Aww | Aww http://www.dogster.com/aww Aww en-us Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Orion <![CDATA[Neglected and Abused, Zoey and Corey Remind Rescuers Why They Fight for Animals]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/humane-society-united-states-dog-hoarding-puppy-mills-rescue-adoption
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When the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) got a call about a hoarding case in Blue Mountain, Mississippi, it couldn't predict the horrors that awaited. Sixty dogs were living in an overcrowded, junk-filled yard, many with untreated and infected injuries. Zoey was one of those unlucky ones, suffering a leg injury that was infected to the bone. It was clear she was in pain, and she was very nervous around people. She and the rest of the dogs were shuttled away to a shelter for treatment.

Ashley Mauceri, HSUS cruelty response manager, felt a special connection with Zoey, the small red dog with perky ears. Even through Zoey's pain, Mauceri could see that she was very sweet and had a lot of personality.

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Even hurt, Zoey's quirky personality still seems to shine through in this photo. (Picture courtesy HSUS)

When Mauceri and the HSUH team had arrived on scene, it didn't take long to see that Zoey's leg was hurt, possibly from an old injury. It was hard to imagine someone seeing her every day, watching her limp around in pain, and not take action. Zoey didn't know it, but her life was about to take a dramatic turn for the better! 

Back at the shelter, a team of veterinarians examined Zoey's leg and took X-rays. The report was grim: two fractures in the leg, one of which was so old that it had fused over itself. When the leg had to be amputated, Mauceri worried how it might affect Zoey, both physically and emotionally. She need not have worried, however, as from the moment that leg was removed, the HSUS team saw the shy little begin to blossom. Without the broken leg or pain, Zoey began to fully come out of her shell, revealing a fun personality. Without her leg as a hindrance, she began to run around and play.

"She's one of the fastest dogs I've ever seen," said Mauceri.

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Zoey at the vet. (Photo courtesy HSUS)

Two of Mauceri's best friends adopted Zoey, which was really exciting for her and the rest of the team because they could stay in close contact with the couple. "She has a huge backyard, everything she could want, she's totally spoiled," said Mauceri. "Zoey is a unique situation for the HSUS team because so often they rescue the dogs, give them medical care, then they are adopted through the shelter, and that's sort of the end of the story. It's rare we get to see the happily ever after." Being able to see Zoey happy in her new home has been uplifting, and it reminds both the HSUS and the public why they fight for animals. 

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Zoey, pain-free after surgery and ready for her new home! (Photo courtesy HSUS)

The team was also recently able to see another cruelty case, Corey, be blessed with a happily-ever-after. According to Mauceri, Corey was found living with more than 100 other dogs in a puppy mill, along with a myriad of other animals, including horses and birds. Corey had spent most of his life in a cage, living in his own filth. To add to his plight, Corey was blind, a condition the HSUS team believed to be caused by a combination of his living conditions and lack of proper medical care. 

When the team rescued Corey, it was hard to imagine everything he and the rest of the animals had been through. Sadly, many of the people buying Corey's Dachshund offspring probably had no idea about the conditions the parents lived in. They just saw a cute puppy in a pet store window or maybe online or on a flyer. They might have even thought they were getting a puppy from a good breeder, but what they were really doing was enabling someone to keep dogs like Corey in squalid conditions while they are used to produce litter after litter for profit.

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How the HSUS team found Corey. (Photo courtesy HSHS)

Corey was adopted by a wonderful woman named Dori. He could not have been luckier! Dori works at a vet's office, so he gets to spend a lot of time with her. This is a HUGE shift from his lonely puppy mill days, locked away in a dirty cage. In the HSUS video above, Dori describes Corey as "not afraid of anything, and he's always happy." His blindness doesn't seem to hinder him at all as he navigates his new home and plays with his toys.   

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Safe in the arms of his new and loving owner. (Photo courtesy HSUS)

Corey's enjoying being spoiled by his new family, but he's also giving back. Dori has a friend whose son, Callum, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at six months of age. Spending time with Corey clearly brightens his day! Callum's young wisdom shines through in the HSUS video when he says, "If you take a dog from a bad place, you could change his life, in a really good way. They can also change people's lives, too." 

Dogs like Corey and Zoey prove that, regardless of their circumstances, dogs can love again and live life to the fullest. We often think of ourselves as saving them, but what they're really doing is saving us -- saving us from our apathy, our hurts, and our frustrations with our fellow human beings. So here's to Corey, Zoey, their rescuers, and their new families, and to all the lives that they will continue to save!

Read more Monday Miracles 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.

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Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/humane-society-united-states-dog-hoarding-puppy-mills-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Don't Delete #Puppyspam. Overdose on the Cuteness!]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/cute-puppy-pictures-instagram-national-puppy-day Today is National Puppy Day, so how about celebrating the occasion with an overdose of cute puppy pics? Thankfully, that's exactly what the trending Instagram hashtag #puppyspam is all about -- proud dog owners unabashedly showcasing their pups in the cutest poses. Sit back and soak in the eye candy!

