Aww | Aww Aww en-us Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:00:00 -0800 Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:00:00 -0800 Orion <![CDATA[Update: Burned and Abandoned Puppies Have Been Adopted!]]> Border Collie puppies Jim and Tim were found burned alive and abandoned in a ditch in Valdosta, Georgia. The pups were taken to Lowndes County Humane Society for treatment, during which one of the puppies' ears and part of a tail fell off. Jim and Tim were placed in a foster home with Nikki Nelson to continue healing. Their story made headlines across the nation, outraging dog lovers and spurring a flood of adoption offers and donations.

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Border Collie puppies Jim and Tim recovering from their injuries. (Photos courtesy of Lowndes County Humane Society)

Nelson and her family have a long history of fostering and placing dogs, and it was to a family member that one of the puppies went. Nelson's aunt, Lara Seaton, had been following Jim and Tim's journey via her niece's Facebook page. Seaton and her partner decided to adopt one of the dogs, and, as Tim was already spoken for, they asked to take Jim. There was just one minor issue: Seaton lived in Austin, Texas, and Jim was still in south Georgia. Where there's a will, there's a way, though, so Nelson and Seaton met at the halfway point in Louisiana. 

Back home in Texas, Jim, now known as Cooper, joined his new family of three other dogs, several cats, chickens, and two goats, which he enjoys "herding." Cooper has been back to the vet for a checkup, as well as to get his second round of puppy vaccines. The vet gave him a clean bill of health and said he's a "healthy, happy puppy."

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Cooper with his new sister, Ella. (Photo courtesy of Lara Seaton)

Cooper now has three acres of land to play on, as well as a warm house to sleep in and all the toys a puppy could want. He even gets to go on wagon rides around the yard! Seaton and her family are very happy to have him. "We feel very fortunate to have had Cooper come into our lives, and are grateful for the work the Nelsons and the Valdosta/Lowndes County Humane Society are doing to help the many animals in need of safe and loving homes," Seaton said.

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Cooper with the goats. (Photo courtesy of Lara Seaton)

When Zane Sirmans heard about Jim and Tim via Facebook, he immediately reached out to a friend at the humane society. He wanted to help any way he could, and he decided the best thing he could do was to give one of them a home. He originally intended to adopt Jim, but Tim would "sit between my feet and lay his head down on my shoes and just look at me, so at that moment I knew I was supposed to adopt Tim," Sirmans said. It was definitely a case of a dog choosing the owner! He renamed him Bear, because he "looked like a bear cub."

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Bear taking a ride. (Photo courtesy of Zane Sirmans)

Bear is Sirmans' first dog to raise on his own. He grew up with cats and dogs, so it's always been a part of his life to have a pet. When he first brought Bear home, the pup was a bit woozy from the anesthesia he had been under while being neutered. Once the medicine wore off, however, it was easy to see that he was a playful, happy little puppy and grateful for a new home. He enjoys playing with Sirmans' roommate's German Shepherd, which helps Sirmans feel better about having to leave Bear alone while he works during the day. He also has family members who walk Bear before Sirmans takes him out at lunchtime.

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Bear playing with one of his canine pals. (Photo courtesy of Zane Sirmans)

Having met both Jim and Tim in person and being a dog lover himself, Sirmans has "no idea why someone would want to hurt one of them. They are both sweet dogs." Even though they have been through a lot in their very young lives, it doesn't seem to have affected the way they interact with people. Bear "is so excited when I come home or if someone comes over," Sirmans said. "He is just a happy dog!"

Authorities are still investigating the case, although they do not currently have any leads. In the meantime, Jim (Cooper) and Tim (Bear) have certainly come a long way from their horrific start in life, finding themselves spoiled and loved with new families, human and canine. Thanks to the team effort from rescuers, the humane society, and a dedicated foster family, Jim and Tim were given a second chance to at the life they deserve.

Read more dog news on Dogster: 

About Meghan Lodge Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it's in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I'm a former quiet nerd who's turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/burned-puppies-georgia-tim-jim-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Bulletproof Oakley, Shot as a Puppy, Helps Stop Animal Abuse ]]> Kristie Karcanes doesn't know much about what happened to her rescue dog, Oakley, in the first couple months of his life, but she can be certain he was the victim of a very violent act.
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"I just know he came into the shelter with a bullet in his spine before he was nine weeks old," she explains.

According to Karcanes, little Oakley the Pit Bull arrived at the Montgomery County shelter in North Carolina as an owner surrender, but the person who brought him in didn’t mention the bullet. They told shelter workers that Oakley had been born without the use of his hind legs. Karcanes says the fact that Oakley's paralysis was caused by people wasn't discovered until rescuers pulled him from the shelter.

"They took him to the vet immediately, and they did an X-ray on him because they wanted to see what was causing his paralysis. That's when they found a bullet near his spine."

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The bullet is clearly visible in this early X-ray of Oakley. His doctors decided to leave it there because the damage was permanent and its removal could cause other problems. (All photos courtesy of Bulletproof Oakley's Facebook page)

It's a story Karcanes is getting used to telling -- and one that is attracting plenty of attention online. After adopting the pup in 2014, Karcanes started a Facebook page for Bulletproof Oakley with the hope of spreading the word about the consequences of animal abuse. Her platform for advocacy is fitting, considering it was social media that brought Karcanes and Oakley together in the first place.

Active in North Carolina's rescue community, Karcanes first noticed Oakley on her Facebook feed in 2014 and watched as a group she hadn't before worked with, Friends FUR Life K9 Rescue, started Oakley on the road to recovery by ridding him of worms and urine burns.

"I liked their page and started following his story because I just wanted to make sure he was OK," Karcanes remembers.

After a few days of keeping up with Oakley on Facebook, Karcanes couldn't stop thinking about him, so she reached out to the director of Friends FUR Life K9 Rescue to ask if she could meet the endearing little pup.

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Oakley will never have use of all four legs, but he gets around quickly in his wheels.

"I just wanted to meet him, with maybe a possibility of wanting to foster him," explains Karcanes, who ended up bringing Oakley home as a foster just one day after meeting the paralyzed Pit Bull puppy, who impressed her by bouncing around on his bottom.

Although Karcanes knew she was drawn to Oakley, she didn't even consider adoption at first as she wasn't sure if she could commit to a dog with complex medical needs and life-long incontinence. She also didn't know if her other three dogs -- Jasper, Ollie, and Kya -- would accept Oakley.

"That was my biggest worry. I wondered if they were going to take him in," explains Karcanes, adding that two of her dogs were indeed weirded out by Oakley at first.

"But Ollie took him right in. Ollie didn't care that he was different. He got down to his size and just played with him. I think that made it easier for the other two to warm up."

Within two weeks, Jasper and Kya also had accepted Oakley into their pack and Karcanes had accepted him into her heart. Oakley became a foster failure and a permanent member of the household. These days, the furry foursome loves to run together in the backyard -- with Oakley keeping up in his wheelchair.

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Oakley and his fur siblings. From left to right: Jasper, Kya, Oakley, and Ollie.

"I totally fell in love with him," says Karcanes, who adds that caring for Oakley has included some unexpected challenges. Recently, the pup had to have a paw amputated.

"It didn't even cross my mind that something like this was going to occur -- that he would actually chew at his own feet. I had no idea."

Unable to feel his back paws, young Oakley took to chewing on one of them. Karcanes tried bandages, the cone of shame, and a muzzle, all to no avail.

"We went in and actually amputated a toe and a half first, trying to save the paw."

Then one night when Karcanes was sleeping, Oakley injured himself so badly that the whole his paw had to be removed.

"He hasn't tried to go for it since, and he's not trying to go for the other foot," says Karcanes, adding that Oakley's vet has also tried medications for nerve pain as well as antidepressants to keep Oakley from chewing himself.  

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Poor Oakley chewed his paw beyond repair.

After what she's experienced with Oakley, Karcanes says she encourages other potential pet owners to consider getting a special-needs pet, but wants people to recognize that it is a very big responsibility -- one that often includes unexpected outcomes.

While Oakley continues to recover from his amputation, Karcanes continues to devote herself to advocating for greater awareness of animal abuse.

"Before Oakley came into my life, I knew of animal abuse, but I didn’t know how bad it was until I started his Facebook page and started seeing all these other animals and the things that they have been through, the things that they’ve survived."

"If I don't know that -- and I actually work in rescue -- there must be so many other people out there who don't know at all," she says.

That’s why Karcanes is making Oakley into the poster boy in a campaign to stop animal abuse.

"We've made shirts. We've made hoodies. I'm actually making a website now,” she says. “People need to know that if you see it, it needs to be reported, because so many people see it and don't do anything about it."

Bulletproof Oakley will never walk or regain feeling in his back end because of the bullet that pierced his flesh as a puppy, but Karcanes hopes his influence may save other animals from a similar fate.

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/bulletproof-oakley-animal-abuse-pit-bulls-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[My Shelter Dog Got Invited to Westminster!]]> Some no doubt consider me a crazy dog lady, as I have built my adult life around making my canine companions happy. Dog-friendly vacations. A dog bed in every room, mostly unused as the dog lounges on the couch. Social invitations that usually include dogs. Planning my errands around the stores my dog likes to visit. As many walks and adventures as desired, play dates, agility -- anything and everything to make my dog self-actualized. My dog's raincoat is far more stylish than my own. I even channeled and self-published my beloved late dog Annabelle's thoughts on life in New York City

I have adopted four dogs in my life, three of them adults, and all, I thought, were mixed breeds. With each I have wondered about their history. How did they come to be in a shelter? How old are they? And most of all, who owned them?

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Gabriel’s Petfinder photo gave me a jolt of love at first sight. Petfinder is a surer bet for love than Match!

My current canine pal, Gabriel Byrne (named by his rescue group), has been a real mystery. He doesn't look like any one common breed; I'd thought him to be from a long line of randy mixed breeds (he, too, was unfortunately and irresponsibly "intact" when picked up as a stray). In fact, I'd had in the back of my mind as a party theme to "guess Gabriel’s DNA," at which I'd reveal test results to acclaim and surprise. 

He was listed on Petfinder as an Australian Shepherd mix. I immediately loved his hopeful, resilient expression. "It was a moment," I’ve said. (At least he used a current photo.) 

Someone loved Gabriel and trained him well. Although I didn't ask him to so much as sit for the first year I had him, it became apparent in his first class that he was thoroughly trained, even with hand signals. How did he end up in a high-kill shelter? With his warm, loving personality, it's not too surprising that three different rescue groups -- Dog Bless, Pilots and Paws, and See Spot Rescued -- as well as a loving foster mom worked together to make him one of the lucky ones to find a new home.   

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No, I won’t pose. I don’t “do” photos. You’ll have to Photoshop me in later. (Photo by Priscilla Eshelman)

When a passerby recently stopped my dog walker to ask about Gabriel, it started a wondrous journey I couldn't have foreseen or dared to dream. In one month, my goofball has morphed from estimated "West Virginia fence jumper" to likely Kooikerhondje, a rare Dutch dog of ancient lineage. The Kooikerhondje Club of the USA (KCUSA) has shown themselves to be remarkably open-minded and open-hearted; they bestowed upon us the high honor of joining the pack in their booth at Meet the Breeds at Westminster. Yes! "Gabriel was invited to Westminster," I have exulted to both friends and strangers. "I can’t help but look at him differently," a friend said.

Seeing him engage with other Kooikers has been the greatest joy of all. On our first walk with two others, he positively trumpeted, "We are here!" over and over again. Imagine the relief of being really understood after years of obscurity. 

Meet the Breeds was held on a freezing cold New York day, but it felt as magical to me as a beach in St. Tropez. When we arrived at the venue, I beseeched Gabriel to pose nicely on a snow drift with the "Welcome to Westminster" signage behind him, but he was too anxious to get inside. He could already tell this would be a day like no other.

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Stop to smell the tulips: In the booth at Meet the Breeds (note misspelled sign, Kookier, rather than Kooiker; the easy-going group laughed about it all day). (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Eshelman)

We excitedly walked through the great halls where dogs were showcased like gems. Gabriel could tell this was a place where dogs are exalted. When we got to the Kooikerhondje booth, he reacted like a kid at the gates of Disneyland. Where to go first?! He fondly greeted each fellow Kooiker and again started crowing, "This is my town, these are my people." The other Kooiker owners greeted us warmly, and the KCUSA former president expertly apprised Gabriel from tip to tip, pronouncing, "If he’s not 100 percent, he's darn close."

As I watched Gabriel engage with the other dogs and later greet hundreds of people who came to our booth, I was as proud of him as if he'd toddled through Swan Lake. He thoroughly enjoyed his role as Kooikerhondje emissary, and was as happy as I've ever seen him. I felt immense satisfaction that I had made this extraordinary opportunity happen for him. (I have all the makings of a Stage Mother from Hell, I'm afraid.)

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"Ja, ik ben een kooikerhondje." (Yes, I am a Kooikerhondje) (Photo by Priscilla Eshelman)

There is no DNA test that can prove Gabriel is pure Kooikerhondje, but his looks and behavior fit. He intently watches birds fly, and he has the enormous white tail Kooikers historically used to lure ducks. He grooms himself like a cat. He splays completely flat to relax. And he will hardly leave my side.

It's all the more remarkable the KCUSA has embraced Gabriel because he seems to be a sort of "missing link." Gabriel is not descended from the line of known Kooikerhondjes, a breed brought back from the brink of extinction after WWII. Did a Dutch war bride bring a breeding pair with her to America? Could West Virginia, with its large population of Dutch settlers, still house a Dutch colony, living in the traditional ways? His dashing asymmetrical facial markings are not the breed standard, but I've been told he has an Old Country look about him.

In an effort to tidy his appearance, I'd ignorantly cut long hair from his ears -- these "earrings" are a distinguishing breed characteristic, and I'm now rather urgently brushing them in an effort to regrow (um, Dance Moms much?). He's about five pounds heavier than the breed standard, and if that's not a good reason to lose weight, I don't know what is. 

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In the booth at Westminster’s Meet the Breeds. Reunited, and it feels so good (ecstatic Gabriel on the far right). (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Eshelman)

Animal shelters are filled with remarkable dogs, and there's no shortage of purebreds. That alone doesn't explain my deep pride. My delight comes from the unexpectedness of it all, and from his redemption. Don't we all want that ourselves?  

It seems to me Gabriel's tale is intrinsically American. We love to see underdogs triumph, and certainly to be invited into the company of kings at Westminster is that. 

Perseverance counts for a lot. We're a nation of immigrants. Our vastness is wondrous and still holds secrets. My greatest hope remains finding his former owners and letting them know he lives on, happily.

Read more about the 2015 Westminster Kennel Club dog show:  

About the author: Priscilla Eshelman finds dogs to be more admirable than people by virtually every measure (alas, our opposable thumbs give humans an edge); so unsurprisingly she's been acting as a sort of dog valet her entire life. When not working to keep the Internet free with advertising, she can likely be found on marathon dog walks in Central Park. Read her book on Manhattan as seen through a dog's eyes, When Annabelle Moved to the Big City, perhaps the first children's book in which a dog goes to a liquor store for a biscuit.  

Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:05:00 -0800 /lifestyle/westminster-dog-show-kooikerhondje-breed-rescue-dog
<![CDATA[#FrenchBulldogProblems: These Dogs Are Living the Hashtag]]> Life is hard. There are bills to pay, laundry to get through, and so many options to consider when ordering food online. But next time it seems like life is simply too much to deal with, spare a thought for that most beleaguered of beasts, the French Bulldog.

You see, every single moment of every single day is a constant test of hardship for these poor, put-upon pooches. For this particularly squat canine, it seems like life is but a cruel joke designed to push you over the edge in myriad sinister ways -- and it's a situation that is regularly celebrated by the popular #FrenchBulldogProblems hashtag on Instagram. Here's a snapshot into a world of sheer suffering. Be brave.


A photo posted by PDR (@praachii) on Feb 6, 2015 at 5:05am PST

So much polar vortex, so many hoodies to choose from. Sigh.


A photo posted by Winston Bear (@winston_bear) on Feb 5, 2015 at 1:04pm PST

Some days it's as much as you can do to endure another butt scratch.


A photo posted by Maximus (@im_maximus) on Feb 4, 2015 at 8:48am PST

What do you mean it's another four days until the weekend? 


A photo posted by PDR (@praachii) on Jan 31, 2015 at 7:11pm PST

There is barely time to slip into a snooze before the sunbeam moves away. #lifelessons


A photo posted by PDR (@praachii) on Jan 25, 2015 at 9:41am PST

What do you mean more walking? The horrors never cease.


A photo posted by Maximus (@im_maximus) on Jan 21, 2015 at 10:42am PST

The alarm clock may be the single most heinous invention in the history of all things that have ever been invented. Banish them all now! 

The rug is never quite big enough to get truly comfortable. That's not a metaphor.


A photo posted by laurabunch (@laurajbunch) on Nov 22, 2014 at 12:19pm PST

Need more cushions. Like, now please? 

Hang on, this sidewalk is not heated! 

See more Pix We Love on Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 18 Feb 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/french-bulldog-problems-instagram-cute-dog-pictures
<![CDATA[Vid We Love: A Goldendoodle's Snowy Romp Goes Viral During the Boston Blizzard]]> Ask most New Englanders to name the region’s most-popular Wally, and they’d probably name the mascot for the Boston Red Sox: Wally the Green Monster.

But that Wally is a two-legged boy of summer. And it’s really just a person in a furry green suit. After large swaths of Massachusetts endured upwards of three feet of snow on Tuesday, there’s a new Wally in town, and he’s a four-legged fan of winter. He’s not just real, he’s spectacular.

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This Wally, a Goldendoodle from West Concord, Mass., reminded everyone oh what fun it is to play in a winter wonderland. Captured on video at the height of the blizzard by his parents, James Smith and Alix Todd, and delivered to Boston’s NBC affiliate, WHDH, in slow-motion, Wally cavorts his way toward the camera, his face flashing a widening smile with each leap, while his floppy ears flail about like, as one viewer observed, a pair of windshield wipers.

7News Boston WHDH-TV

WHDH played the clip during its day-long storm coverage on Tuesday, and also posted it to its Facebook page, where by Wednesday night, it had received over 2.5 million hits.

"It's kind of amazing,” Smith told WHDH. “We just took him out there like we do every day, let him jump around in the snow, happened to run a camera on it, and he loved it and apparently a lot of other people do too."

"He's like our child, really," he said. "Our baby Walter White has gone big time. We just hope he remembers us when he goes off to Hollywood and becomes big and famous."


Read more dog news from Dogster: 

About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:45:00 -0800 /the-scoop/goldendoodle-snow-boston-blizzard
<![CDATA[Doug the Pug Brings Happiness to Nashville]]> Sometimes, all it takes is some encouraging words to make your day brighter. Doug the Pug knows this, and Nashville is a better place today because of it.

Already famous for his takes on rainy days and Halloween, Doug the Pug has returned with a longer and more endearing episode on YouTube.

Determined to make 2015 the best year ever, Doug the Pug made a New Year's resolution to bring happiness into the lives of strangers.

And bring it he did.

Armed simply with inspirational messages written on notecards and affixed with string to his back, Doug visited several locations in Nashville, and the locals gave the love right back.

At a hair salon, Doug's messages included "You are an inspiration" and "You look so beautiful, inside and out."

To the valet attendant standing in the frigid January weather, Doug said, "Thank you for standing out in the cold for little to no tips. You are appreciated."

But his most emotional moments came toward the end of the five-minute clip. First, Doug visited a homeless shelter, bearing cards that read, "Your past does not define who you are" and "Things are never as bad as they seem," and shared hugs and kisses with some residents.

"You sure know what to say, don't you, man?" one of Doug's new friends declared.

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Doug the Pug makes a new friend and supplies words of encouragement.

Then, in the finale, Doug stopped by a local firehouse with one final card.

"Thank you for being a hero and putting other lives before your own."

And then Doug the Pug played and played with the firefighters, his mission of happiness complete.

Here are some of Doug's other greatest hits:

Watch more Vids We Love on Dogster:

About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/doug-the-pug-video-nashville-cute-dog-videos
<![CDATA[Does Your Dog Like to Hug You?]]> From time to time when I come home after work or shopping, Trucker is so happy to see me that he blocks my way, sits patiently, and puts his front paws up like he's begging.

I stop to acknowledge him, and he places those paws on my thighs as I bend down. He leaves them there, demanding what I have learned is a hug.

I wrap my arms around him and tell him, "I love you." He then bounces on happily fulfilled.

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Trucker gets his requested hug.

I adopted Trucker at age five. This touching act of hugging initially shocked me and brought tears to my eyes. I still wonder if he learned it before he met me or simply developed the action based on how often I hug him. I hug him when he sleeps, when he stands, when he eats, whenever I get the chance.

The first time I cried in his presence, he trotted to me, put his front paws up on me, and sniffed my face wanting to comfort me. I was so touched that I cried harder. I told him, "Thank you. I love you, too."

