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Obama Dog Watch: Finalists in the Hunt for a Dog

The Obama family is nearing a decision on the breed for the first dog.

Before President-elect Barack Obama began his interview on the ABC program “This Week,” which was broadcast Sunday, his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, asked the host, George Stephanopoulos, to slip in this question: “What kind of a dog are we getting, and when are we getting it?”

When asked, Mr. Obama laughed “They seem to have narrowed it down to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound,” he said, adding that the next step is to canvass shelters.

“We’re closing in on it,” he said. “This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary,” a reference to the recent withdrawal by Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as his original selection for that post.

Both breeds — a Labradoodle at top, a Portuguese water dog below — were chosen to reduce Malia’s allergy to dogs and have big Democratic backers. Senator Edward M. Kennedy owns two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash, which often flank him as he walks the halls of the Capitol. Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a Labradoodle (part Labrador retriever, part poodle) named Brother.

Fulfilling his promise to get a dog is just one of the personal decisions that Mr. Obama and his family face as they settle into Washington.

Mr. Obama said the family planned to visit a number of churches to see “what’s comfortable.” Every president since James Madison has attended St. John’s, the Federal-style Episcopal church across Lafayette Square from the White House. But several predominantly black churches are eager to lure the Obamas, like Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, where Bill Clinton twice attended inaugural prayer services.

One family matter that appears to be going well is the Obama girls’ transition to their new school, Sidwell Friends.

“They seemed to thrive,” Mr. Obama said in the interview of their first week at the private school. “I’m trying to figure out why it is that they don’t seem to be fazed by anything.

“People think — you know, folks think I’m cool. They are a lot cooler than I am. They just don’t seem to be intimidated.”

[Source: The New York Times]

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Canine Mets Fan Can’t Wait for Opening Day

Jackie the wily pooch is one New Yorker who just couldn’t wait until opening day to see the Mets’ new stadium.

The stray dog was spotted sniffing around Citi Field for several days before animal control officers were sent Wednesday to rescue her. She led them on a run through the stadium, which is still under construction. New York City Animal Care and Control spokesman Mike Pastore said, “She was around home plate, ran up the first base line and ducked into the stands.”

Rescuers nicknamed the 40-pound shepherd mix Jackie. Pastore said she was jumpy and shaking when they caught her, but was able to pet her once she calmed down.

Jackie was taken to the agency’s Manhattan shelter. She could be adopted as early as Saturday.

[Source: Newsday.com]

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Pet Owners Willing to Sacrifice for Their Dogs

Despite a tough economy, pet owners are willing to sacrifice many luxuries to provide for the needs of their canine companions, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Kennel Club.

The survey of more 1,000 people on akc.org found that more than 96 percent of respondents with a taste for gourmet coffee would give up their latte habit to save money for their dog’s expenses. Ninety-seven percent also said they would forgo massages or spa treatments to afford a vet bill, and nearly 79 percent would cancel a teeth whitening appointment so that Fido could have his annual teeth cleaning.

The only item that seems to compete with people’s love for their pooches is Internet access, with more than 70 percent of respondents indicating they would not be able to abstain from their Web addiction.

Not at all surprising, if you ask me. How else are people going to read dog clothes horse?!

[Source: Kansascity.com]

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Weiner Dogs Race at Denver’s Oktoberfest

Dozens of dachshunds brought short legs, long ears and high hopes to Denver’s Oktoberfest on Sunday to participate in a weiner dog race, the first “Long Dog Derby.”

Pooches with names like “Daisy the destroyer,” “Lightning Lilly,” “Black Pearl” and “Frank the Tank,” sometimes dashed, and occasionally wandered in dazed confusion, across a fenced race track.

Daisy May, a 6-month-old brown dachshund with a sharp snout and gentle eyes, sped through her paces, in the “Little Links” event for puppies under one year.

The dog had never raced before, but she wasn’t thrown off by the crowd and hoopla, said Daisy May’s owner, Loreli Walker, 29, a Denver nurse. “They have such personality,” she said of the breed. “They think they are pretty big dogs when they’re not.”

More than 60 dogs were signed up for the races in six categories, including “hot dog carts” for handicapped dachshunds.

The event was part of Oktoberfest on Larimer Street, an annual festival that has welcomed the fall season in Denver since 1969. Proceeds from the $15 dog-race registration fee went to Colorado dachshund Rescue.

Two people accompanied each racer, one to release the dog at the starting line and one to encourage and catch the animal at the finish line.