This doe-eyed pup hearts his toy monkey.

 

A photo posted by Amanda Christyne (@ms_sunshine828) on Mar 17, 2015 at 1:19pm PDT

 

A tilted head and tongue-out combo works for this little dude.

 

A photo posted by Liam Barkley Smith (@instaliamsmith) on Mar 17, 2015 at 12:34pm PDT

 

Gotta stay comfy when looking cute!

 

A photo posted by Emmalea Deigan (@edeigann) on Mar 17, 2015 at 2:37am PDT

 

Yup, a tongue-out pose always wins on Instagram!

 

A photo posted by Jess Reason (@onelittlereason) on Mar 17, 2015 at 5:04am PDT

 

This Maltese/Shih Tzu mix has mastered the selfie game.

 

A photo posted by Sarah (@sarrraaaaahhhhh) on Mar 17, 2015 at 12:59am PDT

 

Never be afraid to accessorize when looking to spread some #puppyspam love.

 

A photo posted by Tara Garrett (@taraagarrett) on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:27pm PDT

 

Sometimes, over-cuteness can induce a state of napping.

 

It's all about the eyes! Or is it that button-cute nose?

 

A photo posted by Rhys Malyon (@rhysmalyon) on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:57am PDT

 

This sad smoosh-face is pure #puppyspam.

 

A photo posted by Jasmine (@jasmine_vincent) on Mar 16, 2015 at 7:51am PDT

 

Yep, you're not gonna see anything cuter than this Lab pup today!

 

A photo posted by Nikki Robison (@nikki_robison) on Mar 16, 2015 at 3:20am PDT

 

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.

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Mon, 23 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/cute-puppy-pictures-instagram-national-puppy-day
<![CDATA[Does Your Dog Make Faces? What Do They Mean?]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-faces-facial-expressions My dog Riggins has more facial expressions than a silent-movie star. It's like Buster Keaton and Rudolph Valentino had a son who just happened to be an adorable black-and-white mutt.

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Riggins stares me down. (All photos by Wendy Newell)

If he was a poker player, he'd lose his money before you could say "all in." If he was a high school student, I'd spend most of my time in the principal's office promising that Riggins would be punished for his constant eye-rolling at the teacher. If he was a bartender, his sweet soft eyes would make him millions in tips. 

With that in mind, I thought I'd share with you just a few of Riggins' classic faces.

1. Doubting his mom 

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"Look lady, I love you and all, but I'm pretty sure you are off your rocker. I mean, seriously, are you okay? Are you running a fever? I'm concerned about your health. Only a sick person would make us hike ALL THE WAY up this giant hill just to turn around and walk back down. So, I ask you again, are you okay?"

2. It wasn't me

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"Hmmm ... what? Are you talking to me? What treats? I have been standing right here this entire time. I had no idea there was a box of treats on the counter. I mean, even if I did, I wouldn't do anything about it. I've never seen that box of treats before. I don't even see it now. I'm not even looking at it, THAT is how much I did not eat that entire box of delicious crunchy yummies. I'm hurt you would even ask."

3. Schoolyard coward

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"Hey there, Mom! I just want to sit in your lap and say hi. I'm not afraid of that bully dog over there. I'm not afraid of him at all! I just wanted to see how you were doing and thought you needed a lap warmer. I'm here for you, not me. I am seriously not afraid of that other dog at all. At all. Ummm ... is he still behind me?"

4. The thespian

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"Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Come on Hank, get in character, she is more likely to give us treats if we get in character. You have treats, right?"

5. Focused lover

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"Choo choo! The love train is pulling out of the station. Now everyone be quiet. I'm concentrating."

6. Selfie hater

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"Mom, geeze! Enough with the selfies already. Everyone knows you are my mom. There is no need to post pictures of the two of us all over the Interwebs. You are squishing me. Fine! Cheeeese. Cheeeeeseeeeeeee! Now get off me!"

7. Insecure hiker

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"WHO HAS MY LEASH?!? What the ... are they behind me? WHO IS BEHIND ME?!? This isn't funny, you guys. There is someone right behind me, AND THEY ARE HOLDING MY LEASH. Mom ... Mom ... help me! I can't say anything without causing suspicion so I'm just going to blink S.O.S. in Morse code to you. SHOOT I DON'T KNOW MORSE CODE! I'm going to die."

8. Loyal cuddlebug

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"Mom, I do believe my darling cousin Kira told you that she wanted to be next to me and that you had to get up and leave the bed. Shhh. Don't be sad. There is more than enough of me to go around, but right now is Kira time, so I must ask you to leave."

9. Concerned friend 

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"I saw Shadow go toward that pack of dogs on the other side of the park, and she has yet to come back. This is serious. She left the protection of our sacred picnic table. I told her not to go. I begged her to stay with me, but she has an adventurous spirit that cannot be tied down. I don't know, Mom. I just don't know. This is a tough one. I'm just going to have to sit here for a little bit longer and figure out what we should do."