One evening when I was working at my desk, I sniffed a couple of times, and Trucker, who was lying on my bed in an adjoining room, quickly raised his head and watched me from a distance. I could tell he was assessing if he should come in to comfort me. I waved to him and said, "I love you," and he watched me until he was sure I was okay.

His love and desire to hug doesn't stop with me.

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Trucker likes to hug my friends, too.

A friend visited our home one evening and started to cry over a family situation. Trucker rushed to her, and with his long-legged, long-bodied self, stood on his hind legs and put his front paws on her chest. She embraced him in tears as he embraced her. When he felt she was consoled, he stood beside her.

On a visit to a pet supply store, Trucker began pulling me with his leash. I noticed that a young boy was approaching and Trucker wanted to greet him. He abruptly sat in front of the boy, put his front paws up and rested them on the boy's shoulders. The boy laughed as I told him, "He just wants to hug you." They embraced. The boy laughed, and then they parted. The scene made me tear up.

A neighbor who babysits Trucker has learned to accept his hugs. She is petite, and Trucker's front paws can reach way above her head if he stands on his hind legs in front of her. He's managed to semi-delicately place them on her chest or shoulders as she tells him, "I love you, too." Often he speaks to her over our chain-link fence, his paws towering over the fence top and plopping against her shoulders.

Recently another neighbor stopped to visit as Trucker and I were in our front yard. She owns a little Terrier named Jack who is the same age as Trucker and came from the same shelter.

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Trucker gets a birthday hug.

As she talked to me about a past dog she owned who had died, she started to cry. When her voice faltered, Trucker trotted to her, stood in front of her, and raised up on his hind legs to put his front paws on her chest. A petite senior, she was startled, yet laughed and hugged him back. He left dirty paw prints on her white jacket and went back to playing with Jack.

I recently came across an article about hugging your dog on the Mother Nature Network. In the story, titled "Why dogs don't like to be hugged," a certified applied animal behaviorist noted that dogs, in general, do not like to be hugged and most assuredly would not hug back.

Hugs, the behaviorist said, show assertion of dominance, go against their social instincts as a species, and, in general, on a "hugging like-dislike scale," dogs skews toward "dislike" when it comes to hugs.

An April 24, 2013, story on Dogster by dog behaviorist Melissa Berryman also covered the topic of dogs and hugs. In it, the author stressed that dogs do not say "I love you" with hugs and that we also shouldn't hug them. The story generated more than 150 comments as readers debated the topic.

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Trucker and I are firmly in the pro-hug camp.

While some dogs may shy away from human hugs, Trucker loves to be embraced. Perhaps it's similar to his love for being wrapped in blankets when he sleeps and sometimes an anti-anxiety shirt when it storms.

After being discarded multiple times in his first five years of life, he seems to show thankfulness by returning hugs to people.

For humans, hugs can be healing when it comes to illness, anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression. The act of hugging builds trust, relaxes muscles, and teaches us about love of self and others.

Trucker seems to know this. Hugging is another mysterious, beautiful, unique aspect of his personality that makes me, and others, smile.

Does your dog like to hug? Tell us about it in the comments!

Read more about life with Trucker by Tracy Ahrens:

About the author: Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author of Raising My Furry Children, artist, and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. Read more of her work at and

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/hugging-dogs-dog-behavior
<![CDATA[Chloe the Wonder Pup Survives Abandonment and Parvo ]]> Chloe the Wonder Pup's story begins during a snowstorm in North Carolina. The tiny Pit Bull was just a week old when authorities were called to the home where she and her dog family had been abandoned, left behind when the last tenants moved away.
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Chloe's father, chained up outdoors, had already succumbed to starvation and exposure.

"Her mom was clinging for her life," explains Amber Oravsky, who adopted little Chloe seven weeks later. "They brought mom and three or four siblings into the shelter, but Chloe was the only one who survived."

Without a mother to nurse her, the shelter was no place for such a young puppy, so an employee of the Stokes County Animal Shelter in Germanton, North Carolina, took little Chloe into her own home as a foster puppy. The tiny dog needed to be bottle fed every two hours.

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Baby Chloe when she arrived at her foster home. (All photos courtesy of Chloe the Wonder Pup Facebook page)

In foster care, Chloe was loved and cared for by humans for the first time. Her foster family made sure she was fed, cuddled, and socialized extensively.

"They took her everywhere. If they went to a baseball game, Chloe went to a baseball game," says Oravsky.

Eventually Chloe's foster family turned her over to The Fort, a no-kill shelter dedicated to the rescue of all dogs, but Pit Bulls like Chloe in particular. Founded by reality TV star Jake Gardner, who appeared on Animal Planet's Pit Bulls and Parolees, the shelter serves an area of North Carolina that sees 30,000 dogs enter shelters annually.

Oravsky and her fiancé live in upstate New York, but were planning a trip to visit family in North Carolina when a nephew posted pictures of Chloe. 

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It's not surprising Oravsky fell in love with Chloe's pictures.

Despite having two dogs and two young children at home already, Oravsky and her fiancé both fell in love with the puppy in the pictures, and were soon completing The Fort's application process. The family drove to North Carolina and stopped at the shelter to pick up eight-week-old Chloe on the way to Oravsky's in-laws.

The whole family fell in love with the adorable puppy, but their happy vacation was quickly overshadowed by concern.

"When we first got her, the first couple of days she was okay, but then she got real lethargic," Oravsky recalls. "She wouldn't eat. Every time she drank, she threw up." Oravsky rushed little Chloe to the emergency vet and received devastating news. Chloe had parvo.

Parvo, also known as canine parvovirus, can cause a fatal illness in dogs. The highly contagious virus is spread either through contact between dogs or through feces. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canine parvovirus type 2c is the most common variant of parvo in the United States, and it can remain infectious in soil for at least year. The ASPCA notes the virus severely impacts a dog's intestinal tract and also attacks white blood cells. Young animals who survive parvo can suffer cardiac problems for the rest of their lives.

After the frightening diagnosis, Oravsky's in-laws suggested taking Chloe to their regular vet, where she stayed for several days of treatment.

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Chloe the Wonder Pup pulled through after a diagnosis of parvo.

"We caught it early enough," says Oravsky. "She bounced right back. They gave us daily updates while she was in the infirmary."

The experience of almost losing Chloe has made Oravsky a vocal advocate for pet vaccination.

"Chloe did have the booster, but she obviously didn't get it in time because she ended up with parvo," says Orvasky, adding that Chloe probably picked up the virus as a very young puppy, before her arrival at The Fort.

"Make sure that you vaccinate your pets. Take them to the vet when they need to go to the vet, because parvo can be prevented," she says.

After Chloe won her fight against the virus, she came home to find she had another fight on her hands -- this time the little puppy was up against breed bias. Some of Oravsky's extended family members remain skeptical of the Pit Bull, who shares the house with two children younger than two. Oravsky says she simply doesn't believe in bad dog breeds, just bad owners and bad training. She says that Pit Bulls make delightful family dogs.

"Pit Bulls were known as nanny dogs in the beginning. They were meant to be with kids. She is so good with my two boys," Oravsky says. "They're goofy, they're playful, and their tails -- well, at least Chloe's -- are always wagging."

