Friday, February 29, 2008

Cats are Good for Your Heart?!

Whether it's a frisky kitten or a tubby tabby, a cat at home could cut your heart attack risk by almost a third, a new study suggests.

The finding, from a 10-year study of more than 4,300 Americans, suggests that the stress relief pets provide humans is heart-healthy.

And dog lovers shouldn't feel left out: Although the study found no such benefit from "man's best friend," that's probably because there simply weren't enough dog owners in the study to draw firm conclusions, the researchers said.

"For years we have known that psychological stress and anxiety are related to cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks," noted study senior author Dr. Adnan Qureshi, executive director of the Minnesota Stroke Institute at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

According to Qureshi, the new research shows that "essentially there is a benefit in relieving those inciting factors from pets."

The stress-cardiovascular disease link is well-documented in scientific literature, and the affection and pleasure pets give humans is a known stress-buster. In fact, one study presented in 2005 at an American Heart Association meeting found that a single 12-minute visit with a dog improved the heart and lung function of people with heart failure.

In the new study, Qureshi's team analyzed data on 4,435 Americans, aged 30 to 75, who took part in the federal government's second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, which ran from 1976-1980. According to the data in the survey, 2,435 of the participants either owned a cat or had owned a cat in the past, while the remaining 2,000 had never done so.

Qureshi's team then tracked rates of death from all causes, including heart and stroke.

Cat owners "appeared to have a lower rate of dying from heart attacks" over 10 years of follow-up compared to feline-free folk, Qureshi said.

The magnitude of the effect -- a 30 percent reduction in heart attack risk -- "was a little bit surprising," he added. "We certainly expected an effect, because we thought that there was a biologically plausible mechanism at work. But the magnitude of the effect was hard to predict."

Qureshi -- proud owner of his own feline, Ninja -- stressed that dogs probably would bring people the same kind of benefit, but the numbers of dog owners in the study wasn't big enough to count statistically.

Kathie Cole, a clinical nurse at the UCLA Medical Center and School of Nursing and the lead author of the 2005 dog-and-heart-failure study, said she wasn't surprised by the Minnesota findings.

"I would be inclined to think that any animal that is perceived as meaningful to a person in a positive way would have health benefits," Cole said. She pointed to multiple studies that have found that animal companions "have a calming effect in regard to mental stressors."

Both researchers believe pet ownership should be perceived as a low-cost, low-risk medical intervention that can potentially save or extend lives, especially for the elderly. "The problem right now is that so many apartment buildings or nursing homes aren't allowing animals in," Cole said. "That's the problem I see from a community standpoint."

Qureshi agreed that cats, dogs or other pets may bring tangible medical benefits to owners.

"This opens a whole new avenue or intervention that we hadn't looked at before, one that can be made at the public level," he said. And unlike drugs or surgery, pet ownership "doesn't appear to have any risks to it," he added.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Savannah Scandal Cats!

The seizure by Dutch authorities last month of three exotic cats that a U.S.-based “designer” pet company says it created has sparked allegations by some cat breeders that the felines aren't what they are advertised to be.

LifeStyle Pets says the Ashera cat, shown on the company's Web site, is the result of a "proprietary blend" of exotic bloodlines.
On Jan. 17, customs officials confiscated three so-called Ashera cats marketed by Delaware-based LifeStyle Pets, and are investigating whether the large cats with leopardlike spots violate an international treaty that forbids the sale or trade of protected species and their offspring.

LifeStyle Pets, which claims that the trademarked Ashera is the result of a “proprietary blend” of exotic bloodlines and are “unique in that genetic monitoring is used to standardize breeding,” sold one of the three confiscated cats for 27,000 euros, about $40,000, to a Dutch couple, according to accounts in the Dutch press. In the United States, LifeStyle offers the Ashera for $22,000 to $27,000, according to its Web site.

But a U.S. cat breeder claims that at least two of the three animals seized in the Netherlands are not Asheras but Savannah F1 cats – which commonly sell for $5,000 to $6,500 – and were purchased from his Pennsylvania breeding facility last month.

LifeStyle Pets is an offshoot of Allerca, a company once based in San Diego that made national headlines in 2006 with its claim to have developed a cat that is virtually free of sneeze-inducing allergens.

Chris Shirk of Cutting Edge Cats, a Pennsylvania Savannah breeder, said he identified the alleged Ashera cats as his from several pictures that ran in the Dutch press, including Amsterdam's De Telegraaf, the largest Dutch daily morning newspaper. One photo shown by Dutch media is one that Shirk said he took and used in advertising his Savannah cats online, he said.

Shirk said he sold three young male F1 Savannah cats to Martin Stucki of A1 Savannahs, an Oklahoma cat breeder, and shipped them by air Jan. 11.

“I'm positive two of the cats are mine from the photos I've seen, and I suspect the third one is as well,” said Shirk, who said he has filed a claim with Dutch authorities to reclaim the cats and provided them with litter certificates, photos and other documentation to prove their lineage. “I'm very distraught about this; it is just wrong, it is fraudulent.”

Shirk said he has also offered to provide DNA samples of the alleged parents of the cats so Dutch authorities can compare them with DNA samples from the three contested cats.

Allerca was based in San Diego until late 2006, when the company announced it would move to Los Angeles, and it later reincorporated in Delaware. Time magazine placed Allerca's hypoallergenic cat on its Best Inventions of 2006 list.

Yet Allerca and LifeStyle Pets have also generated skepticism among geneticists, allergists and traditional cat breeders, who question whether the companies have accomplished what they claim. Allerca, which sells its sneeze-free cats for $7,900, has not released peer-reviewed scientific data or submitted it for peer review in a scientific journal.

Some critics have expressed concerns about Brodie, who has a history of failed companies and a criminal conviction involving a business venture in his native Britain. Brodie was sentenced to 2½ years in jail for accounting fraud for his role in the 1992 demise of Cloudhoppers, a hot air balloon-flight business.

In 2006, the California Department of Corporations ordered Allerca and Brodie to stop offering or selling cat franchises in California. The company had been marketing the franchises – at $45,000 a territory – on its Web site and in e-mails to residents of California and other states.

Among Brodie's more recent woes, last year Allerca was suspended from doing business in California because the company had failed to pay state taxes since 2004. And three former Brodie employees won judgments last year against Allerca and another Brodie company, Cyntegra, for about $220,000 in unpaid salaries and severance.

