."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Message To Oprah: We Care!

Message to Oprah from Celebs: I Care About Wild Horses from Madeleine Pickens on Vimeo.

Madeleine Pickens has garnered her celebrity supporters to take the message to Oprah, and I suppose to the OWN network. Oprah's visibility and influence would certainly help bring the message home.

Warning: the video is wonderful but there are scenes of horses being rounded up with helicopters and herded into holding pens. Not a pretty sight.

Go Madeleine! Stay the course...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

So What do They Dream About?

Too cute. Those little sleep cries are very common among all my sleeping canine brood. I am sure Phoebe and Sam are dreaming about food but Amos? Maybe herding something other than me. . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Horses for Heroes

I told you I have been working with an organization that pairs prisoners with shelter dogs (New Leash on Life, USA) to create a win-win situation. The dogs are trained; the prisoners learn skills to train dogs and the dogs gets adopted by a family that stays in touch with the "trainer" for a year.

I have also been working with an organization that fosters dogs for service men and women while they are deployed (P.A.C.T.).

Now there is a new program that pairs horses with returning combat vets, many of whom suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Horses For Heroes, launched by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association in April of 2007, works through many therapeutic riding centers in the country and has been phenomenally successful in helping veterans.

The June 2001 issue of the Chronicle of the Horse has the story and it is well worth the read. Despite the inclination to think that horses, animals ingrained with the fight or flight instinct, might not be the best match for people with PTSD, it turns out that because horses are in a constant state of vigilance (just like people suffering from PTSD), they are the PERFECT match. "To some of us that seems irrational. . . ," explains Nancy Beers, Director of Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center in Elbert Colorado, where they have been offering Horses for Heroes sessions since 2008. "But horses like safety and routine and predictability--surprise is the last thing they want--and so do the veterans. So they mesh very nicely."

The NARHA's website offers a database of accredited centers with the Horses for Heroes program.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Medication Summit

The International Race Day Medication Summit was held June 13-14 at Belmont Park and it was described as a "baby step." The purpose of the summit was to educate industry leaders about the use of lasix (Salix) in the U.S., the only country that permits the use of lasix on race days.

"The summit represents a new beginning and a new opportunity to begin a journey," said Dr. Palmer. "I sensed a spirit of consensus that our problems are real and medication is one of them. A number of options were proposed and evaluated. We have the opportunity to use this summit as a springboard to develop actions to address these issues."

Fans of Barbaro will recognize Palmer as one of the physicians on hand when Barbaro broke his leg at the Preakness. Though not on duty, he was a guest of Michael Matz at the race. He was the one who told the Jacksons that he thought Barbaro should go to New Bolton for surgery because he was so calm under duress, not the typical reaction to a horse in trauma.

To say there is no consensus is putting it mildly. "I would say we identified broad areas of interest that have to do with administration options with Salix, securities, penalties, education, and research." The follow-up meeting will be in July and it will consist of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium board.

It is clear that Salix is one of the best treatment for legitimate bleeding issues in horses but its use has become almost standard for all horses. Veterinarians from overseas explained how they control bleeding without the drug in countries where it is banned.

Stay tuned. This is going to be a long and winding road but at least they are starting the journey.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Man V. Horse

By virtue of a long-time reader and the Wall Street Journal, comes this unbelievable tale of a man versus horse contest recently held in Wales. And yes, the horse won--in fact, only twice since this contest has been staged (on and off since 1979) has a man won. For those who are curious, those wins came on hot days because horses have difficulty sweating through all that horsehair.

The distance is a staggering 22 miles and the race pits man against beast in the most literal sense. This year, 287 runners competed against 50 horses and the members of both species admitted to training for the event (well, the trainers of the horses did the admitting).

The runners get a fifteen minute head start to avoid bunching everyone together at the start and the horses get 15 minutes subtracted from their time at the finish. The course covers all sorts of terrain--hills, marshes, water hazards and the winning rider covered the distance in two hours and 8 minutes! The fastest man was 17 minutes behind!

Make no mistake--this is grueling for all--but also intriguing. Apparently Jesse Owens once beat a horse in a 100 yard dash but at this longer distance, the horses usually prevail. Which makes it all the more competitive for the humans!

Read all about it here!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CT Scan for Sea Turtle

From the Boston Globe, this amazing video of a sea turtle who was treated for pneumonia getting a follow up CT scan. Isn't medicine amazing?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Feed Me, I'm Yours

The New York Times once again confirmed that we are in the right place at the right time, riding the trends of the pet-obsessed nation in which we dwell. For starters, the human grade pet food business is truly over the top.

