Let's kick this post off with an announcement! We are officially half way through our A to Z challenge!!!! M is the 13th letter of the alphabet, and our halfway point to letter, Z, numero 26. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement as we make our way through this daily challenge, for loving me through the daily emails and appearances in your reader or your Triberr feed, and for the continued comments. You're awesome! As a big thanks, I'd like to announce that we will be doing the second Life with Arie giveaway at the end of the challenge! I've worked to put together a super special gift basket for pet lovers everywhere, so stay tuned for more details. I'll be revealing some of the special items included in the giveaway in posts throughout the rest of the month. Now, onto the alphabet...
M is for military dogs, and dogs in similar fields.
As the proud owner of a German Shepherd Dog, even if her coloration is often viewed as a fault, I have a special place in my heart for military and service dogs, as GSD's make up a significant number of their population. These dogs are true heroes, and are truly amazing. One of our first posts on Life with Arie was actually about dogs in the military, and discusses the bonds that soldiers have with their dogs, and the debate over dogs as property or as soldiers themselves. One of our more recent posts discussed the plight of Sergeant Rex, a military dog whose former handler was fighting to bring him home with her after he was deemed unfit for service. I'm happy to give you an update, though it's a little belated: Sergeant Rex can officially become a couch potato and house dog with his handler, Megan Leavey. Check out The Elka Almanac for the details.
One thing that I've skipped over some in my talk of military dogs is the discussion of other dogs of armed service, such as K-9 officers. I've had the good fortune to get to know the great Shugart family behind a local business here in Georgia, Deceased Pet Care. Sounds morbid, I know, but this establishment is amazing. Atlanta is a very densely populated area, surrounded by outer areas that feature everything from suburbs to farmland. While I don't like to think about Arie going over the rainbow bridge, when she does, I won't be able to create a place for her under the shade tree in my back yard, like we did with my childhood companion, Patches. Deceased Pet Care handles pet cremation from your beloved house cat to your gentle horse, as well as a beautiful, respectful, and comforting cemetery for pets that allows pet parents to visit their loved ones long after their gone. They also handle almost all of the K-9 units after their passing, whether still active duty or retired and enjoying their time at home.
They feature a page on their website devoted to dogs from the police departments in the area, with a K-9 fund to help the public get involved in honoring these furry heroes, a biography written for each dog to show off their achievements and to honor their memory, and a respectful final resting place for these unsung (until now) heroes. If you've got a spare moment (and maybe some Kleenex) you should read their wonderful stories. Working with Deceased Pet Care has really opened my eyes to the dogs serving my area, and I feel like I know them all a bit better.
Lately we've had a lot of heroic pet stories on the brain, so we'd love to hear yours. Share a link or a story in the comments section with your favorite tales of tails doing amazing things.
After settling in for a quite Saturday night at home, I stopped by some of my favorite blogs to check in on their latest posts. The Elka Almanac had a wonderful post about a new bill to protect dogs in the military and ensure they make their way home after their services.
It was pure coincidence and serendipity that after reading Jen's post, I checked my Google Alerts for White Shepherds and German Shepherds (They come in handy for the stories I write as the Atlanta German Shepherd examiner). In the listed articles, I found the amazing story of Marine Megan Leavey, and her fight to save the life of and to adopt her canine military companion, Rex.
Leavey was a dog handler in the military that worked with Rex, a bomb-sniffing dog, very closely. The two even survived a roadside bombing together.
"'Rex is my partner; I love him,' Leavey told Msnbc.com 'We have been through so much together … I’ve spent day and night with this dog. It’s a very strong bond.'" (via Mail Online)
Leavey has tried several times to adopt Rex, but was denied because he was still considered a valuable active work dog. Rex now holds status as the oldest dog still in service at Camp Pendleton at the ripe age of 10, which makes him an elderly German Shepherd. Rex is now facing health complications with Facial Palsy that cause his to be unable to serve. This complicates the matter even more, as his illness could be another reason to deny his adoption outside of service, and also a reason to put him to sleep because he cannot be used in service anymore--Not because he's not capable of living in fair circumstances.
Leavey is now working with several vets and members of the Air Force who train the dogs used within the military to get approval for Rex's adoption. For more information on the story, you can read about it via the NY Post or Radar Online.
While we've discussed canine members of the military before, now we have a chance to help these dogs get the recognition they deserve. Call your representatives and discuss S.2134 -- Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act (Introduced in Senate - IS) as a way for them to help dogs in the military.
If you follow Life with Arie on Twitter (@masdemoore) or on Facebook, chances are you saw our exciting announcement that we would be telling you about our giveaway on the blog...yesterday. We're finally able to tell you about the giveaway today!