The attorney for one of the employees, San Diegan Brendan O'Dwyer, testified before the California Labor Commission that Allerca had “a lot of cash flow problems and has tried to skirt its responsibilities in a number of ways,” according to court records.

Allerca is now part of LifeStyle Pets, according to its Web site.

Roel Vincken, a spokesman for the Netherlands General Inspectorate, said the three young male cats seized by Dutch customs are being well cared for and won't be destroyed.

He said they were seized at the border because their shipment appeared to violate an international treaty known as CITIES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. One cat was being shipped to a couple in the Netherlands, while the other two were in transit to other countries, Vincken said.

“Customs could tell they were not everyday cats that were being shipped,” Vincken said. “They have the looks of a wild animal.”

Vincken said that if the cats' immediate bloodline includes African Serval and Asian Leopard, as LifeStyle Pet's Web site claims, then trafficking in them might violate the CITIES treaty. The agency will conclude its investigation within two weeks, he said.

A Chicago-based Savannah cat breeder and broker, Cynthia King, also identified from the Dutch photos one of the young cats seized in the Netherlands as a product of Shirk's Savannah cat breeding facility. She said she had tried to help Shirk sell the cats last month.

In 2006, King said Brodie tried to purchase five to seven first-generation female Savannahs from her, but she said he used an assumed name – Campbell Francis – and said he was from a company called Monsenco Capital. The deal never went through because Brodie did not send the check.

At the time, Brodie acknowledged the subterfuge after the address on the King contract was identified as the one Brodie used on a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office application for the Ashera trademark, but he said he did not use his real identity so he would not be “gouged” on the price.

At the time, Brodie said his company's cat breeding experts asked him to acquire the Savannahs for the purpose of devising “the right formula” for the Ashera. Brodie said the company, using unspecified “genetic techniques” and artificial insemination, had combined components of three breeds to create the Ashera.

He also said that while the Ashera would look similar to a Savannah, it is not a Savannah.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Getting Ones Goat

Lisa TwoRivers still believes Yolanda and Betty Boop are pets rather than livestock, despite a $ 1 fine this month from a circuit judge who found her in violation of a Little Rock ordinance prohibiting people from keeping goats within 300 feet of another residence.

“They’re like a cat in [that ] they want to lay in your lap, but they’re like a dog because they want to play,” she said Monday during a court break.

But a Little Rock ordinance mentioning horses, cows, and goats doesn’t differentiate between the 25-pound pygmy goat bred for companionship and a 140-pound Nubian goat used for milking. The city’s animal services advisory board voted last year against changing the ordinance after hearing about the TwoRivers case.

TwoRivers was cited April 25, eight days after an animal control officer issued her a warning for keeping livestock in violation of the ordinance. The officer saw the goats when he responded to a complaint about a chained dog and feces in her Wolfe Street yard. The family owned three pygmy goats at the time — one died shortly after — and has kept the breed as pets since 1980.

“We’ve always had animals there,” TwoRivers said, discounting arguments that her goats would harm neighbors ’ property values or cause them any physical harm.

A neighbor who initially complained about the animals has since moved away, she said.

“No one is going to care about a 25-pound goat when they can’t get through the neighborhood without hearing gunshots,” she said.

A Little Rock district judge fined TwoRivers $ 100 in penalties and court costs at an August hearing. She appealed.

This month, Circuit Judge Willard Proctor Jr. listened to TwoRivers’ testimony that she believed her beloved pygmy goats were pets that didn’t qualify as livestock since she wasn’t making money off them. They make very little noise — less than a dog, she said — and reside on a vacant lot between her family’s two houses.

TwoRivers also recounted how one of her goats gave her solace as she recovered from cancer and that a Little Rock animal control officer once brought her a sick pygmy goat to rehabilitate.

“The city has known about it for 25 years,” said Edward Adcock, TwoRivers’ attorney.

He argued that the goats should have been grandfathered in when the city changed the distance requirement from 75 feet to 300 feet, which is a typical city block. Little Rock changed its livestock buffer in 1992.

Adcock also said the ordinance was overly broad.

“These goats hurt nobody. In addition to being unconstitutional, it’s just plain stupid and ill-spirited of the city to do this,” he said.

His arguments didn’t sway Proctor, who read the ordinance out loud and said someone might consider a horse or a cow as a pet.

“You can just imagine what could happen in the city,” he said, adding that the ordinance clearly states what city officials think of as livestock and that the city has legal reasons for regulating animals.

Proctor, however, fined TwoRivers $ 1 instead of the recommended $ 200 after saying the city had known about the goats for years and never took any action against the family.

Hearing that TwoRivers’ fine was only $ 1, Animal Services Manager Tracy Roark said all he cared about was the guilty verdict. Roark said he couldn’t comment on what action the city would take next because he hadn’t talked to the city attorney but noted that his officers work on a complaint basis.

Neither Kobe TwoRivers, a city code enforcement officer, nor his wife could say after the court hearing what they would do next about Yolanda and Betty Boop.

Lisa TwoRivers said she hoped the city might still change its stance on pygmy goats as pets. She has also applied for a spot on the city’s animal services advisory board, saying she wants to provide a perspective on animals other than cats and dogs.

However, the change TwoRivers seeks is unlikely, said atlarge City Director Joan Adcock, who also serves on the animal services advisory board.

“There should be no exception for pygmy goats or potbelly pigs,” Joan Adcock said Monday. She is not related to TwoRivers’ attorney.

Potbellied pigs — popular pets in some places — are considered livestock since they have hooves and also are required to be kept at least 300 feet away from neighbors, Roark said. However, they are listed as an exemption in the city’s ordinance prohibiting swine from being kept inside city limits.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dog Saves Australian Girl From Snake

Last month in Victoria, Australia, Roary the Staffordshire bull terrier turned lifesaver when he saw a deadly brown snake rear to strike three-year-old Ebony Davis.

Roary jumped on the 1.5-metre snake, bit it and swung it clear of Ebony and her father in the backyard of their home. But the family pet's bravery almost cost its life. As Roary held on, the snake bit him repeatedly on the flanks and one ear before breaking free and slithering under a shed.

Ebony's father, Tim Davis, 38, said the dog "did a lap of honour around the yard, with his tail on high, and then he went in the house and collapsed".

"As I wiped the venom off his body, his legs gave way and his head came down on the floor," Mr Davis said. "There was no sign of life in him."

Mr Davis put Roary on the front seat of his car and rushed the dog 10km to Kangaroo Flat Veterinary Centre, near his home at Lockwood in central Victoria.

"He was quite still and I kept stopping to breathe some air into his nose, but I was sure he was a goner," Mr Davis said.

"When we got there, the vet told me how expensive the anti-venom was and how slim his chances were with so many bites.

"I said, 'Money doesn't matter; he's saved my little girl's life. Just get on with it. A minute later, needles were hanging out of him everywhere."

But 10-year-old Roary is a fighter and within two weeks after the attack, he was running in the yard like a puppy.

The only sign of Roary's ordeal is some muscle wastage around his chest, but he is expected to recover.

"Ebony was feeding the guinea pigs in their enclosure when it happened," Mr. Davis said. "We'd lost three in the previous week and never dreamed it was a snake taking them.

"Suddenly the snake darted out from under the bush and reared up at Ebony. I had just grabbed her by the arm when Roary came belting in and latched on to the snake.

"He had it half way down its body, so its head was free and it kept thrashing round and biting him.

"It just slithered off and we haven't seen it since, so I reckon he killed it."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Boxer Rebellion

Police said Charles McCowan parked his pickup in front of a mini-mart in Azuza, California, last Wednesday, leaving his Boxer named Max in the passenger seat.

When he came out, the truck and Max were gone and McCowan called police, assuming the truck had been stolen.

When officers arrived, they found the pickup across the street in a fast-food parking lot but had no idea how it got there.

In security video shown Thursday on KCAL-TV, the truck can be seen rolling backward out of the store lot and across the street, threading its way through traffic and out of view.

Police said that after McCowan left the truck, Max knocked the vehicle out of gear and sent it rolling backward.

Both Max and the truck emerged without a scratch.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

This one is Hard to Swallow...

Call it the $1,000 sock, because by the time your veterinarian reaches the source of Fido's digestive disruption, that's about how much that chewed sock can set you back. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, has reimbursed policyholders for a lot of swallowed socks in its 25 years of insuring America's pets. In fact, socks top a list compiled by VPI's claims adjusters ranking the most common items surgically removed from pets' gastrointestinal tracts. Here are their picks:

Most Common Surgically Removed Items

1. Socks

2. Underwear

3. Panty Hose

4. Rocks

5. Toy Balls

6. Chew Toys

7. Corncobs

8. Bones

9. Hair Ties/Ribbons

10. Sticks

The list of items only scratches the surface of the collection of indigestible articles. While the most common items are pet owners' personal belongings, other frequently ingested objects include nails, sewing needles and nipples from baby bottles. VPI claims adjusters have also received medical records for pets that have swallowed pagers, hearing aids, drywall, snail bait, batteries, rubber bands, toy cars, and sand with bacon grease poured on it. Fortunately, a VPI policy reimburses pet owners for X-rays and testing to determine the source of a gastrointestinal blockage, and surgical removal of the foreign body, if necessary.

"It's no secret that cats are curious and dogs like to chew on things," said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. "Unfortunately, those traits can motivate pets to chew on, bite or swallow items they shouldn't. Some of these objects will pass naturally, but others have a tendency to become lodged in pets' gastrointestinal tracts, resulting in pain, vomiting or internal injury. In those cases, surgery may be necessary."

The best thing pet owners can do to prevent costly foreign body removal surgery is keep a clean living space. This includes making sure that personal items are not left on the floor or within easy reach of pets and remaining aware of each pet's chewing tendencies. Certain objects may appeal more to some pets than others. Knowledge of a pet's tastes and tendencies can help pet owners exercise caution when letting them near objects that could be accidentally swallowed. Also remember that table scraps can contain excessive grease, bones or other objects not easily digested by pets.

"Most of these incidents occur without the pet owner's knowledge," said McConnell. "Pets can get anxious if left alone and start chewing on objects to relieve boredom or stress. Never ignore the signs that a pet may have swallowed something inedible: continual vomiting, dry heaving and/or coughing. If these symptoms occur, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cat Matcher

Do you like your cat?

For some people the honeymoon with their new cat is over within days -- and that's why the Central California Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has started to give its cats a personality test. The test is known as "Meet Your Match: feline-ality."

"Are you looking for one that will sit down with you, or do you want one that will jump up and play with you?" said Beth Caffrey, volunteer coordinator for the Fresno, Calif., SPCA. "It will make people think about what they want."

There are nine personalities, ranging from shy, quiet and loving to playful, adventurous and downright crazy. Cats are assessed by shelter workers based on their behaviors and interests. Then, using a questionnaire, shelter employees try to match an owner's preferences with the cat's behavior.

For example, Sheetrock, a shelter mascot, displays rambunctious "party animal" traits. Brooks, another shelter mainstay, is Sheetrock's opposite -- a low-key, somewhat shy "private investigator."

Prospective cat owners who come to the shelter or an SPCA adoption site in a pet store are asked to fill out a 16-question survey to identify the type of cat they want to adopt. Then, when they go through the "cattery" portion of the shelter, purple, orange and green cards represent the personality types.

Bill Danner of Sanger, Calif., was searching for a cat to hunt down moles on his property. A large, calm black-and-white male was a good fit, because the cat could contend with Danner's dogs while on the hunt.

"I am looking for a hunter," he said. With some assistance from the cattery's lead person, Beatrice Erwin, he selected his cat.

"He has some scrapes like he's been in some battles," Erwin said.

Karen and Steve Dezso, whose "feline-ality" form pointed to a high-energy cat, took home a gray-and-white kitten after adopting a puppy, too.

While owners learn more about what they want in a pet, the program also plays an important role for shelters. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shows that return and euthanasia rates have decreased as much as 40 percent in shelters where the program is used.

Friday, February 22, 2008


The nuances of a dog's barks, howls, yaps and growls can now apparently be discerned by a new computer program developed by Hungarian scientists.

The software is said to distinguish the emotional reaction of 14 dogs of the Hungarian Mudi breed.

After analyzing 6,000 barks, it aims to determine when a dog has seen a ball, when it is fighting, playing, meeting a stranger or when it wants a walk.

But the scientists admit the technology only just out-performs humans.

While the computer correctly recognised the emotional state of 43% of dogs, humans did almost as well with 40%.

But the author of the research - Csaba Molnar, from Eotvos University in Budapest - says the software can be improved, and said it may have applications for analysis of human communication.

"I would say that we proved there are very strong contextual differences between the barks, but that very long further work is needed to determine which emotional states and which characteristics belong to each (different breed)."

He added: "In the future we can use this software for any other vocal or any other signal categorisation."

The scientist also believes that later versions of the software could help owners and dog trainers identify more about dogs' well-being.

"A possible commercial application could be a device for dog-human communication," the scientist told Reuters news agency.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

LA Pet Designers Show

If you've nothing to do today, consider popping out to LA for the Los Angeles Pet Designers/The Showroom, a tradeshow ( produced by native Angelenos that hopes to make its mark on the pet industry.

This first time event is attracting pet industry buyers from all over the world to L.A. to see the latest and hippest styles for Spring.

On Thursday, February 21st and Friday, February 22nd, approximately 60 of the top industry trendsetters will show off the hottest styles in dog clothing, collars, leashes, beds, jewelry and other accessories. Some out of the ordinary lines will include dog wigs, beer made for dogs, and even diamonds for dogs. I guess the old adage "only in L.A", rings true for this event.

Los Angeles is known for its' cutting edge style and it is about time the pet ( accessories industry made its way to the West Coast. There are many trade shows of this nature all over the country but none on the fashion forward side of the continent.

Los Angeles Pet Designers/The Showroom will be a two-day event held at the centrally located Los Angeles Convention Center. The event will be trade only but press is welcome to check out the scene. Many of the top buyers from across the country are expected to be there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CATalyst Summit Results Announced

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) announced the successful outcome of the CATalyst Summit, which was held Feb. 5-6 in Palm Springs, Calif. Attendees were led by AAFP and represented more than 30 leading organizations and companies including the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Cornell Feline Health Center, Morris Animal Foundation, Winn Feline Foundation and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

These key influentials gathered to discuss how to improve health care for felines, increase responsible pet ownership, enhance the stature of cats and enrich lives. They all agreed there are alarming statistics about the cat that need to be addressed and, as a result, developed an action plan that includes the following five elements:

  • Continue to Collaborate Across all Channels
  • Develop Feline Life-Stage Guidelines (for veterinarians and pet owners)
  • Create Cat-Friendly Veterinary Practices
  • Brand the Cat
  • Produce a Consumer Awareness Campaign

A steering committee has been formed to determine the structure and organization of CATalyst to carry out the action plan established at the Summit.

"The passion and energy shared by all the participants at the CATalyst Summit was awe-inspiring," Jane Brunt, DVM, Summit chair and past president of the AAFP, said. "Throughout the meeting, we kept in mind that it's all about the cat, and as a result participants from so many areas of the feline world agreed on how we can do our part to help cats."

As an immediate outcome of the Summit, the AAFP and the American Animal Hospital Association announced their plan to partner on developing feline life-stage wellness guidelines for veterinary professionals. Winn Feline Foundation will coordinate the writing of a consumer version of the guidelines with the assistance of writers on its media committee.

The CATalyst Summit was first announced as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) released the 2007 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, which showed an increase in the cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary visits for cats. Jim Flanigan, Director of Marketing for the AVMA, presented the Sourcebook data along with findings from the Perceptions and Attitudes of Pet Owners study from BNResearch. These studies concluded that cats from households with both dogs and cats were seen by the veterinarian significantly less often than dogs from these same households.

More information about The CATalyst Summit is available at the event Web site,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Popcorn, no butter.

The Admiral cinema in Vienna has been struggling against competition from new multiplex cinemas which have been built nearby.

So cinema bosses have started a monthly Doggy Day in a bid to offer something different from their brash modern rivals.

Visitors pay £4 for a ticket while their pet pooch can go in for free and are given a blanket to snuggle up on in their seats, as well as water and popcorn.

A spokesman said: "The only thing different from a normal movie showing is that, on the insistence of local veterinary authorities, the volume levels for the films are turned down a bit so as not to hurt the animals' ears."

Thomas Feldinger, 24, who has already attended one of the doggy days with his pet Labrador Hanjo, said: "It's a great idea. Hanjo loved it in there and so did all the other dogs.

"I thought they might all make a noise and bark through the films but once the film started going they all settled down in their blankets and watched quietly."

Monday, February 18, 2008


This is skijoring, a cousin sport to dog sledding where Nordic (cross-country) skis, harnesses and a short length of bungee cord form a system that can power interspecies teams to speeds heretofore unseen on flat snow. The premise is simple: The dog runs and pulls, and the human skis behind, borrowing off the canine thrust while also striding and skating to contribute to the team's momentum for flying down the trail. If you fall, most dogs feel the big jerk and stop. However, skijoring lines usually have an emergency release, just in case.

Skijoring is a long-practiced Nordic technique, a mode of wintertime transport that evolved into sport a century ago. But the activity has gained popularity in recent years as everyday skiers see the potential in their pets. Indeed, you don't need an Arctic sled dog to skijor.

According to Jim Benson, president of the 100-member Midwest Skijorers Club, any healthy dog that weighs 35 pounds or more is a candidate for the sport.

"We have Labs, border collies, retrievers and giant schnauzers in the club," Benson said. "It's a great way to exercise the family pet."

Once momentum takes over, skijoring is of little difficulty for a large dog. Waxed skis gliding on snow provide an optimal vehicle to pull human weight through the winter woods.

Speed is a No. 1 draw. A seasoned skijoring dog can pull consistently at 15 m.p.h. or faster, letting skiers tick off twice as many miles as on a dog-less day. Races each winter at events such as the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis see competitors like Benson tethered to two or three trained huskies at a time, skidding through turns, yelling commands, skating and poling behind beasts bred to run.

Benson, a veteran skijorer who travels to compete, trains his dogs year-round, on and off the snow. He has a pickup truck with a built-in kennel. At races he baits big buckets of water with canned dog food, stirring in spoonfuls of glop to flavor a slurry the dogs will drink.

"Keeps them hydrated," Benson said. "Makes them run faster."

Most skijorers fit more the mold of Carin Offerman, an independent investor from Minneapolis who runs Raven, her 70-pound giant schnauzer, for exercise and enjoyment alone. "I do the races, but just for fun," she said. Raven and Offerman picked up the sport six years ago to stay in shape over the winter months. "We were both in need of more exercise."