10. Eager playmate

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"Hey there! You gonna find a ball and throw it for me? Sure, I'm not going to bring it back but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't throw it. I know you're tired and just sat down, but come on -- you wanna throw the ball. For me? Please?"

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Despite all the eye rolls and furrowed brows, I know my baby boy loves me and is always (well, almost always) happy to cuddle up for a selfie with his Mom!

I'm sure Riggins isn't the only pup out there with a variety of facial expressions. Share a picture of your pup's favorite face and tell us what it means in the comments below!

Read related stories by Wendy Newell:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of "always be closing" to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy's new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poop, sacrificing her bed, and with other furry filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

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Thu, 19 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-faces-facial-expressions
<![CDATA[Do Certain Songs Remind You of a Dearly Departed Dog?]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/songs-about-dogs-music-annuals-patrick-swayze-hiss-golden-messenger-mount-moriah-doctor-who In April of 2014, I lost Tina, my dog of nine years, to a sudden and rapidly degenerative condition, the cause of which remains a mystery. It was heartbreaking, and I'm still not over it. Shortly after she passed, I pitched a piece to Dogster about her decline and passing, but still haven't managed to find the strength to write it. I've had this other idea for an essay about my five favorite songs about dogs on the ledger for a while, too. Today, it occurred to me to bring the two together.

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Tina as I'll always remember her: happy and full of life. (Photo by Melvin Peña)

If there's anything I love as much as dogs, it has to be music. I'm listening to something pretty much every hour I'm awake. When I'm writing about dogs, I'm listening to ambient, electronic, or classical music. When Tina and I went on our daily walks through the forest, I always had headphones on. Rather than putting together a list of random works about or related to dogs, I thought I'd honor Tina by compiling a list of songs that I associate with her memory.

1. Annuals, Brother

Annuals was one of the first North Carolina-based bands that I got into when still living in the Chicago area. Brother, the lead track on their first full album, Be He Me (2006), always evokes memories of Tina. It starts with contemplative lines, "Me and my brother hiking / me and my brother might find a turtle / or just have some fun. / Me and my brother playing / with our dog / two mighty men with a wolf / who drinks from the gulf."

Visiting my family in North Carolina during Thanksgiving of 2007, that exact scenario played out. Walking with my brother and Tina through the woods, my dog stopped on the trail, having unearthed a sun-bleached turtle shell. The song came up on my computer later that evening and was forever seared into my memory.

2. Patrick Swayze, She's Like the Wind

December 30, 2011: I went to karaoke at the Pinhook, my favorite bar in Durham. I took the stage and performed, in all humility, an outstanding rendition of Patrick Swayze's eternal hit She's Like The Wind (1987). When I finished, I crow-hopped off the stage -- not trying to do a rock-star leap or anything so extreme -- and when I landed, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. As it turns out, I'd torn my ACL, which required surgery and a year of physical therapy. That night, I managed to get home about an hour later, and something extraordinary happened.

I'd just cracked the door open and started struggling to shuffle my injured leg out of the car when I heard my dog emit this long, plaintive howl. It was a noise I'd never heard her make before, nor ever again. Somehow, Tina sensed that I had suffered a major injury and howled in sympathy. Easily the worst part of surgery and the first couple of months of recovery was not being able to take Tina for her daily walk. Once my knee was fully mobile again, we didn't miss a day of walking for the rest of her life.

3. Hiss Golden Messenger, Drummer Down

North Carolina's M.C. Taylor fronts one of my favorite musical projects, Hiss Golden Messenger. Drummer Down, a track from 2012's Poor Moon, is, to me, a song about seeking stability in a world fraught with impermanence. We've all had bad days and tough times, and we've all come home to have a dog greet us with boundless joy. This song mirrors that experience for me. As it reaches its conclusion, the music fades to the sound of a dog barking in the distance.

Taylor tells me it was drummer Terry Lonergan's dog, Millie, who wandered in during a taped rehearsal. "I had to ride / such a long, long time / and here I am another drummer down," Taylor sings, and the last aching chorus gives way to that welcoming, even redemptive, dog barking. As time passes, the song and the sound bring Tina's face right back to me. It's become a great comfort.

4. Mount Moriah, The Letting Go

Tina was born and lived her entire life in North Carolina, so it's no surprise that there are a number of local artists linked with my memories of her. Mount Moriah is another North Carolina group, and another favorite of mine. Heather McEntire, Mount Moriah's lead singer and songwriter, is a great dog lover herself. Fitting then that you may recognize the piano-driven intro of The Letting Go from its inclusion in this Subaru commercial.

Within the span of 30 seconds, you see this guy go through a full lifetime of adventures with his dog. I can't watch this advertisement these days without bursting into tears. It was the last song Tina and I listened to together on our trip to the veterinarian's office on April 1, 2014, the day she was put to sleep. Here it is in full:

I'd known and loved the song since the first time I heard it in 2010. It is only since Tina passed, however, that the song, the commercial, and the memories became inextricably linked in my mind.