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Young Chloe with one of her human brothers.

Oravsky maintains that happy Chloe has proven that she can overcome anything, and as the dog enters adolescence she has another challenge to take on. After a recent scrap with her older dog sister Kiki, an Olde English Bulldog, young Chloe wound up needing stitches and a drain.

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Chloe is now recovering after a fight with her dog sibling.

Oravsky is confident that with the right tools, both dogs can learn to live in harmony. She says the next challenge for her wonder pup Chloe will be training with a behaviorist. 

Read more Monday Miracles:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 12 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/chloe-wonder-pup-pit-bull
<![CDATA[Celebrate National Bubble Bath Day With These Instagram Pups in Tubs!]]> Now that the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays have passed, we can all get on with the important business of celebrating the exceptionally esteemed National Bubble Bath Day. Taking place on the eighth day of this new year, the event encourages weary workers to take the time to indulge in a deep-dip session once a week. It's an observance that the dogs of the world also heartily endorse -- as this photo roundup of bubble hounds proves.

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(Photo via eybeeshopaholic on Instagram)

Professional bath recipe: Fill a barrel with bubbles, add one pup, lather, rinse, and repeat.

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(Photo via deogeee on Instagram)

This sophisticated pup knows just how important it is to accessorize your bath time. Shower cap, chocolates, a glass of crisp white wine, and a bucket of fried chicken are always classy accoutrements to the bubbles.

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(Photo via danicatheriiine on Instagram)

Remember: A versatile ball can turn bubble bath time into playtime.

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(Photo via jaclouj on Instagram)

With a positive mentality, a real-deal bubble bath fiend can transform even the grubbiest kitchen sink into a heavenly spa session.

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(Photo via shanoneill87 on Instagram)

Double the bubbles and double the pups always result in double the fun!

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(Photo via idoggyhk on Instagram)

Friend or foe? This Westie is being prudent and taking a cautious stance towards his rubber bubble bath tub invader.

See more pix we love: 

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/national-bubble-bath-day-instagram-bathing-dogs-cute-dog-pictures
<![CDATA[An Open Letter to Jack's Previous Owner on His Last Day Alive]]> Italian Greyhounds are my "heart dog," as cheesy as the phrase sounds. They're that breed you encounter at some point in life and know instantly you can't live without. There's just something about them -- the way they prance, lighter than air. The knack they have for burrowing beneath blankets without needing any help. The way they dance with each other, paws on shoulders, when they meet. The way they are Velcro dogs in every sense of the word and always want you in their sight.

It breaks my heart when I read stories about any dog being abandoned or distressed, but that happens doubly so when an IG is involved. Perhaps because I know how fragile they are, how sweet their dispositions can be. There is a special place in hell for people willing to break that spirit. 

I follow several breed-specific groups online, and through one of them encountered the story of Jack last year. I've been meaning to share it with you for quite some time. I read it with tears in my eyes from the first paragraph onward, and felt it was an incredible reminder that senior dogs -- of all breeds -- need our love. Contrary to the "free dog" posts that hit Craigslist every day, they are NOT trash, and they deserve to go to the bridge knowing they mattered.

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Jack enjoying the sunshine. (All photos courtesy of Heidi Wagner)

Grab a tissue, and please read this note posted by Heidi Wagner, who took Jack in when others would not. She runs Boxer Butts & Other Mutts, a rescue based in North Carolina, and has her hands full, but she still managed to make the end of his life special. The world needs more people like you, Heidi.


To Jack's Previous Owner:

I held your dog today as he took his last breath -- wrapped in his favorite blanket and in his favorite cuddly bed with my tears falling on his little face, reminding him that I will always love him.

His name was Jack, and you dumped him, a 16-year-old blind and deaf dog, at the shelter because he was having accidents in your house. My heart was not ready to take another senior in, but I saw his face and knew I had to help him, as his life had been turned upside-down.

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Sweet Jack.

Did you ever stop to think about how scared he must have been when you left him at that shelter, only able to smell all the terrible smells? We got him out of there the same day you dropped him off. He was scared and confused when I got him, but it did not take him long to realize he was going to be okay.

He was too frail, too skinny, anemic, had a horrible eye infection, and an oral infection around the only tooth he had left, along with terrible arthritis. We treated everything, and while always frail, he enjoyed his cuddle time and the sunshine on his face.

Once he started feeling better, his appetite was great. He would eat at least every two hours and would let you know when he was ready for his food. I would have fed him every two hours for years if that was what he wanted. I was blessed to have him in my life for two months and five days. In that short amount of time, he helped heal my heart.

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Jack cuddling with blankets, as Italian Greyhounds do.

I needed him as much as he needed me. So, though it makes me sad and angry that you could so easily dump your 16-year-old dog at the shelter, I wanted to thank you, because I was beyond blessed to be part of this amazing little dog's life.

Over the past few weeks, he had started to slow down, and today he let me know that he was done fighting and he could no longer get up. With tears in our eyes, my daughter and I took him to the vet's office. We said our goodbyes and held him until he took his last breath. He did not die alone and scared in the shelter that you dumped him at. He lived a life filled with love and comfort and was reminded every day how much his little life mattered and how much he was loved.

Rest in peace, my sweet little Jack. Your little paw prints will forever be etched in my heart.

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Jack outside.

Read related stories on Dogster:

About the author: Janine is your typical annoying Aries overachiever with nine human siblings and a soft spot for sighthounds. She is a tattoo collector, tea drinker, and unabashedly into marshmallows and cheesy musicals. She was formerly editor-in-chief of Dogster and Catster and is now the executive editorial director for their parent company, I-5 Publishing.

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-rescue-adoption-open-letter-jack-italian-greyhound
<![CDATA[Vid We Love: This Newfie Always Gets His Man (or Little Girl)]]> Dogs might be a man's best friend, but the bond between a pup and a little girl is equally unbreakable. In the latest installment of their series of hide-and-seek videos, watch as Sebastian the Newfoundland lets his nose do the work in order to locate his missing mate, Sierra. No patio furniture was harmed in the making of this cute clip.

It's not the first time Sebastian has been called upon to locate the stealthy Sierra. The Newfie is literally drooling with excitement to find Sierra as she leads him on another backyard brain-teaser. This one proves a little more challenging for Sebastian, but he comes through in the clutch, much to Sierra's delight!

The two also play hide-and-seek indoors. Watch as Sebby takes on a Christmas-decorated living-room landscape in order to locate his precious cargo. Clearly, Sebastian is a well-trained pup, as he dutifully follows Sierra's command to "stay" while she finds her hiding place, before letting his "hunting" instinct take over to track down his bestie.

The feelings between Sebastian and Sierra are indeed mutual. Here, Sierra and Sebastian have a cuddle huddle, and Sierra uses it as a teachable moment -- about anatomy!

Watch more vids we love:

About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).