New Zealand record charts go to the dogs

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - It's a doggone chartbuster -- a song audible only to dogs has topped New Zealand record charts, and is looking to go global.

A Very Silent Night, recorded at a frequency only dogs can hear, was so popular among owners it hit number one at Christmas, but has been receiving mixed responses from listeners.

"The most violent one was a dog that physically attacked the radio when it was played and went quite berserk and totally destroyed it," said Bob Kerridge, chief executive of animal welfare group, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

"On the other side of the scale, they just lie down and did nothing." The charity CD, priced at NZ$4.99 ($3.93), contained an instrumental and a vocal version of the song, but Kerridge said he did not know what kind of music dogs would hear.

"Never having heard it myself, I don't what they'll hear and of course I don't know how dogs hear music," he said.

Kerridge added dogs in Australia and the United States could soon have a listen.

Around NZ$22,000 ($17,300) has been raised by the disc's sale.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Laser your pet!

Want a fun new game to play your dog or cat? How about laser tag?

Dog and cats are hunters, programmed to follow rapidly moving objects (like their prey). The dot of laser light provides that moving stimulus and activates your pet's "hunting" drive. As you can see, some pets really get into!

GreenPets has laser tag pointers for sale. They're inexpensive and provide hours of entertainment for you and your pet. Plus, they don't get torn to shreds leaving tiny bits of stuffing all over the house!

Get a laser tag pointer at GreenPets today!

Friday, February 15, 2008

10 Years of BARking

What magazine does your dog read?

If he's classy enough, he reads BARk, the magazine of modern dog culture.

BARk celebrates its 10th anniversary with the January/February issue. Its current back-cover ad is nothing short of astonishing if you're not the sort of person who lets the dog pick the family car: Two heaping plates of Joshua Speed organic comestibles -- grass-fed beef with corkscrew pasta, carrots and broccoli; free-range chicken with zucchini and rice -- under the headline, "Yes, it's dog food." We hope Bowser leaves some table scraps for us.

BARk started out as a humble newsletter, hand-delivered by a group of dog-lovers advocating for off-leash areas (not to be confused with much-smaller dog parks). Right from the start, it included sophisticated artwork, serious articles -- traveling with your pet, the environmental impact of flea meds -- and paid advertising. It morphed gradually from handbill to black-and-white tabloid to glossy mag and is famous for literary contributions from the likes of Susan Orlean, Ann Patchett, Amy Hempel and Rick Bass.

The 10th anniversary issue includes an article on canine compulsive disorder, a celebration of dogs in pop music (with online links to the songs at, and a feature on Montana's First Dog, Jag, headlined "Blue Dog in a Red State." Other highlights are results of the cover-dog contest, the regular two-page spread of smiling dog photos submitted by readers, and a priceless quote from Joe Markham, inventor of the almost-indestructible Kong toys: "I just wanted my dog to stop chewing rocks."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pets are Valentine, Too!

The typical Valentine's Day usually includes a romantic dinner, sentimental cards and sweet treats. However, this year many pet lovers are taking part in a new tradition that involves the four-legged loves of their lives. According to a national Purina PetLover survey of 1,000 U.S. pet owners, more than 60 percent plan to include their pet in their Valentine's Day celebrations. In fact, 43 percent of men said they prefer to spend the holiday with just their pet, citing that their furry companion lowers their stress. And, of the women who said they prefer celebrating Valentine's Day with their four-legged friend, 30 percent said it's because the pet is more in tune with their feelings than anyone else.

"Valentine's Day is no longer a day to celebrate with just our human loved ones -- it's about our pets, too," said Kathy Santo, nationally-recognized dog trainer and author. "Whether it's including their pet in a family photo, insuring their health or showering them with Valentine's Day gifts; it's an indication that more people consider their pets a beloved part of the family."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dog Shoots Man

Man’s best friend in the field can be the source of his worst nightmare.

A wire service reported a “freak” hunting accident recently claimed the life of a Baytown teacher, but safety experts warn that the circumstances surrounding the death can become dangerously common.

The Associated Press reported that Perry Alvin Price III, 46, was fatally wounded Jan. 5 while goose hunting near Stowell in Chambers County, about 60 miles east of Houston.

Sheriff’s investigators said paw prints from Price’s chocolate Labrador retriever were found on a shotgun in the bed of his pickup. The shot struck Price in the leg, according to the AP. The high school math teacher was given first aid by a hunting partner who also drove him to get more help.

But, the AP reported, Price died “at a hospital from severe blood loss from his femoral artery shortly after the freak accident.”

The potential for a dog stepping on a loaded gun, however, is all too possible to be considered a freak accident, safety experts say.

In fact, this fall an Iowa pheasant hunter, Janes Harris, set his gun on the ground before crossing a fence to retrieve a downed bird. While climbing the fence, he was shot in the calf after his dog stepped on the gun, causing it to discharge.
“It’s not something new,” said Tami Moore, a hunter safety instructor in Spicewood. “It’s something actually that is used in our safety video.

“Think about it: A dog’s body weight can easily push the safety on a gun to ‘off.’ And dogs have toenails and that toenail can easily hang in a trigger guard.”

Moore, a volunteer, teams up with her husband, Frank, to teach safety curriculum approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Her regular job is administrative assistant for the TPW boater education department.

She said the dog scenario depicted in the training video shows hunters loading cased guns into a sports utility vehicle.

“Then they let a dog in back and the first thing it does is walk all over these cases,” Moore said. “But dogs don’t know if a gun is loaded.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

AKC Admits Four New Breeds

The rings at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show are just a little more crowded this year.

At the 132nd iteration of the world-famous dog show, currently running at Madison Square Garden, four newly American Kennel Club-recognized dog breeds will debut on the green carpet: the Swedish Vallhund, the Beauceron, the Tibetan mastiff, and the Plotthound.

"These four breeds have been around a long time, but it just took them a little time to get recognized," said David Frei, the show's commentator. "One reason people watch the show is for diversity - this year, there are 169 breeds and varieties, which is more than you see on your daily walk to the park."

For a real Whitman's sampler of canines, you need to go abroad, where the Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes 335 breeds. But Frei points out that last year, Westminster was the only show in the country in which every single AKC breed and variety was entered.

Here are the newcomers:

Plotthound (Hound Group). Developed in the mountains of North Carolina by two German brothers who lent the breed their name, this big-game hunter was bred for baying boar and treeing bear. A true hunting hound, the Plott has a striking brindle coat, and is known for being intelligent, tenacious - and vocal.

Swedish Vallhund (Herding Group). This sturdily built farm dog and cattle herder has been around since the time of the Vikings. Described as a "big dog in a small body," its characteristic features are its double coat and "harness markings."

Beauceron (Herding Group). A not-so-distant relative to the longhair Briard, this French dog was bred to herd and guard large flocks of sheep, and was used during both world wars as a messenger and mine detector. Having double rear dewclaws is a requirement of the breed's AKC standard.

Tibetan mastiff (Working Group). Powerful and noble in appearance, this guardian of family and property is considered by many to be the original stock from which most large, modern working breeds descend. Medieval traveler Marco Polo described these dogs as "tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pet Fashion, Tokyo-style

Flaunting a neon-green wig and red-and-black vest, the model sashayed down the runway to the beat of Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Then, rather than pose for the photographers, she turned tail and sniffed the floor, before being whisked away by her handler.

Roll over, Gisele Bündchen. The stars on this catwalk last month were pooches like Honoka, a yellow Labrador retriever, primped for Tokyo's first Pet Fashion Week. Her vest -- fashioned from figure-hugging breathable rubber and lined in faux fur -- was designed by MODRuff of Toronto. Other "models" were clad in creations by such canine clothiers as Manfred of Sweden, Doggi Dog Paris and Milan's For Pets Only.

Pet Fashion Week New York, a U.S.-based concern that started holding dog runway events at trade shows it organizes in New York two years ago, targeted puppy-mad Tokyo for its first overseas foray.

"In the U.S. dogs are dressed to a degree, but not as meticulously or as coordinated as you see" in Japan, says Mario DiFante, a partner and executive director of Pet Fashion Week. "In terms of pet boutiques," he declares, "Tokyo may even have reached the point of oversaturation."

Pet fashion has been hot ever since Paris Hilton was snapped toting her uber-chic Chihuahua Tinkerbell to society soirees (Ms. Hilton has since launched her own line of pet clothing and accessories).

Yet the industry is still novelty-driven, with "a lot of holiday items, like when you dress your dog as Santa Claus," says Alexa Cach, a Pet Fashion Week executive director. "We're trying to lift it out of that, to take the design aspect and the utilitarian aspect and combine them."

Dressing pets is particularly popular in Japan, which has a declining population. "The low birthrate here has left a niche for something to fill, and it seems that pets are filling it," says Adam Bigelow, Japan representative for San Francisco-based, a purveyor of designer apparel and furnishings for dogs and cats.

Phenomena that would be noteworthy in some places -- restaurants that allow pets, for example, or state-of-the-art pet spas -- are taken for granted in many Tokyo neighborhoods. Dog strollers are common; in fact, the audience assembled at the fashion show, which was part of a two-day trade show called New Year Dog Party, looked like a toddlers' convention, but for the wet black noses poking inquisitively out of the passing baby carriages.

"In contrast to the U.S. or China, the Japanese tend to see their dogs as a reflection of their own status," says Naohisa Tsujihara, chief executive of Sepia Pet Care School and Sepia Grooming Shop, which provided the dogs for the runway show. "It's a way of projecting themselves to outsiders."

That may be why mutts and mongrels appear scarce: Walk through a Tokyo park and nearly all the dogs on parade appear to be purebreds, a preposterous percentage are miniature dachshunds or toy poodles -- and few of them are naked.

Among the hundreds of dogs attending the event, along with an estimated 20,000 humans, was a handsome Dalmatian who wore just his birthday spots and a firehouse-red collar. He seemed scandalously underdressed next to the pair of Italian greyhounds decked out as harlequins. A bull terrier managed to make a sailor suit look both dapper and intimidating; a trio of panting Maltese sported matching denim bodysuits and yellow booties.

Most of the dogs in the audience seemed to welcome the chance to socialize at the trade show, which among other things offered pet yoga classes, an area for testing vacuum cleaners -- which sent passing dogs into fits of terror -- and endless opportunities to sniff and be sniffed.For the pet with a more hip-hop edge, designer Pup Rock showed doggie dresses fashioned from Gorillaz or Outkast concert T-shirts.

Some of the humans came hoping to leave with new ideas to spur their puppy-fashion sales. "The challenge that the market has right now is that it's difficult to find really innovative fashion," laments chief executive Marjorie Scholz. "That's one reason we came to Japan, not only to show what we're innovating but also to see what they're innovating here. The Japanese take everything they do very seriously, and they do it to extremes."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Iran's Presidential Dogs

A decision by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to acquire four guard dogs has upset the ayatollahs from the holy city of Qom.

The four dogs, bought in Germany at a cost of 110,000 euros each, are the topic of theological controversy because Islam considers dogs to be impure.

For this reason, the government has banned owners of domestic animals from taking them on the streets of the city, and owners risk penalties or the 'detention' of their animals in a pound.

Now that Ahmadinejad is protecting German dogs, many are asking the question: why can he have dogs while other citizens are banned?

The move has been badly received by several high-ranking ayatollahs.

In the middle of the controversy, the Fars agency considered the unofficial spokesman for Ahmadinejad, gave wide coverage to the issue related to the president's dogs.

"First of all these dogs are only of a German breed, bought as puppies, but grown and trained in Iran in the hands of Iranian instructors," Fars said.

"The purchase of these dogs was authorized by a fatwa issued by several ayatollahs who approved the use of these animals if the only goal was to guarantee personal security and not infringe on any religious rule."

It's a judgement not shared by other religious leaders, for example, those that issued a fatwa authorizing police to fine whoever is seen on the street with a puppy.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Westminster Dog Show Starts Monday

One hundred and sixty nine breeds of dogs -- including four making their first appearance -- will be flouncing around Madison Square Garden next week as the 132nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off in New York City.

We'll get to those making their debuts in a moment -- thereby allowing the suspense to build -- but for now we'll explain how the show will be televised, because it's a little confusing.

The kennel club this year is promising "unlimited access" to what's going on -- both onstage and behind the scenes. The show, sponsored by Pedigree®, will be aired live on the USA Network from 8 to 9 p.m. Monday and 8 to 11 p.m. Tuesday. It will air live on CNBC from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday.

