Huff Post #PitBull Week

When you hear “pit bull”, what’s the first thing you think of? Lock jaw? Kids being attacked? Dog fighting? Well, I believe that those descriptions are wrong. Instead, you should think of love, loyalty, obedience, and hearts bigger than their goofy heads!

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This beautiful dog, is @fernthepitbull on instagram, follow her to see all the amazing work she does in the community.

The number of dogs that are euthanized in shelters every year is in the millions. A vast majority of those are pit bulls. Every day, thousands of pit bulls are put to sleep because of the American public’s media fueled false perception that they are a bad breed of dog. Stop for a moment and ask yourself – have you ever met one? If so, did it attack you? My guess is no. The reason behind that is because they are not monsters by nature. In fact, pit bulls used to be referred to as “nanny dogs” because they would often be left with children and babies to protect them. They are fiercely loyal and protective and would alert the parents if anything was wrong. So, when and why did all of this change?

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This is Bugsy, protecting his Beagle sister.

Unfortunately, the media has exposed dog fighting rings and often times they show images of barking, manic looking pit bulls. It then leads to other stories of dog attacks and once again the pit bull is to blame. For the record, I grew up with a toy poodle named Rocky. He weighed 10 lbs. when his hair was grown in. He used to bite me on the hands and snap at me when I wasn’t paying attention.  He would growl at you when you walked too closely to him. But, you would never hear of something like that on television because it doesn’t make for good TV! If it were up to me, I would have had a pit growing up. However, I lived in Miami and it has been deemed illegal to possess a pit bull.

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Would you ever be scared of this little fluff ball?

Dade County isn’t the only place to ban pits.  In the link below, you will see a map of all the states or cities where pitties are banned:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/06/bsl-map_n_7216190.html. Simply put, pit bulls will be put to sleep just for being born the way they are. It has nothing to do with temperament or age. What if it was your dog? What if they came and said that all labs, retrievers, or shepherds were bad and they were going to be put to sleep? How would you feel if your particular dog did nothing wrong? It’s heartbreaking to think about. Taking these dogs off the streets and out of loving homes does not make the world a safer place. It’s a matter of educating the public that pit bulls happen to make great pets.

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Pit bulls are not born mean and aggressive. In fact, pit bull puppies happen to be some of the cutest, squishiest and cuddliest pups around. Why anyone would want to fight them and mistreat them is beyond me. The reason that pit bulls become mean and aggressive is because of the owners. On the flip side, some of these amazing animals are turned into something far worse than a mean and aggressive dog. They are made into bait dogs for others to attack and train on. However, even after these dogs are mutilated, mistreated, and sometimes left for dead, they possess a heart of gold. If you have ever seen a dog fighting ring rescue, you know that it is one of the most amazing sights. These rescuers come in and the dogs wag their tails and have nothing but love and compassion.

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Have you ever seen anything cuter than the face above?

Here is an example of what can happen to a bait dog: http://fox43.com/2015/05/21/the-dog-without-a-nose-local-rescue-saves-pit-bull/ In this case, incredible humans stepped in to help. But, sadly, this is not always the case.

These dogs don’t exist to indulge sick and twisted individuals who want to see them fight. They are here because they are loving and loyal friends who are just misunderstood.

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This sweet boy is Kiko.  He was protecting his owner during a home invasion.  Kiko got shot in the head during this and sadly he is still looking for his home and someone to love.  If this is you please contact me ASAP.

Please check out this HuffPost article on the #PitBullWeek project. It helps reinforce why it is so important to have people recognize the true beauty of these incredible dogs.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arin-greenwood/pit-bull-myths_b_5623555.html

I am currently in the process of working on a pit bull project in the New York area with Mighty Mutts Dog Rescue.  If you are in NYC, have a pit bull, and would like to be featured, please contact me at dogsofnycphoto@gmail.com

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Please help spread the word about pit bulls! The millions of them in shelters need advocates and voices more than ever!

Animal Cruelty, Worse Than Ever

I have been missing in action from posting.  My apologies – life has once again gotten in the way.  But I am back, and unfortunately I am back and not writing about something happy instead something horrible.  Also, there are no photos in this post because 1) they are not my photos and 2)they are all so graphic.