Yesterday's delay was the result of a very awkward turn of events. After heading to her crate for some nightly shut eye, Arie decided she wanted to get my attention by scratching at her crate door. Somehow, she managed to get two of her paw pads through one slot in the door of her crate and was stuck. After a few minutes of both of us screaming, I got her paw loose and she was fine--besides having peed herself from fear, poor thing.
Needless to say, we all have awkward situations that arise in our life, like your dog somehow managing to get her paw stuck in a door. Sometimes, these awkward situations are captured by a camera--and in still other situations, we've actually posed for them.
Enter the awkward family photo. My parents' hallway is lined with fine examples of these, from a photo of my sister, mother, and I wearing matching dresses and huge 80's bows to family photos where one member of the family isn't ready, either starring daggers at someone else or still fixing their hair. The hilarious and well known book, Awkward Family Photos, became an over-night Internet sensation for compiling these awkward moments. Now, the authors are back with a sequel: Awkward Family Pet Photos.
I've had the privilege of reading this book, and I must say, it now stays in my cubicle at work for occasional relief from the mundane and as an escape into the hilarious misfortune of other people's awkward memories. Pet lovers and owners will have a special love for this book as they can relate and understand the situations these pets and the people who love get into in front of a camera.
Want to read this great book for yourself? I'll be giving it away to one lucky reader. Here's how to win:
On Life with Arie, I'm going to start featuring guest bloggers to talk about their pets. I am proud to feature one of my friends from college, Sarah Gray, as my first guest blogger in her post entitled "Trying Green Eggs and Ham".
Enter my husband, Steve, and his near obsession with the Komondor breed. After I introduced him to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, things were never quite the same in my house. Steve began to research Komondorok (the correct plural form) almost compulsively. Though I had seen the white, dreadlock-sporting monsters many times on the TV, I’d never been particularly interested in the breed. Steve, however, was quick to broaden my understanding of the giant dogs beyond the quippy description given on the televised dog shows.
This Hungarian dog was bred to guard sheep. Great hon, are we going to be starting a flock in our ½ acre suburban backyard? The hair mats naturally, and the mats are then ripped into cords by the owner. That doesn’t sound time consuming at all. The males weigh anywhere from 115 to 135 pounds. Are we getting a bigger house? They are wary of strangers but faithful to and gentle with even the smallest members of their families. We’re never having company again, are we?
Despite my skepticism, we started attending local dog shows and talking to breeders. By some colossal coincidence, there was actually a Komondor breeder nearby, something that was about as likely as being struck by lightning, twice. We even made a pilgrimage to a breeder’s home to meet several of her dogs in their home environment. She warned that they needed to time to accept visitors, so they may not be overly friendly. Of course, every one we met was an absolute charmer. By the time we left, even I was feeling less ambivalent toward those mountains of white with their friendly, twitching noses. Higgins, in particular, felt that as ambassador for the breed, he must lie across my feet and go to sleep. I’m not made of stone, people.
Fast-forward to today and meet Sam (registered name: Ibis Green Eggs and Ham), our Komondor puppy. Do not be fooled by the term “puppy,” however. Sam is an 80+ pound, nine-month-old with energy (and love) to spare. He’s big, and he’s clumsy, and he drags in every bit of dirt and debris he can from outside. He drinks his water with all the grace of a pig at trough and then proceeds to put his wet, hairy mug directly into your lap. We love him.
Training Sam has been challenging to say the least. We attended puppy kindergarten with him and have worked with him daily on obedience. Komondorok are bred to guard sheep without the constant presence of humans, so they are independent thinkers (read: stubborn and hard to train.) His behavior remains a work in progress, though we are blessed with a naturally affectionate and mostly submissive dog. Of course, he has his moments, as he did the other night when he sat on my best friend’s head.
He has his shining moments, though. In July, he participated in his very first dog show. While we do not plan to show him ourselves, because of our arrangement with the breeder, she has the option to show him if she chooses. Because a minimum number of a specific breed must be entered into a dog show for the wins to “count,” Sam was entered into the Greenville Dog Show as a sort of “filler” dog. He behaved beautifully and acted as if he knew what he was doing. He even won two ribbons – don’t get too excited, they don’t count toward any points or anything – and overall, it was a fun experience.
Now that his moment of celebrity has passed, he’s back to lounging about and destroying things in turn. Our remaining cat, Abby (we lost Hobbes to cancer and congestive heart failure) hates Sam with a flaming heat, and he thinks she is a striped, furry playtoy. We have a daughter, Lucy Addison, who at 20 months old has become completely oblivious to the size and power of our oversized dog. When he trespasses into her space, she merely waves a hand and says, “Oh, Puppy.”