Consider the examples in the article of a company called Petcurean Pet Nutrition which peddles such gourmet delights as pan-seared duck with brown rice and blueberry compote, roasted turkey with buttternut squash and russet potatoes and salmon with black and white quinoa. It is for dogs of course, but it is all human grade and to prove it, the vendors will let you sample it.

Or Claudia's Canine cuisine, whose cookies taste like ginger snaps and are sold with the tag: "Treat her like the bitch she really is."

According to the New York Times, gourmet pet food dominated the recent Pet Expo in Orlando with most companies pushing the idea of human grade food.

Seems like we are going to fit right in.....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Animal Kingdom Out of Training with Injury

Big news from the connections of Animal Kingdom. That horrific "trip" at the start of the Belmont has left Animal Kingdom with an injury to his left leg. There appears to be a small fissure on the tip of his cannon bone where it connects to the lower part of the hock.

The decision has been made to rest the horse until the Fall, and return to training in a few weeks. His next scheduled start had been July 31 at the Haskell at Monmouth Park.

The jockey of Mucho Macho Man, Rajiv Maragh, came across Animal Kingdom about three strides out of the gate and injured the horse. For this careless and dangerous riding, jockey Maragh was given a seven day suspension.

The accident, which has not been classified as serious, is none the less one that needs to be watched carefully to prevent the fissure from actually separating. According to Dr. Larry Bramlage, who examined the horse in Lexington on June 16, "This tells me that, like a lot of racehorses, he probably had a little something going on in there that he was dealing with. But when he hit the ground with such fore in the accident, he overloaded the bone and this is the result."

Animal Kingdom was initially sent to New Bolton Center when he came up stiff and "marginally lame' after the race. Dean Richardson performed a nuclear scan and made the original diagnosis and Dr. Bramlage offered a concurring second opinion.

"I'm very relived," said Barry Irwin, who heads Team Valor, the owners of the horse. "I feel like we've dodged a bullet."

Personally, after that collision it would be a miracle if nothing was wrong. They are indeed lucky that it was fairly minor.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Educated Pooch

College acceptances have long been in the mail and would be freshmen are thinking about decorating their rooms, packing their belongings and thinking about leaving their dogs behind. But wait, there are options. Here is the List of Top 10 colleges and universities where pets are welcome to matriculate:

1. Case Western University, Ohio
Only students in a fraternity and sorority can actually have pets although Case Western does allow small, caged animals in dorms, such as gerbils, hamsters

2. Eckerd College, Florida
Small dogs only, under 40 lbs.

3. Lehigh University, PA
Only in fraternities but fish tanks are permitted in dorms

4. MIT, Massachusetts
Students are permitted to bring one cat into one of four cat friendly dorms. The cat must remain in designated areas in the dorms.

5. Principia College, Illinois
Small pets in cages or aquariums only

6.Stephens College, Missouri
One complex permits dogs, lizards, birds and cats. There is even Doggie Daycare!

7. Stetson University, Florida
One complex for students with pets under 30 lbs.

8. Sweet Briar College, Virginia
Horses are the pet of choice here and many students bring their own!

9. University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Fish tanks only

10. Washington and Jefferson College, PA
One complex allows pets under 40 lbs. Only only pet per room!

Choose wisely. You may not have to leave Fido behind!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Ode to The Ponies

So, Ed Rendell, our former Mayor and Governor of Pennsylvania, among other things, now writes a column for our local paper. One of his latest was "An Ode to the Ponies."

Fans of Barbaro will certainly appreciate Rendell's reminisces on Barbaro: "Who can forget the gallant Barbaro, who after winning the 2006 Derby, broke down in the Preakness and then fought courageously but futilely to survive. . . The nation fell in love with the horse's courage as well as the grace and caring shown by his owners, Gretchen and Roy Jackson."

He goes on to remember other "local" horses like Afleet Alex and Smarty Jones who helped put Philly on the map as horse country. He even reveals that he and his wife were the guests of Smarty's owners, the Chapmans, at the Preakness when Smarty blew away the field! What a thrill!

And then he reveals what truly happened in the Belmont, a race that everyone (including sports writer Dick Gerardi) thought was his for the taking. "Smarty was the victim of a conspiracy in which the jockeys for Rock Hard Ten and Eddington took turns engaging Smarty early on so he would burn himself out. As a result, Smarty set a blistering pace. . .and could not rally. As the race ended, the deafening roar gave way to a silence quieter than that during the moment of silence observed for President Reagen who passed away earlier that day."

