Ivan the Greatest?

Publisher's Weekly has a blog on the best dog books ever.  Of course, having the worldly sensibilities of an internationally famous pound dog, I feel like I've written the best dog book ever.  Here's the link to their site for you to leave your two biscuits worth: 


Let the world know that you believe that Ivan is still the GREATEST! 

Ivan! E-Book Sale August 10th-17th!

Hi everybody! 

Just a reminder that the e-book version of my memoir, Ivan! A Pound Dog's View on Life, Love and Leashes is on sale now through August 17th. 

One week only for 2.99 (reg. price $9.99)

Available for Kindle, Apple and Nook.



Remember, you can purchase them as gifts to anyone with an email address!  Thanks and enjoy!

Big Bad Wolf or Big Bad Reputation?

For a long time, wolves had been wiped out in Germany, now they are slowly getting back home. But not everyone is happy at the return of the wild animal. The feeding habits of Canis lupus are the subject of many legends and fables. Wolves that tear sheep apart, eat household pets and even attack people -- the return of the predators to German regions awakens fear and generates conflict amongst its inhabitants, hunters and farmers.

"The dietary habits of wolves has been the greatest point of contention with their return to Germany and it induced us to examine in closer detail the feeding habits of the wolves that migrated to Lusatia over ten years ago," explains Hermann Ansorge, head of the Zoology Department at the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Görlitz. "We took a look at what was on the menu for the wolves and how this has changed since the appearance of wolves in East Germany."

For this purpose the scientists collected over 3000 samples of wolf scat and tested them for undigested evidence of the animals' prey, such as hair, bones, hooves or teeth.

Using this information, supplemented by the findings of the remains of prey, it was possible for the Görlitz zoologists to determine the nutritional intake of the carnivores in detail. Wild ungulates accounted for over 96% of the wolves' prey, according to the investigation. The majority of these were roe deer (55.3%), followed by red deer (20.8%) and wild boar (17.7%). A small proportion of the prey was accounted for by the hare, at almost 3 percent.

"Less than one percent of the prey analyzed was of livestock origins" adds Ansorge, continuing: "As long as sheep and other livestock are well protected and there is a sufficient supply of wild animals, the wolves will not risk confrontation with electric fences and guardian dogs."

Dog and Family Reunited after 8 Years

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — When Frankie Pruitt came home from school for the holidays, he stopped on the way up the driveway to hug his pit bull, who had run to him with her tail wagging. "Petunia!" he said, rubbing the fur around her ears and looking into her brown eyes.

"Same eyes," he said. "Same old Petunia!"

He hadn't seen the dog since 2003, when she ran out of the house one morning just like she always did, headed toward the family alpaca barn but didn't come back.

Perhaps a million pets get lost every year, and about 3.7 million are killed at shelters. Petunia beat the odds. She was found in a wilderness area 2,700 miles from her Virginia farm and sent home.

Eight years ago, Kristen and John Pruitt and their children worried that their friendly, affectionate American Staffordshire terrier had been hit by a car. Or, maybe even worse, pulled into a brutal dogfighting ring.

Instead, their dog seemed to have embarked on a cross-country trip that took her — who knows where? All they know for sure is that she was found wandering in the foothills of a wildlife preserve in Northern California, got picked up by a wildlife biologist, then jetted home for an improbably glamorous return via Times Square mixing with celebrities, political candidates and Rockettes, all just in time for the holidays.

Frankie Pruitt was 7 when his dad passed a sign for puppies and decided, on a whim, to take one home. He told Frankie not to tell his mom. They had plenty of room for another dog on their 100-acre alpaca and horse farm near Fredericksburg. But Kristen Pruitt said she didn't want a pit bull with her children; it seemed too dangerous.

"Then I saw her, and she was so small, and so ugly, and so cute," she said.

And sweet: That's why they named her Petunia.

Old family farm

The sandy-and-white dog slept with Frankie, wiggling up to his pillow during the night, snoring her head off. She ran free, following him around the place, an old family farm that played a role in the Civil War battle of Chancellorsville, with a pond, tall magnolias and horse fences crisscrossing the fields.

Then one morning around Thanksgiving 2003 he was drinking hot chocolate in their big stone house while Petunia, Booboo and Bear ran out before breakfast, and only two dogs came back.

Frankie and his family didn't worry at first. In rural Spotsylvania County, they figure, someone would see their missing-dog signs. But as the winter wore on, they gave up hope.

Dog appears

A few days after Thanksgiving this year, Meg Eden, a wildlife biologist from Oregon, was camping in the Spenceville Wildlife Area in California. It's a remote spot with mountain lions, foxes and coyotes Eden heard howling at night. One morning, a dog appeared over a hill and came toward Eden with her tail wagging.

Eden, who rescues dogs, had just a moment's hesitation because it was a pit bull. But the dog seemed so delighted to see her.

The dog snuggled with her and her dogs that night. "Her personality is 100 percent sugar," Eden said.

Eden called an animal shelter, which began searching for an owner. In this rare case, it was easy: The Pruitts implant microchips in all their animals. Only a minority of pet owners do that, but the number is growing, said Adam Goldfarb of the Humane Society of the United States.

The Pruitts' vet called them. Frankie didn't believe it until he saw a photo. Petunia!

Then Petunia went big time, appearing in local papers and on national TV when Fox News Channel paid to fly her back East. She was friendly in the New York studio when she saw the Pruitts, but they weren't certain she remembered them.

But as soon as they got back to the farm and let her out of the car, Petunia seemed to know she was home. Her tail was wagging so fast it's invisible in the photos they took. She raced into the house right to the spot where her water bowl had always been.

"She seemed ecstatic," he said.

The Pruitts can't help but wonder where she'd been all this time.

When Frankie saw her, he immediately noticed the eight or 10 jagged scars and traced them with his hand in the short fur on her head. They think it's from a barbed-wire fence, not from dogfighting or abuse. Because she seems to be the same old Petunia: sweet, gentle.

With maybe just a tiny wild streak underneath it all.

She does seem to be the kind of dog who loves to wander, Kristen Pruitt said.

The other day, they opened the door and Petunia trotted out, headed toward the alpaca barn. "Frankie!" Kristen Pruitt called, leaping forward to grab her collar.

Petunia looked back at her, tail wagging.

"Get her leash!"

Susan Svrluga

Excerpt from: Mitt Romney Pardon

I don't usually do this, but I feel compelled to provide an excerpt from a column by Gail Collins calling out Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his treatment of the family dog while on vacation a few years ago.  Preceding this excerpt, Gail notes Romney's wavering and "flip-flopping" on a number of issues before stating her conclusion. As a one-eyed dog who closely follows politics and the treatment of family pets, I'm compelled to share this.  Read on and growl:

"Now how does a guy who was governor, who signed the health care law and waved it around like a pennant, go about renouncing the whole thing? I'll bet he would have if he could have, but how would that work? Could Romney just explain that he was held captive by Democratic terrorists all the time it took the bill to pass, while a stuffed version of Mitt was substituted for public events? It'd be sort of embarrassing to admit that nobody noticed the difference. On immigration, we could all agree to let Romney rant about amnesty now if he will concede that he didn't give a fig about the whole question back when his lawn was being clipped by undocumented workers in 2006.And maybe we could get over his driving to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car if he'd just admit it was because he was too cheap to hire a dog-sitter. Maybe."

Lions and tigers shot in Ohio

Amid expressions of horror and revulsion at the killing of dozens of wild animals in Ohio - and photographs of their bloody carcasses - animal rights advocates agreed there was little local authorities could have done to save the dangerous creatures once they began roaming the countryside after their owner released them before taking his own life.

Sheriff's deputies shot 48 animals - including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions - after Terry Thompson, owner of the private Muskingum County Animal Farm near Zanesville, threw their cages open Tuesday and then committed suicide.

"What a tragedy," said veterinarian Barb Wolfe, of The Wilds animal preserve sponsored by the Columbus Zoo. "We knew that ... there were so many dangerous animals at this place that eventually something bad would happen, but I don't think anybody really knew it would be this bad."

As the hunt winded down on Wednesday, a photo showing the remains of tigers, bears and lions lined up and scattered in an open field went viral provoking visceral reactions among viewers, some of whom expressed their anger and sadness on social networking sites.

Some local townspeople also were saddened by the deaths. At a nearby Moose Lodge, Bill Weiser said: "It's breaking my heart, them shooting those animals."

Authorities said the slain animals would be buried on Thompson's farm.

Will Travers, chief executive of the California-based Born Free USA animal welfare and wildlife conservation organization, said police had no choice but to take the action they did.

"It's a tragedy for these particular animals, for no fault of their own they've been shot, and I can see how difficult that decision was for the police," he said.

Jack Hanna, TV personality and former director of the Columbus Zoo, also defended the sheriff's decision to kill the animals, calling deaths of the endangered Bengal tigers especially tragic.

The animals destroyed also included six black bears, two grizzlies, a baboon, a wolf and three mountain lions. Six - three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys - were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo.

"It's like Noah's Ark wrecking right here in Zanesville, Ohio," Hanna said.

A wolf was later found dead, leaving a monkey as the only animal possibly still unaccounted for in the mostly rural community of farms, widely spaced homes and wooded areas about 55 miles east of Columbus.

Officers were ordered to kill the animals instead of trying to bring them down with tranquilizers for fear that those hit with darts would escape in the darkness before they dropped and would later regain consciousness.

"These animals were on the move, they were showing aggressive behavior," Sheriff Matt Lutz said. "Once the nightfall hit, our biggest concern was having these animals roaming."

Veterinarian Wolfe had tried to save a tiger in a heavy bramble by using a tranquilizer dart, but the animal charged her then tried to flee. It had to be shot and killed by sheriff's deputies.

"I was about 15 feet from him and took a shot, and it didn't respond too much, and I thought we were OK, but within about 10 seconds he roared and started toward me," she said.

Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Merry, among the first to respond on Tuesday, said he shot a number of animals, including a gray wolf and a black bear who charged him from 7 feet away. He said he's an animal lover and only took pride in knowing he was protecting the community.

"All these animals have the ability to take a human out in the length of a second," he said.

The Humane Society of the United States criticized Gov. John Kasich for allowing a statewide ban on the buying and selling of exotic pets to expire in April and called for an emergency rule to crack down on exotic animals until the state comes up with a permanent legal solution.

"Every month brings a new, bizarre, almost surreal incident involving privately-held, dangerous wild animals," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society, said in a statement. "In recent years, Ohioans have died and suffered injuries. ... Owners of large, exotic animals are a menace to society, and it's time for the delaying on the rulemaking to end."

Activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also called for emergency regulations and pointed the finger at Gov. John Kasich, saying the incident should serve as his "wake-up call."

"Surely, after this latest incident, enough blood has been shed for the state to take action," the group said in a statement.

Ohio has some of the nation's weakest restrictions on exotic pets and among the highest number of injuries and deaths caused by them.

Born Free USA says it has tracked 1,500 attacks on humans or other animals, and escapes by exotic animals since 1990, with 86 being in Ohio. Travers said there's an urgent need for legislation that addresses the competency of Ohioans seeking to own exotic pets and owners' ability to provide for the animals' welfare as well as public safety.

"Legislation should be there to protect the animals from the people and to protect the people from the animals," he said.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said Wednesday the governor had called on Lutz to commend the job he had done and to ask him to be part of the process of putting into law what the executive order failed to do.

"Clearly, we need tougher laws. We haven't had them in this state. Nobody's dealt with this, and we will. And we'll deal with it in a comprehensive way," Kasich said earlier in the day at a meeting of Dix Communications editors at which The Associated Press was present.

The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association also called for exotic animal regulations. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland called the deaths of the escaped animals preventable.

"By enacting more stringent restrictions on owning exotic pets in Ohio, tragedies like this one can be avoided in the future," he said in a statement.

Thompson, 62, had had repeated run-ins with the law and his neighbors. Lutz said that the sheriff's office had received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals escaping onto neighbors' property. The sheriff's office also said that Thompson had been charged over the years with animal cruelty, animal neglect and allowing animals to roam.

He had gotten out of federal prison just last month after serving a year for possessing unregistered guns.

Thompson had rescued some of the animals at his preserve and purchased many others, said Columbus Zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters.

It was not immediately clear how Thompson managed to support the preserve and for what purpose it was operated, since it was not open to the public. But Thompson had appeared on the "Rachael Ray Show" in 2008 as an animal handler for a zoologist guest, said show spokeswoman Lauren Nowell.

100 Dogs Seized in Animal Hoarding Case

In a case they're calling "animal hoarding," King County sheriff's deputies Thursday removed 100 dogs from the home of a Burien man and from a second property near Issaquah.

The 38 dogs removed from the Burien home were mostly Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Chins that were in "extremely dirty" crates and in poor health, according to sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart. Fourteen of those dogs were taken to a veterinarian, Urquhart said. Nine were euthanized because of poor health.

The 62 dogs removed from the Issaquah property, mainly Chihuahuas, were in better condition, he said.

The investigation into the house in the 1300 block of Southwest 120th Street in Burien began after the Sheriff's Office was contacted by Pasado's Safe Haven, an animal-welfare organization, which had received a tip about the animals.

Urquhart said a man at the Burien home told authorities most of the dogs were his and that some were "show dogs." He also said he kept additional dogs at the house near Issaquah, Urquhart said.

The additional 62 dogs were found in the house in the 5900 block of 189th Avenue Southeast, Urquhart said.

"These animals were in relatively good health and in clean crates, but due to the condition of the house, the dogs were taken by Regional Animal Services of King County," according to Urquhart.

Debra George, the director of Burien's Community Animal Resource and Education Society (CARES), said the dogs taken from the Burien home are being cared for but eventually will need homes.

"Our first concern is the health and well-being of the dogs, so all of them are being checked out and treated at local veterinary offices," she said.

The dogs from the Issaquah-area home may eventually be available for adoption.

Urquhart said that so far there have been no arrests, but the Sheriff's Office will continue to investigate and charges are possible.

City Bans Sale of Dogs & Cats in Pet Stores

In a victory for dogs and cats everywhere, pet stores in Toronto will no longer be able to sell dogs and cats, as the Toronto city council voted to crack down "puppy mills" that have been supplying the dogs and cats to these stores.

The city council in Toronto voted this week to close a loophole that made it possible for the unlawful puppy mill breeders to sell the animals they raise through local pet stores. Good for Toronto! Now if we can only get cities in the United States to follow suit!

While many pet stores have voluntarily stopped selling dogs and cats, the Toronto council voted to make it mandatory. Under the new bylaw, the only way a pet store can provide pets is in partnership with an animal rescue organization.

"The goal of this motion is to stop animal cruelty," Scarborough Centre Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker told Inside Toronto. "We know we will never shut down puppy mills. But hopefully through this we can stop these fly-by-night operations."

Down to her Yorkie

Emma Watson & Yorkie - i-D Magazine

Emma Watson Strips Down to Her Yorkie – Well, I guess it isn’t actually her Yorkie, but the former Harry Potter Actress did strip down to nothing but a fancy gold jacket and a strategically placed (and annoyed-looking) Yorkshire Terrier dog in a recent garden photo shoot for i-D Magazine.

Having been used already as an accessory by Paris Hilton, Yorkies everywhere are hoping that the fashion trend won’t catch on again!

Dog Mourns Fallen Navy Seal


ROCKFORD, Iowa  -- A fallen Navy SEAL's Labrador retriever showed his love and loyalty this week when he walked up to his master's casket and lay down, refusing to leave his side.

Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, 35, a San Diego resident, was among 30 American troops and 22 fellow SEALs killed when a Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6.

During his funeral in his hometown of Rockford, Iowa this week, Tumilson's dog, 'Hawkeye,' walked up to the casket, heaved a sigh and dropped down as about 1,500 mourners looked on.


A photograph of the emotional moment was captured by Tumilson's cousin, Lisa Pembleton, and posted on a memorial Facebook page.

"I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle," Pembleton wrote on her Facebook page. "To say that he was an amazing man doesn't do him justice. The loss of Jon to his family, military family and friends is immeasurable.'"

Hawkeye was such an important part of Tumilson's life that family members followed the dog down the aisle as they entered the funeral service, MSNBC

The Labrador will be cared for by Tumilson's good friend, Scott Nicholas.

Dog Takes Stand in Criminal Trial

Rosie, the first judicially approved courtroom dog in New York, was in the witness box here nuzzling a 15-year-old girl who was testifying that her father had raped and impregnated her. Rosie sat by the teenager’s feet. At particularly bad moments, she leaned in....

Now an appeal planned by the defense lawyers is placing Rosie at the heart of a legal debate that will test whether there will be more Rosies in courtrooms in New York and, possibly, other states.

Rosie is a golden retriever therapy dog who specializes in comforting people when they are under stress....

[Defense] lawyers, David S. Martin and Steven W. Levine of the public defender’s office, have raised a series of objections that they say seems likely to land the case in New York’s highest court. They argue that as a therapy dog, Rosie responds to people under stress by comforting them, whether the stress comes from confronting a guilty defendant or lying under oath.