The mistreatment of animals in today’s society sickens me.  Every day, I, along with a lot of you, read stories of animals being abused like Caitlyn in South Carolina, or the homeless man Ron and his dog shadow.  This dog meant so much to this man, that he literally went homeless to be able to stay by his side, when other people are just discarding them!  Then you have the most sickening thing i have read in a while – dogs, and puppies being tortured and killed all so visitors of Mauritius can have a stress free holiday where they dont have to worry about stray dogs (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3128120/Shocking-hidden-camera-footage-reveals-stray-dogs-rounded-tortured-killed-enjoy-unspoiled-holiday-Mauritius-puppies-not-spared.html)
I do not normally post about such atrocities, however the more people that can help spread the word in things like this the better!  This is a brutality that must stop.  There are so many people around the world who love animals and want to help them.  We cannot allow people (if you can call them that when they can injure innocent animals this way) to do this any longer.
Below i have listed the charities for both Caitlyn and Ron and Shadow.  These dogs and gentleman are examples of spirit, resilience, and hope.  If everyone had as much love that the three of these have, the world would be a much better place.  In the meantime lets help support the ones that need it most!
A Way for a Stray – Ron and Shadow:  http://www.youcaring.com/ron-shadow-373322

Adopt Don’t Shop For The Holidays!

Are you thinking about bringing home a new dog for the holidays??

If you answered no, you should at least THINK about it! If you answered yes, whether you are thinking of getting it for yourself or as a surprise for a loved one [if so, make sure to film it and post to YouTube!], please remember that a pet is a lifelong commitment. It’s not an ornament that gets put away at the end of the season. It is definitely not something that you can use to “regift” to someone you forgot to shop for. And, I think that it might be a bit much for your office’s annual Secret Santa. A dog will be around and require your emotional, physical, and financial support well beyond the time that the blinking lights get taken down (yes, even for those of you that wait until sometime next spring to do so!).

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If you are still sold on the idea of a new furry friend for the holidays, good for you! There are essentially two ways that you can go about it: 1) you can spend a ton of money at a pet store or a breeder and, whether you like it or not, further the use of puppy mills and overpopulation of dogs or 2) you can go to a shelter or rescue organization and save a dog from either living in a box or from a much worse fate. I think you could probably guess which option I am in favor of…

With so many dogs in shelters, many subject to overcrowding and therefore facing the threat of being put down simply because they haven’t found their forever home, I still cannot justify why people still go to breeders (let alone why breeders are even allowed to continue to let their dogs have pups – but we’ll save that for another day). For many, the reason is that they are looking for a purebred dog and not a “mutt.”

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First of all, one of the funniest things is that nowadays, having a mutt is all the rage. Except they aren’t called mutts anymore – they are “designer dogs” or “cross-breeds” or “hybrids”. If you ask me, a Pomsky (Pomeranian and Husky), a Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever and Poodle), and a Maltipoo (Maltese and Poodle) – while all extremely adorable – are just modern day mutts. However, it seems that only those dogs living in shelters, and are a mix of more than two discernable breeds are considered to be mutts and therefore have a negative connotation attached to them.

Yes, I agree that there used to be a stigma that in order to have a purebred dog you had to go to a breeder or pet store. But, like anything else, times have changed. Now it is used as a marketing ploy to get breeders and pet stores to make money off of selling more dogs into the world. You can, in fact, find perfectly healthy purebreds in your local shelter or rescue organization.

Over the course of the past few weeks, good friends of mine had been talking about getting another dog. For them, it wasn’t even a question – they knew they would be rescuing when the time came. Last week, as they were browsing online and doing research on what kind of dog they want, they came across a 7 MONTH old, purebred English Bulldog on the New York ACC website. They sprang into action immediately. Why? Because even though English Bulldogs cost thousands from a breeder or pet store, they are the most surrendered dog breed in NYC (http://nypost.com/2014/11/30/why-nycs-most-popular-dog-breed-is-also-its-most-abandoned/). Because of this problem, even though this little boy was only a puppy, he was at risk of being put down due to overcrowding.