And it can be watched on the Internet, as well. Competition in each breed and variety may be viewed (if you have a high speed connection) in streaming video at the Westminster Kennel Club website. Video will be available within two hours of completion of the judging.
That judging will include four breeds never before seen at the Westminster Dog Show -- and here, you might say, is where the Plott thickens ...

The four breeds eligible for the first time are the Tibetan Mastiff (Working), the Swedish Vallhund (Herding), the Beauceron (Herding), and the Plott (Hound Group), pictured to the right.

The Plott is a hunting hound of striking color that traditionally brings big game to bay or tree, and is noted for stamina, endurance, agility, determination and aggressiveness when hunting. A streamlined and muscular breed, it combines courage with athletic ability. The Plott easily traverses various terrains with agility and speed. Loyal and eager to please, the Plott is an aggressive, bold, and fearless hunter, according to the breed description.
To see all four the new breeds click here.

(Photo courtesy of Westminster Kennel Club)

Friday, February 08, 2008

White Doghouse

Every president since Warren Harding has brought a dog to Washington, and over half of all U.S. presidents owned at least one dog during their terms. (Makes you wonder how the White House lawn stays so green.) And Super Tuesday's front-runners suggest the tradition will continue.

Most of the candidates can be considered "dog persons." Hillary Clinton has Seamus, a Labrador Retriever, while John McCain's got Sam, a Springer Spaniel, and Coco, a mutt. Barack Obama, currently without a canine, has promised his daughters they'll get one if he's elected. Mitt Romney is newly dog-less since his Weimaraner, Marley, died last year.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tainted Pet Foor Indictment

A U.S. company, ChemNutra Inc., and two Chinese businesses were charged by a federal grand jury in connection with the import of tainted pet food ingredients that may have killed thousands of cats and dogs last year.

Top executives from the companies were also indicted. The U.S. accused them of importing 800 metric tons of wheat gluten poisoned with melamine, an unsafe food additive. The shipments were mislabeled to avoid inspection in China, prosecutors said.

"In today's global economy, crimes that occur halfway around the world can seriously impact our lives,'' U.S. Attorney John Wood of Kansas City, Missouri, said today in a statement. "Millions of pet owners remember the anxiety of last year's pet food recall.''

Last March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was alerted to the deaths of 14 cats and dogs that appeared to suffer from kidney failure after eating. Ultimately, manufacturers recalled more than 150 brands of dog and cat food. The pet deaths contributed to U.S. consumers' fears about the safety of Chinese- made products during a year in which toys and toothpaste made in that country also were recalled.

Consumer reports received by the FDA suggested that about 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs died after eating contaminated pet food, the Justice Department said.

Wheat gluten is a natural protein derived from wheat and is used as a binding agent in some types of pet food. The government said that mixing melamine with wheat gluten made it appear to have a higher protein level.

Melamine has commercial uses, including in fertilizers, plastics, cleaning products, glues and inks, and it isn't approved for use as food for humans or animals in the U.S., prosecutors said.

Las Vegas-based ChemNutra and its owners, Sally Miller and Stephen Miller, were charged with 26 misdemeanor counts alleging they delivered adulterated food and introduced it into interstate commerce. The executives and the company were also charged with one felony count of participating in a wire-fraud conspiracy to defraud companies that purchased the contaminated gluten.

ChemNutra, in a statement, said the company and the Millers "deny in the strongest of terms the allegations by the Department of Justice and look forward to the opportunity to prove their innocence at trial.''

Neither of the Millers "had any intent to defraud or any knowledge of wrongdoing,'' the statement added.

In a separate indictment, Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. and Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products, Arts and Crafts I/E Co. were charged with 26 felony counts. Mao Linzhun and Zhen Hao Chen, executives with the companies, also face 26 felony charges.

The companies and owners were charged in Kansas City because the products were shipped to the port in that city, according to the Justice Department.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WeDogs, the show!

Last weekend in Manhattan, Mary Seidman & Dancers presented the world premiere of "WeDOGS," a dance in six parts that celebrates the unrelenting spirit and boundless emotional capacity of man's best friend.

"I want the audience to feel a real appreciation for the canine world and the fact that dogs can bring out the best of us," said Mary Seidman, choreographer and artistic director of the dance group she started in 1990.

In addition to its resident dancers, the performance features seven children, ages 7 to 9, as pups, and master of canine melodies, Murry Weinstock, best known for his "Tails of the City."

Outside the Ailey Citigroup Theater, the ASPCA's mobile van showcased dozens of adoptable animals.

Seidman, a longtime dog, cat and bird lover, said the piece was inspired over the years by her observation of the increasing social phenomenon that has taken hold of this dog-crazed city.

"As a New Yorker, I was more and more impressed with the number of people who have dogs and the fact that dogs have become incredible members of the family," she said.

The former dancer and a teacher at Manhattan's Third Street Music School and the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, spent the past few years researching dog behavior, movements, and the sometimes blurred boundaries between humans and their canines.

The opening piece, "Who's the Alpha?" features a sophisticated lady who while walking her dogs finds their roles interchanging.

Dogs, known for their pack mentality and devotion to an alpha leader, Seidman says, in many ways resemble her dancers: They love to work, are obedient and loyal, bask in praise from their audience and enjoy learning more tricks.

That camaraderie is also portrayed in "Buddies," in which three male dancers tear the stage apart in playful romping and male bonding. In "Ancestors," a man and woman grapple with the spiritual and emotional wilderness found in a wolf's howl.

But learning how to move and act like a dog was a challenge that Seidman said forced her dancers to move outside their strict technique.

To prepare for their debut as man's best friend, the dancers spent time on all fours at the Chelsea Piers dog run, mimicking facial movements and body gestures, like shaking, playing and scratching, among the multitude of dogisms.

But perhaps the toughest hurdle the dancers faced was learning to use the body to create the image of a wagging tail (without a costume), and mastering "Doggish, the show's official language."

So what does Seidman hope the audience will take from "WeDogs"?

"No matter what's going on in the world, dogs are dogs," she said. "They are relentlessly loyal, totally forgiving and really provide unconditional love."

For more information, call (212) 868-4444, or go to

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

LA Neutering Law Passes Initial Vote

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to require the sterilization of most cats and dogs by the time they turn four years old.