The event included a costume contest, won by “Oscar Mayer Weiner,” a 6-year-old miniature long-haired dachshund, who was dressed as a skunk.

“He has been wearing it for Halloween for the last two or three years; he doesn’t object, he is a good sport,” said Tracy Alvarez, 46, Oscar’s owner.
Steve Ballas, owner of Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs, a hot dog stand that was a race sponsor, said the event was so successful that next year it will be a stand-alone event. “We had no idea how many weiner dogs there are in Denver,” he added.

[Source: The Denver Post]

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City Uses DNA to Combat Dog Poop

City Uses DNA to Combat Dog Poop

An Israeli city is using DNA analysis of dog droppings to reward and punish pet owners.

Under a six-month trial program launched this week, the city of Petah Tikva, which a suburb of Tel Aviv, is asking dog owners to take their animal to a local veterinarian, who swabs the dogs mouth and collects its DNA.

The city will use the DNA database it is building to match dog poop to a registered dog and identify its owner.

Owners who scoop up their dogs’ droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva’s streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys.

But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine.

“My goal is to get the residents involved, and tell them that together, we can make our environment clean,” said Tika Bar-On, the city’s chief veterinarian who came up with the idea for the DNA experiment.

Bar-On said the DNA database could also help veterinarians research genetic diseases in dogs, investigate canine pedigree and identify stray animals, replacing the need for electronic chip identification.

“The sky is the limit on how far we can take this,” she said.

So far, Bar-On said, residents have “reacted positively to the program and are cooperating because they want their neighborhood to be clean”.

She said Petah Tikva would consider making it mandatory for pet owners to provide DNA samples from their dogs if the trial program is successful.

[Source: Reuters UK]

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Barrington Hills Pug Wins Face on Alpo Cans

Alpo’s hungry new face is a Barrington Hills pug selected for his habit of spinning like a top whenever he attacks his food dish. Thanks to his feverish eating habits, Ike earned the right to appear on 2.5 million cans of dog food.

As part of his reward, Ike will soon be whisked off to Los Angeles to hobnob with other celebrity dogs, including Bruiser from the “Legally Blonde” movies and Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Mary Beth Holsteen, 51, who entered her 18-pound pug into Alpo’s nationwide video competition.

Holsteen and her husband, Frank, knew Ike’s daily pre-dinner routine would make him a major contender. They filmed the dog spinning around and around — as he does every day at meal time — before diving head first into his bowl. Click here to see the video.

He eats with such gusto that his hind legs actually go airborne. Impressed with his antics — and appetite — the judges chose Ike from about 200 contestants. The 4-year-old pug spent his puppy years barking at mail carriers and attending suburban Little League games.

Local pug enthusiasts were thrilled by his selection. “It will probably have a good effect, especially if it’s a good picture,” said Lisa Farrell, president of Midwest Pug Rescue, which works to help find new homes for abandoned pugs.

As a prize, the Holsteens get a hometown party and $10,000. Ike gets a year’s supply of the dog food.

[Source: Chicago Tribune]

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Running of the Wieners

Running of the Wieners

The nation’s largest Oktoberfest celebration, Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, invited dachshunds from all around the country to compete for the title of most authentically German “wiener dog” of this year’s celebration.

The second annual John Morrell Running of the Wieners will kick off Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati on Friday, September 19, with competitions to be held at noon on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati.

The races are free and open to any dachshund in America. Each dog will be provided its competition “race gear” hot dog bun costume, and will race 100 feet to its owner. Winners of each heat will advance to the finals. The grand champion dachshund will be crowned the most “authentically German” mascot of Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, the nation’s largest Oktoberfest, second only to the original in Munich, Germany. The winner will also receive an awesome gift basket filled with dog treats and treats for his or her owner.

“Last year’s first Running of the Wieners was the surprise hit of the Oktoberfest weekend,” said Karen Michelsen, vice president of marketing for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “We challenge our neighboring cities to enter their best dachshund to compete for this coveted title!”

Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati showcases the rich German heritage of Southwestern Ohio, as well as tasty samples of German-style music, food and beer. First held in 1976, the event has grown to be America’s largest Oktoberfest with more than a half a million people attending each year.

The 33rd annual Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, presented by Sam Adams and John Morrell, will be held Saturday, Sept. 20 and Sunday, Sept. 21 along six blocks of Fifth Street in Downtown Zinzinnati. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com. For more information or to register your dachshund in advance, contact Brian Eagan at (513) 579-3100.