Tue, 06 Jan 2015 09:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-videos-newfie-plays-hide-seek-little-girl
<![CDATA[Celebrate National World Peace Meditation Day With These Zen-Like Dogs ]]> Some people celebrate New Year's Eve by reveling in excess until the early hours of the morning. Others might prefer to take a cue from December 31 also being National World Peace Meditation Day. They could engage in some quiet and tranquil contemplation about the year that has just passed and the days to come. Handily, that's exactly what I like to think the peaceful pooches in this Instagram photo roundup will be doing. Keep it Zen!

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(Photo courtesy of m0rkwa on Instagram)

Sometimes there is a fine line between approaching the zenith of contemplation and actually falling asleep while standing up.

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(Photo courtesy of zendogschicago on Instagram)

A true Zen master always appreciates the inherent value of his friends.

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(Photo courtesy of lainer on Instagram)

There is nothing in the official rules of mental relaxation that says a warm and comfy couch cannot be a part of one's daily meditation routine.

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(Photo courtesy of zendogschicago on Instagram)

Group meditation sessions are an excellent way to achieve a calm state of mind.

This reposed Labradoodle certainly knows the value of submitting yourself to a quiet moment in the winter sunshine.

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(Photo courtesy of zendogpetcare on Instagram)

Behold the grand contemplation of form!

See more pix we love on Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/zen-dogs-national-world-peace-meditation-day
<![CDATA[The 12 Dogs of Christmas: Remembering Monkie the One-Eyed Pug]]> With the holiday season upon us and the year winding down, we're casting a look back at the most notable, newsworthy, and lovable dogs we wrote about on Dogster in 2014. It's a little tribute we like to call the 12 Dogs of Christmas -- and today we remember our top dog of the year.

1. Monkie the one-eyed Pug

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(All photos courtesy of Monkie's Facebook page)

Monkie the Pug was the most heartbreaking Monday Miracle we featured on Dogster this year.

She was left overnight in a box outside of the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA and had to have her right eye (and two cancerous tumors) removed in an initial operation, but eventually the 10-year-old pooch found her forever home with Jeanette Upright. Just over a year into her new life, though, this former breeder Pug passed away from cancer of the heart. But as Monkie's Facebook page puts it, "In 54 weeks, I lived more with my mum than I did in 10 years."

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Three months on from her passing, Monkie now posts missives from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. A recent Facebook update suggests that she's comfortable in her new realm, as she describes it as "warm and sunny ... not too warm, just right." She adds that the food options are pretty sweet, too, as heaven's residents "can do and eat anything we want at any time."

Monkie also revealed that her mom is still coming across small reminders of her in everyday life: "Mum realized dat I left my mark on de yarn. She keeps finding de hairs I left behind. It makes her smile everything she finds one!"

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For her part, Monkie's mom has been posting regular remembrances and insights to her Facebook page. At one point she mused on feelings of guilt that can arise when a beloved pet passes. "I thought a lot today about the way she wanted the top of [her] chest rubbed," she wrote. "We all assumed that she just liked getting touched there. Now, I know it was because her heart and chest were hurting and rubbing it gave her some relief."

Other times, she reminisces over the adventures she had with Monkie, talking about the times the Pug would take on the role of co-pilot in the car or when they'd enjoy tongue-out Tuesdays together.

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Asked how she looks back on her time with Monkie, Jeanette took time out from her holiday preparations to tell Dogster, "It was an honor to be her mum. Monkie may not be here physically, but she is still here. She lives through her [Facebook] page and all the seniors that have been adopted since getting to know her."

Continuing to talk about the way she's been keeping Monkie's spirit alive, Jeanette added, "Since Monkie's passing, her legacy now includes the Pink Paw Project, where I make blankets for pups and donate the funds to those dealing with emergency medical situations. Even after I am gone, Monkie will forever live on. She was unique, and I was blessed to have the time I did with her."

Rest in peace, little Pug.

Enjoy the other 12 Dogs of Christmas:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/monkie-one-eyed-pug-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Trudy the Puppy Mill Italian Greyhound Finds Freedom at Last]]> After spending the first seven years of her life caged and used as a puppy mill breeder, little Trudy the Italian Greyhound has now spent six months living the pampered pup life she always deserved. On July 4, 2014, her new owner, Marilyn Cole, traveled to the National Mill Dog Rescue headquarters in Colorado to celebrate Trudy’s Independence Day.
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"They handed her to me, and I was just inconsolably crying," recalls Cole, who had recently lost another mill rescue dog to congestive heart failure complicated by epilepsy.

"I knew the dog that I put so much time into had sent me this other one to take care of."

Cole’s departed dog, Ms. Beeps, required years of rehabilitation and care to overcome the trauma she suffered as a puppy mill breeder. Cole says it took her three months to coax a terrified Beeper out from under the bed, and another six years for the frightened little Italian Greyhound to start behaving like a regular dog.

According to Cole, she wasn’t Ms. Beep’s owner, but simply the dog's support system. The two were there for each other throughout each others' health crisis. As Cole healed from her own surgery, she was busy trying to help Beeper heal from congestive heart failure, but in the end, Beeper’s time had come.

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The dearly departed Ms. Beeps. (Photo courtesy of Marilynn Cole)

Cole says that when the doctor euthanized Beeper, she whispered something to her dog so low that even her husband didn't hear.

"I asked her, 'What am I going to do without you now?'"

The pain of Beeper's loss was so great that Cole, a devoted dog rescuer and professional groomer, considered not adopting again.

"I had said, 'I don't want any more dogs, I don't want to go through this again,'" she explains, but it wasn't long before she felt compelled to take a peek at the National Mill Dog Rescue website’s listing of adoptable dogs.

"It was three in the morning, and I couldn't sleep because, of course, Beeps always slept on the pillow next to me," Cole explains.

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This was the first picture of Trudy Cole ever saw. (Photo courtesy of Marilynn Cole)

"I went on the NMDR page, and I actually sat up in bed like I saw a ghost. She was the spitting image of Beeper."

Cole was able to resist the temptation to wake her husband to show him Trudy's picture, but when her initial excitement waned, she found herself conflicted over this dog she'd seen online. Unsure if she was ready to open her heart to another rescue dog, Cole waited several weeks before making a decision in June of 2014.

Once she came to the conclusion that she should adopt Trudy (who was then known as Porsche), Cole was unstoppable. She enlisted the help of fellow puppy mill rescue folks in a cross-country journey that was fraught with frustration and delays.

Traveling from Pennsylvania to Colorado was no easy task ahead of the fourth of July. After flying to Houston on the third to catch a connecting flight to Colorado Springs, Cole was told her flight was cancelled, and she was put on standby. When she asked the gate attendant what her chances were of arriving in Colorado on the fourth, the airline employee told Cole not to get her hopes up.

"I showed her Trudy's picture and told her the whole story. I said, 'July Fourth has to be her Independence Day. I need to get there by noon,' and she looks at me and says, 'I am going to do everything I can to get you on that plane.'"

Eventually Cole did make it on a plane, although she ended up heading to Denver instead of Colorado Springs. Her friends met her at the airport, and she was whisked away to meet her new dog.

"I'm on like no sleep, I was just like so stressed out," Cole says. "It was like a dream."

Adding to the dream-like state was the fanfare surrounding Trudy’s adoption. Friends, fellow rescuers, and photographers gathered at National Mill Dog Rescue to celebrate and witness Trudy's Independence Day.

