#SaveThe21 campaign supporters from around the world included actress Maggie Q, Sir Richard Branson and our own Angel.
The dogs, Aimee told me, were ready to be adopted. She asked if we would like to meet and help photograph them as part of their adoption process. Within days, arrangements were confirmed, and I was heading to Wellborn, Florida for the assignment. Later that day, I would continue my travels to Tallahassee to attend Humane Lobby Day, which was the following day. It was a life-changing 48 hours.
Here is my album of the Ontario 21. What a transformation, thanks to Dogs Playing for Life. Special thanks to all of those who rallied for their lives, around the world, including Rob Scheinberg, co-founder of Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary in Ontario.
Even with a concise list of manufacturers to visit, we managed to get sidetracked at Global Pet Expo, last week in Orlando. The industry trade show for pet retailers is sensory overload with miles and miles of displays and products. Thank DOG for the various canines walking the floor, who helped bring us back down to earth on several occasions. There was Indie, catching the show from a backpack. And a sweet Pup In Pink Polka Dot whose name we did not catch. Then, there was Seamus. Oh Seamus, you stole our hearts. The Pyrenean Mastiff was part of the booth display at All Four Paws, makers of The Comfy Cone, The Chill Collar and The Wipe It Drool Towel (which Seamus was wearing).
Beds – There were lots of fun novelty items, like these Disney-themed beds and pillows (below). We loved the look and feel of the faux fur dog beds from Baylee Nasco, designed and manufactured out of Hialeah, Florida. That’s Chai Latte sitting on a pile of their beds at the show. One Lucky Dog in St. Petersburg carries the Baylee Nasco line. Feeling is believing.
Our favorite beds, paws down, are the ones made by Bowsers Beds. We have some throughout our home, and they still look brand new, after years of machine washing and drying. Now, it’s time to make an investment on some new ones. The dogs love them. The new, soft neutral colors are fabulous and will look good with any home’s color scheme or decor style. Fluffy Puppies Dog Store & Salon will be our go-to for our next round of Bowsers Beds.
Travel – Luggage can be a fashion statement. For those of us who love taking trips with our dogs, The Pet Collection from Chariot Travelware is the hound’s bow WOW! The hard side cases are fully lined inside and feature a high quality telescopic handle with push button locking system. They are gorgeous. If you order online, tell them THE NEW BARKER dog magazine sent you.
Unleashing The Power Of Play – We enjoyed meeting the new team at Planet Dog. This Maine company continues to impress us with their innovative creations of tougher toys. They don’t forget to include puppies and seniors in their plans when thinking up new product designs. And, the toys are all 100% guaranteed. You can’t beat that. We’ll be heading to Pet Food Warehouse in St. Petersburg, BarkLife Market & More in Seminole and Dog Mania+Cats in Dade City for our next toy supply. Our dogs can’t have too many, right?
Neat Stuff – It’s always nice to put a face to the months of email correspondence. We met Jane with foufouBrands, creators of foufoudog designer wear. They also make Vegalicious, a 100% natural vegan treats for dogs, made in the USA. We also met the exuberant Kevin Roberge, who was passionate about the new product lines being created by ThunderWorks, inventors of ThunderShirt. #ThunderShirtYourself Although we missed seeing our contact Andrea Friedland with PAWZ, stay connected to THE NEW BARKER, as we’re planning something fun with them, later this year.
Friends and Associates – We ran into a longtime friend of THE NEW BARKER, Tom Brennan at the American Pet Nutrition booth. We said hello to Dr. Marty Becker at the Media Roundup Luncheon and ran into his daughter, Mikkel Becker, on the showroom floor. We saw Kris Logan, then said hello to the Pasadena Pet Motel and STK9 Training teams. David Fine of Bark N Bag regaled us with a Bernadette Peters birthday story. We said Aloha to Kelly Ison who was introducing a new line of treats at Einstein Pets. The Luau Time dog treats are handcrafted from natural and nutritious, premium raw ingredients in the USA. The treats are produced in small batches with only seven ingredients: Oat Flour, Coconut, Pineapple, Honey, Pork, Ginger, Chia Seed. BarkLife Market & More in Seminole and St. Pete carries the Einstein Pets line of treats. By the way, Abbey the Westie takes her job as taste tester serious. She remained at the Sarasota headquarters, working her little wiggle butt off. Way to take one for the Einstein Pets team, Abbey.
