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Mining The New York Times for Some Canine Gems

The Caninologist

So many reasons to be grateful for The New York Times. Already, 2019 is shaping up to be an incredible year for dog news.

This is the “Year of the Pig,” but let’s concentrate elsewhere, and let the political and legal affairs correspondents handle news of those with snouts and twisty tales. Here, we deal with all matters canine.

We also love The New York Times and want to now prove that the dog news alone is worth the price of a subscription.

Let’s just take the first few weeks of 2019. If you were taking The Times, you’d be way up on the following:

• Rescue dogs: A personal account of companionship and how a dog pal might affect a late life journey. “She looks like a cross between Groucho Marx and a dust mop, and she’s a bulwark against despair.”

• Canine diet and obesity: Nearly half of the dogs seen in vet offices are obese, and most pet owners are clueless. The indefatigable and priceless health writer, Jane Brody: “Humans are not the only residents of the United States who are getting fatter every year. So, unsurprisingly, are our furry friends — the dogs and cats that share our lives and, too often, our tendency to overeat.”

• A dog is the groom in a wedding, and this is a first for the wedding announcement section. The bride isn’t as nutty as you might assume: “I can use the venue to stage a fundraising event that would draw attention to organ-donor groups and animal welfare shelters that lack proper funding,” she said, “and still get to experience the thrill of having a wedding, even if it’s a fake wedding.” With no significant other in her life, she chose Bernie, a 9-year-old Cocker Spaniel Poodle mix, to stand in as her groom. “It would all be in good fun,” she said.”

• Floppy vs. pointy-eared dogs: Some front-line workers at airport security checkpoints said the “shape and elasticity” of the ears of TSA search dogs have a lot to do with the alert level in line. “About 70 percent of dogs in the T.S.A.’s canine program have floppy ears, including Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers and Vizslas. Among dogs that screen and interact directly with passengers, nearly all are floppy-eared because those dogs are generally seen as “friendly” and “good with all ages of people,” said Chris Shelton, who manages the agency’s Canine Training Center.”

• Dogs in Iran: A lot of people didn’t worry too much about a ban on walking dogs at night. But even while dogwalking continued, the talk sounded ominous. An official in Tehran said you can’t pray anywhere a dog has sat or slept. But pushback was inevitable: “Ms. Shamir shrugged and said this, too, will pass. “For a while we have to lay low, but then the rule will again be forgotten,” she said.

• Pit bulls by any other name. A “rebranding” for the pit bull is under way. Now, we can call them by their rightful name: “Pibbles.” Rhymes with “nibbles” and sounds kind of like “pit bulls,” only cuter. But at core the name still means “any medium to large, muscular, short-coated dog with a blocky, disproportionately large head.”

• Pet insurance: Consumer advocates say pet owners should be skeptical. Jeff Blyskal, a senior writer with Consumers’ Checkbook, said: “When years of payments are taken into account, buying insurance could end up being more expensive for some pet owners than going without it, if their animal doesn’t require much care.”

• Puppy mills: About time these things become illegal. In California, as of Jan. 1, pet stores aren’t allowed to sell dogs, cats, and rabbits unless they are rescues. A fact sheet for the legislation, A.B. 485, portrays overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization, or veterinary care.”

• Animals and children’s health: Children who live with cats and dogs when they are infants are less likely to develop allergies later in childhood.

That’s all just a month. Please support quality journalism. Subscribe — and pay for it.

Carl T. Hall is a longtime union organizer in San Francisco who is now a co-owner of Word A Café, a dog friendly coffee shop now open for business in the Bayview Neighborhood.