But they say jurors are likely to conclude that the dog is helping victims expose the truth. “Every time she stroked the dog,” Mr. Martin said in an interview, “it sent an unconscious message to the jury that she was under stress because she was telling the truth.”

“There was no way for me to cross-examine the dog,” Mr. Martin added.

Tough Economic Times Spur Pet Owners to Abandon Ill and Aging Animals

A Pit Bull puppy with Parvovirus and a Shih Tzu that had been hit by a car are just two examples of pets that have been abandoned by their owners at East Bay animal shelters in recent months. 

To the operators of the shelters, the growing number of sick animals arriving at their doors is a disturbing sign of the economic times: pet owners are surrendering their sick or old animals because they cannot afford to pay the medical bills.

“People seem to be dropping them off rather than treating them,” said Allison Lindquist, executive director of the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “When it comes down to feeding your family or helping your pet, that’s a hard decision to make.”

Ms. Lindquist recalled that when a Pekingese, who was 12, was down to a single tooth, her owner simply handed her across the counter.

“I just can’t handle it,” the owner said.

Pet surrenders were already high as the recession led people to downsize or to lose their homes. Now, having an animal that needs expensive medical attention is becoming yet another breaking point for strapped pet owners.

Afflictions that lead to a pet’s being surrendered run the gamut from broken legs to flea infestations — even the cost of grooming for dogs that require frequent care can be the last straw, Ms. Lindquist said.

Most shelters have not consistently kept track of the number of sick animals being turned in over the years, but shelter providers gave anecdotal evidence of the rise in sick animals being dropped off.

Kate O’Connor, manager of Animal Care Services in Berkeley, said she has seen more sick pets — including dying puppies and a one-eyed Chihuahua — left at the night drop box, where anyone can leave an animal after hours.

Megan Webb, director of Oakland Animal Services, said she had noticed more people asking to have sick pets euthanized — something many cannot afford to have done on their own, even if the animal is suffering. Sometimes pets that have been dropped off to be euthanized turn out to be healthy enough to live.

The problem is worse in places still dealing with high rates of unemployment and foreclosures. Alameda and Contra Costa Counties have two of the highest unemployment rates in the nine-county Bay Area, and shelter operators in both report a rise in the number of abandoned sick animals.

In contrast, areas with stronger economies report fewer sick animals arriving at their doors or no increase at all.

Marin County has a relatively low unemployment rate, 7.4 percent. Its animal service provider, the Marin Humane Society, initially saw a spike in animal drop-offs when the recession hit, but last year the number began to return to normal.

Sandra Stadler, superintendent of Palo Alto Animal Services, said the city had seen a small increase in the number of animals coming in as families were forced to downsize, but no noticeable rise in the number of animals with medical problems.

“But,” Ms. Stadler said, “that could be because of our demographic.”


2011 World's Ugliest Dog

1.8 Pound Mutt Claims Worlds Ugliest Dog Title for 2011 at The Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma 

A 1.8 pound mutt from California took the 23rd annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma tonight, taking the title from a field of 29 contestants of questionable beauty. The packed crowd settled on Yoda in the mutt round and she quickly sailed past the Ring of Champions to win.

Her owner, Terry Devine Schumacher, is from Hanford, California, and said the dog was found by her daughter in a field when she was two. "I told her to put it down because I thought it was a rat." However they soon learned otherwise and the dog has been in the family now for 14 years.

Her irregular features, scruffy fur, especially between her toes and tiny stance made her a crowd favorite. Favorites coming into the contest were Icky, Cuda, Handsome Hector, Ratdog.

The Sonoma-Marin Fair allowed the audience a vote this year via text (ala American Idol) and Yoda quickly skyrocketed to the top of the text voting. The judges concurred and a new winner was named.

Yoda wins a trophy 15 times her size and $1,000 as this years winner. She also receives a photo shoot with Kira Stackhouse of Nuena Photography and a pampered overnight stay in the luxurious Loft Suite at the Sheraton in Sonoma County. In addition, most dogs enjoy fame as the Worlds Ugliest Dog, hitting the talk show circuit and become a star at local dog events.

The Sonoma-Marin Fair recently trademarked the name World's Ugliest Dog Contest which has received worldwide acclaim. In 2009, the announcement of the winner was named the top third story in the world following a speech by President Obama and Michael Jackson's death.

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