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Odin Saves the Day

Odin, a Great Pyrenees, apparently used his herding instincts to keep eight baby goats and a deer safe from the ravaging Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Roland Tembo Hendel and his family had little time to flee their home near Mark West Springs Road on Oct. 9 to escape oncoming flames. Odin wouldn’t join the family’s evacuation and instead was intent on protecting the family’s bottle-fed rescue goats.

“When we had found relative safety, we cried for Odin and our goats,” Hendel said on the family’s YouCaring page. “I was sure I had sentenced them to a horrific and agonizing death.”

However, when they returned days later and found their home destroyed, there was Odin—burned, battered, but resolute—with the goats and a deer. The family said Odin certainly lived up to his namesake, a Norse god. Their story has resonated with so many that their YouCaring campaign has surpassed its $45,000 goal.

 

Strides for Shelter Rescues

California pet stores will only be able to sell animals rescued from shelters or adoption centers beginning in 2019, the Los Angels Times reported.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 485 into law, making California the first state in the nation to require pet stores to sell rescued dogs, cats, and rabbits in a effort to put so-called puppy mills and kitten factories out of business. Stores can be fined up to $500 for selling an animal that has not come from a rescue shelter or center.

“This is a big win for our four-legged friends, of course,” said Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) in a statement. He authored the bill, which was favored by multiple animal rescue, welfare, and shelter groups. The American Kennel Club and California Retailers Association had opposed it.

“AB 485 blocks all of California’s pet lovers from having access to professional, licensed, and ethical commercial breeders,” said Sheila Goffe, vice president of government relations for the kennel club, in a statement. “This is not good for Californians or their companion animals.”

 

Service Dog Crack Down

As many as 19 states have enacted laws meant to stifle pet owners from illegally passing off their regular pets as service animals, following on the heels of Virginia and Colorado, the Huffington Post reported.

“Today, any pet owner can
go online and buy a vest for a dog to pass it off as a service animal to gain access to restaurants, hotels and places of business,” said Republican state Rep. Kimberly Ferguson, who introduced such a bill in Massachusetts. “Their animals aren’t trained and end up misbehaving in these public places, which gives real service dogs a bad name.”

Service dogs perform specific tasks for a person with a disability, and the American Humane Association estimates there are 20,000 U.S. service dogs. Laws reining in the unlawful practice often make it a misdemeanor to represent an untrained dog as a service animal with a fine up to $500 per incident. The laws, however, are difficult to enforce.

The American with Disabilities Act requires public places to give access to service dogs and their owners. And it permits them to ask only two questions: whether the dog is required because of a disability and what tasks the dog is trained to perform. Emotional support dogs are not covered under the ADA and can legally be denied access.

 

Pup Stays at Disney

For those headed to Disney World in Orlando, you may soon be able to bring along your pet dog to spend the night with you in your hotel.

ABC recently reported that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, the Disney Port Orleans Resort-Riverside, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground started letting guests bring their dogs in October through a pilot program, allowing two dogs per guest room. Reservations are being accepted through October 2018. Dogs must be well behaved, leashed in public, and have current vaccinations.

 

Dog Dreams

Dogs, like humans, might be learning when they sleep, Science reported.

Hungarian researchers measured brain activity in sleeping dogs that had been taught new English phrases and learned their brains underwent several minutes of slow-wave brain activity. During these times, the brains also experienced quick bursts of activity—or sleep spindles—which are believed to support learning, intelligence, and aging.

Scientists discovered that the number of spindle sessions per minute correlated with how well the dogs learned the new phrase. Females had more spindle sessions per minute than males and performed better during testing, which holds true in humans. About 30 percent of the female dogs learned the new words, compared with about 10 percent of the males. That suggests, the researchers said, that dogs may help reveal mysteries about the human sleep spindle functions and their importance.

 

Canine Heroes

Five dogs were honored for heroics in their military and service duty in a Washington, D.C., ceremony, the Washington Free Beacon reported recently.

All were awarded the American Humane Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage to honor them for service in the U.S. Army, Marines, and the Transportation Security Administration where they uncovered bombs, explosives, drugs, and other contraband as well as provided security for American officials.