5. Murray Gold, Madame de Pompadour

Just after I had Tina euthanized, I placed her body in the back of my car. I was taking her back home to bury her. The only thing I love as much as dogs and music is the British science-fantasy show Doctor Who. Murray Gold's instrumental piece, Madame de Pompadour, from one my favorite episodes, Series 2's "The Girl in the Fireplace," was the first song to play when i turned the car on.

This music plays over the episode's last scene. The Doctor returns to 18th-century France to take Madame de Pompadour on a promised adventure, only to find that, in his absence, she has passed away. I recognized the theme, set the song to repeat, and just wept all the way home. I couldn't listen to it again until today, when it again prompted the tears to flow immediately.

Do certain songs remind you of a dearly departed dog? Or one still with you?

It seems entirely likely that as long as humans have shared their lives with dogs, they've written songs about or involving their beloved canine companions. Then there are those songs that through experience become forever associated with our dogs. These are the five songs that remind me most of Tina. What songs remind you of your dogs?

Read more about remembering dogs on Dogster:

About the author: Melvin Peña trained as a scholar and teacher of 18th-century British literature before turning his research and writing skills to puppies and kittens. He enjoys making art, hiking, and concert-going, as well as dazzling crowds with operatic karaoke performances. He has a one-year-old female Bluetick Coonhound mix named Idris, and his online life is conveniently encapsulated here.

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Wed, 18 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/songs-about-dogs-music-annuals-patrick-swayze-hiss-golden-messenger-mount-moriah-doctor-who
<![CDATA[Get Ready for Spring With These Coton de Tulear Puppy Pictures]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/coton-de-tulear-puppies-small-dog-breeds-cute-puppy-pictures When winter arrives, many of us enthusiastically embrace the changes it brings. We can wear our favorite warm winter coats, enjoy the bracing wind, and frolic like children in the freshly fallen snow. 

A small breed of dog that originated in the more temperate climate of Madagascar, Coton de Tulear puppies share our frenzied excitement. However, as the winter season drags on, our perceptions shift. Winds that were once bracing become piercing. Smiles at fresh powder turn to frustration as we dig our way out of snow drifts. This Coton de Tulear puppy picture mirrors our mid-winter frustrations.

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(Photo by hennimarias on Instagram)

What is a Coton de Tulear, anyway?

The Coton de Tulear is a small dog whose reputation is on the rise. These dogs were admitted to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show for the first time in 2015. In January, a Coton de Tulear named Icon won the breed's first American Best in Show award at a dog show in South Carolina. Beyond the show stage, the Coton de Tulear is being recognized for his constant cheerfulness and readiness to play. Check out this eager puppy!

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(Photo by leslie761986 on Instagram)

The Coton de Tulear puppies and dogs you're likely to see in competitive conformation shows tend to be covered in long, flowing white locks. Well, wandering through winter's sludge is going to get the most adorable dog's coat filthy. As we prepare for spring with these Coton de Tulear puppies, I won't hesitate to tell you that grooming is a big part of their lives. Time for a nice dog bath!

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(Photo by aseragnarsson on Instagram)

Not the most flattering look for any dog, though it's certainly good for a smile and to provoke a hearty laugh from the most winter-weary among us. A long, lustrous coat may get it done for eagle-eyed judges at dog shows, but many dog owners might put haircuts on the list of spring cleaning duties. A fresh look and a close trim can improve our outlook and give us a better view of a Coton de Tulear puppy's large, dark eyes.

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(Photo by kottengreta on Instagram)

These Coton de Tulear puppies are ready for spring!

The Coton de Tulear might be a lap-sized dog, but their rising popularity among small dog breeds is due in no small part to their boundless energy and love of adventure. Observe the knowing grin on this Coton de Tulear puppy's face. There's a gleam in the eye that reminds me of Falkor, the luck-dragon from The Neverending Story. This puppy is far too small to give you a ride through the sky, but cute puppy pictures always allow us to daydream.

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(Photo by evavitalphoto on Instagram)

One of the worst parts of winter is that it limits our movements and dampens our spirit. We don't see our friends as often as usual, which certainly doesn't help. As winter gives way to spring, the sun peeps out from behind grey skies and melts away whatever snow remains. This Coton de Tulear puppy takes immediate advantage, dashing over to a friend's house for a long-awaited reunion. Puppy playdates are back and everyone's invited!

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(Photo by gracie_and_oliver on Instagram)

Familiar landscapes take on renewed interest!

Now that you're out and about, you find the silliness of the Coton de Tulear puppy too strong and too infectious to withstand. The Coton de Tulear puppy's short legs don't prevent the dog from bouncing all over the living room when he sees you reach for the leash. Your local park is still empty, which is the perfect opportunity for a puppy to let out excess energy!

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(Photo by y0uyang on Instagram)

You and your Coton de Tulear might live closer to the lake. No matter the situation, once you're ready to start leaving the house on a regular basis, you can count on the joyous temperament of the Coton de Tulear puppy to make the most familiar locales seem like fantasy wonderlands. You're catching some of the baby puppy's excitement.

