Category Archives: special dogs and awards

Pelorus Jack – remembering World War I

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and commemorations are being held across the Globe.

It’s a fitting time to remember the animals that served during the conflict.

Pelorus Jack, a Bulldog, was the mascot of the HMS New Zealand.  In fact, there were two Pelorus Jacks because the first mascot was killed and subsequently replaced.

A model of Pelorus Jack with his collar and leads (photo courtesy of NZ History)

A model of Pelorus Jack with his collars and leads (photo courtesy of NZ History)

The first dog was a gift to the ship from a New Zealander living in England. He was named after the famous dolphin that accompanied ships traveling in the outer Marlborough Sounds between 1888 and 1912.  He was killed when he fell down the forward funnel of the ship and was officially ‘discharged dead’ from the Navy on 24 April 1916.

In his will he had requested that his successor be a ‘bull pup of honest parentage, clean habits, and moral tendencies’.

The second Pelorus Jack, also a bulldog,  was terrified of the noise of the ship’s guns.  He achieved the rank of leading sea dog before his final discharge in October 1919.   On his return to New Zealand, he was gifted to the City of Auckland along with his silver collar, a brass studded collar and leading reins.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum holds these items in its collection, along with the collar of Caesar the Anzac Dog.  Read my blog about Caesar here.  Another Pelorus Jack collar is kept in the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum in Devonport.

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

Source:  New Zealand History

The dog mayor of San Francisco

On Tuesday (18 November 2014), Frida the Chihuahua was sworn in as Mayor of San Francisco for the day.

Frida, after her swearing in ceremony (photo by NBC News)

Frida, after her swearing in ceremony (photo by NBC News)

Frida earned the honor because her owner had the winning bid of $5,000 at an auction to benefit the Department of Animal Care and Control, which runs the city’s animal shelter.

“We applaud Mayor Frida’s ability to rise above her humble start as a single mom in an animal shelter to Mayor for the Day,” said Miriam Saez, acting director of the Animal Care and Control Department.

Frida

At the end of the day on Tuesday, Frida’s retirement package included a dog bed, toys and a gift basket.

Go Frida!

The hero dog of Ashland (MA)

The Boston Globe has reported on a newly-recognized hero dog:  Dax.  Dax is the first recipient of a state heroism award.  In July 2013, Dax saved his handler from a suspect armed with a shotgun.

Dax’s medal came with a special backing to protect him from its sharp edges when he wears it.

Good dog!

Ashland Police Officer Christopher E. Alberini along with his partner Dax were awarded the Medal Of Valor. Governor Patrick gave Dax a pat on the head.  Photo by:  David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Ashland Police Officer Christopher E. Alberini along with his partner Dax were awarded the Medal Of Valor. Governor Patrick gave Dax a pat on the head. Photo by: David L Ryan/Globe Staff

 

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

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

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

 

Animal therapy’s positive effects on college students

Animal-assisted therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety and loneliness among college students, according to researchers at Georgia State University, Idaho State University and Savannah College of Art and Design. Their findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.

German Shepherd Sophie is a trained assistance dog.  Photo courtesy of Georgia State University

German Shepherd Sophie is a trained assistance dog. Photo courtesy of Georgia State University

The researchers provided animal-assisted therapy to 55 students in a group setting at a small arts college in the southeastern United States.  They found a 60 percent decrease in self-reported anxiety and loneliness symptoms following animal-assisted therapy, in which a registered therapy dog was under the supervision of a licensed mental health practitioner.

Eighty-four percent of the participants reported their interaction with the therapy dog, Sophie, was the most significant part of the program.

The group sessions were held twice monthly during an academic quarter. Students were invited to stop by and interact with the therapy dog as long as they wished, up to two hours. They were allowed to pet, hug, feed, brush, draw, photograph, sit near and play fetch with the therapy dog.

Dr. Leslie Stewart of Idaho State, who led the study, began the research as a Ph.D. student at Georgia State. She collaborated with Drs. Franco Dispenza, Lindy Parker and Catherine Chang of Georgia State and Ms. Taffey Cunnien of Savannah College of Art and Design.

The prevalence of anxiety and loneliness on college campuses has increased, placing extra demands on college counseling centers. Budget strains have made it necessary for these centers to find creative ways to meet the needs of their students.

This study suggests animal-assisted therapy could be an effective way for college counseling centers to meet the growing demands of their students. It is one of the first to apply animal-assisted therapy in a group, college setting and use a systematic form of measurement.

“College counseling centers are also becoming more and more reflective of community mental health agencies,” Dispenza said. “That’s something that’s been noted in the field in probably the last 10 to 15 years. College counseling centers aren’t seeing students struggling with academics, which major to pick or how to study. They’re coming in with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, pervasive mood disorders and considerable contextual strains that are happening out in the world, such as poverty and experiences of homelessness, as well as a history of medical issues and family health issues.”

To become a registered therapy dog, the animal and handler must complete a series of evaluations and courses, which involve their grooming, temperament, previous training and relationship with their handler. Dogs can be ideal therapy animals because they have become so domesticated and the seeming ability to read cues between dogs and humans is probably the most pronounced. For instance, a dog can tell when a human is sad, Dispenza said.

“The presence of a therapy dog facilitates a therapeutic connection between the client and the mental health professional,” Parker said. “When you’re trying to do mental health work with someone, establishing that therapeutic relationship and rapport is so important. Any way to do it faster or more effectively only helps facilitate the therapeutic process.”

Source:  Georgia State University media release