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Niche Blog Friday: Hipster Puppies May 28, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Niche Blogs.
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Today’s Niche Blog title Hipster Puppies pretty much says it all. Enjoy!

The Ethics of Debarking: Not a Gray Area February 3, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
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Perhaps this is a bit off-topic for the Infomavens, but I feel compelled to write about and share a New York Times article on the ethicality of debarking dogs. You see, it’s a pet-peeve (pun intended) of mine. Apparently, some dog owners have either decided or been forced to “debark” their dogs due to complaining neighbors, or (I am guessing) their own headaches. The article particularly mentions a few people who have chosen to debark – one who lives in an apartment complex, and one who “has more than a dozen dogs at a time”, and regularly shows these dogs. Debarking a dog is not suggested and even considered inhumane by most veterinarians and groups dedicated to animal rights. “The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that the surgery only be done ‘after behavioral modification efforts to correct excessive vocalization have failed'” (New York Times).

One of my "barkers"

Not to paraphrase the famous “dog whisperer” Cesar Milan, whose practices are questionable, but Milan often finds that problem dogs (and those who excessively bark) do so because they do not receive as much exercise as they need. Having a dog is a huge responsibility and one that people frequently take on without proper preparation. Dogs need to be trained and dogs need exercise. Even less trainable dogs can be helped with training aids like bark collars which deliver low voltage shocks to the dog when it barks. Supporters of debarking report that their dogs did not change after the surgery, that they were not “sad”. Dogs are resilient; that is true. But does that mean that debarking is not unethical? Seeing as barks are one of the primary ways dogs communicate, it’s just about as ethical as cutting the vocal cords of your wailing baby. Think about that.

Move Over Dewey! Here Comes the Library Dogs! January 14, 2010

Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
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Ever since I saw a picture of a cute black lab hanging outside of my local public library I became interested in the phenomena of children reading to dogs. (I even looked into getting my two over-excited labs trained for just such a program and if you are interested you should check out therapyanimals.org’s page on Reading Education Assistance Dogs aka READ.) While I excitedly told my friends and family about this great library program and was always greeted with smiles, someone did finally ask “just how does having a dog present help with reading skills?”. To be honest, I didn’t have a clue. Kids love dogs so they might jump at the opportunity to read to them–that was my only response. So it was with great excitement that I read this post by the Book Patrol blog on just such programs.

From Alice Jamieson's Flickr Stream, Creative Commons Licensed

The post entitled, “These Libraries Are Going to the Dogs,” cites empirical evidence that “the program has been so successful in improving reading scores that it has spread nationwide, over 2,300 dog and trainer teams are now helping reluctant readers become book lovers, according to a 2009 ABC News story.”

The reasons are numerous:
1. Children who are embarrassed by their reading skills do not feel embarrassed in front of dogs.
2. “The dogs are patient, nonjudgmental, and can even be trained to be encouraging.”
3. Reading becomes more like a reward or a game than homework.
4. Homeless children, crippled by stress, make time to read to the dogs.
5. Children choose what they want to read rather than be held to specific books.

Read the whole post here!

Look at that Tail Go! November 12, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Beauty.
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A post put together by Mental_Floss this week in honor of Veteran’s Day has been making the internet rounds for several days. This one is my favorite, but several of them are worth watching. I didn’t know dogs could wag their tails so fast!