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For my friends, they aren’t looking for a Bulldog. They aren’t even looking for a puppy. However, they made arrangements to pull this beautiful little boy from the shelter and they worked with a local Bulldog rescue organization to find him a new forever home – all within 24 hours.

Unfortunately, the reason that most of these dogs end up in shelters is because people do not realize that getting a dog is a lifelong commitment. So, if you are looking to bring home a dog this holiday season, please go to your local shelter (or go online to their website) and take a look at the dogs who desperately want to spend their holiday at home with someone who loves them. If you are not thinking of bringing a dog home for the holidays, I urge you to give back to your local shelter, spread the gospel of the merits of rescuing to those that are looking for a new dog, or even do what my friends did – give a dog another chance.

 

Halloween Photoshoot

I do not love Halloween, but I do love dressing up my dog and getting her in the spirit.  And Zig, well she loves wearing clothes.  This is the photo-shoot we did last year with all of her outfits.  She had quite a few costume changes.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what she went as this year.  And look below the pictures for some safety tips for your pet on Halloween.

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Octopus Ziggy

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Hammerhead Shark Ziggy

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Waldo Ziggy

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Minion Ziggy

And, my Favorite:

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Prisoner Ziggy

Tips to keep your pet happy and healthy with all that candy around!
Remember, don’t give your pet any of the candy you get.  Make sure the wires and cords from any decorations are out of your pets reach.
When opening the door, make sure you’re dog or cat doesn’t dart outside

If you plan on dressing your pet up like i do, make sure your pet likes it.  It can cause stress for some animals.
Make sure the costume is not annoying and safe, that it doesn’t restrict their movement or ability to breathe.  Watch for itching when wearing the costume, as your pet may be allergic to the costume.
Make sure there are no small pieces your pet could swallow.

Most importantly, today and everyday, make sure our pet has an ID and Microchip.  In the event he/she does get out, this will help you get them back!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Overcoming Challenges: The Story of Anna, Alan, and Gia

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As long as Anna could remember, she has loved animals – specifically dogs – and has had all types of pets. She and her husband, Alan, would talk about getting a dog from time to time and they knew that eventually they would try and adopt a dog from a rescue organization. About three years ago, Anna and her husband decided to foster a dog named Seymour from a rescue organization in the city. Although he was not a “city” dog, according to Anna, they still loved having him around. She told me that when they first got Seymour, he was not in great shape. “What was once a very sick 40lb. puppy, over the course of seven months, became a very healthy and energetic 90lb. dog.” The change in him was remarkable. However, she told me that once he was healthy, he was “greatly in need of training and really needed a home outside of the city.” To help prepare him for adoption, Anna and her husband worked hard with a trainer and finally found him an amazing home in North Carolina. “He got a big yard, a wonderful mom, and two doggie siblings.” They still keep in touch with Seymour’s owner and they know that what they did in just seven months made a difference.

It was also a good experience for Anna and her husband as it was what they need to begin the road to getting Gia. “Fostering Seymour was one of our biggest challenges,” she said. “But, it was also a huge learning experience about the rescue world, the challenges these dogs [rescues] face, and the importance of rescue organizations, fosters, volunteers, and adopting.”

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Even before they fostered Seymour, Anna sort of knew about Mighty Mutts. “So often we would pass a group at Union Square. At the time we had no idea it was Might Mutts. We would always just say hi to the dogs and drop in a donation.” When she would pass by, she often said to herself that she would love to volunteer, but she was always too busy to do so. However, after Seymour found his forever home in North Carolina, the next time she passed by Mighty Mutts something was different. This time she said “I want to volunteer for them…and it does not matter how busy I am…I am doing it!” She’s been volunteering with Mighty Mutts for just over two years now and it has been a big part of her life ever since.

Shortly after starting with Mighty Mutts, Anna and her husband did a temporary foster with a sweet beagle whose foster mom was out of town for about a month. After that, Mighty Mutts asked if Anna could foster one of their senior girls who needed a foster home – nine and a half year old Gia. That was it for Anna. She said that “after fostering her for a year, we realized she had found her home – with us! Of course she wasn’t going anywhere, and we adopted her.”