But here's why you know he does love the ponies; he took that loss really hard. "I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. A great sense of grief came over me that would take weeks to dissipate. I've never felt worse about a sporting event, including the Eagles' losses in the NFC Championships and the undefeated 1971 Penn basketball team going down to Villanova in the NCAA Regional Final."

For a die-hard Eagles and Penn fan, that is saying a lot. What Smarty ultimately did for our region however, was to bring attention to horse racing. And as Rendell reveals, "I signed our gaming bill a few weeks after Smarty's run. Because of our expanded gaming at Pennsylvania racetracks, horse racing, which was floundering on the brink of extinction, is healthy once again."

You gotta love the Gov.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dog Days of Summer Are Upon Us

Summer is here but so are these six common hazards that every dog owner should know. These are from and my pack is pretty familiar with the ones pertaining to itchiness!

Six Common Summer Hazards for Dogs
1. Dehydration
One of the best ways to keep your dog safe in the summer time is by providing lots of cool, clean, fresh water. Consider preparing low sodium chicken broth or yogurt ice cubes, and introducing canned dog foods (best when frozen in a Kong!) to increase the moisture content in your dog's diet.

2. Burned Pads
Under the summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog's paws. To avoid scorched paws, walk your dog very early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off. If you must walk your dog during the day, dog booties can protect his feet. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds - if you must pull your hand away because the street is too hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. If you don't want your hand on the street for thirty seconds, your dog probably does not want his paws on it for thirty or more minutes of walking.

3. Parasites
Summer is the season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes; pests which can present a minor discomfort to your dog at best and at worst may be life threatening or cause self-mutilating behaviors. Feeding your dog a high quality diet, without preservatives or chemicals will build his immune system, making him generally more resistant to parasite infestation. There are a wide variety of preventatives on the market, including chemical spot on treatments, repellent shampoos, essential oils, and flea/tick collars; talk to your vet to see what she recommends for your dog. Cleaning your house frequently and keeping your dog well groomed will also reduce the risk of parasite infestation.

4. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a serious risk to dog's health which can be fatal. You can prevent heat stroke by restricting his exercise during the hottest hours of the day (early morning or late evening are the best times for exercise during the summer), by making sure he is well hydrated, providing air conditioned places for him to relax, providing opportunities to swim, cooling mats, and by never leaving your dog unattended in the car during summer heat.

Many dogs die annually in hot cars. Even if your windows are cracked or you park in the shade, heat can build quickly in a car in the summer, turning your car into an oven. If it's 95 degrees at noon and you leave your windows cracked, the temperature in your car may still rise as high as 113 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster for your dog. If you must leave your dog in the car for any period of time, the air conditioning should stay on. Leaving a dog to die in a hot car is not just a health risk for your dog, but may be cause for animal cruelty charges in some area. The solution? Don't leave your dog in a hot car.

5. Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is contracted through bodily fluids or tissue and can be caught transmitted through direct (as in the case of a bite or ingestion of flesh) or indirect contact (through water sources, food, etc.) with an infected animal. Stagnant waters are a common source of leptospirosis bacteria. Lepto can cause permanent health problems or death if not treated quickly. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, trembling/shaking, lethargy, anorexia, tenderness of joints and muscles, and increased water intake. If you suspect your dog has lepto, get him to a vet right away, an emergency vet if need be.

There are vaccines for lepto but they do not prevent all strains and can cause significant adverse reactions. Talk to your vet about weighing the risk of infection with the risks associated with the lepto vaccine.

6. Seasonal Allergies
Your dog may be allergic to one or more seasonal allergies, which include fleas, grass and various plants, and mold allergies. If you suspect your dog may have seasonal allergies, is very itchy and perhaps losing fur, a visit to your vet is recommended. Here is a great website where you can learn more about the various kinds of allergies affecting dogs and treatments for canine allergies in any season.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reckless--Another Equine Hero

This is the story of Reckless, a filly who served the Marines in the Korean War and became, in her time, a true American hero. If you have seen the play, War Horse, you know the dangerous conditions horses endured during World War I, the last war in which horses fought in the cavalry, but Reckless functioned as a one-horse munitions transport convoy in the Korean War, delivering arms to her Marines, often by herself.

When you see the footage that accompanies this video of the explosions, it is hard to believe a horse could have such nerves of steel. I bet her hearing was damaged by her proximity to the blasts.

In any event, this is a truly inspiring story.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ruler on Ice Ices Belmont

In the end, I was right about one thing: Shackleford could not go the distance. That was it.

Well, actually Animal Kingdom had incredibly bad luck. He clipped heels with Monzon at the start and almost lost his jockey (who lost his stirrups) and narrowly avoided a catastrophe. About three strides out of the gate, he was already out of the race. The fact that he finished sixth is a testament to this animal--he is the cream of the 3 year old crop, in my opinion.

