Category Archives: special dogs and awards

The dogs that conquered space -The Guardian

Space walkies … a postcard of Belka and Strelka in their rocket. Photograph: Fuel Publishing

Space walkies … a postcard of Belka and Strelka in their rocket. Photograph: Fuel Publishing

In the Soviet era, space travel was a major goal and stray dogs collected from the streets were the first explorers in the space program.  This article, by Oliver Wainwright, provides some insight into the propaganda behind the program and how they matched with reality.

It is a rather sad tale of how dogs were exploited in the name of progress, but such exploitation still occurs today in the name of science (arguably, with varying degrees of success, with more standards and controls in place).  Read the story by clicking on this link:  The dogs that conquered space | Art and design | The Guardian.

I have previously blogged about Laika the space dog; so be sure to check out that column for more information on Laika.

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

 

Lucy and Remi: 2 great dog stories in 2 days

From the New Zealand papers this week…Lucy the dog helps save her owner when she falls down a cliff and Remi, a naughty Bull Terrier, alerts his owner to help save a trapped motorist.

Read the links – great stories!

Nikita McMurtrie and her dog, Lucy (Photo by Mytchall Bransgrove)

Nikita McMurtrie and her dog, Lucy (Photo by Mytchall Bransgrove)

Loyal Lucy alerts mum – national | Stuff.co.nz

Angel Marsh with Remi; credited with saving a man trapped in a wrecked car (Photo by Fairfax NZ)

Angel Marsh with Remi; credited with saving a man trapped in a wrecked car (Photo by Fairfax NZ)

Dog helps owner to find crash victim – national | Stuff.co.nz

Saying goodbye to Faith

Faith the dog 1

Faith, the biped dog who stole many hearts since being born in 2002, passed away on September 22, 2014.  Her family says that she was increasingly uncomfortable with arthritic pain over the last few months and it was time to let her go.

I first wrote about Faith in 2011 when I was doing some research on special needs dogs.  Faith’s adoptive family taught her to walk on her hind legs, rather than heeding advice from many ‘experts’ that she be put down.  She went on to become a wonderful therapy dog and an ambassador for special needs in general.

Faith with her manager, Mike Maguire

Faith with her manager, Mike Maguire

According to her family, Faith is probably running on all fours on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.  They are accepting messages of condolence on Faith’s Facebook page.

You can read more about Faith’s inspiring story in the book by Jude Stringfellow, Faith Walks, available through Amazon.

Faith Walks

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

New dog comforts victims

There’s a new staff member at the Suffolk Country District Attorney’s office in Massachusetts.  It’s Indy, a Golden Retriever/Yellow Labrador cross, who is the office’s new comfort dog.

Photo courtesy of Boston.com

Indy at her press conference (photo courtesy of Boston.com)

New Dog Comforts Victims in Suffolk DA’s Office – Massachusetts news – Boston.com.

Moxie, the 9/11 search dog

Moxie was a 3-year old urban search and rescue dog when she and her handler were called to the World Trade Center in September 2001.  Now, she’s a a retired senior dog who is still playing at the park.

Moxie with her owner Mark Aliberti in Coughlin Park, Winthrop, Massachusetts (photo by Kathleen McNerney/WBUR)

Moxie with her owner Mark Aliberti in Coughlin Park, Winthrop, Massachusetts (photo by Kathleen McNerney/WBUR)

Her handler, Mark Aliberti, recalls their experience at the World Trade Center site in this WBUR radio news story:

Source:  http://www.wbur.org/2011/09/07/sept-11-search-dogs

Making cadaver dogs more efficient

A PhD student at the University of Huddersfield (UK) is conducting research to make cadaver and victim recovery (VR) dogs more efficient in their work.

These special dogs are probably not as well known as other working and assistance dogs, because the work they are associated with isn’t pleasant.  They are used to recover dead bodies (victims of suicide or murder), plus to find body parts and fluids that can help police track down the perpetrators of crime.  VR dogs were used to identify body parts from victims of the 7/7 bombings in London, for example.

Kip, a victim recovery dog from the South Yorkshire Police department, has been helping in the research (photo courtesy of University of Huddersfield)

Kip, a victim recovery dog from the South Yorkshire Police Department, has been helping in the research (photo courtesy of University of Huddersfield)

In her experiments using Kip, researcher Lorna Irish set out a sequence of vials containing different odours that she had prepared in the lab.  These chemicals are known to be produced from the body decomposition process.  Alongside these test chemicals were “positive controls” associated with human cadavers, such as human bone – from archaeological sources – and pork at various stages of decomposition.  Pork meat is used for training such dogs due to the ethical and legal problems associated with obtaining human material.  It is thought to be the closest analogue for human flesh for decomposition studies.  There were also “negative controls” – smelly chemicals not associated with decomposition, such as clove oil.

Kip correctly identified the odours derived from decomposition and was not distracted by the “negative control” smells.  It was a successful demonstration. In the field, VR dogs can sometimes be distracted by “false positives”, such as dead animals, or even mushrooms, explained Lorna.  If she can arrive at a greater understanding of the chemistry of odours from human cadavers, then VR dogs can be extra efficient.

“If you train a dog with a chemical that is specific to human decomposition, you can enhance its ability.  It is not about changing the way the dogs do it, but improving it,” she added.

Irish is approximately half-way through the research for her degree; she is traveling widely across the UK to observe dog training methods.

Source: University of Huddersfield media statement

 

Service dog fraud

There’s a worrying and growing trend in the United States.  It’s Service Dog Fraud – when dog owners purchase fake service dog vests and then take their dogs into public places.

Under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with service animals must be allowed access to public places.  This is the Department of Justice’s definition of a service animal:

“Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.”

Yet, the sale of fake service dog products is unregulated.  On a recent flight through Los Angeles International Airport, the volunteers in their PUPs programme told me that they regularly see fake service dogs at the airport.  They can be spotted a mile away – dogs that are clearly pets with behaviors that are not characteristic of true service dogs doing things like jumping on people or stealing food.

CBS News has covered this type of fraud, which is causing people with genuine disabilities to be questioned about their right to enter establishments with their service dog:

Canine Companions for Independence is asking dog owners to take a pledge to stop service dog fraud.  You can take this pledge by clicking here. 

I encourage you to sign the pledge and circulate it to your friends and relatives.  If you know of someone who is illegally passing their dog off as a service dog, please ask them to stop and help them to understand what problems they are causing.

See also my earlier post on the sale of fake service dog products

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