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As is generally the case with rescues – especially those that come to the organization later in their life – it is hard to know the full backstory. The basic story that they were given is that the owners were moving and decided that they did not want to pay the insurance to have a dog at their new house. One thing was clear to Anna, “Gia was nine and a half when we got her, and clearly had a challenging life before she came to us.” When they got her, there was evidence that she had a number of puppies in her lifetime. In addition, she had a number of broken teeth that her vet feels was either from trying to eat rocks due to a poor diet or chewing at the bars of a cage. She also is fearful of new people, including Anna and Alan when they first took her in. “While she warmed up to us quickly, she used to cower if we would reach too quickly to pet her.” She was definitely not treated the way that this sweet and loving dog should have been. Regarding Gia’s previous life, Anna said: “I really don’t like to think about her history too much – we will never know all of the facts and can only speculate so much. I am just glad she is with us now and knows how much we love her.”

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Anna and Alan continue to have challenges they have to work through with Gia. She has a number of medical conditions. Anna attributes it partly because she is eleven, but partly because many of her health issues likely went untreated. “She has had a chronic ear infection since the day we got her. She has hypothyroidism which is now being treated with medication. And she was diagnosed with a number of mammary masses which were removed.” They have also needed to accommodate her varying levels of energy. “While she often has her ‘puppy’ spurts of energy at night,” Anna said, “there are days that are more challenging for her when her limp is worse or it is too hot out.” From a behavioral perspective, she still continues to have a fear of new people. “We have to be very patient with her when introducing her to new people as she is very shy.” To help Gia feel comfortable, Anna and Alan have developed a routine whenever people come to visit. “We usually go on a walk outside with friends before coming up to the apartment so that she can get to know them and learn that they are safe.” While it may take a little extra time, Anna said that Gia’s love and loyalty to those she trusts is unparalleled.

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Even though it can be challenging at times, Anna knows it has all been worth it. She told me that “the biggest way she [Gia] has impacted our life is the joy she brings.” Anna is a big believer that your pet is part of your family. “Gia is always on our mind and her care is #1 to us. Sometimes we have to say no to a social event because we have had a long day at work, and need to spend time with our dog. We often have to adjust our schedules around Gia’s schedule. There have been days we have to miss something at work because of an important vet appointment.” In addition, there are only a few friends they trust to stay with Gia when they are away because they know Gia will completely safe. But, according to Anna, “that big smile and wagging tail when we walk in the door, whether we have been gone for a week ro an hour, the rolling around the carpet and asking for belly rubs, and staring at us until we help her up on the couch (because with age, sometimes she has trouble jumping now), all reminds us of why it is all worth it!”

For now, because Gia is not a huge fan of other dogs, Anna and Alan are not looking to give her a brother or sister. However, it will not stop Anna from volunteering as much as she can with Mighty Mutts. Down the road, however, they would likely adopt again. She said that “any challenges are outweighed by the happiness a dog brings, and that happiness is doubled when you know you are their second chance – because you can see it in their eyes that they know it too.”

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Anna feels strongly that adopting is the only way to go. “There are so many wonderful animals that need homes, and rescue groups like Mighty Mutts are amazing in giving these animals a second chance at life.” She told me that what specifically stands out to her about Mighty Mutts & Ollie’s Place is that for these organizations it is truly about finding the perfect match for these animals. They will hold on to an animal for as long as it takes to make sure the right match comes along. Anna feels that the volunteers that work for Mighty Mutts are incredible. It is a tight community of individuals that support one another. “Once a Mighty Mutt, always a Mighty Mutt!”

Providing a Court for the Jester: Julie, Rosa, and Pixie

Julie has always had rescued pets. She knows that there are so many wonderful animals in shelters and on the streets that need to find their forever home. While animals that are in pet stores and at breeders need their homes too, she sees no reason to have to resort to going to one. Her senior pit-bull, Pixie, is one that she found on the streets. She rescued Pixie after finding her wandering around in Crown Heights. Lucky for Julie, Pixie came to her well behaved and incredibly smart. She had no intention of finding Pixie a sister, but sometimes things happen for a reason.