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(Photo by janibirdy on Instagram)

Even if you don't live with a Coton de Tulear puppy, these excellent, fun-filled puppy pictures are hopefully doing what they're intended to and delivering a glimpse at the better weather and happier moods of the spring to come. Perhaps they're helping you envision yourself under bluer skies and brighter days. Soon, you'll be bounding out of the house and across the fields.

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(Coton de Tulear puppy by Shutterstock)

Is there a Coton de Tulear in your life?

With their soft, cottony coats, range of happy vocalizations, and faces that seem wrought into smiles at all times, these Coton de Tulear puppy pictures are making me long for springtime. These are friendly, outgoing, and gentle dogs. How can you look at this face and not feel your spirits rise?

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(Photo by pukathedog on Instagram)

Though they've had a presence here since the 1970s, this is a breed that is only just starting to hit its stride in America. Do you know any Coton de Tulear puppies or dogs? Share your experiences, stories, and photos of these happy little fluffballs in the comments!

See more cute puppy pictures at Dogster:

About the author: Melvin Peña trained as a scholar and teacher of 18th-century British literature before turning his research and writing skills to puppies and kittens. He enjoys making art, hiking, and concert-going, as well as dazzling crowds with operatic karaoke performances. He has a one-year-old female Bluetick Coonhound mix named Idris, and his online life is conveniently encapsulated here.

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Fri, 13 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/coton-de-tulear-puppies-small-dog-breeds-cute-puppy-pictures
<![CDATA[Did a Childhood Dog Help Shape Your Life?]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/growing-up-with-dogs-children-kids-pets Simply put: We love dogs. The entire team at Dogster -- writers, editors, and community managers -- have this in common. Some of us fell in love as adults, and others grew up with pups by our side. With the latter in mind, we decided to share memories of our childhood dogs. We hope you enjoy reading about them, and we want to hear about yours. Please share your stories and photos in the comments.

Pamela Mitchell, Dogster senior editor: SMIDGEN

My constant companion as a kid was a sweet Boston Terrier mix named Smidgen. I remember curling up with her on the floor of my closet, a favorite place to read. She tagged along as I solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and explored the fantastical world of Narnia.

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Look at those posters on my wall! I was in training to be a Dogster writer and editor even back then.

The most vivid memory I have of Smidgen, though, involves returning home from a family vacation and not being able to pick her up from the vet’s office, where she stayed, because it was Sunday. I had missed her while we were gone, but was downright miserable knowing she was just a few miles away, sleeping in a cage instead of at the foot of my bed. Monday couldn’t come soon enough.

When I decided to get my first dog as an adult, it was a given that the breed would be Boston Terrier. First came Dolly, then Spot. They have been by my side now for almost 13 and 11 years, respectively, and are members of our family. Smidgen made that possible by showing me how strong the bond could be between a dog and her human. So many years later, I still think of her and thank her for that.

Annie Phenix, Dogster resident trainer: CRICKET

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Yelling at each other was something of a sport in my family, and we were gold medal winners in it. The only calm constant was my dog, Cricket. He saved me.

I grew up in the ‘70s, and no one neutered or spayed or fenced or leashed their dogs in our neighborhood. Cricket just showed up one day, and after it seemed as though he had always been there.

Cricket looked like a German Shepherd in his coloring, but his body was kind of like a hunting dog, with a houndy tail that went up over his back.

He followed my bus to middle school. At each stop, Cricket would try to board the bus -- his eyes asking the bus driver politely, “May I board?” At each stop, the driver yelled at him. At each stop, I called to him from my seat, sometimes fighting with a window that would not easily come down.

Cricket followed my bus all the way to school. He’d then wait outside until recess, when he would come find me and we’d sit together under a tree. My arms wrapped around him, I thanked him for loving me when no one else seemed to.

Every bus trip to and from school required him to navigate a four-lane highway. I was sick with worry twice a day, but Cricket always made his way safely. The joy that dog brought me at recess kept me invested in living.

One Thanksgiving, his back legs gave way. I spent the entire holiday outside on the back porch with him because he wasn’t allowed in the house. We lived in the South, so Cricket and I weren’t cold -- at least not from the weather. I warmed him, and he warmed me.

He didn’t pity himself, and I learned much from his acceptance of what was happening. To this day, when I feel put upon by the world or by my dysfunctional human family, I think of Cricket and his stoic demeanor. I think of his unconditional love, and I try to live up to his love for me.

Melvin Pena, Dogster writer: VIOLET

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We got Violet when I was in elementary school, and she lived until my junior year of college. She was the only dog our family ever had.

My childhood home had a spacious backyard, which my dad and I fenced in ourselves. Within this self-contained idyll, Violet rarely knew a leash or any other kind of restraint, living a long life filled with ease, peace, and love. She was named for one of the principal characters in Pound Puppies, a mid-‘80s animated TV series and film. Particulars of the story have long faded, but my memories of the dog who took that name remain vibrant to this day.