As for me, I’m still not sure you could call me a dog person. Sometimes Sam’s affection is just a little too available for my taste. Nevertheless, I can’t resist his black, wet nose or his man-sized, huggable head. Taking him out in public remains a feat, as we are constantly stopped and asked to explain the monster on the end of the leash. I really don’t mind the questions, and I answer them patiently, for the most part. Just don’t ask if we have a saddle for him. We’ve heard that joke already. A lot.
Leave your comments here for me or Sarah, and visit Sarah's blog, "Wife, Student, Crazy Person," for more of her fabulous writing.
When I first got Arie, I had a lot of people who said at first "Wow, I never knew they came in white!" The novelty of her breed made her get a lot of attention, with people often mistaking her a husky, or asking if she was albino. When I really got into understanding Arie's breed and what it meant for her to be a White German Shepherd Dog, I discovered something. We've been staring at White German Shepherds EVERYWHERE. We just never took notice.
White German Shepherds have been in the media for years, but have gotten a great amount of press in recent decades. Did any of you see the movie Getting Away With Murder with Dan Aykroyd? Well, a WGSD named Nikki was a character alongside of him.
Perhaps the most iconic White Shepherd to hit the media of late would be Bolt, who's lovable Disney character has actually been credited with a boom in the breed, that both hurts and helps our cause. While the breed is getting positive attention rather than the "you're a genetic failure" or "Shepherd? RUN!" that are more typical, it also saw a population rise that landed more WGSD in shelters due to breeders going overboard with puppies.
WGSD haven't just made it into the hearts of millions through their feats in Hollywood: They're in the homes of Hollywood as well. Maggie Q, the well-known action-ready star of CW's Nikita has a beloved White Shepherd, as well as an affection for dog breeds that usually get a bad rap for being "aggressive" breeds (speaking of which, have you checked out Adopt A Less Adoptable Pet Week?). In her interview with Modern Dog, Maggie even said that if she were a dog, she would probably be "a cross between my two favourites; a Pitt and a German Shepherd".
Even people with a less than tough reputation can love a stereotyped aggressive breed. Miley Cyrus, the young pop singer and star of the movie The Last Song, recently got a White German Shepherd puppy, named Mate.
Finally, America's sweetheart, Jennifer Anniston, also has a WGSD pup in her brood. Anniston is well-known for her lovable dog Norman, who just recently and very sadly passed away. Anniston also had and still has another dog, Dolly, a White Shepherd. The actress's love of canines is well-known, and is definitely apparent in photos of her walking her pooches:
What other Hollywood White Shepherds can you name? Tell me your star sightings in a comment.
46CBJK64GBWA I love to read. Arie likes to chew on things while I read, so I assume she likes reading, too. Banned Books Week is one of my favorite celebrations all year, as it is a week for the public to defiantly read a book (or several) that was placed on a ban for some reason or other. Banned Books Week celebrates freedom of expression and the right to knowledge for everyone, as well as flies in the face of censorship. Banned Books Week will kick off on September 24th, so be sure you're ready with these animal-involving titles:
We have quite the pet family. So far, you've met Arie, my White German Shepherd, and Shady, our lab mix. We also have two cats and a tank filled with fish, but you'll have to meet them later. The point of this post isn't how many animals we have, but how devastating it would be if we ever lost one of them.
When I was little, I grew up next door to my grandparent's land, and in a rural area with lots of wildlife, it's not a rare occurrence for a pet to wander off and not return. I was heartbroken when my cat disappeared, and positively devastated when one met a nasty end thanks to another animal. The wildlife wasn't the only threat to my pet's safe return; people also posed a danger. My family would give the dog a bath, and then let him/her run outside without their collar on while they dried. I was always terrified that someone would find them in that brief time, think they were homeless, and take them in or take them to a shelter.
With the amazing progress of modern technology, we now have an amazing invention that helps relieve that worry: The microchip. Microchips are now readily affordable and available, so you can get one easily for your pet at a shelter or your vet. While they may not seem so important if you have a collar and tag for your dog, remember: Tags and collars can break off, get snagged, or wear so that your information isn't clear. Microchips go beyond that to ensure that your pet is always marked with the address for their home, and have helped some animals find it home in extreme cases, like when one dog made the amazing 750 MILE trip home after being separated from his owner, all because someone checked his microchip.
Still, there are some things you need to have in place in addition to getting your pet a microchip to ensure they'll make it home:
Punching a bear in the face sounds like an epic moment from a slapstick comedy or survival movie, but for one Alaska woman, it was last week's big event. So, why would a small woman punch a large black bear square in the nose? To save her dog, of course!
Brook Collins, a 22 year old pet lover in Alaska, had seen black bears around before. They often come through residential areas in Alaska, and some are very used to the presence of people, going for trash and other people produced goodies. Usually, she would just leave the bear alone, or follow it to take pictures, but this time was different--Collins' dachshund, Fudge, was about to become bear chow.
