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Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

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Archive for December, 2009

Volunteering at Dogtown

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 by Jenna

My friend Erika recently took a trip out to Kanab, Utah to hang out with the four-legged stars of National Geographic’s show, “Dogtown.” The show takes place in the canine section of Best Friends Animal Society, the largest no-kill sanctuary in the US. Their 25th anniversary was this year and with support from volunteers, they have become a 90 acre home to 1,700 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and more. Each animal is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by twelve counselors who either decide to accept the animal or find other alternates to offer. Best Friends specializes in the unique care required to rehabilitate tough cases–animals otherwise considered to be “unadoptable” because they are too old, too ill, or too unsociable like the dogs they rescued from Michael Vick. Some of their animals find new homes in a few weeks while others need long-term, sometimes permanent care.

Erika took a tour around the different sections of the facility and saw several people from the TV show as she visited a variety of animals including pigs and horses! She said she saw volunteers feeding the pigs popcorn and that there were harnesses for taking them out on walks. She choose to volunteer with the dogs–you can spend as little or as much time as you’d like and even do doggie sleepovers. She choose to take Harley, an Australian Cattle Dog and he turned out to be quite the celebrity around Kanab. While she was walking him, a guy eating at a restaurant ran out to say hi and when she took Harley out to dinner with her, even the owner knew him. Harley was very well behaved though Erika mentioned that Best Friends has such a specific training program that they tell you not to do any training with the dogs because it might interfere with their process. She tried to take Harley for a jog too but he was real relaxed and didn’t seem to understand why this crazy lady kept trying to get him to run!

What a great vacation! She got the gorgeous backdrop of the canyons and helped brighten Harley’s day with affection and exercise.

Check out more about Dogtown on the Best Friends website. You can follow blogs and the progess of dogs seen on the TV show or join in some of the workshops they offer including a week-long intensive seminar on starting an animal sanctuary, Behavior and Handling classes, art and even Jin Shin Jyutsu for your dog.

Remembering Alaska

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 by Mike Cronk

Cold weather and snow always kick start my memory of living in Alaska in the early ’50′s. My Dad was career Army and stationed in Fairbanks. At the time he was a Captain in charge of a company, so he was gone for training 24-7. That left Mom and four children living in a log cabin which was heated by a coal fired stove. It was rough going, but we didn’t know it since everybody we knew lived the same as we did. This was before T.V., so we didn’t know what we were missing. We dealt with the nine months of winter and three months of summer that was more like spring. I remember going and coming from school in the dark- the sun came up about 9:00, and was going south around 3:00. On the other hand, in the summer we were playing in daylight as late as 10:00PM!!

I don’t remember much but with out a doubt, one of my stongest memories was of the care and treatment of dogs at that time and in that place. We didn’t own a dog, but many neighbors did. Most were kept on a chain attached to a dog house. Alaska is the home of the sled dog, and the packs were cared for purely as working dogs. Even today, most Huskys and Malamutes are chained up to the doghouses and the poop and pee freezes for a nice brown and yellow mess. When the snow was 2-3 feet deep, the dogs actually tunneled to their houses- chain and all!

Given our perspective with the companion dog environment (where FiFi sleeps in our bed, sits on the couch and is served chopped chicken over rice), the Alasken dog owner would be reported to the humane society with a recommendation that they be chained to a dog house buried deep in the snow. But these ancestors of the wolf existed naturally in far harsher conditions. At one time, they raised their young in an earthen den, and traveled thousands of miles during the day in a pack, hunting everything from mice to baby elk. Life was rough, and a case of pure survival. Maybe having someone provide food and water and blankets in a doghouse for a sleigh ride isn’t so bad after all!

But I still am a little haunted when I remember those burrows deep in the snow, knowing one of my favorite animals lay below.