She wasn’t sprightly or energetic, and I know she never received a moment of structured training. In spite of the latter, Violet was a kind, gentle, pushover of a dog. She didn’t really require any pushing, though -- if you got within three feet, she would just flop over, cheerfully and patiently waiting for a belly rub.

Violet was content to sit with me in the driveway, on the deck, or in the backyard for endless stretches of time during every phase of our lives. Whether I was recounting the events of the elementary school day, telling her about the first girl I had a crush on in middle school, or explaining why I had to go across the country to continue my education, she would just sit there and wag her tail happily.

I never knew, nor cared, what breed she was; she was always just Violet to me. Though it’s been nearly 20 years since she passed away, there is an essential part of the person I am now that was defined by my experiences with that beautiful and excellent dog.

Wendy Newell, Dogster writer: RAMBO

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Wendy Newell, right, with sister Christy and Rambo.

When I was about 12 years old, my dad told my sister and I that we were going to work with him. He was a real estate agent, and that had never happened before, but we were up for the adventure. When we got to our destination -- surprise! -- there was a litter of Terrier-mix puppies. I don’t remember being told we were getting a dog, but I do remember sitting down in the middle of them and being ridiculously excited.

Figuring out a name for the sweet boy we eventually brought home was tough in a family in which dad was regularly outvoted by two daughters and a wife. I’m convinced one of the reasons he steered us toward a male dog and to his name, in particular, was to help even the odds in our house.

Any name we threw out, my dad put to the test by chanting the following sequence. Take the name Fuzzy: “Fuzzy. Come here, Fuzzy. F.U.Z.Z.Y. Fuzzy.” That name and many others were followed by a “Nope, don’t like it,” from my dad. When somebody suggested Rambo, it passed my dad’s name test and satisfied the entire family.

It was the perfect name for the little mutt who resembled a skinnier, less photogenic Toto from The Wizard of Oz. In those days, you didn’t use the term "mix" or combine breed names, you just proudly said, “Mutt.” Rambo was our mutt!

If you threw the ball for him, which he loved, and tossed it over the bushes, Rambo would leap, seeming to hover in a Superdog pose. It was his thing. He would show off his powers of flight for visitors, too.

Rambo was an outdoor dog, so not much of a cuddler, but he was easy to love -- and I loved him with my whole heart.

John D. Williams, Dogster customer service manager: PAL

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John D. Williams, left, with brother Gary, sister Merilyn, and Pal.

What does it mean to have a dog while growing up? I’ve written about my childhood dog, Pal, a number of times, but I don’t know if I’ve ever fully answered that question. Perhaps I came closest to doing so in the stories I told about Pal surviving being hit by a car and saving a petting zoo. I’ve also documented how Pal spent a good deal of his life chained up out back, which still haunts me to this day.

I often felt misunderstood growing up. More than likely, I would have tested positive for ADD, a disorder that didn’t match up too well with a stern, disciplined father. Maybe that’s why Pal and I got along so well. We were both filled with energy that all too often spilled out at the wrong moment. Pal’s energy got him tied up out back, and my energy got my backside tied up with ... well, let’s just say I was a disciplined child and leave it at that.

Did having a dog make a difference in my life? Most definitely! Pal kept me company while I burned the trash in the big drum close to his doghouse, and he helped me burn off a lot of the energy that seemed to get me into trouble more often than not. Who knows how many lickings I was spared because Pal had helped me get the wiggles out?

We know that giving a puppy to a child just because the puppy is cute is the cause of all too many older, unwanted dogs being dropped off at shelters. That being said, when the right dog is matched up with the right child, you have a growth partner that teaches a child lessons in three key areas of life: laughter, loyalty, and love.

Pal nurtured my love of laughter with his funny antics; he taught me what it means to stay true to someone even when they have let you down; and, greatest of all, Pal showed me that for love to be unconditional, you really have to drop the conditions. He greeted me with the same joy whether I had spent five hours or five minutes with him the previous day. All Pal cared about was that I was with him in that moment, and he loved me completely. How much better the world would be if we treated each other the way Pal treated me?

Laughter, loyalty, and love. Three mighty big lessons taught by a little dog with a big heart.

Teresa Tobat, Dogster writer: PRINCESS

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Growing up, my life revolved around three dogs: Spot, a spunky black-and-white Terrier mix; Penny, a sweet brown Toy Poodle; and Princess, an apricot-colored Poodle whom my family referred to as the “mama dog.” She earned this nickname partially because of her size -- she was bigger than the other two -- but also because she was caring, mostly toward her partner in crime, Penny.

When my family went to the shelter to meet adoptable dogs, Princess cowered in the corner. Until Penny entered the room. She then transformed into a playful dog with boundless energy. There was no way we could just take one of them home. In fifth grade, I remember writing that rescuing Penny and Princess was the best thing to happen all year.

From the beginning, Princess was the true heart and soul of our dog pack. She was authoritative without ever being aggressive. She was the most confident dog I have ever known. But that doesn’t mean Princess didn’t have a sweet side. If you called her name repeatedly, she’d paw the air over her face -- like a bashful star in front of the paparazzi. I snuggled with her often.