[Source: Wall Street Journal Market Watch]

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A Dog’s Life (at Work)

A Dog’s Life (at Work)

Every morning, Dougie Irvine goes for an hour’s run before he prepares for work and sets off on a half-hour walk to his Edinburgh city center office. Once there, tired from his exertions, he takes to his bed, lies on his back, sticks his feet in the air and dozes off for the rest of the day.

Fortunately, Dougie, a nine-year-old terrier cross, has no important matters to attend to. It is his owner, Jane Irvine, the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman and chairman of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, who has to deal with the business of the day.

Dougie is one of those fortunate dogs across Britain who are not left behind when their owners go to work, but go with them. It is something that The Blue Cross animal welfare charity is keen to promote when it holds its 13th annual Take Your Dog to Work Day next Wednesday. Its aim is to encourage dog owners to spend more time with their pets by taking them to work every day and to experience the benefits of the practice – to themselves and those around them.

Also, as with the presence of dogs in other workplaces, it’s a great stress-buster. “I’m dealing with complaints all the time, which is stressful, so it just eases that,” says Jane. A survey carried out by The Blue Cross showed more than 90 per cent of employers who allowed dogs in the workplace noticed a positive change in the working environment. One in two found that there was a decrease in absenteeism, 67 per cent said it improved staff morale and 56 per cent discovered that work relations improved.

Yet, in spite of all the clear benefits of having animals in the workplace, Britain lags behind the US in making it a common practice. Some large companies, like Google, embrace the idea, but in England it is only small firms and animal-related businesses that permit it. In the US, one in five employers allows dogs at work and there is even a website for job-seekers (simplyhired.com) that lists employers who encourage it.

[Source: Telegraph.co.uk]

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Samsung Funds Dog Training in China

Samsung Funds Dog Training in China

China’s first center for training hearing dogs for deaf people will be set up at Beijing Union University with the financial support coming from the electronics giant, Samsung.

Park Keun-hee, president of Samsung China, said the company will donate 1.4 million yuan ($200,000) to establish the facility at the university, where more than 300 students with hearing problems are taking courses in higher education.

“Staff at the Samsung Assistant Dog Service Training Base in South Korea have a lot of experience in training dogs, and we hope to bring that knowledge to China to provide long-term support for deaf people here,” Park said. The dogs, many of which are former strays, are provided for free. Samsung will provide financial support for the center’s first three years of operation, he said.

Hearing dogs are trained to distinguish between different types of sounds, such as a telephone ringing, a knock at the door or a fire alarm. They then “touch” a specific part of their owner’s body to indicate the particular sound. The Beijing center will train four dogs per year in the beginning, with the number growing over time, Park said.

Although China has more than 20 million people with hearing problems, there are just three hearing dogs working in the country, two of which were provided by Samsung in 2006 to two students at Beijing Union University. Dong Shan, one of the dogs’ owners, said: “I’ve had my dog for over two years now, and it has become my close friend. “It has made my life much easier.”

China’s third hearing dog, also donated by Samsung, was presented Thursday to Qi Daxin, a deaf man living in Beijing. “Getting this dog in my 50s is great,” the 53-year-old said using sign language. “It will help me to become more integrated in society.”

[Source: China Daily]

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Hollywood’s (Unlikely) Hot Dog

Hollywood’s most popular dog right now is an unexpected breed, one that has famous owners ranging from Samantha Ronson to Adam Sandler. It’s the English bulldog.

How much is an English bulldog? You can have one of these trendy canines, which come complete with frequent breathing problems and the occasional snoring habit for the Hollywood price tag of…

About $1,000 to $2,000! That is the average price of a purebred bulldog pup. For that sum, you can get the whole package: the adorable squashed face, the bat ears (in the case of a French bulldog) and the chocolate brown eyes.

SamRo’s English bulldog is named Cadillac. Legend has one called Puddy. And Adam Sandler has had three: the late Meatball and Matzoball, and a newer English bulldog named Babu. (You can see photos and video of the dogs on Sandler’s official site.)

“Some English bulldogs are very energetic,” according to L.A. Dogworks president Andrew Rosenthal. “Others are kind of laid-back. French bulldogs are out of their minds. When we have a bunch of them in our dog park, they all hang out together. I call them the French mafia. But the English are more like dopey troublemakers.”

[Source: E! Online]

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