Master of Hounds and Nehro were both in perfect striking position as they came into the final turn--they were both inside and about fifth and sixth. And then they both stopped. That incredibly long Belmont stretch, combined with the sloppy track got the better of both of them.

Actually it was the kind of race that you knew was gong to be won by a longshot, given the track conditions. And I think the fact that no one went off at 50 to 1 indicated that I was not the only one who was betting the long odds.

Too bad I didn't even notice Ruler on Ice--although those shocking pink and orange colors were hard to miss! Another Triple Crown series without a champion. As I have said before, it takes a once in a lifetime horse and we haven't seen him in over 30 years.

He may be running around in some paddock as a yearling or he may be learning the ropes at a two year old training facility. Hope springs eternal in the racing business. There's always next year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The LIfe You SAve Might Be Your Own

Ever wondered about the people who volunteer at your local animal shelter? Who are they and what makes them give of their time to help homeless dogs live in a clean cage, have a breath of fresh air and ultimately help them find their forever homes?

Well lately I have. So I poked around a little at one of the local SPCPA shelters in the area to see who works there, why they do and what makes them come back.
Don't have the answers yet, but I do know that the cross section of humanity is fascinating: high powered attorneys rubbing elbow with bikers; small business owners scrubbing cages alongside doctors, health care workers and teachers. People with too much and people with too little all drawn together for the love of dogs.

Volunteers surely are the life blood of any of these human organizations and what makes them do what they do is fascinating, at least to me. Let me know if you think so too. There just might be a book brewing. . .

Friday, June 10, 2011

Puppy Cuts!

We actually had our first official heat wave about two weeks ago, which is when I should have booked the dogs into their very posh grooming salon. During the peak of the heat and humidity, every place was booked, so my dogs suffered through.

As soon as it broke, they were on their way to get their summer "dos" and everyone--especially Amos--feels very cool!

In no particular order--and a little blurry because they were so happy to be running around unencumbered--Sammy, who is just trimmed, not shorn.

Phoebe who is truly shorn and loving it!

And Amos who looks a bit like a deer--or maybe a coyote--but who is MUCH happier!!

Stay cool!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Belmont Field Set

The Belmont field, from the rail out, is:

1. Master of Hounds, Garrett Gomez, 10-1
2. Stay Thirsty, Javier Castellano, 20-1
3. Ruler On Ice, Jose Valdivia Jr., 20-1
4. Santiva, Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1
5. Brilliant Speed, Joel Rosario, 15-1
6. Nehro, Corey Nakatani, 4-1
7. Monzon, Jose Lezcano, 30-1
8. Prime Cut, Edgar Prado, 15-1
9. Animal Kingdom, John Velazquez, 2-1
10. Mucho Macho Man, Ramon Dominguez, 10-1
11. Isn't He Perfect, Rajiv Maragh, 30-1
12. Shackleford, Jesus Castanon, 9-2

I think that both Animal Kingdom and Nehro are sitting pretty, Nehro probably a little more so than Animal Kingdom but my other pick, Master of Hounds is not as fortunate. However, the Belmont is such a long race and the field is much smaller than the other Triple Crown races, that I am not sure post position is as critical. That said, no one wants to get stuck at the gate.

Conventional wisdom says that the way to win the Belmont is to go out in front and stay there. It is a very, very long stretch and it is nice to be way out in front when they turn for home to make everyone else catch you because it is hard to do at that point.

If the pace is too fast too soon, there is the possibility of horses burning themselves out way before that stretch run. I still like Animal Kingdom, Nehro and Master of Hounds. I don't think Shackleford or Mucho Macho man can go that far but you never know.

I think it will be a good race and I think it is also good that many of the Derby contenders are still running in the Belmont. Keeps the game interesting. NBC has live coverage on Saturday. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No Animal Left Behind

This is an extremely important and informative video about what the Humane Society of Missouri is doing to rescue those animals displaced by the tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri. All you need to do is look at the faces of those who have been reunited with their pets to realize the importace of their work.

No animal left behind. I love it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Contenders In Place for Belmont

The countdown to the Belmont officially has begun and Animal Kingdom is turning heads with his first official work yesterday clocking an impressive :47.76 for a half mile. "He went super," said Graham Motion, trainer of the Kentucky Derby winner. "I thought he might go a tick slower but I'm not surprised be did what he did."

Nehro turned in :50 4/5 for an easy half mile and is reported to be looking magnificent. Mucho Macho man worked the same distance in :59 2/5. Master of Hounds is en route from Ireland and the pace of life is quickening around the backstretch.