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Rosa came to Julie as a foster. She, and a male Chihuahua, were both abandoned at a vet’s office in Pennsylvania and while the male was quickly adopted, Rosa found her way into the foster system. She ended up with a Mighty Mutts affiliate group run by Shana. After going through a few foster homes, Rosa came to live with Julie and Pixie.

At first, Rosa was difficult to housebreak. She was also very timid when she first came to stay with Julie and Pixie and would recoil from anything that was unfamiliar. In addition, like many small dogs, she had a tendency to bark a lot – especially when it was a person or dog she wasn’t sure of. But, Rosa started to settle in and she began to feel comfortable with Julie and Pixie. That’s when Julie realized that Rosa was not going to just be a foster dog. She told me that “once she [Rosa] adjusted, she had no intention of leaving. After eight months, I gave up the pretense of fostering and adopted her.”

Now, Rosa is almost 100% housebroken, but according to Julie, “she’s close enough!” In addition, she has now formed a bond with both Julie and Pixie and is even sweet and sociable with other people. Besides Pixie, she seems to be indifferent to any other dog. The barking is still there, but Julie says that Rosa is doing much better than many other small dogs she’s seen.

Julie says that both of her dogs have had a huge impact on her life. Pixie has become her “consigliore” and her rock. In contrast to Pixie’s disposition, Rosa is the “court jester” of the family. Together, Julie says, “the house is full of love when they are home.”

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Julie intends to have dogs as long as she is able to care for them. As far as other pets are concerned, Julie said that she would also like to have a pet pig. But, she adds that it is “still a way off!” Regardless, her pets will always be rescues. She says that “a rescue may have some challenges, but overcoming them together and giving a fellow creature back the ability to love and trust can be one of life’s richest experiences.”

Mighty Mutts brought Julie together with Rosa, and she “will always be grateful for that.” She praises the Mighty Mutts organization because they take in dogs that many other rescue groups won’t and the volunteers care for them regardless of their issues or infirmities for as long as they need it. Julie says that by rescuing, “you are doing a wonderful thing” and that anyone with a rescue will tell you that even though you may be rescuing the animal, for the human, “the rewards are even greater.”

*Please note: these photos were submitted by Julie, not taken by me*

Three Tails, Six Sets of Whiskers, Twelve Pink Paws = Three Magical Friends David, Erin, and their cats Larry, Nora, and Nick

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David and Erin are two of the many people out there who realize how many cats there are living on the streets, in shelters, and in rescue organizations that are waiting to find their forever home. Ollie’s Place happens to be in their neighborhood, and they used to pass by all the time. Whenever they did, they saw the sweet little kitties staring out at them through the window. One day they decided to walk in. They didn’t expect that they would be walking out with melted hearts and adoption papers.

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In total, David and Erin now have three cats from Ollie’s Place – Larry, Nora, and Nick. According to Erin, Larry spent time living on the streets in Pine Barrens, NJ. Ollie’s Place worked for several months trying to capture him, and finally one day while he was running after a mouse, he ran right into the trap. He was taken to Ollie’s Place and as Erin put it, “he became a bouncer for Ollie’s – checking IDs at the door, keeping the peace, and distributing kisses to any and all.” I guess all of his time on the streets made him the tough guy! Nick and Nora came to Ollie’s place after they were born behind a Chinese restaurant. Erin says “they traded chicken lo mien and general tso’s for hearty meals of kibble and bits.”

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David and Erin took home Larry and Nora first as they decided that two cats would be the right number. Only a few months later, after Nora “put a guilt trip on her humans for having left her pale male brother behind”, they went back and got Nick. All three cats are doing great at home. Nick has a habit for jumping onto dressers and knocking into small items on the ground. Larry has a tendency to jump inside the refrigerator every time it opens. And Nora likes to wake David and Erin up by jumping on their heads in the morning. Besides these antics, David and Erin say that their manners are “perfectly delightful” and that you would never know they were living on the streets.