Collins' had let her dogs, a pomeranian named Toki and then Fudge, out in the evening as she usually did. A blood curdling cry from her pup, and Collins saw one of her fears come to life: Her dog was outside, but with a giant black bear over him, holding him in her claws. Adrenaline kicked in, and before she knew it, Collins had acted on a principle she learned about animal behavior; When many animals are punched in the face, they back off. So, this petite 22 year old did just that, and punched the bear square in the face, then took Fudge and ran. Fudge suffered minor marks, but is fine, and Collins ended up with a cut on her thumb. To have taken on a black bear and won, I think those battle scars are fortunately mild, indeed.
Read the full story with Juneau Empire.
How far would you go to save your dog's life? Tell your stories of amazing animal rescue in a comment.
Today many of us spent a moment of silence remembering the tragic events that occurred a decade ago, though for me, it feels like it might have been yesterday. With the attacks on American soil on September 11, many people lost their lives, and many heroes devoted their last hours to ensuring that others might continue a long life. Some of these heroes walked on two legs, some on four, and I think that as we remember all of the lives lost on that tragic day, we should not forget the amazing animals that worked alongside heroic people.
Many dogs helped to discover survivors of the September 11th attacks that were buried under rubble, or helped guide those on the streets to safety. One American White Shepherd (like Arie!) and rescue dog, Thor was even memorialized on the obituaries of urdead2me, a blog remembering lost loved ones. The writer commented on Thor's experience, saying "His most significant [of] deployments was the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 where he served at the Pentagon at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Dogs have served an integral role in search and rescue efforts for years, and even beyond 9/11, are a constant presence in our military. If you haven't checked out War Dogs, it's a great line up of photos showing how dogs have helped the military, with the interesting tag line "There's a reason they brought one to get Osama bin Laden."
These service dogs and the four-legged rescuers of 9/11 are remembered fondly in the minds of their human companions, the people they rescued, and beyond, with documentaries and various articles written about them, like this one. One dog, a German Shepherd who aided rescuers at the World Trade Center site, was remembered even beyond paper and thoughts. Trakr, after being nominated by his owner, James Symington, won a contest with BioArts International to become one of the first dogs to be cloned. Symington and others prized Trakr's heart and rescue ability so much that they created an entire litter of little Trakrs.
Efforts are underway now to create robots that would eventually replace dogs in the military, but I'm skeptical as to how well they'll work out. The creators are trying to make robots that respond and "think" like a dog, but there's a reason why man's best friend's unique instincts and loyalty have been prized for centuries. A bond so unique and so powerful, where dogs willingly risk their lives to please people and save lives, would be hard to come by through machines. Though such robots would mean less lives lost for canines in uniform, they would most likely be much less effective.
Do you know any heroic stories of military dogs coming to the rescue of people in the 9/11 attacks? What do you think of a robot canine-like soldier? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so share them in a comment.
Yesterday the Eastern seaboard felt something it's not very used to: An earthquake. Though the epicenter of the 5.9 quake was in Virginia, people reported feeling tremors as far off as New York and Atlanta. While many talk about the surprise of an earthquake, for the animal kingdom, it's not such a sudden event. Natural disasters and pets have interesting links, from anticipating a disaster to how animals respond to the aftermath.
Animals and wildlife have been anticipating these natural disasters for quite some time, in records going back to the times of ancient Greece.
In 373 BC "Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes" notably abandoned their homes in the city of Helice right before a devastating earthquake in Greece. Since that recording, people have been telling various stories about their pets giving signs to natural disasters or events, as mild as thunderstorms or as devastating as a tsunami.
Though some scientists in Asia are studying this intriguing behavior, for the most part, this warning sign often goes on without second thought or notice. Many scientists discredit it as hindsight bias, saying that the odd and signaling behavior in animals is only noticed after the event has already occurred, and then it could just be a pet acting odd--not signaling natural disaster. Still, when we do pay attention, the pay off can be great:
" In 1975, the city of Haicheng was evacuated days in advance of an earthquake based on the behavior of dogs and cats. An estimated 150,000 lives were saved." -Petcentric, "Pets Predicting Earthquakes"
After a natural disaster has happened, we have plenty of animals working with various groups and in various capacities there to help find trapped or lost people and to give them aid. One has to wonder though, who's helping the animals?
There are several disaster relief groups focused on helping pets, whether it's World Vets in Japan, BtC helping pets displaced by tornadoes, or the Animal Refuge Kansai helping dogs that were left without their families during an earthquake around Kobe. You can help your pet survive a disaster by watching their behavior, having an emergency bag for your pet to go along with your own preparedness kits, and having a plan on what to do in an emergency.
Did your pet act strangely at all before the earthquake? Share your stories in a comment.