Curious Puck, our canine traveling companion, was a trooper. He allowed exhibitors to treat him, pet him and try some things on him. He didn’t turn his nose up to anything, even bravely pulling a bone out of a basket at one of the booths. Special thanks to Puck’s human, Heather Schulman, for bringing him along.
Cool Find – PillStashios is a company that makes an edible pill stasher for dogs. You’ll find it at Pets Life Naturally in Palmetto and The Doggie Bag in Lakeland. The product, inspired by nature, looks like a pistachio. You insert the pill inside the edible stasher, snap it shut and serve it to your dog. We were given some samples for Dougie, our Scottish Terrier, who is on medication for skin allergies. It’s a dream to use and he loves the taste. The PillStashios product is 100% natural, free of gluten, wheat, corn and soy. This was a fun product and great group of people at the booth.
Raising the Woof – Food and treats were a big part of Global Pet Expo. It was good to see so many new products offering a variety of options for the consumer and their pets. We LOVE Pawsitively Pure Dog Food, a Central Florida company offering a line of products that include dog food, dog treats and bone broth. They use only the finest, freshest and purest human-grade ingredients. “We are committed to replacing conventional ingredients with certified organic alternatives whenever possible,” said Carole Brooks, the Founder and CEO. Carole started her company in 2007, after that year’s major pet food recall. The company’s mascot and taste tester is Ryley Jones, a Weimaraner. Carole gave us a sample of the fresh-made bone broth after we told her about Rita, our MinPin who has arthritis. She is digging the broth on top of her kibble.
It’s A Wrap – The work that all of these companies put into their products, then the time they take to travel, display and talk about them is impressive. Equally impressive: the number of pet retailers walking the floor looking for the most innovative products to bring to their customers. Check in with your local independent retailer and find out what new goodies are in store for you and your dog. Until next year, #GlobalPetExpo. We were doggone tired and our feet were definitely barking by day’s end.
In 2014, Orange County Animal Services in Florida took all breed information off their kennels. Not only did adoptions of dogs that would have been labeled pit bulls go up, but adoptions for all breeds improved.
By Clive D.L. Lynne and Lisa M. Gunter
This reprinted article (from June 2017) is part of Future Tense, a partnership between Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.
Boris and Brendan could be twins. Both are on the short side, with brown hair and small gleaming eyes set into broad heads. Both wagged their tails excitedly when someone came to their kennel and yapped sadly when that person walked away.
Yet the fates of these two dogs, both up for adoption at an open-admission shelter in Florida, were very different.
Boris found a new home in just a week. Brendan stayed two months before someone took him in. He would almost certainly have been euthanized—as nearly a million dogs are each year in the United States—had the shelter not adopted a “no-kill” policy shortly before his arrival.
So what was it about Boris and Brendan that led to such different outcomes?
It was all in the labeling. Boris had been marked as a “Labrador/German short-haired pointer cross,” Brendan a “pit bull.”
The distinctions between dog breeds might sound as solid as car marques and model numbers, but the latest behavioral research indicates they don’t tell us much that’s useful about dogs. With man’s best friend, just as for his master and mistress, stereotypes based on perceived heritage are often misguided or just plain wrong.
For one thing, “pit bull” isn’t even a recognized breed—it’s just a grab bag of small, squat, wide-faced canines that got a bad reputation in the 1980s when they became the young male urban underclass’s preferred projection of strength. A study that thoroughly investigated all fatal dog attacks in the United States over the 2000s showed that many other factors were more important than breed in determining when things went bad. Factors such as whether the dog was male or female, sterilized or not, and evidence dogs had been abused or neglected all played a bigger role than the dog’s (often inaccurately reported) breed identity.
For another, character, in dogs as in people, is a complex mix of genetic and environmental influences. Just as jumping to conclusions about people because of their ethnic background has many negative consequences for all concerned, breed stereotypes have led to pit bulls being overrepresented in many American animal shelters. In fact, some shelters won’t even put a dog up for adoption if it is believed to be a pit bull.
People looking for new canine companions often ask, “What kind of dog is that?” This question makes shelters feel compelled to answer with the name of a breed—even when the vast majority of their dogs don’t come with papers or printouts from genetic testing. The breed labels that potential adopters see on the cards hanging on a dog’s kennel, and on which so much of a dog’s fate depends, are just guesses based on the dog’s appearance. Since there are more than 200 known breeds, which can be combined in up to 55 trillion different ways, we shouldn’t be surprised that these guesses are usually wrong. Shelter dogs have far more complex breed heritages than we could have ever imagined.
Arizona State University Canine Science Collaboratory tested the reliability of shelters’ breed assignments using DNA analysis to uncover the heritage of nearly 1,000 dogs at two shelters in the western United States. Of the dogs tested, only 12 percent were purebreds or a straight mix of two breeds. Small wonder, then, that staff only correctly identified all the breeds in a dog’s makeup in just a 10th of their animals. Most of those were the handful of purebreds in their care.
Presumably people ask for breed information because they think it will tell them something about the character of the dog they plan to adopt. However, the evidence for personality differences between breeds of dogs is surprisingly weak. Two studies, each involving over 13,000 dogs, found that the personality differences within each breed were as large or even larger than the character differences between breeds. And the available data don’t back up long-held expectations of the behavior of different dog breeds. English springer spaniels, for example, which the American Kennel Club describes as “friendly” and “eager to please” consistently show up in studies as at an elevated risk of owner-directed aggression.
And if the dog isn’t a purebred, all bets are off. Mixing genes isn’t like mixing paints. A dash of border collie with a helping of Labrador doesn’t automatically produce a dog that likes to swim and herd sheep.
Yet despite all that is misguided about jumping to conclusions based on (usually inaccurate) breed identification, we found that these labels influence people more strongly than the behavior of the dog in front of them. It’s not just Boris and Brendan. We set up a study in which we showed 51 people visiting a shelter brief videos of dogs reacting to a stranger walking up to their kennels. One set of recordings showed dogs that the shelter had designated as pit bulls. The other showed dogs we thought looked very similar that had been given other breed designations by shelter staff. We called these dogs “look-alikes.” All our participants had to do was sit at a computer and watch the videos one after the other, answering a range of questions to gauge their interest in adopting each dog.
When we hid the breed labels from viewers, people actually told us they thought the dogs that had been originally identified as pit bulls were more attractive than the look-alikes. However, if we put the labels back on, the pit bulls’ popularity plummeted. This backs up the findings from a study carried out by researchers at the University of Louisville. They tracked nearly 10,000 dogs entering a large municipal shelter in Kentucky over a two-year period and found that fully three-quarters of all pit bulls were euthanized.
So how do we prevent these unhelpful biases from affecting the dogs that don’t deserve them? In 2014, Orange County Animal Services in Florida tried a brave experiment. It took all breed information off their kennels. Not only did adoptions of dogs that would have been labeled pit bulls go up a massive 75 percent, but adoptions for all breeds improved. Overall, the county found homes for 30 percent more of their dogs. This isn’t a little bijou shelter either—it’s a major animal control operation that takes in every unwanted animal in the greater Orlando area, to the tune of 8,000 dogs per year. And it’s sustained that improvement in adoption rates for over two years now.
Orange County offers a model for other shelters for getting rid of unhelpful identifiers. Just like their owners, most shelter dogs are rich mixtures of genetic influences, and just like us, their personalities are not dictated by the race of their ancestors. So it makes more sense to treat finding a canine life partner more like finding a human companion. See past labels and seek real compatibility, go out on a couple of dates, try a weekend sleepover. Let’s not fret over finding “golden retrievers” or “pit bulls.” Let’s talk about “beer buddies,” “fitness fanatics,” and “canines to curl up on the couch with.” Dogs that fit these job descriptions can be found in just about any breed or mix.
Behavioral science cannot solve pet overpopulation or save every mutt that ends up at a shelter, but we believe it can guide people toward smarter choices. Like the members of the species that cares for them, dogs deserve to be known as individuals. Get out to your local shelter, see past the labels, and start a beautiful friendship.
Clive D. L. Wynne is director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, where he is also a professor of psychology. Lisa M. Gunter is a Ph.D. candidate at Arizona State University in the department of psychology and conducts her research under the mentoring of Clive Wynne.