Store kicks out family with Service Dog, Golden Retriever Ellie

Amazingly cruel. I feel sorry for the good folks of North Carolina who must be so offended by this store owner’s actions.
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Wounded veterans take case for service dogs to Capitol Hill

For Iraqi war vet Luiz Montalvan, Golden Retriever Tuesday can pick up a dropped cane, even sense when he needs his medications. Wounded veterans and their service dogs were on Capitol Hill recently hoping to get more support for service dog programs. Vodpod videos no longer available.

Learn more about Psychiatric Service Dogs here.


Well, just finished my 2nd issue of our Foundation’s Newsletter. It is actually over 2x longer than the 1st issue and packed with some great finds. There is an absolutely fabulous MUST-HAVE article on mushrooms with recipes galore, and reviews of two great new food books from veterinarians.

Please let me know what you think. REALLY.

Just click here.

Mitigating a World of Hurt: PSDs Stepping up to the Challenge

We have a new area at our foundation site, so that we can post personal concerns, pet peeves, and honestly, whatever tickles my fancy. It may involve dogs of any persuasion or it may not. The only determinant for inclusion is that the topic is IMPORTANT TO US.  Some of the latest topics have included:

The NEWEST topic is this:

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Here’s part of the lead in to the page:

The concept of the Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) has received an increased emphasis in the media, their status elevated due to the concerns regarding the huge numbers of war veterans suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as Traumatic Brain Injury due to the use of the improvised explosive device (IED). Some estimates show greater than one third of vets returning home from war in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD, this article on declining morale of US troops in Afghanistan revealing the significant societal impact:

Think tank RAND report in 2008 had revealed 300,000 veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan had been diagnosed with severe depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It said more soldiers were going AWOL to find treatment from PTSD. RAND further reveals that rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops taking part in war on terror have been excessively high, with a third of returning troops reporting psychic problems and 18.5% of all returning service personnel battling either PTSD or depression. Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007; army suicides are at highest rate since records were kept in 1980. There has been 80% increase in desertions since 2003. Over 150 GIs refused service while about 250 war resisters are taking refuge in Canada. 1700 strong GI resistance is gaining momentum. The veterans have signed up for anti-war Oath Keepers (an association of serving military officers, reserves, National Guard, veterans, fire fighters). Longer war drags on more resistance from within ranks. Hundreds of letters have been written to Obama by serving and retired servicemen, urging him to bring back US troops. Long absence from homes is escalating divorce rates. …

Mental state of those on duty on scattered posts is worst since they feel scared. Many suffer from mental disorders. Sleeplessness and bouts of anger are common. Many are found broken down and weeping since the faceless enemy frustrates them. Seeing their comrades blown up shatters them. They feel irritated that in their bid to help the population by giving them humanitarian assistance, they do not cooperate and often lie and tend to protect Taliban. Recent rules of engagement to minimize civilian casualties are seen as fighting with one arm tied behind backs. Most demoralizing thing is that soldiers are not getting killed in combat actions but by roadside bombs on routine journeys. In 2009, most casualties were from IEDs and still are. All combat missions are accepted with a heavy heart. There is no sense of pride or accomplishment in them. None want to die or get crippled. All they desire is complete their tenure and return home safely in one piece.

Here is so much more . . . .

Pet Peeves Day 5 – Updated

I’m trying to figure out why I stay with Netflix. Must be my inherent altruism. It certainly isn’t to see movies.

Now on DAY 5 with no movies on the way. No matter what I want to see, it is never in. So, I’m playing a game to see how many days it takes to get something. Might as well have fun with such nonsense.

Stay tuned ….

Darn! They are now actually going to send me a movie. It was actually bottom on my list. But, it’s something.

Golden Retriever Sollie — $20,000 Diamond Thief?

Poor Golden Retriever Rescue Sollie was in the doghouse for a few days. You see, he daily accompanies dad, George Kaufmann, to his store, Robert Bernard Jewelers in Rockville, MD. When a diamond dealer visited and took out a 3-carat stone, it fell on the floor next to Sollie, who did what all good retrievers do … retrieved and gobbled it up.

Three days of poop later, and all was well again. Definitely a ruff experience, I’d say. Vodpod videos no longer available.

Canine Ergonomics: The need for a SCIENCE of Working Dogs

I have long been fascinated by the important roles that our canines play in their collaboration with humans. My own personal hero in this area is Dr. Bonnie Bergin, the incredible woman who in 1975  originated the concept of the “service dog.” Seeing waiting lists for service dogs extending to 10 years, and low percentage of dogs making it through the program, she founded the Assistance Dog Institute and Bergin University of Canine Studies. Now providing college programming, and doing research on training and the use of assistance dogs, Dr. Bergin has been a model for us all.

“The dog, we now realize, thinks, feels and reacts in ways very much like humans, which explains its unique ability to fit into human society. And the plasticity, the versatility, the adaptability of the canine species is very much aligned with ours. So the time has come to elevate the dog to take its place beside humans, equines, bovines and other mammalian species as a specific subject of study at the college and university level. No animal does more for us, none share a more intimate relationship with us, nor can any claim more years of alliance with us – than the dog – our partner, our friend, our helpmate.”

Books from several disciplines line my shelves in the attempt to define and explore the nature of working dogs. In this vein, I very much agree with psychology professor, Dr. William S. Helton.

Editor of CANINE ERGONOMICS, the first book on the science of working dogs, Dr. Helton laments over the fact that the “scientific literature on working dogs is scattered across several non-overlapping disciplines and, in comparison to the magnitude of its societal importance, relatively underdeveloped.”

Currently, there is no recognized “science” of working dogs and therefore no recognized, specialized research in the area.

I suspected that Dr. Helton had been personally inspired by a working dog when we read this in the book’s preface:

“I looked up from the paper and there was Kiowa, a black and tan mixed-breed trained signal (hearing assistance) dog. He lay on the floor with one ear up and swiveling around searching for sounds. Kiowa, like a sonar or radar operator, was a vigilant worker, looking for relatively rare target signals among long series of irrelevant noises and sounds. Kiowa, moreover, was an expert, as he had learned to generalize his signaling to untrained but meaningful targets, such as water boiling or a bathtub filling.”

And, of course, I was right. I contacted the good professor in New Zealand and he graciously provided us with more about how his passion developed. Click here to learn more about the book, Dr. Helton’s work, and the assistance dogs he has trained.

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Sunbear Squad Watch Tip of the Week: March 8th

The Sunbear Squad has resolved to make a difference for neglected and abused companion animals. They are transforming animal lovers into animal welfare defenders — with knowledge, tools, and inspiration.

Watch Tip: Watch for protruding spines, hips, and ribs as winter coats begin to shed out. Remember, you may be the only one who notices.

Be Sunbear Squad Informed
5 Simple Things
Bill of Rights for Pets
Risk Factor List
Learn about Abuse
Action Guidelines

Be Sunbear Squad Active
Neighborhood Watch
YouNet FAQ
Start a Squad
Free Materials

Be Sunbear Squad Prepared
Wallet Card
Roadside Rescue Kit
Disaster Plans
Reciprocal Fostering
SCRAPS Breathing
Be Sunbear Squad Inspired
Roadkilled Blessings
Be a Good Samaritan
Inspirational Sayings
Avoid Dog Slang
Humane Awards

This was my favorite part of the awards.

Last night (13 hours ago), when I saw this, I tweeted:

Just saw the best part of the Oscars, Dug from the movie Up licking the camera & getting nuts over a SQUIRREL! And, they won! Yes!

I’d love to find the video for the sequence. Others online loved it as well. The folks who create Nerdies for Best & Worst of 82nd Annual Academy Awards gave the sketch the award: Most Welcome Close-Up:

During the animated sequence featuring the nominees for best animated feature, Up’s talking dog, Dug, went right up to the camera and licked it before saying, “This is not food.” I love Dug and his big, squirrel-sniffing nose!

Zach Galifianakis definitely spiced things up

I have been a devotee of Saturday Night Live for two many years to mention (for fear that folks could figure out I am actually older than dirt). Sadly, it will probably never approach the hilarity of the earlier years with The Coneheads and the work of Gilda Radner. I simply hate the new bits that are repeated ad nauseam, such as the idiot kissing sketch or what’s up with that number (which, this week, wasted the talent of Paul Rudd and Frank Rich).

That was why I was looking forward to seeing comedian (from The Hangover), Zach Galifianakis, hosting for the first time last night. Too bad they couldn’t feature him in every sketch, but the following pieces that he did were really quite unique. I loved his kid/grabbing himself train excitement and joke about home-schooling. And, I was momentarily fooled when I saw Brian Williams at the beginning of the “Zach Drops by the Set” digital short, which really was the show’s highlight .Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Sheeeee’s Baaaa-ack!

Not long ago I posted about Golden Retriever Grace, the adorable, smiling house-cleaner. I’ve since learned that this sweetie is 3-years-old and a petite 54 pounds. Golden Retriever Grace’s family grew tired of picking up after her. Now she picks up after herself. And, with such excitement, I might add.

Here is her dad’s latest posting of Grace cleaning.

I am seriously thinking about buying a similar type basket and teaching Alfie this GReat trick. I will keep you posted.

I commented on the video and Brad, Grace’s dad, wrote this back:

I posted my previous (and first) youtube video without really knowing what I was doing. I was surprised to see that so many had viewed it until I happened upon youtube’s video stats area where I saw that Grace’s fame was mostly due to your link. So THANK YOU for that! I see you viewed her new one that I just posted–you must check frequently for Golden videos. Grace is perfect almost every time at house cleaning, but I posted the new one mainly because I learned how to use the camera a little better and to keep my mouth shut so that people could enjoy Grace.

I wrote back to Brad, who is a clicker training advocate like myself, and told him folks always love to learn more about the dogs featured in videos, as well as how particular tricks were learned. (If you want to contact him directly, just write to bethatdog at yahoo dot com.)

I loved this response from Brad, since my distaste for the old methods such as those espoused by Millan are so repugnant.

If I had to say anything, it would be to your point about clicker training.  I grew up learning training by compulsion using Barbara Woodhouse/Cesar Millan-type methods.  I’ve learned better.  Despite their obvious love for animals, these people are abusing them unnecessarily–and training millions of others to do the same.  Barring a few cases of extremely unstable dogs, anything that you can teach by compulsion you can teach by positive reinforcement, and it’ll be a whole lot more fun for dog and handler alike.

Please check out further resources here about training, as well as this MUST-READ article/instructive discussion by Dr. Sophia Yin: Dominance Controversy & Cesar Millan).

Confusion with the term “Alpha Dog” and where it originates
Below, Dr. L. David Mech talks about the terms “alpha” and “beta” wolves and why they are no longer scientifically accurate. Be sure to read and download his article, Whatever Happened to the Term Alpha Woof? Dr. Yin refers to Dr. Mech and this article in her discussion of the dominance controversy.