Border collies patrol at airports

In today’s Christchurch Press, comes news that Christchurch Airport has employed its first Border Collie, Jet, to scare away geese and other birds from the runway areas.

14-week old Jet, Christchurch Airport's newest employee, will undergo training to get her used to the noisy runways at the airport (Photo by The Press)

14-week old Jet, Christchurch Airport’s newest employee, will undergo training to get her used to the noisy runways at the airport (Photo by The Press)

Bird strike is a major hazard for modern aviation.  Bird strike was the cause of the engine failure on US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009, for example.  That plane landed safely in New York’s Hudson River in what was called the “Miracle on the Hudson.”  Bird strike can also cause damage to aircraft windscreens and fuselages, not just engines.

Jet’s arrival in Christchurch is a first for New Zealand but Border Collies have been patrolling airports in other countries for many years.

Birds view the dogs as natural predators and so, where they may become accustomed to other scare tactics like sirens, the birds will always be wary of being chased by a dog.

Airports that use Border Collie patrols include Southwest Florida International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, New Bedford Regional Airport (Massachusetts), Dover Air Force Base (US Air Force), Ramat David Air Force Base (Israel), Cold Lake Air Force Base (Canada), and Augusta Regional Airport (Georgia).

A Border Collie at the Southwest International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla. By Marc Beaudin, The (Ft. Myers, Fla.) News-Press

A Border Collie at the Southwest International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla.
By Marc Beaudin, The (Ft. Myers, Fla.) News-Press

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

How to Choose a Boarding Kennel for Your Pet

Just in time for the pre-Christmas madness, the Humane Society of the United States has published this very useful list of things to consider when choosing a boarding kennel for your pet.

How to Choose a Boarding Kennel for Your Pet : The Humane Society of the United States

Is your dog joining you for holiday celebrations this year, or are they going to a kennel?  In our area, most kennels are fully booked for the Christmas holiday period.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Bad dog (a love story) – book review

Bad dog a love story cover

This book tells the story of Martin Kihn and his Bernese Mountain Dog, Hola.  Martin (Marty) is an alcoholic who is on the verge of losing his job.  Hola is out of control, having never been trained.  Marty’s wife Gloria leaves him because she needs space away from both of them.

Marty decides to throw himself into obedience training of Hola to get Gloria back and to keep his mind from drinking.  They go into training for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test.

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.  I expected a book that was very much a dog story and what I got was a man telling his survival story with a main character being his dog.  I did enjoy how Marty hears Hola talking to him.  When Hola speaks to him, her voice is in italics.  For example, on the spur of the moment Marty decides to drive out and see his wife in the countryside where she is staying:

“Hola,” I say, as we drive the twisting half mile past the ice-cream-and-chicken stand to the house, “what if Mommy doesn’t want to see us.”

She’ll want to see me, she says.  Everybody loves me.

“Don’t count on it, girlfriend.”

Do you think she made crab cakes?

The book also gives some good insights into the Canine Good Citizen test and mentions a number of training techniques.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

An update on the dog of the Mary Rose

Last year, I wrote about the dog of the Mary Rose, the mascot of a ship that was sunk in 1545.

Now researchers using DNA have discovered that the little dog was a male rather than a female as thought previously.

The skeleton of Hatch the dog, Photo by the University of Portsmouth

The skeleton of Hatch the dog, Photo by the University of Portsmouth

The skeleton of the dog lacked a baculum, or penis bone, and so was thought for many years to be that of a female dog. The dog, named “Hatch” by researchers, was discovered in 1981 during the underwater excavation of the ship, which sank defending Portsmouth from a French invasion in 1545.

However recent developments in DNA analysis have found that Hatch was a young male dog, most closely related to modern Jack Russell terriers, with a brown coat.

The team, which included members from University of Portsmouth, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, King’s College London Dental Institute, Durham University and the Mary Rose Trust, were even able to ascertain that the dog was carrier for the canine genetic disorder hyperuricosria. This causes dogs to produce urine with very high levels of uric acid and can lead to bladder stones and, less frequently, kidney stones.

“We extracted the DNA from one of the dog’s teeth to identify the breed of the dog, its gender and even the colour of its fur. This technique could now be applied to further museum specimens, meaning we could find out more about previously unknowable animals.”

Recovered over a period of several months, the dog’s skeleton was found partially outside the carpenter’s cabin, with other bones inside the cabin, under a pile of chests belonging to the carpenter and several gunners. Despite stories claiming he was trapped in the door, the dog probably died fully outside the cabin, with some parts being pulled inside post-death by marine scavengers.

The dog’s skeleton is on display in the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Source:  University of Portsmouth media release

The 13,000 euro rescue operation

Skipper the Jack Russell Photo by Steffen Pletl

Skipper the Jack Russell Photo by Steffen Pletl

Skipper is a special Jack Russell.  After getting incredibly stuck in a badger sett, a complex network of tunnels underground, his owner had to call emergency services to dig him out.

After almost 7 hours of work, they managed to free Skipper.  During this time, they excavated 50 square metres of earth….all because he broke free from his leash when a friend was walking him in November 2012.  He followed his nose and, because he was dragging his leash, he became tangled.

His owner challenged the 13,000 euro bill she received; it’s been discounted to 10,000 in a settlement to end a court dispute.

How much would you spend to rescue your precious pooch?

Source:  The Times

The Wagington

The Wagington is a new, high-end dog hotel (kennel?) in Singapore catering to the wealthiest residents of the area.

All dogs must be temperament tested before being allowed to stay in one of the 27 suites of the hotel.  Amenities include memory foam mattresses, a bone-shaped swimming pool with supervised swimming, a gym including a treadmill (also supervised), and spa services ranging from ‘pawdicures’ to mud wraps.

A suite at the Wagington (photo courtesy of The Wagington)

A suite at the Wagington (photo courtesy of The Wagington)

Over the top?  Probably – for many of us.  But the opening of this facility, reportedly costing the owner $700,000, shows that the pet market continues its expansion with owners who can afford luxuries for their animals.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

A golden retriever mom for African wild dog puppies

Hot off the press from the Oklahoma City Zoo…a litter of endangered African Wild Dogs, also known as African Painted Dogs, has been born.

The birth mother, Xena, is only three years old and inexperienced.  It became clear to the keepers that the puppies needed a surrogate mother.  Enter Lilly, a special Golden Retriever with maternal skills.

Even though Lilly’s not an African wild dog, she’s still much better suited to surrogate for our pups than humans would be,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino. “This is a positive for both Lilly’s offspring and the African wild dogs as they will benefit from initial socialization with a canine species.”

This is an example of yet another way to use dogs for work – helping to save an endangered species.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand