Awww | Awww Awww en-us Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:40:00 -0800 Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:40:00 -0800 Orion <![CDATA[Watch This Dog Run to Comfort Her Friend During a Nightmare]]> It's raining in Berkeley where I live, our basement has been flooded since last Friday, and with another storm on the way tomorrow, we're hauling out the sandbags to make sure that the basement doesn't become a mud pit again. Days like this, you just need something sweet and comforting to give you respite.

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Fortunately, when you're feeling like you're up to your tuchis in rabid alligators, the Internet is only too happy to provide sweet video moments like the one below. Granted, you often don't reach the heartwarming regions of the Internet without trudging through terabytes of misogynist rants by Gamergate weenies, ads for pseudoscientific snake-oil cures for diseases that you didn't even know you had (and often aren't any more legit than the so-called cure), and news items about the most bloody and sadistic corners of human nature. However, this video is on the verge of becoming a big viral hit, so it was basically just sitting there for me before I got sucked too deeply into the Internet swamp.

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Jackson and Laika mellow out on the couch (Source: Instagram/JacksonDoodle)

Sometimes, we all need a hug, and as this video shows, that means dogs, too. It shows Brook Conti's dog Jackson lying on the couch, having a very intense dream. Jackson's friend, Laika, seems to think that her pal's twitching and yelping is a definite sign of trouble. She jumps onto the couch, lies on top of Jackson, and snuggles with him until he's calm again.

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Whether Jackson's dream is good or bad is hard to say. On Instagram, Conti writes that she thinks it's a good one: "It looks to me that Jackson was having a lovely dream of chasing squirrels and digging holes... Laika must have interpreted it as a nightmare because she swooped in to save the day and give her pal some snuggles."

Whether Jackson was chasing squirrels in his dream or staring in horror at the moldy, muddy mess of our basement in Berkeley, Laika's affection and concern is obvious. That's what we love most about dogs, after all: When things get hard, they're still there, waiting to give comfort to their friends and family.

Via YouTube and Instagram

Read more about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:40:00 -0800 /the-scoop/dog-comforts-friend-during-nightmare-dog-videos
<![CDATA[After Nearly 8 Years, a Microchip Reunites a Denver Man and His Dog]]> We've said it before, and will probably continue to say it well past the time that you're tired of hearing it: Microchip your dog. We know that there's only so many times we can repeat ourselves before people just roll their eyes and stop inviting Dogster writers to parties because we remind them of their cranky old uncle who will not shut up about how music just hasn't been as cool since the early days of MTV.

However, unlike your uncle's insistence that you really need to sit down and listen to the entire oeuvre of A Flock of Seagulls or Men Without Hats, this is really good advice. It could mean the difference between losing your dog forever and eventually being reunited.

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Mike Nuanes and Jordan.

The story of Mike Nuanes and his Shih Tzu Jordan is an excellent example. Eight years ago, Nuanes and his late wife walked to a family member's house to have breakfast. When they came home, Jordan had disappeared from the backyard. That was the last Nuanes had ever heard of Jordan until recently. The Fulton County Animal Shelter in Atlanta, Georgia, called Nuanes at his home in Denver to tell him that it had his dog.

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Nuanes was sure that they'd made a mistake. After all, getting from Denver to Atlanta is a pretty long hike, and dogs don't tend to accumulate the frequent flyer miles that would make that trip easier. His girlfriend checked in the backyard to see if any of their four dogs were missing. They were all there, so it seemed pretty clear that the Fulton County Animal Shelter had made a mistake.

"When she asked, 'Is his name Jordan?' That's when my jaw hit the ground," Nuanes told 9 News. "After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I asked, 'Is he a little chocolate fellow?'"

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Jordan had been picked up as a stray and brought into the shelter in the last week of October. He was in bad shape when he came in: Jordan had dropped from a normal weight of around 10 to 12 pounds to 5, he was covered with fleas, and patches of his hair were falling out. Within a few days, Nuanes had arranged an airline ticket to go pick up his old friend, who had been little more than a puppy the last time they'd seen each other.

Nuanes says that the people on the flight home were very accommodating to them.

"People gave up their seats so I could sit in the front row and let him stay on my lap," he said.

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The tearful reunion with Jordan.

No one knows how exactly Jordan wound up in Atlanta, but despite the condition he was found in, Nuanes thinks that he was well taken care of for most of those eight years. "Being the optimist that I am, when they called me I thought, 'Well, I know he didn't walk to Atlanta,' so somebody must have been taking care of him all these years," he told 9 News.

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However Jordan got there, and whatever his life was like in those eight years, one thing is clear: It's extremely unlikely that he would have ever returned to Denver if the staff of the Fulton County Animal Shelter hadn't been able to scan his chip.

Via 9 News and Friends of Fulton County Animal Services

Check out more cuteness on Dogster:

Fri, 07 Nov 2014 12:10:00 -0800 /the-scoop/after-almost-eight-years-microchip-reunites-man-dog
<![CDATA[Meet Carter and Toby, Instagram's New Overlords]]> At the risk of sounding like a total grinch, I have a certain suspicion of the genre of dog and baby pictures. It's not that I think dogs and babies aren't adorable. My heart hasn't become that black and shriveled. It's more that there are a lot of photographers out there who don't trust the inherent charm of the subject matter and feel like they have to improve on it. Case in point: Anne Geddes. Babies are cute enough on their own; when you start dressing them up as flowerpots and fairies, you're just cranking the sweetness up into diabetes territory.

That caveat aside, I'm genuinely charmed by the Carter and Toby Instagram feed, which has become something of an Internet phenomenon. As of right now, there's only 295 images and videos, but almost 24,000 people following the stream.

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Carter is the infant child of Devin Crouch. As most parents do, Devin has been enthusiastically taking pictures of the new addition to her family. But there was another family member who was in all those pictures: Toby, the family dog. In each photo, Toby was right there by Carter's side, inseparable from and loyal to Carter.

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The Instagram feed dedicated to the two started just like any other. The pictures were followed and commented on by friends and family. When she tagged one of the pictures #DogsofInstagram and it was reposted by that site, things took off.

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Since then, she has accumulated thousands of followers who are fascinated by the bond between the two. They've been written about in England and Belgium, and they have fans as far away as Korea. Only a year old, and Carter has already gone global. (Of course, this raises the question, what does he do for an encore?)

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Crouch says that Toby has been protectively shadowing Carter from the moment he came home.

"Carter was very good at tracking him, just with his eyes," she told the Indy Star. "When he was learning to crawl, he would lean forward to get closer to Toby. Once he was crawling, they were inseparable."

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The Carter and Toby stream shows the good times and bad. You see Carter sleeping, laughing, throwing tantrums, and everything else that babies do. And through it all, Toby is right there, patiently guarding and supporting him. Little surprise that when Carter recently said his first word, it wasn't "mom," or "dad," but "dog."

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Via IndyStar and Instagram

Check out more cuteness on Dogster:

Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/cute-dog-baby-pictures-photos-carter-toby-instagram-new-overlords
<![CDATA[A Siberian Husky Learns to Howl With the Humans]]> For starting off a Monday morning, nothing beats cuteness overload. It's better than coffee, especially when it's genuinely adorable, and not the synthetic kind regularly pumped out by greeting card manufacturers.

The video below clearly falls into the genuinely adorable category, enough so that it can melt even my grinchy heart. It shows Belka, a 20-day-old Alaskan Malamute/Siberian Husky mix, learning how to howl with a little help and encouragement from one of his humans.

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Siberian husky dog wearing red necklace by Shutterstock.

One of the things that makes it so inescapably endearing is that a lone dog howling against the icy northern wilderness is such an iconic image. Even if we haven't read The Call of the Wild, a lot of the imagery that Jack London used has been scrawled deeply into our cultural language. You never think about the dogs learning to howl, in the same way that humans learn to sing or talk by mimicking mom or dad or whatever's on the television.

And in the short space of a few seconds, it also evokes how closely humans and dogs have bonded. The howl has come to symbolize a very solitary wildness. Humans mimic it when they want to show that they can't be tamed, or that they're feeling wild and want to break free from the bonds of everyday life. Usually when I see images of human boys howling, it's in a story about a feral child like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. It's a sign of how much the child has left his humanity behind.