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Love at first sight. (Photo by Sheila Mullis, Wadaduga Designs)

"It was such a big deal there because they thought no one would ever adopt this dog," Cole explains. "She didn’t show well to potential adopters. She would bounce off the walls trying to escape."

When she finally held Trudy in her arms, Cole felt an instant connection, which wasn't lost on others present at National Mill Dog Rescue that day.

"People there told me, 'She's not the same dog with you here,'" says Cole, who was overcome by emotion when she met the dog she had traveled so far to see. She says the tears weren't only for Trudy.

"That wasn't just about her, it was also about thanking Beeps," she remembers. "Beeper is a little angel like pulling the strings."

When the celebration and photoshoots ended, Cole and Trudy retreated to a friend's place before making the journey back to Pennsylvania. Trudy defied all expectations as she flew home in the cabin with her new human.

"Turns out she loved it. She slept the whole time and was so quiet."

Since that peaceful plane ride in July, Trudy has been busy learning to live life as a cherished companion-animal instead of as a caged commercial breeder. She's become a part of Cole's family, adjusting well to life with Cole’s husband and several doggy siblings.

"It’s only been six months, and I have her coming when I call her," says Cole. "I still can't reach out and pet her, though, she'll take off."

While it's true Trudy is still a little skittish, Cole says the little survivor is progressing faster than her predecessor Ms. Beeps did.

"The second time through, it's so much easier, because Beeper taught me everything to do. She taught me patience."

Read more about puppy mills and puppy mill survivors:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/trudy-italian-greyhound-puppy-mill-breeder-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[ Meet Hokulani the Pomeranian, a Pup Who Just Adores Christmas]]> Hokulani is a dog totally obsessed with Christmas. Living it up on the sun-kissed Hawaiian island of Oahu, this Pomeranian sports her signature red goggles and holiday-themed outfits throughout the festive season. Here's your handy photo introduction to the world's biggest Christmas fan.

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(All photos courtesy of Hokulani's Facebook page)

Hokulani always remains on-message when it comes to promoting pro-rescue issues -- even when she's traveling in a bedazzled chariot.

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No office cubicle is complete without a Pomeranian guarding the Christmas display.

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Hokulani is a true believer in ol' Saint Nick.

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In her dreams, Hokulani likes to imagine she is accompanied by her own personal choir throughout the holiday season.

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Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and ... Hokulani?

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One of Hokulani's mottos is, "If we can bring joy into the world, make someone laugh or smile, then it's a great day." Mission accomplished!

Check out more great pictures of dogs:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/hokulani-pomeranian-dog-santa-elf-costumes
<![CDATA[Check Out These Dogs In Their Ugly Christmas Sweaters on Instagram!]]> What truly defines the holiday season? Is it religion? Could it be a sense of family? Or maybe the selfless joy of giving? It's a telling dilemma to ponder, so while you do that I'll focus on the one undoubted constant of the times -- the cult of the ugly Christmas sweater. 

With the trend of sporting garish, loud, and itchy sweaters reaching fever pitch, it's no surprise that such offending items have infiltrated the wardrobes of previously self-respecting canines across the land. In honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, here's a cautionary round-up of dogs who have been forced to wear some abominable sweaters in the name of the holiday.

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(Photo courtesy of ikandybybarbie on Instagram.)

This perturbed pooch cannot decide whether he's more aghast at his holiday sweater or the black-and-white eyesore of a rug he's forced to lounge around on.

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(Photo courtesy of tummylou5 on Instagram.)

Does this look like the face of a dog who enjoys being dressed up as an argyle sock?

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(Photo courtesy of knitting_inna on Instagram.)

This homemade, chunky-knit design has the unfortunate effect of making this dignified dog look like he's constipated. Remember: When it comes to holiday sweaters, fit is key.

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(Photo courtesy of maxine_thedog on Instagram.)

This dinky dog is but one precarious step away from plummeting to the depths of tie-dyed attire!

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(Photo courtesy of ijakethegreat on Instagram.)

A.K.A. How to make your dog resemble an elderly Red Riding Hood who has stumbled upon hard times. No one wins in this situation.

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(Photo courtesy of meraki33 on Instagram.)

This poor little thing did not embrace the psychedelic style with the same gusto as the owner.

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(Photo courtesy of slamuel on Instagram.)

Nothing exudes class like a seasonal slogan bedecking a busy sweater!

Do you dress your dog in an ugly Christmas sweater? Share photos of your pups in the comments, please!

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dogs-ugly-holiday-christmas-sweaters
<![CDATA[Meet "Siberia's Hachiko," a Loyal, Heartbroken Dog Named Masha]]> You know of the original Hachiko, the famed Japanese Akita who arrived at a train station every night for a decade to greet his owner, who had died. There's also "Jurong's Hachiko," a Lab in Singapore who appeared at the same bus stop every day, twice a day, waiting for someone who never arrived. (The dog has since been placed with a new family.)  

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Now we have "Sibera's Hachiko," who is, true to the Hachiko legend, waiting steadfastly for someone who will never return. In this case, the dog, named Masha, turns up every day at a Siberian hospital where her owner died. She's been coming for two years, according to the Siberian Times. Staff say the dog is heartbroken, and they make sure she has a place to sleep and food to eat.  

"You see her eyes, how sad they are -- it’s not the usual shiny eyes for when a dog is happy," said chief doctor Vladimir Bespalov, according to the Times. "You can see this in animals in the same way as with people."

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Her owner was a patient in the hospital before he died, and Masha was his only visitor. She would return home every night and come to the hospital every day. After he died, she kept up the practice.  

"She is waiting for him, for her owner," said nurse Alla Vorontsova, according to the Times. "Just recently a family tried to adopt her, but Masha ran away and returned to the hospital. She was taken on Friday evening, and at 3 a.m. on Saturday she was back here."

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"There is nothing medicine can do for her here, but we are still hoping that Masha will be able to find another owner," said Bespalov. "One day, and we very much want this day to come soon, our Masha will trust somebody."

Via the Siberian Times 

Read more recent dog news on Dogster:

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:55:00 -0800 /the-scoop/siberia-hachiko-loyal-heartbroken-dog-masha
<![CDATA[A Guide to Thanksgiving Etiquette for Your Dog]]> Thanksgiving is a celebration of gastronomic excess, with families around the nation sitting in front of plates stacked high with seasonal staples and spilled over with sides. For dogs, this offers an excellent opportunity to get in on the occasion and sneak in an extra snack. But how do you stay classy throughout this festival of food? Allow these discerning dogs of Instagram to show you how!

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Image via Instagram.

Begin the day by bonding with your favorite turkey.

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Image via Instagram.

Guard each and every pumpkin like it's an irreplaceable ancient artifact. Stay strong!

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Image via Instagram.

Seasonal headgear is a must at any Thanksgiving function, whether the occasion is a high-end formal bash or a casual low-key gathering.

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Image via Instagram.

Avoid embarrassing gravy spills with a natty neckerchief-turned-napkin.

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Image via Instagram.