It was no surprise to me that she was the last of the three dogs to pass away, two summers ago. Her death in so many ways was the end of an era. It meant a very firm goodbye to my childhood and one of the first dogs I ever loved.

So many things come and go. But Princess was always a steady source of companionship, from elementary school through to my very first job. Even though my life is now different, I love and still miss her. Princess, thank you for being my anchor. Thank you.

Heather Marcoux, Dogster writer: POGO

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Heather Marcoux with Marshmallow, left, and GhostBuster.

Pogo the Scottish Terrier was adorable, with fluffy black fur and sweet dark eyes. He was the kind of dog every kid wanted -- a bundle of awesome Terrier energy, pounding through the snow as if his paws were springs (hence the name).

One day, Pogo got hit by a car in front of our house. I remember being so worried for him. My mom put his bed in the living room and took care of him there until he was better. Eventually, Pogo was back to playing with us in the yard.

It’s been more than 20 years since I’ve seen that dog. I can see Pogo clearly in my mind, but these memories are the only images I have of the pup who sat on the back porch with my siblings and me as we ate mustard sandwiches.

Back in the '90s, we didn't document our lives the way we do now -- film was expensive, and so were cameras. I don't have a picture of Pogo to share, but I do have about a million of my two current dogs, GhostBuster and Marshmallow.

Now it's your turn, readers. Tell us about your childhood dogs in the comments -- and we'd love to see photos, too! 

Read more about childhood dogs:

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Wed, 11 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/growing-up-with-dogs-children-kids-pets
<![CDATA[Welcome to the World of #MuttButtMondays on Instagram]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/cute-dog-butt-photos-instagram-muttbuttmondays For this week's delve down the rabbit hole of dog-themed Instagram hashtags, we'll be exploring the fantastical world that is Mutt Butt Mondays. Now, before you channel your inner Olivia Benson and wonder exactly what sort of depraved selection of images you're about to stumble into, let me reassure you that Mutt Butt Mondays is good wholesome entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. It is nothing more untoward than a celebration of dogs who are so proud of their derrieres that they like to show them off to willing cameraphone lenses. (Also, as a pedant's note, it should be mentioned that it doesn't have to actually be a Monday to enjoy this festival of bottoms.)

Here then is your introduction to the realm of canine rear-end theory.

 

A photo posted by The Hopkins man (@thehopkinsman) on Feb 23, 2015 at 2:45pm PST

It's impossible not to be bowled over at the impeccable form on display here. With precision butt moves like this, expect to see this Staffordshire/Mastiff cross popping up in the next Beyonce or Miley video before the summer is out.

 

A photo posted by Harmony & Komodo (@harmonykomodo) on Feb 23, 2015 at 1:48am PST

This pair of Bulldogs are showcasing the artsy potential of #MuttButtMondays, as they demonstrate two contrasting perspectives to create a captivating image. 

 

A photo posted by MessrsBradPitt (@messrsbradpitt) on Feb 15, 2015 at 8:47pm PST

This Labrador is sheer nonchalance personified. Audacious mutt-butting!

 

A photo posted by Harmony & Komodo (@harmonykomodo) on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:23am PST

Chicken legs? Check. Dramatic water splash? Check. Perfect rear-end poise? Check. This Staffordshire Terrier has truly mastered the hashtag. 

You can always trust a canine to pass scathing commentary on the true worth of Kanye West's beloved shutter shades. Also, if you stare at the pic long enough it looks a bit like an elephant.

 

A photo posted by Badger (@badger_and_bodhi) on Aug 26, 2013 at 3:01pm PDT

I would not be surprised if Disney's lawyers have already locked this fun-loving dog up in copyright purgatory, so enjoy this bedazzled Mini-Mouse Mutt Butt Mondays moment while it lasts.

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.

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Mon, 02 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/cute-dog-butt-photos-instagram-muttbuttmondays
<![CDATA[Birdee, the "Chicken Wing Chi," Helps Other Special-Needs Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/little-miss-birdee-smalls-chicken-wing-chihuahua-dog-birth-defects-wheelchairs Last summer, Dekalb County Animal Services in Georgia answered a call about a vacant house with possible abandoned animals inside. They found three dogs, one of whom was a Chihuahua with deformed front legs. According to DCAS director Susan Feingold, they examined the little dog and gave her the medical attention she needed, including deworming and vaccinations. Because of her birth defect, though, the Chi was transferred to Society of Humane Friends of Georgia, a nonprofit rescue, to get additional care and attention.

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The society enlisted Jacki McDonald as a foster for the little Chi, now dubbed Little Miss Birdee Smalls. "The kennel supervisor called me when Birdee came in specifically because I had a 'chicken wing' dog foster previously," McDonald says. "She hopped around like a baby bird, so that's how her name came about."

When McDonald had to go out of town, she left Birdee in the care of Brian and Christina Cribbs. Although the Cribbs had sworn off more dogs when they adopted No. 4, those few days with Little Miss Birdee was all it took to win them over. 