The new measure, which passed on an initial 10-1 vote Friday and must pass another reading before enforcement, would give an exception to pets of licensed breeders, service pets and show animals, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

"For decades, I closed every 'Price Is Right' urging viewers to have their pets spayed. ... I'd like to think all of us working together would be enough. But it's not enough. We need legislation," former "Price is Right" television show host Bob Barker said.

Some council members reportedly spoke against the measure by citing health risks for some cats and dogs, but the decision was met with a standing ovation from about 100 people who supported it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dog-Stealing Mayor Gets the Boot

A small-town mayor accused of secretly keeping her neighbors' dog after telling them the pet died has resigned, and a judge is set to decide custody of the Shih Tzu.

Grace Saenz-Lopez apologized Friday to residents of Alice, Texas, and said she believed her actions were in the dog's best interest.

"I am sorry for the division that the events of these last few weeks have caused," Saenz-Lopez wrote in her resignation letter. "It was never my intention to bring any negative exposure to our city."

A custody hearing Monday is expected to decide who gets Puddles, who Saenz-Lopez renamed "Panchito" after taking the dog last summer.

A neighboring family accuses Saenz-Lopez of refusing to return the dog after leaving it in her care while they went on vacation. A day after her neighbors left, Saenz-Lopez called to tell them Puddles had died.

Three months later, a relative of the neighbors saw the pet at a dog groomer. When Saenz-Lopez refused to return the dog, the family filed a criminal complaint and a civil lawsuit against her.

Homero Canales, who represents Saenz-Lopez, has said his client believed the dog would die if returned to her neighbors.

Saenz-Lopez, the city's mayor since 2003, was indicted Jan. 18 on two felony counts of tampering with evidence and concealing evidence.

Those charges came after Saenz-Lopez filed a police report claiming the dog was missing. The dog was later spotted at the home of Saenz-Lopez's twin sister, in Ben Bolt, about 10 miles from Alice.

City commissioners voted unanimously last week for a resolution urging Saenz-Lopez to resign.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Don't Keep On Truckin'!

It's dangerous to have a dog riding in the back of your pick-up truck, and a Maryland politician is trying to do something to stop it.

Delegate Kevin Kelly is "scared to death" when he sees dogs traveling loose in pickup trucks in his rural Allegany County district. So the Democratic lawmaker introduced a bill last week to punish the practice, boasting bipartisan co-sponsors and the support of a "vast majority" of his constituents.

Twenty-five states now have tether laws in place that require pets to be restrained while traveling. Kelly is optimistic Maryland will be next.

The law, which applies to trucks and trailers, would require an animal to be in a vehicle that is totally enclosed. If not the pet would have to be confined to a cage or attached to a harness.

Errant drivers would incur a $100 fine for the first offense and $250 thereafter. The law does not apply to livestock.

"I have heard in the past of dogs flying out of vehicles, dogs being killed in accidents, dogs jumping out and getting hit in other lanes of traffic," Kelly said. "It's totally unwarranted."

The potential for harm to unrestrained pets is obvious, so Kelly and other advocates are playing up the risks to motorists. Kelly said he's distracted by loose pets in other vehicles, and a car swerving to avoid an escaped dog, he said, is a danger to everybody on the road.

"It becomes a situation of divided attention," Kelly said, adding that drivers with loose animals in their own vehicles are also at risk.

Some activists want to see more done. Bark-BuckleUP, a nationwide campaign to encourage pet seatbelts, points out that an unrestrained 60-pound dog can hit a passenger with the force of 1,200 pounds in a 30 mph accident.

Loose animals can also hinder emergency response by distracting or attacking rescue workers, said Christina Selter, founder of the California-based campaign. She supports the Maryland bill but urges more precautions, such as the use of specially-engineered pet belts or an outright ban on transporting pets in open truck beds and trailers - whether restrained or not.

"Even in a small accident, the dog is still going to be injured," she said. "Those harnesses are only thin straps, and it cuts through their skin."

Kelly does not expect much opposition, although the bill has been held up in previous sessions. He especially casts doubt on the suggestion that hunters and farmers will be inconvenienced.

"No hunter is going to put his good hunting dog in the back of a vehicle like that to be injured or killed," he said.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Don't Miss the Puppy Bowl!

For those of you not into football, you may be looking for "alternative television programming" during tomorrow's Super Bowl.

If so, tune to Animal Planet for the Fourth Annual PUPPY BOWL! It starts at 3PM, lasts for three hours, and features adorable, adoptable puppies frolicking with one another in a miniature football stadium.

Watch selections from last year's Puppy Bowl here!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Dog Eats Super Bowl Tickets

This is one Super Bowl story Glendale Recreation Manager Chris Gallagher might have a hard time explaining to the teacher.

Especially when it involves explaining how his dog chewed two $1,800 ($900 apiece) Super Bowl tickets for a friend. Club level seats at the 30-yard line, no less.

“I can’t afford to go to the game myself,” Gallagher said. “It wasn’t funny at the time and it happened after a bad day. I was basically getting them sent to my house for a friend. I kind of joked, he (Gallagher’s 3-year-old labrador, Buddy) wanted to surprise me with the tickets and he must have had trouble getting the envelope open.

“About an hour or two after it happened, I was laughing about it. This is the ultimate ‘my dog ate it’ story,” he said.

An envelope was to be placed under Gallagher’s doormat with the tickets, but the courier delivery person slipped them under an opening in the door. Gallagher’s dog got hold of the envelope and ripped the tickets. Buddy has a history of monetary indiscretions as he once ripped a $20 bill apart and Gallagher was unable to read the serial numbers to save the money.

Fortunately for Gallagher, the tickets were saved with one phone call.

“I was able to call where I had gotten them from,” he said.

Gallagher told the person the bar code was intact, but all she needed was his section and seat number and was scheduled to receive replacement tickets earlier this week at an NFL will call, most likely at a hotel.

Meantime, Buddy got a reprieve from going to doggy prison, because he has served hard time in the yard.

“Basically, he looks at you with those big golden eyes and his wagging tail,” Gallagher said. “He was confined to the back yard for a couple of days. I’ve made up with Buddy and he’s back in the house.”

The experience has taught Gallagher one valuable lesson.

“I’ve learned I’m going to have to check the gap in my front door if an envelope can fit through,” he said. “We’re still struggling with Buddy to make sure he’s not digging or chewing.”