Insist on a well-proportioned plate of chow covering all of the essential holiday food groups.

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Image via Instagram.

Stay classy, even if you've been made to eat off the floor. Remember, dignity is a state of mind.

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Image via Instagram.

Personal pumpkin pies are an essential way to end the meal!

All humor aside, check out these stories about allowing your dog to do all of the above safely:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/thanksgiving-etiquette-dog-dangerous-foods
<![CDATA[A Seizure Assistance Dog Named Flame Is a Comic Book Hero]]> She's just a five-pound weight in his backpack, but Flame the seizure assistance Papillon is a big hero to Joel Wilcox.

"She helps me, she calms me down," explains the 14-year-old, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in elementary school.

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Now a ninth grader, Joel was forced to leave school in fifth grade because he was experiencing between 30 to 50 tonic-clonic seizures a day.

These seizures (formerly known as grand mal seizures), cause Joel to lose consciousness. His muscles stiffen and his limbs begin to jerk. 

Joel was only able to return to a school routine last year with the help of Flame, who rides in his backpack through the crowded corridors.

The pair also star in a comic book called Medikidz Explain Seizure Assistance Dogs. It's one in a series of books used to explain medical conditions to children. The comic features an 11-year-old version of Joel as he and Flame have an adventure with the five Medikidz superheroes.

"I think the comic book will help other people by giving them information about what epilepsy is about so that they can understand," Joel says.

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Joel and Flame on the cover of their comic book.

In the fictional version of Joel's life, the comic book heroes burst into his room and teleport the boy to meet Flame, but in real life it wasn't so simple. His family struggled for years after his epilepsy diagnosis.

"We were always on edge," says Joel's mom, Amy Wilcox. "We were always there to catch him. Night was really scary. I was always terrified that we were going to sleep through something that he needed us for."

Joel's parents needed to be ready to rush to his side 24 hours a day because a seizure could strike at any second. This meant he had none of the independence kids that age crave. His parents had to monitor him even while he was in the bathroom. 

"Simple things that we take for granted, that we can do privately, he couldn't do," Amy says.

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Joel and Flame are helping kids everywhere learn about seizure assistance dogs.

Joel's future changed one fateful day at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, when Amy stepped out of her son's hospital room for a moment.

"I just happened to be walking to the nurses station to get something," she says, "and I walked passed a door with a sign that said something like 'Dog at Work.'"

Amy began asking questions about the family with the dog and found out they had a daughter Joel's age who also had frequent seizures. The girl's mother enthusiastically shared her family's experience.

"Within five minutes, she was in our room with their dog, Blitzen, on Joel's bed, telling us about how Blitzen changed her daughter's life."

At that moment, Amy decided to find a seizure assistance dog for Joel. The family connected with 4 Paws for Ability, a service dog organization in Ohio. The nonprofit trains dogs for children with disabilities and for veterans. Dogs learn to assist with a variety of medical issues, including hearing, autism, mobility assistance, diabetes, and food allergens.

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After teleporting to 4 Paws, comic book Joel (and the reader) learn about seizure dogs.

After reaching out to 4 Paws for Ability, the family began fundraising and waiting, as it takes more than a year to train each dog.

"They really want to tailor the dog to your child," Amy says. "We made videotapes, and we sent in shirts that Joel had been wearing while seizing."

Dogs such as Flame are trained to understand what a person smells like normally and what the person smells like during a seizure. The dogs can then alert to a chemical change that people can't smell before any physical symptoms of a seizure begin.

The family didn't find out which dog they were matched with until about a week before an intensive training course began, but Joel and Flame connected as soon as they were paired.

"I just walked into 4 Paws, and I saw her there in her cage," Joel remembers. "It made me so happy."

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Comic book Joel thinks Flame is pretty great.

Amy says Joel was actually well enough to do all of the training himself and is certified to handle Flame.

While the dog already had 500 hours of training herself, Joel needed to start with the basics as a handler. Over two weeks, the pair progressed from basic obedience to practicing handling in crowded spaces like malls. The training ensured that Joel could control Flame's behavior in public.

With Flame's help he was able to go back to class, carrying his little hero in his backpack to the eighth grade.

"He got to take his best friend to his first day of school with him," Amy says. "Stress is a big trigger for Joel, and she's just very calming to him."

Not only has Flame helped reduce Joel's panic attacks, but she's also given his parents back some peace of mind. She continues to improve as a service dog.

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Joel and Flame hanging out with the MediKidz heroes.

"She's awesome," Amy says. "She's gotten better with her seizure alert. That's not a magical thing, it takes work."

Amy hopes her son's comic book stardom will spread the word about seizure assistance dogs.

"We were unaware of what a seizure dog could do. It's not just the seizure alert -- they train them to do tricks and things because they want them to be a social bridge for the children."

With Flame by his side, Joel always has a built-in conversation starter and a friend to turn to in stressful moments.

"When I'm really mad at somebody, I can go over and love on her, and it helps me through things," he explains.

While Flame is helping Joel, as Medikidz heroes they are both helping other kids understand epilepsy.

Their casting in the comic book was born from the partnership between 4 Paws for Ability and pharmaceutical company Eisai, which has made a commitment to public education about epilepsy and raises funds for the creation of service dog teams for kids with seizure disorders.

Eisai asked 4 Paws for Ability if the organization knew of a kid and dog who could take on the leading roles in the comic book. The founder of 4 Paws for Ability, Karen Shirk, knew instantly that Joel and Flame would be the perfect duo to spread the Medikidz message of reducing stigma.

Flame has changed Joel's life, but they both are changing the public perception of epilepsy and service dogs, and that makes them a pair of Dogster heroes, too.

Meet more Dogster Heroes:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Fri, 14 Nov 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/epilepsy-seizure-assistance-dog-comic-book
<![CDATA[10 Dogs With Mustaches to Celebrate Movember]]> Movember is here! This means that men around the world are cultivating the most impressive mustache they can in order to raise awareness for male-centric health issues. (If you haven't already guessed, the name comes from a fusion of the word "mustache" and "November.")

Naturally, the dogs of the world are keen to get in on the hirsute shenanigans -- as this roundup of the most dapper mustached dogs of the Instagram shows.

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A puppy with a mustache perched in a box. Yep, this one's pretty much Movember perfection!

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Any good pup knows it's important to establish your facial hair credentials early if you want to be taken seriously on the social media circuit.

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Waxed to a point of perfection -- this dinky chap understands the value of a finely sculpted mustache.

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File under: All-out party dude dog.

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Sometimes cultivating a canine mustache can require a full-on bath to get the right look.

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Is this proud Pit Bull engaging in a dusty mustache attempt or simply displaying the remnants of a particularly vigorous wet food meal?

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It might be considered churlish and an act of grand party pooping to point out that this dog is technically eating his mustache. What a wag!

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This adorable pup shows his dedication to the cause by celebrating Movember every month of the year.

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This handsome chap knows that his subtle and understated mustache is a winning look for fall.

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Inspired use of a pup as a hirsute prop. What synergy!

Does your own beloved dog also sport a mustache? Show and share in the comments section below!

See more pix we love at Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/10-dogs-mustaches-instagram-movember