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David and Erin feel as if these three cats have had a major impact on their lives. They can point to five specific things that have changed since these three kitties came into their home: First, they said that there is less room in the bed. Second, it’s now a little harder to sleep in on the weekends. Third, they now keep small patches of grass in little pots here and there in the apartment. Fourth, hair clips can never be found when they need to be (more a problem for Erin than David!). Last, but most important, they now come home every day to “the happy pitter patter of little dancing cat feet.”

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Both David and Erin could not imagine not sharing their home with “three tails, six sets of whisker-beds, twelve pink paws, and three magical friends that go meow in the night…..and every other time of day!”

They both feel that Ollie’s is so loving and caring and friendly. What drew them most to Ollie’s Place is the fact that it is a no-kill rescue organization. “When a cat is in a dire situation, there is no better place for them to end up while waiting for their forever homes.” By taking in these three kitties, they feel that all they have done is free up space for more cats to come and wait for their families to take them home.


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Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover, or a Pit Bull By Its Breed…

The common misconception out there is that pit-bulls are mean, aggressive, fighting dogs. In fact, brought to light by a recent article on BuzzFeed, even dictionaries list the definition of pit-bulls as dogs known for fighting. I believe it’s the opposite. I have seen pit-bulls be some of the most loving, sweetest dogs. A perfect example is the story of Joanie and Chachi:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/22/joanie-chachi-dogs_n_5608980.html

Do you need more proof to see that pits are loving little pups just like the rest of them? Could it, perhaps, be the owners bringing out the aggressiveness of the animals?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/emmyf/the-dictionarys-definition-of-pit-bull-is-very-upsetting#2gnhuyy

Just look at those faces waiting for love!  Nothing but love in my opinion.

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Barkcenter World Pup Update

**Spoiler Alert**

In case you have been locked in a windowless room or living under a rock, you probably already know that the USA Men’s National Team has made it through to the Knockout Stage of the World Cup despite the 1-0 loss to Germany earlier today! As the competition heats up in Brazil, the World Pup is now down to the final 4!

Is your #1 still alive in the quest for cuteness world domination?

The semifinal matchups are:

The Great Pyrenees (Spain) vs. The Shiba Inu (Japan)

The Olde English Sheepdog (England) vs. The Shar-Pei (China)

As of right now, both of these head-to-head competitions are pretty lopsided. But, there are still six days left to vote in this round. Will Spain and/or China make a run at an incredible comeback? Go to http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/world-pup.htm to log your vote now!

Fun fact of the day – Out of the four remaining breeds, three of the represented countries have been eliminated from the World Cup (Spain, England, and Japan), and the fourth was not even in the competition (China). I think it’s safe to say that the World Pup and the World Cup have zero correlation to one another!

Dogs Of Manhattan Goes North of The Border

This past weekend I took a trip up to Toronto. It was my first time up there and I was surprised to see how dog friendly the city is. Everywhere I looked there was someone with a dog. Nearly every store I went in had a bowl of water and treats available. It was so much nicer than seeing dogs tied up to trees and bike racks here in NYC.

On Saturday afternoon, we were walking around Toronto’s lakefront area and we happened to come across a competition taking place. The best part was, it was all about dogs! Toronto was playing host to an event called DockDogs – “The World’s Premier Canine Aquatics Competition”! (www.dockdogs.com).

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The dogs take part in one or more of the three events: Big Air, Extreme Vertical, and Speed Retrieve. Pups that are registered in all three events are eligible to have all of their scores combined and compete for the Iron Dog.

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Regardless of the event, it involves adorable dogs running down a 40ft. platform and jumping into a pool.

It was so much fun to watch, even when we got splashed. The dogs genuinely seemed to be having a good time and their playfulness and excitement to be released into the pool was hysterical.

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I’m so happy that I had my camera on me because this was an amazing thing to capture!

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Taz (the dog in the middle photo above) is currently tied as the world record holder for the Big Air competition at 31ft!

Hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed watching and the dogs enjoyed participating!

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