The post position draw will be streamed live Wednesday from 11-11:30 so we will get an official look at the field. Things are heating up weather wise on the East Coast with Weds. and Thurs. predicted to be in the high 90's but things are supposed to cool off for Saturday and don't be surprised if there are a few showers.

It looks to be a very exciting race.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Update on Mason

Perhaps you have heard the tale of amazing Mason who crawled back to his owner's porch, two weeks after being ripped out of his home by a tornado in Alabama. The most amazing part of the story--the fact that he did this with two broken legs. His owners found him on what remained of their porch when they were sifting through rubble.

Well, Mason has had two metal plates attached to his bones on May 20 and is recovering nicely at the Birmingham Jefferson County Animal Control Shelter. He will be reunited with his owners in about five weeks, when they feel that their house will once again be habitable.

It is truly a remarkable story.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Droolmobile, British Version

This a clip from a recent episode of Top Gear, the hysterical British show about cars. Well it is ostensibly about cars, but as you will see from this clip, it is always about so much more.

In this episode, the Top Gear Team is testing three small cars for their ability to transport three large dogs. As the host notes, about one quarter of all the households in the UK have a dog and a car that can't handle a dogs "frankly, is useless."

I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to test the dog-portability factor of a car but the hair factor of my pack has always made me think twice. There was, of course, the time that the Lexus dealer actually let me bring the car home to see if the dogs would fit. I tried. They didn't and back the car went where I'm sure It was thoroughly vacuumed.

I didn't buy the car, but I still remember they were nice enough to let me take it for a test-fit.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Photo Shoot

How many people does it take to corral three dogs into one shot for the Dedication page?

Answer: five.

How long does this corralling take?

Answer: two hours.

When did you finally get the shot?

Answer: at one hour fifty eight minutes!

Who was busy posing even when the others weren't?

Answer: Phoebe
Those legs belong to one of the "handlers!"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hello, What's Your Name?

Walking in the dog park, Amos and Sam and I meet a lot of people, dogs and occasionally kids. Sam is not too enamored of the smaller set but wise parents always instruct their kids how to greet an unfamiliar dog. And even though I am 100% sure my dogs would never harm anyone (bark maybe and then run behind me is their usual behavior), it is important to teach others about how to greet new dogs.

While I always was instructed to offer my hand for sniffing, preferably the back of it, before petting or reaching for new dogs, these tips below, culled from, are even better:

1. Turn your body sideways - While it is normal and acceptable for humans to greet each other face to face, polite dog greetings generally involve angling and arcing the body. Turning your body sideways will make you less intimidating to the dog.

2. Consider bending low – If a dog is nervous, he may feel more comfortable if you slowly crouch down (body still oriented sideways) and wait for him to approach you.

3. Avoid direct eye contact initially – Dog trainers get lots of practice using their peripheral field of vision. Direct, prolonged eye contact can be read as a challenge by both dogs and people.

4. Do not reach toward the dog – Hold your hand at your side, lower than the dog’s head, with your palm facing up. Wait, and allow him to approach to sniff. If he is unsure about you, he may sniff your hand and quickly back away. Do not reach after him as he backs away.

5. Know where to touch the dog – Instinctively, people seem to want to pat dogs on the head. The trouble is, most dogs really don’t like this. Once the dog is actively seeking contact with you, sniffing your hand or perhaps nudging your hand with his nose or cheek, you may pet him.

Dogs like to be petted in different spots but most will accept a gentle pat on the head for a quick hello on the walking path. If dogs are leashed, my experience has been that they may be interested in visiting with your dog than with you and a few sniffs usually suffice!

Happy trails!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If the Shoe Fits

Perhaps I've solved the problem of what to wear to my book launch parties? What do you think? More importantly, are they dogs or cats? Hint: the name of the shoe is Miao but I think they could be cats or dogs.

The shoes are designed by Kobi Levi, an Israeli designer, who has this to say about his work:
" In my artistic footwear design the shoe is my canvas. The trigger to create a new piece comes when an idea, a concept and/or an image comes to mind. The combination of the image and footwear creates a new hybrid and the design/concept comes to life. The piece is a wearable sculpture. It is "alive" with/out the foot/body. Most of the inspirations are out of the "shoe-world", and give the footwear an extreme transformation. The result is usually humoristic with a unique point of view about footwear. Another aspect of the creation is the realization. All the pieces are hand-made in my studio. The challenging technical development is the key to bring the design to life in the best way."

No word on price and most important whether or not they are comfortable! But they certainly make a statement!