But when you watch the pup learning how to howl with a boy, it feels more like the pup is embracing humanity. It's adorable not because it's another rendition of clichés about a boy and his dog, but because anyone who's owned a dog can feel the sense of companionship here, and knows that it goes a lot deeper than mere cuteness.

Via Pawbonito.

Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/husky-learns-to-howl
<![CDATA[Who Can Get Crocs Some Respect? Boo the Pomeranian!]]> I have no fashion sense. None. The only time that I get complimented on how I dress is when I let my girlfriend buy me clothes. Otherwise, it's blue jeans and black t-shirts all the way. You could be forgiven for at times thinking that I only own a single shirt that grafted itself to my body years ago.

But still, even I know that wearing Crocs is not the route to being known as a fashion hipster. Some time back, Tim Gunn described them as looking like "a plastic hoof." Despite their sales, they just don't get a lot of respect.

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Boo may be the world's most famous Pomeranian.

But maybe teaming Crocs with Boo, the World's Cutest Dog, will spruce their reputation up a little bit. Boo (or rather, his licensing company) has struck a deal with Crocs to produce two kinds of "Jibbitz" shoe charms with his image on them.

And despite all the snark that Crocs get, one thing seems clear from the pictures that are showing up on Boo's Facebook page: The World's Cutest Dog looks even cuter when wearing a pair of Crocs. Who'da thunk it?

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Boo and Buddy check out their footwear.

The Boo Jibbitz charms come in two models: one of Boo's head, and one full body image with a t-shirt on it.

Crocs' senior director of product licensing, Matt Lafone, said that "With our new Boo Jibbitz, fans everywhere can enjoy taking Boo for a walk."

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The two kinds of charms: with T-Shirt, or just a head shot.

I don't know if wearing a plastic charm on your shoe is quite the same as going for a walk with Boo, but he and his friend Buddy seem to really appreciate the shoes. The only potential hitch is that fans of Buddy seem to think that he's getting a raw deal by not getting a charm of his own.

Via Boo's Facebook Page and Glamour

Fri, 08 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/boo-the-dog-pomeranian-crocs-charms-jibbitz
<![CDATA[How Dogs Helped Us Through My Grandpa's Final Days]]> If my grandfather considered himself a dog person when I was a kid, I didn’t really know it. His home (where I lived) was always dog-free. We’d tried our fair share of other animals -– bunnies and goldfish, mostly -– but never dogs. We never talked about them, weren’t around them, didn’t feel like we needed one.  

But that changed a little after my parents got a dog. Tiny, a Dachshund, worked his way into my grandfather’s heart, and fast. Grandpa would take photos of Tiny and pass them around to family. He would sneak him hamburgers and other bits of meat whenever he could. He would brag about him to other people.

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Grandpa and Obi liked to hang out whenever they could.

At family gatherings, Tiny wasn’t just glued to Grandpa’s side -– he would ride along with Grandpa on his motorized scooter. Once, while dog-sitting, Grandpa even got up to cook Tiny a steak for his meal, but he didn’t cook food for anyone else, not even himself.

As I later learned, Grandpa’s soft spot for Tiny came from a childhood dog of his own. His family also had a Dachshund, which was spoiled to bits by Grandpa’s father, too. Suddenly, Tiny and Grandpa’s friendship made sense in ways it hadn’t before. Tiny reminded Grandpa of something precious from his childhood; it was no wonder Grandpa couldn’t wipe the grin from his face whenever Tiny was around. Tiny would help Grandpa forget about all his ailments –- his bad back, his emphysema, his cancer –- and just give him a few minutes of happiness.  

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Tiny the Dachshund was, and always will be, Grandpa’s first little buddy.

In fact, I never thought Grandpa would love another dog as much as his granddog Tiny, but the arrival of my Maltese, Obi, changed that a bit. Now Grandpa had two favorite pups, both of which he wanted to ride around with on his motorized scooter, both of which he liked to sneak hefty bits of meat, and both of which he loved very, very dearly. The saddest part of every family visit, I think, was when Grandpa had to say goodbye to his furry little friends.

It was a nice surprise for Grandpa when my partner, Bill, and I moved closer to home. We were moving to be closer to Grandpa, who was sick, but he didn’t much like to talk about that. He wanted to focus on Obi being nearby. Finally, he’d get to spend some quality time with the little guy.

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I'm so glad my Grandpa got so close to my beloved Obi.