Alphie, Capa, Coffee, and Ranger were each presented with a medal. K9 Gabe was presented a metal posthumously via his handler who accepted it on his dog’s behalf.

 

Collaborative Studies

Lots of dogs—in fact, about half—enrolled in service training fail, prompting scientist to long for collaboration on selective breeding research to improve that statistic, JAVMA reported recently.

The Theriogenology Foundation, a nonprofit organization studying animal reproduction, may be leading such a charge. Dr. Charles F. Franz, its executive director, is overseeing the Working Dog Project, a collaborative effort with the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to identify genetics associated with scent and retrieval behaviors.

“What we would like to have is a genetic test that can look at the DNA of a puppy and be able to direct that puppy into the proper training route,” Franz said.

Failures associated with service dog training programs waste money, increase the cost of trained dogs, and delay service animal delivery, enduring problems despite many years of scientific pedigree analysis and selective breeding.

Initial efforts will involve saliva sample analyses and behavioral assessments for 100 assistance dogs from the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, DNA and performance evaluations for 140 dogs from the Canine Performance Sciences group at Auburn University, and genotype data for 600 dogs with owner-reported behavioral phenotypes in the Darwin’s Dogs citizen science project. The Working Dog Project will conduct genome sequencing for the dogs and analysis.

 

Iditarod Revision

Because several dogs on one team tested positive for banned substances in the 2017 Iditarod, the 2018 grueling mushing race on March 3 will have a new rule that makes it easier to penalize mushers whose dogs test positive, GearJunkie reported.

The old rule required “proof of intent” for prohibited substances, meaning officials needed proof that the substance was intended to enhance performance—apparently hard to prove.

The revised rule holds mushers strictly liable for any positive tests with exemptions only if there is evidence that the positive tests resulted from causes outside their control. The Iditarod Trail Committee prohibits 12 drugs, including anabolic steroids and painkillers. Drug testing can occur anytime during the Iditarod.

 

Coming Soon to an IKEA Near You

IKEA has entered the pet furniture and accessory business with its new Lurvig collection, Mashable reported recently.

The name translates to “shaggy,” and the collection features scratching mats, beds, bowls, leashes, toys, and other pet care accoutrements purportedly created by “pet loving designers with support from trained veterinarians.”

The line debuted in Japan, France, Canada, the United Sated, and Portugal in October and hits the rest of the IKEA markets in March 2018.

 

Sir Paul Backs PETA, Post

Paul McCartney joined PETA in chastising The Pet Blood Bank in Cherokee, Texas, for its alleged mistreatment of greyhounds in its care, Us Weekly reported.

Patterson Veterinary Supply distributes blood products and has been accused of inadequate care for its dog subjects. McCartney urged CEO James Wiltz in a letter to take the matter into his hands following an exposé published by PETA and The Washington Post about conditions at the facility. Pet Blood Bank owner Shane Altizer, however, contends the report doesn’t apply to current conditions.

 

Better Half

Wilhelmina Morgan Callaghan has an interesting husband: her dog, named Henry.

The 43-year-old Northern Ireland woman married the Yorkshire terrier eight years ago and has praised him for his loyalty.

“Things have fallen apart somewhat since we married in 2009,” she told the Independent. “I lost my job in a morgue, so was forced to become a freelance embalmer, there is not much money in that, and then my house flooded. But Henry has been great throughout.”

Callaghan acknowledged some might consider her daft or possibly mad, but she has found Henry “perfect” for her.

By the way, she calls him “Ri,” which means “King” in ancient Gaelic, “because he is like a king—my king.”

 

A Final Fire Tail

Nearly two days after fire forced a family out of its Santa Rosa home, family members returned to the home site to find the family dog, Izzy, a 9-year-old Bernese Mountain dog, safe and sound, tail wagging, USA Today reported via Mother Nature Network.

Brothers-in-law Jack Weaver and Patrick Widen returned to the Wine Country house with heavy hearts, expecting to confront the dog’s remains, but instead there was a happy reunion. A veterinarian later gave Izzy the all clear, suggesting her thick coat may have protected her from the intense heat, according to The Associated Press.

 

Pitched In

Many SF Bay Area animal rescue organizations and shelters pitched in to help animals affected by the Wine Country fires. Among them were Berkeley Humane and Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, ARF. Nice going.