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Foster Jacki McDonald with Miss Birdee Smalls.

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Little Miss Birdee Smalls and her new parents.

The Cribbs were already dog parents to two other Chihuahuas, one Pit Bull/Dachshund mix, and a deaf Pit Bull. Little Miss Birdee Smalls fit right in with their family. Brian and his wife affectionately refer to her as a "Chi-rex," due to her short front legs and habit of hopping around on her back feet. At just over a year old, Birdee weighs a surprising 3.8 pounds and gets around by "hopping around and bracing herself on her more formed arm," Brian says. "We call it her beefy arm." The Cribbs wanted to make it easier for Birdee to get around, though, so they started doing some research on carts.

They met with Alicia Williams, a vet tech at Duluth Animal Hospital. She also had a special-needs Chihuahua, named Roo, who uses a cart and shares his life with a chicken. Williams offered some very useful insight on cart types and fitting, and the Cribbs decided to get one for Little Miss Birdee. Initially, they were going to build their own, but it proved more cost-effective to use Eddie's Wheels for Pets. After taking molds of Birdee's chest and legs, they sent her measurements off to have her own cart specially made. 

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Miss Birdee taking it easy. (Photo courtesy of Brian and Christina Cribbs)

The Cribbs created a Facebook page for Miss Birdee so others could follow as she adjusted to her new life and, particularly, to her new wheels. Although she adapted to the cart very quickly, as shown in many adorable videos, Birdee did need some help with the change in height it created. She loves her chew bone, so the Cribbs made a small wooden block for Birdee to prop it on, and they raised her food bowl. Her cart also enabled her to sit on her side, which, according to Brian, "might not seem like a big deal, but this is pretty huge. The wheels are about so much more than walking. She can sit like an average dog, though she's way better." 

When not wheeling through life, Little Miss Birdee (along with her humans) gives back to the community by volunteering and shares her home with fosters from Laskey's Lucky Ones and Volunteers. She and Christina also recently visited inmates through the Canine CellMates program at Fulton County Jail. Christina is a certified therapy-dog handler through Atlanta Pet Partners, and Brian is going to get his certification soon. And now that Birdee is old enough, they are going to move forward with getting her certified as a therapy dog, like her fur-sibling, Emilio, so that she can do even more in the community.

"We love our dogs and love that other people get something out of visiting with them like we do," Brian says. 

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The whole Cribbs fur-family. (Photo courtesy of Brian and Christina Cribbs)

Through sharing Little Miss Birdee's pictures, videos, and accomplishments online, the Cribbs quickly found out they were not alone in having a little "chicken wing dog" or "Chi-rex," connecting with others such as Bunny Angel and Ellie May and Madi. They've also amassed quite a following from fans who have just fallen in love with the little quirky Chihuahua.

"We like helping special needs dogs," Brian says, "because we like for other people to know they're just like every other dog, they just need some help learning or moving around." 

Paws up to Little Miss Birdee Smalls and the fantastic family she has found!

Read more Monday Miracles 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.

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Mon, 02 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/little-miss-birdee-smalls-chicken-wing-chihuahua-dog-birth-defects-wheelchairs
<![CDATA[Update: Burned and Abandoned Puppies Have Been Adopted!]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/burned-puppies-georgia-tim-jim-dog-rescue-adoption 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.

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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 ]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/bulletproof-oakley-animal-abuse-pit-bulls-dog-rescue-adoption 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+.

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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!]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/westminster-dog-show-kooikerhondje-breed-rescue-dog 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 Match.com 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.  

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Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:05:00 -0800 /lifestyle/westminster-dog-show-kooikerhondje-breed-rescue-dog
<![CDATA[#FrenchBulldogProblems: These Dogs Are Living the Hashtag]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/french-bulldog-problems-instagram-cute-dog-pictures 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.

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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]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/goldendoodle-snow-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."

Via WHDH-TV

Read more dog news from Dogster: 

About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for MLB.com 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).

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Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:45:00 -0800 /the-scoop/goldendoodle-snow-boston-blizzard
<![CDATA[Doug the Pug Brings Happiness to Nashville]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/doug-the-pug-video-nashville-cute-dog-videos 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 MLB.com 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).

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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?]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/hugging-dogs-dog-behavior 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 tracyahrens.weebly.com and raisingmyfurrychildren.weebly.com.

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Wed, 21 Jan 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/hugging-dogs-dog-behavior
<![CDATA[Chloe the Wonder Pup Survives Abandonment and Parvo ]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/chloe-wonder-pup-pit-bull 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+.

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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!]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/national-bubble-bath-day-instagram-bathing-dogs-cute-dog-pictures 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.

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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]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-rescue-adoption-open-letter-jack-italian-greyhound 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.

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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)]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/dog-videos-newfie-plays-hide-seek-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 MLB.com 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).

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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 ]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/zen-dogs-national-world-peace-meditation-day 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.

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Wed, 31 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/zen-dogs-national-world-peace-meditation-day