We told Grandpa to visit whenever he wanted, especially when Bill and I were at work. Obi only lasted staying at home alone one day. The moment Grandpa saw him –- he’d somehow freed himself from his crate and was crying because he was alone –- Grandpa wouldn’t even entertain the idea of his buddy staying at home alone. It was settled: Grandma and Grandpa would watch Obi while we were at work.

“I can’t bear to see the little guy all by himself,” Grandpa said. “We’ll take good care of him.”

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Tiny liked to ride around on Grandpa’s motorized scooter with him.

They did. So much so that Obi began to look forward to going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Each morning, he’d spend time with Grandma, and the moment he started to hear footsteps, he knew: Grandpa was awake. Time to play!

He’d run to greet Grandpa, toy in mouth, encouraging him to play fetch. Grandpa, no matter how run down he may have been feeling following his chemo treatments, would get on the floor, ruffle Obi’s hair, and play. Grandpa came to rely on him for his daily smiles, and Obi came to rely on him for his daily treats. (Well, someone had to sneak them to him!)

Obi quickly learned that Grandpa was the guy to see if he wanted a bite or two of human food. Grandpa had a notorious habit of “accidentally” dropping food on the floor when the dogs were around. On top of that, he said Obi had those “big, sad eyes,” which made it so he couldn’t resist. They became partners in crime. Obi’s big, sad eyes plus Grandpa’s big, sad eyes made it so I almost always gave in to whatever they were asking (even if it meant allowing Obi to forgo his dog food in favor of rib-eye steak).

Spending every day together became something meaningful to Grandpa. He told me he came to really miss Obi on weekends and the house wasn’t the same without him. We tried to let him spend as much time with Obi as he could, while still giving ourselves time to see Obi.

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Tiny didn’t like to be held by many, but he made an exception for Grandpa.

While Grandpa’s health waned, his love for Obi did not. Something as silly as cancer was not going to keep him from hanging out with Obi as much as he could. Even when he was in the hospital, Grandpa would ask me how Obi was doing. Was he eating enough? Did he get any new toys? What was the latest adventure in adorable?

In Grandpa’s final days, the sight of Obi would bring a smile to his face and often change his entire demeanor. When Grandpa wouldn’t eat, I made a deal: If he ate some chicken, then he could feed some to Obi, too. It was one of the best deals I ever made –- Grandpa ate, even if he did take the tiny piece of chicken for himself and give the huge piece to Obi.

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Nothing could have prepared me for the smile my Grandpa had on his face when I let him feed Obi some chicken.

Nothing made me feel as good as watching Grandpa –- who, at that point, could barely speak –- smile and laugh at Obi as he devoured that food. At that point, it was a big victory to see Grandpa act like his old self. It was also a nice moment –- just him, Bill, Obi and I –- and it was, in fact, the last time we would see him that way.

We lost Grandpa in May, and sometimes I think Obi still misses him. For the first few weeks after, Obi was always waiting, toy in mouth, for his buddy to come upstairs so they could play. I think that’s how we all felt.

While I’ll never get over the loss of Grandpa, I am thankful not just for the time I had with him, but for the joy my dog was able to bring to him. Obi, Grandpa’s faithful little buddy, made Grandpa happy. For that, I will always be grateful.

Read more by Crystal Maldonado:

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We're looking for intensely personal stories from our readers about life with their dogs. E-mail, and you might become a published Dogster Magazine author!  
Thu, 03 Oct 2013 06:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-behavior-maltese-dachshund-helped-grandpas-final-days
<![CDATA[Ray Charles the Golden Retriever Doesn't Need Eyesight to Steal Your Heart]]> He may be visually impaired, but when you have that smile and those tresses, stardom is but an inevitability.

Ray Charles was born blind to a breeder last December, but was later adopted into a loving home, according to his Facebook page. When BuzzFeed shared photos of him earlier this week, we knew that he was going to be the canine celebrity of 2013.

Consider this: His Facebook page already has 4,000 followers and counting, and he won first prize in a Modern Dog magazine photo contest in April. Here are some of our favorite shots of him:

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He's an American Kennel Club star puppy!

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And he can walk himself like a pro.

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Just the sight of him is like a warm, fuzzy hug.

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And here he is with some stylin' shades. His Facebook page says he can run and play and "do everything else that other dogs who can see do."

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Photo via Ray Charles' Facebook page

See more photos of Ray on his Facebook page.

H/T: BuzzFeed

This story originally ran on Huffington Post Good News -- check out these other feel-good stories:

Thu, 30 May 2013 08:00:00 -0700 /bolz/ray-charles-golden-retriever
<![CDATA[Have You Had Great Customer Service in the Pet Industry?]]> Every now and then something happens that rocks your world in a good way. This column is about one of those all too rare occurrences, the kind that leaves you in jaw-dropping, stunned amazement.

As I did in "Thinking About Getting a Dog? Learn a Few Lessons From a Guy Who Just Bought a Car," we're going to start out with a non-pet story, but hang with me -- we will get to the dog stuff. 

One recent afternoon, Tricia and I drove to the old airport above the lake to take a walk. Tricia thought one of the front tires was low, and sure enough, when we got out to look, the tire was well on its way to going flat.

I dashed to a nearby convenience mart to add air, after which I joined Tricia for a delightful walk. An hour later the tire showed noticeable signs of having lost pressure again, so I took Tricia home and then took off toward Cleburne to get it fixed. I passed several closed tire shops and service garages. After five on a Saturday, the options were looking pretty slim.

I was about to give up hope when I spotted the open garage bay doors at Discount Tire. I stopped and walked inside. Floors were being swept and tools stored. I caught the attention of one young man and asked, "Will you be open long enough to check our tire? We have a pretty bad leak."

The young mechanic flagged down his manager, who waved us in. I went to the customer service area and watched as the rest of the staff continued to clean while our tire was being repaired.

They were quick, thorough, and efficient at everything. I couldn't help notice this was already about the cleanest garage I had ever seen, but they were still cleaning. While I couldn't help but be impressed, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

The assistant manager called me to the register. I reached for my wallet, and that's when this visit turned surreal. "There's no charge, sir."

"What do you mean, no charge?"

"We never charge to fix flat tires."

I was dumbfounded. "Uh, how do you stay in business if you don't charge for the work you do?"

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Ringworm often surfaces in warmer weather, or in winter when you're running the heat. Vet examines dog by Shutterstock

The assistant manager smiled and said, "The owner of Discount Tire has 150 stores around the country and he decided that he wanted us to be different, so we don't charge for a lot of services other places charge for. Merry Christmas." Stunned, I said something along the lines of "Thank you."

Maybe everyone else on the planet knew about Discount Tire's unique, free flat-tire repair policy, but I sure didn't. As I pulled the car out of the bay, the garage doors finally came down to close the shop, but this company's truly outstanding customer service had opened the door to a new customer relationship.

We live in a world where personalized customer service seems to be disappearing. We pump our own gas, scan and bag our own groceries, and feel our blood pressure rise as we deal with automated phone menus and peruse pages of online FAQs.

I'm often struck by the number of emails we get at Dogster Support from people expressing genuine surprise that they got a reply. It's an odd case of where we do something -- answering emails -- that used to be the norm, but which now sets us apart from the rest of the pack.

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Happy bulldog puppy by Shutterstock

How many bad restaurant experiences, some complete with court cases for discrimination, did we have to read before we saw "Red Robin receipt has a nice surprise for pregnant woman"? And haven't we all seen countless examples of bad customer service with pet food, pet stores, breeders, kennels, sitters, and pet health services?

It does seem as though exceptional customer service has become more noticeable by its infrequency than its quality. When we have a truly outstanding experience, we're not quite sure how to process it. 

I remember how much it meant to have the staff at Jackson County Veterinary Association really go the extra mile when I had to have our family cat, Sterling, put down. The grief of that day will always be with me, but so will the soft voice of the vet telling me to take all the time I needed. And the follow-up card was personal and healing -- a service above and beyond what you'd expect or feel was required.

It's your turn to tell your stories of truly exceptional service related to you and your pets.

Let's fill the comments with positive thoughts and share stories that help us to know that even today, exceptional customer service in the pet world is not just a thing of the past, but part of our present -- and hopefully our future. 

Thu, 10 Jan 2013 07:03:00 -0800 /lifestyle/great-customer-service-pet-industry